PRAY WITH POWER: CULTIVATING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE OF PRAYER

HERE IS A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE SHARED ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, IN OUR MORNING SERVICE ON “THE KIND OF PRAYER THAT GOD PAYS ATTENTION TO.”

Matthew 6:5-13. (THE PATTERN PRAYER, OFTEN CALLED, “THE LORD’S PRAYER”)

Matthew takes us on quite a profound journey. He record Jesus’ prayer, which serves to change our whole perspective on prayer.of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. But before Jesus engaged the content of the prayer His major

point was that prayer that will be effective really begins with a RIGHT it had ATTITUDE; it is an inner posture.

We are first defeated in prayer efforts if our attitude is wrong. More than the content of the prayer, the pattern prayer instructs us on the Attitude we should have as we approach God:

1. UNDERSTANDING/ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF WHO GOD IS (Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name). He is Father and He is in a class by Himself (hallowed). This means that He can be trusted. When we know this we are better able to approach Him with a heart that completely trusts.

2. SURRENDER (Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven). God’s kingdom is his rule – His rightful claim to our lives and our complete relinquishing of our desires for his will. A life that is unwilling and unprepared to accept God’s rule and  claim to it is a life that is also unprepared for God to be made manifest in it. Surrendering says to God, I am ready for you to manifest yourself in my and in my situation and when God does, we SEE it because it was NOT our will we were anticipating but God’s.

3. TOTAL TRUST (Give us this day our daily bread). A heart that trusts God with even the mundane things. Daily reliance on Him. Israel was tested this way in the wilderness with manna that they were to gather daily (to demonstrate trust that God will provide for tomorrow) and they failed miserably. We must be totally reliant upon him as we approach; not planning how in our own might we can solve our own issues.

4. ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF WHO I AM: (And forgive us our trespasses). In approaching God in prayer, we must be honest with ourselves before God; willing to acknowledge our faults and to turn from them. So often humble ourselves; we pray; we seek His face but we never quite get to turning around (2 Chronicles 7:14). God requires truth from us; in our inward parts. Honesty IS the best policy even with God.

5. WILLINGNESS TO RELEASE OTHERS (BURDENS) (As we forgive those who trespass against us). If we are going to stand boldly and honest before God in prayer, we have to be willing to release persons that we do not forgive. If we regard iniquity in our hearts (our prayer will be hindered) the Lord will not hear us. Moreover, we often walk around with burdens asking God for strength to carry them when God has offered us the facility of casting ALL of those upon Him.

CULTIVATING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE AS WE APPROACH PRAYER IS THE FIRST AND MOST CRUCIAL STEP TO PRAYER THAT IS IMPACTFUL. DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE IN PRAYER?

Bible Principles for Daily Living

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As we go through our lives, there are some principles that will help us on our faith journey.

PRINCIPLE 1:

  • KNOW GOD. Daniel 11:32b “but the people who know their God will display strength and take action” (NASB). An intimate and genuine knowledge of God leads to an unshakable TRUST & CONFIDENCE in Him; that when we come up against life’s challenges and temptations, we are able to stand firm and obey. Often we become despondent with life and disappointed with God because we do not truly know who God is (Sovereign, Faithful, unchangeable etc.). A church sister of mine, when faced with sickness, instead of just moping around and giving up hope, displayed great strength when she said, “My God is bigger than that”. In that moment of potentially debilitating fear, she drew on her knowledge of her BIG God and instead of fear and dispair, she hoped. Let us endevour to truly get to know the God whom we have believed and be fully persuaded that He is able…God Bless you, have a great day and take time to KNOW GOD.

PRINCIPLE 2:

  • LOVE GOD: We are not only called to KNOW God but we are also called to LOVE GOD: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). I have found in my own life that the more I grew in my love relationship with God, the easier it became to serve and obey. In John 14:5, Jesus suggests that His disciples love for Him is the motivation for keeping His commandments. That is not so hard to fathom. If we look at our own love relationships, when we love someone, it becomes easier for us to go the extra mile for them; to make the sacrifices. Do we go the extra mile when it comes to God? Do we obey easily? Do we really LOVE God (more than these)? Our love for God is reflected in the quality of our service and in our obedience. O, that the children of God will truly love him and that love be reflected so that the unbelievers will see our commitment/devotion and our faith will be a witness (because we practice what we preach). Will you let it begin with you?

 

PRINCIPLE 3:

  • REMEMBER GOD: Navigating our way through life can be a lot more meaningful and less frustrating if we: KNOW God; LOVE God and REMEMBER GOD. Humans so quickly forget. We forget the things God had done either when things are wonderful & we no longer need a favour from Him or we forget when things become terrible and then worry sets in. Moses admonished the Israelites, “TAKE CARE NOT TO FORGET THE LORD, WHO BROUGHT YOU OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, THAT PLACE OF SLAVERY” (Deut 6:12). Remembering what God has done not only keeps us grateful; it helps us meet the vicissitudes of life with the full assurance that God has done it before, so he certainly can do it again. I have experience worry flee as I reminded myself of ALL that God had done before. Take a minute or two to look back over your life and REMEMBER the things that GOD has done and watch fear, worry and despair flee.

Coping with Worry & Depression: What Does the Bible Say? Part 2

Day Four

Can worry alter our circumstances or change our lives for the better?

Luke 12:22-31
Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on…..For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Jesus’ point is clear: Worry accomplishes nothing. It cannot supply the very least of our needs or wants, so we should strive to eliminate it from our thinking. Our energy is much better spent focusing on God’s way of life (which has real, tangible benefits) and soon-coming Kingdom (which will ultimately satisfy our most deeply felt needs).

So if there is nothing to be gained from worrying and anxiety, how does it really affect our lives? Proverbs 12:25: Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.

Anxious feelings that are not properly dealt with cause us to have the unhappy and disheartened feelings associated with depression. In contrast, focusing on good and positive things makes us glad and cheerful.

 

Day Five

What should we focus on?

Proverbs 15:13 states: A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

The Bible uses the term heart to describe the innermost source of all that we think and do. Focusing on positive things leads to a heart filled with optimism and confidence, while focusing on worry only fills the heart with pessimism and uncertainty.

Jeremiah 17:5-8: Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord……”Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Worry and anxiety are often the result of our being overly focused on our physical capabilities and limitations—what we or others can do humanly—rather than on the awesome and limitless capabilities of God, and what He can do for us and through us.

Day Six

When I am faced with tremendous worry I must admit that it is hard not to but that is when I rely on myself, but when I trust God, He helps me believe me, and encourages me through His Word. Some of the stories that do this are:

David in Psalm 34:4-6- I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.Even though David suffered severe anxiety at times, he kept learning and relearning that trusting in God to provide for his needs and deliver him from difficulties would resolve his problems. No matter how big the problem is, God can solve it (Psalm 40:1-2).

Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10- For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us…Paul understood that God is the only true source of help. Paul faced many anxiety-inducing situations in his ministry and travels, but consistently trusted that God would provide deliverance from these situations that were beyond human control.

And the story of Jesus in Matthew 26:37-39- And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

When He experienced tremendous anxiety over what He was about to suffer during His trial and crucifixion, Jesus wholly committed Himself to the will of God. He knew that the direction God had set for His life would ultimately produce the best possible outcome. Even if suffering had to be endured for a time, He trusted that it was a necessary but brief step on the path to a permanent, glorious future.

 

 Day Seven

Instead of worrying, the Bible tells us to spend our time praying. If we prayed as much as we worried, each one of us would have a whole lot less to worry about. Most times we confuse planning for tomorrow to worrying about tomorrow. Planning for tomorrow is time well spent however worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Careful planning is thinking ahead about our goals, steps and schedules trusting in God’s guidance. This gives us confidence in God and in the process helps alleviate worry. Whereas when we worry, it is consumed by fear making it difficult for us to trust God wholeheartedly.

Is God interested in all our daily problems and things that concerns us? Yes. He’s interested in every detail of our lives. That means we can take any problem we have to Him without hesitation!

Whenever we pray, we should always pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion is not love but gratitude, it actually increases our immunities. It makes us more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy people. But people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They’re never satisfied. It’s never good enough. So if we cultivate the attitude of gratitude of being thankful in everything, it will reduce stress in our lives.

What is the result of not worrying, praying about everything, giving thanks, and focusing on the right things? Paul says in Philippians 4:7 we will then “experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.”  Wow!  He is guaranteeing us peace of mind? Do you realize this is exactly what everyone seems to be looking for? We’ve got it right here. So like “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help”.–1 Timothy 5:5; just “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.–1 Peter 5:7; “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall”.–Psalm 55:22

Through God’s Eyes: Resisting the Temptation of Condemning Others!!!

Resisting the urge to judge and condemn others it not as easy as we may think. There is this innate need to be superior. Superiority is dehumanizing and anti-Christ because it denies the image of God in others. The bible is replete with narratives and verses that instruct us on how we must esteem others as we live in community. Yes!!! It will take a renewing of the mind for us to begin to see others THROUGH GOD’S EYES.

1 Samuel chapters 11 to 16 gives an account of how David was chosen as king over Israel. Perhaps the most instructive verse of the unfolding of this interesting saga (which today could easily become a poignant Hollywood story that chronicles a life from obscurity to prominence) is found in chapter 16, verse 7: “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

The Lord told Samuel to go anoint another king. This time the Lord said, “For I have selected a king for myself” (16:1). Before, a king was selected by the people (1 Sam. 8:5). Samuel, when he arrived at Jessie’s house and looked at his son Eliab thought, “Surely, this must be the one1” No doubt, he must have been tall, and handsome and fair. Even God’s prophet was fooled by appearances. But God reminded him that what qualified a wo/man for His work were not outward appearances but the state of his/her heart. Amazingly, even Jesse, the father of the future king, never thought of David, for he was not called with the other sons to walk before Samuel. Surely, God must have been out of His mind to have thought of this little boy who by the standards of other had been disqualified. But David went on to be the greatest king in the history of Israel.

In the New Testament, Luke 15:1-17, Jesus tells a scintillating parable about lost things! Jesus was doing what was normative for him to do – outreach – and there were those who were upset with what He was doing and with whom he associated. “This man sits with sinners,” they said among themselves. But Jesus began to confound their self-righteousness and condemnation with those parables (Lost sheep, lost coin, lost son). Jesus first drew on their common understanding of a shepherd’s responsibility and practice of pursuing a lost sheep even into treacherous paths.

Just in case they didn’t understand, Jesus told another story about a woman who had ten silver coins (possibly a day’s wage or a symbol of her betrothal). So when any of those ten coins is lost, there will be a great desire to find it and a feeling of great loss if she loses any. Clearly, the point of Jesus’ parable about lost things (a sheep that had lost its direction; and a coin that had appeared to have lost its worth) is that they are all valuable and of worth to the person who lost them. Every ‘sinner’ is considered a lost child of God and God places TREMENDOUS value on them (being lost does not diminish their value; only their use) that he would stop at nothing to find/rescue them from their “lostness”. Finding them makes God happy according to Luke 15:7.

Jesus proceeded to tell the story of the obstinate and ungrateful son who wished his father dead and abandoned their relationship. Despite his actions, upon his return, his father ran out to meet his son and accepted him. A real demonstration of LOVE! Interestingly, this son expected to be treated as a servant. Instead, the father restored him fully. Again, there was rejoicing over the lost. This, again, Jesus said to explain the love of the Father and to clarify His situation with those whom the Jews considered sinners/lost.

Do we place the same value as our Heavenly Father places on the lost? Is the urge to condemn difficult to resist? Too often as a church, we respond in callousness to people who have fallen; we remember and categorize people according their sin. We see no value in the lost and that is why we have no desire to be where they are and to reach out to them. Reaching out to the lost requires diligence; effort; love and value for them. Do we see value in even the vilest of sinners?

It will take a special kind of re-socializing/re-orientation for us to begin to estimate fairly those around us who may not believe and practice like we do if we are going to engage them and bring about transformation. Paul calls this re-orientation a ‘renewing of the mind’ in Romans 12:2. Remember, a change in others begins with a change in YOU!!!

Watch What You Sing: ‘Praise and Worship’ Songs that are Unsound!

1 Corinthians 14:12-18 says:

12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church. 13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer,[d] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Specifically, the passage deals with the issue of loudly speaking out in tongues in the corporate worship setting, which Paul seems to indicate is unprofitable. But point makes a deeper point that is often lost on many. He argues that the corporate worship experience should be instructive. There MUST be edification, for that is the end of the corporate experience.

Often, within the corporate worship experience, there seems to be an unfortunate focus on; veneration of; and desire that is geared towards emotionalism. There is a place for the expression of emotion in worship but emotions are not what worship is about. Worship/’worthship’ is about appropriating God’s worth. It is about coming into knowledge of who God is (God’s Character/attributes) and what God does and how we must respond as a consequence.

Unfortunately, many of the songs we sing in “church” help us to hold false understandings about God, ourselves and how we must respond to God and others in light of our reflection upon God. Perhaps before further engaging this issue we should pause to reflect together on what is Christian and/or Gospel music.

Christian music is music that show the way of Christ: the way of love; justice; truth; unity peace and salvation. This way is only apprehended through the teaching of scripture and anything outside this teaching, though it may mention Jesus or God cannot be considered Christian/Gospel music. Gospel means Good News. Simply match that definition against many of the songs that fall under that genre and we realize that many of them give no good news.

The issue of appropriate worship is always one of contention. And we recognise that it will cause some discomfort:

1. Because it sometimes calls for us to admit to ourselves and even more frighteningly so to our membership that we have been wrong.

2. Because old habits are difficult to break

3. Because we have traditionally made worship to be about the worshiper when, in truth, worship is ALWAYS about the audience of one – God.

Perhaps in light of those aforementioned points, we can understand why some will take offense to the views (held on the premise of scripture) that this article opines.

In John 4, the Samaritan woman, who has a rich religious tradition and whose heart no doubt might have been in the right place approached Jesus on the topic of worship. Jesus’ response was both direct and instructive. He said that “…True worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth“. Interestingly, the same word for spirit (pneumati) in that context means “MIND”. Because in every other sense, except where spirit clearly means a spirit being who has revealed himself, spirit is seen as a function of the mind, whether it is God’s mind, angel’s mind, or man’s mind. It must be understood that the mind is more than spirit, yet “spirit” can figuratively refer to a person’s mind. So, Jesus basically said to the woman that true worship brings us into understanding. Please note that prior to saying to the woman that true worshipers MUST worship in “spirit and in truth”, Jesus said to her you worship what you do not understand. Our challenge as a church is to take people beyond emotionalism to knowledge/understanding. It is then that true worship happens.

I want to point out a great danger that we hold in “churches”; that song writers are inspired by The Holy Spirit to write what they did and so we should not question their “poetic license” or expressed content. The insinuation that inspiration continues to this day (in a theological sense), allows for no standard of judgment or measuring that which is true. Because if inspiration is as arbitrary as to be left up to a writer’s poetic license, there is , then, no way of verifying inspiration except by taking the writer’s word for it. Inspiration can ONLY be ascribed to scripture (which by the way is demonstrated by the historicity, propheticity and unity of the scripture, written by more than 40 authors, on 4 different continents over a period of more than 1600 years). People are not “inspired” to write songs to worship God. Well, not in the real theological sense of the word, inspired. They must use the inspired Word of God to express authentic worship; worship that is done in spirit (or with understanding/with the mind) and in truth; worship that reflects upon the truth of who God is and about who we are; having begun in perfection in the MIND of God and now having been called into peace with Him.

Here are a list of Songs that we consider unsound:

  1. Create in me a clean heart–  Unlike David, whose reality was that the Holy Spirit came upon him (and others in his era) for service, today the Holy Spirit of promise lives in us and he is not going anywhere and cannot be taken from us (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:22; 4:30). Today we have an abiding promise and hope that the Holy Spirit will dwell with us always and that God will NEVER leave nor forsake us.
  2. We are standing on Holy Ground – The truth is God no longer dwells in temples made of hands or of stones; he lives in us (1 Corinth 3:16; 6:19).
  3. There is a sweet Anointing in the Sanctuary – Ibid
  4. Anointing fall on me – What do we mean when we say this? What do we call “Anointing”? Anointing was the processing of pouring oil on an individual (in the OT) to symbolise his/her ascent to a position (priest, prophet, king). It was not about enablement. The Holy Spirit was always the enablement.
  5. Daniel saw the stone rolling down to Babylon – while Daniel did see a stone.. we cannot, from the text, decide it was white or little
  6. Open the floodgates of Heaven– Let what rain? What does this song say and how does it lead us into knowledge about God?
  7. Welcome Holy Spirit– Where is the Holy Spirit? Where is He coming from? And Welcome where? He lives in us; we are conduits of the Spirit. Wherever He is, we are and vice versa (  Ephesians 1:13-14).
  8. Saturate me With Your Anointing – See 4 above
  9. We fall Down But We Get up – “A saint is Just a sinner who fell down”<— That is an untrue statement about the Saint (The Saint has come into benefits and Identity that is Greater (Romans 5:1-9)
  10. God is watching us from a Distance– This is a Deist (the idea that God created the world and left it to run on its own) perspective. Proverbs 21:1 gives the idea of a God who is involved in the affairs of men
  11. Hallelujah is the Highest Praise– There is no biblical support for this. Period!
  12. “We Three Kings” (Christmas Carol)– The bible never suggests how many wise men there were.
  13. Fire Fire Fire, fire fall on me. Fire never fell on anyone on the day of pentecost…The simile in Acts 2;3 “like fire” is often missed, misunderstood or read simplistically.
  14. When the praises go up the blessings come down : This utilitarian relationship with God does not exist in scripture. There is not even a scripture from which this theological folly can be derived. It makes God reactionary and suggests that God only blesses those who praise him and those who are not blessed (which we often measure by material gains) have gone wrong in their relationship with/praise to God. Job’s friends had that same fallacious idea and they were rebuked by God’s response…
  15. Come Holy Spirit I need thee: He already lives in us. To ask him to come is illogical. You do not invite someone who is already present to come.