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Modelling prayer and study

In my last prayer paper, I wrote about the idea of creating ‘prayer and discussion’ groups within our churches or in our communities. I wrote that if we didn’t develop both prayer and knowledge, we would be doomed. These groups could tackle issues that our societies are facing, praying over them and seeking God’s wisdom to bring a good biblical alternative.

“This seems great but how can we get started?” one might ask. Indeed the topics are complex. They range from politics, economics, environment, education and the media to family issues within our communities, regions and nations in Europe and in the whole world. Should we focus on some issues that we feel more comfortable with? Or should we tackle all of them? Should we focus on our own town or should we look at the broader picture?

Of course, individually, we are not especially called to specialize in everything. Nevertheless, it is important to have some basic knowledge of every domain in order to gain a better understanding of the global context. As a community, it is possible to have individuals specialized in many different themes. Each one of us would then be able benefit from the wisdom of the other.

With the help and experience of Jeff Fountain, director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies (of which we are associates), I have had the privilege of discovering some good material to help me develop biblical thinking on societal issues.

The first book I would recommend is called ‘ Issues facing Christians today’. Written back in the early 80s by the English scholar John Stott, this book was a watershed when it came out, being one of the rare books in the evangelical world aiming to deal biblically with society issues. Even if it was written more than 30 years ago, most of the issues are still relevant today.

In the first four chapters of the book, Stott starts by considering the reasons that should motivate us to be involved in our society. This came against widespread ideas that Christians should keep to the side from ‘worldly involvement’. He explains the root causes of such ideas and attempts to correct it by giving historical facts and biblical grounds to be involved.

In the next 12 chapters, Stott tackles many diverse issues, including environment, unemployment, the multi-racial society, marriage and divorce, abortion, homosexuality and many others. For each topic, Stott brings both non-Christian and Christian views, and develops a biblical basis on which Christians should start thinking.

While still today many Christians tend to be negative when it comes to tackling those issues (with statements like: “it will always go worse” or “this shouldn’t be our task”), I believe that we should strongly reject such fatalism and dare to dream for a strongly biblically rooted society. If we dare to do so, we will be ready to invest our time and money to pray and study.

Prayer gives us access to God’s wisdom to understand our times.

For the Lord gives wisdom; From his mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

Also constant study of various material is essential in order to recover relevance and influence in our modern multi-religious, postmodern and post-Christian society.

Eventually, as these groups will start wrestling with these various themes, fresh comprehension will give way to new ideas. These will then be translated into practical service to the various areas of our communities, regions and nations, in all the spheres that we can find.

Let us become men and women of prayer and study. May our communities foster such an atmosphere!

Cédric Placentino

Picture taken from Wikipedia

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