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5 Tips To Keep In Mind When Visiting A Lutheran Church


When my wife and I first attended a Lutheran service, we were impressed with how formal it was, a far cry from what we were used to in the mainline Protestant denominations we grew up in and in the evangelical congregations we attended in college.  So we came back next week, only to find both the congregation and the pastor chanting.  We thought we had been transported back to the Middle Ages.

It turns out, that first service we attended was the one informal service that was held on months with five Sundays.  We came to learn that when Lutherans try to be informal–or, more recently, contemporary–they are still more formal and less contemporary than just about anyone else.  But the definitive Lutheran worship, which we learned to treasure, is to be found in what they call the “Divine Service,” which is called that because in it, Lutherans believe, God serves us.

Patheos has asked its writers to respond to some of the most frequent questions about the various religious traditions that they receive.  What most puzzles Patheos readers about Lutheranism is its worship.  They wonder what they need to know in order to understand what is going on.  Specifically, as the Patheos editors summarize the inquiries, “What should I keep in mind when visiting a Lutheran church?”  So it falls to me to try to explain.

What follows is an account of the traditional Divine Service, which can be dressed up or down, made more elaborate or more simple.  Even contemporary Lutheran services will tend to have the same structure and most of the same elements–from the confession and absolution to the Law & Gospel sermons–so that what I describe here, except for what I say about music, will mostly still apply.

Lutheran worship service

(1)  The Liturgy Consists Mostly of Words from Scripture

The first reaction of many visitors is, “This is Catholic!”  Or, “This is too Catholic!”  Yes, the liturgy goes way back through church history and is similar to that of Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and, among Protestants, Anglicans, whose Book of Common Prayer was greatly influenced by Lutheranism.

But the Lutheran liturgy also shows forth the principles of the Reformation.  Luther wanted to reform the church, not start a new one.  Later Protestants would want to start, more or less, from scratch, but the work of “reforming” means changing what is problematic, but leaving what is good.  For Luther, everything that pointed away from Christ and the Gospel should be eliminated, but what does point to Christ and the Gospel should be retained.

So the Lutheran liturgy leaves out elements in the Catholic mass such as praying for the dead and invoking the saints.  But it retains the overall structure and the ancient liturgical set-pieces, such as the Kyrie (“Lord have mercy. . .”) and the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”).  In fact, those set pieces and nearly all of the responses of the congregation are taken straight from the Bible.  When someone objects to our liturgy, I ask, “Which words of God do you think we shouldn’t say?”

The sanctuary will also demonstrate the Reformation principle of retaining elements that point to Christ.  There will typically be quite a bit of art in the sanctuary.  Lots of crosses.  That will include pictures of Jesus and other representational art.  This is not idolatry, since that means worshiping false gods and Jesus is the true God, who came as a visible, tangible human being discernible by the senses (1 John 1:1).  Lots of crucifixes, depicting Jesus on the cross.  Some Christians say that one should only use empty crosses because Jesus isn’t on the cross any more–He rose!  Well, Lutherans certainly believe in His Resurrection (and also have empty crosses), but we need to keep a constant focus on “Christ crucified”  (1 Corinthians 2:1 and 2 Corinthians 1:2), upon which which our salvation is based and which Lutherans apply in a host of ways in their “theology of the Cross.”

(2)  Chanting Lets Us Sing Prose, Such as Texts from Scripture

The Divine Service is mostly chanted by both the pastor and the congregation.  This may be the aspect that seems the most “Catholic” or “Medieval” or just unusual to visitors.  But chanting, with its flexible meter and flowing melodic line, is simply the way that a person can sing prose.

Most of our songs today–whether hymns or raps–are metrical, with fixed patterns of rhythm and rhyme.  That is to say, they put music to poems.  But it is also possible to sing any sequence of words.  That requires music that flows along with the pattern of speech.  This is what chanting is.

Some of my friends who are Reformed (a term Lutherans never use for themselves), belong to Psalms-only congregations.  Using their principle that Christians may only do what the Bible specifies (while Lutherans believe they are free to do whatever the Bible does not forbid), they do not sing hymns, just Psalms.  But what they sing are really metrical paraphrases of the Psalms, forced onto the Procrustean bed of meter and rhyme.  But we Lutherans sing the Psalms right out of the Bible by chanting them.

Lutherans do sing hymns that will be familiar to most visitors, including some of those metrical Psalms, drawing on the vast and varied musical heritage of the church universal.  Perhaps stranger to some visitors’ ears are the hymns from the Lutheran tradition, particularly those from the 16th and 17th century, often in the baroque style of vivid imagery and achingly beautiful, but complex, music.

(3)  The Pastor Will Forgive Your Sins

What most puts off quite a few visitors is at the beginning of the service when the members of the congregation confess their sins, first reflecting silently and then reading a prayer of repentance, after which the pastor says this or something like it:

Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of the Word I announce the grace of God to all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

I forgive you?” some say. “The pastor can’t forgive sins!  Only Jesus can do that!”  Well, right, only Jesus can forgive sins.  But Lutherans believe that God works through human beings.  That is the doctrine of vocation.  Notice the wording:  “As a called and ordained servant of the Word.”  “Called” refers to vocation, which is simply the Latinate word for “calling.”  God forgives sins through pastors, just as He gives us our daily bread through farmers and creates new life through mothers and fathers.  The basis of the pastor’s forgiveness, also known as “absolution,” is “the grace of God to all of you” and the fact that He “has given His Son to die for you.”   (Lutherans reject the Reformed doctrine of Limited Atonement, so all have access to this grace and atonement.)

And the Scriptural warrant for human beings forgiving sins is pretty explicit.  After His resurrection, Jesus breathes on His disciples, saying,“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20:22-23).

(4)  You Will Hear a Law and Gospel Sermon

The sermon may also be different from what you are used to.  There will be no politics, no pop psychology, no Biblical principles for successful living.  (Lutheranism, with its theology of cross-bearing, is pretty much the opposite of the Prosperity Gospel.)  The sermon will be based on one or more of the three Bible readings (an Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel reading as determined by the Lectionary, a plan for Scripture reading tied to the church year), but it will be handled in terms of the distinct Lutheran hermeneutic and preaching paradigm of Law and Gospel.

The moral law in the Scripture will be proclaimed, but in a way that precludes self-righteousness.  Listeners will be persuaded that they do not, in fact, obey God’s Law, with its multiple ramifications, and that they are in sore need of repentance.  Whereupon the sermon will move to a proclamation of the Gospel, namely, that Christ has fulfilled this law on our behalf and has paid the penalty that we deserve for breaking it with His atoning death and resurrection. When we know that we are sinners and cannot save ourselves and believe that Jesus has died for us and offers us new life, we have saving faith, which, in turn, bears the fruit of love for our neighbors.

This is not “cheap grace” the pastor is teaching.  A skillful preacher can really make you feel guilty, which tempers our bad behavior.  And, by preaching the Gospel, he really make you feel free.  Lutherans speak of three uses of the Law:  the first, the civil use, is to restrain our external sinful proclivities; the second, the theological use, is to convict us of sin and drive us to the Gospel; and the third, the didactic use, is to teach Christians how to live in order to please God, which, motivated by gratitude, they now desire to do.

You will find no altar call in a Lutheran sermon.  Coming to faith is not a one-time decision.  Rather, the pattern of repentance and faith is repeated throughout the Christian’s life, and is enacted throughout the Divine Service.  The point at which you objectively became a Christian is when you were Baptized, even as an infant, a purely passive experience in which God called you by name and gave you the gift of the Holy Spirit.  But, just as that infant must be fed, be taught, and grow, the baptized Christian must be fed and taught and grow by means of the Word and Sacraments.  Otherwise, faith will die.

(5)  You Must be Catechized Before You Go Up for Communion.

If you are a visitor to a Lutheran church, observe what is happening and, if you want, go up for a blessing.  (Bow and cross your arms when the pastor comes your way.)  But if you are not a Lutheran and if the pastor doesn’t know you, you should refrain from taking the consecrated bread and wine.  The liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) would probably let you, but the more conservative Lutheran Church  Missouri Synod, Wisconsin Evangelical Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and smaller and independent church bodies practice “closed communion.”  Sometimes this is phrased as “close” communion, meaning that those who commune together should be close to each other as in being part of the same congregation or church body, but it means the same, that the altar is “closed” to those who have not been catechized and confirmed in the host church, its denomination, or a denomination with which it is in formal fellowship.

Please, please, do not be insulted, as many visitors are.  Lutherans are not denying that you are a Christian.  Anyone, of any denomination or non-denomination, who confesses faith in Christ is considered to be a Christian, and Lutherans do accept all Baptisms, of whatever mode or at whatever age.  It’s just that Lutherans hold to the Biblical teaching that no one should receive the Lord’s Supper without examining oneself and without “discerning the body” (1 Corinthians 11:28-29).

“Discerning the body,” of course, means different things to different theologies. Catholics believe the bread is transubstantiated into the Body of Christ and so is no longer bread; Calvinists believe in a spiritual presence that depends on the faith of the person receiving it; most Protestants, again, hold it be merely symbolic.  But Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Christ are really present in, with, and under the bread and wine.  More than that, Christ gives His body and His blood in these physical elements “for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).  Evangelicals speak of “receiving Christ” at their conversion.  Lutherans believe they “receive Christ” every time they take Holy Communion.

Some say that “discerning the body” refers not to the bread and wine of Holy Communion, but to the Body of Christ that is the Church.  Well, fine, and maybe it refers to both, since the two senses are intimately connected.  But that too is an argument for “closed” or “close” communion, since it requires awareness of those with whom you are communing.

Catholics and the Orthodox also practice closed communion, in line with their similarly high view of the Sacrament.  I have had occasions—weddings and funerals—to attend a Catholic mass, but it never bothered me that I couldn’t take communion. I didn’t want to. If I presented myself for communion, I would be participating with a church body that I don’t belong to and that I don’t agree with.  This is also why most Lutherans won’t commune at other churches that practice “open” communion.  It’s a matter of respecting differences.  And this respect can co-exist with a spirit of welcome and good-will.

So, please, visitors, know that you are welcome to a Lutheran service and don’t let our quirks be an obstacle.  I think you will appreciate, as my wife and I did, the sense of transcendence and holiness that we found there.

If you would like to learn more about Lutheranism, read the book that I wrote on that subject, The Spirituality of the Cross:  The Way of the First Evangelicals; talk to a pastor; and visit the Divine Service.

New study suggests religion is good for youth mental health; Expert reveals how churches can do better By Leonardo Blair, Senior Features Reporter 

Results of a new large-scale study by the Springtide Research Institute have seemingly confirmed decades of previous research pointing to a positive relationship between religion, spirituality and mental health.

And Josh Packard, the organization’s executive director, has suggested ways churches can ensure they remain relevant institutions for the younger generation as physical church attendance dwindles.

The study, The State of Religion & Young People 2022: Mental Health–What Faith Leaders Need to Know, released during “A Conference on Gen Z, Mental Health & Religion” on Wednesday, reflects a survey of nearly 10,000 young people ages 13-25 about their beliefs, practices, behaviors, relationships and mental health.

The study found that during the pandemic years, most (53%) of the respondents reported that mental health was their biggest challenge. Only 34% of them reported being comfortable talking about their struggle with adults.

Some 57% said new spiritual practices helped them endure the pandemic and more than half (51%) said they turned to prayer. Others turned to activities like reading, yoga, the arts or being in nature.

The study found that while religion and spirituality “can be strong antidotes to much of what contributes to mental-health struggles among young people” and that “people who are religious are better off mentally and emotionally,” only 35% of the respondents said they are connected to a religious community. 

Respondents connected to a religious community were found to be more likely to say they are “flourishing a lot” in their mental and emotional well-being (29%) than those not connected to a religious community (20%).

Respondents who say they are “very religious” were more likely to report that they are “flourishing a lot” (40%) compared to those who say they are not religious (17%). Respondents who are “not religious” were more than twice as likely to say they are “not flourishing” (44%) than “very religious” respondents.  

While the study indicates that religion can have a positive impact on mental health, Packard notes in the report that “solutions to mental-health struggles are more complicated than just ‘give young people more religion'” as about 20% of “very religious” respondents report they are “not flourishing.” 

“The reality is that without addressing mental-health issues, a young person who is mentally and emotionally unwell won’t be able to really engage with or understand the depth,
beauty, power, awe, and love that can come with religion and spirituality,” Packard wrote. “As Jeff Neel, the Executive Director of Northern Colorado Youth for Christ, puts it, ‘Young people
have to heal and belong before they can hear and believe.'”

When asked how churches could be more mental-health positive, Packard told The Christian Post that churches must first get more involved in the general conversation about mental health.

“There is a step zero before you start digging into that, which is that a lot of religious leaders and organizations sort of opt out of this conversation because it makes the older [generations uncomfortable]. There is more of a stigma around mental health for people my age, for example, than there are for 15 and 16-year-olds,” Packard said.

“A lot of times, churches might not think that this is their thing to do. I’m not sure that rabbis are running around the country thinking my job here is to support the mental health of young Jews. … Increasingly, the more that we can see that as part of the work that we do and see really faith as instrumental in that work is really, it’s going to be important for young people.”

“One of the things that comes through so clearly, which is I think a lot of people are astonished by this, whether its academic research or the big report that Gallup just released or even our own data about flourishing, is that religious young people are better off,” he continued. “They’re simply better off in all aspects of their life than their non-religious or even less religious peers, including their mental health.”UnmuteAdvanced SettingsFullscreenPauseUp Next

Packard said young people need to see faith as a “resource for solving the biggest challenges in their lives.”

“And if they see faith as disconnected from that, they’re just going to be less likely to engage,” he stressed. 

“Acknowledging that there is a real role to play and this is not parallel at best alongside your real mission. This is actually a part of the sort or real mission for existing in the world especially when it comes to engaging young people.”

Packard said the evidence showing a positive relationship between mental health, religion and spirituality is “pretty overwhelming.”

“It’s not just [religious youth are] doing a little bit better. They are doing significantly better,” he said.

The Springtide leader suggested that churches can focus more on bringing the Gospel to young people instead of waiting for them to come into the walls of their church community to connect.

“If we were to draw some lines, I want to be really careful. The things that worked to lead to those data outcomes currently might not be the things that will work for this generation. In the past, what mosques, synagogues, churches have done really well is connect you to a real physical in-real-life community in this neighborhood, in this part of the city that knows you well. And that’s still really, really critical work,” he said.

“We might need to move that a little bit outside of that space. One of the things that has shifted in our society over the last 50 years is the level at which people trust institutions of all kinds, not just religious institutions.”

Packard contends the “idea of building a community for a young person to walk into is just not going to have the same impact that it might have once had because not only young people but their parents are just less likely to trust those institutions to do that kind of work.”

“And so we’re going to have to do some more sort of like moving forward with this generation to have that same kind of impact and effect, we’re going to have to do some sort of outside of the walls,” he argued.

“I’m using walls here kind of metaphorically. … There are lots of Christian campus ministries, for example, who, I don’t know if they have offices or they’re just working outside of their house. Maybe they spend their entire time in coffee shops or out in public with young people, and so we start to see the engagement that places like that get, we start to see some of the pathways forward to retain the positive effect that religion has.”

Christian community living with brothers and sisters in Jesus’ Church

You are only complete in Christ in His Body which is His church, which is His community.

You can carry on with all your blather about being personal, between you and God can worship anywhere, blah, blah. This is sheer disingenuousness, i.e. you don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re just making it up.

That’s a dangerous, in the genuine sense, not the overworked phony sense of the world. You want to play with your eternal destiny and keep testing God? He told us what we needed to know, the Bible, yet, we continue to make it up and think we are the masters of our fate. So wrong and playing an eternally dangerous game.

Christian community can be problematic. Unfortunately you have too many people in the church, clergy and laity, who don’t know what they’re talking about. Jesus gathered together a few very close followers, then many hundreds, thousands of disciples of varying closeness. This is the church, this has been passed down and this is what will be raised up at the final judgment. If you’re not part of that you will not be judged to be saved. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book “Life Together” p 29 writes: “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer. With great yearning the imprisoned apostle Paul calls his ‘beloved son in the faith’, Timothy, to come to him in prison in the last days of his life (1Tim 1:2). He wants to see him again and have him near. Paul has not forgotten the tears Timothy shed during their final parting (2 Tim 1:4). Thinking of the congregation in Thessalonica, Paul prays ‘night and day … most earnestly that we may see you face to face’ (1 Thess 3:10) The aged John knows his joy in his own people will only be complete when he can come to them and speak to them face to face instead of using paper and ink (2 John 12). The believer need not feel any shame when yearning for the physical presence of other Christians, as if one were still living too much in the flesh. A human being is created as a body; the Son of God appeared on earth in the body for our sake and was raised in the body. In the sacrament the believer receives the Lord Christ in the body, and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected community of God’s spiritual – physical creatures. Therefore, the believer praises the Creator, the Reconciler and the Redeemer, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the bodily presence of other Christians.” (quoted in “A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer edited by Carla Barnhill p 308)

And it is within the Body of Christ, His Church that you are saved. You want to make your own rules and decide it’s all about your own personal preferences, likes and dislikes it will not go well with you. God has made it so that His people can be saved in the most magnanimous manner imaginable You turn down God’s offer of His Son, who gave His life for you in His Church, His Body, all for you. Your eternal fate is your own responsibility. You have no one to blame but yourself.

The peace of the Lord that surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Jesus. Amen.

The Fear of the Lord brings wholeness

“More Light on the Path, daily devotions”, makes a great observation about God and sin: “There is something crazy about the way we are afraid of God, the One who gives us life and whleness, but we aren’t afraid of sin, the thing that kills us. To reverse that order is to rightly fear the Lord.” (p 293)

If we are not in Jesus, sin will ultimately kill us, condemn us into eternal punishment. That’s the way it is. You may not like it, or think that somehow it doesn’t apply to you, but you are wrong..

Do we fear God? Yes, in the sense of respect, trust, we know He is entirely about giving us His eternal best. He already has in Jesus. You can keep putting your trust where it will lead you to doom. Or put it in Jesus who is the source of eternal life.

Prayer! The many benefits of prayer God gives us

Dr Catherine Hart Webber writes extensively on the effects of Christian practices and community. In an article in Christian Counseling Today (Vol 24 No. 2 p 48, 49) she discusses some of the positive effects of consistent prayer and also how we greatly benefit by being in community .

“Many scientific studies have proven the benefits of prayer and meditation. They increase trust and offset the adverse health effects of stress. Prayer and meditation calm the limbic, primitive reactive stress center in the brain. Just 12 minutes of focused prayer and meditation can have positive results. Those who intentionally use their minds to train their brains through daily prayer and meditation can literally go from an anxious, fearful mood state to another more peaceful, joyful one that can be seen on a brain scan.

Prayerful reflection on Scriptures like Psalm 23 helps train us to rest and trust in the great Shepherd. ‘The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love’ (Ps 23: 1-2, TPT)

Also, a simple breath prayer that you can speak in a single breath and repeat throughout the day can be extremely beneficial. An example breath prayer could go something like this: ‘With God as my shepherd, I have everything I need. And so, I can relax'”

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” Jeremiah 31: 25, ESV

…Research proves that we are better together and knowing that we are not alone. It is a beautiful thing when we can feel safe, be honest and share the truth of who we are. Attuned communication and confession communities allow one to ‘see that you see me.’ This type of sanctuary modulates fear, regulates the body, integrates the brain and leads to emotional balance.

Listeing and sharing together also releases oxytocin (the feel-good hormone), which lowers stress and perceived pain, increasing peace and joy. So do smiles, hugs, and holding hands. Who are the safe people and communities you do life with – those who calm, encourage and inspire?…”

Community, Jesus was about the whole community

There are people making the case that Christians need to pull out of the world.

I do understand their case. The world can spiritually damage even destroy people. It is too easy to be corrupted by the world. To be sure, just as a physically wounded person can’t be expected to run a marathon, maybe those who are spiritually debilitated need to stay within protection.

But that can’t be the case for most of us and certainly wasn’t the case for Jesus.

In his book “Life Together” pp 27-28 Dietrich Bonhoeffer makes the case: “Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies…So Christians, too, belong not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the midst of enemies. There they find their mission, their work. “To rule is to be in the midst of your enemies. And whoever will not suffer this does not want to be part of the rule of Christ; such a person wants to be among friends and sit among the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the religious people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been saved?’ (Luther).’Though I scattered them among the nations, yet in far countries they shall remember me’ (Zech 10:9) According to God’s will, the Christian church is a scattered people, scattered like seed ‘to all the kingdoms of the earth’ (Deut 28:25) That is the curse and its promise. God’s people must live in distant lands among the unbelievers, but they will be the seed of the kingdom of God in all the world.”

5 Steps to Become a Prayer Warrior

5 Steps to Become a Prayer Warrior

Heather Adams

| Contributing Writer


8 Mar

5 Steps to Become a Prayer Warrior

The title “prayer warrior” describes a Christian who has a strong affinity for and gifting in this area. Though all believers are called to pray, certain people turn to God more quickly and confidently in response to the ups and the downs of life. And they are willing to ask for others as well as themselves.

I’ve been blessed to know several prayer warriors in churches I’ve attended over the years. Each of them made lifting up praises and concerns a priority and a habit that was as natural as breathing. They all ended up doing a unique kind of ministry in and beyond the church walls.

What Does it Mean to Be a Prayer Warrior?

The word “warrior” usually conjures up an image of someone in a military uniform of some type, whether armor or fatigues. We picture them carrying offensive and defensive weapons. And we assume the person has been trained in fighting and hopefully in strategic thinking as well.

It might not seem like this image could be associated with prayer. But the Apostle Paul dedicated a section of his letter to the Ephesians to this analogy. He wanted us as followers of Christ to understand that we are indeed engaged in a war.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Paul goes on to list the pieces of armor and the weapons we have in Christ to overcome the enemy’s attacks. Then he finishes with an appeal for us to use prayer as a way to gain victory in battle.

Characteristics of a Prayer Warrior

The prayer warriors that I have known share a few similar traits:

– They are worshipful, seeking to glorify the Lord.

– They are God-centered, focused on His greatness and mercy.

– They are empathetic, able to meet and accept people where they are.

– They are persevering, determined to repeatedly lift up requests.

– They are loving, wanting to help bring about God’s will for others.

I’ve also noticed a mindset that these warriors tend to have:

They are alert and ready, being sensitive to needs and acting quickly.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).

They trust in God’s goodness, lifting up requests knowing He always answers.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

They submit to God, calling on Him with a sense of awe and expectation.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Prayer Warriors in the Bible

King David

“Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God” (Psalm 4:1).

King Jehoshaphat

“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).


“You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: ‘Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?’” (Jeremiah 8:18-19).


“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).


“…we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:11-12).

5 Ways to Become a Prayer Warrior

God may be calling you to become more of a prayer warrior in your church or family. Ask Him to confirm that in your heart. Let Him change your spirit and shift your attitudes to align with Him. Then, be obedient to do your part in the process:

1. Have More of a Hunger for God

“‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know’” (Jeremiah 33:3).

Warriors I’ve known absolutely love being in God’s Word and seek to be in His presence daily. They want to gain knowledge of Scripture to be able to speak it in their prayers. And they base their confidence partly on their own experiences with the Lord.

2. Have a Greater Desire to Be Used by God

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

I’ve seen people who were natural prayer warriors, and people who in time grew into the role. But all of them started with a love of prayer, and an eagerness to serve God. They didn’t have to know everything – they just had a stirring in their spirit to follow the Lord’s call.

3. Seek More of God’s Holy Spirit

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).

Even the most seasoned Christians find themselves not knowing what or how to pray on occasion. Warriors rely on the Holy Spirit to lead them. Even when they do have something in mind to lift up, they have the wisdom to ask the Spirit to join with them.

4. Feel a Greater Sense of Concern for Others

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).

Prayers are impactful when they are motivated by love. True warriors approach every request with care and respect. And they see the value in lifting up needs, whether they know the person being prayed for or not.

5. Learn How to Rely More on God for Strength and Endurance

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

A former pastor used to call prayer one of the “front line ministries” of our church. Those who become warriors learn quickly that it is both satisfying and demanding. So, to avoid burnout, they acknowledge God as the source for their ability and energy to do the work, and lean on Him rather than themselves.

God calls us to see prayer as a powerful tool – a way to relate with our Heavenly Father, a way to express our need for Him, a way to show the Lord devotion and trust, and as a tangible way to support others.

In addition, prayer warriors learn how to use prayer as an effective weapon in spiritual warfare. They make a lifestyle of turning to God, lifting up requests, waiting in expectation.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Related articles
How to Pray Through the Armor of God
Did You Know Jesus is Praying for You?
How Can We Embrace the Power of Prayer?

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Lemon_tm

Heather Adams is an author, speaker, and singer living in Connecticut. Heather’s passion is to equip and encourage believers to seek more of God’s truth and to experience more of His joy each day. Her book, Bow Down: The Heart of a True Worshipper is a practical, 30-day devotional about worship based on the writings of King David. Heather’s blog, Worship Walk Ministries, offers weekly Scripture passages and insights to ponder. A native New Englander, Heather is settling into her home in the South, trying out local foods and watching for the alligators that live nearby! You can connect with her on her website:

Our church life supports the lesser things in our life

This is an article by Michelle Sanchez, she is a professor at Harvard Divinity School, in Cambridge, Ma. She had a particularly difficult year. During that time she became the musician of her small Christian church. She relates how that experience during difficult times, also during normal times does so much to help us remember that while things in our life are important, our relationship to Christ’s church is the center of our life and stability in the chaos of the world, by maintaining our relationship with Jesus and His people:

…The increasingly common logic that sees things in terms of monetization and productivity renders church either grotesque or quaint. But I would wager against this logic that church continues to matter because it is the place of habits par excellence. In church, people read the same stories over and over again, say the same words over and over again, sing the same songs over and over again, with many of the same people, week in and week out for years, even decades.

…I appreciate it precisely for this relative oddity. I appreciate church for just how hard it is to live in a high- pressure professional setting and to give a clear account of why it is that I ‘still go”. Maybe because the incongruity embodied in all those people who are so different from me but who nonetheless get up and go there, too serves as a standing reminder both of how fragile all the ‘important’ things are and of what might remain when that fragility reveals itself…

…One might have expected that my church attendance would have taken a dive during this time; [a number of personal family crisis] I might have expected as much. After all, I’m not required to go. I don’t get paid, and it does nothing o advance my career. It’s not particularly recreational, nor is it relaxing in any ordinary sense. I very well might have been tempted to skip out on church during those troubled months, except for one fact: that August, right before the fateful 2014-2015 academic year began, the longtime pianist at my church moved away and left a vacancy…

…I grew up playing the piano in church. It’s a routine I know well; I know all the sons inside and out,…

…In many ways, though, it was precisely that additional ‘job’ that saved my sanity during such a hard year. There were so many weeks that it would have been tempting just to sleep in nor to spend those hours on Sunday with Netflix, in order to simply rest. But I couldn’t, because I had to be there. There had to be music. And in subtle ways that I didn’t appreciate at the time, being in that space meant being surrounded by loved ones, by people who shared certain habits but whose lives and struggles were also drastically different from my own. Being in that simple sanctuary every week, under the arched ceiling, before the cross, surrounded by the hum of friendly chaos, furnished me with a broader and more robust sense of self by de-centering my own central importance. When I played that music, my body became a conduit through which the bonds between all of the people gathered there – young and old, poor and less poor,…grew stronger as we sang together. While I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time the experience of sharing music with others turned out to be what I needed most during a time when everything else felt uncertain and shaky…

Living in the world as it is, no one has to go looking for pressures. They will find us. Demands and aspirations compete not only for our time, but also for our claims to identity; they ask us to be authentic, unique, innovative. As I navigate the opportunities, expectations, and challenges that confront me in my daily life, somehow church, with all of its flaws, stands out like Mark’s voice making me conscious that it’s all the things in between, all the habits taken for granted, that most fundamentally shape who we are. What I needed most in my hardest year was paradoxically, to be needed…”

I would submit whatever gift, in addition to music, will certainly give the same fulfillment. Our service in the church strengthens us to deal with the rigors of our other vocations. When we forget the church, we lost a significant support system in our life. – Jim Driskell

Harvard Divinity Bulletin Summer Autumn 2016 pp 13, 14, 15

Eleven Signs You Are Becoming a Church Consumer Instead of a Committed Church Member

by Thom S. Rainer
Founder & CEO

I am a church member. I teach a small group in my church. I occasionally preach when my pastor is out. I give to the church faithfully. I have been involved in other ministries in the church over the years.

But I sometimes start acting like a church consumer instead of a committed church member. Instead of focusing on others as 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 clearly demonstrate, I start acting like the church is supposed to serve me. I want to get my needs met. I want things a certain way for my family and me. My unholy trinity is me, myself, and I.

Tracking My Own Attitude and Behavior

Recently, I’ve started tracking my own attitude by going through a series of signs that my commitment to my church is not what it should be. Here are eleven signs that I am becoming a church consumer instead of a committed church member.

You know you are becoming a church consumer when:

  1. Your worship attendance becomes optional.
  2. You replace in-person attendance with digital attendance (though I fully understand that some people are unable to attend in-person).
  3. Your attendance to a small group is declining, or you stop attending completely.
  4. Your attitude toward your church is more critical.
  5. Your giving declines or stops.
  6. You critique sermons instead of listening prayerfully.
  7. You see church as a place to meet your needs instead of your meeting the needs of others.
  8. You move readily to another church when your needs are not met.
  9. You get frustrated at what other church members aren’t doing.
  10. You don’t pray for your church regularly.
  11. You don’t share the gospel.

Church Consumers Are Not Biblical

The local church is the dominant topic in the Bible after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Indeed, the entirety of the New Testament, from Acts 2 to Revelation 3, is either about the local church or written in the context of the local church.

The local church is God’s plan A, and he didn’t leave us a plan B.

I am a church member.

Sometimes I need to be reminded to act and think like one.