"I will not let go unless you bless me."

Genesis 32:26
Jacob wrestled with God and won.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Informal Prayers: or please don't let him bite me

One of the most memorable prayers I ever prayed was when I was walking home from the library one evening in summer.  I am not a speed walker but what I lack in speed I make up for in endurance.

I decided to go a different way than usual and walked through a residential section of town, as opposed to the little shops and offices I usually pass.

Suddenly a snarling bull dog lunged toward me, showing its prominent teeth.  I called out to the only One Who was listening, "Oh, please Lord, don't let him bite me!"

Suddenly the dog stopped in its tracks, snorted, then turned and went back to its own backyard.

Coincidence?  Is anything coincidence?  Read about Balaam and his donkey in Numbers.  It just may be that God sent one of His angels to scare the bull dog and send it home with its tail between the legs.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

When I Just Don't Feel Like Praying

I am unemployed, so I have a lot of time, but have a lot of trouble concentrating on my prayers sometimes.  It helps to know that God judges our prayers less severely than we ourselves do.

Sometimes it helps to read the Psalms in the Bible.  David was subject to depression--a good friend of his, King Saul had become insanely jealous and was trying to kill him.  David took all his emotions to God, bad as well as good.

Another psalmist, Asa, wrote a famous passage in the Bible about how wicked people seem to get away with what they are doing.  As he wrote the Psalm, he confessed to being in the wrong.  It is only when we are not afraid to tell God (and ourselves) how we feel that sinful attitudes can be revealed to us and repented of.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Celebrate Thanksgiving all Year Long

I really dislike the commercialization of Christmas.  The worst part is that with all the Black Fridays, the carols of Frosty and Rudolph and decorations that leap immediately from Halloween to Christmas or "Holidays" (That sounds so much more P.C.   Apparently the people who insist on "Happy Holidays" are too stupid and ignorant to know that holiday means holy day in their desire to de-Christianize the world.)

What I dislike is the way Thanksgiving gets left out in the cold.  To me, Thanksgiving is a much more Christian holiday than Christmas or Easter.  It was founded by Christian men and women who wanted to worship God as they chose and though half their number had been lost, they worshipped God and had a day of feasting.

Remember to thank God for all your blessings.  Don't go to Him merely as a consumer, shopping list in hand.  Let thanksgiving be a part of your life all year long!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Advantages to Living Alone

51% of all Americans are now single.  So I feel justified in addressing this particular group today.

In I Corinthians, Paul says to some early Christians that just as married people should not try to become single, singles should not try to become married if they were single when they came to Christ.  Obviously, this is not meant as anti-marriage, but pro-singleness.

Because I don't have a husband and children to worry about, I can pray at virtually any time I don't have to be somewhere else.  Being single doesn't mean you have to lead a life of self-indulgence like too many people do today.  Being single gives you more time to read your Bible, fast, and pray.

Married people may have more opportunity to be conformed to the image of Jesus, but we have more opportunities to become prayer warriors.  If you live alone, try turning off your TV and spend at least an hour a day in Scripture reading and prayer!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Group Prayer, Anyone? Part 2

For when you are called on to say the prayer out loud, whether in a small group or large, you must take the feelings of others than God and yourself into consideration.  Now isn't the time to try to berate a brother or sister by praying for him or her in front of other people!

Good articulation and projection are important too.  The Lord will know why your head isn't bowed as low as it could be if you're in an auditorium and the microphone isn't working.

My dad likes to tell the story of a church leader who bowed his head low and mumbled when he prayed.  When people complained that they couldn't hear him, he would say, "I wasn't talking to you anyhow." 

If you pray in a group, don't use King James English and big, fancy words to impress people.  Especially if you don't normally talk that way and wind up using flowery words and phrases you can't understand yourself!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Group Prayer, Anyone?

Since today is a Sunday, group prayer seems like a good topic.

With the prayer closet, you only have yourself, God, and the spirit world as your listeners.  With group prayer you have other humans listening in, and adding their own silent prayers to yours.

If you are the listener, you should do your best to follow along and add your own silent thoughts and affirmations to the prayer being spoken.  An occasional "Amen!" or "Yes, Lord," can be added out loud, but excessive amounts of that can be distracting and detract from the prayer being said.  You might ask yourself whether or not (only God and you know) you are adding such phrases to glorify God and edify fellow worshippers or show off how spiritual you are.

I will address the topic of saying a group prayer out loud in the next post.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Take time to be Holy

"But I'm not a morning person," I can hear you protest.

Go to bed one hour earlier.  If at first you can't sleep at that time, you'll simply adapt the way you do during daylight savings time.  Then you will have an extra hour each morning before your spouse and children get up to pray, read the Bible, and meditate.

If you go to work at 8:00 and it takes half an hour to drive to work, an hour to perform hygiene, eat breakfast and get the kids ready, and you still want to take an hour to pray (don't forget your early morning walkf for half an hour!) you need to rise at 5:00 at the latest.

Hmmm.  Decisions, decisions.  As for me, I would prefer to exercise later in the day and sleep till 5:15, then make myself some coffee before I start reading my Bible and praying.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

When Prayers Bounce off the Ceiling

What do you do when your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling?  I have found these four things to be useful:

  1. Read some of David's Psalms.  In them he addresses the problem of God's apparent silence.  If you are going through a really tough time Job might be helpful.  Just remember, it has a happy ending and so will your life if you continue to trust God!
  2. Say you prayers out loud.  This will make them seem more solid and less like mere disembodied thoughts.  Writing them down will make them seem even more real.
  3. Pray anyhow.  Even if all you can say for your hour (or half hour of prayer) is "Lord, I don't know what to say.  Help me to pray."
  4. Read prayers that other people have written--out loud of course.  As long as you mean them and aren't just reciting them as a magical incantation, they will benefit you and those you are praying for.  Make modifications when needful.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Another time to pray is before a trial that you know will probably occur.  Jesus prayed especially hard in the Garden of Gethsemane before His trial and execution.  None of us will ever be forsaken by God like He was in this life.  (But it may feel like it sometimes.)
How many of us, before a time of trial or tribulation, sit down and pray?  We may sit down and worry, which is a sin.  I call worry a sin--though I am guilty of it--because what else can you call something which God incarnate condemned.  Jesus told us not to do something, and if we love Him we will keep His commandments.
I think the reason that Peter and all the other disciples we read about were able to sleep before their scheduled executions is because they were all "prayed up."  Having left their cares in the hands of the Lord, they had nothing to worry over.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

After a Victory

A third time to pray is after a major victory.  By praising the Lord after a major victory in our lives, we acknowledge that it is really His. 
Another reason to pray after winning a major battle is to keep ourselves aware that the Prince of this world is still at large and will try everything he can to make us stumble.  Prayer can help us steer clear of temptation or win another battle over it when we must encounter it.
Yet another reason to pray after a victory is to seek God's help in going on to yet another victory.  "From victory unto victory His army shall He lead, till every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed."  Seeking God's favor keeps us from resting on our laurels and growing spiritually complacent.
Christ would frequently withdraw by Himself to pray when His ministry was prospering.  He knew He wasn't here to become an earthly king and needed help from the heavenly Father in avoiding that temptation.  As a result, He experienced a continual victory over sin in this life--to ultimately win over sin in our lives as well....

Monday, May 9, 2011

Watching Unto Prayer

The expression "watching unto prayer" means missing out on sleep rather than going without prayer.  Like a fast from food this requires forgoing another natural appetite--the need for sleep.
When He walked this earth, Jesus would go without sleep from time to time.  Sometimes He would get up very early in the morning, other times He would stay up late.  The night before He chose the twelve disciples, He didn't sleep at all due to His prayer activity.  Maybe the reason He could sleep through a storm was an all-night prayer vigil.
When Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned for healing a demon-possessed slave girl, they couldn't sleep, so they prayed and sang praise songs.  Of course, if we were flogged and put in stocks we probably wouldn't sleep much either.  What was significant was that they turned their inability to sleep into a time of prayer and worship.  As a result, they saved the Philippian jailer and his entire family.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In the Evening

It also pays to pray before you go to bed at night.  If you are worried about something and can't sleep, take it to the Lord.  It is better to stay up for an hour talking to Him rather than going to bed on time and not being able to sleep because you have taken the concerns of the day to bed with you.
I often pray after I have gone to bed.  Some things will pray upon the mind and it certainly beats worrying about them.  Worry never helps to improve the situation; prayer does.  I used to be a champion worry-wart.  Often, if I don't watch myself, I start slipping into old thought patterns--brooding about things I have no control over.  Wars, the economy, the high price of gas and food....It's hopeless.  But God is still in control of everything, and I mean everything.  In the book of Matthew, Jesus says that we shouldn't worry.  If God says not to do something and I do it anyhow, what does that make the action?  That would mean worry must be a sin.
The solution to worries--especially at night--is prayer.  Turn your concerns over to God and leave them there.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Whisper a Prayer at Noon...."

After you have succeeded in establishing an early morning devotional time, you can see about having devotions at other times of the day as well.  In his book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life which is available at amazon.com, William Law recommends praying no less than 6 times a day.  In other words, prayer throughout the waking hours at three hour intervals.  Not counting before and after every meal of course.
Since you probably have work or school (or both) to attend to, you will need to be creative.  Ask if you can take an hour off for lunch and spend the extra time in prayer and meditation.  Or wait till you get home, if you're blessed enough to get off at three or before and pray then.  Sometime between noon and three pm is ideal if you are able to get away.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Early in the Morning Will I Seek Thee

Some people, including Christians, are not morning people.  But all things are possible with God.  Force yourself to get up one hour earlier to have a regular devotional time.  Drink coffee if you must, but spending time with God is essential.  How can we avoid temptation if we don't ask God to "deliver us from evil" before the day starts?
As for me, I spend roughly half the time reading the Bible and meditating on it.  The other half I spend on talking to God.  There is nothing that can substitute for a good Bible reading and prayer session in the morning.
Be sure to feed your pets before you start the devotions, as they will disturb your time with God otherwise.  Likewise, make sure you know what time your children rise, so you will have plenty of time before you have to deal with them.