Praying With Jesus: Jesus Is Always Beside Us

Monday I talked about praying in an unusual place. Today I want to talk about regular planned prayer and what Daniel did when he prayed toward Jerusalem.

So King Darius put the decree in writing. Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:9-10)

This passage has Daniel praying 3 times every day towards Jerusalem and the Temple. The temple was the spot where God made the promise to his people to be present, to hear their prayers. Why do we not pray towards the temple? It is because of Jesus. A big part of the New Covenant is that the old temple commandments and the worship there, is replaced with Jesus and his one sacrifice on the cross. When Jesus died you hear that the curtain in the temple was torn in half (Matthew 27:51). The old ways were now over, and the focus of our faith, and of God speaking are now on Jesus.

Jesus, Thank you for opening faith and prayer in new and powerful ways. God and the Temple may have felt far away, but now we know that you are always beside us. In You we know we hear the Word of God straight from your lips and our prayers wherever we may be. Amen

Pastor Dave

Praying With Jesus: Helping Those With The Least

Have you ever seen the face or felt the powerful presence of Jesus in something you have done? One place where that happens for me fairly regularly is at our homeless feeding.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40)

I want to ask all of you to pray for the ministry we carry out each week with the homeless. I got a call yesterday from Metropolitan Ministries that the police are going to stop allowing churches to feed where we have been doing so for the past 9 years. We started helping people there on a dead end portion of Livingston behind just north of Fletcher. Since we started there three other churches have been feeding on differing nights of the week at the same site. We sort of have a chicken or the egg situation. We helped there because that was where the homeless lived and some are now blaming the homeless situation there because all of the churches are feeding them there.

The police are supposed to help find us another location and I ask that you pray for God’s will to be done. I understand the complex issues that surround the homeless and this specific situation, but God wants us to give testimony of who Jesus is by our lives and actions.

Lord, help us to see you in every action that we carry out in life. May our lives be a living testimony to the love and care you give us so that we may share our blessings with others.

Pastor Dave

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Praying with Jesus: Then You Will Call On Me

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” – Jeremiah 29:12

Suffering isn’t fun.  No one really wants to go through a tough time.  But sometimes we need to.

When this passage from Jeremiah was written (it was in a letter from Jeremiah), the Israelites had lost the promised land and been sent into exile.  Not fun.  And in vs 10 God had just told the Israelites he wasn’t getting them out of exile any time soon.  They would be in exile for 70 years.  This would be hard.

But why were they in exile in the first place?  They had turned away from God and turned to worshiping false gods.  That is worse than exile.  God needed to get their attention and do so in a way that would last.  God was working to turn the heart of Israel back to Him.  The tough pill to swallow is that the exile was for their own good.

There is another famous Bible verse that God said right after telling the Israelites they would be in exile for 70 years:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes God lets us go through difficult times because we need to remember who He is and turn back to Him.  The wonderful news is that He will hear us when we call out to Him.  He is there the whole time working His plan for our welfare, for our future and hope.

If you are going through a difficult time right now, call out to God.  He will hear you.  If life is pretty good right now, don’t forget the God who has blessed you.  Continue to turn to Him…He will hear you, too.

Heavenly Father,

You are wiser than I am.  You are good.  When things are going well, it can be easy to forget to come to You in prayer.  Remind me.  Help me to always remember You and turn to You.  If I do start to drift, bring me back to You, even if that means I have to suffer some.  Being Your child is more important to me than avoiding suffering.  Thank You that You considered having me as Your child more important that the suffering You faced at the cross.

Amen

Praying with Jesus: Praying for the Lost

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” – Ephesians 1:18

Today was my son, Eli’s, baptism. I’ve always loved baptisms because of the promise God gives us that through baptism He will give us saving faith. It’s a victory over satan! God has brought another person into His kingdom!

The Scriptures tell us that faith is not something we achieve, but rather it is a gift, a work of the Holy Spirit. That’s one reason we baptism infants. Since the gift of faith is God’s act, He can give faith to a child just as well as an adult.

Interestingly, when thinking about evangelism and adults, we tend to forget that it’s God who creates the faith. We get all worked up about saying the right thing as though if we say this word instead of another, it will determine whether the person receives faith. Even in adults, it’s still all the work of the Holy Spirit which is why it makes perfect sense for us to start with prayer.

In this Ephesians passage, Paul is saying that he is praying that the “eyes of [their] heart[s] would be enlightened”. In other words, he is praying that they would received faith so that they would know the hope of Christ. Since it is God who gives faith, shouldn’t we pray for those who don’t know Him to receive faith? Absolutely!

This doesn’t mean that we don’t need to bother talking with the people about Jesus. After all, the Holy Spirit works through the hearing of the Word. However, we begin with praying for the people. Then we share the Gospel. Then we keep praying.

Who do you know that you could be praying for? I encourage you to pick 5 people who you know that do not believe in Jesus and start praying for them every day that God would open the eyes of their hearts to receive faith.

Heavenly Father,

You are our source of life and salvation. Thank you for the gift of faith. I know several people that do not believe in You. I pray that You would give them faith. I pray for these five people in particular…

Please give them faith and please give me the opportunity and boldness to share the Gospel with them.

Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Kurt

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Praying with Jesus: The Secret Prayer to Get Whatever You Want

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11

Have you ever asked God for a million dollars? How about a new car or a different job? I have. Did you get it? I haven’t either. Or maybe you’ve asked Him for something much less extravagant, but still haven’t received it.

Maybe it was because you weren’t praying this super-secret prayer that will insure God gives you everything you could ever ask for.
 
….
 
After doing a bunch of research I’ve discovered that this prayer only exists on April 1st.  The truth is God doesn’t just give us whatever we want.

It can be frustrating. The apostle Paul would understand. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul writes that he had a “thorn in his side.” He doesn’t go into detail about what that thorn was, but he does say that he asked God 3 times to remove it and God refused. God told Paul His (God’s) grace was sufficient.

In Matthew, Jesus asked whether parents would give their kids a stone when they asked for bread or a snake when they asked for fish. Of course not! He followed that to say that God, our Father, knows how to give good gifts, too, when we ask. However, as Paul discovered, God’s good gifts aren’t always what we ask for or what we want.

God knows what is best for us and that is what He gives us.  Sometimes a million dollars would hurt us in the long run or draw us away from Him.  Sometimes we need to stay in at a job we don’t really like so we can minister to someone there.  Who knows?  Well…God does.  And that’s why He gives the gifts that are truly good.

Heavenly Father,

You are the giver of all good gifts. Thank You for taking care of me. Thank You for listening to me. Help me to trust Your goodness, even when Your answer to my prayer is, “No.”

Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Kurt

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: 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

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