Category Archives: how to pray?

El Chapo’s mom is a Christian who prays for her son to repent

Consuelo Loera Pérez, madre del Chapo.
foto RiodoceWhile drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman sits in a New York jail waiting a likely life sentence, his mother in Sinaloa lives modestly, attends church and prays for him to “turn himself over to the Lord to serve Him before it’s too late.”

“He’s already experienced what there is in the world and knows what it has,” María Consuelo Loera Pérez told Univision in 2014. “Now he should seek God so that he knows that only God can sort out his problems.”

chapoHer simple house doesn’t look like a mega drug trafficker furnished it. It can only be reached using rugged dirt roads that wind into the mountains.

For the last 36 years, Consuelo has faithfully attended the Apostolic Church of the Faith in Jesus Christ.

ivan guzman drug trafficking money

While El Chapo’s son flaunted his wealth, Consuelo conspicuously lacks such luxuries.

Her humble lifestyle consisting of sewing, reading her Bible and attending church is a stark contrast to the lavish lifestyle her son once lived. El Chapo, 61, rose to prominence in the Sinaloa Drug Cartel by pioneering drug trafficking pathways into the U.S. through long tunnels, CNN reported.

Once the drugs were inside America, it was distributed by cells in Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York overseen by El Chapo.

Chapos momBy murdering rivals, El Chapo amassed an estimated fortune of $14 billion and lived in resort-like mansions with gold-plated AK-47s and diamond-encrusted pistols. He reportedly bragged to have killed up to 3,000 people to stay at the top of the world’s largest drug cartel.

Twice El Chapo was arrested by Mexican authorities and twice he escaped prison, in 2001 and again in 2015. He was recaptured in 2016 and extradited to the United States. He was found guilty on Feb. 12 of all 10 federal charges for trafficking, money laundering and illegal possession and use of firearms. He will be sentenced in June and is expected to be condemned to life in prison without parole.

chapo wife

Chapo’s third wife.

“God is strengthening me. I know He is with me and with my children,” says Consuelo. “As his mother, I’m always asking God for his well being. As a mother, I’m feeling bad for what he’s going through. As a mother, one does her best to raise her children, and then when they’re grown, they go and do whatever they want. Whether they do good or bad, one still is mother.” Read the rest: El Chapo’s mom is Christian and praying for her son.

Half way around the world, her prayers brought him to the Lord

Fish familyAt exactly the moment David Fish was passing through a spiritual crisis in the Air Force in England, his neighbor’s mother — the Christian lady he looked up to — passed by his house walking the dog and remembered to pray for him.

As result, halfway around the world Jesus showed up and reassured David he could be forgiven of sin.

Never brush off the sudden urge to pray.

The incident was one of three supernatural apparitions that came to David, helping to deliver him from alcohol and the kingdom of darkness, moving him into the light of Jesus.

As a 15-year-old, David started drinking and driving the tractor on his farm in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His father was an abusive alcoholic and wound up divorced, which left David reeling.

“I wondered if this was what life was all about,” he says.

David wanted to be like dad but hay fever kept him from farm work such as baling hay, so he decided he would prove his manhood by joining the Air Force, just like dad.

David Fish“I wanted to show that I could do what he could do,” David says. “I always wanted to prove to him that I could do a lot of things. I guess a lot of kids want to show their parents they can stand on their own two feet.”

In the Air Force, he did well training as a mechanic for the tank-toting C-130 Hercules aircraft. But because of a mounting problem with alcohol, he was “causing myself my own troubles,” he says.

One day, he got drunk before his shift and was faced with the quandary of missing it (going AWOL) or showing up inebriated. He risked going to the job and his superiors confronted him.

“That was the day from hell,” David says. “You’re head is pounding. You’re in trouble. They know it. You know it. Everybody else knows it. All the people milling around the office all know that you royally screwed up. You’re just sitting there out in the open. Life was not good that day.”

Instead of a court-martial, the Air Force sent David to rehab in Riverside, California, to salvage his life and career. He thought if he behaved himself and went through the program, maybe they’d give him another chance.

The program was Alcoholics Anonymous. “That was supposed to be the way to keep dry and sane and all that other stuff,” he says.

The program taught that chemical dependency disappeared at six weeks. But “that’s baloney,” he says. “The spiritual dependency does not stop at six weeks.”

He fell back into beer after three months, though he tried to maintain better control and drink less.

“It was through the Riverside program that I realized how messed up my life was because when I began to discuss things about family, I left my sister out,” he says. “I hated my sister for the things that she did and the things that we did growing up — the different fights we had.”

That’s when a fellow airman started witnessing to him.

“It was the most fascinating thing I ever heard,” he remembers. “I was glued to listening to what he had to say. A few days later, I was still thinking about the impact that he made.”

David didn’t accept Jesus that day.

He was then stationed in England in preparation for the bombing of Muammar Gaddafi in 1986. He kept drinking the “thick rich frothy beer there. I was getting wasted all the time, and drinking was picking up speed,” he says.

After binging for three weeks, David surmised his grim predicament: “My life is worth nothing. My parents got this divorce. No one loves me; no one cares. So why should I? In that moment, I felt like I put my life on the auction block. I didn’t care if God had me or if the devil had me. I was willing to give myself over to whoever would have me.”

David began asking questions of a Christian fellow airman, who handed over a book, “The Scientific Approach to Christianity,” about an unbeliever healed of terminal cancer when his believing wife prayed for him. Read the rest of power of prayer.

Prayer works

prayer

This is my list of people to pray to return to Jesus.Obviously,  I blurred it. But you can see that names crossed out. Those are the ones who have come back to Christ already. Those are answered prayers.

I encourage you to use lists in prayer so that you can see progress. You can see its effectiveness. This will encouraged you to keep praying and to pray more.

Planning and praying

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Carlos se quejó de que había un pelo en su pan. Yo le dije que diera gracias a Dios que no hubiera un pedo un su pan.

I jumped at the chance to get my study group to help my church form a business plan. We worked hours analyzing strengths and weaknesses, projections and budgets, vision and philosophy. The resulting 20-page report had us planting a new church every two years. It was a glowing success and got us an A at the Central American Theological Seminary in Guatemala. Our plans were splendidly conceived and brilliantly explained.There was only one problem.

You can’t plan revival because revival comes from God.

Prayer works better than planning.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully believe in planning. I agree with the adage: he who fails to plan, plans to fail. BUT, the church is God’s. We can only submit to His will. We cannot force Him to bless our plans.

There is no way I could have planned this guy’s salvation (pictured). It comes as a confirmation of the strategies God has given us in Guatemala: the school and outreach. I can only praise Him for His work — and welcome Carlos heartily to salvation.

Handfuls on purpose: God’s blessing on finances

God FinancesFinances are a dreary necessity that underpin the true joy of saving souls. I don’t believe that God’s main purpose is to bless His people. Yes, we are children of the King, but the Child of King didn’t have a home, much less a bank account.

Having disavowed the prosperity gospel heretics, I would wish to proceed with a balanced exposition on finances. I was struck by this reading Ruth: Let fall also some of the handfuls on purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glen them. (Ruth 2:16).

Boaz is a picture of Christ because he redeems her from deplorable poverty. Gleaning was a back-breaking job: 12 hours under the blistering sun only to pick up enough grains for one meal. Boaz makes the decision to improve her lot significantly.

We can, therefore, ask God in prayer to drop “handfuls on purpose” for our ministries.

Gummy bears work as rocket fuel. What does that mean to your belly?


Eventually the myth busters got it right. They had to devise a conical nozzle, and they had to grind the gummy bears into fine powder. But the caloric quantity represented enough stored energy to lift the rocket off its pad and launch it into the air. That’s a lot of stored energy.

Gummy bears are not a healthy snack. They are a quick trip to chubby. And they look so cute and harmless.

If you only knew the stored energy in one of those cute little prayers. Prayer packs a wallop. Just because you don’t see (immediately) the answer from God doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Slowly, surely, you’re building something for God’s kingdom.

Imperfect prayers. Perfect hearts.

imperfect prayers

We probably shouldn’t use prayer manuals with pre-written jargon that we can mindlessly recite. Not even the Lord’s prayer should be considered a magical formula that works even though we pronounce it while the mind wanders elsewhere.

If anything, the Lord’s prayer — or other prayers that we may admire for their theology, their poetry and their balance — should be an inspiration or a teaching. It should not be considered a mathematical formula that if re-employed with exactitude will wrest from Heaven miracles. What matters is your sincerity. And maybe focus.

I don’t think I’ve ever prayed a “perfect” prayer. And I have prayed many prayers. My ever-tenacious sin always bleeds in.

God is merciful. He has answered more prayers than I deserve. He has seen through my vile carnality to some glimmer of anguish, some desperate plea for Him to do what I cannot do, and He has responded.

Don’t look for perfect prayers. Try to have a perfect heart.

Effortlessness

SLCD-Bg-Hotel-Exterior(1)I’ve worked hard. I continue to work hard.

But the greatest things that have happened in my ministry have come without virtually any effort. They came when God moved sovereignly. They came as a result of prayer. Definitely, God can do more than any human minister.

When the Door Bilingual School got a band, it came together with no effort of my own. When we acquired a building, it came together with basically no effort of my own.

I still work hard, but I’m willing to wait on God to do His work. I’m going to pray.

Do less. Pray more.

Keep praying

keep prayingIt’s been more than a decade that Eddy visited us in Guatemala. Since then, my wife, kids and I were forced to return to the States and have been serving in the local church. His sister and mom remained faithful; Eddy was off doing something else.

Who popped up recently?

Yeah, it’s another motivation to keep praying for those people even when years are grinding on, even when you don’t see any tangible hope. The Spirit moves in invisible realms.

The power of a whistle

IMG_8992We won because I had the whistle. Coach Mefford and I split reffing duties while playing, but he doesn’t like to carry a whistle. We were winning 5-4, and the other team kept pressing for the equalizer. I was really tired at central defender. It was 12:15, and I had told parents we would be done a noon. Some parents were craning their necks at us as if to say, When are you guys going to be done?

But mostly I wanted to win. So I tweeted the long, plaintive toot that marks the end of the game. That’s how I made sure when we won.

That was the day I learned the power of the whistle. It is authority. It is a way to guarantee your calls are obeyed. Nobody can argue against a whistle.

Such a small thing, but 21 players obeyed and walked to the parking lot to clap out mud from their cleats.

Do you realize the authority you have as a Christian? Humanity lost authority in the Garden of Eden. Then Jesus came to get it back. Incredibly, He gave it back to us. But many Christians don’t use prayer or faith. They let the devil bully them around. There is the whistle, promises in the Bible, hanging around their necks. All you need to do is pinch it, pucker and puff.

Hey, to pray, you don’t have to bow head or knee. You don’t have to fold your hands. You don’t have to shout or break a sweat. You can pray in your head. And God will respond — always. Maybe He doesn’t act WHEN or HOW we want, but He responds in our benefit — invariably.

I always keep a whistle and a prayer handy.

How do I pray? Just do it.

Prayer brings down Heaven

prayerPrayer transports you to other worlds, and it brings other worlds to you. It takes you to God’s throne and brings down God’s power to Earth.

Little prayers: how to pray

a cheap padlock

A $1 padlock like this one saved us!

 

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.

How to pray

Sweet reunion with the much-loved Pastor Alex

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

Faith, Pastor Steven's daughter.

Faith, Pastor Steven’s daughter.

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.

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How to pray? Feel the power behind you

How to pray?

How to pray? Optimize

  • How to pray?
  • Prayers from the Bible
  • Prayer optimization
How to pray? Optimize

from Christianity Matters blog

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.

from cloud lounge blog

from cloud lounge blog

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).

from blue pueblo blog

from blue pueblo blog

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.

Power of prayer: Niagara’s waters

  • Power of prayer
  • How to pray?
Power of prayer: Niagara's waters

My son Robert, on the precipice of power on the Canadian Falls.

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.

Niagara Falls

Water leaping from the heights pounds the poor below, raising mists over 200 feet into the air, drenching tourists. Note the boat at the bottom that fits 200 passengers.

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.

Horseshoe FallsOh look! How beautiful! She prays!

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.

How do I pray? Zach’s fall

How do I pray?

how do I pray?

Zach, staying off the left cheek, with his wife, Hillary

Zach plummeted 30-40 feet and missed the deepest part of the Malibu Creek Rock Pool, where only the manliest most insane dare to dive from the top rocks. He thought he broke his tail bone, but it only turned out to be muscle damage.

His freakishly swollen left buttock has been quite a novelty for teasing friends and family. Apparently Zach unembarrassedly bares butt for all interested gawkers to see and even photograph. I demurred.

no fear

On Thursday, Zach daredevil-dove at the Malibu Creek Rock Pool

We thanked God today for the miracle. He could have broken his back and been paralyzed.

Zach is an enigma to me. He’s equal parts bravado tough guy (he played football for UCLA) and compassionate nice guy. There’s not a dare he would skip or a rebellious punk he wouldn’t empathize with. For the last six years, he’s performed the unlauded labor of church cleaning for no pay, even though it deprives him of sleep and his wife. Cleaning starts at 5 a.m. He speaks of the “cleaning greats” at the Lighthouse Church, the men who taught him how to tame the wild beast of ubiquitous dirt when our K-12 kicks in.

Malibu Creek Rock Pool

After the plunge.

I am intrigued by Zach. I want to be like him. He seems to me to be a Christian ideal. Like Zach, we must be tough. We must withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and remain faithful to God. Like Zach, we must be compassionate. Without empathy, we’re shrill Pharisees. We must feel the hurt of so many millions who have been defrauded by the promises of sin.

Prayer must be tough enough to persevere. It must come from compassion and empathy. Can we feel people’s pain as God does? How do I pray? With toughness and with compassion.

How to pray? Thrills seekers

How to pray?

thrills seekers

Whee!

All of a sudden, my friend, Zach, fell from the sky like a bolt. We were at the Malibu Creek Rock Pool where kids dive off the rocks into the waters below. But he hadn’t warned me he was going to fling himself from the highest perch — 30-40 feet up. When I saw him appear in the sky, my heart leapt.

I guess he knows what he’s doing, I said to myself. His head bobbed up in the water, and he swam to the side. It was my first time at the pond, and I watched in horror as other kids lunged from lesser heights. I’m a chicken for such thrills-seeking.

Malibu Creek Rock Pool

Ouch!

Zach, a 25-year-old former UCLA football player, hit a rock. He clambered out of the lake in pain. He had broken his tail bone in the depths of the pool. (UPDATE: Either prayer healed him or he didn’t break the bone, doctor now says! PTL! Just swollen.)

Not everyone likes this brand of fun. But as human beings, we gravitate toward excitement. Some like the thrill of a pay raise. Others, a business venture. Others, work out hard at the gym to turn eyes in the restaurant.

How to pray? Thrills seekers

Jenny flung herself from a lower perch. Still, it struck fear in my heart.

Actually a hardened prayer warrior is not a bored person. He likes thrills too! His thrills, though, derive from answers to prayer. It may takes months or years, but when you see a person change (get off drugs, improve their marriage, whatever), there’s an interior thrill of knowing you affected positively the course of human affairs. This is how to pray.

high diveMaybe you’re not interested in waiting months for an answer to prayers. Maybe you like weeks of bed rest instead.

Maybe my friend Zach will be praying a lot these days — because he won’t be doing too much else.