THE NEED AND THE POWER IN PRAYER…. (Part 4)

Spiritual Blog - Prayer

Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’” NASU

Let’s continue our journey into understanding the misconceptions, the dynamics, and importance of Prayer!

PRAYER IS MORE THAN A COMMITMENT IT IS A COMMAND….

We take great pride here in America that we are FREE!  We live in a society that is based on a Republican Democracy and we revel in our Independence. That is great in helping the individual develop a sense of worth and significance but it can also produce a weakness in our understanding the force, power, and importance of authority.  It is important that we realize that the Bible is not a book of ‘suggestions’ it is GOD’S WORD!  In that light, prayer is not an ‘option’ it is vital to life itself spiritually.  The word pray occurs 250 times and the word praying 280 times so that sounds pretty important to me!

However when you say it is a ‘command’ that seems to produce a resistance in many hearts.  The command to pray is not to discipline us but because prayer is so incredibly vital for our Spiritual Life!  How often do we need to pray?  How often do we need to breathe or eat?  How much time does it require to establish and develop a sound, wholesome relationship?  That’s how much we need to pray!

GENUINE PRAYER IS A CHALLENGE…

Remember the words of our text in Jeremiah 33 – God says CALL.  That is our responsibility.  He then promises “I will answer you.”  Then He adds, “I will show you great and mighty things, which you did not and do not know.”  Therefore, it is simple – If we do not pray we will miss many if not most of God’s answers and revelations!  No communication with God results in no revelations from God!

Life is a challenge!  We face one challenge after another as we wind our way through the maze called Life!  Through prayer, we can work our way through it with much greater ease and effectiveness.  The Church does not need more programs it needs more Jesus!  We might want to turn our ‘supper rooms’ into ‘upper rooms.’

PRAYER IS MORE THAN A COMMITMENT, COMMAND, AND CHALLENGE IT IS ALSO A CATHARSIS….

1 Peter 5:7 – “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

That directive is a channel through which we can remove the negative emotions of anxiety, fear, and anger from our lives.  Prayer releases the overload of stress and pressure and casts them at the feet of our LORD!  It transfers the weight of life and living from the weak to the strong!  It is therapeutic, unlocks the inner man, and allows us to draw from God’s strength, wisdom, and might!  Prayer is a preventative from BURNOUT!

Isaiah 40:31 – “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Prayer is a key to survival and victory!  It is our channel of communication with God Himself.  God meets with us in ascending levels of communication where each level meets a great need in our lives.  Each level moves us into a higher realm in the Spirit.  Each level opens to us a greater degree of God’s presence.  Each level gives us a more full revelation of His Person and Nature.

Remember you have an INVITATION to come before Him ANYTIME for ANYTHING and He is ready to HEAR you and RESPOND to you.

May God bless you as you go through your day!

 

THE NEED AND THE POWER IN PRAYER…. (Part 3)

Spiritual Blog - Prayer

Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’” NASU

Let’s step a little deeper into our consideration of the importance, misconceptions, and dynamics of Prayer!

EFFECTIVE PRAYER REQUIRES COMMITMENT…

That is absolutely true but it requires more than our commitment and dedication to the activity – – It requires something on God’s part as well.  God has extended to us the ‘invitation’ to prayer and has granted us the ‘ability’ to pray and ‘teaches’ us to pray through the Holy Spirit.  Yet, we MUST NEVER FORGET who we are addressing when we pray.

1 Timothy 6:15-16 – “… He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”  NASU

You do not just casually drop in on people like the President, Prime Ministers, or Royalty in the natural, so why would we think that we could do so in the spiritual.  However, this one has extended an ‘invitation’ to enter His presence ANYTIME and make our request known to Him!  We have an OPEN INVITATION to call upon Him anytime!

Jeremiah 29:12 – “…pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”  NASU

Job 33:26 – “Then he will pray to God, and He will accept him, that he may see His face with joy, and He may restore His righteousness to man.” NASU

 When you realize God’s directive regarding prayer you understand that the person who prays is promised a hearing, God delights in that person and promises divine righteousness to them.  That is incredible!  Prayer is not ‘overcoming the reluctance’ of God.  Prayer is responding to provision of God.  The appointment has already been made it is up to us to keep it – GOD WILL!

Prayer is a powerful interaction with God.  It is not like a beggar asking alms from a wealthy person.  It is more like an ambassador reporting to his superior.  Prayer demands ‘discipline’, dedication and ‘determination.’

Jeremiah 29:13 – “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Did you get that?  God promised that if we seek Him we will find Him WHEN we do so with all our heart!  Prayer is more than praying for the needs of others or for a particular desire or situation.  It is ‘fellowshipping’ with God UNTIL you get to know His heart and His will!  So, my question for all of us – “How much time does it require to know God intimately?”  People who only pray when the Spirit moves them or they face a crisis seldom develop any real depth in their relationship with God.  God’s commitment to us requires a commitment from us!  He has made Himself available ALL THE TIME we must make ourselves available to Him.  Communication requires at least two persons!

I have a few more thoughts on this subject but will hold them until another session.  May the Lord richly be with you as you go through your day!

THE NEED AND THE POWER IN PRAYER…. (Part 2)

Spiritual Blog - Prayer

Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’” NASU

I would like to illustrate and identify some misconceptions regarding prayer in an effort to identify its power, purpose, and importance in the Christian’s arsenal of Spiritual Weapons.

IT IS OFTEN MORE OF A COMMODITY THAN AN ACTION.

What I mean by that is that in our generation it seems that prayer is viewed as something that can be manufactured, marketed, microwaved, and served as needed.  I am all for virtually every effort to get people to pray but I am convinced that if people truly understand the dynamic of prayer and its power and purpose they will pray!  Some people seem to feel that prayer is like an item on the shelf in a grocery store.  We turn to prayer chains, calendars, days and nights, rotate praying, send money for others to pray for us, and even have dial-a-prayers.  I am not suggesting that those are bad in and of themselves my question is “How much do we actually pray ourselves and for ourselves?”  Too often people seem to specialize in a ‘word of prayer’ or ‘recite a canned prayer’ rather than actually engaging in the work of prayer!

It is apparent that most understand the need for prayer but do we understand the dynamics of prayer and pray?  I heard an illustration years ago that illustrates what I’m saying:

“There was a wealthy widow on an Ocean Liner enroute from England to America.  A severe storm developed and she used her influence to access the bridge where she demanded that the Captain do something.  He responded, “Ma’am, everything that can be done has been done. We are now in the hands of God, we can ONLY pray.”  Upon hearing that she gasped:  “Captain, has it come to that!”  Then she fainted in fear. 

Prayer should never be a ‘last resort’ but the ‘initial reaction’ or ‘action’.  Prayer is not an ‘appeal’ to Heaven’s Supreme Court it is a conversation with our LORD.  It is communion with God not simply conforming to a Law.  It is not getting ‘from’ God it is getting ‘to’ God.  Our problem, too often, is that we are so involved in the natural world that we do not avail ourselves of the spiritual world.  We are easily able to SEE the natural but are BLIND to the spiritual.

Some seem to believe that while prayer is somewhat profitable, they are not convinced of its power and vitality and therefore it occupies a relatively low position on their list of priorities.  It is more of a ‘break the glass in case of emergency’ endeavor than one of daily and regular engagement.

We have more to say on this subject but will hold further thoughts until tomorrow.  Until then may God bless you and be with you as you go through your day!

 

THE NEED AND THE POWER IN PRAYER….

Spiritual Blog - Prayer

 Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’” NASU

 

Some years ago a person in the church I was leading said, “My Bible automatically opens to Jeremiah 33:3 now because Brother Roy preaches so much from that passage.”  It is a passage that I refer to frequently because God has impressed upon me the need and importance of prayer.  Prayer is communication, petition, and a weapon of warfare spiritually.  It would be a tremendous understatement to say that ‘prayer’ is important.  It is more than important in the Christian’s Life it is critical!  I fully believe and the Bible reveals that prayer is one of the greatest weapons a Christian can have and use and yet it is possible the most misunderstood and underdeveloped weapon in our arsenal.

The Bible has much to say in reference to the ‘mighty weapons’ at the disposal of the believer and that includes the myriad of references to prayer.

 

Luke 18:1 – “…men always ought to pray and not lose heart…” NKJV

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “…pray without ceasing…” NASU

Luke 11:1 – “…Lord, teach us to pray…” NASU

Matthew 6:9 – “In this manner, therefore, pray…” NKJV

Those are just a sampling of the multitude of references and calls to prayer in Scripture and one would wonder why it is so ‘underutilized’.  Prayer is a vehicle or channel whereby God has provided for mortal man to reach into the eternal realm.  Prayer is one of the most talked about and least done endeavors among professing Christians.  The writers of Scripture knew, understood, and utilized its power!

David – – “The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.”  (Psalm 6:9)

Solomon – – –“The Lord… hears the prayer of the righteous.”  (Proverbs 15:29)

Paul – – “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”  (1 Timothy 2:8)

James – – “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  (James 5:16)

Peter – – “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers.”  (1 Peter 3:12)

On one occasion facing a situation that was shaking me to the core of my being, I was reading and the Holy Spirit directed me to a passage in the “Little Johns” that grabbed my attention and inspired my faith and confidence.  It has become a fixture in my thought process and in my prayers.

1 John 5:14-15 – “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His Will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we asked of Him.”

             Look at this promise of God!   If we ask according to His will we are HEARD.  If we are heard HE ANSWERS and we get what we are asking for.  How do you improve on that?  That is a catalyst to believing faith and directs prayer to first determining the will of God and then to doggedly stay with the request knowing that no matter how things look around us or the circumstances we are being HEARD and if we are being HEARD He is GRANTING our petition.

Prayer was an essential part of every Mighty Man or Woman in Scripture and has been of every Mighty Man or Woman in history.  They understood that prayer bridges the gulf between time and eternity and they engaged in that activity UNTIL they touched God and God touched them!

            May God be with you as you go through your day and inspire you to PRAY!

 

THANKSGIVING IS FOR GIVING THANKS….

Spiritual Blog - Thanksgiving

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” NASU

             Please forgive me but I am somewhat ignoring the entire context of this text to make a statement.  In verse eighteen we read, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   In EVERYTHING….. Give THANKS…. This is identified as God’s will!

Most of us will refer to the Pilgrims as initiating the ‘Feast of Thanksgiving’ but according to much documentation in history they only did this the first year and did not systematically repeat it annually.  However some of the more religious of the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving with ‘prayer and fasting’ not ‘feasting’.  I am aware of seven other nations that have an annual and National Day of Thanksgiving – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Korea, Liberia, and Switzerland.  I do not know the extent or festivities of each of those only that they have designated a particular day nationally.  In 1777 when General Washington and the troops in incredibly horrible weather en route to Valley Forge stopped in an open filed to celebrate the 1st Thanksgiving of the new United States of America and in 1789 he declared November 26th as a national day of ‘Thanksgiving and Prayer.’  During the 1800’s the presidential Day of Thanksgiving ceased and in 1863 Abraham Lincoln resumed the practice.  It was not until 1941 that FDR established the 4th Thursday in November as the National Thanksgiving Day and now Colleges and the NFL have made it the National Day of Football Tailgate Parties.  (I say that tongue in cheek)

Although I am somewhat put off and have been for a long time with the commercialization of various holidays and believe that true ‘Thanksgiving’ should certainly not be relegated to one particular day but every day I still appreciate a National Day of Thanksgiving.  In my formative years, it was a day in which the family gathered and enjoyed each other while feasting.  I dare say we did not express enough thanks for what we had but I do believe that we recognized that without the hand of God we would not have had the bounty we had.  Love was never lacking in our home and that made this time of the year especially rewarding for me and I very much miss the family gatherings that we had while Dad and Mother were alive.  Our home in East Texas was a home of love and I treasure those memories.  Today, with the incredibly busy schedules that most have and the fragmentation of families it becomes more and more difficult to establish a tradition and have unique family gathers as in days gone by.  Yet, all of us can and should be THANKFUL for what we have for we could have much less even if we now have much less than we did in the not too distant past.

I am ‘thankful’ for my relationship with God.  I am ‘thankful’ for my family.  I am ‘thankful’ for my health although I am not absent of some medical and physical problems overall, to the best of my knowledge, I am healthy with the exception of my knee.  My wife is battling cancer but we are THANKFUL for God’s Provisions!  I am ‘thankful’ for friends.  I am ‘thankful’ for my country and the freedoms that we have and enjoy yet today.  In short, I AM THANKFUL and will express that to God today but choose not to limit my Giving of Thanks to Thanksgiving Day and know that you share my sentiment.  If you are sick, wounded, lonely, or facing dire times economically I pray that God grant you a miracle and that His presence will grace your home or abode in a powerful way today enabling you to look above and beyond your difficulties to His Awesomeness.

            God bless you as you celebrate this Day of Thanksgiving!

 

STRESS – PRESSURE – PEACE….

Spiritual Blog - Stress

Psalms 46 – – Please read.

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” NASU

 

I would venture to say that there are more people suffering under the heavy burden of ‘Stress & Pressure’ today than in any other generation.  More and more are finding ‘physical, emotional, and spiritual’ disorder in their lives because of the unbelievably face paced, the pressure-packed way of living that is the norm in our present world.  STRESS & PRESSURE are two common, constant companions of many in the church and in the world.

A number of years ago I saw something in a Children’s Book that was too close to reality for comfort but hilarious at the same time.  The book was by Judith Viorst entitled, “Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”  The account was:

“Alexander [7 or 8] had one of those days!  Nothing goes right.  He has back-to-back-to-back disappointments and tragedies like no one can believe.  His day is one continuous predicament after another.  In short, he cannot win for losing!  When he awoke in the morning he found that he had gone to sleep with gum in his mouth and now it was in his hair.  When he got out of bed he tripped on his skateboard and by mistake dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running.  So he declared, “I can tell it is going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!”

After a terrible day at school, a horrible visit to the dentist, a no-good stop at the shoe store, Alexander slumped in his chair at the dinner table and his troubles continue to mount.  He looked at the offering of food and there were lima beans and he hated lima beans, there was kissing on television and he hated kissing, his bath was too hot, he got soap in his eyes, his marble went down the tub drain, and he had to wear his railroad train pajamas to be and he hated those pajamas.  His Mickey Mouse nightlight burned out and he bit his tongue getting into bed.  The cat wanted to sleep with his brother not him so he once again concludes – “This has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!” 

             Most of us have been there!  Humans are really strange creatures.  Have you ever wondered why we run or hurry about when we get lost?  Instead of regrouping and finding our way our senses tend to run in all directions, and we ‘hurry, worry, and bury!’  What we need to do is STOP and allow the Holy Spirit to take control and restore order to our lives.  We need to relearn that GOD is GOD!

STRESS is a result of taking more on ourselves than God intended.  In a sense, we play God in the matter.  Dr. Thomas Homes of Washington University has done research into the problem of stress and published his findings in terms of “Life Changing Units”.  He gave them on a scale of 100 points.  Death of a spouse = 100 units.  Divorce = 73 units.  Pregnancy = 40 units.  Remodeling a home = 25 units, and Christmas = 12 units.  The conclusion was that from a strictly human viewpoint, no person in his own strength could handle 300 or more units in a 12 month period without suffering ‘physically’ or ‘emotionally’ and I add ‘spiritually’ during the next 2 years!

In truth, if we are crippled by stress we cannot be very useful to God, ourselves, or anyone else.  If we are crippled by stress we cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  So it is imperative that we learn “God’s Secrets of Handling Stress.”  You cannot avoid stress but you can avoid being crippled by it.  As Paul says in Philippians 4:6 – “Be anxious for nothing….”  The converse of that is “Be content and at peace in everything.”

I want to deal more with this on another occasion but until then may God help you to rise above the chains of stress and rejoice!  Blessings as you go through your day!

 

 

IT ALL BEINGS WITH GOD AND ENDS WITH GOD….

Spiritual Blog - Beginning

Gen 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” NASU

Rev 22:20 – “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” NASU

 

The Bible in Genesis Chapter One begins with GOD and Revelation Chapter Twenty-Two ends with GOD and everything between those two chapters is filled with GOD.  The Bible as one of my grandsons described it is ‘The God Book.’  It introduces Him and reveals Him to mankind.  The Bible is more than a good book it is the ‘Life Manual’ that people keep saying we did not get when we became parents.  It is a ‘Road Map’ to guide us along the journey of life.  It is God’s Word and as John declared, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word Was God.” 

Can you imagine working at a job that was filled with unknown elements and situations and never reading the handbook?  Can you imagine someone being tasked with disarming a bomb but never studying the schematics of bombs?  Can you imagine a surgeon preparing to perform a major surgery but never having studied human anatomy?  Why is it then that so many Christians feel no compulsion to read or study God’s Word?

I had a preacher tell me one time tell me, “I don’t read the Bible much because I found a place where I can order sermons each week so I don’t have to study.”  Several words came to mind including – “Hireling!”  I have lived from preaching the gospel but always refused to preach the gospel for money.  In the times I’ve been in itinerant ministry I’d have people ask, “What is your fee?”  I do not have a fee.  I do not even ask people pay my expenses.  If they offer to defray my expenses that is nice but if God directs me to accept an invitation I trust Him to supply the need.

I can recall an individual saying once after he had completed one semester of Bible school that he had all the theology he needed and now needed to focus on other aspects of the ministry.  I thought you will never have all the theology or Bible training you need if you live to be 100 and continue preaching the entire time.  Learning is a never ending process and when you realize that God is INFINITE how would a FINITE mind ever fully comprehend Him?  One of the reasons the Bible never grows old is that in the pages of that Book we continually learn more and more about the LIVING GOD who is boundless.

You have at your disposal one of the most valuable items you will ever find and in it are revelations and treasures beyond anything you could possibly comprehend so do not fail to avail yourself to it.  I have no prescription as to how much you read but suggest that you read and study that Book which begins with GOD and ends with GOD and between is saturated with GOD.

May God be with you as you go through your day!