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Lesson Five: The Power of Prayer
The Fourth CWG Commandment
You shall pray regularly and fervently for God's wisond and direction, for your readers, and for the editors to whom you write.
(I Thessalonians 5:17)
Preparation and Prayer
Bring to the meeting:
» A Bible and your 3-ring binder
» Your assignments from last lesson (enough copies for all if intended for critique)
» Letters that have been published
» New letters you may have begun since the last lesson
As you open your meeting, pray:
» For the members of your group
» For your audience
» For articies from your group members which are now pending publication
» For God to give you a renewed commitment to prayer
Establishing the Vision: Importance of Prayer Scripture: I Timothy 2:1-4
"The self-sufficient do not pray; the self-satisfied will not pray; the self-righteous cannot pray. No person is greater than his prayer life." -Leonard Ravenhill
In the early church, the apostles set out to make disciples. The Bible tells us they devoted themselves to prayer and to the Word of God. The last lesson emphasized the importance of having a complete and balanced knowledge of God's word ... how it keeps us from error and conforms us to God's image. Now we will look at the importance of prayer in the life of any obedient believer who makes disciples.
Prayer perfects the message
Jesus said that everything He did was what He saw the Father doing. He spent long hours in prayer listening to the voice of the One who sent Him. As we learn to be quiet before the Lord and listen to His voice, we will know what He wants to say to the members of our communities. In this way we can be assured that His words go out in His time and with His power. As our wills and ideals become immersed in the mind of Christ, we become His hands, His voice, His ministers to mankind and He can change the world through us.
Prayer empowers the writer
Before we begin to write, we must ask God to reveal to us any unconfessed sin or harmful attitudes which would hinder our effectiveness. Satan would like nothing better than to bog us down in a swamp of guilt, unrighteousness, unresolved conflict, hurt and self-pity. When this happens, our effectiveness as God's ministers is hampered. When we confess, repent and resolve these issues in Jesus' name, we can proceed with confidence that God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. From that position, we can effectively communicate His heart to the world. (We will study how to identify subtle sin in our lives next lesson.)
Additionally, prayer for our readers, especially for those with whom we disagree, fosters a loving attitude toward them. It will be much harder to write in a harsh or condemning manner to those whom we have brought to the Lord in prayer As you pray for your audience, keep in mind that it comprises:
» Christians who eagerly desire to be taught
» Believers who have accepted Christ, but know little about obedience
» Unbelievers who are not familiar with the Gospel.
Learn to pray for each group, asking God to show you His heart toward His people.
Prayer prepares the audience
One of the most compelling principles of God's kingdom is that in our own strength, we can do nothing. Unless the Holy Spirit prepares the way, our message will be diminished. We must pray:
» that the message will be clear and concise
» that the editor who reads it will print it (pray for him/her by name, if possible)
» that those who need this message will see it
» that the hearts of the readers will be softened
» that God will use us according to His will.
Let's face it-we are writing for a medium which will be read today and perhaps wrap the garbage tomorrow! We nearly always will be showing people truth they don't want to see ... what it is in their selfish interest not to see. To think we can make an impact without the power of the Holy Spirit is naive. But remember ... we are the Church, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against us!
Questions For Discussion
» Chuck Swindoll compares prayer and scripture to "heat" and "light." If you pray without teaching you have heat with no light; if you teach Scripture without praying you have light with no heat. Discuss the significance of this truth to writers.
» What does it mean to consecrate (set apart) our own desires, goals, motives and plans to God's purposes? How will failure to do this affect our writing?
Perfecting Our Skills
Spend about ten minutes on each letter or Point of View column which has been written since the last meeting. Refer to Lesson Two for the RACE procedure. Pay special attention to whether Scripture was used in an accurate and compelling manner.
Developing Relationships with Editors
The best discipline letter in the world is useless if no editor will print it. Bob Briner has learned "...after 35 years in the media business,...the single most productive factor in the area of distribution is a relationship with the person making the editorial decisions." Here are some guidelines to help you initiate a relationship with your local editors:
1. Pray for them.
2. Correspond with them by name. (You should have this information in your notebook from Lesson One.)
3. Thank the editor for articles or letters-your own or those of other writers-which you have appreciated seeing in print.
4. Offer suggestions for other articles or submit articles for consideration.
This can be an individual effort or a group project. Appoint one or two persons in your group to look out for letters, essays, articles, features and news stories which advance God's kingdom by bringing a Biblical perspective to bear. Choose others in the group to take turns writing appropriate letters of thanks, both to the writers of the pieces and to the editors who selected them for publication. Nothing encourages editors to run syndicated columns by such writers as Cal Thomas, more than letters of thanks from local readers.
Unfortunately, the majority of mail from Christians is negative and critical. How much greater the impact if we seek out what is good and give thanks! If our thanks encourages editors and writers to include Christian principles even twice as often, we have met our goal of discipling our city!
How to Write an Effective Opening Paragraph
The most effective writing tool you can master is writing a punchy lead paragraph. If you lose a reader at the beginning, you lose him forever.
1. Be succinct.
2. Get to the point. Summarize in one sentence- no more than two-what you are planning to tell the reader. Then use the body of the letter/op-ed column to build your case and support your statement.
Ex. "I believe that more consistent and compassionate discipline in our schools would stem the tide of violence there."
3. Use a "lead" to grab attention before presenting your thesis whenever appropriate. Three common kinds of leads are:
» Quotations-famous or not
» Anecdote-a brief story to illustrate your point
» Arresting-something unusual or unexpected that will capture attention
Ex. "Want to know a secret? I've discovered the hidden agenda of the Religious Right..." could begin an article about how the real "hidden" church functions in quiet service to individuals in your community.
1 . Determine to spend more time in prayer this month and observe how it affects your writing.
2. Pray for work you have submitted which has not yet been published. Send the Op-Ed piece you critiqued.
3. Write at least one letter to an editor, thanking him/her for publishing something that reveals God's Truth: a syndicated column, a local writer, book review or letter to the editor.
4. Write a letter, Op-ed piece or Commentary in obedience to the Great Commission.
Keeping to Only One Tense
When editing your writing, check to see whether you have been consistent in your use of past/present/future tense throughout your article. Unless you are denoting a shift in time it is illogical to shift tenses.
INCORRECT: I went to the window and there I see a rare and beautiful bird.
CORRECT: I went to the window and there I saw a rare and beautiful bird.
While this inconsistency may seem very obvious within a sentence, it is very common for writers to "lose track of time" and shift tenses within the body of an article or letter.
When using a singular noun or pronoun, you must use the singular verb as well; plural subjects demand a plural verb. Take care to determine which noun is the subject!
Ex. Several verses were used in this letter (Plural)
This group of verses was used well. (Singular)
Mary and John have given their best. (Plural)
Harper & Rowe is a large publishing house. (A company name is a singular entity.)
If the subject of the sentence is in first, second or third person, the verb must match:
INCORRECT: When someone writes a letter, they should be polite.
CORRECT: When someone writes a letter, he should be polite.
This may seem simple, but be careful! There are a number of complications that can trip you up. The best way to avoid problems is to consult a good grammar guide to learn the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Thought to Ponder:
"Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons-but they are helpless against our prayers." -Sidlow Baxter
» II Chron. 7:14-15
» Acts 14:23
» Psalm 5:1-3
» Rom. 1:9-10
» Psalm 37:5
» Rom. 8:26
» Matt. 5:44
» Rom. 12:12
» Luke 11:1-13
» Phil. 4:6
» Luke 18:1-8
» Col. 1:3
» John 5:19
» 1 Thes. 5:16-18
» John 16:24
» 1 Tim. 2:1-2
» Acts 1:14
This is the fifth of twelve lessons in the "Church Writing Group " curriculum, Reproduction of this lesson is permissible.
For more information contact The Amy Foundation, P.O. Box 16091, Lansing, Ml 48901, (517) 323-6233.
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