The Facebook Dream

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The other night, I had a strange dream. In this dream, I jumped onto Facebook and to my surprise my feed was full of stories about men who thought they were women, women who thought they were men, and even one guy who had his ears removed and otherwise altered himself so he could live as a dolphin.

What’s worse, there were pictures!

But then I woke up and discovered that it was not a dream at all. It was all true, every bit of it.

Even the dolphin guy.

Then I woke up spiritually and I realized that I was in a different world from the world I had known. In the world I had known, gasoline was 29 cents. In that world, men wore hats, and women wore dresses. There was no designated-hitter rule, and in that world I sang “Silent Night” and “The Dreidel Song” in public school Christmas concerts with my Jewish friends. In that world I had marched on the Fourth of July in my Cub Scout uniform while World War II veterans in their 40’s marched with us in civilian clothes, laughing and having a good time. I realized that the world I had known was really gone.

Suddenly I realized something else, too. I realized that Christians had stepped into an online mousetrap.

I saw that God’s people were discouraging and even defiling themselves by keeping tabs on the disintegration of society. They were studying with great earnestness all the latest shocking evils and sharing stories about these evils with their friends. Without knowing it, they were even causing their children to learn things adults didn’t yet know when I was a boy. They had forgotten the warnings of Scripture: David had said he would set no wicked thing before his eyes; Paul had said it was a shameful thing even to speak about the things that wicked people do in secret. But God’s people had become knowledgeable about many evils.

I remembered how Jesus said that because of iniquity the love of many would grow cold. But looking at iniquity, learning about iniquity, and getting enraged at iniquity was how we Christians were spending our moments of relaxation. The Bible and prayer had become neglected things for many, and instead of moving in the power of the Spirit, we were actually fighting against the Dolphin Guy with weapons that could never un-dolphin him. Much like Lot, sitting in the gates of that other Sodom, we were vexing our souls day and night instead of being refreshed in God’s Presence with Abraham.

Now fully awake, I had learned that what we needed was not to study the darkness and keep announcing its triumphs, but rather to shine the Light. That Light would help other people wake up, too.

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Prayer Priorities of a Leader, Part 2: Pray for People

How should leaders pray? And what does a real leader pray for and pray about? Let’s look at another prayer priority of a leader.

2. A leader prays for the maturity and sanctification of the people.

Don’t give up praying for people.

For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you his people. Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way; only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you.  (1 Samuel 12:22-24)

Notice that Samuel considers it a sin to cease to pray for them. This meant that he was in the habit of constantly praying for them, as well as instructing them in practical holiness.

Pray for people to mature by beholding Jesus.

In the New Testament Paul ties maturity to beholding Christ:

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know [or recognize or experience] what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places…  (Ephesians 1:15-20)

This may be the greatest of the “apostolic prayers,” as here we see Paul unveiling the priorities of God for our maturity. We can pray this prayer for people, as well as the prayer of Ephesians 3, and pray that they will mature by knowing Christ and walking in love.

Pray for people to seek to do the Lord’s Will.

Epaphras greets you, he being of you, a servant of Christ, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. (Colossians 4:12)

This speaks of wrong choices and a failure on the part of people to allow the Will of God to be the most important consideration. Therefore we need to pray that people will make good and godly choices.

Pray for people to be undefiled in heart.

Abstain from every appearance of evil. And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blamelessly at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:22-23)

Finally, a leader prays for the purity of people. When we think of purity we think of bodily purity, but Paul starts with the spirit and then the soul. God wants us to pray about attitudes and things in the heart. These are after all the things that result in our doing things which defile our body, for Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…”

Prayer Priorities of a Leader, Part 1: Pray for Yourself

Some of us lead in different areas of ministry, and some of us don’t think of ourselves as leaders at all. You may not have a formal position of leadership; however, each of us – no matter how young in the faith – is in a position to influence others. Even brand-new believers can influence other believers in a variety of ways. For example, simply by encouraging other people you can have a “Kingdom impact.”

With that in mind, I want to suggest some prayer priorities for leaders – things that will help us grow and help us to see others grow, too.

How should leaders pray? What does a real leader pray for and pray about? Let’s look together at five prayer priorities of a leader.

1. A Leader prays for himself and spends time with God

I praise You seven times a day because of Your righteous judgments.  (Psalms 119:164)

Sometimes we’re tempted to think we are being selfish by going to God for our own needs. But there’s nothing unspiritual about it – we all need grace and help for the challenges of life. Despite of his busyness, or more likely because of it, King David found he needed to take “praise breaks” throughout the day.

Leaders pray for themselves because they’ve come to see their own needs and wouldn’t dare minister to others without seeking God’s touch first.  The Romans had a saying: Nemo dat quod non habet – Nobody gives what he doesn’t have.

Jesus exemplified this “first things first” type of praying:  And He healed many who were sick of different diseases, and cast out many demons. And He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him. And rising up quite early in the night, He went out and went away into a deserted place, and He was praying there.  (Mark 1:34-5)

Many of us would have slept in after such a season in ministry, but the demands of life compelled Jesus to be even more sure to walk with His Father.  These demands were not an excuse to stop spending time with God, they were a reason to seek Him even more.

Reformation leader Martin Luther sought to apply this principle, too, and famously said, “Tomorrow I plan to work – work from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Wise leaders know they need prayer and are also humble enough to ask others to pray for them. Paul accomplished so much for the cause of Christ, but we can go through the New Testament and see how many times he asked people to pray for him.

Don’t be too proud to pray for yourself, or to ask people to pray for you!