Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Between Three Worlds - Prayer
Previously in this series I outlined a brief case concerning reforming the black church. I did so not because I have all the answers, but because in my view the social/historical factors that helped shaped the black church has brought us to the point where it is badly in need of reform. I realize that this view is not shared by all but for those who do I now want to chart a course toward that reform. Of course I welcome your input so please feel free to comment on the blog or drop me a line.
Where do we begin? With prayer. While that would seem to be a no brainer I still think it’s important to emphasize the need to have prayer at the forefront of our movement. To begin, prayer acknowledges that God chooses to work His sovereign will in response to the prayers of His people. (see Matt. 6:9-10; Acts 4:23-31) Prayer also reminds us that despite all our effort it is God’s power, goodness and grace alone that changes hearts and expands His kingdom. The apostle Paul consistently asked the saints to pray for him and the mission God had called him to (Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3 and 1 Thes. 5:25).
And in light of the continued degeneration of God’s church among black Americans (see T. Carter’s latest blog) it should be clear that prayer is crucial if were are to change the current mind and heartset of the black church. What should we pray for? There are a number of places to begin, but in light of our current crises I’ll start with the shepherds of God’s people. Taking Acts 20 as a guide let’s pray that the shepherds of God’s people will wake up and pay much closer attention to our lives and the those whom God has charged us with shepherding. What does it mean to pay attention to ourselves and ministry? Looking at Paul’s model of ministry in Acts 20 let’s pray that we will serve our Lord with complete humility. Pray that we will major on the core gospel issue of repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ. Pray that we will determine to teach through the scriptures in a biblical, systematic, comprehensive and Christ-focused manner. Pray that we will live upright lives of genuine holiness before all. And by all means pray that we will not use our calling and abuse God’s people by seeking to get rich.
Pray that we would realize the gravity of our calling by understanding that this is God’s own people purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. Pray that we will shepherd in the light of having to answer to Him for how we conducted our lives, taught His word and oversaw the spiritual needs of His people. Pray that we would care for and not abuse His people. Pray that we would stand against the savage wolves who only wish to abuse the flock for their own pride and pocketbook. Finally, pray that our Lord will raise up hundreds perhaps even thousands of shepherds who truly desire to lead His people, cultivate lives of holiness, teach the word and honor Him.
A second category of prayer concerns the black church’s and greater black community’s deliverance from the idols of materialism (see Col. 3:5), ease and comfort. There really is no other way to say it. Far too much of the black church and black community is actively worshiping (that is deriving our identity, dignity, destiny, meaning, worth and security) money and things. We’ve not only joined the American obsession with wealth and materialism but have actually brought it into the church and lifted it up as God to the extent that even the unsaved among our community believe that it is God’s express will and intent to make us wealthy. Pray that God would awaken our people to the foolishness of this idolatry and help us to realize that we really can’t serve two masters.
The third category of prayer is related to that. Pray that God would give us a strong desire to know, love and delight in Him as an end in and of itself. Pray that the goodness, love, beauty and glory of Jesus Christ would capture our hearts, minds, attention and affection.
Fourthly, pray that our churches and people would be concerned for the true truth of God for truth’s sake. Pray that our people would hear and pay attention to God’s truth about Himself, ourselves, sin, salvation, scripture, the Spirit, Jesus Christ, His church, suffering and other issues important in our walk with Him. According to Eph. 4 pray that we wouldn’t be blown back and forth by every so-called new move of God and that we would simply grow up.
Lastly, (but certainly not exhaustively since there is so much to pray for) pray for reform. Pray that the seeds of the reformation that have begun to sprout here and there among the black church would mushroom into a movement that will eventually see God’s truth which is centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ become the dominant theology in our churches and community for our good and His glory.
To Him Who Loves Us…