Prayer is Communication With God (Part 2)

I can get easily involved in a television show or sporting event.  When I do, my wife can be sitting right next to me, ask me a question, and I won’t even hear her.  She has to get my attention first before she is heard.  If she wants to communicate effectively with me, this is a necessary step.  If I am trying to talk to someone and they are not hearing me, communication will not happen.

The next step in our communication is that we must be heard. When I see a scripture that tells me if I take certain steps, He will not only hear me, but He will forgive my sins and heal my land, I take notice.  By inference, this verse says He will grant our request if we do as He asks.  The key verse I want to make sure you get a hold of is 2nd Chronicles 7:14. This verse gives us a great outline on effective prayer

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

“If my people”

Paul tells us that if Christ has become our Savior (circumcision of the heart), then we are considered in the same way as Jews.  Romans 4:11-16 explains this further.  Abraham was not only the father of circumcision, but also of faith.  The seed of Abraham is not only through circumcision, but also through faith by grace.  That makes us God’s people, so we can apply these prayer principles to our situations today.

Which are called by my name

The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch.  Christian is a derivative of the word meaning Christ, Messiah, or anointed one.  Having this name says we are called by His name.  His name is the most powerful name in the universe.  This association with His name carries His authority.  He gave us that authority before He left this earth (Mark 16:17-18).  He also gave us authority at other times in His ministry (Luke 10:19 and Matthew 18:18-20).  Being called by His name also means we can call on His name. 

“Shall humble themselves”

 Here is the main point and stumbling block to a majority of our prayers, in my opinion.  As human beings, we don’t want to humble ourselves.  We want to tell God when and where and how to answer us.  We expect Him to do what we want Him to do, like we are in control.  So we pray as if we are in charge of the answer.  This is not humility.  It is pride, and pride has no place in prayer. 

Have you ever taken notice that God says to humble ourselves first?  Before we pray, seek or repent, we must humble ourselves.  When we come to God, we should have a reverence and awe for Him that transcends anything else.  We should bow low before Him, and remember that He owes us nothing and that He has given us everything.  I am nothing without Him except a lowly shell of a man.  I need His mercy and strength, wisdom and guidance every day.

“ and pray”

 This whole study is on the activity of prayer.  We have already spent a lot of time on prayer and will be going further into it throughout the rest of this study, so I won’t spend much time here.  Just a few scriptures to keep the word active.

Mark 11:24.  

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

These words of Jesus are very powerful. When they went up to the tree, there was no fruit. Jesus says that the fig tree would not produce any fruit forever. The next morning, they came by the same tree.  It was withered and dried up, and the disciples were amazed.

When we pray for the right reason, it will be answered. This fig tree is symbolistic of those who show on the outside the fruits of righteousness, but inside they are dead and non-productive. Jesus wants all of us to be fruitful, not just what people see but what is inside of us. This fig tree was hypocritical in a sense, and we must not have hypocrisy in our lives.  He goes on to say that we can move a mountain if we believe. If we are desiring the things of God, our prayers will be answered if we believe that God will answer them.

“and seek my face”

We must take time to seek Him, to seek His will and His face.  Our prayers need to line up with His will and how will we know that will if we are not seeking Him?  Zseeking Him means to be in His word, to meditate on that Word, to spend time in prayer and praise and to just be still before Him (Psalms 46:10)

Deuteronomy 4:29. 

But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

Psalm 119:2. 

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.”

If we seek the Lord with all our heart, we will find him. As I said before, He’s not hiding.  He’s right there waiting and hoping that we will call on Him.  God does not force himself upon us or into our lives.  He wants to bless us.  He wants to have a relationship with us.  God does not move away.  It is us who move away from Him. If we seek him with all that we have, we will find Him.  I believe this applies to absolutely everyone, even those who say there is no God.  If they seek Him with all their heart, they will find Him.

“Turn from your wicked ways.”

We need to repent of the things that we have done that don’t line up with the Word.  If you would like to do a great daily Bible study on repentance, I suggest you go to Amazon.com and buy the book entitled The Walk of Repentance by Steve Gallagher.  It is an amazing 24 week journey, and you will not regret it. We need to walk with a repentant heart on a daily basis because we are sinners saved by grace. There is never a day goes by that we don’t need to repent before the Lord, that we don’t need to turn from our wicked ways and come to Him.

After these steps God says he will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.  This is something to take deep into our souls and make sure we are a=carrying out these steps each time we pray.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to see the full study on this verse, please pick up “The Ask Principle” by clicking on the “Buy Now” button in the side panel of this web site.

Prayer is Communication with God (Part 1)

Not all that long ago there were no cell phones, no fax machines, no computers and no internet. Today we have instant communication in many different forms. The major communication tool of today is the cell phone. We can email someone, text message them or pull them up on Skype or Facebook messenger and talk to them face-to-face.  Then  there is Snapchat, WhatsApp or any number of other apps that are available to communicate with one another. We also have personal computers, laptops and tablets that can be used for all forms of communication. It is amazing that we have so many options available to us to keep in touch with other people. And yet it seems like we’re farther apart from people than we ever have been . 

Face-to-face communication is happening less and less.  I have seen teens sit across the room and text each other rather than just sit next to each other and talk.  Fortunately, we cannot text God! Our line of communication with God is called prayer and it must be done vocally or thoughtfully. In other words, we can speak it at any volume, or we can just think it and direct that thought toward Him.  I believe the spoken communication with God is the best form as there is power in our spoken words, just as there is power in the spoken words of God.   After all, He did speak all creation into existence.

There are 6 parts to effective communication on any level.  If we leave out even one part, we are not fully implementing our ability to communicate.  Since prayer is usually considered a type of request we can list these major parts as asking, being heard, being understood, expecting a response, listening for a response and accepting the response. 

We must ask.  Jesus said our Father knows what we have need of before we even ask (Matt 6:32).   He still wants us to ask because that lets Him know whether we know what we really need or not.  And we must ask for the right reasons (James 4:3).  I  must admit that my little dog communicates very well without a sound.  He hangs out in the kitchen when I am cooking, hoping that just a little morsel will fall to the ground.  This is his form of asking.  Any crumb that falls, He claims.  We never outright give him anything, so it is all hope on his part.  He just looks patiently and watches.  I know he is asking for a bite.  He has high hopes that he will get just a bit.

This is a great example of how we should ask.  The only difference is that we should be verbal about it, not silent like my dog is.  But we should ask all the time if necessary until we get an answer.  Just because the answer does not come the first time we ask does not mean God will not answer.  My dog knows that well.  He always comes to my feet when I am cooking.  He is always expecting to get something.  He is relentless.  Our prayers should be the same.

For more on our communication with God, pick up my book “The ASK Principle”.  Just click on the Buy Now button on this page.  Your prayer life will never be the same!

Prayer is a Conversation with God

Are you a conversation starter? Can you keep a conversation interesting? Some people just have a knack for carrying on a good conversation. They have a natural inquisitiveness that knows the right questions to ask. When I was a salesman travelling in my car, I listened to a talk show host named Jan Michelsen on WHO in Des Moines. He was exceptional because he always had a follow-up question. You learned a lot about the guests because of his skills. I marveled at the ability he had to stay focused with any person on any subject.

I am not a very good conversationalist. Finding that opening question and knowing what to say next is difficult for me. Unless it’s somebody I know the right questions are not top-of-mind. When I was selling magazine ads I attended networking meetings held by the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations. Meeting new people was the goal. Saying hi and meeting them is one thing. Getting them to talk is another, especially when you don’t know them.

Prayer can be a conversation with God. It can be a give and take on many different levels if we are keenly in tune with the Holy Spirit. The biggest problem we have is taking the time to listen in the middle of our prayers. Requests seem to be what we offer up, and that is a one-way street. There are many examples of conversations with God in the Bible. Here are just a few:

Gen 3:9-13 – Adam and God have a conversation about eating from the Tree of Life
Gen 4:9-15 – Cain and God discuss Abel and the consequences of his disappearance
Gen 17:15-19 – Sarah discusses with God about having a child in her old age
Gen 18:23-33 – Adam pleads with God over Sodom and Gomorrah
Exodus 3:11-4:17 – Probably the longest conversation in the Bible was Moses and God when Moses was commissioned for the task ahead at the burning bush
Exodus 32:30-35 – Moses admits Israel’s sins
Job 38-42 – God and Job exchange words
Isaiah 6:8-13 – Isaiah’s commission to go to the people
Acts 9:4-6 Paul on the road to Damascus.

Many of the prophets held short conversations with God. One of the things I notice is that the further we read through the Old Testament the less we see people having conversations with God. Man becomes so entrenched in himself and in his everyday situations that he no longer converses with God. He just takes his request to God and then leaves without listening. Today, people come to God with their requests and then walk away, not taking the time to listen to what He has to say.

I think that God wants to have conversations with us. He wants to speak to us even more than we want to speak to Him. He wants to ask us questions and see where our hearts are. If you look at the Psalms closely you will see several times that David speaks and the Lord speaks within the same Psalm. This is the type of prayer that we should be praying. Allowing God to actually fit into our conversation and into our words as we listen to him in between what we say to Him.

For more on conversing with God, please buy a copy of my book, “The ASK Principle.”

 

Why Do I Have to Ask?

A lot of people wonder about this.  If God is omniscient, meaning He knows everything from the beginning of time to the end of time, he must also know our needs!  In fact, Jesus told us that God knows our needs in Matthew 6:8.  He knows them before we even ask.  So why do we need to ask?  Why doesn’t God just supply things to us as we go along and make life a whole lot easier!

One reason is that God wants to make sure we know what we need!  You have to remember that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9).  Our heart is very good at making sure we concentrate on our wants instead of our needs.  But God is not interested in our wants as much as He is in fulfilling our needs.  We often pray for things that we want just to fill our lust for riches, power, fame or some other thing.  James tells us that one of the reasons our prayers are not answered is because we ask amiss (James 4:3).  God wants us to have a desire for His things (Psalm 37:4) and He will place that desire in our hearts when we delight in Him.

I love the story of blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52.  Bartimaeus sat ion the streets every day begging for alms because he was blind and needed help to survive.  He took whatever he could get from passersby.  One day it was rumored that Jesus was coming to town and a crowd started to gather.  Indeed, Jesus was coming, and people thronged the streets to see Him and be touched by Him.  They had all heard of the miraculous healings that took place wherever He went and they wanted to see for themselves.

Amidst the crowd, Bartimaeus heard of His coming as well.  he had heard of the miraculous opening of blind eyes that took place.  he had heard of the ears being opened for the deaf.  he had heard of many sick that were healed.  He wanted a meeting with Jesus as well.  But he could not see the crowd that had gathered around him and crowded him back to the buildings, where he sat wondering how he would get Jesus attention..  Then he just started crying out with a loud voice “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The crowd around him tried to quiet him down, but the more they tried to quiet him, the louder he got. “Jesus, thous Son of David, have mercy on me.”  Over and over again he said it as Jesus came closer and closer.  He did not give up.  he was determined to meet with Jesus and he had a need as great, if not greater, than anyone else in the crowd.  He had to make Jesus hear him from the back of the crowd, so he got even louder “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Suddenly, Jesus stopped.  Right in the middle of the crowd everything came to a halt.  Jesus had heard that cry from the back and He told the people to bring that man to Him.  In amazement, the people around Bartimaeus told him to get up.,  When Bartimaeus asked why, they said Jesus wanted to see him.  I can only imagine the smile that grew on his face as Bartimaeus worked his way through the crowd.  Pats on the back and  “Atta boy’s” had to be ringing through the people, knowing this man had waited a long time for this meeting,  They were ready to see a miracle!

Bartimaeus walked up to Jesus weeping.  Then he asked an astonishing question.  He asked Bartimaeus what he would like to have.  Was’t it obvious he was blind?  What else could Bartimaeus possibly want but his sight?  Why did Jesus ask this question?  I am convinced that Bartimaeus could have asked for anything he wanted at this point and he would have received it.  I think this is only one off two times in the bible where God asks someone an open question like that.  The other is when Solomon asked for wisdom.

Bartimaeus opened his eyes and faced Jesus.  He simply said :That I might see”.  God granted that request immediately.  His eyes were opened and for the first time in his life he saw.  He must have been jubilantly dancing, and the people were shouting praises.  Bartimaeus would never be the same again after meeting Jesus.  His eyes were open to the light.

Here is the classic example of having to ask even though God knows.  God wants to make sure we know what the top priority is for our lives.  He wants us to desire it with all our heart and soul.  He wants us to put it above all other things and believe God can do it.  He wants us to ask because the words of our mouth are powerful and they solidify our faith around what we are asking for.

That’s just one reason.  For more wonderful insight into the amazing world of prayer, pick up “The ASK Principle” today from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  Your prayer life will thank you for it!

Introduction to “The ASK Principle”

I am convinced that everyone prays. Even an atheist has a way of expressing their needs to someone or something other than themselves.  They too need help through difficult times.  There is something deep within every human being that cries out for help. When trouble comes our way or when someone we know is going through struggles, we reach out.  Major religions around the world each have their own view of what prayer should include.  There are also many ideas on how prayer should be delivered.  Some require a set schedule of prayer, while for others, it’s more a form of meditation.  Prayer is a vital element of the human soul.

First Congregational Church, West Boylston, Mass

I was raised in church.  My mom was the church secretary in a small congregational church in Massachusetts when we were growing up.  We had to be in church!  I sang in the children’s choir. Our family was involved in everything that went on at church. At 13, I was confirmed and started being a teacher’s helper in Sunday School.  A friend and I ran a small teen hangout in the church for a while. We were at church often.  

We learned to pray at an early age.  Reciting our bedtime prayers and praying over meals were the two ways we practiced.  Unfortunately when I reached the rebellious age of 16, I wandered away from church and set out on a road of self-destruction.  Drugs, alcohol, sex, and parties were all that seemed to matter.  Church was ignored.  Even then, I can remember praying at certain times.  It is something that stuck with me even when I was away from God.  I wasn’t even sure at times who I was praying to.  I just knew I had to call out to something greater than myself. 

I remember one instance where my group of friends and I were working on a car.  We were all far from God and full of trouble.  We were trying to get the transmission apart from the bell housing and one of the bolts just would not come out.  We all tried with no success.  None of us really believed in God and we never darkened a church door.  As a last hope, my friend Wayne made the statement, “OK, God.  If this bolt comes out, I will go to church this Sunday.”  He gave it another try and the bolt came out like it was never stuck.  I remember it like it happened yesterday.  Today I ask myself why that prayer was answered and so many others, from true Christians who love the Lord, seemingly go unanswered.  By the way, he did not go to church the next Sunday.

In 1976, I made a trip to Iowa.  We attended a service earlier in the week.  The preacher had me convinced I was going to hell, and I knew I did not want to go there!  The night before I was going to head home, my friend’s pastor came to his trailer.  There, in my best friend’s mobile home, I prayed the sinners’ prayer.  I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.   I was saved that night.  Upon returning to Massachusetts, I started attending that same congregational church I grew up in.  Two years later, on a return trip to Iowa, I met my future wife and moved to Iowa in 1978.   We were married by year’s end.  Three children and five grandchildren have come along and we will soon be celebrating 40 years together.

This was a time when I really started to grow in the Lord and learn His ways.  I was focused on building a family and growing in the Lord.  Long hours were spent in prayer and in the Word.  Reading through the Bible several years in a row brought understanding.  Studying things I did not understand were all priorities of mine.  Seeking God for wisdom was at the top of my list during those years.  I became a worship leader in my small church.  Some lay ministry and prison outreach occurred.   I developed a prayer life, but I always sensed there was a lot more than I currently realized.

I had so many questions about prayer through these years of my walk with the Lord that I decided to study and learn for myself.  What is prayer?  When should we pray?  How should we pray?   Why should we pray?  How can we pray effectively?  In 1990, I earnestly sought the Lord with these questions and developed the basics for what I thought would eventfully be a book.  After finishing the study, it sat on a shelf at home.  I was busy raising a family and growing my career.  The book would not get done and the study was forgotten. 

I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma Cancer in the spring of 2016.  My treatment included two stem cell transplants in the first six months.  The recovery was lengthy.  Maintenance chemo would continue for two years during which I slowly regained strength. In the winter of 2107-2018, the notes from this study were found in a house cleaning session.  I decided to take another look at what I had written out thirty years earlier.  I found dozens of scripture references, notes to myself, ideas I had forgotten about and a study just as relevant today as it ever was. 

During my illness I felt directed to start a blog which would concentrate on Bible study.  After going through Philippians, Galatians, Psalms and James, the Lord put it on my heart to take this study and put it out on my blog.  Ideas and concepts were added that I had learned since the original study.  I was pleased it was so well received by my fellow bloggers.

The blog posts were gathered together and I realized that I now had the book from thirty years ago.   It amazes me how God can bring things about.  Had it not been for my illness, this book would not have happened.  It is my belief that God uses our worst circumstances to do amazing things in our lives.  This book is a prime example.  If I had not become sick and had such a long recovery time, I would have been too busy with career and other things to put this all together.  Because He gave me this time and directed me to put this book together, I believe the church will benefit greatly by the contents.

My desire is that together we can get a better understanding of the inner workings of prayer.  There are a lot of very familiar concepts and verses included.  There are also some things that God has allowed me to share with you that might be a little different than the way you have always understood prayer. By keeping an open mind, I believe we will all gain new insights into our prayer lives.  

We desperately need prayer in this world today.  Effective, heartfelt prayer that will touch the heart of God.  Prayer for healing.  Prayer for deliverance.  Prayer for finances.  Prayer for our cite, our state, our country.  Prayer for our families.  I pray this book will help you develop that kind of prayer life and will strengthen the kingdom of God in these last days.  I pray it will glorify God for the wonderful gift of prayer that He has given us.    I pray this book will start a tsunami of prayer that will sweep the church, our nation, and our world.  The enemy of our souls is raising his head in so many places.  It’s time to come against him with our most effective weapon – our prayers!

What is Prayer?

Prayer is asking something of God, hoping that He hears and understands our prayer, and then listening for and accepting the response. Prayer is our faith-in-action.

I believe everyone prays, even the atheist. We all say words of hope that some being will intervene in our lives. When we are faced with a major decision, we may do all the comparisons of positive and negative points to arrive at our conclusion, but often we will ask that inner man what those points are. This is a prayer for guidance. We cannot always come up with all of them on our own. When we are faced with illness, we hope within ourselves that it will not be too bad, and that we will heal quickly. This is a prayer for healing. Even though we may not be petitioning God, we are asking some entity to intervene.

To put it simply, prayer is communicating with that entity. Most of us call that entity God. Prayer is asking something of God, hoping that He hears and understands our prayer, and then listening for and accepting the response. Prayer is our faith-in-action. Prayer can be in the form of a conversation or can be a statement of faith. It takes on many forms and all can be effective.