Tag Archives: prayers of the Bible

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

But first you must invest

goal_1690382aLike other mortals, I was stunned by Barcelona’s 4-0 snuffing of AC Milan to blaze with canons firing into Champions League quarter finals.

d1cf09c4846b44ae9efbcf1b1e9ce6bb-e5cac050bd644db6b32f1d3af7fa3e1c-8With confounding feet, Leonel Messi fired out of a throng of Milan defenders high into left corner at minute 5, leaving Goalie Christian Abbiati looking like a tree planted in the ground, his vision blocked by his own defenders.

article-2292371-189C5EF3000005DC-744_634x414Just before the half, Messi again caught Abbiati wrong-footed with a low torpedo through defender’s legs that sank Italian hearts. A third curling goal from David Villa marked victory, and a lung-bursting sprint from Jordi Alba, picking up a cross from Dani Alves, made it four.

201303121615585444821-p2The Barcelona Symphony, directed by Messi, played a command performance, overcoming a 2-0 deficit on the away game — a feat never before seen in the Champions League.

With brimming reason, Messi has been named an unprecedented four times best world player. But first, Barcelona had to invest in him.

messi-began-playing-soccer-at-the-age-of-fiveAt 11 years of age, the Argentine showed early promise but suffered from growth hormone deficiency. His dad, a poor steelworker, could not afford it. The legendary Argentine team River Plate recruited Messi but balked at the $900/month treatment.

article-1382260-0BCCEDFD00000578-821_634x516Investment-risking on a potential starlet, FC Barcelona forked over for his treatment and moved him to Spain, where he rose through the ranks of their youth academy.

With consistent admiration from coaches, players and commentators around the world, Messi is perched atop the pyramid of soccer prowess. Any team would love to contract him. They would be willing to pay multiple millions of dollars. But Messi remains loyal to the Catalan kings because he’s grateful: when he was needy, they were there for him.

First you must invest to reap a harvest of blessing. Invest your most precious commodity: time. Pray.

The extraordinary in the ordinary

beechwoodcross.blogspot.comjpg

from beechwoodcross.blogspot.com

Jesus and Peter had to pay the temple tax but had no money. So Jesus sends Peter back to his old vocation, fishing. Go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours — Matt. 17:27 NIV.

stock-illustration-10637597-coin-in-the-fish-mouthIf you are in His will, God will provide for your need. Prayer means getting the supernatural into the natural. If you’re working, you won’t have to change your routine, just request the dosage of God’s blessing upon your natural labors.

They call this miracle money, and after 33 years of being a Christian, I have seen God answer like this over and over, in my own life and others. It especially happened when I pastored in Guatemala, particularly when we bought a property and had huge mortgage payments.

define-necessityDon’t buy a lottery ticket. Just pray and believe. The extraordinary (miracle money) came out of the ordinary work (fishing), but it was blessed by God. Prayer is actively seeking that blessing.