Saturday, June 30, 2012

Prayer is Powerful – Part 5 of 5

In my previous post, I asked how often do we pray for those who are following Christ? We might think that since they are already saved by God’s grace, we should place the focus of our prayers on non-believers. Let’s take a look at the Apostle Paul’s prayer life.

In Paul’s letters to the churches, we see that he prayed night and day for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Likewise, he asked them to pray for him. He knew that they were together in a spiritual battle and that prayer would help them stand firm in the faith.

There are lots of believers that we can pray for. Usually, it helps to pray for those we know personally. We should especially remember to pray for married couples and their children. Satan targets the family unit, making married life and parenting even harder than it already is. He knows that if he can get at the families, he can reach the societies and destroy the nations. The nations, however, are our inheritance in Christ. So, when we pray for our nation or other nations, we should remember that any healthy nation is built on healthy families.

We should also be praying for pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and teachers even if we don’t know them personally. We can also pray for Christians in government, courts of law, politics, the arts, and sportsmen and women.

We are also instructed in the Word of God to pray for our leaders, the godly and the ungodly alike (1Tim. 2:1&2). God is the one who puts people in authority. Even if we don’t like our leaders, we should still pray for them and show them honor. Even when freedom of speech is regarded as one of our basic rights, that doesn’t mean that God gives us the freedom to say whatever we like. We need to check our attitudes and keep our hearts and minds pure from wanting to see the demise of those with whom we disagree.
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Prayer is Powerful – Part 4 of 5

Prayer walking is another great way to pray. Just take a walk around the neighborhood, and pray for your neighbors. They don’t have to know you’re praying, but God knows. He will honor your prayers.

God wants us to commit everything to Him in prayer, but do we? Often we assume that God is right there tagging alongside us, so we don’t see the need to pray. Sure, God is there, and He’s promised never to leave us or forsake us. However, God gave us the earth to have authority over it, and through Adam we gave it to the devil. Now, we must take our authority back in Jesus’ name. As we pray, we bind the work of the enemy and release God to do His work.

Does that mean that God can’t work if we don’t pray? No, God often works despite us, but He has chosen to partner with His children. If He wanted to do everything on His own, then there would be no reason for us to pray. Instead, He commands us to pray.

As we pray, we also need to consider where we focus our prayers. When I was frustrated with fruitless prayers, the Lord showed me that I was focusing on non-believers more than on believers. At the time, I thought that this was what was expected of me.

Actually, the truth is that we should pray for both. We need to cultivate a heart for the lost and pray for them, but not to the detriment of fellow Christians. How much of our prayers are actually spent on praying for those who, because they chose to follow Christ, would doubtless be under attack? The devil tries hard to stand in the way of believers who are trying to make a difference in their world.
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Prayer is Powerful – Part 3 of 5

My husband and I have made it a habit of praying every morning with the kids, either before leaving the house or once we’re all in the car together. We also pray every night for each child, sometimes while they’re still awake or when they’re already sleeping. Part of our prayers includes asking God to give them good dreams.

When I was a small child, I remember many times waking up from nightmares. As I grew older, those nightmares became less frequent. As an adult, I almost forgot they ever existed, but one day they suddenly came back.

I began to notice that there was a pattern for when I had a good night or a bad night. It seemed that the night before I had to lead a youth group or Sunday school class, a nightmare would strike. The dreams would be so graphic and gruesome that I realized they couldn’t be from my own imagination.

I tried praying scripture promises from David’s psalms concerning peaceful sleep. I also anointed every room with oil, but nothing I did seemed to work. Finally, I tried another tactic. It was so simple that I was surprised to find that it worked. All I did was pray that God would put His angels around our home to protect our sleep. I continued to pray that prayer every night, and from then on the nightmares stopped.

Now, every morning and evening we ask God to place His angels around our family. It might sound tiresome to follow such a routine. I know that after a while I had to make peace with it. We never question the need to brush our teeth every day to keep cavities away. The experts say that twice a day is better than once. It’s the same with prayer. My husband and I have seen such an improvement as a result of praying preventative prayers that we’ve chosen to make it a lifestyle.
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prayer is Powerful – Part 2 of 5

The best thing about prayer is that you can do it any time of the day. It’s like having a conversation with God. The moment you feel prompted to pray for someone or something, share it with God. Sometimes, when I’m driving and I see someone who looks like someone else I know, I think, “Hey, I wonder how so-and-so is doing?” Then I pray for that person. Even a quick prayer can be powerful.

At other times, I might be having a conversation with a friend and the conversation leads to the friend having a need. Perhaps she hasn’t asked for prayer specifically, but I recognize that if I offer to pray, she’d probably appreciate it. Depending on the situation, I might even offer to pray for her right there.

Your prayers don’t have to be done in “the closet.” The less you worry about having the right place and the right atmosphere, the more spontaneous and natural your prayer life will be. As long as you are praying to be heard by God and not by man, then pray without holding back. Don’t allow inhibitions to keep you from being utilized by God.

Of course, you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to yourself, so decide when it’s more beneficial to pray silently rather than vocally. Things to take into consideration are: the purpose of your prayer, the situation, and the suitability of your environment. Even though it’s good to be aware of your environment, this should not primarily govern how you pray. As you flow with His Spirit and with His love, you’ll know how to respond appropriately in every situation.

One place where people pray out loud is when they are together in a group or with a prayer partner. It could be at a large prayer meeting or with just a few moms. God promises that where two or three gather together in His name, He hears and will answer (Matt. 18:19&20). This means that if people are genuinely gathered for Christ’s purposes then His Spirit will lead them to unity of thought and they can confidently pray, knowing what they have agreed on will be answered.

A safe place to practice praying out loud is when you’re alone at home. You could try walking through the house praying from room to room. As you reach your kids’ rooms, you could pray for their safety. You could pray that their spiritual, mental, and physical development will be healthy and balanced so they can reach their full potential. You could also pray for their unknown future spouses.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Prayer is Powerful – Part 1 of 5

Prayer is an integral part of a vibrant Christian life. Fortunately, God does not grant us everything that we pray for, especially when those prayers are misguided. Usually, we start out praying the best we know how without properly tapping into the Holy Spirit’s leading. These self-led prayers are not all bad. God will listen to anyone who reaches out to Him; He’d rather we try than not pray at all. He also desires that we grow in our ability to pray as His Spirit leads. The more we pray God’s way, the greater the results will be.

God had to deal with me regarding my prayer life. There was a time when my prayers mostly revolved around me and what seemed missing in my life. My prayers were the kind that flowed from a discontented heart. The discontentment stemmed from the many sacrifices I was making to try to create a happy family, and it culminated in self-pity.

This self-pity became the driving force behind my prayers, which seemed to be going nowhere. Finally, I realized that I had to make a shift from selfish prayers to outward-focused prayers. The more I took the focus off myself and tapped into what was on God’s heart, the more my prayers took a positive outlook. No longer were they weak, directionless, and powerless. They were now taking a turn toward being dynamic, effective, and power-filled.

It’s difficult to look outside of yourself when you don’t know who or what to pray for. You might even need to ask God to give you a compassionate heart. Next, become aware of those around you. Once you notice the need around you, recognize that God has blessed you so that you can be a blessing. Then, ask God to lead you so that you can pray pinpointed prayers. Specific prayers bring about definite results. Pray that God will lead you according to His desires and have faith that God will answer. It’s all about “God’s will be done” and not “my will be done.”
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Poem - Our Lives are Like Stories

Our lives are like stories acted out in a play.
Yet at times those stories get jumbled in some way.
Maybe we read the wrong script or misread how it goes,
And then find ourselves caught in the middle of life’s throws.

To him that overcomes is victory living.
Our strength comes from God and He keeps on giving.
No man can go down where God cannot go,
And God is a jealous God, His love He will show.

If we miss out on the best, that’s not the end to our story.
All things work together for the good to God’s glory.
He came to give us life and life abundantly.
It’s a joy-filled life He’s given both you and me.

He knows we’ll get hurt and experience life’s stings,
So He reminds us not to focus on these things.
But to focus on Him is life evermore,
And He’ll bring us to that glorious shore.

The story is not over, it’s just begun.
The race is not finished till the crown is won!

By Christina Morley

I took the above photo during my teen years while at a Fest in Heidelberg, Germany. On my page My First Cameras at my photography blog 1camera1mom are two more interesting photos from my childhood.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thankful in Light of Our New Covenant – Part 3 of 3

We need to remind ourselves regularly that the moment we received His Spirit we also received a new nature. We should not live out of our old nature any longer. This requires the renewing of our minds: the process of changing our thought-life by developing a new perspective. He wants us to realize that He is there to enable us to accomplish His will in all areas of our lives.

The Holy Spirit has been given to us who believe not only as a seal guaranteeing our salvation, but also as our teacher and our comforter. He is there every step of the way. It’s up to us to acknowledge His presence and His divine guidance. He offers us to come and be active members on His team. The only way we are able to be followers of Jesus is by learning to listen and obey His Spirit.

We can be thankful that we have Christ’s Spirit living inside of us. Even if we embarrass ourselves in a moment of weakness, He has promised to stay. He is more interested with the condition of our hearts than He is with our outward achievements. We can confidently surrender our lives with all our weaknesses to Him because He will empower us for successful living. Jesus paid such a heavy price for you and me because He thought we were worth it.
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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thankful in Light of Our New Covenant – Part 2 of 3

The moment we believed in Him He took our unrighteousness and gave us His righteousness. The more we understand this, the more victorious we’ll be in receiving true freedom. It’s crucial that we get this truth. It’s what makes true Christianity different from all other religions. Every other religion has rules and regulations to follow in order to reach Paradise, Karma, Reincarnation, or whatever their goal may be. However, no one can achieve God’s standards on his or her own merits, and with Christianity that’s just the point: we all fall short of God’s standards and need a Savior.

Christ’s blood makes us right with God and transports us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. This New Covenant is better than the Old because God guarantees it no matter how we feel about ourselves or to what degree we’re able to keep His commandments. Even though we’re imperfect, we receive Jesus' one-time sacrifice to pay for all our past, present, and future sins. Righteousness no longer has anything to do with us, because it has everything to do with Him.

One simple prayer of faith makes us right with God and forever allows us access into His presence. With that prayer, He gives us new life by His Spirit. However, we still make mistakes. That’s because our old nature is at war with the new. The old nature wants to do everything its own way, contrary to God’s way.
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thankful in Light of Our New Covenant – Part 1 of 3

The Israelites didn't have the Holy Spirit available to them in the same way that He is available to us today. In the Old Testament days, the Holy Spirit visited specially appointed individuals. Usually those individuals had to fulfill a special role or convey a prophetic message. To have this kind of personal relationship with God was highly unusual.

Since Jesus, it is possible for everyone to have an ongoing and intimate relationship with the Father. By accepting His gift of salvation, we automatically receive His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our seal guaranteeing that we are God’s people (Eph. 1:13), like the seal made by a king’s signet ring. Once the seal is made, it can’t be broken.

Moses brought the Old Covenant (the Ten Commandments), which was written on stone, to the people of Israel. This Old Covenant was imperfect because it couldn’t make them righteous. It only pointed out the problem of sin in their lives. Jesus brought us the New Covenant, where the law is written on our hearts instead of on stone. This New Covenant also makes us right with God in that He paid the penalty for our sin with His blood.

The New Covenant, which is made through faith in Christ, is not a two-way covenant. It’s not a little bit of us and a lot of God. It’s all God. The Old Covenant, on the other hand, was a two-way covenant. It was all about keeping the law. It was up to the people to keep the covenant, and if they didn’t, curses would follow. In Old Testament days, the priests had to make daily and yearly sacrifices to keep covering not only the sins of the people, but also their own sins. No one was perfect, and no one was without guilt.

In contrast, God Himself takes on completely the requirements and fulfillment of the New Covenant through His Son. Jesus Christ became our one-time perfect sacrifice. He took all that guilt upon Himself and paid the penalty for our sins. When we do something wrong, we don’t have to beat ourselves up about it. He took that punishment for us. The focus is not on our ability to try to do things right all the time, but on Him having made us right.
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Poem - Rise Up

Rise up, people, and take a stand
Now is the time to heal our land
There are enough bad things around us to see
That change has to start with you and me
Transformation happens one by one
Beginning with ourselves and on it will run
To transform our families and others around
As we stand by morality and what is sound

By Christina Morley
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