How I Prayed for Character

“A man of noble character who can find?”

This verse popped into my head as I sat down to write about praying this month for character in the Chinese church. Only I misremembered: instead of “man,” the Scripture actually speaks of a “wife of noble character.” Perhaps it was a happy mistake, for it illustrates the point: no woman or man—no mere mortal for that matter—is truly of “noble character.”

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“This is the crux of praying for character. Even as I say no one can meet this standard, I am also sure we are not asking God for the impossible when we ask him to grant his character to his people.

This is the crux of praying for character. Even as I say no one can meet this standard, I am also sure we are not asking God for the impossible when we ask him to grant his character to his people. When we ask God to graciously grow character in Chinese Christians, we can in the same moment rejoice, because he has already given every believer his character by giving us Christ.

Briefly step with me through the psalms that led our prayers this month for character. As you read, pray with me that God will give more and more of himself to his people in China, that those who know him may become like him.

No one can find the “wife of noble character” who receives such acclaim in Proverbs 31. She is an ideal; she herself does not exist. Yet we can read the description of this woman the way we read the Psalms and all of Scripture: by seeing and understanding that Jesus alone is the benchmark for noble character and for every good thing. All of Scripture points to Christ, the one who both sets the standard – and fulfills it.


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Psalm One

“Beloved little ones, would you like to know how you can live a truly blessed life?” Thus begins Wen Dao, a Chinese Christian now living outside of Mainland. Although this present age is full of pestilence and war, “the righteous” can experience true delight and joy by knowing God. When we read and internalize his Word, when we meditate on his law, then he himself becomes our full joy. We fully inhabit the place he has put us while at the same time the cacophonous importance of less-than-perfect circumstances fades. When we have him, we have everything. “Let us think on his Word…until the day we see him again.”

Psalm 15

How can we enter God’s presence? This question undergirds Psalm 15. The answer is less than comforting to sinners: only the righteous have the right to dwell with God. But Boaz Yang writes, “the essence of God’s plan of salvation…is to restore that perfect picture when God dwelt with man.”

We can dwell with God on his holy hill because of Christ. Those who believe in Jesus bear his righteousness, and gain admittance to the eternal, heavenly city. This culminates in the present-day descent of the culture of the kingdom. Yang writes, “The church is part of the kingdom of heaven in these gradually unfolding end times…the culture of Psalm 15 should become the culture of the church.”

Psalm 51

Beijing pastor An Xi points out that this psalm is a song with astounding lyrics: Israel’s most famous king is confessing his egregious sins, and setting them to music so his people can sing the lyrics of his sorrow. “Not only did David face his sin with uncompromising honesty, but he also looked forward to experiencing God’s radical renewal.”

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“Jesus alone is the benchmark for noble character and for every good thing. All of Scripture points to Christ, the one who both sets the standard – and fulfills it.

We, like David, do not have to hide from the shame of our sin, but can display true character and unflinchingly face—and then find forgiveness—for our sins.

Psalm 37

Finally, when we see the wicked prosper, it is easy to think pursuing character is not worthwhile. It is also tempting to sit in judgment, believing we ourselves are righteous, set in a different category from those the evil. Li Yingqiang reminds us that God is just and that he will develop his good character in us: “This is God’s turning over of our lives. We are no longer totally powerless to do good, but can, by his grace, do what is pleasing to the Lord.”


E.F. Gregory is a mom of three young children. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband is a P.C.A. church planter.  

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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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