Archives For Prayer

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When my pastor, Mike Tilley, stood before our local church in Orlando this morning, after the conflict with white supremacists in Charlottesville yesterday, he said these brief, wise and timely words to us and then led us in this simple but profound prayer. I hope you will find this helpful, as I did.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. (Proverbs 31:8)

This ancient proverb has timeless relevance to those of us who believe and apply the gospel.

  1. Speaking up for the unborn,
  2. Speaking up for those around the world in child slavery, and
  3. Speaking up for the lost, who are headed to a Christless eternity apart from the gospel.

Children might understand this if they think of a playground bully, picking on the kids who are new, who are not cool, who are weak, or who look different. Yesterday in Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacists were carrying flaming torches, and some were carrying Nazi flags. These emblems represent the evil of racial superiority. They say to those who are not like them, “We will dominate you.”

So, as Christians, we open our mouths to say to African Americans and all minorities, we are with you, and not with them. We say to white supremacists, you do not represent the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus says the Lord, let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Prayer:

God of steadfast love, would you show your steadfast love to those who live in fear today. In love, we mourn with those who suffered loss in Charlottesville. We praise you for the saving love shown to us in Christ. God of justice, would you exercise your justice in the restraint and punishment of evil. We pray for those whose hearts are captive to the spiritual bondage of racial superiority. Would you set them free through the power of the gospel. God of righteousness, we know that our only hope of righteousness is in Christ. As your church, grant us grace to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness in our hearts, in our city, and in the world. You are the Lord, who delights in these things. We believe that these things can be, through the gospel. And we believe that they will be, when, through the gospel, you renew all things.

 

“We believe that the Gospel calls us to look beyond ourselves and to love our neighbors. We do this through our individual and corporate witness to the saving message of the Gospel. We do this by entering into the broken places of our city and our world, striving to be “salt and light” and to offer hope and help to those in need.”  Mike Tilley, Senior Pastor, Lake Baldwin Church, Orlando, Florida

To learn first-hand about gospel-centered church planting in Muslim-dominated West Africa watch this brief Pathway Learning video taken from the conclusion of one of my recent public presentations.

New reports are now coming out of West Africa regarding the increase of Islamic Terrorism. This week’s report includes a brutal attack by radical Muslims on an American owned Mali hotel in which innocent people were killed at random as the terrorists yelled, “Allahu akbar” (Arabic “Allah is Great”).

Steve Q&A West Africa (1)When I began training national church planters in West Africa (2006), including church planters from Mali, I had never known church leaders willing to give their lives for the sake of advancing the Gospel.

As a seminary professor I’d also never been asked the kinds of questions they asked me. Like questions regarding whether or not they should kill the Islamic terrorists who were killing their families. I’d also never wondered if the church leaders I was training might actually give their lives doing what I was training them to do among the Islamic terrorists before I returned.

Should We Pray for ISIS To Be Defeated or Converted?

Russell Moore recently wrote an article entitled, “Should We Pray for ISIS to Be Defeated or Converted?” in which he makes a case for followers of Christ to answer yes to both questions.

Moore makes the case that Christians should be praying, with the martyrs in heaven, for justice against Islamic Terrorists–especially when our own brothers and sisters in Christ are being martyred. And followers of Christ should also be passionately praying for God’s mercy toward them.

Mali Church Leader

Church planter from Mali being trained (via French Translation) by Childers in West Africa

The single most effective way for the gospel to go forward with great power into the Islamic State is through church planting. The church is the only institution Jesus Christ promises to build and bless (Matt 16).

But the only kind of churches that can bring true hope in a terror-filled world are gospel-centered churches that produce the kind evangelism, discipleship and acts of mercy that result in both transformed lives and societies.

 

The global war with the Islamic State will not ultimately be won in the military battles on the field but in the battles for hearts and minds.

The greatest threat of Islamic terrorism is not their rapidly accumulating weapons of warfare but their rapidly disseminating evil ideology and worldview that is now able to self-radicalize masses through social media.

This is why the gospel must be understood as not only a way of salvation but also a way of holistic transformation that includes a true ideology and worldview that is able to reshape every sphere of life–cultural, social, economic, and political–for good.

This is also why there must be a renewed focus on equipping church leaders globally to start, grow, and multiply the kinds of churches that result in authentic conversions, holistic discipleship, and acts of justice and mercy drawn deeply from a true ideology and worldview rooted in Scripture.

We’re now living in a time of war–not a time of peace.

We’re facing war on the military battlefields and war on the battlefields for hearts and minds. And war is hell. So we cannot afford to be naïve. Like all wars, there will be casualties. Some church planters called to the frontlines to establish the first kingdom outposts in enemy’s domain of darkness will be killed. The blood of Christian martyrs has always served as the seed of the church in the hardest places where it’s most needed.

From Pathway Learning video "Islamic Terrorism and Church Planting in West Africa"

From Pathway Learning video “Islamic Terrorism and Church Planting in West Africa”

So we should be praying for both God’s swift justice to be poured out against evildoers through the mission of the state (Rom 13:4) and for God’s mercy to be poured out on evildoers through the mission of the church using the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6) against the spiritual forces of evil. These are not contradictory prayers but a reflection of God’s holy justice and holy mercy displayed in the cross.

Followers of Christ are called to be a people of the cross–a people of both radical justice and radical mercy.

Christ followers are called to be a people whom Jesus commands in the Sermon on the Mount not only to hunger and thirst for justice (Matt 5:6) but also to be merciful (Matt 5:7). A people whom God calls “…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

So we must pray and stand against every form of Islamic terrorism that continues to ruthlessly murder thousands of innocent people. But we must also pray for their conversion and transformation–including the transformation of their ideology and worldview.

Childers praying with West Africa Leaders

Childers leading West African church planters in final prayer after their training.

Join me and begin praying with others that God would raise up a host of new converts from within Islamic terrorism who would become like Saul of Tarsus among them, transformed from being murderers to being church planting movement leaders turning their world upside down with the gospel.

These church planters in West Africa know they may not live to see the result of their ministries. But their hope and prayer is that the children and grandchildren of these terrorists will choose Christ instead of terrorism.

PL Poster on Persecution 11-3-2015