Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 17, 1970

My Prayer For The Church


Jefferson David Tant

Paul, in writing letters to various churches, often expressed his desires for them. To the Colossians he wrote: "... we. . . do not cease to pray and make request for you. . ." (1:9-12). Upon the church at Thessalonica he pronounced a moving benediction: "Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you: and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another and toward all men, even as we also do toward you; to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints" (I Thess. 3:11-13). I am sure that every gospel preacher has such feelings concerning those with whom he labors, and in this article I would like to share my feelings with the readers of the Guardian, as I did in a lesson recently delivered to the Embry Hills congregation where I labor in the Word. Perhaps some of the readers can have a new understanding and insight into the thinking and actions of at least one gospel preacher.

I Pray For A Church Built On Truth

The church is to be built on the foundation of Truth, Christ himself being the personified Truth and living Word of God (John 1: I, 14; 14:6). Paul writes of the church being built on this foundation, and warns us to take heed how we build on that foundation (I Cor. 3:9-11). As any builder will tell you, the only way to build a sound structure is to start with a good foundation, and then follow its outline explicitly. Our outline (pattern and blueprint) has been given, and it is to be followed (Heb. 8:5), even as we are encouraged to follow the steps of Christ: ". . . he that sank he abided) in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked" (1 John 2:6).

This is what separates us from the denominations — those churches of men who revere the Bible only as a book to put on the shelf. This is why we constantly urge people to be faithful in attendance, to take an active interest in Bible classes, to read and study, and to make the Bible a part of their daily lives, for we cannot get to heaven without a knowledge and understanding of the truth. It is the truth that makes us free (John 8:32). We do not urge people to attend merely for the sake of numbers, but numbers represent people, and people are souls.

In our concern for the truth, we must remember to zealously guard it, and be merciless in prosecution of error, that truth not fall by the wayside in the dust of indifference and compromise. Solomon said: "Buy the truth, and sell it not" (Prov. 23:23).

I Pray For A Church Full Of Love

Love is the badge of our discipleship, for Christ said: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). I was once a Rotarian, and wore a badge so identifying me. In like manner we cannot be a disciple or follower of Christ without this badge of love. Nor can we hope to go to heaven without love. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen" (I John 3:20). "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (I John 3:15).

The Psalmist declared how love makes for happiness in our work together: "Behold; how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133:1). How wonderful for brethren to work together rather than at cross purposes. How wonderful when you don't have to watch every word, lest someone seize it and turn it against you. How wonderful if you don't have to be afraid someone will get offended if you miss speaking to him in a crowd. How wonderful when each one knows that every other person is genuinely interested in the well-being and happiness of fellow Christians. We are admonished to have "the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through faction or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others" (Phil. 2:2-4). In such an environment, there is no one to cut throats, or to stab in the back.

Love is the cure for every kind of spiritual ailment you can think of. Man has long been interested in any kind of "cure-all," and it is amusing to read some of the old ads for various patent medicines and other cures. One such ad in an 1898 copy of Gospel Advocate read: "Fits stopped free — Positive cure for all Nervous Diseases, Fits, Epilepsy, Spasms and St. Vitus' Dance. No fits or nervousness after first day's use." Sounds great, doesn't it? Another ad touted the healing qualities of the World Renowned Dr. Homes' Electric Belt, that promised to cure (without medicines) rheumatism, catarrh, asthma, spinal diseases, torpid liver, sleeplessness, pains in back and limbs, and all weaknesses in men and women, plus a host of other ailments named in the ad. As farfetched as it all sounds, we do know that there is a sure-fire, guaranteed "cure-all" for every spiritual ailment, and it is

"Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him" (I Cor. 13:4-7, LIVING NEW TESTAMENT).

When we love someone, we want them to do right, because we want what is best for them, and I strive to allow this to be the guiding principle in my preaching, whether the hearers consider it soft or hard. I want what is right for all.

I Pray For A Church Working Together For The Lord

Working is an essential activity for Christians. What is the purpose of our creation in Christ Jesus? Good works (Eph. 2:10). How is the church built up? By the working of the members (Eph. 4:16). How did Paul have such success in his life? By hard labor (Acts 20:18-21, 31). Is it possible that the church has more members than it does workers? Luke 10:2 suggests the possibility: "The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. . ." Out of a congregation of 100 members, how many will convert one soul in a year's time? Or how many will really work towards this goal? If the truth were known, the number is usually embarrassingly low. Yes, I know some work who have no results to show for it, but are all satisfied with their efforts? Be honest, now. Brethren, work is essential to our salvation (Phil. 2:12; James 2:24).

There is no way we can get to heaven by resting on our baptism, or on our good church attendance and clean living. An engine is faulty and hindered if only half of the cylinders are working, and the same is true with a church that is trying to operate on the output of only a fraction of its members. Thus my prayer is that all may contribute rather than hinder, that all may be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.

I Pray For A Church That Is An Example To Others

Herein Paul commended the church at Thessalonica. The church had become an example to all that believed in Macedonia and Achaia because of their part in sounding forth the Word; because they had a reputation for their faith; because they were known for their righteous living; and because they were recognized for their obvious zeal for the Lord (1 Thess. 1:6-10). Barnes makes some worthwhile comments on this last point in that they were waiting for the Lord's return to the extent that they fully believed and expected it. "They lived as if they were `waiting' for his return. . . as if it might occur at any moment."

And so is my prayer for the church, that we may ever grow in ability to support and send out preachers with the word unto the ends of the earth; (which is why I preach on giving sometimes) imitate our faith (Heb. 13:7) (which is why I preach on attendance and study, for these are faith-builders (Rom. 10:17); that others may be encouraged to be different from the world, and let their light shine unto a crooked and perverse generation (which is why I preach on modest apparel, dancing, and other moral questions); that we may demonstrate that the gospel is still God's power to save, if we zealously labor (which is why I preach on personal evangelism and related subjects).


All of these matters added together result in my prayer for a church full of heaven-bound people. `I sincerely want every soul in every audience I face to stand before the great white throne, and sing praises to God with all the redeemed while the ceaseless ages roll. To this end I desire the prayers and suggestions of all Christians, that my labor among God's people might be void of offense, pleasing to the Lord, and full of fruit. What I do as a gospel preacher, I desire to do to the glory of God, and to the spiritual upbuilding of my fellow-Christians. I and all like me, am human, and that I make mistakes, but with the prayers of fellow-saints, and with their help and God's help, we can grow together in grace and knowledge.

— 3230 Chamblee-Tucker Rd., N. E. Atlanta, Georgia 30341