Praying With Jesus: Change My Heart

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is -his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2

Why do we pray?

Are we asking God to help us? Are we trying to manipulate God into doing what we want? Do we just want to talk to our Savior in thanks and praise?

The truth is we probably have prayed for all these reasons at one point or another. But here’s something to consider. Prayer is less about us trying to change/persuade God and is more about us being changed by God.

When we pray, by definition, we are admitting that we can’t handle things on our own. We must humble ourselves and remember who is the source of all Good things. Often times, God’s answer to our prayers includes changing us. After all, if prayer were just about getting God to do what we want, we would be making God more like us and that wouldn’t be good. Instead, we seek to be transformed by God to be more like Him. Then, as He acts, we can see that His will is better than ours. His will is good and pleasing. His will is perfect.

Heavenly Father,

I have many needs and desires. I pray that You would provide for my needs knowing that You are the giver of all good things. I also pray that You would make my desires to line up with Your desires. Change my heart, oh God. Transform me that I might see Your will, which is good and perfect.

Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Kurt

Praying With Jesus: Where We Are

Sometimes prayer is made with great sorrow and a heavy heart. There is a great example of this in the prayer of Hannah for a child.

In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:10-11)

The problem of not being able to conceive is a hardship that many couples face. In fact Hannah’s soul is described as being bitter. We often say Jesus gives his grace to you just as you are. The same can be said of prayer, our Lord wants to meet us just where we are. God wants to lift up our souls and even takes the bitterness of life upon himself in Jesus.
God gives even more than we expect and God gave Hannah the child prophet, Samuel.

Lord Jesus, thank you for meeting us where we are in life. You don’t hear our prayers because of our goodness, but because you are loving. Thank you for answering Hannah’s prayer in a powerful way. And thank you for always hearing and answering us. Help us to be patient because sometimes we have to wait for that answer. Amen.

Pastor Dave

Praying With Jesus: Eternity In Our Hearts

I read this passage this morning in the devotion with the teachers. It involves one of the greatest difficulties we have in understanding God, time.

I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11)

This passage says God has put eternity in our hearts. What does that mean? Part of this means is that we have a deep yearning to live with the gift of eternal life. Without that gift life is not really all that it is meant to be. We are caught up in the busyness of the day but our souls yearn to understand God’s eternal plans for each and every one of us. A great way to have God’s eternal plans for each of us in our daily life is to follow this simple template from Martin Luther. Live as if Jesus died on the cross for you yesterday. He rose from the grave today. And he is coming again tomorrow. This brings eternity and God’s plans for you into your actions each and every day.

Jesus, thank you for the gift of eternal life. In my heart I want to know all of your actions and your eternal plans. In Jesus we find eternity stepping into this world and my life. Thank you and give me a greater insight as to how I live each day with the gift of life eternal. Amen

Pastor Dave

Youth Program Information Meeting

Sunday, April 9th after the late service we will hold an informational meeting for both Middle School and High School Youth.

  • Learn about upcoming activities and events
  • Share what you would like to see in the youth program
  • Discover how you can get involved

Youth, parents, and adult volunteers are encouraged to come.

Pastor Kurt

“Growing our faith and friendships and putting that faith into action.”

Praying With Jesus: Help! I’m Tempted

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – Matthew 26-41a

We pray to God when we need things, when we are scared, even when we are happy, but what about when we are tempted? Sometimes that can be a difficult time to pray.

First, though, we should identify what temptation is. Temptation isn’t a sin, itself, it is that push to sin. It might be a thought that nags you or it might be a person who is leading you down the wrong path. We haven’t sinned…yet, but we’re thinking about it or being pushed towards it. That’s just when we need to be praying.

So, why don’t we?

Guilt:
Sometimes we already feel guilty for even having considered…or even thought about a sin. Surely God is already mad at me. How can I go to Him now? Yet, God not only bids is to pray in times of temptation, but even forgives us if we do sin. So, if you feel guilty, remember that God loves to forgive the guilty who turn to Him.

I Don’t Really Want To:
This one is tougher to admit, but let’s be honest. Sometimes we don’t want to be stopped from sinning. Sometimes we push God away in times of temptation because we want to do the sin. I’ve been there. It’s at those times I find praying extremely honestly very helpful. I’ll tell God plainly not only that I’m being tempted, but that I want to sin. However, then I’ll ask Him to change my heart so that I don’t want to sin anymore.

It’s amazing! He does it!

Though, we really shouldn’t be surprised. It’s exactly what He promised He would do:

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

That promise is for you today and everyday. Praise the Lord!

Heavenly Father,

Temptation bombards me everyday, trying to pull me away from You. Please help me. When I face temptation, show me the way out. When I want to fall into temptation, change my heart. When I do fall into temptation, please forgive me and restore me.

Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Kurt

Praying With Jesus: Praying Without Distraction

While you can pray at any time and in any place sometimes it is best to get away from everything to pray. Here is an example from the life and practice of Jesus.

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. (Matthew 14:22-24)

Jesus did this sort of thing very often, he went away to pray. Often this would be on a mountainside because without cars people did not want to live too far up the mountain because that climb would have to be made many times a day. In essence what Jesus did was find a place where he could be alone and that was on a mountainside. Do you have a place where you can find solitude? One of the greatest problems in prayer is being distracted. Finding a place and time without any interruptions is important at times and even Jesus did that himself.

Lord help me to find quiet places without the rush and noise of life. For in the quiet places in life, my soul is open to hear you speak. I want to hear your voice each and every day. Amen.

Pastor Dave

Praying with Jesus: Short and Sweet

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” – Matthew 6-7

One thing I’ve learned writing blogs is that you have to be short and sweet. If the blog post is too long, people don’t make it all the way through…or they don’t read it at all. Hopefully, I’ve done a decent job of keeping these posts short.

In this passage from Jesus about prayer, Jesus is telling us that we don’t have to be long-winded when we pray. We don’t have to concoct elaborate prayers with fancy words to be heard by God.

Why?

God already knows what you need and what is on your heart. In fact, you don’t have to even say a word and God knows.

This can free us. We can feel more comfortable praying when we know that God isn’t concerned with us using the right words or being eloquent. He simply wants us to come to Him and come to Him often. Let’s do that now.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being a God who listens. Sometimes I feel like I don’t pray well. Remind me in those times that it isn’t about the words I say as much as it is my heart. Draw me to You in prayer throughout the day.

Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Kurt

Praying with Jesus: Pray for Your Enemies

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Matthew 5:44

It’s easy to pray for my wife and kids. It’s easy to pray for my friends. Even those people I don’t know aren’t too hard to pray for, but what about those who actively seek to hurt me? That’s not so easy.

Yet, that is who Jesus is saying we need to pray for. Love your enemies. He didn’t say, put up with your enemies or ignore them. Love them!

He also said, “Pray for those who persecute you.” Often times my first thought when considering this is, “Sure. I’ll pray for them. I pray they will get a flat tire on the way to work.” But that’s not loving, is it?

When we put these two ideas together, loving our enemies and praying for them, we are left with one option. To activity pray for the benefit of those who are trying to hurt us. It isn’t always easy, but it is exactly what Jesus did for us and He did so much more. Romans 5:8 puts it this way:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We were enemies of God and Jesus died for us. He prays for us. He seeks to forgive us and save us. We can do the same for those who hurt us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully, they will see Christ’s love in us and come to know His saving grace as well as find forgiveness and healing for our relationship with them.

Heavenly Father,

Please forgive me for holding a grudge against those who have hurt me. Help me, instead, to love them as You have loved me. I pray that You would bless them and watch over them. I pray that they might turn from their hurtful ways and that I would extend them grace and forgiveness.

(If you have any one in particular you need to pray for. Do it now.)

Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Kurt

Praying with Jesus: Be Alert!

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

“I’ll be praying for you.”

I’ve heard that phrase a lot and say it myself. You hear about something difficult someone is going through and you promise to pray for them. How wonderful!

Here we are encouraged to not just pray for each other, but be alert. We should be looking for opportunities to pray for each other. Sometimes it may be obvious, like when a friend tells us about something difficult they are going through.

Sometimes, however, people don’t share their struggles. Have you ever seen a someone you knew and they said everything was fine, but you could tell something wasn’t quite right. That’s being alert.

The passage also talks about praying in the Spirit. Pastor Dave talked about that in his blog post from Day 12 and that can be another way to be alert for how to pray for others. To be quiet in your prayer and ask God to direct your prayers and be alert for who God leads you to pray for.

So, let’s be praying for each other.

Heavenly Father,

Please make me alert to the needs of others and encourage me to pray for them. When I do not know about the needs of others, guide me in my prayers to pray for them. Today, I want to pray for these people specifically…

Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Kurt

Praying With Jesus: A.C.T.S.

For the last three days, we have done the prayer acrostic A.C.T.S. A is for adoration, C is for confession, T is for thanksgiving, and finally today S which stands for supplication. This may be the one where you do not know supplication means, but we can easily do this in prayer. Supplication is asking God for help. It may be for things like daily bread or it may be for people and healing like Uncle Joe who is going through chemotherapy. God wants us to bring all of our issues to Him in prayer. God cares and he understands what it is that we go through in Jesus. In fact, I love how all 3 times Jesus encountered a funeral in the Gospels, what did he do? He ended it with person rising from death. Keep praying and asking and know that God wants to bless you in ways that you have not even imagined.

Lord Jesus, You understand our struggles because You became one of us. Remind us to pray in all situations and to share with You the burdens we bear. With You, our burdens are lightened and our wounds are healed. Thank You. Amen.

Pastor Dave

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