May 23, 2013
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
When the disciple’s asked Jesus this request they were not just asking Him the ‘how to’ of prayer. They were amazed at the large amounts of time Jesus prioritized for prayer. They were asking something like ‘teach us what you know about prayer that we obviously do not know that causes You to spend so very much time in prayer.’
STEP NUMBER THREE: Spend much time in prayer.
When you must know the will of another human being, what is the first step you take? Our first thought is usually that we must meet with that person and have a conversation with them. When a man is in love and decides he wants to marry a woman, his first thought is that he must meet with her and have a conversation with her.
When we seek to know the will of God, our first thought should be that we must meet with God and have a conversation with Him. Prayer is a conversation with God. If you do not know how to pray, think of prayer as simply meeting with and having a personal conversation with God.
Jesus responded to the apostles with a prayer that was not as much a prayer as it was an instruction about how to pray. When you are alone, use that prayer as an outline for your conversation with God. You will find yourself applying the second and third steps I have shared with you for knowing the will of God when Jesus instructs you to pray:
“Your kingdom come; Your will be done.”
May 14, 2013
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16)
We can be a philosopher and love truth. We can be a sincere seeker after truth and never find the truth we seek. According to Jesus when we come to know the truth by relationship, He himself will make us free (John 8: 30-36).
Jesus said in a prayer to His Father: “Thy Word is truth.” (John 17: 17) This means we should read the Bible as a lover and seeker of truth. Jesus made the claim that His teaching is the truth of God (John 7: 17). He even told us how we can prove that claim. The doing leads to the knowing. If we will personally do what He teaches we will know that His teaching cannot be the teaching of a man. It has to be the teaching of God.
There are times when we can devastate people with the truth. There are also times when the truth can cut through the denial of people and set them free from problems that are isolating them from reality and destroying them. It is then that we must speak the truth in love and ask if we have become their enemy for doing so.
When we are facing those kinds of challenges we must pray that: “God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves” (2 Timothy 2: 25). To repent means to think again and have a change of mind will and direction.
May your search for truth not only end but begin with the One who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
April 19, 2013
“But woe to him who is alone when he falls.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10)
Have you observed how much Jesus valued community? He taught: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20 NIV) He also gave a great teaching regarding prayer community: “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action.” (Matthew 18:19, The Message)
When He made that observation about being present when two or three gather in His name he was not giving us a consolation for a poor attendance at a meeting. He was being descriptive and prescriptive about the reality that His risen presence is among us in a special way when just two or three of us come together in His name.
The man who was thought to be the wisest man on earth in his day also wrote about the value of community. Before he wrote the words quoted above he told us that two are better than one for when one falls the other will help him up and “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” This could mean that when two or three are in community the presence of God among them forms that threefold cord that cannot be quickly broken.
Are you in community? If you are not then follow the teaching of our Lord and the wise counsel of Solomon and seek the spiritual community you need. I’m not telling you to go to church. I am writing about that special relationship with two or three people where you have accountability and deep sharing of life and faith. If you cannot find one, start one. It only takes you and one other person.
April 14, 2013
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT)
When Alcoholics Anonymous started it was called “The Saint James Fellowship” because it was founded on this verse. The founders later changed the name to include people of all faiths and those with no faith. While millions of secular people apply the truths of this Scripture and experience healing, it is a shame that many believers never make these healing applications.
When you meet with another believer do you keep your sins in the closet? Do you give the impression that you don’t have a problem in the world? Do they do the same? That does not burden you to pray for each other. But if you trust them and share some of your sins with them they would be burdened to pray for you. They would also more than likely have what I call “reality contact” with you by sharing their sins and that would burden you to pray for them. The result of these mutual prayers would be mutual healing.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote extensively about spiritual community, put it this way: “Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So they remain alone with their sins, living in lies and hypocrisy… He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone.”
A paraphrase of James 5:16 is that honest prayers explode with power! It is a strategy of the evil one to isolate us into self imposed solitary confinement. Never let him isolate you into being a closet sinner; instead, find healing in confessing your sins and praying for one another.
March 8, 2013
“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress…” (Psalm 4:1 KJV).
While I was learning that God is there, real and personal I met with one of my mentors after I experienced the divine presence of God in a mighty way. I told Paris Reidhead, “My cup is just running over, Paris!” His response to me was: “How big is your cup, Dick? It doesn’t take much to run over a thimble. Why don’t you ask God to turn your thimble into a cup, your cup into a bucket, and your bucket into a truckload?”
I did pray that prayer, fervently. At that time I did not know that according to the verse above God’s vehicle for that kind of growth is distress. If you want to know what distress is just drop the first two letters: God uses stress to grow us spiritually just as putting stress on our muscles grows us physically.
Over the next few years I found myself going through deep waters and fiery trials. When we had three toddlers and two in diapers my wife was hospitalized four times in one year in a hospital 100 miles away from our home. While I was the pastor of a church and the mother and father of our children the Lord enlarged me, big time!
Years later I lost my health and became a bed fast quadriplegic. That is when I really learned my “4 Spiritual Secrets” which have enabled me to minister beyond anything I could have imagined. Those secrets are written on this webpage.
When you want to grow spiritually I dare you to ask God to turn your thimble into a cup, your cup into a bucket and your bucket into a truckload.
January 15, 2013
“Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the glory forever, Amen.” (Matthew 6: 13)
Jesus taught us to begin our prayers with a providential or God-first perspective. He also taught us to end our prayers with the same kind of Kingdom benediction. In this prayer/prescription after we get our priorities straight we are to close our prayers in a way that is consistent with the way we begin our prayers.
In essence, we are to end our prayers by telling God that since the power to answer our prayers will always come from Him the glory will always go to Him and the result will always belong to Him. That is what “Your’s is the Kingdom” is really all about.
When you pray are you taking God into your plans or are you asking Him to take you into His plans? I have had the privilege of being involved in the founding of two churches. After many years serving those churches I then had to drop out and let others pastor them. That was when I learned what it means to pray: “Your’s is the Kingdom.”
Jesus taught me to pray that since the power to answer my prayers over many years as the pastor of those churches had come from Him the glory should now go to Him and the result (the churches) should belong to Him.
James tells us we ask and do not receive because we ask amiss (James 4:3). A teenager asked me if James was telling us we can pray a hit as well as a miss. If you want to pray a hit every time allow Jesus to show you how to begin and end your prayers.
January 9, 2013
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
The greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness. Those who work in ministries of healing claim that the lack of forgiveness on the part of a victim that has been terribly violated can retard their own inner healing.
Can you see why Jesus instructed His disciples to pray every day: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors?” The original language has it, “As we have already forgiven our debtors.” Do you think Jesus knew how important it is to our inner healing that we should forgive those who sin against us?
Some are bothered by the way Jesus offers commentary on this petition in the disciple’s Prayer. He commented that if we do not forgive we are not forgiven. It almost sounds as if we are forgiven because we forgive. He defuses their confusion with a parable that is recorded in Chapter Eighteen of Matthew. A man is forgiven a very large debt in the millions of dollars. He does not have to go into debtor’s prison and see his wife and family sold into slavery.
But on the way home he meets a man who owes him twenty dollars. He grabs him by the throat and orders him to pay him every cent or he will have him put into debtor’s prison. Both events are observed and told to the one who forgave him the large debt. He is recalled and his forgiveness is revoked. Jesus comments on that story, that if we from our hearts do not forgive, we are not forgiven.
The point is that if we are a forgiven person we will be a forgiving person. If we are not a forgiving person we are not really a forgiven person.
January 5, 2013
“In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power
And the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6: 8-13)
Make the observation with the help of the bold type that this disciple’s prayer/instruction teaches that we should begin our prayers with what we might call a ‘providential perspective.’
This is expressed in three petitions: Your name, Your kingdom and Your will. Before we get to “Give us” we are to bring into our perspective Who God is, as He is revealed in all His names. Then we are to focus on the fact that He is our King and we are His subjects.
When we understand that He is our King, we know His will must be done on earth through us even as it is done perfectly in heaven, all day long every day.
Many think prayer is coming into the presence of God with a shopping list and sending God on errands for us. But here Jesus is teaching that prayer is reporting for duty to our King that He might give us our orders for the day.
We are to end our prayers with a providential benediction. The essence of the providential benediction is that since the power to answer our prayers will always come from God, the glory and the result (the Kingdom) will always belong to God. James tells us we sometimes “pray amiss.” The difference between praying amiss and praying a hit can be this perspective on prayer.
October 21, 2012
When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before!” (Job 42:10)
What may be the oldest book in the Bible answers the question: “Why do God’s people suffer?” Many people are familiar with the book of Job but have a shallow understanding of its message. They think it is just the story of a wealthy, godly man who lost everything and still worshiped God.
This is actually the story of a suffering, godly man who learned three perspectives we must ‘get together’ if we are going to be the kind of person God wants us all to be. Job looks in with his friends to find the answer to the why of his suffering. This led him and them nowhere. He is told to look up. He does and dialogs with God in a whirlwind. This profoundly changes him forever.
When God rebukes his friends because everything they told Job about himself and God was wrong, Job prays for his friends. When he looks around and prays for his friends, God richly blessed him and doubles all he lost.
This old saga of suffering tells us that if we want to be a together person we must first look up and get our vertical perspective and relationship with God together. Then we must look in and confess what God wants us to know about those internal issues that make us tick right.
Only those who have looked up and looked in as directed by God are qualified to look around and be part of God’s solution in the horizontal dimension of relationships.
Is God using the circumstances of your life to teach you to look up, in, and around as you should?
October 5, 2012
“‘Who told you that you were naked?’ the LORD God asked.’” (Genesis3:11)
We have confessed, climbed and conserved to apply the jet pilot’s compass. We must now apply the most critical points on his compass and ours. Just as the jet pilot must communicate with his carrier, we must communicate with God.
We all know that we can communicate with God through prayer. In the familiar story from the book of Genesis we learn that God communicates with us and He wants us to know that He communicates with us.
In a psychiatric hospital a man told his psychiatrist that he was Napoleon. The psychiatrist asked him “Who told you that you are Napoleon?” The man responded, “God told me.” The man in the next room shouted, “I did not!”
In Hebrew the question God asked is literally: “Who made you know that you were naked?” You may be uncomfortable telling people that God told you to make a decision like a career change. Would it be more comfortable to say God made you know that you were to make a certain decision? Do you believe God can make you know what He wants you to know and do?
It is exciting to know that we can communicate with God through prayer and even more exciting to know He communicates with us. Just as the last two points on the pilot’s compass are the most critical, it is critical for us to be in two-way communication with God.
God communicates with us in many ways but the most important is when we are reading His inspired Word. We should open the Bible with this prayer: “Let all the voices be stopped. Speak to me Lord, Thou alone.”