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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

SIN THAT CLINGS TO US

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Heb. 12:1 e.s.v.


Jesus taught us to pray that we not be led into, or that we might be led away from temptation. But most, if not all of us, are confronted by the fact that that some sin "clings so closely" that we internalize the temptation. To pray against these sins we need to pray about our attitudes. The cynical word, the rude remark or the angry explosion is preceded by an attitude of resentment or self-pity. I suspect something similar is true about pornography or indulging in lusts or severing relationships or whatever sin you fall into again and again.


I can trust these wicked attitudes as if they were from God. I can also pray for God to transform my thinking, and so my faith. It is not unbelief for me to pray, as I often do, "Father, if you don't change my attitude, I will surely fall into sin." But if I believe the sin will solve the problem or meet a need, I am putting my faith in the sin. Especially if your clinging sin relates to angry words, you are tempted to put your faith in them to bring about righteousness. But the wrath of man never brings about the righteousness of God. (James 1:20) I am aware that Jesus got quite angry on occasion. And I suspect we should be angry about some things. But most anger is selfish and foolish. And if resentment is just beneath my skin, I will trust it before I think about calling on God.


I also need to pray for my bad attitudes to be replaced with good attitudes. I need an attitude of endurance when things are difficult. If a runner in a long distance race dwells on how steep the hill he is on, or on how much better he would feel if he quit, he will be less likely to finish. If a runner thinks of anything but putting one foot in front of the other, he needs to be thinking of the finish line that he will reach if he endures the difficulty which is part of the race.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

THE THRILL OF WORSHIP


Many people worship excitement and thrills today. People are often addicted to new and greater thrills. Part of the reason for this is that all earthly thrills are diminishing. The first time a person experiences a thrill the automatic response may be terror. The next time it may be something like joy. But each succeeding time the intensity diminishes into boredom.

But there is a thrill that works the other way. That is the thrill of pouring ourselves into the worship of God. He is infinite. The nearer we draw to Him, the more we come to understand and experience His Majesty, His glory, the wonder of His being! The more we worship Him, the more we long to worship more and more. Like His compassion and faithfulness, our worship is new every morning forever. (Lam.3:23)

Have you ever thought it would be boring to be one of the four living creatures surrounding the throne of God crying "Holy, holy, holy," forever and ever? (Daniel 6:3) That misunderstands the reality of worshipping the infinite God. Worship is certainly boring if not disturbing to lost people. And indeed they would be eternally horrified in heaven. But God in His grace does not make heaven mandatory for those who reject Him. And the more a person rejects God the harder and colder the heart becomes. However, the more we come to know God, the more we are transformed in His glorious presence and the more we thrill at worshipping Him.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

PRAYING IN A TIME OF CRISIS AND CHAOS


I recently listened while someone described the chaos that "will" follow a nuclear bomb launched by Iran, North Korea or independent terrorists and then exploded in the atmosphere, and/or the calamity following a sunspot, as well as the coming revolution in the U.S. where the hordes and roving gangs will murder us for our food and water. I need to say this caused me to pause.

This would not have bothered me so much had I not been memorizing Joel chapter 1 and thinking about the judgment of these days. I need to say that God is very patient. He waited 400 years for the people of Canaan to fill up their sins. He waited longer to bring upon Israel the judgment promised by Moses for rejecting God's revelation. Judgment is in the hands of God. But whether we face it today or God raises up prophets and prayer warriors to turn aside judgment on America and the world, I believe God is telling some of us to teach believers how to pray in such days. Here are some crucial perspectives for prayer that prayer warriors need to adopt for times of crisis.

1. Learn to Pray in the Perspective of Persevering.

In the midst of flagrant persecution Barnabas and Paul told the fledgling churches that "We must enter the kingdom of God through persecution." Jesus said we would have persecution in the world. And we will. We will need a grace for those days that God will not give until they arrive. But we must encourage one another today that persecution in this world is normal for those of us who are overcoming it. We can trust God to enable us to persevere. His own people will successfully endure hardship.

2. Learn to Pray in the Perspective of God's Protection.

You need to have some of the promises of God's protection memorized. Everyone should have Psalm 46 and 91 memorized. The arrow that flies by day and the terror of the night will surely come. You will need such powerful promises instilled into your heart. And you need to be used to praying through them now even though you will understand those promises far better in the coming judgment and the time of trouble.

3. Learn to Pray in the Perspective of the Purpose of God.

Christianity received a great boost in Europe when the plague was devastating whole cities. Christians showed compassion on those afflicted. They gave them food and water, cooled their fevers and comforted their hearts. Christians and people who lived near them were far more likely to survive the plague. Even in good times life is so much better when it is lived for others in the purpose of God. We can still rejoice even  in days of great trial if we have an ultimate purpose.

4. Learn to Pray in the Perspective of Eternity.

How many of our prayers only consider the immediate? Those are not necessarily bad prayers. But they should not be the primary preoccupation of the children of the resurrection. We are the people of eternity who are not dominated by the tyranny of the temporary. We need to enter the calamitous day already in the habit of praying for the work of God in the climax of history.

 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

FIGHTING DEPRESSION WITH PRAYER


I am a little hesitant to write on this subject for the obvious reason that prayer is far more than an antidote to selfish concerns. The perspective of prayer is far greater than my personal feelings. However scripture does deal with this concern. Psalm 42:5 asks, "Why are you so downcast O my soul." Psalm 130:1 reads, "Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord."

Let me suggest several steps in dealing prayerfully with depression.

Pray for deliverance.

 

I have not faced clinical depression in my own life, but I have dealt with it in others as a pastor. And seeing the magnification of the problem helps me see details more clearly in the depression of my own heart. A major issue of depression is that it defends itself. It may be more accurate to say we defend our depression, but the depression seems to take on a life of its own. When I have told someone to do something that might break their depression they immediately opposed it. So start by briefly asking God to deliver you. Depression may even keep you from praying about it.

Turn immediately to praise.

 

You might think you should start by asking God to change the circumstances that have depressed you. Aren't requests the heart of biblical prayer? They are. But prayer is supported theologically and practically by the glory of God; by the grace of God; by His mighty power; by His love and faithfulness. And nothing works more effectively at lifting our spirits than praise. Secular counselors sometimes try to treat depression with self-affirmation. But that often sets the sufferer up for a fall into deeper depression. Praise gets you clear out of the picture. In fact sustained praise is good and necessary for anyone at any time. Have you ever thought heaven would be boring if we spent all day praising God forever? That ignores the reality of praise. Nothing is more thrilling than connecting intellectually and emotionally with the wonder and glory of God.

 

Confess and forgive.

 

Praising God should move us into confession and forgiveness. Depression flows from pride. "I don't deserve bad things." Even a statement like "I am no good." is self-focused. Confession breaks pride. It demands a humble and dependent heart. There is relief in being forgiven. At that point God can lift our spirits because we are no longer estranged from Him. It is important to note that Jesus linked confession and forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer. "Forgive us . . . as we forgive. . ." This is so important for dealing with depression. Depression raises its ugly head in the aftermath of anger and continuing resentment. I am amazed that so many people treat anger as some sort of catharsis. We think of having a right to get angry. There is a place for righteous wrath. Jesus certainly modeled it. But anger must be under the control of God or it will destroy the person expressing it. Anger is not a privilege. It is more like a loaded gun.

Pray the word of God.

 

Praying God's word connects to the stability of faith. Much depression is unbelief. Notice I did not say, "simply unbelief." It is complex, but it is unbelief none the less. And it cripples our relationship with God. Some of you may object to this, pointing out men like Charles Hadden Spurgeon or William Cowper, spiritual giants who suffered from depression. But many of the glorious sermons of Spurgeon came forth in victory over his occasional depression. And although Cowper's mental illness was more persistent and debilitating than Spurgeon's, it was God's truth and victory that burst out with "God's wonders to perform." Praying God's word ought to bring us naturally into personal promises God has whispered or thundered into your ear.

Sing.

 

I think singing is an important part of prayer. It usually helps us praise better than we could without it. Most hymns and choruses are filled with great theology. All of us can pray in song. I do not necessarily believe we have to sing well to glorify God, especially in private prayer. However, an important part of honoring God is seeking to improve our  singing for His ears and even for the ears of His children.

Continue your prayer in obedience.

 

Activity is a natural antidote for depression. Praying our plans and God's plans leads us to carrying them out, not after we have prayed, but continuing to pray as we go, as we act, as we step out in faith. "Father, help me, encourage me, keep me going for you." amen

FIGHTING PRAYER WITH DEPRESSION

I am a little hesitant to write on this subject for the obvious reason that prayer is far more than an antidote to selfish concerns. The perspective of prayer is far greater than my personal feelings. However scripture does deal with this concern. Psalm 42:5 asks, "Why are you so downcast O my soul." Psalm 130:1 reads, "Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord."
Let me suggest several steps in dealing prayerfully with depression.
 
Pray for deliverance.
 
I have not faced clinical depression in my own life, but I have dealt with it in others as a pastor. And seeing the magnification of the problem helps me see details more clearly in the depression of my own heart. A major issue of depression is that it defends itself. It may be more accurate to say we defend our depression, but the depression seems to take on a life of its own. When I have told someone to do something that might break their depression they immediately opposed it. So start by briefly asking God to deliver you. Depression may even keep you from praying about it.
 
Turn immediately to praise.
 
You might think you should start by asking God to change the circumstances that have depressed you. Aren't requests the heart of biblical prayer? They are. But prayer is supported theologically and practically by the glory of God; by the grace of God; by His mighty power; by His love and faithfulness. And nothing works more effectively at lifting our spirits than praise. Secular counselors sometimes try to treat depression with self-affirmation. But that often sets the sufferer up for a fall into deeper depression. Praise gets you clear out of the picture. In fact sustained praise is good and necessary for anyone at any time. Have you ever thought heaven would be boring if we spent all day praising God forever? That ignores the reality of praise. Nothing is more thrilling than connecting intellectually and emotionally with the wonder and glory of God.
 
Confess and forgive.
 
Praising God should move us into confession and forgiveness. Depression flows from pride. "I don't deserve bad things." Even a statement like "I am no good." is self-focused. Confession breaks pride. It demands a humble and dependent heart. There is relief in being forgiven. At that point God can lift our spirits because we are no longer estranged from Him. It is important to note that Jesus linked confession and forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer. "Forgive us . . . as we forgive. . ." This is so important for dealing with depression. Depression raises its ugly head in the aftermath of anger and continuing resentment. I am amazed that so many people treat anger as some sort of catharsis. We think of having a right to get angry. There is a place for righteous wrath. Jesus certainly modeled it. But anger must be under the control of God or it will destroy the person expressing it. Anger is not a privilege. It is more like a loaded gun.
 
Pray the word of God.
 
Praying God's word connects to the stability of faith. Much depression is unbelief. Notice I did not say, "simply unbelief." It is complex, but it is unbelief none the less. And it cripples our relationship with God. Some of you may object to this, pointing out men like Charles Hadden Spurgeon or William Cowper, spiritual giants who suffered from depression. But many of the glorious sermons of Spurgeon came forth in victory over his occasional depression. And although Cowper's mental illness was more persistent and debilitating than Spurgeon's, it was God's truth and victory that burst out with "God's wonders to perform." Praying God's word ought to bring us naturally into personal promises God has whispered or thundered into your ear.
 
Sing.
 
I think singing is an important part of prayer. It usually helps us praise better than we could without it. Most hymns and choruses are filled with great theology. All of us can pray in song. I do not necessarily believe we have to sing well to glorify God, especially in private prayer. However, an important part of honoring God is seeking to improve our singing for His ears and even for the ears of His children.
 
Continue your prayer in obedience.
 
Activity is a natural antidote for depression. Praying our plans and God's plans leads us to carrying them out, not after we have prayed, but continuing to pray as we go, as we act, as we step out in faith. "Father, help me, encourage me, keep me going for you." amen

FIGHTING DEPRESSION WITH PRAYER


I am a little hesitant to write on this subject for the obvious reason that prayer is far more than an antidote to selfish concerns. The perspective of prayer is far greater than my personal feelings. However scripture does deal with this concern. Psalm 42:5 asks, "Why are you so downcast O my soul." Psalm 130:1 reads, "Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord."

Let me suggest several steps in dealing prayerfully with depression.

 

Pray for deliverance.

 

I have not faced clinical depression in my own life, but I have dealt with it in others as a pastor. And seeing the magnification of the problem helps me see details more clearly in the depression of my own heart. A major issue of depression is that it defends itself. It may be more accurate to say we defend our depression, but the depression seems to take on a life of its own. When I have told someone to do something that might break their depression they immediately opposed it. So start by briefly asking God to deliver you. Depression may even keep you from praying about it.

 

Turn immediately to praise.

 

You might think you should start by asking God to change the circumstances that have depressed you. Aren't requests the heart of biblical prayer? They are. But prayer is supported theologically and practically by the glory of God; by the grace of God; by His mighty power; by His love and faithfulness. And nothing works more effectively at lifting our spirits than praise. Secular counselors sometimes try to treat depression with self-affirmation. But that often sets the sufferer up for a fall into deeper depression. Praise gets you clear out of the picture. In fact sustained praise is good and necessary for anyone at any time. Have you ever thought heaven would be boring if we spent all day praising God forever? That ignores the reality of praise. Nothing is more thrilling than connecting intellectually and emotionally with the wonder and glory of God.

 

Confess and forgive.

 

Praising God should move us into confession and forgiveness. Depression flows from pride. "I don't deserve bad things." Even a statement like "I am no good." is self-focused. Confession breaks pride. It demands a humble and dependent heart. There is relief in being forgiven. At that point God can lift our spirits because we are no longer estranged from Him. It is important to note that Jesus linked confession and forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer. "Forgive us . . . as we forgive. . ." This is so important for dealing with depression. Depression raises its ugly head in the aftermath of anger and continuing resentment. I am amazed that so many people treat anger as some sort of catharsis. We think of having a right to get angry. There is a place for righteous wrath. Jesus certainly modeled it. But anger must be under the control of God or it will destroy the person expressing it. Anger is not a privilege. It is more like a loaded gun.

 

Pray the word of God.

 

Praying God's word connects to the stability of faith. Much depression is unbelief. Notice I did not say, "simply unbelief." It is complex, but it is unbelief none the less. And it cripples our relationship with God. Some of you may object to this, pointing out men like Charles Hadden Spurgeon or William Cowper, spiritual giants who suffered from depression. But many of the glorious sermons of Spurgeon came forth in victory over his occasional depression. And although Cowper's mental illness was more persistent and debilitating than Spurgeon's, it was God's truth and victory that burst out with "God's wonders to perform." Praying God's word ought to bring us naturally into personal promises God has whispered or thundered into your ear.

 

Sing.

 

I think singing is an important part of prayer. It usually helps us praise better than we could without it. Most hymns and choruses are filled with great theology. All of us can pray in song. I do not necessarily believe we have to sing well to glorify God, especially in private prayer. However, an important part of honoring God is seeking to improve our singing for His ears and even for the ears of His children.

 

Continue your prayer in obedience.

 

Activity is a natural antidote for depression. Praying our plans and God's plans leads us to carrying them out, not after we have prayed, but continuing to pray as we go, as we act, as we step out in faith. "Father, help me, encourage me, keep me going for you." amen

FIGHTING DEPRESSION WITH PRAYER


I am a little hesitant to write on this subject for the obvious reason that prayer is far more than an antidote to selfish concerns. The perspective of prayer is far greater than my personal feelings. However scripture does deal with this concern. Psalm 42:5 asks, "Why are you so downcast O my soul." Psalm 130:1 reads, "Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord."

Let me suggest several steps in dealing prayerfully with depression.

 

  1. Pray for deliverance.
     
    I have not faced clinical depression in my own life, but I have dealt with it in others as a pastor. And seeing the magnification of the problem helps me see details more clearly in the depression of my own heart. A major issue of depression is that it defends itself. It may be more accurate to say we defend our depression, but the depression seems to take on a life of its own. When I have told someone to do something that might break their depression they immediately opposed it. So start by briefly asking God to deliver you. Depression may even keep you from praying about it.
     
  2. Turn immediately to praise.
     
    You might think you should start by asking God to change the circumstances that have depressed you. Aren't requests the heart of biblical prayer? They are. But prayer is supported theologically and practically by the glory of God; by the grace of God; by His mighty power; by His love and faithfulness. And nothing works more effectively at lifting our spirits than praise. Secular counselors sometimes try to treat depression with self-affirmation. But that often sets the sufferer up for a fall into deeper depression. Praise gets you clear out of the picture. In fact sustained praise is good and necessary for anyone at any time. Have you ever thought heaven would be boring if we spent all day praising God forever? That ignores the reality of praise. Nothing is more thrilling than connecting intellectually and emotionally with the wonder and glory of God.
     
  3. Confess and forgive.
     
    Praising God should move us into confession and forgiveness. Depression flows from pride. "I don't deserve bad things." Even a statement like "I am no good." is self-focused. Confession breaks pride. It demands a humble and dependent heart. There is relief in being forgiven. At that point God can lift our spirits because we are no longer estranged from Him. It is important to note that Jesus linked confession and forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer. "Forgive us . . . as we forgive. . ." This is so important for dealing with depression. Depression raises its ugly head in the aftermath of anger and continuing resentment. I am amazed that so many people treat anger as some sort of catharsis. We think of having a right to get angry. There is a place for righteous wrath. Jesus certainly modeled it. But anger must be under the control of God or it will destroy the person expressing it. Anger is not a privilege. It is more like a loaded gun.
     
  4. Pray the word of God.
     
    Praying God's word connects to the stability of faith. Much depression is unbelief. Notice I did not say, "simply unbelief." It is complex, but it is unbelief none the less. And it cripples our relationship with God. Some of you may object to this, pointing out men like Charles Hadden Spurgeon or William Cowper, spiritual giants who suffered from depression. But many of the glorious sermons of Spurgeon came forth in victory over his occasional depression. And although Cowper's mental illness was more persistent and debilitating than Spurgeon's, it was God's truth and victory that burst out with "God's wonders to perform." Praying God's word ought to bring us naturally into personal promises God has whispered or thundered into your ear.
     
  5. Sing.
     
    I think singing is an important part of prayer. It usually helps us praise better than we could without it. Most hymns and choruses are filled with great theology. All of us can pray in song. I do not necessarily believe we have to sing well to glorify God, especially in private prayer. However, an important part of honoring God is seeking to improve our singing for His ears and even for the ears of His children.
     
  6. Continue your prayer in obedience.
     
    Activity is a natural antidote for depression. Praying our plans and God's plans leads us to carrying them out, not after we have prayed, but continuing to pray as we go, as we act, as we step out in faith. "Father, help me, encourage me, keep me going for you." amen

FIGHTING DEPRESSION WITH PRAYER


I am a little hesitant to write on this subject for the obvious reason that prayer is far more than an antidote to selfish concerns. The perspective of prayer is far greater than my personal feelings. However scripture does deal with this concern. Psalm 42:5 asks, "Why are you so downcast O my soul." Psalm 130:1 reads, "Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord."

Let me suggest several steps in dealing prayerfully with depression.
1. Pray for deliverance.

I have not faced clinical depression in my own life, but I have dealt with it in others as a pastor. And seeing the magnification of the problem helps me see details more clearly in the depression of my own heart. A major issue of depression is that it defends itself. It may be more accurate to say we defend our depression, but the depression seems to take on a life of its own. When I have told someone to do something that might break their depression they immediately opposed it. So start by briefly asking God to deliver you. Depression may even keep you from praying about it.
2. Turn immediately to praise.

You might think you should start by asking God to change the circumstances that have depressed you. Aren't requests the heart of biblical prayer? They are. But prayer is supported theologically and practically by the glory of God; by the grace of God; by His mighty power; by His love and faithfulness. And nothing works more effectively at lifting our spirits than praise. Secular counselors sometimes try to treat depression with self-affirmation. But that often sets the sufferer up for a fall into deeper depression. Praise gets you clear out of the picture. In fact sustained praise is good and necessary for anyone at any time. Have you ever thought heaven would be boring if we spent all day praising God forever? That ignores the reality of praise. Nothing is more thrilling than connecting intellectually and emotionally with the wonder and glory of God.
3. Confess and forgive.

Praising God should move us into confession and forgiveness. Depression flows from pride. "I don't deserve bad things." Even a statement like "I am no good." is self-focused. Confession breaks pride. It demands a humble and dependent heart. There is relief in being forgiven. At that point God can lift our spirits because we are no longer estranged from Him. It is important to note that Jesus linked confession and forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer. "Forgive us . . . as we forgive. . ." This is so important for dealing with depression. Depression raises its ugly head in the aftermath of anger and continuing resentment. I am amazed that so many people treat anger as some sort of catharsis. We think of having a right to get angry. There is a place for righteous wrath. Jesus certainly modeled it. But anger must be under the control of God or it will destroy the person expressing it. Anger is not a privilege. It is more like a loaded gun.
4. Pray the word of God.

Praying God's word connects to the stability of faith. Much depression is unbelief. Notice I did not say, "simply unbelief." It is complex, but it is unbelief none the less. And it criples our relationship with God. Some of you may object to this, pointing out men like Charles Hadden Spurgeon or William Cowper, spiritual giants who suffered from depression. But many of the glorious sermons of Spurgeon came forth in victory over his occasional depression. And although Cowper's mental illness was more persistent and debilitating than Spurgeon's, it was God's truth and victory that burst out with "God's wonders to perform." Praying God's word ought to bring us naturally into personal promises God has whispered or thundered into your ear.
5. Sing.

I think singing is an important part of prayer. It usually helps us praise better than we could without it. Most hymns and choruses are filled with great theology. All of us can pray in song. I do not necessarily believe we have to sing well to glorify God, especially in private prayer. However, an important part of honoring God is seeking to improve our singing for His ears and even for the ears of His children.
6. Continue your prayer in obedience.

Activity is a natural antidote for depression. Praying our plans and God's plans leads us to carrying them out, not after we have prayed, but continuing to pray as we go, as we act, as we step out in faith. "Father, help me, encourage me, keep me going for you." amen

FIGHTING DEPRESSION WITH PRAYER


I am a little hesitant to write on this subject for the obvious reason that prayer is far more than an antidote to selfish concerns. The perspective of prayer is far greater than my personal feelings. However scripture does deal with this concern. Psalm 42:5 asks, "Why are you so downcast O my soul." Psalm 130:1 reads, "Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord."

Let me suggest several steps in dealing prayerfully with depression.
1. Pray for deliverance.

I have not faced clinical depression in my own life, but I have dealt with it in others as a pastor. And seeing the magnification of the problem helps me see details more clearly in the depression of my own heart. A major issue of depression is that it defends itself. It may be more accurate to say we defend our depression, but the depression seems to take on a life of its own. When I have told someone to do something that might break their depression they immediately opposed it. So start by briefly asking God to deliver you. Depression may even keep you from praying about it.
2. Turn immediately to praise.

You might think you should start by asking God to change the circumstances that have depressed you. Aren't requests the heart of biblical prayer? They are. But prayer is supported theologically and practically by the glory of God; by the grace of God; by His mighty power; by His love and faithfulness. And nothing works more effectively at lifting our spirits than praise. Secular counselors sometimes try to treat depression with self-affirmation. But that often sets the sufferer up for a fall into deeper depression. Praise gets you clear out of the picture. In fact sustained praise is good and necessary for anyone at any time. Have you ever thought heaven would be boring if we spent all day praising God forever? That ignores the reality of praise. Nothing is more thrilling than connecting intellectually and emotionally with the wonder and glory of God.
3. Confess and forgive.

Praising God should move us into confession and forgiveness. Depression flows from pride. "I don't deserve bad things." Even a statement like "I am no good." is self-focused. Confession breaks pride. It demands a humble and dependent heart. There is relief in being forgiven. At that point God can lift our spirits because we are no longer estranged from Him. It is important to note that Jesus linked confession and forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer. "Forgive us . . . as we forgive. . ." This is so important for dealing with depression. Depression raises its ugly head in the aftermath of anger and continuing resentment. I am amazed that so many people treat anger as some sort of catharsis. We think of having a right to get angry. There is a place for righteous wrath. Jesus certainly modeled it. But anger must be under the control of God or it will destroy the person expressing it. Anger is not a privilege. It is more like a loaded gun.
4. Pray the word of God.

Praying God's word connects to the stability of faith. Much depression is unbelief. Notice I did not say, "simply unbelief." It is complex, but it is unbelief none the less. And it criples our relationship with God. Some of you may object to this, pointing out men like Charles Hadden Spurgeon or William Cowper, spiritual giants who suffered from depression. But many of the glorious sermons of Spurgeon came forth in victory over his occasional depression. And although Cowper's mental illness was more persistent and debilitating than Spurgeon's, it was God's truth and victory that burst out with "God's wonders to perform." Praying God's word ought to bring us naturally into personal promises God has whispered or thundered into your ear.
5. Sing.

I think singing is an important part of prayer. It usually helps us praise better than we could without it. Most hymns and choruses are filled with great theology. All of us can pray in song. I do not necessarily believe we have to sing well to glorify God, especially in private prayer. However, an important part of honoring God is seeking to improve our singing for His ears and even for the ears of His children.
6. Continue your prayer in obedience.

Activity is a natural antidote for depression. Praying our plans and God's plans leads us to carrying them out, not after we have prayed, but continuing to pray as we go, as we act, as we step out in faith. "Father, help me, encourage me, keep me going for you." amen

Thursday, July 3, 2014

PRAYING ON VACATION

My blog this week is about praying on vacation. Many of us have taken prayer retreats that were glorious. But I am thinking about something much more difficult. I want to talk about praying on a family or recreational vacation.
So many things contrive to disrupt our prayer lives when we go on vacation. I am on vacation visiting relatives as I write this. And my my prayer times have hardly been complete a single day. The first problem is simply in the purpose and preoccupation of vacation. We are usually focused on recreation. Also the rhythm of our routines are broken. We have to catch the ferry at 4:00 A.M. Or we sleep in until 10:30. And we have to coordinate our schedule with family, extended family and others. If you have ever been on vacation, you know several more things that interrupt regular prayer.
What do you do about it? The very best thing I have ever heard about was done by my close friend and associate. From the time his children were small he planned devotions into their vacations months in advance. He prepared a fun personal devotional guide for each member of the family that went together with what they were going to do each day. I'm sure there was a time he faced the natural and spiritual opposition of instituting this program. But the children grew to be excited about this aspect of their vacation. And they treasure those devotional guides well into adulthood. I suspect this would be too difficult or impossible for most of us. But I wanted to plant the idea for some of you to think about.
A similar and less involved tactic might be simply planning a specific time for personal prayer and devotions for each day and talk with the family about the next day's prayer time.
I also think it worthwhile to continually remind yourself to pray for each family member and every other person you see or come in contact with through each day.
The most important thing you can do is pray about it in advance and during your vacation. If you read my blog at all you know that I believe the most important thing you can do to develop an extraordinary prayer life is to pray and keep praying for God to help you do it. Pray for God to keep you in communication with Him every day of your trip. I think you will find nothing brings more joy to a good time than prayer.