“God doesn’t demand hectic church programs and frenetic schedules; he only wants his people to know him more intimately,” writes D.A. Carson in A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers.  While I think we would all agree with Carson, our lives do not always reflect that belief.  Carson continues, “Both in our work and in our play, we rush, we perform, we accomplish, we strive, we do.  We are not living in a contemplative age.  When we stop rushing and performing and doing, many of us park ourselves in front of a television, and simply absorb what is dished out.  The result is that we seldom take time to think, to meditate, to wonder, to analyze; we seldom take time to pray.”  I know from my own life, as well as many conversations I have with other brothers and sisters in Christ, that this is all too true.  And, when we do pray, it is quick, on-the-move, needs-based, and quite frankly, self-centered praying.

Yet, prayer is so deeply important to the church knowing our God more intimately.  And, as Carson quips, “The one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God.  We need to know God better!”  It is so easy to want to seek and demand God’s blessings without seeking and desiring God Himself.  A great way for us to both grow in our knowledge and affections for God, while avoiding self-centered seeking after God, is to learn from and to pray the prayers recorded for us in Scripture.

Over the next several weeks, we will be taking our Gathering class from 9-10 AM each Sunday to study the Apostle Paul’s prayers for churches that he so dearly loved.  We will learn what we should be praying for, what arguments to use, what priorities we should adopt, what beliefs should shape our prayers, and much more.  Personally and practically, I have quite possibly benefited from this study as much or more than any other study I have done to this point in my walk with Christ.  It helped to give shape and direction to my prayer life, while learning to place Christ, His Word, the cross, and and His church at the center of my praying.

One of my regular prayers for our faith family at Providence comes from Paul’s prayer for the church at Colossae.  In Colossians 1:9-10 we read, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  I think this class will be a great blessing to our faith family in helping us to know God and to live, think, and pray in a manner consistent with His character and gospel.  So, please make plans to come and be part of this time of growing together in grace!