Showing posts from June, 2010

John 16:23-28 - Prayer in the Name of Jesus

“In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.” --John 16:23-28 NASB Jesus taught the importance that we pray in His name. We cannot hope to approach God in ourselves. Jesus has to come between God and us. The Apostle Paul explained that Jesus Christ must be the me

Romans 12:2 - Prayer Changes Us

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. --Romans 12:2 NASB In this passage the Apostle Paul reminds us that as followers of Christ, we should no longer be as the world is, but as God wants us to be--we must be changed. The Greek word used here is transliterated as “metamorphoó,” meaning to literally change from one form into another--to transform. Our transformation should come through the renewing of our mind. The word used for our mind is the Greek word “nous,” which means our mind, our understanding, our reason. But how do we renew our mind? We do so through the study of God's Word—the Bible—and through prayer. God not only invites us to pray, but commands that we pray. As we are consistent in this duty, we are going to be changed. A life of prayer is a life of obedience to God. Our prayer life should be one of supplication with

Matthew 6:7-8 - Pray What We Mean

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” --Matthew 6:7-8 NASB Do our prayers have meaningless repetition? Do we babble to God? Reflecting on these words of Jesus may cause us to think of the Old Testament “sacrifice showdown” on Mount Carmel between the prophet Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal, in which Elijah challenged the prophets to prove that Baal was the true god (1 Kings 18:20-40). All morning the prophets of Baal prayed and danced, calling out for Baal, again and again, to consume the sacrifice they had prepared for him. When that didn’t work they prayed louder, they danced wilder, and they ritually cut themselves, but still nothing happened. Finally, when it was Elijah’s turn, he looked heavenward and addressed God simply and confidently. So that the surrounding crowd could hear, Elijah re

Acts 12:11 - When God Answers Our Prayer

When Peter came to himself, he said, "Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting." --Acts 12:11 NASB When we pray, we do so with the faith that, whatever our request, God will answer our prayers. But why do we sometimes react with disbelief when God actually answers our prayers? The Scripture passage in Acts 12:1-19 tells an amazing story of disbelief when God answered prayer. King Herod decided to go after the church at Jerusalem during the week of Passover. One of his first major acts was to execute the Apostle James, the brother of John. When Herod noticed how much his popularity increased among the Jews, he was inspired to arrest and imprison the Apostle Peter, surrounding him with four squads of four soldiers. Herod planned a very public execution Peter after Passover. From the moment that Peter was arrested, the members of the church prayed intensely for his r

Psalm 100:4 - Adoration in Our Prayer

Enter His gates with thanksgiving       And His courts with praise       Give thanks to Him, bless His name. --Psalm 100:4 NASB The model for prayer given to us by Jesus (also called the Lord's Prayer and the Our Father) begins with adoration (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2). We should enter God's presence with praise (Psalm 100:4). We should praise God for several reasons. First, God worthy of our praise. Second, praise sets the proper tone for our prayer. Third, praise reminds us of who God is and His inclination toward us. And fourth, praise purges us of other concerns and softens our hearts for prayer. Many Scripture passages in the Bible remind us of the importance of praise. For example, we are called to praise God, in recognition of what God has done for us (1 John 3:1; 1 Peter 2:9-10; 1 John 5:14). Through our praise we show our respect and fear--reverential awe--for God (Psalm 34:11). By our praise we focus the attention of others onto God (Psalm 45:17). Our praise br

Luke 5:16 - The Priority of Prayer

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness to pray. --Luke 5:16 NASB Jesus knew the importance of prayer during His earthly ministry. He began His days with prayer (Mark 1:35). He used every spare moment to pray (Mark 6:46; Luke 5:16; Luke 22:39). Jesus would pray all night before making significant decisions, such as the choosing of His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12). Jesus prayed in times of great stress, such as prior to His betrayal by Judas (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 17). It was following long periods of prayer that Jesus demonstrated most greatly His authority over the elements (Mark 6:45-52) and over demons (Mark 9:14-29). His disciples were so convinced of the power in Jesus' prayer that they asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). And yet, His disciples found it difficult to place the same importance on prayer that Jesus did (Matthew 26:40, 43, 45; Mark 14:37, 40, 42; Luke 22:45). Like the disciples, we also seem to fin

Matthew 6:11 - Supplication in Our Prayer

"Give us this day our daily bread" --Matthew 6:11 NASB The English word "pray" is a verb that means to implore, to beseech, to ask. And while there is more to prayer than asking, it is the asking that most people associate with prayer. In the process of asking, also called supplication, we humbly ask God to supply the needs of ourselves and of others. Because we ask God to step into situations and change them, this kind of prayer is also known as intercessory prayer or intercession. But what should we ask? We should pray for sustenance (Matthew 6:11). And we should pray for wisdom (James 1:5). We should ask others to pray for us (1 Samuel 13:19; Ephesians 6:19-20) and we can and should pray for others (1 Samuel 13:23; Hebrews 10:19-25). We should pray for those in authority over us, for their sakes and for ours (1 Timothy 2:1-4). And we should pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). We should pray for the salvation of others (Matthew 6:10; Matthew 9:38; Reve

Exodus 17:8-13 - The Results of Prayer

Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, "Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand." Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. --Exodus 17:8-13 NASB It has been suggested that this passage, more than any other in the Bible, demonstrates that prayer has significant results. The people of Israel were camped at a desert place known as Rephidim. While there, the army o

Psalm 103:1-5 - Thanks in Our Prayers

Bless the LORD, O my soul,     And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul,     And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities,     Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit,     Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things,     So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. --Psalm 103:1-5 NASB In verses 1 and 2 the Hebrew word used is transliterated "barak," meaning to kneel or to bless. In the case of our conferring of blessing on God, it means to praise or glorify God. Verse 2 tells us to remember the things that God does for us. The Hebrew word here is "gemul," meaning a dealing, a recompense, or a reward. Scripture tells us that we should always remember what God has done for us and that we should thank God each time we enter into His presence (Psalm 100:4-6; Psalm 103:1-5; Psalm 107:15; Ephesians 5:20; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossian

1 John 1:5-10 - Confession in Our Prayers

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. --1 John 1:5-10 NASB Simply put, sin separates us from God. Before we accept that Jesus Christ, God's Son, died in our place, the barrier is an eternal one. Once we are following Christ, any unconfessed sin prevents a deeper relationship with God and hinders our prayers. These Scripture passages (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 5

James 1:2-8 - The Working of Faith and Wisdom

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. --James 1:2-8 NASB Have you ever felt that God was messing with you? Have you thought that God was “pushing your buttons?” Maybe a conversation takes an unexpected turn. Perhaps events do not go the way that you expect or hope. If so, it may be that God is testing you in order to see how you respond. In verse 2 the Greek word is transliterated as “peirasmos,” meaning an

Isaiah 56:7 - Prayer is Our Sacrifice

Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." --Isaiah 56:7 NASB This passage in Isaiah 56:3-8 is foretelling of a time, during the Messiah's millennial reign on earth, when God will be openly worshipped by believers from all nations. All will offer to God continual thanksgiving, worship and praise, described here simply as "prayer" (the Hebrew "tephillah"). These will be the "sacrifice" (the Hebrew "zebach") and the "burnt offering" (the Hebrew "olah"). These will be placed on God's "altar" (the Hebrew "mizbeach"). No longer literal sacrifice, but spiritual sacrifice will be offered that is genuine and sincere (Psalm 141:2; 51:17; Malachi 1:11). Jesus quoted from this passage of Isaiah as He cleared the t

Luke 6:27-28 - Love and Pray for Your Enemies

"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." --Luke 6:27-28 NASB Jesus' audience was quite familiar with the concept of enemies. The children of Israel had suffered many generations in Egypt under the rule of the pharaohs. After Moses led them out of Egypt, Joshuah led them in fighting to possess the land promised by God. And then God's appointed Judges and Kings led them in keeping it. Even though their lack of faithfulness caused the people to be defeated and led into captivity on more than one occasion, God preserved a remnant of the faithful, yet always having them surrounded by enemies. And as Jesus spoke, the people suffered under the iron rule of Rome. With all of this national memory of mistreatment, Jesus tells them, and us, of a new way to respond to those who are hostile (the Greek "echthros"), those who hate (the Greek "miseó"), those who

Mark 11:25 - Forgive and Be Persistent in Prayer

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions.” —Mark 11:25 Jesus is talking about standing to pray to God for forgiveness. Scholars suggest that Jesus is referring to the practice of praying before the altar at the temple in Jerusalem. We presume this is when the priest is sacrificing and burning a sin offering—an offering given so that God would forgive the sins of the one who brought the offering and who is now praying before the altar. For the Christian, there is no longer the need of a recurring sacrifice because Jesus, God's Son, became our sacrifice, dying once for the sins of all. We have only to claim what Jesus has done for us in order to become a child of God and have eternal life with Him. And yet, being human, we will continue to sin, and these new sins must also be recognized and given to God so that we may daily enjoy a relationship with our Heavenly F

Matthew 6:5-6 – Go Into Your Closet to Pray

“When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”  —Matthew 6:5-6 Jesus is describing the practice of the religious leaders of the day to pray very openly and loudly in public places. Jesus calls these people hypocrites. The Greek word is transliterated as hupokrités , meaning one who acts, or performs a role. These people are not being themselves but are playing a character. Jesus knows that they are not sincere in their prayers. Their public display might be better described as a form of religious street entertainment. Rather than receiving their payment in money, they receive the admiration and respect of those who watch the

James 4:3 - Sometimes Our Prayers are Wrong

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. --James 4:3 NASB   The Letter of James appears to be written for general circulation among the various communities of Jews that became followers of Jesus Christ. There is some discussion as to the author of the letter. Some attribute it to a follower named James who lived perhaps a century or more after Jesus' earthly ministry. Others attribute the letter to the Apostle James, brother of John and son of Zebedee. And still others attribute the letter to the Apostle James, the son of Alphaeus. Finally, the letter is also attributed to James, a half-brother of Jesus.   Jesus' half-brothers and half-sisters are mentioned in several Bible verses. Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 8:19-21, and Mark 3:31-35 say that Jesus' mother and brothers came to see Him. Matthew 13:55 tells us that Jesus had four brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. Matthew 13:56 mentions sis

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Prayer is Hard Work

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. --1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB   In this passage the Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica, then the capital and largest city of the Roman province of Macedonia . The establishment of the church by Paul and Silas is recorded in Acts 17:1-9. The church began under fire, being opposed by several unbelieving Greeks and Jews in positions of great influence, and causing Paul and Silas to flee by night with the assistance of new believers. Even so, it grew to be a strong church. Based upon Paul's recorded travels (Acts 17:10-18:11) and based upon what is written in the letter (1 Thessalonians 3:1-6), many suggest that this letter was written to the church soon after Paul's hasty departure, and may be the oldest of Paul's letters that we have available to us. In the letter, Paul seems to be following up on his first work, teaching the new

John 4:34 – We Must Hunger for God’s Food

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. --John 4:34 NASB Jesus and His disciples were traveling from Judea to Galilee and on their way they passed through Samaria. At mid-day they stopped in the Samaritan town of Sychar. Jesus sat down by Jacob's well and the disciples went in search of food. While waiting there, Jesus spoke with a woman who was little-respected in the town because of her past and current life. Through their conversation, Jesus demonstrated that He knew all about her. He also shared with her the good news of the coming of the Messiah and, through her, spread this good news to the entire town. Through these events we are reminded that God sometimes uses very weak and unlikely instruments to perform His work. When the disciples returned with what food they could find, Jesus explained that He had already eaten and been satisfied. The poor disciples, often unable to think beyond the realm of the physical,