Try It _ You’ll Like It!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

You wake up in the morning and the thoughts from yesterday’s events bring worry or stress. You think about the day ahead of you and fear or tension fills your heart. Your concern over family members or other relationships begins to weigh down your day before it ever really gets going. Many of us look at such situations as just normal life. But there is a warfare aspect to these thoughts. God’s Word teaches us that He wants us to lay aside fear _ that worry and anxiety are to be given over to Him. He wants to set us free from these thoughts that damage our lives. If God wants us free from such thoughts, you can count on the fact that the devil wants us to wallow in these fears. The Christian that spends his or her time worrying or in fear is a Christian who is being made ineffective in kingdom matters. When the enemy can manipulate our thoughts away from trusting God, he has won a victory.

However, the Christian that does what 1 Peter 5:7 says will find victory over fear and worry and anxiety. What does it say? Cast all your anxiety on him.” And why does that work? “Because He cares for you.” It’s just that simple. So give it a try.

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Come LORD Jesus!

This coming Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is a huge part of the gospel message. Jesus was born _ He lived among us _ He was crucified and died _ He was buried _ and three days later He arose _ then He ascended back to His heavenly home to prepare a place for those that believe and obey Him. The message of the earliest church centered on the resurrection, but we barely give it a day. Church, without the resurrection we have no hope for eternal life. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we await something the Bible simply calls The Day.

Concerning The Day, after Jesus ascended the Apostle John had this Jesus’ quote and then a short prayer as the Revelation of Jesus closes… “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

I like the take on this verse from A Christ Awakening and the Movement of Prayer by David Bryant. “All the prayers of all God’s people for all the ages can be boiled down to one word. That word is “Come.” What is that prayer asking to happen? When John says, “Come” at the end of the Book of Revelation, having seen the consummation of all history, having seen the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of the anointed King upon His throne, John is saying, “Come, Lord Jesus! I want to see You reveal Your supremacy to that degree and no less, so there will be an awakening to You that saturates this entire universe, that scatters all the darkness, destroys all the enemy and quickens all the saints forever!” That’s how the Bible ends – with a one-word prayer for a Christ awakening! Should not such a passion for His glory possess the modern-day prayer movement, and all of us who seek God for genuine revival among the nations?”

Father, we desire _ we long to see You!  Give us a continual passion to see You move in our lives, in our nation, and throughout the world until You come! 

Beware the List

Beware of things that can trip you up as you pray. Sometimes when the Lord shows us a specific way to pray for a situation, we write it down in the hope that it may be helpful to others, but it becomes a formula. We don’t mean for it to happen, but once it’s on paper it takes on a life of its own. The prayer or symbolism or method becomes the focus, rather than God. Remember that God told Moses to strike the rock the first time and speak to it the second time, but he didn’t follow God’s instructions.  So, keep your focus on both what God wants and His timing.

Even the schedules that are so helpful to us in the beginning as we learn to spend time in prayer (now I praise, now I repent, now I ask, etc.). These are good things, but they can become not only the means but the end with little thought to what is on HIS heart today, so be careful.  Let Him form the words _ let Him be your focus! Like young Samuel we must learn to recognize His voice and then pray and do accordingly.

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).

Prayer Can Do Anything God Can Do!

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

E.M. Bounds once said, “Prayer can do anything God can do.” That’s true because the only power in prayer is the power of God. What’s more, prayer can reach anywhere God can reach. And God is everywhere, so his power can reach to every corner of the earth through our prayers.

Two words in the above verses emphasize the broad scope of prayer: “everyone” and “all”. Because God wants all people “to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth,” he urges us to pray for everyone.

Ole Hallesby in his classic book Prayer grasps the heart of Paul’s writing: “It is our Lord’s will that we who have received access to these powers through prayer should go through this world transmitting heavenly power to every corner of the world that so greatly needs it. Our lives should be steadily flowing streams of blessing, which through our prayers and intercessions should reach our the “everyone” and “all” that Paul wrote about in 1 Timothy 2.”

Though God would have us pray broad intercessory prayers, our prayer responsibilities start close to home. Our first responsibility is for immediate family members, then relatives and friends, then the spiritual family in which God has placed us, and then beyond that to our neighbors, community, nation, and world.

If our prayers focus only on those who are nearby, we have not caught the scope of what God intends through prayer. If they focus mainly on those far away, we may be guilty of failing to provide for our immediate families that leads to denying the faith (1 Timothy 5:4, 8).

Imagine your prayers transmitting heavenly power and blessing to people in every corner of the world. Think of some of those people and places. Now imagine persons experiencing the joy of being saved and coming to a knowledge of the truth as a result of your prayers. Thank God for allowing you this amazing privilege to join him in his work both near and far.

Getting Things Ready

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Have you ever had times when it seemed the Lord was not hearing your prayers? Did you discover that you had unconfessed sin in your life during that time? Before coming to the Lord with our petitions and intercession, it is crucial to examine our hearts before Him to “see if there be any wicked way” (Psalm 139) in ourselves. Confess all known sin to God before entering into prayer. Ask Him to reveal any sins that you haven’t been aware of. Then, you can confess these sins, and repentantly ask the Lord for His forgiveness. Perhaps the most godly prayer of repentance is simply, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:14)!

Then you are ready to pray by expressing your praise to God as the compassionate Father (Psalm 103:13). Thank him for desiring only good things for his children, including you (Luke. 11:11-13). Confess those times when you have not wanted what God wanted for you or others. Commit yourself to seeking first God’s desire—his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Ask God to “fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9).

Tough Love

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45a).

God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to die. And Jesus demonstrated that love when before leaving the earth He prayed for those who were responsible for His death. Jesus, who told us to love and pray for our enemies, demonstrated the ultimate gift of love while hanging on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34a). Since Jesus prayed for His enemies…how can we do less?

In our flesh, we naturally want to retaliate or fight back when we are treated unkindly or persecuted. But one of the most amazing commands of Christ is to love our enemies.  Jesus preached forgiveness and mercy: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). His lifestyle demonstrated grace, that ours might also and He took His command one step further, adding another level of difficulty: “Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44b).

Jude also spoke about the importance of mercy: “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them…” (Jude 1:22). Because of God’s mercy, we were saved. We must extend His mercy to those who are still enemies of God, so that they might also receive what we have been given.

Yes, Jesus had enemies…and they crucified Him. Yet, as we know, He had the ultimate victory in the end. So… “I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Pray for Your Leaders

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Paul, in his command to intercede in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 focuses our prayers especially on leaders. They have great responsibility and because of that face even greater attacks from the enemy. Satan has limited forces and focuses his attacks on those in leadership, whether it is among nations, or in the Church. If the Enemy can take down a leader, many other people are usually badly damaged. So, Paul tells us, “pray…for all those in authority.”

Are you praying for your pastor? Your church leaders? Your national leaders? This is a command from Scripture. It doesn’t command us to agree with them…but to pray for them. Those who move into leadership, whether in a nation or in a church, often face great criticism. This should not come from Christians. We are those who are committed to following Jesus, the great Intercessor. May every word we speak, especially in our prayers, identify us as followers of Christ.