Tag Archives: prayer

The Jesus Effect

One of the first rules you learn as a child is that you become like those you hang out with. Someone once said, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you, you.” We tend to take on attributes, accents and habits of the people we spend time with. I read a study once that showed how kids don’t take on their parent’s accents. They take on the ones of their friends. Think about the people you are around the most. Good or bad, they’ve had an affect on the things you like, the places you go and even the foods you eat. They have changed you as much as you have changed them.

In the book of Acts, the disciples went around preaching and healing people the way Jesus did. They went to the Temple to pray and to educate others on the Scriptures. As they approached the gate one day, a beggar who couldn’t walk asked them for money. Instead of money, they brought him to his feet healed. The religious leaders threw them in jail for it. As they were being questioned the next day about it, Peter spoke up and told them it was done through the power of Jesus’ name. Acts 4:13 says, “The council members were astonished as they witnessed the bold courage of Peter and John, especially when they discovered that they were just ordinary men who had never had religious training. Then they began to understand the effect Jesus had on them simply by spending time with him” (TPT).

Think about that. They saw the effect Jesus had on them simply by spending time with Him. Just like you and your friends have an affect on each other’s lives, our lives are affected by spending time with Jesus. The more time you spend with Him, the greater the effect He will have on your life. We, like the disciples, will become more like Him each and every day. You can be an ordinary person and have an extraordinary change in your life, and in the lives of others, by spending time in prayer, reading the Bible and resting in His presence. Just like anything in the Bible, we have to be the ones to take the first step. The change happens after we make the time to spend with Him.

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Open The Hood Of Prayer

Prayer to me is like a car engine. I don’t know everything about it, but I know it works. Sure I can point out some parts under the hood and tell you what they do, but I don’t understand fully how they work. I’ve replaced a couple of parts that were easy to do, but for the harder stuff, I go to someone who understands it more fully. They are able to replace anything under the hood and make it run as intended. I take it to them because they know and understand every part of an engine. They also know how to tweak it to get the most out of it.

Every one of us can pray. Every one of us can make it work. We may not understand how it works or what to do to get the most out of it, but we can push the gas and make it go. I know people have broken down “The Lord’s Prayer” and taught me how to pray that way. I’ve been given methods like “ACTS” (Adoration, Confession, Thankfulness, Supplication) to give structure to my prayers. I’ve been shown how to pray intensely so that my prayers have more power. There are so many things we can learn about prayer, but most of us leave the hood closed.

If you’re going to pray more effectively, you’re going to have to spend some time under the hood tinkering. Powerful, effective prayers come out of spending time with the one we’re talking to. They come from intimately knowing the One to whom we pray. They come from understanding what His will is and what His Word says. The more we know what His Word says, the more we pray in accordance with it. The more we pray in accordance with it, the more He answers. The more He answers, the more faith and confident we get. The more faith and confident we get, the more effective our prayers become. James 5:16 says, “For tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!” (TPT)

Don’t be afraid to look under the hood of prayer. Learn what you can. Take time tweaking this and that to make it comfortable for you. Understand there are different types and ways to pray. Your prayers get an audience with the One who created everything you see. It’s worth investing time and energy to make them as effective as possible. Hang around others who get their prayers answered. Learn from them how to pray. Each one of us have room for growth in our prayers. To get better, we just have to open the hood

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God Is Listening

Hearing is one of your five senses. It’s something we all do passively. It requires no effort on our part to hear things. Everywhere we go, we’re bombarded by sounds that our ears have learned to tune out. Because of that, sometimes when someone is talking to us, we hear them, but we’re not listening to them. When we have something important to say to someone and they don’t respond, we usually ask, “Are you listening to what I said?” We don’t just need them to hear the sound of our voice. We need them to pay attention, to comprehend what we’re saying and to do something about it. There’s a big difference between passively hearing and actively listening.

There are times in our lives when we pray to God where we don’t just want Him to hear our prayers. We need Him to listen to them and take action. In those times of desperation, our prayers are cries from the bottom of our heart going straight to the Father. We need Him to listen to our requests, to pay attention and to intervene. I’ve prayed many of these prayers in my life. Some have been answered and some have gone unanswered. No matter what, I know that God listens to more than the words of our prayers. He hears our heart – the pain and desperation inside. Like a good father, He bends down and says, “Don’t fear. I hear you and am working out my plan for you.”

Here are some Bible verses on asking God to listen to our prayers.

1. Listen to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my plea. Listen to me and answer me; I am restless and distraught in my complaint.

PSALMS 55:1-2 AMP

2. Lord, bend down to listen to my prayer. I am in deep trouble. I’m broken and humbled, and I desperately need your help.

Psalms 86:1 TPT

3. GOD, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries. Don’t turn your back on me just when I need you so desperately. Pay attention! This is a cry for help! And hurry—this can’t wait!

Psalm 102:1-2 MSG

4. I love the Lord, because he hears me; he listens to my prayers. He listens to me every time I call to him.

Psalm 116:1-2 GNT

5. You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.”

Lamentations 3:56-57 NLT

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Winning Impossible Battles

In II Chronicles 20, a huge army invaded southern Israel. The king and all the people were terrified because they had defeated several strongholds easily. He begged God for help and asked others to pray with him. It sounds a lot like any one of us when we are facing something that seems impossible to beat. Fear is our first response, then we beg God for help. I believe what follows in this story is something we can all learn from in these moments in life.

The first thing that happened was King Jehoshaphat got like minded people together, fasted and prayed. We are not to fight these battles alone. Fear’s goal is to intimidate you and to push you into seclusion. Don’t let it! There is strength in numbers and in fasting. Get a group of people around you who can fight on their knees and touch God with you. This first step is critical if you’re going to win an impossible battle.

In verses 15-17, God answered those praying. The Word of the Lord came back saying, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (NLT). Things only seem impossible when God is not in the equation. The battles we face are not our own, but they are God’s. We don’t have to be afraid or discouraged at the sheer impossibility of anything that comes our way because God goes before us.

As the army of Israel approached the battlefield, Jehoshaphat spoke in verse 20 and reminded them, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets and you will succeed.” Faith will help us to stand firm when standing is all we can do. We can trust in God, and in His Word, to get the courage to keep standing in the face of impossibilities. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to continue to trust God and His Word until we can see the victory.

Finally, the king appointed singers to praise God and he sent them out in front. At the very moment they began to sing, the Lord gave victory. We need to be able to praise God in advance of victory. We need to honor Him when all else seems to be going wrong. Praise is powerful. It activates our faith and moves our God. If you can’t find it in you to praise, play praise music until you do. Victory is dependent on God, not us. We can praise Him for that. Our impossible battles are no match for a God who says all things are possible.

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Persistent In Prayer

One of the questions I like to ask people is, “What’s a trait that makes you successful?” I hear all kinds of answers from this question, but one that always stands out is persistence. Some of the most successful people I know are also some of the most persistent people I know. They keep going and pushing when others have given up. They know that if they give a little more effort, try a little longer or stick with it longer than anyone else, they’ll get what they’re after. They’re the epitome of dictionary.com’s definition of persistent: continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

The same principle holds true for those who are persistent in prayer. I know people who have prayed daily for decades for their spouse or child, and I’ve watched those prayers answered. It’s nice when God answers a prayer the first time we pray it, but more often than not, God answers persistent prayers. Are you willing to pray for what you need for decades? That to me is persistence. It’s obstinately holding on to God’s promise and your faith that He will answer as long as you keep knocking. If you’re still waiting for God to answer, then keep praying. God hears your prayer the first time you pray it, but there are things moving in the spiritual realm that require you to remain persistent in your prayers to get your answer. Don’t quit now.

Here are some Bible verses on being persistent in prayer.

1. Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].

JAMES 5:16 AMP

2. Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-17 AMP

3. Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.

COLOSSIANS 4:2 AMP

4. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.

Matthew 7:8 TPT

5. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Ephesians 6:18 NLT

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The Little Things

A while back, there was a concert my wife and I wanted to go to. On the day the tickets went on sale, I had two phones, an iPad and a laptop out trying to get tickets. After sitting in their digital waiting room for an hour, a message popped up saying they were sold out. As we got closer to the concert date I began looking at all the resale sites, but the ticket prices were outrageous. As we were driving down the road discussing it, my wife closed her eyes and said, “Lord, it would be awesome if you could give us free tickets to this concert. Amen.” I laughed internally and thought, “No one is going to give up their tickets, but ok God.” The day before the concert she got a message offering her free tickets to the concert. We were both blown away.

In 2 Kings 6, Elisha was the prophet of Israel, and the group of prophets who were with him decided the place where they were staying was too small. They wanted to build a bigger place, but Elisha didn’t think they needed to. After begging him to come, they went to the river to cut down trees to build a bigger place. Verse 5 says, “But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. ‘Oh, sir!’ he cried. ‘It was a borrowed ax!’” (NLT) Elisha had him point to the place where the ax head went into the water. He then threw in a stick and the ax head floated to the surface. The man grabbed it and went back to work.

Both stories remind me that God is concerned about the little things in our lives. Going to the concert didn’t change our lives, but God knew it was something we would appreciate. Sometimes we forget that like a parent, God just wants to bless His kids. We don’t need to feel like we’re bothering Him with the little things. He’s just as able to take care of the “little” requests in our lives as the “big” ones. God simply wants to be involved in our day to day lives instead of being our spiritual 9-1-1 call. He’s looking for relationship with us. If we’re going to have one with Him, then we need to let Him into all areas of our lives including the little ones.

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The Importance Of Prayer

Prayer should be as vital to a Christian as a heart is to their body. You simply cannot survive without it. As I’ve traveled the world, I’ve seen different religions have certain times and certain prayers that their adherents must follow and do. Some have to face a certain way, others have to wear special clothes, and some have to repeat certain mantras. Protestant Christianity doesn’t have any of that so that prayer can be an act of willing worship from the heart. It’s about getting alone with your creator, sharing what’s on your heart and listening to what’s on His. Unfortunately many Christians don’t have a regular time to spend with God and instead only offer up prayers when we need God to solve a problem.

I want to encourage you to find a set time to spend with God each day, not out of obligation, but out of devotion. You don’t have to Pray the entire time. Many times prayer is simply sitting in God’s presence and listening. He knows what you’re going to say before you even say it, and hears your heart when words are not enough. Christianity is about having a relationship with God, and relationships live and die on communication. Prayer is our way of communicating with God and finding direction in our lives. Pick a time and a place to meet regularly with God and watch your relationship grow.

Here are some Bible verses on prayer.

1. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

Psalms 116:2 NLT

2. GOD ’s there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it.

Psalm 145:18 MSG

3. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you.

Jeremiah 29:12 GNT

4. I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast.

Psalms 91:15 TPT

5. Lord, you know my prayer before I even whisper it. At each and every sunrise you will continue to hear my cry until you answer.

Psalms 88:13 TPT

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