Lynne is a Presbyterian minister and author of numerous books and Bible study guides. She lives in Seattle. Read more »
Lynne recently spoke on "Spiritual Practices for Preachers" (recorded as a video on YouTube.) The talk is relevant to anyone in ministry and focuses on how to draw near to God simply as a child of God as well as engaging in spiritual practices for the sake of ministry.
Lynne preached recently on Reverent Submission, trying to reclaim the word "submission," which has a bad rap in our time.
Soon before she left her position in New Zealand as senior lecturer in pastoral theology, Lynne recorded a one-minute video for her departmental website describing what's most important to her in her writing and teaching.
"Lynne's writing is beautiful. Her tone has such a note of hope and excitement about growth. It is gentle and affirming."
— a reader
"Dear Dr. Baab, You changed my life. It is only through God’s gift of the sabbath that I feel in my heart and soul that God loves me apart from anything I do."
— a reader of Sabbath Keeping
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Friday October 19 2018
For several weeks now, I’ve been writing about the prayers in the New Testament letters attributed to the Apostle Paul. These prayers have shaped my prayers in so many ways over so many years. Today I focus on thankfulness.
Paul recommends thankfulness in many passages. My favorite is Colossians 3:12-17, one of the passages Dave and I chose for our wedding. If you want to click on the link to the passage, notice how many times Paul mentions thankfulness in this description of how to live the Christian life.
In addition to recommending gratitude, Paul also models thankfulness in the letters. I won’t comment on the passages below. I will simply quote from all the places in his letters where he thanks God for the people he is writing to. Notice what he thanks God for, and spend some time pondering if you could thank God for those same characteristics in people in your life.
“I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world.”
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
—1 Corinthians 1:4-7
“I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.”
—Ephesians 1: 15-16
“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.”
“In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.”
“We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
—1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
“We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.”
—1 Thessalonians 2:13
“We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.”
—2 Thessalonians 1:3
“But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”
—2 Thessalonians 2:13
“I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith.”
—2 Timothy 1:3-5
“When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith towards the Lord Jesus.”
(Next week: prayer in the non-Pauline New Testament letters. Illustration by Dave Baab. If you’d like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up under “subscribe” in the right hand column.)
Some previous posts on prayer:
Previous posts in this series:
Connections between the Bible and prayer
The character of God and prayer
The context of the Lord’s Prayer
Instructions from the Apsotle Paul
Paul's prayer in Colossians
Two prayers in Ephesians
The prayer in Philippians
Friday October 12 2018
I heard a story yesterday that broke my heart. Someone I know from a distance, but who I always liked, became the pastor of a congregation a few years ago. Someone else, who knows the situation at that church, told me about the ways this person did not care wisely or lovingly for the sheep.
While I was grieving about what I heard, I sat down to write my blog post for this week, focused on the Apostle Paul’s prayer in Philippians.
I’ve been writing about the prayers in the letters attributed to the Apostle Paul, an exercise in pure joy for me, because I love these prayers. In each post, I’ve been printing the intercessory portion of each prayer. (Next week I’m going to focus on the thankfulness portion of all the prayers.) For the Philippians prayer, I had decided last week that I was going to print the thankfulness portion, the few sentences that follow, and the intercessory portion.
These words demonstrate such care for the young Christians in Philippi. They stand in such contrast to what I heard about yesterday.
“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:3-11)
These words demonstrate the joy, heart connection, and longing that the Apostle Paul felt for the Christians in Philippi. He is not ashamed to express his emotions about the connection he feels with them. Note that his connection is grounded in both his relationship with them and what God is doing and will do. This double grounding for his prayer is the key point I’ll mention several times in this post.
Verse 6 is often quoted separately from the rest of the prayer: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” This promise has given countless Christians confidence to try to love and serve God for one more day. It’s interesting to read the verse sandwiched between Paul’s description of his prayers of gratitude for the Philippians and his prayer of intercession for them.
His gratitude and his intercession are based on his love for them, as well as his understanding of the way God works in us. Paul toggles back and forth, in almost every sentence, between his expressions of care specifically related to the Philippians and his descriptions of the way God works through Jesus Christ. His prayers are profoundly based in knowledge of the people he’s praying for and knowledge of God.
This prayer mirrors some of the themes I wrote about related to the prayer in Colossians 1. Paul prays here that they would grow in knowledge of God so they can display the “harvest of righteousness” (verse 11).
In my post on the prayers in Ephesians, I mentioned the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” that Paul prays for. Paul is always concerned about the connection between knowing God and the way we live in response to that knowledge.
I encourage you to think about three people for whom you could pray the words of this prayer from Philippians. Eliminate the words about Paul’s imprisonment and any other words that don’t seem appropriate. Pray this prayer for the people you’ve chosen for several days in a row. See what new perspectives you have on this prayer after you pray it for a few days.
(Next week: Paul’s prayers of thankfulness. Illustration by Dave Baab. If you’d like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up under “subscribe” in the right hand column.)
Previous posts in this series:
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Saturday October 6 2018
Of all the letters in the New Testament attributed to the Apostle Paul (ranging from Romans through Titus), Ephesians is unique because it contains two prayers. The prayer in the first chapter comes after a dozen beautiful verses about the blessings God has given us in Christ: adoption, grace, redemption, riches, an inheritance, and the Holy Spirit.
The prayer begins in verse 15:
“I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.” (Ephesians 1:15-19)
The prayer builds on the previous paragraph of the letter because it refers back to the “riches of his glorious inheritance.” I find myself wondering how often I ask, as I pray for myself or others, that we might become increasingly aware of the inheritance we have received as adopted children of God and adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus.
In addition to an awareness of this glorious inheritance, the prayer focuses on enlightened hearts so that we might know the hope we have been called to and the greatness of God’s power for us. I do pray for hope and for power for myself and others, but not as often as I might. In this time of so much fear and despair, praying for hope for many of the people in my life would be a good idea.
Many aspects of this prayer are worth pondering as a fuel for our own prayers. If I were to pray for a “spirit of wisdom and revelation” for myself and others as we grow in our knowledge of God, what would I hope for as the outcome of that wisdom and knowledge? Paul has given three things he hopes the Colossians would know because of increasing wisdom and knowledge – hope, their inheritance in Christ, and God’s power. In 2018, what do we need to know as a result of increased wisdom and knowledge of God? What words would we use to pray for those things?
Paul’s second prayer in Ephesians comes in chapter 3:
“I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)
I memorized this prayer many years ago, and I have prayed this prayer for myself and for others many, many times. The second sentence – focused on power, Christ’s indwelling, faith, and love – is appropriate to pray for so many people in so many places of need.
The third sentence is delightfully circular. This part of the prayer always makes me smile. Paul is praying that we would comprehend something that he considers to be incomprehensible: God’s love. This sentence seems to me to capture something so significant about life in Christ. As days and months and years pass, as we try to abide in Christ, we grow in experiencing God’s love in new areas of our life. As we grow, we realize God’s love is even bigger than we can imagine, comprehend or experience.
I love the addition of “with all the saints” in the last sentence of the prayer. We learn to know God’s love in community with other followers of Jesus. That phrase motivates me to pray thankfulness prayers for the people in my life who have nurtured, and continue to nurture, my faith.
As I write this blog post, I am praying for my readers: “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18 and 19).
(Next week: more about Paul's prayers. Illustration by Dave Baab. If you'd like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up under "subscribe" in the right hand column.)
I’m still trying to get out the word about my new book, Nurturing Hope: Christian Pastoral Care in the Twenty-First Century. Please let the pastoral care people at your church know about it. There are some clear and helpful reviews of the book on the amazon.com page. Just click on the book title in the first line of this paragraph.
Previous posts in this series: