Author: 
David Livingston
Date Given: 
January 1, 2009

“And they devoted themselves to . . . the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

Welcome to the Nine Days of Prayer Week at Bethlehem

They did it then . . . and so can we now; the 1st century believers in Jerusalem “devoted themselves to praying,” and we can (and should) do the same during these days in the Twin Cities. Twenty intervening centuries have changed nothing of the immeasurable value as well as desperate need of seeking the face of God in prayer as individuals and a church. So, once more, at the end of the old year and the outset of the new, the intent of this booklet is that, both privately and together, we the 21st century congregation of Bethlehem Baptist Church, determine to imitate the core of those 1st century believers at Jerusalem in Acts 2 and “... devote ourselves to prayer.”

Nine days make up this unusual week of prayer, from the last weekend of December to the first full one of January; each day affords an opportunity to investigate a Bible expression containing the word "pray" or "prayer". Scanning the concordance, many more such special "prayer expressions" are discernable than we can take time to reflect on in our "week" of prayer. As we might have expected from God's word there will be no lack for subject matter in the days ahead.

Here is how the prayer expressions are grouped as daily "prayer starters" for this year's "Prayer Week":

  • Saturday, Day 1: “Then Abraham prayed to God...” (Genesis 20:17)
  • Sunday, Day 2: “Pray for one another...the sick...those who abuse you” (James 5:16,14; Luke 6:28)
  • Monday, Day 3: “Pray in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20)
  • Tuesday, Day 4: “The prayer of faith” (James 5:15)
  • Wednesday, Day 5: “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications” (Hebrews 5:7)
  • Thursday, Day 6: “As we pray most earnestly” (1 Thessalonians 3:10)
  • Friday, Day 7: “Worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day” (Luke 2:37)
  • Saturday, Day 8: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Sunday, Day 9: “In everything...with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6)

These days are an ideal time both in your life and in the life of this church to set (or re-set) the priorities of your life, and to do so by dealing directly with God in prayer. Year after year, we have suggested the fresh focusing of our personal and community life around three daily, spiritual disciplines: Bible reading, Scripture memorization, and prayer. More specifically, that means...

  1. Reading some of the Bible, mapped out according to a comprehensive, daily schedule that will get you throgh all 66 books of the Old and Testament in the coming year...reading widely and expansively so as to grasp for the first time (or yet again, as the case may be) the magnificent “big picture” of God’s character and His all-inclusive plan of salvation from the creation to Christ’s return!
  2. Bible memorization, as a way to read so slowly (compared to the speedy approach needed for doing Bible survey reading) that the truths of many particular Bible promises find their way into the inner core of our thoughts and desires; and doing so with others, indeed in households and with the whole church, on a schedule of one “fighter verse” per week, pre-selected to equip us for wielding the “sword of the Spirit” better and better in the good fight of faith!
  3. Prayer, the divinely designed means of transforming the Bible information gained by expansive reading and intensive memorizing from knowledge that may tend only to puff you up into love that builds up; prayer alone, as well as with others, that most direct way of dealing with God Himself by “...offering up our desires to Him for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies” (A98, Westminster Shorter Catechism).

The practical means for exercising these three disciplines are all at hand: (1) The "Through the Bible" reading bookmarks are available at each campus’s Information Booth (or on-line); (2) the “Fighter Verse” packets (or summary cards) are also available in the Downtown and North bookstores and the book cart at the South site (attend the special Fighter-Verse Kick-off downtown on Wednesday, January 7th); and (3) this Prayer Week booklet is a prayer guide. Also, each day’s section contains a list of specific prayer requests, every list coming from one of the several departments of our congregational ministry life. Finally, you’ll find a list of the daily gathered-prayer opportunities on each campus, climaxing in the Friday, All-Church All-Night of Prayer on January 2nd.

This will probably be the most important week in our church’s life this year. Let’s "devote ourselves to prayer" in it!

David Livingston
South Site Pastor for Adult Ministries & Shepherd Groups

An outline of Prayer Week is available in the PDF link above.

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