Prayer

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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.

praying for others

Praying for Others

Welcome,

I don’t know how you pray, but I always add, “according to your will (1 John 5:14),” just to be on the safe side. Likely, in all of our thoughts as we pray, we remember the Apostle Jame’s warning, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.James 4:3 NLT

We are all very skilled at “couching” our prayers. This is especially true when praying for God to heal someone. We pray cautiously, and we also give God lots of “loopholes.” We justify this, so the person prayed for will not have to reason to think God failed them – or we failed them. I know these thoughts all too well. But please allow me to give you something to help your faith.

3 Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” 4 Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

Mark 3:3–4

Notice that Jesus equated healing the man with doing good deeds. Also, notice that Jesus is the one doing the healing. Unless we know that God doesn’t intend to heal someone, we can be sure that our prayer is a request for Jesus to do a good deed and for Jesus – not us – to heal that person. Let’s not put our faith in our faith; instead, let’s put our faith in Jesus. He’s the one doing the healing. And then let’s keep on asking, as the widow did to the judge (Luke 18:1–8).

Glorify God and enjoy Him forever,
Gary

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Fear

Worry and Fear

A Fish Story

I once was fishing with another guy when his hook snagged me while casting. It stuck right in me, and pain exploded when he dropped his pole to “help” me. As I face today, I have some needs and many desires. All of these have snagged me like fishing hooks.

Worry About Worry and Fear about Fear

When I pray, do I allow thoughts and feelings that deny God’s provisions? Fear that our government will fail. Fear that my income will become worth-less due to inflation. Worry about a church that God laid on my heart. Worry about a former pastor that fell into sin. Worry about how much longer my car will last. Worry about worry, and fear about fear. How can I be this way!?

You see, in a much less important way, I am acting like the Apostle Peter when he got out of the boat and walked on water. But, seeing the storm, he began to sink. My condition is not life or death, but my concerns are: Can I just rest in Jesus? Can I write more? Am I being redundant? Am I a good teacher:

He [Jesus] said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.

Matthew 13:52

Good News

Jesus is my friend that sticks closer than a brother. He mediates for me to Father God. And my Father gave me the Spirit of God to live in me. Jesus has made sure that I am fully equipped and have an open line to Almighty God. I have access to anything I need to do the will of God. It’s all at my disposal. And by faith, I can receive it. Therefore, I lack nothing.

I know my concerns are foolish. My good news is that the Spirit of God is helping me. He adds to my groanings and delivers to God articulate, faith-filled prayers from me. I know because my mind is being transformed and less cluttered, and my faith is being rejuvenated. This old man is still strong in my spirit; my faith in God has not wavered. And, guess what, the same is available to you!

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay


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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.


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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


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street post with Truth & Lie

Truthful Lips Endure Forever

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

Proverbs 12:19 (ESV)

Truth Has Been Redefined

The fruit of a lie is always bitter. Marriages can be destroyed by a single lie. Friendship can be shipwrecked by a single act of deception. Relationships built with lies are like houses built upon sand, they never survive hard times.

The odd thing about truth is that it appears to be so simple, so unassuming, so innocuous. Still, Jesus told us to boil the truth down to even less than what we know. He said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:37 ESV)

I’ve discovered that within my lifetime the meaning of “truth” has been redefined. Several lengthy conversations with people from younger generations have confirmed to me that “truth” is no longer recognized as a “factual thing”. Rather, truth is now believed to be subjective, situational, and malleable. However, I’ve also discovered that there is a hunger within most people for unambiguous, unaltered truth. That’s good news.

Truth Is A Liberator

The personification of truth is Jesus. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV) Truth is the device by which holiness is attained. Jesus prayed to His Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Holiness should be the material from which our moral character is built “since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Truth is a liberator. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) As we just read in John 17:17, God’s word is truth, and we see the Divine power of God’s Word in Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Ten things we learned about Truth

  1. Truth appears unassuming
  2. When answering binary questions (yes/no, true/false, etc.) we should answer simply. We should not try to bolster or expand upon the truth.
  3. When we talk with other people we need to understand that our definition of truth may not be the same as their definition.
  4. Truth finds its genesis within Jesus Christ.
  5. It is God’s requirement for us to be holy. The only means by which we can become holy is through truth.
  6. Truth sanctifies us (sets us apart), and this truth is found in the living Word of God which includes the Old Testament.
  7. Speaking to Father God, Jesus said, “Your word is truth.”
  8. If we live in God’s Word then we are truly disciples of Jesus.
  9. If we do remain in Jesus then the Holy Spirit (i.e., the Spirit of Truth) will reveal truths to us that are in God’s word which will set us free from “the sin that so easily entangles.” (Hebrews 12:1)
  10. We learned that the Word of God is living and active, discerning the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.

Prayer 

Father, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit (John 14:16John 14:26), who leads us into all truth. Thank you Jesus for communicating Your will and intent to us through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), and making Your Word alive, active, and powerful. Spirit, thank you for abiding in us, teaching us the truths of the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:13) as well as coming along side us (John 14:16-17) to guide and provide for us. And, Holy Spirit, thank you for filling believers who ask you for more. Oh, my God, how marvelous you are.

Father, I ask that you keep us, Your children, aware of the danger that lives inside every lie. Remind us continually that even though truth may appear inadequate, Your power is contained in truth, and Your power is released by Jesus when we ask within your will. Guide us into holy lives I ask. In all of these requests, I pray in the name of Your beloved Son, Jesus. Amen.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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All truths are not to be spoken to all persons at all times

Let us settle the matter

One of my favorite Bible verses and one I think we all should memorize is 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV), which says, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

It astonishes me when I meditate on the many opportunities God gives us to get in step with Him and His eagerness to re-establish the pure, sinless, fellowship He designed us for from the beginning of Creation. This is the very reason why “Our Father which art in heaven” (Mt. 6:9 KJV) “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV) and “… God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Co. 9:8 NIV

God wants the best for you. That’s what God says in Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV):

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
    you will be devoured by the sword.
”For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Prayer: I ask, “Father God, in the name of your Son, Jesus, that each person who reads this devotional will be blessed today and have hope in all they set their hands to do to honor You. I ask that Your children will be in fellowship with You and with each other. That their local church will be a place of healing for those that are hurt and a place of blessing for all. I ask that Your children will experience Your supernatural work through Jesus Christ, God’s gift to mankind. Amen.”

Photo by Carlos Arthur M.R on Unsplash

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