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Archive for the tag “Persist in Prayer”

For This Reason

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, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:10-12

As noted in my last blog posting, we are reading through Paul’s letters to the Churches. These letters were said to have been written while Paul was in prison. To set up the context of these letters, the study book we use gave us the background in the Book of Acts. We find a turning point in Paul’s ministry in Acts 20:22-24: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Paul said goodbye to his people; first in Ephesus then others along the way until he reached Jerusalem. He was arrested soon after arriving in Jerusalem and taken before officials. Every time he was given the opportunity, Paul told his testimony about how Jesus changed his life and how Jesus is the Messiah -foretold by the Prophets of Old -the One who was to come to bring salvation and redeem and restore the world to God. He never changed his message, just the way he presented it to his audience.

So then we come to the letters he wrote from his prison cell or in house arrest. His time was not wasted. He was on mission and never let an opportunity go by. Some of the letters were to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ whom he never met. He wrote to them to encourage their faith and give them examples to live by. He encouraged them to live differently than the world. It was the difference that would draw others to Jesus.

In Colossians 1:4, Paul wrote he had heard of the faith and love found in the believers in Colossi. For this reason, he prayed for them the prayer I listed above. It’s a powerful prayer; praying for knowledge and wisdom so that they could live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way. Prayer is essential to living a life worthy of the calling. We also need to be watchful and thankful as we pray. Watchful so that we see God’s answer and give Him the glory. Thankful because we know what we ask for will be done, if we ask in His will – it’s just a matter of time – God’s time. I am reminded to thank Him before I see the answer.

In Ephesians, Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus he never stopped giving thanks for them and remembering them in his prayers (1:15). Paul prayed that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.Paul prayed for those who were to hear his letters would know Jesus better, to know the hope to which Jesus called each of the believers; to know the power that raised Jesus from the dead – power that lives in each believer by the Spirit of God who dwells in believers. Paul asked all this for all believers – not just to the ones who initially read or heard his letter, but to all those who read it today.

Think about the power of prayer – there is no end date. Paul has given us words to pray for one another, but also knowing God still honors Paul’s prayers 2000 years later. I asked the Lord: please answer this prayer in this present age so that we would know, by the Spirit, wisdom and revelation for God’s glory to be evident in all believers to draw others to Himself.

Wouldn’t it be a better world if the Church would have the power, which is available to us, used for God’s glory to be revealed? To know the power – to give us strength, to know the depth of His love, to know the work He is doing in us and through us? If we were all mature believers, unified in one body, wouldn’t that be a wonderful picture? It calls for a different approach than what the world puts forth. It calls us to live a life set apart and different – it calls for humility, gentleness, bearing with one another in love and living with one focus. It means being something we’re currently not.

For this reason, we start with Paul’s prayers for believers to encourage one another. Paul was warned repeatedly about the suffering he would experience as his end drew near. I think the Church as well has been warned repeatedly. It’s time we heed the warning and stay focused on the main thing. From Ephesians 4:4-6: There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called -one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Let God’s glory be evident in each of us to draw more to the love of Jesus. It’s our only hope in times of trouble. It’s the only way to change the world we live in today. God help us!

If Then Statement

Have you noticed lately there has been an emphasis on prayer? Priscilla Shirer wrote the Armor of God Bible Study a couple of years ago, which begins with prayer as the first step to putting on the armor. The movie War Room came out about that same time, which is about getting on our knees before God; crying out to Him. Anne Graham Lotz just recently released a book called The Daniel Prayer; again about getting on our knees before God. There must be something to this that we need to understand for these times. I think we are at a crossroads in our culture today. I think God is preparing us to be battle ready for whatever is coming next.

I also think in order to be ready; our hearts have to be right before God. In James 5:16 we are told that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James goes on to write in the following verses that Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Pastor James MacDonald is currently preaching a series on Breakthrough Prayer. Pastor James pointed out a few things in the Book of James that needs to be considered. In James 4:16 we are told to confess our sins to one another so that we will be healed – spiritually. Sin is a blockage to prayer. Elijah was in the midst of a battle. He didn’t pray for Ahab and Jezebel to be struck by lightning – he could have – they were a thorn in his side to his effective ministry. He prayed so that the people would be humbled. Pastor James mentioned that “Elijah prayed a little step on a long journey to bring God’s Kingdom purpose.”

We get caught up in our lives and forget this is a long journey in God’s Kingdom. We have just a small part while we are here for this short amount of time. But God has the long range view. We get messed up with this short life with all the complications, thorns in our side and our panties in a twist. It’s hard not to. But if our hearts are lined with God’s; we would pray like Elijah and ask for God’s Kingdom purpose to be fulfilled in our time. We could be instruments that God uses that would change kingdoms and nations just like Elijah.

I am currently reading Beth Moore’s Audacious. There is a chapter titled “You would ask me.” In this chapter, Beth writes about Jesus’ encounter at the well with the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-54). Beth points out this small statement in verse ten “If you only knew” (NLT). The next phrase that stands out to Beth is “You would ask me.” If we only knew then we would ask Jesus.” There’s a promise in this passage as well. “I would give you.” If we only knew then we would ask Jesus and He would give it to you.

If we don’t know, then how are we supposed to ask for it? There’s a catch in the belief system. The prayer of a righteous person; He gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4); when we are aligned with God’s heart and know His will. Beth wrote: “The axis of our approach shifts dramatically when we know beyond a doubt that we’re perfectly aligned, asking God for something He is more than anxious to give than we are to receive.” There are some things that God is only going to do through prayer. He would do it if only we would ask.

It all starts with us. Our hearts have to be right. We can have confidence in prayer because of God’s character. He is a good Father and loves His children more than we could ever know or understand. Understand this – God answers, but sometimes it may take a while before the answer comes. Pastor Dhariaus Daniels recently pointed out in a message during Code Orange Revival at Elevation Church that the Israelites cried out to God; God talked to Moses. There was no message back to the people of God. The Israelites continued to cry out and God continued to work on Moses to take the assignment. Sometimes the prayer isn’t being answered immediately because God is working on something or someone behind the scenes. Our call is to persist in prayer until the answer is received or we get an assurance from God that He has heard and the answer is coming. The prayer of the righteous is heard and in God’s time and in God’s way; it will be done. Have confidence in God’s character and His love.

If you only knew + you would ask Me = I would give you. This is the formula for fervent prayer that will change things. Pastor James pointed out in his recent message: “Great prayers come from people like us who choose to pursue God in fervent prayer.”

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)

Source: Elizabeth Moore, Audacious (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2015) pages 124-129.
James MacDonald, Harvest Bible Chapel, message series Breakthrough Prayer.

Who Needs a Miracle?

Three sermons converged this week to give me a greater sense of what God is doing in us every day. Pastor Jimmy Carroll at my home church is in the Miracles of Jesus series. Pastor James MacDonald at Harvest Bible Chapel is working through Prayer Breakthroughs sermon series. Pastor Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church is asking the question in his series “Who Needs God.” All of these messages seemed to come together this week because I need a miracle.

I have had a few occasions when I have seen God work a miracle in my circumstance, but it’s been a long time since I have recognized His work. After listening to my Pastor on Sunday, I had the opportunity to pray for someone who needed a miracle for his son. I was able to encourage him with a few points from the sermon and offer a prayer for healing. One of Pastor Jimmy’s points from his sermon was that “it’s always in God’s power to heal but not always in God’s purpose to heal.” Sometimes there is a work that needs to be done in us before the healing takes place. However, healing may not be in God’s plan – at least on earth, healing will take place in heaven regardless of what happens here on earth. When we are in His presence, we will be whole. Praise the Lord!

Pastor James made the point that a breakthrough prayer needs persistence. I have heard over the years that we are to persist in prayer until we have an answer from God. In the Greatest Salesman in the World, the author Og Mandino wrote we are to persist until we succeed. Sometimes we fail to see an answer so we quit before the breakthrough. Pastor James had a point as well to share on persistence. “People who persist in prayer don’t lose heart – people who lose heart don’t persist in prayer.” Sometimes the delay in an answer is to fix the Pray-er; the Pray-er needs a breakthrough before we see the answer. Another point Pastor James made was this: “As I pray, God is making me spiritually fit to receive what He is already willing to do.”

Pastor Andy tells us that sometimes our views of God don’t mature as we age. We may have grown up knowing about God, but as we get older that view doesn’t change. When we face adult problems, our childhood image doesn’t fit our adult problem. Many walk away from the faith because the expectations were not met. We have that image of a “genie” god who will grant our wishes. When God doesn’t come through, we get disillusioned and walk away. God’s business is maturing disciples. He is into building our faith muscles. It’s okay to start out with little faith; but at some point, it has to mature. We have to grow up spiritually just as we grow up physically.

Luke 18 gives an account of one of Jesus’ stories about the persistent widow. Pastor James points out that the scenario is a worst case problem – a widow, a jerk for a judge and a plea for justice. It’s through persistence that the widow gets the judgment; not because of the righteousness of the judge, but because of her persistence. She kept going to the judge most likely with more passion each time she returned. The judge decided to grant her the request. He realized she would not give up – she wasn’t going to wear out, he was.

God is looking for faithfulness, but He is also looking for emotion. When we are moved, He is moved. It’s our heart that needs the breakthrough. Praying is the vehicle to get us there. Pastor James last point concerned the question Jesus asked at the end of the parable: “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” We are seeking something from Him; He is seeking something from us.

Persist until faith becomes sight. As I learn these lessons, I have opportunities to pray for someone else. I get the opportunity to see the miracle to happen for someone else. I think that’s what it’s all about. When we pray for others, we get the miracle too. And we learn a greater lesson about God; He is bigger than we can imagine, and He gives us a glimpse of Himself in the answer.

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. Matthew 8:10, 13

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