Prayer


Something there is that is intimate about a walk. Especially if that walk is with someone meaningful. Early in the last century, if a young man and woman were beginning to see one another exclusively with the eye to possible matrimony, they might say to their friends that they were “walking out” with that special someone. From time to time, when a person wanted to discuss something without the prying ears of an audience present they might ask the friend to “take a walk with me.”

When you take a walk with a person, there is a certain level of privacy achieved even though you may be in the great outdoors. Conversations can be deep and meaningful in which the participants can truly get to know one another. We can learn each other’s thoughts, emotions, and heartbeats. In the case of young sweethearts, there is the opportunity to walk hand in hand and truly feel the presence of the other. In the case of close friends, there is the opportunity to grow closer and even participate in private, unhindered conversation.

This is what it is to walk with Jesus; to sense His presence as we pass through life, to converse with Him in the heartfelt conversation of prayer. This is the desire of the heart of every person: to walk with the Maker, conversing and communing with Him at the most intimate of levels. It was for this kind of walk that we are created. It is toward this kind of relationship that we are constantly running. It is only in this kind of relationship with Jesus that we can find completeness.

Set aside some time to walk with Jesus this week. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. Let His presence in your daily routine refresh you, mind and spirit. It is what you seek. It is what He desires.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze”  —Genesis 3:8a

Building anything that will last starts with a strong foundation. It doesn’t matter whether you want to build a house, a skyscraper, or some free-standing structure, you want to have basic foundational material that is sound and worthy.

In the case of a permanent building you want to have a foundation made out of strong material that will stand up to anything that nature might throw at it over the course of the long haul. If you are building, say, a car, you want to use the best materials for the frame—something that won’t give way and crumple at the first high wind.

God gave the church the foundational stone of Jesus Christ—a worthy material if ever there was one—and then sound teaching and committed foundational members that would allow for her to grow strong and weather the ages. She’s done pretty good so far, with the only minor chinks attributed to faulty materials in the superstructure, not in the foundation.

As we build on the foundation laid for us, we want to test the material that we are providing through our faith and commitment to be sure that what we add to the structure of God’s church is worthy to be used in His building. This requires faith in the Messiah (Christ), commitment to the mission (Church), and obedience to the message (Scripture), and then we can continue to build a strong house of faith.

“Let each one take care how he builds upon it.”  —1 Corinthians 3:10b

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it . . .” Brings back some memories, doesn’t it? Jim Phelps sitting at a table in some exotic location with a small reel-to-reel tape player and an envelope filled with photos; the disembodied voice describing some clandestine goings-on that require the Impossible Mission Force to correct for the safety of the world and the American way; and closing with the warning that the tape would self-destruct in 10 seconds.

Everyone has a mission. Ours may not be as thrilling or adrenaline-pumping as the ones accepted weekly by the IMF back in the 1960s, but it is important. Our mission is set foundationally on the groundwork laid by Jesus’ own mission. His mission—the most difficult of all—was indeed one that was impossible for any other person who has ever lived to accomplish.

In the Garden, just before His final hours, Jesus surrendered (again) to the mission that His Father set for Him. I could not accomplish it, even if I had wanted to. You would never live up to the task, even if the idea crossed your mind. So aren’t we glad that Jesus found and completed His impossible mission. That way we can live up to the mission we have been assigned through Him.

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  —Jesus, Matthew 26:39b

We often refer to the prayer that Jesus used to teach us to pray as “The Lord’s Prayer.” However, there is a better example of Jesus’ prayer to give that name to. We find Jesus’s prayer in John 17. In this prayer Jesus prays about His mission, His disciples (who are with Him), and those of us who would believe because of the testimony of these disciples.

Jesus not only gives an example of how to pray, but He begins by showing us what we ought to prioritize in our prayers—God’s direction for our life. When was the last time that you or I prayed for God’s will to be done in our life? Sure we say the words—even quoting the Model Prayer—by saying “Thy will be done.” But think it through, when was the last time that we really, genuinely, and earnestly sought the direction that God wanted us to go?

My guess (including for myself) is that we gave a head nod to God, and went on about our business as usual, without taking time to consider the full impact that God wants to make on the world through us. Nor do we pause to consider the price that following that path of obedience would require.

Even so, as costly as following Jesus is, as difficult as taking God’s direction might be, it is well worth the effort.

Let us, today, pray with our Master, “Thy will be done.”

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”  —Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 6:10

Prayer is the word we use for communication with God. This implies a couple of things. First of all, prayer is the opportunity for us to open our hearts up to our Maker. Tell God everything that is on your heart, in your mind, and that you are concerned about. This is important. It is our opportunity to ask God the questions that we have about life.

The other thing that the word communication applies is that God responds to our cries of prayer. Too often we don’t hear the response because we walk away from the conversation before giving God the chance to respond. When this happens we think that God doesn’t even listen to our prayers.

The truth is that God not only hears our prayers, but he answers them. He answers them sometimes with the exact response that we expect. Often  he answers our prayers with something that looks absolutely different from what we were expected. Listen for his response.

 “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)

Revival is the renewal of spirit that happens when people rediscover the excitement of something special. For instance, when someone re-discovers a favorite musical program, or an interesting book, the public might be treated to a revival of that program or literature.

In the Christian faith, revival is more specific and meaningful. Revival is when Christ-followers find renewed hope in their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They re-discover the joy that once was theirs when they first said yes to Jesus.

Today, we begin a series of special services designed to lead us to that place of revival. Here is my prayer (for myself, for FBC of Mulberry Grove, and for our world at large):

“Father, bring us back to you. Teach us to love you more. Lead us into the newness that You have already given to us. Let us carry the message of redemption and renewal to our community, our region, and our world.”

“This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.” – Jesus, Praying for Believers (John 17:3)

Praying Expansively

We spend a lot of time talking about Luke’s version of the Great Commission as it is recorded in the book of Acts. We talk about taking up the “Acts 1:8 Challenge” and being witnesses in every arena that we can think of—from home to state to country to world. It is a good pattern that Christ lays out for His followers so that we will understand the scope of the work that has been assigned to the church until Jesus returns.

This pattern is also a good outline to follow when we pray for our world. I think that our effectiveness in prayer life will increase exponentially if we will be focused. It is important to pray for the world when we approach the throne of God. How then can we be most influential in our prayers? Try this pattern: Start praying for your world close to home. Pray for yourself and your family. Pray for the people who live, and work near you—especially those that you can call by name. Then, remembering that God is concerned for all the world, expand the boarders of your prayer to include the village, town or city in which you live. Pray for local and state leaders. Pray for missionaries who are working to reach lostness in the United States.

Then expand again. Pray for world leaders, for economic stability, for the end of wars. Pray for God’s children who are taking the gospel throughout the known world—for their safety, for their clarity in sharing, and for their desire to serve God to grow daily.

Pray for the world—the world close at hand, and the world far away. Let your heart for God and His work increase in size.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” –Jesus, to the His Disciples (Acts 1:8)

 

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