How’s Your Prayer Life?

March 27, 2020

 

By Skip Heitzig

Isn’t it great when you pray for something and God answers your prayer? Charles Spurgeon said, “Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscles of omnipotence.” So why is prayer typically the last thing some of us do, after nothing else works and we’re at the end of our rope?

One of the early church’s priorities was prayer, according to Acts 2:42: “They continued steadfastly…in prayers.” It was their regular, instinctive response to life. In Acts 4, after the Jewish leadership threatened the church and made it illegal for them to proclaim the name of Jesus as the Messiah, the believers “raised their voice to God with one accord” (v. 24) and set a beautiful pattern for us in the prayer that followed:

1. It had perspective: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them” (v. 24). The word they used for Lord is the Greek word despotés, or despot. They realized they were talking to the Lord who, as the absolute ruler of the universe, has it all in His hands. That’s the best way to begin your prayer: by reminding yourself to whom you’re praying (see also Jeremiah 32:17). We so often carry our limitations over onto God: “I don’t know if You can do anything about this.” Just take a moment to consider the vastness of the universe God made. He can handle your problem.

2. It had balance. Their prayer wasn’t just a request; it was also filled with the recognition and praise of God. In verses 25-28, these early believers acknowledged who God is, what God had done, what Scripture says, and how awesome God is. Isn’t that how Jesus taught us to pray? You start by saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed [praised] be Your name” before you pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (see Matthew 6:9, 11).

3. It had direction: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus” (vv. 29-30). Their prayer was specific and directed, not wispy and vague. It’s not that God needed informing; it’s that when we’re specific, we can look back when a prayer is answered and say, “I prayed for that specifically,” and our faith is bolstered for the next go-round.

4. It had results: “When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (v. 31). The prayer that had perspective, balance, and direction was the one that worked. As James wrote, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

Notice that this time in the early church, which was a time of crisis, produced praying people. Could that perhaps be one reason why God allows our lives to be spiced up with just enough trials to keep us saying, “Oh yeah, God, I really need You—I depend on You”?

Whatever trial you’re facing, I pray the Holy Spirit would lead you to lean on the Lord and pray regularly and instinctively, bringing everything to the one who’s truly in charge of it all.

Copyright © 2020 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

Living Love – Week of March 25

The Beauty Remains 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 
ROMANS 12:12

The French artist Pierre Auguste Renoir was a leader in the early Impressionist movement of the nineteenth century. For the last two decades of his life, Renoir had to adapt his painting style to accommodate debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. He sometimes strapped a brush to his immobile, deformed fingers in order to continue his work. He also took up sculpting, directing others to act as his hands. He completed some of his most famous works when he was in the advanced stages of his illness.

One of Renoir’s closest friends was the artist Henri Matisse. On one occasion, as Matisse watched his friend struggle to apply each brushstroke, Matisse asked, “Why do you continue to paint when you are in such agony?”

Renoir replied, “The beauty remains; the pain passes.”

Renoir’s words remind us of the hope God offers when we are patient in the face of  disappointment and pain. One of the two Greek words translated as “patience” in the New

Testament is hypomone, which means “to remain under.” This kind of patience speaks of being faithful to God’s calling even when things seem hopeless, and loving others even when they seem unlovable. It speaks of trusting that our pain will pass but the beauty of God’s work in us—and through us—will remain for eternity.

Prayer 

Father, help me to live with a focus on what will last.

Dr. Gary Chapman is the beloved best-selling author of The Five Love Languages and Love as a Way of Life. For more information, click here.

My daily bread

 March 30 Blessed Bread Glenn Packiam Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Matthew 26:26 nlt Matthew 26:26–29 Judges 9–10; Luke 5:17–39 When our oldest child became a teenager, my wife and I gave her a journal that we’d been writing in since her birth. We’d recorded her likes and dislikes, quirks and memorable one-liners. At some point the entries became more like letters, describing what we see in her and how we see God at work in her. When we gave it to her on her thirteenth birthday, she was mesmerized. She’d been given the gift of knowing a crucial part of the origins of her identity. In blessing something as common as bread, Jesus was revealing its identity. What it—along with all creation—was made to reflect: God’s glory. I believe Jesus was also pointing to the future of the material world. All creation will one day be filled with the glory of God. So in blessing bread (Matthew 26:26), Jesus was pointing to the origin and the destiny of creation (Romans 8:21–22). Maybe the “beginning” of your story feels messed up. Maybe you don’t think there’s much of a future. But there’s a bigger story. It’s a story of a God who made you on purpose and for a purpose, who took pleasure in you. It’s a story of God who came to rescue you (Matthew 26:28); a God who put His Spirit in you to renew you and recover your identity. It’s a story of a God who wants to bless you. How does seeing your true origin story as being made on purpose and for a purpose change the way you see yourself? What’s the bigger story than simply your situation right now? Dear Jesus, I place my life like bread in Your hands. Only You can return me to my origin. Only You can carry me to my destiny. Jesus, You are the author and the finisher of my faith.

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A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

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