Prayer - The Grand Finale
Time is running out. Don't kill time. Don't just spend time,
invest time. Pray for these consequential things God has explicitly
adjured us to pray.
Let Us Reason Together:
Pray for all men
Doesn't it make sense to pray "first of all" for "All men" 1 Tim.
2:1, just like God told us to do. Yes, pray for Joe 's toe, yes.
pray for Jack's back, yes, pray for Jane's pains but my soul "first
of all" pray for "all men." That is a mite bigger and more important
that Joe's toe. You enter the big leagues of prayer when you do.
Your prayers may a much bigger impact to pray for all men. And what
do you pray for all men?
This is good
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior" 1
Tim 2:3. "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not,
to him it is sin" James 4:19. Now dear people, this is not a trivial
thing or passing thing but God says it is sin not to pray for "all
men." And He says it is "acceptable." The Greek word here means it
is "pleasing." There is not a one of us who does not want to
"please" God. Then pray for "all men" and you will be pleasing God.
Doesn't that make sense? Enoch had this testimony, "that he pleased
God" Heb. 11:5. You will be in good company when you pray what He
told you to pray!
Pray for their salvation
"Who would have all men to be saved" Vs. 3. Not one of you reading
this wants anyone to go to hell. Then pray for all men to be saved.
Are they all going to be saved? No, but you will have a part in
everyone who gets saved and that is a pretty important pray to pray.
Make sense? Of course it does, then do it.
Pray "for Kings."
"First of all, pray for kings" 1 Tim 2:2. He is far more influential
that Jack" and his back. Our prayers do make a difference. If you
don't believe that then you are in bad shape spiritually. I
genuinely believe we can make a big difference in this world. If
every Christian prayed "FIRST OF ALL" for Kings, the rulers of this
world, it would make a profound difference. That is big time
praying, isn't it? Pray for them to be saved. If one ruler got
saved, think what a difference that would make to the whole nation.
Then pray "Thy will be done on earth." Luke 11:2 through that king.
That, dear people, is what the Lord Jesus taught us to pray in
response to the disciples asking "Teach us to pray" Luke 11:1.
Pray for all in authority
"First of all, pray for all that are in authority" Vs 2. Someone
brought to my attention that this should include all in authority in
every venue of life, businesses, schools, homes, military, and on
and on. WOW is that every big time. When you pray like that every
day your prayers are the most important thing you can imagine.
Why pray for these?
"That we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and
honesty" Vs 2. Are we living that kind of life in the world today?
Absolutely not. It is a terrifying life. Whose fault is it? It is
our fault for not praying what God almighty told us to pray "first
of all." NOW, doesn't that make sense? I hope to tell you it does.
"But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares
among the wheat." Look around you. The enemy has done an
incomparable job of sowing tares today. What are you going to do
about it? Say just like you sing, "I have decided to follow Jesus,
no turning back." Get out of the stands and get in the game. If we
had a resurgence of prayer we might just see a return to "a quiet
and peaceable life." Pray and preach until we see heaven come down
and glory fill our souls.
The Race to Glory
Remember this, digest it into your being
- you were created in the "image of God." That is awesome.
You are not some heap of junk, some beat up and battered Model T
Ford. Then you were redeemed, not with silver and gold, "junk stuff"
but with the precious blood of Christ. Are you ever valuable to God.
You are an heir of God and joint heir with Christ. Howard Hugh's
heirs got a paltry 2.5 billion dollars. No royalty in the world are
heirs to such great treasures as you are. You have a mansion
reserved for you in heaven. The Taj Mahal, as exquisite as it is,
the Biltmore Estate, as lavish as it is, Buckingham palace as unique
as it is, all pale into nothingness compared to your home in heaven.
Finally, you have been called of God to be an ambassador for Christ.
Now be the best one you can be to the glory of God.
Recently, while preaching in Indianapolis, I went to see the Indy
race track. They took us around the race track in a van. They had
only one race a year with 400,000 fans. It is the largest sporting
event in the world. Then we went through the museum and hall of
fame. We saw the pictures of all the winners, the trophies, the
films of rare moments, the hall of fame. It was fabulous. Finally
they had a 15 minute movie of the history of the races. At the
close, beautifully done, they showed the theme of the Indy 500, "THE
RACE TO GLORY." I almost came unglued as I thought, No, we
Christians are the only ones in the real "RACE TO GLORY." Run that
race well. There are no trial runs. There is a great prize to be
won. You can be a winner. Go for it.
In 1978 it was my privilege to preach on the beautiful Island of
Fiji. Thirty minutes before the service a man invited his neighbor
to come hear this man from the United States. He came and God broke
his heart over his sin and he received the Lord Jesus. God called
him to preach. He started a church that is now flourishing. A year
ago I met a student studying for the ministry from Fiji who was
saved in that same church. He is my grandson in the Lord. What a
privilege. God wants to do the same for all of us. Let's get in on
Your Eternal Retirement Fund
When my wife and I began to think seriously about retiring from full
time ministry and there were serious factors that were forcing us to
do so, we began to put more and more into retirement funds. Are we
ever glad we did. It is paying off immeasurably now. The more that
"day of His appearing" approaches the more I am moved to put more
and more into our eternal retirement fund. Will I ever be glad I did
for all eternity? I surely hope you are doing the same. It just
makes a whole lot of sense.
Today there is a constant roar, as it was with the rockets, with the
whole earth shaking. Any day now it will stop suddenly, for those of
us who are believers, and we will be caught up to meet the Lord in
the air. It will all be over for us here, but it will be only the
beginning in eternity with our Lord. There will be no more praying,
witnessing, leading people to Christ, or laying up treasures in
heaven. Then, and perhaps it will be uncanny, will come the Judgment
Seat of Christ when we shall all give an account of everything done
in the body, whether good or bad. We will be able to change nothing
then, but we can now.
It was a sad day when the prophet lamented, "And there is no one who
calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You (Isa.
64:7). Thank God that day has not yet come to us. Will you stir up
yourself to pray and take hold of God in behalf of yourself, your
loved ones, your country, and the whole world?
Are you disturbed at what is happening in our world today? Would you
love to behold sweeping, dramatic changes made for God and for good?
Remember, "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness
of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly
places" (Eph. 6:12). Let's enlist in the army of Christ, our
Commander-in-Chief. Let's go to war for Him. Put on the whole armor
of God and enter the spiritual battle for the souls of mankind, the
salvation of our country, and His glory.
You and I can change the world. Oh, we will not bring in the kingdom
or make the world perfect, but we can make an impact to turn the
world right side up and fill our Jerusalem (whether it be your
neighborhood, your school, your place of employment, or the
"uttermost part of the earth" with the Gospel, which is "the power
of God to salvation" (see Rom. 1:16).
Let's pray to God with our hearts and preach the Gospel to "every"
person with our lips until we experience genuine revival in our
Pray for our Current Culture
Over the last half-century, earth-shattering
events have occurred to the extent that Mr. Average American is left
breathless. To the Christian whose "redemption draweth nigh" these
would seem to be signs that the end or consummation of the age is
near. Bible-believing Christians still believe that Jesus is coming
at any moment. Wars and rumors of wars have increased from one or
two going on at a time until there are innumerable wars being waged
simultaneously all over the world. They have increased in frequency
and intensity. Earthquakes and volcanoes erupt in the most
unexpected places, famines and floods are killing millions,
hurricanes and cyclones wrecking havoc as never before. As you read
these words, millions of people are dying of starvation on every
continent with the exception of Antarctica, which is mainly
inhabited by penguins and polar bears. Famine is of such proportions
that it staggers the imagination.
Lawlessness is rampant as Jesus prophesied it would be (Matt.
24:13). Evil men and impostors become increasingly worse (2 Tim.
3:13). Violence and senseless killings scare the daylights out of us
all. These earth-shattering and shaking developments are far more
explosive and volatile than rockets. Israel has become a nation, and
millions of Jews have returned to Israel which many believe is the
budding of the fig tree, a sign that the end is near.
Now, we are viewing events in the media, if not in person, beyond
our most horrible nightmares. What is happening is not a "Nightmare
on Elm Street." It is "Reality on Main Street U.S.A". Who would have
believed our courts would have legalized murder in the womb of a
mother? Who would have conceived in their wildest imaginations that
homosexuality would become "acceptable" as an "alternate lifestyle"?
Who would have believed we cannot read the Bible or pray in our
public schools - and in most schools not even teach the Bible as
valid literature that has helped shaped our civilization.
Are we seeing a repeat of Romans one where the
people "did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them
over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
being filled with all unrighteousness; sexual immorality,
wickedness, covetous, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife,
deceit, evil mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of
God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient
to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,
unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those
who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same
but also approve of those who practice them". God said all of this
is the "beginning of sorrows" (Matt. 24:8). The word "sorrows" in
the Greek is the word "birth pains". The more frequent the pains and
the more intense the nearer is the coming of the child. The events
described above are all more frequent and more intense by the way.
That means the coming of the Son of God must be very near! Does that
ever describe our nation and world? Does it not scare you to death
for those who do not know the Lord? Does it not stir you to get
serious and serve the Lord with a fervency and faithfulness as never
The Grand Finale
The "grand finale" on July 4, l960 in Washington D. C. was a
fireworks display with half a million people, sprawled around the
Washington Monument, watching. All day one event followed another as
the crowds celebrated the statehood of Hawaii and were to add the
fiftieth star to "Old Glory." There was a concert by the U.S. Navy
Band. Speeches were given by top officials welcoming Hawaii into the
Finally the fireworks were to begin. Then we heard the sound of the
first three rockets as they went "swish, swish, swish." In a few
seconds the boom of fireworks exploded, and the sky lit up with the
breathtaking spectacle of the sparkles covering the sky. The "oohs
and aahs" were prolific, and then there was thunderous applause.
This continued for almost an hour. One display was of fireworks that
emblazoned the United States flag in red, white, and blue across the
night sky. Another formed the Statue of Liberty and another the
visage of President Eisenhower. Then there was "the sound of
silence." We all anticipated the grand finale, a demonstration to
end all demonstrations. It started, not with two or three swishes
but with dozens one right after another. The night sky was ablaze
with scores of rockets zooming and booming one after another. The
ground shimmied and shook with the constant roar of the "rocket's
red glare." It was exhilarating but also eerie. On and on the
display continued for minutes that seemed like an hour Then it
ceased as suddenly as it had begun. There was a deafening silence
that froze the masses to a standstill, and it was all over. A sense
of awe pervaded the entire atmosphere.
All day long we "hear of wars and rumors of wars, see that ye be not
troubled for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not
yet. For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against
kingdom and there shall be famines and pestilence and earthquakes in
divers places. All of these are beginning of sorrows" Matt. 24: 6-8.
The word "sorrows" in the Greek is the word for "birth pains." The
more frequent and more intense the pains the sooner the birth. Like
those fireworks, when they became more frequent and bigger we knew
the end was near. So today, as the wars, famines, earthquakes, etc.,
become more frequent and intense, "And when these things begin to
come to pass, then look up and lift up your hears; for your
redemption draweth nigh" Luke 21:28.
All of this should draw us to our knees with a sense of awe and make
us pray as never before.
Wait on the Lord
Now, be still
and let God instill into your mind whatever else you should pray
for. He will often call to your remembrance, from far away, a person
who has a special need you may never have heard about, but He wants
you to have the privilege of being an intercessor on their behalf. A
godly missionary to Africa once reported about her hour of
humiliation. She went through a hell on earth as she was beaten and
raped. In the midst of this unbearable ordeal, she was suddenly
filled with the peace of God. Several years later, on furlough, she
was speaking in a church. After the service a lady asked her if she
remembered what she was doing at a specific time on a specific day.
She thought through the time differences and found it was that hour
The lady testified, "I was awakened and overwhelmed with a burden to
pray for you. I prayed for a long while and went back to bed. There
was no peace. I got my husband up, and we prayed together. We
agonized until we had a peace that everything was all right." They
both burst into tears as they realized how good God was to bring
them together in prayer at a crucial time so they could rejoice
together as sisters in Christ. Now that's prayer at its highest. Oh,
to be a part of such precious moments. Your heart was stirred by
this account. You want to be used of God just like that, then do it.
Get in on it. Wait on God and let Him use you in such a deep and
Talk to Men About God
Now that God has talked to you, and you have talked to God, it
should lead you to talk to people about God. Feeding on the Word,
worshiping the Lord, and witnessing to the lost make up the triad of
a balanced Christian life. There is a world all around us going to
hell, and most people do not care. Do you? Do not let those around
you die and spend eternity in hell without offering them an
opportunity to go to heaven.
Jesus offered that woman at Jacob's well a drink of the water of
life (see John 4). Married five times and now living with a man to
whom she was not married, she was an unlikely prospect. She drank of
that "living water" and then persuaded the whole city of Sychar to
come to that fountain of living water. Many more drank of the water
of life as she did. May we follow in her train!
My wife and I were on visitation in five below zero weather. We went
to a home, not on our list, through a very unusual circumstance. As
we shared the gospel with the lady of the house, her husband was at
work, she burst into tears and was gloriously saved. She and her
husband were ready for divorce. She was so miserable she thought
about suicide. That very day, while washing dishes, she threw a
plate at the wall and broke it into a hundred pieces, she was so
unhappy. Then she told us, "I have prayed all day that God would
send someone today to tell me how to be saved." "The harvest is
truly is plentiful." You aspire to be used of God. You want to get
in on being used like this too. "Keep on praying" for souls and you
will run into those already prepared just like that. Praying will
prepare you and God will prepare them and bring you together. You
help change the world when you do! Isn't that thrilling beyond
The bottom line is that God wants to bless you and make you a
blessing. Remember Sennacherib taunted Hezekiah and his people,
ridiculing Hezekiah, trying to discredit him before the people. He
told the people Hezekiah's God could not deliver them, don't trust
Him. There is no immunity from the attacks of Satan and his henchman
today. You will hear voices tell you, you can't do this. You cannot
see miraculous answers to prayer. Don't you believe them. Be like
Paul and say, "I believe God" and let the power of God and power
through prayer permeate your life until you see "rivers of living
water" flow through you.
You can have a private audience with God every day. You can discover
things and receive things others never do. There are many precious
jewels waiting to be found. "Be still and know that I am God". What
LET US REASON TOGETHER: No one eats one big meal each Sunday and
nothing the rest of the week. Why do Christians think they can live
without feeding themselves daily. No wonder so many are weak and
sickly spiritually. Remember a child of God will never become a man
of God without he Word of God.
DECISION TIME: "But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do the
things which I say?" You do what you really want to do. Make up your
mind right now that, from now on, you are going to have a quality
quiet time with God every day.
Thank the Lord
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving...and be thankful" (Ps.
100:4). Do enter into prayer with thanksgiving. Never pray without
thanking God for His Son the Lord Jesus. Never pray without thanking
the Lord Jesus for suffering and dying for your sins. Never pray
without thanking Him for saving you. This will keep your heart warm
and your prayer life fresh. Thank God for His goodness. Thank Him
for His many blessings. "Name them one by one," as the hymn
suggests. Tell God what you are thankful for. "In the last days . .
. men will be . . . unthankful" (2 Tim. 3:1,2). Have we ever
arrived? "Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine?"
(Luke 17:17). Even the Lord Jesus expected thanks when He was here.
Be sure you give thanks now that He is there!
Praise the Lord
"Enter into His courts with praise: and bless His name" (Ps. 100:4).
Bless His name! That is pivotal to spiritual success. Jesus taught
us to pray, "Hallowed be Your name." Truly, "His name is wonderful."
Become profoundly familiar with Isaiah 40-45 and meditate on the
fact that He alone is God and there is no other. "His glory will He
not give to or share with another" (42:8). These chapters can cause
your heart to be filled with praise, and you will hallow (bless,
revere, praise) His holy name as never before. Spend the first few
minutes just praising the Lord. "Whoever offers praise glorifies me"
(Ps. 50:23). I mentioned before, tucked in my Bible I have the words
to fifty favorite Gospel hymns and songs. In my quiet times I often
go over them and am filled with praise.
Now you are ready to petition your
Heavenly Father. How do you do that? "Let your requests be made
known to God" (Phil. 4:6). Slowly and thoughtfully go down the list
and ask Him for each of the requests before you. You do not have to
beg nor do you have to explain in verbose detail. Remember we are
not heard for our "many words" ["much speaking," KJV] (Matt. 6:7).
He has known all the details, even before the foundation of the
world. Just air your requests before Him. Please do not try to tell
Him how to answer the prayer. He reminded us, "My thoughts are not
your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways" (Isa. 55:8). Sometimes you
hear people drone on and on as though God does not have the vaguest
idea of what's going on. In times of crises and troubles you may
become like Hannah who said, "I have poured out my souls before the
Lord" (1 Sam. 1:15). That is fine, but do not feel it is necessary
to wail or whine in order to grab God's attention or gain His
empathy or sympathy, for "We have a high priest who is touched with
the feeling of our infirmities" (Heb 4:15, KJV).
The Power of Two
Get you a prayer partner. "If two of you shall agree on earth
concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my
Father in heaven". (Matt 18:19). Oh, the power of two. "One shall
chase a thousand and two shall chase ten thousand". "Two are better
than one, for if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe
to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up"
(Ecc. 4:9). "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I
am there in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). Jesus sent the
disciples out "two by two". Why? "Two shall chase ten thousand".
Husbands and wives must "agree" together, pray together and get
their prayers answered. Get a friend you "agree" with on prayer and
pray together. Get on the phone, if for only five minutes daily, and
pray together for those most important things you desperately need
and want. Don't dally, don't ramble and blabber but pray first and
foremost then if you have time talk and fellowship. It is powerful.
I envision this as the turning point in your life as you find a
partner and pray together daily.
How Long Should You Pray?
"Sweet Hour of Prayer" is a beautiful thought but totally
unrealistic for 99 % of us. "Could you not watch with me one hour"
(Matt. 26:40) asked Jesus of Peter. The answer is no, for most of us
as well as Peter. How long, is wrong. Just cover your prayer list.
You can pray through the Lord's prayer list easily in five minutes
and it will really seem like only a couple of minutes. Praying for
the eight things we are told to pray can also be prayed through in
ten minutes and it will seem like only five minutes. To pray for
your personal list of family, friends, missionaries and ministries
can be done in a relatively short time. With a written out prayer
list, I promise you, it will make time of no consequence. You will
be shocked at how long you pray and yet, it will seem like but a
very few minutes. The key is a specific prayer list to keep you on
track. It is no great holy thing to just stay on your knees for an
hour and your mind wander while you ramble with "vain repetitions"
and "many words" and not pray for what we are told to pray! Please
do not pray without a prayer list.
In What Position
Should You Pray?
Should you be
kneeling, sitting, standing, walking, or lying down? All of the
above. Make a word study of "kneel" or "kneeling". It is rich. Jesus
knelt (Lk. 22:41), "fell on the ground" (Mk. 14:35), "fell on his
face" (Mt. 26:39), and prayed on the cross several times. The
psalmist prayed on his bed, (Ps 63:4). Several places it states
people "lifted up their hands" in prayer. Several have told about
praying as they pace back and forth in their closed study or office.
One preacher, who started a church and built it to an attendance of
1800 did almost all of his praying pacing in his office or the
auditorium of his church. Praying while walking or jogging or
walking a treadmill is good. Praying in the night watches in bed
when you can not sleep is a great way to pray. This is one of my
favorite ways to pray. Many sit and pray. When and how and the way
you pray is limitless. "Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from
the fish's belly". (Jon. 2:1). The main thing is to pray.
Talk to God
People often become excited about talking with a
so-called celebrity. How much greater, how much more profitable, how
much more exciting to talk to God! You can, you know. He invites you
to "come boldly to the throne of grace" (Heb. 4:16). You never get a
busy signal. You have a "hot-line to heaven." Use it! God Almighty
answers all calls Himself! You never get a secretary who gives you
options and buttons to punch. Imagine that! Everyone has problems,
needs, or crises when they must get in touch with God. He's ready
when you are. Try the pray-as-you-go plan. Life is fragile, handle
it with prayer.
In one of Ketcham's great cartoons, Dennis the menace says to his
little friend Joey, "I say my prayers every night because God is a
regular listener!". What a great truth that is and what an incentive
If your son were in the war at the front lines, wouldn't you want to
hear from him? If he came in at night and had access to a phone and
did not call, would it bother you? Would it hurt you? God is eager
to hear from us after we have been in the battle all day. Let's give
Him a call every day.
Stir Up Yourself
What energizes and encourages
you to pray? Music, more than anything, stirs me up to pray. There
are several tapes of music that fire me up to pray like a boiler
runs a steam engine. Often I will play one in particular as I study
or write or just sit and meditate and before long my heart is
stirred to pray with a passion. In my Bible and beside my bed are
the words of about 50 of my favorite gospel songs on several sheets
of paper. All I have to do is go through them, sing them to myself
and the tears will start to flow from my eyes and prayer from my
heart. This prepares me to pray as nothing else can. Giving out
tracts, sharing the gospel, seeing someone saved or just looking at
the multitudes, as Jesus did, will prepare me to pray. Find what
ministers to you and motivates you to pray and then work at stirring
up yourself to seek the Lord.
Make a Prayer
More important than the length or the loudness of
your prayer is the list of your prayer requests. More people have
become an abysmal failure at prayer because of the lack of a written
prayer list. Maybe the top secret to success in praying is the
prayer list. We are all human, so we can forget for whom we should
pray and for what we should pray. You can be sure that Satan is
going to do all he can to make you forget to pray with persistence
and perseverance as God has instructed you. Isn't it astounding how
seldom you hear anyone pray for "kings" and "all in authority" or
for "the peace of Jerusalem?" Such neglect is incredible. Why don't
preachers from the pulpit and people in the pews pray for these
matters? You and I are surely aware that "We do not wrestle against
flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of
wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).
If you want to be a part of what God is doing around the world, if
you want to help change the world, if you want to be involved in
earthshaking events, if you want to influence world leaders and
rulers, then make a list, so you will be sure you pray for the right
things. One danger is to make the list too long. Divide the list
into sections. There are many persons and items you will want to
pray for daily. There is the Lord's prayer list, the eight things
for which God tells us to pray and the personal prayer list of
Jabez. Then, all of your loved ones who are not saved should be
included. Your children, your families, and your saved loved ones
should be on your heart to pray for each and every day. Specific
needs of these should be listed, lest you forget.
Not long ago a friend asked me, "How do you keep from getting
mechanical in prayer when you use a pray list all the time?" That is
simple. Do not leave your first love (Rev. 2:7). At the beginning of
every prayer thank God for saving you. Thank Him for the Lord Jesus'
suffering and dying for your sins. Remember the song "Jesus, Keep Me
Near the Cross." There's the clue.
In the Tabernacle, the fire from the brazen altar, where the lambs
were slain, was used to burn the incense on the altar of incense.
Any other fire was "strange fire," unsanctioned fire and condemned
by God. The incense is the picture of prayer ascending to God (Rev.
5:8). To fire you up and make prayer warm and from the heart,
utilize the fire from the cross. The words of the song "When I
survey the wondrous cross" sums it all up for us.
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth no
to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
For the one who wants to be serious about growing spiritually there
is no substitute for study. A usable reference Bible is the first
requirement for a true disciple. The old standby that many of us cut
our teeth on was the Scofield Reference Bible. For forty years I
used it, and it, too, has been worth a year in Bible school.
The Ryrie Study Bible is superb. It is the Bible I have studied from
and preach from since it first came out. Dr. Ryrie's notes are so
clear. He has an ability to explain deep and difficult doctrines so
clearly and simply that the newest Christian will understand the
truth so easily. His outlines of each chapter make it so easy to
teach from. His thousands of notes are like having a commentary at
your finger tips as you study your Bible.
Nelson Publishers have put out the "Nelson Study Bible." There is
nothing like it. It has more helps than any Bible I have seen. There
are 15,000 expository study notes! It is so scholarly and yet so
spiritual. It is a veritable Bible Institute sitting on your desk.
The 350 "word studies" and 100 "in depth" studies are unique to any
study Bible in existence. This Bible is a must for any teacher,
preacher or new Christian who really wants to learn and use the
A complete concordance is another essential. An excellent way to
study the Bible is through word studies. Merely reading every verse
that contains the word "good things," "fasting," "prayer," "think,"
"mind," "salvation" just in the book of Hebrews is fabulous, or any
other subject will grant you a remarkable wealth of knowledge and
good health spiritually from God's Word. A Bible dictionary will add
considerable information and inspiration as well. Then, of course,
reading a doctrinally sound commentary on the Book of the Bible you
are studying will assist you in learning faster and from the
writings of godly authors. Make sure to be a lifelong student of the
greatest book of all, God's infallible Word.
Whatever you do, get into the Word and let the Word get into you.
When you are in heaven, where "time shall be no more," you will be
eternally glad you did. This is how God speaks to us today, through
His Word, the sole source of eternal truth. Those who can, of
course, should endeavor to attend an evangelical Christian college,
Bible school, and/or seminary. Wealthy and wise are those who pay
the price to receive a Christian, Bible-based education. One of the
greatest statements I ever heard is "You take care of the depth of
your ministry and God will take care of the breadth of your
ministry." That is absolutely true. Don't be a party to the "blame
game." Stir up yourself. Recently I saw a cartoon where the little
boy broke his mother's vase. As she had her hand on her hips and
looked at her son he said, " El Nino did it." Don't blame the apathy
permeating the church on anyone else. You stir up yourself to pray
whether anyone else does or not.
How to Have God All to Yourself
"Every child of God ought to spend time with his Father every day."
Children need time with their fathers. How much more, Christians
need time with their Father. Such an awesome appointment should be a
"quiet time" for He says, "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps.
46:10). Unquestionably we need to get alone with God for He wants
our undivided attention to say some eternally important things to us
through His Word. Conversely, we need His undivided attention for we
have some extremely important things to say to Him through prayer!
Is He on your daily agenda? Do you have an appointment with God
every day? Is it top priority? Did you keep it today?
"As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may
grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:2). Babies are lovable and cuddly, but
thirty year old spiritual babies are tragedies. "A child of God will
never become a man of God without the Word of God." "For though by
this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you
again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come
to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of
milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe"
What a pathetic picture, yet it is multiplied millions of times all
over Christendom. Why? Because so many do not drink the milk or eat
the meat of God's Word consistently for spiritual growth and
strength. Books are for information, the Bible is for
Paul's pastoral perception was, "And I, brethren, could not speak to
you as to spiritual people, but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.
I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were
not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you
are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions
among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" (1 Cor.
Every pastor is burdened for and burdened with a nagging nursery of
baby believers. He is often cursed with and cursed at by the carnal
Christians. Insisting on their own way, they whine and whimper like
unweaned, bawling babies. They fuss and fight like carnal Christians
in trivial pursuit. They never seem to grow up; they have difficulty
ever learning how to get along with others; they are never able to
feed themselves, crying all the while, "I'm not getting fed as I
should." They constantly need to be bottle-fed or spoon-fed all the
days of their lives. They have no concept of becoming mature enough
to feed and care for others. They just sit, soak, and sour. Often
destructively, they are a drag on the church. What a woeful waste of
lives and gifts! "Be transformed by the word of God or conformed to
"But solid food belongs to those who are of full age [grown up],
that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to
discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14). Thank God for those who
have grown up, for those who eat the meat, for those who are
productive in the kingdom of God. How greatly the Church needs the
maturation of every believer in the body of Christ. Dinner time, for
the child of God, is that effective and enjoyable "quiet time" with
God when He talks to them through His Word and they talk to Him
through prayer. Spiritual growth and maturity will not come about by
just eating one big meal on Sunday. Every child of God needs
nourishment from God, daily. Apply yourself wholly to the Scriptures
and the Scriptures wholly to yourself. How do you have that quiet
dinner with God all by yourself? In too many homes the noise of the
television has supplanted the quietness of being alone with God.
How do you start? A moment of prayer can help set the stage. Pray as
the psalmist did: "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from
Your law" (Ps. 119:18). You cannot beat that. Most get what they ask
for; nothing. To prepare your heart, find what stirs you to pray.
Reading the lyrics of hymns, meditating on Scripture, calling to
mind your favorite verses, counting your blessings, or reading a
page from a daily devotional book can touch your heart and spark a
desire for these momentous moments with God.
Wash Your Hands Before Eating
Start your quiet time as most of us would with any other meal, by
washing your hands before you eat. The priests of the Old Testament,
before they entered the tabernacle to worship God and partake of the
shewbread, the food of the priests, had to "wash their hands and
their feet" at the laver, "lest they die" (Ex. 30:21). We as
believer priests should do the same today. "Behold, the Lord's hand
is not shortened, that it cannot save, nor His ear heavy, that it
cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated you and your God;
and your sins have hidden his face from you, that He will not hear"
(Isa. 59:1-2). Thankfully, the promise of God is, "If we confess our
sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse
us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Now, present day priests
can enter the Holy Place, the throne of grace, for fellowship with a
Holy God by "lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubtings"
(1 Tim. 2:8).
Listen to God
There are two basic elements in personal devotions: 1. God speaks to
you through His Word, and 2. You speak to and with God through
prayer. What He says to you is far more significant than what you
say to Him, even though, when you are in fellowship with Him, He
hangs on every word of your prayers to Him. By the way, it is always
polite to let the other person or the most important person speak
first. A sad thought is that the Bible is like soap, often those who
need it most use it least.
Where to Begin
Once I had an occasion to call a renowned Bible teacher and author.
He greeted me with, "Sumner, I just read your book on the
Tabernacle." Man, was I honored that this man of God had taken time
to read my book! The highest compliment you can give an author is to
say, "I have read your book. Think how God feels when you can say,
"I have read Your Book." Have you read God's Book from cover to
cover? Most have not! Make a goal to do it this year and begin right
now. An excellent goal is to read your Bible through at least once
every year by reading four chapters a day. In recent years my method
has been to read through a different translation of the Bible each
year. That has opened up exciting new insights. Reading and studying
God's Word can become thrilling for you.
Wait, don't start in Genesis, if you have never read the Bible all
the way through. Most who start in the Old Testament get bogged down
before going very far. Start with the Gospel of John. Why? Because
"These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God, and that believing you may have life through His
name" (John 20:31). John's Gospel helps Christians to have absolute
assurance of their salvation. The New Testament, usually makes far
easier and more interesting reading than the Old Testament for most
Christians. When you finish John, keep reading through the rest of
the New Testament. Believers can become grounded in the doctrines of
the Bible and the duties of the Christian life with this approach.
"The blood makes us safe and the Bible makes us sure," read it.
Once through the New Testament, go to Genesis. A person who has
finished reading the New Testament is more likely to complete the
whole Bible. If you happen to bog down in the Old Testament, move
again to the New and read Matthew. This will revive your interest
and keep you going. Then, go back to where you left off in the O.T.
If again you are tempted to quit, read the Gospel of Mark, get your
second wind then go back to the O.T. Later, insert Luke, until you
finish the Bible.
You can easily go through the entire Bible in a year by reading four
chapters a day. Actually, you could read through a whole Book of the
Bible, especially the Minor prophets and many of the N.T. epistles,
at one sitting. Whatever you do, apply yourself wholly to the
Scriptures and the Scriptures wholly to yourself. The Bible should
not just inform us but transform us.
Dad, you are the head of your home. That gives you awesome
responsibility. Your children see you watch TV by the hour. They see
you read the paper, the sports and the comics. Let's be men of God
and show them that the Bible is very important. Remember the wise
word, "What you do speaks so loud I cannot hear what you say." You
wife will be glad to follow your directions when she knows you have
been getting directions from God in His word. Your children will
obey you when they see you obeying God. Here is a great statement,
"The Bible will not be understood until we obey what we do
understand." How true that is.
While in seminary I repaired books in the library. I had the
privilege of rebinding Dr. Harry A. Ironside's Bible. In the back he
kept a record of his Bible reading. He had just finished reading
through his Bible for the seventy-fifth time! No wonder, every
Sunday back in the 1940s, his Biblical preaching packed over 4,000
people into Moody Church in Chicago. By the way, "A Bible that is
falling apart usually belongs to a person who isn't."
I think the greatest illustration I ever heard was given by a black
preacher years ago. In his inimitable way he was preaching from 1
John and was quoting, "I write to you little children, I write to
you fathers, I write to you young men." Then he shouted out,
"Brethren, the Lord's written you a letter, and you ought to read
your mail!" That's powerful. Will you read your mail today and every
day the rest of your life? God has something very important to say
to you. Do you have a few minutes for the eternal God?
Mark Your Bible
Every earnest student of the Word ought to have a study Bible, in
which he can mark verses that answer questions, abundantly bless his
life, and add spiritual principles to live by. Underline these
verses or mark them with a highlighter, so you can readily locate
and review them later. Make notes in the margin of your Bible as God
gives you spiritual insights. Someone noted, "a dirty Bible means a
clean life, and a clean Bible means a dirty life."
"Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against
You" (Ps. 119:11). Memorize the Word of God. Someone said, "The best
place to hide God's Word is in your heart".
Verses that help you or can assist you in sharing the Gospel
with others are good to memorize. If you are new at all this, obtain
a list of special-promise verses from your pastor or a Bible
teacher. Early in my Christian life I memorized hundreds of verses
by going through the Navigator's system. Doing this was worth at
least one year of seminary. If you memorize one or two verses a
week, and review them daily for seven weeks, you will have them for
a lifetime. Formulate a plan to store up spiritual food for the hard
times. You will eternally thank God for this practice.
Meditate on the Word
"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you
shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do
according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your
way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Josh. 1:8).
This was the advice for those entering the promised land. As we
would say today it is for those entering into "life more abundantly"
John 10:10. Meditating on the Word of God is how to digest the
spiritual food you have taken in and to internalize it. God promises
you will prosper if you meditate on and obey His Word. Psalm 1
declares you will be fruitful if you meditate on God's Word.
Meditate means "prolonged, concentrated thought." Think on every
word, every phrase, and every clause in the verse, and the Holy
Spirit will point out truths and treasures that will refresh and
reward you. Learn to meditate on the Word of God and it will open a
floodgate of insights and inspiration that will astound you. After
fifty-seven years of walking with God and studying the Bible, I now
believe meditating on Scripture may be the most profitable exercise
of my spiritual life. It is an exciting means of gaining spiritual
insight and instruction from the Word of God. Just as prayer and
fasting go together, so memorization and meditation fit together as
a hand in a glove. Practice it, perfect it, and profit by it as you
think about a verse or passage you have read or recall.
This is one of the most sacred, serious and scary things I have ever
written! Moses went into the tabernacle. "All of the people rose up
and worshiped" and "the Lord spoke to Moses face to face" (Ex.
33:10,11). Only Adam and Moses ever did this. Adam before the fall
and Moses since the fall. Moses prayed one phenomenal prayer when he
prayed, "Please show me Your glory." (Vs. 18) The next highest
request would rank about 10 on a scale of 1-100 while this hits the
100 mark with a bang. That is ineffable, when you think about it.
Moses "was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he
neither ate bread nor drank water" (Ex 34:28). He prayed and fasted!
Now comes the climax, "so when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai...that
Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked
with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses,
behold, the skin of his face shone and they were afraid to come near
to him" (Ex. 34:29,30). There is a radiance on the faces of those
who really spend time in His presence. You know what I am talking
about. You be one of these. You won't know your face is shining but
others will. You will be so unique. You will be so different. You
will be so inspirational. You will stand out from the "crowd".
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror (the
Bible) the glory of the Lord, (this is what Moses prayed for) are
being changed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by
the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18). Here is the formula. Here is
the provision for what Moses received to a much lesser degree, of
course. Right now I am as weak as water just thinking about the
potential of this. If one million, of the 50 million "born again"
Christians, had faces that "shone" like that, we for sure would make
and impact on this world. "They looked to Him and were radiant" (Ps.
34:5). This is "the time of your visitation" (Lk. 19:44), get in on
it. There is a stirring within you. Maybe you feel like the two on
the road to Emmaus who said, "Did not our heart burn within us while
He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to
us?" (Lk. 24:32). Is your heart burning within you? Do you hunger
for more? God put that hunger there (Phil 2:13). Don't miss it.
Respond to God and get in on it. Get alone with God until you
radiate with the glory of God. My heart just cries out right now,
"Oh God, help us to get alone with You and meditate on Your word
until our hearts burn within and our faces glow outwardly from