Preprayered

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My ever-vigilant spell checker will not let it go. Too bad: I’m sticking with “preprayered.” With a new week commencing yesterday, and in light of the Sunday morning sermon, I have prayer on my mind, and I trust in the days ahead it will be on my lips. Like you, I have no idea what lies ahead of me, but I want to be prepared, so preprayered (perhaps, pre-prayed) I need to be. So do you.

In her recent book, Aimee Byrd has reminded me that the local church is to gather each week in worship to renew our covenant with each other, with those who are in Christ. Therefore, what we are doing on Sundays via livestreaming and recorded teachings is not church. Though grateful that we can learn together, this technological mode can never replace the physical gathering together of church members to sing together, to read Scripture together, to hear preaching together, and to pray together. And speaking of prayer, how is your prayer life?

Corporate prayer is vital to the life of a congregation, but so is private or secret prayer. Jesus spoke of prayer “closets” and, as we have seen in Mark, he prioritised these times of getting alone for prayer to God the Father (Mark 1:35; 6:46; 14:32–42). It is instructive to note that, in all three cases, we see Jesus praying at night, in solitude, and amid demonic pressures. In each case, pressures preceded and followed his times of prayer. As Mark records, we see Jesus praying at the beginning of his ministry, in the middle of his ministry and at the end of his ministry. In each case, Jesus was preparingfor a greater work amid greater opposition. He was preparing to face foes and therefore prayer was essential, not only for fellowship with the Father, but also for faithfulness resulting in fruitfulness. He prepared himself by prayer. He was preprayered. And if Jesus prioritised prayer, we are foolish if we do not also prioritise prayer.

When our daughter Allison was a little girl we were listening to the song, “Let us Pray.” With a confused confidence, she said, “But dad, lettuce can’t pray.” Sadly, many Christians also miss the point and so the call “let us pray” goes unheeded. Sisters and brothers, sadly in these days the elders cannot call the whole church to corporate prayer, but we can call the church to private prayer. Will you pray this week? Will you be prepared for what lies ahead this week? Will you be preprayered?

Observing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ praying in Gethsemane serves us in so many ways, not least of which is to remind us that we need to prepare for suffering. Paul reminds us that every Christian is called to this (Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 3:11). It can be well-argued that, in Gethsemane, Jesus secured what he needed to be successful at Calvary. As he prayed in Gethsemane he was strengthened for the final act of submission: that is, to become obedient to death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8). And this came about through prayer.

Christian, our Lord calls us afresh this week to take up our cross and follow him. We need to pray “in the garden:  if we will do this. Jesus was amazingly strengthened by the Father through prayer to face his cross. And because he was heard (Hebrews 5:7), we have been graced to also cry out “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). How foolish we would be to neglect this privilege of prayer! And how faithful and fruitful we can be if this week, each day, we face the world having been preprayered. If you haven’t done so yet then why not enter your closet now?

Praying with you,

Doug