Dear Cornerstone brothers and sisters,
The Lord has called us to take the good news out to those who haven’t heard. In that light, may we all be in prayer for our Outreach Sunday this Lord’s Day. Is there a neighbor or friend that you could invite? Perhaps a co-worker? The Bible tells us the word of God is the power of God unto salvation. Let us pray that God’s word would be powerfully at work this Lord’s Day.
A few reminders:
*We will have a church fellowship lunch following worship this Sunday.
*This week’s devotion is a reflection on prayer from the life of Nehemiah.
*Continue to be in prayer as we look towards organizing as a local church this Fall.
From the Pastor’s Desk
1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
The Apostle Paul closes his letter to the Thessalonians with a series of short commands: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit …” (5:16-22). The statement I want to focus on for a moment in this devotion is Paul’s command to pray, “Pray without ceasing.” What does it mean to pray without ceasing? How does one pray without ceasing? As opposed to considering this question by way of explanation, let’s consider it by way of illustration. And to do so, I want to reflect on two episodes from the life of Nehemiah.
First, Neh 1:1-11 records Nehemiah unburdening his heart before the Lord. After hearing from his brother concerning the disarray of God’s people in Jerusalem (vv. 2-3), Nehemiah “sat down and wept and mourned for days, and [he] continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” God’s people in Jerusalem are in trouble – they are facing hardships – and Nehemiah goes to the Lord in prayer. His initial reaction was neither bitterness, despair, nor anger; but rather his initial reaction was to pour out his heart before the “great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (v. 5).
Second, when faced with a sudden and intense situation requiring wisdom, Nehemiah quickly pleads for God’s help (Neh 2:4). Four months after hearing of the difficulties in Jerusalem, Nehemiah is questioned by the king as to his ‘sad face.’ Nehemiah then explained the reason for his despair and recounted the trials faced in Jerusalem. The Persian king responded to Nehemiah with the question, “What are you requesting?” How would Nehemiah respond? How should Nehemiah respond? What would the king do? The king could have Nehemiah killed with the flick of his wrist. Wisdom was needed. The guidance of the Lord was needed. Prayer was needed. And pray was what Nehemiah did. “What are you requesting,” the king asked. “So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king (2:4) …” Nehemiah stopped to pray – even if just for a moment. Wisdom was needed. Grace was needed. The Lord’s hand was needed. So Nehemiah prayed. Not a long, thought out prayer – there was not time for that. But a request for help. “Lord help me.” “Lord, give me grace.” “Lord, give me wisdom.” “Lord, be with me.”
May we let Nehemiah show us what it means to pray without ceasing. It simply means that prayer is such a part of our lives that ‘to pray’ is our initial response to life’s situations. When burdened by struggles within the church (chapter 1), Nehemiah prayed. When faced with a need for quick guidance and wisdom (chapter 2), Nehemiah prayed. We could also examine chapter 9 to see prayer as a response to sin in the lives of the people. If prayer is the heart-beat of your life, then all of one’s life – regardless of the situation, trial, joy, sorrow, or decision – will be bathed with prayer. May the church be filled with those unceasing in their prayers (Luke 18:1-8)! May we be those unceasing in prayer. May we be convicted about the shortcomings in our prayer lives! But may we flee to Christ and plead for the Spirit to stir our hearts to unceasing prayer.
I look forward to worshipping with all of you this Lord’s Day,