I have been working on a book on the warnings of Jesus concerning difficult times that are coming. However, a recent doctor appointment gave me a different perspective on my cancer. This has changed my approach to a number of things in my life including my work on this book. Although I am still not sure how quickly the drink offering of my life is being poured out to God, I believe I need to walk more wisely in relation to time.
Ephesians 5:15-17 speaks pointedly to this.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
I believe it wisest, concerning the book, to write snatches of what I believe God is pressing upon me, and post them in my blogs rather than worrying about layout and presentation for the book.
So beginning this week, I will post something on praying in the Spirit which would come much later in the book but has come together in my mind.
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A group of near culture believers who have moved to the Arabian Peninsula for work have a passion to share and are meeting regularly to encourage each other as they ask the Father for opportunities to share and disciple. Please pray that the Lord will move mightily in and through them.
A country with very few indigenous believers is slowly beginning to see some fruit, as those who have begun to follow Jesus are giving testimony to their friends and family. Give praise for these bold ones and pray that they will continue to share with great joy, continued boldness, and great wisdom. Pray that many will be added to the Kingdom.
Even after seeing the truth in the Word and realizing that Jesus is so much more than just a prophet, it is difficult for someone from the Muslim faith to embrace the Gospel as the way to God. A young woman exclaimed, "How could I ever believe that the Quran is not from Allah?" Pray that the beloved people of the Arabian Peninsula will be freed from the chains that bind them to falsehood. Pray that they will be given faith by the Holy Spirit to repent and confess that Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life.
A woman with stage 4 cancer is reading the Word with her mother. May they receive the faith to embrace the truth of the Good News and surrender their lives to Jesus. Pray also for divine healing in accordance with His will and for His glory.
Pray for a believer who is working with a group of people who share his faith. Pray that they all will grow in the Lord, that they will have unity and that they will have the courage to proclaim the Good News with those who have not heard. Pray that when persecution comes, they will remain strong.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:23-25).
"Tom" has been told that he will be scrutinized in his university position for his proselytizing in the past. Yet, students and colleagues ask about or make reference to matters of faith. Ask that "Tom" will have wisdom in his responses, and that those who are sincerely seeking truth will follow through in meeting with "Tom" outside the university.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalm 18:2).
"Nour" became a believer in Christ through Christian media about a year ago. When her tentmaking friend, "Renee", visited recently, it was learned that "Sara", "Nour's" grown daughter also had believed. The father, "Adnan", on the other hand, has been resistant to the gospel, countering his family's faith with Islamic defenses. Pray that all will be united in Christ.
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked....(1 John 2:5-6)
Oh Most Holy and Heavenly Father, I think You that Your Word, Oh God, is written in the Heavens. I thank You that Your Word is Truth. I thank You that Your Words will never fade or pass away and therefore, because You keep Your Word, I pledge to do my part and keep Your Word hidden in my heart and shown through my actions and deeds, that Christ lives within me.
Lord, may Your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of all Truth, Wisdom and Understand Who keeps me permanently connected to the Eternal, fortify my will to keep Your Word of Truth firmly embedded, to keep it from shame and slander, to keep it from dishonor and degradation and to keep and guard it as jealously as You guard Your Holy Name. Your Love commands, compels and gives me confidence in Your Word to remain faithful to it, to obey it and dwell on it as our Savior did. Your Word says in Hebrews 5:7 that our Savior's prayers, cries and petitions were heard because of His piety, obedience and submission to Your Will and Yours alone.
Let us now walk in that Truth, in the Path of Persistent Obedience where He, the Lord Jesus, walked that we may too be found in Him, to the praise and glory of His Name. By this Truth we know we are His, in Him, in His Will and walking in His Ways. Lord we long to be like Jesus, and to live, walk, talk and rest in You as He did and may ALL our worship be Yours and His, throughout our lives, in the Strong and Mighty Name of King Jesus I pray, amen.
What do you do when you read something you do not understand in the Bible? Some things may even offend you. How do you respond?
There are several ways people approach this fairly common dilemma. Some study harder, read commentaries, search for explanations by others. This is often the right thing to do. We need to allow difficulties to motivate us to study. However, this can be a dangerous first step. Understanding scripture requires more than diligent study and natural intelligence. It calls for wisdom and spiritual insight. James says anyone who lacks wisdom should ask God. (James 1:5)
Sometimes people try to twist the scripture to say what they already think. I do not need to tell you this is wrong, but we certainly see it a lot.
I also see people getting louder in their affirmation of what a scripture seems to contradict. How many angry retorts have you heard against Paul’s statements about predestination (Eph.1:5) or some other doctrine that Scripture affirms or seems to put forth? Right or wrong this is unspiritual behavior.
Romans 12:14 tells us spiritual things are discerned by the Holy Spirit. He begins by bringing us to the point of meekness. We must submit to God’s truth no matter what. Then ask the Spirit to work patience in your heart to wait on His illumination. I recommend memorizing the verse or difficult passage. Then, in patience and meekness, meditate on it, praying for God to speak to your heart.
With this Spiritual foundation in place you can go study what others have written about a passage. It is interesting that commentaries seldom delve into passages that trouble us. But that will not keep God’s Spirit from giving you special insight into His truth.
My book SPIRITUAL INSIGHT should be published later this year. http://daveswatch.com
Our attention spans have become so splintered that prayer, and the Word of God for many, have become go-to things almost only in cases of emergency. When the heat is turned up, only then is the Bible opened or prayer to God turned to as a means to provide hope, relief, or help.
We sell God, His promises, resources, and our relationship with Him FAR too short! He is not honored as such. This can be changed, but let's consider a few things first.
Let's consider two things: Prayer and the Bible (the Word of God)
Our short attention spans can easily lead us to offering a quick burst of prayer in a moment; one that may not be truthful at its core. We would do well to pause, consider what we're truly thinking about asking God in prayer, and then proceed in asking only after considering if what we're asking is being done so "in truth."
How to Properly Study God's Word
Torrey outlines four things that make for effective study of the Bible as the Word of God.
1. "The unquestioning acceptance of its teachings when they are understood, even when they may appear unreasonable or impossible. Reason demands that we submit our judgment to the statements of infinite wisdom. Nothing is more irrational than rationalism. It makes finite wisdom the test of infinite wisdom and submits the teachings of God's omniscience to the approval of man's judgment. Conceit says, 'This cannot be true, even though God says it, for it does not approve itself to my reason.' 'O man, who are you to reply against God?' (Romans 9:20)."
"Real human wisdom, when it finds infinite wisdom, bows before it and says, 'Speak what You will and I will believe.' When we have once become convinced that the Bible is God's Word, its teachings must be the end of all controversy and discussion. A 'Thus says the Lord' will settle every question. Yet many who profess to believe the Bible is the Word of God will shake their heads and say, 'Yes, but I think so and so,' or 'Doctor--- or Professor--- or our church doesn't teach it that way.' There is little advantage to that sort of study."
2. Absolute reliance on all its promises in all their length and breadth. "The person who studies the the Bible as the Word of God will not discount any one of its promises one iota. A student who studies the Bible as the Word of God will say, 'God who cannot lie has promised,' and he will not try to make God a liar by trying to make one of His promises mean less than it says. (See 1 John 5:10) The one who studies the Bible as the Word of God will be on the lookout for promises. As soon as he finds one, he should seek to discover what it means and then place his entire trust on its full meaning."
"This is one of the secrets of profitable Bible study. Hunt for promises and appropriate them as fast as you find them by meeting the conditions and risking all upon them. This is the way to make all the fullness of God's blessings your own. This is the key to all the treasures of God's grace. Happy is the one who has learned to study the Bible as God's Word and is ready to claim for himself every new promise as it appears and to risk everything on it."
3. Prompt obedience to its every precept. "Obedience may seem hard or impossible; but God has commanded it, and you have nothing to do but to obey and leave the results to God. To get results from your Bible study, resolve that from this time on, you will claim every clear promise and obey every plain command. When the meaning of promises and commands is not yet clear, try to discern their meaning immediately."
4. Study in God's presence. "When you read a verse of Scripture, hear the voice of the living God speaking directly to you in these written words. There is new power and attractiveness in the Bible when you have learned to hear a living, present Person- God our Father- talking directly to you in these words."
The short attention spans of modern Christians seek more to honor the clock (how much or little can I pray, cram, or read in the short, allotted time I've set aside for God today?) than dwell deeply in His presence- for as long as He desires us to dwell with Him.
But then we read Hannah's prayer in verse 11: "“Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
Chapter 2 opens with Hannah's prayer of praise, truth, wisdom, understanding, and strength. We can learn a lot about God, and ourselves, by what Hannah prays here!
“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn (strength) is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
2 “There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
“Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the Lord is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.
4 “The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.
6 “The Lord brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
7 The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.
“For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
on them he has set the world.
9 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,
but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.
“It is not by strength that one prevails;
10 those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
“He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
Hannah remembered to give thanks to the Lord! But she did more than give a simple thank you to God. She offered Him praise and honor; bringing glory to His name- for she recognized that all that happened was done by Him. She worshiped Him, thanked Him, prayed truth about Him and others. All this helped remind her, and others, of the mightiness of God and the low position of man before Him.
Continue to teach us to pray- not only for our growth and edification, but ultimately for Your glory- in heaven and on earth. Lead us in prayer far beyond what's written here. Holy Spirit, lead us now as we continue to pray...
Twice, in Luke 22:39-46, Jesus instructs his disciples to pray that they would not fall into temptation.
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Turning our focus on God, zeroing in on Him, His Word, and the ministry of His Holy Spirit, helps fill our focus and attention with the One who is greater than all; the One who sent His only Son as a perfect, unblemished, sacrifice for all mankind- that fully and permanently defeated sin, death, and the devil- after being tempted in every way as we are.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. - Hebrews 2:14-18
Bob Hostetler offers 31 ways to pray for your teen (or a teenager you know or see around you). His first prayer point is vital to pray; and the Scriptures that each prayer point is focused or centered upon are worth looking up, reading, and praying through individually beyond simply praying or parroting what he's written!
Praying for Your Teen is a link with additional Scripture-based prayer points to help focus on praying for teens. A statement in the article, "There is a myth that teenagers cannot practice self-control, that the teenage and young adult years are the time for "sewing wild oats", and Scriptures refuting that idea, are also valuable.
As you'll see as you read and pray through many of the Scriptures and prayer points offered in these links, you may also find that you pray some of these points for yourself and your personal walk with Jesus Christ. That's perfectly okay!
God often does His greatest work of answered prayer in the heart of the person praying- although He often reveals ways He's answered our prayers for others in their lives/circumstances as well. Our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ is our most valuable possession- and it's one of, if not THE most valuable possession to God as well. Let's continue seeking and pressing into Him through today, tonight, and the day(s) to come. Whether we focus our prayers on children, teens, ourselves, or others, we won't be disappointed as we turn to God as our Rock, Center, Stronghold, and more!
In His grip,
But does God have a preference whether we pray aloud or silently?
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
He doesn't specify if God prefers us to worship, confess, petition, and thank God aloud or silently. He simply gives us this model to shape how we pray when we pray.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In verses 25-26 we see the first word-for-word recorded prayer of Jesus in Matthew's account- and it reveals praise and worship-based prayer to the Father. This aligns perfectly with the beginning of Jesus' model prayer in Matthew 6:9. We also see Jesus instruct His followers (including you and me) to align ourselves (our hearts, minds, and souls) with Him by taking His yoke upon ourselves and learning from Him. Prayer is one vital part of the yoke we should take upon ourselves- if we haven't already done so! He promises that we'll find rest for our souls therein.
He (the LORD) says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” - Psalm 46:10
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
From this passage, it appears Jesus prayed aloud (at least the portion he prayed three times). Someone present must have recorded His words before they fell asleep, or the Holy Spirit later shared the words Jesus prayed with Matthew following Jesus' resurrection.
Praying aloud can bring instant encouragement to others near the one praying aloud. If someone requests prayer, often the best time to pray is at the very moment while the praying person is in the presence of the one requesting prayer. Spoken prayer, in this situation, not only models prayer to the one requesting, but often brings instant hope, encouragement, or even joy, to the one burdened or requesting prayer.
How Should We Pray?
Lord, we love and praise you. You've provided the way to directly come before the Father and speak with Him. Thank you for prayer! Continue to teach us to pray each day- and by your Spirit, lead us in how you'd have us pray moment-by-moment. We desire to reflect your glory back to you and to others you place around us. Help us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on you, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Have your way in and through us today- for your glory alone.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Yesterday I got the following letter from a friend:
Yesterday, the president of Egypt made a decree appointing me a Senator in the congress. I was hesitating at the beginning to confirm the appointment, but now with prayers and thinking , I am more inclined to go
Into the post. The situation is terribly difficult and critical, working in a congress of 80% radical Muslims majority. Too many tasks and laws are put in front of this conference, which may last for few months only! I need your prayers for extra shoot of wisdom and energy.
Peace and love,
Please join me in praying for this dear brother at this important and strategic time that he would be a Joseph or a Daniel.
Most of us have now heard (perhaps too many times) the old joke about the guy on the roof of his house as the flood waters rise. A motor boat comes to save him but he refuses stating that he has prayed and knows that God will rescue him. Then a helicopter comes and hovers overhead and he responds the same way.
Soon of course he dies and meets the Lord in Heaven. He is clearly perturbed and questions God about why He didn't save him after his passionate prayers. And God says, "What do you mean? I sent you a boat and a helicopter."
Well, a similar type of story is actually found in the book of Nehemiah that reminds us that we too must do more than just pray. Nehemiah has been called to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. And unfortunately not everyone in leadership is happy with him. In chapter 4, verse 7 we read, "But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heart that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed they were very angry."
In fact this wasn't the first conflict Nehemiah encountered. Chapter two says they had been mocked and ridiculed.
But then verse eight adds that his detractors were actually going to come and fight against Jerusalem. But notice what verse nine says . . . . "But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat."
We prayed to our God AND posted a guard. What a helpful model for the praying Christian today. Yes, pray like crazy as my boss likes to say but do everything you can do to be wise. This verse speaks volumes for why we should find the best doctors when we're sick, have our cars checked out before a long trip and count the cost before we start a building project. "Posting a guard" isn't a lack of faith, it's just smart and what many have modeled throughout Scripture. God put these examples in the Word for a reason.
Faith still challenges us to believe God for a miracle, to do beyond what we could ask and think, to be confident that God can provide and protect even in the middle of the worst. Sometimes there is nothing else we can do and God has to accomplish it totally without our involvement.
But maybe today you're wondering what to do next after you've prayed passionately about a need in your life or an initiative you believe God is leading you to pursue.
You might try posting a guard, doing the next wise thing. And when the boat and the helicopter show up, you'll recognize from whence they came!
As most of us know Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem following the Babylonian captivity. Unfortunately, not everyone liked the idea, particularly several key leaders. In chapter 4, verse 1, we read, When Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews . . .
Tobiah also joined the verbal scourging and added, What are they building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!
However, Nehemiah being a wise and godly leader immediately turned to the Lord and prayed in verse 4, Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.
But then rather than praying more he and his team went to work. So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. (v. 6)
Unfortunately, Sanballat, Tobiah and a host more were not finished and became angry that the work continued. Verse 8 tells us, They plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.
I find Nehemiah's next actions even more insightful when we think about how we're to pray in the middle of trials. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
They prayed AND posted a guard. They sought God's help AND they used everyday wisdom. They were spiritual AND they were smart.
God expects us to do the same today. Yes, pray for healing AND find the best medical help you can find. Yes, pray for financial provision AND spend what you have well. Yes, pray for your children to become godly AND model a Christlike life in front of them. Pray for the needy AND go share what you have with them. The possible implications are myriad.
Prayer and action are clearly not mutually exclusive!
But so often we prayer leaders, pastors and teachers send messages to others that one or the other, prayer or action, is really enough. We call for great movements of prayer (and we should) but we often leave out a challenge to then act wisely and assertively. Others pull together hundreds or even thousands to serve others and take little time to pray for wisdom, direction and guidance.
And many of us know the hurt and misunderstanding many have faced because a Christian leader did not understand the Bible's clear perspective that prayer is to be coupled with wisdom and everyday deeds.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray He told them to pray that God would enable and empower them to bring the kingdom to earth as it is in Heaven. He too wanted them to make the kingdom real and vibrant in very tangible ways.
So, are you facing a challenge, a rebuttal, a push back on something you believe God wants you or your church to do? Yes, pray like crazy, call others to join you, ask in Jesus' name that the Father will be glorified, fast if you feel led to, but for Heaven's sake, post a guard!
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