This is why ever since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and the love you have for God’s people everywhere, I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you wisdom to see clearly and really understand who Christ is and what he has done for you. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can see something of the future he has called you to share (Eph. 1:15-18).
“Your hearts will be flooded with light.” This is a wonderful promise of God! Do you realize that because you belong to Jesus, God has granted you the ability to know him and understand his word regardless of your education? Remember, when you open the Bible, you’re studying the very words of God. His words are more than mere human words. Therefore Bible study is much more than an intellectual exercise. No matter how much you read the Bible, if you don’t have the Spirit guiding you into truth, Scripture will never benefit your life. But praise God – he hasn’t left us without help!
When you begin your Bible time this morning, make sure you begin it with prayer. Many blunders of interpretation would never have been made if we had prayed as much in advance as we pined after the damage was already done. So before you open your Bible, ask God to bless you. Just pray a simple little prayer like:
God, thank you so much for your word. May your Holy Spirit reveal the truth to me today. Not yesterday, not last year, but today.
4:58 PM Been rummaging through my old sermon notebooks and stumbled on the wise words of Chuck Swindoll in one of his messages on prayer. He concluded with “Four relevant reminders”:
1) Prayer is to be continuous. It’s not limited to Sunday, or to when we go to bed, or to when we eat.
2) Prayer is designed for every part of the Christian life. Prayer fits — no matter what the situation. You’re walking into a business meeting? Pray. You’re making a decision? Pray. Nothing is too insignificant or too overwhelming for God. He cares about it all.
3) Prayer is not a substitute for our responsibility. It’s not an excuse for laziness or passivity. It’s okay to pray, “Lord, give us safety through the night,” but you still have to lock the door and turn on the burglar alarm. Every night. Otherwise you’re being irresponsible. Yes, you should pray for good health — but are you eating properly, exercising properly, listening to your doctor? “Prayer in place of those things is wrong,” said Chuck.
4) Prayer is not for perfect people, but for the imperfect, needy person. The only perfect person is the Savior, and he’s praying for us! Prayer is simply remembering you’re nothing and calling on the one who is everything, and then getting out of the way.
I’m glad I found those notes today. I needed these four reminders. Everyone has an “insurmountable obstacle” in their lives. It’s got “impossible” written all over it. I know I do. So I’ll make a deal with you. For the next two weeks, I’ll pray about my obstacles every day. Preferably several times a day. I’m going to take the obstacle and give it to the living God and leave it in his hands, trusting him with it. Will you do the same? I’ve got a feeling that within a week or two, we’re all going to have some pretty wonderful things to share with each other.
11:28 AM Been thinking a lot about prayer these days. I’ve even been writing about the topic for my book Seven Marks of a New Testament Church. Here is an excerpt from the chapter called “Fervent Prayer”:
If a church is to be healthy, it will not happen without this kind of praying. But how is prayer even possible?
The answer is: It is not. Nothing describes the Christian’s weakness and inability like his or her prayer life. Rom. 8:26-27 is highly instructive at this point. Here Paul conceives of prayer as the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us. Implied is the complete inability of the Christian to pray without divine assistance and participation. In a sense, Paul is saying that prayer is ultimately an inter-Trinitarian process: God speaking to God through us. This is a profound truth and a remarkable paradox. I cannot pray unless the Holy Spirit prays; but the Holy Spirit will not pray unless I am praying! Perhaps this is what Paul is alluding to when in Eph 6:18 he says that Christians are to be “praying at all times in the Spirit.” Some exegetes regard this as a reference to praying “in tongues.” But there seems to be little reason to hold this view. Praying in tongues may well be included, but Paul’s language is broad enough to include any kind of prayer we might offer. Paul’s main point is that prayer must cease to be a do-it-yourself activity. It is the Spirit, and the Spirit alone, who activates, empowers, and enables prayer. There is a fine sense of realism in all this. Do not think for a movement that you can pray without the Spirit’s help. Be sensitive to His promptings. When He leads you to pray, pray! There is no alternative means of prayer. The Spirit is the enabler of prayer.
Just now I prayed a prayer like I’ve never prayed before. It’s as if the words were placed on lips by Another. Fervent groanings, you might say. I pray that I would pray like this more often!
Today I was guilty of allowing little petty annoyances to get to me and rob me of my joy. That’s just plain stupid, but when you’re a bit on the tired side it’s just something that can “happen.” Right now I’m writing the chapter called “Fervent Prayer” for my book Seven Marks of a New Testament Church. I am a little surprised at how easily this book is coming to me. At the same time, I often ask myself, How can I write anything about prayer? I’ve still got so much to learn about it! Pray for me that I will be able to see all this through God’s eyes. Becky has her race to run, and so do I, and I want to finish well.