Categories
prayer

The Ingredients of Prayer

“Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…’” (Luke 11:1)

A few years ago, we started celebrating Fridays by making chocolate lava cakes every Friday night. We called them, “Friday Night Cakes,” and they were gooey and sweet and delicious. They were also surprisingly easy to make, only requiring five ingredients. We stirred up the ingredients, put it in the oven, and waited. Eventually, the oven turned those ingredients into a chocolate masterpiece.

We did our part by putting the ingredients together. The oven did its part by turning those ingredients into a cake.

In Luke 11, Jesus gave us the recipe for prayer. Like the Friday Night Cake, the recipe for prayer has five ingredients. When we pray, we put these ingredients together. Then we hand them over to God and we wait. God turns those ingredients into healing, deliverance, freedom, mended relationships, and so much more.

We do our part by putting the ingredients together in prayer. God does his part by turning those ingredients into transformation in our lives.

Interested in knowing the ingredients? They’re taken from the Lord’s Prayer found in Luke 11:1-4. Here they are:

  • Give God Praise and Adoration: “Your name is holy.” God is worthy of praise, regardless of our circumstances. When we exalt God even in the middle of our mess, we bring vision and order into our lives.
  • Seek God’s Will: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” For prayer to be effective, it has to line up with the will of God instead reflecting our own selfish desires. These two questions help us align our prayers with God’s will: “God, what do you want to do on earth? What do you want to do in my life?”
  • Put Your Needs in God’s Hands: “Give us day by day our daily bread.” God promises to meet all our needs. Whatever we’re facing, God has a promise for it. He cares about our needs and wants to carry our worries for us, but we have to put them in his hands.
  • Forgive: “For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Just like sugar sweetens a Friday Night Cake, forgiving others sweetens our lives. We may be super awesome, but we certainly aren’t perfect. We all need forgiveness, and we are all called to freely forgive others. There’s a sweet freedom to be found in forgiving.
  • Ask for Guidance: “Do not lead us into temptation.” Why depend on our own puny intellect when we have access to the infinite wisdom of an all-knowing God? Ask God for guidance, next steps, and direction. If we ask, he will give us the specific answer we need at the exact time we need it.

You have probably heard somebody say, “Prayer changes things,” and that’s true. But prayer doesn’t just change things; thankfully, prayer also changes people. Prayer changes us. Prayer connects us to God. As we continue in prayer, we grow to know God better and he continues to work in our lives. Through the power of prayer, we are gloriously transformed.

Father, I give you honor and praise. I long for your kingdom to come and your will to be done. What do you want to do in the world? What do you want to do in my life? Meet my needs and the needs of my family. Help me be forgiving and lead me in the way you want me to go. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
Fasting

Battlefield Strategy

“Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting.” (2 Chronicles 20:3)

Sometimes the mess we’re facing is so daunting and so confusing that we really don’t know what to do next. What does this lab result mean for my future? How will I ever get back to work with this economy? All three kids are throwing up—what do I do with that? There are times when we face too many problems at the same time and every path we consider seems to lead to despair and defeat.

In 2 Chronicles, chapter 20, King Jehoshaphat found himself in just such a situation.

Even though Jehoshaphat was serving God, disaster threatened in the form of two powerful enemy armies on their way to attack and destroy the nation of Judah.

Jehospaphat was terrified.

But he didn’t run. He didn’t hide. He didn’t order his warriors to ready their weapons and oil up the chariots.

His first action was to pray. His second action was to call the nation to a fast.

Prayer and fasting are the best possible actions to take when we are facing an attack, a battle, or a decision and we don’t know what to do. Fasting and prayer bring direction and guidance. We stand in the gap for our children and grandchildren through prayer and fasting.

And we impact our communities and nation through prayer and fasting. I love that in this time of extreme challenges in our country, churches throughout the nation are calling their people to pray, fast, and seek God, just like Jehoshaphat.

Oh, yes, what happened to Jehoshaphat? Did the enemy destroy Judah?

Judah was most definitely NOT destroyed by the enemy armies. On the contrary, they didn’t even fight. They actually sang their way to victory! As the singers began to praise, the enemy starting fighting among themselves until not one of them was left to attack Judah. True story.

It’s really cool that the Bible tells us the words to the song they sang, a song of faith birthed through prayer and fasting: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his faithful love endures forever!”

When we’re facing a battle, what should our battlefield strategy be? How about this: First, pray. Second, fast. And, finally, sing praise to the Lord for his faithful love endures forever!

Lord, thank you for being a God who battles for me. Though I see so many problems, both in my life and in my nation, I know you are in control. Honor my prayer and fasting as I seek your power and wisdom for the needs of my country, my community, and my family. I praise you, Lord, now and forever. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Today’s Reading: 2 Chronicles 20:1-30

Categories
Heaven

Perpetual Worship

“I will praise the Lord at all times. His praise will continually be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1)

Worship should continually spring from the depth of our souls. But that’s not always the case, is it?

Consider this person’s story: “My family was going through an unsettling time with jobs and finances. It had been a difficult week, but I was in church on Sunday, joining with the others in the congregation in singing the beautiful song, ‘Ever Be’ by Bethel Music. I heard myself singing the words, ‘Your praise shall ever be on my lips,’ when I realized that, in the past week, I had actually whined and complained much more than I had praised. I wasn’t singing the truth. Tears began to fall, and I asked God to put praise back in my heart and on my lips.”

Can you identify? Do you ever find yourself complaining or criticizing more than you praise?

The Bible tells us that heaven will be filled with spontaneous worship, shouts of the worthiness of God and the Lamb. Revelation 4:10-11 gives us an example: “…They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they existed and were created.’”

Heaven is a place of worship. Really, how could we not worship when we see God sitting in the throne room of heaven? When we come face to face with Jesus, who redeemed us with his own blood? When everything we hoped for becomes a reality?

But should it be any different here? Praise and worship should continuously flow throughout the earth from the lips of those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. The Lord’s prayer says, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). There should be spontaneous, heartfelt worship on earth just as there is spontaneous, heartfelt worship in heaven.

What has been on our lips this past week? Has it been more worship and praise, or more criticism and complaints? Friend, God is worthy of our worship, in good times as well as difficult times. As we praise God here on earth, we prepare for that glorious day when our voices join the throng of worshippers gathered in the throne room of heaven. What a day that’s going to be!

Lord God, you are so worthy of my praise. I repent of the times when worship has been far from my heart and not at all on my lips. Fill my heart with a revelation of your holiness and power. Remind me of how you rescued me. I praise you for your faithfulness, your forgiveness, and your never-failing love. In Jesus’s name, amen.