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Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

Public Prayer

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. – Matthew 6:5 (NIV)

We need to understand the tenets of public prayer.  Jesus was concerned about it.  He did not want us to become like the hypocrites.  That was part of Jesus’ concern about public prayer.

Is Tim Tebow being a hypocrite when praying on the field? How about those kids in New York who were suspended for Tebowing at school? Were they being earnest, seeking to pray without ceasing or just trying to showboat in some self-righteous display? Even some Christians condemn Tebow’s display of prayer.  Some people have even gone so far as to use this very verse to justify how Jesus would have condemned Tebow’s public prayer on the field as hypocritical.

In His famed Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shares some things that we should do and should not do.  He does not denounce public prayer.  He shuns the practice of public prayer with the intent of seeking to be seen by others rather than to impact others.  If we pray in public, it should be prayer that touches the public rather than simply show them that we are so righteous and right with God that they never could attain our superior status.  That is the epitome of what Jesus called being like the hypocrites.

We need to pray in public.  We need to organize public prayer rallies.  We need every prayer rally possible at City Hall, at the steps of Capitol Hill, and on the streets of the inner city.  We need prayer in the midst of drug-infested projects and amid out-of-touch politicians and civic leaders.  We need prayer for the streets for safety and peace.  We need prayer.

We need testimonies of answered prayers on the streets.  We need to stand before those who do not know God and share how God answered our prayers.  We need to encircle one another, encircle the community, and simply circle up and pray.  Our standing in public places and in prayer should give others hope today.

On Tebow, I don’t believe that the brother is trying to show off or prove himself to be more righteous than the next man.  I believe that, if we were truly honest, we would not simply target Tebow.  We would all see that any person in any capacity related to professional sports needs some prayer.  In fact, didn’t former NFL pro defensive lineman Rosey Grier turn into a Christian social activist and prayer warrior? We didn’t bludgeon Rosey then as much as Tebow today.  Why because he’s 6’5″ with God on his side? I don’t think so. 

Let’s get real about this.  The world is going to twist the Word of God out of convenience and seek to take Christians through the ringer when they profess their faith publicly.  We need more public prayer in the right places for the right reasons and with the right intentions.  It can make a difference.

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“Prayer is the daily work of the Christian.” – Martin Luther

We can go to the Master with all that is on our hearts.  We do not have to hold it in.  We do not have to hold on to the things that hold us hostage.  We have an advocate in the Lord Jesus Christ

Go to the Master:

  • Immediately
  • Intensely
  • Intentionally
  • Intimately

 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. – 1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)

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“Prayers never die.” – E.M. Bounds

“God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.” — John Wesley

“If you are too busy to pray then you are too busy.” -W. E. Sangster

Some of the top Christian writers on prayer would have to be:

  • E.M. Bounds
  • John Wesley
  • Andrew Murray
  • W.E. Sangster
  • R.A. Torrey

I say that these names are among the top Christian writers on the topic simple due to the expansiveness upon which they wrote on prayer as well as the depth that they wrote on prayer.  Some of their titles that may be of help to you are listed below.

  • How to Pray- John Wesley
  • Teach Us to Pray- W.E. Sangster
  • Andrew Murray on Prayer– Andrew Murray
  • The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer– E.M. Bounds
  • The Power of Prayer-R.A. Torrey

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“If thou art not a praying person, thou art not a Christian.” – John Bunyan

There certain things that Christians are expected to do.  That’s a given.  Much like Paul asserts throughout his epistles to the believers, we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).  With the gift of God that comes through grace by faith with salvation, we have entered a new life as Christians.  That being said, we are to live up to the expectations of the Lord for us in our lives as believers.

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.Matthew 5:48 (KJV)

The Lord shared what some have termed as some “hard sayings” in the Gospels.  Yet, if we maintain our connection to our strength and our source, we can do anything and all things (Philippians 4:13).  We have to live by His commands.

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.- Matthew 26:41 (NIV)

We need to stay prayerful.  Why? The Lord said so.  Why? It is for our own benefit.  It is so that we will not fall prey to temptation and go astray.  What’s the big deal? The big deal is that we can want to do right as much as we can say, think or believe it, but the test comes along when the temptation is right at our fingertips.  Will we do right? That’s a prime reason for us to pray.  Jesus said so.

Never stop praying. – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

Keep praying.  Don’t stop praying.  Stay prayerful.  You can say it all sorts of way, but you have to focus on such an activity as prayer.  You go to pray and end up falling asleep.  You go to pray and let your mind drift from your prayer list to your shopping list or the numerous errands that you still have to do for the day.  Focus and firm up on your prayer.  Get more focus so that you can stay on track with your prayer life.

Pray, pray and just keep on praying.

You may not get all of what you wished for, but pray.

You may not get to every place that you wanted to go, but pray.

You may not get out of the storm that has come upon you, but pray.

Practice and learn how to stay prayerful.

You will never stick it out if you never get started.  Start praying in order to stay prayerful.

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Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. – Acts 3:1 (KJV)

Many of us need prayer.  Also, if we look at prayer honestly, we know that many of us also need someone to pray for us and to pray with us.  Some call them  accountability partners, while others call them prayer partners.  We need someone to hold us accountable for staying committed to prayer and sticking it out in prayer.

Look at Acts chapter 3.  The Word tells us that Peter and John are in tandem.  They are together, stride by stride, side by side, headed to the temple at the hour of prayer.  They are intentional about where they are headed and what they seek to do.  They are walking together towards their destination.  They both are headed to the same place for the same purpose.

Each of us needs a Peter or a John in prayer lives.  We need that prayer buddy who can send that text message of encouragement that simply says: “I am praying 4 u.” We need that person who will check on us beyond our Facebook status.  We need someone who will keep us on the right path in our prayer life.  That’s vital and important.  Otherwise, we can get thrown off and find ourselves way off track.

Seek a prayer partnership with someone.  Pray to the Lord for discernment and discovery.  Ask Him to help you discern the person who is right for you.  Seek His guidance.  Discover another level of support through a prayer partnership.  Let yourself fall madly in love with the fellowship and joy of partnership and support.

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Find the Answer

I found the answer, I learned to pray, with faith to guide me, I found the way.- “I Found the Answer” by Johnny Lange

One of my favorite Christian writers would have to be Andrew Murray.  He wrote on many subjects in the realm of Christianity, especially prayer.  “I pray, expecting an answer,” Murray wrote.  The quote always seems to stick with me, especially when I find myself questioning or doubting whether or not God hears my prayers.

Without a doubt, God hears our prayers.  However, God has some answers for our prayers that we may not expect or want to readily accept.  Yes, God answers prayers, but God’s people have to learn to accept the answer.  Yet, we first have to find the answer.

Finding the answer requires us to act.  It doesn’t just land in our lap, falling from heaven like fresh manna in the wilderness.  No, we have to find the answer through prayer as the hymn tells us.  We have to seek the Lord, imploring Him as we approach His throne of grace with petitions and supplications humbly and earnestly.

In order to find the answer, we have to:

  • Look at What God Does: God has a will that will override any request that we have to offer Him.  His will emerges in the very things that He does.  He creates.  He supplies.  He strengthens.  He blesses.  Look at what He does to see how He will answer.  He will not  go outside of His will just to satisfy your desires.
  • Listen to What God Says: God’s Word gives you insight into what God has said.  He reveals His own nature in His Word.  Read God’s Word and come to an understanding of what God has said.  Come to know God through His Word.  Learn about Him and learn what to expect from Him, so that you can be assured and confirmed through His answers to you.
  • Leave All in God’s Hands: God is perfect.  He is sovereign.  He does what He wishes to do without having to answer to any other authority.  He is God Almighty.  Know that and be okay with it.  God is in charge, so it will be all right.  Just trust it all to God and you’ll be sure to be okay with His answer, even if it doesn’t match up with what you wanted from God.

 

The chief purpose of prayer is that God may be glorified in the answer. — R.A. Torrey

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 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” – Psalm 55:17 (KJV)

With the new year approaching, it seems quite appropriate to share a simple prayer plan. 

A prayer plan?

Yep.  A prayer plan for the new year could assist  you in staying on track just like a daily Bible reading plan can help one staying on track with reading the Bible throughout the year.  The plan offers you an opportunity to get in touch with God on a consistent basis throughout the day.

 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud. . .

David offers the believer the outline for a daily prayer plan.  Evening. . . morning. . . at noon are the time periods that David mentions in this psalm.  He speaks on his own personal commitment to prayer.  He shares his own daily prayer commitment to God.

We can do so, too.  We don’t have to write a psalm or a pledge, not even a covenant.  We just have to commit to the plan and commit the plan to prayer.  That sounds both rhetorical and redundant, but let me make it clear to you.  In order to make a commitment to daily prayer, you will need to have a plan on how to get started.  You can choose to follow David’s prayer prescription or do otherwise.  You just need to decide on a plan that will get you consistent with daily prayer.  Once you have decided on that plan, then you need to commit that decision to prayer.  You will even need to pray to the Lord as you decide upon the plan and pray to the Lord once you have decided on what to do and how to do it.  You need prayer throughout the planning and preparation for engaging in daily prayer.

Pray to God for:

  • Clarity
  • Commitment
  • Consistency

Start with prayer in order to continue in prayer.  Start the year with prayer and stay consistent in prayer.

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Devote Yourself to Prayer

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. – Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Check your devotion level.

Are devoting yourself to prayer?

One of the Strong’s Concordance definitions for such devotion stems from the King James usage of the word continue.  It simply states the word may be used in the sense of the ability to persevere and not to faint. 

Could that be the state of your commitment to prayer?

Are you persevering?

Are you continuing without fainting?

Imagine if you had such devotion and commitment to prayer that you continued, persevered and never fainted.  Don’t dig into the other definitions of adherence, constant readiness and steadfastly attentive.  Just focus on the perseverance and not fainting at the task. 

Do you want to devote yourself to prayer?

  • Focus on what you have been called to do.
  • Focus on what God has equipped and empowered you to do
  • Focus your energy on tapping into God’s power, not relying upon your own resources
  • Focus on having faith, being watchful and thankful
And he spoke a parable to them to this end,
that men ought always to pray, and not to faint – Luke 18:1 (KJV)

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Powered by Prayer

 And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
(Matthew 6:7-8 ESV)

 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
(Luke 5:16 ESV)

 

Jesus described prayer for His disciples.

Jesus participated in an active prayer life.

Jesus prayed.

Jesus expects us to pray.

Jesus also showed His disciples the power of prayer.

 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
(Mark 11:12-14 ESV) 

Consider what happened within Jesus before his words escaped from His lips.  Try to get a mental picture of what He through before you try to guess about what came out of His mouth.

And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:21-25 ESV)

Jesus shared about the power of prayer.  He pointed out the importance of faith, belief and expectations.  He spoke on the power of prayer and how we all can be powered by prayer.

Prayer Resources:

The above resources offer some support for prayer.  Prayerfully and hopefully, these are of some help to you. 

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But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.- Luke 5:16 (NIV)

 

Some days, like many days, you just have to get away.  Bobby Brown had a comeback hit back in the day called “Get Away”  that said the same thing.  This isn’t about that song or its message.  This is about the example set by Jesus Christ.

Think about the time that you devote and dedicate to God. 

How much of that time is solely you with God? If not much, then you need to check yourself.

God doesn’t desire any drive-by devotion from us.  He wants us to be earnest in seeking Him.  He desires us to offer sacrifices of our hearts.   He wants us to yearn for Him and to draw near to Him, not for us to only request things of Him and never grow close to Him.

That’s not what many of us have developed in our personal lives.  We need to do more than simply go through the motions.

God lodged a complaint against Israel with Isaiah that stated that much.

10Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the law of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11“The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?
13Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your evil assemblies.

– Isaiah 1:10-13 (NIV)

Get clear on how to personalize your prayer time with God.  Be sure to make it some dedicated, one-on-one time where you can talk with God and hear from God.  Leave some room for some meditation on His Word and what He has already shared through the sacred text.  Get alone with God and incline your ear to what He has for you.

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