Month: April 2014

Praying In Every Situation of Life

celtic-trinity-knot-by-kristen-fox-300x300Pray in Every Situation of Life

The book of James is one of the most helpful books in all of the Bible.  Written by James, the brother of Jesus, the book has a pastoral tone and is filled with practical application.  Near the end of the letter, James turns his attention to the crucial issue of prayer.  He writes:

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

(James 5:13-18 ESV)

The thing that immediately stands out to me in these verses is that James advises us to pray in every situation of life.  Notice that he says to pray when we are suffering, when we are cheerful and when we are sick.  In other words, we  are to pray in the bad times and in the good.  We are to pray in every situation of life.

This is important advice because I think that we all have a tendency to put prayer off to the last resort.  In the bad times of life, we tend to try every other remedy before turning to the Lord in prayer.  Sometimes, I will hear people say things like “well all we can do now is to pray.”  On the opposite extreme, during the good times of life we often find that we neglect to praise God and to acknowledge what He is doing around us.  Both of these attitudes reflect a fundamental problem that we all have — we tend to forget that God is control of every situation.

A Plan for Learning to Pray Throughout the Day

The remedy to this situation is to build a habit of praying throughout the day.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 the Apostle Paul tells us to, “Pray without ceasing.”  In other words, our daily life needs to be characterized by prayer.  Let me give you a suggestion for how to develop this habit in your life.  First, get yourself a 4 index cards.  On the first card right Adoration, on the second Confession, on the third Thanksgiving, and on the final card write the word Supplication.

Place the card that says Adoration in a place where you will see it early in the morning.  Somewhere where you will be able to see it as you are first getting started on your day.  Place the second card somewhere where you will see it mid-morning.  For instance, if you work at an office you might want to hang it at the bottom of your computer screen.  Place the third card where you will see it during the mid-afternoon and the final card where you will be able to see it during your evening meal.

In the morning when you get up and see the first card spend time praising God for who He is and what He is like.  Tell Him how much you love Him and why you love Him.  Try to be specific and try to praise Him for something new everyday.  Then in the mid-morning when you see the card marked confession, spend a few minutes asking God for forgiveness of whatever sins that you have committed.  In the afternoon thank Him for the specific blessings that you have received that day.  I find that this is a good habit because sometimes I get in a bad mood during the afternoon.  The stress of work, life and family tends to build up on me during the afternoon and I find it refreshing to remember and thank God for the blessings that He has given me.  TRY IT!  I guarantee your attitude will start to change.  Then in the evening spend time praying for whatever needs you have.

What you will find over a couple of weeks is that what starts out feeling artificial will grow more natural and soon you will be talking with God throughout the day.  You will become more aware of His presence and will notice a change occurring in your life.

The Importance of Praying Together

Christ Church StellartonWe have experienced something very special over the past several weeks here at First Baptist, Metropolis.  For nearly two months now God has moved within our congregation in a very special way.  Last Sunday night in our deacons meeting we rejoiced in the fact that last month eighteen people joined our fellowship, most of them by baptism.  What’s even more exciting is that nearly every week, I am hearing from other Pastors around the country about how God is moving in their congregations.  Couple that with the fact that right not across the nation there are two films in the theaters that expressly present the gospel (Son of God and God is not Dead) and it becomes clear that something special is beginning to happen.  While it is too early to call it revival, God is clearly up to something and if you pay attention you will see Him moving all around you.  With this in mind, I want to encourage everyone who reads this to refocus and rededicate themselves to the work of prayer.

It is no secret that every revival in the history of the church has begun with people setting aside time to pray and to seek God’s face.  We are all familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  Notice the emphasis here on prayer and repentance.  These are the two key elements in every great revival that has occurred in the church.  Therefore, over the next couple of weeks, I am going to dedicate this blog space to encouraging and equipping Christians for the work of prayer.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  One of the first things that stands out in these verses is that these commands are to be the perpetual activity of Christians.  We should always be rejoicing, always praying, and always giving thanks.  Many years ago, I had the opportunity to serve with an older Pastor named Tom Darter.  One of the interesting characteristics of Tom’s personality was that when he started to pray he would begin with the word “…and.”  So if you were sitting down to a meal with Tom he would pray, “…and Father we thank you for this food.”  If you asked him to pray for a need he would say, “…and Father I come to you today on behalf of Joe…”  If he was praying in the worship service he would say, “…and Father we praise you today for…”  He always began his prayers with the word “…and.”  One day I worked up the courage to ask Tom why he did this.  I will never forget what he said, “Joe, prayer is the continuous work of every Christian.  Our prayers do not have a beginning and an end, our lives are just one continuous prayer.”  Tom went on to explain that when he prayed he was just continuing an ongoing conversation with God that had begun at the moment of his conversion.

This is what Paul has in mind here when he says “pray without ceasing.”  We should be in an ongoing conversation with God that reflects our gratitude, our dependence, and our adoration.  Today, as you go through your daily schedule I hope that you will strive to keep up a constant conversation with God.  As you go through your day, talk to Him.  Praise Him for His goodness and grace.  Ask Him for the things you need.  Thank Him for the many blessings, even the small ones, that He sends your way.  Pray without ceasing.