Category Archives: Prayer

Encouraging Words, part 2

Between Facebook, texts, emails and cards we have received countless encouraging words since my mother entered the presence of the Lord.

Encouragement from those with whom I grew up in Guatemala.
Encouragement from those from different churches and institutions we have been connected to.
Encouragement from those whom my mother prayed for on multiple continents.
Encouragement from the faithful family at Calvary Church.
I am really overwhelmed with the kindness that has been expressed.

Another group of rather new friends who have also encouraged me are a group of global workers the Lord allowed me to serve in Asia.  I spent the majority of February in Cambodia leading a study of Doxologies, Benedictions and Prayers (a study I hope to upload sometime). During each of the two weeks I challenged the different groups to write a doxology and a prayer.

When they were informed that my mother had passed into the presence of her Lord, they wrote out their prayers for me. I will cherish these encouraging words. Words that reminded me of the truths I believe and had taught.  As a teacher they ministered deeply as they applied principles and passages I taught.

Though they are personal and all are meaningful, I’m sharing a few here with the hope of blessing and inspiring your hope–your certain anticipation. And as a reminder to me of what encouraging words sound like to hurting hearts.

Dear covenant-keeping, sovereign and loving Father, You know all things and do all things well. You are the healer of hearts and lifter of our heads. Will you lift up and hold up the heads and hearts of Steve and his family at this difficult time so that they see and you love you more. And through their doing this, also help others to see and love you more too. Please remind them of your lasting truth and eternal promises so that they will trust you completely. Through memories of her, remind them of your gracious faithfulness and lavishing love so that they will be renewed in faith and motivated to live in continued surrender to You. Please use Steve in these days to shine your light and love with your strength and wisdom so that You will be seen as very powerful and Your name will be proclaimed and You will be glorified.  In the powerful, life-changing name of Jesus, Amen.

Dear Father, I thank you for sending Steve to encourage us by teachings from your Word. I thank you for his mother who was faithful to your call to go to the nations and who birthed him and reared him to know and love you. Thank you for the many fruitful years you gave her on this earth to influence others into the kingdom and that we could receive some of the fruit of her tireless kingdom focused labor via the ministry of her son. Please open my brother Steve’s heart to have perspective and grateful joy in the midst of this temporary separation so that he may be comforted and not be encumbered from continuing to walk in step with your Spirit as you draw him closer still into the knowledge of your presence. You and You alone have conquered death and are the reason we can rejoice.

Dear loving Heavenly Father, I lift up my brother Steve before you.  May he be sooo secure in the reality of who you are and who he is in you– that he will be able to fully embrace the uncomfortable pangs of grief for himself, for his sister, for his sons and especially for his dad – all mixed with joy knowing where is mom is and how she is rejoicing in the wonder of the infinite God she lived for with her heart, mind, soul and strength.  I pray this so that others around him would see your strength and comfort through his grief.  I pray this so you are glorified as literally 100s of people see the authenticity of Steve’s life as one who believes what he teaches of your overwhelming infinite omni-competence in all areas of life.

Dear Father, Dad, my heart is grieved for my brother Steve, his sister and dad. I know the feeling since you have taken a parent you have given me home (and it still hurts- at times).  Give them your sweet Spirit’s comfort to quench the bitter taste of death.  Bring to their minds the joy of remembering the cherished times you provided for them together and bring to mind and heart the promise of being together again.  Shock those who need it to see the brevity of this life and cause us to number our days so that we will soberly and intentionally go about your business with your grace for your glory. And we ask all these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Father, I lift up Steve Kilgore to your throne asking that you will comfort him by your Spirit in his most inner being, that you will cause your peace to dwell in every part of his heart and conscience, that he will dig down deeply into your loving kindness, that he will comprehend your power to care for him and his loved ones, that you will help him to experience to the full the excelling acceptance that comes with knowing the Messiah, that you will fill him up with all the fullness of your own self, and finally, that you will give him confidence to know that you have already fully achieved this for his dear mom.

Proper Motivation in Prayer

How do you know if you are praying with the right motivation?

I was recently asked the following question…

We are hung up on praying that God allow us to save money for a bigger house in the future. We are afraid, “Is that selfishly motivated?” We’re both confused as to what we’re allowed to pray for and how to do that without “selfishness” blurring the lines, i.e. the house, our future.

How would you answer?

Improper motives are clear hindrance to prayer as these passages reveal.

James 4:2–3 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (ESV)

Matthew 6:5–6 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (ESV)

Proverbs 21:13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. (ESV)

A self-focused, selfish prayer robs prayer of power because it reveals the true desire of our hearts.

It is true that we can have wrong motivations, selfishness for both good things and not so beneficial things.  Saving money, buying a car, buying a bigger house–are the kind of decisions that require ruthlessly honest self-evaluation.

Some want a new car or bigger house–for status, sense of significance, self-exaltation (so other people think they are “something”).

So first you have to ask yourselves the questions,

 Why do we want a larger house?

This will require that you drill down to heart motivations.

Then you need to ask yourself–can we be content without it?  That is not to say you shouldn’t get it, if you would be content without it.  But more, that you understand that possessions are not where contentment comes from.

Another helpful line of questions or means of self-diagnosis are related to generosity.  As you seek to save (which is a stewardship issue) the question is,

“Do I remain generous”
or “Does my goal make me stingy”?

The following passage is also helpful in guiding your thought pattern.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (ESV)

Notice, it’s fine to enjoy God’s blessing—the command is not, “give it all alway” but to be rich in good works—to be generous and to share, with an eternal perspective.  Finding the balance between owning something and being owned by it is always a challenge.  Life is about stewardship not ownership.

iPray: core elements of prayer

F–A–C–T–S of Prayer

Fellowship (Communion) (Exodus 33:11; 1 John 1:3-7)

Encounter:  Meeting with God, seeing who He is, and what He does for you.  It is thankfulness focused on the source.

Adoration (Worship, Celebration)             (Hebrews 13:15; Revelation 4:11)

Expression:      Celebrating what God has done, who God is, based on your encounter with Him.

Confession                                                         (Psalms 38:18; 1 John 1:9)

Agreeing with God that sin is sin.  It means acknowledging sin and guilt in the light of God’s revelation, thus generally an outward sign of inward repentance and faith.  It should cause the believer to pledge himself anew to God.

Thanksgiving                            (Ephesians 5:20; Ezra 3:11; 1 Timothy 2:1)

Gratitude for the provisions and care of God.  Adoration focuses on the Source (God), thanksgiving thanks God for the product, what He has done for us.

Supplication

Intercession: Going to God on behalf of the needs of others.     (Romans 10:1; 1 Samuel 7:5)

Petition:  Asking for God to intervene on your behalf, for your needs, with a focus on seeking God’s will and demonstrating dependence.  (James 1:5; Philippians 4:6; Daniel 9:3)

iPray

I’m currently teaching a short series on prayer.iPray

The first week we looked at conditions and commands for prayer, you can listen and see the summary notes.

This week we are looking at the pattern or structure of prayer.

 Asking the question, should our prayer have a specific pattern or core elements?

What do you think?

While there are many passages on prayer, we are investigating one Old Testament prayer, that of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:5-11; 2:4) and one New Testament prayer, the “Disciples Prayer” (Matthew 6:5-15).

There are lots of wonderful observations and lessons in these two prayers, two that struck me are:

  • Prayer does not eliminate action it fuels it
  • Prayer should not be perfunctory performance but purposeful dependence

More in a couple of days.

Prayer: Paul’s Impossible Prayer

Paul normally includes an extensive prayers at the beginning of his letters. These prayers normally include some combination of the concepts: love, faith and hope along with some form of a challenge to growth resulting in effectiveness. As you read through the Pauline epistles you quickly see that these prayers (they often accompanying thanksgiving sections) are not just habit but very thoughtful. What he gives thanks for and what he prays are specific to the situation he is writing to.

One of the anomalies in the pattern of prayer is Ephesians. Not only do most scholars believe that Ephesians was a circular letter, not just intended for the church in Ephesus but the surrounding area. But this letter includes two length prayers.

The second prayer, is what I call Paul’s impossible prayer.  And it has challenged (exhorted) the kinds of prayers I raise to God.

Before reading this passage, ask yourself, “If I could list all I prayed for this past week–what would it reveal about what I value most?”

Ephesians 3:14-19

Paul’s prayer, a response to (“therefore”) what he has told his audience about their salvation, leads to a profound Trinitarian prayer for the strength of the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16), the indwelling of Christ (Ephesians 3:17) and the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).

But it is not just a theological statement, it become a daily challenge when we realize the breath of the prayer.

Big Prayer

Ephesians 3:16-17a that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you, to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–(ESV)

Paul’s prayer begins with a request that God–according to the riches of His glory… and the strength of His power…  This is a big prayer.  That the God of all glory, the Creator Sustainer Owner of all, would through His mighty power and unlimited resources strengthen us.  How much can He strengthen us?–completely. Is there anything His empowering can’t sustain us through?–no.

But this is not just a statement of a fact about God–He is all-powerful.  As wonderful as that truth is, Paul takes this core nature of God and asks God to apply it personally.  His prayer is not that God would be all-powerful, He is.  His prayer is that the All-powerful will apply that power personally and intimately–in our inner being.

Intimate goal

The big prayer continues,

Ephesians 3:17b-19a that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, (ESV)

Paul wants the strengthening to have a specific focus–to comprehend, to understand, to know the whole vastness (breath, length, height, depth) of Christ’s love.  Part of what makes this an impossible prayer is that Paul prays that we would know the whole vastness of Christ’s love which “surpasses knowledge.”  He wants us to know something that goes beyond our knowledge and understanding.  But is not contrary to knowledge or dismisses knowledge.

Paul’s prayer is that we would have an experiential knowledge, a personal experiential intimate understanding of how much Christ loves us!  Not just a realization of the fact of Christ’s love, but to fully personally, intimately appreciate the complete nature of Christ’s self-giving love.

All consuming result

The result of this prayer is that

Ephesians 3:19b that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (ESV)

Again, the impossible prayer, ends with another big request–that we finite creatures be fill with the fullness of the infinite God.

The prayer is that as we are strengthened by the All-power personally and as we become intimately acquainted with the comprehensive love of Christ that we might be totally consumed by the the infinite God.

WOW!

Impossible or the picture of spiritual maturity?

This passage first challenges me to want a great connection, understanding and a more intimate relationship with God.

Second, the passage challenges my puny, small, weak, selfish, self-focus, concrete time-bound prayers.  Not that we should not prayer for those things, but the vast majority of prayers I pray and I hear prayed are so small compared to Paul’s prayer.

Realization

This has made me realize
1. That we pray to the size of our God and faith.
2. God does not fit the limitations of our expectations.

May we learn to pray in a way that honors the majesty, magnitude and the intimate personal nature of God.

(You can listen to a devotional discussion of this impossible prayer here.)