5 Reasons To Pray

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Prayer is probably one of the more challenging of the spiritual disciplines for me. As I have been practicing Lent and traveled on a mission trip the last several days, I have discovered 5 really great reasons I have discovered that I need to pray more often.

Prayer is my connection to my Creator

We were all made for connection with God. Being that I am not in a state of being where we can tangibly see each other or relate to each other as such, prayer provides this connection my soul longs for. Psalm 46:10 gives me a command to simply stop and know He is God, which is accomplished through prayer.

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know I am God.

Prayer is my way to wisdom

If I feel unsure, pray. If I need understanding, pray. If I am about to make a decision, pray. Prayer is the way God leads me and it is in the silence of prayer that I often hear God speak words of wisdom as I meditate on His word and reflect.

James 1:5 If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…

Prayer is my weapon in the spiritual war

Because I am a spiritual being, I cannot engage spiritual things in any other way than through prayer. I cannot take a physical punch or stab spiritual entities. Prayer is the weapon I have to not only engage the spiritual realm but overcome.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, Ephesians 6:17-19

“And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.””‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:40‬ ‭

“Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.” Hebrews‬ ‭13:18‬ ‭

Prayer is a habit for a healthy spiritual life.

Just as I exercise physically to stay healthy, I must exercise spiritually to maintain a growing healthy spiritual life. Integrating a routine of prayer is a great way to continue spiritual growth and see God at work around me.

But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. Luke 5:16

And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. Mark 6:46

“I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me. Proverbs 8:7

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

10When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Daniel 6:10

Prayer is my path to powerful living.

As Jesus, Paul and others exhibited daily habits of prayer, they also exhibited awesome power resulting from their prayer.

Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. John 6:11

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. Psalm 145:18-19

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25

Do you have any other great reasons for prayer? Comment and share.
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Draw Near

Draw Near
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. —James 4:8
There must be action on my part to know God. That action, though from God Himself, requires my obedience and action. I have a response-ability. God doesn’t tell me to do things that I simply can not. He may call me to do things I cannot do apart from Him. But with Him all things He calls me to do are possible. Anything that I choose not to do is not because I cannot but because I “will” not. Actions of faith must come from a place of my will and belief in God, not myself. When I look to myself, I “will” not but looking at Christ, He “wills” me to places I would not otherwise.
Living the abundant life happens through acts of my will, not trying to satisfy my flesh. The selfish side of me absorbs and consumes “life” but when I yield myself in death to self, I find the life that is restorative and abundant. God/Jesus are always inviting me into life. The question is will I join them? Drawing near is nothing more than simply obeying the call of Christ to come. When I do, He meets me right where I am.

4 Ways God Connects With Us

connect with God

What would it be like if you knew a celebrity had called your phone but you missed it? Would you be sick to your stomach? Would you try to call back as soon as you realized you missed the call? I would dare to say that many of us would really hate to miss a call from someone of such stature. Yet, when we hear that God wants to connect with us, it seldom if at all excites our hearts. The crazy thing about a celebrity is that they may or may not try to connect with you ever again but God consistently seeks to convey His love and care about you. In fact He has given us 4 very clear ways that He is using to connect.

1) God connects with us through Creation.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1

Psalm 19:1 makes it clear that even for the non-believer God is speaking a language everyone can understand. From the blue sky cradling the clouds to the night stars pinpointing God’s glory, all of creation is shouting there is a God seeking to connect with us. All that we see in the world around us is pointing us to a Creator; that’s the job of creation. This Creator wants to connect.

2) God connects with us through His Word.

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;
    and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
    and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,
    for I delight in it. Psalm 119:33-35

No book in the history of mankind has the credentials of the Bible. With more than 6 billion copies printed, in close to 2000 languages worldwide, the Bible has been ridiculed and ostracized yet endured. God has made sure that His Word remained so that we would know Him and see how He is seeking to connect with us. God’s word conveys His thoughts, His commands, His will, His pleasure and His purpose. When we read God’s Word, God connects with us and teaches us about Himself.

3) God connects with us through Prayer.

‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3

Prayer is not unique to our religion. People from all walks of life express prayers in some fashion whether it is called “self-talk” or meditation.  The difference for the Christian is that we have a God who actually connects with us through prayer answering very specifically to requests and desires. God invites us to call out to Him and to know His ways. Through prayer not only do we connect with God but He connects powerfully with us!

4) God connects with us through Christ.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. Hebrews 1:1-2

Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate attempt at connecting with us. Hebrews 1:1-2 directs our thoughts to God’s intention from the beginning. God uses various things to show us and connect but His grandest connection is made through the person of Jesus Christ. For the pre-believer to the old Saint, there is no other name under heaven whereby we can connect with God. Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, or any other religious leader cannot make the connection to God for us aside from the Lord Jesus Christ. God is using  Creation, The Bible, and Prayer to connect  with us but none of it matters apart from Jesus Christ.

God may not have “celebrity” status but He is truly the only famous one; and He is seeking to connect with you.

…You Know… Who?

You Know Who-

Sometimes when we forget someone, we say “…you know… who?…what’s his face?” I’ve had this happen a lot actually, even with people that I know very well. There are times when the brain just doesn’t work the way it should!

But there are a lot of times when I simply don’t recall a person’s name or remember who they are because we have no relationship together. It’s kind of like running into someone from your high school at Walmart. You both see each other, know that you know each other, but the panic sets in because you can’t remember each other’s name.

Is this not how it is sometimes with GOD? We have forgotten His name because we haven’t spent time around Him? We don’t recognize His voice because it has become unfamiliar? I know that when I talk on the phone, and especially to someone I really want to hear from and love, it won’t take long for me to recognize their voice. How much more with God. All we have to do is stay connected.

Take some time today and reflect on some of the names of God. Get to know Him by sitting still for a few minutes in a conversation: catch up with each other.

Make a calling plan with God in order to stay connected to Him. Set up a time when you will give Him a call tomorrow. Do the same thing for the next day. Keep this appointment as you would any other one.

Take a trip to Walmart and see if you run into anyone you know. Who knows? You might even run into Jesus!

Observations Of A Prodigal #3

Prodigal

14 He was broke, a terrible famine struck that land, and he felt desperately hungry and in need. 15 He got a job with one of the locals, who sent him into the fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man felt so miserably hungry that he wished he could eat the slop the pigs were eating. Nobody gave him anything. Luke 15:14-16

Lost.

Ever been spent? Completely wasted? Well that’s what this kid was. Everything. Everybody. Gone. For some reason it’s much easier to spend than to save. It’s much, much easier to lose than to find. Ever lost your eyeglasses that were on your head? Or how about the car keys in your pocket?

It’s one thing to lose something but quite another to throw it away. And that’s what this kid really did. He threw it all away. There was no thought of the future. No thought of any consequence. He didn’t do any retirement or nest egg.Not just the money either.

Thrown Away.

He threw away years of relationship with his family and friends. He threw away his reputation. He threw away time and opportunity. There was never a thought in his mind of being in need because he forgot a crucial and vital principle: you can’t enjoy the blessing of relationship without being in right relationship.

The boy left home where he never had a need go unmet. Now he’s out in the middle of nowhere with nothing. How is it that nowhere and nothing seem to be neighboring states? But what happens? This kid just takes it upon himself to try to meet his own needs.

Wow, is this a revelation or what? How many times do I try to do that? My relationship with God can be so/so and then instead of returning to Him, I just try to make life better myself. Again, it’s the numbing, anesthetic of pleasure. The pleasure was worth the pain to him, at least for a little while. I know for me that I can seem to bury my pain in any pleasure, which only postpones my pain. Instead I should bear my pain to God, which would secure my ultimate pleasure.

(Re)Member of The Family.

Membership has it’s privileges. The boy didn’t have his privileges because he left the house. He didn’t want to be there and that left him wanting. He didn’t feel like He needed dad any longer and that left him needy. So what does he do? Instead of going home, he joins another country. He takes on a new membership plan. Doesn’t really research it all too well. No time for that. Rush in because he needs a rush. He takes a job feeding pigs. Pigs of all things. He’s a Jewish boy! This is unheard of. This was the ultimate culmination of his prodigal life: dining with the swine. Except, he didn’t even dine.

You see, when you get that low and desperate, you’d do anything right? Anything but admit you’re wrong. That’s why he was still in that situation. One thing leads to another and somehow, someway, you feel like you can fix it. Get the fix and then everything will be all right. But that’s not the case.

No one would give him anything. He was giving the pigs what he had. At least they (the pigs) were eating, but not him. Can you imagine? He is worse off than a pig. Famine is all about location. He didn’t have to go hungry. He just had to go home! But that was too much to consider for a time.

EVERYTHING YOU'VE EVER WANTED IS ON THE (2)

Can you remember (and maybe that’s the key word remember), a time when you were completely wasted? Not just on drugs or alcohol, but what about on life? Or how about emotionally or spiritually spent? Write it out.

Did your pleasure cause you pain? Does your pain cause you to seek pleasure? What pain do you have? What pleasures do you seek outside of God?

What’s at stake for you? What would you be willing to lose? What wouldn’t you be willing to lose? What’s the key to having the joy you desire?

How have you tried to have the benefits of a relationship with God without having a good relationship to God?

To what have you joined yourself to? In what way are you practicing your membership in God’s kingdom? In what way have you joined yourself to something or someone else that is not of God?

What do you feel like needs to be fixed and why? How far are you willing to go to have it fixed? Are you willing to be broken?

Lent Day 3: Galatians 5:16-26

day 3

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Thoughts and Reflections

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

day 3.1

We must let the Spirit guide. He doesn’t force Himself; we must surrender to His lead.

He wants to lead our entire life, not just a part or segment of life.

The sinful nature craves to consume, not to contribute. It seeks to devour and to please self not to promote serving and love.  

Do you consume or contribute to the world around you?day 3.2

Opposites do not always attract. The two natures within are always warring and fighting.

Whichever nature you feed is the one that will breed in your life. 

Oftentimes we have such good intentions but Hell is paved with good intentions. We must act. We must discipline ourselves. We must live intentionally. 

day 3.3If you don’t like your fruit, you’d better check your root.

Lent is a time to be prayerfully directed. Even the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. But the fact remains that Jesus did not sin. With Christ as my example, I too do not have to sin. I am under no obligation to sin. I am free to choose to live for Christ and allow the nature of Christ to rule my heart, mind, body and soul.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

It is easy to think we are in control but we are not. We are “following” our desires. They can control us and fool us into thinking that we “got this”, all the while leading us to destruction. It is very important to submit to the leadership of the Spirit and allow Him to lead, as we follow.

The list includes natural sins which are evident to see and notice. They are not easily mistaken. People who are following the desires of their hearts where the natural man rules, will bear the fruit listed.

The issue is not that people sin, or yield occasionally. The point that Paul is making is that people who habitually, intentionally live this way do so in rebellion to Christ. It is those who reject the Spirit’s control in their lives who will not inherit the Kingdom.

Inheritance is something that happens usually to members of the same family or some close connection to the loved one who died. A non-believer is not part of the family and is not close to the one who died .i.e. Jesus.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

The Holy Spirit produces fruit. This takes time. No seed grows overnight. Produce like oranges, apples, etc. take time to produce. The seed contains everything for life but it must be nurtured and cared for to produce the best fruit possible.

There is no law against doing good. So why don’t more people do good then? Because they do not live by the Spirit. We are selfish. We are consumed with what we get instead of what we can give.

What have you nailed down? What needs to be nailed down? There must be commitments and promises made. There have to be resolutions and responses to God’s Spirit. If you do not make a plan, you will fail.

If you do not take your life seriously, everyone will know you are a joke.day 3.4

How you are living will show up in what you chase after. What you chase after is what you follow because it’s in front of you. It consumes your thoughts, attitudes, and affections. 

Christ wants to be in control of every aspect, not just the visible things but the unseen things. The things no one else knows. He wants control of those things. 

Day 3.5Leaders must learn to lead themselves well if they are to lead others well.