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Thursday, August 30, 2012


Paul makes a statement in 1 Corinthians 5 about being with the Corinthian church in Spirit. That used to be a fairly common statement especially among church people.

“I can’t be there, but I am with you in Spirit.”

I suppose I am glad we no longer hear that much because the statement was weakened by its use as an excuse for not being at church because of work or a vacation or a ball game or an ox rigorously pushed into the ditch.

But I do think we ought to grasp the full meaning of this phrase. It should especially be used with missionaries serving overseas and for anyone whose heart we genuinely connect with.
Connecting with someone by the Holy Spirit means groaning with the Spirit that groans with someone we care about. Paul used this phrase to address a church in the midst of crisis. Being with someone in Spirit means sharing the burden of a Holy Spirit inspired purpose and vision.

Being with someone in Spirit surely includes prayer. Sometime after my cancer and treatments had reduced my endurance I was involved in an outdoor crusade. I preached the first night. But I was too exhausted to go the next night. So I spent the whole time of the service praying for the preacher, the people and the neighborhood where the crusade was held. I was with them in Spirit.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stretching Your Prayer Life 3 STRETCHING YOUR FOCUS

God uses prayer lists to narrow the focus of my prayer life. When I start writing out prayer lists I prayerfully seek what God wants me to believe Him for. Continuing to pray for the people and things on these lists keeps my faith focused in the direction God is leading.

A prayer list also broadens the focus of my prayer life. With a prayer list the Holy Spirit disciplines me to trust God over a period of time. It is one thing to pray for someone today. It is another to commit to pray every day. In time I begin to see God working over the course of the life of a person I am praying for and over the course of my own life as well.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stretching my Prayer Life 2 PRAYER LISTS STRETCH MY FAITH

When I start making a list of prayer requests God always puts people on my list whose problems seem too complex to heal. I am often amazed when they start to turn things around in their lives. Then more often than not they disappoint me terribly. I would give up except I have committed to pray for the list they are on. Continuing to pray stretches my faith far more than seeing answers great or small.

Friday, August 10, 2012


If we are going to pray like we have never prayed before we are going to need to stretch our prayer lives. From time to time in the months to come I will make suggestions of ways to increase the quantity and quality of your prayers. But at this early point I am suggesting something so simple that many of you will discount it; a prayer list.

A godly deacon in the church I pastored in the 1970s used to pray, "Lord, help us to pray for all those for whom it is our duty to pray." His prayer reminds me of the words of Samuel after the people had demanded a king. "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you." There are people that it is your duty before God to pray for. And the only way I know how to consistently pray for them is to write their names down and discipline yourself to pray for them.

            God can use a simple prayer list to stretch the compassion of your prayer life. As I have made lists and committed to pray for people on a daily basis God always prompts me to pray for people I don't really like. I am often amazed at how God expands the dynamics of my relationship with Him as I discipline myself to pray for that person I am tempted to envy; or to pray for that person who slighted me and so offended my pride; to pray for that person I disagree with; to pray for that person who disgusts or intimidates me. I know of no more effective tool for stretching my shriveled unchristlike attitudes than praying for people God impresses me to pray for on a consistent basis.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


The process of struggling to hear God’s will in a matter brings us to conviction in what we are praying. When you have struggled over time in prayer you not only begin to hear God more clearly, but you believe more fiercely in what you are asking from God. Although we should be quick to pray, quick thoughtless prayers miss the heart of New Testament teaching. Matthew 7:7-8 calls us to ask, and seek and knock in prayer. But the tense in the original language calls for continual action. It might well be translated as both the Amplified and The Holman Christian Standard Version indicate, “Ask and keep on asking. Seek and keep on seeking. Keep on knocking.” Biblical prayer is not the whim of a moment but theconviction of a life time to the God of eternity.