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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

Do you have faith?

“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:21-22 (Amplified)

Faith doesn’t allow itself to be drawn in two directions. The man or woman of faith knows God and follows hard after God. That is the only direction.

Faith gives no assent to any thought or philosophy that questions or undermines the sovereignty of God. That man is unstable. As James said, “let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8 (NKJV)

Faith isn’t a feeling, not even a strong desire or belief in something good–faith is an action, a way of living. Faith speaks to the fig tree because the fig tree is under God’s sovereignty and when the man of God speaks to the creation of God within the perfect will of God, trees wither, mountains move. Prayers are answered.

Prayer is a great way of exercising faith in God’s economy. Prayer is a faith-action that God will do as He has said He will–those who seek will find, those who ask will receive and to those who knock, the door will be opened. Faith believes that promise and seeks, asks and knocks. Faith believes God–about everything.

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Mountains of Alaska (near Denali Park)

 

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4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

It is in times of trouble we most need a reminder to rejoice. It is more natural to rejoice when things are going well, when we are being blessed, experiencing success, and healthy. It is far different and more challenging to rejoice when we are afraid, isolated, or sick.

But God in His wisdom has commanded that we should rejoice in the Lord always. We are not rejoicing in the trouble, but in the One who is able to protect us and guide us through the trouble.

Rejoice Always
Does always really mean always? Yes. But we are not just rejoicing–we are rejoicing in the Lord. He is always good and always sovereign. He is always with us.

Paul repeats it. Because it is worth repeating. It is a super truth. It is a truth that stands the test of time and circumstance. It is a truth that is virus-proof.

Be Gentle
He goes on to say that we should let our gentleness be obvious–visible to others. We should be known as gentle. They should see Jesus in me, gracious, gentle, unselfish, merciful, tolerant and patient just to name a few of His character traits. When everyone else is falling apart, panicking, self-seeking, self-preserving and out for their own interests, we should be visibly and audibly gentle.

Let Nothing cause You to Lose Faith
Paul tells us, “be anxious for nothing.” Does he really mean nothing? Maybe if he were here with us watching this virus take over nations, crush healthcare systems, take lives, he might said something different . . . No he wouldn’t.

We are to be anxious for nothing because there is no real threat to us. Nothing that can separate us from the love of God. There is no person, no principality, no circumstance, and no illness or disease that can separate us from the love of God. And if the Ruler of the Universe loves you and me, what is there really to worry about. He spoke it all into existence, and He can surely take care of us. We need to banish fear. We need to feed faith. We need to do all to stand in this day.

Prayer is the cure. By prayer and supplication and making our requests (and our fears) known to God, we engage in the great exchange. We give our concerns to God and He gives us peace–a type of peace not available in the world–the peace that passes understanding–peace from God. This peace that God gives us will protect us. It will protect our minds. It will allow us to grow in faith. It will allow us to stand.

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Hot Potato Prayer

When I was in elementary school and it rained, a regular occurrence where I grew up, we would play indoors at recess and lunch.  One of our favorite games was hot potato – you probably remember it.  The teacher would start it off by handing an object, usually a chalk board eraser (I do date myself) to someone, who had to pass it quickly to the next person, and so on.  If you were left holding the hot potato when the bell or whistle sounded, you were out and had to wait quietly in your seat until the game was finished. The children who were best at playing this game were successful because they never held onto the hot potato any longer than necessary before passing it to someone else.

The Lord reminded me of this game recently, when I was feeling disappointed with the outcome of my prayers.  For a long time, I had asked Him to fix my situation and had a clear picture of what the result would look like.  In fact, I prayed that way for many years.  So when my trial finally came to a conclusion – and it was clear that God’s direction was not exactly what I’d hoped for – I was confused.  All along, I had assumed He was moving in the direction I thought He should.

The problem with this kind of praying is that it can lead to confusion – or even worse, despair – if our requests aren’t answered according to what we want or anticipate.  Not the easiest lesson to learn.

“God didn’t answer my prayer!” many will protest, and some will even get angry with Him.  Maybe the best thing to do in a situation like this, perhaps what He would really have us do, is release whatever it is that troubles us and pass it to Him like a hot potato.  I can’t think of anything better than to toss our ideas in His direction – making suggestions, sure – but leaving the results to Him.

 

References:
     Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret-it only causes harm.
     1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

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On the subject of prayer and in the context of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  “Rejoice Always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

John Wesley said, “One who always prays is ever giving praise, whether in ease or pain, both for prosperity and for the greatest adversity.  He blesses God for all things, looks on them as coming from Him, and receives them only for His sake — not choosing nor refusing, liking nor disliking, anything, but only as it is agreeable or disagreeable to His perfect will.”

In essence, the heart of thanksgiving springs out of an understanding of God, His character, that He is the source of all things and that His will is to be sought above all else.  Having that focus, I can continue in a perpetual attitude of thanksgiving to God for all that He has done for me, is doing for me and will do for me.

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Considering the battle that takes place in the mind, we are continuing our look at the weapons of our warfare . . . which are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”   From 2 Corinthians, we then proceeded to Ephesians 6 to review the weapons which are described by Paul there.  We pick up with the shield of faith.

  • Shield of Faithabove all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Faith is seeing what is there when it is unseen or hidden by the fog or chaos of battle. For a believer, faith will protect him or her from the lies of the enemy, aimed at undermining belief in the God who cannot be seen, but to whom all the evidence clearly points.  When negative thoughts persist, the believer needs to put the shield of faith between him and negative thoughts.  Faith will affirm that the promises of God are true and will come to pass.  For example, God will never leave us or forsake us, and God will never temp us beyond what we are able.  Believing these things is an exercise of faith.  It puts the shield of faith between us and the temptation or negative thinking.
  • The Helmet of Salvationtake the helmet of salvation.  No solider can fight in the LORD’s army without receiving the work of salvation. Jesus said, you must be born again. When we receive salvation, it is a helmet, a protective covering for our thoughts. Without the helmet, we might receive a mortal wound that would take us out of the battle.
  • The Sword of the Spiritthe sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.   The word of God is a weapon we wield.  It can be used to answer the lies of the enemy.  Our example is Jesus, who when tempted three times in the wilderness by the devil, was able to answer each time from the word of God.  As we study, meditate on and memorize the word of God, we will be able to use the word as an offensive weapon to counter the lies of the enemy.
  • PrayerPraying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.  The tool that helps us to apply the weapons and know their effectiveness in our battles is prayer.  It is our communication with God, the Supreme Commander, and it allows us access to the wisdom of the creator.  Prayer is ongoing and never-ceasing.

When you are plagued with negative thinking, consider the weapons of your warfare.  Be reminded that they are not of this world, but of the eternal realm.  They are might of God.  Review and study and apply.  You will have victory in Christ.

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Is your life crazy busy?  Do you have a husband, kids, grandkids a house, a job, another job or just commitments?  We live busy lives, spent rushing from one thing to the next with little time for spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, Bible study or simply listening to God.

In his letter to Timothy in 1Timothy 2:1-4, Paul offers some ideas on how to have “quiet” in our daily lives, and he provides the rationale for doing so.  “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 and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

How do I have “quiet”?

  • Supplications (humble prayer, entreaty, or petition)
  • Prayers (a spiritual communion with God)
  • Intercessions (a prayer to God on behalf of another)
  • Giving thanks for all men, for kings and all who are in authority
Why is this important?
Paul offers the following by way of reason for seeking to lead “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence:”
  • It is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior
The center of living the quiet and peaceable life is relationship with the Father, through the finished work of the Son.  We can come boldly to the throne of grace because of Jesus, our High Priest.

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John, in his first epistle, has several observations on prayer in 1 John 5:14-16:

  • God uses us in prayer
  • God gives us confidence in prayer (confidence in Him, not the prayer itself)
  • God hears us pray which should give us boldness, but not arrogance
  • God give us knowledge of needs, of those who are sinning, so we can pray for them
Prayer is man speaking with God, seeking God.  The quiet after the petitions, the time of waiting on God,  is when God communicates with man.   If he leaves the time of prayer without listening for God, he has had only 1/2 of the communication, a one-sided conversation.

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Poem on Prayer

I asked for strength that I might achieve–

He made me weak that I might obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things–

I was given grace that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy–

I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men–

I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life–

I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I received nothing that I asked for,

All that I hoped for.

My prayer was answered.

  –Author unknown


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I love this quote by John Calvin, great theologian and church father in the 1500s:

“Believers do not pray with the view to informing God about things unknown to him, or of exciting him to do his duty, or of urging him as though he were reluctant.  On the contrary, they pray in order that they may arouse themselves to seek him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating on his promises, that they may relieve themselves from their anxieties by pouring them into his bosom; in a word that they may declare that from him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others, all good things.”

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In our last post, we looked at some of the ways our thinking can become confused when God delays in answering our prayers.  For a review, you can look at Psalm 77:7-9.  The remedy for the confused thinking illustrated in those verses is found in the verses that follow, Psalm 77:10-12.

In these verses, the Psalmist gives us 3 things we can do to get our thinking straight and fight the confusion that can enter our thinking when we have to wait for God to answer our prayers.

  • Remember what God has done.
  • Mediate on what God has done.
  • Tell of what God has done.

REMEMBER

In battling the confused thinking, I need to remember the work of the LORD, both in the history of mankind and in my own history, my own life.  This is a good time to remember that reading through the Bible from cover to cover every year or so will keep the works of God and the deeds of God in my memory.  Also, keeping a journal of what God is showing me and how He has answered my prayers can be a good way of keeping track of my history with God.  When I become confused in my thinking, I can review the records I have kept of how God is working in my life and the lives of my husband and my daughter and my family and friends.

MEDITATE

The Bible teaches that we must bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”  By meditating on the Word and the works of God contained in the Word, I can train my mind to be obedient to Christ.  This is what is meant by taking every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  My thoughts can run in all directions and question God and be confused over His nature, but as I meditate on the Word and purpose to allow Christ to dominate my thoughts, I can learn to bring my thoughts through the Word and make them obey what Christ has said and done.  It is a discipline that must be practiced.  It can only be done if I know what the Word says.  I must be willing to sit and consider what the Bible means and how it can be applied to my life.

TELL OF WHAT GOD HAS DONE

How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  Isaiah 52:7.  It is important to learn of  what God has done and to mediate on what He has done, but it is equally important to tell others of what God has done.

When you become confused in your thinking because God has delayed in answering your prayers, and you are tempted to question God’s mercy, His faithfulness or His grace, consider the remedy for confusion discussed above:  Remember . . . Mediate . . . Tell!

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