5/21/13

Pass On Your Prayer

Prayer is a private practice, but not one we should keep for ourselves. 

Jesus said in Matthew 6:9, “Therefore, you should pray like this…” Adults, may I ask a difficult question of us? If I am charged with making followers (Matthew28:19-20), and if I am charged with passing on my faith to the next generation (Deuteronomy 6:4-7), then am I passing on my thoughts on prayer? If Jesus taught his followers, am I not to teach others as well? 

Most of our young people learn prayer from sermons and lessons they only partially listen to, and from the public prayers they hear in worship. I believe that is insufficient. You might believe you do not know enough to teach. I would suggest not that you teach necessarily, but that you pray with them. Educators understand the principle of teaching by doing. I encourage you to use the recommendations of Deuteronomy 6:7. Pray with them at home, on the road, at nighttime, and in the morning. Turn off the radio while driving and pray, and offer them a chance to thank God for the things they see. Say a prayer over your children before they leave the house in the mornings. Bedtime prayers are not merely for children, either. Continue that throughout the life of a teen, too. When you meet with a coworker or friend for informal conversation over coffee, have prayer with them. I encourage you to do this prayer thing with others. 

There are many reasons (or perhaps more accurately, excuses) we do not pray with others. It feels awkward. We are not sure what to say. We feel that our prayers are not very good. But I would encourage you to do as Dr. Gary Chapman encouraged me to do at a marriage conference. Just start with something simple. Just hold hands and pray silently until you are both done. But start somewhere, and for heaven's sake, start! You will likely find what I have found: that prayer deepens your personal relationships, especially in your family. And children and students and even adults can be taught how to pray.

Allow prayer to become more a part of your personal interactions, providing you with a God-focus throughout the day (in obedience to 1 Thessalonians 5:17’s “pray without ceasing”), while helping others to do as Jesus did. Take your cue from Christ. He teaches his followers to pray in the following way:

Matthew 6:9-13
Pray then like this:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, 
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.


5/9/13

Graduation and Tee Ball


Graduation. 

Softball and baseball. 

I have been thinking about both of them a lot lately. There are few things more fun to watch than 4 and 5 year olds playing tee ball. But those young children grow up before our very eyes. I see this most clearly when I think about our upcoming milestone of high school graduation, remember that those young adults were once young children, enjoying sports and dance recitals and school ceremonies. Our student ministry at FBC Philly is a ministry of milestones. We celebrate the growth of a child from their Parent/Child Dedication (when we commit to support the parents as they spiritually guide their growing child) to Baptism (when they commit to following Christ) to Youth Group rites of initiation (when they become a young man / young woman) to True Love Waits ceremonies (when they commit to purely follow a pure God) to Graduate Recognition (when we celebrate their passage to adulthood). At each milestone, we pause and remember. For our entire church body (not merely parents), we remember the spiritual growth of the graduate, and we are reminded that we will ALWAYS have a responsibility to the next generation. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, volunteers: ALL adults are to be involved in the spiritual growth of our students. This is not my idea. Allow me to paraphrase and apply Deuteronomy 6:4-7, which are God’s words through Moses to the nation of Israel just before his death and their entrance to the promised land.

Listen, church: The LORD, our God, is the One LORD. You must love the LORD with your ALL of your heart and soul and strength. What I am instructing you today, you should put in your heart. You should teach this faithfully to your church’s children – talk about it around the dinner table, talk about it when you are driving, talk about it at bedtime, talk about it in the morning.

May we obey the God we love, and not merely grow in our own faith, but make faithful disciples of others, including our next generation.