08.14.18

Why we don’t pray - reason #11

Posted in Prayer sparks at 5:14 am by Administrator

11. I don’t feel anything. Sometimes I just don’t feel God’s presence, so I feel like I’m wasting my time because I’m not getting through.
Ask around and you will find that’s pretty common. We don’t always feel God’s presence. That’s when we pray by faith.
2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
That’s when we offer the “sacrifice of praise”.
Hebrews 13:15  Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
Sometimes when you don’t feel like you are getting through is when you do your best praying. That’s when you keep at it. He is there even when you can’t feel Him. This prayer is special because it is completely faith; prayer based on what you believe, not what you feel.
As we have stated before, our relationship with God is not based on how we feel. It is based on our faith in what Jesus did for us. On a cold, wintry day, I don’t feel the sun, but I know it’s there.
I talk to God all the time. Sometimes, He talks back (not audibly). Most of the time He just listens. Sometimes I wonder if He’s there, but my Bible tells me He is, and I trust my Bible more than I trust my feelings.
I like to “feel” God’s presence, but my walk with is not dependent on feelings, but upon trust.
Occasionally I feel his presence, and it’s worth the wait. But I can’t base my relationship with God on how I feel. Married people can relate to this. You don’t always feel in love, but you choose to love. The feelings come and go, but the commitment remains. And the commitment is always worth it. It’s much the same with prayer.
Sometimes it’s, “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” Psalms 13:​1
Others times it’s, “I love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies. Psalms 18:1-3
So, regardless how you feel, or don’t feel, pray.
1 Thessalonians 5:17  pray without ceasing;

08.13.18

Why we don’t ptay - reason #10

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:20 pm by Administrator

10. I feel unworthy. I’ve made too many mistakes in life, too many failures, too much rebellion. Why should God pay attention to me? All I feel when I pray is shame.
Guess what? You are unworthy. We all are. But God has been using unworthy people since the beginning of time. Check out some of the Old Testament saints. And the apostles. They weren’t all exactly the “cream of the crop”. You’re in good company. There were no perfect people in the Bible, some less perfect than others, but all fallable nonetheless.
You have to realize that when you pray, you are not praying in your own name or by your own merit. You are praying through Jesus. When you pray in his name, it is His worthiness that gets you through. It’s like He’s the one asking.
That’s what salvation is all about. We have an intermediary between us and God. Having access to His name is like having blank check. Remember what Jesus said:
John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
John 15:16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

Face it, you will never be perfect. But if God only accepted perfect people, Jesus would be the only person in heaven. God isn’t looking for perfect people. He is looking for surrendered people - people who will do His will.
Here is the really good news.
Ephesians 2:18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
You see, Jesus gives us access to God, the Father.
Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
“Therefore” refers to the previous verses, which explain how Jesus paved the way for us to ‘boldly’ approach God’s throne.
Further, we find this is possible because Jesus has made us righteous before God.
1 Corinthians 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
God has made us righteous and sanctified through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Ephesians 1:7  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
If you are “in Christ”, saved, born again, then you have every legal right to approach God in prayer.
Sure, you still have faults. But, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
God never rejects a repentant sinner.
And furthermore, our relationship with God is not based on how we feel (unworthy). It is based on our faith in what Jesus did for us.
Never be led by feelings. Feelings are notoriously unpredictable and unreliable.

Why we don’t pray - reason #9

Posted in Prayer sparks at 12:53 am by Administrator

9. I’m afraid I won’t like the answer.
Su. But, are you smarter than God? Do you trust God?
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”
Sometimes God’s answer doesn’t sit well with us. It may not make sense
re, sometimes you won’t like the answer
or seem reasonable to us. So, we take things into our own hands. We “lean on our own understanding”. Our primary problem, the sin problem, is that we want our own way. But remember: “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12
Before you go on your own, count the cost. (Think about it. You didn’t always like the answers your parents gave either.)
Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
God’s ways are always right. Ours, not so much. Many have learned this the hard way. God sees things you don’t see. He knows the future. Trust His direction and His answers.
Consider this prayer:
Luke 22:42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
Obviously, Jesus didn’t get the answer he first requested, but he trusted the Father’s plan, which resulted in our salvation.
King David wanted to build a temple for God. But God said, “… I will raise up your descendant after you … He shall build a house for My name…” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).
David was disappointed, but he accepted God’s answer. It would been tragic to do otherwise.
Some of my best and most successful places of ministry have been places I reluctantly accepted. God knew best. My greatest disasters have been when I chose my own way.
God’s answer is always the right answer. In the end, we will see that. Just ask Jonah.

08.06.18

Why I don’t pray - reason #8

Posted in Prayer sparks at 10:53 pm by Administrator

8. God knows what I need, so why do I need to ask?

This reasoning is based on the following scripture:
Matthew 6:8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Jesus isn’t suggesting here that we don’t need to pray or ask. He is saying that we don’t need to be overly wordy or repetitious. Some think they will impress God with their eloquence or their long prayers. Jesus is suggesting we keep it simple.

Consider the many verses that encourage asking in prayer.
Matthew 7:7 “ Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Matthew 18:19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 21:22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
These are just a few examples of Jesus instructing us to pray. This “asking” is partnering with God. God requires us to do something. He knows (better than we do) what we need, but He wants us to acknowledge the need and acknowledge Him as the provider.
This is also faith building. We ask. We receive the answer. And we acknowledge that God did it. If God simply ran interference without our involvement, we would, in short order, take it all for granted and develop a “welfare mentality.” Remember, God doesn’t owe us anything. God is our Father, not our maid or butler.
Consider James’ counsel on this subject:
James 1:5-8 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a  double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Prayer builds maturity, responsiblity, stability, and single-mindedness. God wants us to grow up, not remain infants needing constant pampering.
Finally, consider James’ additional words on the matter:
James 4:2 …You do not have because you do not ask.
Apparently, we are required to pray.

One final thought on this. Prayer is not just about getting your needs met. Prayer is about relationship with God. God is not the absentee father who sends gifts; He is the ever-present Father who listens. When you pray, you are spending time with God. Spending time with God is what you were created for.

08.03.18

Why I don’t pray- reason 7

Posted in Prayer sparks at 10:39 pm by Administrator

7. I can’t wait for the answers.
Whoa! God will do things in His own time… and at the right time.
Galatians 4:4 “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son…”
God knew the exact, perfect moment in history to send Jesus into this world. He also knows the proper time to send your answers to prayer. (And He knows whether to say “yes” or “no”.)
Exodus 14:13 “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today…”
As difficult as it may be, sometimes you just have to stop trying to fix it yourself, and just let God work.
Psalms 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”
I feel like God is constantly saying, “Rick, just be still for a minute.” Stillness in His presence will accomplish more than all the activity in the world.
Isaiah 40:31 “Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”
Just like your cell phone, you need time to recharge.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

This is critical! Don’t get ahead of God. Don’t try to answer your own prayers. You won’t do it right. God’s way is the only way.
A big part of faith is being able to wait for God to move. Some prayers may get answered immediately, but many prayers take time. I’ve had prayers take up to 25 years to be answered. The key is to hang in there until it gets answered. Don’t give up. But don’t rush God.
This is one big difference between God and Satan. Satan offers you things immediately, but they costub you dearly in the end. This is one of his best tricks. When he was tempting Jesus he showed him the kingdoms of the world and said, “You can have all of this if you’ll just worship me.” He knew that Jesus was going to have it anyway eventually, but he offered it immediately and without the price of the cross. Of course, that would be a tempting prospect. But it would undermine God’s plan.
Jesus didn’t fall for it, and neither should you.
There are many scriptures about waiting.
Isaiah 40:31 “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”
Psalms 25:3 “Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed.”
Psalms 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”
Psalms 37:7 “ Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”
Acts 1:4  ”Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for  what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me;”
The list goes on.
Then consider the times people did not wait on the Lord.
In the wilderness Israel demanded meat, and it made them sick. Numbers 11.33
Saul refused to wait, offered an unauthorized sacrifice, and lost his kingdom. 1 Samuel 13.9

Remember, God is a loving Father. He is for you. He knows what is best for you, and He knows the best timing.

P.S. Waiting builds character.

08.01.18

Why I don’t pray - reason #6

Posted in Prayer sparks at 11:03 pm by Administrator

6. I can’t stay focused.
• Make a list. I keep a list in my cell phone. Your list can be whatever you want it to be. I usually start with family - spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings. Then I go to church leaders, missionaries, church friends.
Then government leaders.
Then I list various needs I am aware of - healing, finance, families, etc. As people ask for prayer, I jot it down on my list.
Understandably, the list can get long, so I have no problem wondering what to pray about.
An added benefit is that, as prayers are answered, I cross them off but leave them as a testimony and encouragement that God is working and that prayer is working.
Some people have a prayer schedule of certain things on certain days. For example, family needs on Monday, missionaries on Tuesday, government on Wednesday, and so on. Get creative. Whatever works for you and keep you focused.
• Get alone. Get away from distractions. You may only be able to do this for short periods of time. But any alone time with God is good. And every minute counts in prayer.
• Block out a consistent time for daily prayer. Make an appointment with God. You would be surprised how effective this can be. Your mind will develop a habit of this schedule. That way, the attitude of prayer seems to fall upon you at that time. Your body in mind seem to have a way of adjusting to the schedules. For example you made wake up at the same time every morning without the alarm clock, or you make it hungry at the same time every day because you have been doing it regularly for so long.
• If your mind keeps wandering, pray about what your mind goes to. God maybe putting things on your mind to pray about, so go with that.
Keep a note pad handy and make a note to come back to that thought. Then get on with your prayer. This has been effective for me at night when I can’t sleep. My mind gets stuck on something so I just keep a notepad by the bed. I make a note of that nagging thought, then I can get it out of my mind and go to sleep. The same thing works for prayer. Distracting thoughts come, so I just make a note of it and then go back to prayer. Satan loves to keep you distracted so you can’t pray, but you can beat him at that game.
• Remember Satan fears prayer more than anything else, so he will do all he can to keep you from it.
• Try getting a prayer partner or an accountability partner to keep you on track.
Staying focused is vital to effective prayer. Try these things and anything else you can think of. The more you personalize your prayers and the more committed to those you are praying for, the more focus you will have. Keep your eyes on the target.

07.30.18

Why I don’t pray reason #5

Posted in Prayer sparks at 7:58 am by Administrator

5. I fall asleep.
This is a common complaint. There are some ways to deal with this problem.
a. Try walking and praying. The activity will keep your blood flowing and help you stay awake. Walking around the block is good, or maybe walking in the mall and praying quietly.
b. Prayer walking is a great method. I like to walk around my neighbrhood, or an area of the city and pray for the community. Even walking on a treadmill would be good.
c. Praying out loud is helpful, as well. It is good to hear yourself pray sometimes, to verbalize your requests, and actually encourage yourself by the sound of your own voice talking to God.
d. Writing, or typing, your prayers is a great way to stay awake. Make it a journaling practice. I find it beneficial to sometimes go back and read some of my entries. It can be encouraging as you see answered prayers and track your spiritual development.
e. Make your prayers more conversational, less formal, more personal. Frankly, sometimes we are trying so hard to ‘get it right’ we lose the spontenaity and honesty of prayer. There is a difference between ‘praying’ and ‘communicating with God’. It is the difference between ‘praying’ and ’saying prayers’. God is seeking those who worship (and pray) in Spirit and in truth. (John 4:23)
f. I believe this is a critical truth. Pick a good time of the day or night when you are stimulated. Talk to God like your best friend. Tell him about your day, your frustrations, your needs. your joys. Tell him what you’re thankful for, what struggles you are facing, what your hopes and dreams are, your disappointments, etc. Just make it a conversation between friends. The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 I try to keep an ongoing conversation going throughout the day. It may be casual, but it’s always respectful of who God is.
g. Sometimes, if I am struggling with falling asleep while trying to pray, I will go do something else for a few minutes, and come back to it later. I am sure God would rather me wake up and talk to Him when I am alert rather than try to fulfill an obligation to pray when I’m falling asleep. (If you were falling asleep while driving, it would definitely be wiser to take a break than to attempt to drive while sleeping. (Been there; done that.)
h. If all else fails, just fall asleep praying. David, in the Psalms, talked about praying in bed.
Psalms 63:6 “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches” You could do worse. Right? Don’t let Satan discourage you by accusing you about ‘falling asleep in prayer’. Pray anyway.

Why I don’t pray - reason #4

Posted in Prayer sparks at 7:57 am by Administrator

4. I don’t often get answers to my prayers. It’s frustrating.
Sure you get answers! God has promised to answer prayer, and God never lies.
(A) You may not be paying attention to the answers you are getting. This is especially true if it is a small thing and not a major issue. Too often we notice what is missing but fail see what we have. And sometimes when our need is met, we just go on to the next thing.
(B) You may not be making note of the answers, or fully appreciating that you’re getting them. Sometimes we pray like a kid in a candy store; we want what we see until we see the next thing and forget about the first one. Those kind of prayers will not be taken too serously, unless it is something God thinks you really need.
(C) Sometimes, of course, the answer is no, or it may just not be what you were expecting.
(D) You may be praying for the wrong things. 1 John 5:14-15 “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
(E) You may be praying selfish prayers . James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” God promises to meet our need, but he doesn’t satisfy our greed.
(F) You may be too impatient. Some prayers take time to be answered. Don’t be discouraged. You may give up right before a breakthrough. God has His own timing.
Galatians 6:9 “ Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
You know, we have to realize that God is not obligated to give us everything that we want. He’s promised to give us what we need, and he does that at the right time. Timing is everything.
God is not a mail order catalog. And God doesn’t serve us. We serve him. God created us for His pleasure; He doesn’t exist for our pleasure. And God is more interested in your Spiritual Development than he is your physical comfort.
And on a deeper level, prayer is not just about getting answers or getting your needs met. Prayer is more about building a relationship with God, and partnering with him to build his kingdom. The Apostle Paul talks about the gifts of the Spirit not being for our personal gain but for the building up of the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.) I believe the same principle applies to prayer. Prayer is not your personal key to happiness. It is your key to fruitful service.

07.26.18

Why I don’t pray - reason #4

Posted in Prayer sparks at 12:34 pm by Administrator

4. I don’t get many answers to my prayers. It’s frustratng.
Sure you get answers! God has promised to answer prayer, and God never lies.
(A) You may not be paying attention to the answers you are getting. This is especially true if it is a small thing and not a major issue. Too often we notice what is missing but fail see what we have. And sometimes when our need is met, we just go on to the next thing.
(B) You may not be making note of the answers, or fully appreciating that you’re getting them. Sometimes we pray like a kid in a candy store; we want what we see until we see the next thing and forget about the first one. Those kind of prayers will not be taken too serously, unless it is something God thinks you really need.
(C) Sometimes, of course, the answer is no, or it may just not be what you were expecting.
(D) You may be praying for the wrong things. 1 John 5:14-15 “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
(E) You may be praying selfish prayers . James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” God promises to meet our need, but he doesn’t satisfy our greed.
(F) You may be too impatient. Some prayers take time to be answered. Don’t be discouraged. You may give up right before a breakthrough. God has His own timing.
Galatians 6:9 “ Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
You know, we have to realize that God is not obligated to give us everything that we want. He’s promised to give us what we need, and he does that at the right time. Timing is everything.
God is not a mail order catalog. And God doesn’t serve us. We serve him. God created us for His pleasure; He doesn’t exist for our pleasure. And God is more interested in your Spiritual Development than he is your physical comfort.
And on a deeper level, prayer is not just about getting answers or getting your needs met. Prayer is more about building a relationship with God, and partnering with him to build his kingdom. The Apostle Paul talks about the gifts of the Spirit not being for our personal gain but for the building up of the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.) I believe the same principle applies to prayer. Prayer is not your personal key to happiness. It is your key to fruitful service.

07.23.18

Why I don’t pray- reason #3

Posted in Prayer sparks at 10:26 am by Administrator

3. I don’t know what to say.
That’s not really a legitimate excuse. We’re all pretty good at expressing our needs to others. Even the most proud and self-sufficient are able to express themselves, especially when they feel strongly about something. Our mistake often is thinking that we have to say something profound, or pray in some formal language that is awkward for us, or that we have to it a certain way.
Prayer is simply communicating. Admittedly, it is communicating with the most important and powerful person in the universe. But still, God has invited us to pray.
Psalms 2:8 “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.”
The Bible is filled with invitations to pray. Jesus even gave a pattern for prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, “the Lord’s Prayer”.
If you can talk, you can pray. Prayer is not using King James English. Prayer is just talking with God, and listening to God.
Years ago, I was working for a group of bricklayers. One day a bricklayer was ononbs his knees starting a layer of bricks. I jokingly said, “While you’re on your knees, say a prayer for me.” The man looked at me and said with all seriousness, “I don’t know how to pray.” I said, “Just talk to God like you’re talking to me.”
God likes honesty better than pretty words. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)
One of my favorite prayers in the Bible is the prayer of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. When faced with an attack from a great enemy army, he prayed, “O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12) What a prayer! “Lord, we don’t know what to do.” Wow! Now that was honest. And he got his answer from God. Blessed is the person who admits his need before the Lord.
James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
In addition, God gave us the Holy Spirit. He prays for us and through us, “with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26) That means two things. For those of a Pentecostal persuasion the Holy Spirit gives us a prayer language, praying in tongues. For those not of a Pentecostal persuasion, God can read your heart.
Prayer is not just words; it’s heart. Prayer is expressing your heart before God. Don’t be afraid to talk to God. Read the Psalms and observe how David expressed himself to God.

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