Week 4 - April 2-April 8

How’s your prayer life? I have been challenged over the last five weeks of this series “PRAY – Better, Harder, Stronger” by Moses, Daniel, Hezekiah, Jabez and Nehemiah. Yeah, they lived a long time ago, but wow, they could pray! And God moved!

Nehemiah’s heart broke over the condition of the city of Jerusalem and the Hebrew people.  The walls of Jerusalem were still broken down 140 years after the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon and Nehemiah had his Popeye moment and he said “That’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more.” Nehemiah’s burden and broken heart caused him to pray – earnestly, fervently and passionately.

What burden or brokenness causes you to pray – earnestly, fervently and passionately?

After Nehemiah prayed for three months he had the courage and conviction to ask King Artaxerxes to release him from his responsibilities as the cupbearer so he could go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, no easy task. God moved on the king’s heart, Nehemiah was granted his release and (fast forwarding through a lot of details) Nehemiah and hundreds of other Hebrew people rebuilt the city walls in 52 days.

When God gives us a burden, mixed with passionate praying, a strong dose of courage and conviction, vision and teamwork, great things happen!

Will you join me in mixing these same elements together today? Let’s see what God will do!

Week 4 - March 26-April 1

I continue to be challenged by the prayers and the prayer life of those we have looked at during our current worship series on prayer: Moses, Daniel, Hezekiah, and Jabez. I have been challenged personally to PRAY – Better, Harder and Stronger. 

I love to read and apply the Scriptures, but this last week I have been praying the Scriptures as written in 1 Chronicles 4: 9-10. 

Have you ever prayed the Scriptures?  What does that mean? It is taking God’s word and speaking it into your life. It is personalizing God’s Word and praying it back to God asking Him to do in your life whatever is being articulated in the Scripture passage. 

It is taking the prayer of Moses or Daniel or Hezekiah or Jabez and making it your prayer. Give it a try today.

 Here is Jabez’ prayer in 1 Chronicles 4:10, “Oh, that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory!  May your hand be upon me, and keep me from evil so that I will not cause pain.”

Go ahead and pray that prayer and make it the desire of your heart. Here is my expansion of that prayer which includes some of the other elements of prayer we have been learning about in this prayer series.  I invite you to pray the following prayer the next several days:

Gracious and Mighty God, You are all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present. You alone are the living God. I praise You and I pray that You would bless me, indeed. I pray for Your best and Your supernatural involvement in my life.

Enlarge my territory. Increase the impact and influence of my one and only life. Energize the spiritual gifts, talents, abilities and personality you have given me and Spiritually empower me to greater things and greater impact SO THAT You would be glorified, others would be blessed and Your purpose for my life would be fulfilled.

May Your hand be upon me and keep me from evil SO THAT I might not cause pain to myself, others or You.

All this I ask humbly and boldly in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

 

Week 3 - March 19-25

On Monday night of this week I had two church meetings and I got called out.

It wasn’t the first time I got called out and probably won’t be the last time, but I actually loved it this Monday night. After I closed meeting number one in prayer one person looked at me and said, “So where is the ‘so that’?” Another person looked at me and said “So where is the confession?”

Wow, they were giving it to me!  Last Sunday I talked about Hezekiah’s prayer in 2 Kings 19 and how he ended his prayer with a “so that," “Lord answer this prayer so that all would know you alone, are the one true living God.” We are to end our prayers with a “so that”, praying that the Lord would answer our prayers so that others would see God, His purpose would be fulfilled, others would see His glory, come to know Him, His kingdom would advance, etc.  At the end of that meeting I missed ending my prayer with a “so that”.

I have also encouraged people to use the ACTS format for praying:  A – Adoration C – Confession T – Thanksgiving S - Supplication.  I forgot to include confession in my closing prayer.  Oops.

Busted.

However, I got another chance to redeem myself as I opened my second meeting of the night in prayer.  I nailed it.  Straight ACTS.  Closed with a solid “so that”. I then looked at Brian, the one person who was at both meetings with me, and I asked, “Did I redeem myself?”  He nodded and smiled.

I invite you to nail it this week.  Pray straight ACTS.  Close with a solid “so that”. You have another chance to redeem yourself.  Then receive the nod and smile of God.

Week 2 - March 12-18

I have been thinking a lot the last week about leadership and prayer. The great leaders of the Old Testament seemed to be grounded in prayer. Moses prevailed in prayer all day and the victory was won (Exodus 17). Daniel was disciplined, diligent, regular and consistent in prayer for 60 plus years (Daniel 1, 6). Moses and Daniel have challenged me to be a leader grounded in prayer. Daniel has also challenged me regarding leadership and courage and conviction.  

As a young man Daniel refused to eat the foreign king’s food and drink the king’s wine. Daniel was going against the flow of culture and that took a lot of courage and conviction. God honored him for it. As an old man Daniel refused to bow to the foreign king and instead maintained his regular habit of praying three times a day from his open window facing Jerusalem even though he knew it would probably cost him his life. Wow, that’s courage and conviction! In what ways is God calling me and you to go against the flow of culture, to maintain consistent and regular prayer and to stand with courage and conviction?  

This week I haven’t been 100% successful but I have been trying to pray three times a day like Daniel. I’m not sure how long Daniel prayed but I’ve been working on 10-2-10; ten minutes in the morning, two minutes at mid-day and ten minutes at night. I encourage you to try it. I’ve been using the tested and effective prayer structure of ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. I encourage you to try it with me. Then let’s watch our courage, conviction and leadership increase!

Together in prayer,

Pastor Harold

Week 1 - March 5-11

We have just embarked on a worship series at Asbury titled, PRAY.  I have been very challenged in my preparation for this series because I have been forced to look at my own prayer life, my own lack and my own shortcomings when it comes to prayer.  I believe in prayer and believe prayer is something I should do, but it seems like there is often a barrier between belief and actually praying.  Can you relate?

But then I think of Moses on a hilltop in the Sinai desert lifting his hands to God and simply calling out “Help me, God.”  The Amalekite army was a fierce, warlike, nomadic tribe advancing against the Hebrew people.  Moses knew he needed God’s help and so he lifted his arms to heaven.  In the everyday battles we face, a good way to start the day is to lift our hands to heaven and pray “Help me, God.”  Uplifted hands is the natural instinct of a small child when he/she feels scared, vulnerable, weary or tired.”  “Lift me up, Mommy.”  Will you carry me Daddy?”

Why not take 5 minutes in the morning and express your need for God in the new day in the same way? We are off to a good start in our series PRAY.  I look forward to building on that start each week and to help us move to a deeper prayer life and a closer relationship with a heavenly Father who loves us and wants to hear from his children. Remember what I said Sunday – no one’s voice is sweeter to God than yours.

 

Together in Prayer, Pastor Harold