Prayer and the Ministry

Ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church must be humble men of prayer. Yet, as the Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte once said, "If you want to humble a man, ask him about his prayer life." We are all convinced of the importance of prayer, but for many of us prayer is a struggle. We end up caught between the demands of life in a fallen world and the requirement that we pray. But we cannot pray just when it suits us or how it suits us. This was part of the problem that Paul encountered at Ephesus, as seen in his first letter to Timothy. There were nonpraying men at Ephesus who wanted to be leaders in the church. They not only rejected Paul's apostolic teaching, but also balked at prayer. Independent and elitist, they refused to pray for all sorts of men. Paul makes it clear, however, that arrogant, nonpraying men have no place in the gospel ministry. If you enter the gospel ministry, you must humble yourself before Jesus Christ. You are serving at his pleasure, and the nature of your service is ... Read more

The Intercession of Jesus on Your Behalf

The conversation quickly became more difficult. The young woman with tears running down her cheeks asked, "Where is the Lord in my suffering? Why is he silent?" If only she could see him, she said, even for a moment, that encounter would ease her pain. Many of us have had such longings. The longing of the child of God to see the Lord is natural and good. One day that desire will be realized. And yet in the meantime we know, as weary pilgrims, that God does all things well. He is wise, loving, powerful, and good. He knows what we need, even before we ask. It is not a deficiency that Jesus is out of sight. Rather, he presently carries on an exalted ministry as our High Priest. Indeed, his priestly presence in heaven makes possible a supremely efficacious ministry that can comfort us in our darkest, longest night. Throughout the epistle to the Hebrews, the writer demonstrates the superiority of Jesus' person and work. Jesus is superior in his offices as revealer and as priest. His mediatorial work as our ... Read more

Why Should Reformed Christians Pray?

The Reformed faith is the proper, biblical expression of Christianity, yet at times our theology can get the best of us. This is no fault of biblical truth or true religion, but is a tendency of fallen man. Our thoughts are evil (Gen. 6:5). We pervert even the holiest of things into idolatry. In addition, our knowledge on this earth is dim compared to what we shall have in glory (1 Cor. 13:12). We frequently misunderstand or misapply the truths of God. For example, how does God's sovereignty relate to our prayers? This question is frequently put along these lines: If God foreordains and controls all things, why should I pray for anything? Will God change his plans to meet my needs? Why should I petition the Lord to save my friends and neighbors if they have been elect or reprobate from all eternity? On the one hand, God's will is immutable. On the other hand, the Bible instructs us to pray. Throughout Scripture, godly people bring their petitions before the Lord. Some prayed for health (Gen. 20:17; 2 ... Read more

Turning Points in American Presbyterian History
Part 12: 1973: The Presbyterian Church in America

The Presbyterian Church in America was born in 1973, but the rationale for its founding dated back more than a hundred years. The American Civil War provoked the division of Presbyterians along the Mason-Dixon line. On December 4, 1861, commissioners from Southern presbyteries met in Augusta, Georgia, to renounce the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (Old School) and to form the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America. (After the war, the church changed its name to the Presbyterian Church in the United States.) In its "Address to All the Churches of Jesus Christ throughout the Earth," the church outlined the Northern ecclesiastical indiscretions that forced its separation, especially the Gardiner Springs Resolutions of the previous General Assembly that declared the church's obligation to uphold the Union and support the federal constitution. In the minds of Southern Presbyterians, this was a violation of the spirituality of the church by an unwarranted engagement in ... Read more

Helps for Worship #5: Preparing for Worship (Part 2)

"Be still, and know that I am God." (Ps. 46:10) After six days in overdrive, it is difficult to slow down, change gears, and get our souls to the proper speed for the worship of God. Even with the best preparation for the Sabbath day, the world and its concerns stick to us as we gather on Sunday. Corporate worship of the eternal God is the most important activity of our week, but we come to it caught up with the trivial things of our passing lives and a passing age. Our remaining indwelling sin, together with the power of a very active devil—see Mark 4:15—works powerfully, and we find it hard to turn our attention to the surpassing greatness and goodness of the everlasting God. Use the minutes prior to worship to "be still" and prepare to give God praise that comes from an undivided heart. Here are some practical suggestions: Discipline yourself to be quiet before worship. There will be ample time to speak with others after the service is concluded. Go over the items in the order ... Read more


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