February 3: Tendencies to be avoided

We'll be looking at excerpts from E.M. Bounds classic, Power Through Prayer as we go deeper into prayer. While Bounds is addressing himself to pastors, 1) use this to pray for your pastor, and 2) this applies to all who are in ministry, even if your field is "just" your family.

The praying which makes a prayerful ministry is not a little praying put in as we put flavor to give it a pleasant smack, but the praying must be in the body, and form the blood and bones. Prayer is no petty duty, put into a corner; no piecemeal performance made out of the fragments of time which have been snatched from business and other engagements of life; but it means that the best of our time, the heart of our time and strength must be given. It does not mean the closet absorbed in the study or swallowed up in the activities of ministerial duties; but it means the closet first, the study and activities second, both study and activities freshened and made efficient by the closet.

Prayer that affects one’s ministry must give tone to one’s life. The praying which gives color and bent to character is no pleasant, hurried pastime. It must enter as strongly into the heart and life as Christ’s “strong crying and tears” did; must draw out the soul into an agony of desire as Paul’s did; must be an inwrought fire and force like the “effectual, fervent prayer” of James; must be of that quality which, when put into the golden censer and incensed before God, works mighty spiritual throes and revolutions.

Prayer is not a little habit pinned on to us while we were tied to our mother’s apron strings; neither is it a little decent quarter of a minute’s grace said over an hour’s dinner, but it is a most serious work of our most serious years. It engages more of time and appetite than our longest dinings or richest feasts. The prayer that makes much of our preaching must be made much of. The character of our praying will determine the character of our preaching. Light praying will make light preaching. Prayer makes preaching strong, gives it unction, and makes it stick. In every ministry weighty for good, prayer has always been a serious business.

February 2: Our Sufficiency is of God

E.M. Bounds
We'll be looking at excerpts from E.M. Bounds classic, Power Through Prayer as we go deeper into prayer. While Bounds is addressing himself to pastors, 1) use this to pray for your pastor, and 2) this applies to all who are in ministry, even if your field is "just" your family.

Let us often look at Brainerd in the woods of America pouring out his very soul before God for the perishing heathen without whose salvation nothing could make him happy. Prayer—secret fervent believing prayer—lies at the root of all personal godliness. A competent knowledge of the language where a missionary lives, a mild and winning temper, a heart given up to God in closet religion—these, these are the attainments which, more than all knowledge, or all other gifts, will fit us to become the instruments of God in the great work of human redemption.—

Carrey’s Brotherhood, Serampore

It is impossible for the preacher to keep his spirit in harmony with the divine nature of his high calling without much prayer. That the preacher by dint of duty and laborious fidelity to the work and routine of the ministry can keep himself in trim and fitness is a serious mistake. Even sermon-making, incessant and taxing as an art, as a duty, as a work, or as a pleasure, will engross and harden, will estrange the heart, by neglect of prayer, from God. The scientist loses God in nature. The preacher may lose God in his sermon.

Prayer freshens the heart of the preacher, keeps it in tune with God and in sympathy with the people, lifts his ministry out of the chilly air of a profession, fructifies routine and moves every wheel with the facility and power of a divine unction.

Mr. Spurgeon says: “Of course the preacher is above all others distinguished as a man of prayer. He prays as an ordinary Christian, else he were a hypocrite. He prays more than ordinary Christians, else he were disqualified for the office he has undertaken. If you as ministers are not very prayerful, you are to be pitied. If you become lax in sacred devotion, not only will you need to be pitied but your people also, and the day cometh in which you shall be ashamed and confounded. All our libraries and studies are mere emptiness compared with our closets. Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central Glory.”

Excerpted from Bounds, E.M. Power Through Prayer.

February 1: What does the Church need today?

We'll be looking at excerpts from E.M. Bounds classic, Power Through Prayer as we go deeper into prayer. While Bounds is addressing himself to pastors, 1) use this to pray for your pastor, and 2) this applies to all who are in ministry, even if your field is "just" your family.

Study universal holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends on this, for your sermons last but an hour or two; your life preaches all the week. If Satan can only make a covetous minister a lover of praise, of pleasure, of good eating, he has ruined your ministry. Give yourself to prayer, and get your texts, your thoughts, your words from God. Luther spent his best three hours in prayer.

Robert Murray McCheyne

WE are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or organization.

God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.

“There was a man sent from God whose name was John.” (John 1:6) The dispensation that heralded and prepared the way for Christ was bound up in that man John.

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” (Isaiah 9:6) The world’s salvation comes out of that cradled Son. When Paul appeals to the personal character of the men who rooted the gospel in the world, he solves the mystery of their success. The glory and efficiency of the gospel is staked on the men who proclaim it.

When God declares that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him,” (2 Chronicles 16:9) he declares the necessity of men and his dependence on them as a channel through which to exert his power upon the world. This vital, urgent truth is one that this age of machinery is apt to forget. The forgetting of it is as baneful on the work of God as would be the striking of the sun from his sphere. Darkness, confusion, and death would ensue.

What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.

Excerpted from Bounds, E.M. Power Through Prayer. 

January 31: Job’s prayer of repentance

A few days ago we saw Job’s prayer in spite of suffering. Now after God challenges Job to see if Job can match wisdom with the Omniscient, Job repents.

When we’re frustrated and we’re venting, it may be time to re-orient our view of our LORD.

Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Job 42:1-6
  • Job 42:2: “thou canst do everything” – God is omnipotent!
  • Job 42:2 “no thought can be witholden from thee” – God is omniscient!
  • Job 42:3 “I uttered that I understood not” – I can’t compare
  • Job 42:4 “Hear, I beseech thee” – Please, listen to me
  • Job 42:6 “I…repent in dust and ashes” – Forgive me for arguing with you

Let’s remember that the LORD understands more than we do!

January 30: Moses vents to the Lord

Moses obeyed the LORD. He left the safety of Midian to return to Egypt where he was wanted for murder (Exodus 4:18). He told the elders of Israel that they were breaking out of Egypt (Exodus 4:29). He went to Pharoah and said what the LORD said (Exodus 5:1). But the people were not released, and the work was made harder (Exodus 5:7). Now the Israelite officers were starting to turn on Moses (Exodus 5:21).

And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?
For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.

Exodus 5:22-23

I don’t like it when people complain to me. Especially if someone tells me that I am doing evil. But the LORD is different from me.

The anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses (Exodus 4:14) – but not for his prayer of frustration. No – the only time in Exodus we read of the anger of the LORD is a chapter earlier when Moses tried to escape God’s calling.

When Moses obeyed, and felt frustrated, the LORD spoke for eight entire verses giving Moses a behind-the-scenes look at His plan.

It’s ok to feel frustrated. It’s ok to express that frustration to the LORD. But it’s not ok to disobey.

January 29: Jacob’s prayer for deliverance

Are you afraid? Is there something coming that could destroy your life? Are you in fear of what the future is bringing?

Jacob was scared to death. He cheated his brother out of the blessing (Genesis 27), and Esau declared “then will I slay my brother Jacob” (Genesis 27:16). Now Esau has 400 men with him, coming to meet Jacob (Genesis 32:6).

So Jacob prayed.

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:
10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.
12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

Genesis 32:9-12

Jacob called unto the LORD and claimed the promises.

  1. I am obeying when You said to return! (Genesis 32:9)
  2. I have been listening to Your Truth (Genesis 32:10)
  3. I need Your help (Genesis 32:11)
  4. I’m claiming Your promise (Genesis 32:12)
The reconciliation of Jacob and Esau

January 28: Nehemiah’s search for favor

…Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.

Nehemiah 13:22

Sometimes we like to be proud of things that we have done. We want to get recognition from our boss, our friends, even fame among those we don’t know.

Nehemiah worked hard for the Lord. But he didn’t go telling his pastor how wonderful of a Christian he was. He didn’t put it on his resume and said this was evidence of why I should be a deacon.

He also endured many problems – enemies without and within. Managing a construction project is a tedious project. He didn’t complain to his subordinates, or whine to his friends about the challenges.

He sought recognition, favor, and encouragement from God. Whether your work is going well or causing frustration – take your joys and your burdens to the LORD!

January 27: Job’s prayer from frustration

And said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

Are you frustrated? Has life been miserable to you? I was talking to a friend, within a short period of time he lost his family, his wealth, and his health. Job knew what that was like – but how did Job pray when we’d be frustrated with how life is going?

Job recognized he started with nothing, and he will end with nothing. Everything is under God’s sovereign hand.

When life is rough – we can still say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

January 26: Asa’s prayer for Victory

1And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let no man prevail against thee.

2 Chronicles 14:11

The last hymn sung by Jim Elliott and his fellow missionaries, was “We Rest on Thee.” God may give you earthly victory like He did to Asa, or He may allow what seemed like the senseless slaughter of Jim Elliott.

If we believe Romans 8:28 – that all things work together for good – whatever trial comes before you, call out to God for help, rest in Him, and go in His name!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfvFWQaKm2M

January 25: Samson’s simple prayer of faith

And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Judges 16:28
Francesco Morone – The Yorck Project (2002)

Samson led a troubled life. In love with an idolatrous Philistine (Judges 14:2). Ignoring his parents’ advice (Judges 14:3), not talking to his parents (Judges 14:6), boastful (Judges 14:12), trusting the wrong people (Judges 14:16), betrayed by his own people (Judges 15:12), customer of harlots (Judges 16:1), didn’t notice God left him (Judges 16:20).

Basically not the kind of guy you want for a spiritual role model?

But as Sight & Sound pointed out in their portrayal of Samson – he was in the Hall of Faith next to David!

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

Hebrews 11:32

No matter how messed up your life is – you can pray! Samson shows it’s never too late to pray! God can still use you – but it starts with prayer!