Tag Archives: prayers in the Bible

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.

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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!

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?

 

 

 

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.

‘All authority’ includes finances

With Gary Case, missionary extraordinaire, when he was on a layover at LAX. He's now in Japan pioneering a church

With Gary Case, missionary extraordinaire, when he was on a layover at LAX. He’s now in Japan pioneering a church

When you spearhead a ministry, the devil will resist you even with the rent. As a missionary paying a mortgage with a small church, I prayed a lot for finances. I discovered reading the Bible some incredible verses to pray. Here’s one:

Pastor Ralph and Brenda Bowen planted three churches in Africa during 20 years.

Pastor Ralph and Brenda Bowen planted three churches in Africa during 20 years.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, resurrected Jesus said in Matt 28:18. Typically, we Christians think of His authority over demons, over sin, over sickness, etc. We forget that “all” includes finances. He has authority to send finances.

My purpose, unlike so many other American Christian pastors, is NOT for you to pray for luxury. It is for you to NOT quit ministry because finances are

fellowship after church

fellowship after church

scarce. Don’t close the doors to your church just because you’re on a shoe-string budget. Instead, keep performing fruitful ministry and simply pray for God’s provision.

It seems people in America get twisted about praying for finances. Some think God doesn’t attend such matters. Others think it’s wrong. (Well, yes, greed is sin.) But when you have lived the day-to-day anxiety of will-we-make-it?, then you understand how praying for finances brings more than just peace of mind. It brings answers.

Famine? It’s YOUR moment

from I am Yoga

from I am Yoga

 

Don’t worry about the famine. It’s your chance to shine.

Joseph was rotting in the jail. If it weren’t for the famine, he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to show his strengths before Pharaoh.

If you are passing through a time of famine in your life,

  • don’t quit your strengths
  • don’t despair and give up
  • don’t give in to hopelessness
  • don’t lose patience
  • don’t stop believing in God and in yourself

Joseph was wrongly sold into slavery (by his brothers!?!!). Then he was falsely accused and thrown in jail. But he kept a good attitude and worked hard. As a slave, he was put in charge of all Potiphar’s household. As a jailbird, he made administrator of the prison.

150px-Sandboarding_in_DubaiSo when God sprung him, he was named vice president of all of Egypt. He kept his relationship vibrant with God and was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. In his new post, Joseph prepared the nation for a coming 7-year famine that catapulted Egypt into world dominance and paved the way for the launching of the nation of Israel (with Egypt as its incubator).

What Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God turned into good. Joseph instructed his brothers to not be overly angry at themselves for having sold him into slavery: God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance — Gen. 45:7 NIV.

An inside job

For a change, I'm actually posting a photo I took. This is Santa Monica's beach. Sorry. I don't mean to make my friends in the Northern States and Canada jealous.

For a change, I’m actually posting a photo I took. This is Santa Monica’s beach. Sorry. I don’t mean to make my friends in the Northern states and Canada jealous.

The motorcycles caught us 5 miles away from the bank. As one of four guys banged the window with a pistol demanding our bags, I had no doubt that it was the bank teller who tipped them off. He had changed our check to cash. Because all our information was in our bags, I figured they’d come back for a kidnapping, so we had to return to America, our 16 years as missionaries in Guatemala at an end.

My 10-year-old son, Hosea, calls this the Leaning Tower of Pizza. I bought these for the Lighthouse Christian Academy's sports banquet yesterday. Go Saints!

My 10-year-old son, Hosea, calls this the Leaning Tower of Pizza. I bought these for the Lighthouse Christian Academy’s sports banquet yesterday. Go Saints!

God does an inside job too! Don’t bother to make external changes in yourself — they lead to (false) religiosity. Instead, surrender to His Holy Spirit in prayer daily, and let God transform you from the inside. Once you are saved, you are forgiven, you are new creation, but then God begins a work of perfecting you that will continue for the rest of your life. But it’s on the inside.

Pastor Ludving from Guatemala sent me this T-shirt. Translated: Everyday I wake up handsome, but today I'm off the charts. Thanks for the joke, Pastor Ludving!

Pastor Ludving from Guatemala sent me this T-shirt. Translated: Everyday I wake up handsome, but today I’m off the charts. Thanks for the joke, Pastor Ludving!

In regards to prayer, remember:

  • A little bit is better than none, but God wants to work on us daily, so pray daily.
  • A little bit more will increment value and power to prayer.
  • The best prayers are ones inspired by the Bible or simply taken from the Bible. Jesus dismisses “vain repetitions” — mumbling by rote words penned by another. But there is much to learn and apply from the experts, the Bible heroes.
  • The Big D (that’s Devil) constantly bombards you with thoughts that prayer is useless, a waste of time, meaningless, etc. He does this because he knows how effective it is.
  • As you pray for others, God also is transforming you — from the inside out.
  • Enjoy prayer! Think of it as a romantic date. You are spending time with your Lover, God.

Unpaid here

with my family

with my family

I became an actor briefly. It seemed like the logical thing to do to avoid the stigma of “unemployed.” Besides, this is LA — 60% of the people are actors, which means “unemployed.” I never took acting classes; I just declared myself an actor (it’s cheaper that way), and I no longer felt obligated to provide explanations for joblessness.

I'm hamming it up again.

I’m hamming it up again.

But soon I realized my folly. After all, I was a writer before I became an actor. About writers, let me say it is totally redundant and unnecessary to place the adjective “aspiring” in front of the word “writer.” Being a writer is another acceptable way of calling yourself “unemployed.”

with a Chinese friend. Man, is he serious!

with a Chinese friend. Man, is he serious!

Then too, I’m a prayer warrior. Boy, I keep chalking up the unremunerated professions, don’t I? At least here on Earth, it’s hard to get paid to pray.

Of course, in Heaven, it’s paid handsomely. Most people just don’t have the patience to defer their gratification that far into the future. (On second thought, given the brevity of life, maybe it’s not that long to wait for after all.)

It’s a four-letter word

If you lose millions of dollars, you can get it back. If you lose your health, you can get it back. You can get back just about most anything. But the one thing you can never get back is t-i-m-e.

Many things we think are a “waste of time” are not. Those things we hold to be a best use of time, actually are a waste. Time will run out into the ocean of eternity one day and will stop marching forward. On that day, you and I will be in either Heaven or Hell. What we do here on earth in favor of eternity is the best use of time.

Have you hugged your family yet? Have you hugged God in prayer today?

We couldn’t enjoy the remodeling

ATT001935No sooner had we remodeled our home in Guatemala than we fled to America. A run-in with criminals forced us to leave. The trauma of the robbery at gunpoint took the foreground; the irony of our “lost investment” sat in the background.

ATT001997The stylized ceiling and modernized kitchen seemed like a good investment. We had lived in Guatemala for 15 years and did not foresee leaving our beloved missionary life. The threat of kidnapping changed that abruptly. The money already spent proved pointless.

Pointless.

Our stay in Guatemala was NOT permanent. It was temporary. So too our life here on Earth is short. ATT0020810Moses called his son Gershom, which means foreigner, because he felt like he didn’t belong in Midian. Peter says we’re only sojourners here on the globe. Our true home is Heaven.

What we invest for ATT0021412pleasure here is… well, it kind of seems pointless.

Was that what God was telling me? Whatever you do for eternity — even if it’s only five minutes of prayer today because that’s the best you can do — stands forever. We are here only briefly, so if all your effort is focused for this earth, try to enjoy these fleeting moments as much as possible. My recommendation: Work for eternity.

Vying for attention

350-woman-smiling-computerSEOs battle to rank for Google’s first page. You have to jump through hoops to discover the inscrutable indices of Google’s bots to get a 3, 4, or 5 that can land you on the first page of search. After months of ingenuity and sweat, you may get it. All this for the attention of the consumer.

To get God’s attention is much easier. As a matter of fact, you’re his page-one top hit. It doesn’t require months, nor weeks, nor days. Not even hours. Just 30 seconds of prayer

You have His undivided attention de facto.

You have His undivided attention de facto.

is enough to have His undivided attention. In the Kingdom of God, everyone ranks a 10 because God is omniscient — He knows everything all at the same time.

Actually, it is God who is vying for your attention. He’s doing everything in His power, but you rank Him waaaaay down on search page 157 — or lower. Stop playing hard-to-get, and let God rise in your ranking of things clamoring for your attention.

As soon as you pray, you’ll pop up on His screen. Sooner.

Like a motorcycle gang

outlawsRiddle: What’s small but huge?

Answer: prayer.

It is so small that even a child can do it — without much effort. It’s so huge because tectonic plates are moved in the Heavenlies, which we habitually underestimate.

mischief3n-4-webIt’s huge because we make a big stink about how hard it is, like it requires soooooo much effort.

Well, it does require a lot of effort, but not because it’s like looking for the Higgs boson. What’s hard is to push out the raucous crowd of activities that clamor for our attention. For some people, 15 minutes of prayer seems like an eeee-t-e-r-n-i-t-y. For me, it is hard to find over an hour.

Nevertheless, when I do pray, I always savor it, I always marvel at the results.

prayeronbeachI swear I’ll never give it up. But then the next day the disgusting boisterous crowd of leather-clad activities roars in on Harley Davidsons and refuses to be dislodged. Can somebody come over here and clear these ornery thugs out? I need to pray.