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Prayer

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We’ve been working on getting it up for a while, to explain why we haven’t written many posts recently  (been saving it all for the new blog).  Check it out here!!!
The Fourth Call (There is a new entry over there too)!

 1. Where to pray
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” -Matthew 6:5-6

-Sure some people are very gifted in how they pray in public. Group prayer is not bad, but there are those who try to pray in order to seem holy and in order to draw attention to themselves.  They are not praying with a true heart, but for prideful intent. When you are to pray, we should do it privately.  It is really cool to think that our Father is in secret and when we pray in secret to Him, He is the only one who will see you and knows your heart. That’s so wonderful.

2. Length of Prayer
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” -Matthew 6:7-8

– When I was 13, I used to pray at night with my mom in her room. I’d pray for a good 30 minutes.  She would fall asleep as I’d pray.  It is better to pray short prayers from the heart and say little, for the burdens you have in your heart have already been heard by God.

SONY DSC3. What to Pray (Matthew 6:9-13)
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

-Recognize who God is and where He is. Acknowledge His holiness and mightiness.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

-Long for the establishment of God’s kingdom to be here in how you live and as you live.  There is great peace in heaven, and to long for that here on earth is beautiful!  We should live what we hope should be here.  Make sure that God’s will is always first.  We need to seek Him and His kingdom first.  This is so important!

“Give us this day our daily bread,”

-He knows your needs.  Ask for them to be provided for you.

“and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

-We do wrong every day. We need to acknowledge our sin and long for freedom from it.  Because He forgives you of these things, you must also forgive people who have sinned against you, no matter how hard it is. For God doesn’t hold anything against us when we are forgiven, nor should we.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

-Pray that you do not have the ability to even be led into temptation that leads to sin.  For when we are tempted, our testing of our faith can come about and we might get trapped and ensnared.  We should not want Satan to have any hold on our lives at all.

4. Important conclusion
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” -Matthew 6:14-15

-This is extended from the Lord’s prayer’s explanation a bit.  Can you imagine how powerful forgiveness is here? Jesus saved us from sin and we are called to be like Him. He did not kill those who physically accused Him or killed Him at all but instead forgave them. In living like Jesus and being like Him, we need to definitely do this.  Imagine not being able to be forgiven simply because you held things against others? That’s intense! We should live this out!

scripture29In reading 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles in the Bible, I see loads of bloodshed.  God warned the people of Israel to not even bother having a king because He was their ruler, but no one listened to Samuel as He spoke in God’s defense. God warned them what kings produce: oppression & bloodshed.  They didn’t care.  God said he’d choose a king for them, but throughout these books we see multiple failures and problems with kings (even the anointed ones).  King David wasn’t even allowed to build a temple for the Lord because he had too much blood on his hands, while Solomon had a complete peaceful reign to bring about the building of the house of the Lord.  Afterwards the bloodshed went on. 

Between Solomon’s rule and Israel’s divide and through the fall of Israel & Judah, there is a span of about 400 years with many kings and loads of wars and murders and deaths.  The high majority were terrible kings.  I have grown quite fond of a king in particular in which God said that there was no king of Judah as great as him to ever reign (2 Kings 18:5).  In 2 Chronicles 28-32 we learn how God helped Hezekiah.  So many people spoke evil things against the king because he was destroying the loads of idols set up, was fixing up the temple doors and bringing restoration to it, he brought back the Passover, and he just served God pretty wholeheartedly.  The king of Assyria threatened him to no end.  The Assyrian king was going to come to destroy him and the people of Judah.  When he was coming up towards Jerusalem, It bothered Hezekiah so much that he got Isaiah to pray with him and they cried out to heaven.  They decided to put their trust in God.  What happened? God sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army (32:21).  When the Assyrian king returned home, his own sons killed him.  This helped the people of Jerusalem to fill their hearts with praise to God.

I recently had a one-on-one/face-to-face discussion with a woman who asked me what I’d do if I saw a woman being beaten across the street.  She said how she would totally want to go over and hurt the person hurting the woman rather than letting her die.  When I told her I’d pray first, this woman was upset with me (and didn’t let me finish explaining myself), as if prayer wasn’t a worthy enough act.  Though she believes in Jesus, she basically wanted to put her trust in using her own strength than the strength of our Creator. It truly broke my heart and I let her know later on in person that I feel we need to have more trust in God and more faith in the power of prayer.  Hezekiah saw that there was no hope in an army or in man to get him through.  The only way to defend him was to get together with a prophet of the Lord and pray and cry out to Him.  They had such a leading of the Holy Spirit and a love for God, that God sent just one angel to destroy an entire army.  We need to have such faith to trust that God is the one who will take care of us.

I want to take it a step further. When we think of Jesus, not only did He pray to The Father to help Him, but He put himself in line for us all when He could have easily have wiped out all those who tried to & eventually killed Him.  I was one of those people, though not physically there, but I was one who crucified my Saviour. Instead of destroying me to defend Himself, He died for me.  That woman on the other side of the street should not only have me praying for her, but going in her place to take the abuse she received.  I also need to pray for the person beating her.  That is the beautiful story of Jesus and what He did for us, so we are expected to do the same for others.  We need to put our trust in Him to take care of us all. Jesus is God and returned from the dead.  We must realize that loving other people might have a price, but eternity is so much greater than our own comfort.  I can’t fathom the idea of spreading the gospel of Christ through harming others (because if I were to beat anyone even to save someone, I doubt it would show that I love Jesus. . that person needs Jesus as much as I do in that moment – and if I accidentally kill the person oppressing the other, then I have condemned that person to hell rather than helping give them a chance to transform their lives over to Christ and I have just broken a commandment too).  Vengeance is the Lord’s to repay, so let Him take care of things.  Let us show love to those who hate others and hate us so that they too can possibly have a chance to taste the grace of Christ.

Most people only focus on two of these verses, but I really love the ones surrounding it. Let us savor it together!
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.  Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” -Proverbs 3:1-8

In 2 Samuel 16, I am awed by the story of David and how he dealt with Shimei, who was a Benjaminite that came from the house of Saul. We know that Saul was always after David and in this time of David’s life he was dealing with an uprising against him through his son Absalom who wanted the throne. Of course Shimei was fond of the idea of David being destroyed.

Shimei follows David for 21 miles between Jerusalem and the Jordan river throwing stones at him and his men while cursing him continually.  One of David’s men named Abishai asked him if he could just behead him and called Shimei a “dog”.  David didn’t believe that was the right thing to do.  He basically said, “Maybe what he says is right. My own son wants to kill me, so how much more then would this Benjaminite? Maybe the Lord told him to curse me. Maybe the Lord will bless me through his cursing.”

Wait a minute. What is going on with David at this time?  He just lets this man hurt him? Does this remind me of something else? What did Jesus say about this? “But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turnto him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” -Matthew 5:39b-41

Jesus is saying that David did right, and he endured for 21 miles.  It was good that he didn’t retaliate with violence, but instead stayed silent and allowed himself and his men to receive some nasty rock wounds and a low feeling through his emotions getting stripped.

2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” We are going to suffer if we follow Christ. It is going to be hard.

“And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan.  And there he refreshed himself,”

What happened to Shimei through this experience? He comes back in chapter 19:16-23.  What does he do? He brings loads of people with him and bows before David to ask for forgiveness!!  He realized he was in the wrong. He even wished that David put him to death, but David spared him.

We need to pray for those who curse us.
We need to stay silent and give them some space and time.
We need to forgive.

If those who are out to harm us never come to the conclusion as Shimei did, we as believers in Christ know that all will be made right in the end through Christ. Do not fret when you suffer or if someone hates you.  Give it to God so that He might refresh you and bring you up through it.

Hannah is a really excellent example of what every wife and mother should want to be like.
In 1 Samuel 1, she was barren. Her husband Elkanah loved her, but at that point in time many men would marry more wives in order to spread the line of the Israelites, so he married another who was able to have children. This was never something that was glorified (having more wives).
As a wife who loves her husband I can’t even imagine the idea of sharing my husband sexually at all with someone else. It must have been very difficult on her which usually stress causes one to have a hard time bearing children as well. Her relationship with Elkanah’s 2nd wife Peninnah was terrible. Because Peninnah had the ability to have children, she shoved it in Hannah’s face daily.

Instead of being outraged or deciding to fight with Peninnah, Hannah decided to take her problems to the Lord.  I know I want to be able to take everything immediately to Jesus. Hannah’s my new female Biblical hero (Esther was always my favorite, which my mother prayed I’d have her spirit even).  Hannah would weep, fast, and pray to God regarding everything.  I have known of husbands who react poorly to their wives’ cries, but her husband was really concerned for her. Remember that if a woman was barren in that time and culture, she was thought of as useless or having some sort of sin that caused her to be barren.  Elkenah loved her so much that he would give double what he had to Hannah (even though the wife with the most children is supposed to receive the bigger portions) .  Elkanah said, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”- 1 Samuel 1:8
A husband who shows compassion and love and wants to get to know his wife, is a beautiful example for how a husband should be to his wife!  He didn’t mind that she couldn’t have children and thought perhaps he could mean as much to her as her having ten sons!

Hannah loved the Lord so much and she would try to understand Him and would often go to Shiloh (pictured on the left) to pray at the House of the Lord when the priest Eli would make his rounds from village to village. Eli saw that she would be moving her lips while in prayer but not say anything aloud. He thought she was a drunk, but she was praying so much that she would pray in her mind while mouthing the words without vocalizing it. She would weep and weep while doing this.  It was completely a tender and sweet moment (though distressful) shared with and to God.

She made a vow to God after asking Him to remember her, His servant.  She asked that He give her a son in which she would give back to the Lord so that He could live His entire life for Him.  Eli was impressed with Hannah and told her that she should go in peace and that he was hopeful that her petition to God would be fulfilled (vs. 17).  She felt a weight lift from her and she started eating regularly and became more joyful.  After a day of worship, Elkanah united in body with his wife and the scriptures say that in that moment “God remembered her”. He listened and answered and saw that she truly was a faithful servant of God. How amazing. She named her son Samuel which means “I have asked for him from the Lord”.

Hannah’s story doesn’t end there.  Remember the vow she gave to the Lord? She didn’t forget about it after having her child.  She took care of Samuel and once he was weaned she had a talk with Elkanah.  Hannah wanted to make sure that Samuel could serve God forever in His presence.  Elkanah listened and told her to “do what she thought was best” so that her vow with God would be fulfilled.  Once Samuel was weaned, while still pretty young, she prepared a sacrifice to the Lord and then brought Samuel to Eli. She told Eli, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him.  Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” -1 Samuel 1:27-28 

Eli was very impressed with Hannah and although he was probably in a bit of shock to be given Samuel to raise up, he sensed God’s Spirit. Eli’s two sons were evil and were priests who bribed others and used horrible tactics for their own gain. It was a new start for Eli, even though he was pretty old. Hannah’s son Samuel was in fact an amazing prophet of the Lord who did serve God all his days.

And what of Hannah? Although it was probably extremely hard for her to give her son away, she did visit him often, and in Samuel’s time of growing up, she gave birth to 3 more sons and 2 daughters! The Lord blessed her and Elkanah. How much glory do you think went to God as she watched her children grow and saw Samuel sincerely loving God. I am pretty certain her relationship with God continued to grow too! That is the type of person I want to be: Faithful, prayerful, relational, and committed to following through in all said to God.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
I kept thinking about this passage while typing this up.  I have a hard time rejoicing always. I think about how Hannah was talking to God in her head and realize I do that pretty regularly, but not always, and I believe this means that, for instance, when you see the rain falling, you should be thankful that God gave the rain to help plants grow and to sustain animals and people on the earth.  This is a way to pray without ceasing, to look at what He does and see what He’s blessed you with and to be thankful no matter how hard it is that God is there.  Do not be so bitter that you push God aside and drown Him out.  Make sure that you do everything for God’s glory, and that you talk to Him through the things you do.  It will bring you closer to God. I am working on this as well. This is how I believe Hannah lived and I admire such a woman and long to be of that same mold. I get easily frustrated and have been writing down a list of things each day of what God has blessed me with and it has helped me rejoice more in Him.

I started to read through the Psalms again at the beginning of the new year. I finished them a little over a month ago and it was amazing. I don’t ever tend to journal my prayers and thoughts on what I read in the Bible, but I decided on January 1st to do just that. I like to write things by hand, and by doing so I felt as if I got to think through my prayers 3 times; once while thinking them as I read the Word of God, once through writing them down, and once through crying them out to the Lord while on my knees in prayer. In doing so, I felt great comfort, great love, deep connection to God, and deep conviction. My emotions were a wreck and I enjoyed being so free with Jesus, my King. In doing this new way of studying His word, I have found a lot more growth in my own life. When I walk away from my Bible, I want more of Him. I found myself in tears quite often because of something that hit me where I needed to be convicted, or gave me ultimate joy and peace. I don’t normally cry when reading the Bible, but every day in my new approach I knew I had to bring some tissues with me while going to open my Bible.

“I want more joy and long to live in Christ’s integrity. Perhaps I am not living the way He wants me to. Make me pure, make me pure, make me pure, make me pure, make me pure, make me pure. I don’t want to be arrogant and love your rebuke so I might change.  I long to obey You and hate when I fail.  Cut my pride away forever!!!” -part of my prayers/notes after reading Psalm 116-120

I saw how constantly in the Psalms, King David would admit his personal defeats in his own life and where he was in the wrong. He would cry out to God and then God would give him the answers. He longed to make sure his entire life was devoted to God. He would constantly humble himself before God in front of his own kingdom. People would think he was going mad, but really he just adored God so much that he was willing to not hide his emotions or pretend he had it all together as a king. He allowed God to mold him. He was greatly persecuted for his stances of faith and yet he endured it because he knew God was mighty and powerful and worth committing his life to.

“Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly. I will praise you before all people.”- Psalm 35:18

Over a year ago I had found out that only 9% of proclaiming Christians take the time to read the Word of God through The Bible. How many people who actually attend church (or don’t at all) and make this proclamation of being a “Christian” really are willing to be penetrated by God’s intensity through His word? Apparently not enough. If ANY Christian fails to read His word or call out to Him and ask Him questions and dig for answers through His word, we are instead living by our own way and the people we surround our lives with daily. We become our own way of life because we’ve decided to ignore THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE. How can we expect to have any part of God if we don’t even make room for Him to be in our lives?

I urge all of the people who make up the church (even if you say you’re a Christians but are not attending a church) to step up and open your Bibles. Read his word. I know that it can be challenging to do, but please do not push God out of your life. He wants to get to know you and you should want to get to know Him, especially if you are claiming to be a “little Christ/Christian”.
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” -Jeremiah  15:16

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