Archive for the ‘prayer’ Tag

Constant Conversation   Leave a comment

So, it was the 2016 National Day of Prayer today and I almost missed it. It’s not really a priority for me because I pray every day. Well, that’s not exactly true. I pray all the time. People don’t necessarily know that about me. I don’t raise a flag and announce that I’m having a conversation with God. It just sort of happens in the back of my mind. Sometimes I start out thinking something to myself and then find myself addressing my thought to God. So, I don’t need a special day of prayer to have a conversation with my Savior, so the official Day of Prayer is not a priority for me.

I don’t subscribe to the following sentiment —

We Should All Pray Today

I think genuine Christians pray all the time in the same way that I do. Most of the folks I know who I consider to be genuine Christians admit to the same sort of constant conversation with God that I experience. This is what Christians mean by a “relationship with Jesus Christ.” For us, He’s not some idol far away in the sky that we occasionally honor by bending our knees, bowing our heads and saying some prescribed words. Prayer is a conversation with God that is also a two-way street. God speaks to me all the time and I try to listen and obey, though I’m not as good at it as I might wish. My physical parents sometimes thought I was a naughty child too.

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not a Christian, prayer is sort of ridiculous. According to the Bible, the only prayer of a non-Christian that God will listen to is a prayer of repentence for salvation. (John 9:31; Deuteronomy 1:45; Job 27:8; Proverbs 15:29). It’s sort of like how my son absolutely will not answer his cell phone if you’re not on his contacts list. So, if you’re not a Christian, I don’t expect you to pray on the National Day of Prayer, although if you want to bow your neck to Jesus Christ to ask Him to genuinely enter into a relationship with you, I’m sure He’ll hear you and respond.

Still, I want to make this clear … while I totally accept your right not to pray, I reject the notion that you can tell me when, how, or where to pray or demand that I don’t pray because it makes you uncomfortable.

Keep Your Prayers to Yourself

Unlike this writer, I’ve read the gospel in context and realize that Jesus was not saying we can only pray in private, behind locked doors where those who don’t believe in prayer can’t see it. What He was saying was that when we pray before an audience, our prayers risk being a spectacle rather than genuine prayer. Remember, prayer is a conversation with God … but too often, public prayer is a performance to show how “spiritual” we are for the benefit of other people.

Chris Nye suggests that Christians just cede the public ground to non-Christians and whisper to our imaginary friend in secret. To a certain extent, he’s right in that God doesn’t really need our help to advance His agenda. He can change the world with a word if He chooses and if Christians are silent, the rocks and trees will testify of God (Luke 19:40). Christians are called to be the hands and feet of God and His witnesses to the world. Withdrawing from public is not an option.

On the other hand, some Christians (or those who claim the title for themselves) are obnoxious about their beliefs … kind of like the Pharisees, who didn’t pray publicly in worship of God, but to show how religious they were. It’s a fine line between genuine prayer and Pharisaical grandstanding. We should make sure we’re on the right side of that, but under no circumstances should we cede the field to those who reject God and hide in our homes and churches as if we have something to be ashamed of.

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power to everyone who believes.

2Timothy 1:12-13 – Because of this [gospel of Jesus Christ, v 11), in fact, I suffer as I do.But I am not ashamed because I know the one in whom my faith is set, and I am convinced that He is able to protect that which is entrusted to me until that day. Hold to the standard of sound words that you heard from me and do so with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.



Pray for Voter Wisdom   Leave a comment

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior.” —1 Timothy 2:1–3

It’s the National Day of Prayer on May 2 and the theme is Pray for America. I’m examining what the Bible says about praying for government.

Let me say this – if you’re not a Christian believer, don’t bother with this concept. What I am saying here does not apply to you. The only prayer God will hear from you is the one for salvation and that’s not my topic today. I think I wrote something a while back. Go here.

Now, for believers – Pray for America. Start by praying for your family and neighbors because that’s where we can have the most impact, is with those we personally know. But obviously, Paul thought Timothy and those at the church in Corinth should pray for the king, the government, etc.

Petitioning God means simply to ask. It pleases Him when we ask for what we want. Prayer is not a formalized thing. It is a conversation with God. I said before – I pray all the time – anywhere, anytime, while doing just about anything. Intercession is praying for someone else. Jesus constantly intercedes for us (Romans 8:34), so it pleases God when we mere humans intercede for someone else – included President Obama and the members of Congress and the “experts” in the administrative state – because we are following Christ’s example when we do this. Thanksgiving (praise) always pleases God and the Bible tells us to include thanksgiving when talking to God about those in governmental authority. We are supposed to “honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17) and recognize that “the authorities have been established by God” (Romans 13:1).

Which brings me to an interesting thought. Who are the authorities in a representative republic? Oh, yeah, the people. So we really ought to be praying for the voters. We’re in the mess that we’re in because a large percentage of American voters have wielded their authority in the ballot box unwisely for a very long time. Pray for wisdom for the American voter.  Before we start getting serious about praying for our elected representatives, we need to pray for those who do the electing.

How’s Your Prayer Life?   Leave a comment

National Day of Prayer 2013 is Thursday May 2. I rarely participate in these annual events because I pray all the time, so don’t feel the need to join in a national show of how religious we are. So, this year’s theme (Pray for America) is a stretch for a non-joiner like me, but it is also a challenge.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:43-45

I consider government at all levels to be an enemy of the people to varying degrees. Yet the Bible says to pray for my enemies. And I do know the verse “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). The issues that divided our nation during the 2012 elections were of greater significance that the prevailing economy scrutiny, yet played a negative role in the elections. Moral values of the sanctity of human life, preservation of marriage, and defense of religious freedom became subject to attack ads, speeches and debates as candidates aligned with opposing sides of the spectrum with no middle ground. Life was described as either sacred and worthy of preservation no matter what the circumstances or simply a decision to end an inconvenience and not a right. Marriage was described as one man and one woman as it has traditionally been or to be interpreted and redefined based on social moral relativism. Religious freedom was treated as either the right to freely worship God (of various faiths) or something that should be hidden away from public view, proscribed and possibly even investigated as terrorism.

We must examine ourselves as a nation. Aside from party affiliation, the election was clearly a revelation of the values of the voting public. Contrary to popular belief, the problem of polarization is not a Washington DC problem. The problem is in our homes, communities and churches. The heart of the American people has changed.

We live in a nation where half of the voting population holds beliefs and philosophies that are contrary to the beliefs of the other half. Increasingly it is difficult to find people who will stand for a strong Biblical world view in government, the military, schools, the media, businesses, and even churches and families. In such a contentious environment, those who try to live “godly” will be hated by a world that rejects our worldview and persecution is rarely far behind hate.

Persecution takes many forms, but the basic idea is harassment, irritation, and mistreatment so as to silence or drive away those subject to persecution. “The fact is, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12). That’s a painful thought because we all want to be liked, but when we take a stand against ungodliness in our culture, the ungodly will stand against us. Maybe they aren’t going to feed us to the lions just yet, but to be deprived of your liberty in a free society is persecution.

And our response?

Pray for them.

Ow! Knowing what to do is easier than doing what we know we must do. Jesus directs us not only to pray, but to pray with the same unconditional, never failing, always enduring love that Jesus loves us with. Our natural response to “persecution” from “enemies” is not to pray. It’s to fight back, but Jesus asks us to pray in sincere love for those who hate us.

Praying is not giving up. It’s just recognizing that what is wrong in our society will take more than just our collective will to repair and, frankly, more than one day of a nation bowing its neck to affect a cure.

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