Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Paul's Prayers, #8

8. Now we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong, not so that we may appear to have passed the test, but so that you may do what is right even if we may appear to have failed the test. (2 Cor. 13:7)

At first glance this seems to be a pastoral prayer, not a missions one. And in many ways it does come from Paul's pastor's heart. But just as Paul was ever the pastor, he also never stopped being a missionary.

His heart is this prayer was for them to do right - no matter how Paul and the other apostles looked. A church that knows the right thing and does it will be successful for the kingdom. First, just doing what's right will avoid the distractions that come when an individual or group sins. It will give more time to focus on ministry. Next, doing what's right will include the admonitions from Scripture to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27) and fulfill the Great Commission. So a church that does what is right will be a ministering church. Finally, a church that does what is right will follow John's admonition in 3 John to send out missionaries in a manner "worthy of God". So praying that the church would do right, not wrong, fits into Paul's larger missionary worldview.

How does this relate to becoming world Christians? It's so easy to overlook the obvious. If we want a missions-oriented church, we should be praying, among other things, for our churches to do no wrong and to do what is right. We should pray for our leaders to make wise decisions and avoid sin and temptations, and we should pray for hearts to do what is right. We should pray for our missionaries in the same manner. And we should do what's right ourselves and avoid what is wrong.

Prayer: Father, please help our churches do what is right. Give our leaders ears to hear and hearts to understand Your Word and how to apply it in the circumstances they face daily. Guide us to do what is right and obey the fullness of Your Word, and avoid the sins that would distract us from that mission.

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