Prayer Ministry

The goal of the Prayer Ministry at FPC is a church filled with people who listen to God, who are growing in faith, love, and obedience, and who pray continually about everything with confidence that God is hearing their prayers and answering them. The Prayer Ministry organizes seminars on prayer, encourages people to pray, coordinates FPC’s participation in the National Day of Prayer, and has opened a prayer room in the South Chapel. For more information, contact Prayer Ministry coordinator Sonja West, sonja@nutley.org.
 

Submit a Prayer Request

You can use our easy submission form to submit a prayer request.
 

Thoughts on Prayer

“These I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” —Isaiah 56:7
 
“Prayer is our side of the friendship we experience in our relationship with Almighty God.” —Earl Palmer
 
“What if God does not demand prayer as much as gives prayer?  What if God wants prayer in order to satisfy us?  What if prayer is a means of God nourishing, restoring, healing, converting us?  Suppose prayer is primarily allowing ourselves to be loved, addressed and claimed by God.  What if praying means opening ourselves to the gift of God’s own self and presence?  What if our part in prayer is primarily letting God be giver?  Suppose prayer is not a duty but the opportunity to experience healing and transforming love?” —Martin Smith

Prayer Updates

 

Scriptures for Revival Pamphlet Available for Download

As we pray for revival during the coming year, we’ve compiled key scriptures about revival into a single document, allowing you to easily access them for reflection, study, and prayer. You can download the document here.


Prayer for Revival on Sunday Mornings

Join us on Sunday mornings at 9:45 am in Middleton Parlor through August 20 as we pray for revival. Contact  Sonja West for more info.


Sunday, April 16—He is Risen!

This study on Christ’s walk to the cross and atonement comes to a close today, as we celebrate His resurrection and our salvation. As Christians, we are well aware of the significance of the event recognized by this annual holiday. When Christ died and rose again, He fulfilled God’s merciful plan for our redemption. He addressed our inability to atone for our sins personally, and He provided us with a specific process that grants us access to His forgiveness—accept Christ as our savior, confess and repent for our sins, and accept His pardon. When performed sincerely, these actions prepare the path for our walk to Heaven. What a glorious day Easter is, and what a wonderful gift it gives to us!
 
So we will provide a series of scriptural passages today in hopes that they will capture the true spirit of Easter for you, making this year a time of special connection for you.
 
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered His words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.” (Luke 24:1-12, New Revised Standard Version)
 
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, Revised Standard Version)
 
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Revised Standard Version)
 
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews. 9:11-14, Revised Standard Version)
 
“You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake… For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on His lips. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten; but He trusted to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:18-20 and 2:21-25, Revised Standard Version)
 

Prayer Suggestion

The following prayer of adoration and responsive prayer for Easter come from the Common Book of Worship. Read them out loud to make them more meaningful and present in your consciousness. Then lift up your own prayer of thanksgiving that Christ has risen and saved us from eternal damnation.
 

Prayer of Adoration

“Glory to you, O God: on this day you won victory over death, raising Jesus from the grave and giving us eternal life. Glory to you, O Christ: for us and for our salvation you overcame death and opened the gate to everlasting life. Glory to you, O Holy Spirit: you lead us into the truth. Glory to you, O Blessed Trinity, now and forever. Amen.
 

Responsive Prayer for Easter

O Christ, in your resurrection, the heavens and the earth rejoice. Alleluia! By your resurrection you broke open the gates of hell, and destroyed sin and death.
Keep us victorious over sin.
 
By your resurrection you raised the dead, and brought us from death to life.
Guide us in the way of eternal life.
 
By your resurrection you confounded your guards and executioners, and filled the disciples with joy.
Give us joy in your service.
 
By your resurrection you proclaimed good news to the women and apostles, and brought salvation to the whole world.
Direct our lives as your new creation.
     Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), p. 315.


Saturday, April 15—The Time of Waiting

Holy Saturday also is called the Easter Vigil, the Paschal Vigil, or the Great Vigil of Easter. It is a time of transition and waiting. We shift our attention from Christ’s death on the cross toward Easter and the glory of His resurrection.
 
Luke 23:50-56 provides one account of what occurred originally. “Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathe′a. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid Him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how His body was laid; then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” (Revised Standard Version)
 
The fact that Christ did not rise on Saturday is a topic for theological scholars, but one idea seems worth mentioning here. Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath and represented very specific things regarding the relationship between God and humans. Even the people who took Christ’s body, prepared it, and placed it in the tomb, rested on that day in accordance with the Sabbath laws. Christ’s death was a new beginning, however, and new practices were warranted. Because Christ rose on Sunday, Christians worship on the day of His resurrection, not according to the historical Jewish Sabbath.
 
This does not mean, however, that Holy Saturday is just another day in Holy week. It is far more than that. First, today marks the 40th day of the traditional Lenten fast. The number 40 has deep significance throughout the Bible, and it seems entirely reasonable to dedicate a 40-day period each year to preparing for Christ’s resurrection. When Lent was established, it intentionally included Holy Saturday, rather than concluding on Good Friday.
 
Furthermore, by having a day between Christ’s death and resurrection, we have time to wait at the Lord’s tomb, as His followers did originally. We can medicate on His life and death. We can use prayer, meditation, fasting, and other approaches to await the arrival of Easter. We wait, as Christ’s Mother Mary did, for His victorious triumph. In the Catholic Church, “this faithful and prayerful symbolic waiting has been called the Ora della Madre or Hour of the Mother,” according to ChurchYear.net. Scripture specifically points out that we should await the resurrection the way a grieving Mother who had complete faith in God’s redemptive powers and plan to bring us to His side after death would do—with reverence and anticipation.
 
Finally, as we know for the “Apostles’ Creed,” “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.” Clearly, God’s plan called for Christ to face Satan directly proving that God had triumphed over evil permanently. So one day of waiting that permitted such an important accomplishment certainly is worthwhile.
 
“Apostles’ Creed,” Christian Reformed Church, https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/creeds/apostles-creed
 
References: “Holy Saturday: Holy Saturday History, Information, Prayers, Images, Traditions, and More,” http://www.churchyear.net/holysaturday.html
 

Prayer Suggestion

The following information comes from the Common Book of Worship, and it describes the traditional service for the Great Easter Vigil in detail. Note that the process has very specific components that relate to God’s plan for His children, Christ’s purpose and life, and the future of God’s relationship with mankind. After reviewing this information, take a moment to pray that God will make this time of transition particularly meaningful to you this year.
 

First Service of Easter

“The Great Vigil of Easter is the brightest jewel of Christian liturgy traced to early Christian times. It proclaims the universal significance of God’s saving acts in history through four related services held on the same occasion, and consists of:
 

Service of Light

The service begins in the darkness of night. In kindling new fire and lighting the paschal candle, we are reminded that Christ came as a light shining in darkness (John 1:5). Through the use of fire, candles, words, movement, and music, the worshiping community becomes the pilgrim people of God following the ‘pillar of fire’ given to us in Jesus Christ, the light of the world. The paschal candle is used throughout the service as a symbol for Jesus Christ. This candle is carried, leading every procession during the vigil. Christ, the light of the world, thus provides the unifying thread to the service.
 

Service of Readings

The second part of the vigil consists of a series of readings from the Old and New Testaments. These lessons provide a panoramic view of what God has done for humanity. Beginning with creation, we are reminded of our delivery from bondage in the exodus, of God’s calling us to faithfulness through the cry of the prophets, of God dwelling among us in Jesus Christ, and of Christ’s rising in victory from the tomb. The readings thus retell our ‘holy history’ as God’s children, summarizing the faith into which we are baptized.
 

Service of Baptism

In the earliest years of the Christian church, baptisms commonly took place at the vigil. So this vigil includes baptism and/or the renewal of the baptismal covenant. As with the natural symbol of light, water plays a critical role in the vigil. The image of water giving life-nurturing crops, sustaining life, and cleansing our bodies—cannot be missed in this part of the vigil. Nor is the ability of water to inflict death in drowning overlooked. Water brings both life and death. So also there is death and life in Baptism, for in Baptism we die to sin and are raised to life. Baptism unites believers to Christ’s death and resurrection.
 

Service of the Eucharist

The vigil climaxes in a joyous celebration of the feast of the people of God. The risen Lord invites all to participate in the new life He brings by sharing the feast which He has prepared. We thus look forward to the great Messianic feast of the kingdom of God when the redeemed from every time and place ‘will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God’ (Luke 13:29). The vigil thus celebrates what God has done, is doing, and will do.”
     Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), pp. 294-295.


Friday, April 14—It is Finished

Today is Good Friday, but it’s very difficult to remember this day as being good when we annually take the time to remind ourselves of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. Fortunately, we understand that this day is named not to represent Christ’s death but the beginning of the three-day transformation that led to His resurrection, which surely is the most “good” event in the history of mankind.
 
Let’s start today’s study by considering how cataclysmic Christ’s death on the cross was—how it was evidenced not only by the onsite witnesses who watched Him accept the burden of mankind’s sins from the beginning to the end of time, but also as described in the passage below, Christ’s passing affected all aspects of God’s creation.
 
“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with Him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27: 51-54, Revised Standard Version)
 
If Christ had walked with us just as a teacher, His death would have been tragic and such dramatic reactions to it would have been completely reasonable. We would probably not be commemorating Good Friday today, though. Instead, we would be honoring the life and death of the only sin-free man to ever live—a man who taught us so much about God’s expectations for our lives. So we probably would call today Black Friday as a sign of our loss.
 
Of course, that’s not what happened. Christ’s death on the cross wasn’t the end; it was a beginning—a beginning to an entirely new approach to having a relationship with God. The good news is that because Christ died, He now provides the connection we need with God, Christ’s death pays the debt for our sins over and over again. His death was the ultimate atonement, and it is effective across all generations.
 
Justin Holcomb describes the importance of Good Friday quite well. “The cross is where we see the convergence of great suffering and God’s forgiveness.”
 
So what should we think and feel today? Sadness and grief are reasonable responses to Christ’s death. After all, the sins of mankind caused God to make a choice. Either we would each be faced with the impossible requirement to atone for our own sins, or God would have to offer us an alternative path to redemption. God chose to be merciful and to send His son to pay our price. Nevertheless, we should feel responsible that Christ’s death became necessary because we fell so short of God’s expectations for us.
 
At the same time, however, we should start to look ahead to Easter now. We recognize that this heartrending event actually opens a door to new life for all of us who are willing to step through it.
 
“We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” (Romans 6: 4-5, Revised Standard Version)
 
Reference: “What’s So Good about Good Friday?,” Justin Holcomb, http://www.christianity.com/god/jesus-christ/what-s-so-good-about-good-friday.html
 

Prayer Suggestion

Consider this prayer that summarizes the reality of Good Friday and express your thoughts and thanks to God in your follow-up prayer.
 
“Merciful God, you gave your Son to suffer the shame of the cross. Save us from hardness of heart, that, seeing Him who died for us, we may repent, confess our sin, and receive your overflowing love, in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
     Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), p. 282.



 
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