Sunday, February 4, 2018

Beginning 2018 in Prayer | Epiphany Saturday, January 6 to Ash Wednesday, February 14

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ ...  (and) that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. + St. Paul, Colossians 4:2-4

Dear skeptic, seeker, or believer of Jesus,

God the Father Almighty loves you infinitely and welcomes you into His family in Christ. And if this is true and good of the Creator God and our Redeemer, we can see why the prophet Isaiah
and perhaps you and I with him—would want to step into faith to cry out to God with these words:

If only You would tear the heavens open and come down ... From ancient times no one has heard, no one has listened to, no eye has seen any God except You who acts on behalf of the one who waits for Him. + Isaiah 64:1, 4

As I look to embody the posture and passion of this prayer with Emmaus City Church as a whole in early 2018, we are going to step into a season of rest and faith and crying out as we come together to intentionally pray from Epiphany Saturday, January 6 through Ash Wednesday, February 14 that God would come as we wait on Him.

My hope and desire for each of us during this time is that we will grow together in our trust that Jesus, our Emmanuel, "God with us," is moving powerfully in our city and in us and our City Groups even as we step back from some of our regular weekly activities (i.e. weekly meals, service in the city, etc.) we'll jump back into in February.

During this season of prayer between January 6 and February 14, our City Group leaders will host six prayer evenings from 8:30-9:45 p.m. with one every Tuesday (1/9, 1/16, 1/23, 1/30, 2/6, 2/13) night. For those who are physically able, I'm also inviting as many who can to fast from food every Friday (1/12, 1/19, 1/26, 2/2, 2/9) from sunrise to sundown (6:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) as we ask God together for New Wine from Jesus. If interested in praying alongside us or with us, you can contact us for more details.

With Epiphany Saturday, January 6 focused on the Gospel of Jesus revealed to people far off represented in the Magi, and Ash Wednesday, February 14 focused on as a day of prayer, fasting, and repentance in light of our mortality and shortness of life, this is a wonderful period of time at the beginning of the new year to wait on God, receive His love and Good News for us in Jesus, and pray for the spread of the Good News of Jesus and His Kingdom in our city. 

To close this post, there is a beautiful chapter in John Dickson's The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission: Promoting the Gospel with More Than Our Lips entitled, "The Hidden Mission: Promoting the Gospel with Our Prayers" that focuses on how God invites us into prayer as we join Him in His mission to come near people and love them as Christ does in hope that they might consider and believe His Good News for them as we continue to grow in our faith in His Good News for us.

Below is an excerpt from this chapter focused on how prayer fills us with the deep compassion of Christ as we see others' need, and our own need, for Him:

Before the mission of Jesus' disciples is introduced, Matthew provides us with a rare insight into the Lord's emotional stance toward his work: "When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). There are a number of Greek terms that can be translated into English as "compassion". Matthew has chosen the most evocative to describe Jesus' feeling. Splanchnizomai is the verb form of the word "internal organs". An Australian would say, "he was gutted". At the very least, Matthew is saying that Jesus was deeply, inwardly moved by the plight of those "without a shepherd", that is, those without God's Messiah. 
I remember watching the evening news during the Kosovo crisis. At one point footage was shown of orphaned Albanian children being piled into an open top truck and driven away, possibly never to see their home towns or relatives again. At one point, the camera zoomed in on one child's desperate face, and I felt physically sick with grief. That is they type of feeling Matthew ascribes to the Lord in light of those He came to save. ...  
(So) Before Jesus "calls" and "sends out" the twelve disciples (Matthew 10:1), He asks all disciples to get involved in the harvest in a more basic way (Matthew 9:37-38). They are to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out such Gospel workers. The vital link between the masses who need to hear the Gospel and the "workers" who are sent out to preach the Gospel is the whole company of disciples praying for the work of the Gospel.  
The word translated "ask" in verse 38 is not the usual term for a simple request; it is the more emotive word deomai, which means "to beg, plead". The assumption here is that believers will be moved with the compassion of Jesus for the world and so will not simply "ask" God to send out more workers, as one request among many; they will plead with Him to do so. God's people understand the world's need for the Shepherd, feel the compassion of Christ toward them and beg the Lord of the harvest to advance the work of the Gospel. 
+ John Dickson

Other prayers throughout Scripture that reveal children of God praying with the same passion and compassion of Jesus include 1 Kings 8:41-43Matthew 9:35-10:12 Thessalonians 3:1Ephesians 6:19-20; and Colossians 4:2-4 featured above.

I look forward to praying in harmony with these Scripture passages with Emmaus City Church, and you as well if you decide to join us in turning to Jesus and what He desires to do in us and through us in 2018.

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan

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