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“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

~ Jesus in Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

by Drew Hunter:

Drew Hunter is the teaching pastor at Zionsville Fellowship in Zionsville, Indiana, where he lives with his wife and three young boys. Drew blogs at Gospel Refresh. You can follow him on Twitter.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9). This first line of the Lord’s Prayer is one of the most familiar in the Bible. It is one of the most commonly prayed prayers in history. Yet among believers it is often underappreciated and misunderstood.

After years of familiarity with this prayer I realized that I wasn’t quite sure what I was saying. I began to wonder if I was doing what Jesus had just warned about: heaping up “empty phrases” in prayer (v. 7). What are we actually praying here? What does Jesus hold so highly as to instruct us to make it our first prayer?

Clarifying Our Understanding

Clarity came in three steps. The first step is answering this question: Is this a statement of praise, or is it a request? For years I thought it was a statement of adoration and praise. I thought “hallowed be your name” was equivalent to “you are holy and worthy.” But notice: it’s not, “hallowed is your name,” but “hallowed be your name.” This is a request. It’s asking God to do something. The Lord’s Prayer is a series of petitions, and this is the first one. Jesus is telling us to pray, “May your name be hallowed.”

But what exactly are we asking God to do? Step two is considering what “hallowed” means. It is to honor something as holy (literally, to sanctify). It is to set something apart and acknowledge its uniqueness. When we hallow something, we honor it as uncommon, special, and superior.

Last step: What are we requesting be honored? God’s name. Throughout the Scriptures, God’s “name” is another way of referring to himself. God’s name represents who he is.

For the rest of the post…

Partnering with People in Their Pain

My sweet wife has struggled with chronic pain just about every day for almost three and a half years. As it became clear that this could be a long-term struggle for her, I was struggling myself with how to walk with her through it. There were lots of scary tests, new doctors, and frightening scenarios. And, of course, there was the pain! It was hard to adjust to this new normal. But God is good, and through the real pain he’s taught me a few real, glorious things about partnering with the hurting.

Good in Groaning

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope. . . For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:2022-23)

Groaning. We groan because the world is subjected to futility. Things are not as they should be. This means at least two things about our pain.

First, groaning is OK. God didn’t make this world for pain. It’s a product of the broken world we live in. God’s sovereignty in the situation does not mean we don’t admit that it’s hard or that we don’t like it. It is hard and we don’t like it! It’s part of the curse and we plead with God, “Take it away!” (2 Cor. 12:7–10).

Second, Romans 8 groaning is the groaning of childbirth. It is appropriate for a woman to groan in labor, and it is appropriate for believers to groan in suffering. Christians, more than any others, know there is something better ahead, something perfect — being forever face-to-face with Jesus, completely painless. Therefore, we groan in hope. We groan for the redemption of our bodies. When our bodies are redeemed, all sin and suffering will be put away and we will be free to worship Jesus in his pain-free presence.

Chronic pain is especially hard. It’s not how it should be, and it’s the everyday reality — often quietly — for so many around us. Long day after long day, we’re groaning in hope of the day when the pain will pass and we’ll be made new.

Dependence in Despair

It is freeing to groan in hope. But, groaning is only part of the answer in pain. God not only promises to deliver us through suffering, but with his keeping, he is working for our good in the suffering.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. (2 Corinthians 1:8–9)

Paul is so utterly burdened that he despaired of life itself. It’s as if he had received a death sentence. People feeling deep or chronic pain will find themselves feeling this way. Paul’s interpretation of his trial is life-altering for how we view and experience suffering.

But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

The point of Paul’s pain was to give him more of God, through greater dependence on him. Dependence on God is not just the result of a trial. Dependence on God is the purpose for a trial. The pain is a radical, unexpected way that God cares for his children.

God means to strip away self-sufficiency so that we can have more of him. God means to strip away idols of health and comfort and strength to give us more of himself. These situations make us helpless in finding answers ourselves. There is often nothing to do except cry out to God. We begin to see that God is good to ordain suffering. There is purpose in pain.

More than groaning, there’s a glad, desperate dependence on God. We groan together and we are more deeply dependent on God than we ever could be without this pain. If the best gift God can give us is himself, then it is gracious for him to take even our health away (and that of those we love) if it means more of him for us.

Worshiping in Weakness

Groaning is good. Dependence on God is good. And there’s more.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7–10)

These verses help us to see that not only can we survive (groan), and rest (depend) in this suffering, but we can worship! Indeed, if God’s power is made perfect in weakness, then God is abundantly good to help us realize weaknesses so that his strength can be revealed in, and to, and even through us to others.

Suffering does not create weakness. Suffering highlights weakness. It takes suffering to help us realize our weakness. If God’s strength is made perfect in weakness, then how gracious is God to help us understand the reality of our weakness so that we can turn from self-sufficiency and boast in his power!

For the rest of the post…

Andrew Murray.JPG“While others still slept, He went away to pray and to renew His strength in communion with His Father. He had need of this, otherwise He would not have been ready for the new day. The holy work of delivering souls demands constant renewal through fellowship with God.”

~ Andrew Murray

Fellowship With God

A Teaching Article On Effective Prayer

Why don’t we see the will of God on earth? Does God want you to be healed? Yes. Does God want you to prosper, in every sense? Yes. Does God have good things for you? Yes! Does God have solutions to the problems you face? Yes. Then why don’t we see more of the will of God on earth? The answer varies – but one thing is sure: we can “download” heaven to earth through prayer. God put eternity in the heart of man, and the kingdom of God is within you. How do we make the kingdom of God manifest? The answer is prayer. Prayer is a key to the kingdom of God.

God is a relational being; He desires your companionship. Only He can give you the wisdom and discernment necessary to walk in the fullness of His plan. There are “defining moments” in your life that push you into His plan. You won’t see these moments unless you are in prayer and have the discernment to recognize them. You need to be in prayer so you don’t miss your moment!

God can change your situation in a second, but if we don’t recognize or discern the moment, we may miss it – and have to go around the mountain again! Don’t keep going around the same mountain…you have dwelled there long enough! Don’t settle for less than your “covenant privileges.” Get into your prayer closet and spend some time with God!

The kingdom of God is on the inside of you, because of Jesus Christ dwelling in your heart by faith and because of His Spirit living on the inside of you. Only by being a person of prayer and having fellowship with God do we activate the treasure God has placed within each of us. His presence activates the eternity He placed inside of you! That’s why you must have fellowship with the Father through prayer to know what you need to do next. When you step into your prayer closet and fellowship with Father God, you tap into His supernatural power and wisdom. You will be able to see your God-moment if you have God’s wisdom!

One of the best definitions of “fellowship” is “the state of sharing mutual interests, experiences, and activities.” Even though this is a secular definition from the World English Dictionary, it gives us a clear picture of what we are doing while in prayer with Father God – we are sharing mutual interests, experiences and activities. Let me digress for a moment: God is interested in everything that is affecting you in any way! He long for us to come to Him with every request big, or small. When we are in our prayer closet, He is adjusting our desires and attitudes by His Spirit, making us stronger and more fruitful in the kingdom.

“I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
(John 16:23-24-NIV).

While in prayer, we make specific requests of God that only He can make happen. As long as we are not asking amiss, you can rest assured that He will give you the things you’ve asked according to John 14:13: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

Spending time with God gives you an overflow of supernatural provision. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) When we fellowship with God, we share our interests with Him and release the burdens of our needs. His supernatural presence activates the kingdom of God within you.

Accepting Jesus Christ is the only way to communicate with God the Father. If we can meditate on His nature, we will be drawn to Him to pray. God is not like people – we don’t have to shrink back from Him. You can crawl up in His lap, and He will wrap His arms of love around you. He will never violate you. He will never hurt you. He will never leave you or forsake you. He doesn’t have a back door or a trap door or a booby trap. God is safe. God is secure. God is a rock, a refuge and a friend. God is our Savior.

For the rest of the post…

Devotional for October 20

Prayer’s First Priority

John Piper

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9)

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches that the first priority in praying is to ask that our heavenly Father’s name be hallowed.

Notice that this is a petition or a request. It is not a declaration (as I thought it was for years). It is a request to God that he would see to it that his own name be hallowed.

It is like another text, Matthew 9:38, where Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send out laborers into his own harvest. It never ceases to amaze me that we, the laborers, should be instructed to ask the owner of the farm, who knows the harvest better than we do, to add on more farm hands.

But isn’t this the same thing we have here in the Lord’s Prayer — Jesus telling us to ask God, who is infinitely jealous for the honor of his own name, to see to it that his name be hallowed?

Well it may amaze us, but there it is. And it teaches us two things.

  1. One is that prayer does not move God to do things he is disinclined to do. He has every intention to cause his name to be hallowed. Nothing is higher on God’s priority list.
  2. The other is that prayer is God’s way of bringing our priorities into line with his. God wills to make great things the consequence of our prayers when our prayers are the consequence of his great purposes.

For the rest of the post…

Prayer and the Mission of God

By Philip Nation

Prayer is used by God to bring His people into alignment with His mission. It is critical that we remember that prayer is not a power by which we force God to act according to our will. Rather, by communicating with God, His passions can become our passions. Believers have the opportunity to both listen to and speak to the God of the universe in prayer to receive guidance by His Spirit. It is not just an activity of our faith but is a portion of the relationship we have with Christ.

mogsb.jpegPrayer is an activity often thought of as driving only the personal side of the believer’s life. If we view prayer merely as an internal discipline, we can lose sight of how God might use prayer as a means of engaging us in His mission in ways that extend beyond our own spiritual development. As our maturity in Christ develops through the relational activity of prayer, it should consequently cause us to see the world and humanity as Christ does.

The mission assigned to the church has its originations in the mind of God and must therefore be directed by Him. It is in prayer oftentimes that Christians will come to a place of complete abandonment to God’s Spirit. In Ephesians 6:18, believers are directed to “pray at all times in the Spirit.” By praying according the passions and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we surrender our will to His plan and purposes.

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The Lord Jesus…

…would withdraw to desolate places and pray (Luke 5:16)

Passionate Prayer

January 28, 2010

Jesus’ Passionate Prayer Life

“The Life of Jesus provides the model for our prayer lives.  God is seeking to mold us into the image of His Son (Colossians 1:27-28).  If we are to act like Christ, our prayer lives must be conformed to His.  Many Christians are unwilling to pay the price that Jesus paid when it comes to interceding with God.  Jesus’ prayers came with vehement cries and tears and, ‘because of his godly fear’, He was heard by the Father.” Henry and Richard Blackaby

Jesus was passionate!
We saw it in the wonderful film The Passion of the Christ. He was passionate about the lost, He was passionate about life and death, and He was passionate about prayer.  Jesus wasn’t lukewarm or apathetic about prayer.  No!  He was on fire and fervent about it, and we must be too.  We are living in a time when passionate prayer is needed for every nation.===>More

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