For the present moment, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Jesus Freaks (Volume 2), compiled by DC Talk and Voice Of the Martyrs. In the following short quotations from this book, there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
"Against the persecution of a tyrant the godly have no remedy but prayer." (John Calvin, French Reformer, 1509-1564)
"No one--imprisoned, tortured, harassed, or persecuted--should escape the vigilance of the praying church." (World Council of Churches, Nairobi Assembly, 1975)
A moment of introspection: In John 8:17, Jesus alludes to a fundamental of Jewish law during His time on earth--that "In your Law it is written that the testimony of two men is true." In today's devotional, the testimony of two sources is given, and provides us with an aspect of Christian truth. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us that God hears our prayers when our requests fall within His will. This should give us encouragement in our intercession, for we know that our petitions are heard. What does it mean, to be part of a vigilant praying church? Here are some thoughts on that score. We may not live up to all of these characteristics, but we may strive to meet some:
* a vigilant church is often on its knees in prayer, constant for some, daily for others, but regular for all
* a vigilant church is aware of the state of today's church around the world, with the aim of praying cogently and effectively for our family
* a vigilant church is active in support of those suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ
* a vigilant church is regularly in touch with God's mercy seat, confessing shortcomings and seeking unimpeded prayer access to His heavenly throne
* a vigilant church knows the history of God's Church on this earth, and knows how today's struggles reflect those of Christians past
* a vigilant church seeks Holy Spirit guidance and aid in intercession, and Holy Spirit utterance when we do not know what or how to pray (Romans 8:26)
* a vigilant church prays honestly and simply, without ornament or artifice--purely given to communication with God
* a vigilant church recognizes tyrants in its own realm, whether they be political, social, personal (e.g, greed, fear, slothfulness) and realizes the power of prayer in the tearing down of these tyrants
* a vigilant church recognizes full well the power of remedial prayer, for it is the power to change, to restore, to bring healing
* a vigilant church boldly confronts tyrants' persecution through prayer
* a vigilant church is a church with a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11)
* a vigilant church is not perfect, but yearns to be--as it carries on its ministries
Does the vigilant church have a place in our local congregational settings? Does it exist in mine, in yours? If not, what can we do to plant it as a seed within the body? I once spoke with an elderly gentleman in my church and, in listening to him count and recount his maladies and the frailties of growing older, I patiently heard him out, and then put forth my question. I expressed, "I understand your sense of loss, yet I would think you could still pray within the church and for the church." The fellow looked dejectedly back at me and said, "No, I can't do that." We cannot allow ourselves and our churches to slip from being alertly watchful in our prayer lives.
Don't know how to pray vigilantly? Look to the Bible, wherein lie many examples for us to follow, in directing our prayer. The following are just a small sampling of New Testament guides to our prayer:
Colossians 4:3 (ESV)
3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—
1 Thessalonians 3:10 (ESV)
10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
2 Thessalonians 1:11 (ESV)
11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,
2 Thessalonians 3:1 (ESV)
1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,
1 Timothy 2:8 (ESV)
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
Philemon 1:6 (ESV)
6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.
James 5:13 (ESV)
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
James 5:16 (ESV)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
A wise man once remarked, "When you are reading a book in a dark room, and find it difficult, you take it to a window to get more light. So take your Bible to Christ." (Robert Murray McCheyne)
I would change this adjuration, for the vigilant church, to read: When you are praying and prayer becomes difficult, take your prayer to God's Word, wherein lies a treasure trove of intercessory insight and helps. Let's BE the vigilant praying church--in our homes, in our jobs, in our churches. "No one--imprisoned, tortured, harassed, or persecuted--should escape the vigilance of the praying church."