Men’s Breakfast

Men’s Breakfast

Ever felt like there were times you wanted to pray aloud or with someone but were a little ashamed to speak up in a group or worse still embarrassed to do so in front of your wife or your kids.

Don’t be! As men we know how difficult it can be especially when society’s perception of us requires that we remain stoic and unemotional even when our world is crumbling down.

Instead come and join us at one of our “Men’s Breakfast” sessions and build the confidence to pray aloud first within a circle of men who quickly form into a band of brothers and then in church or wherever you feel the need for God in your life.

Every three months, a group of about sixteen of us meet at one of our homes to share a period of prayer, good fellowship followed by a good hearty breakfast while talking about life in general.

Each breakfast session holds a separate theme and most of these are down to earth manly moments where we pray for our wives or our jobs or even the success of our children. So far at each breakfast gathering we have yet to find one of our circle reluctant to pray aloud which shows why such sessions are both spiritual and therapeutic and therefore worth attending.

In this circle of brothers you will thrive in a non-threatening environment where it’s ‘okay’ to say you are troubled or losing control or even worried about the future. You will be uplifted as you feel the strong bond of support from your brothers as they pray along with you.

This was the subject of the last Men’s Breakfast prayers we had on  the

26th of AUGUST 2017

Our Tongues – to Praise our God or to Curse His Creation

Question: Is it true that life and death are in the power of the tongue?

Answer: “The tongue” is used throughout Scripture in both literal and metaphorical ways, especially in Psalms, Proverbs, and James. The tongue is a “small part of the body” (James 3:5), yet Proverbs 18:21 says it “has the power of life and death.” This holds true whether we’re speaking of spiritual, physical, or emotional “life and death.”

First, we should keep in mind that the word tongue is often a reference to the spoken word. This is a special kind of figure of speech called metonymy, in which one word stands in for another, closely related word. A common example of metonymy is seen in this sentence: “The White House issued a statement.” Of course, the White House, as a building, cannot issue statements; however, in this instance, White House refers to the President, who lives there.

In the same way, when Proverbs 15:4 states, “A deceitful tongue crushes the spirit,” tongue is a metonymy. Obviously, a literal, fleshly tongue cannot crush the human spirit, but the words the tongue produces can.

Spiritual:

What our tongue produces has eternal implications, for it reveals what is in our heart. Jesus said that “the good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” (Matthew 12:35).

Isaiah places words on par with actions for displaying a sinful heart (Isaiah 59:2-3). “Men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36). In and of ourselves, we are utterly unable to “tame the tongue” because “it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

A tongue under control is a mark of the Spirit’s power. Apart from accepting Jesus’ atonement on the cross, we will be judged according to our words: “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).

Physical:

In order to take Proverbs 18:21 literally – that the tongue can cause physical life and death – we do not need to tax our imagination.

Words create actions, good and bad. A judge or jury, by simply saying a word, can cause a person to be killed or to live. Words often save lives: a doctor advises surgery, a weatherman issues a tornado warning, a counsellor gives hope to a suicidal person.

Conversely, words can also kill: murders are often initiated because of arguments or verbalized hatred. In the sense of causing action, then, the tongue does indeed have the power of life and death.

Emotional:

Emotions are powerfully affecting, yet they are vulnerable to injury. James describes the tongue as “a fire” (James 3:6) – and who has not been burned by it? Proverbs 15:4 describes a “healing” tongue as “a tree of life.”

As much as love is an action, what would romance be without words? Encouragement often comes through spoken words. So does discouragement. “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). The wound is emotional, and it is deep. What we say can have a profound effect on others.

God’s Purpose:

God made us expressive beings, so we are nearly lost without communication. That is why we have audio recordings and Braille for the blind, sign language for the deaf, and writing for anyone who has something to say from afar. Indeed, speech has enormous implications, especially as a vehicle for sharing the gospel (Romans 10:14).

Therefore, we are commanded to control the tongue, to “keep [it] from evil and your lips from speaking lies” (Psalm 34:13). A Christian’s speech should consistently honour the Lord: with the tongue “we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9-10). A lot is at stake in what we say today. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

The Power of the Tongue

People die because of something said. Tongues can be weapons of mass destruction, launching holocausts and wars. Tongues can also be the death of marriages, families, friendships, churches, careers, hopes, understanding, reputations, missionary efforts, and governments.

But people also live because of something said. The tongue can be “a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4). Tongues reconcile peoples and make peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). Tongues can make marriages sweet, families strong, and churches healthy. Tongues can give hope to the despairing, advance understanding, and spread the gospel.

So what will come out of your mouth today, death or life? “Sword thrusts” or “healing” (Proverbs 12:18)?

What Fills Your Heart?

It will all depend on what’s filling your heart. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). A critical heart produces a critical tongue. A self-righteous heart produces a judgmental tongue. A bitter heart produces an acerbic tongue. An ungrateful heart produces a grumbling tongue. “The words you speak will all depend on what’s filling your heart.”

But a loving heart produces a gracious tongue. A faithful heart produces a truthful tongue. A peaceful heart produces a reconciling tongue. A trusting heart produces an encouraging tongue.

So fill your heart with grace by soaking in your Bible. Soak in Matthew 5, or Romans 12, or 1 Corinthians 13, or Philippians 2.

What should we watch for?

We need to be very careful taking in the words of death in the newspaper, the radio, the TV, or the blog. We need to pray: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3).

The world is full of words of death. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), who “was a murderer from the beginning . . . and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Let us not join him in his “restless evil” (James 3:8). For “we are from God” (1 John 5:19), and we believe in his Son, Jesus, “the Word” (John 1:1), “the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and who alone has “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Let us join him in speaking these.

Today’s Words

Today, make your mouth “a fountain of life” (Proverbs 10:11). Be “slow to speak” in general (James 1:19). Encourage more than you critique. Seek opportunities to speak kind, tenderhearted words (Ephesians 4:32).

Say something affectionate to a loved one at an unexpected time. Seek to only speak words that are “good for building up,” that “give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Be a person whose mouth is full of life and may our families and our friends feel good about themselves and bask in the kind words that come from our mouths.

Watch Your Thoughts

In order to control our mouth, we must first control our thoughts. Right and wrong thinking is the basis for controlling our words. It’s the simplest principle, yet it’s the most difficult area in our lives to discipline.

No wonder the enemy tries to bombard our minds with evil thoughts of doubt, fear, and discouragement. He wants to prevent us from receiving all that God has for us.

The Bible tells us in II Corinthians 10:5 that we are to “Cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

The Bible speaks of thoughts, imaginations, and strongholds. The thought coming into one’s mind is the initial data or original idea. After the thought arrives, one must decide what to do with it. If the person continues to dwell on the thought, it turns into an imagination or image. And if this person imagines too long, the imagination turns into a stronghold and starts controlling his life.

Where do thoughts come from you might ask. Well, thoughts can come from one of three places: from your five senses, from the devil, or from the Holy Spirit. The devil and your five senses operate through your mind while God operates through your spirit.

Romans 8:7 says that the natural mind alone cannot know God, for God speaks to you through your spirit and your spirit speaks to your mind. Whether or not your mind can utilize these thoughts is dependent upon whether or not one’s mind is renewed by the Word of God.

We as Christians face a constant power struggle. While we have the Word of God coming into our hearts, the devil is putting thoughts into our minds against the knowledge of God. It is our job to cast down this wrong thinking.

Perhaps you’ve cast them down so many times that you feel your caster’s worn out. Well, the good news is that you don’t have to keep wrestling with these bad thoughts, but instead replace them with good thoughts. You can reprogram your mind with the Word of God, then anything that comes against the Word of God will be cast down.

The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This is a spiritual principle which can never be broken; it always works, much like the law of sowing and reaping. God has a great plan for your life; He tell us in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Even though God’s plan for you is good, you must believe it to receive it and then confess it. We must be careful not to thwart these plans by what we think. If you allow the devil to occupy your mind with his thoughts for you, then he is able to build up a stronghold against the good plan that God has for you.

Let Your Words Be Few

Sometimes God has a plan to fill and he cannot afford people to talk to hinder the working of the plan. We see this in Joshua 6:10 as instructions were given to destroy the walls of Jericho. The men were instructed not to make any sound with their mouth until the seventh day on the seventh round when there were commanded to shout. They could not speak a word.

In Luke 1:18-20 we see that Zacharias could not be trusted to speak because he did not believe that his wife could give birth to John the Baptist. The angel Gabriel told Zacharias that the words he spoke were to be fulfilled. Because of his unbelief, he became mute for a season.

Even Jesus kept his mouth shut to bring pass the plan of God for his crucifixion. Acts 8:32 says: “Like a lamb, dumb (silent) before His shearers, He opened not His mouth.” At the arrest of Jesus the soldiers asked if it was He that they should take, Jesus answered, “I AM.” At the pronouncement of that name, the soldiers fell backwards under the power of the spoken name (John 18:5-6). At the trial Jesus could not even speak his name because it would have freed Him. That is why He remained silent.

When we are young we are trained by society to fear snakes and bugs. In a similar way, we are trained by society to speak our mind. However, the Bible tells in Ecclesiastes 5:2 to “let our words be few.” Proverbs 13:3 says: “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”

The Bible also says in James 1:19 to “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” Proverbs 17:28 says that: “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

Proverbs 10:19 says: “In the multitude of words there wanteth (lacketh) not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”

Sure, it is sometimes difficult to say the right things when you feel totally wrong. When you are extremely emotional for better or worse it’s easy to say just what you are feeling. But it is important to allow wisdom to rise above emotions.

Losing your temper and venting your frustrations through angry words can lead to bitter grief and torment and can even ruin relationships. You would be wise to use self-control and discipline your mouth.

If we ask God for help, He will remind us how we should talk by prompting us to use our mouths for His purposes.

Dear Lord,

You created the universe when You spoke it into existence with the words of Your own mouth. Your words are almighty and powerful. And now You say there is power in the words that I speak for I am created in Your image. Help me to be careful and responsible with my mouth, to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

You tell me in Your Word that blessing and cursing come from the same mouth—that even a fountain does not spout fresh water and bitter water from the same spout. And, yet, with my tongue I bless you, Lord, and with it I curse men who are made in Your likeness.

Forgive me, Lord, for my untamed tongue that is so often full of poison. Change my heart, Oh Lord, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Help me, Lord, for You have said that life and death are in the power of the tongue.

Forgive me for being critical, judgmental, sarcastic, rude or unkind with my words. Help me to speak life and encouragement to those around me.

Help me to walk in love always offering words of kindness, love, and grace so that I do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Help me to be wise and use my tongue to speak healing words because a gentle tongue is like a tree of life, and I don’t want to crush other people’s spirits.

Put a watch guard over my mouth and keep me from trouble. Teach me to know when to speak and when to be still or pray. And when I speak, help me to speak the truth in love.

I don’t want my service to You to be worthless because I cannot bridle my tongue. I want to mature and keep my lips from evil. I trust you Lord, to cause me to desire and to do Your will and to cause my thoughts to become agreeable to Your will.

I thank you for Your grace for me, Lord, and I give You all the glory for the changes You bring in my life by Your Holy Spirit.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

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20th of May 2017

God – Mercy, Grace & Blessings.

God of Mercy – Understanding Mercy

God is known to be a God of mercy and grace. Understanding mercy is often difficult for people as we tend to be a generation of “I’ll get him for that” and “I hope they get what they deserve.” Many have developed a nature of harsh criticism and want others to get what they have coming to them and then some.

God, however, is merciful to even the worst offenders, sinners, and law-breakers. This means that even though He knows of our guilt, He doesn’t always issue the punishment deserved. To elaborate, the verse in Romans 3:23-24 says “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Simply, we are all sinners and do not meet the standards of righteousness that God intends us to have. But, through His mercy and grace He provided a way for our sins to be forgiven through our acceptance of Christ Jesus—even though we don’t deserve it. Coupled with grace (being given God’s free gift of forgiveness though we’ve done nothing to deserve it), mercy is shown because He loves us and only asks that we accept His Son by faith.

God of Mercy – To whom it is given

The God of mercy calls for the following in Micah 6:8: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

These are words to all of mankind. Mercy is offered to you and me alike. He has shown us what is good and answers what is required of us. Micah asks God in Micah 7:18, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

What is the difference between mercy and grace?”

Mercy and grace are often confused. While the terms have similar meanings, grace and mercy are not the same. To summarize the difference: mercy is God not punishing us as our sins deserve, and grace is God blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy.

According to the Bible, we have all sinned (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). As a result of that sin, we all deserve death (Romans 6:23) and eternal judgment in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-15).

In Psalm 51:1-2, David cries out, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” A plea to God for mercy is asking Him to withhold the judgment we deserve and instead grant to us the forgiveness we in no way have earned.

We deserve nothing from God. God does not owe us anything. Anything good that we experience is a result of the grace of God (Ephesians 2:5). Grace is simply defined as unmerited favor. God favors, or gives us good things that we do not deserve and could never earn.

Because of the mercy and grace of God, our response should be to fall on our knees in worship and thanksgiving. Hebrews 4:16 declares, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

God’s Promises to us.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

Luke 6:38  Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

 

Isaiah 41:10  Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

What is the power of a spoken blessing?

The Power of Spoken Blessings invokes the blessing of God and is an excellent way to intercede for others especially when Men pray for Men or for their own families. Our words have great influence in the lives of those around us, and spoken blessings can bring hope, encouragement, and direction to our families, friends, and others.

A Blessing Is an Instrument of God’s Love

Our words have potential to do good or to do harm. The Bible describes the potential impact of our words in verses such as these:

  • “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21).
  • “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).
  • “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad” (Proverbs 12:25).

Discern How to Bless Someone Effectively

For most people let alone Men, It often takes time and effort to search out appropriate blessings. Ask the Lord to make you attentive to His Spirit as you read Scripture, discerning which words, phrases, and concepts He wants you to share with someone.

When the Lord puts a desire in our heart to bless someone in particular, be attentive to the needs that person may be experiencing. With that person in mind, you can ask the questions below to help you discern the kind of blessing that he needs.

  • Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in his life?
  • Is he serving others in love?
  • Is he seeking God’s guidance so that he can carry out the good works God has prepared for him to do?
  • Is he submitting to his God-ordained authorities?
  • Does it appear that something may be competing with his devotion to God?
  • Are there particular temptations that seem to present big challenges in his life?
  • Are you aware of any fears, hurts, or pressures that he is facing?

As you consider these questions, God can reveal to us areas of need in someone’s life. Then, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to specific verses or passages of Scripture that can be used as a blessing related to those needs.

Personalize a Blessing to Meet Current Needs

Imagine that you know a person who struggles with fear and anxiety. You would discover verses such as II Timothy 1:7, which says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind [discipline, self-control].”

Apply the basic truths recorded in those verses to the model blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26 to create a blessing like this one:

May the Lord God bless you and keep you from the torments of fear and anxiety. May He cause His face to shine upon you with His power and love, and may He give you a sound mind. Through His perfect love, may God give you grace to cast out fear. May He lift up His countenance upon you with freedom as you tell Him every detail of your need in earnest, thankful prayer, and may He give you His peace that surpasses all understanding as He keeps your heart and mind safe through Jesus Christ.

Through speaking words of blessing you are interceding with God for your brother and through this God could use your prayer as a great source of encouragement in his life.

Before praying for others

Lord Jesus, I come to you today and thank you for the privilege of praying for others. I’ve been the recipient of others’ prayers so often, I understand how powerful intercessory prayer can be.

I ask you first to cleanse my heart and show me if there is any unconfessed sin in my own life so that my prayers for others will not be hindered. I thank you that through your name, I can come boldly before you and pray with confidence, according to your will and know that you will hear me.

Help me to hold up my brothers in prayer so that together we can make a difference in our world as men not ashamed to pray for each other.

In Jesus’s mighty name. Amen.

To Acknowledge God:

Almighty God,

You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You hold all authority in heaven and earth. As I approach your throne of grace, I seek to give you the respect you deserve.

I come before you acknowledging the areas of responsibility you have put in my life. You have ordained that I be a leader in my home, in my church, or in my workplace. I ask you to raise me up to be the best leader I can be this day.

I bow my head, and I bow my will to you today. By faith, I believe that you are bringing me the wisdom and guidance that I need this day.

I declare that I will cooperate with you as you bring my mind, will, and emotions into agreement with your plans and purposes.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Prayer for Strength

Awesome and Triumphant God,

I give you exuberant praise this day.  You are Lord of all, and you are worthy of my praise.

You are the Most High God. You are All Powerful. Thank you for the strength that you graciously give to me. Thank you that it is your will that I walk in your POWER this day.

Lord, I will trust in you. I will be bold in your name. I stand up and declare that I am strong in the Lord. As a triumphant follower of Jesus Christ, I am more than able to show forth that the power of God is working for me this day.

Thank you, Lord, that you are giving me strength to choose your voice over the voice of the enemy or the voice of my flesh. Thank you that you defeat confusion in my mind, discouragement in my heart, and weakness in my body. Thank you that you are bringing refreshment and rejuvenation to my day.

I have faith that you are showering & filling me with what I need today. While I receive bountifully from you, and I will give you praise & the glory you deserve.

Thank you that you have given me your secret armour. Thank you that you are teaching me how to defeat the enemy. Thank you that you are bringing me victory!

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen

Prayer during struggles

Dear God,

Help me. You know what I crave. You know my struggles. I call out to you as you are my rock and my refuge.

You have all the answers on how to be free. Cleanse my thoughts and cleanse my body. Renew my mind as I read your Word. Guide me through this valley to a place of victory.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen

Prayer for Peace & Patience

Heavenly Father,

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Your Word teaches me wisdom and fills me with newness of life.

As I come to you today, I bring my needs to you. Help me to lay down all my problems at your feet. Help me to lay down all my tangled thoughts and restless emotions. Lord, I am seeking your peace and your patience.

I want to learn to wait patiently for you to bring your answers to my prayers. I want to cooperate with your plans for me.

Thank you for assuring me that your plans for me are good. As I wait on you, I will continue to turn to your Word for comfort and direction. Your Word is solid and reliable. Your Word steadies me. Your Word brings me truth.  Your Word gives me strength. Your Word chases away my worry and my fears. Your Word refreshes me.

Thank you for your Word. Amen

Prayer for my job

Dear Lord,

You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You are the great and powerful God who is above all gods. I thank you for your goodness and grace. Your compassion is intertwined with everything you do.

Thank you for your great desire to bless me. Thank you that you are always thinking about what is best for me. Thank you that you are going to help me to be employed at a good job that will give me enough money to pay my bills. I will praise you for each job that you give me along the way to your perfect job for me. Thank you for each advance and each new position you lead me to find. You are my guide, and I will walk with you.

Lord, Thank you for listening intently to all my prayers for employment and blessing me.  Lord, you gave me my talents, gifts, and abilities. You know my strengths. You made me for a purpose.

I take joy in reminding myself that you will open good doors of opportunity for me that no one can close, and you will close harmful doors that no one can open. By faith, I believe that you will guide me to accomplish those things that you created me to do.

In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen

Prayer while seeking employment

Heavenly Father,

I praise your love and your goodness. I lift up __________ and ask that you would direct his steps to a job that would bless him. I pray that you would protect him from discouragement and that you would bring him new excitement about the future plans that you have for him.

Thank you for opening his door of opportunity. May he draw closer to you during this time and may he desire to stay close to you.  Amen

Prayer for those in depression

Lord,

Your love is everlasting. Your steadfast attention is daily directed toward this man you love. Your compassion is changing things in his life as prayer is being lifted up to you.

Your Word promises us that we are safe in your hand. By faith we know that you are protecting us. Teach him, Lord, how to receive your good gifts.

Remind him to open his Bible. Direct him toward the passages in your Word that will encourage and motivate him. Give him strength to press through this difficult time and come to rest beside the still waters of your peaceful presence.

Lord, teach this man how to pick up the shield of faith to defend himself against the fiery darts of hopelessness and depression. Thank you, Father that you are moving on his behalf.

Thank you that you are giving him revelations that will lift him out of the reach of depression. Thank you, that you are bringing him hope and encouragement.

In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen

Prayer for Courage

King of Creation and Mighty Lord of my Life, You are my rock and my fortress. I will put my confidence in you. I come to you today positioning myself to hear you and obey you.

I will put into practice the things you teach me. Thank you, Lord, for bringing me new BOLDNESS and COURAGE. I will become the MIGHTY OVERCOMER you have destined me to be.

You have provided miraculous steps for me this day. I will take one remarkable step of faith after another. My mind will be calm with no confusion able to enter it. Worry and fear will flee from me.

Thank you that you are giving me GREAT POWER to do GREAT things this day. I will live in the Courts of the Miraculous. The only thing I cannot do is live without you. Amen!

Prayer when faced with Hopelessness

Dear Heavenly Father,

I am facing a situation that appears hopeless. Emotions like disappointment, confusion, and depression want to attach themselves to me.  Reach out to me and bring me thoughts of a good future. I will welcome them.

Lord, show me new possibilities.  Help me to more clearly see my gifts and talents. Help me to more clearly see the good things in my life.

Father God, help me to believe that I am precious and valuable to you. Thank you that you have reminded me that I was born for a great purpose.

I will choose to believe that you are bringing hope into my heart this day, so that I will have more hope tonight when I go to bed than when I got up this morning.

Father God, I will realize that hope has a name: JESUS! Amen.

Gratitude Prayer

Loving Lord,

As I express my gratitude to you in prayer, may it be a pleasing, joyful sound to you.

Thank you, Lord, for your love. It brings me acceptance and significance.

Thank you, Lord, for your truth. It brings me guidance and direction.

Thank you, Lord, for your mercy. It brings me help and comfort.

Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness. It brings me stability and strength.

Thank you, Lord, for your kindness.  It brings me daily provision and sustenance.

Thank you, Lord, for your beauty displayed in the earth. It brings me joy and delight.

Thank you, Lord, for your way of redemption – the cross. It brings me salvation and regeneration. Amen

 

18th  of February 2017

How Should We Pray

It has been rightly said, “the secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer.” Not just our failure to pray, but our failure in prayer. In the story of the Pharisee and the publican the Pharisee is one who prayed long and often, but he was a miserable failure. His prayers were never heard by God because neither he nor his prayers were ever right with God.

I think it was Oswald Smith who said, “when we work, we work, when we pray, God works.” Throughout history, the men and women that God has used mightily have been people who knew how to pray and for whom prayer was both a priority and a necessity. As we study the gospels and the training of the disciples by the Lord, we find that prayer is to be a vital part of a disciple’s life.

John 14:12-13 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13 “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.

This should be a huge confidence booster for us men but do we feel this to be the case when we pray?

What is Prayer?

Prayer, simply put, is conversation with God. That in mind, shouldn’t we be doing it in a way that pleases Him? Not to get us on a good list so that He’ll do what we ask, but to really understand how to talk with Him, and share our concerns, fears, and pleas. We would never subject a friend to demands made out of fear or pride yet we seem to do that each time we pray.

The Bible says a lot about prayer, including Jesus’ words on how to pray (The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:9-13*). One parable Jesus shared with his disciples, speaks directly to this question.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

In Luke 18, the doctor-turned-disciple recorded a story Jesus told about two men who both prayed to God, and how they were each received by the Father.

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector.” (Luke 18:9-10*, NLT)

This parable is a good way to measure our hearts as we come to God in prayer. Ask yourself, am I the Pharisee or a tax collector? It’s kind of hard to determine who the good guy is in this scenario before Jesus explains God’s point of view.

Prior to Jesus’ admonitions against the religiosity perpetuated by the Pharisees, they were the respected church leaders. They were the holy men of that day. The tax collectors were hated by most. Right off the bat, one would assume that Jesus would denounce the later, as the “sinner”. And he would, if it were not for what the taxman did inside the temple.

“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:11-14)

The parable’s lesson is found in what these two men do in response to God’s presence. The proud church leader attempts to validate his own “righteousness” in his prayer. He judges his neighbour all while spouting his good deeds, as if that’s going to guarantee him some Brownie points with God. The tax collector approaches his prayer in humility. With no self-righteous bone in his body, he asks God to show him mercy.

Reflection:

  • How do I approach my God when I pray?

Prayers that God Hears

The Lord hears the prayers of the justified and the humble. King Josiah’s god-fearing life, as recorded in the Old Testament, is an example of this. In II Chronicles 34:27, we see that a repentant heart gets God’s attention.

You were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this city and its people. You humbled yourself and tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord.

God wants to hear sincerity in our prayer, not vanity. As we pray, let’s determine to stay steadfastly humble before the Lord. Fortunately, God extends mercy to everyone who comes to Him in repentance, even those who get stuck in Churchianity, like the Pharisee.

Bottom line: God is concerned with the heart of a person. So next time you go to God in prayer, ask yourself, am I humble or proud? Either way, it’s a chance to get right with Him.

Reflection:

  • When I finish praying; am I right with God?

How to Pray To God

How do we pray to God? Prayer is essentially putting your request, concern, or issue before the Lord, and trusting Him to answer them. Matthew 18:3 says we need to pray with the heart of little children, simple, reverent, specific, and trusting.

Jesus shares some tremendous insight regarding how to pray to God in Matthew 6:5-13.

“And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think prayers are answered only by repeating words over and over again. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!

Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

In the above verses, Jesus shares how not to pray.

  • Verse 5: We are to pray in secret, not the way people did in His day — praying out loud publicly, primarily to just be seen, and heard.
  • Verse 6: Jesus asks us to go to a private place since our Heavenly Father already knows what we are going to pray about.
  • Verse 7: Jesus tells us not to ramble on and on, as people of other religions do, or be repetitious with words. God, our heavenly Father, would have us be specific about our prayer.
  • Verse 8: Jesus reiterates that the believer is not to pray repetitiously like the heathen.

Next, Jesus, teaches us how to pray.

  • Verse 9: Jesus says we should give honor to God and His name.
  • Verse 10: We are to pray for His Kingdom to come, and for His will to be done, that there would be a heavenly or godly presence here on earth.
  • Verse 11: We are to pray for daily provision.
  • Verse 12: We are to pray and ask for forgiveness for our sins, and for others who have wronged us.
  • Verse 13: We are to pray and ask God to keep us from being tempted, and to deliver us from Satan and his power.

The protocol on how to pray covers several ways of prayer. The primary focus of prayer is the intent.

Does the prayer honour God and exalt His name? What is the purpose behind the prayer? Is it personal gain or ambition? Do you pray for others to be blessed and encouraged? Are your prayers done in secret and in humility? Are your prayers focused on obtaining godly wisdom, counsel, and direction? God is pleased with these prayers and answers them.

Most Bible believing Christians recognize and accept, at least intellectually, the need and importance of prayer. Yet somehow, the church today is anything but a praying church. We talk of its necessity, but too often we fail to accomplish its reality.

Reflection:

  • Why do I fail in my prayer life today?
  • Is my intent right?

Christ’s Attitude in Prayer

This incorporates one of the basic principles that governed the life of the Saviour. In John 5:19 Christ said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself.” The principle should be obvious for us. For Jesus Christ, prayer was a way of life, an absolute necessity: it was a means of communion with the Father and the means of bringing the power of God the Father to bear on need of the moment.

As we study the life of Christ in the gospels, we note a consistent pattern:

(1) In the midst of a busy schedule, when men were clamouring in their need for His attention, Christ retired to pray and to draw upon the resources of God the Father for He knew that “the Son can do nothing of Himself” (Mark 1:32-37).

(2) When it was time to choose the disciples we don’t find Christ reviewing the qualifications of each of the disciples. Rather we find Him retiring to pray. This is clear in Mark 3:13 and Luke 6:12-13. Why? Because “the Son can do nothing of Himself.” He needed the direction and provision of the Father.

(3) When Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus He raised His eyes heavenward in dependence and thanksgiving for what the Father was about to do (John 11:40-42). The actual prayer of Christ is not given, only the fact of His dependence, thanksgiving, and confidence that His prayer had been heard.  He wanted all those standing around to know it as well that they might learn the secret of dependence.

(4) When He fed the five thousand. The words “and looking up toward heaven” demonstrate the Lord’s prayerful dependence (Mark 6:41). Also, “He blessed the food” which shows He thanked God the Father for it and for what He, the Father, was about to do through Jesus, the man, a God-dependent, God-approved man.

Think of Jesus Christ. He was the Son of God, God incarnate, the perfect man and the absolute Creator God who also as the God-man adequately and continuously fulfilled every expectation of God for man. He was the constant delight and joy of the Father’s heart.

What was the request posed by the unnamed disciple? It was, “teach us to pray.” Not just how to pray, the MECHANICS, but how in the sense of the MOTIVATION.

(1) Prayer should demonstrate a total consciousness of our need, a sense of our complete inadequacy along with a sense of God’s complete adequacy and willingness.

(2) Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of God’s ever present willingness.

(3) Prayer is not for emergency use only, when we get in a pinch and need someone to bail us out.

(4) Prayer is not an “Aladdin’s Lamp” or a trip to the wishing well for our wants.

(5) By contrast, prayer is a means of intimate communion, fellowship, and dependence upon God the Father who has promised to work in and through us through His Son, just as God worked through Him.

(6) Prayer is for everyday living, moment by moment.

(7) Prayer is a means of claiming God’s promises and knowing and becoming abandoned to God’s will.

This first emphasis by our Lord exposes what is often a fatal weakness in our own prayers. We tend to begin with “us” rather than with “Your.” We rush into God’s presence pleading for “our” petitions, “our” needs, “our” problems and, as a result, we become problem oriented and frantic rather than God oriented and relaxed in His sovereignty (cf. Ps. 46:10, “Be still [cease striving] and know that I am God”).

Reflection:

  • How do I start my prayers?

Why do we pray?

  1. We love Him. Just as a man and woman in love desire to be together and communicate, so we, if we love God, will desire to be with Him and to fellowship with Him in proportion to our love for Him.
  2. We depend on God. He is our source. He is our life (Colossians 3:4). Through prayer, we receive the comfort, strength, and all the other resources we need in life, both naturally and spiritually.
  3. Prayer allows us to resist temptation. Jesus warned His disciples to “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). Living a life without prayer can leave us weak and exposed, giving an opportunity for the enemy to gain ground and potentially lure us into sin.
  4. Prayer is necessary for people to invite God to act in salvation. God gave the earth to Adam and his descendants, so we must invite God to work here. If no one invites Him to work on earth, Satan—the “god of this age” because of humanity’s universal rebellion (2 Corinthians 4:4)—will dominate human affairs, and eventually the judgment of God will come.
  5. God commands us to pray. In Colossians 4:2, Paul writes: “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving”. Jesus also encouraged His followers to pray: “Then He [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

The need to pray is as great as the authority of God, who commands us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is so vital to all that God wants to do on the earth, and it is so essential to us, that He commands us to do it all the time.

Prayer has subdued the strength of fire. It has bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, burst the chains of death, expanded the fates of heaven, assuaged diseases, dispelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, staid the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. In this communion with God, there is an all-sufficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine that is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings!

1 John 5:14 – And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

John 15:7 – If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Reflection:

Does this fill me with confidence today?


 

Final Prayer:

Father Lord,

We come here to pray as men, husbands and father. We come here in full acknowledgement that you are our Father and have absolute control on our lives and our futures.

We come here humbly accepting that our fears, thoughts and concerns are not worthy of our time for You our Lord have already determined our destiny.

So we have come instead to worship, to praise and to acknowledge that You are our God, our Confidence, our Strength and our Might. You are indeed the Holy of Holies, the King of Kings and worthy of all our praise.

You are our Jehovah Jireh, our Comforter and our Protector and we shall rest confidently in your warm embrace as we Father hold our wives and our children in ours.

Help us to pray better, help us to pray more often and help us to seek You out at times of our lives be it at work, at home or out in our social environment.

Thank You Father for loving us so much as to call us your sons and heirs.

Amen.

Give Robin a call on 021 876 714 or send him an email on cooperklan@gmail.com

Brothers together in Christ facing the world.