Prayer for People

 

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Luke 22:31-32 (NKJV)

 

Jesus prayed for Peter and Peter’s faith did not fail; he strengthened and he became an important leader of the early church. Peter went from notable failure to great success because of the prayers of Jesus. There is a direct tie between prayer and success. If we were interested in success we will pray and we should follow the example of Jesus and pray for other people.

 

You do pray for people? Well of course you do. Everyone prays for someone. Some form of “Bless Aunt Marge,” prayers are about the most common type of prayer, other than prayer just before a test in school. The question is still valid and important because there is much more to prayer that just the simple bless so and so prayers.

 

Man is designed, in both the physical and spiritual realms, to respond to stimuli. The physical senses are well known, they affect us constantly, it is hot or cold, the music is loud or soft, the perfume smells good or bad, the paper is smooth or rough. We often respond without thinking, we slip on a sweater, we shade our eyes, we drink some water, and we scratch an itch. This is how we are made, made to respond. We all have had those special moments when we are moved by the message, the story, the scene, or an event. Tears and emotion well up from within and even the “tough” guy among us is moved. This is one of the reasons we love movies, we want to be affected; to be emotionally moved.

 

The world and our flesh affect the way we live, work and play, but prayer can do more. There is pressure on people, pressure to succeed, to get rich, to marry well, and to advance and a myriad of other pressures. Pressure can work to bring out the best in us, but most pressures have a negative effect. Pressure brought by prayer can be a great positive, those skilled in prayer, those willing to work at prayer; can put more pressure on people than anything brought by the world or the flesh. What do I mean, pressure? Prayer can bring people to the place, where it is easier to yield to the Holy Spirit, than it is to resist any longer.

 

By the lead of the Holy Spirit, we can pray for people and pray in faith, confident that God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we hope or imagine. Not, “wouldn’t it be nice for John to get saved?” but, responding to direction of the Holy Spirit, prayer in faith. Prayer that knows John will respond to the Holy Spirit. This is not wistful praying, but prayer that will stand in the gap for a person, pressing in, until the answer comes. This is prayer of power, power that works in us.

 

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

 

Do you pray for people? Can the Holy Spirit count on you for this type of assignment? Have you studied in the school of the Holy Spirit, until He can speak to you specifics for prayer? Have you labored in training, by the Spirit, until you are “fit for the Master’s use?” Have you been schooled by the Father, in the school of obedience, until you are ready for His assignment? Many people talk about prayer, but most will not study, trained, nor go to school. For them prayer is just prayer, but God is looking for a few who will pray.

 

 

Near and Far – Part III

 

People often struggle in dealing with being near to God In prayer, dealing with near and far is a key concern and one we must deal with, if we are going to be effective. It is easy to allow prayer to become prayer from afar. We speak the words, but they fall to the ground unheard, unanswered, because they are said from afar. In the realm of sin, separation from God is preparation for sin; in the realm of prayer, separation from God is preparation for empty ritual, not effective prayer. Prayer from afar is merely shouting into the wind. Effective prayer is whispered from near, into the ear of our Father.

 

The first battle in prayer is to be near to our Father. Doubt, fear, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, and unbelief are but a few of the tools used to keep people far from God. They are also the tools keeping people from effective prayer. Some people may still spew out words, but effective prayer demands a nearness to our Father that is not possible when separated by sin.

 

For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry. But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, That I may declare all Your works. Psalm 73:27-28 (NKJV)

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 (NKJV)

 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8 (NKJV)

 

Today God is calling, with open arms He is calling to you, He is calling for prayer. Will you draw near or stand far off? If you are going to be effective in prayer, you must draw near. It is important that you do not let anything separate you from God. The need is great for men and women effective in prayer; will you draw near to God and meet this great need?

 

We can pray if we walk near to God. The choice is ours, near or far, and nearness is better.

 

 

Near and Far – Part II

 

Since the first man and women walked on earth, people have struggled in dealing with God. Sometime God is so far away and other times He is so close. People are not always comfortable with either, near or far. With the advent of Jesus, the battle between near and far has radically changed, changed forever.

 

Jesus taught about God, by both message and lifestyle, of the possibility of being near to God. Jesus spoke of God, as our Father. A father is not a concept of someone far away; a father is very near. One reason for the Jewish people getting so mad at Jesus was His teachings that brought God very near. Just as people had rebelled against being near to God in the time of Moses, so they rejected this idea from Jesus.

 

Jesus walked on the earth as a man. He walked with closeness to God that was unconceivable to most people. God was always near; Jesus and the Father walked and talked together all the time. Even in the hubbub at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus was so near to God that He could say, Father I thank you that you have heard Me, You always hear me.

 

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” John 11:41-43 (NKJV)

 

Nearness to God is a key to success in many aspect of life. For example, nearness to God is vital for overcoming sin. A little boy, who is not allowed to start fires, would never even think of playing with fire when he is near his mother or father. But if he is far away from them, in the far corner of the back yard, far from his mother’s care and watch, he might play with fire.

 

The greatest deterrent to sin is closeness to God. When Jesus walks with me and I walk close to Him, I do not sin. It is when He seems to be far off that I sin. Just like the little boy of the fire story, it is all a matter of near or far. Our flesh is like the Jews of Moses time; it does not want to be near to God. It rebels against the restrictions of being near Him. (It does not understand that there is greater freedom in the “restrictions” of being near God, than there is in the “freedom” of being far away.)

 

Also our enemy, the Devil, works day and night to help us stay far from God. The letters in the delightful book, “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis, are filled with advice on how to keep the man of the story far from God. Lewis once wrote about the role of near and far in the battle with sin:

 

Separation from God is preparation for sin. Doubt, fear, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, and unbelief are but a few of the tools for staying far from God. Jesus came to bridge the gap of separation, dieing on the cross, loaded with all our sins, He paid the price for nearness to God. Now there is no excuse for separation, our loving Father is like the father of the prodigal son, every day looking for us with open arms, receiving us back to nearness with Him. The question of the day, every day, is will we come to our senses and return to His waiting arms, to be near with Him, or will we languish in the muck and mire of the pig slop of life, far from God.

 

And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,

Luke 15:16-18 (NKJV)

 

The prodigal son was far from his father walking in sin, he came to see that nearness to his father was better. We can walk near or far and nearness is better.

 

 

What Are You Doing Today?

What are your plans for today, something fun or just work? Are you going shopping or making a deal? Are you sleeping in or up early? Does it look like a hard day, or one filled with fun that you have been looking forward to for a long time? Regardless of what you are doing today, prayer will make it better.

Prayer is the key to success and power every day and in everything we do. Successful Christians, especially ones who are very busy, know that their time with God in prayer is the foundation for the day. They know that to miss their time of prayer is like an athlete not working out, like a scholar not reading, like a mother not taking care of her children; it is unthinkable. The wise Christian knows a day without prayer is a day wasted. Because with prayer, no matter what they are doing, their day will be better.

“Ten minutes spent in the presence of Christ every day, aye, two minutes, will make the whole day different.”  – Henry Drummond

Our time in prayer makes all the difference to our day. It draws us into the presence of God and opens the way to guidance and power in our day. It changes us and how we see life. No matter what comes our way the rest of the day, we are better prepared and equipped to handle it if we have first fortified our life with prayer.

“Prayer wonderfully clears the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose; sweetens and strengthens the spirit.”  – S.D. Gordon

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

 

“He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.”

- John Bunyan

 

 

Confidence

There are battles that rage within the heart of man. The flesh longs to rule and reign over man. Doubt screams out, attempting to overcome. Fear comes, darkness so dense, men’s hearts are overwhelmed and fail. Unbelief robs men of life. The body racked with pain, the mind dimmed by doubt, the heart failing from fear, robbed of life, it is so bad a man cannot live, work, or pray. The Devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to make life painful, sad, and empty. Jesus has come to destroy the work of Devil and give abundant life.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

John 10:10 (NKJV)

He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8 (NKJV)

Do you believe He has done that for which He was manifest? Do you believe He destroyed the works of the devil? Do you? Are confident that He has done His work? Confidence is defined in the dictionary as, “Faith or trust such as in God’s mercy, opens the door for salvation, deliverance, healing, and fullness of life”. Jesus destroyed everything that would separate us from the love of God and the abundant life He has for us. This confidence opens the doors for effective prayer.

Prayer demands a confidence. In prayer we speak to God in faith and trust. Prayer demands faith in God. Prayer demands trust in God. Where will you place your confidence? In whom will you place your faith? In whom will you trust? We know He is willing and able to meet our confidence with answers to prayer. There is no question concerning His great reward. With confidence in God, we can pray. With confidence in Him, we have faith and trust to come boldly before His throne and seek His help and to be effective in prayer.

But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

Hebrews 3:6 (NKJV)

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

Hebrews 10:35 (NKJV)

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

1 John 5:14 (NKJV)

 

This World is Desperate for Effective Prayer, Are You?

 

 

Certainty

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me—A prayer to the God of my life

Psalm 42:8 (NKJV)

What is going to happen next? It seems as though everything is changing. With massive change comes uncertainty. Many of the “certain” things of the past have changed or are gone. Standards and traditions have been dropped or swept away. And it is difficult to deal with the wholesale changes that have obliterated the landscape of things once thought to be solid and secure. Everywhere we look things are turned upside down and down side up.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20 (NKJV)

You have wearied the Lord with your words; Yet you say, “In what way have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil Is good in the sight of the Lord, And He delights in them,” Or, “Where is the God of justice?”

Malachi 2:17 (NKJV)

Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;

Romans 14:16 (NKJV)

Even in times of change or great difficulty the Bible is our great help. The Bible is filled with assistance for every situation we face. It has powerful help for people of all age, places, and times. While written many years ago, the Bible still brings answers for dealing with the pressures of life and living. Although written long ago, it is still current and correct. It is the best type of help.

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me– A prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42:8 (NKJV)

Day or night we there are times we need help. In the daytime we need His lovingkindness and this is even more of a need at night. Nighttimes can be a difficult times; the devil loves to work in the dark; both darkness of the nighttime and darkness of ones heart and mind. He desires to separate us from God’s power and love, if he can. But, the Bible brings comfort, directions, support, guidance, and all kinds of help we need.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:35 (NKJV)

Regardless of the specifics of your struggle, there is an answer for you and your need. There is comfort and help, there is guidance and direction and all these come with the seal of God’s power and love.

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

Colossians 1:13 (NKJV)

As the institutions and traditions crumble around us. As men make a lie, the truth and truth, a lie, we must rest in God’s arms of love and support. He alone must be our refuge and strength, the one who is able to take us through everything and anything. God and His Word, the Bible, is our certainty in a time of trouble!

Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds.

Psalm 149:5 (NKJV)

You shall have a song As in the night when a holy festival is kept, And gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute, To come into the mountain of the Lord, To the Mighty One of Israel.

Isaiah 30:29 (NKJV)

 

The Bible – Our Help in Time of Trouble!

 

 

 

Castles of Confidence – Part Four

Under the walls, though the walls, and over the walls the enemy is attacking. His goal is to destroy our faith. Like the castle of old, the walls are our strength and for the Christian those walls are our confidence in Christ Jesus. His saving grace and His mighty power are for us today. It is in His full and complete salvation, capable of meeting and exceeding our every need that we place our confidence, but that provision for today, is lost if we loose our confidence in Christ.

The promise of the Father is salvation, in which nothing is broken and nothing missing. Our confidence stands firm on His ability and willingness to perform. In prayer and intersession and in every part of our life our confidence must be in Him. The enemy will provide us will assistance in cast away our confidence. But those who endure, those who will not cast away their confidence in Christ, they will receive the promise.

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Hebrews 10:35-39 (NKJV)

 

Christ our Castle of Confidence

 


Castles of Confidence – Part Three

Another means of attacking the castle is to batter its gates. The ram was a designed to break down the gates, the weak point in the wall of the castle. The Christian faces battering rams every day. Like the rams of old, these just pound on you day and night.

Western society has many rams. They may be subtle, but they can be effect nonetheless. There is a barrage of words spoken of doubt, fear, and death. Every advertisement warns of impending disaster for all who fail to use their product. Support for every cause is whipped up by calling on fear of death and destruction. In addition, there is the battering ram of the so-called expert. Far too often we accept a claim of knowledge but it is really just someone’s opinion. As Os Guinness has said, “There is a huge gap between knowledge and opinion­—and ours is an age that is short on knowledge and long on opinions (and the cult of statistics and opinion polls).”

The Bible is the best source of knowledge and it is real knowledge, not opinion masquerading as knowledge. God Know what He is talking about, and He has placed in the Bible the knowledge we need for salvation and living the Christian life. This knowledge is there for our taking, but we must seek God and study His Word, aided by the guidance of the Holy Spirit to receive it. The Bible is our castle of confidence for overcoming opinion battering ram attacks.

Attacks also come over the walls. When the attack was against a castle often it came by a volley of arrows. There are also volleys of words flying though the sky circumventing the protection of the walls with their reign of death. Words of death and destructions, words of doubt and fear, words dearth and doom, these are the arrows of the enemy who is sworn to kill, steal and destroy. Negative words fill our ears and airways; the media, the neighborhood, fill our hearts and minds fill with these deadly arrows. It is not surprising that Paul tells us not to grow weary.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

 

Christ our Castle of Confidence

 


Castles of Confidence – Part Two

Attacks on Christians come in many ways and in many forms. Some are overt, ere are men and women being attacked for their faith in many countries; some of these attacks bring death. Other attacks are more veiled, but all attacks are a threat to our Christian faith and life. Some of the attacks against Christians are in like the attacks brought against a castle of Europe. The attacking enemy tries to breakthrough the walls of the castle. This type of attack seeks to breach the walls by weakening or undermining.

The “great” philosophies of men are often this type of attack. There are many philosophies that seek to undercut Christian faith. They attack by declaring God is dead, questioning the authorship of books of the Bible, or challenge the authenticity of book of the Bible. Such an attack may be on the book of Genesis, but the result can be a weakling of people confidence in the entire Bible as God’s Word to us. People may begin to think that if Genesis is not reliable, then what about the other parts of the Bible, this undermines their confidence.

When the enemy attacks you on an issue close to home, salvation, health, provision, or others, the walls must be strong to withstand the attack. Our confidence in Christ, our faith in Him, must not fail. When our walls fail, we think or say strange things and our thinking often become twisted; God loves some, but does not love me, God heals some, but not me, God provides for some, but not me. When this happens the attack has won, it has broken down the walls of our confidence and our faith has failed.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

 

Christ our Castle of Confidence

 


Castles of Confidence – Part One

In the 1970s I was in the US Air Force and stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany. My mother and father came to visit me and we spent two weeks visiting many of the famous sites of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Netherlands.

While we were in Amsterdam, we stumbled on to a celebration. In the main square, we notice that the Dutch flag was flying over the queen’s palace: so we thought that she might be in residence. We also notice people setting up barricades blocking off part of the square. We decide to stay and see what was going to happen. Soon band and military groups arrived. Crowds gathered and we moved up against the barricades.

We had stumbled into a remembrance celebration of the Dutch resistance in World War II. The bands played, military groups marched into the square, and the Queen came and placed a huge wreath on the monument to the faithful efforts of these men and women. It was a very moving sight, made even more spectacular for us as the Queen walked to the monument right in front of us. We could have reached out and touched her. The Queen was indeed in residence in her palace that day and we saw her!

Palaces and castles of Europe are some of the many famous places everyone goes to see. Castles are among the first things mentioned when describing Europe. The castle is not just a tourist attraction; it was for centuries central to life in Europe. The stronghold of protection for centuries was the castle. Behind its walls, people were safe from predators, bandits, and the armies of your enemy. Any one who would conquer a region had to undermine, breakthrough, or overcome the walls. The king and all the people could remain confidently safe and secure as long as the walls were sound. There is a place like this for Christians as well.

The safe and secure castle for the Christian is our confidence. This is not the confidences of the world. To have confidence in these ranges from the silly to foolish. For example, people have absolute confidence in a red piece of metal that says STOP. Our confidence is so strong we will drive through an intersection and are positive the oncoming car will stop. Often we get into trouble because our worldly confidences are unfaithful and they fail us. For example, we have confidence a thin membrane of plastic to keeps hot coffee from our lap, but a small hole or tear can destroy our confidence and our outfit of the day.

The castle of confidence for the Christian life is confidence in Jesus Christ. There was protection, provision, and safety for those in a strong castle. There is protection, provision, and safety for in the castle of confidence in Christ. We can have confidence in His willingness and ability to protect, provide, and save.

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Hebrews 10:35-39 (NKJV)

 

Christ our Castle of Confidence