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Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

A Prayer

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“Almighty God and Father, grant unto us, because we have to go through much strife on this earth, the strength of Thy Holy Spirit, in order that we may courageously go through the fire, and through the water, and that we may put ourselves under thy rule that we may go to meet death in full confidence of thy assistance and without fear.

Grant us also that we may bear all hatred and enmity of mankind, until we have gained the last victory, and that we may at last come to that blessed rest which thy only begotten Son has acquired for us through his blood. Amen”

John Calvin

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luke111

This morning I had the privilege of preaching on principles of prayer taught to us by Jesus in John 17, Matthew 6:9-13, and Luke 18:1-8. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Jesus taught that we should pray for ourselves, other believers, and our churches, in a continuous and committed way.

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jesusprayingtothefathergod

This morning I had the privilege of preaching on John 17:1-5. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Jesus’ request that God would be glorified teaches us how to pray and how to live.

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I had the privilege this morning to preach on John 14:12-17. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Disciples of Jesus will do greater works than Him through God-glorifying prayer, and will obey Him through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

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When news of the San Bernardino terrorist attack became public, quite a few people took to social media and asked others to pray – pray for the victims families; pray for the injured; pray for the law enforcement men and women who responded; and any number of other things. This is a normal response in a fallen and sinful world.

Just as quick was another response splashed all over social media, as well as The New York Daily News – stop praying and start doing something. The intent was clear – shame those who pray and put enough public pressure on them so they won’t do it, and if they do they won’t tell anyone about (they’ll pray and just keep it to themselves).

The deeper idea behind the “don’t pray, do something” statement is that prayer isn’t action and prayer isn’t doing anything. Wrong on both counts! For the Christian, prayer is doing something – it’s going before the Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign Ruler of the universe (because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf) and making requests, trusting that He will do what’s good, right, and best. Prayer isn’t doing nothing, it’s firing the winning shot!

Here are a couple of pieces on the same topic, written by Joel Miller, and Denny BurkIgnore the shaming, keep on praying!

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Just a Small Change?

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For quite a long time, I’ve given thanks to God because my sins are forgiven. I’ve expressed my thanks every day (after, of course, I’ve confessed my sin to the Lord). There’s nothing wrong with that – in fact, it’s a good idea.

But about a week ago, I made a small change. No, I didn’t stop being thankful, thankfully! I changed my wording. Now I’m not saying, “I’m thankful my sins are forgiven,” but instead praying, “Lord, I’m thankful that You have forgiven my sins.”

I made the change because I realized my old statement, while true enough, was vague and focused in the wrong direction – me.  The new statement is more specific and focused on God, not me. After all, God is one who has forgiven my sins – it didn’t happen out of nowhere. My sins weren’t just forgiven by themselves! God forgave them based on the shed blood of the spotless Son of God, Jesus Christ.

The Scriptures are clear – “If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us or sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

It’s a small change, but maybe it isn’t.

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Why should we pray for God to give us our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), when several sentences earlier He said that our Father in heaven knows what we need even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8)?

It’s natural for us to go to extremes on one side or the other, and this question is no exception. We may come to the conclusion that we don’t need to ask God to meet our needs daily because He already knows what those needs are, and besides that we see Him providing them already. But we need to avoid this kind of thinking and action.

Jesus isn’t contradicting Himself. Both statements are true. Yes, God knows everything, and yes, when we pray we should ask Him to provide us with everything we need.

Here’s why we should pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

  1. It reminds us of our dependence upon God. Prayer is an act of dependence. When we ask God to do a certain thing, it’s brought to our attention that we can’t do what we’re asking Him to do. If it’s going to happen, He’s going to have to do it. As we receive our daily bread, it shows us how much we depend upon Him.
  2. It increases our humility. As the Lord provides what we need day after day, we develop humility – the knowledge and understanding of who we are in relation to who God is. In other words, we know our place.
  3. It develops gratitude to God. When we ask for daily bread from God and receive it, we’re grateful and thankful. In a sense, we know who butters our bread and we’re grateful.
  4. It glorifies God because we’re obeying Him. God is made visible and put on display (which is what it means to glorify Him) every time we obey one of His commands. The ultimate reason we pray “give us this day our daily bread” is because God tells us to. God is glorified, too, when He provides and with what He provides for His children.
  5. It strengthens our faith and trust in God. When we pray for God’s provision and see Him provide, our faith and trust in Him grows. It becomes easier to ask and to trust when we have a reserve of positive experiences to draw upon.

For those reasons, and many others, God tells us to ask Him to give what we need every day, even though He knows we need it and He knows how and when He’ll answer it. He gives us the command for our good and our benefit – not for His.

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