Pray Passionately!

“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)

I want to quote this verse in several different translations.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” Eph. 6:18 (NKJV) 

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Eph.  6:18 (NLT) 

And my favorite ~

“Pray passionately in the Spirit, as you constantly intercede with every form of prayer at all times. Pray the blessings of God upon all his believers.” Eph. 6:18 (TPT)

When I am looking at a scripture for study I will usually pull from different translations to see if I can get the full meaning of it. And then I will also go to a commentary to see what the scholars (people way smarter than me) have to say about it. Without even going to commentary I can look at these different translations and see what Paul is saying to the Ephesians is simply, pray all the time. Pray with all prayer and supplication ~ we already know from scripture we studied last week that supplication simply means to ask and keep on asking, beg if you have to! Even though I didn’t need to go to commentary, I did and I liked what it said. 

“We should use every kind of prayer we can think of. Group prayer, individual prayer, silent prayer, shouting prayer, walking prayer, kneeling prayer, eloquent prayer, groaning prayer, constant prayer, fervent prayer – just pray.” 

How many times have you heard someone say or you and I have said “all we can do is pray”. And usually that is said as if it is a last resort with a sigh! But friends let me say ALL that we can do for each other is PRAY!! It is the most we can do. We can make supplication for each other, we can persevere for each other, we can pray when we are walking, we can pray when we are driving, we can whisper silent prayers under our breath when we are working. And you can even get to shouting, kneeling, groaning on behalf of someone if that is what is needed. Pray on all occasions! 

And ok, this is just from me and my own experience, but the more you pray earnestly and fervently for a situation or circumstance or for another person, the more you will see God at work in it, the more you will feel His presence in it and the more it will come naturally to you to pray!

This verse followed the passages in Ephesians about putting on the full armor of God. That is no accident ~ there was meaning in it. Prayer is how we go to battle! Friends, you know that thing that has been eating at you for years, that, wayward child, that money issue, that family issue, keep on praying. Pray passionately for it. Keep on interceding constantly at all times! And pray for each other! If all you can do is pray for me and mine, then by all means I am honored that you would pray for me! Find it a privilege to pray for each other.

Just Pray! And pray passionately!

Pray Honestly!

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6”7-8

I think sometimes we make this thing called prayer more complicated than it was ever meant to be. I love this scripture because while we look many times for what to do, we also need to realize just as importantly sometimes is what not to do. We do not have to make our prayers flowery and long in order to be heard by God. We just have to come before Him with an honest heart! 

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago my friend Ms. Beth who pointed me to Jesus and taught me how to make prayer my lifeline. I was a young mama and I was going through a season of life that the Lord was really calling me to go deeper into my prayer life. Around that time our pastor was preaching on having a daily quiet time with the Lord. I also ran across a book by an author Becky Tirabassi called “Let Prayer Change Your Life” and I met Ms. Beth. You will never make me believe that those three things lining up in my life at the same time was an accident. There is just no way. I remember thinking I want to go deeper when Bro. Phil would talk about knowing your Bible and having a daily prayer life. When I read the book I mentioned, this author, Becky, said that she would sit down to pray for an hour each day. I thought, well I am going to do that, and that she journaled her prayers. I still remember the first day I decided to do that and I sat down with a journal in front of me and I sat on my patio with children running around in the back yard and I had a piece of paper in front of me and I thought now what, what do I write? What do I say? I think my first journal entry was about a half a page and my prayer may have lasted 5 minutes tops! But it was my beginning of having a most daily quiet time for about 23 years now. I don’t say that to toot my horn. Please know that. I say that simply to say that it has changed me. It has carried me. It has saved my life! And it has made me the woman I am today. Not that I am all that special but I shudder to think where I would be if I had not had that in my life. 

When I first started journaling and having a prayer time, I needed a lot of guidance on just how to stick with it. One of the things I did to help me in my journaling was following an acrostic. 

P – Praise God for who He is. 

R – Repent of your sins and where you fall short. 

A – Ask for God to meet your needs, wants and desires 

Y – Yield to God’s Will 

I don’t follow much of an acrostic anymore and I don’t really journal every day like I did back then. Although I do still keep one and write usually at least once a week. Journaling kept me focused when my mind would try to wander. I am glad I journaled all those years too because it gave me something to look back on. And truly it was the tool that helped to build my relationship with Jesus into what it is today. I love Him with my whole heart and I could not last a day without this relationship. Many of my pages of my journals are tear stained. There are also many where I was hurt and angry and I probably wrote so hard on the pages I thought I would write right through them. It’s been the constant in my life but the most important component in my journals and in my prayer life is to come to Him honestly. He doesn’t care what my words are and how they come together. He doesn’t think they need to be woven beautifully. All He cares about is that I bring my honest heart to Him when I come. Sometimes I am dragging my will to Him like it’s in a big old knapsack and I have to take my worries, my hurts and my desires out of that sack one by one and lay them at the foot of the cross. Sometimes they line up with His will and sometimes I have to yield to His will and in the laying it down I have to ask Him to change my heart. And I tell Him truthfully if this is not really what I want to do. That is really one of the things Ms. Beth taught me. Ms. Beth taught me that when she was hurt or angry with another person she would always take them to Jesus. I can still remember her sweet voice as she would say “I just tell Him, Lord you gave me this man and you have to show me how to deal with Him when He makes me angry. He’s all yours.” I loved the way Ms. Beth said “Lord”. And mind you she loved her sweet man but just like all of us he made her angry too. 

You may be years into a prayer journey with Jesus or you may be just beginning one. If you are just beginning, the most important thing I can tell you is bring your honest heart to Him. Journaling will keep you focused if you need to and it doesn’t have to be a fancy one. I usually just use a composition notebook. And just tell Him what you need. As the scripture says, He already knows! 

Prayer brings Healing!

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 6:13-16

James is talking about the importance of prayer. When should we pray? When we are suffering, when we are joyful, when you are sick and at that time you should call out to others for prayer too. And when you do that, not only should you pray but you should do medicinally what you can do to get well. That is what “anointing him with oil” means. The people thought that anointing with oil was medicinal, so James is not saying just pray, he is saying get medical attention as well. James promises that the prayer of faith will save the sick. This does not necessarily mean that all that are sick will be healed on earth and if not, that you didn’t have enough faith. It means we pray and we leave in the Lords hands how the healing will come. 

But the focus verse for us today is this:

“Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power at it is working.” James 5:16

They say confession is good for the soul. I think “they” are probably right. What I get from this, and reading in other versions as well as commentary supports, is that if we have unconfessed sin in our lives it can stand in the way of our prayers being heard and our ultimate healing. I also think James may mean spiritual healing and not just physical healing. If we have something that is unconfessed between us and God then it will stand in the way of our communication with God. I think when he says confess your sins to one another, he is not necessarily meaning that we have to go to a leader in the church, but that we should find a confidant, someone we can trust and I will take that a step further to say that if we have something between us and another person, it can stand in the way of communication as well. Think about it, when there is something that is standing between you and another person, a hurt, or an argument, the communication is strained. It is quite the same with God. When we have unconfessed sin, it’s not that God doesn’t want to listen, it’s a strain on the relationship. 

The second half of this verse, “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” does not mean that a righteous person is someone who will do everything right, but it means a person who is trying, who is confessing when they do get it wrong, is trying to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in their lives! When that person prays, there is power that comes down from heaven on their behalf! And my favorite part is “as it is working.” When you pray the work begins right then and there. We may many times feel like our prayers are not going past the ceiling and sometimes I am not sure they are even reaching the ceiling. But that’s just not true, all we have to do is follow the Holy Spirit’s lead, try to do the right thing and really confess when we don’t get it right and our prayers are heard and the power is released to work on our behalf. 

James gives an example of our friend Elijah from the old testament. 

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” James 5:17-18

Did you catch that, Elijah was a man, he was just a man and look at the great power that his prayers exhibited. Do you stop and realize that the people in the Bible are just people, just flesh and blood people like me and you. We have the benefit of being able to read the end of the book, they didn’t. They were just people who had to exhibit faith. Just like us! 

Abide in Me!

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

Wow! What a promise from Jesus!! However, you can’t just take the latter part of this verse the ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you without taking the first part of this verse ~ “if you abide in me, and my words abide in you”! Well I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to dive in and find out what it means to abide in Him? If that means that I can ask Him for anything. That is definitely a hook for the big old selfish side of me! To dive in and see what this one verse means, let’s look at the previous verses. 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you, As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:1-7

You see it goes much deeper than just asking for whatever we want. Jesus spoke in terms the disciples would understand. They knew about growing vineyards so they would understand all of the pictures that Jesus was drawing out with His words. I dare say most of us do not have a full understanding of a vineyard and growing grapes. But Jesus still speaks in pretty simplistic terms for us when you break it down. I also read that in ancient Israel there were grapevines everywhere. So there was the idea was that Israel was God’s vine. But Jesus tells his disciples in this passage “I am the true vine”. The legalism that kept people in the rituals of religion in order to stay connected to the church, was broken when Jesus was born and through His earthly ministry and His ultimate death on the cross. Don’t get me wrong I love my church and I love my connection to my church. But my roots are in Jesus not in the church. Also, this lesson came from Jesus as He was preparing to face the cross and it seems He was wanting to prepare His disciples for His physical absence from Him. By saying I am the true vine, He is wanting to draw the picture to them that their connection to the church is not where their roots are. Jesus wants them to remember their connection to Him first! Jesus is our vine, our connection to the Father. 

Another picture that the disciples would understand is when He says; “and My Father is the vinedresser”. The disciples would have known what the vinedresser does automatically. The vinedresser tends to the vines. He directs their growth. When He says every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, he is not saying that He will throw us away if we are not bearing fruit, but what He will do is redirect our path. Let me just quote what I read: 

“There is an alternative understanding of this passage that bears some consideration. James Montgomery Boice (among others) believes that the ancient Greek verb airo, translated ‘takes away’ is more accurately translated ‘lifts up’. The idea is that the Father lifts up unproductive vines off of the ground (as was common in ancient practices of vineyard care). Those caring for ancient grape vines made sure to lift them up off the ground that they might get more sun and bear fruit better.”

Now I don’t know who James Montgomery Boice is, but I like his explanation! You see when we are not bearing fruit, what the vinedresser does is not cut us off to throw us away, but he redirects us. He “lifts us up”! I picture the vinedresser gently picking a vine up off of the ground and cleaning it off and tying it up to relieve the stress that the branches must feel. You think about it if the branches are on the ground, they have become too heavy to hold up on their own, when the vinedresser ties the branch up, the place that the branch is connected to the vine, is relieved of the stress that might break it. And it becomes stronger! When the Father lifts us up when we feel like we are laying on the ground, He is relieving some of the stress so that our relationship with Jesus (the vine) can become stronger. When we are abiding with Him, when we are connected to the Vine, we are stronger and we can bear fruit! When we are bearing fruit, when we are closely connected to the Vine, then we will have in mind the things that He has in mind. And that my friends is when we get to this thought that what we ask for will be done for us. We will desire good things, we will desire things that mean something to Him! Because we will be so closely connected to the vine we will have kingdom thoughts! Our kingdom thoughts will be for the good of ourselves and the good of those we love! 

Remarkable Secrets!

“The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: ‘Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it – the Lord is his name. Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.’” Jeremiah 33:1-3 (ESV)

Jeremiah was not in a good place. This was during the last years of King Zedekiah’s reign and he had put Jeremiah in prison for preaching the name of the Lord. This was during the final siege of the Babylonians against Jerusalem. Have you noticed something? We have talked about two people’s perspective on prayer other than Jesus this week and both of them were locked up. They were not in a good place. Paul was under house arrest and Jeremiah was in jail. Yet both of them were calling on the name of the Lord and they heard from Him. Jeremiah starts by recognizing who God is ~ He made the earth, he formed it and He established it! I think what Jeremiah was doing was recognizing that no matter how bad things may look God is still in control. Just like now, no matter how things may look to you, God is still in control. No matter if there is a worldwide pandemic going on, no matter who is sitting in the White House, no matter if you have lost your job or if gas gets to $5.00 a gallon, the Lord formed the earth and He establishes it and He is still in control! 

One take away I think, when I notice these stories where these people are in a bad place yet they still are reaching out to God, is it makes me reflect on my own life. I think at times, God allows us to get into these tight spots, these situations and circumstances so that we WILL call on Him. I know for me personally, when I look back over my life I always learned more, and my relationship with Him always grew more during those times when I NEEDED God so much that I couldn’t help but call out to Him. My spiritual life is so much more at risk when things are going well. I will tend to fall into the trap of checking off the spiritual box and moving on with my day. When life is tough and when the hurts run deep, I seem to spend more quality time with God, where I search the scriptures and I seek answers. I don’t want to only call on Him in my need. The truth is, I need Him all the time, no matter if things are going crazy or if things are going well. I pray to recognize my need for Him every day, not just in the bad times! 

This verse Jeremiah 33:3 is one of my favorites! (I know I have many favorites)! 

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

When we come to Him with a genuine heart and we call on Him, He does show great and mighty things. The ESV says “great and hidden things” or as in the NLT “remarkable secrets”. I really love that one. Praying is our lifeline, it is our communication with God and it is where we learn the remarkable things that He has for us! 

I have mentioned many times on here I am a simple-minded woman. When I first began to study the scriptures, most of the time I could not follow along at all, and I am still no scholar! I try to handle the Word rightly and my greatest prayer is that I would! But I can tell you that what I have learned in scripture has been always preceded with a crying out to Him for Him to show me, to teach me to lead me and guide me in what I am reading. If you want to understand scripture, you must ask Him for understanding of scripture. It sounds too simple to put it in those terms but it is true.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple;” Psalm 19:7

The Secret Prayer!

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6

Have you ever prayed a secret prayer? Something that is only between you and God! It is one of the most fun things to do. The main thing that Jesus is addressing here is that all prayer should be between you and God and not to be seen by others. The verse directly preceding this one addresses that. If you only pray in order to be seen by others then you have already received what you were after. This is not to say that public prayer is wrong but God knows the heart and He knows if you are only praying publicly in churches and to be seen by others. We should all have secret times in our prayer closets or prayer chairs that are only for you and God. Then when asked to pray publicly you can come from a sincere heart, not just to be seen by people. 

I love a secret prayer that is just between me and God. The first thing to remember about a secret prayer is, of course, for you to pick a time and get alone with God. Just you and Him. Now it doesn’t have to be long, it can be a time in the middle of the day, but it is something you aren’t talking about to others, it’s something you are praying just between you and God! Then make sure that what you are praying for is within the parameters of His will. There are things I pray for that I know are in the will of God. The salvation of another person for example is in the will of God. But you do have to remember that God allows people to have free will in their choosing. But I can pray for God to bring people into the life of another person that will help to point them in the direction of salvation. God desires for that wayward child to come home to Him, but He allows them free will. But I can pray protection for that wayward child and for God to act on his/her behalf to point them in the right direction. 

I recently had something I felt led to pray for another individual. At the same time a church that I follow is having a 28 day challenge to pray for something at the same time every day. I set an alarm in my phone to stop what I was doing every day at the same time and to pray specifically for this thing. I did not tell even one person what I was going to be praying for, which is hard for me sometime, because I will pray for something but I am bad too to think that God may need my help in a matter. (Just kidding, I know He does not need my help but in the back of my mind if I announce it am I hoping someone will help my prayer along?!) But in this matter, I took the challenge, I set my alarm and every day it goes off to remind me to pray. And I told no one else what my prayer was. Now at times, I am in the middle of something and I can’t necessarily stop to pray, but I will hit that snooze button until I can stop and pray about the specific matter. It’s short and its a sweet time, but it is just between me and God. The most fun thing is when you begin to see God move and you know it is God who is answering on your behalf! Not something you tried to make happen in the physical realm but that you know God is moving in the spiritual realm for your request. Make no mistake there are times you need to call on every prayer warrior you have to storm the gates of heaven for you. But the secret prayers, the ones that are just between me and God, that’s when my intimacy with Him on a personal level grows! That’s when I begin to call him Abba, Daddy, because I know He hears me! Because my Daddy wants good things for me! 

Pray, Beg, Thanks ~ Peace!

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice, Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

Paul gets to write to us to tell us to rejoice because he was in a situation not many of us would be rejoicing about. Paul was under house arrest when he wrote this. Yet he is telling us that his joy and ours too is in Jesus! It’s not in the circumstances he was in. Boy don’t we all feel like we have been a little under house arrest this past year. One day I was having a big old pity party about the whole realm of this past year and I was whining to myself, “I miss plays, I miss sporting events, I miss visiting with friends and having friends over, I miss concerts!” Then all of a sudden it dawned on me, I really am not even a big concert girl, too many people and too loud most of the time. But I still miss the idea of them. But Paul is telling us to rejoice always while he is sitting under house arrest and not able to go anywhere. At least with us it’s the whole world that looks different. Pauls world was passing him by. 

The next line “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone” is translated in other versions “let your gentleness be known to all men”. The greek word here is epiekeia. This word can mean gentleness, patience, softness. He then follows that statement with “The Lord is at hand”. What I see Paul as saying here is how we handle our circumstances that we are in will show if the Lord is at hand in our lives or not. Me having a pity party was probably not a very Godly thing to do at the time. We are supposed to be rejoicing anyway, even if things don’t feel very joyful and be patient about the circumstances so that we can be a light in the circumstances or the pandemic or whatever is going on. Why? Because we live in the awareness of Jesus return and in the awareness of His presence in our everyday circumstances. 

“do not be anxious about anything” I have always loved this verse and it is one that gets quoted quite a bit in christian circles. But it is oh so hard at times. We live in an anxiety ridden world. For years I did not know what it was like to struggle with anxiety but the last few years brought it to the forefront of my mind. But Paul doesn’t say here, now try not to be anxious he plainly says “do not be anxious”. This is not an option! And now that Paul has told us to rejoice in our circumstances, to be patient and gentle and to be seen that way with all men and not to be anxious about anything, he will tell us how to be and to combat all of that. 

“but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 

In everything – God doesn’t just tell us to don’t worry, be happy! The only way to combat the anxiety that comes from circumstances, the only way to be joyful even when the days, the months, the year doesn’t seem joyful and the only way to show ourselves gentle to the world is to bring it all to Him. In prayer ~ stay in communication. In supplication, the definition of supplication is the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly. Go ahead and ask him for what you want. And with thanksgiving ~ be grateful that you know that He hears you and that He is already working toward an answer for you. 

And what happens when we do these things, we will have the peace of God. So much peace that we won’t even understand why we feel the way we do and it will be a guard to our hearts and our minds. I have had it happen! I have had circumstances that I was in the middle of that I had no choice but to bring it to Him and lay them at His feet and I have had the most strange calm and peace over me in those circumstances that I knew it could only be from the Lord. 

So whatever is troubling you today, keep laying it at His feet. Keep in close communication with God over it, ask Him for resolution, beg Him if you need to, and be grateful that He is already working it out and then let Him show you His peace in it! 

Ask, Seek, Knock!

“And he said to them, ‘Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence (persistence) he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Luke 11:5-10

Jesus was teaching his disciples further on prayer so he told this parable to them about the man who needed bread to feed a friend so he goes to another friends house at midnight to ask for bread. First of all, we need to picture the man’s house. It was not like our houses where children had their own rooms and you could wander the house at night without disturbing another soul. Their houses were usually one room. Yet this friend was bold enough to come to the house and knock and was persistent enough that he didn’t just go away when the man says “I can’t help you.” When you think on the scenario it puts another level to the persistence does it not? Jesus wants us to have that kind of boldness and persistence when we are bringing things to the Father. 

When I began praying for a job so that I could move to the lake I didn’t just throw it up there as a wish to move to the lake and leave the rest to God. I committed it to my prayer time. I would ask God over and over to show me the way to the job he had for me. Then I made it a point to look at websites of school districts regularly to see if there were any job openings. Then when I saw a job opening, I applied for it. I had used diligence and persistence, praying about it, and searching for it, I asked God to open doors if it was to happen. You want to know the cool thing? Within a week or so after I began praying, the place that I was working at the time hired a new person for our front desk. She and I became friends and started talking. Over time I shared with her that I wanted to move to the lake, (my husband had already moved and I was driving back and forth on the weekends). She had previously lived near where I wanted to go and still had connections in the very place that a job opened up and knew people to put in a good word to. I believe with my whole heart that God put her in place with me to get me where I wanted to go. The cherry on top of this story is that she found out that her husband was being transferred back to the same area within a week or so after I found my job. 

Let’s look at verses 9-10 again: 

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

I found this statement in commentary that bears repeating: 

“God often waits for our passionate persistence in prayer. It isn’t that God is reluctant and needs to be persuaded. Our persistence doesn’t change God; it changes us, developing in us a heart and passion for what God wants.”

The key here is in the seeking. God has often blessed me and answered my prayers with direction, like the way to a job. He has blessed me with things, like when I needed a car. He has blessed my family in ways that we don’t have time here to write. And there have also been prayers that I began praying that I had to let go of, But when I come to him persistently and I ask, and I seek, and I keep on knocking if it is not something for my good and His glory, He has also changed my heart in the matter until the answer was not near as important as the relationship that I was gaining from the asking and seeking. 

Come boldly friends, just like the friend banging on the door at midnight for bread. Ask Him, Seek Him. Keep knocking! If it is for your good and His glory, you will get the answer you seek and it may even be better than you could have imagined. 

The Model Prayer!

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’ So He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: 

Our Father in heaven, 

Hallowed be Your name. 

Your kingdom come. 

Your will be done 

On earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us day by day our daily bread. 

And forgive us our sins, 

For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. 

And do not lead us into temptation. 

But deliver us from the evil one.’” Luke 11:1-4

This is the second recording in the gospels of this similar prayer and the circumstances surrounding both are different so it stands to reason that possibly this was two different instances. Jesus gave the same model for prayer twice. But it can also be noted that it was not identical which meant that maybe it is just a model. I love the Lord’s prayer which we quote many times from Matthew chapter 6. I think it is beautiful and I love to hear it quoted but it does appear that Jesus is saying, as he says in other places in scripture not to get caught up in the routine or the exact phrases. So let’s break it down as to what each line means to us when we pray. 

“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” The first thing we should always remember and recognize is God’s holiness. We approach Him as Our Father with intimacy but we should always remember that He is in Heaven and His name is to be revered and praised. He is Holy, Almighty, Majestic, All Knowing, All Powerful, our All in All, The Great I AM! Whatever we are bringing to God, we must first remember His Holiness and that He is God and most importantly ~ We are not! 

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” No matter what we are praying for, God’s ultimate will in the situation is the outcome to pray for. God will always have the outcome in mind that is best. It may not always feel like the best on this side of eternity, but we can be assured and know that it is the best outcome in light of His glory. I am not saying I do not pray for specific things, I do. But when you are praying for a specific outcome, you must also remember that His Will in the situation is the outcome we are truly looking for. 

“Give us day by day our daily bread.” It is so ok to ask God to meet our needs. God is our Father and He wants to meet the needs of His children. As we pray this prayer for our daily bread, we are asking God to meet our daily needs of food, clothing, a roof over our heads. 

“And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Just as important as our daily needs being met is, so is forgiveness for our soul. But this one comes with a little something more. We ask God to forgive us, and in turn, we are making a promise to forgive everyone indebted to us. OUCH! But Lord, does this really mean everyone? Even that person who hurt me so bad that I can’t even look at them without feeling the hurt all over again? Yes, even that one. And that one might be a process, that you have to ask God for help with. You may have to pray really hard for God to show you good things in another person to be able to forgive. Ask God to show you how He sees that person who has hurt you so. Forgiving other people is not an option and when we think of what Jesus did on the cross for us to receive His forgiveness, well then we know what it’s like to be forgiven, and we must show forgiveness. 

“And do not lead us into temptation. But deliver us from the evil one.” God will never lead us into sin. The word for temptation here is not a solicitation to evil, it literally means test. God will allow us to be tested in our faith. This line is a way of asking God for protection from the testing that will be too much for us. We are also asking God for protection from the evil one. We know that the devil is alive and well and prowling and seeking someone to devour. We should ask God for protection from him but in so doing we also need to be mindful of what we walking into. You can’t ask God for protection and then go right on in and put yourself in situations that you know will be tempting to you. The alcoholic does not need to hang out in bars. The one who is addicted to pornography should be extra careful about what they watch in movies and television. Satan never lays the big stuff in front of us first, he knows our weakness and just like in the garden he will start with your mind leading you to think just one little bite of the apple won’t hurt. We can ask God’s protection from the evil one, but we must also not set the apple in front of ourselves so that it is a temptation that becomes too hard to bear! 

This is a model prayer from Jesus and it really covers all of the bases of what we can do when we want to start a prayer life. But the most important thing is not the model. The most important thing is to pray. Just talk to Him. Remember His holiness, but you can bring your wants, your desires and your needs to Him. Also ask for His will to supersede any of our will and ask Him if your will does not line up with His to help you to change yours so that it does. He will do that too. Then also ask forgiveness, extend forgiveness and ask for protection and be sure that when you see yourself leaning toward that, that you know will be weakness for you, back up, guard your heart and ask His protection and for Him to lead you away from it. Praying is our means to build our relationship with God. The more you pray, the more you want to pray! 

Will not the Judge of all Earth Do Right?

My reading today started in Psalms. 7:1-9. David had been wronged and falsely accused yet he was putting his trust in God that He would deliver. In verse 8 David says “judge me, o Lord, according to my righteousness. David knew that God tests the heart and minds. (V 9) that God will judge justly even when it may feel like others do not. 

Matthew 7:24 – 8:22. The very first story in this passage talks about the wise man who built his house on the rock.  I have had times in my life that I was clinging to Gods word and building my foundation on the rock.  You know digging deep and thinking and praying and retaining what I read.  And I have had times that I was checking off that I read the words on the page and going about my business.  I can truly say that when I am digging and building my foundation on the rock that the things that the enemy throws at me do not penetrate me quite like they do when I have just checked it off.  If I am building my foundation I don’t worry as much (although I have already confessed this is a weakness), I don’t struggle as much with insecurity, disappointment and unfulfilled longings.  Life is still happening around me but I am more equipped to handle the trials and suffering going on in my life and around me.  Jesus gives me what I need to handle life.  Even when and if it seems unfair. 

Genesis 19:1-20:18

The first story in this passage gives me hope and confidence in my prayers.  Abraham asked God to spare Sodom for only 10 people.  God didn’t spare Sodom but he did spare Lot and his daughters.  And almost Lots wife.  She just couldn’t keep herself from looking back though.  I pray that when God sends me a rescue from my own stupidity that I will take it and not look back.  The other story is on Abraham giving his wife away and passing her off as his sister AGAIN!   It hit me how many times do I put myself in a position to re-learn what God has already taught me.  

Thank you Lord that You are my judge and that you “test the heart and mind” (Ps 7:9)