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Tuesday, December 29, 2015


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.
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


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


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


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


“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.