1 Teach Us To Pray
"And it came to pass, that as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." Luke 11:1
Once again we have entered the autumn season, the season of change. The leaves change colors, the air becomes crisp and cool, and the days get shorter. Many people look forward to this "sweater weather" after the long, hot summer days. As I was thinking about all the changes of autumn, I started thinking about changes in our lives, and I immediately thought of prayer. When we face difficult situations and don't know what to do, we can pray. When our loved ones are sick and we feel helpless, we can pray. When troubles and trials knock us off our feet, we can fall on our face and pour our heart out to God in prayer. God listens to our prayers and can bring changes in our lives when no one else can. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Let's spend a few weeks looking at some of the things the Bible says about prayer. We will see how prayer changed the lives of many in the Bible and learn to put our faith and trust in God through prayer.
2 Our Father Which Art In Heaven
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” Matthew 6:9
As we begin our study on Prayer, let's look at the first words of the prayer Jesus taught His disciples. "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name." Many people today believe that it doesn't matter who you pray to, just as long as you are sincere in your prayers. Joshua charged the people, "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve;... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:14 & 15) In verse 19 he told the people, "he is an holy God; he is a jealous God". Every person makes the choice as to whether he will serve God or not. If you want your prayers to be heard, you must pray to the one and only true, living God.
3 Thy Kingdom Come
“Thy kingdom come...” Matthew 6:10
"There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:1-3) Many people experienced a lot of bad things when the hurricanes hit America last month. Many lost their homes and all they had in the winds and floods. When we enter into the kingdom of God, all the bad things of this world won't be there. There will be no more sickness or pain. There will be no more heartache or destruction. We will have glorified bodies in that heavenly country. It will be wonderful to live in God's Kingdom. But the only way you can get there is by accepting God's gift of salvation and believe on His Son, Jesus Christ. Can you pray "Thy kingdom come" and know that you are a child of God on your way to heaven?
4 Thy Will Be Done
“... Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
The Garden of Eden was a wonderful, perfect place to live before Adam and Eve sinned. The curse brought suffering and hardship which has continued down through the ages. We can't live in the Garden of Eden but we can try to live in God's will. One way we can seek God's will in our lives is found in Romans 12:1 & 2. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." We live in the world, but we don't have to conform to the world. We need to give ourselves as a "living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God..." And when you pray, ask God to guide you in His perfect will.
5 Our Daily Bread
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
In the next chapter we see the words of our Lord, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Matthew 7:7 & 8) Jesus wants us to ask Him to supply our needs. I John 5:14 & 15 also tell us, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." Every morning we should ask God to be with us during the day and provide our needs. We should pray that He will have His will and lead us in His way throughout the day. And just as often as we stop to ask the Lord for things, we should also remember to thank Him for all He does for us.
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
God wants us to ask forgiveness for the wrong we do. He also wants us to forgive others. In this same passage Jesus also said, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14 & 15) There are many people who have anger and bitterness in their hearts over things that were done years ago. Some quit going to church because someone said something that hurt their feelings. We need to grow up and realize that we sin and have faults just like everyone else. We often say things that offend others. We often need forgiveness, and we need to have a spirit of forgiveness for our Christian brothers. Another example is in Matthew 18:21 & 22. "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." Don't let old problems rob you of your joy and happiness.
7 Lead Us Not Into Temptation
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:” Matthew 6:13
We need to pray so that we can overcome temptation. Jesus told Peter, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41) Another way to overcome temptation is to learn Bible verses. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He answered with the Holy Scriptures. "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) A good memory verse to start with is Psalm 119:11. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." And finally, choose good Christian friends who can help you overcome temptation. If you hang out with the wrong crowd, you will be more tempted to follow them in sin. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Galatians 6:1)
8 Give God The Glory
“...For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13
It's all about God. This is God's kingdom. Many people think they are in control, but Revelation 17:14 tell us He is Lord of lords and King of kings. We need to let God have rule in our lives. Next, we need to recognize the power of God. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (II Timothy 3:1-5) I believe we are in the last days mentioned here. Many have "a form of godliness" in that they talk like they know God, but they don't walk like they know God. We need to let the power of God be real, not only in our churches, but also in our daily lives. Finally, we read in Revelation 4:11, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Give God the glory. Amen.
9 An Altar Of Prayer
"And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven." I Kings 8:54
After King Solomon built the temple, he knelt at the altar and prayed. I am thankful that I can go to church and have the freedom to kneel at an altar and pray to God. God can hear us anytime and anywhere we pray. But falling on our faces before our Holy God at the altar of prayer can be a special part of our worship. We can humble our hearts and ask forgiveness. We can bow to Him asking for our needs to be met. Or we can fall down at His feet and just thank Him for all He has already done for us. Today is the Lord's Day. Even if you don't bow down physically at the altar of the Lord, humble yourself in your mind and heart and pray to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
10 Columbus Day Pray For Direction
"Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4 & 5
We need to pray daily that God will lead us in His path and help us to walk in His way. Today we celebrate Columbus Day. On October 12, 1492 Christopher Columbus landed on the shores of America. He was looking for a different route to Asia, but God lead him in new paths. We need to ask God to lead us in the right paths. We may not end up where we thought we were headed, but if we let Him lead us, we will be in the right place. Columbus probably never knew the impact his voyages would have or that we would still remember his name 500 years later. As we let God lead us, we also don't know who we might influence with our Christian example. Keep walking in the Lord's way. "Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name." (Psalm 86:11) "Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end." (Psalm 119:33)
11 Pray And Believe
Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Matthew 21:21 & 22
These verses go along with the scriptures Pastor Jeff Woods used Sunday. "And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened..." (Matthew 9:27-30) The blind men believed Jesus and were healed. I am afraid that my faith is often weak. At another time a man asked Jesus to help his son and "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:23 & 24) Many times I cry out in tears, "help mine unbelief." Jesus wants us to have believing faith when we pray. Pray for your faith to be strengthened.
12 Where Two Or Three Are Gathered
“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 & 21
When we are deeply burdened it can help to share our burdens in prayer with others. I often receive emails from Christian friends asking me to pray for someone they love. At our church services we have a time of prayer requests and we pray for those in need. We read about the early church in Acts 2:41 & 42, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." I am glad that God hears the prayers from groups of thousands, but I am also glad that He said, "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." The next chapter of Acts begins, "Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour." (Acts 3:1) It may be a great encouragement for you to get a prayer partner.
13 Secret Prayers
“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:5 & 6
After my Dad died many people at church told me how much they loved to hear him pray. He was special in his prayer life. But what made it special to me was because I knew that he spent a lot of time on his knees in prayer at home. He taught me to pray before I ate. He taught me to pray in the car. He taught me to pray with thanksgiving. It is good to not be ashamed to pray at your table in a restuarant, or in your Sunday school class or worship service at church. But don't pray out loud just to be seen of others, and don't let those be the only times you pray. Find a special place where you can get alone with God. Jesus gave this example of getting in a closet and shutting the door and praying to God in secret. God can hear you anywhere, anytime.
14 Prayer Is Talking With God
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Matthew 6:7 & 8
It is wonderful to teach children to pray. You can begin with these simple prayers: "God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him for our food." and "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, See me safely through the night, and wake me with the morning light." But as we grow older we need to begin praying from our heart. Sometimes we get in such a hurry in our prayers that we repeat the same little words each time. We thank Him for the day, or food and ask Him to help our family. Think about what you are praying. Remember that, when we pray, we are talking to God. Jesus also reminds us that He knows our every need, even before we ask Him. Have you taken time to talk to God today?
15 Lift Up Holy Hands In Prayer
"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." I Timothy 2:8
It is good to bow our heart and body down before our Almighty God in prayer. It is a wonderful privilege to join hands and hearts with other believers in prayer. It is comforting to go to God in our prayer closet when there is no one else that we can tell our problems to. Here we see another way that we can approach the throne of grace. Paul told Timothy, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." We can pray everywhere. We don't have to travel to a special place, or confess to an earthly priest. We can lift up our hands to God any time, any place, in faith. When I awake at night, I often pray to God until I fall back to sleep. I have been greatly blessed while praying as I drive back and forth to work. I can bow my head and give thanks before I eat at home, and in restaurants. You may be in a college dorm, away from your church, home and family. You may be sick and not able to go to church as you would like to. But don't forget to pray. Talk to God. Keep yourself holy in His sight and lift up your hands in faith and praise to your Lord and Savior.
16 The Higher Ground Of Prayer
"And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray." Mark 6:46
There are several verses that tell us that Jesus went up the mountain to pray. Pastor Jeff Woods preached a sermon on "Higher Ground". "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him." (Matthew 17:1-3) We can go to higher ground to find safety, as demonstrated in Hurricane Katrina. We may go to higher ground to get better reception. And we may go to higher ground for the view. How did the disciples reach this higher ground? The followed Jesus. We can't reach higher ground in our spiritual lives without Jesus. When we reach higher ground with the Lord we will find safety. We will also be in a better place to hear our Lord. And the view will be much brighter because we can see more about what God is doing with our lives. Spend time in prayer seeking higher ground with the Lord.
17 Why We Don't Hear
"Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." Matthew 17:4 & 5
Jesus took Peter, James and John up into the high mountain and was transfigured before them. Peter was excited and quick to speak up. Verse 5 begins, "While he yet spake...". God interupted what Peter was saying and said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." God wants us to hear Him. It is wonderful to pray and talk to God. But it is also just as important for us to be quiet sometimes and listen to what He has to say to us. I like the verse in Psalms, "Be still, and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10) Don't let your prayer life be a one-sided conversation. Talk to God... and listen to what He has to say to you.
18 "Ask, And It Shall Be Given You"
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matthew 7:7-11
Jesus said that God wants to give us good things. I don't think this means that God will give you all the worldly possessions, or fame and fortune just because you ask for it. Just a few verses before this one Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21) I believe God wants us to ask for heavenly treasure. Luke records the verse above as follows: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13) God is our Father. And just as a father wants to give good things to his children, God wants to give us good things. He wants to give us Spiritual blessings. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
19 Pray For Your Enemies
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:43-45
Most of the time when we pray, we ask God to bless our family members. We may then pray for special friends and our church family. But what about your coworker who spoke harshly to you today? What about the person who got mad and cursed at you? Did you pray for the person who "cut you off" in traffic today? Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. You may say, "Well you don't know what she did", or "You don't know what he said to me." Let's look at Acts 6 & 7, the story of Stephen. "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue... disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake." (Acts 6:8-10) So they stirred up the people to be false witnesses against Stephen. "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:59 & 60) If Stephen could pray for his enemies while they were stoning him to death, can't we pray for those who have disagreements with us?
20 Pray For Christian Laborers
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus had compassion on the people. Do we have compassion on others? Are we compassionate to the sick? Even more, do we have compassion on the lost? We should see them "as sheep having no shepherd." Jesus said, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." We need to pray for friends who don't know the Lord, and we need to be a witness to them and pray that God will send other witnesses to them also. Pray for the missionaries. Support them with love offerings, and lift their names up in prayer. Every Wednesday night at our mid-week prayer service, our Pastor reads the names of each missionary that our church supports and different people in the church lift their hands to let him know they will pray for that particular mission family during the week. We need to pray that God will call Christian laborers right where we are and also in other places where the fields are ready for harvest.
21 Pray For Our Leaders
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;" I Timothy 2:1-3
We need to pray for our leaders. We need to pray that the right decisions will be made for our country. Decisions are made daily that may affect our lives. We need to pray that our leaders will seek God in these decisions. And as a people, we also need to humble ourselves and seek God. "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (II Chronicles 7:14)
22 Pray For Wisdom
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." James 1:5-8
King Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived. You may remember the story... God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, "Ask what I shall give thee." (I Kings 3:5) And Solomon did not "waver" in his request. He didn't consider asking for fame or fortune, or a prized possession like a child at Christmas. He asked for an understanding heart to judge the people. He asked God for wisdom. "And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee... And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country,... For he was wiser than all men;... and his fame was in all nations round about." (I Kings 3:11 & 12, and 4:29-31) "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally... and it shall be given him."
23 Pray For The Sick
"Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." James 5:13-15
We have a special time for prayer requests at our church services. We take time to pray for those who are sick. It is comforting for me to know that when I am sick, I have many Christian friends who are praying for me. Sometimes friends may tell you a special request and ask you to pray for them. Make sure you remember to pray for them. And if they tell you something in confidence, only take it to the Lord. Don't use the phrase, "prayer request" as a reason to spread gossip to others. You can build special relationships with others when you take time to remember them and call their names in prayer.
24 The Prayer Of The Righteous
"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervant prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." James 5:16-18
"And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel lieth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." (I Kings 17:1) I Kings 16:30 tells us that Ahab "did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him." Elijah was a righteous man, and God used his prayers to humble the wicked king. You may feel that you are so small and insignificant and can't make a difference in a wicked world. But keep praying. God can hear and answer your prayers and make a difference in the lives of those around you. We may not be important enough to take our petitions to the president, but we don't have to. We can be just a pauper and take our petitions to the Great I Am, The King of Kings. "The effectual fervant prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
25 Pray For Joy
"Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit." Psalm 51:12
David was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22), but he sinned and lost his joy. Psalm 51 is a prayer of repentance. "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me... wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow... Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51:1-3, 7, &10) When we fall into temptation and sin, it robs us of our joy. We can pray for God to restore the joy of our salvation. But, if we have sin in our life, we must first search our heart, and confess our sin to God. We can ask Him to wash us and create a clean heart. He can then renew a right spirit within us and restore our joy.
26 Pray For Love
"I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil... Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." Revelation 2:2 & 4
Do you remember how much you loved the Lord when you were first saved? We learn from this letter to the church of Ephesus that they had good works for the Lord, but they had left their first love. Pray that God will restore your love for Him. I Corinthians 13 tells us that we also need to have love for each other. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,... and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (I Corinthians 13:1-7) Don't let your love grow cold. If you feel cold and distant to someone, take time to pray for them often. When you pray for people, you feel closer to them and God gives you a greater love for them.
27 Pray For Peace
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee." Psalms 122:6
We have family and friends serving our country in the military and we need to pray for them. We need to pray for their safety. We are also told to pray for peace. What about inner peace? Prayer can give you a deep settled peace in your soul. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6 & 7) We can't have peace of mind when we are troubled about things. But God's Word tells us to "Be careful for nothing". Those words are telling us not to worry about things. We are to pray about everything with thanksgiving. "Pray without ceasing. In every things give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:17 & 18) Pray for peace.
28 Pray For Salvation
"And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." Luke 18:13
This is the most important prayer we need to pray, "God be merciful to me a sinner." We must confess that we are sinners. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) Knowing, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Jesus Christ died to pay the price for those who would believe and trust in Him. Romans 10:9 & 10 also explains, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him for the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." If you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior, I hope and pray that you will pray this all-important prayer and ask Christ to save you.
29 Pray For Guidance
"Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies." Psalm 27:11
I have never been very good with directions, so I rely on maps if I am going to unfamiliar places. I like to go to mapquest or one of the other online maps and print out the directions I will take to find a new place. But one of the problems I have with these programs is that I can only see a small area at one time. The road I am looking at may seem to go at a wrong angle to get me where I should be going. When the map is zoomed in, a road may seem to go North-East when I need to go South-East. When I zoom out and look at a larger area, I can see that the road eventually ends up where I need to go. As I travel through life, it sometimes seems as though I am going in the wrong direction to get where I want to go. I can only see a small area of my life, the past and the present. But God can see the whole picture. He knows where the roads lead that I am taking. I need to constantly pray that God will lead me in the right way. As David said in this Psalm, I need a plain path to follow. I have often said that I wish God would appear as a pillar of cloud in front of me and lead me in the right direction as He did for the children of Israel. But He wants me to walk by faith. "(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" (II Corinthians 5:7) There are times in my life when I can't seem to get any direction from the Lord. In these times, I think God just wants me to wait. The last verse of this Psalm says, "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." (Psalm 27:14) Pray for God to lead you. And when you don't know where to go, it may be a time for you to wait on the Lord.
30 When You Don't Know What To Pray
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:26-28
We have been talking about things we need to pray for. But there have been many times in my life when I didn't know exactly what to pray. There have been other times when I felt so low I could not even utter a prayer toward heaven. In those times it is good to know that the Holy Spirit makes intercessions for me. I am so thankful that I can bow my heart and soul to God and He knows what I need. He knows all about the problems and trials we face and He knows how to help us through those trying times. When problems seem to be more than you can handle, take it to the Lord and leave it in His hands.
31 Pray To God Only
"Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God." Daniel 3:29
When I was young, I liked to watch the cartoon, "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". Linus would go to the pumpkin patch and look for the Great Pumpkin. He was sincere and really believed the Great Pumpkin would come, but all he ever saw was Snoopy, a beagle. There are many people today who think that it doesn't matter who you believe in, as long as you are sincere. They might as well be looking for the Great Pumpkin. In the book of Daniel we read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that everyone fall down and worship his god, an image of gold, when the music played. But the three Hebrew children refused to worship any other god, even though it meant that they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." (Daniel 3:16-18) We need to pray to the one and only living God and serve Him only.
32 Examples Of Prayer In The Bible
"Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times in a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." Daniel 6:10
We have looked at ways to pray, and things to pray for. Today I want to begin looking at examples of people who prayed in the Bible. We can learn from the Bible prayers of others. You may know the story of Daniel in the den of lions. The decree was signed by King Darius that no person could make a petition of anyone other than the king. But Daniel continued to pray three times a day, as before, at his window toward Jerusalem. He knew of the prayer of King Solomon. "Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee..." (I Kings 8:47-50) We see in Solomon's prayer that the captives could pray toward Jerusalem, and we see Daniel open his window and pray toward Jerusalem. He learned from the prayer of King Solomon. I want to look at several prayers of different men and women in the Bible and see what we can learn from God's Word and their examples.
33 Jacob Vowed A Vow
"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it... And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not... And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee." Genesis 28:12, 16, & 20-22
Jacob vowed a vow to God here at Luz, which he named Bethel. After many years and many hard lessons we read in Genesis 31:13, "I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred." Again, in chapter 35 we read, "And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went." (verses 1 & 3) Sometimes when we are in distress, we pray and make promises to God, just as Jacob vowed to serve God and give a tenth to God. We may forget those vows, but God never forgets. Don't wait for another time of distress or trouble to remember your vows. Keep your vows and promises you make to God. Let your mind take you back to Bethel, the place where you began calling on God, and make things right with the Lord.
34 God Heard The Cry Of Their Bondage
"And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob." Exodus 2:23 & 24
In Exodus 1:8 we read, "Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." He set taskmasters over the children of Israel and "made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour." (verse 14) So they cried out to God and God heard their cry. He spoke to Moses in the desert from a burning bush. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and told him to let the people go. "But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD. Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks." (Exodus 5:16 & 17) Things got worse. The Israelites blamed Moses and Aaron. Sometimes when we pray, things get worse, before they get better. We may be doing exactly what God wants us to do, and people may still blame us for problems. Moses went back to the Lord. "Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians." (Exodus 6:6 & 7) God promised deliverance. Don't give up on God. Keep on praying, even when it seems things are getting worse.
35 Joshua At Ai - Unconfessed Sin Hinders Prayer
"And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads...And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned..." Joshua 7:5, 6, 10, & 11
Sometimes when we face battles in our lives it seems as though our prayers hit the ceiling and bounce right back at us. The children of Israel lost, what should have been, an easy battle. Joshua and the elders fell on their faces and cried out to God. But God said, "Joshua, Get thee up... Israel hath sinned..." When we can't seem to get a prayer through to God, we need to examine our thoughts, and actions, and see if we have sin in our life. God did not want to listen to the prayers of His people until the sin was confessed. As we spend time daily in prayer to our Lord, we need to repent and turn away from sin. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9) We can't experience true victory when we have sin in our camp.
36 Prayers Of Elijah
"Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." I Kings 19:2-4
God had given great victory on Mount Carmel when Elijah prayed. "And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell... And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God." (I Kings 18:36-39) Many times we come out of victorious, mountain-top experiences and go down deep into valleys of doubt. We can look at this example and find help for our own times of depression. God heard Elijah's prayer and fire fell from heaven, and as Elijah prayed again for rain, the rain came after three and a half years of drought. So why did Elijah pray to die? First of all, Elijah was tired. He had been on the mountain all day and had out-run a chariot. (I Kings 18) Next, we see that he was threatened by Jezebel, the wicked wife of King Ahab. (You can read more about her in chapter 21.) We also see that Elijah felt alone. I Kings 18:21 & 22 tells us, "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet fo the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men." None of the people stood with Elijah on the Lord's side. Also, he left his servant in Beersheba. So, he lay all alone, under the juniper tree and requested to die. And God let him sleep, and sent an angel with food and water. "And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee." (I Kings 19:7) Maybe you are doing all you can for the Lord. Maybe you feel that you are the only one on your workplace, or in your neighborhood serving the Lord. Keep on praying and trusting. God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice and sent him to aniont the next kings over Syria and Israel and told him there were 7,000 in Israel that still served God. You are not alone. Listen for the still small voice of God. He will comfort you and care for you, and lead you in the right direction.
37 Elisha Went The Distance
"And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." II Kings 2:8-11
In I Kings 19:21 we are told that Elisha went with Elijah "and ministered unto him." Several years passed and II Kings 2 begins, "And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel." Verse 4 tells us that Elijah then asked Elisha to wait there, while he went to Jericho, but Elisha went with him. In verse 6 Elijah told him to wait there, while he crossed over Jordan, but Elisha went with him. He had spent years with the old prophet and prayed for a double portion of the spirit he had. When I was younger, I heard a preacher who said to "put legs to your prayers". Well, Elisha put legs to his prayers. He was willing to go the distance to get a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. We often pray for revival and pray for God to bless our church and our family. Do we put legs to our prayers? James explains it this way, "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" (James 2:15 & 16) It is wonderful to pray for the needs of others. But we also need to do all we can for the glory of God.
38 Hezekiah - Spread It Out Before The Lord In Prayer
"And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekian prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God... Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only. Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard." II Kings 19:14-16, and 19-20
First of all, I want to mention that in II Kings 18:3-7 we are told that Hezekiah "did that which was right in the sight of the LORD", "And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not." We can do what's right in God's sight, and we can stand up against things that are wrong, and God can let us prosper, but we still have enemies. Sennacherib went to war against Hezekiah and sent him a letter telling how he would destroy him. I like the verse that tells us that Hezekiah went to the house of the Lord "and spread it before the LORD." Do you have problems that seem to overtake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer. If I am doing what's right in the sight of the Lord, and I am trusting Him to supply my need and an unexpected bill comes, I can follow the example of Hezekiah and "spread it out before the Lord." God heard the prayer of Hezekiah and the angel of the Lord fought for them, and Sennacherib's own sons killed him with a sword in the house of his god. (II Kings 19:35-37) Take your problems to the Lord in prayer and spread them out on the altar, and He will deliver you.
39 Nehemiah - Prayer In Times Of Sorrow
"And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant... both I and my father's house have sinned." Nehemiah 1:4-6
Nehemiah received word that the Jews that had escaped captivity were in great distress and Jerusalem had been broken down and burned with fire and it brought him great sadness. Chapter 2 begins, "And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the tentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid." (Nehemiah 2:1 & 2) When we see the results of sin in our lives and the lives of others it brings great sorrow and sadness. Nehemiah prayed for forgiveness and mercy. The king granted him leave and he returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. The people worked (Nehemiah 2:18-4:6) and watched. "And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them." In the end, the people worshipped. "And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground." (Nehemiah 8:6) Then they were able to rejoice. "Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10) The book of Nehemiah tells us how the people went from a time of distress and sorrow to a time of worship and rejoicing. Prayer may bring you sorrow when you see the shamefulness of sin, but prayer can also bring you to forgiveness and eventually to the place of rejoicing, so that you too can know, "the joy of the LORD is your strength."
40 Jeremiah - Don't Quit Praying, Nothing Is Too Hard For God
"Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying, Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name,... And thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans." Jeremiah 32:16-18 & 25
God told Jeremiah to buy a field, "for the right of redemption is thine to buy it." (Jeremiah 32:7) So Jeremiah did as God told him to do. God also told him "And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink-offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger. For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 32:29-30) God was bringing judgment on His people because of their great sin. But He promised to redeem them. Jeremiah knew of God's greatness and might as he prayed, "...there is nothing too hard for thee."
God is able to bring us back to Him. He promised Jeremiah, "Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: ... Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them." (Jeremiah 32:37-38 & 41-42) Maybe you know friends who have turned against God. Don't give up praying for them. Nothing is too hard for God. Keep praying that He will bring them back and do good for them once again.
41 Hannah - God Hears And Understands
"And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life,...And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her vioce was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken." I Samuel 1:10-13
Hannah wanted a son so much that she was in great "bitterness of soul". We read in the first chapter of I Samuel, "...she wept, and did not eat. Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?" (Verses 7 & 8) Her husband didn't understand her sorrow. She went to the temple and poured her heart out to God and Eli, the priest, didn't understand. He thought she was drunk. But just as she asked God, "remember me", we read in I Samuel 1:19, "... the LORD remembered her." God gave her a son, and she praised the Lord and gave him back to the Lord just as she had promised. It is great when we can ask friends to pray for us. But sometimes other people don't understand our pain. Your close family members may not know the depths of sorrow you feel. Your church friends and pastor may not understand your distress. But God understands. "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)
42 Veteran's Day Defend Your Ground
"These be the names of the mighty men whom David had:... And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory." II Samuel 23:8, 11 & 12
We have been looking at different people and their prayers, but I want to look here at David's last words for Veteran's Day. David lists 37 mighty men in this chapter in II Samuel. Shammah was the third person on this great list. Do you see what he did? During this time of war, Shammah defended this piece of ground. It does not say that this was a great gold mine. It does not say that this was a great vineyard or oliveyard of great value. He stood in a field of lentiles. He defended a pea-patch. But he was listed third of David's mighty men. There are many men and women today who have fought to defend our nation. We need to take time today and pray for the veterans. Also, take a look at your own life. Are you fighting the Lord's battles? Are you standing up for what's right and defending the Christian way? Maybe you don't feel like you are in an important place. But, look at this man, Shammah. He defended a field of lentiles and became a mighty man.
43 Jonah Finally Remembered To Pray
"Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me;... When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple." Jonah 1:17; 2:1,2, & 7
I was always amazed that Jonah thought he could run and hide from God. God knows all and sees all. We can't hide from God. Another thing that amazes me about Jonah is that he waited 3 days and 3 nights before he remembered to pray. How many times have we tried to run from the will of God and found ourselves in trouble? And how often have we tried to work things out by ourselves? Jonah said, "When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD; and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple." Don't wait until you get in deep trouble to pray. I am afraid that many people use God like a jack in their trunk. They think they can hide God in the back of their lives, and pull Him out when trouble comes, just like they use a jack when they get a flat tire. God still heard and answered Jonah's prayer. But Jonah spent 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish before he prayed. Instead of following the example of Jonah in our prayer life, we need to pattern our prayer life after David. "Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee. Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee." (Psalm 86:1-5) David said, "...I cry unto thee daily." God is good. God is ready to forgive. And God is plenteous in mercy. Don't wait until trouble comes to pray.
44 Daniel Asked His Friends To Pray
"Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon." Daniel 2:16-18
Daniel and his companions, who we also know as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were taken as captives into Babylon. We read in chapter one, "As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams... And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." (Daniel 1:17, 19 & 20) In chapter two King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled him and he called for the wise men to interpret the dream for him. But he did not remember the dream and planned to kill all the wise men for not knowing the interpretation. So Daniel went to his friends and asked them to pray that God would give them mercy and show Daniel the dream and what it meant. God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel and he prayed, "I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter." (Daniel 2:23) After Daniel gave thanks to God, he went to the king. "Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;" (Daniel 2:27-29) Then Daniel went on to tell the king the dream and meaning. As you have needs in your life, it may help you to ask your Christian friends to pray with you and for you. And when there is no one that can help you with your problems, it will encourage you to remember those words of Daniel, "...there is a God in heaven..."
45 Sometimes Our Answers Are Delayed
"And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly..." Daniel 9:3-5
Daniel knew from the prophecy of Jeremiah that they would "serve the king of Babylon seventy years." (Jeremiah 25:11 and Daniel 9:2) He confessed the sins of the children of Israel and prayed, "Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain:... O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name." (Daniel 9:14-16 & 19) Daniel prayed and asked God to hear his prayers and forgive the children of Israel. Gabriel appeared to Daniel and explained the seventy weeks of years, (which I don't quite understand), but I wanted to show that sometimes we don't get an immediate answer to our prayers. The children of Israel sinned and God said they would be in Babylon for seventy years, and so they served in Babylon seventy years. God forgives us for our sins when we confess to Him, but we still suffer the consequences of our sins. Also, in the next chapter of Daniel we see that Daniel prayed for three full weeks before he heard an answer to his prayer. Finally a "certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold..." appeared to him. "Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand..." (Daniel 10:12-14) Sometimes Satan may hinder and cause problems in our lives that delay answers to our prayers. Just keep praying. You may feel that your prayers are not being heard or answered, but just keep praying, because God does hear and answer.
46 Jesus Prayed For The Children
"Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence." Matthew 19:13-15
Jesus prayed for the children and touched them. The disciples rebuked the parents who brought their children to Jesus. Maybe they thought Jesus was too busy. Maybe they thought He was too important to be bothered with children. But Jesus took time to bless the children and touch them. Are there children in your life? If you have children, are you too busy to spend time with your children? Are other things in your life more important than spending time with your children? You may not be a parent or have children, but think of children whom you may influence. Maybe you have nieces and nephews whom you see on occasion. When they see you, can they tell you are a Christian by the way you live? There may be children in your neighborhood, or even in your church who need a strong Christian adult in their lives. Jesus was the most important man who ever lived, and He took time for the children. We need to follow His example and take time for the children, pray for them, and spend time with them.
47 How Much Time Do We Spend In Prayer?
"And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;" Luke 6:12 & 13
How much time do we spend in prayer? Jesus knew the importance of communion with the Father. He "continued all night in prayer to God." I used to think that I had a good prayer life, but I have never prayed all night. I try to stay in the attitude of prayer, but there are many things that distract and get my focus off serving my Lord. In this passage Jesus is getting ready to choose His twelve apostles. "Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor." (Luke 14-16) As we read this list of the twelve apostles, we see "Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor". The other eleven did not know that Judas would betray Jesus. But Christ is all knowing and He knew that this man would follow Him and then betry Him in the end. But He was willing to follow God all the way to the cross. We need to follow God. I think the only way we can fully follow the Lord is to keep focused with a constant prayer life. I know that I need to spend more time in prayer. Maybe this short devotional will remind you to spend more time talking to God and following the examples of Christ, our Lord.
48 Jesus Prayed For Peter
"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me." Luke 22:31-34
The Lord prayed for Peter. He knew that he would deny him, yet he prayed for him. Have you ever thought that Christ prays for you? We read in Romans 8:31-34, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." Christ loves us so much that He gave His life on a cruel cross to save us and He "maketh intercession for us". Again in Hebrews 7:23, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." We could never go to God in our sinful state. Jesus died for our sins and paid the price for our salvation. We confess and believe on Him and we become children of God. The next time you are feeling low, take a few moments to pray and remember that the Lord also prays for you. "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee." (Psalm 138:17 & 18)
49 Jesus Prayed For The Comforter To Come For Us
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also." John 15:16-19
A dear friend of mine has just come through surgery, and I mentioned to a coworker that I would like to take a meal to her but didn't know what she could eat. She replied to me, "Take her some 'comfort food' like homemade soup." We often visit and take food or flowers to those who are sick to offer them some comfort. When someone dies, we take food for the family and try to comfort them. In our scripture reference above we see that Jesus knew He was about to be crucified. He wanted to tell His close friends that He would not leave them comfortless. And what a wonderful truth that has proven to be in my life. When my Dad died God gave me a peace to my soul that the world can't understand. The Holy Spirit abides in me, just as Jesus promised. My prayer for you is that you also know Christ as Lord and Saviour and have the Holy Spirit dwelling with you.
50 Do We Believe What We Pray?
"Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him." Acts 12:5
Do you know this story from the book of Acts? "...Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod..." (Acts 12:6-11) The church was praying continually for Peter, and the angel came and released Peter from the inner prison. But Peter thought it was just a vision, like we would say, "it was just a dream". Let's continue... "And when he considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished." (Acts 12:12-16) Verse 5 tells us that "prayer was made without ceasing" and verse 12 tells us that many of the people were praying at the house he went to. The people were praying, but did not believe it when God answered their prayers. Rhoda would not even open the door to let him in. How many times have we prayed for things, and when God answered our prayers we couldn't believe it? It is wonderful for us to "Pray without ceasing" as we are told in I Thessalonians 5:17. It is even more important that we have faith in God to hear our prayers.
51 One Returned To Give Thanks
"And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?" Luke 17:12-17
We have been looking at several examples of prayer in the Bible. We have seen how God answered the prayers of His children. Now, with the Thanksgiving season upon us, let's look at the importance of offering up prayers of thanks to our Holy God. In the scriptures above, Jesus healed ten lepers and only one returned to give Him thanks. Jesus asked, "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?" Why do you think the other nine did not return to give Him thanks? Maybe the others were too proud to bow at the feet of Jesus and give Him thanks. Don't let pride keep you from being thankful. It could be that they were so excited about being healed that they just forgot to say, "Thank you". Make a habit of saying those two simple words, not only to God, but to those around you. Or, maybe they didn't go back because they wanted to stay with the crowd. When we sit down with our friends and coworkers to eat, and not a single person around the table bows his or her head to say thanks, we need to remember this story. Are we the one that gives thanks, or do we go ahead and eat, and be counted with the nine? We should be thankful to show our gratitude to God. We should give thanks because it is God's will. Paul tells us, "Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:17 & 18) "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations." (Psalm 100:4 & 5) Why should we be thankful? Because the Lord is good.
52 Jesus Thanked His Father For Hearing Him
"Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go." John 11:41-44
Jesus gave thanks to God for hearing and answering His prayer, before it was even answered. He knew that God heard Him. It is good for us to pray and give God thanks for answering our prayers. But it takes greater faith to give God thanks even before He answers our prayers. We should pray in faith that God's will be done in our lives and thank Him because He knows what is best for us. In the morning when you awake, give God thanks for bringing you safely into another day. Thank Him that you are able to get up. And thank God for being with you and leading you in the paths He wants you to take. I also want us to see that Jesus said, "And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me." We should let others see our faith and gratitude to God. We should give God the glory for the blessings in our lives. Not only in our hearts, but in our words and actions. Let others see Christ in you so that they too may believe in Him.
53 Give God Thanks Today
"I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;" I Corinthians 1:4
In the opening of Paul's letter to the church at Corinth he tells them, "I thank my God always on your behalf..." Many times people will make donations in another's behalf. In the place of Christmas gifts, some choose to give a monetary gift to a charitable organization on behalf of that person. Paul said that he gave thanks to God on behalf of the Corinthian believers. Ask yourself the question today... Is someone else thanking God on your behalf? Do you offer up praise continually to your Lord and Savior? During the past few weeks we have looked at many examples of men and women in the Bible who prayed. There are many who gave thanks to God. King David said, "Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name." (II Samuel 22:50) This Thanksgiving season, as you pause to reflect on the blessings you have received from the hands of God, take time to give Him thanks. Don't wait until Thanksgiving Day to let someone else ask the blessing at the table to give thanks on your behalf. Pray daily and offer up a heart of gratitude to our wonderful Lord.
54 Be Thankful For Christian Friends
"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:" Ephesians 1:15-17
Paul had a sincere love for his Christian friends and he prayed for them always. This holiday season as you take time to give thanks to God for His many blessings, don't forget to thank Him for the Christian friends who have made a difference in your life. Look at these examples in Paul's letters to the churches. "...unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;" (I Thessalonians 1:1 & 2) "To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;" (II Timothy 1:2 & 3) "...unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, ... I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;" (Philemon 4) We need to follow these examples and thank God always for our Christian friends.
55 Thanksgiving Jesus Blessed The Five Loaves And Two Fishes
"But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets ." Luke 9:13-17
One of the first prayers I learned as a child was, "God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him, for our food. Amen." As I was growing up, we always asked the blessing before we ate, and I thought everyone else did, too. But now that I am older, I see very few stop to thank God for their food. It is rare to see a family bow their heads and pray in restaurants, and I live in the Bible Belt of America. Many of the television movies don't even show families asking the blessing over their Thanksgiving meal. I am afraid that America has forgotten what Thanksgiving is all about... giving God thanks. This week, midst the parades, football games, shopping, or family time you have planned, don't forget to take time to pray and give God thanks for His blessings on your life. God is great! God is good! And we should always remember to thank Him. "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalm 136:1)
56 Mary Praised God
"And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation." Luke 1:46-50
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary she was troubled. "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS... Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:30, 31, 34 & 35) These words came suddenly to Mary, but listen to her response in verse 38. "And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." She was willing to let God use her, for His honor and glory. Mary went to visit Elisabeth and praised the Lord as she said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Mary not only yielded herself to do God's will, but she offered up praise to Him. In our devotions for Thanksgiving we have been reminded by Biblical examples to give thanks to God for our food and for the blessings He has shown on our lives. But many times things come suddenly in our lives that may trouble us. How can we praise God in times of trouble? By trusting in His Word and finding true peace, hope, and joy. We express these words throughout the Christmas season, but God can give us an everlasting peace, a blessed hope, and joy unspeakable and full of glory. Give God thanks and praise as you abide under His shadow and put your trust in Him. "For in the time of trouble he shall hide me..." (Psalm 27:5) "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust." (Psalm 91:1 & 2)
57 Simeon And Anna Gave Thanks
"And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." Luke 2:36-38
Joseph and Mary took baby Jesus to the temple when He was eight days old to offer a sacrifice to God according to the law. While they were there they met Simeon. "Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation," (Luke 2:28-30) Then Anna came and gave thanks unto the Lord. God revealed to these two people that this baby in Mary's arms was the promised Savior. Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you trusted in Him to save you from a life of sin? Do you believe that Jesus came to this world to die a cruel death on the cross as He gave His life to pay for our sins? Simeon and Anna knew who Jesus was. He was more than a Babe in a manger. He was their Savior. You can know Him as your Savior too. Admit that you are a sinner. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and confess to God. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Romans 10:9) Then you can follow the example of Anna. She "served God with fastings and prayers night and day." She "gave thanks" and she "spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." We all need to serve our Lord, give Him thanks, and be a witness to others.