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Ingredients For Prayer
A practical approach to maximizing your time with God.
Eric A. Lambert, Jr.
Ingredients for Prayer Trade Paper Edition © by Bethel Deliverance International Church All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE: KING JAMES VERSION. All NIV scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
I dedicate this book to Him that helps us in all of our trials, the only true God, our Lord Jesus. To the membership of the Bethel Deliverance International Church. To all those who will be blessed by this study. Praise our Lord!
CHAPTER 1 CHAPTER 2
What Is Prayer? Lord, Teach Us How To Pray Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread Forgiveness For Sins Lead Us Not Into Temptation Knowing What To Pray For Don’t Be Anxious Praying For And Connecting With Others
CHAPTER 4 CHAPTER 5
CHAPTER 7 CHAPTER 8
Effectual And Fervent
CHAPTER 10 Pray Often
ne of the most important disciplines of the Christian life is prayer. We are often challenged by the same struggle of the disciples of Jesus. Teach us how to pray is often the hearts cry of the believer in the world today. Prayer is often used to solve problems and have material needs met as well as twist the arm of God into submission. This is the primary mistake that we make in our time of prayer. Our culture makes us think that the Father will submit to our will and do what we have demanded of Him. Yet I believe that prayer is a time for intimacy and connection with the Father. We are often challenged by the worldly view of prayer and we fall into the trap that makes us think that we are able to use prayer to bully the Lord into doing what we want. I am sure that you have been exposed to the various myths regarding prayer and we often fall into the trappings of fleshly prayers that are not generated by the will of God. In this book, I want to dispel the myth that the Lord has given prayer as the tool for gaining things, instead of a way to connect with
our heavenly Father. It is my conviction that prayer is the one aspect of Christian life that brings us closer to the Father and converts our will into His divine will. It is a formidable task to write a book about prayer. As a Christian, I am always amazed when I hear mature Christians “talk to God.” Down through the years, there was always a nagging question in my spirit. I wondered if I was praying correctly. I would often ask if I was talking to God or simply telling Him what I wanted. This question would haunt me for over 30 years. As a young Bible student, I would hear of great men and women of God who were gifted with prayer mantles that were out of my reach. I, along with others, would ask if our prayer lives would ever reach such majestic heights as Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, Mother Dabney, A.A. Allen, and those who were used as God’s ambassadors for the end time revival. Prayer is not a “fun time” with God that rewards us with cars and things that will ultimately fade with time. I am sure that the Lord did not create prayer for the absorption of carnal pleasures. Well, then what is prayer and how do we work it out in our lives? I must confess that I have been tremendously encouraged by my own research of such an important matter in the body of Christ. While my studies and my pursuit of clarity was more extensive than what is represented in this book, I felt it was more appropriate to create a compact thesis for your reading challenge. It was more important to give you enough information to get you to discover prayer truths for yourself. Jesus knew that the magnitude of His work would require a life of prayer that was extremely disciplined. He would spend significant time in prayer with the Father: “One of those days
Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12 NIV). I am sure that Jesus did not spend all night in prayer asking for material things. He uses the fellowship of prayer as a way to get closer to His Father. I am convinced that we should have the same mindset when we pray. It is my conviction that we must return to the basic principle of Christ centered Christianity. As we take the steps to return, we must involve our hearts in the discipline of prayer. As we examine the principles of prayer, I am sure you will discover why Jesus spent so much time in prayer and communion with God. He knew that prayer was the link to the Spiritual realm and it would forever keep Him in and on the path of the Father. Ingredients for Prayer is written in a straightforward way that you come to expect from me, and I trust that you will grow stronger as you read this book. Let us echo the heart of the followers of Christ when they asked Him to teach them to pray. And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples (Luke 11:1). May your prayer life and prayer time expand you into Kingdom life. Eric A. Lambert, Jr.
What Is Prayer?
t has been my observation that many of God’s people do not know how to pray. You would think that prayer, being such an elementary part of Christianity, would be something that we know how to do instinctively. Yet, the reality is that we often find ourselves struggling with this important aspect of our faith. Part of the challenge for many believers is understanding the dynamics and disciplines of prayer. We have been taught so many erroneous things about prayer that many of us believe that if we pray in a small soft voice that God does not hear us.
By hyper-definition, prayer is an act of intercourse with your soul and God’s spirit.
Prayer by definition is worshipful oratory. By hyper-definition, prayer is an act of intercourse with your soul and God’s spirit. It is you connecting with God until your
desires have been replaced by His heart. Prayer is going to God and asking for His will, not things. It is asking Him to reveal himself to you until you begin to develop the attitude that His will must take priority over your life. Prayer is going to God and saying strip me, mold me, make me, so that I can be a vessel and a receptacle of your Spirit and honor. Prayer by itself is laying before God without opening your mouth and waiting for His thoughts to become your thoughts so that your mouth can utter what His heart desires. Contrary to popular belief, it is not asking for a Mercedes or any other type of luxury automobile. Prayer is coming to God and asking Him to do something in you: to break the pride, to break the arrogance, to break your will, to destroy the things that you want and replace them with the things that He wants. I can’t stress enough that prayer is intercourse of your soul with the heart of God. It is the two of you connecting in the spirit realm until you can see it God’s way. Jesus tells us in John 5:19 that he only does what he sees his Father doing. Where did he see it? He saw it in prayer. Prayer will put you on the same course as the Father. If your prayer life is fruitful, you will begin to see things through the eyes of our Heavenly Father and you will stay on that course until He changes direction. Key to Jesus’ victorious lifestyle was that he was in constant communication with the Father and He was always somewhere praying. Jesus knew how to pray and He did it with great results. When we master the discipline of prayer, we will find the same level of victory Jesus found through prayer.
Lord, Teach Us How To Pray
“And it came to pass that as He was praying in a certain place when he ceased one of his disciples said unto him, Lord teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1-4).
his request made by the disciples was not unusual. The theory was that many rabbis wrote prayers for their students to recite. Hence, we have teach us to pray; in many cases the students literally recited the prayer written by the rabbi. Therefore, when one of Jesus disciples said, “Lord teach us to pray”, it was not an unusual request. Jesus’ prayer was different from other prayers that the disciples had heard up to now. Unlike others, Jesus used “Father”, a term of intimacy, when communicating with God. In the Greek, “father” is pater which speaks of the
parenting role. No one had ever referred to the Lord of Hosts as Father before. Jesus introduces God in a new role: that of a loving parent. Jesus used this title to show the relationship they shared, and not out of religious zeal. Jesus neither read nor recited a prayer; he prayed from within. Jesus’ prayers were the result of His daily relationship with the Father. As a result, he never engaged in “crisis praying”. The disciples saw the distinct difference in Jesus’ prayers and wanted Him to teach them His recipe for prayer success. In essence, they were asking him to show them how to pray with effectiveness.
Jesus gave us the ingredients for prayer. We are not to regurgitate Jesus’ words; we are to make sure that our prayers contain the basic elements set forth by Jesus.
They recognized that there was something significant about Jesus’ prayers. First, he always received answers when he prayed. They wanted to learn among other things how to get answers. Jesus response to their request was what many erroneously call the “Lord’s prayer”. The Lord’s Prayer is actually found in John 17; this is the prayer Jesus prays for all believers in his priestly position. Jesus responds to the disciples request by giving them a model prayer. A model serves as a pattern or indicates structural design. In essence, Jesus gave us the ingredients for prayer. We are not to regurgitate Jesus’ words; we are to make sure that our prayers contain the basic elements set
Lord, Teach Us How To Pray
forth by Jesus with our own flavor. It is like a cook following a recipe for a cake. The basic ingredients will be the same: flour, butter, egg, leavening agent and sugar. However, the cook will make it “their own” by adding lemon or orange zest. So, how are we to pray? Jesus said when you pray, pray along these lines: Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done as it is in heaven so on earth. Give us day by day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
When look at this model of prayer, notice how it begins: Our father. Jesus begins with the ultimate relationship, parenting. Our Father is a phrase that brings rapture to the weary soul. We indeed have a Father who cares for us. I am convinced that prayer brings out the best in God. There are times when children call upon their father for service. During those times, the father is placed in the unique position to perform for his child. The child comes to the father with a request and the father makes it his priority to carry out his child’s wishes and meet their expectations. When the crisis is met and the “victory” is won, the father feels happy that he was able to help his child; so, it is with our
heavenly Father. He delights in caring for us. He invites us to bring Him our burdens and our cares: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).” The Father wants you, His child, to stay in constant communication with Him and to cast your cares upon Him daily. Prayer is the time to talk to God and tell Him those things that concern you. Today, the role of the father has been distorted in most homes. As a result, we must constantly remind ourselves that God is always waiting to help us in all of our distresses: “I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place (Psalm 118:5).” God wants to solve our problems and give us peace. When you begin to pray, think about the relationship. Jesus is telling the disciples that before you ask God for anything, before you tell him how you feel, before you intercede for one individual, you must recognize who He is relationally. Take the time to focus on that relationship and rest in your Father.
“… which art in heaven:”
This phrase reminds us of God’s position. In our world, we assume that the higher a person’s position, the more power they have. If someone is CEO of a company, the head of a government, or (smile) the Pastor of Bethel, we believe that their position allows them to grant special requests. Well, to some degree, that is a correct assumption, and we see it happening every day.
Lord, Teach Us How To Pray
Jesus simply says when we pray, we ought to know that there is no one above our Father. He is in heaven far above the foolishness of man. He is the absolute ruler of all principalities and powers: “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him (Psalms 115:3 NIV). “ Since He does whatever pleases Him, we can rest in the knowledge that no one can cancel out His power or decisions. Hallelujah! Once the Lord is on our side, we can withstand anything the evil one brings our way. Our Father is in heaven controlling the universe as well as our lives, and because of this we have confidence and can rejoice!
“ …hallowed be thy name”
These words convey that the Lord’s name is holy. History tells us that the Hebrew scribes would wash their hands immediately after writing the name of the Lord. In our culture, there is so much irreverence of the name of our Lord. Even Christians can get caught up in the cultural assassination of the name of the Lord. Wherever we are we can hear the Lord’s name being blasphemed. If we are not careful, we can find ourselves caught up in the actions of the unrighteous. When we pray, we are to remember that the Lord’s name is holy and not to be taken lightly. As we enter into God’s presence, we are to focus on who He is and not just what we want. We should always approach Him with reverence, awe and respect. We are to praise the name of the Lord at all times, and especially in times of intimacy known as prayer. There must be worship, and an
appreciation of God’s holiness during prayer. Understanding that our heavenly Father is holy is a key ingredient to prayer that will impact how we approach Him. I hope that you would not come to your natural father haphazardly or disrespectfully. With the same mindset, we are to respect our heavenly Father. We are to come to our heavenly Father with faith and gratitude. Yet, we also approach Him with awe.
...relationship with the Father is far more important than anything else in our Christian walk. Prayer will build this personal relationship more than anything else...
You must understand that God and his name are “hallowed”(sacred). God is above everything; He is greater than all of creation. There truly is none like him. In using hallowed Jesus tells us that our Father is holy and he is to be honored, revered and worshipped. We are told by the writers of the Psalms that we should enter his gates with thanksgiving and enter into his courts with praise. We know the psalmist was speaking of entering the gates of the temple. Now we enter directly into the presence of God. However, this directive has not been removed. We are to enter into the presence of God with praise and adoration. I love you Lord and I lift my voice To worship You , oh my soul, rejoice!
Lord, Teach Us How To Pray
Take joy, my King in what you hear May it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear. -Laurie Klein These are the key components for the Lord’s model prayer. You can see that they focus on relationship. The relationship with the Father is far more important than anything else in our Christian walk. Prayer will build this personal relationship more than anything else that we aspire to do for the Lord. I want to stress to you that nothing is more important than the work of prayer. You must take time to develop the relational aspect of prayer and everything else in your life will be fine.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: I ask that you consider the following information:
• • •
Jesus spent an enormous amount of time in prayer. Jesus would continue in prayer all night long. Jesus stresses prayer as the high point of our relationship with the Father.
1. How much time do you spend in prayer? 2. Have you learned to see God as Father and not simply as Savior? 3. What do you need to do to develop a stronger relationship with your heavenly Father? 4. Are you mindful to “enter his gates with thanksgiving” – do you incorporate praise and worship into your time of prayer?
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread ~ Supplication
Prayer is not supplication, but supplication is part of prayer. You can pray without making supplication. Supplication is to ask, or the simple act of bringing your request before God; it is when you break out your list and tell God what you want. This is where we need to develop a more Eastern mindset. The Eastern mindset is characterized by service to others. It does not seek its own pleasures, and desires. I believe that the Western mindset leans more towards gaining things through capitalism. If we turned off our Western mindset then we would realize that we do not need to ask God for ninety percent of the things we ask him for because those things are covered in this portion of the model prayer. The Western mindset is one that seeks comfort and fun. It focuses on pleasure and not spiritual things. In contrast,
the Eastern mindset focuses on spiritual things. Its central focus is the fulfillment of individual destiny rather than material gain. We often pray with a western focus which causes us to seek things and comfort. As a result, we find ourselves asking for things that God does not want us to have. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:15-17 NIV). As we consider effective prayer, there must be a shifting in our thought process. Our culture certainly traps us into thinking that the things we crave are the things the Lord wants us to have. If you believe that God knows what you need then you can grow to a point where you don’t have to keep asking Him to meet your needs. God is our heavenly Father, and He knows what we need. Children don’t pay rent; yet, as parents you will feed them. When you make a meal, you make a meal for everyone and then you invite them to the table by announcing that dinner is ready. Parents don’t stand at the door and make children ask for food. Then why do we think that we have to ask God for the things we need when He has promised to provide them in advance. At the end, we know
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
we have need of something because we will have it. If we don’t have it then we don’t need it in that moment. We spend an enormous amount of spiritual energy asking for things that God knows that we are not ready for. When God chooses in His sovereignty not to give us things because He knows the outcome of us having them, our response is not usually “Well, that’s okay. God knows what is best for me.” Instead, we gather a group of Christians together and ask them to intercede believing that bombarding heaven will force God to give us what we want. We usually believe that if we increase the number of people praying, we will cause the Lord to submit to our will. Ultimately, we wear down the saints resolve and keep pressing in an area that God has closed off to us.
You can become liberated in the area of supplication when you understand that if I have it, then I need it; if I don’t have it then I don’t need it or I’m not ready for it...
We forget that God knows the end from the beginning; He knows the outcome of every situation that we will face. He even knows what will happen “if”. Yet, we continue to ask God to do what he obviously does not want to do. Our supplication then becomes extortion. We simply need to remember that our God is all knowing and wise. When He says “no”, it is for a reason and we must accept that reason. We will usually pray that God will have others see the
situation our way rather than pray that both of us see it God’s way. This is a result of our concept of prayer being selfcentered. You can become liberated in the area of supplication when you understand that if I have it, then I need it; if I don’t have it, then I don’t need it or I’m not ready for it and God loves me so much He won’t give me what I’m not ready for. Can you imagine God giving you what you are not ready for and it becoming an emotional, psychological and spiritual nightmare? You would be unhappy. God knows how a person will be in thirty years. He cares so much about you that he will begin to open trap doors so that you may see some things about them. He will let you see their true character and attitude; they will begin breaking your heart regularly. Yet, you remain connected to them. God is letting them hurt you, but you stay connected because you believe that is the person God has giving to you. Understand, God is saying “I have told you no. I can’t grant this request because I love you and I know that the situation is only going to get worse.” Nevertheless, you continue to pray that God will change his mind. Unfortunately, many Christians are determined to have what they want and not what God wants for them. When we look at “Give us this day our daily bread” our supplication should be “give us what we need”. What do you need? The bible says if you have clothes and shelter, be content. Have you ever walked past a car dealership and said “Look at that Jaguar, Father in Jesus name I claim that car.” Have you ever noticed how we claim the car, but we do not claim the payments, the insurance, or any of the things that
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
go along with it. Then we complain when it costs $250.32 to fill it up with gas. God knew how much the gas would, be but you claimed the car. The western mind thinks that prayer exists to fatten our coffers and to make our lives materially richer. This doctrine permeates our culture. We actually try to make deals with God: “God if you give me this car, I’ll go out with evangelism, I’ll visit the sick.” God is saying, “Excuse me, you are not doing it now and you think I have stupid written across my forehead? If I give you this car you won’t come to church at all. On Sunday, you’ll be washing it, on Saturday you will park in front of the door so that nobody will get in front of you. I’m not going to give you things because they will come between you and I.” God has given you the ability to think and make decisions. Prayer will help you make the right decisions. As we stay before our “Father”, we form God’s mindset and we can watch the Lord work on our behalf. It is simple, you buy what you can honestly afford. Ask God for wisdom and then buy what you like within your budget. You don’t need a spiritual revelation about a car or house. Do your homework, read reviews, gather performance history, and then make an educated decision. As believers, we find ourselves in financial predicaments because we miss God’s response to our supplication. God may not give us a direct answer but he will always respond…Yes, No, Wait. As Christians, our desires will cause us to either ignore or miss God’s answer. For example, we will tell a person that God told us to buy a house. “Did God really tell you to buy that house?” Your
answer is yes. “Can you afford the house – the upkeep, the taxes, replacing the roof if it leaks?” If your honest answer is no and that you are buying it by faith then God didn’t tell you to buy it. At this point, the right thing to do is to buy a house you can afford by faith, because the one you can’t afford is presumption. God is not obligated to support presumption. Now, I know that many of your views are formed by the cultural reality that God wants His children to have the best. However, I must ask you to define the best. Do you think that God wants you to have what is best for you or what is best for the Kingdom of God? I also realize that you are being exposed to many theories about prosperity and having abundance. Many of the theories we hear today simply reinforce our reasons for writing this book on proper prayer. We should spend more time in God’s presence than in God’s pocket. What does the Lord really desire for us and from us? Have you considered prayer is designed to be more than a time for shopping? Did you ever think that our Father wanted prayer to be a time of spiritual connection? I only ask these questions because Christians must begin to move beyond a relationship with our Father based on receiving “goodies”. I cannot imagine Jesus asking the Father for stuff. I believe that He simply waited for directions and He knew the Father would provide. Prayer must be dedicated to getting closer to the Father and receiving His will instead of accumulating more stuff. I urge you to move beyond the cultural expression of prayer and begin to think more about the will of the Lord.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
Prayer is not about you. It is about the will of the Lord being done through you. To make supplication means that you should bring your request to the Lord; however, you must be sure that your request does not go against the Lord’s will. Look at the following scripture as an example: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart (Psalm 37:4). “ I am sure that many of you assume that David is encouraging the readers to go and ask the Lord for anything and He will give it to you. The verse does tell us that the Lord will give us the desires of our heart. Yet, I cannot believe that the Lord is suggesting that we can have anything we want. Can you imagine the can of worms that would open? Is the Lord truly telling us that we can have anything we ask, regardless of the motive and consequences? Well, my theology is a bit more conservative. I believe that the emphasis is more on us receiving the Lord’s heart and mind as opposed to God giving us our desires. Could David be suggesting to us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord , He would give our hearts what we should desire? I am convinced that prayer done properly will reduce our will and expose us to the will of God. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has fascinated me since childhood. As a boy, I wanted to be an FBI agent. I would watch the television show and desire to be just like “Inspector Erskine.” I had a well devised plan that included going to college, earning my law degree and becoming an FBI agent. Then I would retire after 20 years and go to work for the Department of Justice. I wanted to put bad guys away. Believe me when I tell you that I did not want to be a Pastor,
NOT AT ALL! While I was praying, the Lord changed my will and put His in its place. So, here I am -no FBI, no Justice Department - I am a Pastor. Now, do not get me wrong, I am happy doing the will of God, but the pastorate was not in my will. Do you see the principle at work here? My will was not God’s will and His will became superior in my life. We have every right as children of God to make supplication. We must be careful that our focus is not material gain. The Lord delights in giving us the riches of His kingdom; however, we must be mindful that our focus should be obtaining and doing the will of the Lord.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
Jesus’ ultimate goal was the fulfillment of the will of the Father. He did those things that he saw the Father doing. (John 5:19, 8:29) God delights in giving us the desire of our hearts. God will not withhold anything that is good for us back (Psalms 84:11).
1. Do you regularly incorporate supplication into your time of prayer? 2. During your time of “asking” do you allow God to tell you “no”? 3. Are you more concerned about getting what you want or pleasing God?
Forgiveness For Sins
And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil (Luke 11:4). Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
t is during prayer that our sins are exposed and forgiven. We can come boldly before the throne of God and confess our sins before Him. We are told by the Apostle John that if we confess our sins, that our heavenly Father is both just and faithful to forgive us and cleanse us. However, it all begins with confession. Prayer allows us to come into the presence of our Father and honestly share our hearts.
None of us can claim that we do not sin daily – in word, deed and thought. There will always be someone who will say that they don’t sin because they aren’t committing adultery or fornication or murder, but are they backbiting, lying, criticizing, faultfinding, stealing, complaining, or overeating. It is not only humbling to know that we are always in need of forgiveness, but also comforting to know that our heavenly Father is waiting to grant forgiveness. The Bible tells us that “ If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8 NIV).” Still, there is someone saying “I don’t sin”. Let’s consider the truth for a moment. If you are employed, then there is a strong possibility that you will sin. How is that possible Pastor Lambert? Well, let’s examine a few facts. Even as a Christian, you have the potential to steal on an ongoing basis. I know you are saying “I don’t steal, not menever!” Do you have a job where the expectation is that you work eight hours a day? How much time do you spend on the phone dealing with personal matters? How long is your “official” lunch break? How many company pens and pads do you have at home? I thank God that He knows that I am not perfect and has made a way for me to be forgiven. Understand, none of us are perfect; we will sin in some way or another. However, God is indeed faithful and just to forgive us if we simply confess our sins. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all
Forgiveness For Sins
unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives (1 John 1:8-10 NIV).
Prayer that is truly spirit directed will always result in forgiveness: first for yourself, then for others.
After we have confessed our sins, we must develop compassionate hearts and be willing to offer forgiveness to others. If we expect the Lord to forgive us, we must forgive others. Prayer that is truly Sprit directed will always result in forgiveness: first for yourself, then for others. Forgiveness must be granted to all, especially for those who have wronged or hurt you. Jesus ties the forgiveness of our sins to our forgiveness of others, “Forgive us our sins… for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us.” For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV). Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV).
Do you have bitterness in your heart that you need to release? Are you avoiding your spouse because of something they did two days ago? If so, then release the bitterness through forgiveness and move on. If you need to have a candid conversation then have it. Do whatever is necessary for you to exercise forgiveness. If you walk in unforgiveness, it can have tremendous consequences beyond the spiritual. There is no room for unforgiveness in your life. It raises your blood pressure, it makes you angry, and it gives you a headache by tightening the muscles and the vertebrae in your neck. In fact walking in unforgiveness results in stress that pinches nerves and can cause physical pain. You may even develop heart palpitations that can lead to even more stress. You then begin to develop resistance against the stress, which may produce acid in your stomach. Next, you have developed an ulcer. You have aches in your body that medication won’t take away; your eye sight begins to blur and now your suffering from hypertension. Do you get the picture? It is easier to release others from your prison of unforgiveness. All this is a result of your anger towards someone who doesn’t know you are angry with them. They are dancing at the altar and not paying you any attention. This doesn’t mean that they are right. It just means that they have moved beyond the current situation and they have moved forward in the things of the Lord. You have to move beyond the anger and unforgiveness and resolve to let God deal with them. If you are not careful, the anger and bitterness you have towards that person will turn into anger and bitterness towards God.
Forgiveness For Sins
We see a clear example of this with Moses. If Moses had realized that those were God’s people and it was up to God to deal with them, then he would have made it into the Promised Land (see Numbers 20). When the people starting complaining Moses should have gone to Disney World (my choice of course), but he became angry with them. And his anger towards the people then turned into anger with God. Moses couldn’t understand why God wasn’t dealing with the children of Israel. This is ironic because earlier Moses pleaded with God not to destroy the children of Israel (see Exodus 32). We have to be mindful that we are not perfect and God has not judged us yet. So, we are to forgive everyone. Sprit driven prayer will always result in forgiveness and a sense of the love of God at work in your heart. Prayer is hindered and rendered ineffective when the “sin of unforgiveness” is at work in our hearts. If we are to experience the total joy of the Lord’s presence, then we must walk in forgiveness. Do not give the enemy an opportunity to take the closeness of your relationship with your Father from you by infecting you with the seed of unforgiveness. When we experience unforgiveness, we begin to form judgmental thoughts and actions. We look for the woman caught in the very act of adultery and we seek to bring her to our legal system. However, we must keep this passage of Scripture in mind: But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach
them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground (John 8:1-8 NIV). Notice Jesus does not, I repeat DOES NOT condone the woman’s sin. He does forbid the judging of her actions. He speaks to the mob and places a restriction on their judgment – “…anyone of you …without sin” can judge her. Of course, no one dared to speak against her. The Apostle Paul teaches us another valuable lesson in a different passage of scripture:
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things (Romans 2:1 NIV).
Unforgiveness does not mix with a fruitful prayer life. We must work to release all from the sin of unforgiveness in our hearts.
Forgiveness For Sins
Remember, prayer is connection with the Father and the Father is always ready to forgive. We must have the same mindset. As a result, choose to forgive everyone today. You will not only find a better life as you walk in forgiveness but you will also experience a more fruitful prayer life. Remember, the words of the Apostle Paul: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
• • •
We all have sinned and have experienced God’s grace in the form of forgiveness (1 John 1:10) We have been promised forgiveness if we confess our faults (John 1:9). God expects us to forgive others as He has forgiven us – forgiveness is an act of obedience (Ephesians 4:3132)
1. Is there anyone who you have not forgiven? If so, why? 2. Has your unforgiveness of that individual(s) had a negative affect on you or your relationship with God? 3. Understanding that forgiveness is an act of obedience, forgive those who you are holding in the bondage of “unforgiveness” and pray that God grant you emotional healing.
Lead Us Not Into Temptation
hen we pray “and lead us not into temptation” we are asking the Father to help us in our daily walk. If you know that God is faithful and His Word is true then you know that He will not put more on you than you are able to bear. When we succumb to sin, we wonder how it happens. The fact is that God didn’t put it on us because the prayer request was “lead us not into temptation”. The Scriptures are clear — the Lord will not tempt us to sin. When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed (James 1:13-14 NIV).
Temptation usually comes to us because of a desire we have in our heart and/or mind. The Bible says that we sin when we are drawn away of our own lust and enticed. We provide the lust. Satan’s job is to present us with a temptation based on our own lust. When the temptation is presented, we give in to our lustful desire. Our enemy has been studying humanity for a long time. As a result, he does not tempt us with something that is not a “lust” for us. The enemy will provide many temptations that will result in opportunities to bring us down into sin and shame. We must remain vigilant and resist the devil at every turn. If Satan knows that you are a man who likes a certain type of woman then he will bring that woman to you. God will keep you from the temptation by giving you the proper Christian thing to say such as “I’m not interested”, “This is not appropriate”, “We should not do this”. However, when you think that you are stronger than Satan, you will entertain the person and fall into sin. You will then go to God and ask why it happened. God’s response is simple, “I kept you from the temptation but you pushed beyond the limits that I established.” Contrary to popular Christian belief, the devil didn’t make you do it; he simply put a plate of food in front of you and you ate. We have to learn to ask God to help us see the boundaries He has established for our individual lives so that we don’t succumbed to temptation. Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 26:41 that they are to both watch and pray so that they don’t enter into temptation. There is a certain ambience that goes with particular times of the day where interaction with someone you are not legally
Lead Us Not Into Temptation
married to should be avoided. No matter how much Holy Spirit is in you, there are certain things you cannot do because of the ambience that has been created. If you push into these danger zones, you will fall. I want to be clear, God can’t help you when you push into that danger zone. I know some of you are asking “what do you mean God can’t help me”. God is all-powerful and since He’s all-powerful, there is absolutely nothing He cannot do. Let me remind you of our verse of reference: “let no man when tempted say I’m tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempted he any man” (James 1:13). We see from this verse that God never tempts us. God does not tempt you with cigarettes, blunts, cigars, marijuana, crack, or heroin. Brothers, God doesn’t send a woman to switch in front of you so that you lose your salvation. Sisters, God won’t send a square shouldered man with brown eyes to tempt you so that you lose your affection for your spouse. God does not tempt us with evil. The bottom line is that we can’t blame God when we fall. The word of God tells us that not only will God not allow us to be tempted with more than we can bear, but he will also provide a means of escape from the temptation. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it] (1 Corinthians 10:13).
I know someone is asking why doesn’t God just keep the temptation away from me. He did keep it off you by providing a way of escape; however, you sought it out, you wanted it, you found it, you engaged in it, you liked it, and now you are sorry for it. This is why it is important that we pray that God show us our boundaries. When we can recognize the boundaries then we can also see the way of escape when we are tempted. Everyone is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust. Understand that not even the devil can be blamed. Poor Lucifer, he did not tempt you. Stop saying the devil made me cuss, or your kids made you cuss, or your supervisor made you cuss. When you become a child of God, you are to exhibit temperance or self-control. Because the Holy Spirit indwells us, we are more than able to control desires that do not honor God. Therefore, nobody made you swear. You did it because you wanted to, because you lacked the vocabulary to express yourself in a fashion where the words would not be misunderstood or ignored. So you reverted to colloquialism and you had to pepper them with words that are not godly in order to get your point across. The verses in James continues on to say that “…when lust has conceived.” In order for something to conceive, it needs two parties. Lust conceives with your imagination; for sin to come forth, it needs lust and imagination. The first sin was a result of the woman’s lust for the fruit. Satan knew of her lust for the fruit because she was standing in front of the tree admiring it. He capitalizes on her lust for the fruit by causing her to entertain the restriction, “hath God
Lead Us Not Into Temptation
said?” Have you ever wondered why Satan approached her in that fashion? Perhaps the woman was speaking with her husband and said these words: “Honey, why can’t we eat that fruit?” “Well dear, God said not to eat of the fruit of that tree.” “But why can’t we eat of that tree?” “Well honey, as far as I can understand, God said not eat of the fruit of that tree.” “But why can’t we eat of the fruit of that tree?” “Dear you have all of the other trees, from which you may eat. I do not know why God said not to eat the fruit of this tree.” “But, Adam, why can’t I eat of this tree’s fruit.” “Honey, I don’t know why.” Eve is left with an unanswered question. You never leave a person with an unanswered question. Now she’s admiring the fruit and “why can’t I eat from this particular tree” is running through her mind over and over again. The serpent comes with these words: “Did God say you couldn’t eat of it?” I believe that his intent was to create division. Did God say it or did your husband say it? Instead of her saying, “what’s the difference”, she says, “yeah God said we shouldn’t eat of this tree, nor should we touch it thus we die”. God never said not to touch the tree. Something is conjuring up in her mind. The serpent replies, “you’re not going to die if you eat that because you know what will really happen if you eat that? You’re going to
be as God. You know God doesn’t want you to be like Him.” That is what won her. In that moment, she was drawn away of her own lust. The situation with Eve reveals several things: The enemy of our soul does not stop in his effort to deceive us. • We must submit to authority and seek the Lord’s counsel at all times. • If the Lord says that we should avoid certain things, then we must avoid them. After all God (our Father) knows what is best for us. Yes, you can live above temptation. You can do it if your prayer life is strong and fruitful. I have never known a Christian with a strong prayer life that easily succumbed to temptation. I am convinced that our strength to stand is a result of effective prayer lives. It is my prayer that you increase your prayer time so that you can escape the temptations that are sure to come. Powerful prayers often result in the believer gaining a new insight into the spiritual realm. I believe that new spiritual levels will aid you in avoiding many of the temptations that come your way.
Lead Us Not Into Temptation
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
When we are tempted we are drawn away by our own desires. With every temptation we are provided a way of escape We must pray in order to avoid giving into temptation
1. What areas do you find yourself tempted in? 2. Do you know what the boundaries are for that particular temptation? 3. Do you pray regularly for God to reveal to you His boundaries in your area(s) of temptation? Do you ask God to make clear His ways of escape and to give you the strength to take them?
Knowing What To Pray For
e will now approach the topic of what we should pray for. I know that there are many of you who have just taken a deep breath as you contemplate this topic. How many times have you wondered about the mind of God concerning a matter before you prayed? I know this is a concern for many, if not most, Christians as they enter prayer. Americans love to win and we love to be right. We usually approach prayer with these Western concepts firmly entrenched in our minds. No one wants to pray and have their prayer denied. So, how do we insure our prayers will be answered in the affirmative when we are taught that our thoughts are opposite of God’s thought? "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. As the heavens
are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). The answer is we must move towards His thoughts rather than think He will move towards ours. Since we want to pray, we need to pray, and we are encouraged to pray, it is vital that we know what we should pray for. The Word of God gives us some insight into this important topic. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:26-28). In this great passage, we are told that the Holy Spirit helps our infirmities because we don’t know what to pray for. The word infirmities mean weaknesses. This scripture does not say we do not know how to pray; it says we don’t know what we should ask for. Let me give you an example. A person is lying in a hospital bed and their health is deteriorating and we don’t know what we should pray for. Do we go in and say “Lord heal them” or do we go in and say “Lord I release them into your arms.”?
Knowing What To Pray For
We don’t know what we should say, so we will go in and say, “Father according to your will”. Do we really mean according to your will or is it a cute little saying that we throw up to God in order to substantiate the possibility that He may not do what we want Him to do. Romans 8:26 clearly tells us that we don’t know what we should pray for. Then in verse 27 we are told that because we don’t know what to pray for the Spirit that “knows what is the mind” of God “makes intercessions” for us “according to the will of God.” “The will of God” is italicized which means it was added by the translators. In the original text, we simply had “he makes intercession for the saints according to God”. For example, you have two people in a relationship and one of the individuals decides that they have had enough of the relationship and wants out. The other individual still wants to be in the relationship. How do you pray if you are the latter person? Do you pray God cause them to stay? Do you pray Lord bend their will and make them stay? Or do you pray Lord open the door and let them go. We really don’t know how to pray about the situation. We don’t know what the will of God is in the situation. As a result, Paul says because of this weakness, the Holy Spirit makes intercession through us with groanings that cannot be uttered. This is where we become a little bit confused in Pentecostal expressionism. We think that this passage speaks of us praying until we speak in tongues and that is not the case. Tongues are not the issue here. If you notice, the phrase says “groanings which cannot be uttered”. We were once taught that praying through meant praying until you spoke in
Praying through means you stay in prayer until you develop God’s mind about the situation.
tongues. That is not true. Praying through the situation has nothing to do with praying until you speak in tongues. Praying through means you stay in prayer until you develop God’s mind about the situation. Once you have God’s mind, you will also have peace. Let me give you an example of this. The Bible says in the book of Luke that when Jesus came to the Garden of Gesthemane, he told his disciples to stay put and watch while he went off to pray. When Jesus moved a certain distance away from where the disciples were gathered, He knelt down to pray. The Bible says that the pressure from the satanic domain was so great on him that it caused sweat to come down as great drops of blood. We now know what happened medically was Jesus was under such intense spiritual pressure that it caused certain blood vessels to break and there was literally blood mixed with sweat. Jesus said, if it is possible, let’s do this another way, but nevertheless, not my will but your will be done. Here’s what he’s saying: I don’t mind dying for the people. I don’t mind giving my life for the souls of the people to come to you. I know who they are because I’m God, and I already know that these are people who are coming to the kingdom. But if there is another way besides me
Knowing What To Pray For
becoming sin, if there is another way besides you turning your back on me, can we do it that way. Nevertheless, not my will, let your will be done. Now that is prayer. Think about the words not my will but your will be done. Do you pray in that fashion? Do you pray for the will of the Father to be carried out in your life or do you simply do whatever you want to do for your own pleasure? Jesus is praying in the spirit through his personal battle until the mind of God is so solidified in him that he utters the words thy will be done. This is the phrase that God is looking for. God is not looking to hear you speak in tongues, God is looking to hear you say, “Father, your will be done. I have a will, I have desires, but I’m going to pray until my will is broken and I say ‘your will be done’.” The will of God may require that you love someone who does not love you. The will of God may require that you bless someone who doesn’t want to bless you. God may require that you give to someone who is actively trying to destroy you. God may require that you stay in a marriage that looks bad. Again, it is not “your” will, but “thy will be done.” When we finally give in to the Holy Spirit and say “your will be done” then we have prayed through the situation. The phrase, “we don’t know what we should pray for,” suggests that when we are confronted by needs we don’t know how to specifically pray regarding those needs. What do we say? How do we pray? These are legitimate questions that are on the mind of every believer at some time or another. A specific situation unfolds before us but we don’t know what
we should pray for concerning it. Most of the time we will pray comfort rather than acceptance. For example, if you have a precious family member that is teetering between life and death what do you pray? Most of us will pray for healing, but how do we know that it’s not their time to die? Many of us try to pray beyond a person’s designated time. We want to hold on to them because of our selfishness. We would rather have them lying in a bed completely incoherent, completely unconscious to their surroundings and the people who come to visit, just so we can touch a warm body. However, the Spirit of God may be saying release that person to me. How many of you can walk into that room and say “Father I release them into your will; if you want to take them you can take them and do whatever you need to do. Father, I remove myself from the equation.” This is praying according to the will of God. Because we don’t know what the will of God is in every situation, the best thing to do when you have questionable situations is to remove yourself. It would be wise to pray something like “God I don’t know what to do in this thing you can have it now. You order it and guide it and show me what to do.” This is called dependency on God. Trying to ascertain the will of God is not an easy task; yet, it is not impossible. Trying to determine the heart of God is like trying to understand the majesty of the universe. Of course, we can use scientific means to develop a theory. Yet, there are some things that defy human answers. There are times when the will of the Lord appears just as mysterious. So what are we to do when confronted with knowing the will of God?
Knowing What To Pray For
TRUST THE HEART OF GOD! Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has good plans for us, at all times. As a result, He wants us to trust Him. God has a plan for you and He has a plan for me. If we use our time of prayer to get closer to the Father then we can become comfortable with the unfolding of the will of God. Remember the goal is to be able to say these five words to our Father with conviction and faith - Father, Your will be done! Romans 8:28 tells us that all things will work together for the good of those who love the Lord. This verse is directly related to the Spirit praying for us. When the Holy Spirit prays, he brings us into the will of God. Once this takes place, all things that come as a result of the believer walking in the revealed will of God will work for the good of the believer. Once we are sure of the will of God, we can pray with assurance and faith. We can tell our enemy, Satan, that we can rest now because we know what the Lord’s will is concerning a particular matter. Then we can walk in the peace of God.
Peace of God
As stated earlier, praying through means praying until you know the will of God. However, the added benefit is that peace comes with obtaining God’s mind about a particular situation.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV). In this passage, the Apostle Paul tells the believer that we must avoid anxiety by praying and spending time with the Father. Through prayer, we find a place that guarantees peace. In the King James Version the word that was translated “peace” comes from the word eirene; it carries the following definition: peace, quietness, rest. The Apostle gives us the impression that a good strong prayer life will result in a state of mental quietness and spiritual tranquility. Therefore, you should pray until you sense that you have the peace of God. You will walk away saying that the situation is okay even though nothing has changed. At this point, there is nothing that the devil can do to you. If you received a negative report from the doctor last week and have to go back for a follow-up visit, you will do it with peace. You will walk in the doctor’s office with the peace of God, which surpasses your understanding and that will keep your mind. Whatever the outcome, you will have peace because the peace you have is not yours, but it is the result of the Lord’s presence. His presence will cause you to remain calm in the midst of adverse situations. People around you will not understand why you are calm after your doctor has told you that you only have six months to live.
Knowing What To Pray For
You may have been told to pack your belongings by your supervisor because you are being laid off. Your co-workers are dumbfounded that you do it with a smile on your face. The peace of God will keep you when nothing around you seems to be going your way. Your prayer time is essential. It is what connects you with God’s abilities, and when you know what your God can do then you will have peace. I am sure that Jesus walked around in a constant state of peace. He never worried about anything because he was aware that his Father was in control. I can only imagine the state of total peace and contentment Jesus lived in daily. Can you imagine walking through everyday life without a care? Can you imagine walking around as if you were being held in your parent’s arms and could feel their love surround you? This is what the Sovereign Lord wants for us every day. Contrary to popular belief, God is in control and He is aware of what you need and of your situation. Jesus encourages us with this story: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:2-27 NIV) Through prayer we discover the will of God and we reap the extra benefit of mental and spiritual peace. I urge you to pray until your will becomes lost in the will of our Father.
Prayer is literally the stripping away of your own will; it is your will being absorbed by the will of Christ until your will no longer exists. There are some people that you have already marked as enemies and you refuse to reconcile with them. Pray! Pray until God turns bitterness into love for them. It is then that you begin to pray opposite of your own will, and begin to receive the mind of God and accept His divine will. There are things that we want that will never come to pass. Yet, God is looking for you to embrace His will even though it may not be what you want. You embrace God’s will with this mindset, Lord I don’t like this situation. This isn’t what I particularly care for, or what I had in mind. However, I’m going to do what you say, because this is your will for my life. Please believe me when I tell you the more time you spend in prayer, the more you will begin to respond to situations in the same fashion as Jesus. I can only imagine how he would handle the economic problems of our day or how he would address the issues we face on a daily basis. If Jesus could sleep on a boat during the height of a storm, then he most certainly can provide the peace we need to adjust to the stormy seasons in our lives.
Knowing What To Pray For
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
We don’t know what to pray for and in light of this, the Holy Spirit will pray for us according to the will of God. We must continue to pray about a matter until we develop God’s mind concerning the situation. This is praying through. Peace comes once we have obtained and accepted God’s will for a situation.
1. Is there a situation that you don’t know how to pray for ? If so, begin with honesty. Simply tell the Father that you don’t know how to pray for this matter and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your time in prayer. 2. Do you struggle with peace in or about a situation? Pray that God helps you to accept His will in or about the situation and that, His peace encompass your mind and heart.
Don’t Be Anxious
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah (Psalm 46:7-11).
nce again, the Psalmist calls us into the reality of relationship. We are told that the Lord is with us, and because of our relationship, we are protected from danger and distress. We are admonished to be still and know that the Lord is God! We spend an enormous amount of time rushing
around our life. This constant activity can affect our prayer time. Believe me, while I am engaged in the work of ministry, I can easily become distressed and frustrated. When I am confronting the multitude of problems involved in ministry, I sometimes feel like “hitting the rock a second time.” This is the result of anxiety and I must do the same things that I teach others to do. I need a moment to reflect on the greatness of God and rest. The life of an adult can be very stressful and there are times when we need to revert to the peaceful, trusting mindset of a child. Remember as a child how you would open the refrigerator and stare into it for fifteen minutes. You would hold the door open so long that the ice would begin to melt. Yet, you didn’t worry about it. You would go to school and not worry about lunch money. You would go to your parents and ask them for lunch money. You heard them say last night on the phone that they were broke, but that did not stop you from asking. Why? You knew that they would find a way to take care of you and your needs. Parents were our first magicians; they could make a “money” rabbit appear out of thin air. You never worried about a thing. I watch children playing at our camp during the summer and they aren’t worried about a thing. They are running around the playground, laughing and playing. They aren’t thinking about war and economic calamity; they don’t have a fear of terrorism. In contrast, as a parent, you are working your fingers to the bone planning for a college education for your three year old and he is outside wondering if he’s going to get more cookies. Children do not worry, and it is this
Don’t Be Anxious
mindset that Jesus calls us to have. He completely understands this quality about children and tells us to have a childlike attitude. However, we seem to like worrying. Paul understood through the Holy Spirit that prayer is not effective when it is mixed with anxiety. He writes in Philippians chapter four that we are not to have anxiety when we pray. Anxiety will keep you from clearly hearing the Spirit. The Spirit of God cannot communicate in a tempest. When you are anxious, a thousand things are being tossed back and forth in your mind: things you want to see, things you are afraid of, things you want to accomplish. You can’t believe God when fear is dominating your thoughts. There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:9-14 NIV).
After the victorious showdown with the prophets of Baal, Elijah ran from Jezebel. He went from faith to anxiety in a matter of hours. Elijah strains to hear the Lord in the cave. He thought God would speak with the same intensity that Elijah demonstrated. Wind and earthquakes came. Elijah thought the Lord would certainly speak out of these loud demonstrations. Yet, the Lord’s voice was absent amidst the noise.
As Christians, we have been led to believe that we must be stronger than we actually are.
After the great noise came a whisper of a sound. You had to “be still” in order to hear it. The Lord spoke in a calm fashion and Elijah could have missed it if he was not still. How often do we miss the small, gentle whisper of the Lord’s voice as we struggle with anxiety? We enter our caves of doubt and strain to hear from the Lord while wrestling with emotions and fears. Does this mean that if I am anxious that I can’t talk to God? The opposite is true. Before you seek God’s face for direction or an answer you must first deal with anxiety. Jesus tells us that God cares about what we care about. As a result, we are instructed to cast our cares on him. That means we have to talk to our Father about whatever “it” is. Do you know God wants to hear your anxiety; He wants to hear what you are afraid of. He wants to comfort your heart. As Christians, we have been led to believe that we must be stronger than we actually are. Paul said in his writing “when I
Don’t Be Anxious
am weak…” - he acknowledged that he was weak. Don’t sit around and try to be tough or to show God you can take it. Tell God your concerns. In everything, take it to God. Tell God where your heart is broken. Tell God when you are frustrated. Tell God where you are fearful. Many of you reading this do not need a counseling session. You do not need to talk to the Pastor, deacon, elders, or minister. You need to simply tell God about it. Understand that God enjoys your company. God creates or allows situations to arise in your life that will require you to turn to Him. When you understand that you can’t figure it out because you’re not suppose to figure it out on your own, the better off you will be. You will find the frustration dissipating. Tell God about it… “but in everything by prayer”. It is not advisable to force a prayer while under the attack of anxiety. I strongly recommend that you sing for a few minutes or read the Word of God until you find yourself relaxing. This response will put you in a better position to clearly hear the Lord‘s voice. This concept is not deep. When you come to God sit in His presence and begin to share with Him what is on your heart. Tell it to Him the way you would. Do not use flowery words; do not use ten syllable words when two syllables will do. This is the time for you to be open and honest and talk to your Father. What does this look like? It begins with… Lord, I don’t know what they’re doing every day but you know. I put my child in your hands; I’m not going to worry about my baby anymore. I’m going to put my
baby in your hands. God, here is my child. Watch over my child, protect my child, keep my child, anoint my child, bless my child, save my child. He then says, by prayer and supplication. Then, you tell God what you want in this situation with the understanding that ultimately it will be His will that will be done. So, I say to you relax in the fellowship and relationship with the Father. You must rid yourself of anxiety and rise above doubt and fear. Give everything to the Lord in prayer and watch the Lord move on your behalf.
Don’t Be Anxious
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer.
-Joseph M. Scriven
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God shows you how much He cares for you through His care for things around you (Luke 12:22-32) God will meet every one of your needs (Philippians 4:19) God cares about the things you care about, including your anxiety.
1. Are you anxious about a particular situation? 2. Have you given God your anxiety? Have you had an honest conversation with your heavenly Father about what you are feeling and what you are concerned about? If not spend time with God and give Him your concerns. Ask Him to help you to lean on Him during your time of uncertainty and to give you peace. 3. Can you look back over your life and see how God has met your needs or handled a situation that you were anxious about?
Praying For and Connecting With Others
od created the body of Christ to be intimately connected to one another and to care for each other. Jesus tells the disciples to love one another as he has loved them. It is important that we manifest the love Jesus spoke about through praying for each other. We are not only to pray for one another, but we are also to pray for the world and situations in the world. Have you ever thought to ask God to use you as an instrument to bring peace to a warring situation or to be a source of comfort to the broken hearted? Well, God may not have you intervene in the natural, but He will have you lift them up in prayer. The prayer may contain these simple words:
There are some people in my church Father whose hearts are broken, and they don’t have any friends. Father help me to go over and befriend them. I heard that they were wicked, I’ve heard that they were contrary and angry, help me go over and befriend them. Lord, don’t let me isolate myself and become so spiritually important that I can’t love. We think that God does not want this type of requests brought before Him. However, everything the Christian needs can be found in the body of Christ. It simply takes someone to momentarily take their eyes off of their own situation, stay before God long enough to have Him bring the needs before you, and to pray as the Holy Spirit directs you. As a young Christian, I heard about people praying all night. I thought how can someone stay up and pray all night? I would think that you would physically be too tired. I watched how people around me prayed and they were exerting a great deal of energy. It wasn’t until I went to a Pastor’s roundtable in Raleigh, North Carolina that I gained a full understanding of how you could pray for hours. About thirty pastors had gathered together in a rented banquet hall room at eight in the morning. I had only been pastoring five or six years and I was among great men and women in God who have now risen to a place of prominence that we could never have imagined at the time. The facilitator of the group said “we’re going to press into prayer”. I was accustomed to our way of prayer. I said, “My God this won’t be long because with all these people in the
Praying For And Connecting With Others
room there’s going to be a lot of emotions.” He said we’re just going to sit in a circle and we will press into prayer. We started praying at 9:00 am and the first session did not end for five hours. To my surprise, I never left my chair. We took a short break and prayed for another five and a half hours.
...when you pray in the spirit with someone else you are both connected to God and heaven. Inevitably, the two of you will also be connected.
I was talking to God, it wasn’t emotional; it was real conversation with God. It was not structured and it wasn’t scripted. Out of that was built a level of connection with men and women of God that still exists to this day. Understand that when you pray in the spirit with someone else you are both connected to God and heaven. Inevitably, the two of you will also be connected. Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:13-16 NIV).
This passage in the Book of James teach us the attitude we should have regarding a shared prayer life. First, the Apostle teaches us that we should reach out to others when we are sick and in need of prayer. I am often amazed that we wait until someone calls us instead of calling the Elders. If we had the proper attitude regarding “one anothering”, we would reach out when we are hurting and in need. James goes on to tell us that we are to be so connected that we should trust each other, confess our faults to one another, and seek help and strength from the Body of Christ. I am sure that the Lord is pleased when we reach out to each other and help our brothers and sisters in times of need. One of the more delightful prayer agendas we had at the church I pastor was when we would gather together and prayer for each others’ needs. That time of connection brought such unity to the local body. We could feel the church becoming more connected. The Lord wants us to be connected in our prayer efforts. If we pray together then the enemy will not be able to destroy the unity of the local body. I know that it is difficult to share and to establish a connection with someone you may not be comfortable. Yet, the family connection is vital for prayer. If the enemy is successful in keeping the family of God disconnected, then he can destroy our unity. If we learn the principle of praying together and encouraging one another, we will discover the richness of fellowship and the strength of spiritual unity. Through prayer, we will be able to assume new roles and responsibilities in our church. I can fondly recall the
Praying For And Connecting With Others
Prayer is to be an act of “cementing” relationships: first with our Father and then with the family of believers.
closeness of the church when I came to Christ in in 1971. You would often find saints of God huddled in corners praying for each other. There was such a spirit of connection that the power of God would be present in our midst even before the Pastor came out to pray. One would often hear the phrase “pray for me” spoken throughout the congregation. I can imagine this is what the Lord had in mind as he taught the disciples to pray. Prayer is to be an act of “cementing” relationships: first with our Father and then with the family of believers. Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2 NIV). It is my conviction that prayer will enable us to “carry” one another’s burdens as we work to fulfill the words of the Apostle Paul. We often feel alone as we travel through life and it is vital that we connect with our Heavenly Father and then with the family of God. If we pray together and then for each other we establish a strong spiritual connection , which will serve as the instrument the Lord will use to demonstrate His power.
Pray for one another! Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I ask that you strengthen them and keep them strong. I ask that the power of God, assist your people to move to newer heights in your kingdom. We pray that your will is done in their lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen” There is too much separation in the Church today and it must come to an end. Many powerful verses call us to a level of accountability and cooperation that we cannot deny. For example: • Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15).
A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34). Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV).
There are many other passages that reflect what I am saying. However, I think you get the picture. We cannot avoid the richness of relationship and the connection that comes from our adoption into the family of God. Prayer will serve to strengthen both of these areas of our lives. Let us work on connecting with our brothers and sisters, so that the Kingdom of God moves forward in power and unity.
Effectual and Fervent
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. (James 5:16-18)
he word effectual is the Greek word energeo which means work. It is where we get the word energy and ergonomics from. James tells us that prayer requires energy and is therefore a form of work. Prayer is not simply an utterance or a rehearsed statement; prayer is battling through spiritual layers to get to the will of God. Let me emphatically
say, PRAYER IS WORK! That is right, prayer is work. We must move beyond the little prayers of our youth and move into more advanced prayer that gets results. When we master this level of prayer, we no longer need to feel anything; we will be able to operate by faith and faith alone.
There are times when you sit before God and pray and you don’t feel His presence. The powers of darkness encircle you and sit on your shoulder telling you that God is not listening and that your prayer is not working. You are encouraged to get up and go watch TV. At this point, you have to stay there and pray through all of the doubt and discouragement until the mind of God becomes solidified in you.
Prayer is the one component of Christianity that is dependent upon the Character of the person performing it.
Paul taught in Ephesians 6:13, “ Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” He reminds us that we are engaged in a battle at all times. The level of the attack is determined by the level of our intimacy with the Father. Prayer is the one component of Christianity that is dependent upon the character of the person performing it. Everything else dealing with salvation is passive. God saves you, God delivers you, God fills you, God sanctifies you, but prayer is dependent upon your character. The effectual,
Effectual and Fervent
fervent prayer of the “righteous” availeth much. Righteous means that you must have character, steadfastness and the ability to touch God. Elijah was a man subject to passions as we are. What does that mean? He hurt like us; he had similar emotions and feelings. He prayed earnestly that it might not rain and it didn’t rain on the earth for 3 ½ years. Then he prayed again and the rain began to fall. What does this tell you about Elijah? He was righteous and he exerted energy in prayer. Elijah prayed and then he received a vision. However, the prayer had not been fully manifested. He now prays the vision. He continues to pray seven more times until he receives results. Depending upon the significance of the vision God has given you, the enemy will not roll over and let what you see come to pass after your first prayer. I know that the church is confused about this. Do I pray for it once, count it done, go on, and praise God? Do I pray repeatedly until I have a clear answer? Is it doubt if I bring the same request before Jesus again? Let me help you understand what happens with prayer. Let’s say the human resource person at a company you have always dreamed of working for calls you and says they have a job for you. They tell you to report to room 330 on June 20th at 12:30 pm to sign papers to solidify your position. On June 20th, you show up, but the security guard will not let you upstairs. He tells you that your name is not on the visitors’ list. How would you address the guard’s response? Do you think you would turn around and go back home?
Now, you know what you were told and you know what is waiting for you. Will you give up and go back home? Hopefully, you will not go home because someone upstairs called you. You are not going to let the security guard keep you away. So, why do we let the enemy keep us from what we know is ours or what we want? We want to hear clearly from God about our request. You would have the guard call the human resource department. If the line is busy, you will tell them to try again until they get the person you spoke with. Finally, the person you are there to meet with picks up the phone and apologies for your name not being on the list. PRAYER IS WORK! Daniel said he prayed for an answer from God for 21 days. The angel sent with the answer finally arrived. He had been held up by the ”prince of Persia” and he had to wait for reinforcements to be sent. Why did God send reinforcements? The text tells us it was a result of Daniel continuing in prayer. I want to encourage you not to give up when you know it is God’s will that you get an answer. Keep asking God until you have results, until you have an answer. Please understand that you may not get the answer you want but you will get an answer if you keep asking. Sometimes prayer can result in a physical confrontation with the adversary that will test your resolve. Jesus prayed until the pressure of darkness rose up, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:4). The very life was being squeezed out of him. Have you ever prayed until you stirred up the enemy? I do not think that
Effectual and Fervent
many of us have ventured into that arena. If we are to see the miraculous and hear from the Lord, we must move into a new level of prayer. We must learn to press through the devils pitfalls and devices. We have to continue in prayer even if the response from the Father has been delayed. At the beginning of this bookt we talked about developing a positive relationship with the Father, and all that went with it. Well, there are seasons when we must rest solely on the relationship. We must pray with the understanding that the Lord knows what He is doing and we are His children. We are encouraged to always trust the Lord: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Trust comes as a result of our paternal relationship with the Father as His child. My daughter trusts me with her life. Why? We have spent considerable time together and I grew with her. We would spend time together in various places having fun. She became familiar with me and I with her. Ultimately, a mutual trust for each other developed. It took great effort to reach the place of total trust and it was not easy. It will require the same effort to trust our Father completely. It will take the work of prayer. It may require sweat, tears and blood in order to develop the proper prayer life that will bring the Lord glory and help you to grow. Do not be afraid of the energy and work prayer requires. There will be great benefits and you will appreciate the rewards. You may not see the rewards right away. However, if you continue in the Lord and prayer you will experience the breakthrough you desire.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime (Daniel 6:10).
aniel prayed three times a day. He held a government position with many responsibilities and was able to engage in prayer several times a day. For many of us, life is extremely busy and we struggle with finding time to pray. We struggle with praying once a day. As a result, we look at Daniel and wonder how he found time to pray three times. I know that prayer is work, but it is a good investment of your time and your energy. Prayer is also a joy; you get to spend time with your heavenly Father. Think of it, our
“Daddy” wants us to come into His presence and spend quality time with Him. God is running and entire universe, yet He is waiting, even anticipating, spending time with us. We are that special to the Lord. Some reading this book may be saying that Daniel is unique in his prayer endeavors. However, David tells us in Psalms 55:16-17, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice” (Psalms 55:16-17). David was King and had responsibility for the oversight of an entire kingdom, yet he found time for prayer three times a day. Do you see the development of a pattern? These are just two men who had risen to great places in the will of God, and there are more. It would appear that their prominence and positions were a result of a healthy and consistent prayer life. Each one was constantly busy with affairs of state; yet, they set an example of taking time out of their busy lives for the Lord. Although what you do for the Lord and the church is important, it should never prevent you from spending time in prayer if you are determined to be fruitful in and out of prayer. If the Prophet can pray three times a day and the King can pray three times a day, I think we can certainly pray more than we do now. As Christians, we can’t afford to not pray and not to pray often. Remember, prayer is where we obtain the heart and mind of God. Prayer is where our will is bent into submission to our Father’s will. Prayer is where we get answers when we have questions; it is where we find peace
when we are in the midst of a storm; it is where we clearly see God’s direction when we are lost; it is where we find strength when we are weak. The Apostles asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, and he did just that. He gave them a framework for prayer that is still effective today. Now, I encourage and challenge you to take the lessons you have learned and apply them to your daily walk so that you may reap the benefit of a fruitful and God directed life. Never lose sight that it is the “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man that gets results.”
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?