Do’s and Don’ts of Prayer

Standard

1. DO have a set time to pray. You are much more likely to pray if you have set an appointment with God.

2. DON’T have your regular prayer time in bed. More than likely, you will fall asleep right in the middle of your prayer. How rude is it to fall asleep while you’re talking with God!

3. DON’T time yourself praying. Don’t say “I have to pray for this amount of time, or I’m not a good Christian.” Pray honestly about what is on your heart, and the Lord will honor your prayers.

4. DO have a prayer list. On this list, you should have very specific prayers that you might forget while you’re praying. A lot of the time, you will not even need to consult this list, but if you have promised to pray for something, this will ensure that you remember it.

5. DO pray at the alter. This is a special time to pray about what touched your heart during the sermon, or a great need that you have. This is not the time to go through your entire prayer list, nor is the invitation the time to catch up on all the times you forgot to pray that week. Take this time to listen to God speak to you.

6. DON’T pray the same prayer all the time. God is very against rote prayers. Your “Dear God, please bless me today” will not suffice. While God does not expect an eloquent prayer, He does expect you to pray with a honest desire to hear back from Him.

7. DO pray throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to come to the Lord with the little things in your life. If He didn’t want to listen to us, He wouldn’t have told us to cast our burdens upon Him!  He will honor your spur-of-the-moment prayer. You need not be ashamed because you don’t pray as often as someone else: God knows your strengths and weaknesses, and will not hold them against you. However, you should try to pray as much as possible.

Advertisements

When? Where? What? Why? How?

Standard

Prayer is one of the most important tools for the believer, yet often the most neglected. Many people don’t know how to pray, or when to pray, or what to pray! While preachers and teachers often focus on the lost art of prayer, they rarely give practical tips on the whens, wheres, whys, and hows of prayer.  Since none of us are perfect, and can not claim to be, here is some realistic advice on when, where, why, how, and what to pray.

  1. When should we pray?

The Bible tells us that we should pray without ceasing, and that men ought always to pray. We all need to pray more, but we should not overwhelm ourselves. You can not realistically go from never praying to praying for 5 hours a day. Set viable goals, and meet them. Gradually increase these goals as you meet them, and you will soon see results. You should have at least one set time every day when you get alone with God and pray. This is your Private Time. You should also pray over your food. This is your Thanksgiving Time. You should pray at the altar during your church’s invitation. This is your Worship Time. If you set these times, you will fill  more comfortable praying to God when you’re driving, or grocery shopping or walking the dog. This is the most practical way to establish a walk with God.

2. Where should we pray?

Since the Bible says to pray all the time, we can realistically assume that we should pray everywhere. However, you probably wouldn’t kneel down in the supermarket, because there are realistic places in which we should kneel and pray.  During your Private Time, you should find somewhere quiet where you can be alone. During your Thanksgiving Time, you will be sitting at the table. During your Worship Time, you should be kneeling at the alter.These things are simple, but they do matter.

3. What should we pray?

We are to take all of our burdens and cares to the Lord. He cares about what we think and feel, and wants us to talk to Him. Most of the time, our prayers reflect what we are doing right now, and the cares we have at the moment. However, our Private Time should be the time when we take our major concerns to the Lord, lift up others in need, and pray for personal needs. Thanksgiving Time should reflect the blessings God has given you that day, and the gratitude that you feel. Worship Time is a time to reflect on the sermon just preached, or bring a especially pressing need. It is not a time to pray for your cat, Fluffy, nor is Thanksgiving Time the time to bring up great-great-great aunt Ethel. God listens to all of our prayers, but there are reasonable times to pray for different things.

4. Why should we pray?

We should pray to make our needs known to God. It has been said that since God knows all of our thoughts, there is no need to pray. While it is true that God knows our thoughts, He expects us to bring  our prayers to Him. You have not because you ask not! Prayer is plainly taught throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, and there is no reason to think that we should not pray. However, we should not pray to impress men. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees many times because of the way that they prayed. He desires us to pray to please Him, and to edify others; not to make ourselves look spiritual.

5. How should we pray?

We should pray with a humble and contrite spirit. We should not pray as if we are doing God a favor to talk to Him, nor should we act like God owes us something. We should remember that it is only by the grace of God that we can come boldly to the throne, and we should not take that lightly. Remember that God is God whether you pray to Him or not, and we do not have the right to demand anything of  Him.  If you pray earnestly, He has promised that He will answer, so we need not be afraid, nor cringe when we come before Him. Talk to God as if He were your father, or your best friend, and you will have His approval.

I hope that these not-always-so-easy tips will help in establishing your prayer life, because it is not enough for your pastor to know God- YOU must know Him.

Plowing with Unicorns

Standard

In Job 39, Jehovah talked with Job about contentment.  He asks Job if he is able to plow with unicorns, or if he can make them obey his will.  Now, the unicorns in the Bible were not beautiful white horses with wings and a shining white horn. They were described as very strong, wild animals who could not be tamed. For a person to think that he could tame a unicorn was plain fantasy. Many people today live in a fantasy world, trying to do things that are just impossible. They are not contented with what they have; they only want what they can’t have. They spend their whole lives chasing after unicorns, missing the more important things in life.  Their covetousness eventually leads to sin, and the vicious circle continues. In order to avoid covetousness, we must have contentment.  Contentment is the decision to be happy with what you have.  This does not mean that you cannot try to better yourself, but that you are not continuously drooling over what everyone else has. If you dislike someone simply because they have something that you don’t, you are covetous.  This behavior does not please God.  We should be content with whatever we have.  You will not be happy if you are continually chasing after unicorns.

The Wall

Standard

I gaze on the wall

That seems ominously high,

And wonder why God

Put it there in my life.

“What’s over that fence?

It sure must be good…”

My thoughts race away-

Far from where they should.

“God is so mean!

I’d leave if I could…”

So I planned my escape

From the fence made of wood.

I crawled through the slats,

And started to run-

I just couldn’t wait

To start having fun!

My feet did speed quickly

Away from my cage-

And then I did trip

On a rock labeled “Grace”.

As I sat on the ground,

I started to think,

‘Bout why I was running

From a God that loved me.

When I could not remember

A single good case,

I got to my feet,

Did a firm about-face.

As I followed my tracks

(For home was my aim)

I could not but feel

A deep-seated shame.

“What would God do?

Would He turn me away?”

But I resolved to go back,

Let God do as He may.

My fear grew up needless,

For as far as I’d roamed-

When I took that last step,

God welcomed me home.

Sometimes what we miss

Is the whole reason why

The wall was put there,

And we placed inside.

It is not that mean God

Is ruining our fun-

He simply is keeping

Away any harm.

So don’t you get skittish

Just ’cause you can’t see;

You don’t want to know

What out there might be.

 

 

Rejoice!

Standard

Over and over in the New Testament, Paul tells the churches to rejoice. Many of them were going through difficult times, and it seems sort of inconsiderate of Paul to be making light of their pain! However, Paul was not ignorant of what was going on, nor was he naive concerning their suffering. Paul himself had gone through multiple persecutions, beatings, and even a stoning! He knew what it was like to suffer for the name of Christ. Yet he says over and over that he rejoices, and he expects these new Christians to rejoice too. Now, of course, we know that the Holy Spirit led Paul to write these epistles; so there must be a deeper meaning behind these verses. Paul was not simply some weirdo who just loved being beat up. He was a normal human being with feelings just like us. He did not look forward to being put in the stocks, whipped, beat, spit upon, or kicked out of town. Paul was not stupid! He knew what would happen if he confronted the Jews; yet he did it anyway. Why? How did he keep his joy? It is painfully simple: Paul trusted God. Even though he was aware of what was ahead, he depended on God to take care of him, and provide all his needs. Paul made a mental decision that no matter what happened, he would not lose his joy. He would obey God no matter what, and follow wherever he was led. Paul kept his joy by trusting God.
Christians today in America do not face the same level of persecution that Paul did. You might get laughed at, or made fun of, or even snubbed; but it is not very likely that you will be burned at the stake. Yet we often walk around sad and depressed with a woe-is-me attitude, because we don’t have joy. So how do we keep our joy? Here’s how.

1. Make sure that you are saved.
If you do not know that you will go to heaven when you die, you cannot have joy. It is impossible. You must know for sure that Jesus Christ is your personal Savior. To know this, you must repent of your sins, and ask Jesus to save you on his merits alone. Unless you trust him to save you, you cannot expect to have joy.

2. Decide to have joy.
You cannot just say, ‘Oh, I think I’ll have joy today.’ It has to be a life time decision to continually have joy. Sure, sometimes you’ll fail sometimes and be a bit of a  grump, but that’s life. Get up, brush yourself off, and try again tomorrow.

3. Read your Bible and pray daily.
To have joy, you must have a relationship with God. Not a Sunday morning sort of relationship, but an every day one. Choose a time each day when you sit down somewhere quiet and talk to God. It doesn’t have to be an hour, and you don’t have to read 50 chapters a day, but you have to have a schedule that you will stick to: otherwise, you will never walk with God.

4. Be with God’s children.
Go to church every time the doors are open. Go to the activities, and soul winning times, and impromptu barbeques. Get there early. Stay late afterwards. Make friends with people who believe the same things that you do. You’ll never regret giving up a little of your free time to fellowship with fellow believers. It will give you comfort and joy.

5. Don’t let your past ruin your present.
Just because something bad has happened in your life doesn’t mean that you have to walk around all mopey faced. I know that really bad things happen, and I’m not trying to minimize that, but some people will walk around depressed about something that happened 10 years ago! Get over it! Make peace with the person that hurt you, and go on with your life. Nobody’s life is without pain, and believe me, there is someone out there who was hurt a whole lot worse than you. If you are bitter about your past, you will never have joy in your future.

6. Have fun!
Get out and do something! Ride a bike, go to an amusement park, throw a party, play a board game; anything that makes you smile! How can you expect to have genuine joy if you sit in your room and mope all day? I don’t care if you read your Bible 5 hours a day, God did not intend for us to sit around and do nothing! Go soul winning, take a new convert out to eat, start a Sunday School class! You will simply waste away spiritually if you never put your beliefs into practice.

7.    Trust God.

If you are continually doubting God, you cannot have joy. Joy does not come from  worrying about what tomorrow may bring. It comes from trusting God to take care of it. Get in the Will of God, and stay there. You will never regret not going down the path of destruction. Trusting God will bring you a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory.You will never be joyful if you do obey the Lord.

Away Back When

Standard

Away back when-
Before my time-
The Lord stepped out
And watched mankind.

Then, finding they
Were wicked so,
Sent down a flood:
Earth covered whole.

For forty days
And forty nights,
It rained so hard
The sun took fright.

Then, finally, God’s
Just wrath was spent.
He stopped the rain,
A wind He sent.

The earth did dry,

The ark did land.

All were saved

Who’d done God’s plan.

Then God did send

A mighty sign;

A glorious rainbow

In the sky!

Through it the people

Understood,

That God forgives,

And God is good.