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Showing posts from 2020

Communion Prayer from Scripture Texts

Pentecostals don't rely too much on written down prayers. But that sometimes means that there are certain types of public prayer where people can sometimes get a bit confused or unsure of what to be praying for, because and we don't have many written down models to help us. The Eucharistic Prayer at the Lord's Supper can be like that. In many other types of church, no one would ever dare pray a Eucharistic Prayer that isn't written down, because it's such an important part of the service.
We do, however, like to pray Scriptural prayers. So I put together this Eucharistic Prayer completely composed from Scriptures (which we used at the Breaking of Bread tonight along with, as usual, the Preface and Sanctus, Prayer of Humble Access, and the Lord's Prayer) as an example of an properly Pentecostal written down Eucharistic Prayer. Hopefully it will be of some use to pastors and elders in taking the Table, either as a Eucharistic Prayer to use or as a model of this ve…

Psalm 6: The Honest Prayer

The sixth Psalm might look at bit depressing at first. It starts out with God's rebuke, anger and displeasure. But in that, it's true to life. For "all the world" is "guilty before God" (Rom. 3:19); "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). And so we were all "by nature children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3). Psalm 6:1 isn't just how David felt in that moment. It isn't something we can't relate to. Rather, Psalm 6:1 is an acknowledgment we all must come to when we repent of our sins and turn to God the Saviour. 
And that acknowledgement leads into the most honest of prayers in Psalm 6:2: "Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak." 
This is the true prayer of a Christian. For Christians are those who look only to the Lord for mercy. We see the reality of our own weakness — our own inability to sort ourselves out. We know that we cannot save ourselves. And so we know that what we need, always and above all…

Worship without Singing

The Guidance has been issued by Her Majesty’s Government for the re-opening of churches for public worship, and now it's clear that we won’t be able to sing for quite some time yet. And yet for Pentecostals (and many other charismatics and evangelicals), singing tends to be a major part of what we do when we gather to worship together. I’ve already seen chatter online about whether it’s possible to worship without song, or whether churches should open in July when it will be possible in England and Northern Ireland (NB there is still no date for the opening of churches for public worship in Wales and Scotland) or wait until later in the hope that it’ll be possible to sing then. Others have been asking what we’d do in church if we can’t sing.

So, I thought it might be useful to think about worship without singing and to draw some wisdom from Pentecostals of the past for ways they encouraged worship without song.

Can we worship together without singing?For many of us, singing and musi…

Psalm 5: Jesus the Just

In Psalm 5 we encounter the first of the imprecatory Psalms ⁠— Psalms which call down God's judgment. This Psalm calls upon the Lord to pronounce the wicked 'guilty' and 'cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions' (v.10). But how could we, who have been boastful (v.5), who have spoken falsehood (v.6), who have been unfaithful (v.9), who have flattered others with our tongues (v.9), who have rebelled against the Lord (v.10) ever call down God's guilty verdict on others who have sinned like us? Parts of this Psalm sit uneasily on our lips.
And yet, they don't sit in any way uneasily on the lips of the Chief Musician — Jesus, our true worship leader. As the Sinless One, He can call down God's judgment on sin without hypocrisy. As the One to whom the Father 'has entrusted all judgment' (John 5:22), He can justly pronounce the guilty verdict. 
And yet, this Sinless One who can call down God's judgment in this Psalm, is the One who bear…

Ways to Pray: Praying the Bible

As we pray to the Father, Jesus leads us in prayer and the Holy Spirit helps us pray. So our prayer involves the Word (because Jesus is the Word) and the Spirit. We can never separate the Spirit from the Word, because we can't divide the Trinity. So, if we know that we need the Holy Spirit in prayer (which I'm sure Pentecostals do know), then we need to know as well that we can't divide the Spirit from the Word. Our prayers rely on Jesus — the Living Word — and He leads us in prayer through the Spirit-inspired Scriptures — the Written Word. The Holy Spirit works by the Word, even in prayer. 
So, one of the reasons the Scriptures have been given is to lead us in prayer. I've already written about the importance of rooting our prayer in Scripture when I wrote about the Daily Office and about praying all the Psalms. There we were thinking particularly about praying the very words of Scriptural prayers. But today I want to think a bit more widely about being led in prayer b…

Some Daily Encouragement in Prayer: Our New Prayer Podcast

To help and encourage you in prayer, we're broadcasting Morning and Evening Prayer each day (Monday-Saturday) at the Pentecostal Prayerbook.

Morning Prayer (available from 7am UK time): words here to pray alongEvening Prayer (available from 5pm UK time): words here to pray along Each podcast will last 15 minutes or a bit less and includes a chapter from the Old Testament, a chapter from the New Testament, and a Psalm, as well as prayers of confession, of praise, of faith (the Apostle's Creed), and some prayers for the day. (At the minute, it's just me on the podcasts, but I'm hoping I'll be able to get some other people involved to pray along with me as well as we go on.) 
To find out a bit more about Morning and Evening Prayer and why they're a helpful way to pray, have a look at this post.
We'll also be posting a short podcast each lunchtime to help you to meditate upon a Scripture. Especially in this time of lockdown, many people are finding it hard to c…

Psalm 4: The Worship Leader and the Shining Face of God

With its final confident declaration, ‘I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety,’ the fourth Psalm is a favourite for night-time. Yet this Psalm is much more than a simple bedtime prayer. Although nowadays it’s prayed by millions of people every night (it is, after all, the first Psalm of Compline, that last time of daily prayer before sleeping), David originally gave the instructions for singing it to only one person: the ‘chief musician’ or ‘choirmaster’ (depending on what translation you’re using). This was the worship leader who led Israel in praise in the Tabernacle and Temple, and that’s who, first and foremost, sings this Psalm – the worship leader.

But if that makes you think of a solo from a chap with skinny jeans, a guitar, and a hipster beard (my apologies to all those who lead congregations in song at this point!), it might be worth thinking again. Who is our worship leader? The New Testament never uses a term anything like…

Psalm 3: The One who Lay Down and Slept

The words of Psalm 3 are the first words that pass my lips each morning. And the same has been true of many Christians all over the world for centuries. (In both the Eastern and Western churches, the Daily Office begins with this Psalm each day.) But why would so many Christians throughout the centuries start the day with words written by a king who reigned a thousand years before the birth of Christ, ‘when he fled from Absalom his son’? The title gives this Psalm a very specific historical context, so how can it have anything to do with us today, or with Jesus?

Well, the New Testament tells us that David, the Psalmist, was a prophet who foresaw Jesus’ day and spoke ‘concerning the resurrection of the Christ’ (Acts 2:31). David was the Lord’s Anointed, and so it was as the Anointed One that he wrote his Psalms, speaking prophetically in the voice of great David’s greater Son, the ultimate Anointed One, who, although descended from David would be David’s Lord. In His earthly life, Jesu…

Psalm 2: Kiss the Son

In Psalm 1 we met Jesus as the Righteous Man, our Representative and Substitute, to whom we're united, and in whom we bear fruit. Now in Psalm 2 we meet Him as the Lord's Anointed (Ps 2:2) and as the Son (vv. 7, 12).

While Psalm 1 spoke of peace, prosperity, and fruitfulness, Psalm 2 speaks of tumult and war. Yes, Jesus is the one in whom peace is found, but the nations of the earth don't want His peace (Ps 2:1-3). Although what's found in His peace is prosperity and fruitfulness, the rulers of this earth can only see  'bonds' and 'chords' (v.3). As they look on at a distance, Christ's reign looks to them like limitation and restriction, rather than prosperity and fruitfulness.

And sometimes we can be tempted to buy into their perspective too. Instead of realising that 'if the Son makes you free you shall be free indeed' (Jn 8:36) and recognising that His 'yoke is easy and [His] burden is light' (Mt 11:30), we can foolishly cherish …

Psalm 1: Blessed is Jesus, the Righteous Man

Psalm 1 is about a man. Not people in general, or even a person in general, but a man. A specific man. Although a few recent translations have attempted gender neutral language for this Psalm (either with a singular 'one' or a plural 'they'), the original specifically uses the word for a man. And yet the contrast is with the ungodly, the sinners, and the scornful in the plural. It's one man by himself on one side, versus all the ungodly on the other side.

And, not only can this one man stand over against all the ungodly, but he's also quite an impressive man. He delights constantly in God's law and 'whatever he does shall prosper.' While the wicked are blown away like the chaff, this one man stands firm and fruitful. The ungodly cannot stand before God's judgment, but this one man still stands and prospers. The ungodly perish, but this one man is righteous. 
Who could it be? Well, obviously I've given away the answer in the title to this po…

The Ascension on an Ordinary Thursday

Sometimes I wish we had a holiday for Ascension Day like other countries. But, today, as I was going about my normal work filled with the joy of the One who has ascended into heaven for us, I realised that there's something quite appropriate about this feast falling on a normal working day.

The Ascension is about things we cannot see — how Jesus has entered into heaven for us with His own blood, how the Incarnate Saviour is seated on the throne, and how He’s interceding for us there right now. While we see the normal work and stresses of life, that’s the unseen reality we cannot see.

So Ascension Day is a day of Faith in things unseen. The victory, the enthronement, and the intercession are real. But right now we can only see them by faith. The presence of the Ascended Saviour with His people is real (Matt. 28:20; Mark 16:20; Eph. 4:10). But for now we can see Him only with the eyes of faith. 
So as we go about the normal work of a normal Thursday, filled with the extraordinary j…

Ways to Pray: The Jesus Prayer

Sometimes in the quiet bits of a Pentecostal prayer meeting or the Breaking of Bread you might hear someone quietly praying the name of Jesus. Just that - Jesus' name repeated. And perhaps, to people from other traditions or even nowadays many within our own, it might sound a bit odd. There's no request, no praise: nothing but the name of Jesus.

Strange as it might sound (to just about everyone), though, this isn't some strange Pentecostal innovation. It's actually something deeply rooted in the history of Christian prayer. At least as far back as Diadochus of Photiki in the 5th century, we have examples of Christians praying (and encouraging others to pray) the name of Jesus. If 'no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit' (1 Corinthians 12:3), Diadochus points out, then to pray 'O Lord Jesus' is the work of the Holy Spirit within us. To pray the name of Jesus is to join with the Holy Spirit as He does His work within us of glorifying…

Praying All the Psalms

In the last post I wrote about the praying the Psalms at the heart of the Daily Office. But which Psalms should we pray? How do we choose? Well, why not all of them. While in particular times and situations we might find particular Psalms rather appropriate, all the Psalms have been given by God to be prayed, and through praying all of them He teaches us more and more how to pray.

Having to choose which Psalms to pray each day might actually be a big obstacle to praying the Psalms. If we’re searching each time for an “appropriate” Psalm, we’ll end up spending much more time searching for Psalms than praying the Psalms.

But also, choosing the Psalm that feels “right” each day doesn’t help us very much in being able to pray the appropriate Psalm in those moments when we can’t find any words of our own to pray. Why? Because, the only way to be able to know there’s a Psalm for this moment is to know the Psalms well. And it’s by praying all the Psalms regularly (not just the ones we pre…

Helps to Pray for the Pandemic

Sometimes it's hard to pray for big things that we don't understand. Before the lockdown began and for the first few weeks, there was lots of fresh fervency in prayer. And, while that fervency has continued for many, and the desire to pray is still there, some people are just now finding it difficult to know how to pray for a situation that's big, and confusing, and long-lasting, and often quite scary.

So, if you're finding it a challenge to know how to pray for the pandemic, here are some prayers to help you pray. It's perfectly fine to use these words written by others and make them your own. (After all, that's what we're doing all the time when we sing worship songs!)

Quite a while back, I posted about the Litany for the Pandemic, which remains a really helpful way to pray. But here are some other options as well.

I've arranged them by source, but from some of the sources there are a few prayers focusing on different aspects that are quite relevant …