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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

 

The following prayer was lifted up by Rick Warner (one of the Elder’s at the GCC@B) as we opened up our corporate worship service on September 11th, 2016. May each of us continue to pray accordingly.

911-rememberance

“Father, this morning we are thankful that we can call you “Our Father.” We are reminded that you are also the Great I AM, who knows the end from the beginning. You are the Lord of All, who made the stars in the heavens and even now feeds the sparrow and clothes the Lily of the field. You are all­ knowing, all powerful, always present, eternal, and you demonstrated your love for us, that while we were yet sinners, you sent your son, Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross of Calvary.  We know that you have redeemed us for Your Glory and our Eternal Good.

Even with this knowledge, so much of what we see, feel, and experience remains a mystery to us and we are without answers.  As we pause this morning to reflect on the date of that terrible attack on our nation fifteen years ago, we ask for your comfort for our fellow Americans who lost family members and whose lives were torn apart in many other ways.  We give thanks for your men and women in uniform who protect our lives around the world in order to prevent the death and destruction on our soil that is present daily in the lives of millions of others, including our brothers and sisters in Christ in places like Syria.  We pray for our political leaders who must make grave decisions concerning the health and security of our nation and its people ­ decisions that send our military into areas of conflict and commit our country to battles in far away places.

Father, as we live during this time of great social change and cultural upheaval, help us to see that as your children, our greatest enemy is not in far away places, or with different ideologies or different color skin, but the forces that daily shape us and pull us away from you and your perfect law.  We are not just prone to wander, but we are systematically being transformed by the world around us, rather than being transformed by your Word through your Spirit.

Lord, help us to see the beauty of your Church, and the necessity of this covenant family over and above the shiny distractions surrounding us, and the ever-­growing consumer choice mentality, which has defined the American Church of our generation. Forgive us of our lukewarm devotion to Christ and one another and strengthen us for the difficult days ahead as our nation abandons the very principles that shaped its founding. Most importantly Father, let us be confident in your Gospel no matter how dark the times and let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to You, our God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”

*Photo Copyright

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Nothing Will I Hold Onto….I Give it to Him!

(by Ginny Cook)

prayer

Pray to Pray. Pray for Prayer. Pray for the Spirit of supplication….Charles Spurgeon

Whatever God has made prominent in His word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives. He commands us to Pray:

Devote Yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful, Colossians 4:2……Then you will call on me and com and pray to me and I will listen to you Jeremiah 29:12….The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth Psalm 145:18….Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

On Your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent.  You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.  Isaiah 62: 6-7

John Piper:  God , the creator of the Universe, who holds our life in His hands and rules the world, is the kind of God who loves to be asked for things.  The essence of prayer is the expression of our dependence on God through requests. We are weak; He is strong.  He is the giver; we are needy.  Resolve to pray to our creator every day, many times a day, living in a spirit of prayer.

Where to start?   Take steps to make prayer a central part of your life every day…saturate your day with prayer.  If you are doing nothing, do something.  If you want a continual daily life of pray, you will need to spend time alone with God in quiet communion. Give your day to the Lord and ask Him to order your day. Charles Spurgeon said,  “taking time to pray first is really a “saving of time”.  If we pray first, we get God’s perspective on the day and His perspective is always better.”  God wants to hear you “heart cries”. Mathew 6:6     Psalm 18:16

What if you don’t feel like praying or just cannot begin?….begin anyway. Martin Luther read the Psalms and prayed the Lord’s Prayer before praying to “warm his heart”.  (remember Romans 8: 26)

How to begin?   John Piper gives the unique but sound advice to pray in concentric circles…..like throwing a pebble in the water….the first prayer is for yourself.  Begin by praying for your own soul. Pray that God will awaken and strengthen and humble you before you can pray for others. Then pray for your family by name, you church family, your co-workers, you city….your  state ….our nation…the social and cultural issue of the world.   Not all at one time but that is a good direction for priorities. 1 Peter 4:7

Pray Scripture.  God’s word reveals God and His will.  What you want for yourself and those you pray for is more of God and more of His will.  Pray On The Full Armor of God every day for your protection.   Ephesians 1 :18

Pray in groups or with a prayer partner.  This is a very important aspect of praying. Two friends pray together, Families pray together, small groups pray together.  Together we encourage and support each other.  Hebrews 10: 23-25    James 5:16   Matthew 18:20  Ephesians 3: 20-21

The AMEN: (Martin Luther)  You must always say the “Amen” firmly. Never doubt that God in His mercy will surely hear you.   Never think that you are kneeling or standing alone, rather think that the whole of Christendom, is there beside you and you are standing among them in a common, united petition which God cannot disdain.

The Holy Bible:  The Lord God Almighty

                 John Piper: “Devote Yourselves To Prayer”/ Steve Miller:C. H. Spurgeon on Spiritual Leadership/Martin Luther: A Simple Way To Pray

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Do-it-now

If only we could go back in time and share some wisdom with our younger selves! One little girl wrote some advice to herself ten years in the future.

Her family called this Johnson City, Tennessee girl “quirky,” but by all accounts, Taylor Scout Smith was a deeply spiritual young lady who loved God and was excited to do mission work.

While rummaging through their daughter’s things, Taylor’s parents spied a letter Taylor wrote to herself on April 13, 2013, which was to be opened on that same day exactly ten years later. Taylor specified that the letter was for her eyes only “unless said otherwise,” as she put it. Her parents took this as permission to open it.

While some of the letter deals with whimsical interests, such as visits to Dollywood and episodes of Dr. Who, Taylor also encourages her future self to graduate high school and get a college degree.

Now, if you’re wondering whether Taylor’s parents violated their daughter’s privacy, you need to know that tragedy struck their family early this year. Just after Christmas, Taylor died suddenly of complications from pneumonia. It’s a scenario no parent should have to endure, but sharing Taylor’s letter with others is helping them work through their grief.

Her death also lends a greater weight to the message she wanted her future self to ponder. Permit me to quote this part in full. “How’s your relationship with God? Have you prayed, worshipped, read the Bible or gone to serve the Lord recently? If not, get up and do so NOW! I don’t care what point in our life we’re in right now, do it. He was mocked, beaten, tortured, and crucified for you! A sinless man, who never did you or any other person any wrong! Now, have you gone on any more mission trips?”

Wow. We may be old and infirm or young and full of vitality, but death comes for us all, and none of us knows the time in advance. St. Anthony, who founded desert monasticism in the third century, felt that a Christian should always be mindful of his death.

He wrote, “If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle’s words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts.”

Now, how many of us can say that we could meet death today with an unfettered heart? Are we prepared to meet our Maker, or are our spirits weighed down or distracted with bills to pay, kids to pick up from the drama club, or that TV show to watch?

Another question is, “What are we putting aside until later that we should be doing now?” Taylor told herself not to wait another day, not even another moment, to pray and worship God, to read the Bible and serve the Lord.

Can any of this really important stuff wait? No, says a young lady who now resides in God’s glory. Don’t wait another moment to praise God for your blessings or to tell another that God has reconciled us to Himself. Don’t wait another moment to tell your family that you love them or that you’re sorry for what you’ve done. And while you’re at it, offer a prayer of consolation for Taylor’s family and friends.

Taylor’s letter ends with an uncanny statement about the uncertainty of life. She wrote, “It’s been ten years since I wrote this. Stuff has happened good and bad. That’s how life works, and you have to go with it.”

Indeed. If we aren’t careful, the craziness of life can pull all of us away from what really matters. Thank God that He gave us such an important reminder in the words of a faithful girl.

 

Source: Eric Metaxas (BreakPoint Daily)

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effective

 

It’s tragic how easily we can miss the main ingredient in effective prayer.

In our sin, we’ve been rewired to focus on us — on the steps we should take for our prayers to be heard. We have this bent toward believing that every result is born from method. If something works for somebody we want to know what that somebody is doing.

We’ve developed the assumption that if we can just strip it all down to a reproducible process to put into action, then the results will multiply. While this applies to certain things, it doesn’t apply to prayer — or at least that’s not the vision the apostle James gives us. The main ingredient in effective prayer is emphatically not us.

Often Misunderstood

Many of us find James 5:16 to be a familiar verse: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” — which is also translated, as an ESV footnote spells out, “The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power.”

This is one of those coffee-mug verses. It’s commonly understood like this: Be righteous and your prayers will work. It’s what I used to think. But that’s the skim-milk meaning. It’s what happens when we fly by the text without questions. Our broken bent is to make the burden of this passage something to do with us. We simply settle to think that if we want our prayers to be effective then we need to be righteous.

But this reading doesn’t hold up.

Reading in Context

First, look at the context surrounding verse 16. James’s whole point is that prayer is effective. He asks in verse 13, “Is anyone among you suffering?” Then he replies, “Let him pray.” What about cheerfulness? Or sickness? Or sin? In each case, James encourages his readers to pray. Why? Because prayer is effective, which means, God hears his people and acts on their behalf.

Then in the beginning of verse 16, because prayer is effective (verses 13–15), he says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). To make it even clearer, he follows this with, “The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power.” That line is the second portion in a double dose of support for our praying. James’s point is to repeat his theme to pray because prayer is effective. His concern is not how prayer is made effective, but that prayer is effective. And then verse 17 comes to ground that point.

What About Elijah?

Verse 17 then brings in Elijah. “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours and he prayed fervently . . .” (James 5:17).

What does Elijah have to do with our praying? Does it mean that Elijah was righteous and his prayers worked so we should be like Elijah for our prayers to work too? Is that what he is saying?

No way.

Look at the Book. James says that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. He was just a man. He was like us. He had a nature like ours. And being just a man, being like us, having a nature likes ours, he prayed fervently and God heard. The point is not that we should be righteous at the extraordinary level of an Elijah, but that he was normal like you and me. James doesn’t say for us to be like Elijah for our prayers to be answered but that Elijah was like us and his prayers were answered — therefore pray.

Don’t Miss What’s Main

This means that the locus of effective prayer is not us, but God. Prayer has less to do with the specifics of how we say what we say, and more to do with the one to whom we are saying it.

We pray as ordinary people who have an extraordinary God. We’re just normal, you and I. We’re just normal like Elijah. Prayer is effective, not because of great men who pray, but because of a great God who in Christ graciously hears his people.

He’s the main ingredient. So pray.

 

Source: Jonathan Parnell (Desiring God)

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a praying life

If God is sovereign, then he is control of all the details of my life.  If he is loving, then he is going to be shaping the details of my life for my good.  If he is all-wise, then he’s not going to do everything I want because I don’t know what I need.  If he is patient, then he is going to take time to do all this.  When we put these all together–God’s sovereignty, love, wisdom, and patience–we have a divine story.

People often talk about prayer as if it is disconnected from what God is doing in their lives. But we are actors in his drama, listening for our lines, quieting our hearts so we can hear the voice of the Playwright.

You can’t have a good story without tension and conflict, without things going wrong.  Unanswered prayers create some of the tensions in the story God is weaving in our lives. When we realize this, we want to know what God is doing.  What pattern is God weaving?

If God is composing a story with our lives, then our lives are no longer static.  We aren’t paralyzed by life; we can hope.

~ Paul Miller, A Praying Life, page 22

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Here are seven biblical instructions that will guide the believer in praying according to God’s will:

1) Pray for the things for which the Bible commands prayer. We are told to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44); for God to send missionaries (Luke 10:2); that we do not enter temptation (Matthew 26:41); for ministers of the Word (Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1); for government authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-3); for relief from affliction (James 5:13); and for the healing of fellow believers (James 5:16). Where God commands prayer, we can pray with confidence that we are praying according to His will.

2) Follow the example of godly characters in Scripture. Paul prayed for the salvation of Israel (Romans 10:1). David prayed for mercy and forgiveness when he sinned (Psalm 51:1-2). The early church prayed for boldness to witness (Acts 4:29). These prayers were according to the will of God, and similar prayers today can be as well. As with Paul and the early church, we should always be praying for the salvation of others. For ourselves, we should pray as David prayed, always aware of our sin and bringing it before God before it hinders our relationship with Him and thwarts our prayers.

3) Pray with the right motivation. Selfish motives will not be blessed by God. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). We should also pray, not so our lofty words can be heard and we may be seen by others as “spiritual,” but mostly in private and in secret, so that our heavenly Father will hear in private and reward us openly (Matthew 6:5-6).

4) Pray with a spirit of forgiveness toward others (Mark 11:25). A spirit of bitterness, anger, revenge or hatred toward others will prevent our hearts from praying in total submission to God. Just as we are told not to give offerings to God while there is conflict between ourselves and another Christian (Matthew 5:23-24), in the same way God does not want the offering of our prayers until we have reconciled with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

5) Pray with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2; Philippians 4:6-7). We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter how burdened we are by our wants or needs. The greatest sufferer that lives in this world of redeeming love, and who has the offer of heaven before him, has reason to be grateful to God.

6) Pray with persistence (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). We should persevere in prayer and not quit or be dejected because we have not received an immediate answer. Part of praying in God’s will is believing that, whether His answer is “yes,” “no,” or “wait,” we accept His judgment, submit to His will, and continue to pray.

7) Rely on the Spirit of God in prayer. This is a wonderful truth: “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27). We have the Spirit’s help in praying. At the times of our deepest depression or sorrow, those times when we feel that we “just cannot pray,” we have the comfort of knowing that the Holy Spirit is actually praying for us! What an amazing God we have!

Source:  http://www.gotquestions.org/praying-will-of-God.html

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Heavenly Father,

If I should suffer need, and go unclothed, and be in poverty, make my heart prize Your love, know it, be constrained by it, though I be denied all blessings.

It is Your mercy to afflict and try me with wants, for by thees trials I see my sins, and desire severance from them.

Let me willingly accept misery, sorrow, temptations, if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil, and be delivered from it with gratitude to You, acknowledging this as the highest testimony of Your love.

When Your Son, Jesus, came into my soul instead of sin, He became more dear to me than sin had formerly been; His kindly rule replaced sin’s tyranny.

Teach me to belive that if ever I would have any sin subdued I must not only labor to overcome it, but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it, and He must become to me more than vile lust had been; that His sweetness, power, life may be there.

Thus I must seek a grace from Him contrary to sin, but must not claim it apart from Himself. When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me by showing me that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch, but in Christ I am reconciled and live; that in my self I find insufficiency and no rest, but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace; that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good, but in Christ I have ability to do all things.

Though now I have His graces in part, I shall shortly have them perfectly in that state where You will show Yourself fully reconciled, and alone sufficient, efficient, loving me completely with sin abolished.

O Lord, hasten that day

Source: The Valley of Vision Prayer’s

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