Tag Archives: prayer

A Spiritual Examination 


I’ve got a friend who doesn’t like to go to the doctor. He says, “Every time I go, they find something wrong.” Isn’t that the point? If there’s something wrong, wouldn’t you want to know about it? For some people, if the problem isn’t exposed, it doesn’t exist. So if they don’t go to doctor and have the tests run, they aren’t really sick. That’s the wrong way to think about things. If you have a sickness and there’s a cure, wouldn’t you want that sickness exposed so the disease doesn’t run its course?

To some of you, what I just described sounds crazy. Others of you can identify with it. Whichever side you’re on, the truth is that many of us think the way my friend does when it comes to sin in our lives. We don’t want to shed light on it or expose it, much less have a test run to prove it exists in our body. If there’s something wrong spiritually with you, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Wouldn’t you want to get it cured?

David fell into the group that wanted to go to the doctor often and have tests run to make sure nothing was wrong. In Psalm 26:2 he prayed, “Examine me, GOD, from head to foot, order your battery of tests. Make sure I’m fit inside and out” (MSG). He wasn’t afraid to have God shine His light into every dark corner of his life. He knew that sin likes to lay hidden in our lives unexposed. It tells us to pretend we are perfect and nothing is wrong. The truth is that all of us are infected with sin, and the way we rid ourselves of it is to expose it to the light of God’s Word.

If we truly want to live the lives God has called us to, we can’t be afraid to go to The Doctor and have Him test our lives. God will not condemn us for having Him expose our sins. Instead, He will be faithful to forgive us and to lead us down His paths. We can’t be afraid that He will find something wrong with us or what others will think. There’s a cure for the sin that’s holding us back and it’s free. Jesus already paid the price for our sin and has written out the prescription. Ask God today to examine you so you can be fit inside and out.

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The Right Path


I grew up in the woods. We had trails for miles back there. We had also built forts all over the place too because we were always playing war games. We had named the forts instead of the trails because there were fewer of them. If my friend told me to meet him at such and such fort, I knew which trails to take to get there the quickest. I probably could have done it blindfolded because we were back there so much. I never questioned where I was or what trail to take to get where I was going. We could get to any fort from anywhere back there.

Fast forward to today, and life is full of trails or roads to take. I’m not so sure anymore which one is the right one. Taking the wrong turn can have much different consequences than it did back then. I don’t want to mess up so I analyze all the possible outcomes before I take step in any direction. My fears create a paralysis through analysis situation quite often. Instead of choosing a path at a fork in the road, often I’ll camp there instead of moving forward.

David must have felt the same way at times. I know he was an outdoorsman from growing up as a shepherd. He fought lions and bears, and led his sheep to green pastures throughout the territory. He wasn’t scared of anything until he became king. His decisions all of a sudden had great consequences and he fell into the paralysis through analysis too. His cure came in Psalm 25:4. He prayed, “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow” (NLT). He trusted God to help him make the right decisions.

You and I can do that too. God will show us the right path to take. Even if we take the wrong one, verse 8 says, “The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.” He has a way to get us back to where we need to be. We just have to trust Him enough to keep going when we come to those forks in the road. He’s big enough to correct our mistakes and get us where we need to go if we are willing to keep moving. If you’ve been camping because you’re not sure which way to go, take a step of faith and trust God to show you the right path. 

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How To Fight Impossible Battles


In II Chronicles 20, a huge army invaded southern Israel. The king and all the people were terrified because they 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 for 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 so 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. 

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Stupid Sins


Recently I was changing out the ignition coils on my car. I brought my son out to watch as I worked on it. He watched me intently as I used the ratchet to remove the engine cover. As I began to work on the next level, he grabbed a screw driver and began sticking it in the engine area. I asked him to stop, but he kept sticking it in places. I told him, “This is my work. Your work is to watch.” He replied, “But I can do it.” I explained that he could mess something up if he didn’t stop, and it could be expensive. He wasn’t happy about it and walked away. 

I don’t know if there’s a more accurate picture of how we are with God at times. He tries to do a work in our lives, but we want to do it. We jump in the middle of it and start messing with what He’s doing. He tells us to stand back because this is His work, but we insist that we can do it. Instead of seeing God do an incredible work, we often mess up what He’s trying to accomplish. Abraham getting his wife’s servant pregnant is a prime example.  

I know we mean well, but there are things God does, and there are things we do. He usually invites us to participate with Him, but there are times when we just need to stand back and watch Him work. In Psalm 19:13 David prayed, “Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work” (MSG). David understood the temptation we all face in wanting to do God’s work for Him, so he prayed this brilliant prayer.

Are you arguing with God right now over what’s His responsibility and what’s yours? We all do it from time to time. Let me encourage you to pray what David prayed, and then take your hand back from God’s work. He can do exceedingly above and beyond anything we could ever do. Part of faith is trusting Him to do His work while we do ours. It’s not our responsibility to try to do His work. Like Abraham, we need to learn to trust that God knows what He’s doing and He will fulfill His promises even though we can’t see how.

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God’s Answers


When I was a young kid, my best friend David and I would hatch plans to do things. Many times that required us to stay the night at each other’s houses so we could plan it deep into the night. On my way home, I would always plan to ask my mom. I knew that if I asked her, she would say, “Yes.” I would practice how I would ask her as I crossed the street. When I would walk in the house, I’d yell out, “Mom?” When she answered, I had the confidence to go ask because I knew I had a great chance of staying the night with David. 

I wonder how much those years formed how I approach God. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got to hatch a plan to get Him to answer and give me what I want. Like a kid, I practice over and over how to ask for the thing I want. Should I ask for it this way or that way? Which way will get God to say, “Yes”? Ultimately I go to Him in prayer knowing He hears me, and I ask for what I want hoping He’ll agree it’s what’s best for me. Either way, I know He hears my prayer and will answer one way or the other.

Psalm 17 is a prayer of David. He was one who was constantly praying and asking God for things. I’m sure his mind was constantly hatching ideas too. He had the same faith in asking God for things as I did approaching my mother. In verse 6 he wrote, “I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray” (NLT). He had the confidence that not only would God listen, but also that God would answer. 

That’s the same confidence you and I need to have in our prayers. We pray because we believe God hears us. But do we ask for things with the confidence that He will answer? I was once told that God’s “no” is just as good as His “yes”. We may not like hearing the no’s, but when He gives them, they are what’s in His perfect will. Don’t be afraid to ask God for something because you’re afraid His answer will be a “no”. Have confidence that He will answer and that His answer will always be His perfect will for your life.

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Pressure, Prayer and Praise


One day I was walking and deep in thought. I wasn’t paying attention to what was in front of me until I stepped on a ketchup packet. When I did, ketchup shot out of the package and went all over the glass of a shop. While wiping it off, I began to think how when pressure is applied to something, what’s inside comes out. I began to wonder what would come out of my mouth and actions, from the inside of me, if serious pressure was applied. 

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison because they were preaching the Gospel and had delivered a girl from demon possession. Verse 16 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (NLT). When pressure was applied, prayer and raise is what came out of them. The goal for each of us is to be so full of God that when pressure is applied, prayer and praise would come out of us.

Here are some verses on prayer and praise. 

1. Proclaim with me the Lord ‘s greatness; let us praise his name together! I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me; he freed me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:3-4 GNT

2. In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?
Psalms 118:5-6 NLT

3. In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 PETER 1:6-7 AMP

4. There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Romans 5:3-5 MSG

5. Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4:6-7 MSG

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Listening To God


There are two questions many of us get asked. One is, “Did you hear that?” The other is, “Are you listening to me?” There is a difference between the two. Hearing is an involuntary function. As long as your ears work, you hear things all the time whether your brain takes the time to interpret the sounds. Listening is a voluntary function. It requires that you pay attention. The brain is looking to understand the sounds and to make sense of them. There’s quite a difference between the two.

In I Samuel 3, Samuel was a boy and he was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the altar. He heard someone say his name, so he went to Eli the priest and said, “Here I am. Did you call me?” (NLT). Eli replied, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” When Samuel got back to bed, he heard his name called again. Three times this happened and all three times, Eli sent him back to bed. On the third time though, Eli figured it out.

Eli realized that Samuel had never heard the voice of the Lord before. He instructed the boy to go back and respond should he hear the voice again. Verse 10 says, “And the Lord came and called as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel replied, ‘Speak, your servant is listening.'” He had heard the Lords voice three times, but it wasn’t until he learned to listen that the Lord gave him a message.

I believe God is talking to you and me all the time. Many times we hear His voice involuntarily and we interpret it as a feeling inside of us as to what we should do. I believe it is critical for each one of us pause in our prayer time to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” God doesn’t just want us to hear His voice, He wants us to listen to what He’s saying to us and then to obey. It’s going to require that you listen purposefully and then block out the other sounds your brain involuntarily hears. 

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