Friday, December 16, 2011

Praying Friends

It is not an easy thing to discern where a given soul is headed. The elders of the local church are called with the task of determining the credibility of the professions of those under their care. Because we are all sinners, the presence of sin in a man’s life does not answer the question. Because we all profess Christ, the theological accuracy of ones grasp of the gospel does not answer the question. It is a sticky business indeed.

In our day we, as with every other day, suffer from syncretism, the blending together of the worship of the living God with the worship of the spirit of the age. There are many who profess the name of Christ, who in turn lie like, think like, feel like, hunger like their unbelieving neighbors. Will these prove to be skin-of-their-teeth Christians, or will they prove to be wolves amidst the flock?

Though by no means a cure-all for this challenge, one unexpected test may be found amidst the surfeit of wisdom found in James 5. Who are your friends? When you find yourself in need of aid, to whom do you turn? James tells us, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (verse 16). Now this certainly could be understood as yet another call to righteousness. Do you want your prayers to be effective, to avail much? Pursue righteousness.

That, however, has not been my perspective of late. In this great time of need that the Sproul family finds themselves in, I find myself giving thanks not only for my friends, but for the righteousness of my friends. I am forced to confess my own weakness as a righteous man. I am, however, blessed to confess that I have been blessed with righteous friends. We not only have, literally, thousands praying for us, but we have godly men and women praying for us. As I type my eldest is on the phone with Beall Phillips, a saintly woman and longtime friend of the family. Her prayers, according to James, availeth much, as do the prayers of her husband and children, all of whom manifest the righteousness of Christ in their loyal love to my family.

On my computer, as I type, the music of Nathan Clark George is playing. He too, along with his wife Patsy, are godly, and prayerful for me and mine. My mother, my father, my sister, the Steiman family, the Deweys, Windhams, Murphys, Hays, and dozens more families at Saint Peter Presbyterian in Virginia are praying prayers that availeth much. The saints at Saint Andrews here in Orlando, the saints at Heritage Covenant in Centreville, Tennessee, all of these are not just praying, but praying with power.

My desire here, however, is not merely to give thanks, but to encourage us all to pursue godly friends. Those who make friends with the world have only the world to pray for them. Those who love the saints, on the other hand, have those covered by the righteousness of Christ Himself praying on their behalf.

As the Sprouls move into what we expect to be the most difficult days of our lives, we know not only that we are not alone, not only that we are joined by thousands of pray-ers, but that we have righteous men and women lifting us up to and through the one Righteous Man, whose prayers are not for health and comfort, but that we would be conformed to His image. And His prayers availeth everything.

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NewKidontheBlogg said...

We don't know how our prayers for your family will be answered, but we know they will be.

My friend of over 30 years kept praying for my husband's Alzheimer's from her wheel chair while battling MD. When she was hospitalized last month, I said to her on the phone that it would work out--either she would be with Jesus, or He would help her go through this illness a little longer. I miss her now, but realize that I have to pray for her family as she did for my husband. I told them that at an eulogy I was privileged to deliver at her memorial.

I weep with your family and what you are going through, but know that He is able to sustain you all.

Carol Noren Johnson

Molly said...

We prayed for your family in church this morning, just as we often do on Sundays and Wednesdays and in our homes, and just as many churches are praying for you all over the nation.

When we got home we read the news that Denise had gone to be with the Lord today. We will continue lifting you and your family up in prayer. For Denise, to live was Christ and to die was gain, and for that we rejoice. But our hearts grieve for you and your children in your loss.

Philip Moyer said...

Just wanted to let you know that the men at ClearNote Pastors College have been praying for you and your family, and will continue to pray.

Your brother in Christ,

Happy Mama said...

We are one of the many families greatly encouraged and blessed by your family through your books and audio, and I'm sure Denise played a large role in making that all possible, and so we weep with you right now. Thanks for showing us what's important in life and in death. God give you all the grace and peace you need! May He be glorified!
Rachel & Eric C.

Dan & Lisa Seifert said...

Praying for you and your precious family, RC. Tears of mourning, tears of joy.

With love in Christ our merciful Savior, The Seiferts

S. Henry said...

Dear RC,

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).

I pray that God gives you much comfort & peace as you mourn the loss of your beloved wife. Losing the people we love can be very difficult and it can cause great turmoil in our heart, but we must remember that “God is our Refuge & Strength, a very present help in trouble.” God is our Comforter in times of sorrow, so let us seek Him for He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us! "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4).

May the Lord comfort, guide, and strengthen you in the difficult days ahead as you walk by faith in the risen Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). Hallelujah! What a Savior!!

Sincerely yours in Christ's Love,

Scott H.

NewKidontheBlogg said...

We sat in the back of the memorial service today. It was very moving. Denise was an awesome, godly wife and mother.

I wanted to know how a Christian dies well and saw Jesus Christ in the whole service. Loved your father's message and Scripture chosen, the soloist's songs from Is. 58 and Hab. 3, and the hymns you chose to sing. I found another reason we came--I could hug and talk with a mourner.

I have been a widow once and will undoubtedly again as my husband has Alzheimeer's. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, RC, as you go through this trial.

Redbeard said...

Dear RC & children,

Your ministry has greatly benefited our family. I (BB) was especially challenged by Denise's ETC articles, reading them first when the magazine arrived. She was a beautiful woman of faith.

We've prayed for your family often over the years and daily the past few months. Our hearts are heavy for your great loss. Praying that He will comfort and sustain you all in the difficult days ahead.

In Him,
Doug Barberousse

Anonymous said...

May God be glorified in this time of adjustment for you all. May He give you peace, strength and wisdom.

Suzan Buck
Olympia, Washington

Anonymous said...

My prayers for your family. Your wife was an example to us through her testimony in interviews. I don't know how you will continue and I am sorry for your loss. I am praying to Our Father for you all, Who does know how you will continue, in His grace and strength. Thank you for you ministry.