For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him, as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Welcome to Prayer Week!
January 6–13, 2013
This Advent marked a historic season of pastoral transition. Jason Meyer has been overwhelmingly confirmed by congregational vote as our new preaching pastor, and John Piper’s 32-year-long senior preaching and pastoral era is almost completely “in the books.”
How much Bethlehem owes to our prayer-hearing heavenly Father as a still-vibrant church at 142-years of age! How many blessings has he granted in answer to our annual habit of starting the year with a full week to pursue him in concerted prayer!
This is not just a call to renewed private or family devotions, but to join with others in what John Bunyan called “the sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart to God through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit” (Voices From The Past: Puritan Devotional Readings, Richard Rushing, ed. p. 324).
It seems fitting for this present Prayer Week, the first one for Jason and the final one for John, that both men shepherd the church through her Sunday-to-Sunday prayer journey! Therefore, each of these men of the Word and prayer were asked to devotionally fulfill this request:
Give Bethlehem three Scriptural “heart-starters” that God has used to help ignite and sustain your own life of prayer.
So, here is a “tag team” effort of our senior pastoral prayer leaders ... Pastor John’s final daily devotional words in this capacity and Pastor Jason’s first ones. In addition, to start the week you will find my reflection on Luke 5:1-11 and, to end it, another on John 21:1-17. See in them how Jesus first caught and then kept his disciples.
Two other encouragements: 1) Consider the special half-hour prayer gatherings scheduled on your campus. Go to as many as you possibly can! And 2) Go to your campus’s bookstore and buy a book on prayer, especially Wesley Duewel’s Touch the World Through Prayer.
One more word from Bunyan: “True prayer feels, sighs, groans, and bubbles out of the heart as some heavy burden lies upon it or some sweet sense of mercy received is appreciated. O the heat, strength, life, vigor and affection that is in true prayer” (Voices, p. 324).
Lead Pastor, Bethlehem South Campus