Individual Prayer

Prayer: The Fundamental Activity of the Christian Life

Important Note: This is a discussion of individual prayer only. This is not intended to imply that corporate prayer (prayer with others such as in church services or small groups) is not also very important.  This is also not a description of family prayer.  This is for individual prayer!

Biblical basis for prayer

In General:

The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. (Proverbs 15:80

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7)

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16)

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:13-20)

Giving Thanks

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:16)

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Intercession (praying for others)

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25)

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:28)

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. (Romans 15:30)

He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2Cor 1:10-11)

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (Ephesians 1:18)

Supplication (Prayer for yourself; asking for things)

The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous. ( Proverbs15:29)

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (Matthew 21:22)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Pray in the Morning

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)

 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?

       When will you get up from your sleep?

  A little sleep, a little slumber,

       a little folding of the hands to rest-

  and poverty will come on you like a bandit

       and scarcity like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:9-11)

Get Started!

Action steps:

1. Take a piece of paper and label it “Things I’m thankful for”.  Then list everything you can think of that you are thankful for… don’t leave anything out, no matter how small it may seem.

2. Take another sheet and label it “Things I want to praise God for” and list everything that you can think of to praise God for.

3. On a third sheet label it “People I need to pray for” and list everyone you can think of who needs prayer.

4. Label a fourth sheet “Things I need to pray for” and list anything that you need prayer for in your life.

5. Select a book of the Bible that you either are currently reading or one that you would like to read.  If you can’t think of anything, pick Matthew, starting with chapter one.

6. Make time the following morning for prayer, and then pray through your lists in the order from above: Do not deviate from that order, this is important! When you are finished with that, turn to your selected Bible reading and slowly, prayerfully go through it, asking God to open your eyes to see the riches that it has for you.

7. Do this every day from now on; force yourself if necessary!

8. As your prayers for yourself or others are answered, take them off of those lists and add them to your thanksgiving or praise lists.  In a few months, you will have a documented record of the amazing things God is doing in your life, and you will never view life the same again.

Kick it up a notch!

Intermediate prayer…

Action Steps:

1. Pick another book of the Bible.  If you don’t have any ideas, use the Psalms.

2. At lunch time, take a quiet break and prayerfully and slowly read a Psalm each day at lunch, ask God to guide you through the rest of your day and any other requests or intercessions that are appropriate.  Always be sure to include prayer and thanksgiving.

“Big Boy” Mode

With morning and mid day prayer as a foundation, continue your prayers constantly throughout your day and night: In your mind just keep talking with God.  Ask questions make observations and requests just as if God were standing next to you… because in truth, even if you can’t see Him with your eyes, He is there.

Related:

Will You Follow Jesus?

Can You Really Know…

Prayer Journal

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Mercy Me!

“Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.”

(Matthew 5:7)

Imagine going in to a convenience store and pointing a gun at the clerk and demanding cash.  The clerk gives you the cash, and then you shoot the clerk dead. Think about it: that clerk did exactly what you asked; he or she never did you any harm… yet you killed that human being without mercy.  How can anybody do such a thing?!

For anybody to be filled with such hate, anger, rage… whatever it is that would allow them to do this is almost beyond understanding.  Is this a person who has a good life?

I’ll leave it to the professionals to analyze them, and I’ll leave it to the liberal judges to find an excuse: for us let’s just ponder on how miserable that person must be if they could do this.

Joyful are the merciful, that’s for sure.  Mercy very often requires forgiveness, and forgiveness requires a person to let go of pain and hurt… and that is a cause for joy in and of itself.  Those who can forgive will also be forgiven in the end, for all of us have fallen short ourselves.

  • Mercy (onelightmanywindows.wordpress.com)

An Offer of Peace

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

(Col.1:19-20)

When Man rebelled against God, we began a struggle that we cannot win.  If you look around, you can see people fighting God in their lives, but are they happy?  Why carry on the fight; a fight we cannot win or even be happy with?

God went way more than half way when He made peace with Man through the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross.  To be perfectly blunt: Smart money takes Him up on His offer!  There is no need to go through life enraged trying to prove that our way is better, and deep down knowing that we fight a loosing battle.  Accept Christ and His offer of peace.  Accept relationship with God and find the peace that everyone wants to find, and satisfaction that transforms our perspectives in life. It’s the most important decision anyone can make, and one that you will not regret.

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Can you really know…

…What the Master knows?

NOTE: I have received a number of questions from readers over the past week or so, and I want to begin a series of posts to answer then as best I can.  I have no claim whatsoever to be a great or brilliant person; many can do a better job of this than I can.  However as a humble servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, I will do my best to give replies to questions that are likely to be common to many… at least as I see them.

Here’s the original question:  “Know what the master knows? I didn’t think that we could know the mind of god.”

The obvious answer is that we can’t know the mind of God which is so much more than any mere creature can handle.  As C. S. Lewis might say, if we could know God’s mind then He wouldn’t be God.  With that said, however, there is a great deal of knowledge and understanding that a follower of Christ can obtain, you see He chose to reveal Himself to mankind through His Word  (the Bible).

A reasonable person might say that one can read the Bible and get no understanding at all about God; in fact some of the greatest scholars have been atheists… what’s special about the Bible?  See, you Christians are all crazy!

It might interest such a reasonable and wise person to know that the Bible itself speaks to this issue; 1 Corinthians2:6 ff. Let’s take a look:

“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”  (1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NIV)

From these verses, we can see that there is something that has been hidden from the world of men, but which has been revealed in later times.  In fact from the earthly point of view, the whole Christian body of teaching seems silly, and yet there is a component that is not readily evident.  When the Master (Jesus) walked the earth, He made claims that seemed crazy, He made moral statements that were entirely new and went to the motivations of the heart above and beyond mere outward actions, and the powers that be just couldn’t get it: Why?

” However, as it is written:

   “No eye has seen, 
   no ear has heard, 
no mind has conceived 
   what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

God did not fully reveal Himself to a rebellious Mankind until He was ready to do so, and He did not reveal Himself through some kind of direct download to our brains; He revealed Himself by becoming a man, and then by making peace with men possible by the sacrifice of His Son for our sins, then giving us His Holy Spirit:

“but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

   The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:” (1 Corinthians 2:10-14)

For the believer in Christ, the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the critical key to understanding that can make ‘what the Master knows’ available…

‘ “For who has known the mind of the Lord 
   that he may instruct him?”

   But we have the mind of Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 2:16)

The “mind” of the Master is available, but do we bother to listen to it, or would we prefer to continue going our own way?  Ah, that is the question!

Even in a redeemed state, we have free will.  The Holy Spirit is within our beings, but if we choose to ignore Him, we can continue in our sin… to our peril.  So how do we turn things around?

Action Steps:

1. Enter relationship with Jesus Christ

2. Begin the practice of daily prayer. (This will be the subject of a future post)

3. Learn God’s Word; make yourself available to be discipled by those who are competent and mature enough to lead you as mentors.

4. Focus your life on your relationship with Jesus Christ.

If a person does these things faithfully will his or her entire perspective change over time?  Yes, it will change completely over time.  It will change quite a bit pretty quickly, in fact.  The question that we are left with is: Are you ready to follow Jesus?

God is my Strength

 

“Surely God is my help;
       the Lord is the one who sustains me.

 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
       in your faithfulness destroy them”

(Psalm 54:4-5)

How easy it is to think that we can handle everything that comes our way… and what folly!

David wrote this in a time of severe trial when his enemies were closing in.  While all of this was going on, he was looking to God for his strength, as we should.  Let’s face it, we may not be running from assassins or murderers, but we may often feel like we are… that’s when we need to remember who sustains us: God.  We need to get over thinking about how great and strong we think we are, and humble ourselves before God, allowing Him to lead us through life.  If we do, we will be sustained through good times and bad, and we’ll most likely have fewer worries and fewer trials.

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Will We Follow Jesus?

“Follow me.”

(John 1:43)

When Jesus spoke these two simple words, Phillip dropped what he was doing and became a follower of Jesus.  Would you do the same?

Remember, that’s all Jesus said to Phillip: “Follow me”.

Like Phillip, for us to follow Jesus means to become His disciple; not a simple task. To be a disciple, we must know what the Master knows, and do what the Master does. For the original disciples, this meant three and a half years at the feet of the Master and quite a transformation from an earthly viewpoint to a heavenly one.  After that, they did what Jesus did: make more disciples.  For us, this means learning not at the feet of the Master, but from His Word, loosing our earthly perspective and gaining a heavenly one… followed by a life of teaching and training others to follow Jesus.  Sadly, not many in our time are up to the challenge…

How about you?  Will you follow Him?  Will you commit yourself to learning His Word, and then to putting it into practice in your life; to put others ahead of yourself and train them to become disciples?  The truth of the matter is: this is our challenge, this is our calling, this is our Commission!

The Lord sometimes challenges us, doesn't he?
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