Advent Prayer Guide, Week One

As a part of our engaging in the season of Advent, we are inviting everyone at Park Church to join us in prayer on Wednesdays (Dec. 6, 13, 20) during the lunch hour in our sanctuary to pray. If you can’t join us physically, we hope you can join in personally or even get together with others and pray through the prayer guide offered below! Throughout these prayer times we will be focusing on particular phrases and petitions within the Lord’s Prayer.

What is the Lord’s Prayer and why are we praying it?

One of the main markers of Jesus’ life was not merely His powerful ministry, but also the intentional space Jesus made to get alone and pray to the Father. One might even say that prayer and dependence on His Father was the precise reason His ministry was so effective! He knew that apart from doing what His Father was doing, He could do nothing. From the beginning of His public ministry to the end of it, prayer was a centerpiece in the life of Jesus. When asked by His disciples how to pray, He taught them what is now known as “The Lord’s Prayer” and is found in Matthew 6:9-13:

Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

This prayer is short (only 52 words in the ESV!), and yet it is rich in depth… It begins with an address and then gives us 7 petitions. We’ll be focusing in and praying through the address and the first petition today.

The Address

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” -A.W. Tozer

Close your eyes for moment. Picture yourself walking into the throne room of God in order to speak with Him. As you come closer to His throne, what immediately comes to your mind? What does God’s face look like? Does he have a scowl or a grin? Is He busy and bothered, or caring and loving? Do you have part of His attention or the whole of it? For Jesus’ disciples to have a healthy prayer life, He knew they’d have to think rightly about God, so He intentionally starts with this address.

Jesus teaches us that we must see God rightly when we come to Him! Jesus calls Him Abba Father. First and foremost, God is our Father. We don’t come to God as distant servants, but as cherished sons and daughters who through the work and blood of Jesus have been adopted into God’s very own family. Not only is God our Father, but He is our Father in heaven. Our Father isn’t some weak powerless dad who can’t stand up for us, but rather is the King of the universe with unlimited power at His disposal. There is nothing impossible for Him, and there is no request too great!

Let’s begin by worshipping our Father in heaven! Let’s start by praising Him in prayer… Think about God’s attributes and actions toward you, particularly as a Father. Meditate on those things, express gratitude for each one! Let’s take also take a moment to pray that Park would be a church that prays regularly because they know of their identity as children of God! Pray that God wouldn’t be a theoretically good Father to those at Park, but rather a Father whom they know intimately and walk with through His Spirit.

Song Ideas For This Prayer Section: Good Good Father, In Tenderness, Before The Throne

Petition #1: Hallowed be Your name

The first petition Jesus teaches us to ask our heavenly Father for is that His name would be “hallowed.” God reveals Himself throughout Scripture as the God who is thrice holy. If God is already holy, why would we need to pray that God’s name would be hallowed? Jesus wants the name of God to be the most important name in His disciples’ lives! What’s in a name? In Bible times, names got at the heart of who someone was. A name was tied to a person; to an identity and an essence. To pray for God’s name to be “hallowed” means to pray that His name would be set apart in our lives from every other name. That His name would be uncontested in our hearts! That we would honor God’s name, revere it, and ultimately treasure His name above any other name, even our very own names!

Take a moment to think about your own life. What are you treasuring most? What things are you honoring and seeking? In all of those pursuits, where does the pursuit of God lie? Is He chief among all pursuits or one among many? Or is He not even on your radar? Let’s take time to pray that God’s name would be:

  • Treasured in our lives first and foremost.
  • Esteemed by our friends and families.
  • Known and loved by our co-workers, neighbors, and those who don’t yet know Him!
  • Lifted up in Denver above all names! That Jesus would be the name that resounds the loudest throughout the city.

Song Ideas For This Prayer Section: Be Thou My Vision, Set A Fire, Forever Reign, Be Lifted Up (Josh Baldwin)


Bread & Wine 2016 Event Recap

Around 300 of us gathered at Moss Denver on November 30 to celebrate our fourth annual Bread & Wine event.

Why do we return to this celebration year after year?

Our tagline for Bread & Wine is as follows: An evening to taste and see the glory of God through his good creation. Let’s unpack this a bit.

Think back to the last meal Jesus shared with his group of disciples before his crucifixion. There in the upper room, God incarnate grabbed two of the most basic elements of mealtime – bread and wine. And with a couple sentences he breathed new meaning into them: “Take and eat; this is my body… Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus selected common elements to represent the drastically uncommon – God’s reconciliation of His people to Himself through the labor of His Son.

But wait. Could there be another layer of import woven into Jesus’ actions that night?

It’s fascinating that Jesus chose elements that required human activity and involvement in order to create. Truth be told, he could have used barley instead of bread, grapes instead of a Grenache. His selected symbols for his sacrifice on the cross could have been items that exist within untouched creation, apart from the work of people.

But they weren’t. He chose bread and wine – elements that necessarily require the work of human minds and hands – to represent his reconciling work, work that actually created the family of God.

This demonstrates the value God places upon the activity to which he has called us. Certainly, the sovereign Lord of the cosmos is Himself working salvation for his namesake through the narrative of human history. And yet, he knits our individual and localized stories into this grand narrative, ushering us to play our part in restoring all things through our daily actions.

In short, God’s redemptive and unifying grace is communicated and established through human interaction with one another and the created order. And it is in these places that we see the very glory of God. But only if we’re looking for it.

That’s why we host Bread & Wine each year. We need regular reminders to experience our dynamic world as one that is “charged with the grandeur of God.” These reminders need be more than verbal; oftentimes we need embodied practices to teach our souls what our intellect may already grasp.

This particular evening we highlighted the role and reality of hospitality in the renewed Christian family. You see, this “bread” was broken for us, and this “wine” was poured out for our sins, that we may be brought near to our Father. Like the prodigal son from Luke 15, we have run away from the Author of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in order to glut ourselves on cheap substitutes. But through the meal of Jesus’ body and blood, we are recreated into the family of God.

Now, compelled by this infinite hospitality shown to us, may we step into our daily lives portraying this same gracious welcome, making use of the material things at our disposal to sacrificially love those around us.

What a beautiful, merciful, and creative God we serve!

Photos of the event taken by Melanie Fenwick.

Why We Observe Lent

You might have noticed us talking about Lent as well as the “Christian Calendar”. Many did not grow up in a Christian church, and if you did, your particular church may have never talked about Lent or some of the other seasons within the Christian calendar.

So what is Lent and why do we observe it? “The Worship Sourcebook” describes the season this way:

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the heart of the Christian gospel, and Good Friday and Easter are two of the most significant celebrations of the Christian year. Lent is a season of preparation and repentance during which we anticipate Good Friday and Easter. Just as we carefully prepare for big events in our personal lives, such as a wedding or commencement, Lent invites us to make our hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ passion and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.

The practice of a forty-day preparation period began in the Christian church during the third and fourth centuries. The number forty carries biblical significance based on the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness and Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness. The forty days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday and continue through holy week, not counting Sundays (which are reserved for celebratory worship). In practice, many congregations choose to focus Sunday worship on the themes of repentance and renewal. As a period of preparation, Lent has historically included the instruction of persons for baptism and profession of faith on Easter Sunday; the calling back of those who have become estranged from the church; and efforts by all Christians to deepen their piety, devotion, and readiness to mark the death and resurrection of their Savior. As such, the primary focus of the season is to explore and deepen a “baptismal spirituality” that centers on our union with Christ rather than to function only as an extended meditation on Christ’s suffering and death.

The traditional color for the season is purple. Some congregations choose to highlight the contrast between Lent and Eastertide (the period from Easter to Ascension Day or Pentecost or Trinity Sunday) by omitting the singing of “Alleluia” during the Lenten season, and yet other congregations stress that all the Sundays of Lent are “little Easters” and thus may appropriately feature Easter-like praise.

Here are a few other resources you might find helpful:

Why Bother With Lent

What Is The Christian Calendar?

Why Do We Follow The Christian Calendar?

What is Ash Wednesday and Why Do We Observe It?

We hope this helps you understand and engage a bit more with the season. For those wanting to explore this season in more depth, we’re encouraging everyone to read “A Hunger For God” by John Piper.

We have it available at our bookstore, but you can get a free PDF of the book here.

May this season of Lent that often is marked by fasting be one of feasting on God and all He is for us in Christ. May this season prepare our hearts for Good Friday & Easter, both increasing our awareness of our sinfulness but also our gratitude for the One who gave His life for us.

Engaging with Advent This Year

It doesn’t take but a quick glance at our news over the last week or two to know that something is not right with our world. The Paris bombing, the Syrian refugee crisis, the Colorado Springs shooting on Friday that killed 3 and wounded 9 others all stand as reminders that our world is a dark and broken place that needs saving.

Today marks the beginning of Advent, the Christian Calendar season that starts 4 Sundays before Christmas that both looks back to Christ’s first humble advent in a manger in Bethlehem, but primarily focuses in on His second glorious advent as judge in the clouds. This season is about longing, hoping, and anticipating Christ’s return to right every wrong in the world and wipe away every tear. It’s about acknowledging the shadows we face in this world but also praying for the dawn to drown out the darkness. It’s about the prayer of longing we find in Revelation 22:17:

“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

We created an Advent guide to help lead you and your family through this season with various readings and prayers that you can pick up today at any service! If you’re not familiar with the Christian Calendar, or Advent, we’ve provided 3 links below:

What is Advent? (Justin Holcomb)
What Is the Christian Calendar?
Why Advent & The Christian Calendar?

May this season prepare our hearts for Christmas, and also increase our anticipation for and adoration of our King who will soon return. Come, Lord Jesus!

Why The Apostles’ Creed During Advent?

Throughout the season of Advent, we’ll begin our gathered time of worship reading the The Apostles’ Creed together. “Creed” means belief, and this particular one is the oldest of Christian creeds. Why will be focus in on this creed during Advent?

First, it helps frame the season of Advent.
This creed clearly articulates Christ’s incarnation (His first advent), death and resurrection, but also reminds us of his return to judge the living and the dead (His second advent). These are imperative to fully grasp this season; Christ came as a servant to lay down His life and will come again in power!

Second, it proclaims the gospel.
When JI Packer was asked if you can find the gospel in the Apostles’ Creed, he responded that the Creed was in essence a “power-point declaration of the basics of the Christian message – in other words, of the gospel itself.” While many have boiled down the gospel to certain basics for ease of comprehension and sharing, the Apostles’ Creed provides a full picture of the gospel without watering down any elements. It’s a way of reminding ourselves of the gospel’s larger story and beauty!

Third, it’s a tool for discipleship.
Over the last few years, so many books have been written on discipleship that it’s somewhat overwhelming to know where to start! The church in the second and third centuries would utilize the Apostles’ Creed as they taught new converts about the faith. These courses often lasted three years, culminating with their confession of faith, baptism, and communion on Easter. In the Apostles’ Creed, we learn the basics of Christian doctrine: the Trinity, creation, the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the forgiveness of sins, and the nature of our resurrection. When was the last time you read all of these held together in a single, fairly concise statement?

Fourth, it connects us to those who’ve gone before us.
The Apostles’ creed was written in the second century. In using it, we’re reminded that the Church wasn’t birthed in the last 20 years, but rather has been around for 2000 years and continues to hold to central and key beliefs grounded in Scripture. It’s a beautiful thing to know we are not alone in our journey!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Apostles’ Creed, consider reading through JI Packer’s book “Affirming the Apostles’ Creed” (we’ve made these available on the bookshelves at Park Church) where he breaks down each phrase. It’s been an incredibly encouraging resource for me personally, and would be a great tool to take others through as well.

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate;
was crucified, dead and buried;

He descended into hell.

The third day he rose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
I believe in the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
The forgiveness of sins;
The resurrection of the body;
And the life everlasting.