Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Church Covenant Series: Part 4 of 11

This series covers the eleven paragraphs of our JPBC membership covenant. The fourth paragraph reads:

We will pray to God both privately and together, giving Him thanks for all His gifts, seeking His forgiveness and guidance, and bringing to Him our concerns and requests.

This plank in our covenant stresses that we will be a people committed to prayer. As with Bible study, we make a commitment to do this both privately and together (corporately).

Jesus himself set out the guidelines for a disciple’s private prayer life in the Sermon on the Mount: "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (Matthew 6:6). Jesus taught us that our prayers are to be simple, humble, and God-centered (see Matthew 6:5-15). Paul wrote that we are to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). As members of JPBC we commit ourselves to cultivating a life of private devotion and constant prayer.

We also commit ourselves to praying together with our fellow believers. The Scriptures are clear that powerful things happen when God’s people come together in agreement in prayer. Consider carefully the statement made by Jesus in Matthew 18:19-20: "if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three of you are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." Do we take this promise seriously? When we have problems or distress are we committed to joining with likeminded brothers and sisters in prayer?

We should also pay close attention to James 5:13-16:

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Our members should know that in times of distress that they can call upon the spiritual leaders of the church to pray over them. We should fully expect that God will be pleased to save the sick and forgive sinners in response to our prayers.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle


Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Jeff,

Great stuff! I'm enjoying your writing about your church covenant. I'm trying to teach myself and my dar church about our church covenant and our statment of faith. Most members have never read either one!

Love in Christ,


Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Thanks for your encouragement. Yes, it seems most established (older) Baptist churches have these documents but have stopped using them. Our church is trying to be more intentional in using our covenant to teach new members at the front door what is expected of them as members. We also adjusted out constitution to more easily remove "inactive" members and this has helped. So, we have tried to make it "harder to join" but "easier to leave."

Best wishes in your ministry,