Posts tagged prayer
Today is the first Thursday in May, a day set aside by our country’s leaders as a national day of prayer. The Bible speaks of prayer often and encourages us with numerous examples of people who spent time in prayer. Examining the lives of those prayerful individuals in the Scriptures reveals that they are no different from you and me; they have their shortcomings and, in many cases, it is only through the Lord answering their prayers that they succeeded.
Learning to Pray from Moses
Moses’ example—that is, his overcoming his fear of public speaking and leadership—speaks volumes about prayer. Moses knew he wasn’t a capable leader of his people, so he spent much of his time in conversation with the Lord, often pleading for God to have mercy on the stubborn and rebellious Israelites. It was only through his conversations with the Lord that Moses was able to deliver Israel from Egypt.
Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ [God] said, ‘But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.’ (Ex. 3:11-12 ESV)
Moses continued to ask the Lord for guidance, and when it was clear Israel would need a new leader to take them in to the land, he appealed to God, saying:
‘Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.’ So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.’ (Num. 27:15-18 ESV)
God provided Joshua to be the new shepherd to the Israelites, a direct answer to Moses’ prayer. However, not all of Moses’ prayers were answered. In Deuteronomy 3:23-28, Moses pleads with God to let him enter the Promised Land with the Israelites.
And I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’
But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again. Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’ (ESV)
God’s answer to our prayers, like His answer to Moses’ here, may be “no,” but the truth still remains that God is willing and ready to listen to our prayers, but we must be equally willing to speak to Him and listen for His answer.
As a Christian, prayer is an important part of spiritual life. It’s a time when we draw into the presence of our Lord and offer Him our praise, thanksgiving, supplication and repentance. We want to encourage you today and every day to spend time taking advantage of the privilege of speaking to our Lord personally and intimately through prayer. The writer of Hebrews invites us to do the same:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16 ESV)
Today we highlight The Hidden Life of Prayer as a free resource for The Bible Study App.
The Hidden Life of Prayer conveys the fragrance of the inner sanctuary. It shows a unique acquaintance with the glories of the presence of God found in the prayer closet. David MacIntyre covers the subject of prayer in eight chapters, providing wonderful examples and moving incentives, alongside helpful instructions regarding prayer. This short treatise may well change how you approach the Lord in prayer.
Find it in the in-app store or go here for download instructions.
I can’t help but wonder if I’ve allowed myself to be influenced by a culture that increasingly caters to a short attention span because recently I’ve noticed that I’m easily distracted in my prayers. I always start out my prayer time with good intentions but before I realize it I’ve created a prayer sandwich with a distracted filling that looks something like this:
My unfocused prayer sessions were bugging me so much that one night I even brought it up to my wife as a prayer request. The next day as I was about start my prayer time I tried something different. Instead of softly mumbling my prayers to God, I made them loud. Not only did I make them loud, I actually stirred myself up to speak them as if they were actually really important, as if they were urgent, and as if they really mattered! Not surprising, my prayer time not only lasted longer but it was more focused.
In Hebrews 5:7 the author talks about the way that Jesus prayed:
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
In several places the Gospels record Jesus retreating to solitary places to pray but most likely his prayer times weren’t quiet. In the passage from Hebrews the Greek word behind the translation for ‘loud’ is ischuros and can mean strong, powerful, mighty or robust. In other words, Jesus wasn’t praying some monotone quiet prayers, he was praying with loud passion.
If you can relate with being easily distracted in your prayer times than try some *ischuros prayers. If you’re not used to praying loud prayers you may need to drink some coffee or walk around on your first attempt but you may also be surprised at how easy it comes. And just as Jesus did, remember that your prayers are to him who is able to save you from death. Amen!
What are some out of the box things you do in your prayer and devotional times? Share them in the comment section below.
*I recommend the first loud prayers not be when you’re tucking your kids into bed at night but feel free to try it on your commute to work. Other drivers will just think you’re listening to some intense music.
Tragedy, no matter what it looks like, always stirs up a wide range of emotions. In tough circumstances, grief, confusion, and anger swirl about and as believers in Jesus it’s in these times that our foundation is revealed. When there are more questions than answers and it’s hard to see through the dense mist of pain, what lens will we choose to see the present circumstances through?
Whether it’s the events of 9/11 or yesterday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, there becomes a swirling commentary in the media that causes our perspective to shift quickly from emotion to emotion. It’s in these moments that we need the ‘anchor for our soul’ that Hebrews 6:19 talks about.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a follower of Jesus in North Korea or the United States, the message of the Cross of Jesus Christ is at odds with the message of the culture and the result is often hardship. In John 16:33, Jesus knew hardship would soon be reality for his disciples and so he says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Jesus was preparing his disciples for the reality of hardship but also promising them that if they remained in him they would not only have peace but they would also have victory!
This morning I was drawn to read Psalm 17 which is entitled, In The Shadow of Your Wings, a prayer of David. I encourage you to read the whole thing yourself but here are the opening two verses:
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry!
Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
From your presence let my vindication come!
Let your eyes behold the right!
As the psalmist continues his lament over hardship he stays firmly anchored to what he knows of the character of God. He knows these things because he has heard the stories of God’s working in the past and has experienced them in the present. And so in verse 6 he can confidently say, “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;” His understanding of God’s character, God’s very nature is his anchor during the present times of hardship as he anticipates the faithfulness of God in the future.
As we process the reality of what happened yesterday in Boston and encounter new trials and hardships in the future, it’s important that we remember that God always hears and answers our prayers. So let’s pray through our pain and confusion knowing that God hears us and will answer. Let’s pray also for justice and righteousness knowing that God hears us and will answer. Through prayer our perspective for seeing and reacting to our present circumstance becomes anchored in our God who is faithful.
Our God who has always heard us and who always answers.
For additional scriptures check out:
A couple of weeks ago we asked a question on our Facebook about what device people were using to run The Bible Study App and what country they were from. Hundreds of you were kind enough to answer (you can see the post here) and one of the things that stood out was how many people from around the world use the Bible Study App to read and study God’s word – over 3 million people from 6 continents (we’re still trying to find someone in Antarctica).
There are two reasons this is exciting to us at Olive Tree:
Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” As many of you indicated the country you’re from it was a great reminder that God’s promises come to pass. The good news (gospel) has gone out as Jesus promised and no matter what country we’re from we are all a part of his Kingdom.
The other reason it was great to see your responses is because our work at Olive Tree is driven by our mission statement to, “inspire people to connect with God and study the Bible using technology.” As individual employees we are all continuing to grow in our faith and blessed to be a part of a company that seeks to provide the best tool possible to study, learn, and grow.
(The Olive Tree Offices)
Last week we asked for prayer requests through our social media channels and as a staff we gathered together on a Thursday morning to pray for those of you who had submitted requests. It was a great honor for us to be able to do that and something we want to continue to do in the days ahead. We also appreciate your prayers as we are praying and planning for the future and how to best equip and resource people who use The Bible Study App.
We value your feedback and our development teams are constantly working to bring new features to the various platforms. We also appreciate your ratings! If you haven’t yet rated our app on Google Play or the Apple Store please take a minute to do so.
Every week employees at Olive Tree gather to pray and reflect on God’s word. Last week we were reminded about the importance of prayer and before our devotional time we watched a short video by John Piper which we thought we’d share with you today.