Archive

Tag Archives: prayer

two blue jars on the wooden tray

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

There’s a story in the Bible about a widow who is about to lose her two sons as slaves to her creditors. She cries out for help to the Prophet Elisha and he tells her to collect as many empty jars as she can. She is to pour the little bit of olive oil she has into these jars and watch as God provides supernaturally for her family. After all the spare jars are full, she is able to sell the costly oil so she can pay off her debts, rescue her sons, and live on the remaining abundance. (2 Kings 4)

You see, when we come to the Lord during times of fasting and prayer, we make room for the Holy Spirit to pour himself into us more fully. Especially when we fast, we empty ourselves and forgo what’s good for what’s better. It’s in these times when we find out what we’re really relying on or what’s bringing us superficial comfort. It’s possible to live our lives in such a way oblivious to what we’re looking to for happiness other than God, but during a fast we’re asking God for the help and insight we need to discover where we need rescuing.

I hope this time of prayer and fasting is both rewarding and revealing to you.

 

Here are a few resources I’ve found helpful as I’ve fasted over the years:

Mike Bickle – The Rewards of Fasting

Mike Bickle – Understanding Our Call to Fast

John Piper – A Hunger for God

Derek Prince – Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting

Elmer Towns – Fasting for Financial Breakthrough

 

Advertisements

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

-St. Francis of Assisi

echo

I use some pretty helpful apps to get stuff done as a pastor, and I thought I’d share some of them with you. I work from an iPhone+iPad but if you don’t, you’ll have to check their availability on your preferred platform.

Need some help with jump-starting your prayer life? Or, maybe managing your prayer lists/requests?

Check out the Echo Prayer Manager by Clover Sites. It has a beautiful interface that is simple and easy to use. I’ve tried several different apps for logging prayers, but couldn’t really get into the groove with any of them. Fortunately, I stumbled across Echo, and it has helped me reengage and maintain regular times of intercession. I use it to keep track of personal and family needs, friends’ requests, as well as for my church.

When you open it, you’re immediately met with the choice to pray from a list you’ve already entered or to add a new one, either of which is available with a simple tap. There are other helpful features, such as an alarm and AirPlay connectivity, that also may be suitable to your needs.

Echo syncs through their website so you can use it on a number of devices, including the iPad.

Echo Prayer App | Free 

Last Sunday, the folks at the Well extended a gracious invitation for me to speak at their meeting. Having just concluded a Bible study on the life of King David, I used the platform as an opportunity to speak about his desire to seek the Lord from Psalm 27, specifically verse 4:

One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.

As I continue to meditate upon this verse, I cannot help but to connect it to the scene in Luke 10, where Jesus is visiting his friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus.  As Martha is offering her services, she complains to the Master that her sister is doing little but sitting to listen to Him.  His response is quite surprising, as He tells Martha, “One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken from her.”  In other words, Jesus affirms Mary’s (in)action as the response that He has been looking for.  No where else in the Gospels do we find Jesus using such strong language to describe someone’s actions in response to Him or something that He does.  All this in opposition to Martha’s request that something profitable be done.

In summary:

King David:  “One thing I seek….”

Jesus:  “One thing is needed….”

Gazing and listening.  Could it be that in the wisdom of God, this posture of receiving from Him could be much more important than anything that we could concoct to do for Him?

“Thomas Merton wrote [in his book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander] that when the church thinks it’s in charge of the direction of history, it changes the essence of the hopeful Christian prayer from “Lord, come quickly” to “Give us more time.”  -Shane Claiborne & Chris Haw, Jesus for President, p. 284

Recently I’ve heard a few different people share their desire for Jesus to delay His Second Coming because their friends and family aren’t saved yet. More than that, they want to see nations come to the saving knowledge of Christ before He steps again onto the world stage. Mostly I’ve smiled and agreed that I hope that Uncle Bill/the neighbor across the street/Rwanda receives the Savor unto salvation, but lately I’m questioning exactly how to respond.

It’s not that I’m not excited about evangelism. To the contrary, I fully expect our generation to see a worldwide harvest of souls that eclipses anything we’ve ever seen before–including the early church that saw 3000 and later 5000 people added to their community in a day. I’m hoping for at least a billion people to be touched by this move of God. And I want to be a laborer sent out into the harvest.

What concerns me is that while this desire sounds very compassionate, it’s not actually biblical.

Let me elaborate a bit. Scripture teaches us that Jesus desires everyone to be saved, however, we know that not all will be. We don’t know who will and who won’t, so it’s our job to work to share the Gospel with everyone we can while being a living witness of God’s love to the fallen world. At the same time, we read that the Holy Spirit inspired John to pen a prayer that goes, “The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say ‘Come!'” (Revelation 22:17). This is just one short example of the many times the apostles exhort the Church to anticipate the Lord’s coming. Even Jesus Himself told stories about His Second Advent to prepare the people to wait expectantly for Him.

Now, was this all a giant waste of time? Was Jesus wrong to prepare people to see Him again on the earth very soon after His death? Were the apostles wrong to encourage people to live lives that were ready for the End of the Age at any moment? Of course not. What Jesus and the apostles were doing was instilling a quality of life that can only be lived in the waiting–as opposed to in the settling down and occupying. Many of us live as landowners instead of pilgrims on the earth. We’re busy building huge mansions instead of preparing for His return.

Will Jesus return soon (as in our generation), or will He wait another 2000 years? Who will be right? I don’t know. But what I do know is that it’s better to be obedient more that be right. And we can’t let our compassion be greater than that of Jesus’. We must extend love, grace and mercy up until the very end, but we can’t let our desires and emotions eclipse those of the Lord Himself.

You see, one thing you must realize is that there are those on the earth right now who need a Judge. Young girls sold into human trafficking need someone to intervene on their behalf. And when we say that we want Him to wait to come back, we step into the place of judge to determine the best application of justice and mercy. We put ourselves in His place. And that’s not okay.

I think one underlying reason that some people feel they have to ask the Lord to delay is that they believe a certain amount of people must be saved or that a certain percentage of the nations must come under His leadership before He will return. These are mostly called postmillennialist, which just means a view of end-times events that says the earth must experience a sort of golden age of peace and righteousness before Christ comes again. Again, this sounds nice, but it’s not actually Biblical. In my opinion, it’s more of an assumption based on a line of logic that follows from a certain way to read prophecy. Confused? You’re in good company.

Without going into full detail about conflicting views of eschatology, I’d simply like to recommend that we read our Bibles at face value, pray the inspired prayers in the Bible as the apostles prayed them, look for His coming in anticipation, and trust Him to figure out how exactly everyone who is supposed to get saved will be saved (as we continue to labor with Him in His harvest).

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

This is a great teaching from Bill Johnson that he gave in October of 2007 called How to Shape History.  In fact, do yourself a favor and go to www.ibethel.org and listen to all the Podcasts you can.  You’ll be a better person for it. 🙂

I was talking with Sarah on Saturday night and the topic of intercession came up (as it usually does in conversations that I have). My passion was stirred, her concern was voiced, and we ended up in a very good discussion of what intercession really is. Why do we see this type of prayer–any type of prayer, for that matter–like a monologue with a Supreme Power who’s supposed to know everything anyway? Why does seem like, as one person has put it, as if we tell God the things that He tells us to tell Him? It all seems so…unnecessary. And boring. And a waste of God-given time, talent, and resources.

But what if this isn’t what He had in mind at all? Could this possible be our failure to grasp something much greater and more profound? Something that, in the heart of God, could be used to touch not only others in our community, but possible God Himself? Yes, Sarah and I exclaimed in agreement. You see, the motivation for a praying lifestyle isn’t the answers we get to those prayers. “What?”, you say to yourselves. “Why take the time?” “Shouldn’t I just get busy doing good, spreading love, and all that other Christian stuff we’re told to do?” Yes, I say, but there’s so much more to it all if we would just take the time to get in touch with God.

I submit to you that the motivation for intercession, supplication, meditation, and all the other forms of conversing with God is to touch God Himself. We don’t want to just give lip-service to His goodness, His awesomeness, His glory. We don’t just want to settle for an answered prayer and then be on our merry way. We want to touch transcendence. We want to encounter the Holy One, and be changed in the process. We want to know what Jesus thinks about us–how He feels about us and how much He enjoys us.

I picture two people together on a park bench.  One is weighed down with his thoughts, emotions, and other burdens of life.  His friend comes along and strikes up a conversation, but the topics all revolve around around himself.  He never bothers to ask his friend what seems to be troubling him.  There’s no hint of sensitivity or sympathy.  Oh, how the second man could be a striking picture of me!

Now, some will argue that God is not weighed down with troubles, cares, or emotions.  But I find these to be the very same who have never asked the Lord for what’s on His heart.  They are more concerned with telling us what they think God should be like.  Well, I profess an Almighty God who is not only full of joy and happiness for all that He has made, but also One who feels every trouble of His beloved ones and even the groan of the entire creation as it reels under the weight of sin.  Is this not perhaps worth being in touch with?  The God complete in perfect knowledge and wisdom all the while feeling all that goes on?

And so, in meditating upon this, prayer can be seen as coming before the Lord to get a sense of what is on His heart.  Then, after receiving the impartation of His emotions, we then speak out what action is required to change the world around us.  It’s His perspective being made a living reality through His grace and power.  Assuming to think and speak for God without this humble posture is nothing less that self-promotion and self-worship.  And the world doesn’t need what I think it needs.  It needs His answers to His prayers.

The best case for a life of intercession comes from Jesus Himself.  The Scriptures say, “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercessionfor them” (Hebrews 7:25).  The Bible puts our salvation (our healing, wholeness, holiness, deliverance, among other things) into the hands of a Man who lives a life of vigilant watch.  Who is better connected to our needs as they truly are?  Who better, then, to imitate in this lifestyle of devotion?  Amen.

%d bloggers like this: