Praying for Your Church

One of the things I’ve learned in my past year of ministry is that it’s not very much a job in the typical sense of the word. My last job I worked from 7 until 4 and then left my job there and tried not to think about it until the next day when I would begin work again. Now when I go home I’m generally thinking about issues related to church, reading books about church or spending time with people from church. This bothered me at first-even my personal times of prayer were dominated by praying for the church. God has recently been revealing to me that this should be the pattern for everyone in the church. We all should be praying for the church.

Many of Paul’s letters have this theme in them, “without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers,” Romans 1:9-10, “I give thanks to my God always for you,” 1 Corinthians 1:4, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,” Ephesians 1:16, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,” Philippians 1:3-4, “we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,” Colossians 1:3, “we give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,” 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” 1 Timothy 2:1, “I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day,” 2 Timothy 1:3, and finally, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers” Philemon 4. Reading trough this list I think it’s safe to say that Paul both modeled and encouraged prayer among the disciples for the body.

How can we pray for the body around us? The most obvious answer to that is to pray that God will keep us from sin. The world is constantly bombarding us with temptations to give in to sin (2 Corinthians 13:7, Hebrews 13:18). The second thing we can pray for the body is for physical healing (James 5:14). A third thing we can pray for in the body to grow in the wisdom and understanding of God, which means maturity (Colossians 1:9). One thing I don’t always see people understanding is that this also needs to be prayed for pastors and leaders in the church.

Paul repeatedly asks for prayer for where God is leading him (2 Thessalonians 3:1, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:1). And the most explicit example is in 1 Timothy 2 where Paul writes, “I urge that supplications prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way,” (italics mine). Pray for the pastors, elders and deacons who are in your church that we may faithfully lead the people that God has entrusted to us. May all of us remember to pray for our churches that God’s name may be made great and He would get all the glory.

“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.”

Romans 8:26

EFCA Theology Conference Session 5

The Witness of Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles – Robert Gagnon

Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10

Romans 1:24-27: Opposed to some, or all, forms of same-sex intercourse?

Three main arguments made to discount Romans 1:24-27

  1. The exploitation argument: Paul only knew of exploitative forms of homosexual practice in his culture
  2. The orientation argument: Paul had no concept of a homosexual orientation
  3. The misogyny argument: Paul feared homosexual practice would upset male dominance over women

The plot structure of Romans 1:18-32

Stage 1. God’s power and divinity is manifested in creation

Stage 2. Humans suppress the truth and foolishly exchange

Stage 3. God’s wrath is manifested in giving over humans to self-degrading desires

Stage 4. These sinful deeds merit death

Intertextual echoes to Genesis 1:26-27

References to creation and Creator

Rom 1:23 echoes Genesis 1:26

Romans 1:26-27 echoes Genesis 1:27

The point of these echoes – idolatry and same-sex intercourse together constitute a frontal assault on the work of the Creator in nature, those who suppressed the truth about God visible in creation they went on to suppress the truth about themselves visible in nature

The argument from nature

The truth about God is visible and apparent in material creation (1:19-20)

The truth about God’s will for sex is visible in our gendered bodies (26-27)

Pagans do not have to have Genesis or Leviticus to be held accountable for this knowledge, they are “without excuse”

Innate desires are unreliable guides

The mention of lesbian intercourse in Romans 1:26

The mention of mutual gratification in Romans 1:27

The conception and practice of caring homosexual relationships in antiquity

Absolute nature arguments in the Greco-Roman world

Why Paul is not saying, “Don’t judge homosexual practice”

The one whom you obey, that it your Lord. Don’t say with your mouth that you follow God but then continue to serve sin, that is your Lord

What even scholars supportive of homosexual unions admit

1 Corinthians 6:9 (& 1 Tim 1:10) Opposed to some, or all, forms of male-male intercourse?

Meaning of malakoi “soft men”

Meaning of arsenokoitai “Men who lie with a male”

The Bible’s alleged ignorance of sexual orientation

Grego-Roman theories of a congenital basis for some homoerotic attraction

Differences with contemporary theories and beside this point

Did Paul get “nature” confused?

What even scholars supportive of homosexual unions affirm

The Bible’s Alleged Misogynistic Bias against Homoerotic Unions

Ignoring concerns for structural complementarity in ancient texts

Absoluteness of Bible’s prohibition suggest priority of gender over status

Women’s liberation as a stimulus for opposing all male homosexual unions

An absurd corollary

View of women in the Bible fares well relative to its cultural environment