1. It may be that the Word abiding in us functions to guide our prayers. In other words, 1 John 5:14 says, "If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." Perhaps it is the abiding of the Word of Christ in our lives that directs us to what God's will is in prayer. Then we pray according to God's will and the answer comes.
2. Or it may be that the Word abiding in us functions to build our faith, which then lays hold on answers to prayer. Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." And in Mark 11:24 Jesus says, "All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you." So if faith is essential for answered prayer, and if the Word abiding within sustains faith, then maybe that is what Jesus means when he says that if his words abide in us we will have answers to our prayers.
3. Or it may be that the Word abiding in us functions to transform us morally and spiritually so that we are walking in the path of love where God answers prayer, rather than in the path of selfishness where he doesn't. We know from Psalm 66:18 and James 4:3 that intentionally cherishing or walking in sin cuts us off from answered prayer. And we know from John 8:32 that the Word of God sets us free from sin: "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." And we know from John 17:17 that the word of God sanctifies: "Sanctify them in the truth [Jesus prays to the Father], your Word is truth." So maybe it's the transforming, sanctifying power of the Word that leads to holiness and love and then to answered prayer.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Monday, January 30, 2006
Just as our theology can become an excuse for inaction and disobedience, so also can prayer. I don't mean that theology is unimportant nor that prayer is unnecessary. I agree with A. C. Dixon who said,
When we rely on organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely on education, we get what education can do; when we rely on eloquence, we get what eloquence can do; and so on. Nor am I disposed to undervalue any of these things in their proper place; but when we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.I've posted links to prayer this month because I'm convinced it's essential. Having said that, there are times when we use prayer to mask our failure to act. We want God to do through prayer what he wants us to do through obedience.
I know this is not an either/or thing. It's not prayer or action. It's prayer and action. But how many times do we pray and think that's end of the action? Maybe at the end of our petitions we should add, "Lord, now what do you want me to do?"
Update on Feb. 3, 2006: Here's a historical insight from Michael Haykin about William Carey's "Expect great things ... attempt great things" exhortation that is relevant.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Here are some blessings to pray, based on the acronym "B.L.E.S.S."
B: Body (health, protection, strength)• Pray that God will cover them "with his feathers," give them refuge under His wings, and be to them a "shield and rampart" (Ps. 91:4).
• Pray that they may seek the kingdom of God first and receive all other blessings they need as well (Mt. 6:33).
• Pray that for all their needs they may look to God, who is prepared to "give them their food at the proper time" (Ps. 145:15).
L: Labor (work, income, security)• Pray that they may keep their lives "free from the love of money and be content with what [they] have" (Heb. 13:5).• Pray for diligence in work. "Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth" (Prov. 10:4).• Pray that neighbors who work outside the home will meet Christians who show them the deep and passionate love of God.
E: Emotional (joy, peace, hope)• Ask God to fill the empty spaces in unsaved neighbors' hearts with the knowledge that there is a God who loves them and wants them to love Him in return.• Pray that they may be content because they have "learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" (Phil. 4:12).• Pray that in times of trouble they will pray to God and discover the peace of God that passes all understanding in Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:7).
S: Social (love, marriage, family, friends)• Pray that children will obey and honor their parents and that parents will train and instruct their children in the things of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4).• Pray that they may have good friends who will stick by them at all times and family members who will stand by them in adversity (Prov. 17:17).• Pray that they will "bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances [they] may have against one another" (Col. 3:13).
S: Spiritual (salvation, faith, grace)• Pray that they will "receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [Christ]" (Acts 26:18).• Pray that they will call on the name of the Lord and be saved (Acts 2:21).• Pray that the kindness of God will lead them to repentance (Ro. 2:4).
Friday, January 27, 2006
1. Pray for faith.
2. Pray that the person and his or her family would express their faith boldly, despite opposition.
3. Pray that his or her faith would be a silent testimony to unbelievers and that bystanders would come to Christ.
4. Pray that other believers will be supportive of the person and family involved.
5. Ask the Lord, "What is Your will for these people?"
That last one is important, isn't it. We think we know what God should do. As the author says, "We want the pain to stop. We want the problem resolved. We want to fix whatever is wrong. But is that always God's way?"
Thursday, January 26, 2006
We must take care to glance inwardly toward God, even for a moment, before proceeding with our outward actions. Then, as we go about our duties, we must continue to gaze upon God from time to time. And finally, we must finish all our actions looking to God. As time and much labor are necessary to acquire this practice, we must not be discouraged when we fail in it, because the habit is formed only with difficulty; but when it is formed, everything we do we will do with pleasure.
Or it may be like what Mark Swanson at Runalong with Pastor Mark describes:
Throughout the day, as opportunity presents itself, talk about how you are feeling, what you are thinking, your current activities, what you've been reading, etc.
Ask Him what He is up to and how He wants you to fit into His plans (prayer: it's not just about you!). Go ahead and talk to Him about your own plans and how they might or might not relate to His plans. Ask for wisdom. Ask for power. Ask Him to keep you from stupid decisions!
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Do you know what my first prayer for awakening is? "Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old" (Is. 51:9). I pray for God to wake up! Isaiah says that when the Spirit goes into action in powerful new ways, it almost feels, by contrast, as if a moment earlier He had been sleeping. But when God wakes up, then His people wake up. When Christ shines, we can rise—and the world around us! Even wise virgins may fall asleep (Mt. 25:1-13), but not for long. The Bridegroom is on His way, for arrival, for revival, for awakening. He is the sunrise before our prayers, and for our prayers. Who wants to sleep through that?
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
From On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius.My Dear Marcellinus, I once talked with a certain studious old man, who had bestowed much labour on the Psalter, and discoursed to me about it with great persuasiveness and charm, expressing himself clearly too, and holding a copy of it in his hand the while he spoke. So I am going to write down for you the things he said.
Son, all the books of Scripture, both Old Testament and New, are inspired by God and useful for instruction, as the apostle says; but to those who really study it the Psalter yields especial treasure. Within it are represented and portrayed in all their great variety the movements of the human soul. It is like a picture, in which you see yourself portrayed and, seeing, may understand and consequently form yourself upon the pattern given. In the Psalter you learn about yourself. You find depicted in it all the movements of your soul, all its changes, its ups and downs, its failures and recoveries. Moreover, whatever your particular need or trouble, from this same book you can select a form of words to fit it, so that you do not merely hear and then pass on, but learn the way to remedy your ill. Prohibitions of evildoing are plentiful in Scripture, but only the Psalter tells you how to obey these orders and refrain from sin.
But the marvel with the Psalter is that, barring those prophecies about the Savior and some about the Gentiles, the reader takes all its words upon his lips as though they were his own, written for his special benefit, and takes them and recites them, not as though someone else were speaking or another person's feelings being described, but as himself speaking of himself, offering the words to God as his own heart's utterance, just as though he himself had made them up.
It is possible for us, therefore to find in the Psalter not only the reflection of our own soul's state, together with precept and example for all possible conditions, but also a fit form of words wherewith to please the Lord on each of life's occasions, words both of repentance and of thankfulness, so that we fall not into sin; for it is not for our actions only that we must give account before the Judge, but also for our every idle word.
When you would give thanks to God at your affliction's end, sing [Psalms] 4 and 75 and 116. When you see the wicked wanting to ensnare you and you wish your prayer to reach God's ears then wake up early and sing 5. For victory over the enemy and the saving of created things, take not glory to yourself but, knowing that it is the Son of God who has thus brought things to a happy issue, say to Him Psalm 9; and when you see the boundless pride of man, and evil passing great, so that among men (so it seems) no holy thing remains, take refuge with the Lord and say Psalm 12. And if this state of things be long drawn out, be not faint-hearted, as though God had forgotten you, but call upon Him with Psalm 27. If you want to know how Moses prayed, you have the 90th. When you have been delivered from these enemies and oppressors, then sing Psalm 18; and when you marvel at the order of creation and God's good providence therein and at the holy precepts of the law, 19 and 24 will voice your prayer; while [Psalm] 20 will give you words to comfort and to pray with others in distress. When you yourself are fed and guided by the Lord and, seeing it, rejoice, the 23rd awaits you. Do enemies surround you? Then lift up your heart to God and say Psalm 25, and you will surely see the sinners put to rout. And when you want the right way of approach to God in thankfulness, with spiritual understanding sing Psalm 29.
So, then, my son, let whoever reads this book of Psalms take the things in it quite simply as God-inspired. In every case the words you want are written down for you, and you can say them as your own.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Nehemiah 2:4)? In the future, I want to do that with consistency, by faith.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
This is where many American Christians are stuck today—praying, expecting, and working for the kingdom of God to be a glorified American nationalism. Many, like Israel during Christ's time on earth, are looking for Jesus to manifest His power in outward political expressions, rather than to release Himself to individuals as the inner-kingdom bringer. Some envision a Christian triumphalism. Others labor at a Christianized humanism or at bringing forth a glorified liberalism, conservatism, capitalism, socialism, libertarianism, or environmentalism. No "ism" is the kingdom of God. The American dream is not the kingdom, nor is democracy. Democracy can certainly engender kingdom traits and principles. But so can the regime of a benevolent dictator in Africa.Today, scores of church leaders are calling for allegiance and donations to doctrinal emphases, movements, programs, issues, and causes. It is like we are calling out, "Repent, for our political party, movement, or fad is at hand." Then we are surprised by reactions of scorn or indifference.As Jones keenly observed a quarter century ago, we live in a time in which "the church has lost its absolute—the kingdom of God—and is now in a welter of conflicting relativisms. So the church leaves a blur instead of a mark. Where Paul could say, ‘This one thing I do,' the church says, ‘These 40 things I dabble in.' The church needs nothing so much as it needs a rediscovery of the absolute, the absolute of the kingdom, that would bring life back into unity . . . discover the power of the Spirit . . .and give it nerve to face a hesitating and confused world with, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.'"It is not accidental that Christ made the kingdom of God the first and primary petition in the prayer He modeled to His disciples: "This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven‘" (Mt. 6:9-10).This kind of prayer will return the church to absolute allegiance to an absolute order (the kingdom of God), and to absolute conformity to the character of the risen and reigning Christ—the King of kings. Only then will the church's voice be restored and amplified for true kingdom proclamation.All other kingdoms and systems can and will be shaken. A crucial moment is upon us: all earthborn "isms" are in their twilight time. They have been or are being given their chance at trying to improve the human condition and world order. They have failed, are failing, or will fail. "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe" (Heb. 12:28).Recognizing that we have a kingdom destiny, that we are sown by Christ to be the "good seed" of the new order (Mt 13:38), let us consider how we can adopt a kingdom focus as we relate to the world around us. I believe the hour is upon us—as it came upon Joshua when he looked to enter Jericho (Josh. 5:13-15)—to repent of all partisan, sectarian, and "pet" doctrinal and political persuasions; to humbly regather ourselves unto the person of Christ; and to pray in a simple but wholehearted way, "Thy kingdom come!" For, biblically, this is our primary and transcendent mandate for prayer.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Along the lines of practical ideas, Greg Koukl offers 10 Tips to Help Your Prayer Life:
1. Choose a specific place to pray away from distractions so you can concentrate.
2. Pray at the same time every day, if at all possible. Make it part of your regular routine and it will become habit. Write it into your schedule and then treat it just like a daily appointment.
3. Pray out loud.
4. Keep a note pad handy so you can jot down different things that come to mind while you're before the Lord. Sometimes you'll get great ideas totally unrelated to what you've been praying about. If you jot them down you can quickly get back to the topic at hand without being too distracted.
5. Make a list to keep track of your prayer needs. This can be done several ways. Prayer needs can be listed by category like "Church," "Family," or "Unsaved friends." Or they may be listed by the days of the week. Each day you pray for a different set of needs.
6. Redeem time for praying out of unused corners of your schedule.
7. Change the pace during your prayer time. Include praise, thanksgiving and singing as well as petition. Spend some of your time reflecting on the Scripture, meditating on it and digesting its meaning.
8. Keep a prayer journal.
9. Pray with someone else.
10. Pray one-sentence prayers. If the thought of laboring over a topic wears you out, pray short, sincere prayers instead.
Friday, January 20, 2006
- Make an absolute commitment to consistently spend significant time alone with God in uninterrupted prayer.
- Approach your prayer time as a relationship with God rather than a required ritual.
- Make a commitment to a balanced prayer life by regularly practicing the four different types of prayer (which Frizzell identifies as: praise and thanksgiving; confession and repentance; petition and supplication; intercession).
- In your daily petitions, focus more on issues of personal character and holiness than on temporal needs.
- In your daily intercession, focus more on issues of evangelism and missions than on temporal concerns.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Seven things I learned:
1. There is life outside of the blogworld/Internet.
2. If you haven't done so recently - back up your data, NOW!
3. Is there any way to save my Outlook Express messages to disk?
4. I didn't get more work done without my computer.
5. Hooray for things like Plaxo (on-line address book) and LibraryThing (on-line catalog for books).
6. I'm glad I saved all my usernames and passwords on a separate file on a disk - in case all my programs weren't recovered.
7. And BTW, if you haven't done so already - back up your data, NOW!
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Prayer as God's Strategy for Impacting Our Nation is a quote from Jonathan Edwards on prayer.
Prayer and Church Planting emphasizes the priority of prayer in a church-planting strategy.
Praying for Hollywood offers some redemptive prayers for Hollywood.
Praying for Persecuted Christians is a reminder to pray for the nations.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
When you go to vote, on the ballots, "PC" refers to the PROGRESSIVE CANADIAN Party, not the CONSERVATIVE Party (which was formed when the Progressive Conservatives and that other party joined together).
This is the only other thing I have to say about the election: Vote.
OK, one more thing (regardless of who wins): 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
For those in a small group or house church or prayer meeting, Eddie Smith offers these Guidelines for Participants in Corporate Intercession:
- Come prepared to pray by stirring up your faith.
- Sit together.
- Speak up! Others cannot agree with what they cannot hear.
- Avoid "preachy" praying and ministerial tones. Pray simply and conversationally.
- Keep prayers concise, clear, and to the point.
- Don't read long passages of Scripture.
- Don't pray as you would in your private devotionals or pray through your personal prayer list.
- Ask God; don't explain things to Him.
- Avoid addressing others in the room under the pretense of prayer.
- Once you have prayed, wait for other people to pray before praying again.
- When in doubt about what to pray, ask for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on your church and city. All other requests are fulfilled when that occurs.
- Try not to pray too big or too small. Pray for things the group can "get its faith around."
- Don't be afraid of silence. It's sometimes golden.
- Listen to, agree with, and affirm each prayer.
- Submit to pastoral guidance.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
- Acceptance. Paul (as are missionaries today) was rightly concerned about how other believers perceived and accepted his ministry. Many missionaries are damaged or discouraged, not by those they are trying to reach with the gospel, but by other missionaries. Each is focused and called by God, but may have a different idea about how to reach a particular group of people. "Pray . . . that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there" (Ro. 15:31).
- Boldness. The request is made for courage in presenting the gospel. Getting on an airplane to fly across the ocean does not automatically make a missionary bold. "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel" (Eph. 6:19).
- Clarity. Paul didn't want to be misunderstood, but rather to be able to communicate the gospel clearly. Can you imagine how difficult it is for a missionary to learn a new language, or try to translate the Bible into a language that has never been written down before? "Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should" (Col. 4:4).
- Deliverance. There is a place for the prayer of deliverance from the attack of the enemy, from whatever direction the attack may come. Missionaries need prayers of protection from physical, emotional, and spiritual harm as they serve Christ in a different culture. "Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea" (Ro. 15:31).
- Extension. Paul asks for prayer that his ministry may be extended beyond its current boundaries. "And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains" (Col. 4:3).
- Fruitfulness. Paul, like all missionaries, was concerned about church growth. He wanted to see the gospel spread and be accepted. "Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you" (2 Thess. 3:1).
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Dan Edelen at Cerulean Sanctum has a different vision of prayer:
Take the simple act of prayer. Ask most Americans about prayer and they'll say they wholeheartedly believe in it, even if they don't do all that much of it daily. The Chinese underground Church takes a different stance. Not only are the leaders of those churches praying several hours each day, but they have older saints who are devoting themselves to prayer all day and most of the night.
A couple years ago I posted a comment to TheOoze Web site stating that I did not believe that the Church in America would ever see any kind of revival unless people started praying a minimum of two hours a day. The response was that two hours of daily time dedicated to nothing but prayer was too much to ask. TheOoze is an Emerging Church site, so I was not surprised by that reaction from the mostly sub-35 crowd there. But what has been eye-opening to me is that Emerging Church foes in the Traditional Church largely have the same response: two hours solely devoted to prayer is unreasonable given most people's circumstances.
I'm not saying that long-windedness is the answer. It's not about 10 minutes or 2 hours. It's about the hunger and desperation to spend time seeking God. To that end, I like Dan's vision more than the pastor on the radio.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
J. Hudson Taylor, the ground-breaking missionary to China, noted that most of his breakthroughs in prayer came during emotionless praying. He even confessed that many times his heart felt like wood when he prayed. Taylor's "emotionless praying" released God's power to establish over 200 Chinese mission stations, bring hundreds of missionaries to the field, train 700 Chinese workers, and develop a Chinese church of approximately 125,000. Some reports claim that hebaptized nearly 50,000 Chinese.Likewise, Ed Kleiman, in writing about those times when we're Not in the Mood, mentions the struggles of John Bunyan:
John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, said: "Our heart faces many difficulties in the time of prayer. No one knows how many by-ways and back-lanes our heart may use to slip away from the presence of God.... My heart when I go to prayer is disinclined to go to God; and when it is with Him, so disinclinedto stay with Him."So what to do when we feel passionless and powerless and even prayerless? Kleiman's counsel: "Whenever I find myself not in a praying mood or inclined to say, 'I just can't pray, my heart's not in it, or I'm too distracted,' I remind myself that the Spirit of God can. So I ask the Holy Spirit for help . . .and I pray!"
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
But there are two primary needs that I plead before God: healing of the body and the hope of heaven, through Christ.
Only God can turn a heart of unbelief to a heart of faith and repentance. This I pray above all. Perhaps in God's grace this cancer will be for the good of the individual, if it will waken him from his spiritual dullness and cause him to see the shortness of life and bring him to confess his need for a Savior.
There is one more prayer I think we need to pray when going through a circumstance like this: courage for ourselves to trust God. We are afraid for our loved one and for ourselves. How we need God to grant us the sufficient grace to say, "Your will be done." I remember another friend saying to me, a while after her husband died from a brain tumor, that she realized she was holding back from God because she was afraid if she got too close she would be hurt again. "Oh for grace to trust him more."
Monday, January 09, 2006
Let go of what happened during the day, and try not to think too much about plans for the rest of the week. If I can't get something off my mind, such as an important phone call I need to make, I jot myself a note to remind me to do it later.I think the last point is huge. Instead of praying and then forgetting about it, we can deepen our fellowship by following up on the need.
- If possible, make eye contact with the person requesting prayer.
- Write down the request. This helps me listen for details, and also gives me something to refer back to during the week.
- Ask clarifying questions when there is any confusion about the request. It's hard for me to know how to pray if I don't really understand what the need is.
- Commit to pray daily for the need for at least one week. This commitment has helped me to move away from my self-centered tendencies.
- Make a note in my organizer of any significant dates such as a major exam or surgery. I do my best to set aside time to pray specifically for the need during the exam, surgery, etc.
- Write down action I want to take outside of the group. The action can be anything from making a phone call, to writing a note, to visiting someone in the hospital.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
We press into Your heart this day, glorious God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We celebrate all that Your precious Son is—who He is to us and for us, over us and within us, through us and before us and upon us.
Before all heaven we proclaim:
- Christ is supreme!—He is sovereign, sufficient, and totally satisfying!
- Christ is our hope!—He is the summation of all Your promises, the source of all Your riches, more and more and more, for now and forever!
- Christ is our glory!—He is Alpha and Omega, the consummation of all Your purposes, for all creation, for all the ages to come! In Him our life is hidden with You, until the hour He returns in the final triumphs of grace and truth.
- Christ is among us!—He is accessible to us, in all of His fullness, here and now. He stands with us, willing and able and ready to act for us, and in us, and through us!SELAH: Pause for silent reflection
Therefore, we REPENT—individually and on behalf of all Your people:
- We repent . . .. for how we have diminished Christ, regarding Him as our mascot rather than our Monarch.
- We repent . . .. for how we have manipulated Christ, coming to Him to use Him, as far as we think we need Him, that far and no more.
- We repent . . .. for how we have hoarded Christ, seeking His blessings for ourselves, with little thought about bringing those blessings to others. We've assumed that He was there only for us. We've forgotten that He is Lord of neighbors and nations.
- We repent . . .. for how we have avoided Christ, withholding our affections from Him because we were afraid of what it would cost us. By our lifestyles, we've denied that He's truly supreme and sufficient. In His place we've substituted creeds, and programs, and organizations, and causes—as well as our own feeble attempts to look spiritual. In doing so, we've abandoned the consuming passion for Him He deserves, as the Center of everything.SELAH: Pause for silent reflection
Forgive us! Cleanse us! Purify us! Resurrect us! Reconvert us! Restore us! Refill us! Recommission us! By the blood. Through Your mercy. O Lamb of God! O Lamb of God!
We are ready—Ready . . .. to revolutionize mind and action. Ready . . .. to embrace the full extent of Christ's supremacy. Ready . . .. to walk with Him for all He really is. Ready . . .. to wrap our lives around Him, and the mighty advances of His kingdom. Ready . . .. for this and for nothing less.
So together, in brokenness and hope, here and now—O God of our salvation—we cry out for all to hear: "Lord Jesus, Come and conquer us! Lord Jesus, Come and conquer us! Lord Jesus, Come and conquer us!"
SELAH: Pause for silent reflection
Wonderful Father: Standing at this crossroads moment, we pledge to Your Son the words of Saint Augustine:
You called, You cried, You shattered my deafness.You sparkled, You burned, You drove away my blindness.You shed your fragrance, and I drew in my breath.Therefore, from now on, I will pant for YOU alone.
To that end, Father, visit afresh with Your Spirit every one of us. May He turn this prayer of radical repentance into a radical way of life, for all your people, everywhere. Hallelujah! AMEN! Let it be done!(This prayer is intended to be prayed responsively.)
Friday, January 06, 2006
“Lord, for your great glory, 1) don’t let me miss any of the sanctifying blessings that you have for me in this experience; 2) don’t let the church miss any of the sanctifying blessings that you have for us in this; 3) grant that the surgery be successful in removing cancer and sparing important nerves; 4) grant that this light and momentary trial would work to spread a passion for your supremacy for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ; 5) may Noël and all close to me be given great peace—and all of this through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.”
As I said, I have appreciated John Piper's ministry. To the degree that he shares publicly what he goes through (and certainly I wish to respect his privacy), I - and many others - will continue to learn from him through this time of trial. Meanwhile, it's time not to blog about prayer, but to pray.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
1. The Father Focus.Wood suggests real revival always begins with "an intensified awareness of God." ... Pray for a new passion for God's presence.
2. The Sin Focus.According to Dr. Wood, true revival likewise includes "an acute sensitivity to sin." ... Pray for a deeper work of repentance in your heart and life.
3. The Truth Focus.A passionate hunger for the truth of God's Word also is central to genuine awakening. Dr. Wood refers to this as "a jealous concern for the truth." ... Pray for a fresh, all-consuming hunger for God's Word.
4. The Prayer Focus.Next, Dr. Wood suggests true revival always includes "an absorbing concentration on prayer." ... Pray for a new consistency and fervency in seeking God in personal prayer.
5. The Conduct Focus.Personal purity, which Dr. Wood labels "an enhanced standard of conduct," is likewise an outflow of true revival.... Pray for true change in areas of your conduct that might hinder your effectiveness for Jesus.
6. The Loyalty Focus.Real revival also includes a desire for increased fellowship with others in a local body of believers. Dr. Wood refers to this as"a strengthened loyalty to the church." ... Pray for an increased faithfulness in regular church attendance and other occasions for fellowship.
7. The Unity Focus.From the very birth of the early church at Pentecost, unity has always been foundational to true awakening.... Dr. Wood refers to this quality of awakening as "an exciting realization of unity." ... Pray that you will be an encourager of unity in your church and community.
8. The Evangelism Focus.Dr. Wood next suggests that true awakening includes "an augmented zeal in evangelism." ... Pray for a new passion for lost souls—at home and abroad.
9. The Justice Focus.Dr. Wood concludes with a reminder that real revival always produces"a passion for social justice." ... Pray for a fresh passion to personally participate in practical ministry to those who are suffering.
1. Upward: Reverence
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name" (Matthew 6:9). A key distinctive of Biblical and effective prayer is that it is worship-based.
2. Downward: Response
"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). This is conscious submission to God's will (surrender to God).
3. Inward: Requests
4. Outward: Readiness
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13). This has to do with readiness for the spiritual battle, and includes reliance upon God's resources (the word of God and the Holy Spirit).
5. Upward: Reverence
"For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen" (Matthew 6:13, some mss). We end with a time of worship, focusing on God's exalted reign and on eternal realities.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Honor the King"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name" (Mt. 6:9).
Some like to think that the translation of "Father" here refers to Abba, or "Daddy," a word that implies affection and love. But I believe the translation implies honor, respect, and reverence. This Father is Lord of the heavenlies. He is King God! When I pray in the style of the Lord's Prayer, I am faced with this marvelous truth: the God to whom I pray, who loves me and purchased my pardon at the cross, is both my Father and the King and Lord over all the universe. Praying with a kingdom mentality means including adoration and praise that combines affection for God's love and mercy with honor for His power and authority as King.
Increasingly So"Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt. 6:10).
This part of Jesus' prayer is a mystery to many. How do I pray for the kingdom to come? I've been helped by coining the phrase, "Increasingly so, then perfectly so." It builds on the theological concept, "already, but not yet," popularized by Dr. George Eldon. Already the kingdom of God is a present reality because of Jesus Christ's sacrifice; yet there is more to come because someday He will return in honor and glory to reign upon the earth. The kingdom is here, but it is not yet fully consummated. Praying like this gives me the kingdom mentality of "Increasingly so, Lord! May Your reign be increasingly evident in my life. May Your reign, Jesus, impact my home, my church, my community, and my world as never before. It won't be perfect now. Not until Jesus comes back. But King God, let it reign!"
What would the spheres of my life look like if Christ reigned completely in them? What would the church look like? What would my family look like? How would our world look? Maybe it won't be perfect until Jesus comes, but it can be better than it is!
What Do I Really Need?"Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Mt. 6:11-12).
In Dr. Hafemann's presentation, he talked about all the things we call needs that we could really get along without. But there are two things we cannot live without: food and forgiveness.Our physical life cannot be sustained without food. And we are spiritually dead apart from the forgiveness of God. So in Jesus' model, when it came to asking for daily necessities, Jesus stuck to the bare essentials. When it comes to daily needs, we should always go to the King. He is our Father, and He taught us to "ask and it will be given to you" (Lk. 11:9). But we also should be content with His answers. Prayer is not for the accumulation of this world's wealth. "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Mt. 6:33).
The Lord's Prayer in Matthew is, interestingly, preceded and followed by stern warnings: don't pray as the hypocrites or the pagans do, and "if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Mt. 6:15). Only a proud, hard heart refuses to offer the forgiveness that it has received by the King's grace, as Mt. 18:21-35 teaches. We cannot pray with a proud, hard heart, which forces me to search my heart for unforgiveness. If it's there, I must extend to others what I desire to get for myself: forgiveness through the blood of Christ.
Make Your Escape Routes Clear"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Mt. 6:13).
In his classic message delivered in 1988 ("Prayer, the Work of Missions"), John Piper said, "Until you believe that life is war, you cannot know what prayer is for." Our naivete about spiritual war took a blast on September 11th. Many have said, "Everything changed on 9/11." But looking at it another way, nothing changed that day except our level of awareness. On September 10th, Jesus was King of Kings; Satan bitterly opposed Him, the gospel, and cross; and Christians were engaged in spiritual conflict—some effectively, some ineffectively. The same was true after the 11th. Jesus' model prayer hits the mark: we're involved in spiritual battle every single day, and we need the strength and protection only God can give. This truth leads me to humbly ask God, "Please protect me from temptations beyond what I can bear. Make Your escape routes (1 Cor. 10:13) clear! Don't let Satan get to me." An element of spiritual warfare must inhabit my prayers; for without the spiritual clarity God provides, I might miss the way of escape He has provided for me.
Four DimensionsJesus modeled the kingdom mentality in the four dimensions of His prayer. These dimensions are worth exploring in our own prayer lives. Use the Lord's Prayer as a model for keeping His kingdom in view. And ask Him, "Lord, what is Your best agenda for me?"
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
1. Find the best possible time and place for prayer.
2. Forget all previous failures in prayer.
3. Fight all prayer hindrances fiercely.4. Focus on the Lord rather than on answers to prayer.5. Follow a meaningful plan of action.
6. Feed every day on spiritual food.
7. Fellowship with the Lord in love.
8. Forgive every wrong done to you.
9. Forsake all things that hinder spiritual growth.10. Finish what you start (that is, be willing to be a part of the answer to your own prayers).
Monday, January 02, 2006
Don Carson's book A Call to Spiritual Reformation helped me in praying biblical prayers. And one of the things he shows from Paul's prayers is a concern for others. He says if we are serious about following Paul's example ...
... we will never overlook the monumental importance of praying for others. Prayer will never descend to the level where it is nothing more than a retreat house in which we find strength for ourselves, whether through the celebration of praise or through a mystic communion with God or through the relief of casting our cares upon the Almighty. Prayer may embrace all of these elements, and more; but if we learn to pray with Paul, we will learn to pray for others. We will see it as part of our job to approach God with thanksgiving for others and with intercession for others. In short, our praying will be shaped by our profound desire to seek what is best for the people of God (p. 75).
Daniel Henderson's Strategic Renewal International ministry helped me in praying worship-based prayers. Henderson also stresses corporate prayer. He gives these statistics to show the need for a renewal of church-based prayer:
In recent years, researchers have discovered some startling facts about the church in America today:
- 500 billion dollars has been spent on ministry in the U.S. in the last 15 years, with no appreciable growth in the impact of the Church.
- Church attendance has decreased 9.5% in the last 10 years, while the population has increased 11.4%.
- As many as 85% of all churches are plateaued or declining.
- Only 5% of American churches have an effective and organized prayer ministry.