Follow by Email

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

PRAYING IN THIS HOUR

Jesus began His powerful prayer in John 17 with the words, "Father, the hour has come."
Dawson Troutman is one of my spiritual heroes. Daws (pronounced dos) preached a powerful message entitled The Need of The Hour. In the sermon he said he started by thinking the pressing need was to train men. But as he prayed about it, he decided that the need of the hour was for us to believe God would accomplish what He alone can do. Faith-filled Prayer is the need of this hour as well.
This final week of 2015 is a crucial time for God's people to pray. Are you praying? Are you Praying in this Hour of Distress? Are Praying In this Hour of Glory? Are you Praying In this Hour of Deliverance?
The Hour of Distress
In John 17 Jesus was praying at the threshold of the cross. All the distress of human history was pressing upon Him. We face much of that distress in these days. And you need to understand that God has intentionally planted us in these days. Like Queen Esther, we have been brought forth for such a time. We are the people called to live and pray and serve Him in these days.
The Hour of Glory
I have been struck by the prayer of Jesus, "Father, glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you?" Who would have believed Jesus could be glorified on the cross? Yet all glory from before the beginning to the end of the age rests on the cross.
I have never prayed such a prayer. I have always been afraid to pray for glory. I know my wicked heart that desires my glory above the Father's glory. To be honest my fear of praying for glory is like burying my talent instead of investing. Awareness of my sinful heart is not unwarranted. But I must step out on faith and immerse my temptation in prayer. And I can pray that my Father and the Son will be glorified more and more as He glorifies me.
The Hour of Deliverance
In John 17 Jesus prayed that we would have eternal life which is knowing Him, God the Son, and knowing the Father. I want to pray for many to come to know Him. Some years ago I prayer-walked in Central Asia. There was a pastor there who came from Iran. He was converted to Christ during the Iranian revolution. He said during that time thousands of people came to Christ. I wonder if millions will come to Christ during the Great Tribulation. How many will come to Him in these days?
Let me encourage you to read Anne Graham Lotz' Preprayer for the new year. www.annegrahamlotz.org/cate
I am not sure why the message comes up that the page can't be found. If it does, ignore it and scroll down to 111: Preprayer for the new year.
Next week I plan to write on praying for the new year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

THEIR FAITH

A powerful event in the life of Jesus, recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke, is the paralytic brought to Jesus by several men bearing him on a stretcher.
Matthew 9:2 reads,
And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven."
Notice the wording of this verse. When Jesus saw their faith He told the man his sins were forgiven. This is hard for us to swallow in our individualistic society. We think of spirituality as only one on one with God. But this lone wolf Christianity is not found in the Bible. We come to our Heavenly Father as a family. In Ephesians 2:20-22 we read that we are built up together as a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Lord indwells His church. Jesus established His church so we would pray, trust and experience Him together.
In the church we encourage one another's faith. You may have heard this important truth before. You need other believers in your life to help you process what is teaching you from scripture. You should have someone who is more mature than you spiritually. You need people who are struggling along at about the same place as you. And you need someone who is not as far along in the journey. I have discovered that the person less mature than me in many areas often encourages and strengthens my tenuous faith. And God often gives clear insight to a weaker believer to help me see and believe.
The most astounding thing in this passage may be that Jesus forgave the man's sins because of the others' faith. In the church we even believe for one another. This is not an uncommon experience in the church. Someone is facing a crisis that requires greater faith than she has. She shares the situation with other believers. They begin praying together and the others believe for her as well as with her.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

PRAYING FAITH

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, I you of little faith?  
Matthew 6:30
Prayer is the first expression of faith. If you believe in God, you will pray. Praying faith is propositional. We trust what Scripture tells us about God. By faith we risk ourselves in the confidence that God is able to meet our needs. We believe that the One who made us knows what we need before we ask Him. We believe that He who feeds the sparrows and clothes the lily will provide what we need.
But praying faith is also personal. We not only believe that Almighty God can meet our needs, we trust in His love for us. We do not just trust God to give us what we want. We can know that God loves us even when He withholds what we want or think we need. By faith we throw ourselves into God's embrace. I remember being terrified up on a roof as a child. I yelled and screamed. My father came and stretched his arms up to me. "Jump, David." Closing my eyes and gritting my teeth, I jumped into my father's arms.  
Praying faith is exclusive. We often hear faith touted as if it were a good in itself. But I would not have survived if I put my faith in the sidewalk to catch me. In prayer we decide to put faith in God rather than in our doubts or fears, rather than our wants and thoughts, rather than the goals and promises of the world around us.

I need to write on faith again next week. I want to key on the words, "their faith" in Matthew 9:2.

Monday, December 7, 2015

PRAYING FROM THE CROSS

I am not exactly sure how to approach my blog this week. I am bringing to a close my series of blogs on the foundations of prayer. That in itself seems strange, because all my entries relate to the foundations of prayer. In each entry I present what God tells us about prayer in His word. But there are some foundational truths upon which all prayer rests. I began this series with an entry on praying God's grace. That entry related the gospel to prayer. So it is fitting that I bring this series back to grace where we began. We have access to God in prayer because Jesus purchased for us on the cross.
Romans 5 begins with these words.
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."
Some of you remember the famous photograph of John John, JFK Jr., playing in the cubbyhole in his father's desk in the Oval Office. He was the only eight year old in the country to have such access to the office of the most powerful man in the world. It should take our breath away to realize we have been given access to the throne of Almighty God.
We who were once enemies now have peace with God because Jesus died in our place. The Son of God died for you, so you might be embraced by God as His adopted child.
We can confidently stand in His presence because of this grace lavished upon us. And as we pray we rejoice not just in the answers to prayer that God gives, but in the hope of sharing in the glory of God. Prayer is the expression of faith in the wonder of God's work in the world and in our lives.

Next week I plan to write about angry prayers. Have you prayed such prayers? I certainly have. What does the Bible teach about them?


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

HEAL OUR LAND

“If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray,  and seek my face, and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
It is important for us to see the promise related to this powerful invitation to prayer. God promises to forgive our sin and heal our land.  
There are a number of modern complications to this promise. We need the illumination of the Holy Spirit to apply it. I am going to make some suggestions for doing so. But I urge you to struggle prayerfully with this concern that God may radically impact the way we pray. Notice I did not simply say, the way you pray. There is an urgency in these days for God's people to join in prayer for our nations. And the depth of your convictions will influence the prayers of many.
Here is the first difficulty. When the Lord gave this promise, His people were the nation. His people were the Children of Israel to whom he had given that land. I remember having a friendly disagreement with my college roommate about whether this promise was for America or the Church in our day. Is God promising heal a nation like America, Myanmar Guatemala or China where most people may not be praying? At least as it applies to specific prayers, times and situations, I do not know. I don't believe we can successfully pray for the "Great Tribulation" that Jesus warned us about, not to happen. But I think we are to pray for our nations. Abraham was invited to intercede for Sodom and Gomorrah. In Jeremiah 29:7 the Lord addressed the people taken into exile and captivity in Babylon. He commanded them to pray for the prosperity of that wicked city.
I believe this means we are to pray for the leaders of whatever nation we live in. That sometimes means praying for people who are enemies of God's people. And this means praying for the healing of social problems. Are you praying and working to bring people up out of poverty? Are you praying for people who are addicted to drugs? Are you praying for wounded soldiers returning from war? Are you visiting and praying for prisoners? Are you praying for health care and problems related to it?
This is moral and spiritual as well as social, political and economic. We need to pray for hearts and minds to be changed. I recently had an exchange with an apologist who was angry at someone who was having an evil influence upon young people. He took offense at my suggesting that we need to love this man and pray for him.
I need to be honest, I am tempted to be cynical about the condition of our world. I want to say, "Leave them alone until Jesus comes back. He will make a new heaven and a new earth." But that is not God's will. It is also true that I will be made new when Jesus comes. Should I give up on trying to become like Jesus because it will not fully happen until we see Him? Just as becoming more like Him now relates to being made like Jesus when He comes, so praying and working to make the world a better place now relates to His reign after He returns.

http://daveswatch.com/

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

PRAYER AND REPENTANCE

"If my People who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and heal their land. "
Repentance is preliminary to prayer. I do not deny that God may answer the prayer of someone who is still in rebellion against Him. I am certainly not in control over what God chooses to do. But the great problem is with what that person desires. Such persons may ask, even demand that God leave them alone. And He may ultimately answer that prayer. C.S. Lewis noted that the gates of hell are locked from the inside.
Frankly, I am relieved that God can be trusted not to answer prayers that are against His will. All joy, all peace and all blessings are in God's will. Note the word of repentance in this verse. It does not call us to repent of wicked deeds. That is an important part of repentance. But this verse calls us to turn from our wicked way. This is talking about the direction of our prayers and our entire lives.
In this light repentance is also a process. The more time I spend in God's presence, praying, prayerfully saturating myself in His word and obeying what He tells me, the more He turns my heart in His direction. He implants Himself in my heart and mind and will. He changes what I hunger for Him to do in my life and in the world around me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

SEEK MY FACE

"If my people who Are called by name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14
One of the most wonderful commands and opportunities in Scripture is God's invitation to seek His face. Christianity is not simply a collection of rules or guidelines for life. Nor is it primarily a set of abstract truths that we must believe. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Hence the heart of prayer is not seeking answers to our requests. In prayer we do not seek God's gifts first. We seek God Himself. He is sufficient to our deepest needs whether or not He gives us what we ask.
Let me give you a picture. Suppose you have a significant inheritance from which you draw a regular income. And you meet and fall in love with a man and marry him. But after your marriage you discover that he is only interested in your inheritance. How would that make you feel? Suppose he discovered that he could not get his hands on your inheritance, so he divorced you as fast as he could. You would feel used, wouldn't you? You might say, "He didn't love me for myself." Are you seeking God or something you can get from Him?
I love the words of the hymn,
"I will arise and go to Jesus. He will embrace me in His arms. In the arms of my dear Savior, oh there are ten thousand charms."
Rightly we hear these words as the testimony of a lost person coming to Christ. But they also describe the genuine romance of prayer.
There is another important facet to seeking God's face. This entire verse is plural. We must seek his face together. We encourage one another, strengthen one another and help one another seek His face.  
In 2 Corinthians 4:6 Paul assures us that we embrace the glory of God in the face of Jesus.
Let's seek His face.
http://daveswatch.com/



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

HUMBLE YOURSELF AND PRAY

2 Chronicles 7:14 reads,
"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land."
Prayer is the natural and supernatural expression of humility. Humility is evidence of God working in our lives drawing us to His embrace.
When we pray we humble ourselves in our spiritual weakness. Many years ago God pressed on my heart that I needed to gather a prayer team to pray for me. To be honest I found this very embarrassing. I had to publicly admit that I did not have it all together.
We must humble ourselves before the will of God when we pray. In biblical prayer I do not approach Almighty God as if He were my assistant to give me my selfish desires. Biblical prayer longs for things to be made right. It prays for God’s good and perfect will to be done.
In prayer we often humble ourselves before other believers. Notice that this verse, like most promises and commands regarding prayer, is plural. When we pray together as a nation, a church, a small group or two or three agreeing, we yield to each other's concerns. Even praying alone is more fulfilling when we intercede for others.  
In prayer we also humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God. It is necessary for us to pray for things God is calling us to do. I often think the final confirmation that God is in something is impossibility. If God is telling you to do something, it will be impossible. If God does not work, such things will never be accomplished. By praying you admit that you cannot do what only God can do.
And ultimately we humble ourselves before the person of God in prayer. When we pray we expose ourselves to God's might, majesty and absolute holiness. We come to see our absolute inadequacy in the presence of God. And we humbly and joyfully rest in His sufficiency.

Next week I plan to write on seeking God's face. In prayer we seek God for Himself. We don't just want His things. We seek and find intimacy with God.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

IF MY PEOPLE

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”
I thought I would bring this blog series to an end this week by returning to the subject of grace where I began. I will still do that in a few weeks. But as I prayed about it I sensed God pressing 2 Chronicles 7:14 upon my heart.
It may seem strange to you that I would separate out a series of blog entries on the foundations of prayer. Isn't everything I write in a blog, titled Watching In Prayer, to some extent foundational to prayer? I certainly hope so. That is my intention. But I have been encouraged by certain theological and spiritual truths which shape prayer. And this Old Testament passage gives us several of these basic principles.
We will start with the words, "If my people." Prayer is to be intimate communication between God and His people. There is no question that God called out Israel to be His special people. But 1 Peter 2:9-10 applies Old Testament phrases spoken to Israel to the church.
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set aside as his own."
Several important questions arise from this truth. 
"Am I willing to belong to Him, or am I my own person?"
"Have I become a child of God?"
And "Do I think and pray and try to live as if I belonged to God?"
These questions are foundational to all prayer. The creator of time and matter and the vast expanse of space, the author of all that lives and breathes and wills and thinks, is not your assistant. Either you belong to Him or you do not know Him at all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

AS HE HAS FORGIVEN US

Certainly the most disturbing words in the Lord's Prayer are found in verse 12.
"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."
We sometimes flit like a butterfly over these words without letting them shock us to the core of our relationship with God. Jesus calls us to surrender all of our resentments, all unforgiveness, as we ask for His forgiveness.
As with all of the Lord's Prayer, these words can be expanded. You understand calling on God as Father better when you tell Him all that calling Him Father means to you. Your praise will be more exhilarating when you take time to hallow His name in every way you can think of. And you will receive a far greater blessing from this prayer when you let its seriousness wash over you, struggling to forgive people who are hard to forgive.  
Let me show you two steps of spiritual growth that this part of The Lord's Prayer helps us take. By spending time praying this facet of the model prayer (1)we come to accept the mindset of forgiveness and (2)we surrender our hearts to God in the struggle of forgiveness.
In Matthew 18 beginning with verse 23 Jesus taught something crucial to the kingdom of heaven. He told the story of a king who decided to settle his accounts. He was reminded that one of his servants owed him ten thousand talents. A talent represented a fortune in those days. Ten thousand talents would be like a billion dollars today. It would have been impossible for a servant ever to repay such a sum. So the king arranged to sell the servant along with his wife and children and simply call the debt lost. But the servant came before him and pleaded for time to pay the impossible debt. The king showed him compassion and forgave the entire amount. The servant went away with great relief. But a fellow servant owed him a hundred denari. He went to him and demanded payment. When the other man pleaded with him for more time he grabbed him by the throat and began to choke him. He had him thrown into prison until he paid the full amount. The other servants were upset and told their master. The king summoned his servant and rebuked him. "You wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?" In anger the king commanded that he be turned over to the tormentors until he paid all his debt. Jesus then concluded, "So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
Does that mean God will resend your salvation if you will not forgive someone? I do not believe it does. In John 10:28 Jesus clearly said about those who are His sheep, "No one will snatch them out of my hand." But this parable, The Lord's Prayer and other passages like Ephesians 4:32, teach that God's forgiveness is inextricably connected to our forgiving others. Forgiving others should be the natural and supernatural overflow of a forgiven heart. When we pour ourselves into this prayer we immerse ourselves in the mindset of forgiveness. I will be honest there are times that I have had to ask God to forgive someone, still confessing that I was not yet forgiving from my heart. And I had to ask God to do the painful work in my inner being that would bring me to forgive as He so painfully purchased my forgiveness on the cross.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

PRAYING FOR NEEDS

Jesus told us to ask the Father for our daily bread. We are tempted to devote prayer to the chocolate donuts of luxury and comfort. But none of these pleasures are good, if our real needs are not met. Two truths emerge from the wording of this prayer. Needs are immediate. And needs are ultimate.
We have a tendency to pray for God to provide our needs far into the future. These seem to be prayers for God to provide so we will not have to trust him ever again. I have terminal cancer. God has not chosen to remove my cancer. But I have lived and often been basically healthy years longer than my doctors told me I would. Not long ago a friend introduced me as a cancer survivor. I told him later that I couldn't say that. He said, "Every day you are alive, you are a survivor." I told one of my doctors I was doing better than he thought I would because people were praying for me. He was silent for a moment and then said, "That's right."
Our needs are also ultimate. You will die if you do not have food to eat. You have other ultimate needs. Some are physical like the need for bread. Others are emotional, intellectual or spiritual. From an ultimate perspective our greatest needs are spiritual. Life is ultimately meaningless without a sense of wonder, truth, purpose, righteousness and security. These only come from God. They are the fruit of the gospel in our lives. Jesus died that we might have life truly, fully and eternally. Are you focusing on the greatest needs that face us? Or are your prayers distracted by lesser things. My cancer brings an urgency to my life. I don't want to devote most of my energy to praying for a better parking place at the donut shop.

Next week we will look at praying for forgiveness.

http://daveswatch.com/


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

PRAYING FOR GOD'S WILL

In this foundational prayer Jesus told us to pray for God's will to be done. Our sin and the subsequent fall has spun our world and our hearts out of the will of God. Only God can restore us to the way things ought to be. This is one of the most powerful aspects of prayer. But there is much more to praying for God's will than simply mouthing these words in a rote prayer. Let me suggest two critical factors of consistently praying in obedience to this directive from Jesus, Discernment of His will and Desire for His will.
To pray for God's will, I must learn learn to discern God's will in various situations. That begins in exposing myself to God's word. God powerfully and personally reveals Himself to us in the Bible. As we apply ourselves to learning Scripture, the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
A more important facet of discerning God's will is the transformation of your mind, indeed your entire character. Romans 12:2 says, "Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God." God makes us more and more like Him. The verse just before calls us to present our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice. Transformation is a process that takes a lifetime. But every day of His work, often painful to our pride and self-centeredess, produces character, confidence and spiritual maturity. God shapes us in His image, in the likeness of Jesus, so we can know and understand His will. Through this process we come to desire His will. We learn in practice what we usually know superficially, that the best thing that can ever happen is what God desires whether it is what we want or not. Our joy increases exponentially as we come to delight in his will.
I need to note one other blessing that comes as we learn pray for God's will. He gives powerful assurance. 1 John 5:14-15 reads, "This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."


http://daveswatch.com/

Monday, October 5, 2015

PRAYING FOR THE KINGDOM

We pray for so many things. I saw two prayer requests this week for sick and suffering dogs. I think that is legitimate. Those who lifted the requests loved their animals. Our prayers should reflect the concerns and passions of our hearts. But it is crucial for us to have right priorities of desire and concerns. Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God. Are you praying for the kingdom?
The day will come when the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. In 2 Peter 3:11-12 we find these words.
"Since all these things are to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening, the coming of the day of God."
We are to wait for and hasten that day. Now let me ask you what we could do to hasten the culmination of history?
It is legitimate to pray as John prayed at the end of The Revelation. "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" But there is more that we can do and pray in this regard. In Matthew 24 Jesus gave us signs of the end times. And in verse 14 He said, "This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all people groups, and then the end will come."

Are you praying for the spread of the gospel, the spread of the Kingdom?  Do you have lists of missionaries that you pray for every day? Are you praying for the gospel to be brought to unreached and unengaged people groups? www.operationworld.org/ is great place to begin. They have the definitive prayer guide for people groups around the world. You can also find information on praying for the spread of the gospel at www.imb.org/ or on the websites of other mission agencies. We can pray for His kingdom to come.
Next week we will look at praying for God's will.

daveswatch.com/

Monday, September 28, 2015

HALLOWED BE THY NAME

The first petition in The Lord's Prayer is worded "Hallowed be Thy name." It is

interesting that although the word "hallow" has completely dropped from modern

English,  modern translations of Scripture still use it. That is because we have no

modern equivalent. It is to recognize God's name as holy, and sanctify His name in our

hearts. That means to recognize Him as the ultimate good. This is close to the Latin

phrase Sunam Bonum. It was generally thought of as that which is an end in itself. Only

God is the end in Himself. Have you ever heard anyone complain, "I served God and

sacrificed for Him and what did it get me?" For the person who says that, whatever they

wanted was what they were worshiping. That is what Satan accused Job of before

God. "He only serves you because you have put a hedge around him." In other words,

"He doesn't love you. He loves what you give him."

Prayer should begin with this request because it recognizes that God Himself is the

ultimate good. When we get this right we recognize God as the source of all good. That

is necessary to prayer.

This comes before asking for forgiveness because if other things are your highest good

they won't forgive you. If your job or your success or that particular relationship you

desire is your god, it will never forgive, when you fail it.

Now I am not sure I have given a good enough argument for this. That is because of my

poor writing and thinking skills. But let me suggest something that will convince you. Try

it. Start beginning every prayer with an extended time of praise. It will transform your

prayers and radically change your life.

Let me point out one other crucial element of this foundation of prayer. I said earlier that

this is the first petition in The Lord's Prayer. This is a request. It is a prayer for God's

name to honored in the world. It is a prayer for every knee to bow and every tongue to

confess that Jesus is Lord. He alone is the ultimate good, the highest blessing.

But this is also a prayer for my own heart. It is asking God to work in my own heart so I

will give Him that highest holy place in my desires, in my life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN

In Ephesus 5:14-15 Paul writes, "For this reason I bow before the Father from whom Every family in heaven and earth derives its name."
The Lord's Prayer does not simply teach us to say the words, "Our Father which art in heaven." Jesus is calling us to bow our hearts to our Heavenly Father. The privilege of coming to God as our father represents ultimate intimacy and majesty. I remember my sister and I running out to meet my father and throwing ourselves around his legs as he came home from work. Jesus is telling us we have that kind of relationship with the God of the universe, the God beyond the universe who created heaven and earth.
In Matthew 23:9 Jesus told us we have one father who is in heaven. He is the source of our spiritual DNA. We are born again in Him. Have you ever seen a child who reflected his father's appearance? God is working in the lives of His children making us more and more like Him, like Jesus.
I also remember my father's deep quiet voice teaching and encouraging me. He did not always do it perfectly, but my heavenly Father does. God teaches and guides His children.
My father worked hard to provide for the needs of our family. But even my father's provision was given us by God. God provides our every need. In His arms we are blessed, satisfied and comforted. He alone knows our deepest needs.
There were times when my children knew I was afraid. But I do not ever remember my father being afraid. I could not imagine being afraid when I was with him. If he was there we were safe. God is our ultimate rescuer. He is our Savior. More than a dozen times in Scripture we have the phrase, "God our savior." These of course include Jesus as God the Son. Titus 2:14 speaks of "our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." Jude 25 reads, "To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time now and forever. amen"
http://daveswatch.com/

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

OUR Father

I have begun a series of blog entries on the foundations of prayer. And I think The Lord's Prayer is a logical place to start. Last week I discussed approaching God as father. This week I want us to note that Jesus told us to address God as "Our Father." This whole prayer is plural. "Give us our daily bread." "Forgive us our trespasses." "Lead us not into temptation."
I am always stirred by the prayer in Acts chapter 4 that is preceded by the words,  "They lifted their voices together to God." The power of God is mightily unleashed as we pray together. In Matthew 18 Jesus gave us a special promise when we agree in prayer. He gave us that in the context of reconciling with someone who has sinned against you. And He made such reconciliation a matter that concerns the entire church. In such situations we must pray together. But his statements about His being with us when we come together in the church and when we pray together seem to apply to many situations.
Our prayers should also be in tune with God's love for all persons. I often think of Samuel's word in 1 Samuel 12:23. "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you." It is sin for us to neglect praying for others God has brought into our lives. And that includes people we may think are less important. God is no respecter of persons. I pray daily for a family who has an autistic child. My heart is stirred every time I pray for that boy. God seems to be reminding me that He longs for that boy to come to repentance quite as much as He cares for his parents. I believe God can use that boy with his handicap quite as easily as He can use the most gifted person I know of. And even if He does not use him mightily, God loves him every bit as much as He loves me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

FATHER

Last week I concluded by saying I was going to ask God to put His loving arms around everyone I met that day. Frankly, I found that more difficult than it sounds. It took me the whole week to get into that groove. But I also found this to be a greater blessing on my prayers than I had suspected. 
FATHER

(The Foundations of Prayer 1)
This week I am beginning a series on the biblical foundations of prayer. We will start with The Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6. Its first words are, "Our Father."
Coming to God as our father is essential to Christian prayer. There are people who come to God as if He were their employer. They seek God to give them what they have earned by their sincerity or their righteousness. "I've been good or I will be good, so reward me, God." But coming to God as our father means we trust His fatherly love.
Coming to God as our father assums a special relationship. No one can approach the President or Prime Minister or a King in the middle of the night for as small a thing as a drink of water, but his child. Again and again Jesus urged us to bring audacious requests to God. As His children we can ask Him for anything. And of course that means we trust Him not to give us that which would harm us. Have you ever thanked God that He did not answer your prayers exactly like you prayed. I have.
As children we know we don't understand everything our parents know. We may resent or resist that fact, but we know it is true. Coming to God as our father is to rest in His understanding above our own. And yet we know He who is all powerful loves us with an infinite and everlasting love.

If I am taking The Lord's Prayer word for word, I skipped the word, "our." Next week I will deal with that little word. I am to pray not only to my father, but to our father.

http://daveswatch.com/

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

STRETCHING MY LOVE IN PRAYER

I took a break from my blog during the month of August, 2015. And I told you I would see you in September. Well, it is September. And I am back as I said I would be. I pray for God to speak to each of you in these entries.

I am so blessed to have people whom I love and love me on daily prayer lists. I am not sure anything cultivates my love for them like prayer. I also have the names of people on prayer lists who are hard to love or even like. Exercising kindness toward them is necessary for feeling and growing my love for these people. But these actions must begin with and be carried out in prayer.
FORGIVENESS AND PRAYER
I have people on prayer lists who have wronged me, or worse, harmed people I love. God clearly impressed me to put these people on prayer lists. But I do often find it difficult to pray for them. Praying in general helps me understand and apply the truth of God's grace to them. God's forgiving love begins to rub off on me. Especially as I put forgiveness into words by asking God, even against my will, to forgive them.
PATIENCE AND PRAYER
Interestingly enough I often need more patience with people who are closer to me than those I have trouble loving. They are sinners, and I am a sinner. We sin against each other. I thank God that prayer brings me into contact with God's patience. Despite what the devil accuses I can go to God in confession immediately after sinning. I am still His child even after I sin. Praying in that grace opens my heart to patience with others even when we rub each other the wrong way.
HUMILITY AND PRAYER
I am not sure anything is as necessary to love as humility. And nothing cultivates humility like access to God by grace in prayer. I do not deserve the privilege of prayer. The Son of God had to die on a cross to purchase it for me. I did not just need a little more righteousness to see the kingdom of God. I had to be born again. And I am no more deserving of God's grace than that person I find it difficult to love.
Today I plan to pray specifically for God to show His great love to everyone one my prayer lists and people I come in contact with all day.
Next week I intend to begin a series of blog entries on the Foundations of Prayer

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Praying In The Grace of The Gospel

For several reasons I have decided to suspend my blog during the month of August,2015. I am praying about some special future blog entries. So I will see you in September.
Last week I wrote about praying in or from the gospel. We could never plumb the depths or mount the heights of this subject. And I wish to pen just a few more lines specifically on the grace unleashed by the good news of Jesus Christ.
First note that we come to prayer In the Confession of The Gospel. There is a power here to kill the selfishness, self-centeredness and independence that separate us from God and others. The Son of God had to die in my place to redeem me. I did not just need a little correction or improvement. I was totally lost.
Next we come to pray In the Communion of The Gospel. The gospel brings far more to us than forgiveness. Forgiveness says, "You are pardoned. You may go. The grace of the gospel says, "You are forgiven. Come in to my presence."
And imagine the Confidence of Prayer from The Gospel. We now come to God in the love and approval of the Son of God! He became our sin so we might become His righteousness. We pray in the applause of our Heavenly Father!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

THE GOSPEL OF ACCESS

It is hard to overestimate the gospel. It is the wondrous news of forgiveness and redemption. It is the only hope of eternal life
And it is the passport to prayer.
The first chapter of Romans points out the condition of our hearts and our separation from God. From there we are led to the gospel. Jesus died for our sins that our fellowship with God might be restored. Chapter 5 declares that we now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the gospel we have access to this grace.
The gospel is the central message of the entire Bible. It is the heart of the purpose of God on earth. And through the gospel we can enter God's embrace in prayer.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

SAYING AMEN

How do you end your prayers? You say "Amen," of course. We all do. Why do we do that? That is not how prayers end in the Bible. And while many of us know the verily, so be it, meaning of the word, I don't believe that is the real reason we end our prayers with"amen."
I believe we have a need to conclude our prayers, or rather to solemnize a conclusion to a prayer. Especially with petition, we are saying "This is what I need."
I think it is worth considering the amen of all your prayers. What would be the amen of your life? What is your ultimate need and longing? We may say, "I need this job because . . . " or "I need to be healed so that . . ." What needs do you have that are ends in themselves?
Suppose you tasted the most wonderful food you have ever eaten? And because it was so wonderful you told a friend about it. But the friend asked, "What will eating that get you?" The friend doesn't get it, does he? Psalm 34:8 calls us to "Taste and see that the Lord is good."
Let me push this picture a little further. Can you imagine falling in love? The two of you decide to get married. But someone at work asks, "Why do you want to marry him? What will that get you?" What would you answer?
And suppose before you were married he was shipped off to Afghanistan? From a letter you learn that he will skype you tomorrow morning at 5:00 A.M. You are thrilled about it and can hardly wait to go to bed tonight so you can get up and talk to him in the morning. But your friend at work asks why you would want to miss sleep just to talk. This is a harder picture for some of you because when you fall in love you fall for a sinner who will disappoint you as you will him. But we are waiting to be wed to the ultimate bridegroom. There will be no disappointment with Him.
What is your ultimate reason, your final "so that?" That is what I would call your ultimate amen. final amen of our lives is intricately connected to the embrace of God that we enjoy in prayer, more even than what you may ask in desperate prayer.  Revelation 3:14 speaks to this. Jesus said, "These are the words of the amen." This statement may be synonymous with His declaration, "I am the alpha and omega." Part of what Jesus was saying is that all things begin and end with Him. To say He is your Amen is to say He is your everything and He alone fulfills your deepest longing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

PRAYING GOD'S GLORY

In 2 Cor. 4:17 Paul says our earthly suffering is working for us an eternal weight of glory. This statement gives us an interesting insight into the word, "glory.” The Bible's use of words for the glory of God actually change the meaning of the words in at least four languages. The Greek word translated in 2 Corinthians 4 is "doxa." We take the word doxology from doxa. But before the Bible was put into Greek the word only meant importance in the opinion of people as trite as popularity. Our English word glory comes to us from the Latin word gloria. It too originally held the shallow meaning of the Greek word. The Hebrew word for glory was much more substantial. It reflected the reality of God. Its root meant weighty or significant. Anywhere we find the glory of the Lord people and even the earth is shaken by the weight of His significance.
The use of doxa for this Hebrew word in the Greek Old Testament, increased the power of the word infinitely. The word went from a trend to an earthquake or a thunderstorm. Or it might be better to call it a divine lightning storm. Even though the word began as weighty, it describes the shikina glory that settled on the mercy seat in the tabernacle. It was the glory that shown on Moses' face when he left the presence of God. And the glory of the Lamb is what will light the holy city described in Revelation 21. Our words in English Latin Greek and even Hebrew have come to mean unapproachable splendor. So we can sing "shining in the light of his glory."
If you truly come into the presence of God in prayer you will be overwhelmed by the recognition that God's glory is brighter than your darkness. His weight is greater than your needs or wants. If you have experienced the lightening storm of God's presence, nothing else can be as significant in your life. In His presence our prayers will be shaken by His Glory.
Let me point out three facets praying the glory of God.
The first thing that may come to your mind is praise. Praising His Glory
Isaiah 42:12 equates glorifying God with declaring his praises. We glorify God in praise. This can be in private as well as public worship. It can also be in witness of his glory to people we come in contact with each day.
Praying God's glory includes Praying for His Glory.
One of the most stunning examples of this is found in John 12:27-28. Jesus begins this passage by grieving over His coming sorrow. "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour." Instead, Jesus simply prays, "Father, glorify your name." At that a voice came from heaven saying, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." Some of the crowd said it thundered. Others thought an angel had spoken to Jesus. He said that the voice had come for them not Him. God answered by glorifying His name as Jesus asked.
Finally, you pray His glory by Praying for His Glory Through You.
God is working His glory in us. When you begin to catch a glimpse of the glory of God, you realize how preposterous that is. How could Almighty God gain any glory from me? Well, if we return to 2 Corinthians 4:17 we see again that through the light and temporary troubles that we face God is working an eternal weight of glory."
O God, may it be so! By Your power bring it about.