Do you struggle with a consistent prayer life? It always seems like prayer is the first thing to go when we get busy or wrapped up in our everyday tasks or to-dos. Why? If we are truly filled with the Holy Spirit like Romans 8:15 tells us — then shouldn’t we have this undying desire to talk to Him. While the Spirit is pushing one side of our souls to pray and talk to Christ and cry out to Him, there’s another side pushing against it because (for me anyways) prayer can be mundane or boring. We tend to pray the same words or phrases over and over again, or we get distracted and our mind wanders to others things that need to get done for the day. The devil will use that feeling of ‘why bother’ mentality to keep you from crying out to your Father in prayer. So, what’s the solution? I’m so glad you asked.
I’m not claiming to have answers and solutions to all your problems and struggles but I do have a suggestion. Pray the Bible. Simple enough, right? Let’s start simpler, pray the Psalms. The Psalms are designed to be prayed, sung, and told back to Christ. You are taking the words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God your Father. Go through a Psalm or a passage line by line and pray what comes to mind. Let me defend that biblically, what does scripture tell us to pray about? Phil. 4:16 tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” So everything, right? Every person, every fear, every circumstance, every relationship, every situation — everything you could think of or be going through can be brought before the Lord in prayer.
(I would like to insert a disclaimer here so I’m not misinforming or misleading anyone, this method of prayer is not saying it’s ok to make the Word of God say what you want it to say. The text of the Bible means what God inspired it to mean, not “what it means to me.” I have enough confidence in the the Word and the Holy Spirit that if you choose to pray this way, your prayers will be far more biblical than if you just make up your own prayers.)
I introduced this method of prayer into my prayer life a couples months ago and it has encouraged me so much. I walk away from my prayer time feeling accomplished and refreshed. John Piper made a statement — “For me it is absolutely essential that my prayers be guided by, saturated by, and sustained and controlled by the Word of God.” I agree with him, this has also become an essential part of prayer for me.
I want to leave you with a few resources that could spark this type of prayer life if you happen to struggle with prayer like I do. First there’s a book called “Praying the Bible” by Donald S. Whitney. This book is what introduced me to this idea and method. The book takes you step by step in how and why it’s important to use the Bible in your prayer life. Second, I encourage you to get a Psalms scripture journal that you can read through and write down prayers or thoughts during your prayer time. This helps keep me engaged and also allows me to go back and reflect on answered prayers or how the Lord might have intervened.
I have attached the links for the book and scripture journal that I use for your convenience!
I don’t remember being there for my birth, but I’m sure that was the case. At least my mom said I was.
I remember with joy and celebrate the moment Laura said, “I do” and her radiant glow as we began a new life together. In that moment, we became family. I also remember watching the agony of labor and the anticipated delivery of our children as our family grew with new life.
I remember watching each of our boys being born. The moment of creative fulfillment, begun months beforehand, now revealed in truly miraculous process. Seeing them take their first breath literally and figuratively took my breath away.
I remember Breanna coming home with us on her “forever Friday” and that incredible moment a few weeks later in which she was officially, legally, our child. That was simply the realization of what had been practically true for some time; she had a home in our hearts long before then. With a signature, there was a new identity and a new member of the family.
Those are precious times, and wonderful things to reflect on. But there’s an even better story of new life and family adoption.
The New Testament speaks directly to being made new, regenerated, born again, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ as both our Savior and Lord. Nicodemus was told twice by Jesus that he must be born again (John 3:3; 7). Paul also instructed the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17; see also Ephesians 2:4-5; 1 Peter 1:23; John 1:13).
But notice the relationship and transaction. At the moment of our spiritual new birth, or regeneration, God did not simply stand back and look at us through the nursery window. He adopted us into His own family. In fact, He paid the adoption fee ahead of time. Galatians 4:4-5 tells us, “When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ’Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.”
Only God’s grace, through our faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, can save us. Only He can make us new. And, though we actively participate in our own spiritual growth, only He can transform us such that we grow to produce fruit as a son and heir of God (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:22-23; Philippians 2:12b-13).
Today, as we reflect on and celebrate mothers, may we be eternally reminded of the new life and adoption that we have received through God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May we take joy in knowing that He is helping us grow and mature in sanctification until we are finally brought home to be with Him in heaven.
Last summer we took ten weeks to journey together through “Starting Point,” a curriculum provided by the North American Mission Board. That study laid a basic foundation for missional engagement highlighting concepts such as Spiritual Formation, Bible Fluency and Relationships. Let me encourage you to get that material here if you do not have it already.
This summer we plan to take a similar ten-week sabbatical (May 29-July 31) from corporate Sunday night services to dive into another study together. This time, however, we are writing our own material around the Missionary Task. If you don’t have a copy of the IMB Foundations material, you can access it here.
For the last four months we’ve been thinking together about the six components of the task: Entry, Evangelism, Discipleship, Healthy Church Formation, Leadership Development and Exit. You can access those monthly letters here. I have attempted to show that the Missionary Task is not just for missionaries, but also for churches. It is a framework to which all church ministry should attach, thus creating a pipeline for making, moving, maturing and multiplying disciples,
Each component represents a core missional competency for the multiplication of the church (e.g., Discipleship – Teaching the Bible). Therefore, churches do well to train their people to be proficient for such work. As missionaries are proficiently trained in the elements of the task, so should every Christian be generally equipped to leverage their life on mission as well. The church becomes a body of local missionaries (please don’t miss that point), each equipped with the core competencies of multiplying their life and ministries.
But knowing the task is not sufficient for life change. The task must be applied. As we have learned from our study of Titus on Sundays, information + application = transformation. We therefore need some vehicle to apply the task to our life. Enter this intentional, strategic summer series. A time where we attempt to put flesh on the bone so to speak, applying the Missionary Task to our lives. In the end, we hope our study produces the fruit of a more missional posture of life.
For this summer starting May 29th, we’ll focus on the first two components of the Missionary Task: Entry and Evangelism. To capture the essence of each, we’ll rename these components as “Building Relationships” and “Sharing the Gospel.” Let me share a content preview of each week as you prepare for the summer.
Part 1 – Building Relationships
Ministry is all about relationships. I heard a church planter once say, “We want to build bridges of grace strong enough to hold the weight of truth.” I heard another pastor in a hard-to-reach inner city context say, “We want to serve our way in.” That’s the idea, but you don’t have to be a church planter to make relationships. God wants you to invest in those already in your life. Those at the ball game, in your neighborhood, alongside you in the school or office — they are your mission field.
Week 1: The People Business
Jesus had many reputations. He was known, for example, to be a “friend of sinners,” (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34). That tagline captured the essence of his heart and ministry. Jesus was about his Father’s business (Luke 2:49), and therefore was in the people business. For Jesus, as for us, people are the ministry.
Week 2: Knowing Your Neighbors
The Gospels are chock-full of divine appointments (cf. John 4). God has a way of arranging the circumstances of life to achieve his desired will, even down to where we live. He has us in specific places for special purposes. Look around, be spiritually and relationally aware. God knows our address and we should too. Your neighbor may just be your next prayer partner.
Week 3: Hospitality God’s Way
Sometimes a person’s home can be their greatest tool in ministry. We, after all, are common men who serve a common Savior. It’s interesting to note how ministry and meals often go together. It was that way for Jesus, and so it is still today. Whether it’s a spare bed, a seat at the table, or a place to meet, your home can be a haven.
Week 4: Follow Ups and Invites
“No one ever called, no one ever asked.” May the lost never say those words when they reflect on the Christians in their lives. We do well to remember the most effective advertisement is still “word of mouth.” The same is true for inviting people to Christ and the church. John records, “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come,’” (Rev. 22:17).
Week 5: Who’s Your One?
God uses people to bring other people to his Son. “Philip found Nathanael,” for example (John 1:45). Disciples make disciples, one at a time. Advancing the gospel doesn’t have to be hard, but it does need to be personal. Take time to invest in one person. Everyone knows someone who doesn’t know Jesus.
Part 2 – Sharing Jesus
The English word “gospel” comes from the Old English word “good (or God) + spell (or story).” The word translated “gospel” in the NT is actually the Greek word euangelion (εὐαγγέλιον) which means, “good news,” that is, “(eu) good (angelion) news.” We transliterate that word into our English word “evangelism” which means to share the good news, or “gospel.”
Most followers of Jesus have never led a person to saving faith in Jesus. It’s hard to believe when Jesus’ final marching orders were to “Go, and make disciples.” These next five weeks are strategically designed to equip disciples to share the gospel and move new disciples into waters of baptism.
Week 6: Defining the Evangel
First things first. We must be on the same page. We must get it right. Jesus died for sinners. He lived a holy and righteous life and died the death we deserved, then God raised him from the dead. “For God so loved the world,” John records, “that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Week 7: How to Share the Gospel
Knowing the gospel and sharing the gospel are two different things. It takes strategy, intentionality, but most of all a desire for people to meet Jesus. If we’re honest we do tend to talk about those whom we love most. Many want to share the good news of Jesus, but they simply don’t know how. This week aims to provide some remedies.
Week 8: Conversational Apologetics
“But what do I say if…”—so says the reluctant evangelist. Fair enough, but it can’t be an excuse to not share the gospel. Rather, Christians need to know how to confidently talk about Jesus with unbelievers. Knowing answers to common questions will fuel your evangelism and help you navigate your next gospel conversation with joy.
Week 9: Leading Someone to Christ
Some sow the seed, others water the ground, but some reap a harvest (1 Cor. 3:6). Sooner or later, you’ll have an opportunity to lead someone to Christ. “For all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13) God can and will use you as a means of shifting someone’s eternal destiny. Let’s prepare for that moment today.
Week 10: Talking About Baptism
Baptism is a specific act of public profession in obedience with Christ’s command. The NT distinguishes baptism from salvation but does not separate it from salvation. Part of leading someone to Christ is knowing how to help them take his or her first step of following Jesus—believer’s baptism.
Life in Community
Like last summer, this study will be online based (no Sunday night gatherings). We’ll deliver content to you on two platforms: print and video media. First, a one-page lesson and discussion guide will be available each week, suitable for individual or group use. Second, a short video will launch at the start of the week highlighting key features of the lesson and pertinent applications. Be sure to get both via our website.
As you study, let me encourage you to do so in groups. If you are interested in opening your home for just one night a week, please contact Pastor Tommy at firstname.lastname@example.org with a time and date you’d like to meet (it doesn’t have to be Sunday night!). Remember, theology is best learned in community. Leverage your summer and your home for growing in the Missionary Task.
As John 20:21 tells us, “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’”
Happy summer, church. Blessings to you.
You’ve likely heard this saying in some form or another at Coats or perhaps at some point during your Christian walk: “The Spirit inside you is better than Jesus beside you.” Praise God for this truth! As believers, we possess the gift of the Holy Spirit within us to guide, comfort, reveal, convict, teach, strengthen, and transform.
As we go about our days, we can rejoice that the promise of Helper to the disciples (John 16:7) was fulfilled in the coming of the Spirit. That truth can either go to waste or become life-changing depending on how we live our lives. Here are a couple questions for you to consider: Do you live reliant on yourself or dependent upon God? Do you live a crucified life? Do you even know what that means?
The familiar verse from Galatians reminds us that our lives are no longer our own when we are in Christ. And Christ is in us. (Yes, I’m using “Christ” and “the Spirit” within us interchangeably at this point because it’s not only biblical but also practical because of the scripture and song title discussed in the remainder of this post. If you need a Trinity 101 talk, call Pastor Neal…)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
He gave Himself for us and He gave us the Spirit. What an indescribable gift and undeserved blessing!
And this life with all its blessing is ours not because of anything we did, but only through Christ’s work. The power that we have access to in the midst of weakness? It’s not our own but Christ’s power in us. The ability to worship and thank God during moments or seasons of sorrow? It’s not from ourselves but from Christ who provides hope, peace, and joy.
We’ve begun singing a newer hymn at Coats called “Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me” that leads us to remember and praise God for this life in Christ. May it encourage you and become an anthem over your life.
To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete still my lips shall repeat
Yet not I, but through Christ in me
As we say here at Coats, it’s all about Him! So take a moment to worship the Him who has gone before you, walks beside you, and is WITHIN you!