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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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PRAYING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15 ESV)

If you have put all of your trust in Jesus, you are a son or daughter of God. In Christ, we have confidence when we come into the presence of God. We know that God will hear our prayers. Notice, however, the qualifying phrase – “if we ask anything according to his will”. In other words, if we pray according to God’s Will, He will hear us and grant our petitions.

This is wonderful news but how do we know God’s Will? We must read the Scriptures and pray for wisdom. Prayer is not just a verbal recital of your wish list. Prayer requires two-way communication. You are not speaking to empty air; the God of the universe is listening to you and He wants you to listen to Him.

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OPENING HEAVEN’S GATES

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2 ESV)

Prayer may be described as our lifeline to God. If God desires us to pray without ceasing, (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV) then it is certain that prayer must be a top priority in our living the Christian life. In prayer, we not only bring our petitions to God, but we also seek His Will for guidance and wisdom in our daily lives. Prayer and worship help us to stop focusing on ourselves and focuses our thoughts on God who is the sovereign ruler of all. This ability to talk with God is a precious privilege and was purchased by the blood of Christ. If we are not praying, we are not communicating with our Father in heaven. A failure to communicate may mean our relationship to Him is in trouble.

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A FUNDAMENTAL SPIRITUAL FRUSTRATION

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:3 ESV)

Prayer is a vital necessity for the Christian life. If we possess little of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – it is generally because we have petitioned for too little. The promises of God are so excellent, should they not inspire us to pray without ceasing? A consistent prayer life eventually aligns our motivation with God’s purpose.

Yet, many want to be friends with God and the sinful pleasures of this world system at the same time. This is impossible because you cannot be a friend of God and live in rebellion against Him. We pray self-centered prayers to gratify our desires and wonder that our prayers have no effect. We actually want God to be our servant. Such a prayer life leads only to frustration and spiritual emptiness.

Do not allow your prayer life to become like a barren wasteland. Go to your Father in heaven as befits a son or daughter. Through the blood of Jesus, enter into the Holy of Holies to approach the throne of grace with the boldness of a child. According to John Owen, your prayers are “a holy practice”. Pray for your personal gospel progress that you may grow in sanctification. When the righteous pray, God hears and answers. (Psalm 34:17 ESV)

PRAYER AND THE WORD OF GOD

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7 ESV)

Evening PrayerPraying is difficult for many people. Some don’t think about it because they lead such busy lives. It is certainly not #1 on their “To-Do List”. Francis de Sales wrote:

Every Christian needs a half-hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour.

Martin Luther said on this subject:

I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that it is God’s Will that we should pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:1 ESV) Prayer leads to greater intimacy with God. Prayer changes things and my personal experience has been that God changes me through prayer. God’s desire is for us to pray. (1 Timothy 2:8 ESV) Studying the Bible and hearing God’s Word helps to make our prayer life more effective. If we are slack in seeking wisdom from God’s Word, our prayers may become an abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 28:9 ESV)

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A LITTLE OF CHRIST, PLEASE!

D. A. Carson:

D. A. CarsonSome Christians want enough of Christ to be identified with him but not enough to be seriously inconvenienced; they genuinely cling to basic Christian orthodoxy but do not want to engage in serious Bible study; they value moral probity, especially of the public sort, but do not engage in war against inner corruptions; they fret over the quality of the preacher’s sermon but do not worry much over the quality of their own prayer life. Such Christians are content with mediocrity. (A Call To Spiritual Reformation,121)

PRAYING FOR REVIVAL

D.M. Lloyd-Jones:

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-JonesWhen did you last hear anyone praying for revival, praying that God might open the windows of heaven and pour out His Spirit? When did you last pray for that yourself? I suggest seriously that we are neglecting this almost entirely. We are guilty of forgetting the authority of the Holy Spirit. We are so interested in ourselves and in our own activities that we have forgotten the one thing that can make us effective. By all means let us continue to pray for the particular efforts, for the minister, and his preaching every Sunday, for all essential organizations and for evangelistic campaigns, if we feel led to have them. But before it all, and after it all, let us pray and plead for revival. When God sends revival He can do more in a single day than in fifty years of all our organization. That is the verdict of sheer history which emerges clearly from the long story of the Church. (Authority, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1984 p. 93)

THE PRAYERS OF GOD’S PEOPLE

Jonathan EdwardsJonathan Edwards:

“It is God’s will through His wonderful grace, that the prayers of His saints should be one of the great principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ’s kingdom in the world. When God has something very great to accomplish for His church, it is His will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of His people; as is manifest by Ezekiel 36:37 and it is revealed that, when God is about to accomplish great things for His church, He will begin by remarkably pouring out the spirit of grace and supplication (see Zechariah 12:10).” (Thoughts on the Revival in New England),

 

OBEDIENCE AND REVIVAL

A. W. TozerA. W. Tozer:

“Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late – and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.”

ARE YOU TRYING TO MANIPULATE GOD?

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. (Acts 8:18-21 ESV)

Samuel A CainSimon desired the ability to lay hands on people so they would receive the Holy Spirit. However, he tried to buy the gift of God with silver from men who had received it by grace. Peter then told Simon that his heart was not right with God. Simon was a master manipulator who tried to manipulate God with a bribe to His servants. His effort failed because God cannot be manipulated. Continue reading

AN OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT

Andrew A. Bonar:

Andrew Bonar“We must continue in prayer if we are to get an outpouring of the Spirit. Christ says there are some things we shall not get, unless we pray and fast, yes, “prayer and fasting.” We must control the flesh and abstain from whatever hinders direct fellowship with God.”

TIME ALONE WITH THE LORD

Charles H. Spurgeon:

Charles H Spurgeon“There is a story told of me and of some person—I never knew who it was—who desired to see me on a Saturday night when I had shut myself up to make ready for the Sabbath. He was very great and important and so the maid came to say that someone desired to see me. I bade her say that it was my rule to see no one at that time. Then he was more important and impressive, still, and said, “Tell Mr. Spurgeon that a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ desires to see him immediately!” The frightened servant brought the message but the sender gained little by it, for my answer was, “Tell him I am busy with his Master and cannot see servants now.” Sometimes you must use strong measures. Did not our Lord tell His messengers, on one occasion, to salute no man on the way? Courtesy must give place to devotion! It is incumbent on you that you should be alone with your Lord in prayer—and if intruders force an entrance—they must be sent about their business.” (1887, Sermon #1993)

DRAWING ON THE GRACE OF GOD

Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers:

“Prayer is the practice of drawing on the grace of God.  Don’t say, “I will endure this until I can get away and pray.”  Pray now – draw on the grace of God in your moment of need.  Prayer is the most normal and useful thing; it is not simply a reflex action of your devotion to God.  We are very slow to learn to draw on God’s grace through prayer.” (My Utmost for His Highest)

JOY IN HELL

devilCharles H. Spurgeon:

There is joy in Hell when a saint grows idle! There is gladness among devils when we cease to pray, when we become slack in faith and feeble in communion with God. (1893, Sermon #2303)

PRAYER

George WhitefieldGeorge Whitefield:

Believers keep up and maintain their walk with God by secret prayer. The spirit of grace is always accompanied with the spirit of supplication. It is the very breath of the new creature, the fan of the divine life, whereby the spark of holy fire, kindled in the soul by God, is not only kept in, but raised into a flame.

THE HUMBLE PERSON

J.C.-RyleJ.C. Ryle:

“‎A humble and prayerful person will find a thousand things in the Bible, which the proud student will utterly fail to discern.”

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