Thursday, September 27, 2007

For Whom Do We Pray?

I love the description of Epaphras given in Colossians 4.12 by Paul. Paul says Epaphras "wrestled in his prayers to God" for the church at Colossae. Epaphras was a man of prayer, and in his prayers he kept the Christians of Colossae in mind. He was diligent in his prayers for them. He was persistent. He was passionate. May we share his spirit as we "wrestle in our prayers to God," keeping in mind each other . . . our needs, concerns, thanksgivings.

For whom do we pray? Consider these examples from prayers and teachings in Scripture.

We should pray for ourselves (Luke 18.9-14).

We should pray for one another (1 Thess. 1.2-3 & James 5.16).

We should pray for the lost (Romans 10.1).

We should pray for the sick (James 5.14-16).

We should pray for our rulers (1 Timothy 2.1-2).

We should pray for our enemies (Luke 6.27-28).

We should pray for our children (1 Chron. 29.19).

We should pray for our elders (Acts 20.36).

We should pray for preachers (Ephesians 6.19-20).

We should pray for the church (Philippians 1.9-11).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No Time for God

You've time to build houses, and in them dwell,

And time to do business--to buy and sell;

But none for repentance, or deep earnest prayer;

To seek your salvation you've no time to spare.

You've time for earth's pleasures, for frolic and fun,

For her glittering treasures, how quickly you run;

But care not to seek the fair mansion above,

The favor of God or the gift of His love.

You've time to take voyages over the sea,

And time to take in the world's jubilee;

But soon your bright hopes will be lost in the gloom

Of the cold, dark river of death and the tomb.

You've time to resort to the mountain and glen;

And time to gain knowledge from books and from men;

Yet no time to search for the wisdom of God,

But what of your soul when you're under the sod?

For time will not linger when helpless you lie,

Staring death in the face, you will take time to die.

Then, what of the judgment--pause, think, I implore!

For time will be lost on eternity's shore.

(Author Unknown)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Do You Believe?

Do you believe that one day years ago a man just like you and me was ablt to change the rainfall cycle of a who nation just by praying?

Do you believe that a dying man added 15 more years to his life because he prayed to live?

Do you believe that a previously barren woman became able to conceive and bear a son because she talked to God about her problem?

Do you believe that twice in history a man's prayer was all that was needed to stop the normal movement of the solar system so that "the sun stood still," or, in one case, went backwards?

Incredible as these stories may sound to us today, they are recorded in the Bible as actual fact.

Maybe that explains why some of us get so discouraged. When our troubles pile up so heavy that we're ready to throw in the towel, we are usually coping with situations too big for us to handle by ourselves and we have not thought of asking God to handle them for us.

Christ recommended prayer as an alternative to depression. He taught that we "ought always to pray and not to lose heart." Too often we try every possible situation to some problem except praying about it, and then we despair because things aren't getting any better. Only God can move some mountains; trying to move them without asking His help is foolish and frustrating.

(Author Unknown)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fear Not, You're Not Alone

Have you ever feared driving over a high bridge? If so, you're not alone. In fact, some people are so afraid of bridges that they will drive hours out of their way to avoid them. Others try to cross but have a panic attack in the middle of the bridge and can't go on. They block traffic.

Because of this the operators of some of the longest and highest spans in America now offer a driving service. On request, one of the bridge attendants will get behind the wheel and drive the car over the bridge.

For example, on average, each year, Michigan's Timid Motorist Program assists in the neighborhood of 1,000 drivers across the Mackinac Bridge, which is five miles long and rises two hundred feet above the water.

Bridges aren't the only things causing fear in people's hearts. In any terrifying situation the way to get over the paralysis of fear is to do like these motorists--turn the wheel over to someone else. Turn the situation over to God and then trust him. You have to cross that bridge, but you're not doing it alone, and God is the One in control.

1 Peter 5.6-7: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you."

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Faith that Moves Mountains

The promise of Jesus, from Matthew 21.21-22:

"Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Break Thou the Bread of Life

Break Thou the bread of life,
Dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves
Beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page
I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee,
O living Word.

Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord,
To me--to me--
As Thou didst bless the bread
By Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease,
All fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace,
My all in all.

Thou art the bread of life,
O Lord, to me,
Thy holy Word the truth
That saveth me;
Give me to eat and live
With Thee above;
Teach me to love Thy truth,
For Thou art love.

(Author Unknown)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Where Should I Pray?

Where should I pray?

I should pray when I am alone. Personal times of prayer and devotion to God are so important. Jesus prayed alone. Luke's Gospel is particularly good at pointing this out. In Lk. 11.1, we are told that the disciples noticed Jesus praying and asked him to teach them how to pray. We must have this eagerness to learn to pray and have a commitment to make personal prayer an important part of our life.

Designating a particular and specific time each day to pray is a good practice. The most disciplined we are, the more committed we become. Certainly, there is adanger of making prayer merely a ritual, and there needs to be a certain amount of spontaneity in our practice of prayer, but a schedule can help to keep us focused.

A prayer journal is a good resource to help us become more disciplined and focused in our prayers. A prayer journal can either be a verbatum record of our personal prayers to God, or may simply be a place to jot down those requests and concerns we wish to bring before God; a prayer journal can also be used to preserve our thoughts and feelings during and after times of prayer.

I must pray together with the church. The early church provides countless examples of times of corporate prayer. Acts 2.42 says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."

Prayer needs to be emphasized as the church comes together. Public prayers must not be relegated to an afterthought or as a transitional element of worship or simply offered because they must. Public prayer is the congregation of believers speaking, through the agency of a leader, to the Father. As such, the leading of public prayer is an awesome responsibility and honor. Those who lead public prayer need to understand this, but must never forget that prayer is not about eloquence, it is about honest and forthright communication to God.

Sadly, the contemporary church has largely forgotten the power of "Amen!" "Amen" is the public declaration of the congregation that the prayer offered publically is a prayer offered by the community of faith, and not solely the one saying the prayer. "Amen" declares "This is OUR Prayer! May God hear our words!" Thus, public prayer is meant to be participatory, not passive.

I must pray together in my family. A praying family is a faithful family. A praying family is a family that loves each other and loves God.

How often does your family pray together? It should be a daily exercise, and not just a ritual before meal time. Families should set aside time in the morning and evening and pray together. These times do not have to be lenghty, a simple one sentence prayer can be effective and meaningful.

The words of Alexander Campbell are worth repeating. What scene on earth is more transcendingly interesting than a whole household gathered around the family Bible and paternal hearth, to listen to the living word of the living God; and after the oral instruction of a Christian parent, male or female, and the hymn of thanksgiving, falling down upon their knees before the Lord of heaven and earth. . . . Surely the destiny of such a family, both in time and ternity, may be expected to differ much from that of a family left, without such parental care and tenderness, to follow their own impulses or customs of an apostate world.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Nearing the Ford

A prayer by Dwight Edwards Marvin:

Kindle, O Lord, along the way

Bring guiding torches, lest I stray;

For I am near the ford.

Take Thou my hand, clear Thou my sight

Amid these brooding clouds of night:

Kindle the torches, Lord.

The mists are falling o'er my eyes

And darkness robes the dripping skies

As I draw near the ford.

Strange voices whisper in my ear;

Strange thoughts surcharge my mind with fear:

Kindle the torches, Lord.

The waters raor, I cannot see

And tremble with anxiety,

Now I am near the ford.

Light the lonely path I tread;

Take from my mind all doubt and dread:

Kindle the torches, Lord.

Behold, one cometh on apace,

A radience gleaming from His face,

He calls, "Fear not the ford."

His garments are as white as snow,

And on my path there falls a glow

Brighter than torches, Lord.

I cannot suffer harm or loss

When I the rushing waters cross;

For He is at the ford.

Soon I shall go through portals bright

To walk with Him in realms of light

And need no torches, Lord.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

In Our Own Words

(This is an article by John Fischer, found in Contemporary Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers.)

I have a bad habit. When my children tell me about something they've learned for the first time, I often act as if I knew that. Even worse, sometimes I tell them how the same thing happened to me years ago.

When my wife hears something "new" from the kids, her mouth drops open and her eyes widen. It's as if she has never heard this kind of thing before. The kids' faces brighten, and they feel as if they have actually enlightened their mother.

I used to think my wife was just acting and sooner or later the kids would find out and feel lied to. Then I realized it isn't an act at all. Though she may have already experienced what they are trying to tell her, she's never experienced it through them. Their personal "revelations" are entirely new.

It's the same with God. As all-knowing and sovereign as he is, I'm sure he's still eager to hear our prayers because he has never heard it quite the way we say it. We are all unique. We have our own signature attached to all we do and say. Our lives, our experiences, and our faith expressed to him are never old.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Gathered Around the Paternal Hearth

Alexander Campbell said this about the importance of prayer in the family:

"What scene on earth is more transcendantly interesting than a whole household gathered around the family Bible and paternal hearth, to listen to the living word of the living God; and after the oral instruction of a Christian parent, male or female, and the hymn of thanksgiving, falling down upon their knees before the Lord of heaven and earth. . . . Surely the destiny of such a family, both in time and eternity, may be expected to differ much from that of a family left, without such parental care and tenderness, to follow their own impulses or customs of an apostate world."

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Nurse's Prayer

Ruth Winant Wheeler has written this prayer:

Because the day that stretches out for me

Is full of busy hours, I come to Thee

To ask Thee, Lord, that Thou wilt see me through

The many things that I may have to do.

Help me to make more tempting every tray.

Help me to sense when pain must have relief.

Help me to deal with those bourne down by grief.

Help me to take to every patient's room

The Light of Life to brighten up the gloom.

Help me to bring to every soul in fear

The sure and steadfast thought that Thou art near,

And if today, or if tonight, maybe,

Some patients in my care set out to sea

To face the great adventure we call death,

Sustain them, Father, in their parting breath.

Help me to live throughout this live long day

As one who loves Thee well, dear Lord, I pray;

And when the task is done, and evening stars

Shine through the dark above the sunset bars,

When weary quite, I turn to seek my rest,

Lord, may I truly know I've done my best.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Keep Your Head Down

Alan Smith wrote the following. It was published on his "Thought for the Day" E-mail.

The story is told of a preacher who took a vacation and decided to make it a golfing holiday. He went to a golfing resort, and on his first day out on the course he learned that Arnold Palmer played the course frequently.

The toughest hole was the 17th, and as the preacher approached the tee his caddie said, "When Arnold Palmer plays this hole he uses a 3 iron and says a little prayer."

"I'll give it a try," said the preacher. He prayed and swung, but the ball landed in a sand trap. "Ah, well," he said, "I gues the Lord didn't hear me."

"He probably heard you," said the caddie, "but when Mr. Palmer says his prayer, he ususally keeps his head down."

We would do well to remember that prayer doesn't relieve us of our responsibilities. We pray that God will provide us with "daily bread," but we don't stay home from work waiting for him to do it!

Prayer should not motivate us to do nothing. Rather it should motivate us to do even more as we turn our lives over to God to use. Take your requests to God in prayer today, but don't forget to keep your head down!