Monthly Letter from Dr Joseph Tkach — January 2014

Posted by colin on January 3, 2014 under Pastor General's Monthly Letter | Comments are off for this article

January 1, 2014

 

Letter from Dr. Joseph Tkach  

Grace Communion International - Living and Sharing the Gospel

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One day a reporter heard a story about an old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time. So the reporter and a team went to check it out and there he was!

They watched the man pray, and after about 45 minutes when he turned to leave, they approached him for an interview.

The Western Wall in Jerusalem

The Western Wall in Jerusalem

“I’m reporting for CNN. Sir, how long have you been coming to the Wall and praying?”

“For about 60 years.”

“60 years! That’s amazing! What do you pray for?”

“I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims. I pray for all the hatred to stop and I pray for all our children to grow up in safety and friendship.”

“How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?”

“Like I’m talking to a wall.”

His response often brings a chuckle, but it can also make one think. The hopelessness of the old man’s prayer should not be misinterpreted. What he prays for will become a reality–not in his time, but in God’s perfect time. This illustration brings to mind what Israel must have thought as Jeremiah was sharing God’s words with them. They had been taken into captivity and were praying for God to release them so they could return home. In Jeremiah 29:5-6 we find the prophet telling the captives to “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters.” Then Jeremiah writes, “This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (verses 10-11).

God may not answer our prayers in our time, but this is not a reason to stop praying. Rather, we can learn some insights about prayer from the very words used in the Old Testament. For example, the Hebrew word for prayer is tefillah. The word from which tefillah is derived isl’hitpalel which means “to judge oneself.” It is interesting that the nature of prayer is meant to be introspective. When we pray in such a way, we open ourselves up to reflect on the God’ ways and how he has been working in our lives. Prayer is supposed to help increase our alertness and appreciation for what God is doing with us. If you only pray when you feel inspired (that is, when you are already aware of God), you may not increase your awareness of God.

We all recognize there are different kinds of prayers, such as prayers of petition, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of confession and prayers of blessing. The Jews refer to a berakhah(blessing) as a special kind of prayer. Even if Hebrew is a totally foreign language to you, this kind of prayer is easy to spot because each thought starts with the word barukh (blessed or praised). Barukh is not a verb describing how we bless God; rather it is an adjective describing God as the source of all blessings. In other words, it is an expression of wonderment about how magnificently good God is. In English we might start a prayer with something like, “Blessed are you, Lord, King of all creation.”

When we openly attribute to God being the source of our blessings, we acknowledge who God is and who he is in relation to us. He is the Lord of all and the King of all creation; you and I are part of his creation. We are blessed because of who he is and who we are in that relationship!

So even if we’ve been praying at the Western Wall for 60 years or we are praying for relief from something that is holding us captive, we can acknowledge our trust in God who does work all things out wisely according to his plan and his purpose.

When I look back over the past few years, I confess things haven’t always gone the way I wanted them to go. But I praise God with prayers of blessings that he is always faithful. He’s opened doors I would not have imagined opened; he’s brought churches and people to join with us that I could not have dreamed possible, and he is moving us forward in ways that are beyond my ability to plan. My prayer for 2014 is that even though we may not get what we want, we praise God that his plan will be accomplished – and even more that his plan will work out for eternity.

I invite you to join us in our exciting future as God continues to guide us in sharing his good news with others and I thank you for your faithfulness in prayer and your continued financial support as we follow God’s lead. Together we are helping others increase their awareness of God in their lives.

Yours in Christ’s service,

Joseph Tkach President – Grace Communion International

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