Daniel 6:10 NKJV – Matter of habit

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”

Recently, I was impressed by something I heard while having dinner in an old fashioned diner. There was an elderly couple who announced when their friend had arrived to join them, “Well, it’s about time you got here.” Now I don’t really know what their intentions were. It may have been a way they greeted their friends. (????) Or maybe, they had developed a habit of eating at the same precise time every day and they were running a little late.

This got me to think. I pondered what some of my habits are. Well, first, I must say that I believe we are a habitual culture. We like to have habits to put order in our lives. We like when we do something so much that we don’t have to think about it. Like driving the same way each and every time we go to the mall, or the grocery store, or even to church. I am a habitual man. I like the routine I go through at bed time. There are certain things I do that are the same each and every night. The certain way I have to arrange the pillows. The certain place I have to lie to be comfortable. When I used to cut my lawn, it was cut the same identical way each and every time. I found the most efficient way to cut it and never changed my pattern. No I don’t have to cut my lawn. Someone else does that for me. (Thanks, Austin.)

Anyways, there are a lot of habits. Some good, some ridiculous, and some not good. Yes, we may still have habits that we would love to be delivered from. This is where we need to continue in prayer. It’s all a process, but I would love to lose those bad habits. And I know that the Lord will deliver me of those bad habits as a result of my prayer.

And then there are the good habits like our foundational scripture talks about with Daniel. He knelt to pray three times each day giving thanks to God. And it says that, “as was his custom since early days.” Daniel had a habit to pray. Hallelujah!!! And that habit was established early in his days.

Having a prayer habit is so good. Keeping in the attitude of prayer helps develop that prayer habit. It also keeps your relationship with Jesus current and ongoing. One of the most precious times I have in daily prayer is when I pray with my wife, Nancy. Each night we end the day in prayer with and for each other. And even when we have been apart (like sometimes when I’m out of town on business), we have called each other and prayed together. We have a prayer habit of praying for our families and lost loved ones each night. We habitually pray for our pastors and church leaders.

Friend, there are good habits and bad habits. We can make the choice what to keep our focus on and what to be delivered from. It’s like this. Choose wisely.

Dear Lord, thank You that we can come to You to deliver us from those habits in our lives that do not honor You. Deliver us from critical hearts, judgmental minds, and unkind thoughts and actions. May we not just react to circumstances but stop to ask, “Does what I’m about to do or say honor You.” Help us always to choose wisely. Help us to grow in good habits like continual prayer and seeking a relationship with You. May You open up even more time in our lives to spend with You. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV – What is prayer?

“Pray without ceasing”

Thank You, Lord. “Short and sweet.” But the more accurate description is “Short but so powerful.” This verse really packs a punch. What is the definition of prayer? Well it’s fellowship and relationship with God through Jesus Christ, expressed in love, thanksgiving, and intercession through which believers can draw near or nearer to God and learn more of His will for their lives.

That’s a lot of words. Too many to memorize if you’re inclined to do. Simply put it’s two way conversation with God through Jesus Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit with the sole purpose of developing a relationship.   Prayer is based on God’s love for His children. Through His grace, God gives to us things which we do not deserve, while through His mercy He shields us from those things which we do deserve.

Praying without ceasing is having an attitude by which a constant relationship between God and us is developed. Always wanting to be in His presence. It’s focusing every thought and action toward honoring God. As prayerful believers we are to continue praying earnestly and this requires patience and determination. Jesus taught His disciples to persist in prayer. Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:6-8 NKJV)

Our foundational Scripture today doesn’t need more to say. It’s easy to read and memorize, but probably one of the most powerful commands in God’s Word. It’s that important. Scripture commends a life of prayer, characterized by simplicity of expression, sincerity of heart and trust and belief in the promises of God.

Precious Lord, thank You that You do not need fancy words or catchy phrases in prayer. What You are looking for is simplicity, sincerity, humbleness, and trust that You hear our prayers and will answer them. Help us to always have the attitude of prayer and focus every thought and action toward giving You honor and praise. Teach us to pray, Lord, this day. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV – What got me interested?

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

What got me interested is a curious title. Interested in what you might ask?

I am not a man whose attention is captured very easily. To get my attention, something has to be special or unique or beautiful. That something has to cause my eye to take a closer look. That something has to cause my mind to think twice about it. I have to be able to see relevance and need. Well, some of you may think that I’m shallow because of these “guidelines”. I’m not shallow at all. But I am kind of regimented. I have a particular personality trait that some people like, while others have said it drives them crazy. You see, I have to analyze everything.

When I say something has to be special. What I mean is it must cause my inner being, my heart to be moved. It’s that feeling that I have when I see a child’s smile, when I see the American Flag presented in a parade, when I hear the voice of someone obviously gifted, sing the National Anthem.

When I say something has to be unique. What I mean is it is different. Its qualities cannot be seen in other things. I call the birds that I love unique. I’ve shared before my love for bird watching and how I care for them in my backyard bird sanctuary. Though there are over 50 species of birds that come to our feeders, each of them is unique to me.

When I say something has to be beautiful. What I mean is it causes my head to turn. First and foremost, this defines my wife Nancy. She is the most beautiful woman that I have ever encountered, both inside and outside. Her outer beauty takes my breath away and her inner beauty makes my heart smile.

But this devotion is not about patriotism, bird watching, or even my wife, Nancy. “What got me interested” is really asking “What got me interested in Prayer”. And the answer is that I am the direct recipient of fervent prayer and the life that I lead is a result of that prayer. I pray because I was prayed for. The day that my dear friend took my hands to pray with me, my heart began to be changed. The day that same dear friend knelt with me in prayer, I experienced the addictions of this world being delivered and the truest love anyone can find wash over me. I pray because God Himself was a participant of those prayers. And when I pray now, God actively participates in each prayer. It doesn’t matter if the prayer is for me or for someone else. God is actively moving in that prayer to answer it. You might ask does Prayer meet my guidelines. Well, yes indeed.

Prayer is special. Any time you can spend with God in conversation and petition is special. God won’t reject you and He is always ready to hear you and engage you.

Prayer is unique. Having conversation with our Almighty Creator is definitely unique. Who else spoke ALL things into existence? Who else is all knowing, all powerful, and everywhere all the time.

Prayer is beautiful. Prayer brings me into the presence of God which takes my breath away and causes my heart to smile.

Prayer deepens our relationship with God. Prayer brings us closer to Him. He created us with a need for connection, and prayer is connection. Praying is talking to the Lord, just like friends talk to each other and are brought closer together through their sharing. When we pray, we share our innermost being with Him. Through prayer, we are transformed and renewed. Prayer reminds us that we are dependent on God and not on ourselves. Prayer draws us closer to God.

But listen, I desire to pray. I want to have a conversation with God. I want Him to know all about me. I want to learn all about Him. I want to take a hold of His hand and walk with Him in the cool of the day. I want to rejoice with Him. I want to weep with Him. I want our hearts to be entwined together so that my heart beats with His heart.

Join me in prayer, will you?

Great and loving Lord. Thank You for the relationship we have when we talk to each other in prayer. Thank You that You always have time for me. That I am not an interruption to You. I desire Lord more time with You. I ask You Lord to help my friends open their hearts to You in prayer. I ask You Lord to bless them and prosper them and find favor with them as they share what is on their hearts. Lord may my friends grow more and more each day with You as they pray. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV – What is God’s will for you?

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

We sometimes ask God, “What is Your will for my life?” I know I have asked God that question. Here in 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5, verses 16 to 18, we get the answer.

“Rejoice always” – Well that’s hard to do sometimes. I know it is for me from time to time. But let’s talk about this. Rejoice. According to Strong’s it means to be exceedingly glad, to be well and thrive. Wow. It’s not just a happy party. Sorry, but sometimes people think being happy and rejoicing are the same thing. But what we see here, they are not. It’s like the difference between standing still and jumping up and down. To be well and thrive sounds like something we would be interested in.

“Pray without ceasing” – Prayer is nothing more than a conversation with God. A conversation is two-way communication. Back and forth. God desires to have that kind of relationship with us whereby when He speaks we can hear because when we pray He listens. Praying continually means to have the attitude of prayer with you at all times. To be mindful that God awaits your call. God knows your name and you know His voice.

“In everything give thanks” – Oh, Oh. To be thankful in ALL things. God has designed you just as He desired and has set you upon the path that He has ordered. It is sometimes hard to be thankful in the midst of pain, sickness, trials, and heartache. But God wants you to know that you are not alone. He walks with you though it all. He never leaves you or gives up on you. And when you call on the Name of Jesus, He responds. And He gave His life for you because He has an everlasting love for you. He wants nothing more than to spend eternity with you.

So when someone asks you if you know God’s will for your life or you ponder the will of God, remember that the answer is in these short verses. God wants to make His Word real to you. Not complicate it with a lot of stuff.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word, the light unto our path. Help me desire to seek and do Your Will. To rejoice and not complain or be bitter, to have the attitude of prayer at all times so that when you call me we can have a conversation. And help me to be thankful for Your Son’s shed blood and forgiveness, for always being with me, and for never giving up on me. I love You Lord and pray in Your precious Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 61:1 NKJV – Sometimes prayer is not wrapped up in pretty paper

Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer.

Sometimes our prayer is not wrapped up in pretty paper and presented to God as a gift or a present. Sometimes our prayer is bend over, weeping until there is nothing left in us, not even a single breath. Sometimes our prayers are in desperation, seeking Almighty God because the answer we seek can only come from Him. Sometimes that’s just how it is.

Lamenting before God in prayer causes us to cast away our own understanding and wishful thinking and brings us to a place of absolute belief in the power of God. Importunity towards God is earnestness and perseverance in presenting our requests to Him seen in persistent pleading, faithful intercession and bold appeal. Pastor E. M. Bounds said this, “Importunate praying is the earnest, inward movement of the heart toward God. It is the throwing of the entire force of the spiritual man into the exercise of prayer. Isaiah lamented that no one stirred himself, to take hold of God. Much praying was done in Isaiah’s time, but it was too easy, indifferent and complacent. There were no mighty movements of souls toward God. There was no array of sanctified energies bent on reaching and grappling with God, to draw from Him the treasures of His grace. Forceless prayers have no power to overcome difficulties, no power to win marked results, or to gain complete victories. We must win God, ere we can win our plea.” Sometimes our prayer is not wrapped up in pretty paper.

With importunate prayer, there must be persistence. “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17 NKJV) With importunate prayer, there must be faithfulness in prayer. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”. (Ephesians 6:18 NKJV) With importunate prayer, there must be earnestness in prayer. “I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; be merciful to me according to Your word.” (Psalm 119:58 NKJV) With importunate prayer, there must be boldness in prayer. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)

Friend, there are times that because of our need, our circumstance, our desperation, we must call upon God, get into His presence, and relinquish everything that would distract us or encompass us and be alone with Him. We must win God as E.M. Bounds said. To win God is to win our plea. To move into God’s presence is to move our situation or our circumstance into His presence where all grace and mercy resides. There are times of “pretty paper” petitions to God. There’s nothing wrong in that. But sometimes, there’s a need for face down, I’m not moving until You move Lord, prayer.   Those of you who have experienced this kind of prayer know how exhausting and debilitating it is. But you also know how life changing, living-water quenching, God moving, Holy Spirit empowered it is. Glory to God! What is your circumstance? What are you facing? Is importunate prayer the prayer you need? Does your circumstance need for you to be persistent, faithful, earnest, and bold in your prayer? Only you can answer these questions. But let me tell you something about importunate prayer. Importunate prayer changes everything. It changes your outlook. It changes your position in prayer. It changes your heart. It changes how you approach God. In changes everything even your life.

Holy and gracious God. Sometimes we come to You with our needs wrapped up as offerings to You. Thank You that You receive them and answer them. But sometimes Lord, we come to You crying out, face down, in a pool of tears, wanting and waiting for Your presence. Thank You God that in those times You also receive us unto Yourself and move into our circumstance bringing all of Your glory, Your power, Your grace, Your mercy and Your love. For Your glory and honor. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Peter 4:7 NKJV – Why wait?

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.

Peter is saying that there is a need to be serious and watchful in prayer and that the end is coming. The end being a reference of Jesus’ return. The call to vigilance is frequent in the New Testament. But today I write with a slightly different point of view. It starts with this question, “Why wait?”

Sometimes we find ourselves slacking in our prayers because we get complacent. We think that all is well and put our lives on “cruise control” and just move along as the world takes us. We believe that we can put on the brakes when we need to, so that we can deal with what lies in front of us. Once we are past that, we can get moving again and hit the “cruise” once more.

The problem with this kind of life is that prayer then only becomes important when something lies in front of us blocking our path. We pray only when we are facing something; when crisis comes. Now, it’s important to bring God into our situations and struggles; to open our hearts to Him in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” But to be watchful in our prayers is to have a life of prayer.

A life of prayer can be defined as having an attitude of prayer. “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2 NKJV) Prayerfulness is an attitude by which a constant relationship between God and ourselves is developed. So having an attitude of prayer or being prayerful is totally dependent on our relationship with God. This relationship arises from a deep desire to be with God and an awareness of need that can only be met by God.

To be serious and watchful in our prayers demonstrates a relationship with God and a continuing trust in Him. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:5-8 NKJV)

Friend, I go back to the first question, “Why wait?” Should we not find it important to develop our relationship with God so that we can live with an attitude of prayer? Being watchful is seeing with the eyes of God and allowing God to move in every part of our lives as we trust Him. Yes the end times are coming when Jesus will return to gather us who call Him Lord and Savior and take us to His place, Heaven. But let’s begin to nurture our relationship with God in praise, and worship, and prayer. Prayer embraces God for who He is. Prayer is conversation with God and connects us with His Mighty Power. Prayer says to God that we know we are powerless and we need His power to get through whatever we are facing. And God’s power is released through our faith. “Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23 NKJV) Take some time and call upon the name of the Lord in prayer. Love Him. Tell Him what is on your mind. Listen to Him when He speaks back to you. And allow His power to live in and through you.

Dear God, thank You that we can come to You at any time and talk with You. Teach us to be serious and watchful in our prayers by having daily conversation with You. Help us develop an attitude of prayer that keeps You in the front of our minds. Forgive us when we place You and prayer in the back seat and think all is well until we come to a road block. May You guide and direct our paths as we place our trust in You. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Colossians 4:2 NLKV – Continue – Earnestly – Vigilant

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.

I look at this Scripture and immediately find direction in what should be done.  Particularly in three key words.

First the word “continue”.  Continue is defined as “to remain or cause to remain in a particular condition, capacity, or place.  To carry on uninterruptedly a course of action, persisting in something and to resume after an interruption.”

Next the word “earnestly”.  Earnestly or earnest is defined as “marked by or showing deep sincerity or seriousness with a purposeful or sincere intent.  To be serious or determined.”

And lastly, the word “vigilant”.  Vigilant is defined as “being keenly watchful to detect trouble and to be wary, ever awake and alert.”

So, my understanding of these words is that I will continue to remain in an attitude of prayer to carry out what is intended by the prayers without interruption.  And if I get interrupted, I will resume where I left off.  My attitude of prayer will be demonstrated by a deep sincerity to be purposeful with my prayer and not be complacent with what I petition God for.  And I will be forever watchful to detect any scheme of the enemy to deter or interrupt my planned course of action.  And that is to “Pray through until there is a breakthrough”.

Being in an attitude of prayer means that I have a constant connection with the Holy Spirit.  Isn’t this what we desire to be our way of life?  Prayerfulness arises from a desire to be with God.  To be connected to Him; to walk with Him; to have an intimate relationship with Him.  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning—yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5-6 NKJV)  “More than those who watch for the morning,” expresses not only an intense yearning, but also the certainty of hope.  We are watchmen.

The last part of our foundational verse says, “in it with thanksgiving.”  Thankfulness is defined as having a “heartfelt gratitude”.  In this case, certainly to God.  For His everlasting love by giving us His Son, Jesus.  “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV)  For His everlasting goodness.  “Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!” (Psalm 31:19 NKJV) And in response to His everlasting mercy and grace.  “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) 

Prayer embraces praising God for who He is, thanking Him for what He has already done, and looking forward to what He promises to do in the future.  Join me, in “continuing earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.”

Dear Lord, thank You for Your everlasting love, Your goodness, and Your great mercy and grace.  Help us to remain earnest in prayer allowing nothing to distract us or to take us away from connecting with You.  Help us to discern the schemes of the enemy that hinders our time in prayer with You.  May we set time aside, casting everything else away and connect with You, Holy Spirit.  Help us to pray through until You bring a breakthrough.  In Jesus Name.  AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!