Who is the enemy?
Have you ever judged another person when they were simply doing their job? It is easy to fall into that trap, but there is a way out. Paul and Silas found it by focusing on God in prayer and singing praises to His name. Doing so helped them see the jailor in a different light and they were able to share their good news with him (vv 29-30). .
Some things to ponder:
1. How can you mentally “take a breath” before jumping to conclusions about another person’s motives or actions? ?
2. Will you commit to pray for them rather than judge them?
Hearing it Firsthand
Committing to having God be your primary form of counsel is crucial in knowing the right paths to walk on in your life.
Here is a truth. Jesus did not die on a cross so that he could continue to speak to you primarily through some other person, movie, or book. Christ came and suffered to be known intimately by you and to open up the the lines of communication blocked by the fall of mankind. He came that He might speak mightily and directly to you. Scripture is clear when it says “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” It does not say that we are to approach the throne standing behind a human mediator.
This is such a beautiful and poignant verse. The throne God sits on is a throne of grace that will offer you what you need and allow you to receive mercy and find grace. If you have been wondering where grace went in your life, you can find it at God’s throne.
The book of James says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” To illustrate this scripture, there’s a story about a little boy who had a dream of heaven. In the dream, God took the boy to a room. In the room were various types of material possessions like cars, houses, and other objects needed for daily life. Also in the room were things that seemed grotesque: eyeballs, legs, hands, and feet piled high in various corners. When the little boy asked God what it all meant, God replied, “These are answers to prayers never prayed.”
Even if this story is fictional, it still carries a profound message. The moral of this story is scripturally accurate. People do not possess many of the things God intends for their lives for one simple reason: they have never asked.
Like sunken treasure littering the bottom of the sea, God’s responses to unprayed prayers are left undiscovered and lost. What about you? Is some of the treasure of your life resting with the Spanish galleons deep below your life’s surface and waiting for the salvage work of prayer to excavate them? Are you perhaps missing out on what God intends for your life because you have never asked?
The Mission of Asking Prayer
Jesus’ theology of asking prayer seems alluring at first, even exciting. Christ woos His hearers in with grand promises of rewarding their deepest desires. This is a promise He intends to keep provided that certain criteria are in play. Then without warning, once we are hooked on visions of our grandeur, success, or personal happiness, comes the sucker punch. If you are not familiar with that term, it is a phrase associated with fighting. It means throwing an unexpected punch, usually to the gut, that your opponent never sees coming and that buckles the opponent’s knees.
If you don’t want to be caught off guard by Jesus, then you need to understand what He said in its original language and context. Like English, the ancient Greek language has words with multiple meanings. One of these words is thelo. It is a word used 213 times in the New Testament in its various forms. Thelo is a word that can be translated as “wishes” or “desires,” and in some translations of the Bible it has been. But a more expansive understanding of the word is “willing” or perhaps “willingness.”
Jesus expands the boundaries of asking prayer. He is daring you to ask beyond your wants. Imagine how frail this immense teaching would be if we were promised answers only to the things we could conjure up within our own desires. What you want has limitations. On the other hand, having a willingness to pray boldly for anything has no boundaries and might include a prayer such as “Jesus, what do You want from me?”
Jesus did not just ask for what you want; He said ask for anything you are willing to ask for. It’s much more difficult to get infatuated with this statement by Jesus when we see it in full context.
The Reason We Ask, Seek, and Knock
God answers prayer, but asking prayer is not primarily about answers. Asking prayer, like all other forms of prayer, is about relationship. If you make asking prayer about answers, you’re moving into dangerous territory.
When prayer is primarily about answers, our relationship with God becomes results focused. When God says no or works outside of our time schedule, we desperately question why and are tempted to feel inadequate or unloved by God. Be assured that as you grow in the area of asking prayer, the Devil will seek to shift the focus of your prayers from relationship to results.
Christ was well aware of the relational purpose of asking prayer. In the seventh chapter of Matthew when Jesus dared His followers to ask for things – big things – like “elephants” in prayers. He immediately transferred the focus from the asking to the fatherly or paternal relationship that surrounds each request we make.
Jesus was saying that whenever you ask in prayer you open up the familial lines of communication and put yourself in a position to experience relationship with a loving and compassionate Father.
When God answers your prayers in dramatic fashion, you will grow in the knowledge of His power and care for you. When God works on His schedule instead of yours, you will come to know more about His sustaining power. And when God says no and your dreams die or perhaps you lose someone close to you, you will come to know the God of all comfort who weeps with you. If you want to know God as Father, begin to assault the throne of heaven in asking prayer.
The Spiritually Nuclear Eternal Power of Prayer
The Devil has no ability to contain prayer. Prayer is spiritually nuclear in nature; it is the raw material of God and His people. Prayer is out of Satan’s influence. He has no power to warp or influence a prayer’s trajectory to God’s throne after it has been prayed. Once a prayer is unleashed, it bounces around eternity in perpetuity, burning before the throne of God like incense.
This is why prayer is so spiritually dangerous for Satan. It supersedes the limitations of a mortal world. Prayer is immortal. It has no boundaries and no marker lines. Prayer holds ultimate potential. The best the Devil can hope for is that you don’t pray. And much of his strategy is to discourage you from praying at all, as a prayer never prayed has zero chance of ever being answered.
How do you begin to live with an ongoing, unending awareness of God’s presence? You begin by developing the habit of constant communication with God through prayer.
1And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.3And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” 6And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
My life is a series of #TESTS. When I get to HEAVEN, I will have GRADUATED!!
I have an active, healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. We spend the mornings and evening in conversation. He gives me gifts and blessing through out the day. I never leave home without letting Him know where I’m going or when I plan to return. Our relationship is strong and secure. There are times that I feel He is doesn’t give me His feedback because He is testing my character, my faith, my demeanor and my trust in Him. Sometimes He will leave an extra blessing for me to share with someone else and I often wonder if He is testing me when He does that – SO I ALWAYS look for ways to share. I often wonder if He would have me share because there are people who don’t know of Him for themselves and I am the only link to HIM for them. I wonder? What about you? Do you know HIM? Do you share the goodness of HIM with anyone else? Just thinking out loud.
Every time I pass a test, God notices and makes plans to reward me in HEAVEN!
What #metaphor do you use to paint a picture of your life? Are you living your life OnPurpose?
I pray you share the goodness of Jesus today…OnPurpose!!
“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
Pray a new prayer…OnPurpose!!
There is no greater gift you can give your pastor and the spiritual leaders of your church than to pray for them.
Pastors cannot win the battle alone; they need committed intercessors to lift them up in fervent, specific prayer. Imagine how the power of God might be released in our churches if we were to pray faithfully for our pastors. Pastors are human—they face the same challenges that their people do, with some additional ones!
They grow tired in ministry, are tempted to sin, and may find it difficult to balance their many roles and responsibilities. They need the encouragement and support of those they lead. Prayer for your pastor is crucial to the spiritual health of your pastor, his family, and your church. God will reward your efforts to cover him in prayer.
If you want to encourage your spiritual leaders (and their spouses!) let them know you are praying for them. Ask them periodically for any specific prayer requests and assure them you will pray accordingly.
Pray that they would be pure in their conduct, blameless, meaning “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6–7). Pray that their motives would be pure, not mixed (2 Corinthians 7:11). Pray that their minds would be pure, not distracted (Philippians 4:8). Pray that the words of their teaching would be pure, not deceptive (2 Corinthians 2:17). “We who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).
Pray that their counsel would be pure and not lead others into sin, and that they would be wise in deciding whom to empower to represent the church as fellow leaders (1 Timothy 5:22). Pray that they would lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and be free to run with endurance the race that is set before them (Hebrews 12:1).