Hope Community Church
Friday, December 14, 2018

Day 31: Epilogue

 

I have to confess the 30 days have gone much faster than I thought they would. For those who have followed and read these blogs.... thanks! But I have another confession and I hope you do, too. These last 30 days have been personally challenging to my thinking and prayer life. I've been guilty of complacency. I have not been on the prayer adventure God has intended for me. It's not that I have been unwilling; I've just never seen prayer through the lenses that I have on now. Thank you Pastor Wayne and elders for entrusting this little project to me. I've gained from it. I hope you have, too. But most of all, thank You, Lord, for guiding and inspiring me along the way to see You and the purpose and power of prayer in a new light.

 

I will close our 30 day adventure with a quote from Boyd Bailey:

 

"Prayer is not a passive undertaking—rather it is an energized exercise of faith. Devote yourself to aggressive and grateful prayers—and all the while anticipate what Almighty God wants to do in and through your life. Remain steadfast in your allegiance to heaven, without worrying about what you can’t control. Earnestly pray for others and you will experience the joy of unselfish service and the exhilaration of Christ’s replies."

 

Lord, thank You for this time and adventure we've taken with You. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for being our guide and teacher. Thank You for challenging us to pray more, and to be more persistent in holding on to high expectations. Remind us often that if our prayer life is waning, it's not because You have stopped listening.  It's because we have stopped petitioning and persisting in our pursuit of You and the promises You've made. Keep us on the adventure. Amen and Amen.

 

 

Day 30:  Unashamedly

 

Rom 1:16 says, "I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes..." I love that verse! Paul is saying 'I'm unashamedly bold, fearlessly driven, and persistently pursuing you with the Good News because it has the power to save you, the same way it saved me.'

 

I want to suggest that our prayer life can have that same kind of potency and power, but we must be as unashamed to pursue God in prayer in the same way Paul pursued others with the Good News.

 

You may be asking "Where are you getting that from?" Let's look at Luke 11:9 where Jesus is speaking:  “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." Do you see it? I've underlined it for you. Keep on!!

 

What Jesus is saying here is that we are to be unashamedly persistent at pestering God (11:8). You might be saying, "Well, that doesn't seem very reverential or honoring!" At first glance, I might agree. But, there's something we need to see and consider: It's Jesus Himself telling us to pray like this (11:9). I think we're safe in taking this as Biblical instruction, if not a mandate. So, what do we do with it?

 

First, here's what we don't do. We don't think that if we become whiny, squeaky wheel, pouty, pray-ers that we'll get what we want. That is not what Jesus is teaching.

 

What it does mean is, if we take Jesus at His word, that if we will prayerfully, unashamedly, persistently, pursue God and His promises, God will hear and answer our prayers. Not always yes, not always immediately, and not always in the way we'd like, but if we persist according to this passage, He promises to answer.

 

Here's a thought to consider about prayer. What if when we're unashamedly, persistently, pursuing God in prayer, it turns into worship? What if our asking, seeking, and knocking puts us closer to Him and draws Him closer to us? What if the reason our prayer life hasn't come to life is because we've been giving up too soon?

 

Lord, in the area of prayer, help me to unashamedly persist to pursue, and even pester You  for Your answer. Help me to "keep on" even when I want to quit. Amen

 Day 29: Don’t Seek God’s Goodness In Your Comfort; Seek Your Comfort In His Goodness

 

Let me ask you a question. What makes our trust in God so flimsy, so subjective? Is it that we're more earnest about seeking our own comfort than seeking the will of God and trusting in His goodness? I can tell you from my own experience that this is exactly the problem.

 

The fact is, I am in favor of God magically ending all my troubles and miraculously lifting me from the pit and setting me free. The truth is, I don't want the consequences of my bad choices to linger and continue to upset my comfortable life. I just want to admit I was wrong and have His hand sweep it all away. In short, I want the cross of Christ to bear not only my sin and its consequence, but also all the uncomfortable daily, earthly consequences that come with them. I just want to go back to being comfortable! Who's with me?! I heard those "amen's!"

 

But that's not how it works. God did not promise us a walk in the rose garden. In fact, the promise is, if we're following Christ, we will go through the garden of Gethsemane. We will climb the hill of Golgotha. We will join Him in His suffering before we will join Him in His glory. (I Peter 4:12-13)

 

You see, comfort can be a dangerous thing. Dangerous? Yes, dangerous. Our comfort can become an idol and that is a dangerous thing. Why?

 

Because God has so much more in store for us if we will join Him on the adventure  (that risky undertaking) He's planned for us. But trusting in His goodness is paramount to taking that ride. I'm reminded of a line in "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe".  Speaking of Aslan, the question is asked "Is He safe?". The reply is sobering. "No, but He is good."

 

Following Christ is not always comfortable. It's not always safe, but it is always good, because He is always good.

 

Faithful Father and friend, may I see the danger of following You and follow anyway. May I understand there will be struggles and trials and times of great discomfort, and follow You anyway. May I choose to find my hope and comfort in You. Are You safe? No. But, I know and have faith that You are good. Amen 

 

Day 28:  Prayer Is More Than Mental Assent

 

We sometimes have a "romantic" view of prayer. We envision some sort of glow surrounding us with audible voices and angelic elevator music playing as we pray. But Prayer.... real, honest, praising, repenting, petitioning, worshiping, confessing and submitting prayer... can be messy. Real Praying can sometimes require all of the courage and strength our faith can muster. The great praying warriors of the Bible would agree. Remember, Prayer is an exciting but risky undertaking; it's an adventure!

 

Christians, in general, I think will agree we should pray, but what does that really mean? To many, it's repetition of written words, to others it's only used when all else fails. To some "We only bother God for the really big stuff." To still others there is a childishness of bringing all things to Him so we don't have to deal with it ourselves: "God, I haven't studied, but I need to pass, so could You....?"

 

I want to be careful here and point out that I have experienced every one of those phases in my prayer life. The key word in the last phrase was 'phase'. You see, just as our walk with the Lord should be growing and evolving, so must the way we talk with the Lord. When little Tommy prays "Now I lay me down to sleep" it's wonderful. When 40 yr old Tom is still saying the same prayer, it's not so wonderful.

 

My point is, prayer requires more than a mental assent or a conscious agreement that we should pray. Prayer is an all-consuming adventure! I don't come to pray just because I think it's the "right" thing to do. I'm here because I want and desperately need to commune and be in communication with my Father, my Creator, and my Savior. Nothing else can quench my thirst or satisfy my hunger for intimacy with the Godhead like prayer. Prayer is a feast, even when we fast, and an everlasting fountain that saturates the driest of souls and refreshes and revives the weariest of warriors.

 

Father, If I'm not hungering and thirsting for You and Your Word, I'm being satisfied with something far less than You intend. If the Spirit is absent from my prayers, I will be dry as dust, rather than overflowing. If my prayer life has been easy, have I truly been in Your presence? Forgive me for having been too easily satisfied by giving You only mental assent. I now pledge my all to You. Amen

 

Day 27:  The Easy Road Is Not Always The Best Path

 

If you're like me, sometimes you just want the easy road, but God has so much more in mind. You see, the truth is, life and prayer can be messy. Why? Because life is messy. Let's face it..... we're messy.

 

I often start the day with the best of intentions, but somehow life gets in the way. Schedules change, time between appointments evaporates, and my patience gets challenged and runs very thin. Sound familiar? (I hope I'm not the only one with this problem.)  But, I've also had many days when everything ran on time and track. And the ease of the day was great, but it didn't make me more productive. In fact, it has often had the opposite effect.

 

I hear many say, "I work best under pressure." Which is, many times, an excuse for their own procrastination (at least it is for me!). But I wonder if God knows there's some truth for the need of pressure to spur us on? I wonder if he knows we'll get lethargic or even downright lazy without it?

 

God says in Ps 32:8 (NLT) “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.

 

Now you may be thinking, "See, it says God wants us on the "best path",  which He does, but in reality it's what follows that I want us to think about. "I will advise you and watch over you." Why would that be necessary if we're on the "best path"? Isn't the "best path" the route of least resistance? Not in God's economy. Coasting is never going to get us to the high country. In fact, you can only coast going downhill!

 

We need advice and watching over when we're on the "best path". Why? Because in His faithfulness, He's taking us to places we may not want to go. He's taking us to where we will need Him more, not less. The Father's "best path" led His own Son to Gethsemane and Calvary. Why would we think we get the easy road?

 

Father, forgive me for wanting the easy road. Forgive me for forgetting that Your "best path" often comes with hardship. But Lord, don't let me forget that You Yourself, have promised to "advise me and watch over me" along the way. I am in the same hands that Jesus was. Help me trust You, as He did, as You lead me. Amen 

 

Day 26:  30 Days Of Risk part 2

The truth is, we could have literally spent all 30 days looking at the prayers and praying people of the Bible and not gotten through them all. Maybe we can sometime in the future. But in previous posts, I have referred to difficult times in our personal life when God, through prayer, has responded in dramatic ways. If you will bear with me one more time, I'd like to share another experience I had while in prayer.

 

It happened when I was spending my days in the basement, in the dark, in silence, waiting on the Lord to speak. I was suddenly in a place that reminded me of the Wizard of Oz. The hallway was like crystal and the floors were glossy. It led to a large room. I remember being aware that there was activity all around me. Then I heard a voice that rang out and as I listened, I realized that the words of the voice were accusing me of all my misdeeds, or more acccurately, to all my sins. And the accusations were accurate. I had been, and was, guilty of every word that was being uttered. As I turned toward the voice, instead of being confronted by the Lord, like our characters from yesterday, I was being confronted by the enemy himself. A swaggering, arrogant prosecutor who stood before the bench itemizing my crimes against God.

 

I had no defense. The father of lies was telling the truth. I was guilty of every word and my heart was breaking under the weight of the accusations and such merciless scrutiny. But, at my most hopeless point, Someone entered the room. He approached the bench and my accuser stood suddenly silent. My defense had arrived. My Savior stood in my place. He looked in the direction of the bench and said, "All that has been said, all the accusations that have been made are true. What has been omitted is that the defendant is Mine.  Father...., he is Mine."

 

I heard the sound of a gavel and a thunderous Voice say "All charges are dropped. Case dismissed!"  My Defender then turned to the prosecutor, aimed a finger at him and with firm authority said "Now, you have to leave."  

  

Father, You gave me an adventure in prayer that I'll never forget. How is it that I have not been more faithful to pursue You more often for more of You, as I should? If I consider it too risky, I need to ask myself one thing: Is it more risky to pursue You than to ignore You? Help me to live at risk in Your presence, and in prayer all the days of my life. Amen

   

Day 25:  30 Days Of Risk part 1

 

Remember what we're calling this series? A 30 day prayer adventure. Webster defines adventure as "an exciting and/or dangerous undertaking". It literally means "to risk" or "to be put at risk".

 

Have you ever thought of prayer like that? Does prayer seem like a dangerous undertaking to you, to come before God Almighty? Should it? Have we tamed the Lion so much that all we have left is a kitty cat?

 

When we look at the praying people of the Bible, they seem to have a deep, dependent reverence (A healthy, right fear of the Lord) that we rarely consider these days. But their experiences in prayer were vividly exciting and risky. They understood prayer could be a dangerous undertaking...... an adventure!

 

In Isaiah chapter 6 we find Isaiah experiencing a vision. He is in the Spirit praying when he is interrupted by a vision of God "high and lifted up". This is so fearful that Isaiah cries out “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man!" (Is 6:5 NLT) Sounds risky to me. But by verse 8, he says "Here I am, send me".

 

In Revelation, the exiled Apostle John "in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Rev 1:10,11) is being addressed by the risen Christ and told to "write a book". John's response was to "fall at His feet as a dead man" (Rev 1:17). He is then taken on a tour of the end times and, in obedience, he writes it all down (Rev 1:19). What an adventure that was!

 

In Luke 1:26-38  Mary, the young girl who would be the mother of Jesus, meets Gabriel. He says she is "favored among women" and "the Lord is with you" and "she has found favor with God". Gabriel gives her the message that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Son of God. To be sure, God was sending Mary on the adventure of a lifetime. There was the danger of her family disowning her, public ridicule, and the potential of Joseph, her betrothed, not to understand or believe her story. But her response was, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

 

God, may we pray and respond as Isaiah, John, and Mary did when You ask us to risk everything and go on an adventure with You. Amen

 

Day 24:  Wait, What?? part 2

 

As I said yesterday, The shoes were dropping one after another. And instead of receiving an answer from God, He was repeatedly asking us a question: "What do you think of Me now?"

 

Our faith was being tested. What we said we believed was being brought out of the realm of theory and marched into the light of reality. 

 

It was a few weeks into the process when the answer to God's question came. In fact, it was the answer Peter gave to Jesus when He asked if they (the disciples) were going to leave Him too. "To whom shall we go? Who else has the words of eternal life?" (John 6:67-69).  By God's grace, Cheryl and I had come to that place. He had answered our prayer from Mark 9: "Help us in our unbelief". We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt where we stood and in Whom we trusted.

 

God knew what He was going to do about those pesky little mountains we were bringing to Him; that was easy. His foremost concern and task was growing our faith. He accomplished both.

 

We need to realize that answers to prayer always start where we are, but the purpose of answered prayer is to change us, teach us, and lead us to where God wants us to be.

 

I'm 67 at this writing. I've been able to counsel/minister for free to many over the last decade. The mountains of financial stress are gone. Family relations are healed. My eyesight has remained stable. We work at a church filled with people we love, and love to serve. Does God answer prayer? Yes! Does He always do it the way we think? No. But, He does God-size things and they always exceeds our hopes and imaginations (Eph 3:20). Yay God!!

 

Father, words fail to express the gratitude I feel. Not just for answered prayer, but more importantly, for showing Yourself in personal ways to us, sovereignly and majestically moving in and through our lives. Refining us, pruning us, growing us, so that You can use us for Your glory. O Lord, keep doing it! Do whatever it takes to make me usable. Take away whatever gets in the way of my availability. And eliminate whatever is keeping me from knowing You better and deeper. Do whatever it takes. That's my prayer. I surrender myself to You. In Jesus Name.

 

Day 23:  Wait, What?!! part 1

It was my 50th Birthday, June 29, 2001. We were going through the difficult financial debacle I've shared about earlier in the blog. My sweet wife was secretly planning a surprise party for me and told me to go on my prayer walk to get me out of the house. As I was making my way around the complex, I was, as usual, talking with the Lord about our dilemma and suddenly, almost audibly, I heard a voice say, "Will you walk away with nothing?"

 

My immediate response was "Absolutely! Yes, gladly." But in less than 10 steps, I followed with "But, you know...if You would just get us through this by the time I'm 65, I could be financially secure and able to do ministry for free." It all seemed so noble in the moment, but God had a comeback. "Who told you that you were going to live to be 65?"   Wait, What?!!  There was a long pause and then He said "And, who told you, if you do, that I won't take care of you?" The crushed part of me was a bit relieved and I took a deep breath. "Yes, Lord I'll be glad to walk away with nothing." The terms had been stated and agreed to, and I was sure it would all be great from here on out. I was anxious to see God's plan unfold. Yay God!!

 

The first thing to happen was a breakdown within my family that was devastating to Cheryl and I. We were absolutely heartbroken. The next was losing more eyesight. The next was our finances got even worst. The next was division within the church we were attending that required a choice to leave.  Wait What?!!

 

Cheryl and I walked around in numb, dazed confusion. Every day there were the questions, "What shoe is going to drop today, Lord?" and "Exactly how many shoes do You own?" The testing of our faith had begun and seemed relentless. Without comparing our test to Job's, the pages of Job became real and well worn. Our mantra was "Though He slay me, still I will trust Him." (Job 13:15) and the prayer in Mark 9:24 "Lord we believe, help us in our unbelief!" was on our lips often. We had expected an answer from God, yet the one thing we kept hearing from God was a question: "What do you think of Me now?".

 

Lord, this brings back so many memories, some of them difficult. But, You knew what was best and You did what was necessary to prepare and grow us. Fire purifies and pruning increases fruitfulness, but the shine and the fruit come only after the process. Thank You for preserving us through the process. Amen

  

Day 22: One of the great privileges of faith is prayer

 

Since we're on a 30 day prayer adventure, I thought it would be good to consider what a privilege it is to pray. We sometimes get so caught up in life that we overlook or take the privilege of prayer for granted? I can't say it any better than Joseph Medicott Scriven did in the old hymn:  What a Friend We Have In Jesus 

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!

 

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness, Take it to the Lord in prayer.

 

Are we weak and heavy-laden, weighed down with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge—Take it to the Lord in prayer

 

I want to encourage you not to rush over the words. We do that too often and miss their impact. Jesus is a Friend like no other. He will hold us up when the pressures of life surround us. He will heal us of pain and sorrow. He will give us peace. He understands the trial and temptations we face. He will be our safe place, but we must come to Him in Prayer.

 

Prayer is the one thing that transcends the space between Heaven and Earth. It closes the gap between humanity and divinity. Prayer lifts us from the realm of the mundane into the realm of Majesty. God, through Christ's work on the cross, has made Himself apprehendable and approachable through the vehicle of prayer.

 

We have talked about the importance of the Holy Spirit in prayer earlier, so I won't reiterate it here. Just know there is no substitute for, and we have no excuse not to pray. We have every reason to believe that God is listening and that He cares (I Peter 5:7). He has provided a faithful Friend to us in His Son. All we have to do is breath His Name and we will have God's full attention.

 

O Father, I am guilty of ignoring You. I am guilty of complaining against You. I am guilty of reading Your Word too little, and too fast, because I think I know it. But do I? I have sometimes believed the lie that You are far from me and just don't care. But, as I consider all You have done, so we can be close and have conversation, it makes me wonder how I could have been so deceived? Forgive me, Father. Forgive me, Friend. Help me to bring everything to You in prayer, knowing and believing that You are my best Friend and only Hope. Amen

 

 

Day 21:  God’s Word & Spirit Confronts, Convicts, Corrects and Comforts

I wonder how many of you are like me? When I come to read God's Word or pray, I really want to be comforted, not confronted. I want to feel good. I want to be assured and encouraged that I'm rockin' this Christianity thing. I want God's approval and proverbial pat on the back, and an "Atta boy!" from my heavenly Father every time we talk. It seems and sounds like a good thing, but is it really? Probably not and here's why. It would imply that I have it all together, all figured out, and that I've somehow attained perfection, and that's not remotely true. Paul agrees with that in Phil 3:12-14.

 

Now before we go down the "Woe is me....I'll never get it right" trail, let's consider the patience of our heavenly Father.  Unlike some of our earthly fathers and mothers, God is not being petty or super judgmental when He confronts, convicts, and corrects. He is being loving and a True friend and Father to us. If we understand this correctly, we will be encouraged rather than discouraged.

 

Indeed, the Word and Spirit of God work together to confirm that there are things that need to change. But, these changes will make us shine brighter in this world for His glory, be more effective in kingdom work, and make us more like Jesus. 

 

You see, God is not afraid to speak Truth, but He always marinates it in Love so it doesn't come off  harsh or condemning. In fact, that 'Truth in Love' combination brings hope for better days ahead. A father who knows what is best for his children will not withhold it from them. That would be cruel. Instead he will share it in a way that is encouraging, understandable, and palatable. That's what God does.

 

Some of us are scratching our heads. "I've never heard a kind or encouraging word from my dad or mom." "I've only been corrected or made to feel like a failure." That may be true, but please don't let the frailty of human relationships get in the way of your relationship with your heavenly Father. He wants the best for you.

 

Father, have Your way in each one of us today. Take away  the fear of being chastised, belittled, and punished. Show us Your Love in Your Truth. Show us Your Love and comfort even in the midst of Your correction. Show us that Your intention is for our good, not harm, and for our being lifted up, not put down. Amen

  

Day 20: The Goal Of Prayer Must Be God

                                                                    

Wanting more of God is quite different than wanting more from God.

 

One of my favorite songs is called "More Than Anything" by Natalie Grant. Have a listen.   

 

 

 

This song puts into words the right priority of life and how we are to pray. You see, If we don’t get to God there can be no answers. If we pursue the answers more than the One giving them we will miss them both. Listen to this song and let it bless you and help you today to rearrange your prayer priorities.

 

Father, help us want the Healer more than the healing and the Savior more than the saving. Help us want the Giver more than the giving. Help us to come to treasure You more than anything. Amen

 

Day 19:  Guess Who Doesn't Want You To Pray?

 

The answer to this question is so painfully obvious it seems absurd, right?  And yet, even as I'm writing these blogs, Cheryl and I struggle to find the time to faithfully pray with each other on a daily basis.  Why?  Because we're busy. Well, that's what we tell ourselves.  I think the truth is, we get caught up in busyness rather than making time with God for the most important business we have on the day's docket:  fellowship with God through prayer.

 

Another obvious question:  Who is dancing on the sidelines when we omit prayer from our schedule?  Satan and his demons.  Why?  Because the absence of time with God makes room for them to weave their agenda into our lives.  A Christian who is busy is not a great threat to the devil's plans.  But, a Christian who is about the business of the kingdom is a lethal threat to the plans and activities of the devil and his angels of darkness.

The point today is simple:  Which one are we?  A Christian who is busy or a Christian who is doing the business of the kingdom.  Don't get me wrong; I get it. No matter your field of expertise or career choice or even being retired, as I am, busyness will almost always be something of a distraction and will happen from time to time.  We all contend with it at some level on any given day.  The question isn't how will we avoid busyness, it's how will we handle it?  The chronically busy Christian will always struggle to find time to pray.  The Christian desiring to do kingdom business knows to start out with prayer.

 

Holy Spirit, I'm feeling the weight of Your loving and instructive conviction in my own busy life. I often feel there's not enough time in the day to get it all done. And yet, what am I getting done?  Your will or mine? The truth is, if I'm not communicating with You, how can I know?  Father, I don't want to be like the man who struggled for years, busily climbing the ladder of success only to find his  ladder was on the wrong wall.  Help me to set aside my busyness, even when it's good, so I can come to You for instruction and power to do Your business. By Your grace, may I frustrate the enemy and please You. Amen

 

Day 18:  Grace does not absolve us of obedience.

 

I think one of the great lies of Satan is found in the seemingly innocent phrase "It's easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission".  This phrase is far from 'innocent', because Satan, the father of lies, has never done either.

 

I've been there.  We've all been there at some point.  I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, because I want to.  So, guess what?  We do it.  The thought, conscious or not, is "I'll just ask for forgiveness afterwards and it will all be OK".   Really?   Is that how grace works?  Is that how God planned Jesus' work on the cross to be used?   The answer is...No.

 

Please don't hear this as a statement of condemnation.  Rather, it is a reality check for those of us who may fall into this trap.  Can we honestly think that grace absolves us of obedience?  Jesus says, "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments" (Jn 14:15).   Just let those words sink in for a moment.  Let the Holy Spirit reveal the meaning of those words to you.  Do you hear the condition? "If you....",then "you will".  These are words with great implication, but without application, they are rendered meaningless.  Can we knowingly ignore them and still stand in good stead with God?  Can we honestly believe that we're not responsible to comply with the words of our Savior?  Grace does not absolve us from obedience! 

 

Though we can always depend on God's grace for forgiveness, can we presume upon it?  Isn't the prerequisite to receive this sin-washing grace true repentance? (I Jn 1:9)  God says, "A broken and contrite heart I will not cast out." (Ps 51:17), but "the prideful and haughty I will war against." (I Peter 5:5) 

 

O Father God, I am a person of unclean lips and thoughts and deeds, and I have, too many times, presumed upon Your amazing grace, thinking You somehow owed it to me.  There have been times I knew I was doing something You would not approve of and did it anyway.  I was wrong; forgive me.  There have been times when my mind has wandered into territory that did not honor You and stayed there anyway.  I was wrong; forgive me.  But now my heart is breaking and I am humbly  seeking that sin-washing grace and forgiveness from You.  I repent of my wrong thinking and sin.  Help me to never take Your grace for granted again, but to treasure it, and You, above all else always. Amen

 

Day 17:  A Praying Man

His name was Jack Kyle.  Forty years ago, he was a mentor to me and someone who made me want to learn how to pray.  In fact, what I remember best about Jack is the way he prayed.  Over his lifetime he had gotten a handle on walking and living and praying in the Spirit.  It seemed his thoughts were never very far from the Lord.  It wasn't that he couldn't be "earthy", he just didn't stay there long. 

I remember him praying in church.  I can still feel the goosebumps running through me as I stood next to him at our prayer meetings.  There were times I thought the place would be shaken (Acts 4:31a) as he would call heaven down and speak to his Father and Savior.

I can't help but think that's how the disciples felt when they heard Jesus pray.  Can you imagine hearing Jesus pray? There had to be something powerful and even other worldly about it.  Why else would the disciples have asked Him to teach them to pray? (Luke 11:1). 

O, heavenly Father, would You stir us to ask the same question? Shake us up! Give us the desire to pray more, to pray deeper, and to pray with full expectation that You are not only listening, but that You want to answer and move on our behalf.  Forgive us for half-hearted, hopeless words.  Forgive us for praying by rote, without expectation.  Father, will You teach us to pray?  I know You have been waiting for us to ask.  Thank You.  Amen

  

Day 16:  4 Keys To Effective Prayer

 

True, effective, prayer has been described as 'God the Holy Spirit, talking to God the Father, in the Name of God the Son, in the prayer room of a believer’s heart'.  The Holy Spirit is not only ‘the Place’ of prayer; He is the first and most essential key to effective prayer.  For example..."the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in (human) words.  27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will."  (Rom 8:26-27)

 

The next key is Devotion.  E.M.  Bounds says: "When devotion has gone, prayer has lost its wings."  How many times have we said something like, "I just don't feel like God is listening?"  Well, maybe our devotion is more about getting what we want than hearing what He's saying?  (Husbands, as Wayne preached last Sunday, read I Peter 3:7 for another reason for unanswered prayer.)

 

There are 2 more keys to be aware of.  They are related, but different in results. 

  • Continual Prayer.  "Pray without ceasing" or "Never stop Praying" (I Thess 5:17).  This is describing an attitude of prayer more than a continuous stream of petition.  It is a continuous awareness of the Spirit (living in the atmosphere of the Spirit) and what He is saying or directing.  You see, since prayer is a two way conversation, listening is praying as well.
  • Persistent Prayer.  This why Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:18  "Pray in the Spirit at all times and on all occasion.  Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." Don't miss who we are to be persistent in prayer for -- "all other believers." If you and your needs are the main menu of your prayers, maybe it's time to start putting others first.  (Phil 2:3-4)

Heavenly Father, I truly want to be effective in my prayers.  Teach me to listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him lead.  Help me to be devoted to Your will and way and give me the attitude that never gives up, so I will be persistent to pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Remind me that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are ever before the throne interceding for me (Rom 8:26-27; Heb 7:25) and, by their example, I need to be interceding for others.  Amen.

Day 15: What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? Pt.  2

 

"The Holy Spirit is to be ‘the Place’ of the prayer."   Prayer “in the Spirit” is motivated and empowered by Him.  Which means, The Spirit is to be the atmosphere in which we are to live.  We are to be actively putting the flesh (sinful nature) to death so that the Spirit can guide and direct us.  Check out Gal 5:17.  This too is spiritual warfare! The battle for the mind.

 

How Does the Spirit Help Us in Prayer?

 

  1.  “For through Him we...have our access...to the Father” (Eph.  2:18).  Like an official who give access or audience with the king.  This is exactly what the Spirit does for us.

 

 2.   We, as His children, can come uninhibited into the presence of our understanding and loving Father/Abba.   (Gal 4:6)

 

3“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we do not know how to pray as we should” (Rom.  8:26).   The Spirit’s aim is to guide us into the will of God through illuminating the Word of God and activating it within us. 

  

The Holy Spirit takes our imperfect prayers and adds the incense of the finished work of Christ, and brings them to our heavenly Father.   The real secret of a rich and fulfilling prayer life is to “Be filled with the Spirit,” (Eph 5:18), and submit/yield to Him to let Him do His work within us.

 

Holy Spirit, come and fill me.  Someone has said, "I need to be refilled often, because I leak". That describes me perfectly.  I am a weak, leaky vessel that needs to be filled again and again.  Holy Spirit, from Your infinite resource, continue to fill me with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  These are things I cannot conjure up.  They are fruit that only You can produce.  Have Your way, Lord.  Amen  

 

Day 14: What does it mean to pray in the Spirit (Part  1)

 

How important is it to pray in the Spirit?   Very!   Paul says, “Pray at all times in the Spirit (Eph.  6:18).  Since prayer is essential to our Christian life and walk, it's not surprising that the Spirit of God is deeply involved in this area.

 

So what does it mean to pray in the Spirit?  It means to pray in harmony with the Godhead and the Word and Will of God.  One naturally leads to the other.  Being God Himself, the Spirit knows and can interpret God’s will to us.  In fact, this is one of the very reasons He's been given to the Church.  “He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom.  8:27).

 

As followers of Christ, we have the Holy Spirit within us .  Paul gives further light on the Spirit's activity in prayer.  “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom.  8:26).  So, we are specifically benefited by the Spirit in three ways.  1) His intercession for our good;  2) His interpreting our heart's deepest feelings and longings into the heavenly language of the Godhead; and  3) His communicating, comforting, and counseling us in terms we can understand.

 

In fact, God gave us the Holy Spirit to instruct, inspire, comfort, counsel, correct, encourage, illumine, and transform our hearts and minds through His ministry to us.

  

Tomorrow we look deeper into what it means to pray in the Spirit.

 

Holy Spirit, This may be new to some or something we've just overlooked.  Forgive us for that.  Holy Spirit come and stir up my faith.  Stir up my hope.  Stir up my trust.  Stir up my expectations.  Awaken me to the reality of the Godhead living and abiding within me.  Remind me that the same Holy Spirit that descended on Jesus at His baptism and hovered as a flame over the heads of the Apostles at Pentecost is the same Holy Spirit that indwells me right now.  That same Spirit and power lives in me!  Hallelujah and Amen!

 

 Day 13:  If sin finds room in your mind, it will soon be at home in your heart

 

We must forcibly take captive all sinful thoughts or images which come against our mind from the flesh, the world, and the Devil 

(II Cor 10:5).

 

I've heard it said that "War is hell" and I agree.  But I think we, as Christians, could say, "We're at war with hell".  Paul tells us in Eph. 6:10-18 that we are not fighting against people.  We are at war with the devil and his angels and we are to use every weapon God has given us. 

 

As we pick up our weapons and prepare our defenses, it will be helpful to know that the first attack is always the mind.  It is our thoughts that the enemy wants to disrupt, distract, and deceive.  Once our mind has been invaded, our heart and actions fall prey to follow his whims and lies.  Make no mistake that the battle field that determines whether we win or lose, in the contest of temptation, is the mind.

 

So, what are the weapons God has given us to fight this battle?  Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation (Eph 6:14-17).  These are more than just words, so we need to learn how to apply and wield them in our life and the war effort.  While God's Word is indispensable, our Prayer life is absolutely essential.  Praying God's Word in the power of the Spirit sends the enemy into conniptions! Yay God!!  So the next two days of blogs will be centered on the 'how' of praying in the Spirit.   

 

But until then, you can win the battle for your mind by filling it with Phil 4:8 "...Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

 

Holy Spirit, since my mind is so vulnerable to the enemy's attack, would You help me guard it?  Help me fill it with right thoughts and to fend off wrong ones before they take root.  Help me to hear Your voice, respond to Your voice, and be sensitive to Your voice.  Remind me I don't stand alone.  Jesus sent You, Holy Spirit, to be my helper and the Father has given me an arsenal of weapons to use ruthlessly against the enemy.  I know that my only true safety is seeking, listening, and obeying You and You alone.   Amen

 

Day 12:  God didn’t call us to be His lawyer. He’s called us to be His witness.

Our purpose is not to impose our faith on others.

Our purpose is to expose our faith for others to see, by living it.

 

Just as the 10 commandments expose our sin and need for a Savior, so should our faith expose the change that the Savior has made in us.  Jesus did not come to dictate or enforce His will on unbelievers.  He came to engage and embrace the sinner so that they would see the error of their ways and come to faith.  In short, He came to seek and save the lost.  Jesus did not demand that people come to Him.  They came because there was something radically different about Him (Matt 7:29).  He came to expose us to love, grace, and forgiveness and He came to show us the only way to be saved (John 14:6). 

 

I confess, I'm pretty good at imposing my faith.  What do I mean by that?  I impose my faith when I judge others, and especially unbelievers, for the "unchristian" way they think or live (by my standard).  But, God didn't call me to be His lawyer and condemn people.  That's not my job!  He did, however, call me to be His witness.  What does that mean?  That means my main effort and energy is to live my faith out loud for the glory of God.  I can do that without condemning others who don't agree with me.  And if I do that, some will see something is radically different about me.  Christ’s example is not just to be admired; it is to be imitated (I Cor 11:1) .

 

Father, You have called me to reflect and give  witness to Your Son.  To be Your light in the world I live in.  Help me not to darken the light of my witness by imposing a cloud of condemnation and legalism on others.  Rather, help me to expose others to Your light and the freedom of Your grace and forgiveness, so I can be the beacon and witness that guides them safely into Your arms.  Amen

 

Day 11: Praying with Mickey

 

I often like to take the opportunity to pray with folks I don't know.  I know some of you may be saying "That's just crazy!"  Well, I admit, it hasn't always been that way, but I have found in recent years that this is a wonderful way to reach out to folks.  Surprisingly, I've never been turned down, but have always been thanked for taking the time to pray with them.  Let me tell you about one of those times.

 

Mickey was an older, black gentleman I met in a cemetery on Memorial Day.  He was standing in the shade of an evergreen tree looking down at a stone with someone's name on it that had been important to him.  I noticed that he would look my way from time to time and I felt like he was inviting me to come over by him.  I must admit, I felt awkward as I encroached on this little plot of ground where his loved one lay, but nevertheless, there I was.  I introduced myself and asked his name. "Mickey, like the mouse" he said with a grin. I told him, "I felt like I was suppose to come and pray for you. Could I do that?"

 

"That would be nice", he said. "Thank you".  I prayed for him and the sorrow and loss he was feeling and said Amen.  As I turned to go, I shook Mickey's hand and felt shivers go through me.  I looked him in the eyes and said, "God bless you, my friend".  As I walked away, I had the strangest feeling that a part of me stayed with him and a piece of him came with me.  What a gift prayer is!

 

Father, I'm still not sure who was ministered to most that day, but I know You were there. Thank You! May we seize these precious opportunities no matter where or when You provide them and also make the most of them. Help us to be obedient and to know that, when we are, we will be blessed and also bless others. God, bless Mickey wherever he is right now and help each one of us to give the gift of  prayer to the 'Mickey's' in this world when and where ever they cross our paths. Amen

 

Day 10: The Joy Of Abiding

 

“When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus.” -Corrie ten Boom

 

John 15:4-6 tells us it is not only a great joy and advantage to abide in Christ, it is a must if we are to be filled and fruitful.  "Apart from Me you can do nothing."  Nada, zilch, nothing!  What an empty prospect that is.  And yet, we often find ourselves striving away our day, trying to accomplish something in our own ability, instead of being plugged in or abiding in the ability of Jesus.

 

For those of you who have a green thumb (I am not one), you know that when a branch is separated from the plant...... it dies.  The plant can be flourishing and a branch can literally be a hairsbreadth away from it, yet the branch will still die because it has no ability to sustain itself.  This is what Jesus is telling us in the verses of John 15.  "Apart from Me" you are dead.  You are unable to produce righteousness.  You are unable to live abundantly.  "Apart from Me" you will never experience the joy I want to give you.

 

Father, today will you graft me securely into the vine? I have tried and tried. I've been striving to be something in my own power and all I am is frustrated, spent, and tired. Let me come to You and abide (rest) in You. Take the things that have zapped  my strength and fill me with the sap of Your vine. Let the unending flow of Your truth and wisdom fill me with Your joy and Spirit.  Help me walk with You and abide in You all the days of my life. Amen

 

Day 9:  The Wife's Perspective

 

As I read the last few days of the blog, all the memories came flooding back of that time in our lives when fear and helplessness reigned.  Days when more money was required of us each month than we had coming in and I could see no way out. 

 

I knew my husband to be of strong faith and a praying man, and I had already been witness to many miraculous ways God had provided for us.  So when he said he was going to pray and fast over our  financial situation and trust God, I was ecstatic!  I just KNEW God would give him the answer or answers we needed!

 

On the final day of his fast, he went to the basement and prayed (in the dark) for 6 hours.  I didn't hear him or see him that whole time, but all through my day, I could feel the excitement build as I believed God for the solution to our very deep problem.  When he finally came upstairs, he told me he believed he had the answer God had for us.

 

As he began to lay out the specifics of what we were supposed to do, I felt the wind slowly blow out of my sails.  I had an accounting background and I absolutely knew that there was no way what he was saying would work.  It was financially impossible. I mean, I knew there was only one solution that God needed to do, and I had waved spreadsheets at the ceiling during my prayers to show God the only way out of our mess. And then I uttered the words that no wife should ever say to her husband.

 

That's the stupid-est thing I've ever heard.

 

If I had been listening, I probably could have heard the air getting sucked out of his lungs.  But all I could hear was my own disappointment and growing fear.

 

But let me tell you something, in the next few days, one by one, miraculous things started to happen so that everything Jim had determined that God was telling us would work!  For instance, an investor called us to say "I think I'd like you guys to not pay us for 3 years".  (Seriously!) And the bank called us, and in regard to one loan, they said, we would like you to not pay on this loan anything except the interest each month.  Only God! 

 

This all happened about 20 years ago, yet I have NEVER forgotten the faithfulness of God.  And I learned a very valuable lesson.  Never, EVER ask God to speak and then, because it doesn't fit with your plan, assume it is stupid!  (And for goodness sake, when you know your husband has sought the Lord and believes he has heard from Him, don't tell him it's the stupid-est thing you've ever heard"!)  

 

Oh, dear Lord, thank you again and again for your faithfulness....even when we doubt.  Thank you for speaking to us, for loving us, and for giving us grace when we stupidly think our way is better.  I am so grateful for lessons learned.  Help me to remember as I pray that You are a faithful God and Your ways are far greater than ours. (Eph. 3:20)  Amen

 

Day 8: Prayer and Fasting

 

In the 2 previous blogs I mentioned fasting. The definition of fasting is: To abstain from all or certain foods as a religious discipline or a set period of time. Jesus fasted in Matt 4:1-3. He taught His disciples, and us, about fasting in Matt 6:16-18.

 

There have been times when I am pressing into Him wanting more of Him and realize I must set something aside; to forgo one thing for the other. I believe that is a great time to enter into fasting.

 

In fasting, there is an earnestness that honors God. We give up something to devote ourselves to seeking Him and His will above all else.

 

In some ways, we've 'dumbed down' fasting to fit our thinking and lifestyle by saying we will fast by giving up our treats or electronics for a short time, both of which we can live without. And the bigger question is, do we really infuse God into the absence of the treats or electronics or is the time simply filled with something else? I believe God is saying that fasting is much more than that. It is exchanging something we can live without for someOne we can't. When we come to desire the One over the other, we will come to know Who sustains us is more important than what sustains us.

 

Heavenly Father, We have misunderstood how much You are the sustaining  force in our lives. Help us to hunger and thirst after You and put You first. Help us to consider fasting and to use the time to truly seek for You and Your will for our lives. Whether we are in deep struggles or deeply desiring more of You, I know You will honor us as we honor You. Amen    


Day 7:  Prayer and the IRS part 2

 

So, we were rejoicing and praising God for His goodness in selling our business when the IRS letter came and now, we're back to praying -- Hard! Our accountant's wisdom was "They can't get blood out of a turnip, so just ignore them".  But, I didn't want to live like a fugitive from the IRS!

 

We made the decision to trust God to be bigger than the IRS and submitted a letter that explained everything that had happened and asked, quite literally, for mercy. We went back and forth over the next few weeks, as we re-enforced ourselves with fasting and prayer, waiting for God's hand to move. We finally received a call from a very nice individual who indicated that if we could pay $5,000 within the next 5 days, they would forgive the $116,000 balance. In euphoric disbelief, we raced over to see Cheryl's mom and dad to ask for a $5,000 loan. They gave it to us and we sent the money to the IRS. Yay God!!  $116,000 forgiven!!!

 

Then, it was time to send the same letter to the State of IL. I asked them to consider what the IRS had already done as a guideline and offered to pay $2,000. After much silence from their end and much praying on our end, I received a call from the State Treasurer's office asking if we would be willing to pay just $1,000.  Yes, you read it right.  They counter offered with a LOWER price! Again, Yay God!!

 

I love telling that story. Ask me if I believe in the power of prayer. Ask me if I think/know God is greater. I do and He is!! Ask me if I still need constant reminders. I do, even now.

 

Whatever you might be facing today, prayer will be the best first step toward its resolve. Consistent, persistent, unrelenting, and yes, even desperate prayer. God does not make us desperate for Him. We must come to that place and realization on our own. But, He is willing and able to help us realize our desperate, constant need for Him. He can even use the IRS to do it.   

 

Lord, You alone are sovereign. You alone can meet us in our deepest despair and comfort and sustain us against all earthly odds. We all face many difficulties. Some of our own making; Some where we are innocent victims. But, no matter its origin, You are our refuge and strong tower. Help us to learn to run to You first. Help us learn to run to You only and to have no fear, for You are with us (Ps 23). Amen 

 

 

Day 6:  Prayer and The IRS

 

They say there are two things you can be sure of in this world:  death and taxes. Well, I can tell you, Jesus wins in both categories when you turn everything over to Him.  

 

A number of years ago, I had successfully worked our business into near bankruptcy. The details of my poor judgment leading up to this point aren't as important as the details of God's grace getting us out of it and how He took us through this time in our life. 

 

Prayer was the most important piece of the puzzle in those days because it was the only option left and the only thing we could afford. I had been fasting and praying that someone would come and buy the failing business for just enough to leave us with nothing. In those days "nothing" sounded good! Way better than continuing to accrue more and more interest and debt! In His time and way, God did, indeed, answer my prayer and provided someone who paid more than the business was worth. Praise and relief swept through us. We had nothing, but were overjoyed to be out from under the great oppression of debt we'd been carrying so long.

 

And then came the letter from the IRS. They were unaware of our great joy, but had decided to rain on our parade anyway. The tax for the sale of the bankrupt business was going to cost us $121,000 in Federal and $5,000 to the state. Did I mention we had nothing? That didn't affect the IRS's opinion at all. So now, I'm back to fasting and praying for the answer to this dilemma. I was perplexed and a little frantic, but as you'll see tomorrow (in part 2), God wasn't.   

 

Lord, Thank You for the part two's  in our lives. The second chances and the never ending grace that flows so freely from You. While we wait for the second chance, may we keep pursuing You, believing You are able to do abundantly above and beyond all we can ask, think, or imagine (Eph 3:20). Amen 

 

Day 5: God Works For Those Who Wait For Him

 

Ever gotten ahead of yourself? I certainly have. Sometimes, I have to admit I've even gotten ahead of God. Which is really to say, I didn't bother asking Him when and where He wanted me to be. Many times I've told my grandson, "If you think before you do, you won't do dumb." This applies to me, and to praying. If you 'pray' before you 'do', you won't... well you know.

 

To wait on the Lord means we stop and soberly consider our next step. We seek counsel and help from the Lord. Why? Because when we don't, we are robbing or attempting to rob God of an occasion to glorify Himself. And that's just dumb. 
Prayer is the action of waiting for God. Waiting is not passive. Waiting finds its feet when we are on our knees actively seeking God and His plans. When we acknowledge our weakness, we find His power. When we seek His counsel, we find His wisdom. Prayer is a potent antidote for self-confidence or worse, self aggrandizement. God aims to exalt Himself by working for those who wait on Him.

 

God is not looking for people to work for Him as much as He is looking for people who will let Him work with and through them. Prayer accomplishes exactly that. We need God's help and He knows it! And He's anxiously waiting for us to call out for help, which is prayer, so that He can answer the call. Don't wait for things to get worse. You can't fix this. Wait and pray and let God go do a work in you today.

 

Lord Jesus, forgive me for getting the cart before the horse. Forgive me for thinking I know best. Forgive me for forgetting that You want the best for me and that You are ready, willing, able, and waiting for me to invite You in. Holy Spirit, come and give me instruction and wisdom. Help me to think things through with the Word of God open so I don't "do dumb"  anymore. In Jesus name. Amen

 

Day 4:  If you knew Him you would ask!

 

In John 4, Jesus was making His way through Samaria to meet with a most unlikely and unsuspecting woman. Jesus asks her for a drink of water, but the woman has a question of her own. "Why are you asking me, a woman of Samaria, for water?" Jesus doesn't miss a beat or an opportunity. He returns her volley with the words He's come to speak to her. Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask Me, and I would give you living water.”

 

This statement begs the question in our own life. Do we know Who we're talking to when we pray? Why is this important? Because there's a direct correlation between not knowing Jesus well and not asking much from Him. Too often, the greatest failure in our prayer life is that we don't know the One we're praying to.

Someone has rightly called these 'prayerless prayers'. A prayerless prayer Christian is like a bus driver trying to get his bus out of a rut all alone because he doesn't know Clark Kent is on the bus. "If he knew who Clark Kent really was, he'd ask him for help."                                                                                                                   

When we become aware and know that God is the great giver, and recognize that Christ is wise and merciful and powerful beyond measure and that He wants to help us, we become truly praying Christians.

 

Stop trying to get out of the rut you're in by yourself. Pray. Jesus is on your bus and wants to help. He's just waiting for you to recognize Him and ask for help.

 

Lord Jesus, it's no wonder I'm worn out and frustrated by the ruts in my life. I've been trying to do it on my own. Forgive me for not recognizing You for Who You really are. Now I know Who You are and come to humbly ask You to help me. Amen

 

 

Day 3: What is Prayer?

 

So what is prayer? Prayer is a conversational relationship through which we humbly communicate, worship, and sincerely seek God's face. Prayer can and will include confession, praise, adoration, supplication (or asking), intercession (asking on behalf of another) and more.

 

Our attitude in prayer will set the tone and determine the quality of our conversation with our Master. Our prayers will have the most sway with God, and we will be most swayed by God when our prayers flow from a humble heart. This will come when we realize our deep dependence on God in every area and circumstance of our lives.

 

This kind of prayer makes a profound difference in our life, relationships, and, yes, even our world.

 

Father, I humbly come before you today knowing that it is safe for me to come broken and dependent on You. I am realizing that my greatest need is You and it is by grace alone that I can come into Your presence and not be consumed by the fire of Your holiness. So, Father, thank You. Let me stay here and talk with You and hear from You, and may I leave glowing with Your presence as Moses did (Ex 34:29). Amen

 

Day 2:  What Prayer Is Not

As a follow up to yesterdays blog, let's eliminate the false ideas we may have of what prayer is:

  • Prayer is not magic. We cannot summon or command God, as if He were a genie, to grant our wishes.  Neither can we manipulate Him, like He's Santa, by being "good" for a short time.
  • Prayer does not make demands. We are told to make requests of God in prayer, but we dare not make demands.  God is the Creator of the universe and does not take orders from us.
  • Prayer is not for God's benefit; it is for ours. Whether we know it or not, we desperately need our relationship with God, and that relationship is engaged and maintained primarily through prayer.
  • Prayer is not a guarantee against suffering. "In this world you will have trouble..." (John 16:33). Prayer is the lifeline that sustains and encourages us during difficult times.
Father, forgive me for thinking that Your love for me made me the one in control.  Forgive me for complaining when You didn't do it my way or in my time frame.  Help me to see my need for my relationship with You....that I am the one needing You, not the other way around.  And, when suffering comes, help me to suffer well for You.  Remind me that my example is Jesus and by entering into His suffering, I will also enter into His glory (I Peter 4:13). Amen.
 
 

Day One:  What Prayer Is

 

Before we jump into this 30 Day Prayer Adventure, it seemed good to start with a working definition of prayer. I like Webster's 1828  definition.

 

"Prayer is the act of asking for a favor with earnestness.  The solemn addressing of the Supreme Being, consisting of adoration, confession of sins, supplication for mercy and forgiveness, intercession for blessings on others, and thanksgiving, or an expression of gratitude to God for His mercies and benefits."

 

That's a mouthful!  But I love how Webster is crystal clear: Prayer is addressing the Supreme Being.  And we know there is only One Supreme Being and He is God! He leaves no room for talking to idols, or ourselves for that matter, as something akin to prayer.

 

God is Sovereign, meaning He is supremely in charge of everything that happens in His universe. Yet, God is a personal being. That means we can interact with Him. We can communicate with Him and He wants to communicate with us on an intimate and meaningful level.

 

His personal nature, love, power, knowledge, wisdom, holiness, immanence (immanence means that although He is God, He is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to His creatures in various ways)  and sovereignty all play a role in how we relate to God in prayer and how He relates to us. This is Who we will be addressing in the coming days.

 

Great God and Heavenly Father, I confess and affirm You are Supreme over all. In the days ahead will You open our eyes, ears, and heart so that we might see, hear, and be moved to treasure You above all else and desire to hear from You, and to speak to You more. Not to get something from You, but simply to be alone with You for the sake of knowing You better.  Amen