Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Should We Worship?

Paul wrote to Timothy in order to give him special instruction on how people in the church should behave themselves. In I Timothy 1:3, 4 that the church at Ephesus had problems with false doctrine as well as problems with people spending too much time talking about fables and endless genealogies. So, Paul tells Timothy what they should be doing instead. What does he tell him is the most important thing people should do when the church assembles? Pray. (I Timothy 2:1-4)

These days, we hear a lot about styles of worship, how many services we should have or whether we should have small group meetings during the week or on Sunday morning. In all of that, we may have lost sight of this simple truth. The most important thing for a church to do when it comes together for worship is to pray. We are to pray for our needs. We are to intercede for others. We are to give thanks to God. We are to pray.

We are to pray for all men. We are to pray for those in authority. Why? So, that we may have a peaceable life and because God would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. It seems odd, doesn’t it? The prayers of the saints—our prayers—make a difference. These people were living under Nero. Nero was a very evil man, but these people were to pray for him and it was a good thing to do because God desired that Nero be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

Have you thought that there are people that God wants to bless or show mercy, but he can’t because of their sin? When we intercede for these people, he is able to pour out his blessings at our request. I don’t know of anyone who fully understands it, but when you read the Bible, it doesn’t take long to realize that God has limited himself in such a way that there is much he will not do until we come to him in prayer. The only way it makes sense to me is when I look at this world as a schoolhouse with God as the teacher. A teacher has the authority to give every student an A, but what would the students learn. God has the power to act without our prayers, but he knows it is better for us to have the experience we gain when he doesn’t. So, this world operates in such a way that we are standing in the gap between a sinful world and an angry God, but a God who wants us to give him a reason to stay his wrath.

God hears and answers prayer. We know it from the Bible. We know it from experience. God has designed this world in such a way that our prayers impact outcomes. Some of the leaders of our nation may be lost and God will not hear their prayers, but he will hear ours. Since this is the case, why would we not pray? We have a responsibility to pray because our prayers are what stands between our nation and judgment. Some long for that day, but I don’t think that is what God wants. I think he wants us to cry out to him and ask him to spare our nation and our leaders from the punishment their sins require.