Thursday, August 30, 2007

No Time for Prayer?

I knelt to pray, but not for long,

I had too much to do.

Must hurry and get to work

For bills would soon be due.

And so, I said a hurried prayer,

Jumped up from off my knees;

My Christian duty now was done,

My soul could be at ease.

All through the day I had no time

To speak a word of cheer,

No time to speak of Christ to friends;

They'd laugh at me, I feared.

No time, no time, too much to do--

That was my constant cry;

No time to give to those in need--

At last 'twas time to die.

And when before the Lord I came,

I stood with downcast eyes,

Within His hands he held a book,

It was the "Book of Life."

God looked into His Book and said,

"Your name I cannot find,

I once was going to write it down,

But never found the time."

(Author Unknown)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pray A.S.A.P.!

Have you ever wondered about the abbreviation A.S.A.P.? We often interpret it to mean "As Soon As Possible," just another term that underscores the stress most people operate their lives under. Perhaps we should attach another meaning to A.S.A.P. Doing so will help us better deal with the stress we confront each day.

There's work to do,

Deadlines to meet;

You've got not time to spare,

But as you hurry and scurry--


Always Say A Prayer!

In the midst of family chaos,

"Quality time" is rare,

But do your best,

And let God do the rest--


Always Say A Prayer!

It may seem like your worries

Are more than you can bear,

So slow down

And take a breather--


Always Say A Prayer!

God knows

How stressful life is,

He wants to ease our cares;

And He'll respond,


Always Say A Prayer!

(Author Unknown)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Calmness in the Loudness

The world can be a loud place. Our days are filled with the constant clamoring of voices, nature, media, street sounds, and the thoughts that fill our minds. Don't we all long for a few moments of quiet reflection, times when we can withdraw and feel at ease?

God knows our need for serenity and he has given us prayer. You have witnessed how effective a few moments of prayer can be. In those moments spent with God calmness comes when there was stress, reflection when there was confusion, and peace of mind when there was frustration. Even when we come to God and pray at times of crises and despair, these moments spent with the Father offer clarity to the situation and bring comfort. We may not know when the end of our troubles will come, we may not immediately know the solutions God will offer, but we do know that our Father is listening and that he is acting and that he is present.

How wonderful is the gift of prayer.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Cannot Say . . .

I cannot say our if I only live for myself.

I cannot say Father if I do not endeavor each day to act like his child.

I cannot say who art in heaven if I am laying up no treasure there.

I cannot sayhallowed be Thy name if I am not striving for holiness.

I cannot sayThy Kingdom come if I am not doing all in my power to hasten that wonderful event.

I cannot say Thy will be done if I am disobedient to his Word.

I cannot say on earth as it is in heaven if I'll not serve him here and now.

I cannot say give us this day our daily bread if I am dishonest or an seeking things by subterfuge.

I cannot say forgive us our debts if I harbor a grudge against anyone.

I cannot say lead us not into temptation if I deliberatly place myself in its path.

I cannot say deliver us from evil if I do not put on the whole armor of God.

I cannot say Thine is the kingdom if I do not give the King the loyalty due him from a faithful subject.

I cannot say the power if I fear what men may do.

I cannot say the glory if I'm seeking honor only for myself.

I cannot say forever if the horizon of my life is bounded completely by time.

(Author Unknown)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Solomon's Prayer

Solomon's prayer from 1 Kings 3.6-9:

"You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

"Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours."

The response of God to Solomon's prayer (1 Kings 3.10-14):

"The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, 'Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for--both riches and honor--so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Our Prayers Can Be Hindered

We must understand that our thoughts and actions can hinder the effectiveness of our prayers.

In James 4.1-3, we are told that when we pray with impure or selfish motives, God does not hear our prayers. James writes, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

In 1 Peter 3.7, we are told that the ill treatment of one's spouse may hinder one's prayers. Peter writes, "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."

In 1 Samuel 28.18, King Saul is told that his prayers were not heard by God because of Saul's disobedience. Samuel tells him, "Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today."

In Isaiah 58 the people of Israel wander why God has not heard their prayers and answered them. The gist of God's response to this charge is that the people have come to him very insincerely and full or arrogance and self-interest and not in humility and worshipful reverence. God, through his prophet, says, "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."

In Matthew 6.5-8, Jesus says, "And when you pray do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. . . . 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. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

Let us approach God with himility, sincerity, transparency, and a deep-abiding faith.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Prayer to the Lord of the Church

In Ephesians 6.18-20, Paul asked, "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."

The prayer of Edward Osler:

Lord of the church, we humbly pray

For those who guide us in Thy way,

And speak Thy holy word;

With love divine their hearts inspire,

And touch their lips with hallowed fire,

And needful grace afford.

Help them to preach the truth of God,

Redemption through the Saviour's blood;

Nor let the Spirit cease

On all the church His gifts to shower:

To them, a Messenger of power,

To us, of life and peace.

So may they live to Thee alone,

Then hear the welcome word, "Well done!"

And take their crown above;

Enter into their Master's joy,

And all eternity employ

In praise and bliss and love.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Power Was There All the Time

Herbert Jackson tells the story of when, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push.

After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave his car running. He used this ingenious procedure for two years.

Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, "Why Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable." He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the swtich, and to Jackson's astonishment, the engine roared to life.

For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting the power to work.

J. B. Phillips paraphrases Ephesians 1.19-20, "How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God." When we make our firm connection with God, his life and power flow through us."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Reflections on Prayer

Francis de Sales: "He who prays fervently knows not whether he prays or not, for he is not thinking of the prayer which he makes, but of God, to whom he makes it."

P. Y. Forsyth: "Not to want to pray is the sin behind sin."

E. M. Bounds: "To pray is the greatest thing we can do, and to do it well, there must be calmness, time, and deliberation."

Edward J. Farrell: "The penalty of not praying is the loss of one's capacity to pray."

George H. Gallup, Jr.: "Any revitalization of faith in this country will have to start with prayer, in which we gain a sense of the living presence of God."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Prayer to the God of My Life

The prayer of Psalms 42 & 43 (NIV):

As the deer pants for streams of water,

so my soul pants for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

Where can I go and meet with God?

My tears have been my food day and night,

while men say to me all day long,

"Where is your God?"

These things I remember as I pour out my soul:

how I used to go with the multitude,

leading the procession to the house of God,

with shouts of joy and thanksgiving

among the festive throng.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;

therefore I will remmeber you

from the land of Jordan,

the heights of Hermon--from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep

in the roar of your waterfalls;

all your waves and breakers

have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,

at night his song is within me--

a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,

"Why have you forgotten me?

Why must I go about mourning,

oppressed by the enemy?"

My bones suffer mortal agony

as my foes taunt me,

saying to me all day long,

"Where is your God?"

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him.

my Savior and my God?

Vindicate me, O God,

and plead my cause against an ungodly nation;

rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.

You are God my stronghold.

Why have you rejected me?

Why must I go about mourning,

oppressed by the enemy?

Send forth your light and your truth,

let them guide me;

let them bring me to your holy mountain,

to the place where you dwell.

Then will I go to the altar of God,

to God, my joy and my delight.

I will praise you with the harp,

O God, my God.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Resurrection Prayer

(A prayer by Francis Ridley Havergal)

Oh, let me know

The power of Thy resurrection!

Oh, let me show

Thy life in clear reflection!

Oh, let me soar

Where Thou, my Savior Christ, art gone before!

In mind and heart

Let me dwell always, only, where Thou Art!

Oh, let me give

Out of the gifts Thou freely givest;

Oh, let me live

With life abundantly because Thou livest;

Oh, make me shine

In darkest places, for Thy light in mine;

Oh, let me be

A faithful witness for Thy truth and Thee.

Oh, let me show

The strong relatiy of gospel story;

Oh, let me go

From strength to strength, from glory unto glory;

Oh, let me sing

For every joy, because Thou art my King;

Oh, let me praise

Thy love and faithfulness through all my days.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Comments on Prayer

Henri Nouwen: "As we are involved in unceasing thinking, so we are called to unceasing prayer."

Abraham Lincoln: "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day."

Eugene Peterson: "In prayer, we are aware that God is in action and that when the circumstances are ready, when others are in the right place, and when our hearts are prepared, he will call us into the action. Waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

During Operation Desert Storm, the Iraqi war machine was overwhelmed by the Coalition Forces' ability to strike strategic targets with never-seen-before accuracy. Unknown to the Iraqis, the Allied Supreme Command had dropped Special Operations Forces (SOF) deep behind enemy lines. These men provided bombing coordinates for military targets and first-hand reports on the effectiveness of subsequent bombing missions.

To avoid unintended targets, pinpoint bombing was often required. A soldier from a SOF unti standing on the ground would request an aircraft high overhead to drop a laser-guided missile. Using a handheld laser, the soldier would point at the target. The missile would hone in on the soldier's target for the hit.In much the same way, the prayers of Christians focus the attention of the spiritual forces on high.

(Written by Steve Schertzinger, in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching.)

Do You Believe In the Power of Prayer?

When a nightclub opened on Main Street, the only church in that small town organized an all-night prayer meeting. The members asked God to find a way to shut down the club. Within a few minutes, lightning struck the club, and it burned to the ground. The owner sued the church, which denied responsibility.

After hearing both sides, the judge said, "It seems that wherever the guilt may lie, the nightclub owner believes in prayer, while the church doesn't."


Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Teacher's Prayer

A prayer by Ralph S. Cushman:

I do not ask

That crowds my throng the temple

That standing room be priced;

I only ask that as I voice the message,

They may see Christ.

I do not ask

For churchly pom or pageant,

Or music such as wealth alone can buy;

I only ask that as I voice the message,

He may be nigh!

I do not ask

That men may sound my praises

Or headlines spread my name abroad;

I only pray that as I voice the message,

Hearts may find God!

I do not ask

For earthly place or laurel,

Or of this world's distinctions any part;

I only ask when I have voiced the message,

My Savior's Heart!

Friday, August 10, 2007

What Is Prayer?

Prayer is a conversation with God. A conversation requires at least two parties engaged in shared thought and expression. Prayer occurs within a context of God speaking to us through his word, history, other people, and his creation.

Prayer is a product of faith. Prayer is predicated on the belief that someone is listening. In Matthew 6.5-8, Jesus condemns two falso approaches to prayer: (1) religious ritual for the show of it, and (2) calling on God out of habit and custom. Prayer must be passionate and come from an active faith that God is the Father who loves his children.

Prayer is an act of humility. We come before God acknowledging that he is the Creator and Sustainer of life. In Matthew 6.9-10, Jesus prays, "Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is done in heaven."

Prayer can be spoken or unspoken. Prayers do not have to be articulated, they can be thought. And, in Romans 8.26, Paul says, "We do not not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

Prayer can be private or public. We should have a daily habit of personal prayer. We should pray regularly with our family, friends, and the church.

Prayer can be temporal and unceasing. We pray at isolated moments, but prayer should envelope the whole of our lives. In 1 Thessalonians 5.17, Paul commands, "Pray continually (without ceasing)."

Prayer can be self-centered or focused on others. We should pray for ourselves and for others. Paul's description of Epaphras is beautiful: "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured."

Prayer must be a work in progress. Like our faith, we must grow in prayer. Our understanding and practice of prayer must progress and mature during the course of our lifetime. If we are saying the same prayers at 65 that we said when we were 25, something isn't right.

To the righteous man, prayer is effective. James says, "The prayer of a righteous man is pwoerful 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" (Jas 5.16-18).

Prayer is a blessing. The psalmist praises, "I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live" (Ps 116.1-2).

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thoughts on Prayer

Phillips Brooks: "Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger. Pray not for crutches but for wings!"

R. A. Torrey: "We are too busy to pray, and we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results."

D. L. Moody: "We honor God when we ask for great things. It is a humiliating thing to think that we are satisfied with very samll results."

Teresa of Avila: "Souls without prayer are like people whose bodies or limbs are paralyzed: they possess feet and hands but they cannot control them."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Prayer for Boldness

Acts 4.23-31 (NRSV)

After [Peter and John] were released, they went to their friends (the church) and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said,

"Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant: 'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers have gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.' For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus."

When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The People's Prayer

A prayer by Amos R. Wells:

God bless our dear United States,

Preserve the land from evil fates,

Lift high her banner fair and free,

And guard her bounds from sea to sea.

From foe without and foe within,

From open shame and hidden sin,

From boastful pride and greedy store,

God keep our nation evermore.

Forever may her friendly hands

Receice the poor of other lands

In kindliness of sisterhood,

And fill their arms with ample good.

Assailed by battle hosts of wrong,

God help our country to be strong,

Assailed by falsehood's crafty crew,

God help our country to be true.

God hold the nation's aim sincere,

God save her heart from coward fear.

God prosper her in true success.

And crown her head with worthiness.

God bless our dear United States,

Preserve the land from evil fates,

Lift high her banner fair and free,

And ever guard her liberty.

Monday, August 6, 2007

As We Pray . . .

As we pray, our faith should allow for God's answer to come at a time and in a manner in which we may not expect. God sees the big picture. His sight is not limited by the things that hinder our perspective. His wisdom goes far beyond our capacity. He knows of answers that surpass our longings.

As we pray, our faith should allow us to realize that God's silence is often intentional and that "unanswered" prayers are still heard by God. God may be silent to test the maturity of our faith, or to cause us to reevaluate our prayers in the light of his will. And, God's silence may be his answer.

As we pray, our faith should motivate us to be persistent in bringing our petitions before God. God is not hard of hearing, but in our persistence our trust in God's response is affirmed and our prayers may become refined through the repitition in which we offer them.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Michael Irvin's Prayer

Did you hear Michael Irvin's Football Hall of Fame acceptance speech? It was powerful. In it, he included a prayer for his sons. He prayed, "I say, please, help me raise them for some young lady so that they can be a better husband than I. . . . Help me raise them for their kids so that they could be a better father than I."

What a beautiful prayer.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A Prayer to the God Who Sees

Father God, help me to see as you see, or at the very least to realize and be comforted by the fact that you see all when my vision is often very limited. My perspective is often quite small, Father. My sight is obstructed by time and place, by the limitations of my physical presence, by my intellect and understanding (which are both quite human and not omniscient like you), by my prejudices and hangups, by my sin and stubbornness, and by the sin and deception of others. But, you, Father, can see past through all of these things to see the Big Picture. Thus, I must trust you and depend upon you . . . to accept the guidance you give. I get so impatient. I want a resolution now to the trials I experience. But, you are the one who sees, and I will trust in you to see me through.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Prayer of Jabez

1 Chronicles 4.10

"Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 'Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from hurt and harm!' And God granted what he asked."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Parents' Prayer

Dear God, we parents humbly come to Thee,

With all our hearts to make this earnest plea:

O Father, in the name of Thy dear Son,

We ask thy blessing on each daughter, son.

Help us to set small footsteps on the way

That leads to Thee, and may they never stray.

And then, by word and deed and truth

Help us to be a guide to those in youth.

Help each one grow in body and in soul,

To be upright and clean and good--their highest goal.

Alone, we cannot do this greatest task--

To raise a family, therefore this we ask:

Give us a wise and understanding heart;

Thy guidance, counsel, love, to us impart.

And where we fail, then in some other way

Supply their every need from day to day.

Forgive our past mistakes, and may we be

Much better parents, strengthened, Lord, by Thee.

Lead us and ours by Thine almighty hand

Till, kept by Thee, before Thy throne we stand.

For this we pray: we and our family will be

At last, in heav'n, forever--all with Thee.

(The prayer of Gertrude Krenzke Ebeling)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

We Often Ask God for Too Little

In A Slow and Certain Light, Elisabeth Elliot tells of two adventurers who stopped by to see her, all loaded with equipment for the rain forest east of the Andes. They sought no advice, just a few phrases to converse with the Indians.

She writes: "Sometimes we come to God as the two adventurers cames to me--confident and, we thing, well-informed and well-equipped. But has it occurred to us that with all our accumulation of stuff, something is missing?"

She suggests that we often ask God for too little. "We know what we need--a yes or no answer, please, to a simple question. Or perhaps a road sign. Something quick and easy to point the way."

She concludes, "What we really ought to have is the Guide himself. Maps, road signs, a few useful phrases are good things, but infinitely better is Someone who has been there and knows the way."

(This article was taken from Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching, editted by Craig Brian Larson.)