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Thursday, October 30, 2014


I pray for a list of extended family members each night after I lie down in bed. I have specific scriptures memorized that I pray over some family members. I have prayed for some of the children on my list every day of their lives.  Of course I sometimes fall asleep before I finish the list. There are worse ways to go to sleep. And since I pray for them in a certain order, I am able to pick up the prayer in the morning as far as I remember praying the night before.

I have done this for years. So I don't remember how I came up with the order. To some extent, I think I developed the list simply by repetition. I do not know how long it takes me to get through the list. In fact, no two nights are quite the same.

I do this each night because of continuing needs in my family. My grandchild has a need this week. My nephew will probably face a crisis tomorrow. And several family members have ongoing problems. But I suspect the primary benefit, like most prayer, is in what God does and will do in me. I believe going to sleep in prayer may help saturate every aspect of my life in the presence of God.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


We often think of prayer as a lone vigil. And sometimes it is. But the Scripture also teaches us to pray together. Nearly all the references to the powerful prayer in the early chapters of Acts are plural. "They lifted their voices together in prayer.” (Acts 4:24)
Do you have a Bible study or prayer group where you can share prayer requests? Praying together is one of the most powerful things we do as a church. In Matthew 18:19 Jesus gave us a special promise of answered prayer when we agree together. Nothing binds the church together like prayer.
In Romans 15:30 Paul urged the believers in Rome to strive together with him in Prayer. The word in the original language is "sunagonizomai". This compound word is made up by "sun," which means together and "agonizomai." From this word we get our word agonize. It was an athletic term. It meant to pour your guts out in athletic competition. "Sunagonizomai" was used for teammates striving together.*
Are you striving together in prayer with a missionary, a pastor or a Christian writer? Do you have a prayer team praying with you? Has God given you a special ministry? Do you teach a Sunday School class? Are you trying to witness a co-worker? Do you play an instrument or lead in worship? You need to recruit a prayer team. This will not be easy. Our enemy will fight this any way he can. But you will find your prayer team an indispensable source of power in your ministry and in your whole life.


*I made a video on this word that some of you will enjoy.


Thursday, October 16, 2014


Prayer is certainly bound together with love. Prayer is the expression of love. And love ought to be the motivation for our prayers. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus commanded His followers, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” You do not love your enemies, if you are not praying for them. And prayer is a powerful means of developing love for those who are difficult to love. I believe it is an expression of love to pray for someone you bitterly dislike, simply out of obedience. Because God has told you to someone, you struggle to ask Him to work in her life. But as you carry that out day by day, the love of Christ for that person will grow in your heart and mind.

I would like you to try this exercise. Make a list of people you have trouble loving. Maybe it is someone who wronged you or someone you care about. Maybe it is a person whose attitudes or behavior you do not approve. The very thought of them irritates you. Most of us can come up with a list of 4 or 5 such people off the top of our heads. You may ask God to bring such people to your mind. When you have the list, take time to pray for these people every day for a week. You may be tempted to pray for God to bring them into judgment, but you don't want to pray that kind of prayer for someone Jesus died to redeem. I think it is acceptable to begin by praying for God to change them or bring them to repentance.  From there you can ask God to show you how to pray for them. At the end of the week take an assessment of your attitude toward them. It will have changed. You will be drawn nearer to the heart of God.


Thursday, October 9, 2014


One of the best things about the discipline of praying for organized lists of people is that God impresses me with difficult people to pray for. It strains my prayer life to pray for people I do not necessarily like. It stretches my faith to pray for people whom I can hardly imagine changing.
I pray daily for family members who have ruined their lives and the lives of others I love. And I find myself asking, "How could God straighten out the mess they have made?" I also pray for people with whom I fiercely disagree. I know I could not change their minds. Can God change their hearts or mine? I am often doubtful when I come to the names of some of these people. I have begun saying, "I am taking this person to You, Father. You can do anything."
This seems to be enough to ease the anxiety of my unbelief. The key to strengthening our faith is in recognizing the greatness and nearness of God. This prayer not only rests in His great power, but also on His ability to understand the complex problems people are facing. I do not necessarily believe this is strong faith, but focusing on God is certainly the step of faith I need in praying for difficult people and circumstances.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Most Believers cling firmly to the promise of God in Romans 8:28. I am no exception. But it is important to note that this promise is linked with the promise in verse 26 of God's help in our prayers. Am I saying the promise only applies if you are praying about your difficult circumstances? No, I am not saying that. But I do believe God will use difficult circumstances to teach you to pray. Growing your prayer life is part of the good God is working in your life.
God's work in your life depends on His teaching you to pray. The Spirit's intercession for us informs our understanding.  I suppose the Spirit prays things for me without my understanding. I want God to help me keep my job, but the Holy Spirit is praying for me to learn to trust God to care for my family. He may even be praying for God to move me to a place where I will have a greater witness. However, the primary way the Spirit prays in me includes growing my understanding. He shows me Scripture verses or simply whispers into my heart. In John 15:15 Jesus said He no longer calls us servants because a servant does not know what his master is doing. He works in me, teaching me to pray for things that I would never have longed for without His intervention in my life including my thinking and praying.