Are you ready for church? I am not asking whether you will be up on time, dressed, fed, and properly caffeinated. Rather, I am asking whether you are spiritually prepared for what is taking place at the Sunday gathering. It is my fear that many church members and regular attendees find themselves praying to the Lord for the first time all weekend on Sunday mornings, and even so only if their mind is not wandering toward lunch plans during the service. Anything that is done frequently faces the danger of becoming commonplace. Sometimes our familiarity with something can actually hinder our appreciation. There is a cosmic, eternal, and spiritual war that happens every single week in the midst of your congregation. Consider afresh what is occurring at your gathering this Sunday and resolve to pray with a new zeal for God’s glorious work to be done.
Pray for the Proclamation of God’s Word
Our God speaks. The God of the universe who breathed out stars and brought all of reality into existence at the word of his mouth has spoken through his creation, through his Son, and through his inspired Scriptures. In those Scriptures, God ordained that certain men called pastors would be charged with the preaching and the teaching of God’s Word in the congregation. As Paul charged Timothy so is your pastor charged, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus…, preach the word.” (2 Tim. 4:2) It is likely that your pastor has labored in prayer and in study for this week’s sermon for as long as 20 hours in between his other teaching, counseling, and overseeing responsibilities. If it is a bi-vocational pastor or a non-staff pastor, he has labored early in the mornings, late into the night, and even into Saturday evening that he might see, savor, understand, and clearly communicate the Scriptures to you on Sunday morning. He does so because he believes that it is the word of God which is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16-17) He does so because it is the word of God that that is living, abiding, and will have an eternal impact. (1 Pt. 1:23) He does so because he believes that faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:17)
But as your pastor stands in faith that God will speak through him, will he see the faces of those who hunger to know God more deeply and enjoy God more sweetly, or will he see the faces of those who have already had their fill on what the world has offered them this week? Will he see the faces of spiritual slumber unconcerned whether they are nourished into spiritual growth? Will he see the faces of those who are really not expecting to hear from God at all or be stirred to respond in any way? Pray that it will not be so. Pray for a deep hunger in your soul for the teaching of God’s word this Sunday, “For man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 5:7) Pray that your pastor would not be “like so many, peddlers of God’s word,” but that he would be, “a man of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight to God speaking Christ”. (2 Cor. 2:17) In fact, pray that it will not be your pastor speaking at all, rather that there will be a miracle of speech in which God speaks through a man so that God receives all the glory. (1 Pet. 4:11)
Pray for the Edification of Saints
At your next church gathering, regular members of your local church will gather together after a long week of raging warfare. Many are beaten, bruised, and on the brink of giving up. Some have shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ this week and have been brutally rejected and let down. Some don’t know if their marriage will last another blowout fight or if their child will make it into adulthood. Some have received a bad diagnosis from the doctor and some have lost loved ones. Others are neck deep in sin wondering if God could ever use them again as they continuously lose the waging war of their sinful flesh. Many are overwhelmed by the temptation all around them. The Christian life is hard. When a pastor stands up to preach his sermon, he often looks into the eyes of brokenness and weariness that no one else knows about, all the while, fighting his own weariness of soul and the discouraging schemes of Satan.
In the same moment and in the same room, there are those who need to hold tightly to the promises of God that they might endure suffering and there are those that need to hear the truth of God’s holiness and instruction that they might repent of their sin. There are those that need to see the glory of God in all of his splendor that they might reject their spiritual slothfulness and pursue obedience to the Great Commission of God. The scenarios of need are endless. The Sunday morning gathering is a rally for weary soldiers renewing their strength for another week of fighting for the glory of the Lord in a hostile world. Pray for both your’s and their edification this Sunday. God is doing a work of sanctification in the hearts of those who know him week by week through the fellowship, the prayers, the preaching, and the singing that happens on Sunday morning.
Pray for the Salvation of the Lost
There is never a corporate worship gathering at the church I currently pastor in which everyone present is a Christian. Every time I stand to preach to our congregation of around 100 people, there are more than a handful of people staring back at me who will slip into an eternal death if they do not repent and believe upon Jesus Christ. Some of them are curious about the gospel but have never understood the claims of Christ. Others have heard countless times, but refuse to turn from the sin they love so much. Many have been attending church for a long time and rest upon a false assurance that their morally good behavior and religious activity will, in the end, make them righteous before God. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:4)
This is precisely why the powerful message of the gospel of Jesus Christ should be intentionally shared not only through the preached word but through public Scripture readings, public prayers, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and through every song that is sung. The whole service from beginning to end should be a declaration that Jesus Christ lived the holy life we could not live, died the death we deserved to die, and rose to new life to give forgiveness we could have never earned. Pray that the lost among you will receive that message, believe upon Jesus, and turn from their sins this Sunday. When you walk into your church service this week, there is always the great potential that someone could pass from eternal death to eternal life. Be a part of praying to that end.
Pray for the Glorification of God
The gathered church is God’s idea. Singing, preaching, praying, reading, giving, fellowshipping – they are all God’s design and they are all gifts of God to his beloved people. It is through our engagement in these activities together that we proclaim the excellencies of the God who has saved us and it is through these that we commune with God. He is a personal being who desires his people to be satisfied as he is glorified. Pray for his glorification this week. Pray that through the unique personalities, giftings, and relationships within your local church, that this beautiful mosaic would reveal more fully the glory of the God behind it. Pray that songs would be sung to God, not just about God. Pray that prayers would be prayed with a deep awareness that there is truly a God who is listening and answering. For this purpose, the universe was made and the church gathers, “that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 15:6)
By His Grace & For His Glory,
Pastor Brandon Langley
St. Rose Community Church