Monday, July 14, 2014

Called Out...To Pray

Much could (and should) be said about prayer. It is literally a lifeline for believers as a way to converse with God. But, as members of a church for who or what should we pray? The list is long and items such as salvation and health certainly belong on a list. But for this post, three groups of people in the church will be the focus of our prayers. Church members should pray for their leaders, their deacons, and themselves.

Members should pray for their leaders because of the task at hand and the expectations of both the membership, and more importantly God. The Bible has three words that are used for the leaders of local churches.
  • Overseer (Greek - episkopos - bishop)
  • Elder (Greek - presbuteros - elder/leader) - most often plural in regards to singular church
  • Pastor (Greek - poimen - shepherd)
  • Above reproach (blameless character)
  • Husband of one wife (or one woman man)
  • Sober-minded (free from rash actions)
  • Self-controlled (sensible person)
  • Respectable (dignity and orderly behavior)
  • Hospitable (caring for others)
  • Able to Teach (skill in communicating God's truth)
  • Not a drunkard (not addicted to wine; does not prohibit medicinal value)
  • Not violent, but gentle (not a quick-tempered bully, rather being flexible in relating to others)
  • Not quarrelsome (verbal fighter)
  • Not a lover of money (get rich quick schemes instead of the souls of people)
  • Manage his household well (governing, leading, giving direction)
  • Not a recent convert (otherwise pride may ensue)
  • Well thought of by outsiders (respect from others so they might give an ear (good witness))

Certain denominations use different titles for their leaders. But one passage, 1 Peter 5.1-2, tie all of the above titles together quite nicely. These verses show that these words are not different people (per se), but do represent different functions of the leader.

The Bible does give qualifications for the overseer. These qualifications are listed in 1 Timothy 3.1-7.

In the next set of verses, the Bible gives qualifications for deacons which is the next group of persons for which church members should pray. From a biblical perspective, deacons are servants. The qualifications in 1 Tim 3.9-13 are very similar to that of the overseer in the previous verses. While some of the wording is different, the main exception is that of an overseer being able to teach.

Historically, individuals were trained to be deacons who were then (often) trained to be elders. This explains why the characteristics are very similar and why teaching was not included. Deacons who might be considered as possible teachers could be trained to do so before becoming an elder.

The final group church members should pray for is one another. Romans through Jude provides plenty of information on the Christian life. Each Christian has a call to do something. And several times we are encouraged to live worthy of our calling (in various phrases). In order for us to succeed we need others around us - encouraging, prodding, helping, and praying for us. And yet, we still disqualify ourselves - or at least we think we do. Yet, think of may of the great characters in the Bible. Abram lied about being married to his half-sister. Moses killed a man. David killed thousands. Peter denied knowing Jesus. Paul killed Christians.

But of all the promises in the Bible, two distinctly show that you are not disqualified from serving God.

If you have not placed your trust in Christ or if your "disqualifying sin" was before you did, then 2 Corinthians 5.17 means you are qualified - because you are a new creation - once you do commit your life to Him.

If you are already a Christian, then 1 John 1.9 says that by confessing to God, ALL unrighteousness is gone. If that is so, then whatever unrighteousness disqualified you in His eyes has been cast as far as the east is from the west.

Ultimately, church members should pray. And a part of those prayers should be for the church body, the deacons, and the leaders of the church. But as we pray, we must understand that prayer is more than just expressing our desires to God. Prayer is also allowing God to reveal to us His desires for us.

As you commit to pray for your church and others in the congregation, ask God to reveal how He wants to use you to further the work in the church and advance His Kingdom.

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