Monthly Archives: July 2013Image Image
- How to pray?
- Prayers from the Bible
- Prayer optimization
Recently, a close friend was broken. His ex was possibly dying from cancer, and even though she was an ex, heart strings were tugged. He came with me to prayer and poured out his heart to God asking for her healing. She’s better now. God answered from grace. Even though God answered, my friend still is not coming to church for gratitude, for commitment, for anything.
God’s grace is the greatest thing. You don’t earn salvation, and He doesn’t deny your prayer request just because you’re not attending church. You cannot earn a positive response from God.
But it seems to me like we’re not optimizing our prayer life when we treat God only as 911. We call Him only in emergency. It seems to me that we actually optimize our prayers when we serve Him faithfully. It’s an insult to God when we treat Him as unimportant 364 days out of the year and only remember Him on the one day we have a crisis. Still, He answers out of His grace, not out of our merits (because even when we’re somewhat faithful, we have not merits).
I don’t pretend to fully understand this. I’m only describing a tension that deserves to be rectified. There’s no mathematical formula for when you will get an answer and when not. God’s grace overrides any formula.
Maybe the best way to describe this is to say, treating God only as an Emergency Service in Heaven, is not cool. How to pray? Don’t be uncool.
- Bible prayers
- Prayers for encouragement
- Faith to rise above
Fear of failure has a unimagined flip-side: the fear of success. The person who chokes because he’s afraid he’ll blow it comes under a cloud of doom. Ultimately in his decision-making, risk-avoidance becomes success-avoidance.
I know what I’m talking about. I have suffered from it. When I was the hardest-working, most experienced college reporter on the UCLA Daily Bruin, my editors handed me the opportunity of the lifetime, an investigative piece that would establish my reputation. I said I was too busy.
It’s better to risk humiliation and go out with a blaze than step to the sideline. But the nasty habit of self-brow-beating is no easy task for anyone who has wrestled with the low-self-esteem demon.
Here’s what’s helped me:
- Bible reading
- Church fellowship with encouraging saints
- Eating right
- Trying to learn patience
And this has hurt me:
- Competition among friends
- Envy and jealousy
- Church dysfunction
2 Cor. 10:5 says, we must bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. For me, it is a struggle. I share these confessions in the hopes that others will be encouraged in similar fights. The enemy of our souls, the devil, wages war against our thoughts. Let’s pray for one another and support one another.
- Power of prayer
- How to pray?
Emerald water look like thick glass, inviting tourists to dip a toe — or even take a swim. The alluring beauty of Niagara Falls belies its power — 6 million cubic feet flows in an irresistible current every minute over the crest. One-hundred-and-sixty-five feet below, as it pounds into the whirling pool, it raises a relentless thunder and mists that bathes people for 100 yards away.
Behind the beauty lies true power.
Many look at prayer as a beautiful thing. They fail to perceive its weight of crushing power. Nations have been overturned. Darkness has ceded to radiant light. The onward rush of worldliness has been diverted, the press of sin blunted. Why? Because of prayer.
To the contrary, look, how powerful: she prays.
In a material world where we are taught to measure scientifically with our five senses, we can forget entirely the unmeasurable life-changing power of prayer. Just because a prayer experiment would be impossible (with one group that receives prayer and the other that does not), we tend to dismiss it.
Where science leaves off, faith picks up and continue to describe the reality of our multi-faceted existence. Pray today! Effect change. Don’t miss the power behind the beauty of prayer.
I saw a Civil War battle reenactment in Genesee Country Village and Country Museum near Rochester, New York. Being from the West Coast, I had never seen anything so astounding.
The Union troops dislodged the invading Confederates from the village and then re-engaged in the afternoon on the open field. Canons thundered. Plumes of white smoke squirted six feet out of muskets. Soldiers died writhing in acted pain. In the village, there was even a surgeon’s tent where they explained the horrors of a five-minute amputation, necessary to save lives with the bone-shattering musket balls.
The Civil War was a horror. More American lives died there than in World Wars 1 & 2, Korea, and Vietnam combined. In it, brother killed brother.
Rightly, Jesus warned against a house divided against itself. Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift — Matt. 5:24 NIV. The need is so pressing to conserve unity that you should interrupt your prayer time to restore fellowship. Disunity blunts prayer’s power. Let not your church become a Civil War. The church is supposed to horrorize Hell’s henchmen. But when we turn on rifles on each other, we become a laughingstock for demons’ delight.
Conflict occurs because people wrongly think they must compete against other members of the church for preeminence. It’s a worldly concept of dog-eat-dog, put-others-down-so-I-can-climb-on-top, that should be left in the world.
Striving for unity pleases God — and blesses your prayer. You can’t control what people do to you, but you can control how you respond. Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace — Eph.4:3 NASB. Do all YOU can to preserve oneness.
The Civil War ravaged our nation. May our churches be spared of division. How do I pray? Keep unity.
- Bible prayers and motivation.
Sweat haters loathe the treadmill, the Pilates class and weight machines. Because their doctor twisted their arms, they’re at the gym, counting down the minute to the end of the torture session, which they often skip and only do to stave off the heart attack.
I can’t relate: I love the endorphin release of the gym. I’m hooked on the good feel of health. At some point in life, I figured out the tradeoff: you either delight your tongue for a few minutes daily — or your delight your body 24/7.
(Of course I believe in Heaven, but I’m in no hurry to get there — like soda-imbibers. Passing the last days of my life in the hospital does not appeal to me.)
And church captivates me. No, the minutes don’t pass in intolerable boredom (well, most of the time). I’m passionately into everything good for you — and God is good for you!
So is prayer good for you. If you eschew prayer in favor of reality T.V., you’re missing out on some good returns available only to those who invest. Not every prayer session is just sweet communion with my Lord. But I keep at it, even when it’s hard, just like the gym or vegetables. I’ll keep praying Bible prayers.
- How to evangelize
Christ supped with the tax-collect0r (the turncoat, traitor, collaborator with the hated-Roman-empire, milking his countrymen for all he could get for himself).
Christ sipped cappuccino with the drunkards. He spoke with the prostitutes (not negotiating a price!). He even did the unthinkable. Breaking Jewish law and risking mortal infection, he touched lepers.
All the marginalized, the detested, the scum of society were his BFFs. On the oppressive rejecting upper class, Jesus cracked down hard. But the oppressed, He lifted them up — with love.
How to evangelize? If there is anything our age needs most, if there is any way to reach this lost and spiraling society, it is the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ.
On July 4, the Lighthouse Church marched in two parades — in the morning in Santa Monica, in the evening in the Pacific Palisades. The theme of our float: the American embrace of immigrants. Members dressed as foreigners according to their heritage. (Some of us went crazy and dressed as any nation I dressed as a Saudi). Our message: America welcomes all, Christ welcomes all, the church welcomes all.
The church must project itself into the world. The light must shine in the growing darkness. And the message that will draw people? Love. How to evangelize? Love.
Someone has said, “Give ’em hell!” To the contrary.
- 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.