Archives For Prayer

Prayer-The Puzzle Of Purpose

February 11, 2014 — 2 Comments

Prayer

Prayer is the framework that God uses to work His puzzle of purpose through our lives.

I have fond memories of my Grandmother. I loved staying  weekends at her home when I was growing up. I would be dropped off at her place on Friday evenings for the weekend. Saturday mornings were always the best. The smell of pancakes would draw me from the bed to kick off the day. I can still smell those pancakes with the nose in the memory of my mind. Another fond memory was working on puzzles with her. She often had a new puzzle waiting on her, and I to work on.

Puzzles are simple in concept but big on journey. A puzzle is an image that has been completed on a sturdy backing and then punched out with a press into random pieces that must be put back together. You open the box and pour out the content pieces and set the picture to the side for reference. You work to put the puzzle back to the original picture.

In John 4, Jesus said that His food was to do the will of Him that sent him and to accomplish that work. In other words, it’s as if Jesus were saying, “My life is His work and His work is my life. Jesus was sent to redeem humanity and the world that was once a picture called, “Good” in the garden but now broken and in need of being put back together. He was sent to bring the future picture of Revelation 21 to completion and we too are a part of that puzzle of purpose.

Jesus prayed. He prayed daily, and that connection with the Father brought power and direction into His life in order to put each piece of the puzzle that He was called to work, back into place. Our lives as Christ-followers are the same. We too must be people of the puzzle. Prayer is the framework God uses to work His puzzle of purpose through our lives.

We don’t untimely pray to gain favor with God. I’m favored in Him when I have plenty and when I have nothing. He is enough all on His own in my life and yours. We pray to reflex God to the world and to bring justice, peace and Righteousness into the broken puzzle of this world. Prayer is meaningful because it brings the message and mission of God into your life and into the world.

It’s been said, ““One way to ensure we keep God in our lives is to keep him in our days.” We do that by prayer. The Lord’s Prayer, or better yet-the disciple’s prayer is a great framework to keep God in our days and thus reflect Him to this world. The first part of the prayer starts with God and rightfully so to keep us from collapsing into self-centeredness. Take a look at the prayer with me.

Matthew 6:9-16 (ESV)
9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

We are called together corporately as a family in the address, “Our Father.” Yes, we pray as individuals but as a family also. We are able to pray because He is, “hallowed” in our lives and prayers. He is set, not to the side but in the center of our lives. Our call to prayer is more of an invitation than a command. We are being asked to step into the heart of Jesus, and when we do, all self-centeredness must not enter.

10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

We must become the answer to this prayer. Every time we exert the kingdom of heaven in this world God’s will (purpose) is felt by the world and another section of the puzzle is put into place.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,

The Lord meets daily provision of our needs. When we pray verse eleven we are developing an awareness of dependence.

12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

We owe a debt to God, and the good news is we don’t have to pay. The payment was paid on the cross. We must accept the forgiveness and walk in that forgives toward others. Another section of the puzzle gets placed into the world.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

We are reminded with full awareness of the battle that we fight but when we watch and pray we find that God is greater in us than all that is in the world. N.T. Wright reminds us, “If we follow a crucified Messiah, we shouldn’t expect to be spared the darkness ourselves. But we must, and may, pray to be kept from its worst ravages, and to be delivered from evil, both in the abstract and in its personified form, ‘the evil one’.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness is the greatest part of the puzzle. We are people of the future sent to bring forgiveness to a world shattered.

Pray through this prayer today and it will become the framework that God uses to work His puzzle of purpose through your life.

EmptyhandsImage Credit

Is it just me or is there anyone else that worries about not worrying about what God may or may not do? When I’m under pressure, I tend to overlook for answers in my own strength.

At times,  it manifest in running every scenario that could happen, or should happen to the point I can’t even sleep well at night. Time and time again living my faith in this manner proves to be a big waste of…well…FAITH.

After all the time wasted searching in my own power, I always end up with nothing! Then it happens. God reminds me that I can’t do anything with NOTHING but He can do anything and everything with NOTHING.

Suddenly, deep in my heart I can feel a groaning of the Spirit of God praying for me the perfect will of God and then it happens; peace consumes me. Sometimes, when you stop looking, and you stop trying to figure it all out, God moves for His glory in your life.

The searcher of hearts is always looking and listening for the groaning of the Spirit inside our hearts. God is always having conversations and communion in our hearts. When there are no more words to pray, the Spirit of God intercedes with groanings at the intersection of ruin and misery within the Christ Follower.

You must share in God’s sufferings to share in His glory. However, suffering when complete gives way to a beautiful witness of His glory and that is enough. God uses suffering, emptiness and troubled times of unanswered prayers to build His character in us, conforming us to Christ, and prepare us for final glory when heaven and earth become one.

You might not get what you thought you needed, but you will get what brings Him the most glory. Sometimes it takes getting nothing to get everything.

Romans 8:26-30 (NKJV)
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for uswith groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

unbelief

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Now that’s my kind of prayer! It’s my kind of prayer, and I venture to bet it’s your kind of prayer from time to time also. It’s not a faithless prayer. It’s a prayer that is mixed with trust and yet a hint of despair.

Despair is often the unwanted guest of an ongoing crisis. Despair somehow slips into our temple and pokes around causing us to doubt things will ever change.  Such is the case of the man in Mark 9.

His son is a demon-possessed, and he brings his son to the disciples of Jesus for deliverance. His steps of faith toward the men of God have ended in complete failure.  The disciples are not able to help his son.

The voice of despair grows stronger in his heart. He thinks to himself, “What now?” Suddenly, Jesus takes center stage. Jesus asks a few questions, and the man asks Jesus to do something. “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I love the response of Jesus, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believers.”

Then we see the broken beauty of the moment. A man of flesh and blood has faith and yet unbelief mixed in his heart, but Jesus answers his prayer anyway. With tears, the father cries out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” It’s a prayer that bottles the request to remove the despair and fill up what is lacking in his trust.

He has seen the failure of the disciples, and it has only increased his  sense of despair and now what faith he has left seems to be quickly draining away. However, whereas the disciple didn’t have enough faith to accomplish the request, Jesus has unlimited power.

Jesus helps his unbelief and the miracle happens. Sometimes the greatest faith move you can make is to give your unbelief to Him in faith! The cries of this man’s heart have resonated with many that fight the same battle across the sands of time. He prays for relief just as he is, a doubter that needs a touch from God. Never forget; you can do the same.

Can God Be Astonished?

April 24, 2013 — 5 Comments

wow

Would you like to have the kind of faith that astonishes God? Is it even possible to have astonishing faith? After all, God who created all things, include you and me, would be hard to astonish I would imagine.

Getting a prayer of faith answered by God isn’t what validates astonishing faith. Astonishing faith is validated when God see’s the belief of your heart that He can do anything. In other words, you completely believe God can do.

In Luke 7:1-10 the Bible tells the story of the healing of the Centurion’s servant. The Centurion has a servant who was sick, and he loved and cared for his servant greatly. Understanding how authority worked, due to his military career, he called for Jesus to heal his servant with perfect confidence.

He sends some Jewish elders to ask Jesus to rescue his servant from death. When they approach Jesus, they begged him eagerly. At this point,  there is no indication of astonishment by Jesus.  They are asking for Him to do something, but faith doesn’t seem to be the motive they are using to move Him to answer.

Instead, they appeal to what the Centurion has done for the Jewish people. It almost like they are using the old appeal and thought of, “He has done good things for us; would you now return the favor and answer his prayer?”

Regardless, Jesus goes with them anyway. As He nears the house, the centurion sent friends to meet Jesus and give Him another message. The message was, “Master, don’t trouble yourself. I don’t deserve to have you come under my roof. That’s why I didn’t think myself worthy to come to you in person. But-just say the word, and my slave will be healed.”

At this point,  Jesus was astonished at what He had just heard. One theologian said, “Jesus is astonished at the second message, and we are astonished at His astonishment! Normally in the gospels Jesus does and says things that surprise people; this is one of the few places where Jesus himself is surprised.”

That’s right! Jesus can be astonished at your faith in Him. You don’t need a big background of religious facts in your faith bag to give to Jesus to try and impress Him when you ask. You just need to believe He CAN! You must believe He is the sovereign one and Lord of heaven and earth. The centurion had grasped what many of the Jews had missed, the one true God was present, personal and active in Jesus and was walking among them.

Jesus is still walking among us today. He is still active among us today, and He lives on the inside of you. Ask Him in faith without regard for a yes, no or a maybe answer, and you will astonish Him, or at least come close trying.  God reserves the right to answer in any way He wants, but you should never hesitate to ask.

Now go and try to astonish God with your faith today.

MEDION DIGITAL CAMERA

When you pray for someone, do you pray from guilt or heart? Before you answer that question, let me give you an example. Over the years,  I’ve received many prayer request by email. I would like to say I’ve prayed for all of them, but I’m human, and from time to time I would file them away to pray over them later in the day, and then forget. I guess that’s the cost of being human. I’m happy to say that is a pattern of the past.

Anyway, there was a time, many years ago that I would get a prayer request and then pray over them out of a sense of guilt. I thought first to myself, “If I don’t lift up a fast prayer, I’m a bad person.” I would then pray a very brief prayer without much thought and purpose. I would then go on with my day and the guilty feeling of praying a hurried prayer would soon fade away.

As you might expect, God wasn’t going to let me cheat myself and the other person out of the blessing and privilege of praying with a slow heart. We are not called to pray with a fast heart. We are called to pray with a slow heart. A quick praying heart is one that is usually grounded in guilt. On the other hand, a slow praying heart is grounded in caring more about others, than for yourself.

God helped me to see that when I pray fast, I’m missing the virtue of love. We are called to treat and care for others as we would like to be treated and cared for. Anything less is cheating everyone involved and most importantly missing the honor of God working through you. I’m happy to say that I now pray slowly, and it has changed my life. I take time to pray over the prayer need like it is my very own need.

Praying slowly for others is a great privilege. Take a moment and honestly think about that today. God is watching you as an audience of one, and when you pray slowly for others, you warm His heart. We have the greatest example of prayer if we just look to Jesus. Jesus looked beyond His own needs, suffering and pain on the cross and directed prayer over the crowd that day and beyond.

He abounded self-concern for the eternal consideration of others and prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” How can we do anything less?

I ask you one finally time. Do you pray with a slow heart?

“I Know”

March 5, 2013 — 2 Comments

god_knows-1

Yesterday I spent some time walking and praying on the land I lease for hunting. I love hunting for various reasons, but mostly I love it because it gives me time alone with God in the woods.

I love how the sun comes up in the morning, and the animals begin to move. It truly is breathtaking to watch nature dance the dance of God right in front of you. The same is true in the evenings when the sun is going down. God’s creation goes to bed in an order, and it’s astounding.

I’ve heard God speak many times and in many different ways in the woods. There are many I could share, but today I’ll just share this one moment. I was having a exceedingly awful week. I was feeling isolated and like no one knew what was going on in my life. I was at the end of my hope for things to work out.

I’m sure you have been there before also. Maybe you are there now? Maybe you feel like no one knows what you are going through? It’s a dark and lonely place to be.

I was sitting in my hunting stand, and the sun began to rise. It was cold in the woods. As the sun was coming up steam lifted from the forest floor under the warmth of the suns rays. Everything was still, and the silence was deafening. I was enjoying the moment, but I was sad inside my heart.

I felt unknown and alone. Then it happened! A bird perched on a limb right in front of my face. It was only inches away. My camouflage was hiding me well. The bird was tilting its head from side to side looking me in the eyes. I was amazed at the whole thing. God is so good!

It was then I heard the Lord speak to my soul, “I know.” That’s all it took! All would be okay. If God knows about every bird, then He surely knows about me and He most assuredly knows about you also.

Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

Guilt And The Lap Of God

January 17, 2013 — 2 Comments

fatherreading

Have you ever had trouble staying awake during your prayer time? Many years ago I had a season in my life where I fell asleep more often than I would like to acknowledge. At first, it didn’t bother me much. I just excused it because I had been working a little more than usual.

However, guilt quickly set in, and it made me feel horrible.  Each time I fell  asleep it just increased the guilt. I was beginning to  feel shame, and I had thoughts of God being seriously disappointed in me. It’s distressing enough, I thought, to fall asleep during prayer but to feel like God was disappointed in me was worse.

No matter how hard I tried to stay awake during this period of my life, I would doze off. No one else knew but me, and of course God, but I was feeling like a spiritual failure. I was feeling like God was mad at me. I was trying hard to stay awake but getting nowhere. I heard the voice of guilt more than the voice of God.

Then it happened! One day I came home from work early, and my daughter who was about four at the time came running up to me and said, “Daddy, can you read me this book in your chair?” I smiled and said, “Of course I will.”

We settled into my favorite chair, and I lifted her up and into my lap. She turned her head slightly back and up and made eye contact with me, accompanied by a smile. I was feeling pretty good. I was having a perfect Father and Daughter moment.

As I was reading, she would look up and back at me asking questions and making comments. I was completely pleased with the moment. We were simply spending time together, and it felt incredible.

As I continued to read, her conversation and questions fell silent. She was getting tired. It wasn’t long until she fell asleep in my arms. I closed the book and just enjoyed the time we were having together. I was thankful she wanted to spend time with me at all.

Then it happened! God spoke and healed my guilt about falling asleep on Him. I could hear Him whisper to my heart. “Are you mad at her for falling asleep?” My heart whisper back to God was, “No Lord, I love just being with her.” His response back was, “I feel the same way about you.”

It was on that day God took my guilt away. His love for me was not based on effort and discipline, even though they are beneficial. His love for me is unconditional, and He is pleased even when I fall asleep in His lap with His arms wrapped around me.

repent

A turkey can’t repent and turn to Christ but you can.  I repented and turned to Christ August the 24, 1988 and I’ve been thankful ever since.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”

I have much to be thankful for. You have much to be thankful for. As Christ followers, we have much to be thankful for. However, the greatest thing to be thankful for is the gift of Christ for our salvation.

Jesus paid our sin debt, and through Him, we are rescued. Of all of God’s gifts, Jesus Christ is above them all. Through believing on Christ, we have forgiveness of our sins and can embrace the gift of eternal life.

I’m thankful today that this gift is available to anyone that will call on His name in true and sincere faith. God’s gift of salvation through His son Jesus, meets the deepest need of our lives, the need to be reconciled to Him.

Augustine once said, “Salvation is God’s way of making us real people.” We must always remember that without God it is impossible to be fully human the way He intended us to be.

Do you have a relationship with Christ? If not, you can make it right today. Right where you are, surrender your heart to Him, and invite Him to be the Lord of your life.

Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Salvation day if you accepted Christ

 

election-dayToday we vote. Millions of eager citizens of our great nation will go to the polls and cast their vote for the candidate they most feel will move our country forward in the right direction. I thank God for the right to vote and I believe you should also.

As a pastor and leader myself, I only ask you that you vote. In America, we have been blessed to do so, and I feel we should exercise that right with absolute joy and thankfulness.

I come today, not to endorse a candidate, but to share a few ways to pray for those in authority. After all, that is what is commanded in scripture. Scripture teaches that we should pray for those in authority.

1 Timothy 2: 1-5 teaches us, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,”

1. We need to pray our leaders recognize their decision will be weighed in eternity.

2. We need to pray for our leaders to have wisdom beyond themselves

3. We need to pray their lives are peaceful, quiet and godly

4. We need to pray for healing through out our land

5. We need to pray our leaders truly seek the heart of God

6. We need to pray that God’s will becomes the will of our leaders

We must remember, Those in authority are there by the will of God and God will use them to accomplish His ultimate plan.

Therefore, we pray for our leaders.

NO MATTER WHAT

1. We pray no matter if they are Democrat, Independent or Republican

2. We pray no matter if the leader is liberal or conservative

3. We pray no matter how immoral or how moral they are

4. We pray no matter how just or unjust their decisions might be.

We pray NO MATTER WHAT! We are Christ followers and our prayers and what we do truly matters. I leave you with a quote from N.T. Wright

 

“Our task as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to a world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion…The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even–heaven help us–Biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically-rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way…with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom. I believe if we face the question, “if not now, then when?” if we are grasped by this vision we may also hear the question, “if not us, then who?” And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is?” ― N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is