Monthly Newsletter

Monthly Newsletter — January 2014

Family of Faith Christian Fellowship

London Newsletter

January 2014 / Issue 47

In this issue:

  • Upcoming events

  • January Letter

  • Prayer as Response and Participation (part 2)

  • Things to pray for

  • Online Materials

  • Quotations Worth Thinking About

Upcoming Events:

  • Communion – Sunday, January 12, 2014

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

  • Discipleship Discussion – Sunday, January 19, 2014

    Our discipleship topic will be “Scripture: God’s Gift.” Please try to read the series of articles by Gary Deddo beforehand.

  • Movie Night – 7:00pm, Saturday, January 11, 2014

    Please join us in our home to watch the movie Les Miserable on Saturday, January 11, 2014. Plan to arrive before 7:00pm as we would like to start the movie promptly at 7:00pm.

January Letter

Dear Brethren,

Best wishes for 2014! I hope this new year will be a productive and meaningful one for you.

Thank you to all who helped out at this year’s Christmas lunch. Numbers were up significantly over last year and everything went extremely smoothly.

This newsletter continues a series of articles on prayer centered around the theme that prayer is our response to who God is and what He has done and our participation in what He is doing. This month we look at the Lord’s prayer through this lens.

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

Warmest regards,

Colin and Sue

Prayer as Response and Participation

Article Two: The Lord’s Prayer

Prayer is a vital part of our Christian life. If our prayers are to be effective we need to know how to pray and what to pray about. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1ff). His response was to give them a model prayer that they could use as a framework for their own prayers. Let’s take a look at this model prayer as it is recorded in Matthew Ch 6 and examine whether Jesus viewed prayer as a response to who God is and what He has done, and a participation in what He is doing and will yet do.

Matthew 6:9This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,…’

The first thing Jesus teaches us to do is to acknowledge who God is: God is our Father – He has adopted us as His sons and daughters. He is a God who is in heaven – He is a transcendent Being, not limited by time and space. Because of who God is our response should be praise: “Hallowed be Your name.” God’s name is to be revered because of who He is. He is the Holy God. Our praise of God is our response to who He is. This praising and hallowing of God’s name is an important part of prayer. It reminds us of who God is and helps us to pray with the proper reverence and awareness of who it is we are praying to.

Matthew 6:10your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Here Jesus shows that prayer is not primarily about our needs and desires. Prayer is about God’s will being done. It is not about us, it is about God’s kingdom coming, about His good and perfect will being done on earth as it is in heaven. This is what God is doing, establishing His Kingdom. Prayer is our opportunity to participate and contribute to that work. God has ordained that He will not establish His Kingdom apart from the prayers of His saints (cf. Rev. 8:3-4). Prayer is God’s invitation to us to participate with Him in what He is doing.

Matthew 6:11Give us today our daily bread.”

This is what God does. He is our Provider. He gives us all the things we need to sustain our lives, both for this temporary physical life as well as our eternal life. God wants us to come to Him for our needs – He wants us to realize our dependence upon Him. We are not independent self-sufficient beings. We are dependent on God for every breath of air we breathe. When we pray for our daily needs we are acknowledging that God is the Provider and that we are the recipients of His grace.

God also wants us to think of others. We do not pray, “Give me my daily bread,” but, “Give us today our daily bread.” As we pray for others and their needs, we are participating with God in His work of fulfilling their needs. God can supply their needs whether we pray or not, but He has invited us to participate with Him in supplying the needs of others.

Matthew 6:12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

We pray, “forgive us our sins” in the knowledge that our sins are already forgiven in Christ. We are not begging God to do something for us that He is unwilling to do. We are responding to what God has already done for us. Our repentance of our sins is an entering into and a participation in what God has already done for us in Christ. In praying for God’s forgiveness of others, we enter into and participate in His forgiveness of their sins.

We also pray, “as we also have forgiven our debtors.” We pray for God’s forgiveness of others in the knowledge that Jesus Christ has died for their sins too – including their sins against us. In forgiving our enemies, we are participating in God’s forgiveness of them. God has already forgiven them. As we forgive them, we join God in what He has done. An unwillingness to forgive those who have hurt us is to oppose and reject what God has already done for them – and for us.

Matthew 6:13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

We acknowledge that God is at work in our lives. He has promised to complete the work of salvation He has begun in us. But He is not going to complete this work against our will or without our participation. Our prayers that God would keep us from temptation and from the influences of Satan is an expression of our desire to be conformed to His image. It is our response to the work God is doing and our participation in that work. Jesus promises, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).

Again, it is a work that we enter into, not just on behalf of ourselves, but on behalf of others also. We don’t pray, “Do not lead me into temptation,” we pray, “lead us not into temptation.The apostle Paul has given us numerous examples of the kind of prayers we should be praying for each other. Take as one example:

Ephesians 3:16-19I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

This is what God is doing in each of our lives – He is conforming us to the image of Christ. But He has chosen not to do this without the prayers of His people. We are called to participate in the work of sanctification by praying for each other, just as our High Priest in heaven is daily interceding for each one of us. In prayer we join Him in His High-Priestly role. This is what it means to be a part of a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9).

Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). But prayer is not primarily about us presenting our wish lists and seeking God’s intervention on our behalf. Prayer, as we have seen from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew Ch 6, is our response to who God is and what He has done and our participation in what He is and will yet do. Prayer is God’s gift to us by which we can deepen our relationship with Him and participate in His life.

Things to Pray for:

Please pray for:

  • Bill Schaap (Bonnie’s husband) (cataract surgery); Larry Prekup (cancer); Lloyd Mitchell (failing eyesight); Lisa Masse (continued improvement in health); 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.

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Please pray for peace in a country that has been in a state of civil war for over 25 years (it is estimated that 6-8 million people have died in this conflict). Recently, the United Nations has been providing troops to try and bring the war to an end. We have congregations in the DRC and members who have fled to neighbouring countries to escape the fighting.

  • Pray for one another that our love “may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight”; that each of us “may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ”; and that we may all be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11).

Online Materials

Many of the presentations that were made at the denominational conference last August are now available online. Please visit http://www.gci.org/media/conference2013 to check them out.

Quotations Worth Thinking About

“In the last resort, a love of God without love of humanity is no love at all.”

Hans Kung

“I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this: the measure of the intensity of your prayer.”

Charles Spurgeon

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