Praying with and for God’s People

It’s been a whirlwind start to the new year and I apologize for the limited blogging activity. As I’ve already noted on the blog, last Monday-Wednesday was the Student Global Impact National Conference. God graciously blessed the conference and we, as a church, are so thankful that He has opened up this door of ministry. As you think of it and are burdened to do so, please pray that lasting fruit will grow for God’s glory among the nations.

About 45 minutes after I finished preaching the last session, my second son, Daniel, and I hopped in the car to make the drive to Northland International University. He is on the basketball team and had missed two days of practice in order to be at the conference, so we were aiming to get him to NIU for a 9 a.m. practice on Thursday. The roads were clear and the weather very good, so we arrived on campus about 3:30 CST, hit the sack for five hours, got up and he headed off to practice and I headed back home. Wish I could say the roads were clear and the weather good on the way home, but the last third of the trip was pretty messy. Lots of spin outs and even one car upside down near Bridgeport, but I arrived home safely in order to fall asleep during the second half of the national championship football game.

With an ordination council on Friday and a wedding on Saturday, I headed into Sunday, quite honestly, a little worn. That was disappointing in that Sunday marked the start of our annual Prayer Week emphasis. This is the 14th year that we’ve set aside eight days at the beginning of the year to give special attention to congregational prayer. Although I started the morning a little slow, God graciously worked among us during the morning service, lifting my heart and, I believe working through His word to strengthen our commitment to worship. The staples of Prayer Week at our church are early morning prayer meetings for the men and ladies, noon prayer times, a Concert of Prayer on Wednesday evening, and closing the week on the second Sunday with a combined adult class, morning worship, dinner together, and an afternoon praise service. Each year brings blessings. I commend the practice to you.

Monday morning began with an excellent prayer meeting at 6:30 a.m. with a good sized group of men from the congregation (the ladies met separately). We spent 40 minutes in prayer together as a full group, then 5-10 minutes praying with one or two other men before leaving to tackle the day’s business. It was a solid prayer meeting that enjoyed a wonderful mixture of praise and petition.

Later Monday morning the day, and week, took a turn that none of us would have anticipated. Glenn Hawley, a humble, godly man who served Christ by using his gifts to keep things running properly around our facilities was fatally injured from a fall while working on some lights in the building. Here’s the announcement that I made to our church family:

I have some sad news to report. This morning, while working here at the church, Glenn Hawley was involved in a very bad fall that caused life-ending injuries. Emergency rescue and hospital workers labored diligently to revive him, but they were not able to do so. This all came as an incredible shock to us, but not to the Lord. Glenn was a blessing to our church because of his clear commitment to Jesus Christ and faithful service to the Lord here. Servants like Glenn are a gift of God’s grace, so we are thankful that the Lord saved him, brought him and his family to Inter-City, and led Glenn to serve on staff here. We are very saddened by his sudden death, but thankful for the promise of the gospel and for Glenn’s trust in Jesus Christ. Please pray for Kathy, their daughters, and their families.

I am so thankful for the good news of God’s saving grace through what Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary. If it were not for what Jesus Christ did, I would have no idea what to say in situations like this. Empty platitudes don’t cut it. Real hope is what is really needed, and that kind of hope is found only in Christ. So, we pray, we share what God’s Word says, and we trust the Spirit to give peace that will guard hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. And we praise God for believers whose faith stands firm and who rest in God’s promises.

This morning I gathered for prayer with a sober group of men. Again we mingled praise and petition, expressing confidence in God’s purposes and finding comfort in the gospel. Hearing the prayers of my brothers was a means of God’s grace to my heart, and I am confident that they were retrieving God’s grace from before His throne on behalf of hurting family and friends. A praying congregation is a great gift from God.

It’s been an unexpected and uneven ride through the first 12 days of 2010. I am so thankful for a Rock on which to stand. I am so thankful for a Father who hears when we call. I am so thankful for a Redeemer who has conquered death!

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