Prayer Tip: God is Totally Other, so pray…

I think one of the greatest hindrances to effective prayer happens when we begin to think that God is like us. When we try to bring God down to our level and understanding, we tend to reduce prayer to ‘figuring out the ask/receive system’ in order to persuade Him to do something… and then we proceed to tell Him what to do and how to do it.

We can take on more of the nature of God (by His doing) but He is nothing like us – He will always be totally other. We need to stay in the discovery mode and be open and eager for anything and all that He might do or say.  (I think of this as part of what it means to fear God.)

Do you approach God this way? It’s an attitude/heart posture as we pray our heart’s desires and specifics of what we think we need/want.

Remember that what He plans and promises (His way) is so much better/higher than what we can think or imagine. Isa. 55:9; Eph. 3:20

And so I pray for you what I pray for me, “Lord, teach me to fear God and hate sin while I stay in the discovery mode with eyes fixed on You.”

Prayer Tip: Wait in Silence for God Only

Have you ever just sat quietly with the Lord not saying anything and just trying to center your thoughts on being aware of His Presence?  (Is that even possible?)

Psalm 62:5  My soul, wait in silence for God only, my hope is from Him.

Does that seem like a waste of time… just sitting with Jesus, ‘doing nothing’, not asking for anything, not declaring anything, not saying anything at all but just delighting in His Presence?

I think I’m convinced more can be accomplished sitting in silence with Jesus ‘doing nothing’, than in roaring around trying to get a sense of accomplishment.  (He knows what we need before we ask.)

Once we get ‘in tune’ with Him and aware of His Presence, we can’t help but erupt in words of praise and adoration and thanksgiving. (Then act in response to His leading.)

Try it.

Prayer Tip: Prayer as a Conversation

Do you struggle with what to pray and feel like your prayers are not very effective?  Suggestion….

“Pray through the Bible. Prayer was never meant to be a monologue; it was meant to be a dialogue. Think of Scripture as God’s part of the script; prayer is our part. Scripture is God’s way of initiating a conversation; prayer is our response.”                                                                  Mark Batterson

Begin your day with reading the Bible and listening for God to choose the subject and begin the conversation.  Then simply respond back to God in prayer regarding what He says to you.

Then when there’s a pause in the conversation, be sure to pour out what’s on your heart to the Father who is eager to hear and to help.  And be sure to thank Him for the answers.

And since He is always with you and in fact lives in you, the conversation can continue throughout the day.

Prayer Tip: Praying Through to God’s Plan

I hope you’re using the 40 Day Prayer Guide pastor Dave put together for us! There’s POWER in a whole church praying together of one heart and one mind!

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“We’re often so anxious to get out of difficult, painful, or challenging situations that we fail to grow through them. We fail to learn the lessons God is trying to teach us or cultivate the character God is trying to grow in us. We’re so focused on God changing our circumstances that we never allow God to change us! So instead of ten or twenty years of experience, we have one year of experience repeated ten or twenty times.  …If we’re being completely honest, most of our prayers have as their chief objective our own personal comfort rather than God’s glory. We want to pray away every problem, but those shortsighted prayers would short-circuit God’s perfect plan.”                             The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

I’m guilty.  Are you?

Often God does want to change circumstances if we’ll just ask, but it takes a willingness to go through them, to wait for His timing and His perfect will in order to discern the difference.

God promises victory regardless.  And most of the time we’re not facing a ‘life or death’ situation. But even then…

“Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”  Romans 8:36-37

Let’s pray in full assurance that God is working His perfect plan.

Lent 2017: Resurrection Prayer Guide

Acts 4:23-31 describes an early church that prayed in unity, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the Word of God with boldness! That is our prayer for Grace Bible Church. Follow this guide to pray unified prayers for our community and our world. There are 40 days marked in blue for unified prayer and fasting as the church “scattered”. Sundays are marked in red for celebrating and worshipping as the church “gathered”.

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If you would like to extend your prayer time, an additional prayer guide can be downloaded as an app for $1 called “Seek God 2017”. This guide follows a different format.

This year we will celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection on Sunday, April 16th, 2017. In reality, Christians depend on the resurrection everyday of our life, but this is the anniversary day that is widely recognized around the world. We usually welcome more visitors on Easter than on any other Sunday throughout the year. Since it’s a big day, we offer an extra service at sunrise and we offer a video overflow room during the other morning services. We always love to share Jesus with people who don’t know Him, and Easter is our largest opportunity to do that. I’d like our church to be unified in seeking to love our community well. Let’s try these three ways to prepare for Easter at Grace Bible Church.

1) Pray & Fast for 40 Days

Not counting the Sundays, there are 40 days from March 1st to Easter Sunday on April 16th. This 40 day period is sometimes called “Lent” (for the “lengthening” of days in the spring). Let’s spend these 40 days praying for others to see and follow Jesus. We have included Scriptures and suggested prayers in this guide to get you started. Fasting is a great way to focus our prayers. Use the Sundays as days to temporarily break your fast as you feast and gather with God’s people. Many Christians experience an increased sensitivity to God’s goodness through fasting. Fasting is not a form of self-punishment. Fasting is giving something up temporarily to recognize that Jesus is our ultimate joy. If you have never fasted before, we recommend that you start small. Do not give up all food for 40 days. Perhaps you could give up sugar, coffee, or soda. If you are more experienced you might skip one meal per day. The idea is to turn your heart to Jesus in prayer every time you miss whatever it is you are giving up. Many fast from food, but you might give up TV, or Facebook. The point is not to make yourself miserable, the point is to run to Jesus in prayer. Spend 40 days praying for our friends and neighbors to follow Jesus.

2) Cultivate Deeper Relationships

If we love others well, we will care about what they think and how they see the world. If Christ brings us hope, we will want to share that with others. The best way to share with others is to genuinely understand them. It is always encouraging when we value someone’s perspective. Seek to understand the motivations and heart beliefs of others. Ask the Spirit to tell you when to speak and when to listen. Ask good questions and listen well.

3) Invite Others to Church

Invite someone who is not following Jesus to visit church and hear about Him. Offer to meet them and sit with them. Our worship services are designed to remind us that Jesus is better than anything else. The Holy Spirit uses the proclamation of Jesus to change people. In Romans 1:16, Paul says, “…the gospel…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The Gospel has the power to push competing loves out of our hearts. Our gatherings are designed to remind disciples of the greatness of Jesus, but also to help people consider Jesus for the first time. Invite someone to church this spring.

In 1 Corinthians 15:7, Paul says,

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” The resurrection of Christ is our guarantee of hope in a world of grief and pain. Our faith is not just a weekend hobby, but it is our reason for getting up every day. Grace changes everything! Let’s spend the next 40 days praying that Jesus will be more evident in our lives as well as in the lives of those around us.

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Prayer Tip: Pray for the Fear of God

Psalm 130:3-4 If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand.  But there is forgiveness with You that You may be feared.   (Note: The fear of God results from forgiveness and it draws us to Him.)

The reason people do not follow Jesus is that they lack a fear of God.

Psalm 36:1-2 An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked, there is no fear of God before their eyes; for in their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.

The fear of God has GREAT benefits:  Eg.  clear instruction, Intimacy with God  Ps. 25:12-14; great goodness  Ps. 31:19; keep us from sin Ex. 20:20; experience His great mercy  Luke 1:50; and much more.

In light of this I pray for the fear of God – for myself and for my loved ones.  When I pray for rulers and all men I pray the fear of God comes on them so that they might hear and understand the gospel and make an informed decision regarding their own eternal destiny.

I think of the fear of God primarily as reverence and awe resulting for believers in humble contrition before His holiness and majesty and power and for those who persist in unbelief, terror and trembling and paralyzing fear.  (All will fear God when they see God.)

O God, teach us the fear of God.  Amen.

Prayer Tip: Am I Praying in the Spirit?

Ephesians 6:18 …praying at all times in the Spirit…

The things we most ‘naturally’ pray come out of our human nature.  As a child of God, I am given a new nature; it’s the ‘Jesus in me’ nature.  (2 Cor. 5:17)  But I find it takes practice and intentionality to pray as that new person.

“There is a good deal in our natural human nature that will not understand the life of the Son of God, that will say to Him, as His own mother did, ‘Now is Your time to work a miracle.’  The natural in us will always want the Son of God to work in our way. … A sword had to go through the heart of Mary because of the Son of God (Luke 2:35) and because of the Son of God in us, a sword must go through our natural life as well.”          Oswald Chambers

How do I know if I’m praying in the Spirit?  I ask myself these questions.

Am I really open and desirous of His will to be done?

Am I vulnerable and inviting Him to change me through my prayer?

Will I praise Him and give Him thanks no matter the outcome?  Am I truly delighting in Him?

 Then I view very critically what I want to pray in the light of scripture, specifically knowing ‘the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please.”  Gal. 5:17

I’m asking the Lord to help us pray at all times in the Spirit.