why should I pray?
Two days ago, I embarked on a five-parter with my GII shepherds on the topic of prayer, (loosely) based on JP’s chapter on Prayer in Desiring God. I’ll expand his excellent teaching in order to ensure that the lesson remains relevant and applicable to our context. This was a natural follow-up from my previous lesson on Philippians 4:4-7. Each time we meet for cell, I make us memorise scripture. Although these verses are familiar, I’m fairly confident they have taken a paradigm shift as they store these powerful, dynamic verses in their hearts.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (English Standard Version)
Anxiety does nothing for you. On top of adding zero benefits to your situation, it also distracts your concentration and injures your soul. Paul dispenses such practical advice – anxiety is so useless and negative that it doesn’t even change or improve your situation. No wonder he warns you against it.
The remedy to being anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything. When we pray, we acknowledge a few things: (1) We openly admit that without Christ, we cannot accomplish anything; (2) We deliberately turn away from ourselves because we have the confidence that God will provide the help that we need – I call this, “Anti-self-sufficiency”; (3) We actively humble ourselves as needy and exalt God as wealthy. No wonder Paul instructed us to turn to prayer!
Allow me to rephrase “prayer and supplication”. Basically, it is to present the request for the first time and continue to present the request earnestly (until something happens, or until the Spirit changes the way you pray). And you do this in an attitude of “thanksgiving” because you recall the many times that God has answered your prayers in the past. This should give you the confidence to ask boldly – for God is a faithful God who would answer prayers (according to His will)! Remember also, that you are actually making known your requests and not telling God about it like He doesn’t know; this gives you the confidence that God already knows what’s in your heart; So your role then, is to verbalise your request(s), and to do it ardently, both audibly or inaudibly.
An easier way to understand “guard” is to imagine our hearts (or affections, passions and emotions) safely protected in a castle that has bricks made of God’s peace. The peace of God supersedes all human understanding, garrisons our hearts and protects it in Christ Jesus – what a powerful imagery! It’s not any other peace that will be in our hearts but that which is subjected to the rule and reign of Jesus. This peace is a result of the Holy Spirt that is at work within us.
We pray because we need God’s direction and support in our often misguided and heavy-laden lives. And the result is God’s peace – which is all that we really need. No wonder Paul exhorts us to rejoice in (verse 4)! Finally, the question then, in light of this knowledge, isn’t “Why should we pray?” but “Why shouldn’t we pray?”
dynamic, incisive and discerning.
It is with gratitude to God that I am able to declare that my G2 Shepherds cell group is growing in quantity, quality and cohesiveness. I am thankful for the new additions (KJ and BL), the ones who joined us halfway (KY and YX) and the ones who have stuck with me from the beginning (HY, JC, MF, MW, EL). Tonight we’ve completed our two-part inductive bible study on Hebrews 4:12 (theme verse for “Pierce”); it was essential that all of in the organising committee understand this powerful verse at the back of our hand, so that our basis for planning is one and the same.
I enjoyed teaching them as much as they enjoyed receiving from the Word – I’m reveling in developing my gifts of writing, teaching and preaching. Bottom line is, I enjoy communication and it’s a boon that the medium which I’m promulgating is God’s word. We’ve gone into a fair bit of details through our study and one may need to be in the cell to fully understand the following summary. Nonetheless, here are the seven truths (in context of the Word of God) that I’ve left with them in my conclusion of this short, one-verse series:
- Our lives are changed when the Holy Spirit uses the scripture (which we first must have hidden in our hearts) to reveal specific truths to us.
- One biblical truth is infinitely better than countless worldly wisdom: revolution trumps inspiration and permanent trumps temporary.
- In spiritual warfare, Satan’s weapons do not stand a chance against the only offensive piece in God’s armour, which is the sword of the Spirit.
- God is the master markman and expert archer who never misses the target with His arrows of truth: for every occasion, everyone, and always relevant.
- If our life was an assessment book, then the Bible is the answer sheet hidden in the back pages: turn to it periodically for personal evaluation.
- The Word of God doesn’t just last forever; it never fades in brilliance too: think stars, matchsticks and torchlights that diminish with time.
- You criticise the Word because the Word criticises you: do not shun correction for judgment is a neutral word that merely determines outcome.
the youth ministry you dream about.
During the prayer time before youth service, God directed me to 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 and downloaded an entire sermon into my head. But its contents are gonna be really tough to deliver so I think it’ll remain brewing in my head before it gets served.
VY and I had a good conversation over lunch today. I think having similar mentalities and visions towards ministry do help people to bond quickly. I enjoyed hearing him share and I also enjoyed sharing with him. I do hope there’s more to come from this fusion of hearts.
I crashed YX’s cell today (much to her reluctance and her sad face x 10) and I’d like to think it turned out better than I thought. I also joined the entire cell for dinner at Lot 1 and hung out at the top floor of the compound after we ate. It was there that I asked them to dream about the kind of youth ministry that they wanted to see. Here’s how a group of 14-18-year-olds responded:
“Everyone is discipled.”
“Hang out more, bond more.”
“Every youth knowing one another like one big family.”
Well, these are all great things to have. And I believe that if we all play our part, these dreams would become reality. The above-mentioned does resonate with what’s in my heart. I believe that for R-AGE to head to another level, we need to come to realise that this is OUR ministry and that we have to take ownership of it.
One thing that I really enjoyed about the SOAR youths was that they knew that they would exit the ministry (and Shanghai) once they turn 18 (and leave the country for college). And so a good number of them endeavour to leave behind a legacy. They knew that they were the ones who had to make it work. They knew that if they didn’t own the ministry, no one else would. I pray that this attitude would also be birthed R-AGE. I know a number of youths who already feel that way and I believe that I am strategically positioned to enable and empower more young people to catch this vision. Imagine its life-changing, Bukit Batok-shaking, ministry-revolutionising consequences!
I believe with all my heart that there is nothing more satisfying than witnessing youths leading youths. And what a great privilege it would be for me to help play a part in making vision that come true. I believe that R-AGE is on the threshold of a new dawn. Let’s put our hands into the plough. Everyone has a part to play. The youth ministry in G2 is about to explode. I believe that by faith and I believe that with all my heart. May that be in line with God’s will.