Sunday, April 29, 2018

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In this blog, I provide encouragement and biblical teaching on the subject of prayer.

As the Scripture says:

"Pray, then, in this way..." (Mt 6:9)

"But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." (Mat 6:6)

Some of the topics covered include the Lord's Prayer, the intercession of the saints, the intercession of Christ, thanksgiving, proclamations, promises of God concerning prayer, and the importance of the attitude of the heart and mind in prayer, as well as the importance of the attitude of the body in prayer.  I hope this will be an edifying and encouraging experience for you that will help you to grow in your walk with the Lord.

The Disciples’ Prayer Standing in the Gap Covenant Prayer
Who intercedes for us? Personal Proclamations of Faith Crying Out to God Loudly
When God Does Not Seem to Answer Taking Heaven by Force Prayer that Pleases the Father's Heart
Giving Thanks in Everything Prayer Promises Lifting Hands in Prayer
Lifting Your Face in Prayer Keeping a Prayer Journal Blessing Others
Keys to Prayer

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Prayer Warrior" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's Note:  I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Keys to Prayer

Someone who recently gave his life to Christ asked me how he should pray, which is a completely valid question for a new believer. My answer to him may also be helpful to you as well. While it is intended for new believers who may not know where to begin, or who may have previously only known idolatrous religion, it may also be helpful for those who are more mature in the Lord.

Talk to God
Prayer is talking to God, so talk to him like you would talk to a person, except in this case with great love, reverence, respect, and awe. Pray to the Father in heaven in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son." (Jn 14:14, NIV).

You have direct access to the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (Jn 14:6, NIV).

Do not pray to Mary, the saints, angels, spirit guides, or other entities. Jesus is your only mediator. "For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim 2:5).

If you need some sort of guideline for what to pray about, use the Lord's Prayer as your structure, not merely as a formula prayer, but as an outline for your prayers. I have written in more detail about this in my article, The Disciples’ Prayer.

Thanksgiving
Begin by coming to Him in Jesus' name with thanksgiving, thanking Him for every blessing He has given you. The psalmist said, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." (Ps 100:4, NIV). You can thank Him for life, health, strength, your salvation, food, clothing, shelter, your Bible, the privilege of prayer, etc. You can thank Him for your identity in Christ. Give thanks in all things, even your trials. For more on this, please see Giving Thanks in Everything.

Praise
Begin also by praising Him according to Ps 100:4 and Mt 6:9 for who He is: His love, omnipotent power, awesome name, holiness, majesty, beauty, compassion, care, omniscience, etc. For more on this topic, please see Praise the Lord!

Claim the Promises of God
During your prayer time, as the Spirit of God leads you, you may claim His promises for yourself out loud. Prayer Promises.

Pray According to Scripture
It's important to pray according to the Word of God. Aside from claiming His promises, you should also pray in accordance with what is written in Scripture. That includes patterns of prayer found in the Bible through the examples of the Lord Jesus Himself (e.g., Jn 17; Mt 11:25; 26:36-56), as well as others like David (see Psalms), Daniel (Dan 9:1-19), Nehemiah (Neh 1:1 - 2:9), and the apostle Paul (Eph 1:16-23). Praying according to Scripture also includes praying according to any verse of Scripture as the Spirit of God leads you.

Pray According to God's Will
If you are praying according to Scripture, you should be praying according to God's will, but I will mention this separately, because it is so important. The way to get your prayers answered is to make sure God hears you, and you know He hears you if you pray in His will. The apostle John said, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 Jn 5:14-15, NIV).

Have Faith
The Scriptures teach us that "without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Heb 11:6, NIV). So you must believe that God exists and that He will reward you as you diligently seek Him.

Be confident as you approach the throne of God, since you have such a great high priest. For the apostle said:

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb 4:14-16, NIV).

Faith Proclamations
Another thing you may do in pray is to make Personal Proclamations of Faith, declaring out loud the truth that God's Word says about you and those you are praying for.

Covenant Prayer
You might also incorporate this covenant prayer in some way: Covenant Prayer.

Interceding for Others
You should pray for others such as:

1, Your unsaved parents, family, other relatives, and friends, asking God to help them come to know Jesus and be saved.
2. Your government leaders, including local, state, national, and all those in authority, such as law enforcement officials (1 Tim 2:1-3).
3. Your teachers and/or those over you in your job.
4. Your pastor, teacher, spiritual mentor, and those in authority.
5. Anyone you know that needs healing or deliverance.
6. For the people you share Jesus with that they would come to know Him.
7. For all the saints (Eph 6:18) and for all men (1 Tim 2:1-3).

For more on this, please see my article, Standing in the Gap.

Pray for Yourself
Talk to God about your own needs as you pray for yourself. Some of the things you can specifically pray about are for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, wisdom, understanding, forgiveness, not to fall into temptation, deliverance from evil (including evil spirits), for protection, for His provision for you, for opportunities to share Jesus with specific people, for guidance and direction concerning your life, for His will to be done in your life, etc.

In Secret with No Images
Jesus said, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Mt 6:6).

So when you pray, do so in secret, to your unseen Father in heaven, and do not pray in front of any images, since that would be an abomination to God. There is no need for symbols or prayer beads either. For more on this, please see Modern Day Idols.

Pray Out Loud
It's also best to pray out loud, rather than silently, although it's fine to pray in your heart silently as needed in certain circumstances. For more on this please see Crying Out to God Loudly.

Pray in the Spirit
The Bible teaches us to pray in the Spirit, so this is an important key.

Jude wrote: "But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life." (Jude 1:20).

Paul wrote: "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." (Eph 6:18, NIV).

"For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding." (1 Cor 14:14-15, NIV).

In order to pray deeply in the Spirit, you need to first receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. For more on that please see my article, Baptized with the Spirit.

Position 
You can sit, stand, kneel, or lay on your face to pray. But one very good way to pray that is found in the Bible and helps you to express your reverence for God is kneeling. I also suggest praying with your eyes closed and your hands uplifted to the Lord. For more on these topics, please see Lifting Hands in PrayerLifting Your Face in Prayer, and Bowing Low in Worship.

Put on the Wardrobe of the Saints
Just as you need to get dressed everyday, you need to put on spiritual garments, too. For more on this, please see The Wardrobe of the Saints.

Head Covering
If you are a male, then pray with your head uncovered, and if you are a female, then pray with your head covered. The apostle Paul wrote: "Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head...a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels." (1 Cor 11:4-5a, 10b NIV). For more on this, please see my article Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?

Listen to God
Get to know Him. Listen to His voice. For more on this, please see Hearing the Lord's Voice and Inquiring of the Lord.

Worship the Lord
Take time just to express your love for God. Pour your love on Him. He is your great big Abba Father. Worship and adore Him for who He is. Bask in His presence and enjoy your time with Him.

You might like to play some instrumental worship music while you are praying or not have any music at all. Here is a link to instrumental worship to play while you pray, if you like.

I hope you have found these keys helpful as you spend time each day with the Lord in prayer.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan. 

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this message,  you may also like other articles about prayer which you can find on the Home page of this blog. I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, February 23, 2018

When God Does Not Seem to Answer

Dear Prayer Warriors,

We have all experienced times when God does not seem to answer us when we call. This is not unique to you alone, but has happened to us all at one time or another. In fact, it has probably happened to all true saints down through the centuries. Let's look at some passages of Scripture about this.

Habakkuk said, "How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, 'Violence!' but you do not save?" (Hab 1:2, NIV). God responded to the prophet by telling him that He had raised up the Babylonians to execute judgment and to punish His people Israel.

In his second complaint, Habakkuk prayed to God and asked, "Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?" (Hab 1:13b, NIV). Then the Lord replied:

“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." (Hab 2:2-3, NIV).

The Lord was teaching the prophet that the vision He was giving to him of the ultimate destruction of the wicked was to take place at the end of the age. He was teaching him that even though it took a long time to happen, it would certainly come at the appointed time and not prove false. It would not delay forever, but would one day come to pass. The Lord assured him that one day the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Hab 2:14). We must be patient and wait for the Lord.

As the Lord told David, "A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity." (Ps 37:10-11, NIV).

Yet there were times when David felt like the Lord was just watching what people were doing to him and not doing anything to stop it. He prayed things like, "How long, Lord, will you look on?" (Ps 35:17a, NIV). And "Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense!" (Ps 35:22-23a, NIV). And "My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest." (Ps 22:2, NIV).

Yet David had faith that "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles." (Ps 34:17, NIV). There are times in life when we may feel totally overwhelmed by troubles, and our prayers seem to go unanswered. But David said, "The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken." (Ps 34:19-20, NIV).

Like David and Habakkuk, Job also experienced his prayers seemingly going unanswered. He said, “Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice." (Job 19:7, NIV). He prayed, “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me." (Job 30:20 , NIV). Yet look at what God really thought of Job. He said that Job was blameless and upright, a man who feared God and shunned evil, and that there was no one else on earth like him (Job 1:8). In the end, after the Lord had tried Job, he blessed him even more than he did before his trials.

The Persistent Widow
Jesus taught us to pray and not give up. "Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, 'In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, "Give me legal protection from my opponent." For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, "Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out."'"

"And the Lord said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?'" (Luk 18:1-8)

Hindrances to Prayer
If your prayers are not being answered, it's best to ask the Lord to show you if something is hindering them. There are several possible ways your prayers can be hindered.

Sin
The first and most obvious one is sin. The blind man who received his sight said, "We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will." (Jn 9:31, NIV). The psalmist said, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." (Ps 66:18, NIV). Another version says, "If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear" me (NASB). Therefore, before you can expect God to hear your prayers, you must repent of all sin and turn away from iniquity. Ask the Lord to forgive you and cleanse you from all sin, and the Bible promises us that He will. The apostle John wrote, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 Jn 1:9, NIV).

Doubting
The second hindrance to getting your prayers answered is doubting. James wrote, "But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (Jas 1:6-8). Although you only need a mustard seed of faith to move mountains, you must be sure and remove all doubt, because if you have any doubts that God will answer you, then you should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Therefore, get rid of all doubt.

Idolatry
A third hindrance to prayer is idolatry. The nation of Israel fell into this sin, even sacrificing their own children to idols, and here is what God said to them. "When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away." (Is 57:13, NIV). Don't expect God to answer your prayers, if you are engaged in idolatry of any kind. He will not listen to you. For more on this, please see my article, Modern Day Idols.

Rebellion
A fourth hindrance to prayer is rebellion. The Lord told the sinful nation of Israel as they continued in rebellion that their offerings had become worthless, and he had had enough of them (Is 1:4-5,11). He said their incense had become an abomination to Him (Is 1:13). He promised not to listen to their prayers until they washed themselves and made themselves clean, removed their evil deeds from His sight and ceased to do evil (Is 1:16). He said, “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood." (Is 1:15, NIV).

Likewise in the first proverb, God sets us straight by saying that He won't tolerate rebellion. He says,“Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; And you neglected all my counsel and did not want my reproof...Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me." (Pr 1:24-25,28, NIV). There are plenty of warnings against rebellion that assure us He will not listen to us in that state until we repent. Scripture tells us, "He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination." (Pr 28:9).

Unforgiveness
One sin that I would like to point out specifically is unforgiveness, because it is so common. You must be careful, because the Lord taught that if you do not forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will not forgive you of your sins (Mt 6:15).

A man named Daniel Ekechukwu, whom I wrote about in Nigerian Pastor Raised from the Dead, had an automobile accident in November 2001 and died. There had been a misunderstanding between him and his wife that led to a disagreement, and the matter was not resolved before Daniel died. After arriving at the hospital by ambulance, he was repenting of his sins, but after he died an angel told him that the Lord did not listen to his prayers of repentance, since he was still holding unforgiveness in his heart toward his wife, even though she had tried to reconcile with him the morning of his fatal accident.

As Jesus said, God will not forgive us our sins unless we forgive others. Then the angel took him to hell and showed him that terrible place. He said that if his record was for him to be called to that place, then he would surely be thrown into hell. But the Lord chose to give him a second chance on life, and almost two full days after he had died, he was raised from the dead publicly in a large church. Don't let unforgiveness hinder your prayers and keep you from heaven.

Marriage Relationship
Another sin that I will call attention to, which will hinder you prayers, is treating your wife in an inconsiderate and disrespectful way. The apostle Peter warned us, "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." (1 Pe 3:7, NIV). Be sure to keep that relationship in good condition, if you want your prayers to be answered.

Asking with Wrong Motives
Another hindrance to prayer is asking with wrong motives. James wrote, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (Js 4:3, NIV). Be sure you are asking with pure motives when you pray, if you want your prayers to be answered.

Not Asking in the Will of God
Another hindrance to prayer that I will mention, which is related to the previous one I have just covered, is asking outside the will of God. You cannot have any confidence that God will answer your prayers, if you pray for something that is not His will. On the other hand, if you ask according to God's will, you can be sure He will answer you. The apostle John said, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." (1 Jn 5:14, NIV).

Spiritual Warfare
Sometimes a delay in getting prayer answered can be due to spiritual warfare. This is probably more common than we realize. Remember the time that the prophet Daniel prayed and fasted for twenty-one days before his prayers were answered. An angel then appeared to him and told him that the Lord had heard his prayers from the first day he began praying, and the Lord had dispatched him to go to Daniel in response, but there was an evil principality resisting the angel that delayed his arrival. He said, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia." (Dan 10:12-13, NIV).

Putting it All Together
Therefore, if God does not seem to answer your prayers, then check to be sure there is nothing hindering them. Ask the Lord to reveal to you anything that is hidden that must go. If there are any hindrances, then deal with those accordingly. However, as long as you know there is nothing within your control that is hindering your prayers, then take heart and learn a lesson from the persistent widow and the saints of old. Your situation and mine are not unique to us. If you feel like God is not answering your prayers, remember His promises. Remember His faithfulness. Don't forget what He told Habakkuk and David, and what He ultimately did for them and for Job. Keep on praying and do not lose heart. Though the answer lingers, wait for it. Have faith in God.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture taken from the holy Bible NIV. Other Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Prayer Warrior" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this article, you may also like Wait for the Lord (poem), Never Forsaken, Going Through the Valley (poem), Nothing Will Separate (poem), When All Means Fail - Part I,  Who Intercedes for Us?Personal Proclamations of Faith, A.S.K. (poem), Open Line to God (poem), Modern Day Idols, Even if it Doesn't Happen Like We ExpectCrying Out to God Loudly, Lifting Hands in Prayer, Great is His Faithfulness (poem), Speak to the Storm, and Lifting Your Face in Prayer. I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.