“Caring for One Another: A Life of Prayer” (Pt. 2)
June 28, 2015
Loneliness is an age-old problem, and in Japan one restaurant has come up with a novel solution. The owners of Tokyo’s Moomin House Café observed many customers who came alone and sat alone. So they set about to cultivate a lonely-friendly environment by working a little “anti-loneliness magic.” The café’s solution?
To save its lone customers from the awkward perils of solo dining, the cafe kindly seats diners with stuffed animal companions called Moomins, a family of white hippo-like characters created by Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson. Moomins are brought to each table so that patrons — solo or in groups — can have a turn sitting with them.…[And] weekends are packed all day long. [“Japan’s ‘anti-loneliness’ cafe goes viral,” accessed 7/22/14.]
Now I may be an exception, but I think sitting with a large stuffed animal at the table will make me feel more lonely and advertize even more loudly — “He’s alone!” But that’s just me…
The problem of loneliness is a real one in our culture. And it is a real experience even in the church. A generation ago, A. W. Tozer was one of the most prominent and influential pastors in this country; yet after his death, his wife said: “My husband was so close to God, a man of such deep prayer, always on his knees, that he could not communicate with me or our family. No one knew what a lonely life I had, especially after the kids left home.” An even greater tragedy in that story is that shortly before his death, Tozer commented to another pastor, “I’ve had a lonely life.”
Unfortunately, Tozer’s loneliness was rooted in some unbiblical thinking. He wrote, “Most of the world’s great souls have been lonely. Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.” And, “the loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world.” I want to be respectful of the man, but that’s just wrong. And it led to unnecessarily poor and lonely relationships for both Tozer and his wife. How tragic.
It is especially tragic because Tozer was a leader in the very organism God has designed to minister to the relational needs of people — the church. We need each other, and the church is the place where that need is fulfilled.
At GBC, my perception is that we do a pretty good job, generally, of caring for one another. But for some time, the elders have been concerned about cultivating a greater sense of love and community in our church body. So one of the things that we planned was to make some changes to our Sunday morning worship time in the fall (which we will be talking about more in coming weeks). But even more than those program changes, we want to deepen the culture of community and fellowship here. So I planned to do a 4-part series of sermons on community and relationships on communion Sundays during the summer; and that has now been expanded into a longer series of sermons as we make our way through Paul’s introductory remarks in Romans 1 — a section in which Paul models how a church cares for one another through:
- A Life of Prayer (vv. 8-10)
- A Life of Service (vv. 11-14)
- A Life of Gospel Preaching (vv. 15-17)
We began considering how we pray for one another last Sunday. Here’s what Paul says:
Believers who care for one another pray for one another.
What will those prayers be like? In these three verses, Paul models six attributes of a growing prayer life. If we care for one another, we will pray for one another, and when we pray for one another, these are six attributes that will be present in our prayers.
- The Content of Prayer: Gratitude (v. 8a)
- The Object of Prayer: God (v. 8b)
- The Authentication of Prayer: Gospel Desires (v. 9a)
- The Frequency of Prayer: Regular (v. 9b)
- The Submission of Prayer: God’s Will (v. 10a)
- The Desire of Prayer: Service (v. 10b)
Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 1:8-10.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.