Praying Together

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Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
– Colossians 4:2, ESV

 

Pastor Dave has recently challenged our church to become more devoted to praying together. I am guilty of putting off prayer, of my actions and attitude revealing that prayer is not the priority it should be. In my own life, this is evidence of the pride of self-sufficiency. I think I can live this Christian life on my own when in reality I can do nothing good apart from the saving work of Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Through prayer we acknowledge our need for the power of God to work in and through us and in and through His church, and it’s also a means of developing a more intimate relationship with the Father which He has made possible through the work of Christ on the cross. How are we doing at responding to Dave’s exhortation to pray together more or to pray in general? Every Friday morning at 6:00am and 7:30am there is an opportunity to gather at the church for prayer. If these times don’t work for you, I encourage you to find a few friends and start a prayer group. Schedule a regular time to meet and pray for each other, for Westwood, for our community and country, for faithful churches around the world, and for God’s will to be done and His name to be glorified throughout all the earth. As political controversy and the Coronavirus rage around us and as the new school year begins, I can think of no better way to use this time and space than to offer up my own prayer. Will you pray with me?

Our good and gracious Father in heaven, we praise You now that though the times seem chaotic, You are always in control. No event in human history has ever come as a surprise to You, and from the beginning of time, You have been working all things together for Your good purposes. And You will continue to work in this way until Christ returns and brings about the consummation of all You’ve promised in Your word. Would You please help us this day to live in light of these truths? Please help us to trust in Your holy, perfect nature, in Your ability to carry out all You have proclaimed in Your word, and in Your faithfulness to Your word. And please help us to be faithful to You and united with our brothers and sisters in love. Lord, I pray now that You would stir our hearts to live for You above everything else in this world. Take first place in our hearts and make us bold witnesses in both word and deed of the saving and sanctifying work You’ve done in our lives through Jesus Christ. Temper our boldness with the same love and grace that You have shown us. Lord, please forgive us for where we have fallen short and sinned against You and against others who bear Your image. We repent and ask that You would continue to sanctify us and keep us from evil. Prepare our minds and hearts for battle against the evil forces of this world and against the flesh that still tempts us with pride, envy, lust, and hate. Thank You, God, that You have washed us clean by the blood of Christ and have given us all we need for life and godliness. The victory is Yours, and You have invited us to share in it. Thank You! We ask now for wisdom for our elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels. If they have not been reconciled to You, Lord, we ask that You would show them their sin and cause them to repent. We ask that they would lead us well for Your glory, and we ask that You would help us to honor them as authorities that You have placed over us. We ask that You would allow an effective treatment to be found for the Coronavirus, that those who are sick would be healed, and that those who are suffering would be comforted by Your comfort. And Lord, we ask that as a new school year begins in both school buildings and homes You would help us as parents, teachers, and mentors to equip our children mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for all they might encounter this year. We pray that they would know You as Father, know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and know Your Holy Spirit as their Helper. Strengthen their hands for good works, their minds to learn about this amazing world You’ve created, and their hearts to withstand the schemes of the devil and to take the love of Christ to all they meet. Please keep them safe from sickness, from those who would mean evil against them, and from the destructive nature of sin. Help us to trust You with their hearts, minds, and bodies, Father. Your greatness is more than we can comprehend, and we believe You are able to do all these things and more. “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 12:25-27, ESV)

Bible Study Tip

One of the objectives of the Protestant Reformation was to make the Bible more accessible by having it printed in the languages of common people. Five hundred years later we not only have the Bible in our language but we have a wealth of Bible study tools in English. One of these tools is Blue Letter Bible. This electronic tool allows you to access Hebrew and Greek lexicons, various Bible translations, commentaries, devotionals, and much more. You can view video tutorials on how to use the site here, and you can download their app on your smartphone to take this resource with you wherever you go!

Service Opportunities

4:14 Collective Baked Goods
The 4:14 Collective exists to share the hope and freedom found in Christ with women working in the sex industry. The team in Evansville currently ministers to women in local strip clubs by visiting them at the clubs on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month and by following up with women during the the week to build relationships and help meet their needs. Westwood would like to get some women together to encourage this ministry by baking sweet treats for the ministry team members to take to the clubs on the fourth Wednesday of the month. We will be meeting either Tuesday, August 25th or Wednesday, August 26th to bake and pray for the ministry and for the women to whom they are ministering. If you are interested in this service opportunity, fill out this form and indicate some times that work for you. We will set the time based on everyone’s availability. If you are unable to meet with the group but would still like to help out, contact Abby Dill via call or text at (812) 483-7013. If you would like to learn more about the 4:14 Collective and other ways you can serve in this ministry, contact Sarah Simmons via phone at (502) 435-3277 or email at the414collective@gmail.com.

Spanish Books for Children at Nueva Esperanza Orphanage in Peru
Autumn Fair, one of Westwood’s missionaries, is serving in Peru, and she recently had the opportunity to quarantine at an orphanage in Arequipa. While staying at and serving in the orphanage, she asked about some of the biggest physical needs. One of the main things they want is books in Spanish for the children, especially some pre-teen/teen chapter books. If you would like to help provide books in Spanish, contact Autumn via email at afair16@outlook.com. 

Recommended Books

Links in this section are Amazon Affiliate links to books we find helpful

Praying Together:  The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in Our Homes, Communities, and Churches
by Megan Hill

Nearly all Christians would affirm the centrality of prayer for a healthy Christian life. And yet, for many, prayer is often a challenge, requiring intense personal commitment and self-discipline. However, as Megan Hill points out in Praying Together, our normal approach to prayer leaves out a crucial component: other people. While personal prayer is important, God designed the church to be a community of believers who regularly pray together. Exploring the Bible’s rich teaching on what it means to gather at God’s throne with one voice, Hill lays a theological foundation for corporate prayer and offers practical guidance for making it a reality―in our families, churches, and communities.

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
by Arthur G. Bennett

The strength of Puritan character and life lay in prayer and meditation. In this practice the spirit of prayer was regarded as of first importance and the best form of prayer, for living prayer is the characteristic of genuine spirituality. Yet prayer is also vocal and may therefore on occasions be written. Consequently in the Puritan tradition there are many written prayers and meditations which constitute an important corpus of inspiring devotional literature. Too often ex tempore prayer lacks variety, order and definiteness. The reason for this lies partly in a neglect of due preparation. It is here that the care and scriptural thoroughness which others found necessary in their approach to God may be of help. This book has been prepared not to ‘supply’ prayers but to prompt and encourage the Christian as he treads the path on which others have gone before.

Recommended Media

“Let’s Talk” is a new podcast for women from The Gospel Coalition and is hosted by Jackie Hill Perry, Melissa Kruger, and Jasmine Holmes. Jackie, Jasmine, and Melissa seek to apply biblical wisdom to everyday life as they talk candidly about fighting sin, overcoming church hurt, making decisions, acting in a godly way on social media, and much more. You can listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.

For the Kids

What Every Child Should Know about Prayer
by Nancy Guthrie

Best-selling author Nancy Guthrie and much loved illustrator Jenny Brake team up on this biblical theology of prayer for children. Nancy explains in child-friendly language what prayer is, how and why we should pray, and the things we can pray about. There is a Bible verse for each topic, and a prayer for children to make their own. This book will introduce children to the gift of prayer and will encourage them to enjoy speaking to their father God.

 

[The links to this book are Amazon Affiliate links]

Question 15:
Since no one can keep the law, what is its purpose?

Answer:
That we may know the holy nature of God, and the sinful nature of our hearts; and thus our need of a Savior.

“Are you as often tempted as I am to doubt the effectiveness of prayer? But Jesus prayed. He told us to pray. We can be sure that the answer will come, and it will be good. If it is not exactly what we expected, chances are we are not asking for quite the right thing. Our heavenly Father hears the prayer, but wants to give us bread rather than stones.”
 

-Elisabeth Elliot, from Keep a Quiet Heart

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

1 John 5:14-15, ESV

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