What Prayer Is Not

SSP Prayer Bulletin Reflection
February 4, 2015

How often have we asked ourselves these questions? … When should I pray? … What should I say? … Where should I pray? … Why should I pray? … Will my praying really make a difference? … and … What is prayer? By examining God’s Word, we can discover “what prayer is” and “what prayer is not”.

From my own experience, I know prayer doesn’t come naturally to most believers – for some, it is learned as it is modeled by others, taught, and put into practice. But we have Jesus as our perfect example for prayer, and it is my prayer that like Jesus, all of us will develop such a love relationship with our Heavenly Father that we will pray without ceasing as we bring glory to God and see Christ’s Kingdom work accomplished here on earth.

  • Prayer is not to be feared.

Prayer is living in the presence of God as we engage in intimate conversation with a Heavenly Father who is always pursuing a love relationship with His child. It is a means of intimate communion, fellowship, and dependence upon God the Father who has promised to work in and through us through His Son, just as God worked through Him.

  • Prayer is not primarily about you.

Prayer is focused on God, who He is and His desires. Approaching God must be on the basis of His nature and character. We must approach God with “godly fear and reverence” because of who He is (Hebrews 12:28-29). We can only pray when we know Him. God revealed Himself to His people through the revelation of His name. Yahweh (Jehovah) – God revealed Himself as the Lord our provider (Jireh), our healer (Ropheka), our banner (Nissi), our peace (Shalom), our shepherd (Rohi), our righterousness (Tsidkenu). Jehovah Shammah – the Lord is there.

  • Prayer is not having to wonder what to pray.

Prayer is listening to God speak through His Word and the Holy Spirit directing us to pray back to God His Words so His will is accomplished on earth as it has already been in Heaven.  The priority of prayer is the will of God. It’s a means  of claiming God’s promises and knowing and becoming abandoned to God’s will.

  • Prayer is not about giving God a wish list of wants, nor is it not an “Aladdin’s lamp” where we can rub ever so often to let the genie out to grant us our wish.

Prayer is a moment by moment trusting and believing that God knows what is best for us in every situation. He wants us to depend on Him daily for our needs. But our first and foremost desire should be to “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

  • Prayer is not passive.

Prayer is actively engaging in a battle against the enemy for souls and Christ’s Kingdom. Satan doesn’t want us to have an intimate love relationship with our Father. When we are identified with Christ, we become the enemy of Satan – “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12 Therefore, as a soldier in God’s army, let us stay alert in Spirit and persevere in prayer to set captives free from the enemy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reflections on Prayer

When God Says “No”

SSP Prayer Bulletin Reflection
January 28, 2015

 

“And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”                         Colossians 1:18

     他 也 是 教 會 全 體 之 首。他 是 元 始,是 從 死 裡 首 先 復 生 的,使 他 可 以 在 凡 事 上 居 首 位                                                   歌 羅 西 書 1:18

The life of Jesus provides the model for our prayer lives since He is the head/leader of the Church. God is seeking to mold us into the image of His Son. If we are to act like Christ, our prayer lives must be conformed to His. Many Christians are unwilling to pay the price that Jesus paid when it comes to interceding with God. Jesus prayed early in the morning and all night and His prayers came with vehement cries and tears and, “because of His godly fear,” he was heard by the Father (Hebrews 5:7).

Why then did the Father refuse His request? It wasn’t due to any sin in Jesus’ life, nor was it because the Father did not love His Son. The Father said no, despite the unfathomable love He had for His Son, because He know He could not spare His Son and save a world. Likewise, the Lord cannot always spare you and your family and complete His redemptive work in those around you. Remember Pastor Justin Fung’s pulpit message last Sunday (Jan. 25th)? We ought to examine the grounds we’re on and to take root, not just serving the Lord in the Church but especially in areas where we are placed.

Are you then willing for God to deny your pleadings? Will you intercede with the Father so deeply and intimately that even in the midst of your tears you are able to say, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done?” The Father will always relate to you out of the context of His love for a lost world. Has God said no to one of your requests recently? Accept His answer. Have you been learning obedience through what you have been suffering? If you have, God may choose to make you a source of salvation to others even as He did with His Son.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reflections on Prayer

Deep Prayer Lives

SSP Prayer Bulletin Reflection
January 25, 2015

 

push I mentioned previously that the best way to build a culture of praying here at St. Stephen’s Parish or in any other church should begin with the Church Leaders, that is, they should lead by example. Praying is part and parcel of a church leader’s life. A church leader cannot go about his service unto the Lord without praying. I doubt that you can find a maximally effective spiritual leader in the Bible or in history that was not a person of prayer. This is the reality today as much as it was two thousand years ago.

God’s desire is for men to be on their knees in full subjection to Him. Leaders should not boast nor think of themselves as having the strength and the spiritual gifts to serve the Lord and His people. They need rather to humble themselves and recognise their weaknesses; to depend fully upon the Lord to help and to grant them the grace to overcome their weaknesses. Remember that we ought not to lead by our own might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord (Zech. 4:6)

In order to lead well and to make good decisions, leaders need to pray and wait upon the Lord for His guidance and the Spirit to empower and enable them. They ought to show dependence upon the Lord through earnest prayers before they even make important decisions in doing the Lord’s work.

Solomon was young when he was appointed king but he humbled himself before the Lord and readily prayed and asked Him for wisdom at the beginning of his reign in order to enable him to rule the mane people under his charge. He acknowledged his inadequacy and showed his dependence upon the Lord God Almighty.

Prayer was a consistent feature in the life of our Lord Jesus. We read in the gospels how the Lord would always pray early in the morning and all night, and taught the disciples to pray always. Besides the Lord’s pattern of a deep, earnest, enduring and constant prayer life, another great example of one who preaches on praying always and practising it himself is none other than the great Apostle Paul. If our Master and the great Apostle prayed so much and so earnestly, then how much more we ought to pray?

It is well noted that many great church leaders had deep lives of prayer. Martin Luther and John Wesley prayed for hours each day. The great reformer, Martin Luther, said: “I generally pray two hours every day, except on very busy days. On those days, I pray three. It was said of C. Spurgeon that he never prayed more than five minutes at a time, but he never went more than five minutes without praying. E.M. Bounds was devoted to praying three hours a day beginning at 4 a.m. in the morning, and his books are a wonderful example of the power of a praying man. 19th Century Christian leader Andrew Murray said that prayer in the life of the leader should be regarded “as the highest part of the work entrusted to us, the root and strength of all other work…there is nothing we need to study and practice as the art of praying alright.”

An effective leader must have a deep prayer life. A Christian leader must discipline himself to continue to grow and to lead in prayer always. The Christian leader should set the example of devotion and prayer in the church,  at home, and in his life day and night. Do you measure up to these?

It is certainly the will of God that as leaders, our lives must be characterised with the discipline of prayer. As we pray, we show dependence upon the Spirit of God to help and to guide us in our leadership. We need to be praying constantly in earnestness and perseverance for the work, for the people and for ourselves that we may not fall but rather be effective in the work of God’s Kingdom. As leaders in the ministry of the Lord, let us therefore examine our hearts before the Lord if our prayer life is sufficient and appropriate enough. May God help us, especially, as leaders to give ourselves unto the habit of continuing instant in prayer and supplication in the Spirit! Now, we note that leaders are also unceasing in their prayers. How often do we pray and how much time do we spend before the throne of grace as God’s appointed leaders for His work and His people?

Leave a comment

Filed under Reflections on Prayer

Developing a Culture of Prayer

SSP Prayer Bulletin Reflection
January 18, 2015

Pray

 As we turn our calendars to a new year, we instinctively make plans to give attention to what matters. As Christians, it is my fervent hope that when we think about our priorities, prayer is right at the top of the list. If not, rearranging your priorities to reflect such might be a wise thing to do at this time of the year.

Developing a culture of prayer in a church takes time. The critical thing is to begin the process and take the steps necessary to build a prayer culture. In this respect, it is the goal of the Parish’s Prayer Committee to focus on building a community that prays and not just build a prayer meeting; to strategically develop prayer so that the congregation grows in prayer while also growing in relationship, in the Scriptures, and the other elements of community life. We want a congregation that is praying and growing together not just attending meetings as individual intercessors.

How and where do we start? I believe that the best way to do things is to lead by example. So, a prayer culture should begin with the leaders. The best way to build a culture of praying in the church is to get the leadership praying together. This foundation must be laid first if the congregation is going to catch the vision of prayer. They may begin a daily prayer meeting for the staff at the church. The senior leader in the church must lead this. That person cannot delegate his responsibility to lead prayer meetings. It must be held in a way that is very participatory, having the feel of praying together and not just one person praying. It should be the first thing on the daily schedule in the mornings since staff will be distracted with other pressing issues later in the day.

Next, teach a culture of prayer. Most people do not have a good theology of prayer and most often people feel they should pray, and have been told they should, but very few have a vision for prayer beyond obligation and personal needs. This year, the Prayer Committee have appointed a couple of Prayer Ambassadors who were given the task of serving as a liaison and promoter of the ministry between the congregation, the different fellowships, care groups, choirs and the Prayer Committee. They are tasked to give people understanding of why a prayer culture is important. They are to ensure that prayer is encouraged, engaged, and integrated into every ministry and department of the church. 

Once the leadership of the church and the congregation are growing in prayer, then establishing a House of Prayer should be next in our agenda. Engaging students and young adults, mothers, retired individuals, and others who do not work, to lead prayer meetings strategically added during the week. This would tremendously strengthen their lives as well as the parish.

In the end, our ultimate goal is to build a Community of Prayer. Much patience is needed with the process of growing a praying church and so we ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance. The first steps are for our leadership to commit to a daily life of praying together, then begin teaching a sound theology of prayer, and then begin very approachable prayer meetings for the congregation.

“The life of the church is the highest life, and its office is to pray. Its PRAYER life is the highest life, the most fragrant, and the most conspicuous. When God’s house on the earth is a house of prayer, then God’s house in heaven is busy and powerful in its plans and movements. ‘For mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’ (Isaiah 56:7b), says our God.         ~E.M. Bounds

Leave a comment

Filed under Reflections on Prayer

Precept Upon Precept: Book of Revelation – Part 2

Precept - Revelation Part 2Do you want to learn how to read and study the Bible?  Do you desire to study God’s Word in a more in-depth manner?  Join Precept Classes on Saturdays at SSP Faithfulness Building, from 2 to 5 PM.

This November 8, 2014, Sis. Susan Ngan will start a series on Revelation Part 2, which focuses on Chapters 4 to 22 of the book.  (Revelation Part 1 is about Revelation Chapters 1 to 3, and focuses on the messages to the 7 churches.)

You may still join Part 2 even if you missed Part 1!  Feel free to join and discover the joy of studying God’s Word through these classes.

PRECEPT UPON PRECEPT: REVELATION PART 2

Starts November 8, 2014

Saturdays, 2-5 PM

4th Floor, AV Room of Faithfulness Building

—————–

“Precept Upon Precept” are studies that lead one to a personal one-on-one encounter with the living God.  These studies are an in-depth resources that teach inductive method of study.

Precept Ministries seek to reach everybody, everywhere, anytime, any place, any language, any age with one message:  the Bible; and with one method: inductive study – to the glory of God!

Leave a comment

November 4, 2014 · 2:51 am

“Come, Let Us Sing!” – This November 23, 2014

2014 Anniversary Concert

Invite your family and friends to this annual SSP concert in celebration of its anniversary.  Free admission!

Leave a comment

November 2, 2014 · 9:09 am

New Audio File Uploaded: “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows” and the Two Incidents of the Feeding of the Multitudes – By Michael Card

Come Lift Up Your Sorrows by Michael Card

If you are wounded, if you are alone,
If you are angry, if your heart is cold as stone,
If you have fallen and if you are weak,
Come find the worth of God
That only the suffering seek.

(Chorus)
Come lift up your sorrows
And offer your pain;
Come make a sacrifice
Of all your shame;
There in your wilderness
He’s waiting for you
To worship Him with your wounds,
For He’s wounded too.

He has not stuttered, and He has not lied
When He said, “Come unto me, you’re not disqualified”
When your heavy laden, you may want to depart,
But those who know sorrow are closest to His heart.

In this most Holy Place
He’s made a sacred space
For those who will enter in
And trust to cry out to Him;
You’ll find no curtain there,
No reason left for fear;
There’s perfect freedom here
To weep every unwept tear.

So lift up your sorrows
And offer your pain;
Come make a sacrifice
Of all your shame;
There in your wilderness
He’s waiting for you
To worship Him with your wounds,
For He’s wounded too.

sspmanila audioDo you really believe that?  Can you possibly believe that that thing that hurts you the most may be the most precious thing that you have to offer God in worship?  That God uses sorrow – He uses suffering to save the world?  Could that possibly be true?

Could it be possibly true that the moment when Jesus was most being used by God, He was lamenting.  As He was on the cross, He was lamenting.  So we need to be encouraged – those of us who are sorrowful and confused, and even angry.

David says the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart, so if you’ve come this morning and that’s all you’ve got, you’ve come to the right place.  

I would like to look at two incidents in the Gospel of Matthew:  the feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand.  Let us look at it briefly.

This is an excerpt from Bro. Michael Card’s sermon on September 28, 2014, about the two incidents of the feeding of the multitudes by Jesus (Matthew 14 and John 15 ).  Learn more about this by listening to the complete sermon here.

(Visit sspmanila.org to access Sunday worship sermons for the past 3 months and other audio resources.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Audio Files & Videos