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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
When the disciples of Jesus asked him to teach them to pray he gave them a model prayer called the Lord’s prayer which included this request:
Give us each day our daily bread.
We ask this because our bodies need food in order to function properly. But we need more than just nourishment for our bodies. Read the rest of this entry
If we want to understand the Bible well we must not only read it but spend time thinking about what it says. Here is how the Bible describes the person whom God blesses.
His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
What does it mean to meditate day and night? Do we have to stay awake and think about the Bible rather than sleeping? Read the rest of this entry
Philippians 3:20 says of Christians,
Our citizenship is in Heaven.
When someone is naturalized as a citizen of a country he gives up whatever citizenship he previously had and no longer has any allegiance to his former country. So does this mean that when we became Christians we gave up our citizenship in our earthly country? There are some Christians who think this is so and that for this reason Christians shouldn’t get involved in any form of political activity. Read the rest of this entry
It is possible to expend a lot of energy without accomplishing anything useful. Paul warned against such useless efforts in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. Read the rest of this entry