Wednesday, January 30, 2019

3. Growing in Prayer – (b)The Learning Tree - Prayer

17 “……. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, 18 be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love];” --Ephesians 3:17-18

We love Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3. Paul prayed Christ would make His home in our hearts and our roots would go down deep into His marvelous love and keep us strong.  The love God proves in answered prayer we often find beyond comprehension.  Paul prays that we would understand the love of Christ and He would make His home in our hearts.

Where does one start “prayer study”?  We began our study many years ago with a study guide in our Bible[1] written by Larry Lea, B.A., M Div., D.D., and followed all cross-references (Never study scripture out of context). Little did we realize where it would lead us.  We begin this session with a quote from Larry Lea, “Study seeks to help people to practical, applicable-to-life patterns of prayer, as well as unveiling prayer secrets that help for habits by igniting understanding which prompts believers into dynamic prayer-patterns, rather than merely issuing rules.  The result is prayer that builds blessing and fruitfulness in your life.”[2]  We get our word “dynamic” from the Greek word, dunamis, which means energy, power, might, great force, great ability, strength.

Our heart is ignited with “understanding.”  In Hebrew, heart is Leb (lehv) and it means intellect, awareness, mind (inward parts), inner-person, inner-feelings, deepest thoughts, inner-self.  When we study verses in the Living Word, the Holy Spirit reveals the knowledge of the mind into understanding in the heart. We then become fully aware of the spiritual knowledge of God’s magnificent Word.  In the Book of Job, God reveals His Omnipotence, Job 38:36.  36 Who has put wisdom in the mind (the inward parts)?  Or who has given understanding to the heart (NKJ)?  God gives wisdom and understanding in the Living Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. Or, in down to earth speaking . . .  the “light bulb comes on”!

I quote Jerry Bridges[3], Prayer is not to serve our own purposes.  It’s true that our purposes are often served by prayer, but the primary purpose of prayer is to further the Kingdom of God.  A prayer not only must be prayed in the name of Jesus Christ—our first principle, but prayer must also be according to the will of God (1John 5:14-15).

Prayer is study that seeks with eyes focused on the meaning of prayer in scripture.  We cannot do this alone.  The power of the Holy Spirit unveils the truth (I John 2:27) of God’s Word, and our hearts ignite with understanding.  We began delving into the scriptures in a study that would take years.  The more we studied and discussed God’s Word the more the Holy Spirit gave a hunger and thirst that fed our passion.

No matter what age you are, one can grow to greater depths in God’s Word and continue to learn throughout a life time.  One thing we began to realize, if one reaches satisfaction in the reading or study of God’s Word; the more one thinks one knows, when you are content and think you are “there,” one is probably further away from God’s truths than he or she realizes.  To know God is eternal life as Jesus said in John 17:3. We have a lifetime to grow in the knowledge of God (Habakkuk 2:14).  There is no end to the study of God’s Word this side of eternity.

Growing in prayer is a process, there are principles -- spiritual dimensions, a theology and as you grow in prayer one grows in sanctification.  Your atmosphere changes, transformation takes place; our hearts change!

Join us next week as we continue to share our journey.

[1] Spirit Filled Life Bible; Jack W. Hayford, General Editor; Thomas Nelson Publishers
[2] Larry Lea, B.A., M Div., D.D.; Prayer and Spiritual Development
[3] Jerry Bridges was an evangelical Christian author, speaker, and staff member of The Navigators. Born in Tyler, Texas

Thursday, January 24, 2019

2. Growing in Prayer – (a)The Learning Tree - Prayer

14 This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that [1]if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us. 15 And if we know [for a fact, as indeed we do] that He hears and listens to us in whatever we ask, we [also] know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted to us] the requests which we have asked from Him.  – I John 5:14-15

We have prayed this scripture in our prayers so many times through the years.  We share the footnote from this scripture.   1 John 5:14 Confident, abiding faith combined with God’s power can produce amazing results, if the request is in harmony with God’s will. God is fully capable of doing that which man regards as impossible (Mark 14:36; James 4:3)

Many years ago, I read this quote: “You cannot take people where you have never been”.  So, in this vein of thinking, we want to share with you our journey “Growing in Prayer.  This study covers a period of many years finally committed to paper and we took every painful and exhilarating step of this journey.

Through our prayer studies, we found amid the above quoted scripture and, as God often does, it was given to us at the point of understanding.  It doesn’t matter the words we say, how we say them, the place, the time, etc., it is, and this is important:  Do we pray in God’s Will?  The only way to know God's Will is through His Word.

Even though we prayed most all our lives, and even though we should have been teachers, we felt like “Babes” in the power prayer.  What makes prayer??  Jesus set prayer at the heart of Christian living.  But something was missing in our prayers.  What was missing?

We have called ourselves Christians all our life.  We grew up in Christian homes, followed that example with our children, taught them and tried to live prayerfully in God’s Will.  To be perfectly truthful many times, we failed to walk the path God purposed for us.  We made our own choices instead of seeking HIS will.  It is when we realized, allowed our perceptions to see reality, and truth tugged at our hearts; we began to see our failures, choices, decisions and “busyness”. We had reached the point in our life that we wanted more in our relationship with God. We wanted a closer, more intimate relationship with HIM.  Because we were seeking, God opened our ears; and we could hear His call to a deeper and higher spiritual relationship with Him through prayer. 

We had prayed for years and God heard our prayers; He heard the voice of His sheep.  He answered prayers, said wait with some and said no to others.  In this moment of time we felt God was revealing to us there is greater power in prayer.  We began to seek new depths and greater heights as Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:18. We felt the love of God mightily and His presence through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49), teaching us patiently as we began to take the knowledge of his Word and it became understanding in our hearts.

Can we be more effective in our prayer life so that we can see truth as Christ promised in John 16:13?  Larry Lea in a study article says, “When the pulse is steady and the body exercised in this practice (prayer), every other facet of life flow with health as the individual is fed by God’s Word. Yet prayer is a puzzle to some who think it too mystical and a problem for others who find the habit hard to establish.”[2]

Join us with our continuing Blog as we share this journey with each of you.  Prayer is essential to our daily life.  We believe God hears our “cookie cutter” prayers, but we also believe that God’s power is released through prayer, Holy Spirit power beyond what we could generate.

Questions and comments are appreciated.

[1] Foot Note to Scripture, Bible, AMP Translation
[2] Larry Lea, B.A., M.Div., D.D.; Study Article,Prayer and Spiritual Attainment”

Friday, January 4, 2019

1. Growing In Prayer – It Is A New Year 2019

14 For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ], 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. 16 May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, 18 be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; 19 and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]  Ephesians 3:14-19

We begin our New Year with Paul’s prayer in Ephesians for in our hearts this prayer is the meaning of Christianity.  We believe in the infallible Word of God and its guiding message to us all.  To our understanding hearts the love of God surmounts anything, we mean ANYTHING, we can experience in this earthly existence today.

The Word tells us in I John 4:8, if you do not love, you do not know God, for God is love.  We live in a world where “hate” is   prevalent.  How sad!!!!  Billy Graham has said:  As we see a war-torn world–a world that is sick, pained, confused and bewildered–we believe that this is the hour for the church to speak out. This is the hour for the church to show forth the love and grace of God! This is the hour for the world to hear Christ saying through the church, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).”

The faithful Christian who believes Romans 10:9-10 must stand in defense of our beliefs and put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) to counteract the shamefulness of hate.  When Christ dwells in our hearts that is when He settles down and is at home in our hearts, we are rooted and grounded in love.

We take the knowledge of His word and it becomes piercingly truth in our hearts.  As Christ fills our hearts love rules.  Love is the foundation.  Love is that which everything else is built upon.

Rather than use words degrading to ourselves and to others, for a lack of vocabulary, let us pray the words of Paul’s great prayer for all mankind.

We wish one and all a Happy New Year and by the fullness of God let us be strong in our Christian faith.  When Christ dwells in our hearts love rules.