Why We Quit Praying

If my core values as a Christian don’t include a serious prayer life, there must be a good reason.

  1. If I’m not praying, it could be that I don’t really believe in God. Most atheists and agnostics say they can’t pray because they don’t believe in a Supreme Being. Why bother to pray? There’s no one there to hear you. It’s useless.
  2. If I’m not praying, it could be that I don’t believe God cares. So if there is a God but I’m not praying, I must’ve decided that this God doesn’t care to hear what I have to say. Maybe this God is so distant and transcendent that He has no use for human beings. Maybe this God never notices me or my puny problems. Maybe “God” is just a force of nature instead of an intelligent, loving being.
  3. If I’m not praying, it could be that I don’t believe prayer works. Maybe I’ve prayed before again and again, but didn’t see the answer I was looking foPraying girl at crossr. Maybe I figured that answered prayers are for others, but not for me. It could be that I’ve never been able to get much traction in a prayer life because I don’t understand how it works. And that I emphasize the prayer failures I see around me rather than what the Bible says about prayer.
  4. If I’m not praying, it could be I think I can handle my own life without help. Maybe I think that if I ask God for help it will obligate me. I’ll have to let God take over my life in ways I’m not ready for. Maybe I’m afraid that if I rely on Him I’ll get disappointed. So why bother? Just forge ahead and handle my own life.
  5. If I’m not praying, it could be that I don’t believe Jesus’ life as a man of prayer is valid. We all know Jesus prayed and taught His disciples to pray. We can tell from the Gospels that He prayed strenuously and with supreme dedication, sometimes praying all night long. And even praying till His sweat was mixed with blood. But if I don’t believe that He’s my Lord and I’m His disciple, I won’t pursue His kind of prayer life.
  6. If I’m not praying, it could be that I don’t understand that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both praying for me. Maybe I haven’t realized I’m not alone. That when I’m praying, the Lord prays. And the Spirit prays, too. (Romans 8:26 & 8:34)
  7. If I’m not praying, it could be that I’m just too busy.

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1 NIV)

 

 

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Prayer changes nothing!… Really?

Why God Waits for You to Pray

“Prayer changes nothing!”

Often attributed to Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, famous author and Bible expositor, that quote puts into words what many Christians seem to think.

In decades of teaching seminars & workshops on prayer, I’ve heard it often. “Prayer really doesn’t change circumstances, it just changes us.”

The problem is… that’s wrong. It borders on heresy, denying the personal working of God in this world today.

It’s wrong for these basic reasons:

The Bible contradicts it. Even though true prayer certainly changes the person doing the praying, that isn’t the whole story. Here’s a sample of what the Bible says about answered prayer:

  • Prayer gave Isaac twin sons even though his wife was barren – Genesis 25:21.
  • Prayer kept Esau from killing Jacob and caused the two to reconcile – Genesis 32:11 & 33:4.
  • Prayer freed the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage – Exodus 2:23-25.

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Yes, the church can be intimidating

Churches have a problem.

How do we win people to Christ and still please the culture around us?

Sometimes we can’t. Sometimes a church that’s ‘on fire for God’ intimidates unbelievers. That’s why they avoid it.

Notice what happened in Acts chapter five when the apostles demonstrated the supernatural power of God:

“And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.”

Did you see that?

Outsiders felt intimidated by the supernatural activity in the church, but it didn’t stop the growth.

And the supernatural events continued to happen:

As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.”CPPLogo

That reminds me of a passage in 1 Corinthians 14:24-25:

“But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’”

Despite the intimidation factor, that’s what unbelieving seekers want.

They want an encounter with God!

That means that we—the church—must encounter Him regularly. If not, unbelievers won’t be intimidated (or won) by a timid church.

Stop apologizing for being the church. The unbelieving culture will never understand us (1 Corinthians 2:14). But when they encounter God and His love through usWow!

 

What Would God Pray?

No doubt Jesus was a man of prayer.

By my count, seventeen times the gospels show him praying. And at least fifteen times we see him teach his disciples about prayer. We even know a lot about the content of his prayers, especially from John chapter 17.NASA Gates of Heaven

But I wonder what he prays about now. He is praying now, you know. He sits at the Father’s right hand and right now continually prays for us (Romans 8:34 & Hebrews 7:25).

And I wonder what the Holy Spirit prays about now. He’s constantly interceding for us when we groan in prayer with heart-issues that language can’t touch (Romans 8:26-27). I wonder what the Spirit prays right now.

Yes, God “prays”. He is relational – the Father, Son and Spirit. He is love. He communicates within the Godhead, the Trinity.

Remember the second Psalm? Before time began, the Father said to the Son “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance…”. Even on earth, the Messiah bathed himself in prayer. And the conversation continues in heaven.

So what’s God “praying” about now, what’s His heart-cry, His deepest desire?

PEOPLE. God converses about lost people. There’s “more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7 NIV) And God converses about born again people. Jesus and the Holy Spirit both intercede (talk to the Father) for the church constantly.

So every time you pray in Jesus’ Name, you join that “Divine Conversation”. The Father lovingly listens, Jesus leans to his left and speaks into the Father’s ear, and the Holy Spirit intercedes from the human heart level. And then our squeaky little voices chime in.

Amazing!

So – how does joining that “Divine Conversation” change your prayers?

 

Ten Ways To Pray For This Election… and Beyond

As I’m writing this, America is voting. Some say it’s the most momentous election in our lifetime. It could decide this nation’s direction for a generation or more.

So, how can Christians pray for this election… and for what happens afterward?

  1. Pray for a fair and calm election.
  2. Pray that believers on Christ will get out and vote… in ALL our elections.
  3. Pray for the outcome of this election to spark a greater spiritual awakening in America.
  4. Pray for America’s churches to wake up, to preach the Word of God boldly despite persecution, and to pray without ceasing.
  5. Pray for our new President to be specially touched by God and drawn closer to Him through Christ.
  6. Pray for those who lose in these elections to gracefully support America and work with even their political opponents to see our nation live up to our
    prayers-for-election-day

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    God-given potential.

  7. Pray for a renaissance of mature statesmanship in our political process so people of excellence and Christ-like moral values will be drawn to elective office.
  8. Pray for newly elected officials to protect our religious freedoms as guaranteed in the First Amendment to our constitution.
  9. Pray for God to touch all our elected officials with His Presence, bringing about a spiritual awakening among those who serve in government.
  10. Pray for peace in America as this election ends.

What else are YOU praying for?

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
    he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1 ESV)

“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, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”   (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV)

 

Should Christians Be Involved In Politics?

It’s a simple question, but it often draws a heated response. Should Christians be involved in politics?

Some say, “Absolutely not!” They’ve given up on the political process. Or they say we’re not here to build a ‘Christian theocracy’ – that this isn’t our arena as Christ-followers, that we should stay clear of politics and let the world-lings hash out all the problems of governing. They don’t want to be caught up in a ‘nutty nationalism’ that replaces God’s kingdom with allegiance to a civil government. And many of them don’t plan to vote in this presidential election since, in their estimation, neither candidate behaves like a Christian.

But others think political action is a way to influence the culture and save our nation from God’s judgment due to the corruption of our public morals (as in Sodom and Gomorrah). They think it’s a form of spiritual malpractice to let the common morality disintegrate when Christians could be influencing the cultural trajectory.politics-and-religion

Both sides have good points. But what does the Bible say about a Christian’s involvement in national, public issues?

  • God’s people should pray and work to improve the nation where God has placed them:

When the Jews were exiled to Babylon for seventy years, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah – “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:5-7 NIV)

  • Jesus said God’s people should cooperate with the national government where they live, even if it is corrupt:

When the Pharisees and Herodians confronted Jesus with a trick question about paying taxes to Caesar, he famously said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. (Matthew 22:21 NIV)

People often quote this to prove that Christians should have nothing to do with civic government, but the context is actually the opposite. Jesus’ enemies wanted him to dismiss civil government’s authority and say he was leading a messianic rebellion against Rome, thus causing his arrest. (He was actually accused of that at his trial by some of the same enemies in Luke 23:2.) Instead he taught that the people of God have a dual obligation – (1) To cooperate with the civil government and (2) To render to God what is His. He taught this very same approach later through two of his hand-picked apostles.

  • God commands his people to submit to the governing authorities of the nation where they live.

As the apostle Paul writes to Christians under Roman persecution, he says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:1-7 NIV)

Obviously this doesn’t sit well with some believers, but it’s clearly an instruction to the church on how to deal with an ‘un-Christian’ government. Even when being persecuted by that government.

  • God’s wants His people to pray for civic government and its leaders.

In Paul’s letter to the young missionary Timothy, he gives these instructions to Christians living in a Roman colony: “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, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3 NIV)

Notice Paul’s evangelistic reasoning. We pray for our government and its leaders so we can have a better environment for reaching out to lost people.

  • God expects His people to show respect for governmental authority.

I know. This is a tough one. When Peter wrote to the scattered, persecuted Christians whom he called “God’s elect, strangers in the world”, he said:

 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.(1 Peter 2:13-17 NIV)

So – it’s clear that God expects His people to relate to civil government in a respectful, cooperative way. But the Bible gives a couple of caveats about that issue:

  1. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). His supernatural kingdom comes first.
  2. The apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). When civil government (in their case, the Jewish theocracy) demands that we obey them rather than God in a matter of conscience, we refuse.

Otherwise, believers have certain obligations to the civic government appointed by God.

But does that include voting? Well, what if the apostle Paul had written a letter to the Romans with news that they could now vote to pick the next Caesar? Probably both contenders would’ve been corrupt or even brutal, so how would Christians have exercised their new ‘right to vote’?

I bet they would’ve been excited about the freedom to choose their leader, and I suspect their main questions would’ve been, “Which Caesar will be the least likely to persecute the church… which one will be the most friendly to our community as we pursue the mission to preach Christ to the world… which one will be the most likely to be touched by God’s grace?”.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Insights Into Christ’s Prayer Life

Did Jesus emphasize prayer in his own earthly ministry?

Look at how many times the gospels highlight his prayer life:

  • He prayed at his baptism—Luke 3:21
  • His prayers gave his ministry direction—Mark 1:35jesus-praying
  • He frequently prayed despite a heavy ministry schedule—Luke 5:16
  • He prayed all night before choosing apostles—Luke 6:12-13
  • His all-night praying produced miracles—Matthew 14:23-25
  • He prayed to open his disciples’ hearts—Luke 9:18-20
  • His prayers transformed him—Luke 9:28-29
  • His prayers were impelled by the Holy Spirit—Luke 10:21
  • His prayers inspired the disciples to imitate him—Luke 11:1-13
  • He prayed for the children—Matthew 19:13-14
  • His prayers raised the dead—John 11:41-42
  • His praying kept his mission in perspective—John 12:27-28
  • His gratitude produced thanksgiving in his prayers—Matthew 14:19 & 26:26-27
  • He interceded in prayer for the disciples—Luke 22:31-32
  • He prayed for his church on the night before his crucifixion—John 17:1-26
  • He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane—Luke 22:39-46
  • He prayed while on the cross—Luke 23:34, 46

These seventeen peeks into Jesus’ prayer life make the point—he considered praying to his Father a non-negotiable, vital part of his life’s mission on earth.

“Is it not written; ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” -Jesus (Mark 11:17 NIV)

Why do you think many Christ-followers find prayer ineffective?

14 Profound Things Jesus Said About Prayer

Do you know anyone who could teach a better prayer seminar than Jesus—the Son of God Himself?

Look at these powerful things Jesus taught about prayer:

  • He said we should pray for our enemies—Matthew 5:44.
  • He taught that our praying should be sincere, not hypocritical—Matthew 6:5 & Mark 12:40 (Luke 20:47).
  • He told us that praying in secret is powerful—Matthew 6:6.
  • He said that our prayers don’t have to be long, babbling prayers to be heard—Matthew 6:7
  • He gave us an example of simple, powerful praying—Matthew 6:9-15 & Luke 11:1-4.
  • He taught that persistence is the key to answered prayers—Matthew 7:7-12 plus Luke 11:5-13 & 18:18-20.jesus-praying
  • He told us to pray for more workers to harvest lost souls—Matthew 9:35-38 & Luke 10:1-2.
  • He said unity in prayer brings great power—Matthew 18:18-20.
  • He said His church is to be a ‘house of prayer’—Matthew 21:12-13 & Mark 11:15-17 plus Luke 19:45-46.
  • He said prayer from the right heart will get answered—Luke 18:9-14.
  • He said we win spiritual battles in prayer—Mark 9:28-29.
  • He told us that faith is a key to answered prayer—Mark 11:24 & Matthew 21:22.
  • He taught that we must forgive others as we pray—Mark 11:25.
  • He said praying in His Name is the key to powerful results—John 14:13-14; John 15:7, 16 and John 16:23-27

Have you experienced any prayer answers that came from one of these principles?

Was this our best Prayer Workshop yet?

I guess you’d expect us to brag on our 22nd Annual Prayer Workshop this year. Right?
Yes—but this one was special.

First of all, the speakers did an excellent job, especially Dave Butts as he taught us so much about our goal of becoming a ‘House of Prayer’. You can get more info about Dave’s seminars at his ministry website – HarvestPrayer.com. I highly recommend his prayer seminars.

And our guests enthusiastically told me how much this WorkshPEW 2015 crowd shotop means to them. Many of them make the trip each year to hear exceptional speakers, pray together and network with others who are praying for spiritual revival in this broken world.

As for the figures, we had six states represented—Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Sunday’s service, which included our 50th Homecoming, was the highest Sunday morning attendance we’ve had since 2007.
So thanks to all the wonderful servants who helped put this Workshop among the top events we’ve ever had!

You can see more at our church website or at our Facebook page.


Hope to see you all next year!

Teach us to pray??

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1 NIV)

Did you ever wonder about that? Why did the disciple say “TEACH us“? Doesn’t prayer come naturally, especially to disciples… especially during a crisis?

Emergency praying may come naturally, but praying effectively is something we’re taught.

That’s why our church has hosted a Prayer Enrichment Workshop for the past 21 years – and we’ll do another one on September 11-13, 2015 with several speakers.PewBroc2015 Cover

The theme: “Building Prayer Into The Life Of Your Church”.

The speakers:

  • David Butts. Chairman of National Prayer Committee and President of Harvest Prayer Ministries.
  • Victor Knowles. Founder of Peace On Earth Ministries and Editor of One Body Magazine.
  • Albert Lemmons. Seminar Teacher who has spoken at more than 600 prayer events on five continents and President of Prayer Matters.
  • J.J. Turner. Preacher, Church Elder and President of Jeremiah Institute.
  • Jerry Keene. Preacher for Farmerville Church of Christ and Homecoming Speaker for our 50th Anniversary as a church (Jerry’s dad, Percy Keene, was our first full-time preacher nearly 50 years ago.)

Check out all the details at our website where you can view and print the Workshop brochure.

Hope to see you there!