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Prayer makes me Confident

I have memorized these verses well and meditate on them (recite them in my head over and over) often. Some observations;

Psalms 3:3-6 But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me round about.

This is a prayer of David when he was fleeing for his life from his own son Absolom when he was trying to take over the Kingdom from David,and kill him.

The result of his praying was that God gave him “glory” or a great sense of worth and value, and God “lifted his head” or took away his sense of shame and failure. Also fear was taken away and replaced with peace and confidence.

Life is full of pressures, trials, failure, mean critical people, uncertainty, and change. All of that can make us sad, full of fear and uncertainty, make us feel like a loser, and fill us with shame. We can wallow in that or we can turn to God and pray, not a little prayer but the kind of prayer that shows we are desperate. God loves to draw near to those who really need Him and give them all that they need to conquer life.

Prayer and God’s Will

I would not pray for something that I knew was against God’s will. I don’t think very many Christians would, but what about praying for something that I am not sure is God’s will? Just before He is arrested, and crucified Jesus prays asking God the Father if another way can be found to save the world from their sins. He was fully aware of the price He was going to pay and He prays with great fervency for a possible alternative method.

Like 22:44 says, “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”

Jesus prayed “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me”

But then He adds this very important piece to His prayer.

“yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

There are many things that I do not know about the future, and a major one is that most of the time, I don’t know what God’s will is, so when I pray, I add what Jesus did, “yet not my will, but yours be done.”

I do the same thing when I write goals for my life as James commands us.

James 4:14-15 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

So when I pray and ask God to heal me or others and give us good health, I always add, “yet not my will but Yours be done.”

I make goals, I strive and work hard to accomplish those goals, and I pray that God will help me achieve those goals, but with many of them I am not sure what His will is. As I pray for things, I always pray, “show me what Your will is for my life; I commit to obeying You and following Your will for my life, whatever it is.”

God the Father obviously communicated to Jesus what His will was because Jesus stood and willingly went to the cross.

Most of the time, for me, it takes some time praying for something before I become convinced of what God’s will is, and as that awareness grows, my goals and prayers change. But often that perfect will of God remains a mystery so I pray for my desire and work towards my desire, trusting that God puts His will in me in the form of a strong desire of my heart, but I always add, “yet not my will but yours be done.”

God is my Protector

Of the different prayer requests in the Bible one of the most often prayed and one that God commands us to pray often is asking God to protect us from our enemies, and the primary enemy that we have is the devil and his demons. Here is one of many passages in the Bible that describes his attempts at destroying us. His goal is to make us miserable and to draw us away from loving God, and with many today he is succeeding.

Psalms 10:8-10
He sits in the lurking places of the villages;
In the hiding places he kills the innocent;
His eyes stealthily watch for the unfortunate.
He lurks in a hiding place as a lion in his lair;
He lurks to catch the afflicted;
He catches the afflicted when he draws him into his net.
He crouches, he bows down,
And the unfortunate fall by his mighty ones.

When you feel discouraged, worthless, like a failure, unmotivated, tempted, bitter, like a loser, anxious, or sad consider the fact that it very well could be demons that are talking to you, and pray asking God to crush them.

Psalms 17:11-13
They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground.
He is like a lion that is eager to tear,
And as a young lion lurking in hiding places.
Arise, O Lord, confront him, bring him low;
Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword,

Psalms 17:6-9 I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.
Wondrously show Your lovingkindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand
From those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of the eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
From the wicked who despoil me,
My deadly enemies who surround me.

God protects, He gives Peace, He gives joy, but only to those who give Him time in prayer.

Prayers God Always Answers

One of the most often prayed prayers in the Bible is the prayer for strength. God is almighty, and He gives His strength to those who look to Him and ask for it.

Psalms 18:1-3, 6. I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised. . . .
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

I have written about this topic a lot in the past, and the reason is because I get weary a lot and I pray a lot asking God to give me His strength.

For most of us this isn’t a physical strength need, but an inner strength need, an inner resolve, determination, and endurance. We get discouraged, lose hope, feel sorry for ourselves, and become mental losers.

The problem most have is we are not quick to see our need for strength because we are so naturally self-reliant. All of our eight kids at a very early age declared their self-reliance from Patty and I when we offered our help to zip up a coat, tie their shoes, or cut up their meat. “I can do it by myself!” That is a good thing as we all grow up to be responsible and faithful people in life as we face problems and help others.

God’s strength is not intended to make us irresponsible, wimpy, and lazy but He wants us to walk with Him, serve with Him, work with Him, and recognize that He is God and apart from Him we can do nothing.

2 Corinthians 6:1 And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—

2 Corinthians 12:9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

The more we attempt to do for God in obedience to Him the more strength we will need from Him. The more fruit we bear as His disciples the more strength we will need from Him. The more we choose to rejoice in trials instead of grumble the more strength we will need from Him. The more we choose to put others ahead of ourselves the more strength we will need from Him.

Ask, ask, ask, ask, He gives strength to those who see their need and ask.

James 4:2 . . .You do not have because you do not ask.

What Should I Pray For?

Several years ago I was fishing in Alaska and I wasn’t catching any fish! That was a problem, but what was more of a problem was that everyone else was catching fish so that I couldn’t blame my dry spell on no fish in the river. So I silently prayed and asked God to bless me with some fish. I thought about that prayer for months after that. Was that a prayer request that pleased the Lord or not? I am not sure what you all think, but I haven’t prayed asking God to bless me with fish again.

Several years ago I did a simple prayer study. As I read through the Bible every verse that was a prayer, I highlighted blue. Then when I was done I could go back and read all the blue highlighted verses at once. From that I wrote down every prayer request that was made to God, counting all the reoccurrences. My purpose was to come up with, using all the prayers in the Bible, a list of prayer requests that were pleasing to God. There were a number of requests that were repeated often, and from the context they were obviously ones that God loved to answer.

One of those requests was that God would guide them in life into His perfect will for their life.

Psalms 143:10 Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

That prayer request sounds good to me, one that God will always answer.

Win

I watched Monday Night Football tonight with some friends from JBC. Both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants were trying very hard to win.

A verse that I worked on tonight was 2 Timothy 2:5 where the Apostle Paul says to Timothy who he is training to be a pastor of a church, “if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”

I wonder what the prize is that Paul is referring to? I wonder what the rules are? Later on in 2 Timothy Paul again refers to the prize as something that he has won and that will be given to him at the Judgment Seat of Christ when he dies.

I am pretty sure that the rules that must be followed are the principles in the Bible that God has given to us to guide us in life in order to be fruitful and successful in what we do for God with our life.

Our responsibility if we want to win in life as a disciple of Jesus is to learn what the rules are that God has made, we do that by reading the Bible every day, every day, every day, and then following them closely, asking God for his strength to help in keeping them.

Phony Example

One of my responsibilities given to me as a Pastor by God is to be an example to those in the church on how to live the Christian life.

The apostle Peter’s instructions to pastors in 1Peter 5:3 . . .”but proving to be examples to the flock.”

Paul’s admonition to his protege Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12, “in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”

The problem is that there are some areas in my life that I am not a good model, not awful, just not really good. There are some things that I don’t feel comfortable saying, “do what I do.”

So, what should I do about that? The temptation is to pretend, to be a phony, to be a Pharisee.

Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

I pray every day, often several times a day, “Dear Lord, please help me to live my life so others who watch me will have a good model to follow, and Lord when I mess up help me not to be a Pharisee. Please help me to be genuine, real, and humble.

Kids

Almost a year ago I got a call from a fellow who heads a ministry on prayer. He puts together seminars and invites guys to speak who are relatively successful at getting prayer off the ground in their own churches and life. I agreed to speak on October 20th and 21st, and then recently I found out that my kids and grandkids who live in Hawaii, Idaho, and Alaska are coming to see us during those days that I am gone. I thought very seriously about telling the guy in charge that I was going to have COVID during those days and couldn’t come. One of my first lessons in my leadership class is on faithfulness, and that God requires faithfulness if he is going to use us. Darn, I hate it when one of my sermons or lessons convicts me, and keeps from doing the easy thing.

We Went on a Date

Patty and I went out to dinner tonight for a date. We had a nice time driving there and back and eating together a meal she didn’t cook or clean up after. We talked for most of the evening about anything and everything. More accurately Patty talked and I listened attentively, with grunts of affirmation in appropriate places. We have been married for 53 years and we have a very good marriage that is very fulfilling for both of us. Good marriages don’t just happen by accident, there is always a reason. There are a number of practices and disciplines we have maintained faithfully for most of our married life. Out of the dozen or so very important activities that make our marriage healthy the date that we go on almost weekly is one of the most important. The cool thing about a date is that we are on neutral ground and so discussions about things that we have differences on tend to be much more neutral, that is, more matter of fact and less emotional helping us to arrive at solutions and agreement easily. There are a bunch of other reasons why dates are a great tool to promote growth, unity, and romance in a marriage that I could mention, but the most basic is that the first thing I did in our relationship was to ask Patty out on a date and from that one date has come years of joy.

What am I Going to Do?

As I start writing my goals for this next year I ask myself, “What do you want to do?” My goals are like looking at a menu at a fine restaurant, I can’t eat everything on the menu, so I have to decide what I will eat and what I won’t eat. Most of what I decide not to eat I like, and I would eat it if we went to someone’s house and that is what they cooked. But when given a wide variety of choices I go with what I like the best. As I think about my goals there are so many things I would like to do, but I don’t have enough time and energy so I have to choose. Sometimes in a months time while I am writing my goals I will change my mind a dozen times, back and forth, back and forth. I want to build a car from scratch using plans I bought on line, it would be so much fun, so challenging. But I also want to restore my 1950 Ford club coupe with a Flathead V8 and really hop it up, that will be an awesome car. But I can’t do both. I might live long enough to do one and then the other when I finish the first, so back and forth I go! There are so many things that I want to do in ministry, but I could only do them all if I lived to be 150 years old, so I have to choose.

One of the reasons that goal setting is such a good thing to do is that I think and ponder as I decide how I am going to use my time, my life, and I don’t live my life impulsively just going with the easy most convenient choice. I think, I pray, I ask other’s advice and counsel, and I write, and when I finally decide I am convinced that it is God’s will for my life.