Southern Baptists have been called to prayer in preparation for our annual meeting in Dallas next week. What are we praying? I surely don't know the substance of those many prayers. Neither do you. But, God does. Right now I'm praying for agreement in what seems to be the most divisive meeting in our recent history.
Agreement in prayer is significant but difficult for us humans. Jesus said, "Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven" (Matthew 18:19, ESV). It's always been interesting to me that Jesus chose such a graphic Greek word in depicting the concept of agreement. He spoke the Greek compound "sumphoneo", literally "one sound or one voice" as a qualifier to this kind of prayer. It's more vivid to us, two thousand + years later because linguists have used that same term to define a symphony orchestra. That is, many diverse instruments playing the same musical score. To pray "sumphoneo" is, at least in my limited understanding, praying with a deep sense of unity. And, that's a hard one for the human species, even believers. We all have our preferences, biases, favorite candidates, pet issues, theological leanings, and Scriptural applications, to mention a few of our personal distinctives. Finding one voice in prayer is a trip wire that hinders our prayers so much of the time.
The Apostle Paul wrote about this human dilemma, that is, praying in agreement. To the church at Rome he wrote---
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray
for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep
for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit,
because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27, ESV
Praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit seems to be the first priority in our prayers for #SBC18. Jesus promised that the Comforter will "...guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16:13, ESV). Furthermore, Jesus said,
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26, ESV). Certainly the Holy Spirit who lives in believers will guide and direct our prayers so that agreement can characterize them.
There's another profound work of the Holy Spirit that may be set aside by many of us as we pray for our meeting next week. Jesus said, "And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8, ESV). And, that is a prayer request that should be at the forefront of our prayers right now. It's why I am praying prayers of humility and repentance as our messengers gather. Many of our corporate sins are front page news right now. Having humble hearts and repenting of these sins should perhaps be our first order of business.
I'm not attending #SBC18. But, I'm praying prayers of humility and repentance because pride and arrogance often hinder my prayers daily. What am I praying? Psalm 51: 7-13 is a prayer of David that resonates with me today.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
Egonomics is learning the management of self. In a larger context it is learning biblical guidance in our corporate lives, in churches, denominations, agencies, institutions, and even in our meetings. Corporate egonomics, however, begins in the heart of every believer joined into that corporate body. Which means, it begins in me.
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