Category Archives: Prayer

How could we pray for revival? (Revised for 2017)

RevivalB America, religion, and revival are terms that go easily with each other. They bring up images of tent meetings, dramatic preaching, and mass conversions. Today, these are mostly nostalgic images of a past America where Christianity played a larger role in the public life and a call for repentance was more easily aroused.  In the battle for the culture on the national scene, we have seemingly been outwitted those opposed to orthodox Christianity and many among us are unaware of what actual faith in Jesus Christ is.  The need for revival is great.

But how specifically could we petition God for this revival? There are certainly many good approaches. The most important is starting out with a revival of faith and action in our own lives. We could all start by repenting of our own failures in our lacking of concern about others, and we could then rejoice in God’s mercy and love that we can start new today.

Here are a few things to think about praying for, some obvious, and some that you may not have considered:

Pray that we would pray. I recently read a book from a “Christian writer” who began the book by criticizing a seminar leader for taking a  time of reflection and prayer and instead of starting by first calling the church to action. Yes, we should take action. But action not directed by God, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is not what we need for revival. (I wonder what might have been accomplished if the church in the early 1900’s had spent more of its time on its knees praying verses fighting for prohibition counter to the Bibles own words.)

Pray for the giving over of buildings. America is full of minimally used and marginally maintained church buildings. Pray that many of them become alive, or that they would  give over their buildings to those who would use them well to proclaim the Gospel, reach out, and serve their local communities.

Pray that Christians will use new media more to spread the true Gospel and not just to share good times, complain about the government, the news media, foreign interests, etc…  (Though these can be worthy things to do if done in grace, perception of actual importance, and moderation.) But these uses appear to outnumber loving presentations of the Gospel to a lost and dying world 10,000:1. I heard it once said and believe it mostly to be true. What you really care about in this world is what will be on your Facebook page.

Pray that followers of, and families in, Christ would not be guilty of the sin of Balaam without falling into the sin of self-righteousness. That they and would stand out in the culture by wise and loving choice of focus and activity. Pray that the dependence on popular culture for relating to one another in the church would be replaced by activities of greater grace, and that the church would be full of more genuine fellowship.

Pray that pastors will proclaim the Gospel in the pulpit and that they and their congregations would desire for follow the Word of God in all aspects of life even under the possibility of persecution.

And Pray for a transformation of our political and cultural leaders that they would fear God and love their fellow man. That we would pray for those who persecute us, and their would be transformation in their hearts.

Let us see what God may have in store for us in the next decade.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Peace Through Prayer (Part IV)

We are going to finish our study on Peace and Prayer (Philippians 4: 4-13) by addressing some key issues that are easy to overlook. I hope at the end we will arrive at our goal of understanding the very sweet and precious context of, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

An issue we have not addressed yet when it comes to prayer is opposition. Our prayers can be delayed because of opposition from those who oppose Christ. We need to look no further than the life of one of the greatest men ever to have lived. That is Jewish captive and ancient Babylonian leader Daniel who faced incredible opposition to his life of prayer. It is also needed to realize who our opposition is. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (NASB)

There is a pivotal point we need to address in Philippians 4:8. It is the million-dollar difference in how we look at “the whatevers.”   How we approach these verses that encourage correct focus on what is good, true, pure etc., and how they relate to prayer will determine if we have peace or frustration.

Paul encountering Jesus

We will finish our four week study looking at the life of the apostle Paul and ask why it matters. Often we ask WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)? This is not a bad question, but the only problem with it is that we are not God and Jesus was. This sometimes may lead us into a self-dependency that we are not able to fulfill. Never- the-less, we can always ask what would Paul do? (This is not for cowards. The world hated Paul in the year 60 AD and it still hates Paul today. We talk about why.) Paul is the example we need. His example of prayer and action as set forth in scripture is the route to peace beyond understanding as he encourages us to follow Christ in doing all things through Christ who strengthens us.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Peace Through Prayer (Part Three)

This week we talk about how God responds to prayer and get to the core of just what is the “peace beyond understanding” that the apostle Paul talks about. First, we are going to start off reviewing how Jesus told us to pray. He gave us instructions that are in some ways counter intuitive. (See Overcoming Barriers to Prayer). There is an unexpected heavy emphasis on forgiving and an ultimate goal of not necessary getting what we want but being delivered from evil.

We will address some reasons why our prayers may not be answered as we would like them. This is humbling and requires self-examinations of our motives. (Yes, we are still part of the faithless and perverse generation though we work hard to cover it up.) We will look at just how in specific ways God answers prayer. 

Even though there is a good case for miracles, the vast majority of miracles as we think of them are not miracles in the true sense of the word. Most are Gods amazing work of providence or circumstances. However, God’s greatest work is not in miracles, but in the day in and day out work of providence relating to the salvation and sanctification of us.

We will also touch on a different kind of unanswered prayer: The good kind. We take a look at the best extra biblical text I know of to make the case that this is often God’s most loving response.  (It is from an unlikely and “low” place.) In the end however, the result of our prayers according to Paul in Philippians will be peace beyond understanding. Just what is this peace? We will try to give an answer. 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Peace Through Prayer (Part One)

In our busyness, the Bible is best place to go to find peace. Over the next four weeks we are going to look specifically at Paul’s letter to the Philippians chapter 4 verses 4-13 in search of this peace. This is the first of a series of four talks given at Cornerstone Bible Church out by the Cascade Mountains in Washington State.

In this first of four sections, we are going to look at the following and more.

The importance of rejoicing. God call us to rejoice. One of the great examples of this is King David (2 Samuel 6) as he dances when bringing up the ark to Jerusalem and how and Michal reacts with embarrassment and jealousy to this rejoicing.

The call to be anxious for nothing. Anxiety has been a curse on mankind and God calls us not to worry.  In fact, to not be afraid is Jesus number one negative command. But it is a significant problem for a lot of us and we fall short of following through on this command. Anxiety has caused numerous health issues from causing lack of sleep to heart disorders. The world has given us many tips on how to put off worry. They are helpful and important, but they often end up giving only momentary relief. There is only one way to really start to get rid of worry and that is to show up broken at the feet of Jesus in prayer.

We should ultimately be encouraged by the word of God.   Let us know if we can answer any questions.You can reach us at prayer@aquietwater.com.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Writing a Wonderful Book of People

Let me ask an easy question? Do you care about your friends and family? The answer, of course, is yes!  Let me ask the question another way? Do you care enough about your friends and family to pray over them? Most of us will answer again with a yes. At least, we care about them enough to intend to pray about them. But do we actually do it? Most of us are well intentioned but overcommitted, sometimes unorganized, and forgetful by nature. We often don’t get to non-emergency prayer because it seems to be an easy thing to push off.  Here is an idea how you might be able to change that.

You are about create a book. Not just any old book to sit on a shelf to gather dust with the millions of titles in the bookstores today, but you are going to write a wonderful book—A Wonderful Book of People. This is a book about the people in your life that you can go through and pray over daily or weekly. You are going to be what the enemy of God deeply desires you would not be— an intercessor making a delightful aroma to God.

Here are two simple ways to get started…

1. Don’t throw away those Christmas cards or old photos. The simplest, old fashioned way to start, is just to take pictures (old Christmas cards work great) and tape or glue onto paper, three hole punch them and put them in a binder. Alternatively, download your picture right on a word document or web page writing some notes about each person. (Email me at doug@aquietwater.com and I will send you very basic template for this.)

2. Buy a journal. Go through your address book or and on each page write the person’s name down on the top page and keep doing this until you run out of pages or people. If you are creative, draw a picture of the people you are praying for.

Some things to consider for your book.

1. This doesn’t have to be time consuming though it is worth the time. Designate as little as two days a week (Tuesday and Thursday) to create a new page.  At a minimum, in one year you will have 104 pages of wonderful people in your life to pray over.

2. They don’t have to all be friends or family. A favorite pastor of mine once said that after he had been in a dispute with a particular person or ministry he would donate money to their cause. This would make him soften toward them. Jesus tells us to love our enemies. One of the best things we can do when there is need for reconciliation is regularly pray for those who need reconciliation with.  At the least, it will soften our own hearts. At best, God may answer our prayer as we most desire.

3. Include those you may want to know better. Do you feel that you could use more friends? Maybe include people that are acquaintances at this moment that you would like to make friends.

4. Don’t forget to include those closest to you! We should never take for granted our spouse and children. They need our prayers daily or maybe even hourly. You will probably want to make a special section just for them that is referred to every day.

Let us know how this works for you. We will pass on your good ideas to others.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Five Christmas Misconceptions and One Prayer

Christmas is the biggest yearly event in the world. But it is full of myths and misunderstandings. Here are five common misconceptions about the Christmas celebration and one prayer asking for God’s help in celebrating it with real purpose.

Misconception #1 Christmas is just another of many winter holidays and a takeoff of the ancient roman celebration of Saturnalia. Author Gerry Bower makes a well documented case in his book Christmas in the Crosshairs that the reason that Christmas was organized by the early Christian church was in order to emphasize the legitimacy of the Biblical narrative and the virgin birth which the Gnostic’s (people with special knowledge) were promoting doubt about. Today, this still remains the main and greatest mission of Christmas. 

Misconception #2 A Visit from St. Nicholas commonly known as Twas the night before Christmas is just a cute little poem for kids. Yes, it was a poem written for Clement Clark Moore’s children, but it became much more. It turns out to be arguably the most influential poem ever published in the United States. (You may be able to find a more noble American poem and a more noble author but not a more influential one.) Effects from this poem and conjunctive works by Washington Irving were major reasons Christmas was transformed from a raucous party and a time of “misrule” to a family focused affair. In a very odd and indirect way, it was a small precursor to the prophesy in the book of Malachi. That is the turning of the fathers toward their children and children to their fathers. 

Misconceptions #3 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens was a topping off or an “add on” to a great writing career. In fact, his career was suffering at the time he wrote A Christmas Carol and Christmas was at one of its lower points in its popularity. The book reignited both Christmas and Dickens career and placed a greater emphasis on charity and giving. A Christmas Carol helped make Christmas what it is today. It was not just one more story thrown into the mix but was a story that helped redefine the celebration.

Misconception #4 The wise men showed up with the shepherds at the birth of Jesus. Although it makes for a great story and painting, it isn’t true. The birth of Jesus is by far the most fictionalized part of the Bible many times over, the wise men absolutely did not show up at the birth and most likely showed up a year and a half to two years later. God often works slower than our fictionalized minds can bear.

Misconception #5 All Christians celebrate Christmas. Though it is rare to find a few these days, the Puritans and many of the Reformers did not celebrate Christmas because at the time it was seen as just one more of the many saints days promoted by the corrupt Catholic church. The emphasis was more on drinking and extortion of gifts than Jesus. When Christmas became more of a family celebration due to social changes, even in New England where Thanksgiving had reigned supreme, Christmas picked up steam and most Christians dropped their concern an adopted the day to celebrate Christ and family with believers all around the world.

A Prayer 

I pray that we would enter Christmas with the joy and amazement that the shepherds must have shown that first night in Bethlehem. I pray what really excites each of us this Christmas is that when we walk through the Grocery store and hear the hymns playing it warms our hearts and encourages us more than the price and quality of the goods for sale. That hearts of the families would be turned to their children and hearts of their children would be turned into toward their families during this season and for the rest of the year. I pray that believers in Jesus Christ would unite all around the world to proclaim the amazing arrival of the incarnate Christ and understand its impact and importance. I pray in our hearts that what is amazing to us is that God himself came to rescue us from our own self destruction as a baby born in poverty who overcame, transcended, and will eventually crush the greatest powers of this world.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

We Gather Together (A Thanksgiving Prayer for Freedom)

valerius_aThe Dutchman Adrianus Valerius wrote in 1597 what is now known as the Thanksgiving hymn “We Gather Together” to celebrate the freeing of the Dutch people from the oppressive rule of the Spanish. It was redone in English by American Theodor Baker in 1894 and became popular in the 1930’s. It is about two things that are worth celebrating: the ability to gather together as God’s people and the freedom from oppression and the opportunity to worship as the Bible directs.

How precious it is to intertwine two of the most important battles for religious freedom. The Dutch against the inquisition, and the English separatists known as Pilgrims, against the state controlled church in England. One of the most undersung events in the great battle for liberty and religious freedom was the battle fought by William of Orange who gave up a life of relative ease to save the people of God in Holland. These brave Dutchman were willing to seek out God despite the oppression of Spain, who had distorted word of God for self-gain and political power, keeping God’s word separated from the people and oppressing them in what is today known as the Catholic Inquisition. It was a time when the devil literally ran the church. A time when families were burned to death for merely “gathering together” and reading the Bible.

spanish-inquisitinForty years later, another group seeking liberty and religious freedom had fled England to Holland. These were the separatists that are known today in America as the Pilgrims. After arriving in Holland from England, they found religious freedom but a difficult life. They found the Dutch culture by that time had become worldly. Those who were able to leave made the famous and harrowing journey on the Mayflower to the accidental location of what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. Here they created the Mayflower Compact and beginning one of the greatest experiments in liberty, faith in God, bravery, and perseverance the world had yet to see.

Today, faith seems to be growing most in the third world, but a small but significant remnant of Americans, and others in the western world hold steady to this faith. That the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord, that the word of God or the Bible written through inspired men over 1500 years should be the basis of law and dictate how we should live, that our greatest focus in life should be the sharing and spreading of the Good News of Jesus Christ and repentance of sin. That the great news is that we are not helplessly in bondage to sin. In repentance, and through faith in Jesus Christ, we can gather together today and celebrate that the Lord has made us free in many ways.

hith-pilgrims-eLet us first give thanks this season for those who have sacrificed greatly to give us what is still a large amount of liberty and freedom. We thank you Lord for William of Orange and the Dutch who gave their lives in the reformation. We thank you Lord for the small band of English Separatists, of whom over half died on the first winter alone, to worship you. We thank you Lord for the hundreds of thousands who have given their lives to protect freedom from oppression against a multitude of oppressors including the German fascists, the Marxists, and radical Islam. We thank you Lord for those who still today who stand up against mockery in the western world, and risk prison and death in 3rd world countries, to proclaim the word of God.

00155

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

John Calvin on Prayer?

canstockphoto17270879

St. Pierre Cathedral- Geneva

One of the key aspects of John Calvin’s life was his devotion to prayer. Calvin was a key leader in the Reformation. The Reformation was a revival of an accurate assessment of what Jesus actually said and what the Bible truly taught. The church of the 1500’s had distorted the Bible in order to secure control culturally, politically, and profit financially. Many of these Reformers were killed by the church for their efforts. Much of what we think of as Western Civilization today was based on the works of these Reformers.

Calvin wrote, “To prayer are we indebted for penetrating those riches that are treasured up for us with our heavenly Father.”  Calvin claimed that no words can express the utility of this “exercise” of prayer. These words are from a man known more today for his intellectualism rather than the raising of his hands in prayer. (Yes, John Calvin was a hand raiser.) He wrote that “The ceremony of lifting up our hands in prayer is designed to remind us that we are far removed from God, unless our thoughts rise upward.” 

If You want to know more about John Calvin and prayer there is a free downloaded copy of Calvin on prayer at the Chapel Library.

Calvin

Here is some of key items addressed by John Calvin.

What prayer is? Prayer is an “intercourse” or communication between God and men by which we appeal to his promises.

Why we pray? We do not pray for God’s sake but for ours. That we may exercise our faith and upon receiving by His providence what we ask that we understand our weakness and long more earnestly for his favor.

What rules should be observed? We should be reverent and have our hearts and minds prepared to talk with God, but we do not need to be free of all worries or concerns when approaching God.

Just how should we pray? We should not be distracted mixing the sacred with the profane. We should pray for only things that God would permit and not things for our “depraved affections.” We should also long for the aid of the Spirit. God gave us the Spirit to help us see what God would want us to pray for and regulate our affections.

Why we should always pray? There are times when we desire to pray more than others. But our zeal for the Kingdom of God and our dissatisfaction with the current condition should always drive us on to pray.

What is the most important part of prayer? We cannot hope to attain anything from God until we are reconciled to him through confession of guilt and are found dependent on God’s free mercy.  We must have a repentant and expectant heart. Calvin states that “no heart will ever rise to genuine prayer that does not at the same time long for holiness.”

canstockphoto19646315

Wall of Reformers- Geneva

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

What Should We Expect When We Pray?

Pray Work

What should we expect when we pray? Some of us have observed, or maybe experienced for ourselves, great blessings from prayer. Yes, prayer “works”! We may also have known Godly people who have experienced great sufferings and had situations in our lives when prayers did not seem to have been answered. We then say that no prayer does not “work”.

Some Pagan-Christian based philosophies would have us believe that those whose prayers have been answered were righteous, and those whose prayers who were not must have done something to deserve it.  The Bible itself does seem to describe some success or failure in prayer as faith (Mark 9:19), but also does not automatically grant wealth, health, healing and riches automatically and obligatorily to faithfulness. (Witness the Jeremiah and Paul among many.)

So what should we expect when we pray? Though this is not an all-inclusive list, these are some things we will most certainly see.

We can expect to increase our faith. God tells us that if we have faith as a mustard seed he will answer our prayers in marvelous ways. (Matthew 17:20) If we are praying, we are taking a step of faith in God and his Word.

We know that we will be closer to God. We see Jesus himself leaving the crowds and seeking his Father in prayer numerous times in the Bible records.

We know that when we pray we are in God’s will. God tells us to continue steadfastly in Prayer. (Colossians 4:2). And when we pray with his motives we will receive his will. (James 4:3)

We know that if we pray according to God’s Word it will have an impact. (Isaiah 55:11)

When we pray, we can expect great things to happen. Those things will always be up to God on his timing, in cohesion with his Word, and for his purposes. But he has allowed us to be part of his great story of love and redemption through prayer. But when it doesn’t happen in the way we perceive it should, and during those heartbreaking times when God does seem distant, we can still remember that “God is Love.” (1 John 4:16). He has endured a tortuous death on the cross for our sake and has promised that he will wipe away every tear for those who believe on him. Faith sometimes is not so much in believing there is a God, but it is believing he knows the way out of the darkness, following that way, and not trying to enter in by some “other door” (John 10:1). Prayer is for the faithful. 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The courage not to be Busy

Busyness or Life

 

In the book of Revelation 21:8,  first on the list of those who won’t go to heaven are those who don’t have the attribute of courage. They have the opposite: cowardice or fearfulness. Scholars don’t believe this verse is about being afraid of heights or large tigers. Pastor Melvin Shelton states, “The fearful are those who care more about what man thinks of them than what God knows about them.”

A question to all of us in this day is do we have the courage to stand up against the unrelenting agenda of everyone else’s busyness pushed on us? A world that says if we don’t achieve X, participate in Y, don’t see those “wonderful 1000 places,” and eat and wear the latest, we are missing out on the human experience. And after all, it’s true you only live once! The tyranny of busyness always tries to push out God, and put prayer (our communion with God) down to the bottom of the list, because prayer can’t be easily quantified.

Here are a few things that we may want to ask God to help us have courage:

Let’s ask God that we would have the courage to trust him that he will fill in the missing parts of our lives, and we would not worry as we go about doing the good things he asks of us. Let us know God will not “leave us or forsake us.”

Let’s ask God that we would have the courage to forgive and leave the judgement of the world and the harvesting of the “tares and the wheat” up to him. That we would give over the energy that we have expended trying, thinking, and worrying about “getting even” and spend it on him. (Of course, this doesn’t mean giving up on doing our reasonable part in the civic government or God’s will in protecting the widows, orphans, the innocent etc…)

Let’s ask for the courage to love the person in front of us instead of always looking forward to the important person, the big deal, the friend or family member, or the person I know can return the favor.

Let’s ask for the courage to trust God for our desires. We often think that God is out to keep good things from our life. That is exactly what the Devil wants us to think; just as he convinced Eve that God did not have her best interest at heart and was lying to her when the truth was the opposite. (This deception is something that continues on and on today and will continue until Christ’s return).

Let’s have the courage to pray to get personal satisfaction from God. Let us spend our time focused more on God, serving those around us, and following his word. Let’s not worry that we could be missing out on all the world has to offer. The list of those ultimately disappointed in the world is too numerous to count. But that’s an article for another day.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail