Tag Archives: Prayer

A Prayer of Moderation

June 30, 2014

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The Lord's Prayer - ca, 1890 - James Tissot (1836–1902)

The Lord’s Prayer – ca, 1890 – James Tissot (1836–1902)

“I ask two things from you, Lord.
Don’t refuse me before I die.

Keep me from lying and being dishonest.
And don’t make me either rich or poor;
just give me enough food for each day.

If I have too much, I might reject you
and say, ‘I don’t know the Lord.’
If I am poor, I might steal
and disgrace the name of my God.  – Proverbs 30:7-9 NCV

The Bible generally shows us examples of prayers that are simple and short. Another thing I notice is that they generally de-emphasize self and focus on God and others. The Proverbs writer’s example is one that helps us see the beauty of godliness and simplicity. Here we see the desire to avoid the temptations of the extreme conditions of life.

In the Lord’s Model Prayer, (Matthew 6:5-13) Jesus shows the listeners a prayer with four simple ingredients:

  • Praise (Matthew 6:9-10) – God first. Remember to tell him you love him and want his plans to succeed
  • Provision (Matthew 6:11) – We shouldn’t hesitate to ask for what we need (Also see Philippians 4:6)
  • Purification (Matthew 6:12) – Help us to be forgiving and forgivers
  • Protection (Matthew 6:13) – Keep us out of trouble

A little prayer goes a long ways, just like a little contentment returns great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6) If you need to improve your prayer routine, simple is a great place to start.

…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much – James 5:16

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Why Jesus Prayed Anyway

April 25, 2014

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Christ in the Garden - Caravaggio (1571-1619)

Christ in the Garden – ~1600 – Caravaggio (1571-1619)

The first thing he thought to do was pray.

Really hard.

As the time approached for Jesus to be captured, he took time out to be with God. (Luke 22:39-46)

And why would the Son of God need to pray?

  • It was comforting.
  • It let God know he comes first.
  • It let God know what Jesus thought he needed.

Jesus knew he had to go through the crucifixion, but he asked God to reconsider anyway. He left us this excellent example to show us that even when God isn’t going to change the course of events, he still has much to offer.

  • He can offer us the strength to face challenges
  • He can offer us the wisdom to complete the task
  • He can offer us a peace only he can offer

Make it a habit to talk to God often through reverent prayer. It might be beneficial to have been a regular customer on the judgment day!

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3 Things Jesus Taught Us About Praying

April 4, 2014

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The Lord's Prayer - ca, 1890 - James Tissot (1836–1902)

The Lord’s Prayer – ca, 1890 – James Tissot (1836–1902)

How much prayer is enough?

Whatever the answer to that is, my guess is that we don’t pray enough.

We’re too busy. We don’t really need any help. It feels awkward.

Sometimes it is difficult to know what to say. Maybe we feel what we have to say is inadequate.

When we look at Luke’s account of Jesus’ model prayer, we can learn a few things that might encourage us to develop a better prayer habit. (Luke 11:1-13) Jesus taught us that he doesn’t require it to be a fancy production, but it is more about remembering to do it.

Here’s How to Do It:

From looking at only his six line example, he shows us that God wants a prayer that is…

  • short and simple
  • reverent to God
  • about our basic needs – food, forgiveness, etc.

I know we have heard others give long beautiful prayers that say all the right things. That is intimidating. Luckily, we are not responsible for praying like that – and it may even be sinful if the person is doing it to be flashy!

Be comforted that in terms of content, this is one of those times that less is more!

Here’s When to Do It:

The other thing that Jesus teaches us about prayer in Luke 11:9-10 is to always be asking, seeking and knocking. In other words, we need to get out of the habit of going solo until we need something. The way those verses are worded says that God wants us talking to him all the time.

We all know the usual “good times” to have a prayer: At meal time, bed time, etc. Why don’t we add a new time to our schedule –

ALL the time!

What better way to grow closer to God than to talk to him more often “just because?”



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How God Answers Prayers

January 8, 2014

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God wants us to be in continuous contact!

God wants us to be in continuous contact!

One thing that God has made clear throughout the Bible is that he wants us to depend on him. If we look closely at Matthew 7:7-8 we have the essence of how Christ expects us to be able to live out his commandments.

  • We need to ask, and keep on asking –
  • We are to seek, and keep on seeking –
  • We should knock, and keep on knocking –

The Sermon on the Mount is a challenging lifestyle change for many, especially those in his audience at the time. He wanted all to know that God is listening and is ready to help us.

As a prayerful people, we will come to understand how God answers prayers. The first thing we might notice is that his response isn’t exactly a direct one. We should remember “No” is an answer too. Anything we pray for has the same possibilities as any other request. A prayer can be answered…

  • Gradually
  • Literally
  • Negatively
  • By giving us what we actually need
  • With delay

With a quick look around the Bible, we can know the proper attitude we should have to approach God in prayer:

  • We should not be living in sin (Psalm 66:18)
  • We need to have faith in the prayer and that God is listening (James 1:6-8)
  • It needs to offered the way God said to offer it (1 John 5:14)
  • We should do it persistently (Luke 18:1-8)
  • We should do it sincerely (Hebrews 10:22)

Today, take a close look at your prayer life. Is it one that let’s God know you need him and trust him?

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When He Hears Us

October 31, 2013

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I’ve heard Christians lift the last bit of James 4:2, “you have not because you ask not”, for use as a reminder to pray. I’m not so sure that’s what James meant there in the middle of warning the people against unruly passions and desires.

It probably has more to do with the fact that the tendency to become worldly extinguishes the desire to pray. It’s even more likely God has quit listening anyway. The way people wind up on that path is they…

  • want more and more
  • become overly proud
  • covet things they didn’t even know they wanted

Sometimes there might be prayer, but it is a vain attempt because the heart isn’t right. (James 4:3)

That’s not to say one can get in the right state and get a positive answer to every prayer. We have to remember that “No” is an answer too. The Bible has a number of hints on how to get God to hear our prayers:file000834482034

  • He hears the cry of righteousness (Psalm 34:15)
  • He hears the call of truth (Psalm 145:18)
  • He hears those who are humbled (Luke 18:14)
  • He hears those speaking in the Lord’s name (John 14:13)
  • He hears those who believe in what they ask (Mark 11:24)
  • He hears those asking according to his will (1 John 5:14)

The common denominator of all of these is that they require us to quit our friendship with the world. The more we wish for and put effort into worldly pleasures, the farther we remove ourselves from God. James compares those who do that to adulterers. (James 4:4)

So draw near to God. (James 4:8a)

The way Christ put it, we need to be in a continuous effort of seeking, asking and knocking if we expect the Lord to hear us. (Matthew 7:7-8)

Daily Bible reading for October 31

Psalm 91
1 Kings 22:41-53
Zechariah 4
James 4:1-10

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