Category Archives: Prayer

These posts are part of our spiritual disciplines category devoted specifically to prayer. The first was developed in 2010 and will be further refined in 2011. Note- these posts are separate from our School of Prayer posts.

Seeking God in Prayer

Prayer holds a special place in my heart because I was born again into prayer; willing and joyful prayer from deep longing for the Father is what I was born again into.  It was alive, it was pure, clean, free, and fresh.

But prayer must always remain pure.  Nothing destroys prayer faster than impurities like pride, legalism, selfish ambition, carnal lusts, and doubt.  They are like a ceiling that oppresses our prayers!

OUR FATHER

Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. Gods voice in response to mine is its most essential part. ~ Andrew Murray

Nothing in prayer is more important than our Father.  If our Father is not in our prayers, then they are for naught!  To pray out of obligation, or for respect of others opinions, is the most futile endeavor a Christian can undertake in prayer.  To abide in such a condition for very long will wreck havoc on your fellowship with your heavenly Father and strip your time in prayer of all joy and benefit!

Therefore first and foremost seek God in prayer!

Seek Him with constancy, persistence, sincerity, and love; seek Him without respect to time, place, or environment.  It is too easy to settle complacently into set times or places to seek God and allow our prayers to plunge into the dullness of routine; such rote prayers lose all expectation and awe of God.  If our prayers are shaped by such temporal things like “atmosphere”, they lose all sense of eternity!

Prayers that do not seek out God are will be filled with “self”, and prayers that are filled with “self” are woefully dry!

UNSEEN & FERVENT

Prayer – secret, fervent, believing prayer – lies at the root of all personal godliness.  ~ Williams Carey

Jesus taught His disciples “secret prayer”, that is, intimate prayer that is unseen and unheard by others.  Prayer must never lose its intimacy!

Prayer that is unseen by others is prayer that is seen by God!  Jesus said, “But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6 HCSB).  I fear that the prayer-life that is always seen and heard by others is never seen or heard by God.

What is the reward of secret prayer?

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)

Those who will seek Him in secret will find Him; I believe God Himself is the reward Jesus spoke of that belongs to the diligent, to those who earnestly pursue God out of a fervent desire for Him!

Prayer is an effort of will.  ~ Oswald Chambers

We mustn’t think that prayer will come easily; while the redeemed soul yearns for God in prayer, the flesh, when deprived of substance to feed its pride and lusts in prayer, resists fervent prayer. There is simply nothing gratifying for the flesh in unseen, unannounced secret prayer.  Therefore, if one is to seek God fervently in prayer, it is necessary for our redeemed will to impose itself on our heavy, sluggish, flesh, and exert an effort diligent enough so as to lift the flesh to this purpose.

Prayer is not about goosebumps or feelings.  This is not to say that sincere prayer will not activate your emotions, nor stimulate your body, rather it is to say that “the will” is where the struggle for prayer exists.

Unless God first exerts His will to draw us unto Himself in prayer through Christ, we simply cannot lift the weight of our flesh in prayer for very long.  The disciples in the garden demonstrated just how quickly the flesh wearies in prayer.  But once the effort of God’s will has been felt in our soul, drawing us nearer to Him, then the redeemed soul of His children must awaken and exert force over the weighty flesh that so resists prayer!

Understand that when Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Your will be done”, He was teaching them to cry out to the Father for the effort of His will upon their prayers!

IN THE SPIRIT

The fewer the words the better the prayer.  ~ Martin Luther

We are not heard for the words we pray.  We are heard for the Spirit who makes intercession for us on our behalf, as it is written, “the Spirit helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

Neither those who sit for hours, swaying back and forth, praying the same words over and over again, nor those who stand to “wax eloquent” in their prayers, are heard by God for their words; if the Spirit is not interceding for them with deep groanings that cannot be uttered by man, then God is as deaf to them as He is to the prayers of the pagans!

Confidence put in words kills prayer.  Only evil can come of this.  Either it will cause timidity and doubt in those who seek to pray, or it will cause boasting and evil pride to arise in those who pray often, as it is written “to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST

But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3

The heart of prayer is ever mindful of God; it is consumed by Him who is enthroned by our praises!

I have experienced both the fervent joys and deep darkness of prayer, the former being a time when my prayers ascended to God upon winds of joy, awe, and reverence for His glory, and the latter being a time when my prayers were bound by pride, the judgments of men, and self.  As with all things in Christian life, if we lose sight of God, prayer dies and becomes a burden.  Set your prayers on God and He will fill them with life!

 

2016 Election: Pray

As the U.S. enters the 2016 presidential election season I wanted to bring our minds back to God’s will and encourage my brethren everywhere, not just in the U.S. to pray for our leaders as those appointed by God.

Praying for our leaders takes wisdom and discernment.  But how can we pray for our leaders if we get swept into the polarizing and vitriolic landscape that typifies politics today?  Likewise, how can we pray for our leaders if we react to this landscape by sinking into an apathetic non-engagement mentality that holds so many Christians who are disillusioned by our corrupt political system?  Let me encourage you to avoid these snares altogether by being rooted and grounded in love according to the knowledge of God and praying earnestly for your leaders.

Remember God’s way according to His word:

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  ~Romans 13:1

I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. ~1 Timothy 2:1-2

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men- as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.  Honor all people.  Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. ~1 Peter 2:13-17

I thought it would be beneficial to add videos from interviews and speeches of our President and upcoming presidential candidates so that you may listen with godly discernment and understand how to pray for our leaders and potential leaders.

My intention is not to promote any candidate in this post, rather, to provide a starting point by which you may carefully consider these men and women in prayer.  When we hear these men and women speak, we should endeavor to conform our minds to the mind of Christ, that He may have the preeminence among us and that our actions might reflect His good will even in the most vitriolic and divisive season of American politics.

I believe there are appropriate times to stand up and speak out over the sins and abuses committed by those in political leadership for the purposes of stemming incoming tides that would seek to sway and defile the Church, but I also believe there are times to call for earnest intercessory prayer from the Church for our political leaders.  I believe this is just such a time as this, so please join me in praying for our leaders.

The U.S. President

Barack Obama

Presidential Candidates

Donald Trump

Carly Fiorina

Ben Carson

Ted Cruz

Marco Rubio

Jeb Bush

Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton

 

Worship From the Fires of Suffering

A few weeks back I had one of the most painful weeks of my life: Multiple Sclerosis teamed up with a bout of Shingles and Satan didn’t miss the opportunity to shoot his fiery arrows.

To be honest, that is the pretty version; the plain version is that my mind was bogged down in the “M.S. fog”, I was struggling with M.S. triggered discouragement, my whole body felt like knives were stabbing me, and my back, where the shingles were, was extremely painful and felt like sandpaper rubbing raw skin if anything touched it.  What I wanted to do was retreat into a dark room and lay down in the hopes of getting some sort of rest and reprieve, but, going out to preach on the streets is the calling that was resonating in my spirit.

But in the face of all this scripture cries out, beseeching us,

by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1 NASB).

Trials like infirmity, suffering, and tribulation seek to rob our worship by binding us in time with physical burdens so that we do not cast our gaze above time into eternity, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, and worship Him from the fires of these trials with bodies in submission to His perfect will.

Doubts declare in the darkness, “I simply cannot do this”, “I am just not ready”, “I don’t have it in me”, “I must be crazy”.

How can we offer our bodies to God as acceptable spiritual sacrifices of worship when we are overwhelmed with such suffering, and what does that even look like?

I believe Wesley’s hymn captures the essence of this superbly;

Thee, Son of man, by faith we see, and glory in our guide; surrounded and upheld by thee, the fiery test abide.

The fire our graces shall refine, till molded from above, we bear the character divine, the stamp of perfect love.

~Wesley Hymn #329

We must peer through faith and let the resplendent glory of Christ capture our gaze and enrapture our souls!  From this high temple-mount of holy trust in God,  we can abide the test being upheld by Him until we are wholly refined in His perfect love.

This is about trust, not trust in ourselves, nor the provision of this world, but a holy trust in God for which we lean wholly upon His mercies to meet and provide our all- not so that we can simply go on living common lives, as we have always done, but so that we can offer our bodies in spiritual service of worship for those things with which God is most pleased- the “good works prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  ~Philippians 4:6-7

The reality of Christ’s peace is understood by so few because it is not grasped by human means of inquiry, but by means of trust through faith.

Those who suffer little in life often struggle to find the all-surpassing-peace-of-Christ because they continue to retain control over everything.  And yet, so many who suffer much never find such peace because their hearts are weighed down by the cares of this world (Luke 21:34).

I know the temptation to think that “if only my body were strong, like other people, I could do more for God”, but truth be told, the vast majority of people who are wasting their life away not serving/worshiping God are those who perfectly healthy.

The real battle begins with trust– do we lean wholly God’s mercies rather than our own strength and provision- and then moves on into the heart and mind, which is where so many people, healthy and weak, rich and poor, wise and simple, lose the battle to spiritual fatigue, discouragement, doubt, uncertainty, and deception.  Those who would worship God in the fires of trial must relinquish their grip on all life’s anxieties with a child-like trust in God.

The strength of human resolve, the might of our flesh, and the intellect of the human mind offer empty promises that they cannot deliver.  If we lean on these attributes when our tribulations come, we will surely stumble.

Christ doesn’t give peace in the same way that the world gives peace, rather, He gives it through trust, and said “therefore, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).  With thanksgiving in prayer and supplication we entrust our hearts and minds to God and close every door to iniquity and tribulation through which they might rob our worship for God!

But sometimes when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death we can hear from the tombs those who cry out “but I prayed to God and He did nothing!”

“You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.  Adulterers and adulteresses!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” ~James 4:3-4

For many people, their prayers to God were for their own desires- they may have offered God a tithe out of His provision, but their heart was bent on pleasure, not God, to preserve their own way of life and not to seek His way of life- and for many they felt betrayed because they were led like lambs to the slaughter by wolves and false teachers who said “this is the way! Find peace here with us” when there was no peace to offer.

Never listen to the voice of doubt that echos out from the tombs!

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. ~Hebrews 10:19-23

For He who promised is faithful.  Never doubt that!

With my body full of pain, and my mind sluggish and bogged down as if a thick fog had descended upon me, my tank was empty and I had nothing left to offer, except this broken, empty, weak excuse people call “my body”.  What was I to do?

I prayed after God and poured out all my measly sorrows and cares on the altar I’m not even worthy to approach, and out of the glory of God’s throne in my heart I heard Him say “let your flesh wholly despise my work, then go out and do it in My name- and I am with you.

The 30 minute care ride to the bar-street I preach on was agony as my back was rubbing against the car seat, and I was assaulted the whole way up with doubt; “David, what are you doing man?”, “maybe just go up there and pray and then go home”, “you’re not under a law, you don’t have to go”.

Let me deal with that last one for a moment.  That is precisely why “going” is such an acceptable sacrifice of worship to God!  I am under no law to go out every week and preach the gospel to the lost- but Christ has so enraptured my soul that I am compelled to worship Him in this way!

Perhaps your spiritual service of worship is something else, maybe you clean the Church building, or maybe you serve the homeless and sit with them at soup kitchens.  Perhaps you have a prayer ministry that isn’t being glorified in the spotlight, but it is your calling.   In all of these things no one is under a law of ritual obligation!  Rather, we are a people being moved and compelled by the glories of Christ, who has utterly and totally enraptured our souls, that we heartily pick up the banners to which we each have been called by God and joyously worship Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength!

As I approached bar-street and moved through the crowds of drunken revelers, I found a corner and stood there without an ounce of strength in my bones- everything in me was crying “go home!”  I saw a tarot card reader set up on the corner and prayed to God, “Lord, I don’t have anything in me, but I will open my mouth- use me however you want; let me be a fool, let me be a preacher, it is up to you”, I went up to him and started talking.  Thirty minutes later, as I walked away, a big hulking man approaches me with his wife who was literally half his height and God spoke a word of encouragement to me through him.

I took my corner and began preaching,

“Deliver those who are drawn to death, and hold back those who stumble to the slaughter” ~Proverbs 24:11

What came over me was nothing like adrenaline or physical strength- it was not a feeling of physical might or intellectual superiority- it was the splendid presence of absolute peace engulfing my whole spirit, soul, and body.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  ~Philippians 4:6-7

Too often we stand at a stalemate with God, demanding that first He pave the way and make everything fall into place before we entrust ourselves to His care, but God is searching the world “for those who will worship Him in spirit and truth”.  We think we can levy demands on God and arm-twist Him until everything seems just right in our own eyes, but all the while His eyes have already moved on to look for those who will trust in Him.

We are never alone.

Thou Lamb of God, thou Prince of peace, for thee my thirsty soul doth pine, my longing heart implores thy grace; O make me in thy likeness shine!

When pain o’er my weak flesh prevails, with lamb-like patience arm my breast; when grief my wounded soul assails, in lowly meekness may I rest.

Thou, Lord, the dreadful fight hast won, alone thou hast the winepress trod; in me thy strengthening grace be shown, O may I conquer through thy blood! Wesley Hymn #338

Part 1: Faith in Infirmities

We Need A Revival In The Ministry

Brothers and sisters, I’m asking for you to join with me in serious prayer over those who have been charged as leaders in the Body of Christ; to wage spiritual war with the mighty weapon of prayer on behalf of ministers all over this country who feel oppressed by darkness, discouragement, bondage, lukewarmness, and faithlessness.

We need revival in leadership.

Words fail to communicate the hopelessness many pastors feel and the weight of discouragement they bear on their shoulders as they are trying earnestly to lead their congregations faithfully before God.  Many face congregations filled with obstinate hearts, others grapple with disorder in their own homes.  Many are concealing hidden iniquity that is wrecking havoc in their hearts and destroying their churches.

FOR RENEWING

Pray hard for the leaders God has appointed in the body.

Brethren, we have preachers that have lost their anointing!  We have pastors that have lost their first love!  They have lost their zeal!  They have lost their courage!

Pray for God’s renewing to come upon our leaders to renew their anointing, refresh their love, invigorate their zeal, and embolden their courage!

These are not pastors who have fallen away or suffered shipwreck of their faith; they are those who earnestly love the Lord, who still lift their hearts to God alone, and who have not bowed the knee to the idols of this age; but they are filled with sorrow and surrounded by darkness.

FOR FORGIVENESS

Pray hard for the leaders God has appointed in the body.

Brethren, no one is impervious to the onslaught of Satan- even Jesus faced temptation- and no one is above stumbling; so many pulpits today are filled by pastors who carry the burden of guilt every Sunday.  So many pastors have chains of hidden iniquity upon them.

Satan is winning in our Churches because he has the Shepherds bound in sin!!!

But we serve a might God, and merciful, who appointed “mercy to triumph over judgment” and “good to overcome evil”.  Pray, my brethren, for the pastors who are held in bondage to sin!

FOR WINNOWING

Pray hard for the leaders God has appointed in the body.

Brethren, we have many pastors in our assemblies who are eloquent with words and well educated, but have never been appointed by God.  They are false ambassadors, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and men trained in covetousness.

Let us pray that Jesus would come swiftly and sift these men from the pulpits and heads of our assemblies!  For He knows whom He has appointed, and who is an imposter in the assembly!

PRAY

Brothers and sisters, you do  not bear the blessed privilege of prayer in vain!  God has appointed prayer to bear much fruit to His glory- if only you would pray!

Therefore, let perseverance prove the sincerity of your prayer as fire proves the quality of gold, and pray for your leaders!

Faith that Overcomes

There is a faith that withers under the burning heat of trial, and there is a faith that stands in the fiery furnace and overcomes the world. It is sufficient for every trial and is refined like precious gold in fire.

Faith that overcomes is the kind of faith that has counted the cost of following Christ, and answered that to gain the whole world is rubbish when compared to knowing Jesus Christ!

A FAITH THAT CARRIES THE CROSS

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. ~Luke 9:23-26

There is a kind of faith that picks up the cross every day; it shines like a bright light into the darkness.

Although it may be admired by some from afar, the closer people get to someone that has this kind of faith the more uncomfortable they become.

Any faith that is unwilling or unable to pick up the cross daily and follow Jesus is a faith that will not endure unto the end.

Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, perfected that faith upon the cross and proved it when He rose again and ascended into Heaven!

A FAITH THAT REJOICES IN CHRIST

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision. For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh

However, I consider those things that were gain to me as a loss for Christ. Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be a loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

~Php 3:2-3, 7–12 (World English Bible)

The faith that overcomes this world has fixated its eyes on Christ and rejoices continually in Him because it has something to rejoice about.  It can truly say that it has surveyed the One who hung upon the cross and now sees the gain of all that the world has to be nothing but refuse!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

~James 1:2-4

Beloved, don’t be astonished at the fiery trial which has come upon you, to test you, as though a strange thing happened to you. But because you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory you also may rejoice with exceeding joy. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed; because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified.

~1 Peter 4:12-14

Jesus blessed those who were persecuted, reviled, and hated for His sake, giving them the Kingdom of God- the faith that overcomes has peered into the Kingdom of God and saw a great treasure that eclipses all the vain things the kingdoms of this world have to offer.

To the faith that overcomes, even fellowship with Christ that comes through suffering is more desirable than all the comforts and joys of this vain world!

This faith will seem very strange to the world, even reckless, as they observe that we rejoice even in suffering because of the fellowship we have with Christ.  Therefore, the faith that overcomes is a faith that rejoices in even the least thing of Christ more than even the greatest thing of this world, indeed, counting even the greatest thing of this world as repulsive because of Christ!

Faith is not blind towards Christ, rather, it has peered deeply into the hidden mysteries of the age that have now been revealed to us all in Christ Jesus alone!

A FAITH THAT HAS SUBSTANCE

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

~Hebrews 11:1

The faith that brings joy to the believer and presses on into Christ is also the faith that has substance.  Contrary to the faith that is empty, this faith would never be satisfied with “having the appearance of godliness but denying the power therein”, rather, it actually obtains the evidence of things that cannot be seen.

When the believer who has this faith hears the Word of God, to him or her, the Word is living and fills his or her heart with the riches and glory of God.  For someone that has this kind of faith, reading the word of God is not a dull task that is dutifully undertaken in the vain hope that they will somehow be better off by performing this task, to this believer, reading the word of God is an experience that transcends what we see here and enters the realm of glory!

Just like reading the word, prayer is undertaken by the believe who has the faith that overcomes the world, not in a dutiful manner, but with expectation of receiving the evidence of the things that still remain unseen!

No one believes they are getting into Harvard, but doesn’t bother making the necessary preparations to go.  Likewise, someone that has received the call of God and is assured of that call also joyfully makes the preparations to go with God!

Therefore, James wrote,

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

~James 2:26

So, the faith that overcomes this world also has substance!  It is not without the evidence of what it confesses, and, therefore, moves in earnest expectation of the things that it hopes for with certainty!

CONCLUSION

Faith can be identified and is distinguishable between various qualities of faith.  Paul wrote about faith that is shipwrecked, about double-minded faith, and about genuine faith.

We can feel what kind of faith we have because certain kinds of faith leave us empty, while other kinds of faith make us complacent; some kinds of faith make us content with the world, while other kinds of faith wither in doubt and fear when trials and temptations come. But the Word of God tells us us that there is only one faith that overcomes (Ephesians 5:4, cf 1 John 5:4).

We should be diligent to strengthen our faith in Christ and make sure we have the faith that overcomes and enters the Kingdom of God.  There is a faith that blindly presses on, ignoring the warnings of those often unlikely people that God sends to turn you from a path that will end in destruction.

My beloved brothers, you are the Church that the Lamb of God was slain to clothe in Salvation.  May you be full of grace, mercy, and peace, having the faith that overcomes this world, amen!

 

DON’T STOP PRAYING

I saw a post recently telling people that we need to stop praying and start doing. I understand that the purpose of the post was to encourage active service, however, and with all due respect to the author, this is perhaps the worst possible messages the Church could receive at a time like this!

21For the shepherds have become dull-hearted, and have not sought the Lord; therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered. ~Jeremiah 10:21

I’ve noticed that so many of our brethren yearn to pray but struggle in prayer.  Far from discouraging prayer, the Church must be encouraging prayer!

Shepherds who make plans without seeking the LORD “will not prosper”.

I heartily sympathize with the sentiments that “we need to do more”.  I remember feeling the same way in college as I looked around and saw the rampant apathy surrounding me. But, again, I want to reiterate that these sentiments are poorly expressed in the statement “stop praying and start doing”. It showed, at least in me, a wrong understanding of prayer. At that time, I had never known what it meant to “travail” in prayer, or strive on behalf of someone in prayer. There is little more you can do that is more “active” than these!

Here our exhortation from God:

18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints~Ephesians 6:18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~1st Thessalonians 5:16-18

Why is it so important to God that we pray?

12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

~John 14:12-13

Our Father is so greatly glorified in His Son when His Son accomplishes for the children of God what they ask for in His name that He commanded His children everywhere to pray on all occassions!

There is so very little faith in the true power of prayer! And there is so little power in prayer because the hands of the children of God are unclean and their hearts are impure; their lips share both slander and praise, and their hands work both iniquity (tax fraud, cheating, sexual impurity, violence, and slighting) and “service” (helping the poor, etc). This is not honoring to God nor does it bring glory to Him! In fact, the scripture says, “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.” (Jn. 9:29; c.f. Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 15:8, 29, 28:9).

Prayer is never a passive action. The very fact that it is commonly viewed as passive demonstrates the fact that prayer is greatly misunderstood and there is very little faith in those who pray!

I’ll give an example: why does God exhort us to pray that He would raise up laborers to send into the harvest? He said, “therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). This prayer is not a passive prayer! When the children of God have met together in earnestnessto pray for this, God has translated those prayers into callings in the lives of those who prayed! This prayer only becomes passive when those who pray it do not have the faith to believe that God will raise them up as laborers in His harvest!

I have heard people say things like, “well, I’ve always felt called to________, so I prayed that God would send someone there.”

Where was the faith and obedience to the calling? The prayer was passive and so the pray-er was passive.

In addition to this, prayer is not passive because it always requires sacrifice. Offering up the incense (sacrifice) of prayer before God is not merely a beautiful poetic phrase that king David wrote, it is the reality of the effect prayer has on the life of the one praying.

When God raises up His servants for the work He sets before them, does He not also prepare them in holiness, righteousness, love, and zeal for the work that He has now set before them to do?

Another example: hurricane Sandy has hit. Are you praying for the suffering in that devastated area? If you are praying that God will provide for them, will God not also stir it in your heart to help them? But in your praying for those who are suffering, the glory of God is manifested in that His children unite together in this way to help!

There is no limit to the examples that could be given of how important it is that the children of God do notstop praying, but I will stop here with this last one.

Read the following from Luke 18 and notice Jesus’ last words on the subject:

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ”

6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

~Luke 18:1-6

But when Jesus returns, will he really find faith on the earth? Or will men be busy going about the plans that they have made of their own divining without having inquired of the Lord?

Attitudes of Prayer

HEBREWS 4:16

Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We discussed previously that we have confidence in prayer because we are praying to our Father in Heaven; God is not estranged from us, but He loves us from the depths of His heart in the same way that a good father loves his own children.

Now we will venture into God’s Word and let the Light of Christ shine upon our hearts to reveal to us what the proper attitudes of prayer are.

FAITH & OBEDIENCE

Let us  not come to God with the common attitudes of human standard; we can’t approach God according to the vastness of our intellect, or fluency of speech.  Our gold and silver perish before Him, so they do us no good.  Our status in life matters little before the God who holds the whole of the universe in the span of His hand.

PROVERBS 15:29

The LORD is far from the wicked, 
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Self-righteousness will not stand before God; only the righteousness that is by faith is sufficient to please God; we are righteous by faith (Romans 1:17 & Hebrews 10:38), and it’s from the heart of faith that obedience comes (James 2:14-26).

Satan’s temptation to the praying Christian is to move you off the sure foundation of trust in the blood of Christ and into the graveyard of confidence in self-achievement.  Don’t succumb to such temptation, even if it comes wrapped in the most convincing preaching!

HEBREWS 10:19-23

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Our boldness is in the victory won for us in the blood of Jesus Christ; by His blood we have boldness to enter where the high priest’s of the OT could enter only once a year.  It is by the blood of Christ that we can have the boldness of humility in the presence of God!

Let us remember the words of the prophet Micah, who said “with what shall I come before the LORD?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”  And let us not look to anything but the blood of Jesus for boldness before the throne of God!

 

A BROKEN AND CONTRITE HEART

The attitudes of entitlement, self-boasting or accomplishment-boasting, and pride will hear only the echoes of silence from God; He will not come near to the heart that yields these attitudes.

PSALM 51:17

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; 
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Let your heart marvel at God; release the constraints that keep your spirit from being broken, and your soul from being contrite before God.

Do not let anyone deceive you; you need bring nothing more to God than a genuinely broken and contrite heart.  You are under no obligation to bring 5 souls won for Christ, as if they were boy-scout merit badges on a sash put up for display, but, if you will take the yoke of Christ and humble yourself before God, you will find rest in the presence of God!

SUMMARY

God has always been concerned with our heart.  While reading through Deuteronomy again it struck me how fixated God is on the heart; He never desired “rote duty”- His one desire has been that we fear the LORD, walk in all His ways, and love Him and serve Him with all our heart and soul (Deut. 10:12).

In prayer we enter before God’s throne of grace, therefore, let us first rend our hearts before God.  A lukewarm and disconnected attitude in prayer is as distasteful to God as a child whose heart is far away from his parents is to a mother or father.

Therefore let me offer this post as an encouragement to consider what attitudes you bring to God in prayer.

 

Take it Farther;

  • 2 Kings 19:14-19
  • Psalm 30:1-12
  • Psalm 34:1-3
  • Psalm 36:11
  • Psalm 51
  • Psalm 69:30
  • Psalm 101:5
  • Psalm 113
  • Psalm 117:1
  • Psalm 119:21
  • Psalm 134:1
  • Psalm 136:1-3
  • Proverbs 15:29
  • Proverbs 16:18
  • Ecclesiastes 3:11-15
  • Ecclesiastes 5:7
  • Ecclesiastes 7:15-18
  • Ecclesiastes 8:10-13
  • Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
  • Isaiah 2:17
  • Mark 7:14-23
  • Luke 1:46-55 & 68-79
  • Luke 2:13-14.
  • John 8:32
  • Romans 8:16
  • Colossians 3:16-17
  • 1st John 2:15-17
  • James 1:5-6
  • James 2:14
  • Revelation 19:1-2, 5

 

Praying to Our Father

HEBREWS 4:16

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need.”

How do we come before the LORD’s throne with confidence?

For those that have the Seed of Christ in them and have become obedient from the heart in faith to Christ, we come before the LORD’s throne of grace with confidence because of who we are coming to.

ROMANS 8:16-17

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

We have confidence because of the witness of the Spirit that we are coming before our Father, and our Father is merciful and loving towards all those that are His children!  We’re His workmanship, and He has bestowed great love upon us!

MATTHEW 7:9-11

9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

Though we are human and even evil, we still know how to give good gifts to our own children; therefore, we can come with even greater confidence before our Heavenly Father because we know that He is good and knows how to give perfectly to His children, who are weak.

Everything in prayer is about drawing to God, “ask, seek, and knock”, humbling ourselves before Him, and entering into a right-relationship with our Father in Heaven.

When we pray, the Lord teaches us to pray, when we are weak and pray to Him, He teaches us to be strong and gives us strength.  Prayer’s a total connection to Him!

EVEN CHILDREN KNOW

Perhaps one of the first things that you learn as a young child is when, where, and how to reach your parents!  For me, I knew dad was always in his office if I needed to find him.

We begin to learn this right relationship with our parents through interaction with them and seeking them out to know what is acceptable and what is not.

Where do you find your dad?  When do you have ready access to his attention?  How do you address your dad?

These are the first things children learn when they grow in their relationships with their parents; to engage upon this pursuit we must become like children once again and learn when, where, and how we can engage our Father’s attention in heaven.

C.H. Spurgeon once said, “Quietude, which some men cannot abide because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise, for along its hallowed courts the King in his beauty deigns to walk”.

If we can quiet ourselves and come before Him, we can pray to Him.  Even if the world around us is in turmoil, we may pray before Him because of the peace of Christ that dwells in us!

MATTHEW 6:6

Go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Because we are coming before our Father, and because it is a throne of grace that we are coming before, let us put aside all the things of this world- pride and all the fleshly distractions that busy the mind and hinder us from prayer- and let us learn to draw near to the Lord God in prayer- our merciful Father!

In the byways, in the streets, in the markets, and in the churches; at home and in public, in secret and as exposed- let us pray to our Father with confidence in the quietness of the Lord’s peace!

SUMMARY

Do you know whom you are praying to?  Is the term “our Father in Heaven” slightly ambiguous to you?  You cannot come before the throne of Grace with confidence if you do not know to whom you are coming before!

Our Father is eager to reveal Himself to those who have become obedient to Him through Faith in submission to the Truth- and His word is Truth.

TAKE IT FURTHER;

  • Matthew 6 (v7)
  • Matt. 18:19-20
  • Luke 6:28
  • Romans 8:26
  • James 5:16
  • 1 Jn 5:14-15 ***
  • Prov. 28:9
  • Prov. 15:29
  • John 9:31
  • Mark 11:25-26
  • Eph 5:20
  • 1 Thess. 5:18
  • Ps 19:14