Many times I get this question, “Pastor, please pray for me.” Not only do I do my best to pray for them right then and there but I try to remember to pray for them throughout my week. I am often wondering how do I pray for others. I know it is lifting up their request but more so, how should my heart and mind be when I pray for them. I am so thankful for Scripture as we can see a model of what this looks like. Paul, the Apostle, would often pray for the different churches and mention that in his letters to them.
One of those particular prayers is found in the book of Philippians. In his pastoral prayer, we have a model of the heart behind praying for others.
1) Our prayers need to be thankful for others
Paul was thankful for the church in Philippi, he was thankful for them. He writes to them, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3).” As a pastor I am reminded how I am thankful for the believers at my church. I am thankful for the unity that comes in Christ. Though there may be different in our interests, we have different backgrounds and upbringings, we have different likes and dislikes, different hobbies, different professions, different yet we have Christ who unites us. We go from unrelated to family. We go from strangers to a community. Christ who unites us is far greater than where we are diverse.
Photo by Iswanto Arif on Unsplash
Less than a week ago I woke up to the news of the violent school shooting that took place in Santa Fe, Texas. Ten people were killed and another thirteen wounded by a high school gunman. I am still praying for the families as the attention from the media has moved on to other things, knowing the hurt and pain is still very, very fresh for them. Though this happened in Texas and not in my home state, the whole United States was affected by this egregious act.
I knew I would start seeing the posts that say, “Pray for Santa Fe” on the day of, which is well meaning and I hope is not just a knee-jerk response just to post something but hopefully they are genuinely praying. For me, I had to evaluate my response. I think sometimes when I hear about evil acts I sometimes don’t always respond well because first, you hear it and you need to bear the news that you hear. It should trouble us when we hear about tragedy. It should trouble us that this even happens and how often it happens. It is a hard thing to hear and to bear and you can play naïve by overlooking information. Second, I think others pass over this news quickly because there is a sense of responsibility in how one should respond. If you do not take time to listen, you can not have responsibility. As a Christian, there is a biblical mandate to stand up against evil. The Bible says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them (Ephesians 5:11 ESV).” I believe there should be a responsibility for Christians, especially in America with our constitution and rights to be able to expose injustice and evil. Continue reading
As a parent, there are certain things that I am less desirous of doing than others, such as going to Costco as a family. Don’t get me wrong; I love being with my family and I love spending time with them. But Costco is usually busy, and when you have three young children, it’s just not that easy. I always tell my wife, Alyssa, that it is like trying to herd cats.
There have been successful trips to Costco and that is when we are all moving together with the same goal. We get in, have fun, and get the items we came for. Plus, the kids get to eat all the free samples!
In the same way, the church is made up of more than individual Christians; we are a body of believers that is called a family. We can easily start going our own way and doing our own thing. That is why Paul urges the church to be unified. He writes to the Philippian church, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:1–2 esv).
Augustine of Hippo, who stands as a church father of theology, was an intellectual giant whom I must confess I fall short in writing about. He wrote over 100 books, 500 sermons, and 200 letters. Many who read Augustine relate to him because of his rebellious life and the inward struggle with truth. The Bible reminds us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV). Augustine as a new creation was able to look at truth, which he passionately pursued, with new, clear lenses. With a clear look at truth, he saw that truth is found in Christ. He is a world changer—he impacted not just those in North Africa in the 4th century, but so many believers throughout history because his writings have been preserved.