Monthly Newsletter — December 2013

Posted by colin on December 6, 2013 under Monthly Newsletter | Comments are off for this article

 Family of Faith Christian Fellowship

London Newsletter

December 2013 / Issue 46

In this issue:

  • Upcoming events

  • December Letter

  • Prayer as Response and Participation

  • Things to pray for

  • Quotations Worth Thinking About

Upcoming Events:

  • Communion – Sunday, December 8, 2013

    Our Communion service takes place on the second Sunday of each month.

  • Christmas Dinner – Sunday, December 8, 2013

    This year we will again be helping out at the annual Christmas Dinner at St George’s church.

  • Discipleship Discussion – postponed

    We will postpone our next discipleship discussion until January in order to focus on Advent. Our discipleship topic will be “Bible Study – how can we study God’s word more effectively.

December Letter

Dear Brethren,

At this time of the year we are again reminded of the most significant event in human history – the moment when God joined Himself to mankind in the person of Jesus Christ. It is an awesome thought that God was willing to humble Himself to the point of becoming one of His own creatures so that we could enter into a deeper loving relationship with Him.

It is also a reminder of the value of human life in a world which tends to denigrate human beings as little more than a chance chemical reaction in some primordial swamp. The Biblical testimony is that God created us in His image and that it was very good – so good that God was willing to become one of us so that we could enter into fellowship with Him.

We will postpone our Discipleship Discussion this month in order to focus on this season of the year. Next month we will discuss Gary Deddo’s series of articles entitled “Scripture: God’s Gift.” Please let me know if you need a copy of them.

We again have the opportunity of participating with four other churches in hosting a Christmas Dinner for the underprivileged and disadvantaged members of our community. This event takes place this coming weekend, so hopefully you are all aware of your responsibilities.

I am planning to do a series of articles on prayer centered around the thought that prayer is our response to who God is and what He has done and our participation in what He is doing. In this month’s newsletter I look at how Christian prayer differs from pagan prayer. I hope that you will find these articles helpful and interesting, and that they will encourage you to follow Paul’s admonition to pray continually (I Thess. 5:17), at all times, and in every situation (Eph. 6:18ff).

Thank you very much for your continuing donations to the food bank. Your faithfulness in supporting this cause is much appreciated.

May this Christmas season be a blessed and meaningful on for you and your family,

Colin and Sue

Prayer as Response and Participation

Article One: Avoiding a Pagan Concept Prayer

Have you ever felt like your prayers are going no further than the ceiling above your head? I suppose all of us have felt this way from time to time. But have you considered that this feeling reflects a wrong concept of God and of the nature of prayer?

Every religion has some form of prayer by which its adherents beseech their god(s). Jesus warns us not to pray the way pagans do (cf. Matt. 6:7). The pagan attitude towards prayer is that God is somehow remote, distant, and probably not that concerned with what is happening in our lives. To reach God, you need to pray in certain ways or do certain things to get his attention. If your prayers are not answered it is because you have not prayed long enough, fervently enough, or often enough. If you can get the formula right then perhaps God will answer your prayers.

We see this pagan approach to prayer illustrated by the priests of Baal in I Kings 18:18-26. You remember the story: Elijah confronts Ahab, the king of Israel, and tells him that the reason the nation is experiencing a severe drought is because they have forsaken God. Elijah says to Ahab, “summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah.” The king did as Elijah requested, and when the crowd had assembled, Elijah said to the people, ““How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

Elijah then proposed a test to identify the true God. The prophets of Baal were to build an altar, place a sacrifice on it, and call on Baal to send down fire from heaven. Elijah would do the same calling on the God of Israel. The one who sent fire would be the true God. The people of Israel agreed to this test, and so we read in I Kings 18:26 that the prophets of Baal “… took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.” They prayed long and loudly in an effort to get Baal to hear their prayer.

Elijah mocks this pagan concept of prayer: “At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened” ” (I Kings 18:27). God does not hear you if you don’t pray long enough, loudly enough, or fervently enough: “So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed” (vs 28).

Notice their attitude: ”if we do something – like slash ourselves – then perhaps Baal will hear.” We know from other Old Testament passages, people even sacrificed their own children to try and get their gods to answer their prayers.

We can fall prey to this same attitude. When God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers then we think it must be because we are not using the right techniques. If we pray longer, or more fervently, then perhaps God will hear. Or maybe if we fast and pray then God will hear – but fasting is not about trying to get God to do our will. Fasting is about examining ourselves and repenting of our sins (cf. Isa. 53:2-6).

The fundamental problem here is that people have a wrong concept of God. They see God as remote and distant – uninvolved in their lives, unconcerned and unresponsive, even unwilling to answer. The Christian approach to prayer comes from a right understanding of who God is and of His love for us. The Bible testifies that we are not praying to a remote God. We are praying to a God who loves us and is vitally interested in us, and who is more anxious to hear from us than we are to talk to Him. Christian prayer flows out as a response to who God is.

More than that, we are not praying through our own efforts alone – trying to reach up to God. In Christian prayer we recognize that God has joined Himself to us. God is with us, and praying with us. The Holy Spirit is interceding for us, helping us in our prayers, and even praying for us when we don’t have the appropriate words to express our feelings. Not only is the Holy Spirit praying with us and in us, but the Son is ever interceding for us. Our prayers are joined to His prayers. This is how Christian prayer differs from pagan prayer. Christian prayer is a participation in the life of the Triune God – the God who is for us, with us, and in us.

This is why I have entitled this series “prayer as response and participation.” Our prayers are a response to who God is and what He has done in our lives and they are a participation in what God is doing (more on this in future articles).

Things to Pray for:

Please pray for:

  • Larry Prekup (cancer); Lloyd Mitchell (failing eyesight); Lisa Masse (continued improvement in health); Fred Zamostny (back problems); Gabriele Hodgins (arthritis and tendonitis; loss of job); Scott Blaine (MS).

  • Philippines: Please pray for God’s blessing and protection on the Philippines as it recovers from the devastation caused by typhoon Hainan.

  • Our brethren in Mozambique. Please pray for peace in that country as the threat of another civil war grows. A 16-year civil war came to an end in 1992 with a peace agreement between the Frelimo government and Renamo rebels. That agreement has recently been terminated and there is concern that fighting could break out again.

  • Our local congregation that we might fulfill God’s will for us. Pray that we might each be a light in our community, manifesting the love of God to friends, family, co-workers and neighbours.

  • Opportunities to share the gospel with others, the courage to do so, and the wisdom to know how.

Quotations Worth Thinking About

Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths

Charles Spurgeon

“The pollution of the outward environment we are witnessing is only the mirror and the consequence of the inward environment, to which we pay too little heed. I think that this is also the defect of the ecological movements. They crusade with an understandable and also legitimate passion against the pollution of the environment, whereas man’s self-pollution of his soul continues to be treated as one of the rights of his freedom.”

Joseph Ratzinger

Comments are closed.