All posts tagged: prayer

God Hears and Responds to Your Distress

Jonah prayed. Before we look at some of the aspects of his prayer, let it sink in that he prayed. In chapter one, we learn that Jonah tried to flee from the Lord’s presence by boarding a boat to Tarsus. In response, the Lord caused a mighty storm. The storm ceases once the pagans on the ship cry out to the Lord and throw Jonah into the sea. The Lord appoints a great fish to swallow Jonah. “Then Jonah prayed” (Jonah 2:1). I remember hearing this story when I was a child and I was always thought that the Lord was punishing Jonah by appointing the fish. But when we examine Jonah’s prayer, we see that’s not what Jonah thought! I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! – Jonah 2:6 Jonah was going to die if not for the fish. The fish was not an instrument of punishment; the fish was an …

Are You Prayed Up in These 4 Areas of your life?

“Are you prayed up?” This question caught me off guard when I found myself complaining to my high school teacher. When I was younger, I began a Bible study with the goal of reaching my entire school for Christ. As you can imagine, progress was slow. There were times when huge crowds gathered to study and other times when there were just a handful of students. During a busy season, I found myself sitting alone with Mrs. Francisco waiting for someone, anyone, to show up for the lesson. When I began complaining, she cut me off and asked, “Are you prayed up?” Honestly, I wasn’t, and I found my motivations getting out of line. That evening I began talking with God about my discouragement, purpose, and motivations in leading the study. Throughout the years, I’ve seen God move in big ways to answer prayers from His followers. Here are a few challenges to get you prayed up in these 4 big areas of your life. Are you prayed up for your personal walk with God? …

Are You Meditating on the Scriptures?

Psalm 119 if full of verses that show people delighting in God’s words. I remember reading this as a teenager and the idea seemed somewhat foreign to me. Somewhere in my thinking, I had come to the conclusion that we can be joyful because of God, but I was missing out on delighting in God and in His word. I believed that one day I would be with God, but until then I should just do what He says to do and meander through life. That kind of theology was setting me up for a dispassionate, distant relationship with God, His Word, and the church. Now I am convinced that whatever god I thought I believed in then, it definitely wasn’t the God of the Bible. God not only initiates a relationship with us, He sustains that relationship for eternity. We are not disconnected from the God of our salvation on this earth, waiting for Heaven to “be with Him.” Instead, we are intimately and passionately in a relationship with Him now and forever. Unfortunately, …

Are You Ready to Pray Big And Bold?

Keith reminded us last Sunday that Elisha prayed boldly while, at the same time, his servant’s courage was draining out of him like water in a sieve. What made the difference? They were looking at the same landscape. They were both aware of the situation. But Elisha’s servant was seeing only with physical eyes—shiny swords, gleaming shields, fierce armies. The servant saw only the circumstances, and that was sucking the life out of him. Elisha, on the other hand, was seeing with the eyes of faith. He saw more than the enemy. He saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire (see 2 Kings 6:16-17).  Elisha saw God at work.  I wish I were like Elisha, but I am far too often like the servant. I don’t pray like I should. There, I said it. And when I do pray, my prayers are hardly ever big and bold. Too much of “Lord, I need a little help with this,” “God, if you can…,” “Jesus, I just don’t see how this can be fixed,” “Lord, I …

This Week For Sunday

In John 14:14-16, Jesus says, “Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.” We like verse 14 where Jesus says He’ll answer our prayers.  In the previous verse He says He’ll do this to bring glory to the Father. We also like verse 16 where Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is available to us.  And not like the days of old when people were granted the Spirit for a time to do amazing works.  Today the Spirit lives inside of us and is always available. But sandwiched right there between those verses is verse 15, and that one we don’t like so much.  It would be easy to say these three verses stand alone; to rationalize that one doesn’t rely on the other.  But we would only be fooling ourselves. “If you love me, obey my …

How To Practically “Guard your heart above all else.”

A wise Proverb that can alter the direction of your entire life says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23). So how do you practically watch over your inner self? How do you keep your mind and heart from danger?  Right after Jesus challenged his disciples to take up their cross and follow Him, He asks them two questions of eternal significance: “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Jesus asked these questions in such a way that He taught the equation: EVERYTHING minus your soul equals NOTHING. Here are three steps to practically guard your heart:  1. Ask God for help. After King David committed adultery with Bathsheba he wrote this song to the Lord found in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” David understood that God has the power to make his heart pure again. He pleaded …

Putting Your Past In Its Place

Putting the past in its place is not easy—at least, for me.  Leonard Griffith wrote, “[We] keep ugly skeletons in the closet of memory and we think it virtuous to open the door occasionally and torture ourselves by remembering what these skeletons looked like when they were clothed in the flesh and blood of sin.” Some of us know exactly where we failed in the past and we are still ashamed of it. Stop rattling the skeletons. Better yet, throw them away! God gave His Son to death on a cross to forgive the sins of the world, and we only frustrate God’s grace by refusing to believe that our sins are included. Then there are skeletons that remind us of when somebody did something wrong to us. Toss them out! I don’t know why I think I can continue to disgorge all these bitter, spiteful words and not have a bad taste in my mouth. One of the smartest things I can do is to allow the Holy Spirit to work on my heart …

This Week for Sunday

This Sunday we’re introducing a new song, but you may find that you already know all the words.  The lyrics are from the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13.  Here, Jesus is teaching the disciples how they should pray. Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. As we prepare to gather this Sunday, make these songs your prayer.  Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through the lyrics before we sing them together as one voice. Lay Me Down – Passion Band You Make Me Brave – Bethel Our Father – Bethel It is Well – Todd Fields

Vulnerable Prayers

A few years ago, I told God I wanted to surrender, but needed His help.  Little did I know my prayer would be answered on a Friday morning back in January of 2011.  Here is an excerpt from my journal entry reflecting back on that morning: In the past month or so I have spent so much time praying for God to move in my life. I have spent a great deal of time searching in the word for hope, wisdom, and truth about me. I had been led to memorize four versus that I repeated all day and all night for weeks. But this particular morning, the scripture, the praying was different.  Sitting in my bed, I cried, I BEGGED God to have mercy on me. I prayed that the torment would stop and repeated those two desires over and over. I was loud, but I didn’t care if my neighbors heard me or not; I wanted it over. Lack of sleep and a very emotional morning, I was extremely weak and frail. I felt unstable. After a …

Making Prayer Intentional

Zeb Johnson, one of our teenagers in Fusion, said something Sunday that continues to resonate in my mind this week: “How can we grow stronger in our faith if we never talk to the God we serve?” I remember when I first met Natasha, I couldn’t get enough of her.  We would stay up hours on the phone just listening to each other’s voices, all the while falling more and more in love, as we learned more and more about each other. Thankfully over the years, our relationship has continued to grow, not by accident mind you.  We have been extremely intentional about our time together, our open dialogue with each other, and as a result, our love for one another has grown. Remember when you first met Jesus Christ?  Remember when you couldn’t get enough of Him, His grace, His forgiveness, His mercy, His glory, His presence? Has that feeling grown, or is it a distant memory? Are you being intentional about your time with the Father?  Are you continuing in open dialogue with the Holy …