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Geneva Orthodox Presbyterian Church

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The Importance of Prayer: Private, Familial, and Corporate

The Bible and our Lord’s example call Christians to be a people of prayer.  We are to pray at all times, for all things, alone, with out family, and with the church: “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6.18).

Christians always talk about a personal relationship with God, but many have the most difficult time speaking with him daily.  A husband and wife who rarely speaking to each other rarely or occasionally for short periods of time seems unthinkable, yet many of us do this with God.

Jesus prayed alone (Matt 14.23), long (Matt 4.2), and often—his baptism (Luke 3.21); before his ministry (Matt 4.2); before choosing his disciples (Luke 6.12); his transfiguration (Luke 9.28); for his people (John 17); in Gethsemane (Matt 26.36ff); and on the cross.  We are commanded to pray alone (Matt 6.6), long and often (1 Thess 5.17).  Wilhelmus à Brakel, a 17th century Dutch theological writes the following exhortation: ‘He who desires to be in an assured state, to have continual fellowship with God, to attain to a higher level of illumination and experience, and to fear God steadfastly, let him strictly observe his devotional time and let him not be neglectful in this—for the devil greatly strives to bring this about’ (Christian’s Reasonable Service, v. 3, p. 465).

Prayer, however, is not to be limited to our private life, and as Christ sets an example for us, husbands are to be an example for their wives and children.  Prayer, then, is crucial and central to family life.  During Christ’s earthly ministry he prayed with his people, his bride, and taught them to pray.  If a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved his church (Eph 5.25ff), he must pray with her and for her.  Also, we can safely assume from 1 Corinthians 7.5 that prayer is to be a part of marriage.

Often, a marriage produces children.  Malachi 2.15 clearly says that God brings his people together in marriage because ‘he seeks godly offspring.’  But how can we hope to raise future generations of believers if we do not teach our children to pray?  How will a child learn to depend on God unless he sees his parents on their knees pouring out their hearts to their heavenly Father?

Besides our families, we are called to pray with the Church.  Unfortunately, the world has infected the Church with ‘individualism’ and many isolate themselves from the body of Christ.  Scripture speaks to the contrary.  That Christ was angered at the abuse of the temple where his people gathered to pray, (Matt 21.13) and that the Lord’s prayer is in the plural—our Father, give us, forgive us, lead us not—should tell us that God expects us to gather as a people to pray (Acts 2.42).  We also read about a prayer meeting in a private home in Acts 12.5ff and that God ordained the office of deacon so the elders of the church could devote themselves to prayer (Acts 6.4).

This brings us to some important questions.  How much time do we spend in prayer in private?  How much time do we spend in prayer as a family, whether husband and wife, or parents and children?  And, how much time do we spend in corporate prayer as a church?  If prayer meeting attendance and participation is any indication of the level of Geneva’s commitment to prayer, then as a body we are in miserable shape.  Please carefully mediate upon each of these questions.  Purpose to spend more time in prayer.  Purpose to participate more actively in the corporate prayer of Geneva.  Begin by committing to attend personally, or by sending a household representative, to the Wednesday night prayer meeting once a month.  If you cannot make it to prayer meeting, offer to host it—bring the prayer meeting to you.

Oh that Geneva would be known for its praying power!  Grant this prayer, Lord.

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"The Word of God is living and active..." Hebrews 4:12

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Just what does...

The Means of Grace

...mean, anyway?

One remarkable truth much neglected by Christians is known as the means of grace. By this we mean the outward ways through which God grants grace to the Christian. The means are like channels or avenues – designated paths by which God provides strengthening grace to his people.

The three means of grace are the Word (the Bible), the Sacraments (the Lord’s Supper and baptism) and prayer.

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Word: The Bible is the very word of God that he has given to his people. Scripture tells us that the Word of God is inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) – that is, the original documents of Scripture come to us as the very will of God, without error or confusion.
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Sacraments: Perhaps you are not familiar with idea of sacraments. You may have heard baptism or the Lord’s Supper referred to instead as "ordinances." How can it be that either baptism and the Lord’s Supper be means by which God grants the Christian to grow in grace?
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Prayer: In prayer, we draw close to God and praise, thank and bless him for who he is, and offer to him prayers concerning our needs. We pray, just as we read the Word and take the Sacraments, in faith. Without faith, none of these means of grace is effective.