Archive for May, 2011

Prayer for Knowledge of God’s Will

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, January 31, 2011

 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. – Colossians 1:9

 Again Paul is using the phrase, “For this reason” as his motivation for the prayer he makes for the church at Colosse. What was the reason? In verse 6 he writes, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” Then he says, “You learned it from Epaphras.”

With that being said he begins, “For this reason.” The gospel is bearing fruit all over the world and they heard the gospel truth from Epaphras; could he be calling them to be fruitful in the gospel as well?

After giving the reason for his prayer he then gives the purpose for his prayer: “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”

Now, the prayer itself. Paul is praying that God will fill them with the knowledge of his will through spiritual wisdom and understanding. There are several ways that we are exposed to the will of God. The primary is his word, which is the revelation of his will. Another is through anointed preaching which moves our heart. However we receive the knowledge of God’s will it always comes through the spirit. It is the spirit which speaks wisdom to us giving us understanding of God’s will for us.

Let us not fail to continue praying for God to reveal his will through spiritual wisdom and understanding that we may be fruitful in his kingdom.

 Prayer: Father, I desire to know your will. Grant me spiritual wisdom and understanding that I might serve you well. Amen.

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Prayer to Understand God’s Love

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Daily God Walk for Monday, May 30, 2011

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19

 Paul makes an interesting connection between love, power and the fullness of God in this passage. He speaks of being rooted and established in love so that they, or we as the church, may have power. Could it really be true that he is saying spiritual power is directly linked to our agape [God-love]? And, consequently, our fullness of God [Holy Spirit] also hinges on our agape?

Paul seems to be expressing a great concern for the body of Christ in understanding just what it is to love as God would have us to love. This prayer begins in verse 14, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” What was “this reason?”

He had just finished writing about the great mystery of the gospel and the unsearchable riches of Christ made available to all of mankind. Then he speaks of the intent of God for revealing Christ: “His intent was that now through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (v10-11). He was giving the church a mandate to proclaim Christ to the world and in so doing to let the powers (presumably evil powers) of the heavenly realms know that Christ rules supreme.

 It was for that reason he prayed for the church to understand God’s love. With God’s love we can conquer evil, without his love we can never overcome evil. I see people today who fight evil using the tactics of the world system. They are demonstrating and protesting and all they seem to accomplish is getting a bad name for the church. What would happen if we offered acts of kindness, compassion and love instead of responding to their evil with anger and outrage?

The only way evil powers in the spirit realm will know the love of God is if we show it to them.

 Prayer: Lord, I am often moved to anger over the evil I see in the world. Grant me grace to return loving acts for evil. In Jesus name, amen.

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Paul’s Prayer for Enlightenment

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Daily God Walk for Sunday, May 29, 2011

 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance I n the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.   – Ephesians 1:19

 Paul is asking four things for the church at Ephesus. First he prays for wisdom and revelation so that they might know the Father better. That is the prayer of many of us today. It seems that far too few believers are fully committed to knowing God. I don’t mean learning the doctrines, though that is important, but actually knowing him like you would know a beloved friend.

Then he asks that the eyes of their heart would be lighted to three things. First, that they would be enlightened to the hope of their calling. It is so easy living in the world to forget that our hope is not in this world. We often hear disturbing news about this world and we should not forget that just as the old hymn says, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through, my treasure is laid up somewhere beyond the blue.”

The second part of this enlightenment prayer is that they would realize their glorious inheritance. I know people who have scrimped and saved all of their lives so they could pass on an inheritance to their children, but they have not instilled in their children a hope for their eternal inheritance.

The third part of this enlightenment prayer is that they would realize the great power God has vested in believers. We are given the power to overcome the world, the devil, and yes, even our own sinful nature.

Our prayer today is the same as Paul’s.

 Prayer: Lord, grant me wisdom, revelation and enlightenment that I may know you better, and that I will know the hope of my calling, the riches of my inheritance and the great power you have vested in me as a believer. In Jesus name, amen.

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Jesus’ Prayer Directive

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Daily God Walk for Saturday, May 28, 2011

 This then is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. [For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]”                   – Matthew 6:9-13

 Commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” this is the most often repeated prayer in Christianity. It is quoted in church services, prayer groups, and it is usually the closing prayer of many recovery group meetings. I wonder though if its intent and meaning are that well understood.

In Luke’s rendering of this event he gives it as a response to the request of the disciples for Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:11) . They did not ask to be taught a prayer, they asked to be taught to pray. Jesus gave this prayer as a directive on how to pray.

It is a beautiful prayer to be recited, and we should recite it often, but we should also learn the meaning of the prayer. It speaks of the Fatherhood of God, and the sacredness of his name. God has chosen to reveal himself to man through a series of names by which men have come to know him. Each name is significant of a characteristic of God and we get to know him by getting to know his name.

The prayer also addresses a commitment to the will of God and his kingdom on earth. We are called to submit ourselves to his will as he reveals it in his word and in our hearts as we pray.

Then the prayer addresses the issues of life. Our daily needs and being in proper relationship with those around us. And finally, it addresses the evil we face daily and asks for protection from those things which would harm our relationship with him.

Yes, we should recite this prayer often, but we should also, and maybe even more often, address the issues the prayer addresses in a more personal way.  

 Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to submit to your will and trust you to keep me from the evil of this age. In Jesus name, amen.

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Praying Like Jesus

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Daily God Walk for Friday, May 27, 2011

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.  “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”  He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”                   – Matthew 26:40-42

  Most of us have been around long enough to understand the ever-present tension between the willing spirit and the weak body.  We’ve proven time and time again that this insight into the human condition is a universal and absolute truth.  That proof has been most explicit in our times of failure.  Poor Peter, this is going to be a bad night for him, and the next few days will make it much worse.  It’s interesting, isn’t it, that Peter is named here, but that the rest of the disciples are lumped into an anonymous group?  We know why; the rest of the story singles out Peter because of his brash, bold statement: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (Matthew 26:33).  We find it easy to sympathize with Peter.  We’d have said the same thing, maybe even have said the same thing, in principle.  “O yes, Lord, it’s me – I’m the one you can really count on.”  And, like Peter, we would really mean it.

 As we faithfully read the gospels, we cannot help but conclude that Jesus never lost sight of His mission.  He was never confused about His number one priority.  He always knew that He was headed to the cross.  And as we come to this understanding, we recognize that few of us ever have such a clear grasp of our mission in life. 

 Peter finally got it right.  And if he did, we can.  He ultimately ‘succeeded’ because he developed a full and deep understanding of Jesus.  But that understanding of Jesus included seeing that he, like Jesus, had a ‘call’ on his life.  In other words, he finally understood his life mission and accepted it.

 If we can also understand our life mission and accept it, then we also can pray, “Father, help me – I’m unsure I can do what you ask, but let your will be done.”

 Prayer: Father, I can in no way understand what Jesus was feeling when he cried, “May your will be done,” but I do know that I must pray the same prayer. Give me the strength to do that.

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Ezra’s Prayer of National Repentance

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Daily God Walk for Thursday, May 26, 2011

 O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guild has reached to the heavens. – Ezra 9:6

 This is but a short excerpt from a rather long prayer recorded in which Ezra recites the many failings of the Jews. They had been unfaithful for generations and now, at the end of the Babylonian exile, Ezra was called to restore the people to serving Jehovah.

When Babylon invaded Jerusalem the temple was destroyed, the walls of the city were torn down and the people who were left lived apostate to the faith. They had intermarried with idolatrous inhabitants of the land and they had been worshipping those gods. The temple had been desecrated and the people no longer offered sacrifices to the Lord God.

The depth of Ezra’s feeling of repentance for the sin of the people is expressed in chapter 10. Verse one begins, “While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites – men, women and children – gathered around him. They too wept bitterly.” Ezra and the people were truly repentant before God.

I have been in quite a few meetings where corporate repentance was being called for. There would be various ministers called on to recite prayers and the people would affirm what was prayed. But I have never been a part of a prayer of national repentance where the leader was weeping and throwing himself down before the house. I have never seen that depth of repentance, and that might be a reason our nation hasn’t repented.

Our nation is in the throws of moral revolution. We have a generation which has lost its moral compass and doesn’t seem to know how to find it. The most disturbing point to that is the church is so apathetic to the condition of the world around them. We need spiritual leaders who will call for repentance and who will lead the way with weeping and wailing before the Lord.

 Prayer: Holy Spirit, convict me to true repentance for my nation, and for the church. Call me to my face that I may seek your face.

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The Eternal Ear of God

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, May 25, 2011

“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.  The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.”                      – Revelation 8:3-4

How many times have we sent prayers heavenward?  How many times have those prayers been accompanied by fervency, tears, and broken-hearted need only to linger there, somewhere far above us, in heaven’s dead-letter file?  Hard, isn’t it?  We want an answer, and God doesn’t seem to be answering.

The last time the Bible mentions prayer, we see an angel offering up ‘the prayers of all the saints’ with incense pleasing to God.  Those prayers are going up ‘before God.’  We get the very distinct impression that not only is God pleased with the prayers, but that He is intently considering each and every one.

A prayer goes by the Lord with the phrase ‘prodigal child’ clearly visible to Him.  Another is streaked with tears, and only the words ‘why did you…’ are seen.  He grasps one and unfolds it; a shriek, ‘holocaust,’ rings out.  ‘Avenge my faith in You’ is common to many.  Less often, some say ‘thank you Lord’ or ‘thank you Jesus.’  Surely, He sees each one.

We know that God’s timing is different than ours.  We also believe that He dwells in eternity, but can enter our space and time.  Some Greek theological words for these concepts are “chairos” (connected to the concept of eternity), and “chronos,” which we recognize as the ‘tic-toc’ of the clock, it is linear time.  We understand chromos; it measures the days of our lives.  Chairos is more mysterious. We think we’ll live that way one day, but it’s a little fuzzy to us now.  Consider, however, that scripture says we are born eternal and must make a choice about where we will spend that eternity.

Do you think that God is able to answer all prayers at their proper time?  Maybe He is looking at everything that’s been prayed, and some of those have to wait out events in linear time because this one and that one have some conflicts that have to be resolved.

 Prayer: Lord, help me to patiently wait your answer to my prayers, then grant me the grace to accept your answer. Amen.

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A Friend in High Places

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“Father … I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word … They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.  I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours … I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name…” – John 17:5-11  

Jesus comforted his disciples with these words during His last night on this earth.  He then endured the agony of the cross, shared in mankind’s universal death, and became the first-born from the dead.  The Apostle Paul tells us that that God the Father raised Him and “seated Him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:20).  Paul also tells us that “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms…” (Ephesians 2:6).

Jesus’ words continue to comfort his disciples across the ages.  Consider how devastated His disciples of that time were upon seeing the tragedy of the cross, where their hopes were seemingly destroyed. 

His words would have held only hollow hope, just ‘nice-sounding words,’ if there had been no resurrection.  Certainly Friday was the darkest of days, and the fact of His death must have destroyed any optimism and all expectations of this professed “Kingdom of Heaven.” 

But then Sunday came, and the empty tomb spoke into being the most incredible aspect of Christ and the Christian faith:  not just resurrection, but eternal life.  Jesus’ earlier words now brought comfort, the very comfort He promised, and which He knew would be so necessary to launch the ‘Kingdom’ through the continuing efforts of mere humans.

 We have the benefit of two millennia of Christian faith, thought, and practice to give us the advantage of a faith perspective tried and found sufficient in all circumstances of human life.  Far more importantly, we have the assurance of sitting with Christ now, favored with Him at the right hand side of the Father.

His prayer today is the same, “Father, protect them…”

 Prayer: Father, we still need those comforting words, “Fear not little flock.” We see men of renown falling down around us and we need your protection and your grace. In Jesus name, amen. 

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Praying Beyond Personal Issues

Daily God Walk for Monday, May 23, 2011

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  – 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

The Bible records examples of both national sin and national repentance in the Book of Judges during a 400-year period of both highs and lows.  During the lows “Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25).  There was no national political, legal, or cultural agreement about morals and ethics, right and wrong.  Not only anything, indeed everything was possible.  Any person could decide for themselves what was right or wrong.  Was this freedom, or chaos?

Fast forward to 21st century America.  America, a country founded on the ideal of religious freedom, specifically as a Christian nation.  America, where prayer is no longer allowed in schools, where the 10 commandments cannot legally be displayed in the public square, where the monetary motto “In God We Trust” is under legal challenge, and where filth speech is free speech while quoting scripture is hate speech.  America; where Biblical good is now legally called evil, while that which scripture condemns is called good.  Notice the following about this America:  We are awash in sexually transmitted diseases.  Decade after decade, major hurricanes have devastated the gulf states while tornado alley strengthens.  Serious earthquakes increase, with the latest being the Loma Prieta of ’89.  There has even been volcanic eruption. Mid-west, southern, and even the northeast states have had repetitive massive storms and subsequent flooding.  Wildfires rage year after year in the west.  At the same time, breadbasket states suffer drought.  Random acts of violence, especially school shootings, are at epidemic levels. Government cannot govern.  Our financial institutions teeter at the edge of collapse.

It is time for ‘the church’ to wake up, and to undertake a great responsibility: Pray for our nation.  You and I have this individual responsibility – we live here, our families live and work here, our children go to school here.  Pray for our nation.

 Prayer: God, awaken the church to intercession. In Jesus name.

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Elijah’s Prayer at Mt Carmel

Daily God Walk Sunday, May 22, 2011

 Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Hear me, o Lord, hear me, that this people may know that you are the Lord God, and that you have turned their hearts back to you again. – 1 Kings 18:36-37

 It was showdown time at Mt Carmel. Ahab, the wicked king and Jezebel his even more wicked wife, had led the people of Israel into idolatry and Baal worship. God had called Elijah to confront this sin and call the people back to God.

God had sent Elijah to Ahab declaring that the heavens would be closed and there would be no rain. Then, three years later God sent him back to Ahab to tell him that God was about to send rain again, but the rain wouldn’t come until there was a showdown between the prophets of Baal and the prophet of God.

Elijah called for all Israel to gather on Mt Carmel along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah. When they had gathered Elijah challenged them, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, follow him” (v21 NKJV).

After challenging the people to choose between Jehovah and Baal Elijah turned to the 450 prophets of Baal and challenged them, “Call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, he is God.”

We need men and women of God today who will, like Elijah, hear the voice of the Lord and then challenge the devil with God’s promises. We need men and women of faith who will enter the devil’s territory and challenge him to a duel.

The result of Elijah’s challenge and prayer was that “The fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice… when all the people saw it they fell on their faces and they said, “The Lord, he is God!”

Holy Spirit seems to be issuing a challenge to the church today and it is this: How long will you waver in your faith?

 Prayer:  Lord, grant me the faith of Elijah and the confidence to stand against the evil one and declare, “Jesus is Lord,” then show him who God is. In Jesus name, amen.

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

Messages of inspiration for the journey of faith

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