God can You hear me down here?

ceii phone user1Do you remember an older commercial about a man with a cell phone in various locations asking, “Can you hear me now?” Most cell phone users know that good reception depends upon where you or the people that you are talking to are located. Some Christians have that same mentality when it comes to praying. They think you have to be in the right spot. Can you picture believers walking around saying, “God can you hear me now?” As funny as that might seem many believers feel that way. But actually He knows what we’re going to say before we say it! Isaiah declares, “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear,” (Isa. 65:24). God hears the prayers of His children no matter where they’re located.


“ God is everywhere and is listening to my prayers”   –  Tweet


When I was in Junior High, my dream of being like Jacques Cousteau, the famous oceanographer came a little closer to reality. After a summer of doing small jobs and saving my money, I was finally able to sign up for my long awaited scuba lessons. It was during a session that I learned a lifelong lesson of God’s omnipresence. It was my first open water experience with the instructor. We arrived at the reservoir and got ready to dive to the bottom. The last words I remember him saying was once we get to the bottom of the reservoir to follow him closely. This seemed easy enough until we reached the bottom. We were at about thirty-five feet down and the water was murky with only about six inches of visibility. I couldn’t see my instructor or really anything. I was gulping air from my tank at record speed. I just sat at the bottom not able to see anything, feeling all alone and not sure what to do. I began to pray. Now mind you, I was in a completely different world. Though it seems strange unless you have experienced this scenario it was odd praying under water. The questions came to my mind, “Can God hear me down here?” No sooner had the words left my mouth through my regulator than a hand came through the murky water and grabbed me. It was my instructor! Now, to a Junior High boy at the bottom of a reservoir sucking air from a small tank as if every breath was my last, that was a huge miracle! I realized that God is everywhere and is listening to my prayers. King David declared something similar in Psalms 139:7, 9-10, “Where can I go from Your spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence… If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

In II Kings 20:1-6 we read where God answers Hezekiah’s prayer. I see a Heavenly Father’s passion for one of His children and answers his request. It reminds me of how I love to answer my children’s requests. In the midst of bad news  and agony, Hezekiah went to the right source and God immediately answered his prayer. God heard his heart cry and extended his life. Many times when we receive bad news we get bitter and upset but we don’t go to the right source with our concern. Hezekiah received a gift from the Lord because he asked. In  Jeremiah 33:3 it says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you…”. God loves His children and will hear and answer us when we call to Him in pray.

  

I Can’t Pray Because My Knees Hurt

AR0162-002In the midst of the beautiful Rocky Mountains the old deserted logging roads made great walking trails above our ranch. Growing up I remember how my mother loved to take her walks in the brisk mountain air. There were times that my siblings and I would be having fun and run up the trail to catch my mother only to find her deep in prayer. After several times of interrupting her we soon realized that this was her private time of praying. She loved to walk and talk with the Lord.

The Bible reveals many different postures of prayer; some people prayed sitting, some standing, some kneeling as well as lying prostrate before the Lord. Paul encouraged Timothy to pray with hands lifted up (1 Tim. 2:8). Others stand or sit in circles holding hands. Still some people think if you’re not kneeling then you’re not really praying. I don’t believe there is any one posture that we must use to pray, on the contrary, there are many ways. Whatever position seems to help you keep focused in your prayer life is the right way. My mother’s posture of prayer was her walks.


If we sow in prayer then we will reap in the fruit of answered prayer.   (Tweet)


After my friend gave his life to the Lord in high school, he became aware that one of the basic principles of growing in Christ was learning to pray. With the best of intentions, he got up before school and tried to pray, but would fall back asleep consistently. One day he had a genius idea. He would stand on the open toilet and pray, knowing that would give him the incentive to keep awake and pray. Well, we might not have to go to that extreme, but whatever gets us to the place of prayer and keeps our eyes on the Lord, that’s the posture we need to take.

Prayer is like evaporated water that comes from the ocean. As we continue to pray it builds up in the clouds then the clouds move with the wind of God’s will and pour down their abundance of rain. Some say the bowls of intercession that we read about in Revelation 5:8 become full and overflow upon the earth. In other words, prayer produces fruit!. If we sow in prayer then we will reap in the fruit of answered prayer. But we must find a posture of prayer that enables us to fill the bowls in heaven with our intercession.

In response to the disciples question “teach us to pray”, Jesus says, “When you pray, say:” (Luke 11:2).  Jesus’ statement is not telling them a time or position of prayer, but rather indicates that prayer is an ordinary and normal function of a believer’s life. Jesus could have told them His favorite posture of prayer but He specifically didn’t, knowing it would cause His followers to make a religious ritual out of one set posture. Rather, He just conveys that we need to pray. Jesus’ only mention of a posture of prayer was moments earlier when He was referring to the way the Pharisees were standing on the street corner to be seen by man. Indicating that our heart must be right not our posture.

My sister loves to pray as she runs the trail along the rim of the Snake River canyon. But the point is not where or how we should pray, kneeling, sitting or lying down, but that our posture is conducive for us to pray.

I am Not Letting Go!

holding onOne of my favorite stories is found in Matthew 15:22-28, where we see a woman from Canaan come to Jesus. You could say she was from the other side of the tracks. Yet, I believe she came to the one person who she knew could help her daughter. In Mark’s gospel he records this same story in chapter 7:25. It says that she “Heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet.” What did she hear? By her actions I believe she heard He was a merciful loving miracle worker; therefore she was persistent in getting His attention. She believed He was good and just, so she honored and worshipped Him as Lord. As if there was no other hope, this gentile woman cried out to Jesus for divine mercy, that her daughter would be delivered from the enemy’s grip.

The response she received could have easily discourage and offend her, causing her to give up. First, Jesus kept silent and did not answer. Most people hate the silent treatment—it deeply frustrates them. I think the majority of us in this situation would have stomped off offended. Right?

Secondly, Jesus says in a roundabout way that the miracle she desired was not for her. And as if that was not devastating enough He tells her that the promises were not for her. Then, He calls her a dog (Mk. 7:27)! But, instead of getting bitter and offended, this woman replies with the most astounding words. “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table,”(Mk. 7:28). She declares that the crumbs from the Master’s table are good enough for her situation. In essence, she says it only takes one crumb from the Master to solve her need.


                        Persistence and commitment in prayer will always bring a fruitful and rewarding result.   (Tweet)


            In all this, she is worshipping Him, undistracted by her feelings or her pride. Her persistence reveals the faith within her. I believe she had a glimpse of His heartbeat, therefore, she pressed in towards Him. In her time of great need, her request seemed to be long in coming, but she wouldn’t stop. Her faith was being purified and perfected to the point that Jesus announced that she had great faith! The result was her daughter was healed that very instant.

            As we press into His presence concerning His promises, we can be faced with elements that can cause us to either back down or press in harder. Sometimes, God is silent and at other times He deliberately offends our minds to reveal what’s in our hearts and to see if we are serious about seeking Him. If we tenaciously press in and not let go of His promises we will see them manifest. Too often, when our requests are slow to be answered we are offended and gripped with bitterness towards God. The bottom line is that we don’t understand God’s workings and therefore we are robbed many times of God’s miracles. We might not understand God’s ways, but He is always working in us both to will and to do for His pleasure. The same was true in this woman’s situation. He is always working in us for His glory.


     If we tenaciously press in and not let go of His promises we will see them manifest. (Tweet)


It’s God’s heart for us to walk in His purposes and blessings. However, there are often delays in what we ask because He desires to work in us things that will enable us to see the manifestation of His promises. When we understand these principles, then we will have a confidence and a persistence that will enable us to hold on to His promises until we see their fulfillment.

The Nature of Prayer

sunrise2I’d like to briefly highlight six different characteristics of prayer that we find in scripture. These are definitely not the only ones in scripture, but will be a great benefit. Each one is vital to the over-all power and strength that comes through a life committed to prayer.

First, there is adoration, which is to love deeply, to worship, idolize something. We see that in Matthew 14:33 where it says, “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” Adoration brings our heart into focus and positions us to receive from the Lord.

Second, a more common aspect of prayer is confession, which is the disclosure of our wrong doing or our sins. In Nehemiah 1:6 it says, “Please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now…and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You…”  Also, in 1 John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us…” Someone once said, “Confession is good for the soul,” but it’s equally valuable for the spirit. It is crucial to make time in our prayer life where we are able to confess and be cleansed.

Third, there is petition and supplication, which is a solemn request, an entreaty, to ask for something humbly. We read in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Just as a parent loves to hear their children’s requests even so our Heavenly Father listens to us as we come and ask of Him.


I believe those that selflessly intercede for others in times of need will themselves reap great breakthrough    (Tweet)


Fourth, is intercession, which is entreating God on another’s behalf. Some refer to this as standing in the gap for someone else. In Acts 12:5 we read, “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” This group of believers was specifically praying for Peter’s protection and deliverance, which was the key for his supernatural breakthrough. I believe those that selflessly intercede for others in times of need will themselves reap great breakthrough.

Fifth, is communion, a time of intimate interaction and sharing ones heart. It is much greater than just filling the time with talking. He desires for us to come into His presence and sit at His feet communicating our inner most thoughts with Him, with or without words.  We see Mary communing with Jesus in Lk 10:39 as she sat at His feet.

The Sixth and last characteristic of prayer that I will touch on is thanksgiving, which is the act of giving thanks to God. We need to have an attitude of thankfulness for what God has done or is doing or even what He is going to do. Giving thanks to the Lord is a big part of prayer. In Colossians 4:2 it says, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” We are also to “enter His gates with thanksgiving,” (Ps.100:4, nas).

All six of these facets compose a beautiful and powerful communication with our Savior and Lord. There are so many different aspects of a life of prayer. I encourage you not to be limited by man’s traditions or manmade formulas. Having your prayers filled with these different characteristics will bring a freshness and fulfillment in your time of prayer.

I Want It Now!

200157668-001A society surrounded by the convenience of instant everything, brings a slow death to the tenacious spirit. Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving, unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way. The scriptures teach us in Colossians 4:2, “to continue earnestly in prayer,” and in Romans 12:12, it says “continuing steadfastly in prayer.”  We are exhorted to be persistent in our prayer life.

Jesus shares a parable in Luke 18:1-8, driving home the point of persistent prayer. It says, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily…”

                        A society surrounded by the convenience of instant everything,                                   brings a slow death to the tenacious spirit.    (tweet)

            When I was young, I was told that if I asked or prayed for something more than once I would be praying in unbelief. That’s totally contrary to scripture! The continual knocking or coming to the judge brought the widow’s answer. The Bible does say in James 1:6-8, that we must have faith when we pray, but being continuously in prayer doesn’t mean you have unbelief. On the contrary, I think it indicates that you do have faith in God. Your action of continual asking shows you believe He will answer.

I like what Marilyn Hickey says, “Prayers are like seeds that are watered daily. Different ones take different lengths of time to sprout and to grow.” If you think about the farmer’s process, he plants his seed then waters it day after day until he sees a sprout breaking through the soil. The farmer is like the diligent believer who plants his seed and then through continual prayers of faith waters it until the answer breaks through and comes to pass. Keeping with this analogy, if praying continually is wrong then the farmer watering his seed daily would also be wrong.

                    Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving,                          unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way     (Tweet)

            Let’s look at I Kings 18:41-45. We see Elijah telling Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of an abundance of rain.” Then Elijah went to the top of Mt. Carmel to pray. That’s when this story gets very interesting. After Elijah prayed, he sent his servant to look for rain clouds. Six times his servant checked and didn’t see anything, Elijah continued in prayer. The scriptures say, “Then it came to pass the seventh time that he said, ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!’ The downpour from that small cloud broke three and a half years of drought. This all happened because Elijah wouldn’t quit praying—he had faith to be steadfast in prayer.

            Living a life of prayer will always be a life of adventure and power. Ephesians 6:18 tells us, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication … with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”  In other words be tenacious and persistent in prayer. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the answer to your prayers immediately. Keep knocking on Heaven’s door.

This Place Works Great!

praying-for-rainDriving to church one Sunday I was so encouraged when a car passed me with the driver in serious prayer. It was obvious to me by her actions and demeanor that she was interceding for the upcoming service. She was transforming her car into a prayer room on the way to her church.

The scripture describes prayer as taking place in many different settings. We see in Matthew 6:6, “… when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” In Luke 6:12, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray. He also prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk. 22:39) and Peter prayed on the housetop in Acts 10:9.

Susanna Wesley the mother of Charles and John Wesley prayed during the day in her rocking chair. She had nineteen active children and as you can imagine finding time and place for prayer was almost impossible. But, knowing the need and the power of prayer she would sit in her chair placing her apron over her face making it a place of prayer. Her children were instructed never to disturb their mother when she was praying under her apron.


            “The intensity of the storm paled in comparison to those who were bombarding Heaven with cries for revival”   (Tweet) 


There are so many different places of opportunity to nurture your prayer life. Families can pray together at the kitchen table after breakfast or evening dinner. Those in the marketplace can have prayer meetings in their office cubicle or conference room before work. On your commute to work every day turn your car into a holy time of prayer.

Being in Guatemala, in a flimsy tent under a cloudburst, along with hundreds of serious prayer warriors impacted my life to my core. The intensity of the storm paled in comparison to those who were bombarding Heaven with cries for revival. Few were even aware of the storm outside. These hungry hearted believers were not going to allow anything to hinder their prayers. I was reminded of how often, back in the blessed U.S.A., we allow our prayer focus to get off track. Yet here in a remote area of the Guatemalan mountain, these people didn’t even flinch at the raging wind, pounding rain or the flapping tent. It was a glorious time of intense intercession that is seared in my memory.

Our places of prayer should be a place that helps keep our focus on heaven and not those around us. If we are praying so that others can see us and our pride can be stroked, then we have missed the mark and purpose of prayer. Matthew 6:1-6, lets us know if we are looking for man’s approval and praise then we will receive the rewards of man. Wouldn’t we rather have our rewards come from God who sees in secret and rewards us openly? Therefore, wherever you find your place to be, make it a holy place with Him.

The overall view in scripture is that there is no one place to pray that is superior. The only criteria is that we pray in a place and manner that allows us to focus on the Lord. God wants us to spend quality time with Him, wherever that might be on a roof, in a tent or elsewhere. He longs for our undivided attention. Remember prayer is communication with our heavenly Father, whether we are alone or with others, it is talking and conversing with Him.

Any Time is the Perfect Time

clock time The times of prayer can be as different as the places of prayer. Looking back to my childhood I can remember my parents, being involved in many different prayer meetings. Therefore, they would bring different ones of us children with them to the various meetings. In fact, I feel I had the privilege of cutting my teeth in prayer meetings. As I look back over the many years there is one definite fact that I’ve come to realize about prayer. That is, there is no one set time to pray, on the contrary the scriptures reference many different times of prayer.
In Psalm 55:16-17 we read David’s words, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” The religious culture of that day held prayer three times a day. We see this also in Daniel 6:10, “…he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”


The perfect time for prayer is any time that allows you to connect

to the God that loves you. (click to tweet)   


For many years, I have been involved in morning prayer meetings. I started this routine when I was just out of bible school and attending a church in Rockwall, Texas. God used my pastor to stir thousands to pray in the mornings for one hour. The scripture Mark 1:35 was the inspiration, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out …and there He prayed.” This teaching swept through America and abroad. motivating multitudes to get up early and find their place of intercession each morning..
Some churches hold all night prayer meetings. Luke 6:12 tells us that Jesus prayed all night, “… He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” When I was a youth pastor my pastor would call the whole church, to an all-night prayer meetings. Different departments were assigned to lead different hours through the night. As well, I remember a time in Haiti some years back where I had the privilege to attend a prayer meeting. Thirty of us, with the stars as our backdrop, prayed from night until early morning on the housetop.
In 1857 New York City was ablaze with the fire of prayer. God had placed a burden to pray at noon for revival and spiritual renewal on Jeremiah C. Lamphier. This movement of noon prayer spread like wild fire across the city and then the country. At one time the famed newspaper editor Horace Greeley sent a reporter by horse and buggy to count the attendance at the different noon prayer meetings and was only able to get to twelve locations, but counted 6,100 who had come to pray.
We see in the last 10 years across the globe the explosion of 24 hour continuous prayer and praise meetings. Inspired by David’s tabernacle (1 Chr. 23:5; 25:7), where 288 singers and 4,000 musicians that were dedicated full-time to minister to the Lord and serve others. In Luke 18:7 Jesus says that God will bring justice to those that “cry out day and night to Him.
Believers are crying out to God in prayer every hour of the day and night. Whether it is morning, noon or evening, once a week or special times, there is a stirring in the belly of the church to cry out to Heaven in prayer. The perfect time for prayer is any time that allows you to connect to the God that loves you