Faith

blue and white planet display

God Changes Things When We Pray

Christian theology teaches that there is a separation between the work of God and work performed by things, people, and events. God’s work is called the Primary Cause – He made all things, seen and unseen, and maintains all things (Colossians 1:16-18).

The actions of things, people, and events are called the Secondary Cause – these activities can only occur within the provisions and constraints of God’s Primary Cause. My definition is limited to addressing a concern I have. I am not attempting to redefine any established Christian catechism (e.g, Westminster Confession of Faith).

An easily understood example of a Secondary Cause is prayer. God, as all-knowing, all-powerful, in all places, and all-sufficient, could easily anticipate and provide all things without a person’s prayers. God does directly intervene more times than we know. His action is a Primary Cause. (Shush, you lovers of Causation. I’m trying to make a point. 😉)

Here’s my concern: Jesus told us to ask, to seek, and to knock (Matthew 7:7–8). Jesus taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). He taught us to be persistent in prayer (Luke 18:1-8). He taught us to pray with faith (John 15:7). Therefore, God’s will is for us to pray and for Him to answer prayers. Why? Within God’s sovereign will, there are actions that He will only do if a person or a people asks it of Him. Really?

 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

Notice the “If my people.” The worldly religion of “fatalism” – the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable – has crept into the Body of Christ. If everything is inevitable, why would Jesus teach us how to pray the way He did?

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6:9-13

Why would Jesus tell us to ask for our material needs, and forgiveness, and protection from evil, if all of these things were going to happen even if we didn’t pray? Of course, we can go back to Daniel’s prayer and God’s answer (Daniel 9:1-19) as well as many other examples. Please know that I am not addressing the theology of election or the truth that “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3) Nevertheless, it is imperative that the children of God pray. Prayer is within God’s will. So, we are to ask, believing that prayer matters and that God changes times and circumstances.

Symbolic Inner Values Human Man Adorable

Eternal Value

One day, shortly after my wife and I married, I opened the door to my small print shop, looked out on the traffic whizzing by, and prayed something like this: “Father, I need to do something that has eternal value.” I was tired of working hard to make things with immediate value but didn’t seem to have eternal value; the Holy Spirit was calling me to launch out into deeper waters.

Jesus Provides Opportunities

As Christians, we always have feelings tugging at us to stay on the shore and enjoy watching ships sail over the horizon. It’s safe on the shore, and we don’t know what perils those ships will face when we can no longer see them. Our feelings tell us to stay, but our Lord Jesus said, “Go.” (Matthew 28:19)

It has been nearly forty years since I prayed that prayer. I can testify that God answered it. Today, I was reminded of how Jesus provides opportunities that have eternal value for each of His own.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Younger, Stronger, Deeper

Therefore, no matter what you as a believer are challenged by in your physical body or the things of this world, take heart; today, your spirit is being renewed. Your spirit is younger, stronger, and deeper than ever before.

Today, you know more deeply, pray more meaningfully, and walk more closely with Jesus your Lord and your Friend. And the troubles that demand your attention they produce for you “a glory” that will never diminish; they have eternal value.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay


You may like: The Value of Lifelong Friendships

robotic lawnmower

I Won’t Become a Lawnmower

As I was praying today, I realized that I often read my Bible like one of those instruction manuals you get when buying a new lawnmower. Too often read my Bible to learn how to forgive or praise God or repent for a sin. God’s Word tells us what to do, and I thank God for that, but the point of God’s Word is to feed us.

If we do a Bible study on feeding on God’s Word, we will find that it’s a “thing.” God wants us to consume His Word as food that changes us. We’ve trained our minds to focus on the pleasure we get from eating, but we know that what we eat changes our bodies. And if we stop eating, we will starve. We should have this mindset about the Bible, God’s Word.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

I Won’t Become a Lawnmower

Faith is what we feed. And what we eat is “the word of Christ.” I won’t become a lawnmower if I read and study my new mower’s user manual. User manuals teach us, but they don’t make us. Jesus wants to make us, to make you, into a person that carries faith in God into everything you do and say. Jesus is the Father’s beloved Son. Out of Jesus’ unfathomable love, he desires us to continually become more like Him, so the Father is pleased with us.

Our faith will be weak if we skip our meals. Feeding on the word of Christ is something we need to become skilled at doing. When we eat a hamburger or a fresh tomato, we take time to chew our food. We instinctively know that chewing enables us to savor our food and prepares the food to be digested. The same is true with God’s food.

Reading the “Verse of the Day” is good, but we shouldn’t just gulp it down. We should chew it and store it in our memory. Then, we should bring it back throughout our day and chew on it. If we do this, God’s word feeds our faith, changing us.

The Bible is the best instruction manual ever created, but it is so much more. It is our pantry, our refrigerator, our lunchbox. To be who Jesus desires us to be, we need to eat right. Let’s practice savoring God’s word.

Image by Leo_65 from Pixabay


You may like: Speak Faith

Doctor Surgeon Hospital Surgery Medical Healthcare

Even a Good Report Needs Prayer

Today I was reminded of the account of Hezekiah, the king of Judah. For me, it’s one of the most encouraging events in the Old Testament. 2 Kings 19

Being Told That You’re Junior Varsity

The Assyrians, led by Sennacherib, were preparing to attack Jerusalem. The enemy arrived at Jerusalem after having a winning season of attacks, having conquered Israel and many nations that were thought of as bigger and stronger than Jerusalem. However, none of them worshiped the one true God.

Now the Assyrians had a letter delivered to Hezekiah that told him all the reasons why Hezekiah and Jerusalem would be defeated. This was more than “trash-talk,” this was disrespecting All Mighty God. So, Hezekiah does what we all should do when paired against a top-ranked opponent; he sought help from God. For Hezekiah, he sent a message to Isaiah, the prophet, to hear from God.

Keeping it Personal

Isaiah tells Hezekiah’s servants to tell Hezekiah that God spoke, saying that God would send the Assyrians back from where they came; game over.

Here’s the critical part. After Hezekiah heard from Isaiah, Hezekiah took the letter from the Assyrians and laid it out for God to look at it. Then Hezekiah prayed, saying to God that the threat from the Assyrians was not against Hezekiah but against Almighty God! Hezekiah’s prayer came from a deep understanding of the relationship he personally had with God. So, the battle was not against him or Judah; the Assyrians were attacking God!

Why did Hezekiah pray after already hearing from God? Because, as Jesus taught during His earthly ministry, we are to ask. Hezekiah had been told; now, he needed to ask. Then God has Isaiah send a message to Hezekiah to say to the king that because Hezekiah had prayed, God would send Sennacherib and the Assyrians back to their home with, metaphorically, their tail between their legs.

Even a Good Report Needs Prayer

God saved Hezekiah and Judah. What we need to learn is that even when we are told that our enemy will be defeated, we still need to pray and ask God for victory. Maybe we are battling a medical problem, and our doctor tells us that we will be okay; we still need to pray and ask God for victory. Why? Because we need the victory that comes from God. It’s personal.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Even when we are told that we will be okay, we need to ask, seek, and/or knock. This is the pattern that Jesus has set for us.


You may like: More Than the Leper Asked

Bible, Worship, Christian, Religious, Christianity Bible Worship Christian Religious Christianity

Pray Like It Matters

6 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

Blubbering Prayers

Please allow me to throw off the uniform of ecumenical propriety, and speak plainly to you about this watershed moment in which we live. As God’s people, we must stop praying “tidy” prayers. We need to pray blubbering prayers, prayers where we cry our eyes out as we call upon our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus, our Master, and Savior.

This is a crude analogy, but in a tiny way, Jesus is like the Internet. People around the world log on to the Internet to connect to a resource; it might be a search engine, it might be a Bible site, it might be WebMD, but it’s a resource they seek. Jesus is the great connection between us and the Father. Jesus is called our mediator.

A mediator is like an attorney that bridges communication between their client and the judge and prosecutor. Our prayers connect to God through the second person of the Godhead, Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

The Holy Spirit Helps Us Pray

Our Father hears us, but what we say is helped, improved, and corrected by the Holy Spirit. If we were invited to meet the Queen of England, we would first be prepared for the meeting to make sure that we said the right things, responded in the right way, and understood that we weren’t following our plans but, instead, we were to follow the lead and direction of the Queen. Even more so are we to be before the Father. The Holy Spirit helps us like this, and He does more.

We need to pray. When we do so we are wearing Christ’s suit of righteousness. God won’t look upon sin; we all have sins. So when God looks at us He sees us dressed in the sinlessness of His Beloved Son.

With the help of Jesus, our Master, and the Spirit of God, our prayers are proper and presented to the Father. This is why we can have absolute confidence in God’s answer. We may have blubbered some half-intelligible prayer birthed from our anger or pain or disgust, but that prayer comes before the Father as a sweet-smelling aroma that is pleasing to Him.

Pray Like it Matters

In the times in which we live, we must pray like it matters because it does. Never in our lifetime have we seen such evil paraded and called “good.” The world will go headlong over the cliff, like the pigs when Jesus cast out the legion of demons, but the body of Christ will not. We must pray and we must have confidence that God hears our prayers and intercedes for us.

Satan accuses us day and night before God. He is like a wicked prosecutor that enjoys hurting people and using his power to mess with people’s lives. He harms people because God loves us. We are like children in a dysfunctional home where a drunken, violent, evil dad hurts his kids as a way to hurt his ex-wife. This is why we see the violence and murder reported to us in the news each night. God doesn’t cause evil, satan does.

God hears our prayers and He is not constrained by anything including time or circumstances. He hears our polished, buttoned-up prayers and He looks at His Beloved Son, who suffered and died for us, and then God acts.

21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

God Answers in Shocking Ways

God may say “yes”, “no”, or “wait” but He may also step into our prayers and make a way where there is no way, He may do more than we ever imagined, He may break barriers that constrain us, toss roadblocks aside, and cause all manner of miracles because He desires freedom for us and in Him we find that freedom.

The truth is, we can’t imagine how God will answer our prayers, but we should pray like it matters, praying in faith, and in our knowledge that God is reliable. God really does change things. Jesus asked the Father and our Father has given us the Holy Spirit. He is in every true Christian and He will come upon all who ask.

We do need to understand that we will be tested, we will be persecuted, some will be imprisoned, and some with be killed. As Christians, we expect suffering, just as our Savior suffered.

Be of Good Cheer

The times in which we live are unlike those when we were children. We must pray like never before, for it is our time of communing with God that we will gain the endurance, wisdom, and guidance to be the peacemakers, the merciful, the pure in heart.

Be of good cheer. Jesus wins in the end and He will lose no one that the Father has given Him. Let us all pray, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.


You may like: What am I to you?

Hands Hand Folds Woman Finger Work Together Pray

Pray in Faith

As Christians, we have faith for salvation, and we often pray in faith for the needs of others and for our welfare. Our prayers are sincere and grounded in our faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Yet, it has been my observation that many use “according to God’s will” as an excuse for God not answering their prayers, instead of recognizing God’s will as a way of bolstering our faith in God for our request.

Jesus gave us His name to use when we bring our requests to the Father. “In that day you will ask nothing of me [Jesus]. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.John 16:23 This is not a “name it and claim it” promise. Jesus is giving His believers a new way to pray to deal with the new relationship believers now have with God and to deal with the new challenges that came with the birth and growth of the Church. Still, Jesus gave us a more intimate relationship with the Father.

God is Reliable

“God… calleth those things which be not as though they were. (Romans 4:17) When we pray, we should not confine our prayers within boxes of existing facts and conditions. No matter the size of our problem, God’s power to deal with it is greater. And God never forgets anything, including our prayers. We may forget that which we cried out to God, but He hasn’t.

Our God is reliable. Consider these two verses:

  • “…the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8
  • And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. Mark 15:24

The word “slain” means “kill (a person or animal) in a violent way.” No matter what you believe about how long creation has existed before that Jesus was already the Lamb of God that was violently killed. Since God calls things that are not before were, Jesus was called “slain” eons (the longest portions of geologic time) before the physical act of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Good News

Just as God had said, so God’s declaration was fulfilled. My hope is that in this brief Bible study, we see that we are to pray, trusting in the reliability of God’s relationship with us. That God is not constrained and what God declares will be accomplished. Our Savior deeply desires for us to use our faith. When Jesus spoke about His return from heaven back to earth, He said, “…Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:8

The good news that we see in these verses is that we need to pray in faith. God doesn’t need or want us to tell Him how to answer our request. We should not doubt when we use the name of Jesus in our requests to the Father. Jesus wants us to live by faith. And we shouldn’t use “God’s will” as an excuse for lack of faith. God answers in His time and in His way. We need not apologize for God or doubt God. We simply need to make our requests known to the Father, pray in faith by the Name of Jesus, and rest in God, who calls things that are not as though they were.

Image by Jenny Friedrichs from Pixabay


You may like: Sloppy Prayers

high school basketball game

The Whole Commandment

When Moses, through God, had led the Israelites to the edge of the promised land, he spoke these words to them:

The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers.

Deuteronomy 8:1

Notice that God’s criterion for living and multiplying and possessing the land was for the Israelites to keep “the whole commandment” that Moses had spoken to them.

Throughout God’s Word, He tells us over and over that we can’t accomplish all of what He wants to do with us and for us unless we give our ALL to Him. It’s like when a small-town high school Hoosier basketball team defeats a top-ranked team. The announcer always says that they won the game with their heart. They were all in, all of the time, and played all of the game until the final buzzer rang.

The Israelites were going into a war zone. Their mission was to take the whole land that God promised them. The Israelites were told to be all in, to obey the whole commandment and they would win. Likewise, as Christians, God’s Word tells us that before we enter the “war zone” He has assigned us to, we must put on the “whole armor of God.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11

God tells us these things because He loves us. He has plans for us. We were born for a purpose, for the purpose Almighty God made uniquely for us before there was even one star in the sky. Anything less than receiving God’s all means receiving less than God intended for us. If I want to make some scones (I love scones!), I need all the ingredients. I can’t have scones without flour.

How easy it is for us to bypass the whole Word of God and feed on the “Cliff Notes®1”; those popular verses that are repetitively quoted, tickling our ears. We need to acquire everything that God makes available to us. If God thinks that we need it, we can be certain that we do!

Image by khuntersr from Pixabay 


  1. Cliff Notes®

You may like: Soul Obligation

Compass Map Direction Degrees North East South

Where Shall I Go

How can we feel isolated while we are in a crowd? Why are we lonely after a Thanksgiving meal, or potluck supper, or family get-to-gather? What makes special events tax not only our energy but also our spiritual health?

King David understood these emotions. He wrote, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 43:5) For many reasons or no reason at all, even when we are physically and spiritually healthy, our souls can be downcast. Well, be encouraged by Psalm 139:7–12

Where shall I go?

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning.
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

God’s Hand Guides Us

I love this Psalm because it reminds me that God is everywhere. He’s not like a wireless network that has spotty coverage – some places I can be near God, but other places I’ve got zero bars! I may be stuck with a dead battery or at a mandatory office party or at a relative’s house that is full of darkness, even there I can communicate with God!

Verse ten, “even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” is so encouraging. Innumerable times I’ve led one of my five kids by placing my hand on his or her back and guiding them through stores, trains, school events, and more. They were too short to see where to go and their environment was unfamiliar. Yet we made it through.

Good News

That is the way the Holy Spirit is with us. We may be too small in spiritual stature to see above the crowd and the environment may make no sense to us, but God has our back. In those times we can trust that God was with us, His desire was to see His will done through us. As the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

As we enter the most frenetic time of the year, trust Jesus, I mean really trust Him, uninhibited and not restrained by long worn ruts in family relationships. Let God’s light shine. As the Psalmist wrote about God, “even the darkness is not dark to you.” (Psalms 139:12)


You may like: Direction from the Lord

photo of a British policeman

A Question of Authority

My wife and I were recently watching one of those British murder mysteries. The “team” was at the shipyard, and they needed to talk to the Port Authority. That got me thinking about authority which led to Jesus being given all authority, including the port. 😉

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a Christian during the past 50+ years, it’s that I must know what I believe. There are things people have told me and things I think I believe, but it’s only the things I truly believe that I can act in faith upon.

Just Guessing

If I think I believe something and try to act on it, well, I’m just guessing. That’s not what God wants, and it rarely turns out to be good. Faith is a funny thing. For faith to be true it must only be trust in Christ’s authority.

Faith in the authority of Jesus is the raw material that is used to make hope. And faith is faith only when we trust God for things we can’t see, either figuratively or physically. All other faith is false and unreliable.

Yes, God’s response to our stepping out in true faith is usually “seen” through works or actions by people but be assured, all the things of God begin in the Spirit before they are manifested in this physical world.

Trust Jesus

How can you trust what I have written? You can because all I did was expound on Matthew 28:18 (NIV): “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…’” He was confirming the completion of the vision God gave Daniel 7:13-14*.

So, presently, the ball’s in your court. You have a “binary” choice: yes or no, true or false, 1 or 0, trust in the authority of Jesus or not. As for me, God has never failed me when I gave my problem to Jesus and trusted in His authority. He may not do what I expect, and He may not act when I expect. But, in His time, Jesus has always taken my cares upon Himself and brought me through each problem. How could I ask for more? I pray the same for you.


* 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. – Daniel 7:13-14 (ESV)

Photo by Adam Birkett on Unsplash


You may like: Joy is Better

Nightmare Dreaming Fantasy Fear Night Scary Girl

Deliver Us from Evil



And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

Matthew 6:13

As Christians, we are familiar with this verse which is part of the Lord’s Prayer. Of course, this prayer is not for Jesus, Himself. He was teaching us how to pray. The reason I believe we should take a moment and focus on these words from Jesus is this: We must always trust God and never trust ourselves.

Marketers have succeeded in making so much money from Halloween that it lasts and entire month. How many people with axes in their heads do we need to see each year?! I’m not writing about Halloween. I’m writing about our Deliverer from the evil one.

Evil isn’t candy corn and spooky makeup. Evil is ugly. People get hurt by evil. The evil one desires nothing less than to harm followers of Jesus in the way he wishes he could do to Jesus. Jesus conquered the evil one. Still, as we live in this world, he can and will try to harm us.

Jesus has provided us with what we need for protection and spiritual battle. We have the Holy Spirit within us. We have angels that watch out for us. God has told us to prepare for spiritual battles:

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 

Ephesians 6:11-13

The apostle Paul goes on to specify our spiritual armor. We need this armor.

We All Mess Up

Face it, all of us mess up, some more than others, but all some. Jesus addresses this in His prayer when He says, “deliver us from the evil one.” Some Bible translations read, “but deliver us from evil.”

Jesus is praying an imperative. “Each Christian needs to be delivered. How can I write such a thing? Jesus prayed an imperative, “Father…deliver us.” His prayer is “Do it now” not “In case it happens.” And we see that there is no exception clause. He didn’t say, “Except for this group that are pure.”

Our need is real, so Jesus didn’t pray a milk-toast, “keep them safe” prayer. He reached in, saw the influence the enemy had in His apostles, and has in us, so he prayed an active and immediate prayer. : “deliver us from the evil one.”

Pray With Me if You Wish

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’
Matthew 6:9-13

My Prayer

“Father, I thank you that you have searched me, found every influence, attachment, and thought that the evil one has brought against me, or I’ve allowed it in me. Now deliver me from the evil one. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”. (Psalms 51:10) I thank you and rejoice in your kindness and longsuffering. In the name of your beloved Son, Jesus my Savior I pray. Amen.

Celebrate as your spirit is guided by the Holy Spirit. But please, let’s all remember that evil is not something we should celebrate or imitate.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay 


You may like: The Edge of Danger

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: