Tuesday, November 26, 2019

26. Growing Prayer – The Learning Tree – (2) Why Do We Pray?


16 Rejoice always and delight in your faith; 17 be unceasing and persistent in prayer; 18 in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.  --1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 
***

This is our second Blog on "Why Do We Pray".  Why do we pray?  A question of great magnitude!  Prayer is having a conversation with God, an intimate sanctified (set-apart) time.  It is the very breath of our soul the core of our being.  Prayer is the key (Matt. 16:19) that unlocks the incredible promises of God. There are times we pray like we speak to a friend.  Other times we pray intensely, passionately and it is the prayer of an intercessor. We pray in the name of Jesus who connects us to His promises.  John 16:24, “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full”.   In and through prayer the promises of God are manifested (revealed) in and through us.  We are privileged to begin each day with prayer giving our hearts to God.  When temptation threatens, and it will, we have the power source and communion with God the Father through the blood and name of Jesus Christ.  He knows our voice.

I cannot remember when I did not pray…not aloud…not in public….but in child-like simplicity.

I began to pray that Jesus would teach me to pray just as His disciple asked (Luke 11:1).  As the years have passed, I grew in a close intimate relationship with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through the Holy Spirit I have been taught much (I John 2:27).  First and foremost, we pray for the undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good for mankind and ourselves.

“Biblical prayer is always accompanied by radical obedience.  God’s response to prayer with obedience always releases the nature of heaven into our impaired circumstances”.[1]

Why do we pray?  We learn to pray God’s Will.  We pray for Spiritual Development and growth in intimacy with God the Father.  As we grow in our Spiritual Development, our faith grows in answered prayer (1 Chronicles 4:10).  When we pray in faith (Mark 11:22) moved to action, believing (II Chronicles 20:5-12; Romans10:9), without doubt (James 1:6), seeking repentance and forgiveness (Matt 3:2; Matt 6:14) forgiving those who have hurt us, laying down all strongholds (2Corinthians 10:5), lifting the Name of the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in honor and glory, praising and worshiping (Psalm 34:1), we are in effective prayer.




[1] When Heaven Invades Earth, Chapter 5, Praying Heaven Down, p. 58, Bill Johnson, Author

Thursday, November 21, 2019

25. Growing Prayer – The Learning Tree - Why Do We Pray?

I Cannot Remember When I Did Not Pray

Father God we seek Your face.  We have questions and we long for You to teach us in a way that we will grow closer and closer to you.  We cling to Your promises and our hope is in You.  Blessed is Your Holy Name.  In Jesus’ magnificent name I pray.  Amen and Amen.
***

We have often heard the question, “Why do we pray”? 

In Luke 11:1, Jesus had been praying and one of the disciples asks, “Teach us to pray”.  The result of that request Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer.  It became the Lord’s Prayer by choice of those who read the scriptures.  Actually it is a pattern for how we pray.  We believe the real Lord’s Prayer is John 17.  One of the important thoughts to understand regarding the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1), it was written in the imperative tense.  Why the imperative? 

The word imperative used as an adjective means of 1vital importance; crucial: immediate action was imperative, and 2Giving an authoritative command; peremptory.  Used as a noun it means 1an essential or urgent  thing, and 2a factor or influence making something necessary.  The word imperative originated from late Middle English (as a grammatical term): from late Latin imperativus (literally 'specially ordered', translating Greek prostatikÄ“ enklisis 'imperative mood'), from imperare 'to command', from in- 'toward' + parare 'make ready'.[1]

We would acknowledge that prayer is very important to our God and Father.  It is imperative, of vital importance, crucial, an authoritative and peremptory command.  It is not that we order God around.  We must first understand our roll in prayer.  Nothing is going to happen on this earth unless we ask first (Matthew 16:19).  Through God’s Son, birth, life, death and resurrection, we become redeemed people to lift our voices in prayer and change here on earth.  The summons in the Lord’s Prayer is that we walk into prayer with authority given to us.  When we realize the awesome trust God puts in us, we will begin to pray the way God wants us to pray.

What then is effective prayer?  It is prayer prayed in God’s Will.

The word effective in the Greek means a decided, decisive, or desired effect, ready for service or action.  The Synonyms for effective are: capable, able, powerful, and efficient.  Strong’s #1754, effectively, energeo (en-erg-eh-oh); One of the four big energy words; energeo, energes, energeia, and energema.  The words all stem from en, “in”, and ergon, “work” and have to do with the active operation or working of power and its effectual results.  (en-erg-eh-oh) be effectual, be might in, effectual fervent, effectually work, show forth (one’s) self, to do, work, work effectually in.  “….The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man…”[2]

True effective prayer is work.  If you expect to go before the Throne of Grace in a laid back state….think again.  Jesus in the garden exemplified the pouring out of His soul before God the Father.  “He agonized until His sweat mingled with His blood dripped to the ground and many have tried to deny this as even being possible.  However, there is a medical term, Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, which is well documented.  Under great emotional stress of the kind that Jesus suffered, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat which can lead to weakness and shock.  Isn’t it interesting that Luke, the physician, is the only one who documented this fact in the Gospels”[3]?

We ask you are you willing to pour your heart and soul out in prayer….are you willing to “work” at prayer….are you guilty of “cookie cutter prayers”?[4]

Next week the continuance of “Why Do We Pray”.




[1] Oxford Dictionaries
[2] Greek Lexicon
[3] Dr. C. Truman Davis
[4] “Cookie Cutter” prayers are rote prayers; repetitious and shallow prayers; mechanical, unthinking or devoid of heart.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

24. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – What Do We Do Now?


Hear the word of the Lord, You children of Israel, For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.  By swearing and lying, Killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, With bloodshed upon bloodshed.  Therefore the land will mourn; And everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; Even the fish of the sea will be taken away.   – Hosea 4

Our Sunday School teacher is teaching on the book of Hosea and as we read chapter by chapter, I couldn’t help but think of Solomon when he said;That which has been is what will be,That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun”.  –Ecclesiastes 1:9

We are in the depths of sin in our Nation.  People are people and we have a sin nature.  It is not new and it high lights the words of Solomon.

As we read Hosea each Sunday, I think to myself this where our country and society is today.  The Ten Commandments are no longer a directional to righteous living.  There is cheating, lying, stealing, murder, sins of the flesh; I could go on and on.  What is more there is no conscience.  Those who do these horrible sinful acts has no conscience; they think they have the right to do “whatever is right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  Are they in for an awakening when judgement comes?

We find as it says in Ecclesiastes 1:9, there is nothing new under the sun.  What has happened will happen again in a new setting, fitting to modern times, but the same in structure; good or evil.  As new generations mature, they must make a choice between good or evil.  Paul calls us to put on the armor of God Ephesians 6:10-18.  Our weapons are God’s Word and Prayer.

Yes, God’s Word is a two-edge sword!  Prayer is the most powerful weapon we can find or use against all evil, illness, etc.  When we pray with power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome all adversity.  All things are possible (Matthew 19:26)!!

Hosea 6:1-3, God’s Word reaches out to save those unrighteous folks.  All they must do is repent . . .3Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.

Our Nation, our society even down to our cities, towns, and committees and even our Christian service are in chaos!!  My folks would express it in this way; “we are in one mell of a hess.”  Everyone has an opinion and they do not follow any sort of leadership.  Instead of giving our encouragement we judge one another, and we criticize each other for our thoughts, leadership, character, our very presence.

We have always loved Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19.  We believe if God’s people will pray Paul’s prayer in the power and might of the Holy Spirit, all things are possible

Matthew 3:10 - The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

23. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – Ask and Keep on Asking


Let’s think about Luke 11:5-8

5And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? 8I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

This scripture is referred to as a ‘prim-er (for teaching) or ‘Pri-mer (to ignite an explosive charge) in prayer.  Jesus was teaching his disciples the very basics and power of prayer.

The Scripture just prior to this Luke 11:1, one of His Disciples said:  teach us to pray.  Jesus gave them what we call today the Lord’s Prayer.  This was not given to us as a prayer, but as a lesson in prayer.

The important thing to understand the Lord’s Prayer was written in the imperative tense.  Why the imperative?  It is not that we order God around.  We must first understand our roll in prayer.  Nothing is going to happen on this planet unless we ask first.  Through God’s Son, birth, life, death and resurrection, we become redeemed people to lift our voices in prayer and change.  The summons in the Lord’s Prayer is that we walk into prayer with authority.  When we realize the awesome trust God puts in us, we will begin to pray the way God wants us to pray~~~In His Will!

Do you say “just” in your prayers, i.e., I just praise you; just call on your name, just bring the people, just thank you for today…?  “Just” implies we feel we are a problem to God.  We are not a problem to God!!  God has given us great dignity and privilege to come before Him to ASK!  He tells us repeatedly, ASK.  The power He has given us is in the Power of Prayer . . . the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.  When we ask, God’s moves His hand from Heaven.  His promises are manifested in and through our prayers.

In verse 8, Jesus says, 8I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence (importunity) he will rise and give him as many as he needs. 

Actually the word persistence is importunity which means Troublesome urgency; excessive persistence. In Luke 11:8 importunity results in a favorable response to a midnight request for bread (KJV, RSV). Many modern translations read persistence (NASB, NIV, NRSV, REB).  The literal meaning of the term is shamelessness (NEB; compare TEV: “not ashamed to keep on asking”).  Jesus is telling us to pray to the point, exactly, specifically, and pray with boldness and authority; shamelessly.

Then Jesus says:  Luke 11:9-10, 9So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Nothing will happen unless we pray.  God gives us responsibility, privilege and accountability.  Let us go before the Throne of Grace reverently, worshiping, asking with authority.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

22. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree - (2) Pathway to God’s Glory


11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled [before others], and he who habitually humbles himself (keeps a realistic self-view) will be exalted.”  --Luke 14:11

We continue with the Pathway to God’s Glory that we began last week.  As mentioned, this Blog is a result of Doyle’s writings on this subject. 

“Jesus gives us His holiness and humility.  Receiving Jesus we begin our walk to sanctification.  Jesus growing in us we grow in the desire and thirst to live as He lived.  He suffered and died on the Cross and was glorified.  [He completed His work--John 17:14][1]  We are called to Jesus’ Holiness.  Can we surrender in humility our own worldly passions to be holy as He is holy?  This faith, choice, action [faith moved to action} is the humility that we are called setting us apart from the world.  We are to God the very fragrance of love as we strive to His holiness.  We are imperfect beings here on this earth and the only way we will achieve this Holiness is in and through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Would it not be incredible if God’s living saints could master the humbleness of Christ as they grow in sanctification?  We, the Church, could put on the beautiful garments and humility of God and this will be seen in her teachers and members as the beauty of holiness. The Lamb of God means two things—meekness (humble) and death (to self). Andrew Murray says:  “Let us seek to receive Him in both forms. In Him, they are inseparable; they must be in us also”. [2]

“We cannot live the life Jesus lived without the power of the Holy Spirit. What a hopeless task if we had to do the work!  We are imperfect, sinners in a World of sinners.  Even God’s grace cannot overcome our free choice.  We are helpless to self without the love of Jesus.  “The death of Jesus, once and forever, is our death to self. And the ascension of Jesus, His entering once and forever into the Holiest has given us the Holy Spirit to communicate to us in power, and makes the power of the death life our very own. As the soul, in the pursuit and practice of humility, follows in the steps of Jesus, its consciousness of the need of something more is awakened”.[3]  We grow in sanctification and in that growth we receive the fullness of the Spirit of Jesus.  In that fullness and total submission of self “we make humility the all-pervading spirit of our life.[4]   Say to the Father as Jesus said, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done”.[5]  In our humility we will see the magnificent, radiance, His visible splendor, His Glory!  Without humility and the submission of self to the resurrected Christ we are nothing.  By our faith, believing to action the life, death and resurrected Jesus we have no hope of the life promised on earth and in heaven.   We commit our spirit with Christ into the Father’s hands and enter His perfect peace.  We submit to that perfect, helpless dependence upon God.”
  
“Would you please join in repeating this prayer with me?”

“Father we ask that you stop all the former workings of our hearts and mind.  Give us all the strength in our hearts, to continually stand in the humility of Jesus.   Help us always be inwardly longing and earnestly praying this one prayer to You Oh, God.  That of Your great goodness You would make known to us, and take from our hearts, every kind, form, and degree of pride whether it be from evil spirits, or our own corrupt nature.  That You will awaken in us the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make us capable of Your radiant splendor . . . . Your glory.   Let us reject every thought, but that of waiting and praying in this matter from the bottom of our hearts, with truth and earnestness.   We ask in the Holy, magnificent Name of Jesus.  Amen”



[1] All brackets are inserted for clarification
[2] Andrew Murray’s book “Humility”
[3] Andrew Murray’s book “Humility”
[4] Andrew Murray’s book “Humility”
[5] Luke 22:41

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

21. Growing in Prayer –The Learning Tree - (1) Pathway to God’s Glory


So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], 2 with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love[1].  Ephesians 4:1-2

This blog has been writings and studies of my pen.  Doyle and I studied together for years and I have put those studies on paper with my pen.  With age, and some more than others, memories begin to fade.  My precious Doyle is slowly entering that stage of life.  I assure you the meaning of scripture is still alive in him.  He may not remember the verse or quote it accurately, but the meaning is alive in him. Now I would like to introduce to you my loving husband, Doyle.  The next two weeks are from his pen.  My love deepens each day for him and his sweet, spiritual nature that covets God’s Word.   I share with you a devotional he gave to Crown Financial Ministry many years ago.

Doyle’s thoughts.

“A few years back Charlsey and I were putting together our thoughts for The Lenten Season, I had been considering what Jesus had prayed, in John 17:22 “And the glory which you gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one.” I realized that Jesus was praying this for all believers. One of the first sermons our Pastor at the time had presented to us was on this [Scriptural] prayer. I asked him to repeat to me the description he stated for glory. He stated, “Visible Splendor.”

“At times since then, I have seen glimpses of “Visible Splendor” in the faces of those in church. It is most visible on the faces of those who are really into God’s Word (especially my wife, Charlsey). I believe we experience this splendor from the choir as they deliver an unusually beautiful song. I do not know your thoughts, but to me, there is splendor in a sermon well delivered, which brings worship for our Lord.”

“Please explore with me this thought. How can you and I experience the glory Jesus has given us through the Father so that we may be one with Him as He is one with the Father?  Humility!  If any prayer is ever answered would not Jesus' prayer for us be answered?Please hear as I read from Andrew Murray’s book “Humility.”[2]

We speak of the Holiness movement in our times, and praise God for it. We hear a great deal about seekers after holiness and professors of holiness, of holiness teaching and holiness meetings. The blessed truths of holiness in Christ, and holiness by faith, are being emphasized as never before. The great test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain is truth and life will be whether it produces an increasing humility in us”. “ (The End)

Because of our humanness and imperfection, it is difficult (not impossible) for us to totally humble ourselves.  “Self” gets in the way.  Yet without humility, do we lean to the impossible when we do not humble ourselves? This is the one thing needed to allow God’s holiness to dwell in us and shine through us…. His “Visible Splendor” …… The Glory of God!! 

The problems and savagery of the world would end, if we would each release self and live Ephesians 4:1-2 in total humility.




[1] Ephesians 4:2 The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for another.

[2] Howard Dayton, Co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries and Founder of Compass – finances God’s way, encouraged the reading of Andrew Murray’s book “Humility.”  Howard Dayton is the epitome of humility.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

20. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (2) God’s Word Sharper than a Two-Edge Sword



12For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  --Hebrews 4:12

Yes, the Word of God is like a two-edged sword.  Ask anyone who has repented and fallen before the Cross of Jesus and asked for forgiveness of their sins.  I have and it was very painful; God’s Word cut me to the quick.  My soul was penetrated to “both joints and marrow.”  As it says in Romans 3:22-24, “....since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...."

Jack Hayford wrote in a study article, “The absolute authority of the Bible over our lives is based in our conviction that this Book does not merely contain the Word of God, but that it is the Word of God in its sum and in its parts.”  The mature Christian believes Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect (flawless) restoring and refreshing the soul; The statutes of the Lord are reliable and trustworthy, making wise the simple.”

Anyone from the 1960s now understand the profound societal change.  Our country changed from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  II Timothy 4:3-4 says, “…. they will turn their ears away from the truth…...”  We believe the truth is in God’s Word.

We have often wondered when Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).  Will He?

From an article by Billy Graham long ago, “A revival among Christians could change the whole process of history and reverse the immoral tide.”

We cannot help thinking our enemy (devil, Satan, or whatever you call this fallen angel) is rejoicing that he has us fighting and falling away from the Word of God.

I am one of the fortunate ones; I was raised in a loving home with loving parents and a loving older brother.  They lived God’s Word and I wrote in my Bible beside Proverbs 17:27, “My Daddy.”  It says, “He who has knowledge spares his words; and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”

The only way we can stabilize ourselves and this Nation is to receive God’s Word.  God gave us His Great Commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5 and He went on to say, “These Words, which I (God) am commanding you today, shall be written on your heart and mind.  7You shall teach them diligently to your children….” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).

Let us pray that the mature Christian (Luke 8:15) will rise and proclaim (loud and clear) the Word of God, and those who defile the truth of HIS Word (Titus 1:15) will hear the call of God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit.