Tag Archives: Prayer

My ‘I can’ statement

I canI can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

In education we have learning targets and then put them into what we call ‘I can’ statements to guide the lesson.  Teachers are to clearly state it at the beginning of the lesson and the goal is for the students to know what it is they are learning so they can check for themselves whether they got it or not.  An example in math might be “I can multiply three digit numbers by two digit numbers.”  Then they need to demonstrate that they can indeed do that skill.

So our ‘I can’ statement for today is clearly stated: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”  There are three parts to this lesson.  The first is “I can do all things,” the second “through Him,” and finally “who gives me strength.”

I can do all things.  Not some things, all things.  It’s like 2 Corinthians 9:8, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every work.”  If you read Philippians 4:10-20, you’ll see that Paul was saying that he could do all things in the context of him being content in any circumstance.  He knew what it was like to be well fed and what it was like to be hungry.  He had learned the secret of surviving both good and bad times.  What was his secret?

Through Christ.  Paul didn’t say “I can do all things because ‘I’m smart,’ or ‘I’m strong, ‘or ‘because we all have an indomitable human spirit.’  No, Paul learned the secret of relying on Jesus for his contentment,  his strength, energy and his reason for living.  In Colossians 1:29 Paul wrote that he struggled with all of Jesus’ energy which worked so strongly in him.  In Philippians 3:10 Paul declared that his sole purpose was to know Christ and in sharing in HIs sufferings Paul would know the power of His resurrection.  John 15:5 says, “Apart from Me you can nothing.”  Ask God to show you how to access His energy and His power, not to rely on your own, which eventually (or quickly) fails.

Apart from Jesus we can do nothing.  With Jesus we can do anything.

Who gives me strength.  I was quoting these verses from Psalm 18 to myself this morning as I drove to work: “I love you, O Lord, my strength,” vs. 1; “For by You I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall,” vs. 29; “God equips me with strength and makes my way blameless.  He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze,” vs. 34.  People who resist the truth are wearing me down.  I am taking extra vitamins because I am worn out.  I remind myself that it is God who is my strength and I cannot give up.  I cry out to Him to renew my strength daily.

I must claim these truths each day, as you must also.  Life isn’t a cakewalk.  But we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

 


Don’t Worry, Be Happy

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-8

My mom was the most creative worrier I’ve ever encountered.  She could dream up ways that things could fall apart and then spend way too much time fretting about them.  I would say that there is no placard that says “worry changes things,” but there are ones that say “prayer changes things.”  Today’s verses are not suggestions, they are commands.  In fact, when Jesus was with the disciples when they would fret, like when Jesus was asleep in the storm in Mark 4:40 He rebuked them with, “Why are you so afraid?  Have you still no faith?”

Worrying, anxiety and fear are really signs of our lack of faith.  The opposite reaction would be to trust God and to pray.  The trick is to do it.  I saw a skit once that painted such a good picture about the peace of God guarding our hearts and minds.  There was a person sitting at a desk and a bodyguard standing watch at the door.  Different people with the labels of “worry,” “anxiety,” and “fear.” knocked at the door one by one.  The person at the desk told the bodyguard: “you take it.”  One by one the peace of God bodyguard told the different visitors to go away.

That is a great visual.  When worry, fear, anxiety, and fretting comes knocking, tell them to go away, trusting in God’s peace to cover you, or to be your bodyguard.  Or better, your heart and mind guard.   This is accomplished by praying first.  Pray about everything.  According to dictionary.com, supplication means the act of asking or begging for something humbly and earnestly.  Nothing is too small or too big to bring to God.  When you bring something troubling to God, claim that promise of  peace.

And be thankful.  The Israelites that went from Egypt to the Promised Land really lacked thankfulness.  They grumbled, whined and challenged Moses’ authority at every turn.  Even though God gave them water from a rock and manna each morning, it says in Psalm 78:17-19, “Yet they sinned still more against Him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.  They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved.”  And then in verse 21 God’s response to this: “When the Lord heard, He was full of wrath…because they did not believe in God and did not trust His saving power.”

When we are not thankful and grumble about what we have, we are not believing in God or trusting in His ability to help us.  When we are quick to pray when we encounter something bothersome, thanking God, His peace is a promise that God delivers on.  This peace surpasses understanding, which means that we can’t explain it or figure it out.  We can just enjoy it and praise God for it.

It really is astonishing that we can ask God for something and He will hear us, respond and give us peace.  Don’t ever take that for granted so much that you rely on yourself and begin to live a life that you manage.  This is in contrast to attempting to walk by faith and live a life that responds to the voice of God and attempts great things for Him and through Him.

If you want victory over worry and you want to have the steady enjoyment of God’s peace, then follow Paul’s prescription: Do not be anxious but pray about everything.  Simply stated: Don’t worry, be happy (and pray).

 


Pray at all times in the Spirit

prayPraying 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.  Ephesians 6:18

I would call prayer the walkie talkie that goes with the armor of God.  It is not an intercom, a one-way communication tool, but a walkie talkie for two way communication.  That’s why Paul writes to pray in the Spirit at all times.  What does praying in the Spirit mean?

In Romans 8:26-27 we find that “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  Here are some of the things the Holy Spirit does to help us in prayer:

  • The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God.  He knows the mind of Christ and the will of God.  Then he He takes the things of Christ and reveals them to us.  
  • The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray and what to pray for.   When I enter into praying ‘in the Spirit,’ I am asking the Holy Spirit to tell me how to pray and what to pray for so that I am praying for people against Satan’s strongholds, devices, and schemes and am effective in my prayers–not just babbling words or phrases learned from someplace.
  • The Spirit in my spirit prays with groanings that cannot be expressed in words, working in us to will and to do the will and good pleasure of our Father.  “Put on my heart what it is You want me to pray for and to yearn for.  Stir my spirit with Your Holy Spirit to intercede and to speak according to Your will.”

The prayer of the Spirit is the inner meaning of prayer.  It is more than just sitting down and asking God for a list of things–it is communion, fellowship, cooperation and identification with God and Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Samuel Chadwick, a preacher in the 1800’s from England said, “The most important part of prayer is not what we say to God, but what God says to us.  It is no place to hurry (the place of fellowship with God).  The soul must be still and wait before the Lord.” (From the Collection and Works of Samuel Chadwick, Beacon Hill, 1943).

Ephesians 6:18 commands us to pray at all times, with all prayer and supplication.  Pray when you don’t feel like it, pray until you feel like it.  Pray for little deals and pray for big deals.  Pray for yourself and pray for others.  Prayer is a weapon.

Finally,  our power verse with tells us to be alert and to persevere.  Don’t be content with seasons of prayerlessness.  Break through whatever wall it is that keeps you from communing with God on a deep enough level to know that your spirit is communicating with the Holy Spirit.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power.”  James 5:17

 


 Open the Eyes of My Heart

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May the eyes of your heart be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.  Ephesians 1:18

In 2 Kings 6, there is an account about the prophet Elisha.  The king of Syria sent men to kill him because Elisha heard from God and would tell the king of Israel what the king of Syria was going to do.  So the king of Syria sent a great army with horses and chariots to go get him, surrounding the city Elisha was in.  Elisha’s servant rose early and saw the army around the city and ran to Elisha reporting this in fear.  Verse 17 says, “Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.”   God did it and the servant saw that the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Paul was praying a similar prayer for the church of Ephesus.  It wasn’t so that they could see the angel army around them, but so they could understand what God had gifted them with.  He prayed that they would be able to know the hope they have in their faith, the riches of God’s inheritance, and the power they possess.  If you don’t know how to pray for someone else, or even yourself, this prayer is a good place to start.

Let’s start with praying for knowing the hope of our calling.    Paul is not just praying that we would have hope, but that we know about our calling.  In Ephesians 4:1 Paul commands that we walk worthy of our calling.  Part of that has to do with understanding why God has saved you.  Another part has to do with recognizing what gifts you have and how God wants to use you while you are on this planet.  As you figure this out with the eyes of your heart open, you will find a deeper hope than what you had before.

Paul then prayed that their eyes would be opened to understand what the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints is.  Paul is referring to the inheritance that God has in His saints, or us.  We are saints.  We are God’s possession, purchased by the blood of Jesus.  We are God’s portion, or inheritance, and one day we will all be in Heaven with God for all eternity.  Many Old Testament texts speak of Israel as God’s chosen portion or inheritance. 

1 Peter 1:9 tells us we are too: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  We are God’s glorious inheritance, or possession.

In order to get this, something must happen to us. We must have a heart that sees spiritual reality. This is a gift from God. That is why Paul is praying for it. The things we need most, we cannot get on our own. That is why prayer is utterly crucial in the Christian life. When someone says, “I get along just fine without prayer,” they don’t know what they are missing. Don’t miss what it is that God wants to fill your life.  Pray for it and live your Christian life to the full.


The Weapons of our Warfare

weapons-of-spiritual-warfare

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

We have weapons available to us in the spiritual realm that have the divine power to destroy strongholds.  That’s what these verses tell us.   Do you know what our weapons are?  I can think of a few.  Let’s take them one at a time:

  • Prayer.  In Ephesians 6:18, at the end of the armor of God description, Paul includes this: “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.”  Prayer is calling out in faith to the One who can move mountains, part seas and change events and people.
  • The Word of God.  In Ephesians 6:17 we are told to “take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “The Word is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword…”  Jesus rebuked Satan in the wilderness with “It is written,” and we must do the same.  Get to know verses by heart to call them out when and where you need them.
  • The Holy Spirit.  In Luke 4:1 we find, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.”  And in Luke 4:14, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee…”  Are you full of the Spirit?  He is our power, our guide, our helper and our strength.  Don’t leave home without Him!
  • The Name of Jesus.  In Acts 3-4 there is the account of Peter and John healing in the name of Jesus.  Peter turned and preached to the crowd about how by faith in His name the lame man was made well.  When the rulers and elders demanded to know by what power they healed the man, they again let them know it was the name of Jesus.  In His name demons have to flee.  Call out the name of Jesus when you are in the midst of a spiritual battle and watch Him work.
  • Praise and worship.  Psalm 149:6,8 reads, “Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands… to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron.”  Praise is lifting up the name of Jesus and worshiping  the God of the universe who comes to our aid.  In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were singing hymns at midnight while chained in a dungeon.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake and their bonds were unfastened.  I don’t think it was a coincidence that the earthquake hit while they were singing hymns.

There are more weapons to name, but this is a start.  They have the divine power to battle against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  They are for all believers to use to be able to stand in the day of evil.

 


Help in our weakness

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Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  Romans 8:26

We see here how the Holy Spirit is at work in our prayers. We don’t know how to pray according to the will of God or to put the right words to our struggles.  But the Holy Spirit does.

 

 

 

He does all kinds of things for us and Romans 8 details some of them:

  • 8:2  the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets you free from the law of sin and death.
  • 8:4 the Spirit helps you fulfill the just requirement of the law.
  • 8:6 the Spirit gives life and peace.
  • 8:11 God will raise you from the dead by the Spirit who dwells in you.
  • 8:13 the Spirit helps you put to death the deeds of the body.
  • 8:14 the sons of God are led by the Spirit.
  • 8:15-16 the Spirit bears witness in us that we are the children of God and so gives us assurance of our salvation.
  • 8:23  the Holy Spirit is the foretaste and guarantee of our final redemption.

Now in verse 26 it tells that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness:  in the middle of futility, decay and groaning on our way to Heaven.   The Spirit isn’t in the middle of futility and groaning, He is before the throne of God–a much better place to be.  God doesn’t expect us to know His will in every respect, just to place ourselves in the hands of the One who does know,  on the one who sits before the throne.  Verse 26 tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.  To intercede means to act or interpose on behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition (dictionary.com).

Romans 8:27 tells us that God searches our hearts.  We are not being hunted by Him, instead we are being understood by Him.  When we can’t put words to our groanings or our longings, God knows our heart.  He knows our desire to be with Him, and to serve Him even though we get messed up and distracted in the process.   God is for us and is working on our behalf through the Holy Spirit  who intercedes for us.   He goes to God for us and He even groans for us as He prays.  He hears what our need is from the God who searches our hearts and then prays for them to be accomplished.  When I don’t know how to pray in a difficult or puzzling situation, I can pray “Holy Spirit, intercede for me to accomplish God’s will for me.  I give this situation to you.”  

That’s great news, so be encouraged as you pour out your heart to the God who is for you.

 


Ask, Seek, Knock: Repeat

Power Verses:  Matthew 7:7-8

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

The Daily Diet…

Jesus is talking about prayer here.  In chapter 6 Jesus told His disciples that they shouldn’t be like the religious leaders that were hypocrites.  They stood at the street corner and made a show of praying and giving.  They used a bunch of empty words that they repeated over and over.  Maybe they thought they were reaching God with their prayers, or even impressing Him, but they weren’t.

You don’t have to use fancy words or put on a show, or repeat the Lord’s prayer over and over.  You just need to humbly go to Jesus and ask Him for what you need.  And then you need to trust Him to work out what is best for you.  Sometimes we might think that God isn’t listening, that He doesn’t care, or that it doesn’t matter what we ask.  But it does matter, He is listening, and He does care.  You are a child of God, and He cares for His children.  

If you are lacking money, pray to God and ask Him what to do.  You might be surprised at how His answer usually involves you in the process.  He might want you to get a job.  He’ll give you the courage and the umph to do it.  You might pray and ask God for a friend, and He might ask you to go be a friend.  

God is good, and He only gives good gifts.  He knows what is best for us, and sometimes “no” is His best answer for us.  What we think we absolutely need right praying.jpgnow might not be the best thing for us.  God wants us to trust Him as we pray to Him, believing that He has the power to do what He has promised to do.  Nothing is impossible when you put your trust in God.  There is nothing too difficult for Him.

The great missionary Hudson Taylor said, “Ask great things of God, expect great things from God, and attempt great things for God.”  That’s it in a nutshell!