Most of us have probably seen the Disney/Pixar animated movie “Finding Nemo.” You remember that it’s a great story of an overly-cautious clown-fish father in search of his adventurous, now lost clown-fish son (Nemo). In the ocean-journey to find Nemo, the father meets up with a fish, named Dori, who has some necessary information and a willingness to help. But there is one huge problem, Dori has a very short-term memory. Still yet, she eventually helps father and son clown-fish reunite.
One of the things that helps Dori and also proves helpful for finding Nemo is expressed in a little ditty, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” When she seems to forget everything and everyone else, she has been taught to remember one thing: just keep swimming! That’s what a fish does.
Now lest you think I have stepped off the deep end, this blog is not about singing fish! But it is about remembering one thing when we can’t seem to make sense out of anything. Just as a fish (even an animated fish) is meant to swim, we as born-again children of God are meant for intimacy with God in prayer. Prayer is the oxygen of spiritual life. It is our spiritual breathing.
When we are confused, lost, frustrated, turned around, sick, anxious, joyful, discouraged, even depressed we need to hear in our souls, “Just keep praying, just keep praying.” This is surely one of the lessons we learn from the Psalter. The Psalmists cry out to God in all types of circumstances and at all times of the day. In times of fear he prays (Ps 56). In times of injustice he prays (Ps 17). In times of intense suffering and loneliness he prays (Ps 22). In times of shame, he prays (Ps 3). In times of deliverance, he prays (Ps 18). In times of guilt, he prays (Ps 32 & 51). In times of near unbelief, he prays (Ps 73). In times of depression he prays (Ps 42). In times of wonder and worship he prays (Ps 8). In times of joy and celebration he prays (Ps 45)!
Brothers and sisters let us never forget that we were created in Christ for intimacy with God in prayer. No matter what life circumstances we find ourselves in, may we remember: “Just keep praying, just keep praying.”
I have recently been re-reading Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones was deeply committed to preaching (expository preaching) in a time when preaching was in decline. Culture and churches were clamoring for new ways and methods to advance the kingdom and preaching was losing its primary place in the life of the church and the work of evangelism. Lloyd-Jones didn’t budge. He continued to preach and he continued to call the Church and preachers back to the primacy of preaching.
One of his arguments for the primacy of preaching in the gathered congregation both encouraged and thrilled me. I would like to simply quote it for your consideration and benefit:
“Now the Church is a missionary body, and we must recapture this notion that the whole Church is a part of this witness to the Gospel and its truth and its message. It is therefore most important that people should come together and listen in companies in the realm of the Church. That has an impact in and of itself….The preacher after all is not speaking for himself, he is speaking for the Church, he is explaining what the Church is and what these people are, and why they are what they are….The very presence of a body of people in itself is a part of the preaching, and these influences begin to act immediately upon anyone who comes into a service. These influences, I suggest, are very often more potent in a spiritual sense than pure intellectual argumentation.
“Not only that, when a man comes into a church to a body of people he begins to get some idea of the fact that they are the people of God, and that they are the modern representatives of something that has been known in every age and generation throughout the centuries. This makes an impact on him, in and of itself. He is not simply considering a new theory or a new teaching or a new idea. Here he is visiting or entering into something that has this long history and tradition.
“But let me put it in this form; the man who thinks that all this can be done by reading, or by just looking at a television set, is missing the mysterious element in the life of the Church. What is this? It is what our Lord was suggesting, I think, when He said, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst.’ It is not a mere gathering of people; Christ is present. This is the great mystery of the Church. There is something in the very atmosphere of Christian people meeting together to worship God and to listen to the preaching of the Gospel. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers, 40th Anniversary Edition, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 52-54.)
I hope Lloyd-Jones’ words help us continue to foster a spirit of supplication, anticipation, and expectation as we gather weekly to worship in the mighty name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.