Blog

I never realized prayer can tucker a person out. Like when people hit the gym, they have a good workout and they’re tired yet they come back feeling good as well, almost energized. It’s being tired in a good way.

February 1, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

We’ve been through times both of us hope never, ever to experience again. When God doesn’t pick up the phone, believers feel unspeakably alone. Then there are no words, only groaning.

January 13, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

There’s something powerful behind saying things out loud. Sometimes I prefer to pray with my mind and heart but it's less impactful. Praying audibly worked a strange magic over me.

January 8, 2016 0 1 comments
Q&A

It's Ministry Question Monday! Do you have ideas for helping people develop prayer lives that go beyond Sundays? 

December 21, 2015 0 1 comments
Blog

We don’t hear many prayers these days for a fresh season of spiritual renewal. Speaking for myself, I tend to equate such prayers with fundamentalists. Shame on me. 

December 18, 2015 0 1 comments
Blog

The shootings in San Bernardino happened about 5 miles from The River (the CRC where I pastor). Join our church in petitioning God for peace and an end to the violence. 

December 7, 2015 0 2 comments
Q&A

How do we train and equip people to pray for worship? And how do we prepare those who pray with—and for—others after the service? 

December 1, 2015 0 25 comments
Blog

When we end our prayers with the phrase "not my will, but yours be done", is it an act of surrendering to God or is it more of a testament to our lack of faith?

October 19, 2015 0 4 comments
Blog

In the face of ongoing tragedies and suffering, we feel uncomfortable with our own prayers. My prayer and the massive reality of pain. Must I feel embarrassed for my well-being? 

September 21, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

All are cordially invited to attend the International School of Prayer on Friday, Sept 25 with Rev. Nam Soo Choi of Korea, the leader of an international prayer movement. 

August 27, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

Listen and learn with other leaders about how to foster conversational small group prayer. This webinar was led by Sam Huizenga and attended by Coffee Break and small group leaders from the US and Canada. 

August 19, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

I challenged them to recite the Apostle's Creed without letting their mind wander. As it was, I actually promised them a million dollars if they could report the next morning that they had been completely successful...

July 6, 2015 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

The 2015 Prayer Summit may be over but let's share our experiences from this powerful event!

April 28, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Video

Watch this newly released video for Prayer Summit 2015! The Summit provides opportunities to learn how to pray, build a prayer ministry, and partner in prayer with other organizations and congregations.

March 12, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

Why do most pastors prepare their sermons and most worship leaders prepare their songs, but some of those same individuals choose to wing their prayers?

February 10, 2015 0 7 comments
Blog

For all the steps back, the changes, and the instabilities, such small steps forward look to me like God acting in ways that should excite us.

January 10, 2015 0 4 comments
Resource, Website

I am posting one brief prayer for each chapter of the letters of the New Testament. The idea is that you would read one of the chapters of any letter, and then pray the prayer you find on my blog.

December 11, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

In this webinar you will learn how to recognize the voice of God and what comprises "listening prayer" while we explore some of the many ways God speaks in scripture and still speaks today.

November 19, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog

“Why am I going to bed at 10:30 p.m. only to get up at 11:45 p.m. for a two-hour time of prayer?” These were my thoughts as I joined six of my friends in getting into our sleeping bags on a hard church basement floor.

October 16, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

There are times reading the Bible when particular words, phrases, and sentences penetrate my heart and mind in ways others don't. Recently, I spent a few weeks meditating on a prayer written by the apostle Paul...

September 4, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

Following Jesus' examples in the gospels, this webinar will challenge pastors, church leaders, and prayer coordinators to work together to move our churches toward becoming Houses of Prayer.

April 30, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Be Part of a Prayer Movement!

Join us as God rekindles our passion for prayer in the Great Lakes region. This event, sponsored by the RCA Regional Synod of the Great Lakes and the Home Missions Great Lakes region, will focus on building and strengthening a life of prayer, both personally...

October 17, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

This is the "inbetween year" - between Prayer Summits, and regional and local prayer summits are being planned.  Would you let us know here if you know of one?  Thanks.  I'm pretty sure Red Mesa, Chicagoland, Great Lakes are all planning for this fall.

August 19, 2013 0 8 comments
Q&A

Has anyone used the small group study on Prayer from Faith Alive? How did it help deepen the faith life of your community? Any other small group study suggestions?

May 7, 2013 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

In December we mentioned a 40 day prayer guide called  "Supporting Life with Prayer" which you can use in your devotions. The prayer guide calls "all Christians to pray for an end to abortion on demand and situations leading up to such a life changing decision". That prayer guide is now...

January 10, 2013 0 0 comments

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What is the name of Terry Wardle's book?

I used to be a part of a prayer ministry before taking my current position in Grand Rapids. Several people from our prayer team went to Terry Wardle's training at Ashland Theological Seminary and found it very valuable in our work of prayer ministry. I've used information from his book and website.

Joel,

that is so exciting that you and a group are going to the Formational Prayer Training.  I have had that on my to-do list for several years. Pastor Bob Boersma and a group from Providence CRC in Cutlerville also went to that training this year.  It is good training for those who will be involved in deeper level of healing prayer than the "after church" altar ministry.  Mary.

If you want to equip people for prayer for deep healing, you can look at Terry Wardles website, Healing Care: a ministry of formational prayer.  Actually, I will be going to a three and a half day training, from Jan 13-16, at Ashland Theological Seminary, where Terry teaches, on Prayer Formation.  Several other people (mostly shepherding elders and prayer ministry volunteers) from my church are also going.

While we are waiting for what others have to say, I remembered a couple of very important and accessible resources that will address this very question.  Pastor Dave Huizenga has prayer resources that can be accessed on the web through Empowerment Institute, www.empowermentinstitute.org.

Harvest Prayer Ministries has a brochure called "Praying Through The Worship Service" - Training for Intercessors - The Praying Church Series 2000.  It can be downloaded from www.harvestprayer.com.  Topics are Preparation for Prayer, The Place of Prayer, How to Pray through the Worship Service, Additional Suggestions.

Hope this all helps!

Thanks Mary! I can't wait to hear what others have to say.

This is an important question.  Thanks for asking it Sam.  In our church I periodically lead a one hour training class for those who will be praying with others after the service.  I have led this in other churches as well upon occasion.  I will give you an abbreviated quick summary of the course.  Basically this session includes things like:  1.  Self preparation (self examination, confession, humility, dependence upon the Spirit, not self, etc.)  2. A little teaching about the ministry of the Holy Spirit - as prayer servants we are totally dependent upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we pray for others and ask God to do His work.  3.  We minister under authority of the governing elders of this church.  We follow their leadership and direction.  4.  General Etiquette (Bible, name badge, breath mints, anointing oil, modest dress, personal hygiene).  Pray in pairs or teams when possible.  Ask permission before laying on hands or anointing with oil.  LISTEN!  Avoid telling your own story, listen well to theirs.  Keep one ear to the Holy Spirit and one ear to what person is telling you.  In this context, you don't have too much time for them to talk, so you may need to gently say, "What I am hearing you say is you need prayer for ______; let's pray about that now."  Then start to pray.  Help redirect them from talking too much to seeking the Lord.  Keep your eyes open and watch for visible manifestations of the Spirit's working and evidences of healing.  For example, you may see tears stream down their face when you pray certain things and you know you are right on and the Spirit it working.  You may witness peace flooding over a person.  5.  After listening carefully to the person, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, choose a prayer strategy.  ex. PRAISE,  Often if we start with praising God, our hearts and minds are opened up to what God may have in mind and clarity may come even if at first you have no idea how to pray.  PRAY IN AUTHORITY OF JESUS,  Always pray in Jesus' name and from our identity in Christ.  INTERCESSION - LISTEN - LOVE - PRAY,  Stand in the gap for the person bringing their needs before the Throne of Grace. BLESSING - If you don't have a clear direction on how to start to pray, you can always pray blessings over the person.  Remember Al VandeGriend's BLESS acronym. Body, Labor, Emotional, Social, Spiritual.  That will give you a good start and the Holy Spirit will flow as you obediently pray.  6.  How to Pray for Healing - How to anoint with oil (James 5:14-18).  Pray in faith believing God to provide answers.  He may not do what we thought, but He will always do something!  Pray expectantly!  7.  Pray Biblically!  Let the Holy Spirit remind you of scriptures and let them roll off your tongue as you pray.  8.  Do not be judgmental or condemning.  It is not our place to judge.  Keep everything that you hear in confidence (unless someone is going to hurt themselves or others - or if you have their permission to tell the pastor or some other key person that should know about this.) 9.  End the session also in PRAISE!  Praise God for what He has done and what He will continue to do in this person's life.  10.  Cutting Free Prayer.  It is a good spiritual practice to always pray after you have ministered to others to give to God all of the things you have heard, all of the burdens, they are not ours to bear.  Also cut free of any ways the enemy may try to attach, defile or transfer his ick to you.  Refuse it in Jesus' name.  Now that was indeed a crash course in prayer ministry!  Go forth to love and serve Him and watch Him do all the work!

 

 

I've really appreciated the Presbyterian Reformed Ministries International trainings that I've participated in, including some at their training center in Black Mountain, NC. For more information see prmi.org

Another good resource is The Worship Sourcebook - it has many prayers suggested for the different elements of the worship service - prayers can be read directly or used as a guideline to pray your own prayer. There is also Prayers of the People - a shorter book of model prayers to help someone pray in church. I would think these could be helpful training tools.

One set of resources that I would like to offer is the Embers to Flames Prayer videos. The videos are a recording of a 12 week prayer training that took place last year in Holland, MI at Calvary CRC. Many have found the training to be very helpful in teaching people to deepen their prayer life. 

You can find them on the Home Missions Great Lakes Team website. Follow this link and scroll down the page to "Watch Embers to Flames Videos here". The handouts and class materials are all posted on the page! 

I'm afraid I don't have an answer as we do not train our post-service prayer volunteers. I'm realizing what an oversight that is. We choose people who are mature in their Christian life, model a life of prayer and wish to be there for others. I can see where training can be affective and bring more depth and meaning to the prayers that are prayed. I look forward to other people's answers.

Hi Josh, 

After reading this post I became acutely aware of how often I say "God, if it is your will..." when praying. I began to question why this is my default after every "request" to God. Do I feel guilty asking God for the desires of my heart? Am I afraid of God answering with a "no"? I'm not always sure. 

Thanks for sharing this! I am trying to pray more boldly, knowing God is powerful and responds to our prayers. 

Yes - sometimes what bugs me about the "if it is your will" disclaimer in prayers is that it seems to be more about despair than alliance with God's will. When we pray for healing and repentance in the church, I don't say "if it's your will" - because I know that's God's revealed will, and his revealed will is what we're supposed to pray for! I think Reformed make this distinction between's God's revealed and secret will (how things in his sovereignty actually play out in the world) - when we pray to God, I'd suggest we are called to pray for his revealed will.

Joel... Thanks for the post. Props though for me learning about this go to Rev. Douglas Kampstra who does The Deeper Journey through the CRC. He has some great stuff about this and other ways of prayer and spiritual disciplines. Blessings as you work through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. 

I am working through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and the issue of indifference is at the center of St. Ignatius's statement of Principle and Foundations.  Thanks for making this wonderful-but-difficult concept accessible to Reformed folks. 

This is the other reason I prefer a liturgical worship service - the prayers have been vetted and I know what the sentences

mean. Sometimes I disagree with the theology of the readings that come out of Grand Rapids so I keep my mouth shut. Some of the things I hear/read are more dispensational than Reformed. 

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Leon, thanks for the reminder that the Psalms are the best of the formed prayers.  Your comments harmonize with today's reading in the One Year Bible - Psalm 36.  Verses 5-7 offer a great prayer of praise. 

Grace and peace to you,

Sam

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Thank you for the excellent feedback - and for the spirit in which it was given.

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Sam,

Thank you for writing this reflection on the Prayers of the People.  I'm thinking quite a bit about this ministry right now, so I appreciate your thoughts on the topic.  I work hard on my Prayers, as I recognize the importance of them.  I've employed a variety of strategies as I seek to pray for the people and teach them how to pray.  We sometimes have what I call "prayer conversations" at our church, at which time we invite testimonies of thanksgiving and prayer requests.  Then I'll invite the people to pray for any requests they feel called to pray for.  At other times I'll write out my prayers and read out the prayer.  Regardless, one thing I've found very helpful with both forms of prayer: praying the psalms.  I'll almost always read a psalm as a Call to Prayer or use parts of a psalm in the actual prayer--with great blessing. 

Again, thank you for reflecting on public prayer.  A very important ministry in the worship service.

Grace & peace,

Leon

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Thanks Sam for responding to my long winded comment.  I judge from your last response, as well as your original article, that apart from the theology of prayer, or who we are addressing in prayer (whether God or the congregation), pastors and worship leaders are directly or indirectly helping to shape the prayer life of worshipers.  The reality, though, for most if not all in the congregation (including ministers) is that their personal prayer lives consist of impromptu prayers, rather than formed or extemporaneous.  So if ministers are hoping to shape the prayers of those in the pews, shouldn’t they help them in the format they are most comfortable with?  Do we really expect church members to use “formed” or “extemporaneous” prayers in their devotional lives?  Following your premise of shaping the prayer lives of those in the pews, perhaps developing easy patterns of impromptu prayer (such as Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication) would be more helpful to those in the pews, especially if ministers used such impromptu patterns thoughtfully.   

As to my personal opinion, as to what format ministers and worship leaders use in congregational prayers, I think they use what is most comfortable for themselves.  Some find it much more comfortable to have their prayers prepared ahead of time, so they don’t find themselves put on the spot in the immediate moment of praying.  Others use the formed prayers of others because they sound and feel meaningful to the ears and hearts of the congregation.  Others feel more comfortable and adequate with impromptu prayer.  Extemporaneous prayer, as you describe, seems to be a combination of those three.  Whichever format one uses in public prayer it should be thoughtful, just like the rest of the worship service.  I agree with you that ministers should never just “wing it,” (even with impromptu prayer).  And if that is the point of your article, that congregational prayer should not be winged, I agree with you.  Thanks again for making us think.

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Thanks, Roger.   Good stuff.   Always good to talk about prayer.  And you got me thinking about the impact of the audience on our preparation.  We prepare our sermons for the congregation but shall we prepare our prayers for the Lord? You raise a good question. 

Plus you accent two points I was trying to get at.  First, of the three types of prayer - impromptu, extemporaneous, and formed - I have not found one type essentially more spiritual than another. Second, the prayers of those on the platform will shape the prayers of those in the pews. For that reason, I often opt for extemporaneous or formed prayers, rather than impromptu.  

Thanks again for taking the time to response.  Your words are helpful to me as I shape my lectures for seminarians.

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Thanks, Sam, for your article on corporate prayer.  Prayer, for most Christians, is a puzzling subject.  Before answering your question of how ministers or worship leaders should pray in corporate prayer, let me make some necessary comments first.  What do we accomplish or hope to accomplish through prayer?  In what ways is prayer effective?  Does God change his mind about our circumstances in life so that by prayer we can persuade God to change his preplanned actions.  Does the one praying have to fulfill a list of criteria in order for his/her prayers to be effective?  Is prayer for the benefit of God or for the one praying? The list can go on and on as to the questions and doubts one has in regard to meaningful and effective prayer.  Although there are a number of different aspects of prayer (ACTS), what stands out in both the Old and New Testaments is the concept of petitionary prayer.  Jesus taught on several occasions to “ask for whatever you want and it will be given.”  It easy to give thanks to God, to give praise, to confess one’s shortcomings, but petitionary prayer is where the rub comes in.  How often do we receive from God what we prayed for, that wasn’t likely to happen anyway?  When it comes to petitioning God, does prayer really have any effect?  It would seem that if prayer was effective in the simple and commonsense way that Jesus taught about it in the gospels, then Christians would stand in much better stead than those who weren’t Christian and who didn’t pray. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.   So if Jesus’ instructions can not be taken literally how should we understand them?  And so ministers and theologians come to a multitude of conclusion in regard to prayer.

That is the reason why different ministers and worships leaders pray in the various ways that they do.  They are, perhaps, trying to reach God in the most effective way possible in order for God to hear and answer their prayers.  Some might suggest that written and pre-prepared prayers do not touch the heart of God therefore are not as effective as Spirit driven spontaneous prayer.  Others would say that the Spirit can inhabit prepared prayers as much as spontaneous prayer.  So I would suggest that one reason that a minister might use one kind of prayer over another has to do with his concept of prayer and what happens through prayer.  

A question I have in regard to extemporaneous prayers, as you suggest, is, are they any more effective than any other pattern of corporate prayer?  Perhaps as you suggest in your last paragraph, what difference do it make?  The difference that you imply, is it doesn’t really matter to God, but it might to the congregation.

Something worth remembering as to the difference between prayer and other parts of the worship service, is that in prayer you are addressing God and in the sermon you are addressing the congregation, two different audiences.  So if in prayer, you are addressing God, then as you say, why does it make any difference?  If you are trying to impress a congregation with a style of prayer, then maybe you have to pick and choose?  But who are you praying to anyway?  Certainly not the congregation.  I really doubt that any one form of prayer has a greater effect than any other.  But I’m quite certain that others would disagree.

Maybe the makeup of the congregation would also make a difference as to how a worship leader or minister would conduct prayer.  A large traditional church, a large contemporary congregation, or a small farm community church would each make a difference in the church’s personality and likely would also make a difference in the spontaneity or formality of congregational prayers.

Thanks for your interesting article.  It does make a person think about the topic of prayer.

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

As much as peace is needed, I pray there are better ways of getting to the peace we desperately desire. Putting it plainly, “inter-faith services” are neither honest nor courageous – they are a spiritual lie. They deny the Lordship of Christ and only confuse those who outside of the grace of Allah in Jesus. Much of our scripture documents the failure of Israel to attain ‘peace’ and ‘unity’ at the expense of Yahweh’s sovereign glory – it didn’t work for them then, and it will not work for us now. Please pray for peace and understanding, but with God’s glory, not without.

Allah is the Arabic word for God. Muslims in the English speaking world refer to Allah as God, and Christians in the Middle East refer to God as Allah. By using the term, Naji is not equating the two, just as when we say that Jews worship God, we are not saying that they worship Jesus. We all simply refer to the one we worship as God, even though they are different.

Naji, I appreciate that Sisi may be a good man. I think you miss-spelled a word .... "a pious Muslim seeking to know and serve God" should have read.... '"a pious Muslim seeking to know and serve Allah". I think there is a difference.  As far as I understand, Muslims do not equate Jesus as being God. Until that changes you should maybe use the right word.

A quick correction: Sisi was flying back from Kuwait, not Jordan, on Eastern Christmas Eve. Also, if any of you are interested in seeing the subtitled video of Sisi addressing the religious leaders, here's a link: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153821113352316&set=vb.7352800231...

Dear Eric,
Thanks for your question.  My webinar on listening prayer was very intentional about pointing us to scripture, and I gave scripture to back up all of the many ways God speaks to us (I listed 10 ways).  There are many Biblical examples of prayer, which is conversation with God.  There are many examples in the O.T. of God's people hearing from God in the various ways I mention in the webinar. It started in Genesis with God speaking to Adam and Eve, (Genesis 3:8-13). God initiated dialog with His people in the Garden. Samuel as a young boy and also as an adult prophet, clearly heard the Lord's voice, for example.
In the N.T. the examples continue.  John 10:27 clearly states that "my sheep hear my voice". Phillip received his orders by hearing the Spirit, (Acts 8:26,29).  Paul was also directed where to go and not to go (Macedonia) by the voice of God in a vision, (Acts 16:6-10). 
When Jesus taught us to pray as He did in Matthew 6:9-13 with the Lord's prayer, I would say the first 2 words give proof that God speaks. "Our Father". Did you ever know of a father who did not speak to his children?  
When we think of prayer as the means God has chosen to build relationship with Him as his children, it may seem more understandable that God listens to us but also speaks to us.  It is our being quiet and still in prayer that composes the "listening" part of prayer.  "Listening Prayer" is not a term found in scripture, but something that helps us to be aware of and continue to grow in our ability to listen so we can hear from the God who speaks in so many ways.
Rev. Alvin VanderGriend, has taught us well in his little book, "Love to Pray", "Prayer is dialog between the believer and God - a dialog of love.  It's a two-way communication that involves both talking and listening.  That's the kind of prayer relationship God wants with us.....Prayer is all about hearing our Shepherd's voice.  In fact, when we pray, it's probably more important to listen than to speak."  (Love to Pray p 52).  
God bless you on this journey,
Mary Sterenberg
 

"Prayer is not about us doing all the talking, but engaging in relational dialog with God."

Mary, can you support this statement from the Bible?

When Jesus taught us to pray, did he speak and tell us to speak, or did he instruct us to listen?

Can you provide a Biblical of example of prayer as listening?

‘Fanning the Flame, Rekindling Our Heritage of Prayer’
Location - Corinth Reformed Church, Byron Center MI
Date & Time - November 8 & 9, 2013

Would you like to pray for the CRC and RCA?  You can get a short daily prayer focus on facebook  Great Lakes Prayer Summit 2013.  If you want a two paragraph weekly email that offers praises and prayer requests for the Summit, send an email to greatlakesprayersummit@gmail.com  subject line: PRAYER.  

I hope you will share the links and join in the movement of prayer!

I better qualify that....   I'm not the host so I'm being presumptuous when I answer your question.  I don't really know if they have space to welcome everyone who would want to come.  So you better check with one of the clerks.   

They sure are!  Everyone's welcome!

Are people other than tri-classes elders and pastors invited? 

Yes--although the agenda for the day is heavy, the 3 Chicagoland Classes are sharing in a mini prayer summit during the lunch hour. Gregg De Mey and Jane Voss are the primary people planning this, but I and another pastor will also be helping to plan it.

Peter K.

I believe it's going to be built into the tri-classical meeting day.

I think Peter Kelder, the Regional Home Missionary in Chicagoland, is the one how knows about the regional prayer summit plan.

I haven't heard of the Chicagoland one yet; yes, please let us know. 

 

Hi Tim,

The study is from Faith Alive's "Discover Your Bible" series and is called "Discover Prayer". The link to the leadership guide is http://www.faithaliveresources.org/Products/152705/discover-prayer-leader-guide.aspx

Can you give the title (and link) of the particular study you're referring to?

I've been reading the Prayer Saturated Church by Cheryl Sacks that has a section on developing job descriptions. It might be helpful.

 

Thank you, John. This is very timely. 

If anyone is looking for more resources on abortion and life as a whole, crcjustice.org/life is a good place to look. We have updated materials for churches (free bulletin inserts, worship planning resources, PowerPoint slides) and for everyone (information on abortion policy, church statements, helpful websites, articles, and advocacy tips).

We too are looking at the situations that lead up to these life changing decisions and praying for change. I look forward to the reading the prayer schedule!

 Bev, it's a good question, and I don't know the answer.  It certainly seems like a warning to us.   Don't take your children for granted.   Don't assume too much with regard to their faith.   Children are always our prime mission field. 

But we can also take some encouragement.... sometimes the sons did follow the faith of their fathers.   And sometimes... I'm now thinking of Hezekiah and his son Manasseh, where Manasseh re-installed the idols and false gods his father had destroyed, but... then when Manasseh was in trouble, was captured, and when he returned from his own exile, he returned to God as well. 

When we are busy with careers, work, making money, even with preaching or church work or missions, we should not forget that our children need our witness and our attention.  If the lost soul in Kenya needs our attention, then our young children also need the same attention.  Our children too have the questions, insecurities, struggles about who God is in their lives.   How we respond when they are young, is probably most impacting. 

Deuteronomy talks about binding the law on your forehead and doorpost, and partly that was to remind oneself, but also it was the way to teach the children.   Well, only part of the way.   You can do all of that, but the follow up is needed to explain it and to live it.   And to pray for your children.   I've read somewhere that a parent first prayed for his child when she was still in the womb.  And what did he pray?  that she would come to love the Lord.   and that she would find a godly husband.   Seems a bit premature, doesn't it?  but it sets the tone for what is the most important thing in your life, and the life of your child.   So imagine that your witness to that child begins already before she is born, and continues throughout. 

Hi John... there's a biblical trend with children that I find very disturbing... Aaron's sons offered unholy fire and were killed, Eli's sons also were disobedient, Samuel's boys didn't do any better, David's kids were not a model family (at all)...  and the list goes on... what was the disconnect between godly father and ungodly son...  I've been pondering this for a while, and I'm not making much progress... (this was suppose to be a reply to an earlier post on 7.23.12, but it looks like I didn't reply the right way)

What is our present spiritual condition?  Is it like Asa… who removed the idols and repaired the altar?  Or is it like Asa who stopped relying on the Lord and became angry with the prophet? 

Is it like Jehoshaphat who walked in the ways of his ancestor David and who sought the Lord?  Or like Jehoshaphat who allied himself with (baal worshipper) Ahab by marriage, and helped Ahab in his battle? 

Jehoshaphat removed  the visible signs of false worship , the idols and high places and asherah poles from Judah (although not from Israel),.  But apparently he still relied on alliances with worldly kings, with Ahab and Ahaziah, and was willing to even ally himself thru marriage, including the marriage of his son to a daughter of Ahab.   

 Can we assume then because we have removed the idols, and we have sought the Lord, that we have not allied ourselves with Ahabs of this world in various ways?   When Jehosophat did this, his son Jehoram was the fruit of it, naturally marrying a daughter of Ahab as his godly father encouraged him, and then why would Jehoshaphat be surprised at the evil done by his son Jehoram? 

We can ask ourselves what the spiritual condition of the denomination is, where are we headed, how are our alliances?  And then, each of us can  ask ourselves:  what is our own personal spiritual condition?    What prophecies will we listen to and where do we put our trust? 

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Scripture references: 

II Chron.15: 8 “When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of[a]Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the Lordthat was in front of the portico of the Lord’s temple… 17 Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lordall his life…..“Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lordyour God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand….10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people….

…II chron 17:3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat(son of Asa) because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed…  6 His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah. ..1.Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage…1.When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem(after the battle), 2 Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love[a]those who hate the Lord?Because of this, the wrath of the Lordis upon you.3 There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God. ”…II Chron. 20:27 Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lordhad given them cause to rejoice over their enemies….

II Chron. 21:4 When Jehoram(son of Jehoshaphat) established himself firmly over his father’s kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the princes of Israel.5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years.6 He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” 

Would it be appropriate to ask "what is our present spiritual condition?"

Yes, I'm reading II chronicles 20 and 21 next.   The communal reliance by Jehosophat and Judah on God instead of man when faced with three different foreign tribes in one battle was encouraging, yes.  God fought that battle.   Reading further, you get a hint of Jehosophat relying on worldly alliances again, with Ahaziah.  And then you discover that his son Jehoram has married the daughter of Ahab;  so why would we be surprised that Jehoram then rebuilds all the high places and Asheroth poles that Jehosophat destroyed?  Why are we surprised that Jehoram son of Jehosophat kills all his brothers, and some other members of the royal family as well? 

I guess it is a warning that we cannot take our present spiritual condition for granted.   Nor can we assume that our present spiritual worship will somehow overrule our present worldly alliances and tendencies.   Our children will pay for our equivocation.   You can take that as a prophecy. 

thanks John for your response... I wasn't asking should we "more" eagerly desire it than everything else, but do we desire it at all, and how eager is that desire...  and your questions of at what level (ie crc leaders, pastors, elders, individuals) could all have different answers...

no, I don't want to have prophets that just "tickle our ears" and tell us what we want to hear, but maybe that is what some want, but I hope not... that is an entire discussion in itself...  that's one of the reasons why I struggle with such techniques as "appreciative inquiry"... are we so fragile (or maybe it's pride) that we can't take any criticism, any pointing out of where we have fallen short for the purpose of repentance and healing, so we can walk more fully in God's intended plan for us.  If we are unwilling to acknowledge where we have been wrong, or missed something, and therefore are not walking in alignment with the Spirit in an area, we cannot move forward much, if at all. 

I think of 2 very different responses in Acts when it says the people listening were "cut to the heart"... one is Acts 2:37-42 where the response to Peter's message that they had killed Jesus, was "what shall we do" and they gladly received his word and were baptized, the second is in Acts 8:54-60 in response to Stephen's message, here they were also "Cut to the heart" but this group gnashed at him with their teeth, and stoned him...  both groups of people were "cut to the heart", but the responses were very, very different.

So are you reading 2 Chron 20 next?  that is one of my favorite stories of communal fasting and prayer and worship =)

2 Chron 18 is an interesting perspective on prophets and how God put a "lying spirit" in the mouth of the king's prophets...   I think that shows us why testing the prophetic is so important... I don't think it should cause us to shut the door on it, though.  Jehoshapahat discerned the king's prophets were lying and only telling Ahab what he wanted to hear... Jehoshaphat is an interesting king... 

I ask these questions, because so far what I have generally found for the most part, is that the prophetic has not been encouraged and instead discouraged... but I'm not sure if that is just my experience, or is that generally the case in the crc...

Bev, "is it more eagerly  desired..." is a pretty general question.   How would we know?  Desired by CRC headquarters?  By pastors and preachers?  By elders?  By everyone else?   by ourselves?   Is it only individuals who can speak prophetically, or can the anomalous institution also speak prophetically? 

This morning I was reading the story of Jehosophat and Ahab who were considering a battle (Chronicles).  Ahab had 400 prophets telling him to go because they would be successful.  (sounds like a consensus).  Jehosophat heard them, but asked for a real prophet of God.  Ahab said, yes, there was one prophet, but he was irritating, always giving him bad news, and he didn't really want him.  They got this one real prophet Micaiah anyway, and guess what?  he agreed with the 400!  But, Ahab sensed his sarcasm, and shouted at him to not lie, but tell him the real truth!  Irony of ironies!!  Then Micaiah gave the real prophecy and said that the battle would not go well, and that Ahab would die.  Well, did it make a difference?  Did Ahab and Jehosophat listen?  hardly.  partly.  They put Micaiah in prison on bread and water.  They changed uniforms, and Ahab was disguised as a soldier instead of a king.  An enemy soldier shot an arrow at a random Israelite soldier, not realizing it was Ahab king of Israel, and it pierced his body armor and killed him. 

Well, doesn't it make you laugh and cry a bit?  We want prophecy, but only if we like it?  We want prophets, but only if they agree with us?  We know the truth, but don't want to hear it? 

Perhaps we ought to more eagerly desire God's will, more eagerly spend time in His Word, more eagerly spend time in prayer, and then true prophecy will be a "natural" God-given result? 

(400 prophets who were wrong.... makes you think, doesn't it?) 

Of course, those 400 prophets did not worship God.  They were from Israel, not from Judah.  They likely worshipped Baal and other gods.   So maybe this doesn't apply to us?   But even Jehosophat, a good king, worshipper of the one true God,  didn't listen to Micaiah that day.

"1 When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, 2 Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is upon you. 3 There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.  "  II Chronicles 19. 

ok, s'more questions and thoughts on the prophetic...

1. it is to be eagerly desired (I Cor. 14:1)... so is it?  does the crc eagerly desire this gift?  Why or why not?

2. are those gifted with the prophetic gifting being encouraged in their gifting, and if so, how?

3.  are those gifted with the prophetic gifting being equipped to understand and walk in their gifting, and if so, how?

... and if not to #2 & 3, then why not?

 

thanks to all of you for your input thus far... it is very helpful and insightful..

 

 

 

Hi Greg... it looks like that link is no longer available as they (CAC) have recently (in June) redone their website with a different web address, and I can't find the quote anymore... it was a quote regarding the prophets then, prophets now conference Richard Rohr did back in 2006...    here's the new website and at the bottom of this link you will see that Richard dates it June 2012... it seems he is much more focused on contemplation and mysticism now (seems more new age, but they do still reference scripture and God), and it looks like he has just started a new school on contemplation... I didn't see any mention of prophets or the prophetic on the new site...

http://cac.org/dm-themes 

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