I blogged Piper's prayer earlier this morning. But I've been thinking about it in the last half hour and wondering what it was about the prayer that drew me to it. As I thought about it, I began to understand why I liked it.
Firstly, it's not about what needs fixing. I've heard a lot of prayers for the local church over the years. A lot of them go something like this: "Oh God how long do I have to put up with this?" They are not always put so starkly, but the underlying theme is not far from this model. Whether it's consumerism or just plain human frailty, church gets the short end of the stick a lot of the time.
Secondly, Piper's prayer doesn't focus on the ministries of the church. In fact it doesn't focus on the ministry of the church at all when you think about it. The focus is upon the work of God. It isn't a prayer asking God to bless what we are doing, rather it's a prayer asking God to do what he alone can do.
Thirdly, there's an element of self-realisation. In other words, when he prays for change in the life of the disciple, he prays things that affect us all. We all all want to be more bold in our witness, more fervent in our prayers, more diligent and engaged in our personal Bible reading.
And fourthly, while it has this element of self in it, it remains a prayer of blessing on the whole church. What better way to pray for the church of which you are a part than to bless it. Even when it's a struggle, there is no excuse for not blessing the church that bears the name of Jesus.