Praying . . . 5/20/22

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God, we as Your people stand before You today both as hopeless, and yet as being full of hope. If it is to ourselves we look for strength and resources then we are a hopeless bunch because there is no good thing in us. But, if it is You and Your mercy we are leaning on then our lives have nothing but hope because You, Lord, are the Author of all that can be and when we are trusting in You, we have the possibility of everything before us. Help us this day to keep looking to You where we can find hope, and not to ourselves. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN!
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Acknowledging Prayer

“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” Luke 11:2-4

When one acknowledges something or someone they are ascribing or giving them credit that they deserve.  Here, opening His teaching on prayer, Jesus jumps in without hesitation, stating, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven.”  Now, notice first that Jesus didn’t say “if” ye pray.  He point-blank expected that His people should have an active and working prayer life so He said, “When ye pray.”

Starting with the statement, “Our Father which art in heaven,” Jesus acknowledges to whom one’s prayers should be directed.  And, in the verses following God gets the credit for everything!  This is acknowledgment.

“Our Father which art in heaven,” points one in the right direction.  There are many voices that try to offer advice and insight to the world we live and to the troubles and woes we face.  Yet, none can have the insight as He who created all things.  None is Sovereign as He to really be our champion for real change.  That can only come from He who is enthroned in heaven for all eternity; by He Whom everything takes its commands: “Our Father.”

“Our Father” describes the intimate, relational context in which God wants to be committed to us.  Did you get that?  God wants to be “Our Father” so much that Jesus, God incarnate, instructed us to address Him as such in prayer.  Man may not always step up to the plate to fill this role, but God does.  He willingly takes on the role of “Father,” meaning more than provider in my view.  He takes on the responsibility to love, care and nurture those who come to Him seeking Him as daddy.  Romans 8:15 describes it as this: “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”  This adoption is an on-purpose act of love that He is seeking to fulfill as the role of “Father.”  God “will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,” (2 Corinthians 6:18).

“Hallowed be thy name.”  Part of acknowledging prayer is respecting His holiness.  Oh, I cringe when I see people take the name of the Lord in vain.  God’s name is not like any other and should not be treated as it is.  His name is holy (Isaiah 57:15), and He is the one who “dwell in the high and holy place.”  When one invokes God’s name in prayer it is not a plaything.  We are seeking His holiness to come in on our behalf; garnering His stamp of approval.  Heaven knows how to treat His name so much that they speak the word “holy” three times: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts,” (Isaiah 6:3).

Acknowledging prayer recognizes God’s authority, His power, His Sovereignty, His control, His kingdom, and His will overall. “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”  No wonder at the end of the parallel of this prayer found in Matthew 6:13 it states, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.”  We should want to see the glory of God’s will take over the atmosphere of this old stale world “as in heaven.”  We should have heavenly visions of God’s power reclaiming this earth.

Acknowledging prayer recognizes that God is the provider of all.  “Give us day by day our daily bread.”  “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  We, as all other things created, are dependent on Him as our provider.  “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26).  God will provide.

Acknowledging prayer knows that forgiveness comes from God: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.”  2 Chronicles 7:14 declares, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  God wants to spiritually heal people from their sin-sick ways.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).

In return, we are expected to offer forgiveness to those who ask for it.  Gulp!  Yes, forgiveness in any form can be a hard pill to swallow.  But, let me ask you this.  How many times has God said no to us whenever we sought for healing and restoration for the wrongs we have done?  Exactly, He hasn’t!  Forgiveness, much like love, is nothing to be played with.  It is not lip service to please others rather, it is a heart service to the Lord.  It is, in a sense, showing to others the same grace and mercy that God showed toward us.  And, we acknowledge that this is His will for us.

Acknowledging prayer shows God as a deliverer: “And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” God doesn’t tempt people into sin.  “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man,” (James 1:13).  Sin is a choice and so is choosing to let God lead and trusting Him to keep you in those hard times.  “O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee,” (Psalm 25:20).  “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me . . .” (Psalm 19:13).  He is a keeper to them that know Him as a deliverer and He is a protector against the ultimate enemy, the devil.

The Bible gives us this wise advice: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Acknowledging prayer says that there is no part of our lives that is untethered by the touch of God’s love. Therefore, in everything, and in every way, I lean into God, trust Him, and acknowledge Him in every area of my life.

Modified excerpt taken from 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer

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This morning, lay to rest…

This morning, lay to rest and hand over any troubles that may be stirring in your heart. Jesus is the answer for a troubled heart.

Father God, we are praying for an anointed release over Your children. We are praying against any troubles or circumstances that try to invade the peace that Christ so beautifully secured for our lives. Father God, we know that You are near Your children regardless of what they face or may be going through. Help us to grab hold of that truth as we go about this new day that You have blessed us with. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen!

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” – John‬ ‭14:1

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A Personal Audience With God

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Every time you bow the knee in prayer. Every time your hands are raised in adoration to the King. Every time your mouth opens to bless the name of God and lay your petitions before Him, He personally pays attention.

Out of the over 7,000,000,000 people that currently roam planet earth, when you pray before the Father, you enjoy a personal audience with God.

Yes, my friend, you are that special to Him. Yes, my friend, He loves you that much.

When you pray, you have God’s full attention. I don’t know how He’s able to be such a good Father in giving you and me this undivided attention, but He is.

It’s as if nothing else matters when your heart seeks Him in holy supplication. Even out of the billions, when you pray, God hears as if you are the only one.

We know He is omniscient, knowing all things, everywhere, with everyone, at one time, but He, in His love and grace, gives us this personal audience, to hear what we petition, to be mindful of us personally when we pray.

This, my friend, shows us the delight God takes in His children. Each one matters to Him personally.

Like a parent whose child calls home, God picks up the receiver and listens, giving His blessed ones His personal audience.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” – 1 John 5:14

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” – Jeremiah 33:3

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you– Matthew 7:7

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” – Philippians 4:6

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers. . .” – 1 Peter 3:12

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Persevering Prayer

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“And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?  And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him, as many as he needeth.” – Luke 11:5-8

Keep at it.

Keep coming to the throne of grace.

Keep praying. It’s not in vain. God hears every prayer.

The scenario is simple: it’s late in the midnight hour and someone has dropped in unexpectedly.  The problem with the scenario is due to the lateness of the hour and the unexpected nature of the visit there was not enough time to gather resources to care for this visitor.

The proposed solution: knock on the neighbor’s door who is a friend and ask for some help.  The problem with the solution: again, stating the obvious, it’s midnight.  We are in bed.  Are you trying to wake up the kids with all that knocking and yelling out there?!  “I cannot rise and give thee.”

Now, I don’t know about this neighbor, but waking up at midnight is not exactly a welcomed intrusion into my otherwise restful night.  Then, to have the audacity to show up banging on my door and asking for food at that time… well, that’s a whole other story!  But hospitality was central to the culture of the day and was expected to be doled out accordingly.

Also, in those days, sleeping arrangements were generally shared by the whole family.  Doors had big, heavy bolts that clanged and banged if moved.  To get to the bread one would have to step over kids, make noise to get the bread, and bang and clang the door opened and shut again.  At this point, the whole house could easily be disturbed.

Jesus stated that the neighbor eventually will give his friend what he is asking but not because he is a friend.  He will only get up out the bed because of his “importunity;” or his persistence.

Jesus uses this scenario to teach us the power of persevering prayer.  We cannot give up so easily.  We have been afforded the privilege to come before the throne of grace “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16).  We must be persistent in that privilege.

One’s lack of persistence in prayer can be tied to a lack of faith.  Jesus told the parable of the unjust judge and the widow to illustrate His point: “Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me,” (Luke 18:5).  Jesus then asked, “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.  Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8, emphasis mine).

A powerful key component of prayer is not to give up too quickly.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us:” 1 John 5:14

“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.” Psalm 18:6

“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” Romans 12:12

Modified excerpt taken from 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer

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Believing Prayer

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“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer a him a scorpion?  If ye the, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:11-13

Believe.

Believe in the goodness of God. 

Believe in your relationship with Him as a child of the heavenly Father. 

Believe that He always seeks to give you His best (ex. John 3:16).  I often refer to God as the Good Father who gives good gifts to His children in my prayer time.  It’s something we must hold on to and depend upon.

Believe that God knows how to answer our prayers.  I am a mom who is not perfect, but I love my children to distraction.  I want what’s best for them.  If they ask for food, surely I will not make a stone sandwich and expect them to eat.  I want them to experience good things.  I want them to be satisfied with the goodness of my house.  God is perfect in all that He is and does, so doesn’t He too have the same aspirations and love toward them that are His? He is not aloof but caring.  He is not unapproachable; rather, He invites us to ask for the good.

We have to step out of ourselves and believe with childlike faith that our heavenly Father knows and cares about our petitions that go up before Him.  This is a trust issue in our relationship with Him.  We rely on Him to supply: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19).  He is well able and wants to answer our prayers.  “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive,” (Matthew 21:22, emphasis mine).

Believe it today.

And, the most precious gift of all that He is more than willing to give to those who ask is the gift of the “Holy Spirit.”  We need the “Holy Spirit!”  He is our comforter (John 14:16).  He is our sealed promise (Ephesians 1:13).  “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,” (Romans 5:5).  The “Holy Spirit” teaches us the things of God, (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).  We need the gift of the “Holy Spirit” in order to make it in this world.  Therefore, ask with a believing heart, and God will give!

Believing prayer is powerful prayer!

Modified excerpt taken from 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer

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Expectant Prayer

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“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” – Luke 11:9-10

Jesus wants you to be confident in prayer. Therefore, when we pray, He teaches us that we can expect to receive an answer; we can expect to see some sort of fulfillment to come from taking your requests to the Lord.  These verses beckon us to look for something to happen as a result of praying.

He doesn’t tell us to “ask” without the expectation of receiving something.  No, He says if you do this, then this will happen; and so, it goes with the other instructions to “seek and knock.” 

Even if the answer doesn’t look the way you imagine it should, your prayers do not fall on deaf ears.  Be confident that God hears you.  God is attentive to you.  God does not leave you in a state of wanting.  David said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want,” (Psalm 23:1).  There will be results.

I love to garden, and when I plant a seed in the ground, I expect to see growth come out of it.  It may take a while but eventually, I should start seeing a little sprout beginning to poke its head through the surface of the dirt.  As I watch it grow to full fruition, I also expect to be able to one day reap off of what I have sown.

Your prayers are like you planting a seed, and what is being said here is that when you do these things: ask, seek and knock, growth is going to come from it.  Expect it!

The word “shall” appears as a reassurance for us four times in just these two verses meaning, this is what will happen as a result of praying in this manner.  Let me remind you that Jesus is the one who is teaching this lesson and He is the one telling us to “Ask . . . Seek . . . Knock.”  He is the one who speaks of “receiving, finding and opening” as a result of praying. 

Whatever it is, keep looking to God for the answer.  The Bible teaches us to “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” (Philippians 4:6).  Make it known unto God and keep making it known with the anticipation of seeing something happen.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him,” (1 John 5:14-15).  Therefore, we can expect to see results.

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“Praying for the today’s that we face”

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Father God, we know there’s a coming day when every tear that falls from our eyes shall be wiped away, a day when the trying circumstances we face here shall all be over, and we are looking forward to that day and rejoicing in the promise for it. We, also, are praying for the today’s that we face. We are praying for healing in the many circumstances of life: health, finances, relationships, souls restored, national conflicts to experience peace in You and through You. We are praying for people to be released and made whole from anything that comes against Your best for their life. In Jesus’ mighty name, we pray, AMEN!

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Devotional – “Jesus Questions Trust”

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8b

What would it be like to sit across from Jesus, face to face, and have Him question your trust? Would we be able to look Him in the eye as we pondered our answer? Would our heads be bowed, feeling unworthy to lift it and look into the eyes of love pleading with us to believe? What would be like? I imagine it would be self-revealing because in those questions we find where our hearts and our true belief lies. It reveals where we stand in our faith.

I have never read or heard of anyone, anywhere who tries so hard to get people to believe in Him, for their good, outside of Christ. He, who had pleaded with mankind through these pages of history to trust Him with their life and everything it entails. He, who has welcomed the problems and prayers of others into His person to carry so that we don’t have to.

Face to face. Pleading eyes. Questioning trust.

In Luke 18, that is what I see playing out. Jesus is telling a parable of a widow woman who just will not give up seeking justice. Day after day she sought the judge and became a downright pest about it. In her perseverance, she basically wore the man down until she was avenged.

Jesus used this parable to get the point of persistent prayer across. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not faint,” (Luke 18:1, KJV). Jesus knew that men and women everywhere would have to believe that if they continually seek the Father, He hears them. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,” (John 16:24, KJV).

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Jesus questions trust. He questions whether or not anyone will believe in the promise and power of prayer. He questions if there is real, alive faith working in mankind somewhere. He questions.

One’s faith lies at the center of this questioning, for if we believed wholeheartedly, there would be no hindrance in bringing every request and problem before God in prayer. This is what Jesus is getting at. True faith unencumbered. True faith takes the shackles off of God’s promises and allows one to run freely forth, believing He hears, He knows and He will answer.

Bringing out the faith of people was a key in Jesus’ ministry. How often had He declared that it was by faith one was healed? In the story of the Ten Lepers, to the one who came back to “give glory to God,” (Luke 17:18, KJV), He said, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole,” (Luke 17:19, KJV).

How much are we missing out on through our lack of faith? Jesus is questioning us, will we have the faith to respond? Do we trust Him enough to bring all our cares, problems, and issues before Him, laying them at His feet?

The Bible says, “Thou shalt call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am . . .,” (Is. 58:9, KJV). “Here I am.” God is not far off. When we venture to trust Him enough to cry out in the midst of our mess, He responds, “Here I am.” The word “here” indicates a present closeness. “I Am” is the name God gave Moses to assure those in Egypt, Ex. 3:14. Whatever they needed God to be, “I AM” has got it all under control because He is God all by Himself. He does not exist because of another. He does not depend upon another. His power is not contingent upon another. He is “I AM!” And, the Great “I AM” says, “Here I am!” Can’t we trust Him?

Faith and prayer go hand in hand. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Heb. 11:6, KJV). Without established trust in Him and His promises, we are unable to effectively move God with our prayers. We are unable to please Him. Why? Because without that leading trust, the basic requirements of faith cannot be filled. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” They must believe in His existence (previous paragraph) and they must believe that He is concerned enough to hear the call of them that cry out to Him and answer them. Trust.

“Shall he find faith on earth?” Our faith and trust in Him is the key that unlocks the door to victory. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4, KJV).

The persistence of the widow woman encourages us to keep coming and not give up. Hold on to your faith and trust in God and keep praying – keep laying it before our great God who hears and will take action. “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7, KJV). Jesus said, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Will there be some that really believe? The reason for this parable was to teach men not to give up – to keep praying and believing that God hears and that He is able to take care of it all. Do we trust Him enough to let it go and give it to God today? You may have to come every day and lay it on the altar of prayer – so be it. That’s how the widow got her case heard.

In this questioning of trust, Jesus is also demonstrating an open invitation for us to lay every hindrance down before God in prayer. Prayer works! Persistent prayer works! Persistent prayer plus faith works!

The pleading Savior is asking us to trust.

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“Know That God Hears!”

 

“I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place,”  Psalm 118:5, NKJV

It was one of those moments in prayer when you could utter no words, tearing streaming down your face, and only one phrase keeps repeating itself in the heart. That was me one night and try as I might to redirect my prayer, the Holy Spirit within me kept drawing me back to Psalm 118:5. I couldn’t get past it. After several attempts to lead my own prayer, I acquiesced.

There had to be a reason why my heart stayed so solely on this one verse. A revelation struck in the midst, telling me that I needed to be reassured that God hears me.  Sometimes the heart, as faithful as it can be, needs the additional support of knowing God hears.

“I called on the LORD!” God has so many wonderful characteristics and attributes, but one of the things that always strikes me as impressive is the fact that He hears my prayers, Psalm 54:2. In all lowliness of mind and heart, we come before Him freely. The Sovereign of the universe becomes attentive to us, to our needs, and bows down His ear to take on our concerns. He doesn’t have to but He is mindful of us, Psalm 8:4. He centers Himself to focus wholly and completely on us.

“The LORD answered me!” God responds! Our deepest heart’s desires do not fall on deaf ears. God is not playing cat and mouse with us. He wants us to seek Him that He may be found. “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near,” (Isaiah 55:6, NKJV). Then, He can respond!

How would we receive it if God verbally and clearly answered us? I, honestly, would probably freak out. But, answer us He does! How often have we gone in prayer, and the Sovereign of the universe has moved and acted on our behalf? Too many times to count! Often in my prayers, I am always thanking Him for inter-weaving Himself through every area of my life because I may not have heard an answer, but I can see His response. I can see Him moving mountains and obstacles. I can feel Him bringing peace in the midst of the storm. I wonder at His glorious love for us that causes Him to respond.

“Set me in a broad place.” Distressing times are tight. It feels as though you really can’t move this way or that. You feel locked in and bound up as if unseen shackles are imprisoning you. But, when God answers prayer, you feel release. You feel a freedom that was once a dream. It no longer feels like the walls are caving in on you, rather with a Herculean strength of the spirit, you feel like you can now push some stuff out of your life and move on.

My heavenly Father hears me! There’s no need to get too deep with words here. Sometimes we just need to be reassured of these old, simple truths. God hears me! Take that, and go in the peace of God today.

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