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Tuesday, January 16, 2018


How often do you pray for your children or grandchildren? I once heard Dee Duke say he was committed to pray for his daughter, and each of his children, everyday of their lives. Most of us come pretty close to this without making a commitment. How do you pray for your offspring? Are you asking God for insight on what and how to pray for them?
Many years ago now, I witnessed a clandestined baptism in a bathtub in small apartment in a city in China. Several of us crowded in to see the joyful event. As the candidate stood up, water pouring from his clothes someone said, “Stop! Does anyone have a prophetic word about our new brother at his baptism?” Although no one seemed to have a word from God concerning the new convert, I thought the question was appropriate. God certainly has great plans to work in the life of every new believer. And simply asking the question ignited a spirit of expectancy in the crowded room. Who knew what God was planning to do through the life of His new child?
Hebrews 11:23 God tells us something very interesting about one of the greatest people who ever lived.
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”
This always strikes me as funny. Can you imagine the parents of Moses peering at their newborn child? Suddenly his mother says, “He is red and wrinkled. Throw him in the river!”
I remember waiting through the night in the nervous father's waiting room in a hospital. It was after 3:00 A.M. when a nurse stepped into the room and told me I was a father, but I could not see my wife and daughter until they had moved them back to the hospital room.
But as a pastor I knew my way around the hospital. I made my way to a place where they would have to pass on their way to the room. When the bed came rolling round the corner I had our daughter in my arms before the nurse was able to speak. And she was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
But I don't believe the scripture refers to physical or sentimental beauty here. Stephen clarifies this in his sermon in Acts 7 where he says the child was beautiful in God's sight. It seems his parents got a glimpse of what God saw in the life of Moses.
My children are all grown now with careers and families of their own. But I still pray for them. And I ask God to show me what He is seeing in their futures so I can be part of what He plans for them in my prayers.

Monday, December 25, 2017


Many of us have a few quiet days after Christmas. This is a good time to rest. You may want to read something you have not had time to read or maybe a new book given you for Christmas. This is also an important time to think and pray.
As Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart, it is well to savor all that God has done for us, for you. As you think of your celebration of Christmas, you may remember things that did not go as you wished or as God desires. Was there a conflict in your family? Pray for the people involved. Pray for God to heal the rift. Do you need to forgive someone? Do you need to ask God's forgiveness? Do you need to struggle with repentance until you can rest in the luxury of His grace.
You may need to look back at the tumultuous year that is coming to a close. It should alarm us, and cause us to pray. Americans need to pray for our country. We need to pray for the world. But even in the midst of the turmoil we need to rest in God. He is sovereign even in the face of immorality, lies, terrorism, war, disruption of homes driving needy people across the world.
And while you are thinking and praying, ask God to show you what you need to be praying for the coming year. What is God calling you, us, to join Him in?

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Believers need to continue to pray for one another when we're apart throughout the week. It is very easy to be so busy with our families, our jobs, our lives that we don't even remember our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul wrote to Timothy that he remembered him in his prayers day and night. He wrote something very similar to Philemon and to the Philippians and other churches.
Frankly, my memory is not always that good. So I must discipline myself to remember my brothers and sisters. To do that I need a list. I need to pray through a church roll. I need to write people's names down, especially new people I meet on a Sunday or at other times in the week. And I need other people to help me remember. We have a prayer meeting each week with the primary purpose of praying for every church member.
I've also discovered that God we'll remind me to pray for other people. This sometimes seems coincidental although I'm not sure that it is. I may be going through a Walmart store, trying to pray for everybody I pass in the aisles, or sitting in the doctor's office praying through the waiting room. I see someone who reminds me of a brother or sister in Christ. I use that as a cue to pray for the person I remember as well as the person I see.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Praying for one another is a necessary element for tightening the bonds of fellowship in the church. Of course we need to pray for one another while we are in worship. Pray for the people seated around you or across the room from you. Pray for your pastor, the music leader, usher's, offering bearers. Pray for guests whom God would like to bring into the warmth of your fellowship. Nothing will make them feel as welcome as God touching their lives as you pray for them.

A man came up to me Sunday, and as we talked he said, “I have been thinking about you this week, feeling like I needed to pray for you.” I thanked him. And I told him I had had some illness and some spiritual attack last week. I believe God’s Spirit often calls people to our minds so we will pray for them. Ralph Speas once told my wife and I about his wife's mother calling in the middle of the night that she had a terrible burden to pray for their daughter. And she asked if they wouldn't go into her bedroom and check to see if she were all right. They went in and discovered a gas leak in the room, and their daughter being asphyxiated by it.

Sometimes the bond of Fellowship in a church is disrupted because there are people who just don't like one another in the church family. I think it was Tim Keller who said, “The church is the only organization in the world that is made up of natural enemies.” What do you do when you don't like someone, or someone in the church doesn't like you? You need to pray twice as much for that person. You will find this to be a holy discipline.
What if you have spiritual discernment, and you are terribly uncomfortable with someone in the church? Maybe you're convinced that someone is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Your prayers may be the primary protection for others in the church. And wouldn't it be wonderful if God did what He has sometimes done in the past, bringing about a Damascus Road miracle in that person's life?
There were times as a Pastor that I needed to confront someone in the church. I would not have dreamed of going to talk to them without having prayed for them with all of my heart. And it was always easier for me to go to someone, if I knew others had been praying for that person for months.

God binds us together in prayer.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A 24 Hour Prayer Room

Many years ago my parent's church began a 24 hour Prayer Room. I heard some powerful testimonies of what God did through this ministry. I was also blessed to see things God did in the lives of my family members and others I knew who participated.
Many of you are familiar with churches that have 24 hour prayer rooms. Some were large enough we may began that they did not have too much trouble filling the hours. Others went out on faith trusting God to help them fill the 168 prayer slots each week.
Churches appoint someone to organize and administer this ministry. They set aside a room usually with an outside entrance. And they invite and recruit people to sign up for specific prayer times. My parent's church encouraged people to have a prayer partner who signed up to pray with them each week. These churches place prayer requests and possibly a church roll in the room for people pray through. My parent's church put a telephone in the room and publicized the number for people to call to pray with someone 24 hours a day seven days a week.  
My nephew, Trent Young, was a very young man when they started the prayer room. And it had a profound effect upon his life. He wrote me this about the prayer room.
“I usually went in the after-midnight hours because I worked late, and these were always open. I was scared to death someone would call. But hardly anyone ever did. I spent a little time praying over requests. I mostly praised God and spent time with Him.
“I put in two or three hours there a couple of nights a week. I don't know why praying in the prayer room was more important than praying at home, but it seemed to be. My prayer life developed during this time. It was non-existent before.
“The regiment, the scheduled length of time and the accountability was helpful in training me to pray and developing my relationship with God. Everyone seems to think that one has to have a prayer life before joining a prayer room or even a prayer group. But I think the opposite. I think these are the schools that God uses to develop our prayer life.”
Max Alexander, one of the pastors of my parent’s church when they were starting the prayer time, told me they faced more spiritual attack at that time than he had ever seen in his life. But they seemed to have more victory in people’s lives than they had ever seen. God will bless a church that is this serious about prayer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Pleasure is to happiness what candy is to nutrition.

James 4:3 reads, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” How do we justify this verse with verses like Matthew 7:7-8? “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
When you find two things in the Bible that seem to contradict one another, study them prayerfully and you will come to understand both passages far more deeply than you would have at a glance.
In fact Jesus gave us a hint at the answer in Matthew 7. The very next verse compares God answering our prayers to a father giving to his child. Does a father who loves his daughter give her all the candy she asks for?
In John 15:7 Jesus brings this promise into divine perspective. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
The English Standard Version of Scripture footnotes the word passions in James 4:3 as “pleasures.” We live in a society that is driven by pleasure. And we may be the first generation to have no awareness of problems with pleasure. Pleasure is to happiness what candy is to nutrition.
The word translated passions here is a broader word than simple desire. It refers to the drive for comfort, luxury, thrills, and physical pleasures in our world. 1 John 2:15,16 warn us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life—is not from the father but is from the world.”
The entire passage, James 4:1-10, brings all three of these together.
God, as the ultimate Father, protects His children from those things that draw us away from Him. In his book Desiring God John Piper coined the term “Christian Hedonism.” But he was talking about living for the deeper pleasures and the higher joys that come in the presence of God. Psalm 16:11 affirms, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Our prayers spring from what we love. As long as we love the world, we will be drawn away from the only source of satisfaction in our lives. And our prayer lives will be frustrating because our Heavenly Father loves us too much to let us fall into the worlds quagmire of pleasures.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Does your church have a prayer corner in the worship center? I Know a church that designates a back corner of their worship center as a place of special prayer. In every service they invite people to slip back at any time to pray. Members of a prayer team are there to pray with anyone who wishes.
They accomplish a number of important things with this. First, this helps to create an atmosphere of prayer in a church. Some might say, “We already have that. We pray throughout our services.” That is of course good. But in the church I where I observed this people began asking themselves if they should go back and pray. There is a difference in hearing a prayer and being invited to pray yourself. This practice helps normalize prayer in a congregation. People are told, at least by implication, that it is alright to need to pray. It is a normal thing to pray.
This helps to accommodate people who come into the church with burdens. This is a powerful way to tell them God cares about their heartache.