Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Priority & Power of Prayer: Part 2

Four Prerequisites For Powerful Prayer
(Taken from a message given by Jackson Senyonga and found in “The Power Of A City At Prayer” by Mac Pier & Katie Sweeting)

1.Prayer must be desperate.

We must see our own need for God – out utter dependence on Him – and cry out to Him from our own impotence. Only when we realize that we can do nothing of value without Him will we come to Him in desperation.

Psalm 142:5-6 = I cry out to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

1 Samuel 30:6 = And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his own sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

Mark 9:24 = Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe, help my unbelief!”

John 15:5 = I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in Him, He it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

“Christ’s power is best displayed against the backdrop of human weakness.” - unknown pastor

2.Prayer must be united.

We need to pray in our own prayer closets in solitude at home, but we also need to pray together. There is great power in corporate prayer!

Acts 1:14 = All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer

Acts 2:42 = And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

3. Prayer must be sustained.

Prayer is not a practice that we pick up today and drop tomorrow in favor of some new spiritual fad. Prayer is essential to our lives! Prayer must be a day by day practice sustained on a personal level and on a corporate level

Psalm 105:4 = Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually!

Ephesians 6:18 = praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 = Pray without ceasing.

4. Prayer must be inspired.

The Holy Spirit inspires our praying, and we need to listen to the leading of the Spirit as we pray.

Romans 8:26-27 = Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Ephesians 6:18 = praying at all times in the Spirit

Notable Quotes On Prayer

“Prayer breaks all bars, dissolves all chains, opens all prisons, and widens all straits by which God’s saints have been held.” -E.M. Bounds

“Behind every work of God you will always find some kneeling form.” - D.L. Moody

“It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone.” - Hudson Taylor

“Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief.” - John Piper

“The spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer.” J. Oswald Sanders

“One should never initiate anything that he cannot saturate in prayer.” - unknown

“sometimes we have to push through until duty becomes delight” – unknown

“Four things let us ever keep in mind: God hears prayer, God heeds prayer, God answers prayer, and God delivers by prayer.” E.M. Bounds

Monday, October 24, 2011

Living In Harmony

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at LHNC. We have been working our way through the book of 1 Peter. You can listen to my message here. I would also encourage you to listen to the first two messages in the series preached by Pastor Aaron & Pastor Curtis. (We also have a podcast on I-Tunes, if you look up Living Hope Neighborhood Church.)

Here are some of the points of emphasis from this Sunday's message...

1 Peter 1:22-2:10
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation - if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame." So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," and a "stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

“We have a living hope in Jesus Christ that that compels us to live in holiness and harmony so that we might demonstrate and declare His excellencies.”

This supernatural rebirth has made it possible for us to obey the truth, to purify ourselves, and to love our brothers and sisters (v. 22-23)

The Cornerstone determines the design and orientation of a building is the most significant stone in the structure. The Cornerstone is the visible support on which the rest of the building relies for strength and stability. We are the building & Jesus Christ is Our CORNERSTONE!

Our unity affects our outreach
Our oneness affects our witness

John 17:21 = That they (believers, disciples) may all be one, just as You Father are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Priority & Power of Prayer: Part One

One of the themes that the Lord is pressing into my life since moving to Richmond is the importance of fasting and prayer. These are disciplines that all of us as Christ followers would say are crucial, and yet we often struggle to consistently and persistently seek God. One of our first decisions as a pastoral team (and probably are most important decision) was to devote Wednesdays to fasting and prayer - to pray for our church and pray for our city. Wednesday has honestly become my favorite day of the week here. I feel like I am learning to pray afresh, and I am seeing God answer prayers and reveal Himself through our times of prayer.

We have also met some brothers who have unknowingly impacted us with their intentionality and devotion to prayer.

First, we met a pastor who began volunteering at Richmond HS when his son was a student there (I believe 6 to 8 years ago). He started volunteering with the basketball team as an assistant coach. The Lord gave him a real burden for the students of Richmond HS. So he began to look for other opportunities to volunteer and to have a presence in the school. In addition to helping with the basketball team, he began substitute teaching, and then volunteering as the school health officer. He eventually was hired as the school health officer. This position probably pays next to nothing. However, that is not his aim. He is doing it so that he can maintain a presence within the high school. He takes prayer walks and prays for the school in the morning before the day begins. Sometimes during the day he walks the halls and prays for the students. He invited us to come and pray with him anytime. He is praying that God would move upon the hearts of students, faculty, and the administration. He believes in the power of prayer.

Second, we met a man who is the executive director of an inner city para church ministry in San Francisco. His ministry is located in the Tenderloin District, which we were told is probably the poorest area in San Francisco. He started this ministry 29 years ago. When he first began, he left his corporate job because he felt God calling him to respond to the needs of this particular neighborhood. He was able to initially rent a storefront, but he knew the ministry would need more space - if they were to provide housing, and be able to do wholistic ministry there. So he rented an office space in a very spacious four story building that was owned by a company. He chose this building because He had begun to pray that God would give the ministry the building. By renting an office space inside this building, he was given keys to the building. He would wait until all of the employees went home for the night, and then he would walk the halls and pray and ask God to give them the building. The building eventually went up for sale, and near that same time he received a call from a man who lived in Chinatown. The man asked him to come and meet with him. When he went to the man's house, the man told him the Lord had told him to give towards the ministry. Interestingly, the man gave him a large amount of gold coins. The gold coins were enough to put a down payment on the building, and the rehab project began. Today they have a homeless shelter, food pantry, thrift store, weekly worship service, offices, and Christian school within the building! More recently, a wealthy businessman bought the building next store to the ministry building and turned it into a strip club. The director of the ministry recognized the danger of this. Yet he knew that he needed the city to take legal action if the strip club was to be shut down. So he decided to fast and pray for 40 days. Not only that, but he decided to sit in front of city hall in a chair while he fasted and prayed these forty days. He invited others to pray with him that the city would move to shut the strip club down. On the 36th day, they invited him into city hall, and after speaking with him decided to answer his requests. The strip club was ordered to close its doors! His son also told us that once a year he walks around the perimeter of the city and prays for revival in San Francisco. He believes in the power of prayer.

I am thankful for what the Lord is challenging me with in the "school of prayer." Lord I believe, but help me in my unbelief.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bloodlines Documentary: Race & Grace

John Piper has a new book out entitled "Bloodlines." You can read more about it here. He also made a short documentary film, introducing the book and his personal story behind it. I really appreciate his transparency about the "deep inconsistencies" he saw in his own life, his family, his church, and the "system" in which he grew up. I also love his emphasis on the Gospel and how it cleanses, forgives, and puts to death the "old racist nature." I encourage you to watch this short documentary...

May we be a people and a church who devote our lives to "Christ exalting racial harmony" and who contend for racial justice, and may it all be driven by the Gospel!

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Praise and Prayer

Here are my Praises and Prayer Requests as we head into the month of October...

1) God's faithful provision (spiritual encouragement, finances, and relationally) throughout this major life transition!

2)God is pushing me out of my comfort zone and stretching me!

3)For safety as Josie and I moved her stuff from Branson to Richmond. We had a challenging journey, but God protected us and provided for us throughout the trip!

4)For encouraging connections and relationships being built with other pastors, coaches, teachers, non-profit leaders, etc.

Prayer Requests
1)For an increasing passion to seek God in prayer and the Word

2)For Josie and I as we continue to plan our wedding and do premarital counseling long distance

3)For discipleship relationships to continue to be developed here

4)I will be sharing my testimony at our Saturday service this week (10/15). I will be preaching on Sunday 10/23 and Saturday 10/29. Please pray that the LORD would direct those messages, and that Christ would be exalted in what I share.

5)Every Wednesday we fast and pray as a pastoral team for the needs of our church and our city. Would you pray with us and for us on Wednesdays?

6)Financial Needs: I have made two major moves in the last month and a half. First, I moved all of my stuff to California in late August. Then, Josie and I moved her stuff from Branson, MO to Richmond. Both of these moves were expensive. I am so thankful for the support we received to cover the costs of the first move. However, we are in need of financial assistance for the second move. If you are interested in giving a one time gift towards this, please email me at

Please let me know how I can be praying for you! Shoot me an email.