Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15

About Me

I am a young man who is following God's call into pastoral ministry. I have been so blessed with the privileges which the Lord has granted me. I am blessed to serve the Mt. Joy congregation in Mt. Pleasant, PA. I am constantly humbled and amazed at what the Lord is doing in my life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Persistent Prayer

            How often should we pray? How many times should we be in prayer for a specific need or request? Is there a possibility of praying about something too much? Is that a sign of us having a lack of faith that God hears our request and that He will answer it or is it a demonstration of our faith that we are confident that He will come through following all our petitions? These are all common questions which typically come up about one of the most important aspects of our relationship with the Lord; our talking to Him in prayer. And, of course, they are not trivial matters at all but ones we certainly are concerned about as we want to properly pray and honor the Lord with our praying to Him. So, let’s look then at what the Bible says both of the timing of our prayers and the frequency of them.

            First, how often should we pray? The Scriptures give us no set number of times to come before the Lord throughout our day to speak with Him. Instead, Paul instructs us to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. The idea is to be continually coming before our Father to express our thanksgiving, praise, and requests to Him. We are to, in essence, have an attitude of prayer, taking many moments to speak with Him as reasons and needs arise. With this said, it is also good to have a specific concentrated time set aside each day for prayer as well as we witness with Daniel and his going to his window three particular times every day (Daniel 6:10). A time when you intentionally say no to everything else to spend quality time talking with your Lord. A time that often is best coupled with the reading of God’s Word as it is in prayer we speak to God and through His Word that He speaks to us.

One thing that we notice with Jesus in His earthly ministry is His continual practice of prayer. He often would be found stepping away from the crowds to talk with His heavenly Father (Luke 5:15-16). He arose early in the morning to go out where He could be alone for the express purpose of praying (Mark 1:35). Every major event of His life while on earth was marked by prayer beforehand. The Lord was praying as He began His ministry after His baptism (Luke 3:21-22). He spent all night in prayer before choosing the 12 disciples (6:12). It was after praying that Jesus asked the critical question as to “Who do people say that He is” where Peter receives the revelation that He is the Christ, the Son of God (9:18). He was praying on the Mount of Transfiguration (9:28-29) and of course in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion (22:39-46). I’m struck by the fact that if the very sinless Son of God, who has the closest possible connection to the Father, spent so much time communing with Him in prayer, how much more do we need to? Certainly, we (remember that includes me too!) each could be praying much more than we do and should work with the aid of His grace to discipline ourselves to improve in our praying without ceasing.

Now, as to the amount of times we should bring up a specific request to the Lord, you may be surprised to discover that God basically tells us to pester Him with our needs. Not to pray for them each one time but to keep coming before Him with them. There is a sense where we are to not just come to the Lord in prayer without ceasing but also to pray about specific issues without ceasing as well. Jesus commands us to “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). The “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” commands given here are in the present tense of the Greek, indicating that we are to continually “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” regarding our needs before the Lord. It could be translated as “Keep asking,” “keep seeking,” and “keep knocking.” Don’t stop after one time but keep making the request of the Lord.

In order to teach His disciples “that they ought always to pray and not lose heart,” Jesus tells the parable of a judge who does not fear God or respect man and a widow who would not stop bothering him with her requests for justice. This parable is found in Luke 18:1-8. This widow just would not let up but kept coming to the judge. He finally gives in to her and grants her request basically to get her off his back and so that she would leave him alone. Jesus then makes the point that if that is the case with a judge who could care less about anyone, certainly the God who chose to make us His own will come to our aid and give us what we need. As Jesus put it, “will not God give justice to his elect, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily” (vv. 7-8). This should encourage us to continually persist in our praying with the confidence that God is going to come through for us in His perfect timing as He sees fit. As I have heard it said, God will always answer our prayers and when the answer does not match up to our specific request, we can be sure that God answered the prayer the way we should have asked it had we known all that He does. But He will answer none the less and do what is best for us. We just need to keep coming to Him with the request and waiting with anticipation for the answer.

And don’t think that you will be annoying the Lord with this continual coming to Him with whatever needs you may have. A father doesn’t tire hearing from his children. And although we may find ourselves frustrated and annoyed by the constant repetitive requests made from our kids sometimes, especially when they are really little, keep in mind that God is perfectly patient with us. And He delights to take care of His children and meet their needs. It is another way that He is able to glorify Himself in showing His power in granting our requests and how He alone is able to meet our deepest and daily needs.

So, if you have found yourself praying for the umpteenth time for that wayward son or daughter, a strained relationship, that difficult marriage, or whatever else it may be, don’t give up coming to the Lord yet again for it. He wants you to continue bring the matter up to Him and trust Him to handle it. He will answer in His perfect timing and in accordance with His wonderful will. It very well could be that God intends to bring about the result after some more time spent on your knees before Him. Don’t lose heart but continue to persistent in prayer!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee   

Ordinary Significant Everyday Ministry

             I write this following a week of significant ministry. Now, you may be expecting me to go on to talk about the number of visits that I have made both in homes and in hospitals, the amount of people that I counseled, the Bible studies I taught, and the sermons I preached. While all of those certainly are significant ministry tasks, last week I actually did none of them. Instead, my week consisted of helping my wife with things around the house as she recovered from delivery such as doing the dishes and the laundry, spending time with our toddler and helping him to adjust to the changes in the family a new baby brings about, and feeding my newborn son, changing his diapers, and seeking to calm him when fussy.

            We often think significant ministry is only that which is done in an official capacity for the church. That if we are not serving on a specific board or committee, being a deacon, teaching a Sunday School class, or delivering a sermon, then we are not actually doing significant ministry in the kingdom. But that is far from the truth. For the Christian, everything that he or she does ought to be viewed as significant ministry for the kingdom of God (including but not limited to the things that I listed above). Even ordinary mundane tasks such as changing diapers or washing the dishes. This is because everything that the Christian does should no longer be for himself and his own gain but for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” and in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Such an attitude transforms the ordinary tasks of everyday life into extraordinary ministry opportunities by which to bring glory to God as we seek to do them in excellence to please and honor Him. It changes our very perspective. These are not simply things that have to be done and so I need to hurry up and do them but ways that I can serve the One who loves me so much that He gave His very life for me. He is pleased when I do every ordinary thing in gratitude to Him and in accordance with His Word. And that makes the smallest deed done on this earth significant.

Nothing really should be seen as “secular” for the Christian in his or her life but “sacred” since all of the Christian’s life is viewed as being set apart for and devoted to God. (That’s the meaning of “sacred” by the way. Something being set apart for and devoted to God.) You may think that you work at a “secular” job but in essence it is a “sacred” job for you because you realize that your ultimate boss is not the one you report to on Monday morning but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who will reward us with a far greater treasure than any financial reimbursement; the inheritance of heaven itself (Colossians 3:23-24). You will want to do a good job in light of such a truth. Ordinary tasks in marriage such as washing the dishes and doing the laundry become sacred tasks when we keep in mind that they are ways of serving our spouse and in so doing painting the picture of the greater gospel relationship that the marriage union points to, that of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). With such small tasks, we also can demonstrate the great love which Christ has shown us in giving fully of Himself for our benefit. These little everyday things can be big ways to love our husbands and wives like Jesus as we give of ourselves for their benefit. As we take up our cross and deny ourselves for their sake. Parenting transforms into a sacred task with the mindset that our goal as parents is so much more than preparing our children to be a polite respectful outstanding citizen or to find a good mate but ultimately to know the Lord Jesus Christ and to live for Him. Each day provides so many opportunities to both teach and present the gospel to them (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). What a holy privilege to prepare these little ones for eternity! Brother Lawrence was right in a sense that in many cases, “Sanctification does not involve changing what we do, but in doing our normal activities for God’s sake.” It may not change what we do but it certainly changes how and why we do it. Now, the things are done with an aim to please Christ and bring glory to God in the way that He has set forth for us in His Word. There is a joy found in doing what we do, not because of the pleasure of the task itself but due to Who it is we are doing it for.

 Martin Luther and the reformers really emphasized that even the seemingly most mundane task, done in faith for Christ and the glory of God is significant in God's eyes. In addressing how often the world looks down upon some of the everyday routine tasks involved with a family, he said the following about the perspective a believer has with them: "What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight. God, with all his angels and creatures is smiling—not because the father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.”

So as you go about your day today facing some of those ordinary mundane tasks, be sure to give it your best effort because you are not doing them for yourself but for your Lord. Don’t stick up your nose at them thinking that your time could better be spent doing something greater. Seek to do such ordinary chores in gratitude to God for all that He has done for you in Christ and to bring Him glory and praise. Well, I have a little baby who needs to be fed and a toddler wanting my attention right now. More significant ministry tasks for God’s glory!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee