Pointing toward the auditorium door after the morning gathering, a dear child of God said, “Pastor, we saw all kinds of answered prayer in there today!” And she was right!
Pointing toward the auditorium door after the morning gathering, a dear child of God said, “Pastor, we saw all kinds of answered prayer in there today!” And she was right!
Sunday evening while we were worshiping the Lord in song as a church family, I received a text from a dear church member whose husband was in the hospital in severe pain. As soon as the song was finished, we took the opportunity to pray for this dear man and his wife.
During my visit in the hospital today, I expressed my appreciation for her taking the time to send a text so we could pray. Immediately she apologized with a bit of embarrassment for the interruption.
At that moment, the Lord brought something to my mind which I shared with them. Prayer never interrupts our Heavenly Father. Prayer never interrupts the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16). Prayer never interrupts the work of God. Prayer never hinders the goings on in Heaven. Therefore, why should stopping to pray be an interruption in our church services. We have, I’m afraid, come to the place that in too many of our church services/gatherings our formalism has drowned out the Holy Spirit’s leading to change the service order so we can pray.
When I shared these thoughts with this dear lady and her husband, he without hesitation declared, “AMEN!”
Our churches would be so much better off, enjoying the presence of God, seeing His power at work, watching souls come to Christ, believers being revived, and enjoying the blessings of unity around the Throne of Grace if we prayed more (Psalm 85:6; Acts 2:42; 12:5; 16:16; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1).
Prayer is never an interruption!
Question is, how does any true born-again believer think he or she can live in this present life without spending time at the feet of He Who created life; He Who gives you the ability to walk, talk, breathe, think, act, speak, etc?
Trust is, there is not a moment in our life that we are not desperate for God. There is not a moment in our life that we are not dependent upon God.
Has your praying become dull and lifeless? Do you find yourself using the same repetitive prayer phrases? Are you intimated to pray because you don’t know what to say?
My wife and I love to travel over the mountainous, country roads of East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia. What beauty! What adventure! What fun!
Sometimes, we come to the end of road and wonder which direction we should turn. Many times we have lost our GPS signal. There is a bit of hopelessness in feeling lost, needing direction.
To fully understand today’s blog post, I would encourage you to read Taking the Scenic Route #1. As we saw, the scenic route is not the normal route. Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice. There we learned, first of all, that God created marriage, not man.
Today, and second of all, God directs marriage, not man.
When you take the scenic route, you better have a good map like in the old days or have faith that your GPS keeps a good signal. Otherwise, you are likely to get lost.
So many marriages today are directionless, struggling, floundering, trying to run on auto-pilot, and so very sadly are on the verge of collapsing altogether. Why? Because too many couples are not getting their directions for marriage from the One Who created marriage. Read carefully the following words: O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:23).
The Bible, God’s infallible Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), gives us the truths and principles we need for a God-honoring, role-fulfilling, blessed, satisfying marriage (Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:18-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7). Therefore, outside of prayer, the greatest thing you can do for your mate is to be a man or woman of the Word!
You see, it takes three to make a good, biblical marriage: God, the man, and the woman. This is beautifully illustrated by “The Triangle.”
The closer each spouse moves to God, the closer they move toward each other. But, the further each moves from God, the further they move from each other.
Direction in marriage is so needed every day for each spouse, as well as each other’s own personal, relational growth in Christ (Ephesians 4:12-16; 2 Peter 3:18).
How does this happen?
There are so many ways to take in the Word of God through Bible apps (YouVersion), Scripture memory apps (ScriptureTyper), and podcasts (Love Worth Finding, Adrian Rodgers). Be sure to journal what God is saying to you each day. Then, gather up your journal and your Bible and have a special time with your spouse sharing what the God of your salvation has said to you (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Broken, directionless marriages always involve at least one partner moving away from God, abandoning prayer and the searching of God’s Word.
Consider the following:
You see, just as the scenic route is not the normal route, a marriage directed by God who created matrimony is not the norm against the backdrop of this world.
Surrender to God today. Search His Word. Trust and live out His Word. Enjoy the journey.
Your most important turn in marriage is the next one! —- Will it be toward God?
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. . . . I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-2, 8).
Please note the following about this passage.
The Priority of Prayer (2:1)
The second chapter of 1 Timothy contains instructions for public worship. Paul has something urgent on his mind by using the word exhort as given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21). This urgency is directed to the need of giving preeminence to prayer in public worship, and may I add, to life in general (Luke 18:1). In other words, prayer is to be first in rank, to take first place in importance.
What place does prayer hold in your life or home or school or business or recreation or marriage?
What place does prayer hold in the life of your church? How about in the Sunday worship gatherings? Mid-week gatherings? Evangelism? Discipleship? Sunday School classes and small groups? Deacons’ Meetings? Awana’s? Small group meetings in homes? Men and Ladies’ gatherings? Etc.?
You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed (A.J. Gordon).
The greatest thing anyone can do for God or man is pray (S.D. Gordon).
The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray (Samuel Chadwick).
The Person in Prayer (2:8)
After acknowledging the only Meditator between God and man for salvation as well as prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ (2:4-6), Paul returns to public worship and the role of men (2:8).
Who are to be the leaders in prayer in our churches today?
How thankful I am for all the dear precious ladies who have given themselves to the ministry of prayer over the years! But, the church should be and must be known for the men who pray, not the ladies first. Quite frankly, the church is too feminine in many ways, and that is not a knock against ladies. Here, the exhortation is clearly laid upon men.
Men, it is time for us to be the prayer warriors, the prayer leaders, the prayer intercessors, the person in prayer!
Men are the ones to pray . . .
Everywhere – That’s exactly what it means, in every place.
With earnest desire – Lifting up hands in prayer is a natural response, a natural indication of earnest desire. Sometime take note of all the places in scripture that show the lifting up of hands as a part of praying (1 Kings 8:54; Nehemiah 8:6; Psalms 28:2; 141:2; 143:6)
With clean & committed lives – The word for holy hands refers to moral purity as well as a devoted life. Prayer is null and void if sin is unconfessed, and we not totally committed to Christ.
Without anger – Interesting that anger is mentioned here. If men are to be faithful prayer warriors, the sin of anger which so easily besets too many men must be overcome by the power the Holy Spirit and obedience to the Word of God (Galatians 5:17, 20, 22-26; Ephesians 4:26, 31-32; James 1:20). Anger is a major mental distraction to prayer. The best way to overcome anger is to pray.
Without doubting or dissension – Furthermore, when it comes to prayer there is to be unity and harmony and a proper mental attitude of faith-believing.
Men, our greatest example of prayer is the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. See Him praying in Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 14:23; 19:13; 26:36-44; Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 11:1; Hebrews 7:25, to name a few.
At the very next prayer gathering in your church, men will you lead?
The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day (E.M. Bounds).
God’s cause is committed to men; God commits Himself to men. Praying men are the vice-regents of God; they do His work and carry out His plans (E.M. Bounds).
As I read various blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook, and emails concerning ministry in this day, I sense a glaring need, an overlooked necessity, and an unfulfilled promise.
What is it?
The crying need of the hour is that we as individuals, local churches, colleges, and other parachurch ministries be sold-out to the calling of effectual, fervent, heart-rendering, transparent, crying out to God in faith-believing prayer!!!
E.M. Bounds said in his book Weapon of Prayer, “Nothing is well done without prayer for the simple reason that it leaves God out of the account.”
That is the greatest reason why we need to pray today! We need to see the character of God displayed in answers from God that will give God the glory and cause man to praise His matchless, transcendent name! To be in absolute awe of Who God is!!
We need a touch from God on our individual lives, our marriages, our families, our churches, and our nation!!
Lost souls need to be saved for God’s glory! Revival needs to break out in our churches! Christ needs to be exalted over programs and policies! We need God!!!
Meditate on the following:
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly (Matthew 6:6).
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them (Mark 11:24).
We have seen more than enough of what man can do. Let’s pray and believe God for what He said He would do!!
Will you join with other believers in this kind of praying? Will you make the sacrifice? Will you cry out to God and believe Him for the God-size answers?
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
“What a blessing to have friends you can ask to pray for a situation, and they don’t ask questions.”
Have you ever heard the tag line, “Enquiring minds want to know”? This line was made famous many years by the tabloid National Enquirer, sadly located in your supermarket checkout line.
National Enquirer has made millions on man’s insatiable desire to know the stuff of somebody else’s life, even if it is a lie.
That same National Enquirer search can be found among well-intentioned people who “pray.” Have you ever heard someone say, “I just found out (circumstance) about (name). I’m only sharing this so you can pray about it.” The bait has been thrown out, and wham! We take it hook-line-and-sinker! Do we really want to know so we can genuinely intercede or do we just want the National Enquirer version?
Or, someone is going through a rough time in their life, and they ask you to pray for them. To further “enquire” may lead you into an area of their life they are not comfortable sharing. It puts them on the spot and causes them to perhaps not ask for prayer support in the future.
Have you ever considered that you really do not need to know all the details? God already knows. What else matters? Prayer for others gives you the opportunity to mention their name before the Throne of Grace, to pray Scripture for them, to pray for the need even if you do not know the details, and to bear one another’s burden (Galatians 6:1). May I remind us that the Holy Spirit even prays for us when we don’t know what to pray (Romans 8:26).
How much more content our lives would be if we hungered for what God wants to say to us every day from His Word rather than the tidbits of other’s lives. James 1:26 reminds us, If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
Yes, “enquiring minds want to know,” but settled hearts are satisfied to just mention your name to our omniscient Heavenly Father.
For the past two weeks I have savored the awesome blessing of spending the first half of the month of July in Africa serving the Lord, seeing souls saved, and ministering together with dear brothers and sisters in Christ through the ministry of The Wilds Camps Abroad! This trip to South Africa and Malawi was a definite “get-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone” trip. Although I had made other mission trips, I had never visited a third-world country.
Since coming home, I have intentionally entered in my journal my “take-aways” from this journey. One in particular stands out to me above all others. I am ashamed to admit it, but I must say that before this trip, I had prayed, but I had not prayed so fervently, so frequently, so specifically, and as trustingly as I did while in Africa.
Without reservation, all that we experienced by the hand of the Lord was absolutely in direct response to prayer! We watched God answer in so many ways, and we had a “front-row seat” to watch it happen for His glory and our good!!
For instance, without going into great detail, after three days of training the nationals how to operate a teen camp, the first day arrived with great anticipation but a bit of fear of the unknown. It’s 8:00 a.m. Where are the campers? We looked out in the yard of the mission compound to see only one teen camper. You read that correctly . . . one teen camper. Undaunted but not knowing how to gather more teens, Dan, our leader make the absolute best decision. He looked at all of the workers and said, “Let’s gather in small groups and PRAY for GOD to bring in campers.” That’s exactly what we did.
As our group cried out to God for a manifestation of Jeremiah 33:3, for God to surprise us, He did exactly as He promised!
Within 30 minutes or less, the gates to the mission compound opened and a pick-up truck laden with a bunch of eager teens entered the grounds. Moments later, the scene was replayed. Eventually, we had 88 teens to begin our first day of camp!! We saw God at work!! What a time of praise we had as we then saw some of those precious souls hear the gospel and respond to the call of salvation!!
You may be puzzled as to why I have entitled my post “My Greatest Heartache in Ministry” when the past few paragraphs have been about God’s amazing work in my heart and the lives of others. Quite frankly, I will say that my greatest heartache in ministry is the lack of prayer among God’s people . . . me included.
I’ve seen folks get up way early to be at church to go on some church fellowship trip. I’ve seen believers pack out an auditorium or outdoor arena to hear their favorite singer or group and sometimes pay a hefty price for the ticket (Oh, and drive two hours to get there.) I’ve seen church members not miss a business meeting so they could vote their way. And on and on I could go, but ask a group of believers to attend a prayer meeting, a prayer advance, or even pray, and . . . well, you know the rest of the story.
When are we as believers who have the very ear of our Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent God (Psalm 34:17), the blood-bought invitation by our Righteous Advocate and Great High Priest to enter into the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16: 1 John 2:1-2), and the Holy Spirit to intercede for us (Romans 8:26), when are we going to make prayer a blessed, expectant, humble, dependent, relational priority of our lives?
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-8)
From a pastor’s heart,
Last night in prayer meeting, we shared in a family-friendly service. After singing a couple of gospel songs, one by request, we had the kids up front leading the singing of some good, old children’s songs, two of which had motions. It was fun to look back at the adults who were doing the motions as well, especially on singing “Only a Boy Named David.”
After singing “Boys and Girls for Jesus” we took prayer requests for the unsaved. How precious to hear these children and adults mention their loved ones, friends, and neighbors’ names. We then broke up into small groups with adults and children praying out loud for the lost. How sweet to hold a 4 year old boy in my lap as he prayed in his own precious way, and it was not a short prayer either.
When we gathered back together, we sang the old gospel song, “I Love to Tell the Story.”
I’ve challenged our congregation to memorize Ephesians 4:1-16 over the next two months. Hence, we then worked on 4:1-3 as a family or in small groups. The drill was to say 4:1-3 five times aloud in unison as a group. Then, one person in each group would take the lead in saying the passage leaving out words for the rest of the group to fill in. This was a blast! The laughter and joy of memorizing Scripture was so cool! Then some of folks stood and recited 4:1-3 which was followed by encouraging applause.
We then took Ephesians 4:1 and broke it down word-for-word learning the meaning and the application. How cool to watch everyone search through Ephesians 1-3 to find what Paul meant when he said in 4:1 to walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called. The kids did a great job with their answers straight from Scripture.
What a precious time we had as a church family in community last night.
The ice cream treat with my wife and the sunset afterwards was an added blessing, too!
From a pastor’s heart,