Prayer

OUR DAILY BREAD (THE LORD’S PRAYER – PART VI)

Praying Hands 2We now come to the fourth request found in the Lord’s Prayer, which is “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). In this part of the Lord’s Prayer we are instructed to pray for the provision of our daily needs, the necessities of life (i.e. food, clothing, shelter, etc.). Bread represents the most basic staple of food needed in order to sustain life.

The idea of the Lord providing “daily bread” brings to mind the manna (or bread from heaven) that the Lord miraculously provided to the children of Israel for 40 years during the wilderness wanderings (Exodus 16:35).The manna was not only miraculous provision, but it was also provided daily, with the exception of the Sabbath (Exodus 16:26). A double-portion was to be collected the day before the Sabbath. Think about that. What a picture of dependence upon the Lord!

And so by instructing us to pray for our daily bread, the Lord Jesus is clearly teaching us that we too are dependent upon God, even for our daily needs. If truth be told, everyone is still just as dependent upon God for their daily needs as those Israelites were during those 40 years in the desert, and in our prayers we should acknowledge that dependence.

It is all too easy to overlook this simple truth. When things are going well, and you are living comfortably, it is easy to forget that all that you have is a gift of God. No matter how hard you may work, no matter how successful you may be, at the end of the day, you are still utterly and completely dependent upon God for everything. But do you pray that way?

Likewise, even when things are not going so well, even when you have no earthly idea how you are going to make ends meet, it is surprisingly easy to forget that you are entirely dependent upon God to meet your needs. You might think that being in need would make it much easier to acknowledge one’s dependence upon God, but how many of us in those situations fail to pray, or treat prayer as a last resort? It is not without reason that the Scripture says, “ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2, KJV).

And notice that there is nothing inherently “unspiritual” (whatever that means) about praying for your daily needs. The Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer, given to us so that we might better understand how to pray, and one of the main things that we are taught to pray is for our “daily bread.” To be sure, it is not the first thing or the top priority on the list (that is that the Lord’s name would be “hallowed” or revered – Matthew 6:9), but it is certainly included.

So let us learn to pray for our daily bread, and may we be quick to give thanks to the Lord for providing for our daily needs, whether we have a little or a lot.

THY WILL BE DONE (THE LORD’S PRAYER – PART V)

Praying HandsIn our brief series going through the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4), we now come to the third request, which is “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (v.10). This is closely-related to the previous request (“Thy kingdom come” – v.10). After all, one of the primary ways that a king’s kingdom is manifested is in his will being done. The one must lead to the other.

What does it mean to pray for the Lord’s will to be done? It means (as Jesus goes on to tell us in v.10), that His will would be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” How is God’s will done in heaven? Perfectly. Perpetually. Personally. That is how the angels themselves do the will of God in heaven! They obey Him perfectly. There is no disobedience or sin in heaven. None. (That is part of what makes heaven, well, heaven!) They obey Him perpetually. In other words, they do His will at all times. Always. And they obey Him personally. They live to serve the LORD and do His will.

That has important implications for those who confess the name of Christ and who would sincerely pray the Lord’s prayer. If you are going to pray for the Lord’s will to be done on earth, that has to start with His will being done in your own life, doesn’t it?

But what does that entail? It means first of all that we humbly submit to and accept His will in whatever He sends our way in this life. That is to pray as Jesus Himself prayed in the garden of Gethsemane – “not as I will, but as You will” (NIV). To pray this way requires that we trust God that His will is good, and that He knows what He is doing (even when we ourselves do not). Do you pray that way? Do you pray for the Lord’s will to be done in your life, even in times of trial or suffering? The Lord “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11, ESV). All things. And so He alone is worthy of our trust at all times.

It also means that we must seek to do the will of the Lord in our own daily lives. And if we are praying for the Lord’s will to be done without a sincere desire and aim to do what the Lord has commanded in His Word, then we are just going through the motions in prayer. There is a word for that kind of thing – hypocrisy. As Jesus Himself said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46, NIV).

So let us learn to pray for the Lord’s will to be done, both in our own lives as well as in our families, our community, and even “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Thy Kingdom Come (The Lord’s Prayer – Part IV)

Praying HandsIn our series about the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we now come to the second request found in the prayer – “Thy kingdom come” (v.10). Much like the previous request (“Hallowed be Thy name” – v.9), this might not really sound much like a request, but that is precisely what it is. Another way of putting it would be to say, “Let your kingdom come.”

But what exactly does that mean? As brief as this request may be (only three words in English!), it is not necessarily all that easy to understand, is it?

Theologians have often distinguished between the kingdom of grace, and the kingdom of glory. These are not two separate kingdoms, but rather are two aspects of one and the same kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. The old Puritan writer, Thomas Watson notes that “they differ not in nature, but in degree only” (The Lord’s Prayer, p.59). In other words, the kingdom of grace is the present-day expression of rule of Christ, while the kingdom of glory is the future, final, and complete expression or manifestation of that very same rule. The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way:

Q. 102. What do we pray for in the second petition? A. In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

So when we pray for the coming of the Lord’s kingdom of grace to come (i.e. this side of glory, before the return of Christ), we pray for things such as the destruction of Satan’s kingdom; the salvation of the lost; that sinners would be brought to repentance from sin, and faith in the Savior; that the Lord’s rightful reign would be more and more acknowledged by all; that his good and righteous commandments would be affirmed, upheld,and obeyed in all spheres of human life; and for the good news of the gospel to spread to the ends of the earth.

And when we pray for the coming of the kingdom of glory itself, we are then echoing the words of Revelation 22:20 – “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (KJV). To pray for that is to pray for the Lord himself to return in glory, to judge the living and the dead, and to rule in glory with his redeemed people forever in heaven. In that great day the words of Revelation 21:3-4 will finally become a reality:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” (ESV)

When you see it put that way, who wouldn’t want to pray, “Thy kingdom come”! May the Lord be pleased to teach you and I how to pray. And may he advance and hasten his kingdom in answer to the prayers of his people!

Hallowed Be Thy Name (THE LORD’S PRAYER – PART III)

Praying HandsThis is the third post in a brief series of blog posts about the Lord’s Prayer. As I pointed out previously, the Lord’s prayer is intended to be a pattern or model for believers to follow in prayer – it is given in order to teach us how to pray. In Matthew 6:9 the Lord Jesus introduces this pattern prayer by telling his disciples, “Pray then like this . . . .”

The fact that the Lord’s Prayer is given as a pattern or model prayer means that the Lord’s redeemed people can (and should!) learn any number of things about prayer by a thoughtful examination of its contents. There we learn what kinds of requests ought to be commonly mentioned in prayer. For example, we as believers are to pray that the will of our heavenly Father might be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). There we are also taught to pray for our daily bread (v.11), as well as for forgiveness (v.12). So those things should occupy a prominent place in our prayers.

But we can also learn a lot about prayer from the structure and order of the Lord’s Prayer. You may be familiar with the old adage, “first things first.” It means that some things have a higher priority than others. Well, what comes first in the Lord’s Prayer? It may surprise you. In Matthew 6:9 Jesus begins the prayer this way: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Now “hallowed be your name” may not sound much like a request, but that is exactly what it is. Another way of putting it would be to say, “Let your name be hallowed” (or revered as holy).

Think about that for a moment. The very first request in the Lord’s Prayer is that God’s name would be hallowed. In other words, the glory of God is to be the number one concern of the prayers of God’s people! It is not merely first in sequence, but in priority as well! That is no doubt a revolutionary thought for many in our day. How many of us actually pray that way? Is the glory of God at the top of your prayer list? It should be. Jesus himself says so!

May the Lord be pleased to teach you and I how to pray. And may his holy name be greatly glorified and hallowed in answer to the prayers of his people!

Our Father Who Art In Heaven (The Lord’s Prayer – Part II)

Praying HandsThis is the second post in a brief series on the Lord’s Prayer. (If you are not familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, it can be found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.) Before we get ahead of ourselves in discussing the various requests found in the prayer, it is vitally important that we rightly understand what is sometimes referred to as the “address” of the prayer. The address is found in Matthew 9:9 where the Lord Jesus instructs his people to begin our prayers this way: “Our father in heaven . . . .”

Is God your “Father in heaven”? Are you a child of God? The Bible says that to all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ, who believe in his name, “he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, ESV). So no one is inherently a child of God all on their own; no one is a child of God simply by virtue of being created by God; certainly no one is a child of God on the basis of their own virtue or goodness, not even by being religious. But one becomes adopted as a child of God through faith in Christ. He alone is the Son of God; sinners are forgiven and adopted as God’s children through faith in God’s Son!

The Fatherhood of God could be considered the central theme of the entire “Sermon on the Mount” (i.e. Matthew chapter 5-7). As you read those three chapters (which are the context of the Lord’s Prayer), you will find the Lord Jesus referring to God as “Father” no less than 17 times! In his teaching specifically on the subject of prayer in those chapters (which includes, but is not limited to, the Lord’s Prayer), he speaks of God as “Father” at least 7 times. Sounds like a pattern, doesn’t it?

It is not too much to say that the Fatherhood of God is in many ways the key to prayer. Believers in Jesus Christ are not to pray like hypocrites, who pray in order to be noticed by others (Matthew 6:5-6). Why? Because “your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (v.6). Believers are also not to pray like pagans, who, by the mindless repetition of empty phrases in their prayers, treat God as if he were an idol to be manipulated, and treat prayer as if it were a mere mechanical process (Matthew 6:7-8). Why? Because “your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (v.8). Prayer is not for show. Prayer is not a way to manipulate God. It is rather to be understood as taking your concerns to “our Father in heaven.” If you can pray to God as your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9), that changes everything!

The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) teaches that because God is almighty God, He is able to do all things for the salvation of his people, and that because he is a “faithful Father” he desires to do so (Q.26). In other words, if God is your heavenly Father, you can be sure that he is both willing and able to answer your prayers. As God, he is most certainly able to answer prayer. As Father, he is also then willing to answer prayer. What a comfort! What an encouragement to prayer!

Our Special Rule of Direction for Prayer (The Lord’s Prayer – Part I)

Praying HandsPrayer Defined

What is prayer? If someone were to pose that very question to you, what would you say? Talking to God? Sure, that would be a good place to start. Prayer is certainly talking with God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines prayer in the following way:

Q.98. What is prayer? A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.”

But perhaps a more important question is whether or not one actually  knows how to pray. But doesn’t everyone know how to pray? Yes and no. Yes, everyone can grasp the simple concept of talking to God. But what if I told you that the Bible says that we do not just naturally know how to pray? The right way to pray is neither instinctual nor intuitive. Romans 8:26 actually says, “we do not know what to pray for as we ought” (ESV). Not only that, but even the disciples themselves were not ashamed to ask the Lord Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).

Now they certainly asked Jesus that question not just because they knew their own weakness and inability, but also because they were well acquainted with His example of prayer. They knew that Jesus prayed. In fact, they asked Him to teach them to pray right after He had just finished praying. Luke 11:1 says that “Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (ESV).

Our “Special Rule of Direction” for Prayer

And what answer did Jesus give to them? How did He teach them to pray? He taught them what has come to be known as “the Lord’s Prayer.” If you really want to know how to pray, you would be hard-pressed to find a better place to start than with a serious consideration of the Lord’s Prayer. It is found in two (2) places in the Bible – Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. The Lord Jesus didn’t just give that prayer to instruct the twelve disciples alone; He gave it to teach us about prayer.

As the Shorter Catechism points out,

“The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught His disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer” (Q.99).

So the Lord’s Prayer is basically a summary of everything we need to pray for. It includes some things that may come to mind rather easily, such as our daily needs (“give us this day our daily bread” – Matthew 6:11), and the forgiveness of sin (“forgive us our debts”- Matthew 6:12). But it also includes (and starts with!) things that might not jump to mind when you pray, such as praying that the Lord’s name would be hallowed or revered as holy (Matthew 6:9), that His kingdom would come (v.10), and that His will would be done here on this earth just like it is in heaven (v.10).

In the forthcoming posts of this series, I hope to briefly go through the Lord’s Prayer, one petition or request at a time. I hope that you will find these studies helpful. Most of all I hope that they will encourage you to go to the Lord in prayer.

William Gurnall on Imprecatory Prayer

GurnallWilliam Gurnall’s classic work on spiritual warfare, The Christian In Complete Armor,  is basically an extended exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20 (totaling some 1,200 pages!). In it he includes a lengthy section (over 300 pages long) on prayer, which is, of course, his treatment of v.18-20 (where Paul speaks of prayer in relation to the whole armor of God).

In that section on prayer, Gurnall takes the time to speak of a subject that is rarely heard of today – imprecatory prayers.

What is imprecatory prayer? An imprecatory prayer is that prayer of God’s people which is directed at or against the enemies of God and His people. They often consist in prayers, not just for deliverance for God’s people from their enemies and His, but also for God’s just judgment against the wicked. Gurnall himself defines it as that prayer “wherein the Christian imprecates the vengeance of God upon the enemies of God and his people” (Vol. 2, p.444).

The Psalms are practically filled with such prayers. Here are just a few examples: Psalm 3:7 says, “Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.” Psalm 7:6 says, “Arise, O LORD, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.” Psalm 10:15 says, “Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.” If the idea of imprecatory prayer makes you uncomfortable, then you will find the book of Psalms to be a rather uncomfortable book indeed.

Not only does the book of Psalms include such prayers, but they are also found on the lips of the saints in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 6:9-10 we are shown “the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne” crying out out with a loud voice, saying, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” So even the martyrs in heaven are depicted as crying out for justice! They are crying out for the Lord to avenge their blood! And what does the Lord tell them? Does he tell them that they have the wrong idea? Does He tell them that such prayers are no longer appropriate? No! He tells them to “rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been” (v.11). Justice will come, and their blood will be avenged, but they might have to wait a bit longer.

Gurnall actually warns the wicked not to get the saints engaged in praying against them! He writes to them, “Take heed that by your implacable hatred to the truth and church of God, you do not engage her prayers against you” (p.448). He goes so far as to say:

“The prayers of the saints are more to be feared . . .than an army of twenty thousand men in the field” (ibid).

He points to the example of Esther (cf. Esther 4:16), whose prayers hastened Haman’s destruction on his own gallows; and also of Hezekiah’s prayers against Sennacherib (cf. Isaiah 37:14-20), which “brought his huge host to the slaughter, and fetched an angel from heaven to do the execution in one night upon them” (ibid.). He draws upon the examples given in Scripture to prove his point. The prayers of the saints really are to be feared indeed!

Now, Gurnall does offer some rules or guidelines as a caution against the possible abuses or misuses of imprecatory prayer. (See Vol.2, p.444-446.) They are as follows:

  1. “Take heed thou dost not make thy private particular enemies the object of thy imprecation.” So the right and proper subject of imprecatory prayer must be God’s enemies, the enemies of Christ and His people. And we must be careful not to presume that our own particular enemies are necessarily the enemies of God Himself, His Christ, or His church.
  2. “When thou prayest against the enemies of God and his church, direct thy prayers rather against their plots than person.” Our primary aim in such prayers should be that the Lord Jesus would defend His church. Imprecatory prayer (rightly conceived) should not preclude praying for the salvation of our enemies.
  3. “When praying against the persons of those that are open enemies to God and his church, it is safest to pray indefinitely and in general: ‘Let them all be confounded . . .that hate Zion,’ Ps.cxxix.5; because we know not who of them are implacable, and who not, and therefore cannot pray absolutely and peremptorily against particular persons.” In other words, you just never know whom God might have chosen to save. The Lord defended His church both by judging Herod (Acts 12:20-24), and converting Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-19).
  4. “In praying against the implacable enemies of God and his church, the glory of God should be principally aimed at, and vengeance on them in order to that.” Just as the glory of God comes first in both sequence and priority in the Lord’s Prayer (i.e. “hallowed be your name” – Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2), even so God’s glory must also then come first even in the right practice of imprecatory prayer.
So Gurnall cautions us against the improper use of imprecatory prayer, but nevertheless he also cautions the enemies of God’s people that if they should, through persecution or other such evil, incite the saints to the practice of imprecatory prayer against them for that evil, God will not count it as wasted breath. The prayers of the saints (as Gurnall states above) really are “more to be feared . . .than an army of twenty thousand men in the field.”

Do You Believe in Prayer?

Bumper Sticker1 Thessalonians 5:17 is rather short and to the point; it is only three (3) words long. There the Apostle Paul simply says, “pray without ceasing.”

Again and again the Word of God encourages believers to pray. And yet how many of us can honestly say that we don’t struggle with our prayer lives? Do any of us really pray without ceasing?

Do you believe that God answers prayer? If you are a Christian, I assume that you would answer that question with a resounding “Yes!” Don’t all Christians believe in prayer? If you say that you believe in prayer, allow me to ask you one more question: Do you pray? It is one thing to say that you believe in prayer, but it is another thing entirely to actually pray.

If we really believed that God hears and answers the prayers of His people, could anything keep us from praying? Would more of our churches not have regular prayer meetings? And would those prayer meetings not be some of the most well-attended assemblies in our churches?

I believe it is a sad testimony to our view of prayer (and so also, in a sense, of God’s ability or willingness to answer prayer) that we do not pray more regularly and fervently as churches. Did the Lord Jesus not say that His house was to be a “house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13)?

So let us devote ourselves to prayer! Pray for (and with) your family. Pray for (and with!) your friends. And devote yourself to praying with your brothers and sisters in the church. If your church has a regular prayer meeting, make it a point to be there if at all possible. If your church does not have a regular prayer meeting? Request one! Let the Lord’s house be a house of prayer!

And may God in His grace be pleased to bless, answer, and use your prayers for His glory this year and always!

The Manifold Helps to Holiness in the Church

Gospel Mystery

In his book, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, Puritan author Walter Marshall (1628-1680) gives us no less than six (6) ways in which the fellowship of the saints in the local church is conducive toward growth in holiness and sanctification (p.211-212):

1.  The Word and Sacraments (i.e. the means of grace in public worship), as well as the ministry of pastors and elders in overseeing and caring for our souls (Hebrews 13:17) are a great help to believers in striving to grow in holiness. But how rarely do we consider the ministry of the local church in public worship or in pastoral oversight when it comes to our desire to grow in holiness? Marshall points out that none of these helps unto holiness can be enjoyed outside of the fellowship of believers in the church. If you desire to grow in grace and holiness, do not overlook the importance of the local church.

2.  Mutual Prayer – How great a blessing it is when believers not only pray, or even pray for one another, but also pray with one another? What a support and encouragement that can be! And how much greater when the whole church gathers to pray together!

3.  Mutual Admonition, Instruction, and Consolation – It is not without reason that Scripture so often tells us of the importance of “one another” ministry among believers in the church. We are to let the Word of Christ dwell among us richly, which includes “teaching and admonishing one another” (Colossians 3:16). And one of the reasons that the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us not to neglect to meet together is that we might “stir up one another to love and good works” (10:24-25). Marshall writes,

“In church fellowship there are many helpers, many to watch. Soldiers have their security in company [i.e. numbers]; and the church is compared to an army with banners (Song vi. 4, 10). So, for quickening affections, Iron sharpeneth iron (Prov. xxvii. 17)” (p.212).

So it is not just the pastors and elders who are of great assistance to us in our growth in godliness, but the entire church! We are each to be bother helper and helped!

4.  External Supports – When suffering afflictions, how greatly it helps us to have shoulders to lean upon or cry upon. Simply put, we bear each others burdens in the church.

5.  Excommunication (!) – Yes, you read that correctly. Excommunication is a benefit of being a part of a local church? So what difference is there between that and just not getting involved in the church in the first place? As Marshall explains,

This ordinance is appointed for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved (1 Cor. v. 5). Better and more hopeful it is, to be cast out by the church, for a person’s amendment [i.e. repentance and restoration], than to be wholly without the church at all times; and better to be a lost sheep than a goat or swine . . . ” (p.212).

6.  The Lively Examples of the Saints – How helpful it is to have godly examples set before our eyes throughout our days. And how often is this very thing actually neglected by those churches who seem to undervalue the elderly in our churches, all in the name of the supposed importance of youth. Both are important to be sure (as saints of all ages are), but how much more do the younger need to learn from the older! The dear senior saints who have walked with the Lord Jesus Christ for a great many years have much to teach the younger believers, who are often just taking baby steps in the faith.

Marshall has a lot more to say about the way of sanctification, and I highly recommend this book to you. But I hope that this small sample of what he has to say about it gives you a renewed appreciation for the importance of the church in the Christian life.

The Outward and Ordinary Means of Grace

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The Westminster Shorter Catechism speaks of the “outward and ordinary means” of grace.  It says:

Q.88 What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption? A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are, His ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all of which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

The outward and ordinary means of grace are the Lord Jesus Christ’s own ordained means of building up His people – His church –  in grace.

This points to something that is increasingly a foreign concept to many professing Christians today – the vital importance of public worship.  The means of grace are, by definition, primarily aspects of the corporate worship of God’s people.  These are not things that you do by yourself in the prayer closet.  These things are not personal spiritual disciplines.

Individual Christians can certainly pray, read the Scriptures, sing songs of praise – all good things.  But that is a far cry from corporate prayer, hearing the preaching of the Word of God, and observing the Sacraments. (There is to be no such thing as taking the Lord’s Supper privately – it is called Communion for a reason.)

And yet these very things (Word, Sacrament, and Prayer) are the very things that more and more churches seem to be drifting away from – and in many cases they are doing so in order to make their churches grow! (How exactly should we define “church growth” anyway?)  In doing so, they may be filling the pews on Sundays (certainly not a bad thing in itself), but leaving their congregations impoverished and undernourished in the process.

As churches, do we rightly understand and emphasize the vital importance of the outward & ordinary means of grace in public worship, or do we primarily look for growth through other means?   Is the preaching of the Word of Christ central? Are the Sacraments an afterthought?  Do we minimize prayer in worship?

And as individual Christians and families, do we too rightly understand and appreciate the vital necessity and importance of the means of grace in public worship on the Lord’s day?  Do we let other things keep us from it?  Do we look forward to it, prepare for it, and diligently attend to it?

If we truly and sincerely desire to grow in the grace of God, we must avail ourselves of the means of grace that God Himself has ordained for our benefit.  The means may seem all too ordinary, but the grace is anything but that.

No wonder we see in the book of Acts that the early church was so devoted to public worship.  In Acts 2:42, Luke writes,

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (ESV)

See you on Sunday!