Do you have time for Jesus in your life? Can you set aside the internet, the news, the funny videos? Read your Bible and pray a bit? Don’t be surprised if He responds.
Tag Archives: pray
When most of the requests are already answered by God, there comes a moment of great joy like a graduation.
When your relationship is almost entirely healed. When your children come back to God. When you finally get out of debt. When you finally get into ministry. It may take months or years. But when that day comes, tear up the list and celebrate with a cappuccino.
Then make a new list. We’re moving forward and making progress. Today’s satisfactions fill us with hope and faith for tomorrow’s needs. Christianity is a forward-looking faith. Your petitions become praises. You get new petitions. It’s never stagnant, not static, always dynamic.
Dr. Bob Hamilton has done medical missions in Africa for years, and finally I’m going. If the mustardseedbudget.wordpress.com has ever blessed you, then please pray God raises up $3,000 for air fare, hotel, food, visas, immunizations, etc. The trip is March 27 to April 6.
I have written in the capacity as a journalist about these medical missions before (a 3-part series that starts here), and now I want to report firsthand in support of this awesome ministry. Thanks for your prayers!
Oh yeah, you can read about the Lighthouse medical missions on its website here.
Stop striking out in anger and calling people “rebels.” It won’t bring any good. Instead, pray.
Moses brought 40 years of ministry to a depressing demise because he acted out of frustration instead of faith. “Speak to the Rock!” God had told him. “And the waters will gush out for their thirst in this dry desert.”
Instead, Moses struck the Rock with his staff. And he called the people “rebels.” He upbraided them and appropriated the miracle to himself instead of giving God the credit.
As a result, waters came out and the people quenched their thirst. But Moses wasn’t allowed to to into the Promised Land. He was deprived of the crown jewel to complete his ministry. He was cut off from the flourish finish. In short, he was cut short, and 40 years of effective ministry became ineffective.
The New Testament identifies the “Rock” as Jesus. Did Moses lash out at God because “one more trial” was a critical mass for him? It is sobering to think. Let’s stick with prayer and faith and avoid frustration.
I needed to remember this.
My brother made fun of us when he visited our mission church in Guatemala. Too many padlocks, he moaned.
But one extra little padlock saved us from getting completely robbed.
The thieves sawed through an iron bar to enter at the window probably at 2 a.m. They served themselves leftover coffee and ate breads. They were in no hurry. Guatemalan police are overrun with crime and work fewer shifts at night. No neighbors would interfer; they could get shot for that.
They took our keyboard and a few other things. But one small padlock on the outside of the door kept them from walking off with our school’s computers. I
guess they ran out of time because the $1 Chinese padlock was no formidable security. What they took had to fit out the upstairs window.
Sometimes, it’s the itty bitty things that save you. That little prayer — unaccompanied by fasting, with no fancy language — will make the difference. Don’t skip it thinking it’s a mere nothing. However short it may be, however unadorned, speak it to God with sincerity. That small “cheapo” prayer may be the single factor preventing the thief (the devil) from running off with everything.
- Prayers from the Bible
- How to pray?
Jonathan decided to attack the Philistines with only his armor-bearer. Surely, it was folly for one man to attack an entire army alone. I supposed he got bored sitting around doing nothing. He wanted to do something. And his Biblical reasoning worked better than his realistic thinking: The Lord can save with many or with few – 1 Sam. 14:6.
He realized that God is God. The supernatural outflanks the natural, no matter what Westpoint graduates might tell us.
Too often Christians formulate explanations for why prayer doesn’t work. They say things like: Well, you must be holy. (Who is holy but God?) Nix the explanations and keep praying. Don’t look for reasons why prayer seems ineffective. Most of the time, we just need to keep praying and not give up.
Prayer is never futile. Jonathan smote 20 Philistines and sparked panic among the enemies. The rest of the Israelite army rushed in to finish off the job. Who would have thought that one man could vanquish an entire army? Who thinks that one man praying can change the course of history?
Be that man. Or woman. Or youth. Or child.
Prayer is never futile. Prayers from the Bible work. How to pray? Believe it’s never ineffective.
- How to pray?
- Prayers of the Bible
A mother prays for her Muslim son-in-law, and he gets saved. A man prays and gets healed of cancer. A church grows in membership and finances and becomes a church-planting church. Why do some people seem to have prevailing prayers?
I don’t believe God has favorites. Nor do I think they’re holier than the rest of us humble folk. God is moved — the New Testament says emphatically — by faith. No one is righteous, it also says emphatically. So what up?
Here’s the scoop. YOU can up your answer percentage — just like them. People who pray successfully — we call them prevailing prayers — all tend to find their success in certain factors:
- Quality (and to some extent, quantity) time with God.
- Growing faith through:
- Tracking track record of positive results.
- Fortifying your heart with ongoing Bible reading, church attendance, praise and testimonies.
- Persistence. People who prevail in prayer persevere because they believe more in God than in “reality.” They don’t give up ever. When things take a turn for the worst, they don’t hang the prayer shawl; they dig in and intensify the attack.
That’s about it. You can massage and adjust certain factors, BUT THERE’S NO MAGIC to it, there’s no “spiritual secret.” You don’t have to buy a best seller written by some slick preacher hyping elusive “keys” to prayer.
So when a Porsche stalled in front of me on Pacific Coast Highway at a stoplight, something inside of me wanted to shout as I roared past: “Get a real car!”
Hmmmmmm. Where did this envy come from? I thought I was free from that.
Sin has a way to lurk in when you least suspect.
When you pray for finances, you need to be on your guard against envy. What is your motivation? To bless others or to bless yourself? To keep up with Jesus or to keep up with the Joneses?
God promises to provide, but many times our idea of provision falls squarely into the realm of “want,” not “need.” It became popular among Christians a number of years ago to call ourselves “children of the King.” The logical conclusion is we want to live it up like princes and princesses. The biggest problem with this reasoning is how Jesus, being much more a Prince than us, lived in poverty: The Son of Man has no place to lay His head (Matt. 8:20).
We can trust God to provide for our needs — and we ought to guard against confusing needs with wants.
- 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.
It seems clear enough to me that there is no right way to pray, no right words, no right syntax. God looks at the heart. As a matter of fact, Rom. 8:28 suggests that “groaning” can be prayer. I’d say God definitely looks at the heart and understands even the unspoken. So there’s no “aberacadabra.” Your attitude is what counts.
I remember when I was in junior high, we said the pledge of allegiance every day. Truthfully, I mouthed the words from memory without weighing their significance. It was perfunctory, a civic ritual void of civic feeling. Maybe you said the pledge with burning passion everyday. I wish I could say that of myself. It was more like playing a recording.
So prayer ought to be with the burning passion. If you repeat “the Lord’s prayer,” savor its every word. Otherwise, dissect it, understand it completely like a Shakespearian sonnet, and follow it’s patterns with original prayers. In my next post, I’ll give you a quick dissection of the Lord’s prayer, which I personally use more as a example than a magical formula.
How to pray? A series on prayers of the Bible.
WHY do we pray? There are two things I must say about this question.
1) For me, there is no satisfactory answer. For years now, I’ve meditated answers from renowned Bible teachers and theologians — and all the answers come up short. I tend to agree with the atheists: if God is omniscient and infinitely benevolent, then why do we need to pray?
2) The second part is critical. The effect of not finding an adequate answer to the question WHY is… disaster: we stop praying. If you ask why too much, you will conclude there ought to be no need for prayer. Regardless of the “soundness” of reasoning, stopping praying is soundly adverse.
God doesn’t bother to explain the WHY of prayer. He simply commands us to pray. And the weight of scriptural evidence implies that certain blessings won’t happen if we don’t pray. I’m not denying God’s unquestioned sovereignty. There’s an uncomfortable tension here that I’m comfortable with. I may never resolve the WHY, but I have decided to never abandon the WHAT*.
Just pray. Don’t look for explanations any more than you would look for an explanation of falling in love. Scientists try to reduce romance to hormones, to evolutionary theory, to getting the best mate in order to pass on genes — oh brother! talk about deficient and boring reasoning. I’ve noticed that atheists don’t stop falling in love just because there’s no adequate explanation.
Prayer is falling in love with Jesus. It’s your relationship with Him. It also accomplishes powerful things in the universe. But you don’t get your every whim. You trust God to exercise His discretion. When you align your prayers with the Bible, you can be confident that He will answer (that is faith). When it doesn’t seem like His answer is best, we can trust that He will not defraud us.
*It is my experience in 33 years of Christianity that the theologians who are strong on emphasizing God’s sovereignty, don’t pray. While they are right about His sovereignty, they are wrong to disobey the Bible’s admonition to pray.
- Make faith grow
- How to pray?
- Prayers of the Bible
Actually, Gideon didn’t start out with a lot of faith. He doggedly doubted God. A splendorous vision of a heavenly angel didn’t sway him. A supernatural calling didn’t impress him. He argued with God. Then, he tested Him with a fleece. The first night, he asked it be saturated with dew and the ground dry, the second night the fleece dry, the ground wet.
God patiently built up his faith.
Don’t stress out about “lack of faith.” Just ask God to build it. Don’t strain trying to conjure faith. There’s no magical incantation to muster faith in the human heart. Faith comes from:
1) Reading your Bible and hearing it preached (Rom. 10:17)
2) Praying and experiencing God’s answers (John 4:48)
3) Focusing on what God has done in the past to encourage yourself on what God will do in the future. (Phil 4:8)
Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head – Mark 4:28-29 NIV.
You don’t make your faith grow. You can only provide optimal conditions for the seed — soil, sun, water, protection against plague and erosion. It’ll grow all by itself.
A reminder to pray, read you Bible and journal your dynamic walk with Christ.
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.
Don’t worry about the famine. It’s your chance to shine.
Joseph was rotting in the jail. If it weren’t for the famine, he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to show his strengths before Pharaoh.
If you are passing through a time of famine in your life,
- don’t quit your strengths
- don’t despair and give up
- don’t give in to hopelessness
- don’t lose patience
- don’t stop believing in God and in yourself
Joseph was wrongly sold into slavery (by his brothers!?!!). Then he was falsely accused and thrown in jail. But he kept a good attitude and worked hard. As a slave, he was put in charge of all Potiphar’s household. As a jailbird, he made administrator of the prison.
So when God sprung him, he was named vice president of all of Egypt. He kept his relationship vibrant with God and was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. In his new post, Joseph prepared the nation for a coming 7-year famine that catapulted Egypt into world dominance and paved the way for the launching of the nation of Israel (with Egypt as its incubator).
What Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God turned into good. Joseph instructed his brothers to not be overly angry at themselves for having sold him into slavery: God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance – Gen. 45:7 NIV.
The motorcycles caught us 5 miles away from the bank. As one of four guys banged the window with a pistol demanding our bags, I had no doubt that it was the bank teller who tipped them off. He had changed our check to cash. Because all our information was in our bags, I figured they’d come back for a kidnapping, so we had to return to America, our 16 years as missionaries in Guatemala at an end.
God does an inside job too! Don’t bother to make external changes in yourself — they lead to (false) religiosity. Instead, surrender to His Holy Spirit in prayer daily, and let God transform you from the inside. Once you are saved, you are forgiven, you are new creation, but then God begins a work of perfecting you that will continue for the rest of your life. But it’s on the inside.
In regards to prayer, remember:
- A little bit is better than none, but God wants to work on us daily, so pray daily.
- A little bit more will increment value and power to prayer.
- The best prayers are ones inspired by the Bible or simply taken from the Bible. Jesus dismisses “vain repetitions” — mumbling by rote words penned by another. But there is much to learn and apply from the experts, the Bible heroes.
- The Big D (that’s Devil) constantly bombards you with thoughts that prayer is useless, a waste of time, meaningless, etc. He does this because he knows how effective it is.
- As you pray for others, God also is transforming you — from the inside out.
- Enjoy prayer! Think of it as a romantic date. You are spending time with your Lover, God.
He was pain in the … But he got prosperity.
When Jabez was born, his mother despaired. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain” – 1 Chron. 4:9 NIV.
But he prayed. Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request -- 1 Chron. 4:10 NIV. Prayer turned pain into prosperity.
- play the victim.
- feel sorry for yourself.
- look for people to blame.
- believe God to change circumstances.
- look for people to support you in prayer.
Everybody wants bounty. The unavoidable path towards it is through difficulty, failure, reverses. Prayer carries you forward to the blessing.
No sooner had we remodeled our home in Guatemala than we fled to America. A run-in with criminals forced us to leave. The trauma of the robbery at gunpoint took the foreground; the irony of our “lost investment” sat in the background.
The stylized ceiling and modernized kitchen seemed like a good investment. We had lived in Guatemala for 15 years and did not foresee leaving our beloved missionary life. The threat of kidnapping changed that abruptly. The money already spent proved pointless.
Our stay in Guatemala was NOT permanent. It was temporary. So too our life here on Earth is short. Moses called his son Gershom, which means foreigner, because he felt like he didn’t belong in Midian. Peter says we’re only sojourners here on the globe. Our true home is Heaven.
Was that what God was telling me? Whatever you do for eternity — even if it’s only five minutes of prayer today because that’s the best you can do — stands forever. We are here only briefly, so if all your effort is focused for this earth, try to enjoy these fleeting moments as much as possible. My recommendation: Work for eternity.
Jesus and Peter had to pay the temple tax but had no money. So Jesus sends Peter back to his old vocation, fishing. Go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours – Matt. 17:27 NIV.
If you are in His will, God will provide for your need. Prayer means getting the supernatural into the natural. If you’re working, you won’t have to change your routine, just request the dosage of God’s blessing upon your natural labors.
They call this miracle money, and after 33 years of being a Christian, I have seen God answer like this over and over, in my own life and others. It especially happened when I pastored in Guatemala, particularly when we bought a property and had huge mortgage payments.
Satan targets the new pastor’s car, family health and finances. The unrelenting assault is designed to drive you crazy and make you quit. Out of this struggle when I was a missionary in Guatemala for almost 16 years, this blog was born. By “praying for finances,” I never mean greed.
You CAN stave off Hell’s fury through prayer. You can see miracle money keep you in the pastoral business. Don’t grant soil to discouragement in your heart. Cultivate faith constantly and pray unceasingly. “Just barely making it” is the place where I have always been. Does it seem ironic that, while we established dominion in a church and school in Guatemala, we didn’t have great riches?
And yet we did have great riches! We had the precious souls of men, snatched off the precipice leading to Hell, transformed into valuable members of society. While the church prospered, our finances and those of the church, “hung in there.” We have no complaint. We had no lack, though many times I worried, many times I wondered where we would get the money to fix the car. Sometimes, we ran out of money, and it was unnerving, but we still had food in the cupboard.
George Muller prayed for bread and milk to feed the orphans in his care. He prayed for the heater to be fixed in the dead of winter. He prayed for hours — until the answer came. God prospered His work; He didn’t lavish luxury on His servant.
If you are not struggling financially today, I urge you to pray for some minister who undoubtedly is struggling. God will bless you for it.
Twice the lowly Lighthouse was runner-up in eight man football in California championship. With a student population of 50, that’s spectacular.
Those heady heights were owed to an extraordinary coach, George Neos, who served as principal of the high school for many years. Not only was Neos a Dartmouth football champion, he was well on his way to becoming a college coach. God interrupted his career launch and brought him to the Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica, California. Neos came to teach football and for a certain pair of brown eyes.
The hulking coach had a knack for seeing every milligram of potential in a player. He coached nuances to perfection so that kids produced stellar output. Neos never saw a kid as chubby, lazy, or out of shape. He saw what a kid could become, and he worked relentlessly towards that goal.
When God looks at you, he doesn’t see your flops and your flabbiness. He sees your future fabulousness. God sees a finished product. And He’s willing to work with all your failures and flailings to machine out the ideal Christian leader.
If you are a Christian leader, you can’t get stuck in the present. You’ve got to see ahead, what can become of the sheep God has brought under your care. Prayer is believing in the future and striving for it.