Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman of 9 Marks talk about why churches, and Christians, fail to engage in one of the most fundamental privileges and commands we have as Christians. Dever offers helpful guidelines and models in how churches can pray and keep them organized and focused on moving from immature prayer to mature prayer. This discussion is very helpful and practical for church leaders.
From the 9 Marks website:
This Sunday, a vast majority of evangelical churches will gather for singing and preaching and reading Scripture and perhaps even a few baptisms and the Lord’s Supper. There will also be some praying.
In comparison to everything else, though, there will be just a little bit of prayer—a transition as a few musicians scurry off-stage, a quick “thank-you” to God after collecting the offerings, a prayer for God’s Spirit to work on the hearers of the sermon.
All in all, you might pray for a few minutes, almost always as a passive observer.
That’s the norm, and, on the whole, the norm is shocking, abysmal, and embarrassing. When it comes to verses like Colossians 4:2—“continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving”—our present-day churches have mostly failed.
So, what should we do about it? To answer that question, consider this interview with Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman, in which they seek to diagnose and then address this problem of prayerlessness. We hope and, well, pray that it encourages us all toward more faithful obedience.
Dr. Richard Gaffin takes up Romans 8 in a short chapel message and applies it to prayer, encouraging us that though our prayers are faulty, we have two advocates praying on our behalf in the Son sitting at the right hand of God and in the Holy Spirit. The focus of these two advocates is not that they do anything to us in our praying, but that they come alongside of us in our weakness.
The 2011 Desiring God Pastor’s conference is now online for download. Speaking on subjects related to prayer and the pastor’s prayer life were Joel Beeke, Paul Miller, Francis Chan (that’s right) and Jerry Rankin. John Piper’s biography subject was Robert Murray McCheyne.
Francis Chan gives us some explanation of his recent departure from his church in Simi Valley, mainly motivated by the fact that he became a Christian celebrity so fast and wanted to guard himself from that mania.
By far, if you were to listen to only a few messages, I would recommend that you listen to both of Joel Beeke’s messages — one is on prayer, and the second is on family worship. Beeke is a man who lives above and beyond the common sensibilities of our age in an admirable way. And I commend that you carefully, and thoughtfully, apply the truths of both messages. I have listened to a number of Beeke’s messages on family worship over the years, and they have motivated me to revolutionize my leading in family worship. And this message is one of his best, primarily because most of his other messages on family worship have poor audio quality.
The panel discussion was particularly helpful. The discussion raised a lot of great points and allowed helpful interaction with the material.