May 2: Praising God our Father!

We’re working on growing our prayer time each day – and on this fourth day of encouragements for praise, try spending four minutes praising the Lord today!

And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:

Genesis 32:9

Jacob prayed to the God of his fathers, but we can now call God – Our Father!

Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:2

What has our Father done for us?

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace

2 Thessalonians 2:16

Let’s thank our Father for His love for us!

May 1: Praising God for Creation!

As we’re building up our “prayer time” – let’s see if we can get to 3 minutes today (we’ve talked about how we can praise Him for His Word, and what He’s done for you) – take some time to praise Him for His amazing Creation!

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Colossians 1:16

At the Creation Museum, I like seeing the Created Cosmos planetarium show. God made an incredibly big world for us!

ICR has some great resources on astronomy – learn about how great our God is!

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

Psalm 8:3

Carl Kerby has some great resources on zoology as well.

Yes, we can praise God for his amazing Creation! Even the hippo was made for His pleasure!

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Revelation 4:11

April 30: Growing our praise time!

We introduced yesterday the idea of praying for an hour a day. For some, that’s not a stretch. For others it may seem impossible. We talked yesterday about just starting with a minute of praise. Today – try taking it to two minutes of praise!

Yesterday we talked about praising His wonderful words that He has given us for instruction (Psalm 19).

Today – look at praising Him for what He can do for you!

I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

Psalm 18:3

He saves us from our enemies!

[48] He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.
[49] Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

Psalm 18:48-49

Sometimes a song helps us remember to praise the Lord.

https://youtu.be/Qa_SpHYPngs?t=40

He is Worthy to be Praised!

April 29: Can we pray one hour? Praise

So far this year, we’ve shared excerpts from several great books on prayer, as well as Bible passages on prayer as well. But sometimes it is still confusing – especially when we read what Jesus asked of Peter:

And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?

Mark 14:37

Dick Eastman, president of Every Home for Christ, wrote a book 41 years ago that is still extremely helpful, The Hour that Changes the World. In it he shares how he was able to “sing with fresh excitement” an old hymn:

O the pure delight of a single hour.

That before Thy throne I spend,

When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God,

I commune as friend with friend!

Fanny Crosby, Draw Me Nearer

Eastman gives 12 areas of “focus” within prayer. By spending five minutes on each area of prayer, we can pray for an hour a day!

Before jumping in and committing to spend an hour in prayer tomorrow, and then Satan lulls you back to sleep and tries to crush you with your failure, we’ll look at these twelve areas one at a time.

If you’re not used to praying extensively, try starting with just one minute of focused prayer on each topic, and you can start with Topic 1:

  1. Praise

The Lord’s Prayer was His model for us, to teach us how to pray! It starts with a praise to God.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name

Matthew 6:9

Today, if you’re not used to praying extensively, start with just one minute of praise (better to build a good habit slowly than to fail spectacularly!)

What can we praise God for?

Eastman discusses how we can praise His Word as the Psalmist did in Psalm 19:

[7] The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
[8] The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
[9] The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
[10] More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
[11] Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Psalm 19:7-11

Let’s take some time today to praise the Lord!

April 28: Austin Phelps: Faith in Prayer!

By 1890, this book was translated into six languages and over 200,000 copies. Charles Spurgeon even recommended it!

What profit should we have if we pray unto him?

Job 21:15

The great majority of us have little faith in prayer. This is one of those causes which may produce a habit of mind in devotion, resembling that of impenitent prayer, and yet distinguishable from it, and coexistent, often, with some degree of genuine piety. Christians often have little faith in prayer as a power in real life. They do not embrace cordially, in feeling as well as in theory, the truth which underlies the entire scriptural conception and illustration of prayer, that is literally, actually, positively, effectually, a means of power….

It has, and God has determined that it should have, a positive and an appreciable influence in directing the course of a human life. It is, and God has purposed that it should be, a link of connection between human mind and Divine mind, by which, through His infinite condescension, we may actually move His will. It is, and God has decreed that it should be, a power in the universe, as distinct, as real, and as uniform, as the power of gravitation, or of light, or of electricity. A man may use it, as trustingly and as soberly as he would use either of these. It is as truly the dictate of good sense, that a man should expect to achieve something by praying, as it is that he should expect to achieve something by a telescope, or the mariner’s compass, or the electric telegraph….

The want of trust in this scriptural ideal of prayer, often neutralizes it, even in the experience of a Christian….

If we suffer our faith to drop down from the loft conception of prayer as having a lodgment in the very counsels of God, by which the universe is swayed, the plain practicalness of prayer as the Scriptures teach it, and as prophets and apostles and our Lord himself performed it, drops proportionately; and in that proportion, our motive to prayer dwindles. Of necessity, then, our devotions become spiritless.

April 27: Austin Phelps – Absence of Piety

What is the hope of the hypocrite? Will God hear his cry?

Job 27:8-9

An impenitent sinner never prays. In an inquiry after the causes of joylessness in the forms of prayer, the very first which meets us in some instances, is the absence of piety. It is useless to search behind or beneath such a cause as this for a more recondite explanation of the evil. This is doubtless, often all the interpretation that can be honestly given to a man’s experience in addressing God. Other reasons for the lifelessness of his soul in prayer are rooted in this, – that he is not a Christian.

If the heart is not right with God, enjoyment of communion with God is impossible. That communion itself is impossible. I repeat, an impenitent sinner never prays. Impenitence involves not one of the elements of a spirit of prayer. Holy desire, holy love, holy fear, holy trust – not one of these can the sinner find within himself.

He has, therefore, none of that artless spontaneity, in calling upon God, which David exhibited when he said, ‘Thy servant hath found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.’ An impenitent sinner finds no such thing in his heart. He finds there no intelligent wish to enjoy God’s friendship. The whole atmosphere of prayer, therefore, is foreign to his tastes. If he drives himself into it for a time, by forcing upon his soul the forms of devotion, he cannot stay there. He is like one gasping in a vacuum.

One of the most impressive mysteries of the condition of man on this earth, is his deprivation of all visible and audible representations of God. We seem to be living in a state of seclusion from the rest of the universe, and from that peculiar presence of God in which angels dwell, and in which departed saints serve Him day and night.

We do not see Him in the fire; we do not hear Him in the wind; we do not feel Him in the darkness. But a more awful concealment of God from the unregenerate soul exists by the very law of an unregenerate state. The eye of such a soul is closed even upon the spiritual manifestations of God in all but their retributive aspects…. Such a soul does not enjoy God, for it does not see God with an eye of faith – that is, as a living God, living close to itself, and in vital relations to its own destiny – except as a retributive power.

April 26: Austin Phelps on Prayer – The Absence of God

“A sweet little book, which I would commend to the attention of all of you, written by an American author who seems to truly and completely know the power of prayer, and to whom I am indebted for many good things—a little book called The Still Hour, [Austin Phelps, 1820-1890].

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Oh that I knew where I might find him!

Job 23:3

‘If God had not said, ‘Blessed are those that hunger, I know not what could keep weak Christians from sinking in despair. Many times, all I can do is to complain that I want Him, and wish to recover Him.’

Bishop Hall, in uttering this lament, two centuries and a half ago, only echoed the wail which had come down, through living hearts, from the patriarch, whose story is the oldest known literature in any language. A consciousness of the absence of God is one of the standing incidents of religious life. Even when the forms of devotion are observed conscientiously, the sense of the presence of God, as an invisible Friend, whose society is a joy, is by no means unintermittent.

The truth of this will not be questioned by one who is familiar with those phases of religious experience which are so often the burden of Christian confession. In no single feature of ‘inner life,’ probably, is the experience of many minds less satisfactory to them than in this. They seem to themselves, in prayer, to have little, if any, effluent emotion. They can speak of little in their devotional life that seems to them like life; of little that appears like the communion of a living soul with a living God….

Such experiences in prayer are often startling in the contrast with those of certain Christians, whose communion with God, as the hints of it are recorded in their biographies, seems to realize, in actual being, the scriptural conception of a life which is hid with Christ in God.

We read of Payson, that his mind, at times, almost lost its sense of the external world, in the ineffable thoughts of God’s glory, which rolled like a sea of light around him, at the throne of grace….

We read of one of the Tennents, that on one occasion, when he was engaged in secret devotion, so overpowering was the revelation of God which opened upon his soul, and with augmenting intensity of effulgence as he prayed, that at length he recoiled from the intolerable joy as from a pain, and besought God to withhold from him further manifestations of his glory. He said, ‘Shall Thy servant see Thee and live?’….

In the view of an honest conscience, it is not the vernacular speech of their experience. As compared with the joy which such language indicates, prayer is, in all that they know of it, a dull duty…. It is a duty which, they cannot deny, is often uninviting, even irksome….

There are very few that feel the relish, and are enticed with the deliciousness, and refreshed with the comforts, and acquainted with the secrets, of a holy prayer.’ Yet, who is it that has said, ‘I will make them joyful in my house of prayer?’

Excerpted from The Still Hour by Austin Phelps.

April 25: Who is the real You?

Here’s another quote on prayer I came across – we can look real good at church, but who are we really?

To discover the real you, look at what you spend time thinking about when no one is looking, when nothing is forcing you to think about anything in particular. At such moments, do your thoughts go toward God? You may want to be seen as a humble, unassuming person, but do you take the initiative to confess your sins before God? You wish to be perceived as a positive, cheerful person, but do you habitually thank God for everything you have and praise him for who he is? You may speak a great deal about what a ‘blessing’ your faith is and how you ‘just really love the Lord,’ but if you are prayerless – is that really true?

Prayer, by Tim Keller

April 24th: When you love someone, you want to be around them.

Editor’s Note: I heard this on VCY yesterday and it stopped me in my tracks. Let’s spend time with Jesus!

When you love someone, you want to be around them.

Hi, I’m John Sorensen, President of Evangelism Explosion International, for Share Life Today. It’s true, isn’t it? Spending time with someone is a way to let them know you love them. The opposite is also true. If you don’t spend time getting to know someone, your relationship won’t grow stronger. So, how much time do you spend on your phone or social media? Now, how much time do you spend reading the Word of God? You can’t expect to grow deeper in your relationship with Christ if you’re not spending time with Him! Set time aside each day without the distractions of a screen – put your phone on silent, close your laptop and open up your Bible! When you spend time in His Word, He’ll speak. When He speaks and you listen, you will grow. And a growing Christian is a multiplying Christian. You will want to share your faith as your faith is strengthened! If you need help doing that, visit ShareLife.Today.

Taken from Share Life Today for April 23rd, 2019, from John Sorenson, director of Evangelism Explosion, https://evangelismexplosion.org/spending-time/

April 23: Praying with James Garfield

In 1858 James Garfield debated the liberal John Denton, an Englishman who denied the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the inspiration of the Bible, and the Genesis account of Creation. One thousand people gathered for the five day long debate! What was the driving force behind this future President?

“I have not read enough today. I hope not to let another Lord’s Day pass without doing more and learning more of the Holy Word.”

James A Garfield

Garfield was not always close to the Lord. But a dramatic conversion changed his destiny.

“Two years ago today I was taken with the ague in Cleveland. When I consider the sequel of my history thus far, I can see the providence of God in a striking manner. Two years ago I…. [was] ripe for ruin. On the canal…. ready to drink in every species of vice-and with the ultimate design of going on to the ocean. See the facts. I was taken sick, unable to labor, went to school two terms, thus cultivating my moral and intellectual faculties, took a school in the winter, and greatest of all, obeyed the gospel…. Thus by the providence of God I am what I am, and not a sailor. I thank Him.”

James A Garfield

Garfield was reputed by many as brilliant, and did well in college. However, he was not best known for his scholarly readings in college:

He read Xenophon, Cæsar, and Virgil with appreciation; but his superiority was more easily recognized in the prayer-meetings and debating societies of the college, where he was assiduous and conspicuous

-William Walter Phelps

God’s Word and Prayer are two essentials for every Christian. Let’s seek to make that a hallmark of our lives.