Posts Tagged prayer

First aid kit

Proverb 4: 20 – 22

My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.

Colossians 4: 2

Devote yourselves to prayer.

Every adventurer knows to carry a First Aid Kit on excursions. We are encouraged to have an emergency first aid kit in our cars and our homes. I have one for my kayak and another in my hiking gear and yet another in my bike bag. One thing you learn about making your own kit is that you can’t pack everything you would like to have. It is a kit of essentials. You only pack those items which will get you through the tough situations.

We all need a spiritual first aid kit too packed with the essential elements. What are those? There are many good spiritual tools and we do not need to deny ourselves any of them. For example, music can be a very powerful tool. Meditation is another important spiritual skill. And praise – oh my goodness, what a powerful tool and even weapon. There are others as well, and they are all to be utilized but when the pressure is on and you only have time and room for the bare bones necessities, it boils down to two things. No matter what, load prayer and your Bible in your pack.

Now the thing about your Bible is that you need to extract its vital nutrients from it. Mindlessly reading the Bible can be a dull and near meaningless activity. In order for the Bible to help us, we must engage with it. Studying the Bible can be as empty if our only approach is to acquire intellectual information rather than applicable knowledge. The value of the Bible is its life blood. It can be like getting a transfusion but only when we try to pull wisdom from it. So, simple Bible reading or even Bible study can leave us dangerously void of the First Aid medicine we desperately need. Extracting life from the Bible, that is the key.

Prayer comes in many forms as well. Really, meditation can become prayerful. Obviously, intercession isn’t the kind of prayer we need to pack in our emergency kit. Telling the Father about all our problems really isn’t very helpful either though in an emergency that is often our response. Our Father knows our situation. He is omniscient after all. No, the kind of prayer you want in your backpack is the one on one conversation with you and your Lord. This prayerful, meditative conversation is as much about listening to what the Lord has to say as it is about what you want to say.

Allow me to be clear, I am not saying that each of us should not constantly involve ourselves in all forms of prayer and Bible engagement, nor should we deprive ourselves of any of the spiritual tools. I am merely saying that the essentials are like oxygen and water. Without these two we become depleted very quickly. Second, in the time of crisis, you cannot always have all of the niceties. At those times you must reach for your First Aid Kit and treat the immediate trauma. At those times do not neglect these two very important elements of your Christian life. There are days when praise can pull you out of a blue funk. There are days when journaling is just the ticket but alone time with God, quiet, pensive alone time is crucial when challenged. If you will treat yourself with the Bible and with prayer, then the Lord will direct your path. He may tell you to go put on some music. He may tell you to take a walk in the woods where you can be very meditative. He may tell you to go to a yoga class. Whatever you need, He is there and will guide you. Go to your prayer closet with your Bible. Slow down your physiology and psychology and let the Lord speak to you. Be still and let Him show you that He is God. Be calm and let Him be your God.

Prayer Mulligan

2 Chronicles 30: 20

So the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

King Hezekiah called for the celebration of Passover. He sent messengers to all the tribes to gather in Jerusalem for the ceremony. There were a few problems. It was the wrong time of the year, there were not enough priests who were ceremonially clean, the people were not purified, well, you get the idea.

The tribes of Israel and Judah had fallen away from the Lord and not continued the ceremonies and feasts of tradition. Hezekiah decided to reintroduce these traditions regardless of the time of year. There was very little right about the preparation or process but Hezekiah said a prayer. He asked the Lord to bless the people in spite of themselves, literally to pardon all those who seek God. God’s response was to heal the hearts of a troubled nation. In fact, the people were restored to their former status and celebrated with great joy. At the end of the seven day feast there was so much joy among the people that they extended the feast for another seven days. Hezekiah contributed 1000 bulls and 7000 sheep for the feast. The princes gave 1000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. The people celebrated God and their great history. They reminded themselves of who they were and they turned back to their Lord and God. God was waiting with open arms and granted them fellowship and blessing.

One of the lessons we can take away from this passage is that everything does not have to be perfect in order to worship God. You don’t have to have the perfect music and the perfect time with the right people, etc. What is required is a heart turned towards God. If we seek Him, even in our brokenness and failures, He is gracious and kind to hear us and bless us.
Yahweh was waiting for Israel and Judah to turn back to Him. He watched them every day, longing for their hearts to turn to Him. Day after day He waited just as He does for us. Today I’m too busy. Yesterday I didn’t feel well. The day before that I had company. You get the idea. Before you know it, days and days have gone by without our taking the time to celebrate the Lord or to worship Him. If we didn’t eat we might not say any prayers.

Thank God (literally) that He is kind, forgiving and willing to wait for us. He poured out His blessing on them as soon as they called Him. They could have enjoyed that healing and the Lord’s grace any prior day. It wasn’t that God wasn’t willing. They were lost in the tall weeds. Bless Hezekiah. He had a vision for returning God’s people to their former position in God. He called for the feast, and bless God, the people responded.

Take this story and apply it to your own life. No matter what ways you feel you have stumbled, God is waiting to restore you to your former glory. Today can be your Passover feast. It can be the day you celebrate the curse passing over you. Have a great day!

Ask

Luke 4: 38 – 40

And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever; and they made request of Him on her behalf. And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately arose and waited on them. And while the sun was setting, all who had any sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on every one of them, He was healing them.

We all know about Jesus who went about doing good (Acts 10: 38). What strikes me here is that Jesus wasn’t going around looking for someone to do good to. In these few verses there are two examples of people receiving healing. In neither case, though, did Jesus seek them out.

Jesus had been in the synagogue. When he and his disciples left there, they went to Peter’s house. “They,” whoever they may be, asked Jesus to minister to Peter’s sick mother-in-law. What would Jesus have done if no one had asked him to minister to her?

In the second scenario, Jesus may have been enjoying his after dinner cup of coffee when people began showing up at Peter’s front door. Again, Jesus didn’t go out looking for someone to pray for. People asked for prayer, for ministry. I am not suggesting that we should not initiate prayer or to be purposeful about praying for people. The point of this message is to observe Jesus and learn from him. Why didn’t he offer to pray for Peter’s mother-in-law? After dinner, why didn’t he go sit in the town square and call out to people? There may be something going on here.

In Matthew, chapter nine, we read about the woman who “had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak,” (Matthew 9: 20). She was instantly healed. Jesus didn’t seek her out either, but she had been “saying to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I will get well,’” (Matthew 9: 21). The woman initiated contact with Jesus. She pressed through the crowd to touch his garment believing that she would be healed with that touch. Jesus, realizing that power had gone out from him turned around and “seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.’ At once the woman was made well,” (Matthew 9: 22).

What is going on here? I think there is an important lesson for us to learn. Jesus said it in John 16: 24, “Ask and you will receive.” From his brother we learn, “You do not have because you do not ask,” (James 4: 2). I have been amazed at the reluctance people have shown to asking for prayer. If Jesus came to town, would we shake of our lethargy and actually seek prayer? People will tell me the incredible challenges they have gone through and I will think, “We have a prayer line on our website, why don’t people ask for prayer?” What is going on in our cultures that was not present during Jesus’ time? Is our attitude the result of the protestant reformation? Since we each have a direct pipeline to God, have we determined that we do not need to ask other people for prayer? Even knowing that I am a pastor, few people come to me and ask me to pray for them. Almost none ask me to lay hands on them for healing? Is this simply because we have not taught people to ask?

Well, I am teaching today! Ask! Are you sick? Do you have need of any healing for your body, mind, emotions? Ask. In the examples above, the people brought their faith for healing in their request. The woman with the hemorrhage demonstrated her faith, actually used her faith, to reach out to Jesus. Others went to Jesus seeking healing because they had faith that they would receive. He didn’t seek them out. They sought him. That was the measure of faith. Perhaps we ask not because we have no faith for healing. Perhaps we don’t ask because we are arrogant, or maybe bashful. On the one hand one might feel he can pray as well as anyone else. On the other hand, one may be too shy to ask. Here I am saying today, “Ask.” You have not because you ask not.

Be persistent. Be tenacious. Be determined to receive everything Jesus promised. It is not always easy to receive your answer. I know that but, sitting in the recliner complaining is probably not the answer either. Get in front of every preacher you know and ask them to lay hands on you and pray. Get your friends to anoint you with oil and pray. Go to our prayer line at Ivey Ministries (https://iveyministries.org/prayer-request/). Do something. God wants you whole too. Reach out to others and ask them for prayer. If you have already prayed about something and have not received the answer then get out of your comfort zone and ask someone to pray for you. Slay apathy and be a doer of the Word. Tug on Jesus’ robe and demand the promises fulfilled in your life. His answer is yes, but first, you have to ask.

Prayerful Meditation

Jeremiah 29: 12 – 14

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes.’

Yesterday we talked about delighting yourself in the Lord and meditating on His Word day and night. This morning I was thinking about that. I said that the words from Joshua 1:8 should be proclaimed routinely and loudly. As I meditated on this very thing this morning, I thought, if there is one piece of advice I would give it is to soak in the Word, but then I questioned myself as to why. Here is the answer I found for myself.

If someone were to ask me what the most important thing about Christianity is, I would say a close and personal relationship with the three persons of the trinity. However, that begs the question, how does one develop that intimate relationship. We are all different with different strengths. Some people connect with the Father more intimately through prayer, some through meditation. There are those who reach their most connected point in rituals while others reach God through the Bible. These are all good and proper ways to connect with God and we should all participate in all forms of communion with God.

The Lord teaches us by His own words how to connect with Him through this verse. After my meditation this morning I was a bit surprised to open my Bible and find this passage staring at me. Jeremiah 29: 11 is famous. It is God’s declaration that He has good plans for you and your future. It is of interest, though, that the next words out of His mouth are about seeking Him. He even promises that if we seek Him, we will find Him. Notice, however, that we must seek Him with our hearts, and not only that but with all of our heart. He wants to connect you to His good plans for you but you must connect with Him first.

So, what does this have to do with yesterday’s verse and the Word? If someone asked what one thing I would advise them to do to develop their relationship with God would be, I would advise them according to Joshua 1: 8, read your Bible and meditate therein. There is a reason God gave that Word of wisdom to Joshua. In the Word we find God. I believe in prayer, don’t think I don’t, but the Word is our anchor and our beacon. For persons who will develop into prayer warriors, they get their foundation first from the Word. It is where we find God as we develop into the people we will be. It is, therefore, where I would start everyone. For the visionaries, the Word becomes their anchor. We want those people doing what they are gifted to do but they must be tethered in God’s reality. Those who are easily bound to routine will find all kinds of experiences in the Word, the explainable yet unassailable.

We cannot leave the wisdom of God aside. As you grow in the things of God, learn to pray, learn to meditate, develop your visionary capacity, engage with your angels but forget not the Word. Do not set aside the one piece of advice Yahweh gave Joshua when he had to take over leadership of the nation of Israel, meditate in the Word day and night. Then add today’s verse to that, seek the Lord with all your heart and you will find Him. Pray to Him and He will listen. It is His promise to you. Pray and meditate over the Word. Allow God to reveal His hidden mysteries. Call upon Him, seek Him and receive of His great and wonderful bounty.

Prayer Cover

Colossians 1: 3

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.

It is important that we pray for each other as we see in the example Paul set for us. We need each other’s support. Jesus said that while we are in this world we will have trials but to take heart because he has conquered the world (John 16: 33). We do not have to crumble at the trials of the world because he has triumphed. He has provided the way for us to triumph over the challenges of the world. One of the tools we have is prayer. We can pray for our own needs and that is good but sooner or later we learn to get out of our little sphere and pray for others. As you sow prayer into the lives of others, you sow into the Kingdom of God. This is a continuing message of sowing and reaping because all of the Kingdom of God works by this principle. And as we sow, we also reap. We do the work of God and God takes care of our needs. As you spend your time planting seeds for the betterment of others, God is at work in your life. As you pray for others, you are forced to turn your mind off of yourself for a moment. That allows God to work for you because you have released your care for your own issues for a time.

Also know that I, following Paul’s example, pray for you every day. Everyone who receives these daily emails gets covered by prayer. Likewise, pray for me, all of you. As you pray for me and keep me built up, I have more to pour out to you. That is how it works. As we support each other, we are each edified more than if we just pray for ourselves.

Healed and Whole

2 Chronicles 7: 14

If My people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

When you read the verses which precede this one you understand that God is saying, “In your time of need, if you will call out to Me and seek Me then I will hear and restore you.” This verse comes from the point of need, the time of trouble, so the first point I would make is how much more does this apply when we don’t have our backs to the wall because of our sin, recklessness or error.

The major point, though, is that God is standing at the ready when we finally get around to calling on Him. One can see the situation unfold like this, we have run around doing our own thing, ignoring God and have not sought His counsel. The result is inevitable – trouble. All the while God was sitting on His phone watching and waiting for us to call. He says, “Look, if you will just inquire of Me, I will fix everything. I will lead you in the way you should go and I will repair the damage your ignorance created.” That is amazing to me. This is the exact opposite of the world which says, “You made the bed, now sleep in it,” which of course means, you made the mess so deal with it. God is ever ready to rescue us, even from the calamity of our own making. He actually wants to heal and restore you.

Let’s talk about “your land” for a moment. The verse refers to God healing His people’s land. The Bible is a historical record and a living document at the same time. Therefore, this verse represents not only God’s promise to Israel, which would have been the application at the time it was spoken, but it also applies to you and me through the living Word, Jesus our Messiah. You see, if it was just a dead letter, it would only show us His response to Israel. However, we know that Jesus is the Word (John 1: 1). He has breathed new life into the Old Testament for everyone who calls him Lord. That has got to make you want to shout! All those Old Testament promises, like the one from today’s verse are yours in Christ Jesus. Yea!

You are His people who are called by His name. That is the first element of this verse. What are the others? Humility, prayer, seeking and repentance. If we will humbly seek Him and pray, turning away from our ways, He will respond with all His grace and love to heal your world. Your land may be your home, your work, business, health, finances, family or any other area. It can also apply to the country you live in or are from.  They are all under God’s grace when you invite Him in through humility, seeking His face and His advice. Find that quiet space in your life and seek the Lord and His counsel. Be whole. Be blessed!

Never Give Up

Luke 18: 1

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

The word of the Lord to you today is that you should not give up. Jesus has sent you this word of encouragement so that you will know that God hears your pleas.

You can go to Luke, chapter 18 and read the parable but the essence is that this parable is about justice and prayer. Jesus is teaching us to be persistent in prayer. Wait a minute, you say, Mark 11: 24 tells us that when we pray we should believe we have already received our petition and it shall be granted us. Why then should I continue in prayer when the Father has already heard my request and granted it? Good question.

Some prayers actually take importuning, or persistence. Do you remember what happened to Daniel when sought the understanding of a vision he received? An angel came to him and said, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But, the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia,” (Daniel 10: 12 – 13).

There is so much rich content in that quote alone that we could be kept busy for days. The point for today, though, is that Daniel did receive his answers. He persisted until the angel appeared.

We are in a different situation today in that Jesus has the victory and we have the Holy Spirit. Notice, however,  that in today’s verse Jesus is the speaker as well as in Mark 11: 24. So what is going on here? You have probably prayed a prayer before and not received the evidence of your answer immediately. That does not logically mean, however, that your prayer was not answered the moment you prayed, hence Mark 11: 24. The angel told Daniel that his prayers were heard and answered the very first day. Therefore, we should never lose heart and, as Jesus encouraged, we should never give up. You can continue praying for the same thing over and over again, but we should pray according to Jesus’ direction from the book of Mark, believing that at the very first moment we prayed, God heard us and sent the answer on its way to us. We stand in Thanksgiving seeing from Daniel’s experience and from faith in Jesus’ words that our answer is in route. Give your angels continued authority in your life by speaking words of faith. You can always inquire of the Holy Spirit as to the need for any prayer other than thanksgiving and positive affirmations. He will lead you. It’s his job. Stand firm believing and never give up. You are not forsaken.