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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

WHEN PRAYER DIMINISHES

When crises come like a series of category 5 hurricanes driving millions of people from their homes people pray, for a little while. Many of you remember that large numbers of people were driven to their knees in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001. A close friend of mine led a citywide prayer meeting last week on 9/11. 5 people showed up to pray.
When we see things like this we are tempted to be cynical. And while I am in that number, I must admit that is a wrong response. We should be thrilled that people pray in a crisis. It will be terrible when we come to the place that no one prays even in the face of terror.
What do we do when we see diminishing numbers of people praying? We need to redouble our own praying. And while you are praying, pray for your church and other churches to begin praying as they have never prayed. Who knows how God will answer your prayers? Encourage others to pray as well. Encouragement usually has greater effect than complaining. And, of course, nothing brings about prayer as effectively as prayer.
http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/
http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

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Friday, September 15, 2017

PRAY FOR EVERYONE

God calls to us to pray for everyone. 1 Timothy 2:1 reads,
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.”
This is one of those scriptures that you have to stop and ask how we do that. Is this scripture calling us to pray prayers like, “God save the whole world. Amen”? I believe God is urging this on us so we will make a legitimate effort to pray individually for as many people as possible. Everyone needs prayer. This of course leaves us with the same problem. How do we do that?
There are a number of things we can work on as we seek to pray for everyone.
I wrote earlier about assigning leaders to pray for everyone listed on a church roll. I think this is a good start.
Paul’s one specific application of this verse was to pray for kings and all who are in authority. This too needs to be an organized effort. Most of you know the name of your local mayer, the governor of your state, and the President or Prime Minister of your country. But there are hundreds of others who fall into this category whose names we do not know. I couldn’t start to list the names of those serving in our State Assembly. These could easily be looked-up and printed off encouraging church members to pray for them.
In the past I have encouraged prayer-walking. Prayer-walking is a great way to pray for your block, your whole neighborhood. An organized effort could pray for an entire town, even a city.
Finally, let me suggest a kind of praying that I mention often which takes no planning, organization, or preparation. Can you begin praying for everyone around you wherever you are, in a restaurant, at work, in a store, at school? Many of us wonder what we would pray for complete strangers. I have three suggestions and a fourth that is more important than the others.

Use the word BLESS as an an acrostic memory tool.
BODY, Pray for a person’s physical needs.
LABOR, Pray for someone’s work and income. I fear my prayer for this is sometimes selfish. I pray for the clerk at the bank or at the Post Office to work efficiently. I still think this is good.
EMOTIONS, I pray for people to hunger for God. And I pray for ultimate peace in the person’s life.
SOCIAL, Pray for God to intervene in a person’s relationships.
SPIRITUAL, Pray for God to draw that person to Himself.

Another tool may not be quite as easy to remember has all Bs.
BURDEN, Father, lift that woman’s burden.
BITTERNESS, Lord, wash the bitterness out of that man’s heart.
BLINDNESS, Open that person’s eyes to see spiritual reality.
BONDAGE, Lord, free that man from attitudes, addictions, and spiritual forces that keep him from You.

My next suggestion takes less time. Simply pray for God to meet a person’s need. Maybe pray for God to meet the deepest need in someone’s life.

These are all aids for people to get started praying like this. And after many years of trying to do this, I still use them. However, I think it is more important to be open for the Holy Spirit to impress something on you to pray for a person. The strangest things can come into my mind as I am glancing over a group of people trying to avoid staring rudely at any them. I have prayed things like, “Father, I ask you to heal that person of cancer.” “Rescue her child from sin.” “Father, comfort her in the midst of divorce.” Now to be honest, I have never had the courage to go up to someone and ask, “Are you going through a divorce right now.” I am not trying to prove my spiritual acuity. I was talking to my Heavenly Father. And I can assure you that I have been drawn nearer to Him as I prayed things that came into my mind.

The last thing listed in 2 Timothy 2:1 is crucial. Thanksgiving ought to be made for everyone. I try occasionally to spend a whole day thanking God. And this includes praying for people around me. I begin each prayer with, “Thank You, Father. . .” I thank God that He is already at work in the life of that person He has called me to pray for. I thank Him for everything I can think of for everyone around me. I am uplifted by this. And I am convinced that others are blessed as I give thanks.
http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/
http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/

Sunday, September 3, 2017

PRAY THE CHURCH ROLL

I have been thinking about writing a book on prayer in a church family. My working, or maybe thinking, title is Praying Together. I can get excited about it, but I am not sure I will get to it. I want to write two more books before I start it. And my time is limited. So I want to set some of the ideas out to you in my blog.
Our church is in a difficult place right now. We are without a pastor. And for this and other reasons my wife and I have felt we need to pray as we have never prayed before. In fact, I believe churches all over the world need to sense and respond to this urgency. This week my wife suggested that we go to the church one morning and pray through the church roll. Our reasoning for doing this had nothing to do with the experience. But we were both blessed by our time in prayer. We intend to do this regularly and invite some others to join us. I was still a young pastor when God began to convict me to pray through our church roll Every day. Many pastors and church leaders are so blessed with church members that you would need to divide up the roll up into sections to pray for each day. I know you are busy.  But prayer is important. You might even break up your study and other work during a day to pray ten minutes every hour or so. I try to do that with my writing. I believe this, along with a weekly Sabbath, has kept me from burn-out over the years.
But none of these things are actually what I would like to see. What I long for begins with individuals and couples praying for the church body. But I would like something that includes more people. I would like to see deacons and elders, staff members, teachers and leaders commit to spend time every day praying for our church families. I would like to see it spread like wildfire through a church body.
Is that all the prayer that I think we need? Absolutely not. But I believe God might use something as simple as this to begin a movement that would shake a nation to its knees and touch the entire world.

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/
http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/
http://daveswatch.com/

Monday, August 28, 2017

PRAYING FOR FRUITFULNESS

I have been very moved lately with the promise in John 15:7,8. I started to write a blog post on praying for fruitfulness. Then I discovered that about a year ago I wrote a blog post on this but never posted it. So I am offering it to you today.
Modern Americans often have the strangest notion of prayer. Much prayer in these days is an extension of our materialist convictions. You can hear preaching, here and in many countries around the world, that poses provision as the primary purpose of prayer. This is often taken to the extremes. "God give me a Cadillac." "God let me win the lottery."
But according to Jesus, the primary purpose of prayer is fruitfulness. In John 15:7 Jesus gave us a wonderful promise of prayer. He said, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”
Jesus continued in verse 8, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." The purpose of prayer is fruitfulness. Today I read day 10 in the little booklet, 40 Days of Prayer, on the fruit of the Spirit. It reminded me that bearing fruit begins with my character and continues in the significance of my life. God is planting His seeds in my life to touch others and impact the world.
The provision of the Father is a foundational assumption of prayer. You don't need to spend much time praying for provisions. Your Father knows what you need before you ask. But fulfillment and joy do not come from worldly possessions, luxury, pleasure, or success.
Jesus continues in John 15:11, "I have told you this that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full.” Joy comes from purpose and usefulness. Are you praying for fruitfulness? Or are you praying junk?

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/
http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/
http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

PRAYING YOUR PURPOSE

Do your prayers reflect your purpose in life? I suspect they usually do. If the purpose of your life is success, your prayers will be driven by your ambition. If you just want to have fun, that purpose will certainly taint your prayer life. Is your ultimate purpose luxury or comfort? Do you live for pleasure? Is your life driven by fear or avoiding pain of any kind? Is your goal to always be at peace in yourself? That was not the purpose of our Lord.
In Matthew 12:27 Jesus said,
“Now is my heart troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”
Scripture could not declare that Jesus was tempted in every way we are, (Heb. 4:15) if He were spared inward disturbances. Does that mean we should never pray to be delivered from them? Not praying such prayers may never have occurred to you. But I think this is an important question to ask.
We know that Paul prayed for his thorn to be removed. (2 Cor. 12:8) Whatever Paul's thorn was, it disturbed him. He prayed three times for the Lord to take it away. Then he heard the Lord telling him that His power was made perfect in weakness.
Let me suggest some principles of God's purpose in our prayers.
First, you need to understand that God has a purpose for your life too. His ways are certainly as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth. (Isaiah 55:9) And we may need God to shake us pretty hard before we can can understand that pain may be an important part of His will, even His joy in us.
And we need to know that God will tell us what His will for us is. This may be too small of a way to look at this. God may be telling you His will for all the earth, for all of history or eternity. Such cosmic perspective is crucial to our prayers and even our comfort in difficult and painful situations.
We need to trust that God's will is good. But to see problems as good we have to see the larger picture. You have to cultivate a whole life view of happiness. You need to see your growing faith and promised hope to properly rejoice in God's grace. The life of Annie Johnson Flint was crushed by grief, sorrow, disease and physical pain. I am convinced that God used her suffering to show her glories the rest of us hardly glimpse. Among many others she wrote this hymn.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater.
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving has only begun.
Here is the chorus.
His love has no limits. His grace has no measure.
His power no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again!
Is God molding your perspective and growing your prayers? Are you praying for or against God's purpose?

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/
http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/

Monday, August 7, 2017

WHY THE STORM

In Mark 6:45 Jesus made His disciple get into the boat and sent them into the storm. Why did he do that? Why does God insist that we go through storms in life? It is a principle that storms will come into our lives. We are not likely to understand the reason for many of the storms that we face until we stand before our Lord in glory. But you can at least understand that this is the will of God for you. Every Christian ought to be aware of the series of commands beginning in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. There God says, “Be joyful always.” Rejoice all the time. To do this you need to be able to reason with God's reasoning. Joy does not come because everything is easy in your life. Real joy depends on considering the reality of God, the intervention of God in your life and His clear purpose for you. To do that you have to spend time in God's word, prayer and in the worship and the true fellowship of church.
When Jesus sent His disciples into the storm, He went up on the mountain and prayed for seven hours. Do you ever pray that long? Of course we are so much stronger than Jesus that we can get by with a couple of minutes. Do I need to tell you I am being facetious? The next command in 1 Thessalonians 5 is “Pray continually.” This is the key to thanksgiving and joy.
God's third instruction there is, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Here we are given the reason we can and should give thanks in or out of the storm. “For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” God is not surprised by your situation. He still has His loving hand on you.
God has strengthened me again and again from John 12. In verse 27 Jesus said, “Now is my heart troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason that I came to this hour. 'Father, glorify your name!’”
In Mark 6 Jesus came to His disciples in the storm. But they didn't recognize Him. “It's a ghost!” While storms are inevitable in life, Jesus will come to believers in the storm. And even though that storm may be no benefit to you, God will work powerfully through it. He will teach you more in the storm than He would in a hundred seminars. He will strengthen your faith in ways He could not do in the sunshine.
This relates to God's whole purpose in creation and redemption. When God created the earth He knew Satan would tempt and we would fall into sin. Why didn't He refrain from creating us. He also knew the extent He was willing to go to to redeem us.
When your sports team is far behind, you might say,”This is a terrible game.” But when they come back to win against amazing odds, your joy abounds! We have a friend who occasionally says, “I started out with a disadvantage.” In fact, we all begin life with moral, physical and spiritual disadvantages. In this God has set us up for His incomproble love and redemption. His grace in our lives is greater than it would have been had we never sinned. When we come to know Him, He receives us into the embrace of forgiveness. We have been adopted into His family. We become children of God! We are now set up to receive the glory only God knew from before creation.
When storms blow up on your sea, you can be sure Jesus will come bringing His rescue, your redemption and your ultimate joy!
http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/
http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/
http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/

Sunday, July 30, 2017

PRAYER FOR HEALING

HEALING PRAYER
“If anyone among you is sick let him call for the elders of the church to pray over them anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”
James 5:14,15

Few things that we do in the church are more Christlike than praying for God to heal the sick. For a number of reasons there has been much controversy over this in the church in the last 50 or so years. As much as possible I would like to avoid controversy that may arise.
Possibly because of the controversies I have seen very little written about this. I think it might be most helpful to draw some principles from the healing done by the church in Scripture. Let's look at the final healing recorded in the book of Acts. Paul was being taken as a prisoner to Rome. The ship was caught up in terrible storm. They were tossed across the sea for days and days. Then Paul stood up and assured them all that God had told him they would be saved. But they would have to land on a certain island. The ship indeed crashed on the shore of Malta completely destroying the ship. But all those on the ship, 276 souls, were saved. The rain continued to pound on them but the islanders received them and gave them shelter. And they learned that the father of the Roman official on the island was sick. So we read in Acts 28:8,
“His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.”

Let me suggest two principles that might guide our activity in praying for the sick. The first is
Compassion. Compassion ought to be a driving force in the church. Again and again the gospels tell us that Jesus looked on people crowding around Him with compassion. And Paul said, “The love of Christ compels us.”(2 Cor. 5:14) If Jesus humbled Himself and came to earth to die for us, how can we hold ourselves above or apart from the needs of others. If we care enough we will pray for people even when it embarrasses us or them. The compassion of agape will drive us to pray publicly for them even if we have little confidence in our prayers.

Compassion gives birth to faith, and faith acts in love. Galatians 5:6 speaks of faith that expresses itself through love. The faith required here is not simply faith in miracles. It is faith in God. It is faith that God loves the hurting person more that we love her. It means believing in God even if we do not see the miracle we long for. It means trusting Him to help us suffer with those who are ill and infirm. God calls us to trust Him enough to pray especially in dire circumstances and painful conditions. He calls us to trust Him in this world that has not yet been healed of all tears.

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/
http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/