Day Two of “The Powerful Life of the Praying Pastor” conference here in Minneapolis was excellent! It was filled with so many rich, powerful speakers along with times of bonding with the team. The Lord has already arranged some really neat divine appointments, and I have been challenged immensely in my prayer life today.
“Helping Your People Discover the Praying Life” – PAUL MILLER
This first session this morning focused on living a life of prayer. Most Christians are struggling with prayer. That was the result of a survey done by Paul Miller, and his team, which showed that 90% of Christians and 80% of pastors do not have no functional prayer life. That was a very devastating stat! Many people feel guilt, confusion and frustration with prayer, not knowing how to concentrate while praying, or what prayer should look like, or even how or what to say to God.
Paul said we need to become like a little child in our prayer life. He gave many Scripture references that show how Jesus held children up as an example (Mark 10:13-16, Mark 9:33-37, Matthew 7:7-11, Luke 10:21, Matthew 21:14-17, John 5:19, Matthew 6:9-13, Mark 14:26). A child comes to God just the way he is, not concerned about our problems with prayer, just with his needs. They are helpless, desperate in their prayers. We need to bring our muddy, worried self to prayer, not our fixed-up, fake self. God doesn’t want the “spiritual” you in prayer, he want the raw, honest, real you. We need to learn how to ask in the right way. Some don’t ask anything of God, while others ask selfishly. We need a balance, as exampled by Jesus in the prayer at Gethsemane.
“Prayer as a Way of Walking in Love” – FRANCIS CHAN
This was my favorite session of the day, and one of the best messages I’ve heard about prayer! Francis Chan is always challenging, and it was amazing to hear some of the stories he told about how God has answered his prayers in incredible ways! As we experience God’s answers to prayers, our awe of who He is increases. He reminded us that every time we talk to someone, we need to depend on God’s power to change them. We can do nothing on our own. He said it would be like us going to a cemetery and trying to talk to the people in the graves, trying to convince them to come alive again. Prayer is a powerful tool!
We need to picture what our services look like to an unbeliever who comes in looking for God. Will he find God in our services, or will it just be a produced presentation of people looking good? We need to have that child-like excitement about our God, that we had when we learned stories of His power as kids in Sunday School. Why have we lost that? Do you still believe? James 5:17 was used as a reminder that Elijah didn’t have some supernatural power that we don’t have; it was his fervent prayers that brought the rain. We have that same power, even more with the Holy Spirit in us, that we can call on to do amazing things. Do we believe He will?
He also reminded us from Isaiah 58:6-9 that it is when we free the wrongly imprisoned, let the oppressed go free, share our food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless, that it is then that He will answer us when we call. Are we pleading for things, while at the same time ignoring the poor? That could be why God is not answering your prayers. We need to abide in Him (john 15) in order to bear much fruit. We shouldn’t focus on the work of God more that the pursuit of God Himself.
Psalm 27:4 reminds us that we should have one thing that we seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord and gaze on His beauty and to seek Him. He needs to be our stronghold, nothing else; not people, conferences, our free time, or anything else.
“Robert Murray McCheyne” – JOHN PIPER
This session was a biography by John Piper of Robert Murray McCheyne, a pastor from Scotland who led a powerful, but short-lived life of prayer. I didn’t know much about McCheyne before this, other than the fact that there is a reading plan on YouVersion by him. But, learning about his poetry, conversion, call to ministry, ministry life and then death at age 29, was a powerful challenge to not waste your life. His words are often-quoted now in sermons and other areas, thanks to a friend of his who wrote down his memoirs.
“Leading Family Worship” – JOEL BEEKE
I was really looking forward to this session, because I have been wanting to start to incorporate family devotions into our routine. I have been feeling bad that I don’t have a regular habit of doing that with the kids. This was a very convicting and encouraging session, led by Joel Beeke. He laid out a plan for fathers to lead a family worship time that consists of daily instruction in the Word of God, daily prayer to the throne of God, and daily singing praise to God. His plan was very detailed, and his passion for it was very appealing, most of it coming right from his book by the same name. He described our duty to do this, ways to implement it, debunked several objections to doing it, and provided motivations for doing it. I don’t think I’ll be able to implement all of his ideas right away, but it got me thinking, and I need to begin to do some kind of regular family worship time.
It was a great day, and don’t forget – you can listen to all of these sessions online at the Desiring God website. They are also sending out the final sessions tomorrow to their livestream. One more day to go!