February 17, 2017
Dear Partners in Prayer
As you look through the prayer list from your church or fellowship it is relatively easy to categorize the extensive concerns to which prayer is applied. We appreciate the one who knows the family of God at a certain location and perhaps the more extensive family scattered around the globe. These faithful informers serve the church by putting before us the needs that come to them or that they solicit from family and friends. We receive many of them and are grateful for a window into churches where we have ministry from time to time. Sometimes it is the only personal peek we have between visits. Many missionaries send us letters asking for prayer for ministry issues and challenges they face serving the Lord.
May I suggest you stop and consider grouping together the same kinds of needs that are presented for prayer? Without doubt medical conditions are the greatest exercise for the family of God for each other on a corporate prayer list. Sometimes that is the only thing on the list. Cancer and surgery top the list of these needs. It may be that on most lists the second is help for problems in life like job, children, travel, finances, tests, safety etc. A third area is basically to escape from any difficulty, trial, problem or any other untoward thing that might arise in the occupation of daily living as a Christian. It might be simply phrased by asking the Lord to make our life as easy, simple, uneventful, painless, trouble free and quick as possible. Perhaps immediate deliverance from whatever is affecting us adversely is a good summary.
The scriptures are clear there are three aspects which should direct our prayers. One is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, second the will of God, and third the Word of God. Not only is that clear but the record of the prayers of Paul indicate that his primary concern in prayer was the spiritual growth of believers in various churches he wrote. Though he mentions those who are sick he does not generally pray for them to be healed. James does urge folks to pray for healing in the context of sins having affected the health of the one being prayer for. Perhaps we might enquire if poor health is the result of sin before we pray for healing? Paul did pray three tims for the removal of the “thorn in the flesh” whatever it was.
That in itself brings up the most comprehensive issue for prayer which is preeminent in NT prayers but usually lacking in our prayers. When did we last see a prayer request for spiritual development, growth, overcoming strength, courage, fortitude, spiritual maturity, wisdom, appropriation of resources, appreciation of Christ? Why is it always escape from the very things God uses to bring maturity, wisdom, growth, strength and knowledge of Christ and His Word?
We often pray against the will of God as He reveals “If any one suffer according to the will of God…” We pray against the Word of God which says, “In the world you will have tribulation…” Let us return to the biblical pattern of praying personally for the spiritual maturity of those we know and love. Our Lord prayed not that His followers would be taken out of the world and its influences but that we, like Him, would overcome the world. The same Lord prayed for His weak disciple, Peter, not that a hedge would be built around him or that he would not be tempted but the “his faith would not fail” in the throes of spiritual temptation that was coming to him.
We appreciate your praying for our safety, the supply of our needs, the usefulness of our ministry and many other issues you bring before the throne of Grace. We are grateful when you pray for our spiritual maturity, the appropriation of the riches of His divine grace and that we will grow up into the fullness of His image in a world that desperately needs to see Christ in our lives.
As you pray you can refer to the list of ministry opportunities in the near future for us at the bottom of the page. A few changes have been made for some dates in the rest of the year but nothing momentous. Much of next year has also been booked in the will of God. Your prayers for these arrangements are always appropriated because they are a source of concern that we will be where He wants us to be that far in advance.
We do continue with many varying ministries here at home including weddings, funerals, counseling, teaching, visiting, bible studies, hospitality, many emails and phone calls offering help in different issues. Your bathing these responsibilities in your prayers give us a sense of confidence in the Lord we love and why we continue
Serving the greatest Master
Fred and Jenny