To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Daily Bread

As part of the pattern prayer delivered to us by our Lord He instructed us to pray Give us this day our daily bread (Matt 6:11). There are two key principles underlying this petition and we do well to have them firmly implanted in our lives.

Necessity

We are called to ask for our daily bread. We are not called to ask for our daily chocolate biscuits or crisps or whatever. It is bread we are called to ask for. Bread was the staple of the diet at the time of our Lord’s ministry. Bread was necessary to survive physically. Accordingly, the Lord is saying that we should ask that the Lord would give us what is necessary for the maintaining of our lives.

What we are being taught is that it is not our wants or our whims that we should be praying for. It is our needs.

Physical food must be included here and so we can literally ask our Father for our daily bread. However, it also, no doubt, should also include other aspects of physical and practical necessities in our lives such as clothes and housing.

Moreover, when we think about necessities in our lives we are led to think of the words of our Lord who said quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:4b). There is a more profound bread that we are in profound need of and that is the bread of the Word of Life. We need to be fed in our souls on the wholesome nourishing Word of the Lord. We should be praying that this should be the case everyday.

But let us never forget in our studying of that Word that the One who is the focus of that book is the Bread of Life. In John 6:35: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.We need to ask everyday that we would be having our Lord Jesus, through the Word, nourishing our lives.

Dependence

The fact that we have to ask for “daily bread” and ask for it “this day” means that each day we have to come afresh. We are not bidden to ask for six months supply. But rather we are called to ask for a daily supply. Everyday I must come again and ask for His supply.

This applies in every realm of the necessary bread required for our lives. Even though I may have a freezer full of food. I should continually be aware that I cannot presume on tomorrow. Everyday I need to come and acknowledge the Lord as the giver.

Moreover with the spiritual food from the written Word I need to come every day for fresh supply from His store. Yesterday’s food was for yesterday. Now we need today’s food. Any food left-over from the previous day putrefied.

The experience of the nation of Israel in the provision of the manna was a clear example of this principle. To find out more read Exodus 16. Daily, except on the sabbath, they had to go and get their daily food. Any food left-over from the previous day putrefied. They had to learn to depend on God everyday.

We live in a society where we are encouraged to be self-dependent so that we might be self-made. The Lord’s prayer teaches us, in the request for daily bread petition, that we need to be God-dependant and God-made.

 

Prayer and Recovery

I write this pondering upon how I am immeasurably recovered from where I was five months ago. My mental and emotional state now is incomparable to how I was when in the depths of weakness and despair through depression. If you want to follow the issue of my depression please follow the “Depression (Again)” posts which start here

I write this wanting to thank all who have prayed to the Lord for me. I am grateful for all who have shown an interest in me. I am grateful for all who have encouraged me. But I am left, above all, pondering upon the issue of the power and impact of prayer to the Lord by different ones for me.

Paul says to Philemon about how, through prayer, he expected something to happen. He writes: At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you (Phile. 22).

I am left wondering about how much of my recovery is down to the fact that people, including possibly yourself, have prayed for me. God really does work through prayer.

I am reminded of what I wrote here from Jackie Hill Perry about how she believed her coming to Christ was bound up with prayer.

Which all leaves me pondering upon how much of Philippians 4:6-7 is being seen in my life. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Oh may you and me be encouraged to be praying for people and situations and believing God really does work through prayer.

Damage Merchant

Alas, how weak and foolish I am! An issue arose once again in my life today which left me somewhat exasperated. It is an issue that has arisen several times before. The scenario is pretty well the same each time. I get “at my wits end” about the issue and the other party involved also gets “at their wits end” and altogether, give or take a few clarifications, it does not go well.

Then it came to me later in the day that here is an issue I have never really prayed over with my Lord. An issue, which is a continuing running sore in my life, has not been brought into the presence of my Saviour. I am just shocked thinking about it all. An issue has effectively been left to rumble on with little progress, much agitation and some damage to relationships along the way.

Then I am led to think about some other issues of late, where I have left some damage, to a greater or lesser extent, in my wake. What might there be in common about all these issues? I suggest I have gone into them and engaged in them without really sincerely bringing the matter before the Lord. I can say I have acted with legitimacy in each of these situations, but what a fool I have been with my lack of prayer.

So I hear the Lord saying to me through the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It is the word “everything” that hits me here. How much other stuff is in my life which is not been brought to God? And while I am at it, how much is there in your life that is not being brought to God? So perhaps over these next days, even particularly tomorrow on the Lord’s Day, take time to consider in the presence of God how much of your life is not been prayed over. It may be your work; it may be your computer use, it may be your dealing with your family, and it may be so many things.

So I write this a bit relieved. I am relieved that there is a way out of my recurring melt-downs and it is prayer. Philip, you can pray. Philip you must pray. and then i can believe the Lord working to progress my life. O Lord thank you

Prepared Prayers

One thing that I have started to ponder upon, consequent upon visiting several churches earlier in the year, is the issue of pre-written prayers.

I have to confess that this is something I have not previously given a lot of thought to. In leading from the front in prayer I have been of the school of thought, that you address your Father and God in an extempore fashion according to as you are inclined in heart and mind at that time. Without dwelling upon it, the assumption behind that approach is a belief in the Holy Spirit guiding you. And if you have been with the Lord during the week, then you will be led in an appropriate way to bring matters before the Lord.

The danger of this approach though, is that we can attribute our sloppiness and disorderliness to the Holy Spirit when it is simply us not having given ourselves to sufficient preparation. One critical aspect of that preparation is rightly the preparation which comes from ongoing fellowship with the Lord so that we are in the right heart frame.

However, should I not also be thinking about the content of my prayer? Is there anything about our God and His Son, our Saviour, we want to dwell upon? Are there any particular blessings to consider? And what specific issues can we be bringing before God?

We could write these out and there is no problem with that. We could have a list that prompts us or we could read them what we have previously prepared in a verbatim fashion. Alternatively, we could simply have things in our heads. Which ever way it is, I am challenged that more preparation is needed.

In all this though we need to be reminded from Matthew 6:1-7 how our Lord taught that we should neither do our praying for show nor just have vain repetition. And, dare I say, that can happen whether you have prepared prayers or extempore prayers.

What Prayer Can Do?

Yes prayer can move mountains. Don’t take that on my Word, but on the Word of the Lord; that is Jesus the Lord. He and His disciples were on route from Bethany to Jerusalem. They took a stop-off on the way to get some figs from a fig tree. Alas the fig tree had no figs and so the Lord cursed it and it died forthwith. The disciples were astonished that the tree had died so quickly

Upon this happening we read Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig-tree, but also you can say to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’ (Matt. 21:21-22). Yes our Lord really did say that. 

I feel when someone is freshly saved they read this scripture with excitement about what God can do through genuine faith-filled prayer. Alas, as we mature and become more knowledgeable we tend to evacuate such scriptures of their power. We can say with greater or lesser legitimacy:

  • Such prayer was in a certain dispensation
  • Such prayer is only effective when our Lord is here
  • Prayer must always be according to His will.
  • All prayer must be in harmony with scripture.
  • The Lord was speaking in hyperbole and we must understand it that way.

And we are left with a denuded scripture.

But let’s not be so easy to escape the changelessness and power of what the Lord said. Essentially believing prayer can move mountains into the sea. Believing prayer can achieve the impossible because believing prayer releases the all-conquering power of God into a situation.

So let’s get believing some things and praying them and expecting mountain, moving like answers. Yes God can save that indomitable unbelieving relative. He can becasue He is a mountain moving God. So what will you and I pray to this God?

Lloyd-Jones and Prayer

Here is a quote from Dr Lloyd Jones on prayer from Preachers and Preaching pp. 170-171:

Above all – and this I regard as most important of all – always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this—always obey such an impulse. Where does it come from? It is the work of the Holy Spirit; it is a part of the meaning of, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13)

This often leads to some of the most remarkable experiences of the minister. So never resist, never postpone it, never push it aside because you are busy. Give yourself to it, yield to it; and you will find not only that you have not been wasting time with respect to the matter with which you are dealing, but that actually it has helped you greatly in that respect. You will experience an ease and a facility in understanding what you are reading, in thinking, in ordering matter for a sermon, in writing, in everything, which is quite astonishing. Such a call to prayer must never be regarded as a distraction; always respond to it immediately and thank God if it happens to you frequently.

It specifically related to those in a preaching ministry, However, I believe it is applicable to all of us. Since reading this statement many years ago it is something I have pondered upon from time-to-time. If I could extend his thoughts further, I would say that we should be asking for these times of impulse that we might have a real unction in prayer and real fellowship with our God. And also a reminder here that if we are too busy to pray then we are too busy and need to sort our lives out.

And finally if you are a preacher you must read Preachers and Preaching.

Will There Be Power Tomorrow?

Why are our services so often so mundane and routine and lacking in impact? Why is there a lack of power? The danger is that when we diagnose that there is a problem, along the lines described we go for the wrong solution; we go for men’s wisdom.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5: My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. Paul was doing everything to makes sure that men’s wisdom did not prevail in his ministry. A human wisdom approach means to look to arrangements, to look to impressiveness, to look for the charismatic, to look for lights and loudness. These have their place in the proper arrangement of things and they all need to be properly considered. However, we can get everything re-packaged in our services and still be mundane, routine and lacking impact even though all is spruced up a bit.

What we need though is the Spirit’s power; we need the power of God. We, like Paul, need to labour to make sure the power of God is known in our services. So how will we get it? We need godliness and prayerfulness. To be godly means there is a sin-rejecting, God inclining direction in our lives which moves us into and keeps us in the presence of God. Prayerfulness means we will be in touch with God as the source of all power. We will be pleading with Him to work and be known.

Oh let us then commit ourselves into godly and praying ways. Overnight tonight let that be our soul’s desire. And might it be tomorrow that we will be experiencing the power God. To have no desire for godliness and no commitment to prayerfulness are the recipe for a powerless church.

So yes we need the services arranged well and the preaching done well, but all will be to no avail without the power of God.

And how will we know that God’s power is among us? Sin will be confessed and rejected; Christ will be magnified in all His saving and keeping majesty and God will be extolled and glorified.

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