Excellent article on Prayer & Fasting (Justin Taylor / John Piper)

July 15, 2015

I tweeted about this earlier today, but think this is a really important article, deserving of a blog post.   In the wake of the brutally horrifying video exposé of Planned Parenthood’s butchery of babies to sell their body parts, Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition has posted a great call to prayer & fasting, reminding us of the role of spiritual warfare in the face of such evil.  There are battles in our culture that we cannot win by logical argument or legislative effort.  The battle against the evil of abortion may well be one of them.

His article largely draws upon writings from John Piper’s great (must read!) book A Hunger for God.

 

“Fasting,” Piper writes, “comes in alongside prayer with all its hunger for God and says,

We are not able in ourselves to win this battle.

We are not able to change hearts or minds.

We are not able to change worldviews and transform culture and save 1.6 million children.

We are not able to reform the judiciary or embolden the legislature or mobilize the slumbering population.

We are not able to heal the endless wounds of godless ideologies and their bloody deeds.

But, O God, you are able!

And we turn from reliance on ourselves to you.

And we cry out to you and plead that for the sake of your name, and for the sake of your glory, and for the advancement of your saving purpose in the world, and for the demonstration of your wisdom and your power and your authority over all things, and for the sway of your Truth and the relief of the poor and the helpless, act, O God.  […]

I appeal to you to seek the Lord with me concerning the place of fasting and prayer in breaking through the darkened mind that engulfs the modern world, in regard to abortion and a hundred other ills.

This is not a call for a collective tantrum that screams at the bad people, “Give me back my country.”

It is a call to aliens and exiles in the earth, whose citizenship is in heaven and who await the appearance of their King, to “do business” until he comes (Luke 19:13).

And the great business of the Christian is to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), and to pray that God’s name be hallowed and his kingdom come and his will be done in the earth (Matthew 6:9-10). And to yearn and work and pray and fast not only for the final revelation of the Son of Man, but in the meantime, for the demonstration of his Spirit and power in the reaching of every people, and the rescuing of the perishing, and the purifying of the church, and the putting right of as many wrongs as God will grant.

I join Piper in commending this practice to you. What looks foolish to the world (forgoing food to pray for the protection of the unborn) may look utterly foolish to the world, but it will be pleasing to the God who sees and rewards in secret.

Please read it all, and please pray in the face of the present darkness in our culture and world.


Quotable: Liturgy conforms our bodies to truth

April 10, 2015

From a FANTASTIC article “Omnivorous Liturgy” by Peter Leithart at First Things – must reading for understanding the role of liturgy in forming us as Christ-followers:

We stand, we kneel, we sit, we stand, we kneel. The postures of liturgy write “upon the bodies of those who perform it frequently a habit of acting as an unworthy recipient of a prevenient gift” (Paul Griffiths, Decreation, 232).

By developing the habits that the liturgy impresses on us, we become “agents whose bodies and words are conformed to the truth that [we] are simultaneously capable of receiving the divine gift, and utterly unworthy to receive it.” This isn’t the result of “trying or learning to feel unworthy-and-worthy” nor do “worshipers knowingly perform liturgically before a mirror lined with your own eyes.” That would be an accommodation to the modern obsession with the inner theater, the concept that the inner theater makes our actions sincere.

Rather, we simply say what the liturgy teaches us to say. We do what the liturgy leads us to do. And by doing and saying over and over again, we develop habits. We become “the kind of person who does and says these things” (233).

YES!!! This is SUCH a powerful image, and so helpful to me!


Some short Good Friday quotes

April 3, 2015

This is my first Holy Week on Twitter, and several pastors and Christian leaders have been tweeting some very encouraging and meaningful short quotes and prayers for Good Friday.  I thought it would be good to compile some of the most striking quotes here.

 


Maundy Thursday Quotes: Charles Spurgeon “He yet goes among His people with the basin and the towel”

April 2, 2015

Thanks to a great friend of L&B, Pat Dague for this devotional reflection for Maundy Thursday by Charles Spurgeon:

The Lord Jesus loves his people so much, that every day he is still doing for them much that is analogous to washing their soiled feet. Their poorest actions he accepts; their deepest sorrow he feels; their slenderest wish he hears, and their every transgression he forgives. He is still their servant as well as their Friend and Master….humbly, patiently, he yet goes about among his people with the basin and the towel. He does this when he puts away from us day by day our constant infirmities and sins….It is a great act of eternal love when Christ once for all absolves the sinner, and puts him into the family of God; but what condescending patience there is when the Saviour with much long-suffering bears the oft recurring follies of his wayward disciple; day by day, and hour by hour, washing away the multiplied transgressions of his erring but yet beloved child!….While we find comfort and peace in our Lord’s daily cleansing, its legitimate influence upon us will be to increase our watchfulness, and quicken our desire for holiness. Is it so?
…CH Spurgeon


Lent Quotes. Martin Luther – Unworthy to pray?

February 23, 2015

Some say, “I would feel better about God hearing my prayer if I were more worthy and lived a better life.” I simply answer: If you don’t want to pray before you feel that you are worthy or qualified, then you will never pray again. Prayer must not be based on or depend on your personal worthiness or the quality of the prayer itself; rather, it must be based on the unchanging truth of God’s promise. If the prayer is based on itself or on anything else besides God’s promise, then it’s a false prayer that deceives you—even if your heart is breaking with intense devotion and you are weeping drops of blood.

We pray because we are unworthy to pray. Our prayers are heard precisely because we believe that we are unworthy. We become worthy to pray when we risk everything on God’s faithfulness alone.

So go ahead and feel unworthy. But know in your heart that it’s a thousand times more important to honor God’s truthfulness. Yes, everything depends on this alone. Don’t turn his faithful promise into a lie by your doubts. For your worthiness doesn’t help you, and neither does your unworthiness hinder you. A lack of faith is what condemns you, but confidence in God is what makes you worthy.

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Luke 18:13

Martin Luther; James C. Galvin, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional


Lent Quotes – Lancelot Andrewes

February 18, 2015

Repentance itself is nothing else but a kind of circling: to turn to the One by repentance from whom, by sin, we have turned away.

First, then, there is a turn in which we look forward to God and with our whole heart resolve to turn to God. Then there is a turn again in which we look backward to our sins in which we have turned from God; and with beholding them our very heart must break. There is one turn resolving to amend that which is to come; another reflecting and sorrowing for that which is past; one turn declining from evil to be done hereafter, another sentencing itself for evil done before.

To turn is a counsel given to those are out of the right way, for going on still and turning are opposite motions, both of them with reference to a way. It the way is good, we are to hold on; if otherwise, to turn and take another.

– excerpt from Lancelot Andrewes’ Ash Wednesday sermon 1619

posted by James Gibson at Locusts and Wild Honey


The Mighty God – a wonderfully encouraging devotional from AB Simpson

November 4, 2014

I just recently started reading AB Simpson’s book the Names of Jesus, and I was wonderfully encouraged last night by his reflection on Jesus as “The Mighty God”

Isaiah 9:6: “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace…”

The Mighty God

He who is our Counselor is also abundantly able to carry out His plans , and He always follows up His directions with His strong and mighty hand. He never sends us on any path without standing by us and seeing us through. He who sends Israel around Jericho never fails to level the walls at the right moment. He who bids the people go forward into the sea never fails to divide the floods. He who sends us through the waters and the fires never fails to go before us and keep them from overflowing us. He who bids us march up against the gates of brass never fails to precede us and break in pieces the brazen gates and make the crooked places straight. When the Holy Spirit is working in us, the mighty Providence of God is always working outside of us in perfect correspondence and preparation.

The Christ of the Gospels is the Jehovah of the Old Testament — the God who said to Jeremiah , “Is there anything too hard for me?” He is the God of creation and of providence — the God who said to Moses, “I lift up my hand to heaven and say, I live forever . . . neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” He is able to control all the forces and elements of nature, able to restrain all the influences and movements of society , able to turn the hearts of men at His pleasure and overthrow their counsels and their works. He is able to save the lost, to pardon the guiltiest soul, to cleanse the blackest heart, to renew the most wrecked and ruined life. He is able to fill the heart of sorrow with untroubled gladness.  He is able to take away the strongest tendencies to sin and give the degraded and selfish soul the power to do that which is right and holy. He is able to satisfy our inmost, utmost being. He is able to put His own heart and nature in the most corrupt and helpless soul. He is able to touch the springs of physical life and fill them with His own strength and healing. He is able to meet the temptations that overcome us and to make us more than conquerors in all things through His love. He is able to make even our little lives mighty forces for everlasting good, and so clothe us with His power that we shall be able to open the blind eyes, and turn men from darkness into light and from the very power of Satan to God. He is still standing in our midst and saying: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth . . . and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

He is greater than the greatest difficulty, the greatest sin, the greatest sorrow, the greatest failure in your life. From this day place Him, your mighty God, over against the things that are too strong and too hard for you. Only touch the hand of that little Child, and lo, all the forces of Omnipotence, if need be, will be called forth to blast the very rocks of adamant, to roll back the tides of the ocean, to prepare the way for His ransomed.

When He makes bare His arm,

Who shall His power withstand?

When He His people’s cause defends,

Who, who shall stay His hand?

Simpson, A.B. (2014-07-19). The Names of Jesus (Kindle Locations 79-101). Heraklion Press. Kindle Edition.

A.B. Simpson was the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.


Inspiring and Helpful Quotes on Prayer…

October 4, 2014

Do you sometimes need encouragement, motivation, perspective in prayer?  Here are some good quotes on prayer which I gathered on Twitter and around the blogosphere this week.  Some of these are from well known saints – Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, Corrie Ten Boom, George Herbert.  Others are excerpted from articles by current Christian authors and bloggers.

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Intercessory prayer is exceedingly prevalent. What wonders it has wrought! The Word of God teems with its marvelous deeds. Believer, thou hast a mighty engine in thy hand, use it well, use it constantly, use it with faith, and thou shalt surely be a benefactor to thy brethren.” C.H. Spurgeon  (from a blog entry at Anglican Pastor)

***

Jesus’ intercession isn’t just a prayer that He prayed, but the life He lived. Everything that He said and did was not for Him, rather it was all for us! [….]. True intercession begins by following Jesus’ example of self-giving and then flows into fervent prayer for the lives of others.  (Dr. Winfield Bevins, in a blog entry at Anglican Pastor)

***

…our conception of the strength we need differs from God’s. When we pray for strength, we may imagine the answer looking like increased capacities to accomplish or escape. But the strength that God supplies (1 Peter 4:11) is often increased capacities to trust his promises, which might require dying to our envisioned accomplishment or enduring what we wish to escape.  (Jon Bloom in an article at Desiring God: Praying for the strength that God supplies)

***

Praying in faith comes from an abiding faith in the Person prayed to—the confidence is in Him. It is based on a knowledge of who He is, and on a trusted conviction that He is worthy to be trusted. Praying in faith is the act of a simple-hearted child of God. –  Corrie ten Boom  (posted by Pat Dague at Transfigurations)

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“Gospel work means staying put in the place of prayer as much as it means joining the front lines among the poor” – (the conclusion of a reflection by Anglican priest Jack King in Knoxville)

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“If I only pray in ideal conditions, I will rarely pray at all.” (a reflection about learning to fight distractions in prayer, from Knoxville priest Jack King)

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“No learning can make up for the failure to pray. No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack.” – EM Bounds (author of many books on prayer, Tweeted by SIM International as part of the #PraytoendEbola campaign)

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“Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.” George Herbert (1593 – 1633) (Tweeted by World Mission Prayer League)

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Come boldly, O believer, for despite the whisperings of Satan and the doubtings of thine own heart, thou art greatly beloved. —CH Spurgeon (Tweeted by Lore Ferguson)

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“Prayer is a strong wall and fortress of the church; it is a goodly Christian weapon.” Martin Luther  (Tweeted by Operation World as part of the #PraytoendEbola campaign)

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“When my fears are turned to prayers, the burdens slip away.” -Eliza E. Hewitt (1851-1920 Hymn writer – one of her hymns was Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus) (Tweeted by Explore God)

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“Grant that I may not pray alone with the mouth; help me that I may pray from the depths of my heart.” Martin Luther (Tweeted by LighttheWindow)

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“I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” Martin Luther (Tweeted by SIM International as part of the #PraytoendEbola campaign)

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“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelism.” Andrew Murray (Tweeted by SIM International as part of the #PraytoendEbola campaign)

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Can violent terrorists be saved? Ask Paul, who used to be Saul. Nothing is impossible with God.  (Tweeted by Global Serve as part of a prayer campaign for the Middle East)

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God we pray for perseverance in what you have called us to do and for strength of faith to guide us when we don’t see the way.  (Tweeted by Frontiers USA as part of their DailyPrayer series)

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God we pray for a faith today that is active & living. We ask for the courage to go to the people & places you would send us.  (Tweeted by Frontiers USA as part of their DailyPrayer series)

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God give us ears that listen for your direction in our lives, & hearts that are open, saying “Yes, I will follow!”  (Tweeted by Frontiers USA as part of their DailyPrayer series)


Good Friday Quotes: Charles Spurgeon – I Slew Him

April 18, 2014

“I slew him—this right hand struck the dagger to his heart. My deeds slew Christ. Alas! I slew my best beloved; I killed him who loved me with an everlasting love. Oh eyes, why do you refuse to weep when you see Jesus’ body mangled and torn? Give vent to your sorrow, Christians, for you have good reason to do so.”

adapted from “The Tomb of Jesus” by Charles Spurgeon

H/T:  Bible Gateway


John Piper’s “Conversation with Death on Good Friday” (Updated link)

March 28, 2014

Five years ago, I posted John Piper’s wonderful Good Friday poem / meditation:  “A Conversation with Death on Good Friday.”

That entry from our archives has been getting a lot of traffic this week.  I just discovered that following Desiring God’s reorganization of their website, the link to the full original blog post needed to be changed.

Here’s the new link:  Conversation with Death on Good Friday (John Piper)


Lent Quotes: JD Greear on the practice of Spiritual Disciplines

March 14, 2014

Practicing spiritual disciplines is like cutting furrows that faith in the gospel can fill with new life. The discipline has no power in itself, but provides a context in which God form the affections of faith. And ironically enough, our obedience to God when we don’t “feel” like it can even be an act of faith in and of itself, a cry to God can change our hearts.

– from an interview with JD Greear  (It’s a great interview, I recommend the whole thing!)

h/t Trevin Wax


Lent Quotes: Pope Francis – Real poverty and real self-denial hurts

March 8, 2014

Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.

from Pope Francis’ 2014 Lenten Message


Advent Quotes: Pope Francis – an invitation to a renewed encounter with Jesus

December 18, 2013

I just came across this quote from Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation (Evangelii Gaudium). I think it captures well what Advent is all about.  Advent is an invitation to draw near and meet with Christ.   It’s not too late.  Even if December has been hectic or Advent disciplines impossible for you this year, you can still know the joy of a fresh encounter with Jesus our Savior in this week before Christmas.

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace.”

Amen.

From NCregister.com  H/T Jessica Snell.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/simcha-fisher/savor-the-name#ixzz2njvPsq8G

A Holy Week and Good Friday Reflection – St. Augustine

March 28, 2013

Man’s maker was made man . . . that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey, that Truth might be accused of false witness, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.

St. Augustine, Sermons 191.1

H/T All Saints Church, Chapel Hill


Lent Quotes – JC Ryle: The Things Which Murder Souls

February 18, 2013

Remember what I say: if you would cleave to earthly pleasures, these are the things which murder souls. There is no surer way to get a seared conscience and a hard impenitent heart, than to give way to the desires of the flesh and mind. It seems nothing at first, but it tells in the long run.

Consider what Peter says: “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2.11). They destroy the soul’s peace, break down its strength, lead it into hard captivity, make it a slave.

Consider what Paul says: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Colossians 3.5). “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5.24). “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9.27). Once the body was a perfect mansion of the soul; now it is all corrupt and disordered, and needs constant watching. It is a burden to the soul- not a helpmeet; a hindrance- not an assistance. It may become a useful servant, but it is always a bad master.

Consider, again, the words of Paul: “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13.14). “These,” says Leighton, “are the words, the very reading of which so wrought with Augustine, that from a licentious young man he turned a faithful servant of Jesus Christ.”

John Charles Ryle (1816-1900, England)

h/t “The Slave of Christ” blog and Mosaic Lenten Devotional


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