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Praying on Purpose: Prayers that Move God


Congrats! You’ve finished another book of the Bible! Let’s head to Malachi next. Four chapters. Four days.


Colossians 4

One of my favorite quotes by E.M Bounds has to do with prayer. He says, “With faith you can move mountains. With prayer you can move God.”

If’ you’ve ever been to a typical Sunday School class or prayer meeting our prayer requests often sound like an organ recital. “God bless my aunt. She has an itchy liver. Please heal my best friends cousin’s college roommate. He’s in the hospital. They’re removing his appendix.” These are important prayers. They represent needs that are easy to identify and are certainly circumstances worthy of our attention. We should bring these concerns before God and trust him with the answer.

But I wonder how purposeful our prayers really are. How often do we go beyond the adult equivalent of, “God bless mommy, God bless daddy”? Check out Colossians 4:2-4:

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.”

Paul is in prison. It’s not the content of his prayers that surprises me, but what’s missing. Let me reiterate. He’s in prison. Never once does he say, “Pray for my defense attorney. Pray that the courts will be lenient. Pray that I’ll get out soon. Pray that the judge would be kind. Pray that God would protect me from the cruelty of the guards. Pray that God would protect me from the other prisoners.”

I find that remarkable. Paul is in prison writing a letter. When he asks for prayer what does he say? “Pray that God would give me many opportunities to share the gospel. Pray that when I share I would speak the message clearly.”

The prayers we pray reveal the concerns of our heart. For Paul, he was more concerned with the salvation of others than he was his own freedom, comfort or pleasure. He was more concerned over their relationship with Christ than with their temporary physical problems. He prayed with an eternal purpose in mind. He prayed prayers that moved God and he invited others to join him.

What will you pray today?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the example and choices of Paul. I pray that you would give me the opportunity and the boldness to share the gospel. I pray that when I share I would be clear and that you would convict people of their need to place their faith in you. I pray that I would have the privilege of seeing someone come to faith in Jesus. I want my heart to be your heart. Help me to pay attention to what I pray. Help me to see the ways my prayers reflect what’s really in my heart. Teach me to pray prayers that move you, God, and let others join me.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

 

A Prayer for One Another


Colossians

Colossians 1:9-14 is a prayer Paul prayed for the people in the church at Colosse. It’s a great prayer for us to pray for one another.

“This is why I have never stopped praying for you since I heard about you. I ask God that you may know what He wants you to do. I ask God to fill you with the wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit gives. Then your lives will please the Lord. You will do every kind of good work, and you will know more about God. I pray that God’s great power will make you strong, and that you will have joy as you wait and do not give up. I pray that you will be giving thanks to the Father. He has made it so you could share the good things given to those who belong to Christ who are in the light. God took us out of a life of darkness. He has put us in the holy nation of His much-loved Son. We have been bought by His blood and made free. Our sins are forgiven through Him.” – Colossians 1:9-14

Let’s break it down.

  • Never stopped praying – it’s a constant conversation between Paul and God on behalf of the church at Colosse.
  • That you may know what He wants you to do – You can’t live God’s will if you don’t know God’s will. Knowing his will starts with knowing him, his word and his people.
  • Fill you with wisdom and understanding – wisdom is knowing what to do with what you know. Understanding is the confident recognition of the effect and outcome of our choices. The Holy Spirit provides this kind of insight.
  • Lives will please the Lord, every good work, know more about God – a life that pleases God is a life of action. It’s a life of choices. It’s not doing one good thing. It’s doing every good work. I can’t do this on my own, but the more I learn about God, the greater capacity I have to make choices his way.
  • Strength, joy, patience, endurance, thanks – These are gifts from God. Something God produces in you and through you to help you follow him and bless others. Strength to choose right. Joy from choosing right. Patience to give our right choices time to achieve their full effect. Endurance to stand even when making the right choice leads to harder circumstances and not easier. And finally thanks that God would choose us, involve us in his plan and give us what we need to succeed.
  • He has made it so you could share the good things – In 7 days God created the world and every step of the way he declared it good. All the good things God has created he’s made available to his children.
  • Took us out of darkness – Now we can see. We don’t have to be afraid.
  • Put us in the nation of his much-love son – We are citizens of heaven. This world is not our home. Like an Ambassador from another country, we have diplomatic immunity from the laws of this world. In other words, we don’t have to live by the world’s rules anymore.
  • We have been bought by his blood and made free – we once were slaves. Now we’re free. The price for our lives paid by the sacrifice of Jesus.
  • Our sins are forgiven – you have been made right with God.

Let’s pray Paul’s prayer for the church at Colosse for one another today.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the other Believer’s you’ve placed in my life and the way they love, encourage and challenge me. I won’t stop praying for these people. I pray that you will let them know what you want them to do. I pray that you will fill them with the wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit gives so their lives will please the Lord and they will do every kind of good work, and know more about God. I pray that your great power will make them strong, and that they will have joy as they wait and do not give up. I pray that they will give thanks to you. You have made it so they could share the good things given to those who belong to Christ who are in the light. You took us out of a life of darkness. You have put us in the holy nation of your much-loved Son. We have been bought by your blood and made free. Our sins are forgiven through Jesus. This is our prayer for one another. Thank you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Confidence Under Construction

I didn’t write yesterday, but did finish Zephaniah. Today we’ll start Philippians. Four chapters. Four days. One more entire book of the Bible read.


Philippians 1

SCRIPTURE

Philippians 1:6, “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

Philippians 1:25-26, “And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.” (NKJV)

OBSERVATION

Where’s your confidence? What are you absolutely certain of? In Philippians 1 Paul says there are two things he’s completely confident of:

  1. Verse 6 – He’s confident God will complete his good work in you.
  2. Verse 25 – He’s confident God will continue his good work through him.

Think of it like this, right now God is at work writing the story of your life. All that seems missing, all that is incomplete, all that anxiety you feel because of fears and failures, He’s working out all these things in you and through you so that your life in him will one day be complete. Your life is a story still being written.

He’s also working in you to bless others. It’s part of his design for us to need one another. There are things you know about God I will never know until you speak up. You have skills God wants to employ for the benefit of others. You have been entrusted with resources that can help someone else as God completes his work in them.

God intends to complete the work he started in you. God has included you in his plan for how to complete that work in someone else.

Receiving and giving. Being completed and helping make complete.

APPLICATION

Be confident today. Those areas of your life today that seem out-of-place, broken or incomplete are places where God is at work. It’s your life, under construction. Trust him. In his time and his way he will knock off the hard edges. He will sharpen who you are. He will strengthen your knowledge and abilities. He will increase the influence you carry. He will provide the resources you need. He will complete the work he has begun in you.

He’s doing this for a reason. It’s because you are part of his plan for someone else. Be confident today. God will use you to encourage someone in their faith. He will use you to challenge them to take their next step of obedience. He will ask you to be generous with your time, your skills and your resources because someone nearby needs what you have. He will employ you to accomplish his will and empower you to fulfill his purpose. You are part of his story for someone else. In their story you may be the character that changes eternity for them today. You may be the one that says just the right thing at just the right time so the lightbulb finally comes on and they finally get what God’s been trying to get them to hear all along. You may be the anonymous benefactor that puts just the right amount of cash into someone’s mailbox just when they need it most.

It leads to a statement and a question.

  • God wants to do something in you and through you that can’t be explained because of you.
  • How will you use who you are and what you have for the benefit of others?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for working to complete the good work you started in me. You have forgiven my sin, now you work to make me whole and make me holy. Give me the patience to trust you as you create in me a clean heart, and as you give me the skills and knowledge I need to accomplish your purpose. Thank you for employing me to encourage and challenge others. Show me how I can use who I am and what I have for the benefit others. Today, do something in me and through me that can’t be explained because of me.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

A Prayer for Me

I missed writing yesterday, but not reading. I hope you’re keeping up too. Today we finish 2 Thessalonians. I’m headed to Habakkuk next. It’s three chapters.


honor2 Thessalonians

SCRIPTURE

2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you. Pray, too, that we will be rescued from wicked and evil people, for not everyone is a believer.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

In my last post I offered up a prayer for you based on the words of Paul in chapter 1. Today I ask that you offer up a prayer for me based on Paul’s words in chapter 3. This too is my prayer for you.

APPLICATION

In our day the message of the Lord has certainly spread rapidly and continues to do so. What’s missing are people who will honor that message. I don’t expect non-Believers to honor the message. I would be grateful if they would give it an honest listen. It would be nice if they would have the same patience and deference for the gospel as they do other systems of belief. But that’s not something I can expect by right. It’s a level of respect that must be earned.

Either way, it’s up to those who believe the gospel to honor the gospel. It’s up to us to live in such a way that non-believers would want to listen. So the first part of this prayer is that God would spread and magnify the gospel through me (and you), not simply through our words, but through our lives, through the stories we tell, through the choices we make and through the way we treat others and one another.

The second part of the prayer is for protection. There are some who will never believe. They will never receive. They will make themselves enemies of the gospel and deliberately stand in the way of all who believe. Paul asks God’s protection for people such as this. We should too.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the life you’ve given me. I pray for those who read this, that the gospel would spread rapidly because of them and be honored by them. I pray that you would protect them from those people who have deliberately made themselves enemies of the cross. Fill us with your spirit and the fruit of your spirit. Do in us what only you can do.

Thank you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

A Prayer for You

2 Thessalonians

SCRIPTURE

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

This is Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica. In the U.S. Wall Street in New York City is recognized as the economic center of our nation. Chicago is a close second with the Chicago Board of Trade. Thessalonica is to Greece what Chicago is to the U.S. It is a city that still stands today. It’s population is roughly equivalent to Tulsa and the surrounding area.

The book begins with an encouragement I hope can be said of me, “…your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.” He challenges them to stand fim in the face of persecution and assures them that God knows, cares and will one day bring justice. He ends with a prayer. It’s a prayer I pray for me, my family, friends, church and others.

APPLICATION

I want to live a life worthy of God’s call. That doesn’t mean I’ll always get it right. It doesn’t mean I’m trying to earn God’s favor. But by God’s power and because of God’s grace I can do better. I can become more than I imagined possible on my own. I want to live in a way that honors God. These verses say that living that way will bring you honor too.

God leads us where he wants us to go. Paul’s prayer covers that, “May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.”

What has your faith prompted you to do today? God has given you the power to accomplish it. What holds you back? What’s your excuse? None is sufficient. It is God working in you and through you to accomplish what your faith has prompted you to do. There’s no need to wait any longer. Become the answer to the prayer I’ll pray today and do all that your faith prompts you to do.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for giving us everything we need for life and godliness. Today I pray the same thing Paul prayed. I pray this for myself, my family, my friends, the people of my church and for those who are reading this – I ask God, “…to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Thank you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

A Prayer for My Family

My daughter was born with respiratory problems. She spent the first 4 days of her life in the EOPC at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, OK. There was an IV in her foot, breathing mask on her face and they kept her in a well lit pod you had to reach into in order touch her. It was scary. Thankfully, she recovered relatively quickly.

She came home with an IV in her head. We had to administer antibiotics daily. There I was, a first-time father, with a beautiful baby girl, completely powerless to take away the hurt, fix the problem and make her healthy. At one point, as I held her and she received another round of medicine, I realized, no matter how much I may want to, I will never be able to protect this girl from all the hurts this world can inflict on her.

It was an overwhelming thought.

When I’m overwhelmed I pray. While I’ll never be able to protect my daughter from a broken heart, or save her from the bad choices of stupid people, I know the One who can. So I turned my thoughts toward God and began to poor out my heart to Him. It’s a simple prayer I continue to pray for my family and myself to this day. It goes like this:

“Father, protect my family from sin, temptation & harm.”

Short, sweet, to the point – but there’s a depth of meaning just beneath the surface of every word.

Protect my family from SIN.

I’ll be honest. I’m a knucklehead. I’m going to make mistakes. Sometimes I’ll just step it in it. Others, I’ll deliberately run headlong the wrong direction simply because I want to. Either way, my sin has consequences. God forgives my sin. Even through His forgiveness sin often comes with consequences. I may deserve these consequences, but God, please rescue my wife and my kids from the consequences of my bad choices. Do what you want with me, but don’t make them pay the price for my bad choices.

Protect my family from TEMPTATION.

Let’s face it. We sin because we like it. If it were ugly, nasty or gross it wouldn’t be tempting. But it’s not those things. Sin is always attractive. It usually looks like a good idea at the time. We choose it. We stumble, not because we’re stupid, but we have an appetite for sin. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus prayed, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” What if we asked God to change our appetite for sin? What if we asked Him to give us a hunger and thirst for righteousness? What if sin became repulsive and righteousness became our driving thirst?

Protect my family from HARM.

Our world is a dangerous place. We’re going to face problems caused by other people, circumstances or simply because life happens. God can protect us from harm. Matthew 28:18, Jesus says, “…all authority has been given to me on heaven and earth.” Jesus has all authority over all things. He can use his power on your behalf. He can do this to fix things. He can do this to protect. He can do this to save. Sometimes, when we face the potential for harm Jesus will use His power on our behalf.

Matthew 28:20 says, “…and lo, I am with you always…” Sometimes Jesus doesn’t fix the problem. Sometimes He allows the hurt to happen. When He doesn’t use His power on your behalf He promises to walk through the situation with you. We may not understand, we may not agree, we may not like it, but sometimes the hurt is necessary. The Bible says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” When Jesus doesn’t use His authority on your behalf to protect or to fix He will walk through the situation with you and produce in you a story that will ultimately benefit you and others. It becomes the epic tales we tell of battles won, insurmountable odds overcome and the glory of our God at work in us, through us and sometimes even in spite of us.

How will you pray for yourself and your family today? Perhaps this simple prayer is a good place to start.

“God, protect my family from sin, temptation & harm. In Jesus name I pray. AMEN.”

 

Stopping Jesus

Matthew 20:29-34

Have you ever prayed with such passion and persistence that you stopped God in His tracks? (Matthew 20:32)

That’s what these two blind guys did on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. People tried to silence them. But the resistance of the crowd only increased the resolve of the blind men. I don’t know what’s more remarkable, that they cried so loudly that Jesus stopped or the question Jesus asked when he turned to speak with them.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Seems obvious. You are the Son of God, right? Yet these men don’t hesitate. “We want to see.” Jesus makes it so, and their lives are never the same again.

What are you praying today? Will you pray with passion and persistence? When the time comes what will you ask Jesus to do for you?

Will your request open your eyes or the eyes of others?

People may try to silence you. Disappointment may discourage you. Let the resistance you face increase your resolve. God’s not afraid of your questions. He welcomes them. But get ready. When the answer comes, the way you see the world will never be the same.

Faith on the Farpoint

I don’t like to admit it, but my faith is pretty small. I’ve never really faced down a giant with only a sling and a stone. I’ve never given sight to a blind man. I’m met with bored indifference every time I tell a mountain to move. For that little feat the Bible says it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed. Have you seen a mustard seed!? My faith must be very small indeed.

So how do you grow in faith? What does it mean to have faith on the farpoint? What can be done to develop what little faith that I have?

Faith on the farpoint is faith overflowing. It is faith enough to face giants, heal the sick and move mountains. It’s the kind of faith that believes God and acts accordingly.

The Bible tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Therefore, like an athlete in training, faith is something we can develop. Here’s how.

Faith is for the Hearing
Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” In order to grow in faith you must be IN THE WORD. There are several ways you can do this. The first is by reading God’s Word daily. I call this a devotional. It’s something you can do on your own. It’s also something friends from church can help with. I wonder if a daily, online devotional would help you get in to the word daily. If you’re interested, click here, and answer this week’s poll about this very thing.

You can also exercise your faith by hearing God’s Word preached at church. Every Sunday there are two worship services where the Bible is boldly preached. There are countless small group Bible studies called Sunday School. Throughout the week is Disciple University, FAITH, Ladies Bible Study and a host of other informal opportunities to get into the Word. If you’re faith is small the first step is to get into the Word.

Faith is for the Asking
The disciples tried to help a demon possessed man and found they couldn’t. Jesus said, “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.” The lame man asked to be healed. Jesus healed him. The blind man asked for sight. Jesus made him see. The Roman Centurion asked grace for his servant and Jesus raised him up. Faith is for the asking. We ask God for things through PRAYER. Did you notice that none of these people asked God for faith? They demonstrated their faith in Jesus by going to Him as the solution for their problems. When you pray, it’s adequate to ask for faith, but it’s exceptional to ask and expect God to provide your needs according to His riches in glory. I won’t say more here, but I’m convinced we don’t ask for nearly enough. And when we ask we ask amiss that we might spend it on our pleasures. The fact that we’re asking for wrong things doesn’t mean we should stop asking. Like a musician practicing for a concert or an athlete practicing for the big game we should keep asking till we get it right, till we understand the right things to ask for!

Faith is for the Disciplined
Again with the disciples – remember, “…this kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.” Fasting is about discipline. It’s about managing your appetites – not simply for food but for everything you desire. I’ve heard it said that sin is meeting a God given desire in a God-forsaken way. Fasting is the practice of submitting our appetites to God’s control rather than indulging in the whim of the moment. Our faith is strengthened when we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.

This week your faith can grow. Listen to His Word. Ask Him to meet your needs. Discipline yourself to follow Him in every thing. And in doing so live the adventure of faith on the farpoint!

Love y’all, God Bless,
Chad