Faithful in Prayer 5

2 Thessalonians 3:1-3

One of the most memorable moments from my Emmaus Walk experience was when the leaders presented a list of names of people who were praying for all of us involved in the weekend. Prayers were being offered 24 hours a day from all sorts of people, most of whom we did not know. Seeing so many names and realizing that other people were lifting me in prayer had an impact.

There have been other times when a prayer offered on my behalf has meant so very much. To know that others are willing to take a moment of effort to address God for my benefit is truly moving.

In this second letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul is asking for prayer. Why does he want prayer? What encouragement is offered in verse 3?

Paul’s request may at first seem selfish. He wants prayer for himself and his ministry team – Silas and Timothy. But what at first may seem selfish is actually very sound.

Paul realizes that he needs the prayers of others so that ministry might move forward. And he is not being selfish, he is being bold in his requests.

I think this brief passage addresses two key issues that we so often overlook. The first is the fact that we need to keep ministry and the faith of ourselves and others as part of our regular prayer life. So often prayer becomes a laundry list of desires and needs, a “wish list” for the believers. We go to God and ask for healing or better jobs or peace of mind.

While there is nothing wrong with presenting your needs to God, we also need to go to God and ask for stronger faith. We need to go to God and ask for others we know to be given faith. We need to go to God and ask for success in ministries – our own and the ministries of our church or other individuals we know. Our prayer requests need to expand beyond ourselves and encompass the work and the faith of others.

The second key issue often neglected is the fact that the Lord is faithful. We can come to God in desperation. We can cry out to God, and so often we wonder if He hears what we are asking for. Yes, God hears us. God is faithful. God wants to respond to our prayers.

What we must trust in is that God is faithful AND God knows better than we do what we need. God’s response to our prayers is the perfect answer. It may be different than what we seek, but we must trust that it better than what we hoped for.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What ministry needs your prayer?

Faithful in Prayer 4

Luke 11:5-8

I remember when I was young being shocked the day my mother called friends and invited our family over to their house.

“Can you do that?” I asked.

“Of course,” my mother said. “They are our friends.”

As time has passed I have seen the truth in that statement. You can be completely honest with friends. You can ask help from friends without inconveniencing them, and you will be welcomed even when you are the one inviting yourself.

In this passage Jesus has begun a lesson on prayer, presenting an outline to prayer that we now know as The Lord’s Prayer. What is the example Jesus gives here? How does the friend at home react to his neighbor? What is the lesson?

We have all experienced the person who nags and pesters and persists in a matter. And most of us have been like the friend who was already in bed – you may not want to do it out of goodness, but you will respond just to get some peace.

This little parable is an example to us on how we should approach God with our prayers. The emphasis from Jesus (in verse 8) is that if we are persistent and bold we will likely get a response from God. Christ’s teaching is that we are supposed to be bold in our approach. This is something I have urged in the past – don’t be afraid to go to God with big requests.

When we pray for other people be willing to ask for a great deal – peace of mind, a new attitude, a change of heart. If someone is sick don’t be afraid to ask for the miracles – ask for complete healing, total restoration. Jesus himself encourages us to be bold.

But what strikes me as well is that the neighbor in need did not go to a stranger. He went to a friend to get his help. It may have been his boldness or his persistence that got the friend to respond, but it was the friendship which paved the way for the request to begin with.

So it is with God. We are urged to be bold in our prayers to God, but I think we also need to remember that when we are approaching the Lord in prayer we are approaching a friend. We give God lofty titles – Mighty God, Lord, Almighty, Jehovah, King. These words might intimidate us and make us shrink away from asking too much.

God is indeed all of those things that we ascribe to Him, but He is also a friend who waits for us to be bold enough to ask.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What is your attitude in prayer?

Faithful in Prayer 3

Ephesians 6:14-18

Our teen children are involved in various activities, and so, as their parents, we are familiar with all the necessary equipment each activity requires. Girl scouts calls for a special uniform – a vest and a sash. Track and field, and cross country both need special shorts, jerseys and unique shoes. Marching band requires a uniform, a hat and an instrument. Each separate outfit is specially designed to help with the particular activity.

As Christians we are called to ready ourselves with unique equipment. What equipment should we have on? Once we are equipped, what are we to do?

This letter to the church in Ephesus creates a beautiful image of how Christians should ready themselves for the tumult and troubles of life. We are to surround ourselves with the truth that comes from God. We are to guard ourselves with the righteousness that comes from obeying God’s laws, and we are to arm ourselves with the power of the word of God.

Immersing ourselves in our faith gives us the strength and ability to deal with the sorrows and uncertainties of society. But we are to do more than simply insulate ourselves with protective gear. We are again reminded to be spiritually prepared and clear minded with the simple command to “be alert.” Then we need to act.

Now that we are prepared, now that we have equipped ourselves, we are given instruction to pray. We are to connect ourselves to the Almighty in the intimate and sincere communication of prayer.

And when do we do this? We are to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” Prayer is not an activity exclusive to Sunday morning (or Saturday evening) worship. It is not restricted to hospital rooms or dinner tables. We should be praying in all situations and in all locations.

We are further instructed to pray for all the saints, offering up requests and petitions to God not just for ourselves but for others as well. Faithfulness in prayer calls for us to be mindful of others, to truly express concerns for the well-being and situations of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

But I believe it should also include those who are not “in Christ,” those who need to have a relationship with the Lord. Let your prayers be for all people in all situations. Equip yourself with the power of God and serve Him in prayer.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you equip yourself for prayer?

Faithful in Prayer 2

1 Peter 4:7

I was so excited the day I heard medical researchers explain that taking a brief nap in the afternoon can be a very good thing. It helps to refresh us, to renew us and re-invigorate us. There are many times when I need to stop and close my eyes for even 15 minutes, just to clear my thoughts so I can approach my sermon or a 10/2 Grow with a sharper mind.

Removing yourself from the hassles and hurry of life is not always a bad thing. It is not always an indication of laziness. There are times when we must deliberately find the time and space and emotional solitude where we can pray.

What is Peter’s warning? What does he encourage?

This is what we are called to do. Our time is brief. Our faith should be urgent. We should take the time to clear away the clutter of our emotions and fears, and with that new focus come to God in earnest conversation – prayer – about ourselves, our world, and all the others who need our spiritual encouragement. Prayer should not always be rushed and superficial, but needs to be a deep connection. And that connection often requires preparation on our part.

We may need to take a spiritual nap of sorts from time to time. But, instead of having our souls go to sleep, we just need them to rest a moment. We may need to have a time when our souls and our faith are taken away from the stress and worry and work of being faithful believers in a fallen world.

When we pray we can allow our souls to renew themselves, pulling away from the troubles of life and spending a moment in silent meditation and reflection. Then, with our spiritual strength renewed, we can go to God in prayer, taking time to make that holy connection with the Almighty.

We can enter into that intimate conversation with God being clear-minded, having the turmoil of life set aside even if only briefly, so that we might speak clearly with God. Setting aside deliberate time for prayer and approaching it with clear intentions, guarding ourselves from the distractions of life, is a way of being clear minded and self-controlled.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will you step back to improve your prayers, approaching them with a clear mind and with more self-control?

Faithful in Prayer 1

James 5:16

This weekend in church we sang "Untitled Hymn" by Chris Rice. (play the video above or visit to view it!) One of the lines in that song that always strikes me is to remember when we walk, sometimes we fall.

Today's reading references this idea. The Greek word used for sins here means to stumble or fall down. So when we stumble in our walk, we are to confess that openly to our Christian brothers and sisters.

But there's a big AND in there as well that is sometimes forgotten by folks who like to condemn others. We are all to confess AND all to pray for one another. It's not only to pray for those we like or a few who are sick. We should always be in prayer for one another, lifting up, encouraging and helping one another. In this way, we will be healed.

Think about how you feel when you KNOW someone is there to catch you if you fall. How it feels to have someone you can depend on no matter what. Someone who "has your back" as they say. That's a wonderful feeling. It makes us stronger. It makes us want to take risks. That's how our Christian family should be. We should know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that people are praying for us and supporting us.

We should also KNOW one another's strengths and weaknesses. We need to know when our brothers and sisters stumble and fall down. Not so we can look down on them, but so that we can pick them up.

Prayer is powerful, folks. We see that over and over both in the Bible and our own lives. Prayer works miracles. Sometimes they are physical miracles like sensation returning to a numb limb. Sometimes they are emotional miracles that allow us to get through a year where we lose so many loved ones it's staggering.

But we lose sight sometimes of how powerful prayer can be and how important it is to pray for one another all the time. Let's be that kind of family in Christ. Let's pray for one another all week and see what happens.

DAILY CHALLENGE: PRAY for everyone in your church family today. Pray for anyone who sat in your pew this week at church. (and if you weren't there... pray for the folks who usually sit in your pew!) Pray personally for each one of them today, asking God to show you how you can help lift them up if they stumble.