Friday, February 11, 2011

Pray for Other Disciples of Jesus

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:15-17, ESV).

One of the most blessed things about working with a ministry that works with many denominations is that I get to work with many denominations! Sounds too simple, doesn't it? When ministry kept me in one denominational arena, I rarely looked out. Sure, our fellowship gathered with local churches from two other denominations each Thanksgiving and with a neighboring church of a different denomination for Resurrection Celebration, but we didn't have a real and regular practice of being together. Though I was passionate about our distinctives I was also often bound by them, kept from fellowship with people who love Jesus too. I'll tell you what I am learning: it's easier to write people off than to pray them up.

If prayer were to become a ministry for believers – notice, “if” – the first place we need to start in praying for other believers! Really. I'm serious.

Now, wait a minute...calm down...I know, I know...someone is already finding ways to exclude others: “I do pray for believers but them people ain't Christians like me!” The problem is that most of them people are saying the same thing about you!

Don't mistake my tongue and cheek method as irreverence. It's not that at all. It's an accusation. One of Jesus' clearest indicators as to whether someone is a disciple of His is whether such a one has love for other disciples. He said, “By this all people will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Uh oh. Some folks are in trouble!

The Apostle Paul was pretty clear about who he was talking to in the letter to the CHURCH at Ephesus. He was writing to the “saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus” (vs. 1). As a matter of fact, Paul was clear in communicating that all of God's plans and blessings were in Christ. Grab your Bible and consider Ephesians 1:3-15 very carefully, noticing each time it says something like “in Him” or “in Christ.” God's plan is “in Christ” for sure, so for people who understand that much – that God's plan for “things in heaven and things on earth” is united in Christ – I call them Family. When it comes to The Family, I desire to know and love you all.

All that being said, let's get to the ministry of praying for other believers! Perhaps you don't even know if they are believers. Pray the simple words of Ephesians 1:17 for yourself and for them, asking God to give each of you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

Paul said, “For this reason...I do not cease to give thanks for you.” What was his reason? Simple, Paul said his reason was that he'd “... heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints...” Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers because he saw their object of their faith, Jesus Christ, was right and their love for each other was evident. WOW!

Whoever you are out there – Red, yellow, black and white. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic, Non-Denominational and all other “Jesus is the only way!” folks you can find. Poor, rich, middle-class. Native American, European, African, Hispanic, Asian. City folks and country people. Southerners, Westerners, Northerners. Whatever distinction you may have that Satan wants to use to separate us. – if your faith is in Jesus and you love other believers, I want you to know I have a ministry of prayer towards you.

Who's with me? If you desire to be known as a disciple of Jesus, love others who love Him. If you love them, pray. Pray by the mighty hand of God that we show the world we are His by our love for one another.

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