This week’s guest post is by Rev. Peter Kemeny, pastor of Good News Presbyterian Church, Frederick, Maryland.
It is good to believe in God’s sovereignty but that is not enough. A true view of God’s sovereignty should lead you to pray, for God is pleased to accomplish his purposes through the instrumentality of prayer. Far from removing the need to pray, God’s sovereignty causes prayer to work. This is why Paul pleaded with the believers in Corinth, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” (II Corinthians 1:11).
It is good for you to pray in private and as a family but that is not enough. Scripture commands us to pray as a community of believers. Jesus called the Temple “a house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). The early Christians “devoted themselves to…the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The disciples “with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). When Peter was in prison “earnest prayer was made for him by the church” (Acts 12:5).
It is good to ask your pastor to pray for concerns that you have but that is not enough. While your pastor should pray for you (Acts 6:4), we should also gather as a body to pray for one another.
It is understandable that you may be despondent about the moral and spiritual decline in our nation but that is not enough. You should also pray for our nation, for God has brought spiritual revival and moral reformation to nations worse off than ours.
England, prior to the eighteenth century Great Awakening, was a spiritual basket case. When John Wesley arrived in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in May, 1742, he wrote, “I was surprised; so much drunkenness, cursing and swearing (even from the mouths of little children) do I never remember to have seen and heard before in so small a compass of time’” (Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope, xx). England’s churches were decrepit. Historian J.B. Marsden states, “Religion in the Church of England was almost extinguished, and in many of her parishes the lamp of God went out.” Pulpits were filled by ministers who disbelieved the Bible, denied the Trinity, and had “little regard even to the decencies of the sacred office: the voluptuous, the indolent, the ignorant, and even the profane, received episcopal orders, and like a swarm of locusts overspread the church” (The History of the Later Puritans, 473, 470). But a remnant of faithful believers did not stop praying and the few remaining Bible-believing pastors did not quit teaching God’s Word. In the mid-1700s God brought revival to England. Our church, too, should continue to teach God’s Word and to pray for our nation in hopes that God will again show us mercy.
We are a spiritually desperate people in need of Jesus to make fruitful our efforts to grow in Christlikeness, to spread the gospel, to nurture our families, to heal our illnesses, and to restore our nation. The nineteenth century British preacher, Charles Spurgeon said, “If a church does not pray, it is dead…. Everything will hinge upon the power of prayer in the church.” If your church has a prayer meeting, join it. If not, ask your elders and pastors to start one.