Hello, Crossroads Family!
I look forward to this coming Sunday’s worship! There’s so much going on in our lives and in the world, it will be good to gather for refreshment, spiritual nourishment, and good fellowship. I thank God for each of you, and I’m always glad when I see you whether it’s on Sunday or during the week!
I hope you’ve been praying this week! At the end of last week’s sermon on prayer, I promised some thoughts on how to have a half-day of prayer. I’ve included those thoughts at the end of this email, from an article you can also access online called “How to Spend a Day in Prayer,” by Lorne C. Sanny.
This coming Sunday is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. The sermon will be from Genesis 1 and Psalm 8 on the subject of “What is a Human Being?” In these chaotic times, having a biblical answer to that question may be more important than you think. I hope you’ll join us at 10:00 at the Community Center, 200 N. Ash Street. There will be childcare during the sermon time. I’ll also try to have the sermon posted by this weekend in case you’re not able to join us in person.
As a part of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, we’ll have baby bottles available from Birthright if you’re interested in participating in their Baby Bottle Boomerang project. Baby Bottle Boomerang raises critical funds for the ministry at Birthright. Kim Reedy is coordinating our participation in the project; please contact her if you have questions or won’t be there this Sunday but want a baby bottle!
Our new Elder Board met for the first time last Sunday after the worship service. Thank you for praying for the Crossroads elders. Dave will share a short report on our meeting at the conclusion of worship this Sunday.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!
— Psalm 8:3-5
How to Have a Half-Day of Prayer
“Prayer is a powerful thing, for God has bound and tied Himself thereto.” — Martin Luther
“Avail yourself of prayer, the greatest privilege this side of heaven. Jesus Christ died to make this communion and communication with the Father possible.” — Billy Graham
“God’s acquaintance is not made hurriedly. He does not bestow His gifts on the casual or hasty comer and goer. To be much alone with God is the secret of knowing Him and of influence with Him.” — E. M. Bounds
Why spend extended time in prayer?
1. For extended fellowship with God.
2. For renewed perspective on the world and life.
3. For catching up on intercession.
4. For personal inventory and evaluation.
5. For adequate preparation.
Here are some simple helps for spending a half-day in prayer:
Where to go? What to bring?
Pack a lunch or snacks if you need them. Find a place where you can be alone, away from distractions. This may be an outdoor spot away from your home, your backyard, or a quiet place in your home away from work.
Take along a Bible, a notebook, a writing utensil, a hymnbook, and perhaps another devotional book. Your prayer time will include hearing from God as well as talking to God. These books will provide ways to hear from God and enjoy fellowship with Him.
What to do?
Divide your time into three parts: waiting on the Lord; prayer for others; and prayer for yourself.
Waiting on the Lord
As you wait on the Lord, don’t hurry. Don’t be on the lookout for some mystical or ecstatic experience, or some audible voice. Just wait. Isaiah 40:31 promises that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. Psalm 27:14 is one of dozens of verses which mention waiting on Him. Psalm 62:5 says, “My soul, wait upon God, for my expectation is from Him. As you wait on God, be sure to ask Him for the power of concentration so you don’t drift away to daydreaming.
Wait on Him, first of all, to realize His presence. Read through a passage like Psalm 139, grasping the truth of His presence as you read each verse.
Wait on Him also for cleansing. The last two verses of Psalm 139 lead you into this. Ask God to search your heart. This is not morbid introspection but rather allowing the Holy Spirit to bring to your attention things in you which should be confessed and cleansed. Psalms 51 and 32, David’s songs of confession, will help you. Stand upon the firm ground of 1 John 1:9 and claim God’s faithfulness to forgive whatever you confess.
If you realize you’ve sinned against someone, make a note of it so you won’t forget to set it right.
Next, wait on God to worship Him. Psalms 103, 111, and 145 are helps for this, or Revelation chapters 4 and 5. Use them to praise God, either from your heart or out loud. If you brought a hymnbook or other songbook (or audio), you can sing to God. If you’re self-conscious about singing, read the words of one or more hymns silently or out loud.
Waiting on God in worship will naturally lead you to thanksgiving. Think about the wonderful things God has done for you and given you — your own salvation, spiritual blessings, physical blessings, family, friends, and more! Write them down if that helps you. Express appreciation to God for the countless things He has given!
Prayer for Others
The second part of your time is prayer for others — unhurried prayer for people near and far, people around the world, entire countries of the world, people you don’t usually pray for, and people you’ve forgotten to pray for. Use the list of contacts on your phone. Scrolling through that list and praying briefly for as many people on it is a satisfying exercise, and one God will hear and honor. Use the missionary bulletin inserts found in the Crossroads bulletin each Sunday. Or use the bulletin itself if you have some old ones!
First, ask specific things for these people. Imagine yourself in the situations they are in, and pray accordingly.
Second, read through some of the prayers of the Bible, and use them to pray for the people on your heart. Paul prayed for people in Philippians 1, Colossians 1, and Ephesians 1 and 3. Use those prayers! They’re great helps!
A third help is to simply pray for other people what you are praying for yourself.
Prayer for Yourself
Finally, the last part of your time will be prayer for yourself. Let your prayers for yourself be based on Scripture you’ve been reading.
Allow God to speak to you — about your activities, the use of your time, your relationships, a decision or an act of service He’s impressing upon you. Be sure to write down any impressions you receive.
Bring up problems or decisions you’re facing, and seek God’s mind for them. List the factors involved in these decisions, and pray over those factors. Praying to God for guidance while you go through an ordinary decision-making process can be a part of this time. Look to the Scriptures for guidance.
Look for, and meditate on, promises you can claim for your life. There’s no need to thumb through the Bible looking for them. Start with the promises you already know. Chew over old familiar promises the Lord has given. Add to them promises you’ve read today and, hopefully, have jotted down in your notebook.
Variety is important during this extended time of prayer. Read a while, pray a while, walk. It’s not necessary to stay seated in one place or in one position. As outside things pop into your mind, jot them down so you can take care of them later. Don’t just push them aside, or they’ll keep plaguing you while you’re trying to pray.
Don’t think you must end the day with some new discovery or extraordinary experience. Wait on God and expose yourself to Him. Also, try to avoid the tendency to hunt for something to share with someone else. This time is mainly about you and God. You may gain some new insight, but often this can take your attention from the real business of prayer. Write it down, and press on with praying.
You may find, at the end of your prayer time, that you’ve started a new habit. Take time to schedule your next half-day of prayer. Days of prayer don’t just happen. We have to make time. Plan ahead! God will bless you as you do this.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!