Thursday, January 30, 2014

Who To Pray For Today

If you're going to be a growing Christian, you're going to be a praying Christian. I'm not talking about taking the bold stand of praying over your meal in a restaurant, but the bold stand of daily prayer in your prayer closet. It takes much more boldness and discipline to spend an hour of prayer a day in private than 3 minutes of prayer 3 times a day at meals. 

It helps if you have a prayer list in your Bible of specific people groups to pray for. Every day you will pray for family, friends and church leaders. Who should you pray for on Mondays? Here's my suggested list headings. Put them on one of those blank pages in your Bible and begin to add names under each heading:

Mondays are for missionaries

Tuesdays are for teachers in schools and in church

Wednesdays are for worship, the leaders and the congregation

Thursdays are for the lost

Fridays are for revival

Saturdays are for your pastor

Sundays you don't need a list because you'll join in prayer with the others at your church

Pick these or your own. Just get busy training yourself in prayer.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Easy Steps To A Better Prayer Life

"I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."
Galatians 5:16
In my last blog, I promised you that I would give you fifteen easy steps to discipline your flesh so that you pray more and better. I may have exaggerated., because I'm not sure I'll end up with a full fifteen.  But, if you want your prayer life to get better so that your Christian life gets better, here you go.
STEP 1 - Go To Bed Earlier So You Can Get Up Earlier To Pray
Forget all the mess about being a late night person, or an early morning person. Whenever you go to bed and whenever you get up, if you're going to have a better prayer life, you have to get up earlier (whenever that is) to pray. And if you don't go to bed earlier, you probably won't get up earlier.
STEP 2 - Set Your Alarm For At least 30 Minutes Earlier
STEP 3 - Go To Bed
NOTE:   If you are under the age of 12 over the age of 50, refrain from drinking fluids after 6pm the night before (especially refrain from any caffeinated beverages). If you're under 12 or over 50 you know why.
STEP 4 - Get Up When The Alarm Goes Off
WARNING:  Do not check your smart phone for messages, the weather, or anything else. Above all, DO NOT CHECK FACEBOOK, TWITTER, OR ANYTHING ELSE ON YOUR SMARTPHONE!
STEP 5 - Go To The Bathroom
STEP 6 - Make Strong Coffee Or Tea
NOTE: It is not sinful to go to get up before 5am, to go to the bathroom, or to make caffeinated beverages before you pray. At least I do not think it is.
WARNING:  Do not take this momentary pause to check your smartphone!
STEP 7 - Get Your Coffee Or Strong Tea, Your Bible, And Get To Your Place Of Prayer
NOTE:  Get a real Bible. Do you use your smartphone or tablet.  The temptation to be distracted is too real.  Remember the warnings above.
STEP 8 - Pray . . . asking God to help you to pray as you read His Word
STEP 9 - Read the Bible prayerfully
A good place to start is Psalm 1.  Read until God speaks to you and then pray about what He is saying to you - whether convicted, reminded, or encouraged.
STEP 10 - Begin A List On One Of Those Empty Pages In The Back Of Your Bible
As God lays situations on your heart, people, etc., note them briefly so you can pray for them daily. It's also a good idea to pray for specific things on specific days.  I'll give you a suggested prayer list tomorrow.
STEP 11 - When You've Prayed As Long As You Can, Stop
STEP 12 - Live Your Day And Pray Whenever You Think About Praying
STEP 13 - Return to Step 1
Now, remember this. Your flesh doesn't want to do any of this.  Don't expect your flesh to want to turn off the TV the night before and go to bed earlier. Don't expect your flesh to want to get up early. Don't expect your flesh to just ignore your smartphone. Expect your flesh to resist you kicking and screaming, but also expect God to honor your obedience.
As you walk after the Spirit and NOT after the flesh, you will begin to walk in power and freedom in your prayer life.  You will change and then things will change.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How To Pray more

"Pray constantly."
1 Thess. 5:17
Almost everyone says they pray. Most Americans say they pray every week. Yet when you open the Bible and see what prayer looks like to God, most don't pray. I'm not making this up to make a point. While most Americans pray (70-85%), most of them (65%) say that prayer for them is basically just sitting still and thinking God thoughts.  That may be a form of meditation, but it's not really prayer.
So, when you realize that prayer is not what you're doing, and that you aren't the kind of great pray-er you would like to be or that God would like for you to be, what are you to do?
The way to pray constantly is to pray.  Don't pray when you feel like it. Pray because God feels like you praying.  As a child of God, born again by faith in Jesus Christ, every conversation you have with God is prayer. You may need to learn more about how to talk to God, but you already know how to talk to God. Just talk to God.
The more you talk to Him, the more you will desire to talk with Him. The more you pray, the more you'll pray.  Prayer is abiding in Christ, and if we abide in Him we are changed by Him.
If you want to want to pray more, you must pray more when you don't want to pray more.  Don't say, "Well, if I don't want to do it God doesn't honor it."  There's some truth there, in that God doesn't want ritual.  But listen, if you are a born again child of God and you don't want to pray, you're listening to the wrong you. You're listening to the old you - your flesh.  The part of you that doesn't want to pray is the part that doesn't want to follow God.  You must discipline the old you to follow the new you. You've given your life to Christ, and He has given you His Spirit, and there is a new you - a new creation.
Don't listen to your flesh.  Choose to pray, whether you feel like it or not, and you will soon begin to feel like it. Then, not many days from now, you'll desire to pray more and more.  You will come to the place where you long to pray, where you will be unhappy with the things of this world that interfere with your prayer time. 
Tomorrow I will give you approximately 15 easy steps to discipline your flesh so that you can pray.  No, really, only 15 easy steps.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Do You Need A Better You In 2014?

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Do you need a better you in 2014? Are you tired of being enslaved to old habits, old patterns of thought and behavior that result in unhappiness and emotional and physical bondage? Have you made resolutions again, or have you given up because you never keep them?  There is hope. Freedom and transformation are available, but how? 

As you look into the mirror of your life today, ask yourself this question, "Do I want to be a better me?"  If the answer is yes, then you're in trouble.  You're in trouble because what you need is not a better you.  If all you focus on in 2014 is being a better you, all you'll get in 2014 is more of you and you are the problem with you.  The answer to a better you in 2014 is to change your focus. 

Freedom is where the Spirit of the Lord is. If you have been born again by faith in God's Son, Jesus Christ, then His Spirit is in you. But, the purpose of His Spirit in you is not to make you a better you. The purpose of His Spirit in you is to set you free from you and make you like the Son, Jesus Christ.

So, look into the mirror again, only this time don't look for more of you. Look for more of Christ, and ask God to do what God is determined to do. Ask Him to make you more and more like Christ, transformed moment by moment by the Spirit of God.  Look into His Word today and every day, and give yourself over to the transforming and liberating power of God's Spirit to create the image, the reflection of Christ in you. Read, believe and obey His many promises to transform you so that you and your life give Him glory and He gives you freedom. 

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:28-29