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Your Prayer Life, Part 1

Two months ago we wrote about having a written-out prayer list. "If you want to have an effective prayer life you must have a written-out prayer list." We pray for Joe's toe, Jack's back and Jane's pains and that is fine and we should but too often do not pray for the very things God tells us to pray for. "I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayer, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" 1Tim 2:1. Have you ever caught what is said here? He said, "first of all." He must mean to put a priority on what he is saying. It should be at the top of the list.

When and how often have you heard the next couple of things prayed for "first of all" and faithfully? Pray for "all men." That means for all 6 billion people in the world today. Don't leave anyone out! When the Lord Jesus cried out, "Oh Jerusalem" he meant all of them in Jerusalem. When Paul prayed for "Israel that they might be saved" Rom 10:1 he meant all of them. Why should we not also pray just what he said, "for all men." I find this to be thrilling.

What are we to pray for all men? "Who would have all men to be saved." Why, according to the context, it seems obvious to pray for their salvation. When you begin to do this frequently and faithfully you can envision missionaries all over the world finding someone prepared by God and for God getting the missionary to them to lead them to Christ as Paul did Lydia. You then have a part in the salvation of "all men." Now that is exciting. That makes prayer really meaningful and important. And "great will be your reward in heaven." My word, why not do it, "first of all." My prayer life has been greatly enriched and enlivened since I caught this and began to obey the Word of God to pray for "all men."

Now if that is not big time praying look at what else we are told to pray for "first of all." "I exhort that first of all...prayers be made...for kings, and for all that are in authority." He must mean all kings for he says "all that are in authority." That includes all cabinet members, all governors, all mayors, all police, or just "all" in authority. Don't leave anyone out. Does that make sense? Shouldn't we pray that at least every Sunday in our church services? Do we?

Now notice this. Why are we to pray for them? "That we might lead a quiet and peaceable life." Are we leading that kind of a life? Of course not. There is nothing but war and violence everywhere. Who is to blame for the turmoil?  I believe we believers are to blame for not praying what God told us to pray. Does that make sense? Don't forget "those in authority" are the "servants of God" in the civil world according to Rom 13.

What do you pray for "kings" and "all in authority?" According to the context, their salvation. Then according to the Lord's prayer list, "thy will be done on earth" and for God to give them wisdom to do it. Praying this daily has transformed my life and my prayer life. Be like Peter and say, "At thy word, I will" Lk 5:5. Don't forget that written out prayer life is essential and be sure you include the things Scripture tells us to pray. Wait until next month and see what else we are told to pray for. You will be thrilled and motivated to pray.


Your Prayer Life, Part 2

 "If you want to have an effectual pray life you must have a prayer list." This is absolutely essential for an EFFECTIVE prayer life. It is one thing to talk about praying but how often do we see effectual and eventful answers to prayer. We must see them, and we ought to see them on a regular basis.

In recent years, often I have heard people exhorted to pray Scripture back to God. That is excellent and especially a blessing. What has transformed my prayer life and let me have an effective prayer life has been to pray what we are told to pray? WOW! Now it seems so obvious that I am astounded that this is not preached and practiced. Last month, and if you have not read it please go back and read Novembers encouragement on prayer, we talked about praying what Paul said in 1 Tim. 2:1. He said, "First of all pray for all men." Then he said to pray for Kings and all who are in authority so that we can lead or live a quite and peaceable life. My, the world is not living a peaceable life and I believe, because we believers are not obeying the Word of God to pray consistently and persistently for Kings and ALL who are in authority. Doesn't that make sense?

Now here is another thing we are told to pray for. There are millions and millions who have never heard the gospel all over the world. The great dilemma confronting missions is the lack of people who are willing to enter the 10-40 window in the Arabic and Asian world that is so needful of missionaries. There are articles and sermons across the world begging for methods and means to reach this great mission field. Well, I have the answer! This is not arrogance it is just that I believe God gave us the answer, and honestly, I do not hear it to be a priority in our pulpits nor in all the pleading.

What is the answer? Jesus saw the multitudes without a shepherd, without a missionary, and He said, "The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few (that is the problem, isn't it?) pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers into his harvest" Matt 9:37,38. What can I say that does not sound critical but do you hear that prayed anywhere as often as you hear prayer for Joe's toe or Jane's pains? If every church and every Christian prayed that "daily," which is what the Lord's prayer teaches, and "kept on asking" as Matt 7:7 says (and the two parables on prayer, Lk 11 and Lk 18 teach) we could solve that big problem and dilemma rather easily and I mean that.

May I share my own testimony? When I was a pastor, I caught this command. This church had not had one person go into full time ministry in thirty years. We began to pray every Sunday morning and night from the pulpit and in our homes and in our private devotions, Dear Lord send forth laborers from among our young people. In five years we saw over thirty young people go off to schools to prepare for Christian service. IT WORKS and we saw it happen.

"I Did It My Way" may sound cute and has been a popular song but why don't we do it God's way and "pray the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth laborers." If they are going to go HE MUST SEND THEM or they will flop flat on their faces. Does that make sense to you? It does to me and it is on my daily prayer list. I get goose bumps just thinking what will happen to you as you add this to your daily prayer list.

Wait until next month and see, maybe the most important thing for us to pray for is ourselves. It is powerful.


Power of Purpose

There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her fifth grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was. She put it on and dabbed some of the perfume on her wrist.

Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to." After the children left she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "pets."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did.

And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

Warm someone's heart today. Pass this along. Never underestimate the Power of Your Purpose.

God Bless you. If you aren't crying by now, please read this again!!! Be sure to get this to all the teachers out there this year!!!!!!


A Prayer List

If you want to have an effective prayer life you must have a prayer list. Nothing will enhance your prayer life like having a written prayer list. Why is one so important? We pray for something for a week or two then what do we do? We forget it or give up or just quit and that is where we miss it. We are to keep on asking. Remember Hannah? She prayed for years and God gave her a Samuel. Was it ever worth it to "keep on asking!" Over and over I have told how I prayed for my Dad for 35 years before he got saved. Over and over I hear people tell how they prayed for years for a loved one and somehow gave up and lost hope. That is where they miss it too.

A prayer list helps you to keep focused. I found it so easy to let my mind wander when I was praying until I wrote out a prayer list. Now I have a prayer list on 3 by 5 cards which I can easily carry with me when I travel.  It helps you keep a balanced prayer life to write out the names of people you might not otherwise remember to pray for.

Maybe the best of all is that with scores of people, ministries, and requests, you can easily "watch with me for an hour" in prayer. The time just flies by when you do this.

Another great thing about a prayer list is to pray for the very things God tells us to pray for.  Too often we do not. This month, think up some of the things we are specifically told to pray for that we do not. Next month I want to write about them and it will surprise you when you look at these things. Maybe shock you would be a better statement.


Accountability

"Happy marriages don't happen, they are worked at"

Do you love your wife as Christ loves His bride? Does it show? Does she know it? Have you told her so daily? She gave her body to you. Now, you give your love and attention to her. YOU OWE IT TO HER AND TO GOD!

It is an awesome responsibility to be the head of your wife. Do you "nourish" her - build her up spiritually and "cherish" her - heap upon her TLC (tender, loving care)? Love your bride as much as Christ loves His bride. His bride (you and I) isn't perfect either and is often disappointing. If you lose your marriage, you lose your ministry. It is happening too much today! You could be next! Satan is "roaring" after you, too. Take heed "lest you fall."


Prayer

"You have not because you ask not" James 4:2. This may be the most important verse in the Bible on prayer. We have instant rice, instant potatoes, instant coffee and we want instant answers to prayer or we quit asking and that is where we miss it.

We have not because we do not "keep on asking" is what the Greek says. Remember Hannah in I Samuel? She prayed for years for a child and God gave her Samuel. I would say that was worth praying for so long to get a child, wouldn't you? Over the years I have run into hundreds who have a lost loved one and many have given up on them. Oh no, keep on asking! I prayed for my father for 35 years before he got saved. I led him to Christ when he was 85 years of age. He died four years later. I had the joy of preaching his funeral where we saw over 30 people pray to receive the Lord Jesus.


Evolution

Evolutionist, this "microscopic glob of transparent jelly" that appeared on the water and then evolved into a man, tell me when did it acquire human life and a soul? While it was a reptile, or monkey walking on all fours or when it stood upright or a million or so years ago? How utterly ridiculous to believe in evolution. It takes a million times more "blind faith" to believe in evolution than it does to believe in an all-wise God who created man in His own image. You have to make a monkey out of yourself to believe in evolution.

Then to believe a "big bang" occurred and the worlds were flung out there makes as much sense as believing an explosion occurred in a print shop and out came Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. By the way, where did the dust and chemicals come from that caused the "big bang"? God was not joking when He said, "When they knew God (from creation) they glorified him not as God...they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image." And that is what the scientists and evolutionists have done, changed God into an image of their own making. How utterly foolish and tragic. No wonder God said, "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God." God help them when they meet God, and they will. Aren't you glad God revealed the truth, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and then opened your eyes to understand it and believe it? This should make us shout for joy and "take off our shoes" for we are on holy ground and then fall on our face before a holy and loving God.


Memorial Day

God says, "Remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life?", Deut. 16:3. I was saved March 28, 1940. I will never forget that day. Too many forget that day and get over it. Mark that day down in your Bible so you do not forget. The Passover was to be kept by Israel so they never forgot that day. The Lord's Supper should be a time to do that for us today. It is tragic when it becomes a ritual and not a remembrance of how He suffered for sins to pay the penalty and shed His blood to cleanse us from the pollution of our sins.

"Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross" is what remembering that day OFTEN does for me. Take a minute to remember that day in your life. Meditate on it. Remember the joy that flooded your heart. Remember the peace that came over you. Remember how clean you felt when you realized all of your sins were forgiven. Now, thank the dear Lord for saving you. You may just rekindle some of that first love in your heart.


Live Longer

Regular worshipers live 10% longer than those who skip services, a national study found. "Life expectancy for weekly churchgoers is 82, and 83 for those who attend more than once a week," Religious Involvement and U.S. Adult Mortality said. Those who do not attend church live an average of 75 years. "Behavior is influenced by religious involvement, and that affects life spans," the researchers also stated. "These findings were from three universities tracking 22,000 people over nine years," USA Today stated.


Ask and Ye Shall Receive

"Ask and ye shall receive" (Mat. 7:7). Have you ever asked and you did not receive? Of course you have, and so have all of us. What is the answer then? The Greek here says, "Keep on asking" and you shall receive. What do we do? We pray about something for a week or two and then what? We forget it, give up, drop it or just quit asking and that is where we miss it. People ask, "Well how long shall we keep on asking?" Until the answer comes or God give us the reason He hasn't answered the request. The men of Ai beat the daylights out of Israel.  Joshua "rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord...and put dust upon his head" and prayed for Israel (Joshua 7). God said to Joshua, "Get thee up, wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned." Over the years I have learned God will do the same today when we "keep on asking." You know how when Moses asked to go into the promised land God told him he would see it but not go in for he had sinned. "Beloved if our heart condemn us not then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (1 John 3:20). Like David our sin will ever be before us and God will let us know why He does not answer when there is sin in our lives. The key is to "keep on asking" and we will receive or know why not.


You Only Go Around Once in Life

The greatest commercial of all time is the Schlitz beer commercial. It says, "You only go around once in life, get all the gusto you can." How awesomely true it is that we only go around once in life. There are no reruns, that are not replays, there are no trial runs, it is for keeps, once and for all. How we all need to be reminded of the seriousness of life. You do not get gusto from the beer but you get life more abundantly from The Lord Jesus Christ. "Delight yourself in the Lord" and you will get the "desires of your heart."


The Big Key

There are two, and only two, parables in the Bible on prayer. They both teach one very important thing about prayer. It may be the biggest key to getting prayers answered. I hope you don't miss it. In Luke 11, the man went to his friend at midnight and asked for three loaves of bread. His friend was astounded and said not to bother him because he and his family were in bed. But the man would not quit. He kept on asking until his friend got up and gave him what he asked for. The other parable is in Luke 18 where the widow asked the unjust judge to avenge her of her adversary. He did not fear God nor man and would not avenge her. She kept on asking. He said, "I will avenge her lest by her continual coming, crying day and night she weary me." Here is the big key – I get goose bumps just thinking about this. In Luke 18:7, God tells us He will avenge His elect; He will answer our prayers, when we cry day and night, and keep on asking as this widow and the man who went to his friend did. We have instant potatoes, instant rice, and instant coffee and we want instant answers to prayer or we give up and that is where we miss it. We must keep on asking. This transformed my prayer life and I am now seeing, as well as others who catch this, big-time answers to prayer as I keep on asking months and years on end.


Don't Lose Your Appetite

Jeremiah said, "Thy words were found and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart."

Job said, "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food."

What a terrible thing when your child loses their appetite. You get greatly concerned and rightly so. Candy, cokes, and junk food can kill ones appetite for good food. Television, trivial pursuits, jealousy, and a thousand other junk foods can kill your appetite for the Word of God and for God himself. God is so good. Seek Him with all your heart and He will be found, call upon Him while He is near! "It is God who works in you both to will (desire) and to do of His good pleasure." Respond at the least prompting from God to read His Word and to pray and to witness. "At thy word, I will" (Lk. 5:5) said Peter and he caught the biggest catch of his life. Live that way and whatever the dear Lord says to you, DO IT!


We Need Each Other

A few years ago at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win.

All, that is, except one boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard him, slowed down, and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back. Every one of them.

A girl with Down's Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better."

All nine linked arms and walked across the finish line together.   Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheered for several minutes. People who were there still tell the story.

Did they ever teach us a lesson? Oh how we need each other. "Exhort one another daily." Tomorrow you may be the one down. Who have you helped, encouraged, or exhorted today?


Pulling Weeds or Planting Seeds

The disciples were going to pull the tares but Jesus said, "No, lest you pull some wheat while you are at it."

We really don't know who the tares are, do we? Some people just pull real weeds all the time instead of planting seeds. All the seed planted in some churches is what is planted Sunday mornings and there are precious few lost there on Sundays. This week in a store, I planted a seed in the form of a gospel tract. The man was so open. As I shared the gospel he responded by saying, "That makes sense." He gladly bowed his head and prayed out loud with me to receive the Lord Jesus. What a joy! Keep planting seed. The field is the world, right where you were this week and where you will be tomorrow.


Stay in Love with Jesus

Remember when Jesus told Peter how he was going to die and Peter turned to John and said, "What about him?" Jesus said, "What is that to you" It is none of your business, don't worry about him, "follow thou me." Scores have asked me, and you too probably, "What do you think about Jim Bakker?" or Jim Swiggart or someone who has hurt or bothered you and the answer has to be, "I don't think about them two seconds." My need is to follow Him no matter what. Who is bothering you? Forget them. Follow Him, stay in love with Jesus. That is all that matters. God is so good!


Put a Hedge Around Us

Satan recognized that God had put a hedge around Job, his house, and all that he had and that he could not touch him (Job 1:10). WOW! That is powerful. Why don't we ask God to put a hedge around us, our house, and all that we have? Why not ask God to put the same around your pastor, your missionary and your family and friends? Do you know what? It works. This goes far beyond just praying for God to bless them. Do we ever need this prayer answered for all who are serving God. I have found it to be a most exciting prayer to pray for someone. Keep on asking for this every day. That is the key.


Let's Be Reasonable

"Let us reason together." If you feed the hungry with steaks the rest of his life and he dies and goes to hell, you haven't done much for him.

If you put the homeless in a million-dollar mansion and he dies and goes to hell you haven't done much for him.

If you take a man in rags and dress him in a tux the rest of his life and he dies and goes to hell, you haven't done much for him.

If you take a sick and suffering person, get him well and happy and he dies and goes to hell, you haven't done much for him. But if you lead a person to Christ and do nothing else for him and he dies and goes to heaven, you have really done something big for him. We have the answer for man's deepest and most important need. No one else has the answer but Christians. We must get the gospel to people and people to the gospel. Isn't it reasonable to do first and foremost all we can to get people to Jesus? Say with Joshua, "As for me, I will..." (Josh 24:15).


At Thy Word, I Will

Jesus got in Peter's boat and taught the multitudes. Finally he said to Peter, "Launch out into the deep and let down you nets for a draught of fish."

Peter said, not in a bad way, Lord, we have fished all night and caught nothing, "Nevertheless, at Thy word, I will" (Luke 5:5). He did what the Lord said and caught the biggest catch of his life.

This is the greatest verse in the Bible for Christians. It will absolutely transform your life if you will just DO what the Lord says. For instance, Jesus said, "preach the gospel to EVERY person" (Mark. 16:15).

Did you get the gospel to that waitress, that clerk, that cashier, that one you had a moment of personal contact with today? You may have missed the biggest catch of your life! Make, maybe, the biggest decision of your life. Determine in your heart, to do whatever He says as you read all He says to do in the Bible.

"Be doers of the Word and not hearers only" You will be unique and blessed.

 

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