Blog Archives

Praying against our enemies

Jesus commanded that we pray for our enemies.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  (Matthew 5:44)

King David once prayed against one of his enemies.

 It was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”  (2 Samuel 15:31)

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Day of prayer for President Trump

Here is something I read on Facebook

Day of prayer for President Trump

by Franklin Graham

Along with 250+ Christian leaders, I am asking followers of Christ across our nation to set aside next Sunday, June 2, as a special day of prayer for the President, Donald J. Trump.

President Trump’s enemies continue to try everything to destroy him, his family, and the presidency. In the history of our country, no president has been attacked as he has. I believe the only hope for him, and this nation, is God. Read the rest of this entry

Predestination and prayer

Those of us who are saved were chosen for salvation before the world was even created.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  (Ephesians 1:3-6)

Since God has already decided who will be saved and who won’t there is no point in praying for the salvation of another person.  If he has been predestined for salvation he will be saved; if he hasn’t been predestined he won’t be.  Our prayers will have no effect.  This seems like an unanswerable argument against praying that someone be saved.  But Paul, the author of the above quote, wasn’t persuaded by it.  He prayed for the salvation of his fellow Israelites. Read the rest of this entry

Voting and praying

The United States has just had an election.  The right to vote gives all citizens a voice in deciding how the country will be run.  Christians, like other citizens, should exercise this right, but we have another way we can influence the government and that is to pray for our leaders.  Jeremiah sent a letter to the Jews who had been taken into captivity in Babylon urging them to do this.

 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.  (Jeremiah 29:7)

The apostle Paul gave the same command to Christians.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  (1 Timothy 2:1,2)

In both cases the reason is the same.  We will be better off if we live under a stable government that cares about the welfare of its citizens. Read the rest of this entry

Praying for prisoners

Christians are commanded to promote the welfare of everyone, including those who are in prison.

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.  (Hebrews 13:3)

Some think this command merely says we are to be concerned about prisoners in general and need to pray for them and enable them to hear the gospel.  There are many Christian organizations dedicated to reaching prisoners with the gospel.  Perhaps the best known of these is  Prison Fellowship.  This is certainly a legitimate application of this verse, but I don’t think it is what the author of Hebrews had in mind.  When the New Testament was being written Christians often faced severe persecution and many were in prison because of their faith.  This statement is a reminder not to forget them. Read the rest of this entry

Christians and government

Christians disagree about how involved we should be in government.  Some believe we should not be involved at all and not even vote in elections.  Others think we should use the government as a way to promote Christianity.  Most Christians adopt a position somewhere between these two extremes.  We need to look at what the Bible says about this subject.

We are commanded to pray for our government leaders.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  (1 Timothy 2:1,2)

The command is found in the Old Testament as well as the New.

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.  (Jeremiah 29:7)

This was what Jeremiah told the exiles in Babylon to do.  Since Christians are citizens of Heaven we are in the same position as those exiles; we are exiled from our native land and living in a foreign country.  This is true even if we are living in the country in which we were born. Read the rest of this entry

The naked man

Shortly before his arrest Jesus spent time by himself in prayer.

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”  (Mark 14:32-42)

This incident was also recorded by Matthew and Luke. Read the rest of this entry

Job’s rewards

Most of you are familiar with the story of Job.  He was a man who feared God and he was very wealthy.

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters.He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.  (Job 1:1-3)

Satan claimed that Job served God not out of sincerity but because God had made him wealthy.  God allowed Satan to test Job by taking away his wealth.  Job lost his wealth, his children, and his health.  His wife urged him to curse God and die.    He was also afflicted with three “friends” who claimed that Job had brought his misfortunes on himself by sinning.

Job insisted he was innocent and wanted God to explain the reason for his suffering, but his faith in God never wavered.  In the end God did appear to him but rather than explaining the reason for what had happened he asked Job a series of questions that revealed his superiority to Job.  As a result Job came to know God better than he had before. Read the rest of this entry

Finding time to pray

Paul had a very busy schedule, going from town to town preaching the gospel and establishing new churches.  Yet he always took the time to pray for his converts and the churches he helped to establish.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  (Ephesians 1:15-21)

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Evangelizing atheists

I have spent a lot of time on internet forums debating atheists and trying to convince them that God exists and the Bible is true.  I usually tried to show them that the existence of God is the only logical explanation for the existence of the universe and I pointed out scientific evidence that shows that the theory of evolution can’t be true.  However I have come to believe that I was going about this in the wrong way.  This conclusion is based on hearing two former atheists tell how they became Christians.

The first is someone I know personally.  He had a long conversation with a pastor which ended with the pastor explaining to him how to be saved.   He said he was an atheist and didn’t believe in God, and that ended the conversation.

Over the next few days thoughts about God kept entering his mind and he came to the conclusion that there really was a God.  Since the pastor had told him how to become a Christian he knew what he needed to do and so was saved. Read the rest of this entry

Our debt to Caesar

Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  He was responding to a question about the legality of paying taxes to Caesar and his answer shows that we must pay our taxes.  Some people protest government activities that they consider evil or immoral by withholding the percentage of taxes that goes to support such actions.  Jesus’ statement does not give Christians the option of doing this.  We must pay all the taxes imposed on us; if Caesar misuses the tax money we provide in ways that are contrary to God’s will, he will answer to God for his actions.

Our obligation to Caesar goes beyond just paying taxes. Read the rest of this entry

Sleeping or praying?

Before his arrest Jesus spent time praying.

And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Luke 22:39-46

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Prayer and incense

One item of furniture in the tabernacle was an altar which was used only for burning incense.

And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the LORD throughout your generations.
Exodus 30:7-8

Incense was to be burned twice a day every day.  In the book of Revelation we learn the meaning of incense.

The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Revelation 5:8

Incense is a symbol of prayer.  The fact that incense was burned everyday shows that prayer should be part of our everyday routine, not just something we do in emergencies and when we have a special need.  There might be times when we need to spend more time praying than we normally do, but we should never let a day go by without spending some time in prayer. Read the rest of this entry

Pray for the Supreme Court

There is a vacancy on the US Supreme Court.  The fact that abortion and same sex marriage are now legal in the United States is the result of decisions by this court, so naturally anyone who has strong views on these subjects is concerned about who will be chosen to fill the vacancy.

Christians should do what we can to make sure the next member of the Supreme Court holds views on these and other issues that are compatible with what the Bible teaches but we have another tool for influencing the court that others do not.  We can and should pray that God will move the court to make the right decisions in the cases that come before it.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
Proverbs 21:1

If God can control the hearts of kings he can certainly control the hearts of Supreme Court justices. Read the rest of this entry

Pray for the Rohingya

Anyone who follows the news is aware of the persecution Christians suffer at the hands of Muslims.  Few people are aware of the fact that a Muslim people known as the Rohingya, who live in Myanmar, face persecution by the Buddhist population of that country.

The Rohingya are often said to be the worlds most persecuted minority. They are an ethnic Muslim group in the majority Buddhist country and make up around one million of the total 50 million population.

They hail from the countrys northwest and speak a Bengali dialect. Almost all live in Rakhine, one of the poorest states, with a population of three million.

About 140,000 Rohingya in the Rakhine state live in ghetto-like camps that they cant leave without government permission.

aljazeera.com/rohingya

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The worst rulers

Israel had some very good kings, such as David, Hezekiah, and Josiah.  She also had some very bad kings.  The worst was Manasseh, whose story is found in 2 Chronicles 33.  He was the son of Hezekiah, who had destroyed the false gods the people worshiped and restored the worship of the true God.

Manasseh began his reign by attempting to undo the good his father had accomplished.

And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be forever.”

And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger.
2 Chronicles 33:2-6

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The Christian’s cell phone

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

How can we pray without ceasing?  Do we have to stop all of our other activities and kneel down and spend the rest of our lives doing nothing but praying?

If you are someplace where there are a lot of people you will probably see some of them demonstrating how to obey this command.  They are talking on a cell phone while going about their regular activities.  You could say that when we were saved God gave each of us a cell phone that we could use to keep in touch with him all of the time no matter what else we might be doing.

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The prayer that might have been

Jesus once told a parable about a Pharisee and tax collector who went to the temple to pray.  Here is the Pharisee’s prayer.

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.”
Luke 18:11-12

The Pharisee wasn’t praying; he was boasting about how good he was.  At the conclusion of the parable Jesus said that his prayer was not accepted and when he left the temple he was not justified.

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The sinner’s prayer

One technique used by evangelists is to ask those who respond to their message to pray what is called the “Sinner’s Prayer”.  The wording of this prayer varies; here is one version.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.
Amen.

This practice isn’t found in the Bible.  There are several accounts of people believing the gospel and being saved but there is no record of any convert being asked to say this or any other prayer.

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Good things

All of us have asked God for something and not gotten it.  When this happens we generally believe that God hasn’t answered our prayer.  That isn’t necessarily the case.   Jesus said:

Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:9-11
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