“And Yet When He Prayed Earnestly…”

17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! ​ – James 5:17 NLT

James 5:13- 18 NLT

Of course, we know that God already knows our needs and our situation, but He has instructed us to ask and keep on asking. Jesus told the story of the persistent woman and the unjust judge. She kept pestering the judge until he gave her what she was requesting. God does not always give us what we ask, because sometimes we ask for things that we don’t need. Psalm 37:4 tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when you pray fervently that what you end up asking from God is not what you were thinking about when you first started praying? That is when you can know that “the desires of your heart” have aligned with God’s Word and His will. Then the answer is always yes. But, if our desires don’t line up, then we often get a “no” or “wait”. Some people say that it is a cop out to pray “nevertheless not my will, but Yours be done”. But that is what Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. So, if He sets the example, it is a good pattern to follow.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Devote Yourselves to Prayer…”

2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. — Col. 4:2 NLT

There seems to be as many opinions on when, what, where, and how to pray as there are people that pray. Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Jesus admonishes us to ask and keep on asking. Jesus set the example of praying by going off by Himself on several occasions and praying for hours, sometimes all night. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed so long and fervently that He sweated drops of blood. (Doctors say that it is possible for the body to be so stressed that that could happen). When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He gave them what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”. It is an example of prayer, but the prayer that Jesus prayed for His disciples and us is in John 17. Prayer is not a magic wand that we wave over a problem that arises in our life. Prayer should be something that we do everyday, several times a day. You can pray anywhere, anytime, it is an attitude. It can be as simple as talking with a friend or as formal as you want it to be. It should come from the heart with the expectation that God will hear and answer. Perhaps, in today’s world, we could just think of it as a text message to God. With the added benefit that you can do it while you are driving.

1 John 5:13-15 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“His Unfailing Love…”

20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.— Psalm 66:20 NLT

Psalm 66:16-20 NLT

God wants to bless us all the time. He gave us His Son, so why would He withhold any good thing from us? For this to happen, we must stay “prayed up”, instantly repenting for any sin that we do, whether it be intentionally or unintentionally. When God’s Spirit brings conviction, we must agree with God that we have committed a sin and ask His forgiveness. He is always faithful to forgive us. Then we must thank Him and praise Him for that forgiveness. God inhabits the praises of His people. He is within us, with us, surrounding us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. His mercies are new every morning. Let your first words every morning be praise and thanksgiving. Your attitude will be sweeter and your day will go more smoothly.

Romans 8:32-34 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“The Door Will Be Opened.”

8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  — Matthew 7:8 NLT

Matthew 7:7-10 NLT

We hear a lot of opinions on how we should pray. Some say you should only ask once and God will answer when and if He wants to. Some say you should only ask for certain things. What does God say about it? In the original text of the Bible, the Greek verbs were verbs that indicated this was a continuing action. Jesus concurs with this in the parable of the woman who kept bothering the unjust judge until he gave her what she wanted. In James, we are told that “all good gifts come down from the Father above”. Furthermore, God has said that He is our provider and that means more than spiritual salvation. When Jesus healed people, He used the term “made whole”. That means physical as well as spiritual. The simple truth is that we can ask God for any and every thing that doesn’t violate His Word and we can keep on asking Him. Think about what He said to Paul. Paul had asked Jesus 3 times for healing and God said “my grace is sufficient”. That was God’s answer to Paul’s prayer. Unless God has answered your prayer (and that doesn’t always mean that He gives us what we want, but He does give us what we need) keep on asking. Look again at verse 8 above: “For everyone who asks receives……”

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

A Prayer for Guidance and Strength

 1 On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame; and I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.  2  O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, has a wondrous attraction for me; for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above to bear it to dark Calvary. “The Old Rugged Cross” – George Bernard – 1913

Holy Spirit, when I am being tempted, always remind me of that old rugged cross that I might stay faithful and obedient to my Savior, Lord, and Master because of all that He suffered for me and my sins. I want every thought, word, and action to bring glory to God and lift up the name of Jesus. I cannot do it alone, I need Your guidance and Your power to help me. I ask this of my Father in the powerful, precious, beautiful, and miracle-working name of Jesus. Amen.

“So, Do Not Be Like Them”

8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. — Matthew 6:8 NASB

Matthew 6:5-14 NLT

Jesus starts this discussion by telling us how we should not pray.  We are not to pray just to be seen and heard by others.  If that is our motivation then the only reward we will get is the praise of those who see and hear us. Whether our prayers are realistic or ritualistic is not determined by where we pray or the words that we say.  It isn’t the length of the prayer but the strength of the faith behind the prayer.   One of the most real and shortest prayers is the cry of Peter when he was sinking in the sea of Galilee.  His cry was “Save me, Lord”.  Jesus immediately reached out His hand and brought Peter to safety. After He tells us how not to pray, He tells us how we should pray.  It is a short, powerful, beautiful prayer that covers everything from God’s holiness to our dependence on God for our daily bread.  It covers forgiveness and God’s desire that His will would be done on earth even as it is in heaven.  It shows us that we need the leadership of the Holy Spirit so that we will not be led into temptation but that we will be delivered from evil.  We could pray this prayer continually and whether it becomes ritualistic instead of real would be determined by our attitude.  God has given many examples of prayer in the Psalms where David cries out with all of his heart and might.  He has also given us prayers of thanksgiving for His many blessings and benefits. When we reach the point that we have no words to express our desires, He has given us the Holy Spirit to pray through us, with us and for us.  

Romans 8:26, 27 NLT

It isn’t our words or our bodily position that determines whether our prayers are real or rituals, it is the attitude of the heart toward God and toward our fellow man that makes the difference.  It is our faith that God can and will do these things for us and that we are willing to do these things for those around us.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“This, Then, Is How You Should Pray”

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9  “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10  your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11  Give us today our daily bread.
12  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.​   — Matt. 6:9-13 NIV

The most often used excuse (not a reason) that we hear from Christians when questioned about prayer and Bible study is “I just don’t have the time”. God foresaw this and gave us a prayer that can be spoken in less than 20 seconds. It includes 3 things that every prayer should include.  It starts with adoration and acknowledging to whom we are speaking.  God is our Father and we agree that He is holy (hallowed) and that we are waiting for Him to come back and establish His kingdom here on earth..  That is adoration and we always let Him know that we love and adore Him.  It includes confession; “forgive us our debts”,  we acknowledge that we have sinned and ask for His forgiveness.  It includes supplication or asking God to provide something for us. Our daily bread is not just physical food but it includes everything that we need to live a godly life today.  We ask for direction as we start our day. “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”.  Twenty seconds for that prayer leaves you ten seconds to offer up thanksgiving for all that God has done for you up until this very second.

34  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. — 1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV 

Less than 30 seconds and you have covered all the bases.

A – Adoration
C – Confession
T – Thanksgiving
S – Supplication or asking
The other 30 seconds?  Listen for that whisper!  It’s God’s turn to speak and He doesn’t need time to think about it, He already has the answer.
If you make a habit of doing this every morning, you will be surprised at how quickly you will want to pray longer and stronger.
Time spent with Jesus is never wasted.
This is a beginning.  My prayer is that it will lead you into a deeper, closer walk with God.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“A Living Hope”

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3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. —– 1 Peter 1:3-5​ NIV

We should spend as much time as possible each day praying and praising God for all that He has done and is doing for us. We should make every effort to start and end our day with a conversation with God.  That prayer will lead us to praise and we will find that our days go so much better.  We, of all people, should be filled with praise and joy all day long.  We are the only ones with a hope of eternal life with a living Savior and Lord.  We have received this hope as a gift from God that was purchased with the death and resurrection of His Son. Through the blood of Christ, we have become sons and daughters of God and we have an eternal inheritance that “can never perish, spoil or fade”. No religion on this earth can make such an offer, a gift that is available to everyone but only received by those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.  Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are kept and shielded by God’s power.  That resurrection power will keep us until our “the coming of the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”.  Until that comes for each of us, we should practice the three Rs of Christianity:

Recall all the good things that God has done and is doing for us. Rest in His everlasting arms that will never fail to catch us. Rejoice because you are filled with the Holy Spirit and have eternal life.

If this doesn’t fill our hearts with joy and our mouths with praise, perhaps we need to re-examine our relationship with Jesus.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“The Right Hand”

3b. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. – Hebrew 1:3b NLT

Hebrews 1:1-3 NLT

Jesus provided purification for our sins when He hung on a cross.  From that cross, He announced that “it is finished”. His work here on earth was completed. God gloriously raised Jesus from the dead and He ascended into heaven. He is there now, at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us.

34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. — Romans 8:34 NIV

There are times in our lives when we become so frustrated or burdened that we do not ​know ​how or what to pray. Those can be the times that our prayers are the most fervent and the most effective. God, in His great mercy and love for us, has made a way for us to pray at any time in any situation. When we reach the place where we are at a loss as to what to say or pray. the Holy Spirit prays through us and for us.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. — Romans 8:26​-​27 NIV

When we are praying and we literally run out of words to say, we should stop and consider this fact:  The complete Trinity is involved in every prayer we pray. The Holy Spirit takes our stumbling, bumbling mutterings and groans. He cleans them up and presents them to the Father as Jesus watches and intercedes on our behalf. A simple prayer is sufficient since God already knows what we need. Peter’s prayer “Lord, save Me!” moved Jesus to save him from the angry waves and those three words are still enough to bring salvation.


“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Not One Was Lost”

12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold. – John 17:12 NLT

Protection

Even though we call the prayer in Matthew 6 the Lord’s prayer, it is really an example of how we should pray. This prayer in John 17 is the Lord’s priestly intercessory prayer for all of God’s children. The ones that God had given Jesus to accompany Him on His earthly journey and all the others from then on including you and me. God had given them and us to Jesus because of His obedience. They would now bring glory to Jesus and to God. Jesus protected them by using the name of the Father and now that He is leaving, He is putting them and us in the hands of God to protect us by the power of His name. Once we accept Jesus and become the children of God, we are in His hands for safekeeping. There is nothing or no one that is more powerful than our God, There is no way we can be taken from His hands. Paul tells us “there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love”

.Nothing Can Separate Us 

We have God living in us, we have God praying for us and we have God keeping us. What more could we possibly need? Knowing this should cause us to be faithful and fearless in our witnessing for Jesus.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous