Category Archives: prayerImage Image
- How to pray?
- Prayers from the Bible
Recommissioned by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, the USS Iowa saw action in the Persian Gulf War. Her frontward deck turrets make for impressive pictures, but their storied blasting power ceded to superior weapons: the Harpoon missiles.
When I visited the Iowa with my family on Memorial Day in the Los Angeles Harbor, a sailor told how he launched harpoon missiles to simultaneously strike from three different directions an Iranian oil rig where they were mining waters. The poor Iranian Guardsmen had no idea where the attack was coming from when three harpoon missiles all struck from different directions at the same time. It was that easy. Just program the computer and push the button.
That sounds like prayer to me. 1) Program the computer = praying. 2) Push the button = God acts. And KABLOOM! The devil and his minions are annihilated.
The war goes on. So there is a continued need for prayer. In the Old Testament, Biblical authors used the imagery at hand to describe God: “He is a strong tower.” Well, in the age of technology, a tower is not very strong anymore. Maybe we should sing about God being our Harpoon missile system.
- for your children
- for your parents
- for your relatives
- for your pastor
- for your church
- for your friends and neighbors
- for finances
- for health
- for the advance of the gospel worldwide
It would be ideal to live in world without war. But since terrorists fly planes into building to kill civilians for Allah-knows-what reason, there is war. Similarly, the devil is raging war, and we can only counteract his threat with spiritual action. He’s not interested in signing peace. He’ll sign peace only to get us to unilaterally lay down our weapons (prayer). He has no intention of ceasing from his hostile opposition to God’s kingdom.
Because Mimi was born with two spinal cords, her parents came from the countryside to Guatemala City for successive surgeries. First doctors saved her life. Then they helped her to walk. Eventually she gained control of her bladder. She would have been identical twins but the zygote only partially split.
Ludving and Nelly wound up attending my church. Ludving was about to buy some alcohol to drown sorrows when he heard the praise music and came in. He didn’t get saved. He had already accepted Jesus. The worship exhilarated and lifted him out of despair. They came to the church.
When he decided to do something, Ludving never did it half-way. Right decision after right decision led the couple to hosting, then pastoring, a pioneer church. When thugs chased me off, the Holy Spirit pointed to him as the man to take over.
To my way of thinking, Mimi should be gloriously and completely healed by now. She is not. On Thursday, she is submitting to her umpteenth surgery, this time to correct kidney failure (she has four kidneys, but only one completely developed and only one works). Urine backflow from her bladder is poisoning her one good kidney.
Faith is not always a snap-of-the-fingers miracle. Faith is grinding out the healing over the long haul. I like the instantaneous variety. But not everything is quick like a fire-cracker. Mimi’s miracles have drawn out inexorably for 16 years, her age. The battle is
raging dragging on, and the faithful keep mustering faith.
It’s pointless to ask why. Blaming God like an atheist solves nothing (although I suppose he feels high and mightily justified in his bitterness). That’s not what we want. We want final and complete healing for this precious girl.
Mimi is a spunky girl. Despondency affects her parents, her sister, me — but not her. Thanks for helping us pray for her. Let me know how I can help you pray for your needs.
Ruth is a story about high returns. By going to Israel with her ex-mother-in-law, Ruth faced racial abuse, sexual predators and 15-hour days stooping over under the blistering sun only to pick up enough grains for one meal (that’s the mechanics of “gleaning;” talk about “abject poverty.”)
Instead, she hedge-funded her way to vast fame and fortune.
Why are so many people willing to risk on finances or with sexual indiscretions but not for God? Just because you can’t see God, Heaven or an immediate return, you are unwilling to go to church, spend time in prayer, serve His kingdom. Just like Ruth couldn’t visualize any realistic benefit when she abandoned her native Moab: Your God will be by God, and your people will be my people, she pledged to Naomi.
Our church, the Lighthouse in Santa Monica, is staging the story of Ruth.
I’ve dreamed of being an actor about as much as I’ve dreamed of being a Gold’s Gym poster child. (Wild fantasies tend to proliferate in LA!) For the previous plays, I waited faithfully for Sister Pam, the director, to call me up. With this play, I broke down with despair and begged her to let me have a part! I’m Jobab, the money grubber who wants Ruth’s property without Ruth. (Co-Director Eric Photenhauer says I look like a Dr. Seuss version of an Old Testament Jew).
Come Sunday night 7:00 p.m. at 1220 20th Street, Santa Monica, California. It’s free!
- How do I pray?
- Prayers from the Bible
The best sluggers only get 450. That means more often than not, they get out.
With prayer, no one bats 1000. Not every prayer gets the answer you want. Sometimes the terminally ill patient dies. And because a prayer-warrior doesn’t bat 1000, the atheists don’t believe in God. (Do they believe in baseball?)
Well, I think that if you’re batting 350, you’re doing well. If only a small fraction of your requests get answered, you’re doing well. Let faith arise in your heart in your heart for just 1 0f 10 answered requests! Because as faith arises, so will your batting average.
And just because you strike out on a majority of your prayers requests, don’t get discouraged. Only God knows why He sometimes says no. We can trust that in His economy, we’re batting 1000.
You should always be encouraged to pray and never be discouraged from it. Ignore the faith-slayers who (wrongly) say that prayer doesn’t work unless you bat 1000.
Santa Monica prides itself as being among the top three anti-Christian cities in California. The others are San Francisco and Hollywood (along with West Hollywood). It is not enough for these cities to ignore Christianity; they feel some sort of moral obligation to hostilely oppose believers.
So it was here, on Santa Monica’s Civic Auditorium patio that the Christians prayed in this materialistic, this atheistic, this hedonistic city. Christians from all denominations, from all ages prayed. There were lawyers, doctors, firemen, police officers, priests and pastors, military personnel, business owners. Even dogs came and prayed — well, maybe I’m exaggerating.
Don’t think they were just old folks. Two high schoolers prayed for people struggling with suicide, sexual orientation and bullying. It didn’t stay with safe and dainty topics. It got real.
Mediating lawyer Harrison Sommer, a Jew converted to Christianity, prayed that we would have many National Days of Prayer. Yes. That is what this event was about: twisting the ignition key for many, many, many people to be inspired to pray.
To pray for revival, to pray longingly, lovingly. To turn off the cell phone and turn on the prayer phone. To strike up a conversation with Loving Father in Heaven. To seek an answer to the ills that afflict our nation (Boston, Newtown, abortion). To avoid war with North Korea and bring peace to the terrorists. There are no limits to what prayer can affect, no walls that can contain it.
Prayer may have been kicked out of the classroom, but only you can kick it out of your heart — by simply being distracted.
Find inspiration today and every day to pray.
- How to pray?
- Bible prayers
- Persevering in prayer
I’ve long lamented being a plodder: lack of panache, short on genius, without the glut of talent and personality that some people have.
Last night I learned the plodder wins the day. The IQ-overflow, overconfident swashbuckler doesn’t want to work. He expects everybody to do everything for him just because their enthralled with his personality. Persistent Igor blindsides him. Whoop!
The plodder goes to prayer. He patiently, persistently, perseveringly goes to God, day after day, not making “vain repetitions,” but continually assailing the throne with desperate needs until the glorious answer materializes. If you’re slogging through the mud, rejoice! The answers coming!
Everybody loves the heroic moment: David downs Goliath, Elijah makes fire from Heaven, Moses opens the Red Sea. The special effects are exciting. But we must realize that hours, days, weeks, months and years of prayer go into the making of that moment.
While the disciples slept, Jesus prayed. (While Jesus slept, the disciples fretted.)
- How do I pray?
- Bible prayers
- Faith and perseverance
Or is it “try, try, try again?”
My heart goes out to atheists, agnostics and struggling Christians whose experience with prayer has been negative. Typically, they gave it a try, and nothing happened. No answer. Just silence.
I wish to gently suggest that in many cases, nothing went wrong. You just need to keep praying. The Bible talks directly and indirectly about persevering in prayer.
Now, if your loved one passed on, I don’t want to sound trite. I want to give you a hug. I don’t know why prayers “didn’t work.” The Bible says that God knows what He’s doing. Many times what we want doesn’t correspond to what He wants. Forgive me if this “answer” doesn’t “answer” your legitimate hurts. I am not criticizing or making fun of your efforts or experience. Some people cannot assimilate old age, sickness and accidents in a fallen world, and plain old mortality. Why is God blamed?
In other cases, you simply need to keep praying. God hasn’t responded negative. He just hasn’t responded as quickly as you would like. In Luke 18 tells of an unjust judge. What’s extraordinary about the story is that most parable don’t have an explanation; it’s open to your interpretation. But this one says: Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up Luke 18:1 NIV.
The judge accepted bribes, but because a certain poor woman demanded daily justice, she wore the corrupt judge down. Just to get her off his back, he ruled in her favor.
The parable works by contrast: how much more so will the Just Judge in Heaven rule in our favor? But we must continue to pray.
Prayer is about breaking bounds set by secularists, who want to limit Christianity to pious crying.
The day after the April 15 Boston bombings, Christians held vigils for the victims, and the worldly applauded. But the dead stayed dead. Mourning didn’t change our country.
Trying to constrain Christ to a reduced role of “acceptable” activities is nothing new. When Jesus saw his dead friend Lazarus, he cried. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” — John 11:36 NIV. Crying was acceptable. Raising him from the dead was not. From that day on they plotted to take his life. – John 11:53 NIV. Jesus was taking their thunder.
It’s impossible for Christ to remain benign. His followers should not cower either. If you only want to lament the demise of this world, wring your hands. But if you want to see Christ transform this world, get in contact with resurrection power now — through prayer. I am the resurrection and the life, said Jesus (John 11:25 NIV).
Break out of the limitations they set on you. (They don’t conceive supernatural power.) Work in prayer for miracles!
You would think they would have rejoiced at Lazarus’ resurrection. To the contrary, it made them furious (because it meant their loss of political power). But Jesus didn’t play their game. He used power. And that same power is available to us today.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing prayer vigils and mourning for victims. I would have participated, had I lived in Boston. What I’m saying is that we Christians can’t limit our activities to religious actions devoid of real power. We must pray for our countries, for our cities, for our neighborhoods, for our churches, for our families.
I’m also not talking about being obnoxious. Is there anything worse than a shrill “Christian” scolding the world for its worldliness? No, I’m talking about crying out to God and making impact, not being a self-appointed moral policeman for people who don’t have slightest idea about morality. First, let’s bring people to God, then teach them the way.
The world is eroding. We must resort to prayer.
- Our Father – not impersonal, unfeeling, but loving family; not an amorphous force field.
- Who art in Heaven – not only inside us, not a human projection, transcendant, above all in power and in person
- Hallowed by thy name – ultimately we serve Him, not He, us
- Thy kingdom come – ultimately the purpose is reaching others for Christ, not filling our whims
- Thy will be done – ultimately, it’s about His will, not ours
- On earth as it is in Heaven – obviously there’s a great lack of perfection here on Earth that we want to realize, just like Heaven is perfect
- Give us this day our daily bread – notice the redundancy (hence it is important to God) or our provision
- Forgive us our trespasses – we humans daily miss the mark of God’s required perfectness, hence we ask forgiveness
- As we forgive those who trespass against us – it is critical for us to forgive others!
- Lead us not into temptation – yeah, good idea to steer clear of that stuff!
- Deliver us from evil – may we not fall prey to merciless destructiveness
- Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory – it’s all His, not ours
Pray along these lines and you’ll do well! The Lord’s prayer tells you to whom you are praying and for what you ought to pray! I think it’s best to use your own words. Keep in mind the start off: He’s our compassionate daddy, not a cruel tyrant or stone-faced taskmaster.
How to pray? Bible prayers. Answers to prayer.
If you want logical explanations, you will most likely surmise the futility of prayer. But if you want results, then you will pray.
An atheist can scorn my prayer times. He can dismember its logic: “If God knows everything and is already motivated by compassion, then why does He need us to pray?” Good argument.
So why do I pray? Plain and simply, it works. (It doesn’t reason.)
If you want powerful reasons, become a philosophy major or a lawyer and feel proud of your rhetorical capabilities. If you want powerful results, pray and don’t fret about the anti-God hubbub.
I have seen answers to prayer. I cannot deny healings, salvations, turnarounds, miracles of money. My marriage is happy. Three times God healed my back (from separate injuries).
When it comes to prayer, why? is more important than what? when? where? and how? If you don’t know why, you won’t pray. But if you pray, what, when, where and how are all secondary because God looks mostly at your heart.
Here’s an inspirational nugget to jumpstart your prayers:
A firewall limits the passing of fire from one building to the next, if we’re talking architecture. If we’re talking computers, a firewall prevents cyber attacks and spam. But if we’re talking Bible, a wall of fire saved the Israelites from being annihilated by their Egyptian pursuers.
Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Pharoah had a change of heart (again!) and raced after them with his chariots and horsemen. In front, the Red Sea blocked. Behind, the world’s most feared army closed in. The Israelites were dead ducks.
Just before the Egyptians fell on the helpless Jews, the guiding cloud (which by night turned into a pillar of fire) settled in between the two, separating them and protecting the Israelites. It was a wall of fire that saved God’s people from the ravenous horde.
Pray for God’s firewall to protect your finances, your health, your family, your children. For some reason, “hedge of protection” is a buzzword in Christianity. You can have a hedge. I’ll go for the “wall of fire.” The devil can’t touch you, when God covers you.
Verses to fuel your prayers:
- Job 1:10 NIV (Satan, discrediting Job’s faithfulness, complains to God) Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
- Psm 34:7 NIV The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
- Psm 91:7 NIV A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
Private Wintergreen’s got the power because he mans the mailroom. He turns down a general’s request to promote a major by intercepting, responding and forging communications. His decisions stand unquestioned.
(He refuses to promote the major because the candidate’s wiseguy dad, whose last name was Major,” named him “Major Major Major.” So Wintergreen reasons the military doesn’t intend to lose its only “Major Major Major Major.”)
Wintergreen bemoans his demotion from private first class, for going AWOL once. He whines about the loss of “status.”
But it is he who bandies more authority in the Air Force’s operations against the German-occupied Italy during WW2.
Maybe you don’t have rank in church hierarchy. If you’ll just go to the mail room (communications, as in “with God”), you’ll suddenly discover you brandish real power. Prayer is power, and you don’t need earthly titles to get heavenly answers. Wintergreen communicated with the authority of headquarters. When you pray, you deploy headquarters’ might.
Prayer is also about the powerless seizing power. When in this world, you have no means to deliverance, to health, to change lost friends or relatives. You only have prayer. You feel helpless to do anything, and you turn to God, who CAN do everything.
No power structure, conserving its privilege, is going to be able to subvert God, the Power over every other power. Don’t just stand idly by, wringing you hands, woefully wishing things were different. Seize power and change your world: pray today. God has 100% of the power.
Out of frustration, we called it burro-cracy. (Get it? A variation on bureaucracy.)
The burro is not a flattering term in Spanish. When we would try to get paperwork done, they would tell us one thing was wrong. We would go to a lawyer or notary and fix it. Then we would wait in line again, usually an hour. Next they would tell us something else was wrong. This process repeated itself for days and weeks until finally months later through lots of diligence, we would finally get approved.
AARGH! WHY COULDN’T YOU JUST TELL ME AAAAAAAALLLLLLLL PROBLEMS THE FIRST TIME?????????
Thank God, prayer’s not like that. It’s easy. You don’t have to get a bunch of papers signed, notarized, stamped, authorized, officialized. You don’t have to walk for kilometers on your knees. You don’t have to…
All you have to do is talk, and you’re instantly in contact with the Almighty. Every attempt at prayer — no matter how clumsy, no matter how imperfect you are — brings the will of God. I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing – 1 Tim. 2:8 NIV. They may be filthy, but when the hands go up, they become holy.
SEOs battle to rank for Google’s first page. You have to jump through hoops to discover the inscrutable indices of Google’s bots to get a 3, 4, or 5 that can land you on the first page of search. After months of ingenuity and sweat, you may get it. All this for the attention of the consumer.
To get God’s attention is much easier. As a matter of fact, you’re his page-one top hit. It doesn’t require months, nor weeks, nor days. Not even hours. Just 30 seconds of prayer
is enough to have His undivided attention. In the Kingdom of God, everyone ranks a 10 because God is omniscient — He knows everything all at the same time.
Actually, it is God who is vying for your attention. He’s doing everything in His power, but you rank Him waaaaay down on search page 157 — or lower. Stop playing hard-to-get, and let God rise in your ranking of things clamoring for your attention.
As soon as you pray, you’ll pop up on His screen. Sooner.
It is so small that even a child can do it — without much effort. It’s so huge because tectonic plates are moved in the Heavenlies, which we habitually underestimate.
Well, it does require a lot of effort, but not because it’s like looking for the Higgs boson. What’s hard is to push out the raucous crowd of activities that clamor for our attention. For some people, 15 minutes of prayer seems like an eeee-t-e-r-n-i-t-y. For me, it is hard to find over an hour.
Nevertheless, when I do pray, I always savor it, I always marvel at the results.
I swear I’ll never give it up. But then the next day the disgusting boisterous crowd of leather-clad activities roars in on Harley Davidsons and refuses to be dislodged. Can somebody come over here and clear these ornery thugs out? I need to pray.
The tongue is a rudder and a bit, according to James 3. Though a small member of the body, it sets the direction of your life. It defines reality. Worse than being bombarded by negative thoughts is giving “air time” to them on your tongue. It takes it up to a higher level. It makes mere thoughts
materialize. Cutting yourself down in your own mind is bad but worse is cutting yourself down with your tongue. It’s legitimizes something that should be simply dismissed as rubbish.
This warning turns into a promise for blessing. Don’t brush off the power of your tongue to pronounce good for your life. Like a rudder that turns around a huge freighter, like a bit that turns around an unwieldy beast, the tongue can turn around your life. Prayer, then, is doubly good. Not only does it involve positive confession, it involves God! Discount God to your own demise!
After comparing the tongue to a rudder and a bit, James 3 then compares it to a spark. One word can ignite a forest fire. That fire can be good or bad, depending on the word you utter. If we know that we can blow up our marriage just by saying one word (“divorce”), how much more can we cause blessings to break out with one word of prayer? Say that word today. What is that word? It is “Jesus.”
Pray with faith for finances, health, emotional well-being today. Pray for the advancing of Christ’s kingdom and love throughout the Earth.
As technology has advanced rapidly, military drones are transitioning from remotely-piloted to almost completely autonomous. The “pilot” now only programs the mission, hits the “takeoff” button and the computer-generated action-sequencing does the rest. By one account, drone-launched missiles killed up to 1000 people in 2006-09, including 20 leaders of al-Qaeda. The burst of drone use is for one obvious reason: you don’t endanger American lives.
As Christians, we need no more advances in technology to practice remote warfare. The Holy Spirit never errs in His air strikes (but we are talking about giving life, not death, now). We can reach 1000s of miles instantly for healing, salvation, deliverance, finances, whatever.
Have you prayed for outside of your little circle of local friends? Let’s set the range for Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia — and other nations behind the “Iron Veil.” Let’s pray for China that God would continue to stoke revival!
I guess the funny thing is kids playing video games these days are actually training for the Air Force. Praying for souls around the world is no game. We should stop “playing” Christianity and start fulfilling our call to work — at prayer.
It used to be that if a rock star wanted publicity, she’d send a press release to the news media, and these self-constituted arbiters of newsworthiness determined if it should be ignored or published. No longer.
Lady Gaga has 34 million followers on Twitter, the Los Angeles Times a mere 54,000. So Miss Gaga goes straight to the source, the public, without having to worry about trying to impress the intermediary
You too. Go straight to the Source, God
Himself, without worrying about intermediaries. Jesus taught us to pray to God: “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” It’s good to get a pastor and friends involved in your prayer need, but don’t think for a minute that religious hierarchy authorizes access.
In fact, God’s twiddling His thumbs waiting for you to talk to Him. In Guatemalan Spanish, “twiddling His thumbs” would be translated “scratching His belly button.” God is probably even scratching His belly button, waiting, waiting, waiting.
Go straight to God. Pray. It’s the best.
This one struggles with money. That one struggles with addiction. He has no self-esteem. She is losing her marriage. Injustice stalks us all; don’t think anyone leads a charmed life.
But if the common denominator is struggle, there are too many options for numerators. He masks pain with rash behavior, abandonment to hedonism. She locks into power struggles, putting down others to plop herself on top.
It seems the vast majority go everywhere except the Answer. I go to God, the answer. Call to me and I will answer you — Jer. 33:3a NIV. Despair not your struggles; everybody has them. Just go to the Answer.
Being busy is good. But mere activity could be just spinning your wheels in gravel. With production, you have something to show for your work.
But production is still inferior to “reproduction.” As Christians, we are ultimately called to reproduce Christians, not just “produce” things like manuals and seminars. Reproduction is the highest rung.
That’s why you shouldn’t just sprinkle prayer on top of your ministry like sugar. You should make it a main ingredient, like flour.
Remember, the disciples fished all night without catching anything. Then Jesus sent them out once more, and when they threw the nets, they were so full they were ripping!
A key to success for the business administrator is to trust his employees and colleagues. He runs himself ragged who thinks no one else will get it right and so he has to do everything himself. He also fails. You need to depend on dependable people. You multiply your impact when you learn to delegate.
You diehard workaholic will burn out with your own efforts. You are so limiting your impact by not praying more. Can’t you trust God to do better than you?
What should be delegated to God? Everything. (I’m not saying you do no work in your ministry, but I am saying you leave all the success up to Him.) And don’t go about trying to fire God. And don’t give Him completion dates (although if your church rent is due on a certain date, it might good to pray along those lines). He’ll get it done at the perfect moment!
Literally, you’re not delegating to God enough. You’re retaining too much control of your ministry. Go ahead and work, but pray plenty!
The praying Christian triumphs over insurmountable odds. One of you routs a thousand, because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised. — Josh. 23:10 NIV. Joshua recounts the extraordinary victories God wrought to the wandering Israelites as they settled into the Promised Land.
Because they carefully depended upon God, they achieved the impossible. Prayer is careful dependence on God. Prayerlessness is reckless and baseless self-confidence. It’s no
wonder we fall on our face when he neglect prayer.
You will overcome 1:1000 odds — if you pray. Don’t fret about mounting bills as you try to establish God’s promise for your calling, don’t panic and surrender, don’t bail out. If you remain steadfast, God will deliver you. Trust and wait confidently in the Lord. While you wait for the miracle, keep praying and believing.
Pain is off the charts these days. I believe the multiplication of evil prophesied by Jesus for the last days is to blame. There’s more disintegration of families, more sin abounding, so hearts are hurting everywhere from betrayal. Where love is supposed to be, rejection abounds.
English obviously correlates “cry” and “cry out” in the translation of the Bible. O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent — Psalm 22:2 NIV. Distress
is associated with shouting. Our desperation turns to prayer, our anguish to hope. Prayer, if anything, is pathos.
I asked God for His toughest assignment because I was cocksure of the solution: prayer. Then He allowed me a trial that blindsided me and left me staggering and confused. I had to laugh at myself: I got what I asked for, and then I didn’t know what to do.
Prayer is the outpouring of pain, a solution, not a reveling in hurt. Unlike cutting or pity-partying, it doesn’t celebrate the ouch in an upside-down way; it heals it. Turn not your anguish into alcoholism. You have a God above you who loves you and cares for you.
Prayer is easy. But there are 57 kabillion distractions that seem more important.
The hard thing is to do your own effort. But we Americans are always gung-ho to roll up the sleeves.
I should know what I’m talking about. I spent more than a decade of missionary work majoring in my own effort. When that didn’t work too well, I “discovered” what I knew all along: God answers prayer.
I started praying more, and the results were spectacular.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t become a couch potato Christian. I still worked: I taught, I preached, I evangelized, I visited the brethren. But I cut down somewhat the hectic schedule and dedicated a more significant portion of time to prayer. No longer was prayer perfunctory, get-thru-it-as-quickly-as-possible. It became the focal point of the day.
Prayer is easy. God works for you. Yet it is hard to pick this option. It is easier for us to try to work ourselves when we want results. That’s our basic human nature. Thus prayer is hard because it’s counterintuitive. Every fiber in our being screams that we are wasting our time.
My seminary emphasized God’s sovereignty. They followed it to its extreme logical conclusion: the intercession group prayed 15 minutes a week.
FIFTEEN MINUTES A WEEK??!?#&?
Their theology was good. Their practice bad. Jesus Himself spent whole nights in prayer. If the Son of the LIVING GOD needed loads of prayer, how much more ourselves?
Sovereignty means nobody, nothing stops God. Everything is part of his total-control. Carried to an extreme, hyper-Calvinism rules out the need for evangelism since God already has destined for salvation those who will get saved. Never mind that Jesus told us to go and evangelize.
My seminary didn’t rule out evangelism, and they didn’t rule out prayer in theory — but they sure did in the practice. While I believe in God’s sovereignty, at the same time I believe my prayers make a difference in the war for the world. I’m constantly reproaching myself for prayerlessness.
We should not discredit the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, but it lives in tension with calls to action in the Bible. (The atheists have a field day with this doctrine!) I’m comfortable with the uncomfortable tension. Stay calm and keep praying.
Love drives him to his knees. Desperation keeps him there. He is the unknown engine of revival, working unseen to change the winds of history. Behind every conversion, there was somebody praying. Behind every miraculous offering getting the church out of debt, a prayer warrior did battle.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another – John 13:34 NIV. Prayer is one special way to love.
Having lived 16 years in the Third World, I decry poverty mentality that blames “destiny” and takes no action to improve oneself. Thank God I learned the Protestant work ethic from childhood: through study, hard work, creativity, one can achieve any dream. Third Worlders see themselves as powerless to get ahead; as a result, they just goof off and be lazy.
BUT, I have witnessed the short comings of a strong work ethic. Too often, too much hard work is not rewarded with results: it’s a lot of spinning wheels. I labored intensely as a missionary, and the church did NOT grow. After more than a decade of killing myself believing in the do-it-yourself mentality and seeing an essentially stagnant church, I tried prayer.
Things exploded. When man moves, it’s never as good as when God moves. I am NOT denouncing work. I am just tempering it. There’s a balance. If you’re tired of tiring yourself out without seeing results, try entering more God into the equation. He may be waiting for you.
If it’s going to be, it is up to
I was completely unprepared for my 9th grade class to so roundly criticize Willy Loman from Arthur Miller‘s Death of a Salesman. He’s meant to represent the average American male in futile pursuit of the hoax called the American Dream.
The students admitted no merit to the man. He was unfaithful, a failed businessman, a liar, prideful, insane, a sufferer of delusions of grandeur. He deserved no sympathy in his stupid and tragic end. Never mind that he was hard-working, sacrificial, concerned about his family, the class ganged up on me when I spoke of his redeeming qualities!
When I was a pastor, I was neither as good nor as bad as people said. Some praised me excessively; others criticized me too much. The truth was and is that I am a mixture of both good and bad, saint and sinner, hypocrite and sincere, neither black nor white — just gray — like the rest of humanity.
The saddest thing is NOT perfectionism, puritanism, or Phariseeism. The depressing thing is that hyper-critics eventually wind up in their own crosshairs. Eventually you stub your own toe, and then Satan echoes back to you every harsh word you uttered over others’ failures. When this happens, you fall away from Christ: since there was no grace for others, there’s no grace for you.
Wisely, Jesus said: Judge not lest you be judged. If you have mercy on others, you’ll get mercy yourself. Prayer is NOT for exulting your superiority; it is a time of empathy and compassion for others.
My cousin got in early with E-Bay. At the time, all the relatives were abuzz with the risk. He shouldn’t put his money with such a highly speculative, unproven venture, they said. We couldn’t get our heads wrapped around tech, so it sounded crazy. Of course, he is now wealthy. We are all kicking ourselves.
I’ve always been a caveman, a late adapter, among the last to use new technologies. I FINALLY got an i-phone, an onsale, outdated one, but nonetheless an i-phone. Handy little device.
Among Christians there are those who won’t be convinced about the efficacy of prayer. They hold out with a wait-and-see, anything-but-prayer-must-work attitude. Only after years of flailings, after so much frustration, do they try what they should have picked up from the very beginning of their faith. (Or at least that’s the way it was with me.)
So I’m twice the believer. I believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. And I believe in prayer. The more I practice it, the more good benefits I experience. Don’t be a believer only in Jesus and NOT in prayer. Don’t be a late adapter, even though prayer is not a new and unproven technology.
Even though she was queen, she couldn’t just address the Persian Emperor casually. She had to dress appropriately, prepare some meals, and then make the formal petition. Haman, the enemy of the Jews, was done for.
There’s a parallel in prayer. When you go before the Emperor of the Universe, you might want to observe certain protocol (we Americans know nothing about protocol, but the rest of world does!). You might want to prepare your heart with praise. “I will enter His gates with thanksgiving.”
You might want to “enthrone” God first. There’s a place for addressing God as our Daddy, and there’s reason to dismiss much of the religious ritual used by dead and dying churches. BUT, we ought not be overly casual with the Almighty and err at the opposite extreme.
If you present yourself before the Queen of England, a 6’4″ guy will brief on correct behavior. You probably don’t want to use vulgar language and expect a high five. So too before God, enter with confidence to His presence, but go in with praise!
The reason why Instagram, Pinterest and other photo-hosting sites are popular is because people crave beauty. I consider observing beauty a basic urge, on par with receiving love.
When I was a literature major, I hungered for a good book, one with jeopardy, three-dimensional characters, and a reasonable but surprising denouement. Above all else, it must evoke meaningful themes that leave reflection lingering.
This is why I pray. I am pursuing the happy ending to the senseless chaos in the lives of people around me. You can watch a drama.
You can admire an art. You can take pictures.
Or you can create living art, the transformation of lives freed from the dungeon of lostness, liberated to the thrill of love, purpose and family found only in God. Some snap photos, others brandish brush, I bow my head.
We have won and lost games at Lighthouse Christian Academy this season, but the most memorable was the game against P.H. In that game, we literally could score at will. It was so much fun, and most of the kids were going for hattricks (three goals in one game). As coach, I actually pulled my stars out of scoring position and even took them off the field to NOT humiliate our opponents any more. In the first 20 minutes, we racked up seven!
In life, when you pray with faith and urgency, you literally score at will. The successes hum. But when I pray tepid prayers, or when we neglect pray altogether, then we go through a losing streak. Step up your game today and pray! Have no mercy on the devil!
That’s why we go to prayer — not out of compulsion or religiosity — but out of wonderment. What unimaginable answer will God produce? The world’s greatest fiction writer couldn’t think up what God does.
Sometimes, you go for a long stretch without seeing an answer. Then out of the blue, God moves dramatically, unexpectedly, unforseen. And then praying is gratifying. He is at work always; we do not perceive always. We win at the end, after the enemy has scored so many points that a lopsided victory seems sure.
I think Los Angeles is the city most like Gen. 1:2 — formless and empty, (with) darkness… over the surface of the deep. Out of Los Angeles, has come corruption-propagating
entertainment to poison the world. They may have built this city on rock and roll, but the prayer warrior rebuilds it on prayer. Not only is there Hollywood here, there is also Azusa Street.
A friend of a friend, a super model and an actress, has cancer and is now praying and reading her Bible. When the mask breaks up, you turn to something of true value. Prayer has brought her to Christ and is bringing her to Christ.
At least not with prayer. Our whole American outlook is results come in proportion to work. But after years of arduous labor on the mission field with little to show for it, I was ready to try prayer.
Don’t get me wrong. I always prayed. But when I really started to prayer, longer, more earnestly, less perfunctorily, then things took off. We got a building. Ministry multiplied. It took me basically a decade to learn to desist from so much of MY labors and allow God to do HIS labors. Prayer is the key if you don’t want to be spinning your wheels.
Americans view the world like muscle-building. The harder you work, the more cut the six-pack. That’s why prayer is counterintuitive. You get results without working — only by praying. I’m not saying you stop outreach altogether and close yourself up in your church and commune with God. What I am saying is you can do less human activity if you get more divine activity going.
Jesus didn’t only outreach. He spent entire nights just praying.
Three times a day, he neglected his insanely busy schedule to make time for God. This is an important reminder to us Christians who are trying to advance the kingdom of God. A recent survey found pastors pray on average only seven minutes a day.
King David, likewise, sought God’s face as a #1 priority. When he failed to do so, he fell into
sin. Christ also needed time alone with God. The busier they were, the more the Biblical heroes found time to pray.
This is difficult because it is counter-intuitive, especially here in America, where we are barraged by the message that time (working time) is money. Make (more) time for God today.
After years of excessive fasting and heroic service to humanity, Gandhi agonized over his “fleshliness.” Achieving nirvana is virtually unattainable in Hinduism.
And by contrast, in Christianity, God plops the answer right down in your lap. That’s because we are made holy not by anything we do but rather by what Christ do on the cross for us. This does not mean we flout righteousness. It only means that God has built over the chasm separating humanity from the Divine.
So answers to prayer do not require accompanying works of righteousness. You don’t need burn candles or crawl on your knees painfully over the cement plaza. You don’t need “vain repetitions” that “pagan use because they think that only that way can they be heard” (Matt. 6:7). You may fast while praying but should not think you won’t be heard if you only pray and don’t fast.
All you need is faith.
In Christianity when you pray, the answer is within reach — unlike any other religion. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, BELIEVE that you have received it, and it will be yours. – Mark 11:24 NIV (caps mine).
A theologian said God’s resources are so unimaginably vast that no matter how much you take, you cannot in the least reduce the sum of them.
So when God says “no,” it is NOT because He doesn’t have. It may be the request is bad (like a baby who demands more ice cream than is good for him: “I WANT!”). Or it may
be that His “no” is really “wait.” God wants to build patience and character in us, so He doesn’t respond instantly.
Jesus is unflinchingly unequivocal: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you – Matt. 7:7 NIV. A resounding “yes!” will greet every request. But He doesn’t say when.
I track the success rate of my prayer requests. Sometimes I downright dumbfounded: everything I asked for. I asked for more students in the school where I teach, and He answered. I asked for finances f
or my church, and He answered. I asked for a certain troubled youth to come around to Jesus, and He answered.
You may think prayer is for grannies who have nothing better to do. I think prayer is greater efficiency than spinning your wheels in sand. At your disposal is unlimited wealth. You can only exploit it by praying.
At the Arkansas Crater of Diamonds State Park, you can find uncut diamonds in the 38-acre plowed fields for a $7 entrance fee. Most people like to dig, but it’s more effective to just walk around after recently plowed or rain has eroded away the topsoil. The diamonds you find are yours to keep.
It reminds me of prayer. Last
night, I found a diamond at my Saturday Night Prayer. God told me to pray long for a certain youth in the church. This morning, he answered the altar call.
Wow! This stuff works! (Even I, who write a blog largely on prayer, need to be reminded that prayer actually is efficient.) What else can I pray for?
If I were to tell the truth, when I first went to Guatemala 18 year ago, I couldn’t believe for more than 25 people to come to church. My faith was low.
Within the second year, we were running 100.
Now, church attendance didn’t stay at 100. It went back down to 25. But it grew more than I expected. Today, I am back in the States, and the church is still growing. We have a school with 150 kids. The church is running up to 60 people. My stateside church just sent Pastor Steven Fernandez and Diane down to help out with the work. I visited to help them get established. I was astonished at what God will do.
I was the kinda guy who when he planted a seed, sat there waiting impatiently for the plant to pop out. And when it didn’t, I grumbled that food doesn’t come from agriculture after all. Hahahaha! How long did it take the for the giant sequoias to grow?
But sticking with it proved a meritorious method. And God brought the growth.
Every prayer you pray is like casting a seed. Sit back and patiently wait for it to grow.
Get used to struggle. Feel comfortable with it. Don’t run away, whine or complain because struggle is bound to be part of your life. We live in a fallen world. Life without struggle? No such.
Prayer is a key to triumph, not avoidance. David had his struggles. So did Noah. Daniel didn’t slip past it. Elijah went to the cave because of it. Jesus had the mightiest of all struggles. Paul was stoned and left for dead. John was exiled to Patmos.
My greatest, latest struggle has been for Nelly, the wife of the pastor who took over my Guatemalan church. She has off-the-charts arthritis and a recurring hernia. I grew anguished as I heard about her difficulties. But I was just in Guatemala and saw her laugh. She delighted in cooking food for me. We shared wonderful fellowship with her husband. I realized everything is going to be all right. My faith had been slipping. The struggle is great. I should keep my faith level high and not grow discouraged.
If we realize we can’t avoid struggle, we can embrace it. It is like the gym. Lifting weights makes muscles grow. Struggle makes faith grow.
Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear — Isaiah 65:24 NIV. In that case, God, go ahead and cut me off. Bring the answer faster than I can finish praying!
It paints the picture of God hanging on a thread, just waiting to grant requests. He’s in the gate, champing at the bit, the first to spring out of the racehorse. Forget about being impatient — it is God who is impatient to answer us! Man, this verse fires me up to want to pray!
I have seen this. While praying to find my cell phone, even before I had finished the sentence, my daughter found it on the floor of the car. I want to see it more. Go God!