STUDY HELP: For this particular series, I have expanded the original study to include ancillary pages on specific topics. As you read through the following pages, you will come across underlined words, which indicate a link to a supplemental page of information. If interested, you can put the mouse pointer on the link, double click it and be redirected to the associated page. To return to this page, just use the "back button" at the top of your browser.
STUDY #1: PRAYING FOR PRESIDENTS
First, a word of personal greeting to everyone along with my thanks for the opportunity to share some thoughts from Scripture with you in this mini-series on "Praying for Presidents". The topic, which may seem a bit unusual, was occasioned by my participation in a prayer group during the recent pre-election countdown. The group, concerned about the future of our country, banded together in prayer for God's intervention during the Presidential election process. As the election day came to a close and pundits scratched their collective heads in awe at the remarkable outcome, I was reminded of a similar event that took place over half a century before, in a land far, far away.
Actually, the year was 1963 and I had just returned to Peru to begin a second term of missionary service in Iquitos, a small town located on the banks of the Amazon river. As it turned out, I happened to return just as that country was experiencing a constitutional crisis of its own and frightening uncertainty loomed on the horizon. The entire country was focused on an extremely controversial presidential election to be held the following month (sound familiar?) and there was a strong probability that some behind-the-scenes political maneuvering could open the door to a leftist regime. Such an outcome would have been disastrous for the church, not to mention, our missionary activities in that area. Something had to be done, and done quickly, or the opportunity to reach that entire region for Christ would end abruptly.
At the time, we had only four churches in town with a combined congregation of just a few hundred believers. In spite of our small numbers, however, we all believed that God could prevent that threat from happening if we all joined together in daily prayer. (Link to Group Prayer ) So, just as you recently prayed for our presidential election, groups of believers all over the town of Iquitos banded together to ask God for His intervention in the elections of 1963. From the onset, there was great enthusiasm among the participants and soon fear was replaced by faith as everyone got involved in this unique prayer crusade.
As pastor of one of the participating churches, I was asked to bring a series of messages on the subject of "prayer" in order to better understand and use this powerful tool God has given to his Children. With so little time remaining, I quickly set about to prepare a simple, basic series of messages on the topic of "prayer", especially as it related to the impending election in May of that year. What took place over the following three months turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life and one which I expect to share with you... eventually. Needless to say, over the ensuing years, both the messages themselves and the remarkable outcome of that prayer campaign drifted into forgetfulness... or at least they did until a few weeks ago.
It was during a recent fit of "late Spring cleaning", that I ran across a folder containing the notes I used for those same prayer messages made over half a century ago. Out of curiosity, I glanced through a few and was intrigued by the similarity between the events in Peru back in 1963 and events in our recent Presidential election here in the U.S. But similarities aside, what really grabbed my attention was the obvious change in perspective and understanding I now had on the subject. I suppose, in a way, that's a good thing since our knowledge of Scripture is supposed to grow as we mature in our faith. But although the basic concepts, rooted in the unchanging Word of God, were the same, I was not! So, I decided to use those original notes and update the messages from the perspective of an additional 63 years experience in both the ministry and clinical psychology.
So, after revising those messages for email distribution to the Prayer Circle, I reformatted them for posting here on the Insites web site. I hope you'll get as much enjoyment out of reading them as I have preparing them. That's the back story, now, let's get started! By the way, if you'd like to find out how the Peruvian election turned out and learn how God uses unlikely instruments to trump His praises, (pun intended), look forward to reading about it in the coming installments.
I had originally planned on including a word study on I Timothy 2:1-4 in this first offering but, after failing to reduce it down to a more readable size, I gave up and decided to send along just this introductory overview along with a "call out" to each of you to stick with us during this important prayer campaign for our country and its leadership. In truth, the need for prayer during the Presidential campaign didn't end on November 8th, it only began. Now, more than ever, the President-elect needs our intercession and prayer as, over the next severals weeks, he makes crucial decisions on cabinet members, appointments, resource personnel and the general organization of his administration. These choices will, without doubt, shape the future President's decisions on both domestic and foreign policies, as well as chart the economic and political, not to mention judicial and ethical, course of our country for years to come. So please join with us in "supplication, prayer and intercession, along with the giving of thanks", for the President-elect and all those in authority through the Inaugural Day, January 20th!
Now you may have already realized that the above phrase referring to "supplication, prayer, etc" was taken from I Timothy 2:1-4. Those four verses, will in fact, be the basis for Message #2. So to make this series more interesting and productive, I'm calling on you (exhorting) to take some time this week and read that passage over a number of times. Then, give some thought to the following questions:
1. What does the Apostle Paul mean by "exhort"?
2. What's the difference between "supplication, prayer and intercession"?
3. Who specifically are we charged to pray for?
4. What's the immediate purpose of these prayers?
5. How does God view our efforts in prayer.
6. What's the ultimate purpose of God toward all men through our quite, peaceful and respectful lifestyle.
This introductory message will, hopefully, serve as guide for the next study. It would help tremendously if you'd offer feedback on the length, content and format of these pages so I can make revisions to future studies for a more enjoyable experience. Keep in mind that these notes were originally intended to serve as outlines for an oral presentation so expanding them to written form has been a challenge. Your comments and suggestions will be appreciated.
May God richly bless you in the days ahead as we all join together daily in continued prayer for our country and its leadership. Pray especially for President-elect Trump as he selects the leadership for the coming administration. I'll look forward to meeting with you daily before the Throne of Grace.