Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Look at Prayer Requests in the New Testament

As an Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal I understand that the foundational thought of the movement is Restorationism! Restorationism is also described as Christian primitivism, that is, the belief that the present day church has lost its original doctrines, beliefs, actions and lifestyle and must be restored to its earliest days when it was at in its purest form.

This thought causes me  to be a stickler concerning the use of the New Testament as the model for the present-day church! The acceptance of the writings of the New Testament by the early church, who were eyewitnesses of the events that are recorded, gives credence to the desire to use the writings of the New Testament as the source of our Christian beliefs. Though the Church Father's were tremendous individuals and writers, they lived decades and even centuries after the original writers of the New Testament. Their writings are human reflections upon the original writings of the early church, which is considered the Word of God. Some might consider them a reference to be used as the foundation of Christian beliefs but for me, someone who is a Restorationist, I want to base my salvation upon the writings of those who were the closest in time and location to my Savior, Jesus Christ! Thus as a pastor of a local church in the 21st century I choose to use the New Testament as the foundation for the beliefs and actions that the present-day church should follow.

One of the actions that can be seen among present-day Churches and individual Christians is one that is known as "prayer requests".Prayer requests are common occurrences in the lives of the people of God. Not only are they shared with individuals on a one-on-one basis but often they are included in the corporate worship of the church when the church gathers together.

What is a prayer request? We could define it as: a request that others would pray to God for problems or needs in an individual's life or the life of someone that they know. The person making the request for others to join them in prayer is founded upon the statement by the Lord in Matthew 18:19 which states:

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

By asking others to join you in prayer for certain situations you are fulfilling the prerequisites for the prayer being answered by God. The request is an action of someone's internal faith! The faith that is within their mind, which other humans cannot see, is revealed when they opened their mouth and ask for prayer partners. Now their faith is readily understood because their words of request can be heard by other human beings. But not only is there faith expressed to other humans when they give their prayer request but they also expose God to their faith! God is pleased when he sees or hears faith coming from humans (Hebrews 11:6)!

When we hear the prayer request we also find out the priorities and needs in a person's life. Knowing these items can help the body of Christ be unified since we know the needs of others. The prayer request can move us to compassion and concern for our friend. If we have had similar life experiences we know can go to them and share the history of our own experience which can build them up.

Prayer requests are important because they are the foundation of getting an answer to a need from God. Jesus, when responding to the question of his disciples "Lord, teach us to pray" in Luke 11:1, instructs them to ask or request and it will be given to you (11:9). The request is necessary to be able to have the desire fulfilled. Prayer requests are extremely important for the Christian who understands "without Him I can do nothing"(John 15:5).

During the next few weeks we will be examining the prayer requests of:
                • Jesus
                • The Church of Acts and
                • The Apostle Paul.

Is there a motif or theme that is connected between these individuals and/or groups? Are the prayer request for personal financial gain? Or are they for miracles of healing in the lives of their family and friends? As we examine this subject I'm confident that we will receive a revelation that could change what we ask for during our prayer request services. Join me as we seek to know the ways of the Lord in a greater measure than we've ever known Him before.

Friday, July 4, 2014

My Favorite Poem

My favorite type of literature is historical in nature. Autobiographies and biographies catch my attention! Poetry has a place in my bookshelf but it is extremely limited. But there are a number of works of poetry that are extremely special to me. They are special because I relate to the subject or the feeling of the author.
My favorite work of poetry I first heard quoted by Rev. Arlis Glass at a high school graduation. When he recited the poem he added a dimension of drama with his use of voice variations and facial expressions. I was mesmerized by his quotation of the poem.
The author of the poem drew me in stanza by stanza. It connected with a an internal desire that was within my heart. That desire was a desire to never give up no matter the obstacles that you faced! To never quit neither lie down in defeat! To ignore the words of the crowd that was speaking negatively and to listen to the inner voice that told me I could do anything.
Today as I face the struggle of rehabilitating my broken wrist and the weakened muscles that surround it I hear the voice of the physician who stated this week that I would not get total movement back and would face arthritis at some point. Something welled up with in my heart and I refused to accept the negative prognosis. My mind journeyed to my special poem and immediately I began to quote it under my breath. Here is what I said:

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

It is important in life to have moments of self talk. Like David these talks to yourself will bring encouragement when the circumstances of life are extremely negative. They will give you faith to climb when your troubles seemed insurmountable. They will be needed at numerous times as you endure lengthy trials. Always remember the words of Paul to the church at Philippi:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13).

The title of the poem is "It Couldn’t Be Done" by Edgar Albert Guest.