Tag Archives: how do I pray?

Fast your past

fast your past

Fasting is to go without food — usually — for a prolonged period of time. It’s a way to devote yourself to God for a time of prayer. There may be an intensifying of prayer.

Maybe it would be good to fast your past. Let go of the failures and don’t believe you have to continue in them. Fast your successes; don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t hang on to your hurts. Let it go.

God is definitely about moving forward. Many people are crippled by the past. They’ve lost their vibrancy, their joy, their zest for life. Don’t be one of them.

The wilderness shall become like Eden


I give waters in the wilderness. — Isaiah 43:20

He will comfort all her waste places, and He will make her wilderness like Eden. — Isaiah 51:3

The hard ground, the drought, the chronic problem — God will change it all. Where there is no hope, He will miraculously bring revival and blessing.

Death Valley is not miss-named. But unusually large amounts of rain this year have produced a “Super Bloom.” It seems to be the kind of thing God does in  a spiritually way. It opens your eyes to what God can do: the impossible turnaround.

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.

The four answers to prayer

answers to prayer

1. Slow. Confused for a “no,” but God is working on something first before giving the answer.

2. Go. The answer is yes. Do all your part now.

3. No. You don’t want to twist God’s arm into granting you something that you want but He knows is not truly good for you.

4. Grow. Also confused for a “no,” but God first must mature you for the blessing. You wouldn’t be able to sustain the blessing yet.

Praying is like giving birth to something in our lives. But we ought to recognize that prayer, more often than not, is NOT instantaneous. We need to develop maturity to recognize these four answers to prayer.

Morning prayer is like breakfast

morning prayerdelicious and it fills you full of energy for the day.

Going without it is unhealthy.

Original image from pinterest.

We get in the way (of God’s blessings)

when you block God's blessing

We let our sinful desires run rampant, and then we wonder why God hasn’t blessed us.

It’s like the person who blames water for shocking him when he uses electronics in the tub. Why refuse to accept the physical laws spiritual laws that govern the world?

We accept that rules govern a happy relationship. We accept laws for civil society. We understand that geometry has its logic. But we want to tell God that He’s wrong when tells what will and will not work.

It’s not that you need to be perfect. God forgives. But when we flout the law of God, then why do we blame Him when things don’t work?

Keep praying

Just because you don't see anything happening, doesn't mean nothing is happening.

Just because you don’t see anything happening doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

Jesus described the Spirit like a wind, which, in his day, no one knew where it came from or where it was going. So too, we can never know the answers to prayer that are occurring in ways we never imagined, in places we never imagined, to people we never imagined.

If we just keep praying.

Original picture: Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles.

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Be a prayer warrior

prayerwarrior

Dead opossum

opossumMy Suburban struck an opossum the other night. I’m afraid I killed it. As bad as I might feel, there was nothing I could do to avoid it. I barely made out the forms of 4-5 animal shadows crossing the road at night in my headlights. The one I hit was straggling.

It’s not good to straggle behind the group. The Christian straggler makes up excuses to not report for prayer. The straggler seeks entertainment over seeking the Lord. The straggler is loathe to read his Bible, accountability-averse, half-in, not all-in.

straggler

This from Google

The Amalekites attacked “attacked all who were lagging behind” when the Israelites were transversing the desert (Deut. 25:18). The enemy exploited the weak and weary, the undisciplined laggard, the sluggish, because they were the easy target. Ultimately, the people of God defeated the Amalekites, but not without losses.

weak ChristianDo your best to stick with the group. Whatever your church is active in, don’t count yourself among the non-participants. It’s got to be all-in. The trouble with being half-in is you’re half-out.

If you’re a Christian straggler, you could get squished. I’m sure the opossum was not a pretty sight. I didn’t bother to check it out in the morning. It was far from my home. No doubt city workers cleaned up the bacteria-filled mess. If you are a Christian, work at full-speed, keep yourself surrounded by peers who encourage the best of you.

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?

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Don’t be too busy: how to pray?

Don't be too busy: how to pray?

Fear of… success: Bible prayers

  • Bible prayers
  • Prayers for encouragement
  • Faith to rise above

discouragementFear 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.

Fear of... success: Bible prayersThe guy who took it catapulted his career. I watched from the stands as a less-experienced reporter took to the field.

shipwrecked faithI have mulled over that decision lots. I have analyzed and psycho-analyzed it.

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:

  • Prayer
  • Bible reading
  • Church fellowship with encouraging saints
  • Exercise
  • Eating right
  • Trying to learn patience

And this has hurt me:

  • Criticism
  • 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.

Holy Cannoli! Prayer’s good!

  • How do I pray?
  • Prayer of faith
  • Bible prayers
purple berries

Cousin Dave with freshly picked raspberries and purple berries, not as tart at the black, rasp or boysenberries. They’re official unscientific name is Royalty Purple Raspberries.

I discovered relatives are wonderful.

Disconnected from my East Rochester relatives by 16 years of missionary work and lack of funds, I haven’t seen them essentially since 1988. Now I have children. I wanted to take my kids to see Niagara Falls.

Genesee Country Village and Museum Civil War reenactmentThey saw much more than just that. They saw a Civil War reenactment battle. They boated down the Erie Canal. They munched purple berries and raspberries fresh from the garden. They drove a John Deere lawn mower. They ate cannolies, Abbot’s frozen custards, and red hots. The list goes on.

Abbott's

Mmm! Abbott’s habit-forming custard ice cream cones

My definition of relative: someone who loves you for no apparent reason and showers blessings down on you. S/he hugs you without having met you before and includes you a wonderful thing called family.

Holy cannoli! Prayer's good!

In front of the American Falls at Niagara

God is our Father, or in New Testament lingo, abba, daddy. When we look up to Him, we are not addressing a bot which indexes unfeelingly our merits and flaws to rank us to see if we deserve an answer. We are not before the stern judge, the contract lawyer, the boss who’s trying to exploit us and intimidate us. We are not before the school teacher who humiliates us publicly, the fake Facebook friend who’s always happy but ultimately uninterested in us.

How do I pray?We are in front of a father. Recently, I found out about a dad who spent $2 million trying to clean up his daughter’s past so she can go on to a bright future. The job’s not done, and he’s still spending. No limits to what he will do for his girl.

God does even more than that for us. Much confusion about prayer can be dismissed simply if we remember that Jesus begins the model prayer: Our Father. The marrow of prayer is love — God’s love. When he doesn’t answer immediately, it’s because He loves us and the delay is better. How do I pray? Know to Whom you’re talking: a loving dad.

How do I pray? Keep the house united

Civil War ReenactmentsHow do I pray? The importance of unity.

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.

Genesee Village and Country MuseumThe 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.

Civil War amputations

A reenactor explains tying off blood vessels.

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.

Spectators at Civll War reenactment

My daughter, Rebekah, and I, after the battle.

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.

Civil War muskets

My sons, Robert and Hosea, hold Union muskets

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.

How do I pray? Keep the house unitedStriving 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.

Erie Canal and the Realm of Possible: Prayers from the Bible

Prayers from the Bible teach us.

Erie Canal

Outmoded by the railroad over 100 years ago, the Erie Canal was reduced to tourism. Today, commercial freight is again using this waterway.

George Washington concluded the Erie Canal would be impossible. But New York Gov. Dewitt (pronounced: Do-It) Clinton thought otherwise and commenced the work. Critics and scorners dubbed it “Clinton’s ditch.”

Erie Canal locks

The system of locks compensate for rising terrain.

In less than a decade they concluded in 1825 the waterway linking settlers and commerce. A marvel of engineering, hydrology and American know-how even today, the Erie Canal upon completion was called the Eighth Wonder of the World. It grew into a 1,000-span of canals that brought produce to markets for decades until trains outmoded them.

Gov. Dewitt (Do-It) thought he could “do it.”

Erie Canal low bridgePrayer is believing that impossible is possible — if you’ll just start “digging” in prayer. The experienced pray-er confounds the experts who forecast failure.

From prayers from the Bible, we learn that Elijah sparked revival over his land, Moses opened the Red Sea, David felled the mighty giant. The faith-filled filled the Bible with their heroics because they chose to put God to the test where scoffers dismissed feasibility.

As Christians, we must learn to pray prayers from the Bible and see change.

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.

Ugly dude gets cute girl: How do I pray?

  • How do I pray?
  • Prayers from the Bible
  • Faith
Dianna Ashcraft

and these are not her brothers. They’re our sons.

My college roommates were incredulous. How did I, the nerdiest, get the hot girlfriend, while they, suave boys all, had no one to hold their hands in the movie theater?

God moves

Lou filming an event at our Christian high school

Twenty years later, my friend Lou rues botany class, where there were gaggles of giggly girls but none would go out on a date with him. Lou’s one of those classy, confidence-full, handsome Latin lovers who usually makes girls swoon. And me? I’m the kind of guy who started yammering about poetry because I’ve run out of other things to say on a date. Today, Dianna is my wife.

It wasn’t the cologne. It was prayer.

After 2-and-a-half clumsy heartbreaks, this knucklehead finally got it. Give up on my own efforts (to get a girl) and let God do the work! I prayed (fresh with breakup bitterness): God, I don’t want to have anything to do with the girls (Actually, I used a vulgar word: chicks). Just drop from Heaven the one that is for me that I one day I’ll open my door and find her. You know, stork-like. Not exactly Elijah faith-praying or Mary submitting admirably to God’s will, but I stumbled upon a key. The first time I saw Dianna, it was on my doorstep. Revenge of the prayer nerd.

How do I pray?So even with something so personal, so private, so nerve-wracking as finding your life’s soulmate, you CAN pray and wait on God. You can ease up on the duds, going to the gym and tanning salon, and rehearsing cool lines to say. Take off the shades, be yourself, and just pray.

How do I pray? What can we learn from prayers from the Bible? Don’t panic, just talk to God. Trust, relax, wait, seek. Enjoy serving God.

I love Lou. He’s a great friend. And I’m praying for him to find a godly girl who will see all the good qualities that are in him. But he needs to pray that too.

How do I pray? Confession

  • How do I pray?
  • Bible prayers
pic per anders lundin

pic per anders lundin

Your most spiritual moment is when you confess your sins to God.

When you achieve virtual sinlessness, you can fall in pride. But when you are broken with having failed God, in that moment your closer to God than ever.

How do I pray? If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness — 1 John 1:9 NIV. Notice that the verse does NOT say that WE are faithful. To the contrary, we are sometimes quite faithless. At that moment, only God is faithful. And He is faithful to His love for us. If our sin displeases him, our confession and repentance is His special delight.

pic per Andrew Doz Photography

pic per Andrew Doz Photography

This is good news for those of us who walk with our feet on the ground. The more you sin, the more grace abounds (disclaimer: no permission to sin.) But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. — Rom. 5:20 NIV. Forgiveness is not just the start of salvation; it is a continuing reality of Christianity.

How do I pray? Prayer should not be only making requests. It is also restoring relationship with God. After we renew right relationship, then we petition God.

Hearing God: How to pray?

How to pray? Bible prayers.

How to pray?People think prayer is talking. It is also listening. Don’t be surprised if God talks back to you. After all, communication, if it is to be communication, is a two-way street.

Three times, young Samuel went to the Priest Eli because the elder called. Three times, Eli told Sammy to go back to bed. He hadn’t called. Then, Eli understood: It was God calling Samuel. This was the beginning of ministry for Samuel. He hadn’t recognized the voice of God because he was unaccustomed (1 Samuel 3).

How to pray? at Bible conference

At Bible conference in Tucson.

Our church just finished a 40 day fast. We didn’t fast all food. We fasted something. Some fasted Facebook. I fasted sugar.

The incredible thing was God spoke. He told to start afresh. He told me to clean the slate. Through the 40 days, He restored relationship with some people in the church. I’m glowing with elation. I want to keep fasting sugar, and keep hearing from God. It has been a time of restoration.

how to pray? breakfast

Breakfast before the Bible conference.

How to pray? When was the last time you heard from God (or maybe never)? Believe it or not, God is actually wanting to talk to you. Can you take a break from the electronic devices long enough to listen?

How to recognize the voice of God?

  • Don’t expect a booming voice.
  • It will never contradict scripture.
  • It will never authorize your sin.
  • It will probably come straight from scripture.
  • The effect will be to align you with His will.
  • God doesn’t foretell the future. He tells you to trust and what to do.

So the next time you bend the knee, slow down the “blah blah blah” for a moment and tune in your ear. How to pray? Happy listening!

Avoid disaster (Pray!)

How do I pray? Prayers from the Bible.

sunBefore utter disaster is Joshua’s prayerlessness. Commanded specifically to NOT make a treaty with the Canaanites, the Israelite prince is quite flattered by the appearance of visitors who — apparently — come from far away to see the marvels of God. Even though he senses a red flag, he falls for their ruse (they wear old clothes in their caravan) and skips the step of prayer in his hurry to sign peace.

But the Israelites didn’t consult the Lord. — Josh. 9:14.

Thanks In My Melon blog

Thanks In My Melon blog

Think of getting all the Canaanites out of the Promised Land like the Homeland Security’s mission to clear America of potential terrorists. How many bomb-exploders do you want lurking in your neighborhood? But once they give their word, the Israelites have no choice but to let the Gibeonites live.

Can’t get motivated to pray? Think about averting disaster. Before you decide, pray. What consequence for not dispossessing the Canaanites of the land? The Israelites themselves were dispossessed of the land centuries later (in the captivities).

Instantaneous answers

  1. How do I pray?
  2. Prayers from the Bible
Unfulfilled expectations lead to frustration

Unfulfilled expectations lead to frustration

This is my wife. Do you remember you prayed for me last June to get married? We got married in August.

I wish ALL of my prayers got answered so quickly. I wish prayer were always so highly effective. This guy recognized me at Bible conference and asked me to pray. I didn’t even know him. He knew me because he had seen my picture in the testimonial reports magazine from previous years.

20120215-073644The vast majority of prayers are answered only after a looooooong time. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months, often years, sometimes decades. Failure to understand the nature of prayer accounts for:

  • Christians not praying (they see it as a waste of time because they expect instantaneous results)
  • Backsliders turning away from God (why didn’t God answer my prayer? Maybe you gave up too soon)
  • Atheists  denying the existence of God.
Yeah, when we get bored we take the bear out to play on the trampoline, and you? (Photo thanks to Andy Duann)

Yeah, when we get bored we take the bear out to play on the trampoline, and you? (Photo thanks to Andy Duann)

Sometimes, God flatly denies our petition (and we don’t know why). Other times, we just give up too soon. Occasionally, there’s an instantaneous answer.

Why do we understand intuitively:

  • Schooling takes time and perseverance
  • Athletic training takes time and perseverance
  • Making a marriage work takes time and effort
  • Anything good and worthwhile is a long uphill battle

but when it comes to pray, we assume it must be instantaneous?

 

 

 

A fatal flaw for the Phalanx

  • How to pray?
  • Bible prayers.
  • Use of prayer.

300px-Phalanx_CIWS_test_fire_-_081107-N-5416W-003Perched on a warship’s side, the U.S. Navy’s potent anti-missile Gatling gun Phalanx CIWS spews out 3,000 armor-piercing tungsten 20mm rounds per minute that down rockets flying at Mach 3 straight towards a ship. Guided by radar and computerized systems, the Phalanx bullets blunt incoming attacks.

DownloadedFileBut when an Argentine warplane fired an Exocet missile against a British warship in the 1982 Falkland War, the powerful Phalanx failed, and the HMS Sheffield was struck and sunk.

What was the “design flaw” of the Phalanx?

In order to work, it had to be turned on.

DownloadedFile-1The Brits, staging a reconquest of the disputed Southern Hemisphere island, had failed to turn on the Phalanx, and consequently the Phalanx failed to defend the ship. It was left on “standby.”

So too, prayer, in order to work effectively, must be turned on. It must be used. We must pray for it to work. Too many Christians leave prayer on “standby” only. And when incoming missiles head towards us at Mach 3, we don’t have time to react.

Prayer is meant to be used, not ignored.

Mimi’s miracles

Mimi, always so vibrant and full of life, at left, with her mother and older sister.

Mimi, always so vibrant and full of life, at left, with her mother and older sister.

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.

Pastor Ludving leads the church and school heroically, at great personal sacrifice.

Pastor Ludving leads the church and school heroically, at great personal sacrifice.

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.

The Door Church in Guatemala City

The Door Church in Guatemala City

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.

Pastor Ludving with Mario Artiga

Pastor Ludving with Mario Artiga

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.

Ludving and Nelly

Ludving and Nelly

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.

 

High risk = high return

With my daughter, Rebekah, another would-be actor. Here she's in her Jewish peasant girl garb. In another scene she seconds as a Moabite.

With my daughter, Rebekah, another would-be actor. Here she’s in her Jewish peasant girl garb. In another scene she seconds as a Moabite.

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.”)

With my son, Hosea, an 11-year-old "old judge of Israel." LOL!

With my son, Hosea, an 11-year-old “old judge of Israel.” LOL!

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.

With Pastor Ralph Bowen, missionary extraordinare, church-planter in three African nations. He played Elimilech.

With Pastor Ralph Bowen, missionary extraordinaire, church-planter in three African nations. He played Elimelech.

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!

If it’s over, where’s the elation?

  • How do I pray?
  • Faith in prayer
  • Prayers of the Bible

imagesBarcelona won the 2012-13 Spanish league when it wasn’t even playing. It’s nearest competitor, Real Madrid, tied, and, with only  a few games left in the season, no one can reach Barca’s points.

images-1Winning by NOT playing (when your rival ties) is a very undramatic way to seize a crown. But that’s the way the European leagues work: no flourish of playoffs. It’s boring mathematics: whoever has the most points, wins. Now whatever FCB does — even it loses every game 0-20 — it cannot lose the league.

images-2Despite being an avid fan, I’m disappointed. Where’s the flush of excitement of a memorable finale? Where’s the high fives in front of the big screen with pizza with my buddy Adan? In the essence of anti-climax, I read it on Yahoo soccer news. It was over, and I wasn’t even watching the game to relish it (why would I? It wasn’t even my team’s game).

images-3Instead of seeming happy, it’s a let-down. No more tension as a rival threatens a comeback. No more discussing injuries and speculating who will cover what position. No more guessing outcomes, despairing over setbacks.

images-4Christianity is like this: it’s over. Christ won — a long time ago, at the cross. What remains is an unavoidable and boring march towards victory. We can lose the excitement of God’s crushing championship, but we should never forget that He has won. The fact that secularists appear to be winning our nation is much like Iran’s president denying the Holocaust: ludicrous brouhaha.

Go to prayer today with:

  • the sensation of the thrill of victory
  • certainty of the positive outcome for your petitions
  • persistence in securing wins (Barca still wins games, even though they can’t lose the championship losing games). Show our stuff!

American Idol Smasher

  • How do I pray?
  • Bible prayers
Formerly a drug abuser, Edgar Cervantes raps and preaches on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade.

Formerly a drug abuser, Edgar Cervantes raps and preaches on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade.

While some erect idols, we tear them down. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God — 2 Cor. 10:5 NIV.

L.A.'s skyline

L.A.’s skyline

In Gideon’s day, it was Baal and Ashtoreth that needed to be booted from national psyche. Today it is greed, materialism, pleasure-seeking, alcohol, etc. People resonate with American Idol because its the rags-to-riches, discovered-by-Hollywood storyline.

In all honesty, I’ve never seen an episode of this show that buzzes with our zeitgeist. Nor do I want to. I think, though, I would enthusiastically watch a spoof titled “American Idol Smasher.” But as it stands, no such is likely to materialize outside of your prayer closet.

Far from the crowds, far from the voting, far from the excitement, in your prayer closet and mine history is REALLY made.

 

Prevailing prayer

  • How to pray?
  • Prayers of the Bible
my family, 3 years ago

my family, 3 years ago

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?

keystoprayerJPGI 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:
  1. Tracking track record of positive results.
  2. 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.
My daughter on our marching band outreach team more than 3 years ago

My daughter on our marching band outreach team more than 3 years ago

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.

No one bats 1000

  • How do I pray?
  • Prayers from the Bible

No one bats 1000

The best sluggers only get 450. That means more often than not, they get out.

No one bats 1000With 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.

Compulsive compilers of lists

how to pray?

Rebekah, the compulsive compiler of lists

My teenage daughter gave me the grocery list yesterday — with just one item.

Rebekah and my wife are passionate about lists. I am passionate about losing lists.

how do I pray?

Rebekah’s discipler in list compiling, my wife, Dianna

My wife grew up in a household where her mother put up stickies on cabinet doors, on walls, on regular doors, on the refrigerator. There were reminders to leave your shoes outside, turn off lights, take vitamins. When we got married, I threw these out when Dianna started posting them up. Tacky stickies.

Don’t get me wrong. I have my agenda with lists of things to do. But the loose papers? I lose them. Usually I go to the store (yes, I buy the groceries) reciting the 8 – 9 essential items and buy the things that strike my fancy. Haha! What a strategy! More often than not, I forget 5 – 6 of the essential items. Nevertheless, I’m stubbornly opposed to lists.

Michael Ashcraft

Me, the list-hater. I guess you could say I’m often listless. No, I’m not a cowboy, but I do steal people’s hats for pictures when I can.

Which is why I looked at the list yesterday and asked Rebekah, “Why?” Why a list with only one item. Seriously?

I lost the list and remembered to buy the item: canned refried beans. Hooray!

There is only one important list: my prayer journal. (Chances are, you’re in it because I pray for my followers by name — though I need to update it! If you want me to pray for you, just comment at the end of this post, and I’ll make sure you enter the list.)

Forgetting groceries is annoying. But forgetting to pray is a question of Heaven and Hell. So I don’t want to miss anyone or anything.

Which demonstrates a point: Do we pay more attention to our grocery lists or our prayer lists?

Crossing borders

Crossing bordersWe hit the Honduran-Nicaraguan border at 5:30 a.m. We had been warned: the Nicaragua border officials would try to exact a bribe.

Crossing BordersSure enough. Our marching band instruments weren’t listed on a document stating their purpose was performance. Thus, the officials said, it was assumed they were merchandise and would have to pay tax. At this time I had been a Central American missionary for 14 years and was familiar enough with political corruption to not get outraged. I also knew how to game it.

Crossing bordersPlaying dumb, I pretended that the officials weren’t sincerely sure that we constituted a marching band heading to Managua to outreach. I gave the order for band members to grab their instruments and assemble in formation “for a demonstration.” Border officials hadn’t expected this. But at 5:30 a.m., neighbors weren’t going to want to wake up to banging bass drums and blaring trumpet.

Lighthouse Christian Academy marching band

Since returning to the States in 2011, we have formed a marching band for local July 4th parades. Unfortunately, kids have too much Nintendo, and not many want to get involved.

It took just one song for red-faced border officers to growl at me (still playing dumb) about some law prohibiting trumpet blowing on the border. “Get out of here!” they muttered through their teeth. I was later told that people who don’t want to capitulate to bribe-seekers usually have to wait hours to wear down the bordermen’s patience. It hadn’t taken us but minutes to slide through like a duck into water.

The pastors who were with us on the evangelistic team were impressed. But the key was to NOT panic, to have a quiet confidence that we WILL get over the border without any hitch, and that I could find the right words and actions to help the process.

There is a lesson for prayer here. When it SEEMS like we’re getting a “no” from God, keep patiently praying with CONFIDENCE. That is faith. Of course, God is not a corrupt border official (neither is He the unjust judge of Luke 18:6, but He compares Himself to such to make a point).

  1. Don’t panic. Don’t start thinking God doesn’t want to give you the desired answer.
  2. Keep your cool.
  3. Remain believing, confident of the answer, expecting His goodness.
  4. Don’t use vain repetitions but seek new expressions of your love for Him and your desire to see such-and-such an answer given.
  5. Keep at it until you’ve gotten the answer.

You’ll probably think less of my “spirituality” for saying this, but it’s hard not to chuckle at those border officials. I joined their poker game and laid out the winning hand.

It’s hard not to enjoy the wonderous miracles granted by God to His patient servant who prevails in prayer.

Maybe you need to cross a “border” in your life. Remain confident and pray calmly.

Why the DMV is such a great place!

Time for prayerBecause the interminable lines give you time to pray.

What you need for prayer is NOT money, nor talent, nor poetic words, nor theological profundity. What you need is time.

And that’s what the Department of Motor Vehicles gives you lots and lots and lots while you wait only to find out that you’re in the wrong line or that you don’t have some obscure piece of paper and you’ll have to come back tomorrow.

Also good for prayer:

  • bank lines
  • mechanic shop
  • dry cleaning lines
  • meetings! (Let the boss drone on about what he thinks is important. In your head, pray.)
  • airports and flights

Distractions to prayerTime-robbers include:

  • cell phone
  • TV
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter (Why don’t you tweet God instead?)
  • did I say “cell phone?”

These are just some of multitudinous ways of distracting yourself from what is truly important: prayer. Money is not the most precious resource; time is. God really appreciates all the time you make for Him!

 

 

Pray, pray, pray again

  • How do I pray?
  • Bible prayers
  • Faith and perseverance

Or is it “try, try, try again?”

What if Lincoln had given up?

What if Lincoln had given up?

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.

From Exchangewisdom

From Exchangewisdom

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?

From Pam Boyd's Blog

From Pam Boyd’s Blog

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.

From invivo

From invivo

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: Lord’s prayer as a model

1AkUnLeScReWs2I can but don’t parrot the Lord’s prayer. For me, it serves as a model, a how-to prayer. Here’s what we learn of how to pray (Matt. 6:9-13):

  • 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
  • 17781_10201034065479011_1840161065_nHallowed 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
my old church in Guatemala today!

my old church in Guatemala today!

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.

 

No magical formula: HOW to pray

IMG_2444And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words — Matt. 6:7 NASB.

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.

Some kids at my church.

Some kids at my church.

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.

Why pray? For answers to prayer

How to pray? Bible prayers. Answers to prayer.

What has saved me from depression? I largely credit prayer. (Dianna is my wife)

What has saved me from depression? I largely credit prayer. (Dianna is my wife)

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.

An onslaught of articles, books and programs urges that church is irrelevant. But I still go to church.

An onslaught of articles, books and programs urges that church is irrelevant. But I still go to church.

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.

Effective, substantial prayers

rocket19How do I pray effectively? Can prayers of the Bible teach me?

It can feel useless. But faith is a solider (more solid) base than what might you think. Now faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen — Heb. 11:1 KJV (caps mine).

The KJV’s word “substance” is hypostasis, which is translated elsewhere “confidence.” It’s a foundation,  a basis.  Words uttered with faith are not wispy sounds that disappear into thin air. Their sound waves may die, but their essence moves angels into action. God spoke, and the world was created. He made us in His image — with the ability to speak into existence things that are not.

Jesse Rentaria, of Hesperia, CA, was told his cancer wouldn't give him many more months of life. But today he is cancer-free.

Jesse Rentaria, of Hesperia, CA, was told his cancer wouldn’t give him many more months of life. But today he is cancer-free.

With the strident monotony of blah-blah-blah bombarding us continually from the television, the radio, the internet, we can forget that words CAN have meaning and impact. Don’t compare prayer to the media’s drivel.

Prayer activates — like the propulsion of a rocket launch. Prayer unlocks — like a password. Prayer smashes down strongholds, builds up Cities of God. It is quicker than a Google search, more effective than the U.S. military taking on North Korea. It moves unseen behind enemy lines and converts to Christianity its sworn enemies (like Paul).

The Bible says faith can move mountains. We have so many more metaphors today.

Heaven is listening — pray

How do I pray? Prayers of the Bible. Grow in faith.

Coach Ray instructs my son, Hosea, on soccer attacking.

Coach Ray instructs my son, Hosea, on soccer attacking.

The Faith Hall of Fame is Hebrews 11. It’s exciting to read how :

  • Noah prepared the ark for 100 years
  • Abraham held out for a son until he was 100 years old
  • Moses started ministry at 80 years old
  • Rahab got out of prostitution and helped the spies
  • David killed Goliath with a slingshot

Through faith they subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection — Heb. 11:33-35 NIV.

IMG_2382

Love those shiny new cleats!

Better than 007, than Die Hard, than Brave Heart (ok, yeah, I’m not that young). The inspiration of Hebrews 11 makes you want to go out and call down fire from Heaven or face off with Jezabel or Pharoah or Planned (un)Parenthood.

How about this? Let it inspire you to the uninspiring task of simply taking to your knees right there in your home — and praying with faith. It may not be a cinematographic moment with rapturous surround sound, but praying with faith today is huge heroics for God. The audience in Heaven is listening.

Pray prayers that make a difference:

1) finances
2) healing
3) salvation
4) revival

Let your faith grow like the seed

  • Make faith grow
  • How to pray?
  • Prayers of the Bible
It may start small...

It may start small…

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.

from Dump a Day

from Dump a Day

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.

How to pray? Access resurrection power

  • Pray powerful prayers
  • How to pray?
  • Bible prayers
  • Pray more effectively
  • Pray with faith

448a8b8fbebe345d104ecea38d1e48dcWe fail to realize the power within our reach. Because we don’t realize (mentally), we don’t realize (physically in a miraculous manifestation) an answer. Prayer without faith is pretty pointless. But with faith, it has explosive power. What kind of power? Resurrection power.

Is there anything more impossible than to bring someone back from the dead? Medical science can revive someone whose heart has stopped. It can revive In My Melon2comatose people. But once the person is really dead, doctors are really lost as to what to do. Call the mortuary, that is all.

But God, showing His power, raised Jesus from the dead. And that’s the power we have access to.

His incomparably great power for us who believe … is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead Eph. 1:19-20 NIV.

Your financial need is nothing compared to death. If God could resurrect His Son, He can resurrect your finances!

Even more impossible: prayer’s power

  • How do I pray effectively?
  • Prayers of the Bible
  • Pray for finances
  • Inspiration for prayer

First they were 32,000. Then they were 10,000. Then they were 300.

8ac8d84fb90e993cd71eeca974a98e24The shocking attrition was actually good news. If Gideon had too many, Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved Me (God)’ Judges 7:2 NIV. By making victory even more impossible, God assured He’d get the praise.

If your situation is steeply difficult, don’t despair. Don’t calculate “possibility.” A miracle, by definition, is contrary to natural law and contrary to reasonable explanation. Do you have:

  1. church rent due with no foreseeable income to cover it?
  2. big dreams and small budgets?
  3. restrictions on what you can do for God due to finances?

Rejoice! When Gideon won against the Midianites, everybody got whooped up! Don’t glower, don’t be glum. God is going to move! Just pray with faith! Watch and see! Act and know that God will do what you cannot!

Video

How to pray? Get inspired!

Moving music and exhilarating scenic photos combine with scripture to remind you about God’s creation, His power, His majesty in this inspiring video by http://www.PositivePrayers.com

I’m a big believer in getting inspired to pray. I find my prayer life becomes vibrant when either scripture or prose or praise lifts my spirit first.

Prayer is not a matter of saying the right words but having the right attitude. When your spirit soars on wings of eagles, it seems you pray overcoming prayers that make an impact.

Pray a firewall of protection over your life

  1. 494cd8c258d3247a68344c446f3b3b15How do I pray better?
  2. What sorts of Bible prayers work?
  3. How can I pray for finances?

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.

e1eb2454b2356b079fa7f9fbebac1c0fPray 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.

Audacious faith

apbewsafmanstandsaloneOne man stands alone against 750 false prophets, against a despot and against his power-hungry wife who runs death squads.

Elijah challenges virtually an entire nation when he calls down fire from Heaven upon a water-saturated sacrifice that gets incinerated. Seeing this, the Israelites remember God Jehovah and turn back to their roots.

Where did such faith come from? Everything was against him. I want this kind of audacious faith. Procure in prayer and Bible study a faith that:

  • never cowers
  • always hopes
  • always loves
  • never complains
  • accomplishes the impossible
  • whips the devil
  • never wavers no matter the storm’s intensity
  • does not let fear creep in

Some of my favorite faith-filling verses are:

  1. James 5:16 NIV Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly…
  2. Matt. 17:20 NIV if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
  3. Matt. 9:29 NIV According to your faith let it be done to you
  4. Matt. 21:22 NIV If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
  5. Heb. 11:1 NIV Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Video

PB&J all day! (Prayer, Bible & Journal)

A reminder to pray, read you Bible and journal your dynamic walk with Christ.

Brandish real power

imagesThere are generals, colonels, lieutenants, sergeants and officers galore in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, but the guy who wields real power is an ex-private first class.

from the movie based on the book

from the movie based on the book

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.”)

Heller with his book

Heller with his book

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.

Yossarian, the fearful bombardier

Yossarian, the fearful bombardier

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.

100% — not 99%

imagesAmong other things, the 99% movement was about the disenfranchised and powerless getting power. It didn’t work because the oligarchy won.

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.

prayboyfieldNo 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.

You’re supposed to injure the other team

On every other day of his life, he's been fantastic.

On every other day of his life, he’s been fantastic.

Teacher Edwin was a NICE guy, a fabulous teacher and a sensational soccer player. I was happy he was on my team in Guatemala on the day of staff bonding! (Good thing the accountant was on the other team. His accounting was straight but his ball-kicking, crooked.)

In a midfield confusion on a header challenge, Edwin came back down to earth with all of his weight squarely on my left toe. The toe nail cracked. I crumpled.

A soccer field to envy.

A soccer field to envy.

“Edwin! You’re supposed to injure the OTHER team,” I yelled, writhing on the ground. “You’re not supposed to injure me.”

Prayer is about injuring the other team. There are actually people in the church who think their gifting is criticizing others. But no, the gifts, according to 1 Cor. 12:8-10, are:

  • word of wisdom
  • word of knowledge
  • faith
  • healing
  • miracles
  • prophecy
  • discernment
  • tongues
  • interpretation of tongues

Whatever those are, there is clearly no gift of criticism. When you criticize, you help out the Accuser of the Brethren (the devil, according to Rev. 12:10). Hey, let the devil do the accusing, and let’s not do it for him! When you criticize, you injure your own teammate.

You’re supposed to injure the other team. I’m taking medicine now — seven years later — for it.

Terbinafine is fine

No, I'm not going to upload a picture of my yellow toe. You should be glad. It's gross.

No, I’m not going to upload a picture of my yellow toe. You should be glad. It’s not the most attractive thing. The lady is my better half.

I have to take this medicine for 3 months. Maybe 6.

Apparently, it won’t knock out quicker the fungus that turned my toe nail (excuse me, this is not for the squeamish) yellow.

My son Hosea.

My son Hosea.

If a medicine needs to treat consistently over a period of time to fully eradicate the infection, why do we expect prayers to revolutionize our lives instantly?

Compared to some of the infections in our souls, the toe fungus is a simple matter. It makes sense to me that we need to treat consistently and over a prolonged period some of the troubles besetting our hearts. Don’t give up if the answer doesn’t come quickly.

It’s nice to see my toe turning flesh color again! It’s also nice to see my heart becoming less of a stone. For my heart, I’ve been praying for 33 years (not always consistently). Be patient with me. Jesus is not done yet.

Stay calm and keep praying.