Saturday, January 10, 2009

Prayer 1: Prayer and ministry from Stuart Briscoe

Our “Ministry Focus” for 2009 is prayer-- which I’ll give more details about soon.

As a part of that, I’m going to incorporate thoughts, reflections, quotes, and resources about prayer into my blogging for this year. Here is the first, from Pastor Stuart Briscoe, about how vital prayer is for ministry (of all types-- including vocational ministry, but also the ministry of the laity, Ruling Elders, Deacons, etc.):

Gifting was not enough! Practice might make perfect, but it wouldn't address need in its rawest form. Sharpening skills and improving methodology, polishing technique and being innovative and relevant could not effectively counter the presence of evil I was confronting on a daily basis. I was dealing with issues supernaturally conceived and devilishly exacerbated, and only supernatural counteraction would suffice. I needed to put into practice the third foundational principle of my ministry: Pray that the Spirit moves. I freely admit that my prayer life has been deficient and my growth in this area less than stellar. I believe in prayer but don't always do it. I understand that I'm told to pray, but I don't always obey. I am an activist by nature; I am not contemplative by temperament. I am not happy with this state of affairs and have given much thought to what prayer is, what it does, and what I need to be doing about it. Of a few things, however, I am sure; and over the years I have formulated my convictions as follows: Prayer must be a declaration of dependence-- a heartfelt cry from a frail human being commissioned to speak in the name of the Almighty and to be the agent of his working among strife-torn people. This agent must be painfully aware of his or her limitations of ability and suitability for such a task and cry out for empowering and enabling that alone will suffice to achieve divine ends. Prayer must also be a litany of longing. The promise of overflowing blessing in John 7:37-38 is made to those who are "thirsty"-- those who in recognition of their own needs are willing to freely confess them, are eager to address them, and are ready to "Come and drink," to take whatever steps will release the promised provision, because the desire is so strong and the need so pressing. Bein thirsty signifies a sense of divine discontent with thins as they are, a growing conviction that things could be much closer to what they ought to be, and a willingness to pursue whatever is prescribed. And finally, prayer must also be an expression of expectation-- a humble claiming of the immutable promise of blessing made by the Son of God who cannot lie and a settled assurance that the promised Spirit, through whose activity alone the blessing will flow has been given, is resident within and is more than ready to accomplish that for which he has been sent in and through obedient, dependent servants. This, I am sure, is the kind of praying we need and for which I strive. And in response to this kind of praying, I believe the work will continue to thrive. Thank God that we have many people in our community of faith whose praying is infinitely more effective than mine.

Flowing Streams: Journeys of a Life Well-Lived by Stuart Briscoe. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008, p. 151-152.]

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