Archive for November, 2010

PREVAILING IN PRAYER(Pt. 4)

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”(Matthew 6:6 NIV)

HOLY HABITS

Why do some people consider prayer nothing more than a ritual, like saying “grace” before a meal? Prevailing prayer must be more than a ritual. It must become our routine. You need to establish a “holy habit” of prayer, meaning consistency. In Matthew 6, our Lord Jesus tells His disciples that in addition to a right motive in prayer there can be right habits in prayer. Habits are a way in which you can free yourself to enjoy your prayer time without, as someone called it, “mental wool gathering”. By this they meant keeping your mind from wandering while trying to pray.

1 – Keep a journal/notebook with you. This will serve two primary purposes. First, you can jot down any “wandering” thoughts that come to you just when you begin to concentrate in prayer. Write “flying, fleeting” thoughts down in order to forget them and move on. Secondly, a journal allows you to record your insights during your prayer time. It might be a word or scripture passage that seems to stand out or holds some importance for the day. It may be an instructional word that gives direction or guidance for the day. It may be a thought or a prompting that comes during your prayer time. Having a journal or notebook allows you to record promises you receive from His Word. And perhaps, best of all, a prayer journal allows you to write down prayers you offer to God. Later you can record the way in which your prayers were answered.

Nothing fortifies a prayer life like manifest answers to prayer. I recall sharing this concept in a Bible Study my wife and I were leading when a young lady beginning her journey with the Lord Jesus got excited and raised her hand. I ask her to share her excitement with us. She commented, “You know, I realize now that God has answered my prayers, many times, in such a way that was so much larger than what I had asked. So much so that I almost did not recognize it was the answer to what I had prayed!”  God will always exceed our expectations. Journaling helps us record the faithfulness of God to answer when we pray.

2 – Start with an order in prayer. The following are some suggested headings that help you get started in a prayer routine. These are only offered as a place to start to stay on track in prayer:

Praise

Praise God for Who He is. This is called adoration. You can praise or sing , which is a form of prayer (read the Psalms) of the goodness or the greatness of God. I find that a good praise song or a great hymn helps me express in words my adoration to God.

Honest to God

Being honest with God about your life is an important aspect of prayer. It takes humility to be honest and confess our sins, your weaknesses before God. But, hey, He already knows and loves you still.  I remind people who struggle to be honest about where they are in their spiritual journey, “God is not nearly as disappointed with us as we are with ourselves”. Our failures do not push God away from us. He is actually closer in our failures that in our successes.

Thanksgiving

Someone observed that, “Your gratitude will determine your altitude in God”. Gratitude for the things the Lord has done in your life is a gateway to greater things in God. Thanksgiving is such a wonderful key to many “locked doors” of blessing. A grateful heart can usher you into God’s best and future plans for your life. This, no doubt, was one of the great secrets of the apostle Paul’s overcoming many obstacles and seeming setbacks in his life. He wrote, “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”(Ephesians 5:20 NIV).

Pray for Others

Don’t just pray for yourself. Include others in your prayer. This is called supplication in the Scriptures. . By praying for others you are advancing God’s kingdom purpose for their lives. Praying for your family, for your leaders, and your nation is an important assignment. This aspect of prayer is the true ministry of followers of Jesus Christ. When we do so in His name we enter into the mysterious partnership around the throne of God. We enter more fully into the words that Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “May Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”(Luke 11:2)

Father, You have given us the keys to the kingdom of heaven on earth. Teach us to consistently and effectively use the key of prayer in partnership and fellowship with You. May we engage more purposefully in Your world as we learn to pray. In Christ Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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Prevailing in Prayer(Pt.3)

Learning to Hear His Voice

Do you believe that God speaks today? You may be saying to yourself, “I’m not sure God speaks today”. And yet the scriptures reveal that one of the great benefits of prayer is learning to listen for the voice of God. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice”(Read John 10: 4,16b). Hearing the voice of God can be an intimidating proposition to some. The notion that often holds people back from learning to listens is that, somehow, we mean hearing an audible voice from heaven or some other mystical experience. But the normal way that God speaks to His children is through the Word of God, the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit of God has been given to instruct and guide His people into His ways (c.f. John 14:16-17; John 16:13-15).

In those moments when we recognize that inner “knowing” that God is communicating with us through His word is a normal way in which we connect with God’s heart and mind. Then there are other moments when we are aware that God is speaking to us through circumstances in life; these are often confirmations that we are moving forward or in the right direction in taking a certain course of action. The more we are consistent in our praying, the more we become aware of how much God is speaking through the ordinary course of our day, people we encounter, challenges we face. In all these things we realize that God is not distant or alienated but very present to us, ready to hear our fainting whisper or cry. Learning to listen for His voice is learning to lose control of our daily affairs to the One who knows what is best for our lives. Learning to listen is also learning to lean into God and trust Him. Isaiah wrote, “For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,has said, ‘In repentance and rest you will be saved. In quietness and trust is your strength….The Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; how blessed are all those who long for Him”(Isaiah 30:15,18).

Repentance simply means we turn from our own thoughts and turn in order to tune into God’s thoughts. He says through Isaiah, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth. It will not return empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it”(Isaiah 55:8-11).

Trusting those still, inner nudges of the Holy Spirit is a sure way to develop a listening ear. It will cause you to learn to hear the “voice of God” in your life . Those who prevail in prayer are confident that they can hear the voice of Holy Spirit in their life. Hear is a key: His word and the voice of the Holy Spirit will always be in agreement. So do not let the fear of missing His voice rob you of your great privilege as His child to hear directly from your God and friend.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

Prevailing in Prayer(Pt.2)

Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).

What does it mean to prevail in prayer? To prevail in one sense means to win, gaining the victory over the enemy. To do this in prayer we must have confidence in the character of God. In other words, what God says or reveals about Himself is the way He really is. God is faithful to do what He says He will do. The more time you spend with someone, the more you get to really know them. Likewise, the more you spend time with God, the more confidence you have in the fact that He loves His children and wants to answer their cry with good things. How can I be sure of this? Read the first record of God and Man.

God and Man

The narrative of the first book, Genesis (The Book of Beginnings) chapters one and two are very interesting and instructive. There we see that God created everything with an end-goal in mind. It was out of His sense of love and care that all things came into being. Even the order in which things were created suggests that everything lent itself to the welfare and the happiness of Man. As a matter of fact, only after this careful preparation is Man introduced into the picture as God’s highest created order (Mineral, Plant, Animal, Man). Then God placed the Man (male and female) into an environment suitable for occupation and joyful fellowship with God and one another. In this environment prayer was as natural as opening their true self to God.

Prayer Opens the Soul to God

To pray is to open the soul to God. It is an honest disclosure of our thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants before Another who really cares, listening and affirming us as individual and unique in the universe. Our weaknesses, failures, and human vulnerabilities do not push God our Father away from us. Rather, He is actually moved with compassion for us because of our needs. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindness indeed never ceases, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. “ (Lamentations 3:20-25)

God Our Friend

Friendships are about being honest and open with another. We want them not only to know us as an occasional acquaintance, on a “surface level”. Rather, friendships are about being known on deeper levels than others may know us. Someone said, “A friend is someone who knows all about me and still loves me.” I remember seeing a plaque on the wall in someone’s home which read, “Thou, God, seest me.” I’m not sure what the intent of the saying was when written. But I took it to mean that “I Want God To See Me”, all my faults, flaws and failures as well as my triumphs, victories and successes.

To have a meaningful prayer life is to be honest (no “fig leaves” to cover up) and unclothed before God. He Who sees me as I am will not turn away from me; nor will He leave me, naked or ashamed. The writer to the Hebrews assures us that we have an “Open door policy” with God our Father and friend because of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need”(Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV).

God, who knows us through and through, is never ashamed of us, nor does He shame us. He only wants to change us. Therefore let us not faint, but prevail in prayer ‘til we receive His transforming grace in our lives.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

Prevailing in Prayer(Pt.1)

PERSONAL PRAYER

“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation”(Psalm 5:3 NIV).

“Why do you pray?” someone may ask me. My answer is “I Need To Pray!” In the end, the prayers that I pray are not as important in that they change things, but that when I pray…I am changed. Does prayer really matter? This is an important question.

For many people prayer is something the religious do. By that we mean, if someone prays it suggests that they are a “religious” person. If we mean that only religious people pray, that is not necessarily accurate. Many who consider themselves non-religious pray. Equally true is the reality that many people who consider themselves religious do Not pray.

There is something built into the average person that longs to be in touch with the divine. The spirit within men and women yearns to be in contact or communion, in some way, with that which is God. To them, God is a person, or a supernatural power outside, or a force greater than themselves. This is a typical, universal urge or inquisitive desire that (unless suppressed by others or circumstances) is natural.

Early Biblical History

In reading the early record of the scriptures, we see that the original intent of God the Creator, as revealed within Himself, is that He desired fellowship. He created man and woman to relate to Him in loving, unbroken communion. This communion was first expressed in community, a union with the heart and mind of God, thereby giving expression to God’s heart, mind and will in the earth. In other words, although we do not find the word “prayer” mentioned…it certainly is implied.

Hearing, receiving and responding to God, Who is Spirit, was both encouraged and experienced.

Again, for many people, prayer is nothing more than a One-Way street sign. Even if they did believe in prayer, for them, it would be like driving down a street one way with no expectation of meeting any vehicles coming from the opposite direction. They talk to God without any expectation that they will be heard or communicated with. And yet what makes prayer both a necessity and worthwhile is that God invites personal conversation with Him. He longs to respond to our thoughts, desires and needs.

A Priority for Personal Prayer

I would place this definition as a priority for our understanding of personal prayer: “Personal prayer is a longing and the pursuit of communicating, knowing and experiencing fellowship with God.”

The psalmist expresses it this way: “Thou will make known to me the path of life. In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

We are given insight into what the psalmist understands about prayer:

First, prayer means to come into God’s presence. Prayer positions us before God’s presence. We must understand that God is not far from anyone who has a heart to know, love and serve Him. His presence is not only all around us, but He is present to all those who call on Him in faith.

Second, prayer is meant to be a Joyful experience! This is not a drab or dull affair with God. It is not “I’m hating this, but I know I need to pray” attitude. Rather, prayer is a desire, connecting me with my heavenly Father who knows my every longing and loves to have my company. In prayer, I find that, as someone has said, “God is easy to get along with”.

Third, there are true rewards and benefits in prayer. Apart from getting to know God through prayer, the Bible is full of the promises of God for His children. But we have to make those promises our own, claiming through prayer our heavenly inheritance as a child of God. Our Lord Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you”(Matthew 7:7).

God is neither senile nor forgetful, sitting in the sky trying to remember His promises. He is full of joy and anticipation that His child will bring Him glory by asking for those things He has provided. He rejoices in giving us those things that we require, just as any parent finds satisfaction in knowing that they are able to fulfill the need and desire of their child. Let’s remember that everything that God does for us is motivated by His love.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content.  Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com