July-August 2017

From the Pastor's study

Over the last few months, some Elders, Deacons and staff have been attending a study developed by ECO entitled, “Becoming a Flourishing Church.” The six week study has as its foundational premise the following: “Flourishing churches are led by flourishing leaders who are flourishing disciples.”

At one point in the study, we were required to develop a personal, specific, intentional, and achievable plan to flourish as a disciple. Of course, the plan would be different for each person, as we are all at different points on our walk with Christ, and thus our needs will vary. But once again, if the church leadership is not composed of committed followers of Christ, maturing in faith, and continuing in an ever-deepening relationship with him, then it is likely that the congregation will not follow in the same pursuit.

Martin Luther is clearly a wonderful example of the truth of this. Luther has been the focus of much attention this year because it is the 500
th anniversary of his posting his “95 Theses” on the church door in Wittenberg, thus setting off a firestorm of Reformation. It is simply astounding how much this man accomplished for the Kingdom! And yet, he would be the first person to admit that it was God working through him – and largely through the vehicle of prayer. Luther would spend up to four hours a day in prayer – that’s the power behind his success!

For a very long time, Luther’s barber and one of Luther’s best friends, Peter Beskendorf, watched Luther and observed Luther’s commitment to flourishing as a disciple through prayer. In fact, at Beskendorf’s request, Luther wrote a small book on how to pray–
A Simple Way to Pray. It is filled with solid guidance as to how Luther grew in prayer and how the Lord worked so powerfully through his prayers. It shows how Luther used the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Psalms as stepping stones to effective, meaningful, Spirit-filled prayer.

“To this day,” he wrote, “I suckle at the Lord’s Prayer like a child, and as an old man eat and drink from it and never get my fill. It is the very best prayer, even better than the Psalter, which is so very dear to me. It is surely evident that a real master composed and taught it. What a great pity that the prayer of such a master is prattled and chattered so irreverently all over the world!” His recorded prayers in this little book, based upon the teachings of the Master, are a rich feast indeed, and a guide for any disciple who seeks to flourish in Christ.

On the Journey with You,
Dr. Wm. J. Maxwell, Pastor