Posts Tagged ‘prayer

22
Dec
08

Responding to the gloom

Photo Credit - //farm2.static.flickr.com/1245/711658920_e81817f070_o.jpgA scan of the headlines today informed me that the major banks are predicting a shrinking economy, consumer confidence is the lowest in decades and unemployment is projected to rise significantly.  Hmmm, enough there to make one more than a bit jittery and anxious.

Let’s step back to the first Christmas.  The angels announced to a bunch of guys:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! (Lk 2:14)

The declaration of “peace” was good news to the shepherds centuries back and it is good news to us.

How do we avail ourselves of this God-given peace?  The letter Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi gives us two things we can lean into.

First, we read,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Php 4:6-7)

Projected economic downturn is not a time to wring our hands but to raise them heavenward in prayer, asking our Father who knows what we need to provide our daily bread.

Second, Paul writes,

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Php 4:9)

Social and employment uncertainty is not a time to stray from God’s truth, but to be doers of His Word, being rooted and ready because He guides us.

As we enter into a new year, headlined by gloomy forecasts, may we encourage one another to experience the peace of God and the God of peace.

21
Dec
08

The secret to keeping promises

A scene in the movie Fireproof called for a kiss between husband and wife.  The husband, played by actor Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) had no qualms, as long as the wife he was to kiss was his real-life wife.  Cameron’s convictions prevailed and Chelsea Noble, his wife of 17 years, stood in for the on-screen wife for the tender moment.  Years earlier, the actor had made a promise to his wife not to kiss any woman but her.  He has demonstrated that he is a man of his word.

Few of us are or will be actors, but all of us I believe desire to be men of our word.  We would like to be known as men whom can be counted on to honour their promises and commitments.  Unfortunately many of us know from experience that our resolve to be promise keepers can flounder and even fail.  Hurry, distractions, pressures, and passions can knock us off course, leaving us with good intentions but bad follow-through.

What can be done?  Do we plunge into the New Year with a guilt-fueled list of resolutions, written in bold to impress or at least to fool?  No.  We have ridden that horse before and it is no more alive this year than last.

Author Ken Drury gives us an idea.  He writes, “About a dozen years ago I discovered a group of busy Christian executives who were weary of breaking promises to God and their families…These men discovered a little known secret of commitment keeping — accountability. It is a most powerful secret to rescue you from the cycle of promises-broken, promises- renewed. ”

Every week I meet with a group of men.  We read a devotional, discuss it and pray for one another.  It is the praying where accountability begins to show up.  If you are asking other guys to support you in prayer about something then there is a good chance one of them is going to ask how things worked out.  This helps me stay real in my prayer requests; I don’t share something that my heart isn’t ready to be committed to.

There are numerous accountability structures.  What have you experienced and what benefit has it been to you?

24
Jun
08

Becoming a man of prayer – developing spiritual protection (ch. 9)

“We are to be conscious of the reality of spiritual warfare.  We are to be prepared and equipped to wage this war.  To this end, Jesus taught the disciples … to pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one'” (Mt 6:13).

Beltz notes that there are two great enemies that we face in spiritual warfare.  Our human nature, with its bent toward self-centredness and sin, is particularly susceptible to temptation and represents our first enemy.  However, God has provided ways for us to overcome temptation.  Memorizing scripture (Ps 119:11),  resisting temptation (1Pe 5:9), and fleeing temptation (2Ti 2:22) are biblical strategies.  The author suggests that in this component of our prayer time we should ask God to guide us such that our exposure to temptation is minimized.  We pray that God would help us live obedient lives; we dress ourselves to overcome temptation (Eph 6:13-17).

The second enemy is Satan, referenced here in the Lord’s prayer as the evil one.  Prayer offers us the opportunity to request a God-powered spiritual barrier around our lives and our families against the schemes of the evil one.  In Beltz experience this is best a daily request.  The author also regularly prays that God would dispatch those angels he has appointed to minister and protect.

With this Beltz has expanded on each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer.  His book contains some additional comments but we will conclude our blog series here.

Previous post in the series.

16
Jun
08

Becoming a man of prayer – experiencing forgiveness (ch. 8)

“Many people handle guilt by repressing or internalizing it…others attempt reeducation…some seek to atone for their guilt by becoming religious…some men and women deal with guilt by punishing themselves…The problem with all of these solutions is the same, they don’t work! There is only one effective solution for true moral guilt. That solution is now accessible through prayer.”

In this chapter the author deals with the phrase ‘Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Mt 6:12). He suggests four stages in order to receive and to offer forgiveness.

First, we need to get honest with God and ask the Holy Spirit to show us concrete sins that we need to confess. Beltz in his prayer notebook has also made a list of character flaws so that he is regularly prompted to pray about these as well. Stage two is agreeing with what the Holy Spirit has shown us and confessing that before God in prayer, giving thanks for the forgiveness that is available to us because of Jesus’ atoning work. Sometimes there is benefit is confessing our sin before another believer (see James 5:16). Thirdly, we seek the power of God to change the defects of our character and the behaviour patterns that are not pleasing to God. Finally we check our attitudes. We need to willfully decide to extend forgiveness to those that have wronged us. This needs to be an ongoing choice so that negative emotions do not embitter us. When we have wronged others we need to attempt to make things right through asking for forgiveness from the one we have wronged and seeking to restore what our sin has damaged.

I have experienced challenges in each of these phases. Sometimes I just want to accept my flaws. Other times I mistakenly try to earn my forgiveness. For sure, it was good to be reminded to persist in choosing to forgive another so that the emotional fall-out has time to heal.

Click here for this week’s assignment.

Previous post in the series.

30
May
08

Becoming a man of God Experiencing Divine Intervention part two (ch. 6)

“Prayer is one vehicle through which we participate in what God is doing and wants to do in our world…God has sovereignly willed to be influenced by the prayers of his people.”

In this chapter the author continues the topic of praying that God’s will be done and applies it to three more significant categories.

The first is prayer for one’s church. He cautions his readers that God is not usually in the business of maintaining the status quo. Praying for God’s will to be done in our church may lead to change and may lead us out of our present comfort zone. In particular, he encourages his readers to pray for empowerment and protection for leadership and spiritual renewal for the congregation.

Next Beltz applies this prayer principle to prayer for one’s nation. He shares that it is his practice to prayer for God’s influence and intervention in the lives of national leaders. He also prays that God would heal the nation and bring spiritual renewal. Specific national issues that God brings to his attention are also matters of prayer.

Praying for the world is the last significant category about which the author prays for God’s will to be done. Anticipating that his readers might easily become overwhelmed with the breadth of things that could be prayed about, he urges that one select a series of global issues and peoples upon which to focus prayer.

From my perspective Beltz is right on to anticipate the feeling of being overwhelmed by all the issues one could pray about. Focusing on those church, national and global issues that are top of mind is more likely to lead to growith in our prayer life then trying to cover all the bases we could possibly think of.

Click here for this week’s assignment.

Previous post in the series

23
May
08

Becoming a man of God – Experiencing Divine Intervention part one (ch. 5)

“Authentic prayer brings heavenly realities to bear on earthly situations.” For the next two chapters, Beltz is going to unpack that for us.

In chapter five, he explains that the Kingdom of God is best understood as God’s reign and rule. Although the fullness of that rule lies in the future, the first coming of Jesus prepared the way for God’s Kingdom to be experienced in the present. Prayer is asking God to intervene into our lives and into our situations now. We are not seeking to force our wills upon God, but rather to affirm God’s will and ask that it become a reality in our lives. The author suggests five key areas to be praying that God’s will be done. This week we will cover the first two.

The first area is our personal lives; we seek God’s blessing and favour by praying for it. The author shares a lengthy list of spiritual needs that he prays for regularly. That list includes:

  • To submit to the will of God
  • To receive empowerment from the Spirit
  • To abide in Christ
  • To develop character
  • To be humble
  • To be useful

The second area is our family; we seek God’s blessing and provision for our spouse and for our children.

Beltz underscores both the responsibility and privilege a father has to exercise spiritual authority by praying for his family.

This week’s assignment is to carry on implementing what we have already covered so far.

For me one of the battles is trying to figure out how to pray for my kids with them there. Their combined schedules seem to make chaos a routine.

Previous post in this series

19
May
08

Becoming a man of prayer – getting focused (ch. 4)

Have you ever had the experience of trying to pray, but your mind is full of inner distracting thoughts? The author in chapter 4 talks about the “white noise” that needs to be controlled and quieted, while our head and hearts become focused on God and his agenda.

To assist in “Getting Focused” the author suggests that one ponder the character of God by reflecting on the names of God. Beltz recounts that God revealed to Moses his name, transliterated by the four Hebrew consonants as YHWH. This is a form of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’ and can be translated as: “I am”, “I cause to be”, and “I will be, who I will be.” These meanings help us to focus on God’s sovereign power in the universe as well as in one’s life. The author adds to this seven other compound names built on the fundamental name YHWH (download the assignment below).

As we focus on God and his character and respond with praise and thanksgiving, our awareness of God is heightened; we enter his presence, or as the Psalmist writes we enter into his courts (see Ps 100). This brings vitality to our prayers and spiritually prepares us for the next component of prayer.

Click here to download this week’s assignment.

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