10 Promises for Your Bible Reading

Many mornings, weariness threatens to win.

Like a thick cloud, it opposes my time in God’s Word, obscures my desire to read, and keeps me from seeing the light of truth. My weariness might be circumstantial – a disappointment or an ongoing trial – or it may be physical – a long night of little sleep or the lingering annoyance of chronic pain.

I desire to dive into the depths of Scripture, but weariness wants to keep me in the shallows. I yearn to explore the endless riches of knowing Christ better, but weariness tempts me to apathy and tricks me into settling for less.

I need God’s help when I come to his Word. We need God’s help. Only he can overcome the shallows of our weariness and enlighten our clouded hearts with his truth. He actually promises to do these things when believers read their Bibles—

But do we trust his promises?

Continue reading

Advertisements

Before You Were Born, We Prayed for You

No parent is completely ready for their first child.

At least that’s what we’ve heard. Our first is due soon. It’s a girl, our precious daughter — we are thrilled beyond belief. She is a gift from God, a sweet treasure we don’t deserve, but one we’ve been entrusted with for as many days as her Creator has planned. Many moments, I’m stilled by the wonder of such a gift, and in the next breath I’m anxious, thinking, How on earth will we ever be ready for her?

We won’t. Not in the sense of having all the answers, or anticipating what’s coming. Perhaps we’ll be ready in the way of stuff: the baby registry, doctor appointments, showers, nursery, classes, the works (okay, maybe not the birth). These are good essentials that will help us navigate uncharted territory — but they aren’t the most valuable way we can prepare for our daughter in these expectant months.

The best thing we can do is pray.

Continue reading

Three Ways God Uses the Prayers of His People

Some prayers are long-suffering prayers.

You pray and pray for answers, for God to act, and you wonder if he ever will as the months and years pass with seemingly no change. The chronic condition, the unbelieving friend, the prodigal child—you entrust these to him with patient pleas…and you wait for God to do something.

Other prayers are answered quickly. You identify a need and ask God to meet it, trusting he can – and he does. He acts in a recognizable way, and answers promptly.

Whether your prayer requests have been long in the making, or you’ve identified a fresh need just today, here’s one reality you can cling to: God uses the prayers of his people.

God Uses Earnest Prayer to Effect His Will

Rewind to the days of the early church.

Peter had been arrested and imprisoned during a time when King Herod was laying violent hands on Christians (Acts 12:1-3). The apostle was under intense guard, secured by four squads of soldiers and bound with chains. His situation seemed impossible to escape—

But the church prayed for him.

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. (v. 5)

What happens next is astounding. “On that very night” (v. 6), God frees Peter through the intervention of an angel, who causes the chains to fall off his hands. The angel instructs him to follow, leading him through the iron gate, which “opened for them of its own accord” (v. 10), and into the city. Peter thought he was seeing a vision – until he came to his senses: “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me” (v. 11).

God’s Word is clear that Peter’s rescue relates to the church’s prayers. “On that very night” tells us how God responded to the people’s pleas. And we’re told that these pleas were “earnest,” as the church believed God could deliver Peter and asked boldly that he would.  

Believer, in a similar way, God uses your earnest prayers to effect his will. He planned before time began that you would pray at divinely orchestrated moments, that he would hear your pleas and respond in his timing and according to his plans. Whether God answers quickly and obviously, as he did for Peter, or you don’t see his answer in your lifetime, you can trust that he’s at work – even within your own heart as he changes your desires and molds your will to his. Your guarantee that he hears you is Jesus Christ, who gave you entrance to the Father’s presence and his ear when you trusted him to do so.

God uses earnest prayer and effects his will through your petitions. Knowing this, how might you earnestly pray to him today?

Read the rest of the article at iBelieve.

Five Keys for Making Prayer a Habit

Prayer is hard work. It’s not something that comes naturally.

We go about our days, engaged in the home or workplace, distracted by good things that would keep us from prayer if we let them. Our hearts are prone to wander from God in self-reliance toward temporary pleasures, rather than running to him in dependence for the lasting joy and satisfaction only he can provide.

No relationship will flourish without intention—and this takes work! Perhaps you feel your need for communion with God, and you want to grow in forming a habit of prayer, but you don’t know where to start…

Five Keys for Making Prayer a Habit

Maybe prayer seems daunting, like a high mountain to climb; or perhaps the pace of your day doesn’t seem to allow for this time. Yet, the growth of any relationship won’t fall into our laps; we need to be intentional, trusting God will meet and help us in this time of sought communion.

So here’s a start! The following are five keys to help you form a habit of prayer:

Continue reading

A Prayer for When the Pain Returns

Old pains have made new appearances lately. The jaw pain I thought was almost gone is back with a vengeance, and my knee has decided to act up again. I’ve felt discouraged, set back, and weary, unsure how to process this.

Why would God remove certain pains, after much prayer, only to return them? How am I supposed to understand these recurrences? Why does it seem like I can never get ahead of the pain and discomfort?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. I’m at a loss for words when the pain returns and presses upon me with its fearful weight.

Continue reading

10 Prayers to Pray This President’s Day

It’s President’s Day. Workers rest from their labors and schools temporarily close. This is a day of honor, a national holiday to remember the forty-five men who’ve served our country in the prestigious role of President of the United States.

Regardless of what the title POTUS evokes for you, President’s Day is a unique opportunity to reflect on history-past and anticipate our country’s future. But we don’t do this through worrying and fretting, nor do we become puffed up by national pride or confidence in man—

We do this through prayer. We do this on our knees.

Continue reading

22 Prayers for Your Bible Reading

Reading the Bible before praying is like putting the cart before the horse.

The proverbial horse is the Holy Spirit of God, who empowers and enlightens our Bible reading as we mine the depths of his Word. The proverbial cart makes up our willing eyes and hungry hearts, the Spirit-led choice to crack open our Bibles and pursue his everlasting truth.

The cart must be pulled by the horse; our efforts to read must be motivated and helped by God’s grace and power. Christians come to God’s Word willing and hungry because he first made us willing and hungry to receive—but only he can enable us to receive. This is why we ask for help before we start reading.

Continue reading

Three Ways to Encourage Earnest Prayer Requests in Your Small Group

This weekend, I had the honor of guest writing over at Nivine Richie’s women’s ministry website, Unfolding His Word. Nivine is quickly becoming a dear friend in ministry, and her teaching is richly Bible-centered. Check out her writings and her book!

We sat around the warm fireplace, journals open, pens ready, and eyes eagerly awaiting the wise words of our women’s ministry director.

A group of small group leaders from our church had gathered for a night of reflection, learning, and sharing. The first semester of small group had flown by, and now was the time to consider how it had gone: Did the women seem to be growing in their faith? Was there an increasing eagerness to read the Word? Were the women committing to the life of the church?

Our director proceeded to touch on the subject of prayer. What was the temperature of prayer in the groups? When we, as leaders, asked for prayer requests, was getting responses from our women like pulling teeth? Or were the women eager to share their hearts with one another?

Many of us agreed that prompting prayer requests was closer to pulling teeth – because “Aunt Martha prayers” were abundant in many of our groups.

Aunt Martha prayers. You know them. These are the prayer requests that tend to evade any subject of personal privacy, including both struggles and joys, focusing instead on “my sick Aunt Martha. Please pray for her health.”

Now, a brief side-note before I continue: Asking for prayer on behalf of other people is absolutely a wonderful thing. In fact, it often reveals a sympathetic heart who is thinking of other people’s needs before their own. There is great power in praying for the people God has placed in our circles of influence, and we so we should, with great faith that God hears us.

By “Aunt Martha prayers,” however, I am referring to prayer requests that stay the same week after week; that do not focus primarily on the concerns of the heart; and that are not directly related to a person’s own unique relationship with Christ.

Can you think of times that “Aunt Martha prayers” have infiltrated your own small group?

What is a small group leader to do?

From my own experience in leading a young women’s group, I’ve learned three helpful ways to encourage women to make requests that involve more personal, vulnerable, and sometimes even sensitive subjects:

Set the example

Something amazing happens when a leader speaks in earnest: a level of trust is established that then encourages the listening individuals to follow suit. The author of Hebrews writes, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (13:7). Leaders hold great influence and, when used appropriately, they can leverage this influence to help their people grow in the pursuit of their devotion to Christ.

If we as leaders go before our women, offering up our needs, struggles, praises, and even our failures, we will be an encouragement for them to do the same.

Reframe the request

One tactic that has worked well for our small group involves reframing “Aunt Martha prayers” in an effort to understand the heart behind the request. For example, if a woman requests prayer for “her friend who needs a job,” we might ask, “How can you specifically be a support to your friend this week, and how can we pray for you in that area?”

Again, we never want to communicate that her prayer request is wrong or unimportant; there is certainly a place in our small groups to lift up other people to the Lord. But we do want to encourage each woman to search her own heart, and reframing the original request is one way to accomplish this.

Engage with Scripture

The Word of God is sanctifying truth (John 17:17), so we can trust that praying through Scripture will bear fruit and align us with God’s perfect and pleasing will. Encourage your women to choose a verse or passage of the Bible that illustrates:

  • A way in which they would like to grow in Christlikeness
  • A promise that they need to remember
  • An attribute of God’s person that they want to know more deeply
  • A precept that they want to apply to an area of struggle, pain, or temptation

You can have them write down the passage and share it with one other person, becoming that woman’s prayer partner for the week. Or you can share your requests aloud with the whole group, and spend time praying the selected words of Scripture over each woman.

Whatever way you choose to encourage your women into deeper, more earnest sharing in prayer, rest assured that it is ultimately the Holy Spirit who wills and works in every believer (Ephesians 3:14-19). Trust that Christ’s work will be completed in your flock, pray for your women often and without ceasing, and continue to be an example worth imitating.

[Post Credit: Unfolding His Word]