Bible expositions extol primacy of praying

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CORPUS CHRISTI?The 2010 SBTC annual meeting theme of
“Praying and Listening” included times of prayer for people, places and issues
on which Southern Baptists have influence. Also spread throughout the
convention program were brief expository messages extolling the primacy of
prayer. What follows are summaries of those messages.

Terry Turner

“Prayer is a wonderful thing. It is our warfare in the
spiritual realm,” said Turner, pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church in
Mesquite. He referenced the relationship between Paul and Timothy, using
Ephesians 6:18 to encourage the pastors to be in prayer at all times for all
things.

A Christian soldier, he said, must talk to the commander
from time to time. And having a prayer and accountability partner to help is
vital. He told of a time he asked his prayer partner to pray for a certain
matter only to find out this partner was already praying for that issue.

He said prayer takes the believer’s life to the “next
level.” Turner recommended the pastors read C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters”
for an illustration of the power of prayer at work in the spiritual and
physical realms. The demon apprentice Wormwood complains to his mentor
Screwtape that his efforts to deceive and draw Christians away from God were
thwarted by the prayers of the believers.

Two millennia earlier Paul exhorted his apprentice Timothy
to pray in the Spirit, being mindful of the battles at hand. Praying in the
Spirit as defined in Galatians 5:22 leads Christians to pray in and for all
circumstances.

Turner said in the early days of his ministry he would drive
out into the darkness and stillness of the country at night and “cry out” to
God.

“In the midst of that I learned supplication and fervent
prayer,” he said.

Josh Smith

When Christians comprehend the desperate reality in which
they live, their prayers will be more intense and serious, said Smith, pastor
of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving.

“The intensity of the moment often determines the intensity
of our prayer,” he said.

Facing the difficulties and trials of life like cancer,
broken marriages, and wayward children “puts us to the greater reality of how
desperately we need God.” The need for a miracle accentuates the fact that we
have a miracle-working God.

But it is in 1 Peter, Smith said, that there is a statement
that seems out of context. Peter was writing to the persecuted church?a group
of people intimately familiar with praying in the intensity of the moment. But then Peter said this, “The end of all things is near.
Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”

If there is one thing that can draw a believer out of the
inwardly focused prayers is the reality of Christ’s return. Smith said the
passage does not speak to the fact that Jesus is coming back some day, but
rather the assurance that his redemptive work begins the end times.

“The last stage of God’s redemptive plan was inaugurated,”
he said. It is time to live in that reality, time to sober up to the
reason Christ left us here “to be about his work for the purpose of prayer.”

“This is what should drive us to pray,” Smith said. We are living in the last times but God has allowed us to
live in this time to exalt him among the lost. Their only hope, Smith said, is
the serious-minded believer who seeks God’s face.

“May God in his grace wake us up to the reality of this
moment.”

Loui Canchola

“The beauty of prayer is that it reminds us of the promises
of God,” said Pastor Loui Canchola of Cornerstone Church in McAllen.

Canchola said prayer allows Christians to minister to people
in need. It is an opportunity to rejoice in trials, seek God’s face, and read
his Word. Using Philippians 4 as an example, Canchola said the words are
comforting because in the moments of feeling anxious or worried we know God is
a prayer away.

“We can be reminded that God is with us. We can speak to our
God,” he declared. Praying with thanksgiving takes the prayer from an anxious
state to a state of peace.

The power and presence of the Lord is manifest in the
pra

TEXAN Correspondent
Bonnie Pritchett
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