Prayer Accountability in a Christian Home
The Place of Prayer
Volume 46, No. 17
Sermon prepared by Rev. Michael J. Vandyk, Taber, Alta
Proposed Order of Service
Songs include Hymn #247, 209, 262, 280, 579, “Sweet Hour of Prayer”
“Prayer is the Souls Sincere Desire”
Bible Reading: Mark 1:35-39
Text: Mark 1:35
Sermon: “The Place of Prayer”
Theme: The Power of Prayer and Personal Devotions
Congregation of Jesus Christ,
As we read the gospel of Mark, it is clear that there is a battle going on:
The Son of God vs Satan
We see Jesus being attacked by the devil at every turn: chapter1:14, John the Baptist is imprisoned; vs.
24, evil spirits speaks lies againsthim, “Have you come to destroy us?” It reads as if one thingafter another confronts Jesus as he starts his earthly ministry. Thereis no time to stop, no time to rest.
There is so much to be done as weread in vs. 33-34, “he drove out many demons, he healed many who weresick.”Jesus is fighting against the power of Satan. How does Jesus remain strong in that battle? We need to know because the battle still goes on today. You are fooling yourself, you are being fooled by Satan if you think everything is fine. We still face persistent temptation and attack by Satan.
Events sickness, trouble, pain, hardship, disappointment, even death. These are constant struggles in this sin-filled world. Where do we get the strength to stand against this attack, to keep fighting the good fight of faith?
Where does Jesus get the strength? We might think of him as some kind of super hero: The Son of God. He has super powers and just keeps going. Of course it is true that Jesus as Son of God is the greatest, the most powerful person who ever lived.
He demonstrates his divine power in healing, casting out demons, even raising the dead (Mark 5). But we need to remember that Jesus was also completely human. He was ” us in every way” the author of Hebrews tells us, except he was without sin.
Here in Mark 1:35-39 we find a striking event recorded. Jesus slips away for a time of prayer, a time of personal devotion to be strengthened in his work through a personal quiet time with his heavenly father. This is very instructive for us and our devotional life. Here early on in Mark, early in Jesus’ ministry he takes the time for prayer. Let’s see what that means for him and for us.
In vs. 35 we read that Jesus got up early in the morning. What time is that? ly it means some time around 6 a.m. Wow, that is early. Do you mean that I need to get up that early and do devotions? Not necessarily, though many people do just that. More generally, what it means is that Jesus took the time, a special time to be with his heavenly Father.
We think immediately, “Sure, very nice, Jesus took the time, BUT I’m really busy, I have no time. I am really tired from working hard all day. I cannot concentrate.”
But just consider this: Jesus, humanly speaking, was busier than you ever are, than you ever have been, than you ever will be.Even with your business, your busy family and all the other commitments you have, Jesus was busier. Claiming busyness as an excuse is a temptation, a lie that Satan sets before you.
You grab hold of it thinking its so true, I have no time. And God s me to be busy, so he will understand when I even have no time for him.
The Gospel of Mark shows Jesus busy. In the wording: 1:29, “As soon as,” its just one thing after another for Jesus; 2:8 “immediately”, the very language conveys his busyness.
Then there are verses 1:39 where Jesus is traveling throughout Galilee because there is so much demand for him. In 1:45 he could not travel about freely because everyone wanted to see him.
Of course they wanted to see him.
Imagine if there was someone close by who really could help, could cure, could deliver. Mark 2:13 speaks again of a large crowd that forced Jesus to escape in a boat. In Mark 3:20 there is such a demand that he can not even sit down to eat.
Have you ever been so busy that you could not even stop to eat. Jesus was busy that all the time, every day.
The devil is trying to overwhelm him, whispering to Jesus, “forget your devotional time, your prayer time, its not important, you are too busy.”
Here in Mark 1 we see the importance for Jesus to do the work he is doing, to stand against the devil, to overcome the flood of sin and evil in the world, to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Jesus needs to be strong in that communion with God. Jesus takes the time to pray.Martin Luther is quoted as saying that if he felt too busy to spend an hour in prayer and devotion he immediately stopped everything and took two hours.
Not because he was so pious or punishing himself but because he realized in the temptation to not spend that devotional time, the devil was wrestling the strength of the faith away from him, hindering his ability to do anything for his Lord.
How much time do you spend in personal devotions? I’m afraid the devil has succeeded in convincing many here that it is not important. Or maybe we can agree it is important but for you there is really no time. Many here do the equivalent of no devotions. No personal devotions, No prayer, No Bible reading,
No time in the week, so you feel weak, you are weak. Weak in the faith, weak in prayer, with little Bible knowledge, little sense of God working in your life, powerless before the temptations and attacks of the devil. Busy all right. The devil has you busy being “ineffective and unproductive.” (2 Peter 1:8)
You can tell if you are this kind of a weak believer if you do not have a special time set aside. The Bible is speaking to you today. Jesus is demonstrating for you the importance of setting aside a time, a special time.
Maybe you think you are strong enough in the faith, you can manage without a special devotional time. Don’t you think Jesus was tempted that way by Satan too? Satan could say, “You are the son of God, you know what you are about, you don’t need it.” We are so quickly tempted. We feel we know it all. We don’t need to study the Bible more. We have better things to do. We are busy.
I want to clear up one other wrong temptation. By special time it doesn’t mean mealtime devotions. Jesus gave thanks before he ate (Mark 6:41) and that is good, though I hear even that tradition of mealtime devotions is slipping.
If you don’t have devotions at meal time start, please start. Gather the family together to read the Bible and pray together.A regular help the “Today” booklet is very helpful or go to your local Christian book store and find something helpful.
Jesus took a special time. Perhaps you can start with 10 minutes in the morning or at the end of the day, or maybe even in between somewhere. Take the Bible, some devotional material, read and pray. Get in tune with God. Consider his will for you, for your relationship to your spouse, kids, family, in church. Start now, start today, decide right now, pick a time.
Wait —do you hear something? Hear that little whispering noise? Satan whispering in your ear, don’t listen to this. Just a reading service. You’re way too busy, there is no time. This is the time here in church on Sunday but otherwise there is really no other time.
I ask you to set aside the time. Tell your spouse, tell your kids today and have them help hold you accountable. Give them permission to ask you if you did your devotions today. As parents we want our kids to do devotions but how often do they see us doing them? Tell them, I’m setting this time aside. Make it a strong and firm priority in your life.
We are also given some other helps in this passage. Vs. 35 adds the idea of a special place. Jesus found a solitary place. For him it was not a special room or chair.
Indeed for Jesus there was no place in the house. With all the people there he had to get the house. I don’t think we have that problem.
But can you tell me your special place? Or is there really no special place, because there is no time?
You need a place. Satan says, “forget it, there is no place. Even if you could find some time there is no place.” The result is that people seriously say that they do their devotions while driving. So strong is the deceptive power of Satan.Even if you turn off the radio and put in a Bible tape or Christian music CD, still a feeble excuse. We need a place in our house. We know how to set aside a place in our homes.
For most of us it is automatic that the TV has a place, central place in the living room, and then we place a smaller TV in every other room in our homes.
We have our special times we watch, We have our special chair we sit and sit for hours. We never miss our favorite shows, day after day, week after week. But we have no place, no time to spend with God.
Find a place. I have an office of course, many of us have offices, an office is a good place. My wife and I sit together at the kitchen table after the boys are gone to school. It is a quiet place where we read and pray together. Sometimes we are tempted to say that there is no time but then we hold one another accountable.
Find a place and a time to be with God, to consider his word, to pray, to consider your work, your life in the context of his will.
Finally, how long did Jesus stay there? Did he say a quick prayer and then got going? It says in Mark 1:36 that he was away long enough for Simon and his companions to go looking for him. In vs. 37 we read that he stayed away long enough so that “Everyone is looking” for him.
How long do you spend? The tense of the verb, “he prayed,” denotes enduring action, meaning he spent some time in the action. The action he was involved in was praying, so he spent some time in the praying.
Of course it is true that God can accomplish great things in answer to short prayers. Elijah prayed to God to show himself to the people and God sent fire from heaven (1 Kings 18).But if you are going to pray just for the needs of this congregation it will take you at least 10 minutes.
(Add examples from your congregation – names and situations)
You can add general concerns for young and old, the needs of the world, the salvation of children, neighbors and friends. You would need at least a _ hour. And maybe people will wonder where you are. People will come looking for you. It’s OK because they will find you strengthened and renewed in your faith and ready to do the things God calls you to do.
We see Jesus’ strength is renewed and he is ready to go on. He says in vs. 38 that he is ready to go to the nearby villages. He may have faltered a little bit in all the business but he is not faltering now.
He is ready to preach the good news again. He has been reminded in the devotional time of the focus of his ministry, the purpose of God through him. In vs. 38 he says,”That is why I have come.
” To preach the good news.
What is God’s task for you? Do not let the devil distract you from that into all kinds of empty pursuits and pleasures. His will, his service, the spreading of the good news are at the heart of all who follow Jesus in faith and joy. As believers we are part of that work.
The message to us today is: set aside the time, find a place, take the time to be in a close personal relationship with your God
Top 7 Bible Verses About Accountability
God will hold us all accountable on the Day of His Visitation so what Bible verses reflect a believer’s accountability? What ones would you include and what about those who reject the gospel?
What is Accountability?
The word accountability means to be held accountable, liable, answerable, or be held responsible for what a person has been given.
This is a combination of several secular definitions of this word and it should get every believers attention for we will all be held accountable before the Lord someday for our actions, for what we did with what we have been given, and for what we didn’t do that we should have done.
Even worse, for those who are not saved, they will be held accountable for the works in this life at the Great White Throne Judgment and since works can never save us, unbelievers will have to pay for their own sins in eternity (Rev 20:11-16) and because they will be “judged according to their works” (Rev 20:12) and no one can be saved by works (Eph 2:8-9) their eternal fate is even hard to imagine. For Christians, they have been judged already since they repented and trusted in Christ and had the imputation of His righteousness credited to their account (2 Cor 5:21). Even so, every believer will be held accountable at Christ’s appearing and so what does the Bible say about a believer’s accountability before the Lord?Paul is writing to Christians here and he just finished asking the Roman Christians, “why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom 14:10).
When we judge others we actually show them contempt in the way that they don’t live up to our standards, but their standard and ours is not a human standard but what Christ expects. We will all stand and give an account to Christ for what we have done or not done.
We will owe only Christ an explanation and we don’t owe any human an explanation for our life on this earth.
This verse should be a key verse for every believer because although we are not saved by works, we will be rewarded according to what we did for Jesus Christ while on the earth.
If our works were for our own glory and not for the glory of God then our “work is burned [and we] will suffer loss” even though “[we] will be saved, yet so as through fire” but if we do things for the glory of God alone then we are building our rewards with a foundation that has “gold, silver, precious stones” and our works will come through the fire.
If our good works are only for the purpose of being seen by others and not of Christ, then “wood, hay, straw” they will all be burned up and we will have little or nothing to show for our life while in the body.
Before Jesus spoke these words He gave the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30) where each one of us is given talents. These include time, treasure, and talents (or gifts or skills). The Lord expects us to use these talents for His glory. If we do not use what we have been given, then what we do have will be taken from us (v.
28a) but if we have used what God has given us for His glory then more will be given to us at His return (v. 28b) so the question will be are we a “wicked and lazy servant” or will Jesus say to you and me “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.
Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matt 25:23)? The answer is up to you and me.The last statistic I heard was that Christians give only about 2% of their income to the Lord and we spend 10 times as much in pet food than we do in giving to our local church for the proclamation of the gospel.
Does this say something about our priorities? Do we esteem the things of God more than those things that we esteem important to us? I understand that these are not verses about tithing but verses about who are we serving. If we are attempting to live for riches then we are making money our god.
Money competes with God in the sense that money can provide for our needs, it can give us what we want, and it gives us security but these things take the place of God because He provides for us, gives us what we need (not always what we want), and He is our security, not money. The “true riches” are in the things that bring glory to God.
If we can’t be faithful in a few things, our money, time, or talents, then how can God expect us to be faithful in the Kingdom of Heaven which will be far, far greater?
Here is what is called a sin of omission.
We all know what sins of commission are and that is why we can come to God and confess them to Him and be forgiven (1 John 1:9) but we are also going to be judged for what we don’t do.
If we see our brother has needs and do nothing about it but say “Brother, I am sorry…I will pray for you” but do nothing to help, then for those who know “to do good” and yet “does not do it” to them it is sin.
This verse actually applies to those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (Rom 1:18b-19) but they still refuse to acknowledge that there is a God because “they did not to retain God in their knowledge” (Rom 1:28).
Paul is saying that they knew better…in their hearts they knew that God exists but they suppressed this knowledge and so God gave them up “to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” (Rom 1:24-25).This speaks of judgment. The more often a person hears the gospel and yet rejects the gospel, the more accountable they will be held because they knew what was required of them and yet refused to do it.
For the one who didn’t know as much about the gospel, the native in the deep, dark recesses of the jungle, they will not have as much required of them. In the U.S.
there is no excuse for those who have not responded to the gospel for they have easy access to it and may have heard the truth of the Word of God expressed many times but have never responded to it. In that case, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” and more will be demanded.
I beg you to not turn your back on Christ today for He is the only way a person can be saved (Acts 4:12). The day is coming when it will be too late (Rev 20:11-15; Heb 9:27) so decide today to repent and put your trust in the Savior so that you will be saved today (2 Cor 6:2) if you are not already saved.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas.
Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon
Why I Don’t Believe in Christian Accountability
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I am deeply committed to all of us living a life of radical integrity and grace.
Through People of the Second Chance, I get to work with leaders on personal sustainability and living a life with no regrets. And though I champion the ideas of transparency, authenticity and brutal honesty, I don’t believe in Christian accountability.
The whole concept makes me cringe, and I don’t think I’m alone in this assessment. It’s horribly broken, ineffective and doing a lot of people a disservice. In many ways, Christian accountability is facilitating a pathway to our lives being chopped up by character assassins.
So here are a few reasons why I don’t believe in Christian accountability and why a new discussion needs to happen around maintaining our integrity.
1. Lack of Grace
The primary reason Christian accountability doesn’t work is because we are more interested in justice and fixing a problem. I’ve seen too many times great men and women get chewed up by this process. When we fail, what we need most is grace and a second chance, not a lecture.
We have all probably experienced or seen a harsh response to our struggles or failures. But there is a big problem when we respond with justice and not grace. You see, human beings are wired up for self-protection and survival.
When we see others being hurt, rejected or punished for their sin, we correctly conclude that it is better to hide, conceal and fake it in the future. It basically comes down to this: I don’t want to get hurt, so I’m not telling.
When we lack grace, accountability breaks down.
2. Bad Environments
Let me be frank. If I were having an illicit affair with a woman, I’m not going to confess it to four guys at a Denny’s breakfast. And yet, too often, Christian accountability is carried out in these types of environments.
We meet in small groups in a weekly environment with a few of our friends. Ultimately, there is a lid on how transparent these conversations can be, and too often, we believe that if we are meeting weekly then we are “accountable.
My best conversations about my brokenness and struggles have come in non-typical environments. Places where I am completely relaxed, at ease, and feel removed from my daily life.
I have seen leaders every year go away for a week and meet with a coach or therapist and have this time be very effective. They dump a ton of junk, begin working strategies in their life and start dealing with significant character issues. To be frank, I would rather have us have one week of brutal honesty than 52 weeks of semi-honesty at Denny’s.
My point is simple. Find an environment that is going to allow you to open up and examine your current process.
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I truly believe it is time to reinvent and rethink this very important component of our lives. Over the years, Christian accountability has deformed into a very ugly, uninspiring and broken system.
First off, I want to change the word from “accountability” to “advocacy.” If we are going to redefine a process and introduce a new concept, I think it needs a new word. The word I use in this context with fellow friends and leaders is advocacy. The term can be described as active support, intercession, or pleading and arguing in favor of someone.
So let’s take a look at what advocacy means.
Radical Grace Is the Foundation
Radical grace is the core engine for any healthy relationship. You can not have true transparency or confession without it. I encourage people to make verbal commitments to each other and clearly state that they will stand by one another through the best AND the worst.
Most people live with the fear of rejection and allow this fear to dictate how honest they will be with others. In advocacy, we are constantly demonstrating that this relationship is a safe place. Through our response to one another’s failures, our own deep confession and reminding each other that we are in this for the long haul, we implement radical grace.
Advocacy focuses on the “yes,” not the “no.” Too often, typical Christian accountability revolves around long lists of what NOT to do. We spend way too much time discussing and managing the sin.Often, we lock onto the most minor unhealthy behaviors and think that’s going to prepare us for success in life.
Unfortunately, we operate on the faulty assumption that working on the symptoms will address the core problem. Bad idea!!!
Advocacy spurs us on to the “yes.” It revolves around the crazy good things that we should be engaging in. It pushes us to live a life of positive risks, creativity, adventure and significance. We rally around each other in this and focus our relationships around this theme.
I truly believe a large amount of moral blowouts flow from boredom and dissatisfaction. We become depressed and unsatisfied with our life, career and marriage, and then we enter into dangerous territory. Why? Because we are not focusing on the “Yes!”
I know that in my own life, I become vulnerable when I have lost a sense of mission and purpose. Having an advocate in our life is important in reminding us of our calling.
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Unfortunately, the results speak for themselves. If Christian accountability were a company, it would need a serious bailout. It’s simply inadequate, and the results are sub par, at best.
The breaking down of our marriages, financial impropriety, egomaniacal and narcissistic behavior, sexual misconduct, and the bending of every rule we come across are simply signs of a failed system. Last week, I read a post from a pastor who had received emails from 33 other pastors who confessed to him of being involved in an affair.
If I wanted to, I could spend the next decade of my life convincing you how wonderful I am and how I have it all together. (Luckily, I have no desire to do that.) It bothers me that I’m clever enough to package Mike Foster in such a way that I could make you all believe what a swell guy I am and how I have it all together.The problem with Christian accountability is that you and I can game the system. I know how to beat it, and if you stick around the church long enough, you will figure it out, too. And that’s a problem. We’re the alcoholic that knows where the hidden key to the liquor cabinet is.
Gaming the system is not hard. We know the right words. We know the right things to talk about. We know how to frame things up to effectively keep everyone off course on who we truly are. I can do it, and so can you. And that’s a big problem.
So that’s why I’m not a fan of Christian accountability and truly believe it is busted. But please don’t lose hope. I have something I want to offer up as a replacement to this flawed system of maintaining our integrity.
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When people fail or become involved in some scandal, too often we immediately consider the ramifications on the organization or company. I’ve talked to many Christians who are very concerned about when a pastor falls of how this impacts the cause of Christ.
Unfortunately, we place more concern on the damage to the brand of Christianity or the church instead of the fallen individual. I’ve seen horrific and hurtful things happen to people in the name of protecting the organization instead of the fallen person. Quite frankly, that sucks!!!
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Christianity’s brand is failures and wrecked lives. Churches are places with messy people who do stupid things.
I’ve certainly made my contribution to this effort with my mistakes. In advocacy, the importance is placed on the individual. It is about people, especially those who are most broken.
The organization, church or company should take a back seat.
Christian accountability often is accomplished in small groups that are too general or with just one person leading, which puts too much responsibility on one individual.
Advocacy embraces having multiple layers of transparency and connection. I have about 10 people who are involved in spurring me on to a life of integrity. They can actively speak into my life, and I will listen and make the necessary tweaks.
However, I have about four people whom I have a deeper connection with and discuss harder things with. I also have more structure with this group. This is what I consider to be the core.
But even beyond the core, I have one friend that has full access. We take complete responsibility for each others’ integrity, purity and sustainability. I refer to this person as my “first call.
” When the crap hits the fan, I call him first.Each layer moves into a greater level of commitment and advocacy, and each layer has an important role.
5 Reasons Why Christian Accountability Fails
The following is an excerpt from our free e-book, Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability.
In my previous article, I described the four key building blocks that give shape to our accountability relationships. These building blocks are James 5:16 and Hebrews 10:23-25: meeting together, confession of sin, prayer, and encouragement.
(This is structure of a healthy accountability relationship)
Accountability groups and partners are not magic pills. While accountability plays a crucial role in personal growth and holiness, there are many accountability pitfalls.
Here are five ways accountability often goes bad.
Problem #1: When Accountability Partners Are Absent
Accountability relationships need to be fostered through time together. It is hard to hold one another accountable when partners meet infrequently or sporadically (or not at all).
Often both parties are at fault. We might commit to “holding one another accountable,” but this is something vague, elusive, and undefined. Accountability partners need to have a very clear picture in their minds about what accountability really entails: face-to- face, voice-to-voice conversation.
When accountability partners do not meet in some fashion, the accountability relationship has no foundation. This means confession, prayer, and encouragement are erratic and shaky, at best.
Problem #2: When Accountability Groups Are Programmatic
When we read through the one-anothers of the New Testament, one cannot help but see the organic, family dynamic that is meant to exist in the church.
We are called to an earnest love for one another (1 Peter 1:22), brotherly affection (Romans 12:10), single-minded unity (Romans 15:5), eating together (1 Corinthians 11:33), bearing each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and having the same care for each other (1 Corinthians 12:25).
But often our approach to accountability is programmatic. We simply don’t have the quality of friendships that are close and spiritually meaningful, so we search for it in forced and sometimes awkward settings.
The church, of course, should offer support groups and discipleship models. “Program” is not a four-letter word. But these programs should aim toward something rich and natural.
If meeting together, prayer, confession, and encouragement are the building blocks of accountability, then many of the other one-anothers in the New Testament are the “atmosphere” of the relationship. This should not be an empty, austere structure, but filled with the air of Christian love and friendship. You may be “doing everything right” but it still feels empty and cold.
Problem #3: When Accountability Partners Are Sincerity-Centered
Confession is the central pillar of accountability, but there are a few ways this pillar can be constructed poorly.
The first way confession of sin can go wrong is when it becomes an end in and of itself. This is when we believe confession is the only point of accountability, something we do to put to rest our uneasy consciences and get something off our chests. These kinds of accountability relationships make “getting the secret out” the whole point.
As therapeutic as this might feel—and it is therapeutic—we need to be careful that in our confession of sin we don’t trivialize sin as something that resolves itself with mere sincerity.Jonathan Dodson, pastor of Austin City Life church, says that one surefire way to ruin your accountability relationship is by making it “a circle of cheap confession by which you obtain cheap peace for your troubled conscience.”
Christians do not believe that pardon from sin comes from merely being honest about sin. Your sincerity wasn’t nailed to a Roman cross for your sins; Christ was. Peace with God comes only by leaning on what Christ has done for us (Romans 5:1). We often mistake the relief of unleashing our secrets with true peace.
Conversation must not stop at confession. The outermost pillars of the accountability relationship call us to prayer and encouragement. After humble confession, we should encourage one another with the assurance of forgiveness promised in the gospel, and we should approach God’s throne of grace in prayer together.
In this way we not only hold one another accountable for our behavior, but we also hold one another accountable for trusting in the gospel for our complete forgiveness.
Problem #4: When Accountability Partners Are Obedience-Centered
The first way the pillar of confession can be built poorly is when we aim at cheap peace. The second way the pillar of confession can be constructed poorly is when the focus is on moral performance.
Some Christian accountability groups are militant about sin—a healthy attitude in its own right. Members want to see others grow in holiness, so this becomes the focus of the group: questions and answers that deal with obedience.
The problem is, mere rule keeping does not itself get to the heart of sin. This is one of the great lessons Paul teaches again and again. Merely knowing the law only aggravates our lusts (Romans 7:7-12), and following rigid ascetic regulations—don’t touch, don’t taste, don’t handle—is “of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:20-23).
What we need is a kind of accountability that corrects our natural tendency to focus on ourselves—own own performance or lack of performance—and instead focus on Christ and His obedience in our place.
Don’t turn the pillar of confession into a pedestal—a place where we can prop up the idol of our own obedience. Don’t turn accountability into a narcissistic program of self-improvement.
Accountability relationships this either center our thoughts on a few benchmarks of success that we might happen to be reaching, or force us into hiding because we don’t want to admit how much we are failing to hit the mark.
Problem #5: When Accountability Partners Forget the Gospel
Whether you slide toward being sincerity-centered or obedience-centered, both tendencies have ignored that the gospel is the capstone of accountability.
When we make our groups all about sincere confession with no expectation of change, we trivialize the very sins that were nailed to Jesus on the cross.
When we confess the same sins week after week, say a quick prayer, and go home, we merely highlight the cheap peace we feel from refreshing honesty, and we forget to comfort each other with a testimony of God’s grace of forgiveness.
We forget to challenge each other to fight sin in light of the motivations God provides in His Word.
When we make our groups all about obedience, we only reinforce our tendency to center our identity on our performance. This either drives us to rigid moralism or hiding the evil that lurks in us from others and ourselves.
Either way, these kinds of accountability relationships only reinforce legalism and self-absorption.This robs us of the joy of building our identity on Christ’s obedience, and we lose an opportunity to speak about the grace of God that trains us to be godly.
This is why the gospel is the capstone of good accountability. Our confessions, prayers, and encouragement should all be done under the canopy of what the gospel promises God’s children.
- Confess your sins in light of the gospel. One aspect of repentance is agreeing with what God says about your sin, labeling your sin as truly sinful, as an affront to His holiness, something that cost Christ his life. Confess your sins to God and others knowing He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you (1 John 1:9).
- Pray together in light of the gospel. The gospel promises both grace to cover our sins (Romans 5:1-2) and grace to empower our obedience (Titus 2:11-14). Approach Christ together asking for this grace (Hebrews 4:16).
- Encourage one another in light of the gospel. Knowing that true internal change happens in our lives as we set our minds and affections on things above—the complete redemption that is coming to us (Colossians 3:1-4)—we should help one another do this. Mining the Scriptures together, we can teach and admonish one another in wisdom (v.16). We can strive together to have more of a foretaste of the holiness we are promised in the age to come.
We need responsive, gospel-driven accountability. As good accountability partners, we need to not only hear an account of our friends’ sins, but give an account of God’s grace—a grace that not only saves us from the guilt of sin, but also from the grip of sin.
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What Is A Prayer Of Supplication? A Christian Study
People pray in many different ways. Some are very formal and will present their prayers in such a way that they look and sound they are petitioning the Queen of England to intervene in their private affairs.
Others pray the same prayer over and over again until it becomes nothing but words rolling off their tongue. Still others, pray in such a way that their prayers sound they’re talking to a friend. However, there is one thing about prayer that everyone should keep in mind. That is praying with supplication.
With this in mind, we will do a short Christian study from the Bible to learn what is a prayer of supplication?
What is the common definition of the word supplication?
Supplication is commonly defined as (1): “The action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.” It was most commonly used before the year 1600 as well as the early 1800s (2).
Today it is not commonly used, but those that use the King James Bible are familiar with the term. Historically, the word supplication comes from a Latin term, supplicare, which means to plead humbly and has the word supple as its root (3).
The fact that the word supplication has the word supple at its root provides great insight for us in understanding a prayer of supplication.
How does the Bible define the word supplication?
The word supplication is used in the Old Testament several different ways. Each Hebrew word communicates the idea of humbling one’s self to another, often in the case of prayer.
In the New Testament, supplication is tied to prayer (Acts 1:14; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6). From the perspective of God, His response to our sincere supplication is with mercy and grace.
In the case of man, our supplication goes deeper considering our position before God.
What is involved in praying with supplication?
In Philippians 4:6, we are told: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
” The phrase, “Be careful for nothing,” literally means to be anxious for nothing. In other words, do not get anxious about anything.
Instead, in everything we are to submit our requests to God through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.
Most people understand praying and giving thanks. However, supplication communicates how we should pray. It is more than just submitting our requests to God, but instead, submitting them with the mindset that we should humble ourselves and become supple before God.
To put this in perspective, think about what it means when someone or something is supple. For example, if someone has supple skin, then their skin can be described as soft, pliable, healthy, and giving way under the pressure of touch.
If you were to squeeze someone’s arm that has supple skin, you would expect that their skin would give way to your touch much soft clay would give way when pressure is applied.
With this in mind, when we pray with supplication, we are not only humbly submitting our requests to God, we’re doing it with the mindset that we want God to make our minds supple.
This is so that He can mold our thinking, our opinions, and our emotions to be in line with His thinking, opinions, and emotions.David prayed such a prayer in Psalms 51 when he confessed his sin to God and prayed that God would forgive him, cleanse him, and create in him a clean heart and renew his spirit. David did not want God to change to meet his desires. He wanted God to change him to meet God’s desires.
Therefore, when we pray with supplication we are asking God to change us into the image of His Son and to mold us into what He wants us to be. When this happens, it helps us to grow closer to Christ and our desires become His desires.
When our desires become His desires, it changes our opinion of what we want God to do and what we believe is right. With this in mind, it gives us a deeper perspective on Psalms 37:4-5 where we are told: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
Many people read this verse with the idea that if they draw close to God that God will give them what they desire. However, when we submit our prayers to God with supplication, He changes us and our desires change as well. Therefore, this verse teaches not that we will get what we want, but instead we will desire what God wants.