Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

How Are You Going To Pray In 2016?

December 1, 2015 3 comments

How is your prayer life?

I don’t have any hard evidence, but based on circumstantial evidence I think most of us have weak prayer lives. Oh sure, when things get tough we pray, but when things are good we quickly forget to pray.

Needless to say, I struggle in my prayer life and I’m guessing most of you do too. So what do we do to make our prayer lives strong?

First, we have to set aside time to pray. Sure, we need to pray at any time, but we also need to have structured time to pray. 

Next, we need some structure for our prayer lives. You might want to determine the areas of your life that you want to pray for. For example, I have divided life into seven areas such as family, financial, spiritual, career and so forth. These areas are broad enough to be be subdivided and envelope everything and everyone you need to pray for.

Finally, you need to just pray. You have to start. It won’t feel natural at first. Nothing usually does. You’re talking with the Creator of the universe. It’s a relationship. It will grow the more time you spend I prayer.

I hope your prayer life is strong now. I hope it’s even stronger in 2016.

How is your prayer life?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags:

How To Hear God Speak Today

October 30, 2015 Leave a comment

Sequels are part of Hollywood.  One the things studios try to do is to create a franchise where further adventures of their characters can be told.  Marvel, of course, has mastered this where each movie is a sequel, of sorts, of each movie that came before it.

Today’s post is a sequel.  I reread yesterday’s post about Moses and realized that I left one point out.  This was rather fortunate, guided perhaps by the Hand of Providence, as it really didn’t fit with what was discussed.

Just to recap, if you didn’t read yesterday, Moses ran into an issue where he was wearing himself out. Jethro, his father-in-law, helped him out and gave him a plan.  This benefited Moses and Israel as they moved forward.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read that story, but I have missed something that had been staring at me each time.  I just happened to get it this time.

We’re used to God speaking to Moses in a burning bush.  We are amazed that God delivered the Law to Moses on top of Mount Sinai.  God would meet and speak to Moses in such a way that he had to wear a veil on his face.

Did you notice what happened here though?

Moses faced this problem and God didn’t give him the solution.  At least He didn’t speak to Moses directly.

Instead, Jethro gave Moses a plan, a system and direction.  The Lord didn’t seem to have anything to do with it.

Or did He?

We sometimes wait for the Lord expecting a bolt of lightning or pictures in the sky or something.  We seem to think that the Hand of God will appear and write out what we should do step by step.  It just doesn’t really work that way.

So, how do we hear from God?  Let me list out a few ways that we might hear from God today.

The Bible.  Seems like an obvious one, doesn’t it?  Yet too many of us seek Him every which way but loose instead of turning to His preserved word.  I’m not saying that strep by step direction for every decision in life will come from the Bible, but we would be amazed at how many steps of life could be found if we just took the time to read.

The Church.  I don’t mean simply by going to church, though that’s not a bad thing.  I mean the you might hear from the Lord through His Church.  I hope we all agree that the Church is Christ’s Body.  We probably agree if we read the Bible (see above).  Doesn’t it make sense that He might communicate to us through said Body?

Circumstances.  God may try to get your attention through what goes on around you or, sometimes, to you.  All of us would want these events to be happy and joyful, but that’s simply not what happens every time.  Sometimes bad things do happen to good people.  Or around good people.  Awareness of what’s happening may clue us in to what God is trying to say to us.

How about prayer?  Let’s get one thing straight about prayer.  It isn’t simply creating a grocery list of wants to present to God.  Prayer is a time of worship, where we can adore God, thank Him, listen to Him and, yes, make requests of Him.

Remember what I said yesterday about taking an audit of our lives?  Seeking out specific guidance is sometimes necessary.  And yes, I believe that God can speak through the guides in our lives.

The last thing I will say about any of these is to be cautious.  Sometimes w can hear God’s voice tell us something because we want to hear it.  We want God to give us the direction we want to go.  Before I decided for sure that God was speaking to me, I would test each of these ways for signs that God is speaking.

Are we going to hear God speak in an audible voice?  Not based on my experience.  Will every time we think we hear God be His voice?  I don’t think so.  But this is one thing I know.  The more I hear Him speak, the more I recognize His voice and know when He speaks to me.

How do you hear God speak to you?

Categories: Christianity, Church, Faith Tags: , , ,

Is Prayer Your Default?

April 1, 2015 2 comments

Something happened the other day.  It doesn’t matter what it was.  It was just a major crisis in someone’s life.

I found myself running on the treadmill.  I didn’t know what else to do.  Well, except for one other thing.

Pray.

*****

So often, too often, I don’t.  Pray that is.  I find myself trying to fix something myself.  All by myself.  I act as though I have all the power in the world.

I act as though it is me who is God.

*****

My default isn’t prayer.  My default is the furthest thing from prayer.  What is even worse is that I don’t even think to pray.  I just dive in headfirst, rushing into life with no thought of trusting the Lord.

Shame on me.

Do you default to prayer during tough times?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags:

Paul’s Call For Obedience, Hospitality And Prayer

October 19, 2014 Leave a comment

We are nearing the end of Paul’s letter to Philemon.  It’s the beginning of his ending, but there is plenty for us to learn from.

Confident of your obedience, I write to you knowing that you will do even more than I say.  You might recall that previously Paul had mentioned that although he was confident enough in the Lord to order Philemon to take Onesimus back, instead he appealed to him.  So what sort of obedience could Paul be talking about here?  Obviously it is obedience to the Lord.  If Philemon is truly going to follow Christ, then he would welcome Onesimus back with open arms as more than a slave, but a brother in Christ.

At the same time, prepare a guest room for me.  Paul is telling Philemon he’s coming.  He has never been to Colosae itself, so he wants to visit as soon as he is released from his prison.   He wants to reunite with his brother, Philemon.  He wants to reunite with Onesimus.  He wants to see the result of his letter first hand.

For  I am hoping that through your prayer I will be graciously given to you.  How is Paul going to be released from prison?  The Lord is going to do it, of course.  The means, though, that the Lord has to do it includes prayer.  Paul is asking for Philemon and the entire Colossian church to pray for his release.

Takeaways:

1.  Obeying the Lord means doing the right thing in situations, even when it flies in the face of societal norms.

2.  We should all be prepared to practice hospitality when needed.

3.  Prayer is the most powerful instrument the Lord has given us.

Paul’s Prayer For Philemon

September 28, 2014 1 comment

Today we continue our look at Paul’s letter to Philemon.  As we found out last week, Paul is writing this letter to Philemon because he has someone he will be sending back to him.  Philemon is an old friend and brother of Paul’s.  He is valuable and he loves him.  Now, he is expecting something big out of Philemon.  He is asking him to go against what the world would expect him to do and values.  Before he gets into that, though, Paul continues extremely personal comments regarding his relationship with Philemon.

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints.  Paul is thankful for Philemon.  Philemon is not just someone who Paul led to the Lord and then forgot about when he moved on.  No, he has kept tabs on him throughout the years.  He prays for Philemon often.  Paul thanks the Lord because Philemon demonstrates the love that flows out of truly being transformed into a new creature by Christ.  Philemon loves those who have come to know Christ.

Paul is also thankful because of Philemon’s faith.  He is hearing about this from others.  This doesn’t sound like a big deal in our modern day world of social media, texting and cell phones, but think about this in Paul’s context.  The only way for him to hear about this is by letter or personal contact.  Both take time in Paul’s day.  Philemon’s faith in Christ is at such a level that other’s write to Paul or travel  to see him and tell him about it.

And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.  One specific thing that Paul prays for Philemon is for the results of his sharing of the faith.  Philemon, evidently, is  not ashamed of the Gospel.  He is willing to risk his life and standing to tell others about Christ.  Paul prays that Philemon’s efforts will be effective and result in the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of the Gospel.  In other words, he hopes that Philemon’s sharing results in others coming to know Christ.  How often do we pray that others will share their faith effectively?

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.  It must have been stressful when Paul left some churches and areas.  He left leaving those churches under the direction of someone other than himself.  Based on some of his letters, he might have been right in being stressed.  When he heard about what was going on in Philemon’s home church, he didn’t feel any anxiety.  Instead, he found joy and comfort.  Why?  Because of Philemon’s love.  Philemon loved the church.  He loved them so much that he had an effect on their lived.  They were refreshed by him.  We have all probably been affected similarly in our own churches.  A great question to ask ourselves is if we are affecting others in this way.

Philemon, we find is a man who has a great faith in Christ and loves others, especially the Church.  He shares his faith consistently and brings joy to Paul because of the results of his life.  He is definitely a man who produced a great testimony by the life he lived.

What are out takeaways?

1.  We are going to affect others we come in contact with one way or another.  It will either be positive for the Lord or it will be negative.  We should work on making it positive.

2.  Sharing our faith should be a natural part of our lives.  One of the prayers we pray is for others in their sharing of their faith.

3.  We should seek to live a life that refreshes those around us.  We are going to either refresh or drain those we come into contact with.  It’s much more fun to refresh.

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , , ,

How To Live Like Jabez

September 17, 2014 7 comments

We have all probably heard about Jabez.  At least those of us who live in the church world do.  Many others do too since the book, The Prayer Of Jabez, was popular a dozen years ago or so.

While many of us might debate the theology of that little book so many of us read, we can learn some basic things about how to live a godly life from Jabez.  Let’s take a look.

First, Jabez was honorable.  More honorable than his brothers.  We don’t know what his brothers were like.  We don’t know if they were just normal honorable or not honorable at all.  Whatever level of honor they held, Jabez took it to another one.  I tend to think Jabez’s honor was out the roof.  If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have this little section of scripture detailing his life.

Next, Jabez had a handicap that he overcame.  His mother said he was a pain.  She bore him with pain.  The pain was so bad that she passed it along with him.  How would you like to go around telling everyone that you are a pain?  Many of us do through our actions.  Jabez did every time he introduced himself to someone.

Jabez wasn’t afraid to ask God to bless him.  So many of us won’t go to the Lord with things that we want or need, thinking they are too small to bother God with.  Instead, God welcomes this and Jabez rises to the challenge.  He doesn’t shortchange his prayer.  He asks God to bless him.  When have you simply asked God to bless you?

Jabez has an expansionist mindset.  Many think that what they have been given is enough.  They focus inward and don’t try to grow what the Lord has blessed them with.  Too many are like the guy who hid his talent, not taking a risk so as not to lose what truly belongs to God.  Instead, Jabez is like those who grow their talents.  He is looking outward, seeking for the Lord to expand his territory.

Jabez then invites God to be involved in his life.  He asks that God’s hand be with him.  He wants the Lord to guide his steps and lead his life.  He wants God’s strength to be his strength.  He doesn’t expect God to just show up.  He opens the door for Him prior to His arrival.

Finally, Jabez seeks a healthy life from the Lord.  We know from reading Job that this doesn’t always happen.  God could allow something to happen in life in  order to grow us.  What Jabez shows us is that, despite all of this, that we should go to the Lord and seek a healthy life.

I don’t think we should pray this prayer over and over in the hopes that we will be blessed like Jabez.  Instead, this prayer should be more of an attitude and philosophy of life.  We should attack life like Jabez did, seeking God to be involved in every aspect of our lives.

Have you ever read The Prayer of Jabez?  What have you learned from this little prayer tucked away in the Bible?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: ,

God Is Great, But Is He Good?

June 12, 2014 2 comments

Most of us have probably prayed during out lifetimes.  More than likely, we learned to pray from our parents at mealtimes as we grew up.  Our prayers probably went this way:

Prayer2

God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.

The question that I asked myself for years was not whether God was great.  The question I asked was whether God was good.

*****

When I was twelve years old my world changed.  I woke up one morning and my mom was sick.  Life was never the same for me again.  That event haunted me for years.  I let it affect every event and relationship of which I was a part.  There is still rarely a day that I do not think of this day in February, 1981.

So, when the question comes up, how do I answer it?  Is God good?

Yes.

I went through some tough times as a kid.  But those are not the standard for good.

Wars and death and disease?  Not those either.  Those are just the results of turning away form the God who is created the world and declared it good because He is good.

God is good because He is good.

What do you think makes God good?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , , ,