Prayer – Our lifeline to God

Prayer is an important aspect of our Christian life. If Jesus prayed continuously like He did, then we should put a lot of weight to the practice of prayer. Why would Jesus spend so much time in prayer and even go so far as to teach us how to pray if it were not critically important? The Old Testament has many examples of prayers going up to God. Prayer is the thread that unites the soul of man with God. Spirit to Spirit.

Proverbs 15:8 tells us that the Lord ‘delights’ in our prayer. That is a nice thing to hear, isn’t it? How can we please the Lord? By being continually in prayer with Him. He likes that. He likes us coming to Him with our needs. He wants to be involved. He wants to work with us, that’s why He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell in us. He wants to be connected with us in all our activities. That’s why He walked with the Israelites in a cloud of smoke during the day and a beam of fire by night. He wanted to be close to them.

In the Old Testament only the priests and prophets prayed for the people. In the Old Testament the priests had to wash and purify themselves before entering the temple to offer up sacrifices and prayer.  In the New Testament that all changed. The new covenant brought forth a new possibility. Now, through Jesus, we can all access the Almighty God through prayer for we are all cleansed and purified through the blood of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing. Colossians 4:2 says it this way: “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” (emphasis added)

Therefore, prayer is something we should take seriously. We are to engage in it constantly, at least daily. Something to go into with a sober mind, a dedicated heart and a committed spirit. The dictionary describes earnest as: “resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction”. And diligent is described this way: “keeping careful watch” We are therefore told to be sincere and convicted and careful in our prayers. We are not to just haphazardly run into prayer and just blow off any old conversation. We are to be thoughtful, perhaps even goal-oriented, taking things one step at a time with the intention of showing our love to God, our appreciation of His deity and omniscience, and being thankful for all He has done and is doing in our lives and the lives of others.

Jesus Himself spent a lot of time in prayer. His example was not lost on the disciples. The only thing that they ever asked Him to teach them was how to pray. (Luke 11:1) Jesus prayed before performing miracles, before ministering and in the garden at Gethsemane. Praying was important to Him. It was His connection to God Almighty.  He didn’t make it a point to pray in front of everybody to be seen of men. He wanted to be in private, intimate conversation with God. The Pharisees prayed in public to be seen by everyone, to appear holy. God says they have their reward. (Matthew 6:5-8) So, let’s be like Christ and find a secret place to pray. A place without interruption, free from the cares of the world where we can focus ALL of our attention on God.

Proverbs 15:29 tells us “He hears the prayer of the righteous.” That is a promise we can take to the bank. And it comforts us to know that when we come to Him in prayer, He hears us. We might get an answer to our prayer right away, and, the answer may be “no”, but we know he hears us.  1John 5:14 – “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” That’s a little disclaimer, “if we ask according to His will”, He hears us. That means that we have to be aligned with God’s will. What does that mean? Well, it means first of all, that we need to be in the Word, we need to be reading scripture so that we know what it says. We need to know the stories, the people, the places. We need to know these things because they are central to Who God Is. And if we know them, then we will know what God’s will is. That may cause some of you to ask, “What is God’s will?” And though that is a subject for an entirely new discussion, we can get a hint of it in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

In the Bible there are approximately 600 recorded prayers and 450 recorded answers to prayer. That alone should alert us to the fact that prayer is important, in fact the Bible says in Isaiah “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” (Isaiah 56:7) The Hebrew word for house here is bᾰ-yit which means ‘dwelling house, palace, temple’. And our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, of God and therefore our own bodies are the temples of prayer. Don’t you think that we should keep those temples holy? Keep them plugged in to the source? He is the vine, we are the branches. We can do nothing without Him. (John 15:5) It makes sense that we should stay connected to Him. Prayer is that connection.

Matthew 21:22 “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Perhaps we don’t receive answers to our prayers because we don’t fully believe. We need to check our hearts and see if we truly believe that we will receive what we pray for. We need to be on our guard, vigilant – on the lookout for doubt creeping in. If we don’t fully believe, God won’t give us what we ask for.

Further, we don’t receive because we have wrong motives. James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” We need to be sure to ask according to God’s will not ours.

It can sound complicated now with all of the rules associated with it, but it is really simple. Be connected to him. To accomplish that we read scripture so we understand what God’s will is and then work to align ourselves with that will.  

Again, prayer is serious business and it is necessary business. If we are to draw closer to God, we must do it on our knees.

For more info on Prayer you can always Google it, or, you can go to BibleGateway.com and enter “prayer” or “pray” in the search box and all sorts of scripture verse will come up and you can read through it all and note the verse that speaks to you the most.

You can do the same with God’s will.

Oh, you can also look in the back of your Bible and check the concordance for the words “pray”, “prayer”, and the phrase “God’s will”. Not all concordances and built the same so you might get few hits or a lot. If you get only a few, then also use the available cross-references in the verses to find more references.

You might want to invest in a good study bible.

Here are a few verses on Prayer and a few on God’s will to get you started.

Prayer: Matthew 6:6-13; Romans 8:26-28; Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 15:29; Isaiah 56:7; 1 Peter 4:7; 1John 5:14; Luke 19:46; Mark 11:17; Luke 18:1-8; Ephesians 6:18; Romans 12:12; 1 Chronicles 5:20; Matthew 21:22

God’s Will: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; 1 Peter 4:1-3; 1 John 2:16-18; Mark 3:35; John 9:31; Romans 12:2; 1 Peter 2:15; 1 Peter 4:17-19; Hebrews 10:1-39

In the coming weeks I will do a post on God’s will in hopes that it may help shed light on the subject.

Until then, May God richly bless you and keep you.

If you found this post helpful, please leave a comment and tell me what helped you most or what did not help you. That information will help me to build better posts in the future.

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Peace

Eric

Character Building

Today’s focus is on ‘Character Building’. I want to look at some verses that discuss what we should aim to become, and what we can become if we keep our focus in the right place. First, let’s get into what Paul was telling the church at Colosse about their place in Christ…

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1,2 NKJV)

Colossians 3 discusses this quite plainly. We, as newly converted Christians, are to put off ‘earthly’ things; things from our old nature that are contrary to godliness, i.e. “sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustful passion, evil desire, and greediness, which is idolatry.”(v.3:5). These attributes are to be discarded and replaced with character traits that become godly folk. So too, should we discard, “anger, rage, wickedness, slander, abusive language.” (v. 3:8)

They’re all pretty simple to understand. No need to expand on them but for the sake of clarity let’s give examples: 1) Sexual Immorality, uncleanness and lustful passion – These involve filthy minds bent on acts of sexual behavior that might include unnatural uses for the body, sexual habits that are against what the body was made for by God. Our bodies are the temples (1 Corinthians 6:19) of the Holy Spirit and we insult God by entertaining these behaviors, sinning against ourselves and the Holy Spirit.

” Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a person commits is outside his body, but the one who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God with your body. “(1 Cor 6:18-20 LEB)

Evil desire and greediness are equally repulsive to the Holy Spirit and to God. The desire to control everything and have everything are an affront to God because God’s grace is sufficient for us. (2 Cor 12:9) We need not fret over our lives, our situations, or our needs. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

So, we should shun our former selves because we are now to behave with godliness and holiness, if in fact we are in Christ Jesus, new creations. But what attributes do we need to desire and pursue?

Further in Colossians 3 we are told…

12 Therefore, as the chosen of God, holy and dearly loved, put on affection, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, 13 putting up with one another and forgiving one another. If anyone should have a complaint against anyone, just as also the Lord forgave you, thus also you do the same. 14 And to all these things add love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And the peace of Christ must rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God, 17 and everything whatever you do in word or in deed, giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17 LEB)

Wow! That’s a lot of info. So, let’s not try and change ourselves all at once. Let’s instead, pick one character trait to work on each week for seven weeks. That’s not too hard. And living with each one for a week will help it to sink into our psyche. We can write the trait on a post-it note and place it on the bathroom mirror where we are likely to see it at least twice a day. It would be a passive but powerful reminder.

And, at the end of each week we can look back and reflect on how we succeeded in building this behavior and habit into our daily lives.

I once was homeless and what changed for me, what got me off the streets was a daily reading habit. I had come across a book by the great writer, Og Mandino, and what the daily reading had taught me was to lift up my eyes and see the good in the world and the opportunity that each day presented to me, regardless of my current situation. The book was titled, “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” and it took me a few months to pick up the book and read it. I had a negative perception of salespeople at the time and I didn’t want to read an entire book dedicated to them, but I overcame my perceptions and was delighted to find that Mandino had woven a beautiful story around some principles that anyone could adopt into their own life. These principles were hidden in ten scrolls and the secret was reading each scroll three times a day for thirty days before moving on to the next scroll.

I tell you, it was a miracle for me. And I was hungry for it. I read those scrolls more than three times a day. I was so hungry for a change.

In no time at all, my attitude changed, my perceptions of the world changed, and my fortunes changed with them. I got off the streets with a new job and a bright future. Since then I’ve never been without that book in my library. I still pick it up and read those scrolls from time to time and they are like old friends.

Well, I didn’t start today’s blog post to tell you about Og Mandino. I wrote today’s blog to tell you that we have at our disposal a whole world of possibilities because God is our everything. He is our Father, our Savior, our friend. And He wants us to live fruitful lives. And we do that by becoming what we were always meant to be – holy.

We need to start with LOVE. Notice in Colossians that love is the last thing that Paul mentions but it is the most important thing because LOVE is the completion of all the rest. Affection, kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, patience – they all emanate from a loving heart and spirit.

So, take these next weeks and make love the center of your being. Post notes all over the house and work on each attribute mentioned throughout the day. I feel confident that, if you stick to it, and put forth the effort, you will experience a godly kind of peace as you become the loving follower of Christ that you are meant to be.

May the Peace of Christ comfort you

Further scriptural references: Micah 6:8; 1 Cor 6:18-19; Gal 6:10; 1 Thess 5:14-15; Titus 2, 3

New Beginnings

Hi there! I just started this blog to share some Bible resources (studies, links, etc.).

I hope you get as much out of them as I get joy in producing them.

I’ll get started on the first Bible study offering right away. Come back next week and take a look!

In His debt, Eric