Archives For prayer

Disciplining yourself to do what you know is the right thing to do, at the right time, is a key to a flourishing relationship with God. How many times have you been tempted to do the wrong thing and, ignoring the warning bells going off inside, you give into the temptation? Every time we find ourselves at a decision point, we must ask ourselves how Jesus would decide in such a moment.

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When faced with a moral decision, the spirit of Christ within us informs us which way we should go. The problem is, the choice we know to be consistent with the character of Christ is often the more difficult path to walk. A narrow path is always more problematic to traverse than a wider one.

Disciplining yourself in the smaller choices of life builds your discipline muscle. When you get lazy in the little things, you stand no chance when facing the bigger issues coming your way. For example, we know we should put God first in all things, but how many of us live this out? How often do we wake in the morning, late again, only to rush out of the house without giving hardly a thought to Jesus? Or how many of us take the first portion of our paycheck and give it away to those in need before we pay our own bills? This is nothing but lip-service commitment, and the reason we fail is because we haven’t built the disciplines that will cause our life to reflect our convictions.

If we want to draw closer to God, we’re going to need to live lives that look more like His. If we don’t know Him, how can we expect to live a life worthy of Him? We’re going to need to get close, and achieving this requires establishing some disciplines in our lives which will reflect His character and priorities. Every habit, good or bad, will dictate the course of your life. Let me show you how this plays out in my own life.

When I neglect the habit of beginning my day in prayer, I tend to also disregard my workout routine. When I don’t exercise, I tend not to eat as healthy. When I don’t eat well, I have less patience with others, and less critical thinking skills to deal with what comes my way. When I have a dreadful day, I tend to continue not eating so well when I get home, which means I don’t sleep well. If I don’t sleep well, what do you suppose the odds are I’m going to get up early the next morning to pray? And the cycle begins again…

All of this could have been avoided simply by disciplining myself to begin my day in prayer. It’s a simple and easy thing to do. But we must never forget, what is easy to do is also easy not to do. Disciplining yourself is both easy and difficult. It is easy in that anyone can do it; no exceptional skills are required. It is difficult because it will require you to put Jesus first, and yourself second (or perhaps third or fourth). Most aren’t willing to do this; they would rather enjoy life now and hope for the best later. Disciples of Jesus are a different breed. We are willing to sacrifice short-lived enjoyment in exchange for an eternity with our Creator. Are you willing to begin disciplining yourself, or will you be content with the way things are? Your decision will dictate your future.

Almost forty years ago, Keith Green recorded a song called, “Make My Life a Prayer to You”. While we could argue about how well the music has held up over time, the lyrics are timeless. “Make my life a prayer to you / I wanna do what you want me to / No empty words and no white lies / No token prayers no compromise”.

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What if we lived our lives as if they were prayers to Jesus? What if we kept Him the center of our focus in every moment we lived? Shouldn’t we all desire to live with no token prayers and no compromise? After all, this is the life Jesus called us to live.

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We must never forget to pray for the persecuted. The majority of readers of this blog live in areas of the world where we have at least some degree of freedom to worship God. We should always remember to be extremely thankful for this, but we must never take it for granted. In many parts of the world, to follow Jesus is to risk losing one’s friends, family, employment, housing, freedom, or even their life. It’s a reality they live with every day.

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In many countries, to choose Jesus is truly to risk everything. We who do not face such pressure can barely relate. It is imperative we move beyond simple head knowledge of persecution, and internalize it. When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26). We must never forget to pray for the persecuted.

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As a year wilts away behind us, another blossoms on the path ahead. There’s something beautiful and fragrant about new beginnings. A new year heralds an opportunity for a fresh start. What was is no longer, and what will be is largely up to the choices we will make. This is our chance to shape what lies ahead in ways totally honoring to God. My theme for this year is “Move the Needle”, and nowhere will this be more important than in my walk with God.

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Everything revolves around and springs from my relationship with Him. Moving forward into a deeper knowledge of God necessitates doing something different than we’ve done before. If this is your desire for the new year as well, there is one thing I know. If we want to move the needle in our connection with and understanding of God, we can’t stay here.

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I recently wrote a blog post about personalizing the armor of God for yourself (see, “The Armor of God”).  During my time of study this morning I was given some new insights which excited me and I hope will prove useful to you as well. The idea came while listening to Bruxy Cavey teach about using the morning ritual of getting dressed as a reminder to pray for certain things.

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It clicked in my mind we could pray through putting on the armor of God as we actually put on our own clothing. I’m going to walk through this so you can see a practical example of what praying through putting on the armor of God might look like.

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We all have triggers that prompt sinful behaviors. If we learn to recognize the triggers, we will begin to overcome the most problematic sins in our lives. Satan does two things really well. He lies, and he manipulates.  When it comes to his attacks on us, all of them can be traced back to one of those two strategies.

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Either he’s trying to get you to believe something untrue, or he’ll try and get you to do something against the will of God. Understanding the simplicity of the enemy’s attacks should help us formulate strategies to resist him. But unless we recognize the triggers in our own lives, we will struggle defeating the schemes of the devil.

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Jesus said to pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44). I have a hard enough time making time to pray for my friends and family, so praying for my enemies has rarely made it high onto my priority list. I admit there was a certain sly satisfaction in knowing my prayers could heap piles of burning coals onto their heads (Proverbs 25:21-22). That’s more what I typically have in mind when I think about my enemies!

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Still, Jesus said if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. He didn’t say some of His commandments. His words certainly imply we keep them all. Thus, you must learn to pray for your enemies, and I must learn to pray for mine.

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We are called to demonstrate the love and character of Jesus in every moment of our lives. We know this because it is what Jesus did. The problem is, if we aren’t intentional about this mission, it won’t happen. How many days have slipped through our fingers without showing more than a cursory amount of love to anyone but ourselves? As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me it would be a good idea to answer four questions each day.

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You can incorporate these into your daily planning. The questions are: How will I show love to my spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend today? How will I show love for a family member today? How will I show love for a friend today? How will I show love for a stranger today?
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I recently watched a documentary on the life of George Müller. I was aware of Müller and the orphanages he started, but I didn’t have a grasp on the intense faith of this man. From the time he founded the orphanages until his death 62 years later, Müller never once asked for a single penny of support. He simply trusted God to provide.

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There are many stories of times the children all sat around an empty table at dinner time because Müller could not afford to buy food, only to have someone knock on their door at the last moment with baskets of bread and bottles of milk to provide a meal for those under his care. No meal was ever missed, and no child ever went without clothing. And through it all, Müller never requested anything other than prayer from anyone.
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Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. We want to draw closer to God, to experience more of His love and character, but we rarely slow down enough to actually take in His glory. We spend our days jumping from one task to the next, and that busyness spills over into our spiritual lives. When we finally get around to praying, studying, and concentrating on God, our minds are so hurried we cruise right through what He is revealing to us.

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He gives us an epiphany for service and we quickly file it away so we can get to the next verse or the next name on our prayer list.  And we wonder why our spiritual life isn’t more vibrant!
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