Tag Archives: prayer

With Your Morning Cup of Coffee

As you sit down with your coffee this morning, enjoy some of these articles that I’ve enjoyed over the past few days.

1. A Word About Men and Marriage– Jason Garwood.

Bottom line up front – brutal honesty is good. Men – take heed.

2. Walking with the Dead: The Illusion of Control – Dave Dunham

Another article from one of my favorite article series. No explanation needed.

3. How I Learned to Love the Church– Katie Van Dyke

A great article from Katie. Although this is published on the women’s side of CBMW, I think us men can learn a thing or two as well.

4. 8 Things You’re Doing for Women Other than Your Wife – Bryan

Again, men – take heed. There should only be one woman in our lives for whom we do these kind of things.

5. Paul Tripp’s Thanksgiving Devotional – Crossway

Great opportunity to get devotionals from Paul Tripp straight to your inbox for 14 days. Also, signing up enters you in a contest to win a Paul Tripp coffee mug. I’ll be honest — I want a mug.

6. The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent – John Piper

John Piper has written a 25 day daily devotional book for Advent season. As usual, it’s offered for free from Desiring God.

7. Pornography: Why Internet Accountability Software Doesn’t Work – Leon Brown

Brown has an interesting perspective on accountability software. In one respect, I think he’s correct in his assessment of what must change in men. On the other hand, I think his assessment of the software itself can be debated.

What good articles have you read over the past few days?

Grace and Peace,
John

“I Pray Too Much!”…Said No One. Ever.

“Prayer can never be in excess.” – C.H. Spurgeon

conveyancing-confusionI am willing to bet that 100% of Christians do not believe they pray enough. Prayer just seems to be a discipline in which believers do not actively engage as we should. I’m sure that you, just as I, have read articles or heard stories from ministers who sat bedside with people whom were nearing the end of their life. Of these many stories, the common theme running through them is the confession of the dying who wished they had “prayed more.”

I can’t imagine what it’s like to sit with someone as they near their final time on this side of eternity. Further, I can’t imagine how it feels to hear such a raw confession from a person who realizes too late how much their life lacked intimacy with God. As a minister, my heart is heavy for those with such a revelation, as well as those who have yet to realize such a lack in their own lives.

Among the vast amount of things scripture has to say about prayer, it gives instruction to, “devote yourselves to prayer” (Col 4:2), to “pray continuously” (1 Thess 5:16), and to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another” (Jam 5:16). Prayer is important to the life of the believer.  Unfortunately, it seems as though the primary time we pray is when we actually need God. In times of trouble, our prayer life explodes! Once the trouble is passed, so has our time with the Father.

But to be fair, we also “seek” God in good times as well.  Yes, we throw out a quick “Thank you, Lord” or “Praise God” when something good happens, but can we really call that prayer?The last thing I want to do is distance myself from the above mentioned categories. I, too, struggle to have a strong prayer life. I also struggle to know what to say when I come before my God and King. I know there are tips and strategies out there focused on how to inject more prayer into our lives. I’m sure sure that some work better than others, but below are the ways that I personally try to have more prayer in my life.

  1. Devotions: Prayer is an intricate part of my devotions, as it should be in everyone’s devotions. Whether morning or evening, at a minimum, a time of prayer must happen for me. Sometimes I don’t have an entire morning to spend in devotions (i.e. scripture reading, verse memorization, etc), but I will do my best to spend some good time in prayer.
  2. Praying audibly: Praying out loud  helps me with what I say and how I say it. When I can hear how I sound, I can critique what I say. Please don’t misunderstand – our prayers are prayed to an audience of One. However, I think we all know or have heard someone “Father God” a prayer to death. Not only can repetition be distracting, but this is (at least for me) a whole other level of distraction. Praying out loud helps me to avoid repetition.
  3. The Alphabet: I pray through the alphabet. It may sound corny or silly, but it has been beneficial to my prayer life and it can be done at any time. I usually do it when driving, and I use each letter to describe God in some way. This is also one of the many times I will pray out loud.
  4. Contact List: Praying through my contact list is another practice that has benefitted me. I learned this technique from a magazine I read a few years ago and I have done it periodically every since. I’ve done it while standing in line at the grocery or waiting in the drive-thru. This works well because, ideally, we should know at least one thing about our contacts that could be prayed for.
  5. Restaurant Server: Praying for our server when my family and I eat at a restaurant has just been a blessing. The look of surprise on a servers face when you ask them what you can pray for on their behalf is awesome. And the opportunity to actually pray with them is an even greater blessing.

Here’s a quick story…

  • My wife and I were having breakfast at Bob Evans on Saturday morning. We try to make Saturday morning breakfast together a regular time in our marriage. So, when our server arrived, I explained to her that my wife and I were about the pray for our food and I asked if there was anything that we could pray for on her behalf. She didn’t understand what I was saying, so she called her husband (who also worked there) over to hear what I was asking. Come to find out, their son was in jail in Texas awaiting paperwork a green card. Well, when our food was brought to the table, my wife and I were blessed to join hands with this mother and father and intercede on behalf of their son. Such a blessing for my bride and I.

I fully understand that praying might not be easy for you. I can definitely relate to your discouragement of what to pray for not coming to mind as easy as you’d like. But, we have to do it. It’s a command from God and, as in all things, we must be obedient. In our obedience, we should be praying, not only with requests and petitions, but with thanks and appreciation.

But, be encouraged. We are also told in scripture that when we don’t know what to pray for, “…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom 8:26). We are strongest on our knees, especially when the Spirit leads. Grace and Peace.

If you have trouble incorporating prayer into your life, what do you do to move past the trouble?

Guest Post on “Grace for Sinners” Blog

On February 17, 2014, Mathew Sims gave me an opportunity to guest blog on his site. The post I wrote is titled “For The Men Who Will Hold Their Hearts”. Here is an excerpt –

After we have prayed as a family, the girls will go to their respective rooms and get into bed. After a few minutes, usually after my bride and I have prayed together, I will go to each of their rooms, kneel beside their beds and take their hands. This is a time for us to pray, one on one, together. At this time, I pray a variety of things for them. I pray that they get good rest and wake up ready to serve the Lord, for their protection from the evil one (1 Thess 3:3), that they one day be saved (Rom 10:9); I thank the Lord for their life and their spirit, etc. I’m sure there are many things that I don’t think about that I could be praying for my daughters. Some of the things I currently pray about are ideas I’ve heard that other fathers pray for their daughters, so I added them to my prayers.

Read the rest of the post here.

Rough Morning

I couldn’t journal this morning. prostrate

It’s not that I didn’t want to or that I didn’t have my journal and a pen…I just didn’t feel I had anything to say. My normal routine begins with a prayer of thanks to the Lord for another day, then I’ll begin journaling. It’s becoming more commonly the first thing I do when I wake in the morning. I will write about something that the Lord has put on my heart or I’ll write about something that happened the night or day prior or whatever comes to mind. I didn’t write about anything this morning…pen in hand, blank page ready…and nothing.

So, I figured I would read the scripture readings assigned for this morning through my bible reading plan. I had to read Proverb 22…twice. Understand, the reading only calls for reading a chapter of Proverbs a day. I had to read it twice because I didn’t remember what I read the first time. It was like my eyes just glossed over the words n the pages. Many times over the past few days, there has been a verse or two that had just rocked me in the respective chapter I was reading! Nothing today.

Hmm…ok…I go to the Psalms…Psalm 13. The Lord always talks to me in the Psalms. Still nothing. Since Psalm 13 is a mere six verses, I determined to read it again…and again…and again.  Not moved.

So, I go into prayer. I have a prayer list in my phone that I go through a few times a week, some prayers I pray every day. So as I am preparing – I have the app on my phone open, I have the prayer bulletin from my church laid out, I have my “31 Biblical Virtues to Prayer Over Your Child” card next to it – and (mentally) I’m not there. I don’t feel in my heart that I am ready, dare I say willing, to go before God in prayer.

Now, this isn’t usual. I have usually been able to write something in my journal. There is usually a proverb or two that jumps out at me. The psalms are LOADED with goodness from God. And my prayertime?? Praise God that I can even have the confidence to come before His throne (Heb 10:19-20).

Back to this morning – as I lay prostrate on the floor, I was determined not to get up until I prayed…and prayed for a good amount of time. So, I just prayed whatever came to mind. An unbelieving family member, a friend, my bride, the church…whatever came to mind. Sometimes, I dozed off. (I know because when I looked at the clock, there were some unaccounted for blocks of time.) Other times, I was focused. Other times, I dozed off again. In general, it just wasn’t a good prayertime.

I was quite bothered. What was my problem? Why can’t I get “into it” today? I mean really, I couldn’t do anything on my list of things I like to do during my devotional time? Sad…just sad…disappointing, even.

I put my bible away. Tucked away my journal. Locked my phone. I start getting ready for work. As I’m getting ready, I’m reflecting on what happened so far this morning, and then it hits me! The Lord showed me what was wrong with my morning devotional routine. It’s a routine! It’s rote. It’s mechanical. I’m so focused on what needs to be done first and “allotting” enough time for the next “event” that I am not focused on the prize, namely Christ. My routine is getting in the way of my relationship.

I can’t remember the last time I spent an hour or more just reading and praying over the bible, or just in prayer with my Lord and King, or journaling my gratitude for His kindness to my family and I, or just sitting in absolute silence and waiting for the Lord. Instead, I’ve been trying to cram all these things into and hour or so before I go to work for the next 8 – 9 hours. I was trying to check the block on my devotional time so that I can move to the next block on my schedule. It’s wrong. I’m robbing myself of the chance to abide in God’s love (John 15:9). I’m dishonoring God.

I thank God for this morning. I thank God that He showed me how unfeeling I’ve been in my coming to him. I thank Him for showing me my error in developing processes of worship and missing the benefits that come from realizing that I even have the opportunity to worship. He reminded me that it’s a privilege, not a right…an occasion given through grace, not earned through my works. And I thank Him that He was merciful in doing so.

As I sit here writing this, the sun is still making it’s way above the horizon. A blatant reminder of the grace that He has given us to live another day. If you have breath in your lungs and you are reading this now – you have already received more than you deserve today, as have I. Let’s not forget that. And let’s not get wrapped up in the routine of worship, but more importantly, let’s become engulfed in the One whom we are made to worship!

Before I sat down to write this, I took an opportunity to read over Psalm 13 again. Verses 5-6 says this,

“5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Thank you, Lord, in dealing “bountifully” with me, your servant…

In Christ,
John

Pray for the Nations!

Prayer is central to the Christian faith. There is verse after verse after verse in scripture that calls us, as believers, to pray to our God and King on behalf of ourselves, family, friends, those in authority, and even strangers. One of the most common bible verses on prayer known to believers and unbelievers alike is James 5:16. We trust the bible implicitly about what it says regarding “the prayer of a righteous person”.

unreachedA few months ago, I came across an app in the Google Play store called “Unreached of the Day”. This is a wonderful app and it is available on both the Google and iOS platforms. This app is sponsored by The Joshua Project. According to their website, the Joshua Project “is a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ.”

I really like this app because it is a simple and bare bones product, but yet it contains so much information. There is a different people group to pray for during each day of the year. The information listed for each people group includes population numbers, primary religion, a summary of the people, ministry obstacles, a map of their area, language, etc.

However, I think the main draw of this app is the prayer focus. There is specific focus on how to pray for followers of Christ (if any) within the people group, a specific focus on how to pray for the group as a whole, and a specific scripture to pray regarding the group.

This app is great to incorporate into your personal morning or evening devotionals. Personally, I have incorporated it into my morning devotions and we use it as a family at night during the prayer portion of our family devotions. It’s a good app and it’s free. Download it and feel free to let me know what you think about it in the comments. Thanks. Grace and Peace.

In Service to the King,
John