“Daddy, I want to pray for you.”

When I was a student at Lee College, I took a class that had as one of it’s books, “Will Our Children Have Faith?”  I don’t recall anything about the book today beyond the title.  The title has stuck with me through the years.  At various moments, it would come to mind and help me as thought through situations with my children as well as the children in churches where I served.

As a Dad, one thing I have always enjoyed is praying with my children at bed time.  My oldest daughter is now 19, I am confident I have taken steps that have led her in the right direction.  Just as I have done with each of my children.  I trust I have been faithful to walk with Jesus in a way that honors him and leads my children to him.

My youngest daughter will be 4 years old soon.  During the Summer, at bedtime we talked through one of our own made up stories. (Just as I have done for almost 19 years with each child along the way.)  Now, just as then, they typically include my child as the central figure in the story along with a couple of her toys that come to life that she plays with.  After the story time I pray.  Recently after I prayed she said, “Daddy, I want to pray for you… ‘Heavenly Father, bless my Daddy – In Jesus Name.'” Then she said, “I didn’t do that right, I want to pray again… ‘Father, forgive my Daddy.'”  I had quite the laugh, smile, and thought-filled contemplation over her prayer.

She prayed for blessing and forgiveness.  I believe with all my heart her prayers were heard.  I don’t know specifically what she thought I needed forgiveness for.  But that’s alright.  It has led me to think through a lot of areas of my life, as I have thought through I have sought to leave each area at the foot of the Cross.  More than anything her praying that night… her desire to pray for me – has heightened my sensitivity to pray for others.

At times, I wonder why I have had on my life a desire to pray for others.  This discipline began while at Lee College.  I kept a notebook of people I prayed for.  Today, I don’t recall all of the names but I remember many of those faces.  There have been so many that I have prayed for in which I have not seen results (at least through my eyes).  There are several people today I pray for regularly and those folks will never know this side of heaven about those moments in prayer.

This past Christmas Eve, my wife and I went to the mall to do some last minute shopping.  I wasn’t feeling well, so I sat in the middle of the mall and watched people.  It became apparent within my heart I was to pray for those that walked by.  I’m not much on shopping but those moments made the trip more than worth it.  Even now I don’t recall those things that were purchased, but I recall the people and the moment.  I recall the urgency we all have to live our lives in a manner honoring Jesus.

Just as my daughter may not have fully comprehended her prayer for me.  But the Holy Spirit did.  Her prayer has led me to search my heart and invite God to search my heart and reveal to me anything that is separating me from Him.  More than anything I want to live a manner worthy of the grace that has been so wonderfully given to me.

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Are you prepared?

Photo by James WhiteThere were two farmers who were both praying for rain.  But only one of them prepared his field.  Which farmer do you think was praying with faith? (Facing the Giants, The Movie)

Do you take a trip or plan your vacation without first counting the cost and consulting a map to determine how you are going to get to your destination?  I know the way to my mother’s house.  But each time I make the trip I consult the map, calculate the cost, and determine how long it is going to take to get there.

John the Baptist came preaching a message of baptism.  He came to prepare the way for people to receive the message Jesus would bring.

“That explains it,” said Paul. “John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you’ve been baptized in John’s baptism, you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.” (Acts 19:4, The Message).

Maybe you have been made ready and you have begun following Jesus.  Now the question is, “What is it he is preparing you for?”  I believe we are always being prepared for something.  God takes all of our experiences in life and puts them together for His purposes and His glory.  He isn’t going to waste anything.  The hinderance to our moving forward tends to come in at a time of failure.  How we respond to that “failure” is crucial to our moving forward.

In Matthew 4, Jesus calls Peter to follow and immediately Peter follows.  Peter spends the next three years with Jesus being prepared for a future that he had not come to a complete understanding of.  Leading up to the time when Jesus was to be crucified – Jesus prepared Peter and the other disciples for what was to come.  In John 21, after the resurrection, Jesus prepares Peter once again for what is still to come.  John tells us Jesus was telling Peter to, “feed his sheep.”  Jesus also hinted to Peter at the kind of death he would suffer.  Once again Jesus says to Peter, “Follow me.”

Peter’s life is an example of the growth we each experience as we follow Jesus.  As we read the Gospels, we see all of the life-lessons each of the disciples experienced as they followed Jesus.  There were a lot of great moments as they followed and trusted him.  But there were also moments of failure… even denial as we read concerning Peter.  Jesus doesn’t give up on the man.  He continues to love, forgive, and prepare.

Maybe you are at a place in life where you have failed in some way.  I hope this is a reminder to you that Jesus loves you.  Jesus forgives you.  And that Jesus is still preparing you for your destiny.  Have you been praying for “rain”? Then prepare your field and get ready for the rain.

Photo by: James White

God cares about every detail that concerns us…

Almost 2 years ago I was taught a valuable lesson through some very difficult pain.  I had a break out of Shingles.  I went to the doctor, I had shots, took medicine that was prescribed, and laid around in a lot of pain.  It had spread from my waist and hip, up my side, and down my leg.  I prayed!

The valuable lesson was in the praying.  James 5 came to mind and I began to read.  Verse 10 refers to Job and how God restored him in the end of the misery he endured.  “That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.” (The Message).

Verses 13-15 are key to what God was teaching me during this season.Iron Hill Loop

13-15 Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and 
anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out. (The Message).

There are three key points God highlighted for me,

  1. “Are you hurting?” Pray.   I’ve thought about how many times I had something going on and instead of praying I called a friend and asked them to pray for me.  It had become a way of life.  I had begun to talk with my friends about things in my life more so than talk with God.  I think I had friends praying more for me than what I was doing for myself.  God opened my eyes to this while laying there in physical pain.  I admitted this to God and asked for forgiveness.  God showed me I was desiring the end result but not the intimacy with Him that would be gained by spending time with Him.
  2. “Do you feel great? Sing.”  Again, God is saying here I want to be close to you.  He desires, wants, and he deserves ourthanksgiving.  He wants our praise to Him.  I began to think about how often I was blessed by Him and realized that I had not been singing.
  3. I sent a txt to my pastor, “Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet.” His response, “I’ll bring the oil.”  I said, “I’ll see you in the morning.”

It was that Sunday morning after my pastor and the elders laid their hands on me and prayed for healing that I began to heal.  There was more that God wanted to do in me that day.  I know God wanted me to share the depth of what I had been learning through this situation.   He had given me a message for all of them that morning and I shared it.  I was at one of the lowest times in my life at that moment.  Yet, God was taking care of the details I couldn’t even see.  As I look back I can see His hand at work in me then.

At that time, I was the volunteer that led the intercessory prayer efforts at our church.  God was telling me if I was going to lead in this area – I needed to lead and by example!  God cares about the path we chose to walk.  We need to let Him have his way in us as we walk.  I know at times our path is hard to see and we get lost in the forest of choices we find in our lives.  He is with us and as we walk by faith – He will guide us.

I truly believe that God wants to accomplish all that concerns us.  He wants to give good gifts to His children and to perform miracles.  I also believe our part of that is to pray without ceasing and to live a life that is pleasing to Him.  We need to live with heavenly perspective.

We are each faced with options each day.  We have the option to follow Jesus or to follow the crowd.  We need to believe by faith He has already weighed out our options.  It’s our place to live and walk by faith.  It’s our responsibility to pray.

“The person who believes God, is set right by God – and that’s the real life.  (Galatians 3:11-12, The Message).

Confession of Sin

When was the last time you sat down with God to deal with sin in your life? 

That’s  heavy question.

I can recall so many times being in one particular church needing to go to the altar to pray… often!  Maybe it was because going to the altar to pray was a big part of the “tradition” of that church. Or, just perhaps, it was the result of having been in the presence of God.  For me, that was a big part of what I did when I went to church… go to the altar in response to the message I had just heard.  It was something about taking that step to kneel and pray to confess sin or to make a commitment to God in some way that was in response to His Word I had just heard in the message from the Pastor.

Oswald Chambers brought my thoughts back to several experiences as I read this morning.  He speaks of Isaiah’s confession of sin when he enters into God’s presence.  Isaiah’s confession was not a blanket confession, “God, please forgive me of my sins.”  No, Isaiah’s confession was specific, “Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips…” Isaiah 6:5.

A person will easily say, “Oh yes, I know I am a sinner,” but when he comes into the presence of God he cannot get away with such a broad and indefinite statement. Our conviction is focused on our specific sin, and we realize, as Isaiah did, what we really are. This is always the sign that a person is in the presence of God. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest July 3).

Go back to my original question, When was the last time you sat down with God to deal with sin in your life? If I understand Oswald Chambers correctly that just may be the last time either one of us was in the presence of God.

Create in me a pure heart

Psalm 51 is the heart of David speaking with God concerning the sin he committed in adultery with Bathsheba.  It’s interesting to point out verse 4, David’s confession to God, “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;”  The bottom line to David’s sin is that it was against God – his Heavenly Father.  It brought about a separation in their relationship.  Here is a beautiful account of his confession and the beginning of a journey of a closer relationship with God.

I’m encouraged by the words of David I read in Psalm 51 and the encouragement found in the devotional I’m reading currently.  We should never allow those failures, lapse in judgment, and sin to hold us back from the future God has destined for us to live.  We should not allow anything to get in between our relationship with God.  As soon as we do, we must confess our sin and ask God for forgiveness. 

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
   or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-12, NIV)

This is an excerpt from, “Living a Divinely Inspired Life,” a devotional at YouVersion.com,

In your life journey, there will be setbacks and possibly even failures. There will certainly be situations that you did not plan for. There were many attempts to the moon before the first successful manned mission of Apollo 11. Do not be influenced or discouraged by your previous failed attempts. The God who has given you the vision will give you victory.

If you find yourself in a place where you are separated from fellowship with God take the time right now to read Psalm 51.  Pray the Scripture you read and ask Jesus to forgive you.  Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with his power to overcome the obstacles, failures, and sins you find in your life.  Trust Jesus and he will see you through to a joy-filled journey.