Thanksgiving – The Key to Faithful Intercession
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Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 ESV
Welcome to our February 2016 First Friday Call to Prayer. Our aim is to provide you with teaching that we trust will be an encouragement to you. We will also provide you with praise items and prayer requests coming from within ANiC, ACNA and the Anglican Communion.
We encourage you to set aside the first Friday, February 5th, as a day of prayer and fasting for the Church in these critical days, ideally gathering with other believers in your parish or region for corporate prayer at some point in the day.
“Wherever the Church is aroused and the world’s wickedness arrested, somebody has been praying.”
A. T. Pierson 1837 – 1911
Thanksgiving – The Key to Faithful Intercession
The recent gathering of all the primates in the Anglican Communion at Canterbury, England was a historic event of great significance. As most of you will know, the future direction of the Communion was indeed at stake, and for the first time at such a gathering our ACNA primate, Archbishop Foley Beach, was in attendance. Much has been written on the outcome of this highly momentous event, and it is not my intent to add yet another report. But I would commend to you Bishop Charlie Master’s recent excellent reflections that were distributed via email last week. If you did not have a chance to read them, you can access them from ANiC’s website here. There are also important reports on the ACNA website (anglicanchurch.net) from our Primate and the GAFCON primates that are well worth the read.
As the reports began to appear and we were given a growing sense of the Lord’s presence at this gathering and the many answers to the prayers from literally all over the world, I found myself profoundly grateful to the Lord, both for his great faithfulness and for the amazing privilege that we were given to participate in the purposes of God through prayer. Quite frankly, I was overcome with a sense of awe and wonder at the great honour that the Lord has bestowed on his Church to partner with him through intercession.
But my awe and wonder began to turn to a measure of disappointment and dismay as I read some of the comments that people were posting in response to the Canterbury reports. Rather than rejoicing in answered prayer, some were criticizing our leadership and complaining that the outcomes of the meetings were not punitive enough for the Episcopal Church, and that the GAFCON primates had not been as strong as they should have been, etc, etc.
Whatever our hoped for or expected outcome might have been, I believe that our responsibility as intercessors is to express thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father who sovereignly ruled upon the proceedings. He knows the myriad of things that he accomplished in the hearts of all those involved in the meetings, the vast majority of which we will never know, or need to know. If we lose our sense of gratitude and begin to dissect the immediately visible results of our prayer, bitterness and cynicism may easily overtake us.
The Old Testament history of Israel documents too many occasions when grateful hearts were replaced by murmuring and complaining: “The water’s bitter . . . why did you bring us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness . . . we’d have been better off if we’d never left…” Despite all they had seen in Egypt, culminating in their supernatural deliverance from the pursuing armies of the Pharaoh, when circumstances became difficult in the desert, they began to grumble. “What have you done for us lately?” was their common cry. Whenever we lose our attitude of thankfulness, like Israel, we often cut ourselves off from God and all that He provides, and we can so easily lose our zeal for prayer.
The apostle Paul knew this so well. Look at his exhortation to the new believers in Colossae:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:15-17 ESV
Three times in these three verses Paul emphasizes the vital importance of thankfulness: “ . . . And be thankful . . . with thankfulness in your hearts to God . . . giving thanks to God the Father.” His emphasis here through repetition reveals the great importance of this principle. Not being one to simply exhort without “walking the walk”, Paul demonstrates, after being flogged and thrown into the Philippian prison, his commitment to having a thankful heart in the midst of dire circumstances:
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
Acts 16:25 ESV
No doubt the other prisoners who were listening were amazed at the apostles’ attitude of thanksgiving, despite the torture and hardship they had experienced. This is such an important principle for us as intercessors to learn. A thankful heart is one that trusts – trusts in the sovereign reign of Christ over his church, trusts in spite of adversity or seeming defeat. A trusting, thankful heart will carry us on to continue to pray, as pray we must.
In his recent reflections, Bishop Charlie made this passionate request:
“And so friends in the Anglican Network in Canada, this is a renewed call to prayer. Pray that this will be a beginning; that God will do a great work of restoring and reviving and then using for his purposes this thing called the Anglican Communion. Pray too that God will renew, restore and revive us in ANiC. And as we pray, let us recognize the importance of the task which God has given us to "build Biblically faithful, gospel-sharing Anglican churches" and zealously focus on the five priorities which we are praying will become a transformational reality in every ANiC congregation, more and more.
“Thank you for your prayers. Now let's turn our hearts to even more prayer and ‘forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,’ let us ‘press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’.”
Philippians 3:13b - 14
Let us take up Bishop Charlie’s request for prayer with joy and resolve. There is yet much to see accomplished in the Anglican Communion. We have just seen the beginning. May the Lord Jesus bring renewal to our Communion, our diocese and our parishes, and may he bring a great awakening to the nations of the world. Amen!
Canon Garth V. Hunt
For faithful Anglican primates, bishops, clergy and laity – throughout the Communion – who are standing for truth even when their stand for Christ and His Word makes them targets of attack. Especially we praise the Lord for the faithful witness expressed by the GAFCON primates at the recent Canterbury meetings.
For God’s will to be done and for His Name to be glorified in the aftermath of Primates’ meetings. May God grant repentance and revival as we humbly seek Him with whole hearts.
For our primate Archbishop Foley Beach (& Allison) - Pray for great wisdom, discernment, courage and strength as he gives leadership to ACNA in the days and months ahead.
For Bishop Charlie Masters (& Judy) – Pray for our diocesan bishop as he leads ANiC. May God give him wisdom and vision for what the outcome of the Primates’ meetings means for ANiC. Pray also for spiritual protection, and spiritual and physical renewal.
For Bishop Don Harvey (& Trudy) – Pray for Bishop Don in his roles as ANiC’s episcopal vicar and senior chaplain to the ACNA College of Bishops.
For ANiC’s suffragan bishops: Stephen Leung (& Nona) and Trevor Walters (& Dede). Pray for discernment, energy and grace as they care for their clergy and congregations. Also pray for Bishops Ron Ferris (church planting in Langley, BC) and Malcolm Harding (retired in Brandon, MB).
For our Archdeacons: the Venerables Ron Corcoran (Vancouver Island), Dan Gifford (BC), Bruce Chamberlayne (Alberta & BC Interior), Paul Charbonneau (Ontario), Tim Parent (Ottawa Valley), Paul Crossland (Prairies), Michael McKinnon (New England, USA), and Darrell Critch (Atlantic Region & Quebec) – and our Dean of Multicultural Ministries, the Very Rev Dr Archie Pell.
For a major awakening, a sovereign move of God in our churches and across our nations like has not been seen in our lifetimes. Rise Up, O God we pray. Intervene, O Lord, in the midst of our decaying culture and society! Raise up an army of intercessors who will call out to you for a mighty visitation of your power and presence!
For all ANiC clergy and families, especially those experiencing spiritual and physical attack.
For the ANiC congregations that are meeting in temporary rental facilities. May God comfort and pour out His blessing on them, giving them solid hope for the future.
For the Anglican Relief and Development Fund Canada (ARDFC) as it raises funds for farming tools, seeds, goats and agricultural training to address malnutrition and extreme poverty in 3 villages in Burundi - as well as for emergency aid appeals for Syrian Refugees, Myanmar flood relief, and earthquake relief in Nepal.
For Canon Andrew White and his ministry team in the Middle East. Pray for courage, safety and the provision of basic needs for them and the people that they serve.
For those who serve us and are in authority over us – our police forces, our armed forces, our emergency responders, our municipal elected officials, our provincial MLAs, MPPs and premiers, and our federal MPs and Prime Minister as a new government is formed.
For God’s wisdom for world’s leaders with regard to the Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and other troubled nations. Pray for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are seeking safety and asylum in Europe and here in Canada. Pray for those churches and communities that are welcoming refugees that they may be a witness to God’s compassionate care, both by what they say and do.
Pray for protection of innocent civilians – adults and children – who so often are the victims in today’s warfare. Pray especially for the many Middle East and African Christians who are brutally persecuted for their refusal to renounce their faith in Jesus.
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