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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

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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