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Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

PRAYER - YOU'VE GOT TO ASK

"We do not know what to pray for. . .but the (Holy) Spirit intercedes for the saints (believers) in accordance with God's will."  Romans 8: 26-27

Prayer. This subject always evokes deep thought, gives rise to many questions and causes us to search for what is true. We think of prayer as asking for something. I never consider this subject without remembering an incident that happened years ago when my children were very young.

I was so fortunate to have my parents and grandparents live close to me for many years. My mother would stop by often and take one of my boys to the store with her. This was a way she could spend a little quality time with her grandchild. She never took more than one child at a time. The older one, Steve, would seldom ask for anything. He was happy being with grandma and going to the Market Basket in Whittier. The younger one, Gerry, always asked for something. He'd come home with a box of Popsicles, a coloring book, new crayons - something. One day my mother came  to take Steve with her to the store. When they got back Gerry ran to the door and immediately asked, "What did you get?" Steve shrugged his shoulders and said, "Nothing". Gerry was amazed, maybe a little angry. He shouted, "Steve, you've got to ask!" At three years old, he seemed to understand that if you don't ask for something, you don't get anything. Jesus told His disciples pretty much the same thing in John 16:24 -

"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." John 16:24

There are things we truly desire to understand, but are hard to grasp. But when we do, we can announce, "Now I understand!" Prayer is like that.

How do we find truth? I believe our natural tendency is to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We search and re-search, finally coming up with an answer that we can live with. A better approach to chase down a spiritual truth might be to simply ask God to direct us. We do that with prayer. We are asking for direction, and we are also praising God.

It's very good for us to look around  everyday and acknowledge His provision. Do you have a family to love? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food to eat? We all can find something in our lives that we are grateful for. You will be blessed when you praise God for His goodness in prayer.

We bring our concerns to the Lord, and then we wait. This is the hard part. But in God's time, and in His way, truth and direction will come. He may draw you to Bible passages you've never seen before and open your mind and heart to a new understanding. Often the Lord paints a picture of truth for us using daily experiences. It's like He's saying, "See, this is what happens when you trust me", or "Can you see now that the pieces of your life are fitting together and My plan is good?" Maybe God will point out that we often want what is not ultimately good for us and He has a better way. Jesus, who has all the attributes of God and is God, tells us . . .

"Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. . .learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  Matthew 11:28

Rest for our soul. Don't we all want that? I recently had an e-mail conversation with someone who has been diagnosed with metastasized cancer; she's frightened. I shared Psalm 16:8.

"I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

My friend replied "I defy you not to be upset with this diagnosis." I do not take her pain and fear lightly. Fighting cancer is like being at war; the struggle is all consuming and the end result may very well be that life on earth will end. Even so, those who've been given the faith to believe can have rest for their soul and this is what defies explanation - not fear, but faith in the One who has promised eternal life.

How many times do we pray to have something 'fixed' in our life only to discover God isn't going to change anything? He prepared a plan, you might call it a blueprint for our life, "before the creation of the world" - Ephesians 1:4. David wrote "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." - Psalm 139:16

Let me again point out, God is sovereign. The sooner you learn that truth, the sooner your soul will be at rest.

We wonder sometime, why pray? Over and over in Scripture the believer is told to pray. This is how we communicate with the Lord. True, He already knows our needs, but He wants us to come to Him and acknowledge His power and presence in our life. God is our heavenly Father, and like any good father, He wants His children to be free of worry, to be confident of His love and most of all, He wants to have a relationship with us. Christianity is all about a relationship with God, not about being 'religious'.

        You will find what we call "The Lord's Prayer" in Matthew 6: 11-13. My comments are in italics.

"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed (holy) be your name,
your kingdom come, (Jesus will return)
your will (not our will) be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread (trust Him for your daily needs)
Forgive us our debts (sins - believers are spiritually re-born  and have already been forgiven, but Jesus encourages us to come to Him daily, not for His approval, but for our peace)

As we also have forgiven our debtors (those who have sinned against us - knowing we are forgiven, we need to forgive others)

And lead us not into temptation (we all have temptations, come to the Lord daily and ask Him to remove that which tempts you and causes pain in your life)

but deliver us from the evil one (Satan, who is alive and well roaming the earth searching out those who are vulnerable to his attacks)

Somewhere along the way, these words have been added to the Lord's Prayer. They were not in the original manuscripts, but sum up the essence of this prayer so beautifully.

"And Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever and ever. . .amen.

Lastly, by coming to the Lord in prayer we are showing that we are humble before Him. We concede to God's power. He is God Almighty, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

"Cast your anxiety on him, because he cares for you."
I Peter 5:7

Lord, we thank you for who You are. We are grateful for your love and protection and that You alone can give us rest for our soul.