Good Monday afternoon church!
To start this week’s update, I want to share next Sunday’s sermon text with you. Please read it often this week, reflect on it, write down some thoughts, and discuss it with your family.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again– rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me– everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
My goal is to address “Don’t worry about anything” in next Sunday’s sermon, but for now I want us to focus on the very next phrase. “Pray about everything.” This is a pretty simple, short, straight-forward statement. Pray about everything. But when something is a very broad (or general) statement, at times it can be difficult to figure out what this means practically. Here are a few suggestions for us as we commit to praying this week. I’d love to hear from you with anything you would add to this list. Stay in touch.
For this week, let’s focus our prayers on two specific phrases in this text.
“Tell God what you need.”
Yes, God knows everything about us and our situation. But we are still called to tell God what we need. This helps us remember that we don’t have to carry our burdens all alone. So, tell God what you need. My challenge for this week is to be specific. Pray for people by name. Pray for needs with as much detail as you can. Pray out loud, even if you are by yourself. Write down your requests. And pay attention to how God answers, and how he uses you to answer as well.
“Thank him for all he has done.”
In many ways, it might be best to start our prayers with thanksgiving. Make a list. (As a church, we have a thankfulness journal you can download). Again, be specific. Be creative. Make a list starting with every letter of the alphabet. Make a list only using characteristics of God. Make a list of only people you know whom God has used to impact you. And be so bold as to send a note/text/email to someone thanking them directly. We all need encouragement.
Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated, or overly formal. Prayer is being in conversation with God. Yes, talk to him, but also spend time listening. Pray with your family. Call someone and pray over the phone. Pray on a video chat. Who knows? Maybe we should plan an online video chat prayer time sometime this week as a church. What do you think?
And finally, here’s a suggestion I received from someone in our church.
“A thought I had was to ask the church to set aside the same time (every day) for us all to take five minutes to pray as a group of believers for God to conquer!”
So, please join me. I’ve set an alarm on my phone for 4:06pm every day. Why this time? Philippians 4:6 (see above). Let’s pray specifically at this time for those who are on the front lines of fighting this pandemic. Who’s joining me?
Church, these are trying times, but we can trust God! Let’s help each other trust! Let’s pray!