Tag Archives: how to 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.

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Meet Camila, born to parents who couldn’t have kids

IMG_9784Prayer brought her into the world, and from the looks of it she is now learning how to pray.

Her parents, Gunter and Yara, were among the best disciples in the church. Medically speaking, they couldn’t have kids. Evangelist after evangelist prayed for them. Then my friend, Isaias Campos, came to preach for me. Ironically, he himself couldn’t have natural children. But God told him he would pray for somebody to have kids. That did the trick.

IMG_9797

My son, Hosea, among the kids of the Door Christian Church in Guatemala City.

I left Guatemala six years ago under duress. I am currently visiting, and I’m blown away by the revival I’m seeing. It’s been packed, and people are hungry for God.

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 is a journey from pain

tree tunnelIf we didn’t feel pain, I don’t suppose we would pray. Not until we hit anguish do we remember our limitations and God’s limitlessness. So prayer, then, is a journey from pain to pleasure, from bruises to blessings, from hits to happiness.

If pain is the starting point, however, the journey doesn’t have to be painful. After all, we leave pain behind.

We need to see prayer less like instant answers and more of a pathway. Some hikes are short and easy, others long, still others strenuous. I don’t know about you, but I like hikes of all sizes and shapes. In fact, I haven’t met a hike I didn’t like yet.

Regardless, it is the destination that makes you forget about the process of getting there. Once you reach happiness, all previous pain is pretty much forgotten. Part of knowing how do I pray is staying on the path towards happiness.

Driven to your knees

driven to your kneesPerfect. Then you are ready to pray.

Pray, don’t panic

dont panic just pray

I don’t subscribe to the myth that I have everything under control. There are people who actually believe that they have so much money, talent, good looks, whatever, that they always will win in life.

Sometimes things appear to spin out of control. In those moments, I need to stay calm and remember who I am trusting. Don’t panic; just pray.

E-mail has not replaced knee-mail

knee mail | communication wtih GodBefore texting, there was instantaneous communication. It was called prayer.

And you don’t have to get on your knees to pray — although some people find the position of their body helps with there outlook.

You should call out on God before you get into desperation. Just saying.

You are too busy to NOT pray.

Image source: Buzzfeed

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.

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?

Prayer as begging

God's healing

Cristal weeps when she feels God’s power healing her.

Why twice?

In every thing by prayer and supplication … let your requests be made known unto God. — Phil 4:6 The synonym for prayer, translated here “supplication” and elsewhere “petition,” is strange for its redundancy.

In Greek it is δέησις (deēsis), which means a need so urgent you turn to begging. You have no other hope. It evokes the utter powerlessness of being prostrated before a potentate who holds your life in his hands. Pleading, nothing more.

Pastor Charlie Forman

Pastor Charlie Forman with Pastor Ludving.

So many times, my prayers cover things I can also cover. These are things I need to get done, I can done. I just want God to help me do them efficiently.

Then there are needs about which I am exasperatingly powerless. About those needs, I tend to get frustrated, get mad, sulk. In fact, if I’m brutally honest about myself, I complain more than I pray.

That seems to me to be what Paul is addressing. Yes, pray, but also plead (supplicate, make petition) to a God who alone can help you. You can trust God for the needs that are completely out of your control.

 

Why we pray…

Why we pray

Gratitude is born of the struggle, so when God doesn’t answer immediately, He simply is building towards an emotional outpouring. Don’t waver. Keep praying and believing.

The Bible itself encourages us to persevere in prayer. Jesus Himself taught us to not lose heart.

Photo thanks to easybranches.eu

Prayer: Moses ‘rocked’ until he threw stones

frustration and prayer

Stop striking out in anger and calling people “rebels.” It won’t bring any good. Instead, pray.

Moses brought 40 years of ministry to a depressing demise because he acted out of frustration instead of faith. “Speak to the Rock!” God had told him. “And the waters will gush out for their thirst in this dry desert.”

Instead, Moses struck the Rock with his staff. And he called the people “rebels.” He upbraided them and appropriated the miracle to himself instead of giving God the credit.

As a result, waters came out and the people quenched their thirst. But Moses wasn’t allowed to to into the Promised Land. He was deprived of the crown jewel to complete his ministry. He was cut off from the flourish finish. In short, he was cut short, and 40 years of effective ministry became ineffective.

moses and prayerSuch a disappointing denouement is a high-pitched warning to those of us who want to persevere in ministry. Did he just burn out? Did he stop believing in prayer?

The New Testament identifies the “Rock” as Jesus. Did Moses lash out at God because “one more trial” was a critical mass for him? It is sobering to think. Let’s stick with prayer and faith and avoid frustration.

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?

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.

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 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.

Never futile: Prayers from the Bible

  • Prayers from the Bible
  • How to pray?

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.

How to pray?

Prayer is an easier investment than getting into your car.

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 Christianitythe 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.

Effective prayer: Iker Casillas teaches

  • Effective prayer
  • Powerful prayer
  • Praying the Bible

Iker CasillasIker Casillas didn’t have to do anything to win! In the boring Italy-Spain Confederations Cup semi-final, Casillas just stood there on the penalty shoot-out that settled a sluggish 0-0 into overtime match. As a matter of fact, Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon didn’t stop a single shot either.

Buffon Casillas

It could have been a spectacular show of goalkeeping prowess, but neither could stop any PK.

On a few penalty shots, Casillas dove. But after one cheeky Italian chipped it straight and center, he apparently decided to stop diving. He just stood there uselessly. The dives were pretty much pointless anyway because both teams drilled home unstoppable PKs. So Spain won 7-6 because Leonardo Bonucci launched his to the moon instead of the net. Here were the world’s two best goalies, and neither made a single save.

The penalty shoot-out reminded me of prayer. We can try. We can dive. But ultimately, the victory has nothing to do with us. Victory comes from above. Effective prayer does more than doing more.

Casillas Confederations CupThat’s why the overworked minister who neglects prayer commits a fatal mistake. He spins his wheels. The lion’s share of the work belongs to God Almighty, and the minister (not almighty) tries to do it.

If you yearn for greater effectiveness, pray more and work less! Pray effective prayers.

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!

After disaster, pray

How to pray? Bible prayers.

thesunJoshua mucked up by not praying . He basically authorized terrorists (Gibeonites) to live among the Israelites by failing to consult God before striking a deal. Lesson: To avoid failure, we ought to pray (the subject of my last post).

2fdc2dbebb2538e0ffc7c7c88dc3a844But I don’t want a downer. Who hasn’t tripped up? According to George Barna, approximately 100% of Americans fail significantly at some point in their life. Actually, I’m lying. That’s not a George Barna statistic. It’s a Rom. 3:23 statistic. And it’s experience. How many times have I failed? At least a zillon. And that’s just counting starting in 2013.

Here’s the takeaway to the bummer story. Joshua owned up to his mistakes and turned them into a winner. When fellow Canaanites realized the Gibeonites had “sold out” to the invading Israelites, they ganged up to lynch them. The Gibeonites, with a contract whose ink wasn’t even dry yet, cashed in on their new alliance and asked the Israelites to defend them. Joshua set aside his smarting and used his smarts: he vanquished all the other Canaanites. The Gibeonites had tricked him, but he used his embarrassment to his advantage.

warriorbowandarrowonhorseGod’s power promptly materialized. Not only did they utterly smash their enemies, the Israelites witnessed the third most extraordinary miracle confounding the laws of nature (#1 Jesus walked on water, #2 Moses separated the Red Sea): On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” — Josh 10:12 NIV.

This gave them time to continue winning the war. The enemies couldn’t escape in the dark of night.

The upshot: prayer turns failures into successes!

How to pray? Surgery and Rehab

How to pray? Bible prayers

Valley Presbyterian Hospital

Rob’s teammate came to visit him.

Is there life after death? Definitely. Is there life BEFORE coffee? Hardly.

LOL! Last week I spent the night in the hospital with my son. He got operated on his torn ACL, a soccer injury. The doctor harvested from his hamstring to reconstruct the ligament. The next day, he was in pain, I was groping for coffee.

Santa Monica United

Through the pain of injury… through the pain of life… we must seek healing. Prayer heals the spiritual and emotional hurts.

Robert is facing six months of rehabilitation before jumping onto the pitch again for Santa Monica United U16 blue.

torn ACL

After the operation

Excuse the pun, but we live in a fallen world. They get injured — both physically and spiritually. Prayer is a spiritual surgery to reconstruct after the damage is done. Continued prayer is the rehabilitation that brings you back to striking strength.

And coffee? Coffee is good for morning prayer. Otherwise, I would be mumbling incoherent drowsiness instead of caffeine-invigorated, forceful, pressing prayers.

 

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!

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.

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?

Brighten your worldview

  • How to pray?
  • Bible prayers
Guatemala mission

The church I left behind and now is being worked by Pastor Steven Fernandez

Sometimes Christians adhere to Elijah’s perspective: I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too — 1 Kings 19:10 NIV. Our outlook is bleak, and we whine annoyingly at “sinners.”

So what is God’s worldview? God saw all that he had made, and it was very good — Gen. 1:31 NIV. Now, sinners are bad because they’re sinners. But why are Christians downers? Honestly, I don’t blame a lot of sinners for not wanting to convert to Christianity based on what I see in my brothers and sisters. If that’s joy, then who needs it?

church in Guatemala

People are true riches

If we truly believe God wins in the end, then we should have a victorious, joyous attitude always. We should pray with confidence, not with woe.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty — Psm 91:1 KJV. We need to dwell on God and NOT dwell on the bad things that drag us down.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things — Phl. 4:8 NIV.

When you go to prayer, don’t bring your rants. Knowing God will convert the sinner, heal the sick, provide for the needy, turn the tide of evil, pray with this mindset.

Pray for pastors

  • How to pray?
  • Prayers of the Bible
Pastor Steven Fernandez

At left, Pastor Steven Fernandez. His first pastor, George Neos, at right, when he went to visit him.

Pastor Steven Fernandez had just broken the hinge on his car door. He was driving home with it roped up, and the cable for the clutch snapped, leaving him stalled in traffic — late at night, on the dangerous streets of Guatemala City. With some natives helping, he managed to get the Fiat home only to find a screw in one of his tires. Sigh!

Iglesia La Puerta

This is what we live for — and what we go through so much for. Pray for pastors!

Pastor Steven took over the Guatemalan work after I left the country. Unaccustomed to such Third World ailments common on the mission field, he is grappling with things he never experienced in America. Alas, poverty.

Missionaries

Cars are always breaking down for missionaries and pastors.

I remember passing through  these kinds of nightmares. Roofs drip like a waterfall during thunderstorms. Water doesn’t come out of the faucet for weeks at a time. Power outages mean you keep candles handy (I preached through a power outage once holding a candle close to my notes!) Ah! The adventures of being a missionary! All this reminiscing is making me yearn to go back!

Missionaries

Pastor Steven says — correctly — that when the devil’s attacks intensifies, revival is just around the corner.

Amid hand-wringing and nostalgia, one thing is clear: All pastors need our prayers. As church-goers, we forget that pastors are even more in Satan’s gunsights than us. It’s typical for pastors to face hardships of finances, of family and of car breakdowns. We need to sustain them with prayer!

Don’t complain about some ill-spoken word from your pastor (he’s human too!). Pray for him. Pray for revival, for his family, for his checkbook, for his car. Remember what the Bible says: And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. Matt. 10:42 NIV.

If giving a cup of water nets reward, how much more so if you give him a cappuccino pray for him!

National Day of Prayer

National Day of PrayerSanta Monica prides itself as being among the top three anti-Christian cities in California. The others are San Francisco and Hollywood (along with West Hollywood). It is not enough for these cities to ignore Christianity; they feel some sort of moral obligation to hostilely oppose believers.

National Day of Prayer Santa MonicaSo it was here, on Santa Monica’s Civic Auditorium patio that the Christians prayed in this materialistic, this atheistic, this hedonistic city. Christians from all denominations, from all ages prayed. There were lawyers, doctors, firemen, police officers, priests and pastors, military personnel, business owners. Even dogs came and prayed — well, maybe I’m exaggerating.

Puppy love

The praying pugs

Don’t think they were just old folks. Two high schoolers prayed for people struggling with suicide, sexual orientation and bullying. It didn’t stay with safe and dainty topics. It got real.

Mediating lawyer Harrison Sommer, a Jew converted to Christianity, prayed that we would have many National Days of Prayer. Yes. That is what this event was about: twisting the ignition key for many, many, many people to be inspired to pray.

National Day of Prayer 2013To pray for revival, to pray longingly, lovingly. To turn off the cell phone and turn on the prayer phone. To strike up a conversation with Loving Father in Heaven. To seek an answer to the ills that afflict our nation (Boston, Newtown, abortion). To avoid war with North Korea and bring peace to the terrorists. There are no limits to what prayer can affect, no walls that can contain it.

Prayer may have been kicked out of the classroom, but only you can kick it out of your heart — by simply being distracted.

Find inspiration today and every day to pray.

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!

 

 

Plodder’s prayer

  • How to pray?
  • Bible prayers
  • Persevering in prayer
From It's a Beautiful World on Tumblr

From It’s a Beautiful World on Tumblr

I’ve long lamented being a plodder: lack of panache, short on genius, without the glut of talent and personality that some people have.

From Grandmas Dreams

From Grandmas Dreams

Last night I learned the plodder wins the day. The IQ-overflow, overconfident swashbuckler doesn’t want to work. He expects everybody to do everything for him just because their enthralled with his personality. Persistent Igor blindsides him. Whoop!

The plodder goes to prayer. He patiently, persistently, perseveringly goes to God, day after day, not making “vain repetitions,” but continually assailing the throne with desperate needs until the glorious answer materializes. If you’re slogging through the mud, rejoice! The answers coming!

tumblr_m6y94ugees1qgk0bho1_500Everybody loves the heroic moment: David downs Goliath, Elijah makes fire from Heaven, Moses opens the Red Sea. The special effects are exciting. But we must realize that hours, days, weeks, months and years of prayer go into the making of that moment.

While the disciples slept, Jesus prayed. (While Jesus slept, the disciples fretted.)

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: refusing ‘acceptable’ religion

Credit: Washington Post

Credit: Washington Post

Prayer is about breaking bounds set by secularists, who want to limit Christianity to pious crying.

The day after the April 15 Boston bombings, Christians held vigils for the victims, and the worldly applauded. But the dead stayed dead. Mourning didn’t change our country.

Credit:TheTimes

Credit:TheTimes

Trying to constrain Christ to a reduced role of “acceptable” activities is nothing new. When Jesus saw his dead friend Lazarus, he cried. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” — John 11:36 NIV. Crying was acceptable. Raising him from the dead was not. From that day on they plotted to take his life. — John 11:53 NIV. Jesus was taking their thunder.

the-bible-lazarus-tomb

Credit: The Bible Episode 4

It’s impossible for Christ to remain benign. His followers should not cower either. If you only want to lament the demise of this world, wring your hands. But if you want to see Christ transform this world, get in contact with resurrection power now — through prayer.  I am the resurrection and the life, said Jesus (John 11:25 NIV).

Credit: Prayerprayer.net

Credit: Prayerprayer.net

Break out of the limitations they set on you. (They don’t conceive supernatural power.) Work in prayer for miracles!

You would think they would have rejoiced at Lazarus’ resurrection. To the contrary, it made them furious (because it meant their loss of political power). But Jesus didn’t play their game. He used power. And that same power is available to us today.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing prayer vigils and mourning for victims. I would have participated, had I lived in Boston. What I’m saying is that we Christians can’t limit our activities to religious actions devoid of real power. We must pray for our countries, for our cities, for our neighborhoods, for our churches, for our families.

I’m also not talking about being obnoxious. Is there anything worse than a shrill “Christian” scolding the world for its worldliness? No, I’m talking about crying out to God and making impact, not being a self-appointed moral policeman for people who don’t have slightest idea about morality. First, let’s bring people to God, then teach them the way.

The world is eroding. We must resort to prayer.

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.

So why do we pray anyhow?

How to pray? A series on prayers of the Bible.

Prayer is like beauty, nearly impossible to explain but marvelous to experience.

Prayer is like beauty, nearly impossible to explain but marvelous to experience. Photo Tumblr

WHY do we pray? There are two things I must say about this question.

1) For me, there is no satisfactory answer. For years now, I’ve meditated answers from renowned Bible teachers and theologians — and all the answers come up short. I tend to agree with the atheists: if God is omniscient and infinitely benevolent, then why do we need to pray?

stunningflowers2) The second part is critical. The effect of not finding an adequate answer to the question WHY is… disaster: we stop praying. If you ask why too much, you will conclude there ought to be no need for prayer. Regardless of the “soundness” of reasoning, stopping praying is soundly adverse.

241857442458513822_YDtvMSC3_bGod doesn’t bother to explain the WHY of prayer. He simply commands us to pray. And the weight of scriptural evidence implies that certain blessings won’t happen if we don’t pray. I’m not denying God’s unquestioned sovereignty. There’s an uncomfortable tension here that I’m comfortable with. I may never resolve the WHY, but I have decided to never abandon the WHAT*.

Just pray. Don’t look for explanations any more than you would look for an explanation of falling in love. Scientists try to reduce romance to hormones, to evolutionary theory, to getting the best mate in order to pass on genes — oh brother! talk about deficient and boring reasoning. I’ve noticed that atheists don’t stop falling in love just because there’s no adequate explanation.

From Susan's Poetic Blogosphere.

From Susan’s Poetic Blogosphere.

Prayer is falling in love with Jesus. It’s your relationship with Him. It also accomplishes powerful things in the universe. But you don’t get your every whim. You trust God to exercise His discretion. When you align your prayers with the Bible, you can be confident that He will answer (that is faith). When it doesn’t seem like His answer is best, we can trust that He will not defraud us.

*It is my experience in 33 years of Christianity that the theologians who are strong on emphasizing God’s sovereignty, don’t pray. While they are right about His sovereignty, they are wrong to disobey the Bible’s admonition to pray.

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

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!

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.

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.