Study Committee on Prayer [2017]

Study Committee on Prayer [2017]

EDITOR’S NOTE: The findings of this report led to BFC Conference adding a statement on Prayer into our Biblical Principles for Living as well as a few additions to other statements in our Principles of Order.

FIRST READING – 2017 Yes – 165; No – 1 Minutes (p11) Reports (p122 – see below)
SECOND READING – 2018 Yes – 155; No – 1 Minutes (p17-18) Reports (p141)

In response to a petition from Paradise BFC, the 132nd BFC Conference formed a study committee to determine if there was a need for further material to be developed on the topic of prayer for possible inclusion within our official denominational publications. At the 133rd BFC Conference, the study committee reported that they had determined a Biblical Principle for Living on the topic of prayer would be appropriate and requested an additional year in order to finish preparing the article. 

During the course of this past year, the committee met four times and refined the article which had been drafted. We also consulted several people for feedback regarding the cross-cultural nature of the article, consistency with the formatting of the BPLs, and presentation to Conference. The committee also sought to determine whether there were any other places in our Faith and Order in which the importance of prayer could be highlighted. The result of these efforts is the presentation of an article for the BPLs as well as resolutions regarding additional words in a couple other areas. 

Whereas, the Study Committee on Prayer has considered the topic of prayer and determined that due to the high importance of prayer in the life of a Christian, the high importance of prayer in the history of the BFC, and especially the high importance of prayer as described in the Bible, we as a denomination ought to have a statement regarding prayer; therefore, be it 

Resolved, that the attached article be included in the BFC BPLs and numbered 101-2, and be it further 

Resolved, that the articles after that point be renumbered accordingly. 

Whereas, the initial meetings of the gathered church in the book of Acts emphasized the activity of corporate prayer (Acts 1:14, 2:42, 3:1, 4:24-31, 6:6, 12:3, 12, 13:3, etc.), and so we believe that an essential activity for our churches is that they gather often for corporate prayer; therefore be it 

Resolved, that 202-1.2 be revised as follows (addition in bold and underlined): 

202-1.2 A Particular Church consists of professing believers voluntarily associated in submission to the Holy Scriptures, for divine worship, corporate prayer, godly living, and evangelism. The Particular Churches seek to demonstrate their participation in the church universal by forming unions with other Particular Churches that have a similar understanding of doctrine and organization. 

Whereas, the ministry of prayer for his churches was a constant activity of the apostle Paul (Rom. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; Phil. 1:3-5; Col. 1:3; 1 Thess. 1:2), and 

Whereas, the apostles saw the ministry of prayer and the ministry of the word to be their main concentration (Acts 6:4), and  

Whereas, Samuel, in his spiritual leadership over Israel, saw that it would be a sin if he did not pray for his people (1 Sam. 12:23), therefore we believe that one of the essential qualifications for a Minister of the gospel is that he be a man of prayer. Therefore, be it 

Resolved, that 204-2.3, the section on Personal Qualifications (1) be revised as follows (addition in bold and underlined): 

(1) The minister must have a love for the study of Scripture and be devoted to prayer inasmuch as his primary function is to be pastor-teacher. 

Study Committee on Prayer: Mark L. Morrison, Chairman; David J. Peters, Secretary; Dennis W. Spinney, Michael J. Zettlemoyer. 

Prayer 101-2.1 Prayer is a drawing near in our hearts to the living and triune God.1 In prayer we express our praise2 and thanksgiving3 to our sovereign God. We confess our sin4 and ask Him to give to us what we need and desire5 according to His will. 

101-2.2 Prayer is the natural way that the child of God communicates with his heavenly Father.6 This relationship was formed because of the death and resurrection of Christ, by whom we have bold access to the Father.7 Without this union in Christ, we could never hope to speak to and be heard by the sovereign God of the universe.8 The believer’s prayer, offered in the name of Jesus,9 by the power of the Holy Spirit,10 is a means of receiving the promises of God’s Word.11 

101-2.3 The Scriptures give much instruction on prayer. Jesus Himself exemplified prayer in his earthly ministry and taught His disciples a model prayer.12 In the model prayer Jesus revealed that the believer is privileged to address God as Father. Jesus taught that we should pray for God’s name to be seen as holy. Jesus emphasized praying about the plan of God in the world. Jesus instructed believers to pray that their daily, physical needs would be met. Jesus also instructed believers to pray that our sins be forgiven, temptation be avoided and the evil one be resisted.13 

101-2.4 Prayer that is acceptable to God is not so much the right words but the right heart.14 This includes freedom from known sin,15 an unforgiving spirit,16 and selfish desires.17 Acceptable prayer includes asking in faith18 with an attitude of never giving up.19 Right prayer is both powerful and effective.20 

101-2.5 God’s people are encouraged to come together to pray.21 In the Old Testament, the assembling of Israel for prayer was for dedication,22 worship,23 confession,24 and for petition in time of great need and crisis.25 In Acts, the Church came together corporately for times of devoted prayer.26 Therefore, the local church ought to gather together to worship the Lord in prayer,27 to seek God’s guidance,28 to ask God’s protection in times of persecution,29 to pray for one another, and to pray for openness to the gospel.30 

101-2.6 The practice of fasting in Scripture is often associated with prayer. To fast is to voluntarily abstain from food,31 or from anything else that is legitimate in and of itself,32 for the purpose of spending more time and intensity in prayer and worship.33 Fasting is a statement that we want our appetite for God to be greater than our physical appetites. The reasons that may prompt us to fast include a personal or national crisis,34 a sense of contrition and repentance over sin,35 and a desire to seek the Lord and His help.36 The New Testament does not require believers to fast, but in His teachings, Jesus expects that they will fast.37 The early church practiced corporate fasting at times.38 

101-2.7 God hears and responds to the prayers of the righteous.39 God often responds differently than we ask,40 but always according to His perfect plan and will.41 Our joyful responsibility is to submit to His answers and trust His grace. Prayers that magnify the name of God, glorify Him, and seek to fulfill His purposes in this world,42 are prayers that He answers according to His timing for His glory and our good.43 While God is fully capable of accomplishing these purposes on His own, He chooses to use the prayers of His children to fulfill them. 

1 Psalm 62:8, Heb. 4:16, 10:22 

2 1 Chron. 29:10-13 

3 Phil. 4:6 

4 Psalm 32:5, 139:23-24, Acts 8:22 

5 Matt. 7:7-11, 1 Tim. 2:1 

6 Matt. 6:9, Rom. 8:15 

7 Heb. 4:14-16, 6:19, 10:19-22 

8 Psalm 66:18; John 9:31 

9 John 14:12-14; 16:23-24 

10 Rom. 8:26-27, Eph. 6:18, Jude 20 

11 Neh. 1:8-11 

12 Matt. 6:9-13 

13 1 Peter 5:8-9 

14 Psalm 66:18-19 

15 Prov. 15:29, 28:9, Isa. 59:1-2 

16 Mark 11:25 

17 James 4:2-3; 1 Peter 3:7 

18 Mark 11:23-24 

19 Luke 18:1, 1 Thess. 5:17, Rom. 12:12, Col. 4:2 

20 James 5:16-18, Eph. 3:20-21 

21 Col. 4:2-4; Matt. 18:19 

22 1 Chron. 29:10-20 

23 2 Chron. 6:12-42 

24 Ezra 9:4-15 

25 2 Chron. 20:5-13 

26 Acts 1:14; 2:42; 12:5, 12 

27 Acts 13:2-3

28 Acts 1:24

29 Acts 4:24-31 

30 Col. 4:2-4; 2 Thess. 3:1 

31 Matt. 4:2 cp. Luke 4:2 

32 1 Cor. 7:5 

33 Luke 2:37 

34 Neh. 1:4, Esther 4:3 

35 Joel 2:12 

36 2 Chron. 20:3, Ezra 8:21-23 

37 Matt.6:16, 9:15 

38 Acts 13:2-3, 14:23 

39 Pro. 15:29 

40 Luke 22:42; Heb. 5:7 

41 1 John 5:14-15 

42 Matt. 6:9-10, John 14:13-14 

43 2 Cor. 12:7-9

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