Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Mark 8:1-9 records Jesus feeding the 4000. The text begins with Jesus telling his disciples in his compassion that he is concerned about the people who had been listening to him for three days. He did not want to send them off without anything to eat. They had a few fish and loaves of bread which Jesus blessed and distributed among the over 4000 present before sending them on their way.

Mark 8:6 “He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so.”

Jesus addressed a basic need out of compassion for those who followed him, filling that need to overflowing. But it was not until the people obeyed the voice of the Lord, ordered themselves and sat down that they were satisfied. Can you imagine all of the commotion with thousands of men women and children milling around for three days and suddenly the Lord saying, “Please be seated!”

This is a reminder to me that when I am anticipating provision from the Lord, that I need to be seated. I need to be still. But before that I have to drop everything and focus on the Lord, giving Him my undivided attention so that I can hear his instruction.

Are you in a waiting pattern right now? Have you positioned yourself to hear His instruction? Sometimes if you want to be filled, all that is required of you is to be seated.

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OK, I’m ready to admit I have a problem–a lack of consistency in my life. I do a lot more thinking on God’s Word than I do reading it. The only thing I have been consistent about reading the Bible is consistently forgetting to do it or doing it “later.” I have been resting on Ps. 37 for a while. I think there is much the Lord wants to show me here.

Ps. 37:3 “Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.”

Cultivate faithfulness. What does it mean to cultivate faithfulness. How do I do that? What does that even look like? Hmm, it is probably the opposite of inconsistency.

Deut. 30:20 … “by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and holding fast to Him;”

How do I cultivate faithfulness? By loving God, obeying His voice, and trusting Him.

Psalm 37 says to delight in the Lord, commit your way to Him and trust Him. So cultivating faithfulness does not begin with a checklist. It begins with a heart attitude of trust. Perhaps thinking on Gods’ Word is not the end of my faithfulness, but the beginning. A mind and heart focused on the Lord is a heart that is prepared to have faith and to cultivate that faith in otheres. I need to put away the shame that the enemy tries to make me wear becuase I failed my “to-do” list. I may have failed mine, while at the same time accomplished the Lord’s purposes.

 

If God knows everything and He is going to do what he wants anyway, why pray?

Short answer: We pray because God says so. 

1 Thess. 5:16-18 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Long answer:

What do you think is the greatest hindrance to Christianity? Some say that AIDS, abortion, war, poverty, sin, atheists, or liberal politicians are. Billy Graham said “No! The greatest hindrance to Christianity today is Christians do not know how to practice the presence of God.”

1) How do I know God hears me?

a. We are called a royal priesthood. 1 Pet 2:5, 9 (While it may appear that God honors our prayers because we simply bear the name “Christian”, it is less about who we are and more about the character of God – the source of love and grace – that He honors our prayers.)

b. As part of a royal priesthood prophesied in the Old Testament Ex 19:5-6 (conditional upon obedience) and fulfilled in Christ Rev. 1:5-6 (firstborn of the dead, sitting at the right had of the father in his resurrected body, interceding upon our behalf), I have access to the throne of grace. Heb 4:16 (looking back to vs 15, Christ fully identifies with us, God put on human clothing to offer himself a sacrifice for us, resurrected in the body and prays continually for us. Through the Holy Spirit he enacts His will by praying through us–His priesthood. We are invited to, among other things, participate in miracles and share in His work on Earth establishing His kingdom while sharing God’s grace and His message of redemption.)

c. Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessingin the heavenly realm. How does God see you? Replace the pronouns in Eph. 1:2-14 with I and me.

Are you living a life worthy of the name you bear?

2) Does intercessory prayer work?

a. Num 16:46-48 The incense from Aaron’s censor is a picture of the intercessory prayers of a righteous man. James 5:16 God sent judgment upon the rebellious Israelites. In obedience and according to God’s will, Aaron took his stand between those who had already shown symptoms of the plague and those who had not. He swung the censor creating a dividing line between the two groups standing in the gap and interceding for the suffering people.

b. Heb 7:24-25 Our participation in Christ’s high priestly ministry of intercession is literally our inheritance and a rare and precious privilege. If we do not practice God’s presence, who will?

If the Holy Spirit were removed to day, would you notice? How much of your life would be unaffected?

c. Example of intercessory prayer. Gen 18:17-33 (Abraham and Lot)

  1. Abraham identified himself with the sufferings and weaknesses of others. Read Jeremiah or Lamentations
  2. He plead the attributesof God for His creation. Ps.89
  3. He reminds God of his past mercies. Ps. 136

As we partake in communion with God all day, continually, we begin to identify with God’s character. We call this becoming Christ-like. We draw near to the source of our next breath and we share His heart. God’s desires become our desires, His will becomes our will. We can pray according to His will because He reveals His will to those who love Him. As a result, we see more prayers answered in accordance with our desires because we now pray His desires.

“This is that which unlocks the treasury of heaven. Many keys fit many locks, but the master key is the blood and the name of Him that died and rose again, and even lives in Heaven to save the uttermost.” Charles Spurgeon

3) How can my prayers be more effective?

a. How do we release power through prayer? Jam 5:13-16 We pray in affliction, praise in gladness, intercede for the suffering, restore the sick and grant remission of sins. Why is forgiveness necessary for efficasious prayer?

b. How can we experience the peace of God? Phil 4:4-7 Why is thanksgiving key?  What will it take for you to live a worry free life?

c. Sometimes God asks us to surrender parts of our life that we don’t want to give up.He might ask you to give up alcohol, an extra hour of sleep, your pride–things that might not be a sin to someone else. These things may not be a sin to someone else, but it may be creating  noise in your life by drowning out God’s voice.  His desire is for you is to have perfect communion with Him. He wants to see more of your prayers answered, too. What is the noise in your life?

What part of your life do you need to sacrifice upon the alter before God to eliminate any hindrances in your communion with Him?

So why pray? Look at the lead question at the beginning of the article again. The second premise implies an impersonal God.  This is the God of the agnostic or deist. A deist says, “we can’t deny God created, but after that He just stepped back and now watches everything like spectator viewing a great cosmic motion picture.” This view of God contrasts with the Christian God. God may be sitting on His throne in heaven now, but 2000 years ago He left the glory of heaven and put on humanity to suffer and die for you. You may veiw yourself as one insignificant detail on a great tapestry stretching across the heavens. But to God, that insignificant detail was worth suffering on a cross. Is this the activity of an impersonal being? Unique to the Christian faith, God desires a relationship, He desires communion and He has provided the way.

I close echoing this prayer found in Colossians 1:9-14 for you, dear friend.

 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.