• What to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Pray

    One of the most frustrating things can be prayer. I know we all struggle to find the time to pray but do you find that when you do pray that sometimes you don’t know what to pray?I find this especially true that I don’t know what to pray for the people at my church.

    One of the things that I do when I don’t know what to pray is pray one of Paul’s prayers (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 1:3:9-13 ,2 Thessalonians 1:1-12, Colossians 1:9-14, Philippians 1:9-11, Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Romans  15:14-33). What could be better than praying the prayers that are in scripture for each other?

    The prayer that I like most our of the above list is Ephesians 3:14-21. It reads:

    14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

    20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

    The two things Paul is praying for is firstly, that the Ephesians would have Christ dwell in their heart more. This is akin to asking God to change their life so they are more centered on him. And secondly, that they would know the love Christ more and more. What great prayers to pray!

    Next time you are praying why not pray this prayer for the people at your church if you get stuck for things to pray for?

    You may also like:

    What I Wish I Did When I Planted Resolved Part 5: Worked on my Preaching and Prayer Life More

    What I wish I did when I started fulltime ministry

    A prayer that all Christian leaders need to pray

  • How to Grow as a Christian

    We live in a time where people are so busy that really important things get pushed to the periphery of life. For example reading the Bible and praying. This is the stuff that Christian growth is made of and yet we are more likely to listen to podcast than hear from God himself or read a book rather than read the Bible.

    I have been reading a book by Andy Stanley called Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. In it he has this quote about devotions or time where you read your Bible and pray:

    “Personal spiritual disciplines introduce a sense of intimacy and accountability to our faith walks. Private spiritual disciplines tune our hearts to the heart of God and underscore personal accountability to our heavenly Father. There is a direct correlation between a person’s private devotional life and his or her personal faith. And regardless of how long you’ve been in ministry, this is something you can’t afford to lose sight of. When God speaks to us personally through his Word or answers a specific prayer, our faith is strengthened. This is why private disciplines is a faith catalyst. One of the most impactful things I heard my dad say growing up was, “The most important thing in your life is your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” That’s direct. And I have found it to be absolutely correct. As my personal devotional life goes, so goes my faith, my confidence in God. And I don’t know if this is true for everybody, but as my confidence in God goes, so goes my personal confidence.”

    Andy Stanley – Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend

    Did you read those sentences “As my personal devotional life goes, so goes my faith, my confidence in God. And I don’t know if this is true for everybody, but as my confidence in God goes, so goes my personal confidence” Wow.

    I have seen that if a Christian is reading their Bible and praying then their walk with Jesus will be much stronger than if they aren’t. In fact when people are feeling far from God the first thing that I try to get them to do again is pick up their Bible, read it and pray. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other factors that make people feel far from Jesus it just means that the cure for feeling distant from God is something that all Christians know they should do but a lot of us (including myself) need reminding to do.

    How is your Bible reading and prayer?

    You may also like:

    A prayer that all Christian leaders need to pray

    What I Wish I Did When I Planted Resolved Part 5: Worked on my Preaching and Prayer Life More

    What I wish I did when I started fulltime ministry

  • A prayer that all Christian leaders need to pray

    I have been reading Replenish by Lance Witt and on page after page it has been cutting to the core of me and doing significant heart work. Today, I have been reading about the desire pastors have to be significant in people’s eyes which is a significant struggle I have. Here is a prayer that I am going to pray daily which Lance has in his book. I think it is  a prayer that all Christian leaders should pray:

    Today I still long for so much honour, I am so pleased with myself, so rooted in my nature. I am pleased when others as for my opinion, when I am made to feel I am needed, when people know that I am clever, talented and popular. I am glad when I am friends with everyone, when I can share what is in my heart, when I can shine.
    But Lord Jesus, you were servant of all. Today I surrender all desire to be great; I renounce all pleasure I take in being important.
    (From Baselia Schlink’s book I found the Key to the Heart of God: My Personal Story, 47-48 as quoted in Lance Witt Replenish)
    Is this a prayer you need to pray too?
  • Why we Sydney Evangelicals need to be a bit more charasmatic

    I preached on these verses over the weekend:

     “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

     “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

    Matthew 7:7-11

    As I was preparing the text I found myself thinking “But there are some things that this doesn’t apply to.” I was thinking about asking God for fancy cars, money and general bling. All of which I am still sure this text doesn’t apply to. But as I kept thinking I found myself rationalizing this text away. I was thinking that there were so many good things I was saying this couldn’t apply to.

    This can’t mean that if we ask God for revival in our land he would do it.

    This can’t mean that if we ask God for healing of this sin or sickness he would do it.

    This can’t mean that if we ask God for spiritual renewal in our church he would do it.

    I mean those things seem so big!

    I know what you are thinking “In his sovereignty God may or may not bring those things to pass” Totally and 100 percent agree.But,  have we used God’s sovereignty to negate us asking big things of God? Have we, in our cultural and theological conservatism, really undermined this text and undermined the character of God as revealed in this text?

    Our charismatic brothers and sisters seem to believe this text more than I do. They not only believe it intellectually but they believe it in action and prayers. We see this in the things they try to do for God and the types of prayers they pray.

    I need to learn from my charismatic brothers and sisters in this area.

    Do you too?

  • 12 things I want to achieve in 2012

    1. I want to grow closer to Jesus. By reading my bible and praying every day.
    2. I want to grow closer to my wife by finding two ways each week to romance her and being more intentional about our relationship
    3. I want to build stronger and more loving relationships with my friends and family.
    4. I am praying to see 10 people I love come to know, love and serve Jesus
    5. I am determined to see a Jesus centered culture of love, encouragement, execution, evangelism and discipleship to be instilled at Resolved
    6. I am dedicated to read at least 50 books
    7. I am planning to spend 5 hours a week practicing guitar
    8. I am planning to spend 5 hours a week working out
    9. I am going to finish the two books I have started writing
    10. I plan to be on time for everything
    11. I am determined to always do what I say I will do
    12. I am endeavouring to enjoy every moment and make every moment count

    What do you want to achieve in 2012?

     

  • What I Wish I Did When I Planted Resolved Part 5: Worked on my Preaching and Prayer Life More

    “That was a lazy way to make that point!”

    This was one thing an older brother in Christ told me over and over as he critiqued my sermon. But his next comment hit harder.

    “Hans, you have potential but if you just rely on your gifts and don’t work hard that potential will be wasted!”

    Cutting words but true words. They were spoken to me a few years before I planted Resolved. But what I found when I started Resolved is that I didn’t work on my preaching and prayer like I should have. I was happy to arrogantly rely and rest on my gifts instead of putting the hard work in. This meant that my sermons weren’t as good as they should have been and that I haven’t improved as a preacher as much as I should have. It also meant that my prayer life sucked and I now am working hard to get it back on track.

    As a pastor my primary job is to be a man of the word and prayer and so I need to give adequate time to these pursuits.  A great sermon doesn’t just happen, it comes about through work and sweat and prayer and reading and thinking and practicing and….well you get my drift.

    It is easy when you plant a church to neglect the things that don’t seem urgent like preaching and prayer. But these things are vital if we want churches to grow and flourish.

    How are you organising your days and weeks so that you can adequately prepare your sermons and you can spend good time in prayer for yourself, your family, your church and your city?

    Let’s not be lazy in these things. Let’s be disciplined!

     

  • What I wish I did when I started fulltime ministry

    It is the time of year that people in their last year bible/theological college or in their last few weeks of work before doing an internship next year. Either way these are exciting times, times of great opportunity and potential but opportunity and potential need to be worked with to be fully realised. If you are doing an internship or going into fulltime ministry have you though and planned for next year? Have you worked out what your priorities are?

    Here are a few things I wish I did when I started fulltime ministry:

    1. Scheduled in times for bible reading, prayer and reading.

    When fulltime ministry hits one of the first things that can go out the window is personal bible reading and prayer. This is because bible reading and prayer seems not urgent but those 50 emails are urgent. This is where we need to work on things that are not urgent but are very important. This means scheduling in time to read the bible and pray, time to read theology, time to have significant alone time with God. If you are in fulltime ministry and you don’t work on your relationship with God why should you expect anyone else to work on theirs?

    2. Got a mentor

    There is a temptation that when we enter into fulltime ministry we have got it all sorted and we know how things are because we have had great training. But one of the things I realised (and am still realising) is that despite all the great training that I had at bible college there is so much more to learn about myself, theology, the world, people etc. Having a mentor who will put time into you and keep you accountable with your bible reading prayer, godliness etc is a great thing to have.  I know I have benefitted greatly from my mentors!

    3. Worked on my health and fitness

    Since starting Resolved I have put on about 13 kilos. Yes you read that right 13 kilos! In the first year of Resolved I slept very poorly, ate worse and almost never exercised. I have been convicted of my need to look after myself by my beautiful caring wife and my rapidly developing gut. Needless to say in the grind and rapid pace of ministry there will be temptations for you to eat junk, not work out and sleep only a few hours a night. This will surely mean you will burn out or become very ineffective.

    4. Worked harder on my preaching.

    I think I have a gift of communication and sometimes I am lazy and I rely on this. I wish from day one I not only prepared the text properly (which I usually did) but I also worked on how to communicate that text properly. Working out how to communicate the word properly turns your speech from a boring exegetical lecture to a great expository sermon.

    5. Worked harder at being organised

    I like flying by the seat of my pants. It is fun and exciting for me. But it is not for everyone else. I need to love the people I lead/pastor by being as organised for every meeting as I can, setting deadlines and keeping them and keeping myself to a high standard in the area of organisation. If I don’t do this I will lose credibility very fast and I bring the gospel and my ministry into disrepute.

    6. Made every moment count

    Because of my lack of organisation and my arrogance I wasted time. I didn’t realise and keep in front of me that every moment matters and that God is going to hold me to account. So when I am at work I need to work hard with all the hours I have. I shouldn’t scroll endlessly through blogs or YouTube or debating about how much pastors should be paid on my bible college year Yahoo group. Brothers and sisters going into fulltime ministry, you will have a lot of time to use effectively but also a lot of time to waste. Please don’t waste your time. The gospel is too important, hell too real and Jesus too amazing for us to waste time!

    These are things I am continuing to work and I will be working on these till I die I am sure. My prayer is that if you are going into fulltime ministry next year you will have a long and fruitful ministry and you will see many people come to know our great Lord Jesus!

     

  • Sometimes I don’t live in reality

    Go, my people, enter your rooms
    and shut the doors behind you;
    hide yourselves for a little while
    until his wrath has passed by.
    See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling
    to punish the people of the earth for their sins.
    The earth will disclose the blood shed on it;
    the earth will conceal its slain no longer.

    Isaiah 26:20-21

    Amongst other things I read in the Bible this morning was Isaiah 26 which is a passage chock full of imagery that speaks of God and his salvation of the righteous and his destruction of the wicked.

    But it was the two verses above that really hit me. This passage hit me again in the heart about how God is going to come back to save some people and punish others for their rebellion against him.

    That is reality

    I prayed that God would give me a renewed sense of reality and went out of my office to buy a heater and it hit me in a real way.

    The guy who I bought the heater off if he doesn’t know Jesus he is under God’s terrible judgement!

    The woman pushing that pram if she doesn’t know Jesus she is under God’s terrible judgement!

    The funky looking girl reading a book in the cafe if she doesn’t know Jesus she is under God’s terrible judgement!

    Then I thought about my friends and family, if they don’t know Jesus they are under God’s terrible judgement!

    And the only thing that can save them is the gospel!

    This is reality

    It hit me how much I really don’t live in reality. Of course I know intellectually about the reality of the coming judgement. I know intellectually about the reality that salvation if found only in Jesus. But I go through my day without ever thinking about reality. I go through the day without letting reality shape my day.

    I don’t let reality inspire me to pray

    I don’t let reality give me courage to tell my friends about Jesus

    I don’t let reality impinge on how I use my time

    I don’t let reality push me to use my money generously

     

    My prayer is that I will live in reality every moment of every day.

     

    Are you living in reality?