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Prayer

"Give Success to Your Servant"

We've been exploring what the Bible has to say about prayer, and no series would be complete without a look at the prayers of Nehemiah.  

Nehemiah was a Jew who lived in Babylon during the exile. He was likely born in Babylon but held a keen hope that his people would return to Jerusalem and that Jerusalem would someday hold the same reputation it once did.   He was the King's cup-bearer (which was kind of the like the wine sommelier, server, and poison checker crammed into one).  

Nehemiah heard a bad report from people who returned from Jerusalem.  The city was in shambles and the wall was destroyed.  "The remnant there is the province who had survived the exile," said his brothers," is in great trouble and shame" (Nehemiah 1:3).  Nehemiah was broken.  He wept for days.  But that's not all he did.  He started fasting and praying.  He prayed and prayed.   It seems from Nehemiah 1:1 and Nehemiah 2:1, that he prayed for about 4 months.  This matter was deeply burned on his heart.  H.G.M. Williamson writes, "[Nehemiah's] persistence in prayer over several months demonstrates how fully involved he became in the fate of his fellow Jews" (WBC, Vol. 18, 1985). 

We can read a sample of his prayers in Nehemiah 1:5-11, but I suspect there were some that included confusion, some that were deep pleading, some begging, some seeking understanding, and so-on.  When you are still sad over the matter and have been praying about it for 4 months, it's likely that a lot has been said in prayer.  I think it's safe to say that this matter had been deeply bathed in prayer. 

But not all of Nehemiah's prayers were these lengthy prayers.  Nehemiah is also famous for showing us the "arrow prayer."  (They might also be called dart prayers, bullet prayers, missile prayers, microwave prayers, quick shot prayers, and so-on.)  Look at this prayer in chapter 2, specifically in verses 4 and 5.  If you actually opened your Bible and read, you probably noticed that the Bible doesn't report what he prayed, only that he did.  You might have also noticed that he didn't have time to pray a long prayer.  Just maybe, "here we go God," or maybe it was, "this is what we've been talking about Lord," or even just" help me God."  In any case, it was likely really short.  

But it is not as if that was the only prayer Nehemiah had given to this situation.  He had been praying and praying.  He was ready.  He was, "prayed up" I've heard it said.  "Loaded" and just needing to execute.  

Nehemiah had turned his problem into prayers.  He does that same thing again later in the book.  Are you turning your problems into prayers?  Are you praying when you have time and then shooting arrow prayers when you don't? 

We'll be talking about this more this Sunday as we conclude our series, "If My People Pray. . ."  I hope you'll consider joining us at 11. 

Soli Deo gloria!
Pastor Bryan 

Encourage! (An Evening with Dave Earley)

Redeeming Life Church and the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention would like to invite you to

ENCOURAGE! An Evening With Dave Earely  

This will be an evening of prayer, worship, and excellent teaching.  If you attended the UISBC Missions Conference this year or have read any of Dave's books, you'll know Dave's passion for prayer and its vital importance in all aspects of life and ministry.  You don't want to miss this great opportunity.  

7:00pm, September 22, 2015
At Grace City Church (Salt Lake City)
335 BugattI Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112

(Free Admission)

(Due to limited resources, we cannot offer childcare for this event.) 

Dr. Dave Earely is Lead Pastor of Grace City Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. Grace City is focused on being a catalyst for spiritual awakening and revival in Las Vegas and throughout the world. Prior to launching Grace City, Dr. Earley served as Chairman of the Department of Pastoral Ministries and Church Expansion at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He also served as Director of the Center for Ministry Training at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and the Director of the Center for Church Planting at Liberty University. Prior to teaching at Liberty, Dave was the founding Senior Pastor of the New Life Church of Gahanna-Columbus, Ohio. New Life started in his basement with 12 people and grew to nearly 2,000 in weekly attendance with over 100 small groups. 

Dave is the author of twenty books to include, 
Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High Impact Leaders,  
-  Disciple Making Is . . .: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence
, 
Ministry Is . . .: How to Serve Jesus with Passion and Confidence
Pastoral Leadership is...: How to Shepherd God's People with Passion and Confidence 
and, 
The 21 Most Effective Prayers Collection: Featuring The 21 Most Effective Prayers of the Bible, The 21 Most Encouraging Promises of the Bible, The 21 ... and The 21 Most Amazing Truths about Heaven.  

In addition, during the day on September 22nd and 23rd Dr. Dave Earley and Dr. Tom Swanner will be conducting two sessions of the Multiply Group training (formerly known as Launch) as part of their Church Planting Experience (CPX).  CPX is a six month training to help plant new churches. CPX is linked with NAMB, Multiply, and LCPN to provide assessment, training, funding, networking, and coaching. These two sessions are also free and we'd love to have you join us.  The session on the 22nd is on fundraising and the session on the 23rd is on building leadership teams.  If you are interested, please contact Pastor Bryan Catherman for more details. 

UPDATE:
The day time sessions will be hosted at the Salt Lake Baptist Association office  (12401 S 450 E, Draper, UT 84020).  We're grateful for their willingness to host us. 

Session 1: Fundraising
September 22, 11:00-12:00

Session 2: Team Building
September 23, 11:00-4:00
(Unless you're a part of the CPX, you'll be on your own for lunch during the break.)

Create in Me a Clean Heart

This Sunday, we will be looking at Psalm 139 and Psalm 51 as we examine an intimate aspect of prayer.  

Psalm 139 has a line that reads,  "Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Psalm 139:23-24). 

What do you suspect might happen if you honestly prayed this statement to God?  

Is there something you know will come up before God?  Is it something you are embarrassed or ashamed of?  He already knows, but maybe you don't want it on the table?  Or maybe you're unsure about anything; but if you're like most of us, you know there is probably something. 

I was once challenged by a professor to pray this prayer.  "If you dare. . .," he said.  I didn't think too much of it so I got down on my knees and prayed.  I read these words and then said them again from memory.  And I meant it.  In less than 30 minutes an old sin against God and someone else was brought before me by the person I sinned against, and by very unlikely means.  I was shocked!  On the one hand I knew God heard me; but on the other, I was convinced my relationship with this person was over.  In fact, I thought life as I knew it was over. 

What was I to do?  I was wrecked!  I prayed Psalm 139 and God did exactly what I asked.  But it doesn't end there.  This is where Psalm 51 can and should be transformed into a personal prayer.  

Psalm 51 is David's prayer after he committed a number of sins that included murder, lying, coveting, and having an affair with a married woman.  David didn't ask God to search him. It was Nathan who brought David's sin into the light. (You can read about that in 2 Samuel 11-12).  Look at some of David's prayer that followed his brokenness:

"Have mercy on me"
"Wash me"
"Purge me with hyssop"
"Let me hear joy and gladness"
"Hide your face from my sin"
"Blot out all my iniquities"  
"Create in me a clean heart"
"Cast me not away from your presence"
Restore to me the joy of your salvation"
"Uphold me with a willing spirit"
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness"
"Open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise"

[IF YOU HAVEN'T ACTUALLY READ PSALM 51 JUST NOW, STOP READING THIS AND GO READ THAT.  THEN COME BACK HERE AND READ THE REST OF THIS POST. THIS IS JUST COMMENTARY ON GOD'S WORD; PSALM 51 IS ACTUALLY GOD'S WORD THAT I'M DISCUSSING HERE.]

Notice that David is completely at the mercy of God.  There's nothing he can do.  But also notice the line, "Create in me a clean heart."  David is asking God to do a mighty and amazing work within David's soul.  When we're broken beyond the depth of our soul, the only answer is for God to create something new and clean within us. 

And after God has searched the depth of your soul, taken you to a place of tatters, and then are made you clean, you can rightly pray the opening of Psalm 139.  It reads,

O Lord, you have searched me and know me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my paths and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.  You hem me in , behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 

We will be looking at Psalm 139 and Psalm 51 as part of our worship time this Sunday.  I hope you'll consider joining us.  We meet at the Northwest Community Center at 11am.  (We gather at 10am in the same place for prayer.)  See you Sunday.