August 15: Thanksgiving – for people!

We’ll go back to the Hour of Prayer and enter the 8th segment on our clock, Thanksgiving!

It’s not just a day on the calendar, it’s a way of life! The Bible calls us to Thanksgiving:

Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name

2 Samuel 22:50

Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

1 Chronicles 16:8

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

1 Chronicles 16:34

And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.

1 Chronicles 16:35

Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

Psalm 18:49

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Psalm 30:4

We’ll quote more versese tomorrow – but how can we give thanks?

In 1675, Isaac Newton said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” No man is an island – we are the result of the people we come into contact with. As has been said, the only two things that are eternal is God’s Word and peoples’ souls – and we come into contact with both every day.

Let’s start by giving thanks for the people blessings He sends us:

  • Our spouse
  • Our spouse’s parents
  • Our parents
  • Our grandparents
  • Our siblings
  • Our children
  • Our grandchildren
  • Our pastor and his wife
  • Our Sunday School teacher
  • Our children’s teachers
  • Our deacons/elders
  • Our Bible study brethren
  • Friends who have steered us the right direction
  • Friends who have prayed for us
  • Friends who have encourage us
  • Our neighbors
  • Our co-workers
  • Our church office staff
  • Our teachers in the past
  • Mentors and coaches
  • Our boss at work

(P.S. I have a tendency to quick get fast food for lunch – one year I set a goal to not eat lunch alone, but to have lunch with someone – using my time to bless others!)

August 8: Petition – Put Off & Put On

We’re on our fifth day of looking at petition in prayer.

What are other things that we should pray for? Paul tells us that we have an important goal:

[21] If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
[22] That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
[23] And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
[24] And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Ephesians 4:21-24

What does it look to put off the old man and put on the new man? It’s a change in behaviors – replacing anger with kindness.

[8] But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
[9] Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
[10] And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
[11] Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
[12] Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
[13] Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
[14] And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Colossians 3:8-14

It’s putting on the armour of God!

[11] Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
[12] For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
[13] Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
[14] Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
[15] And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
[16] Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
[17] And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:11-17

Is this a one time prayer? No, Paul says in 2 Corinthians that it’s a daily request!

[16] For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16

We have the power because our old man is crucified!

[6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Romans 6:6

So pray that God would help you reckon your old man dead, so you can yield not to sin but yield unto God!

[11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
[13] Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Romans 6:11-13

We must tell Jesus all of our trials – we cannot bear them alone!

August 7: Petition – What should I ask for in the Doldrums?

We’re on our fourth day of looking at Petition – and today let’s consider – what should I ask the Father for?

Sometimes we have personal tragedies, illness, pain, suffering, duties at work, papers due at school, upcoming athletic activities, or other things we pray to God for. But some days life seems normal – nothing sticks out as “unmanageable” {yet that still means we can take everything to God in prayer!}

What a Friend We Have in Jesus!

But what about the doldrums of life? Doldrums is a technical term – referring to the area of the oceans where the water is calm. In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, we read:

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

There are times when life is good, the sea is not fighting us but rather we’re enjoying the blessings of life. In times like this we can dig into Proverbs and see what we need to do to get into high gear!

How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

Proverbs 6:9

If life is calm – let’s pray to God for some energy to accomplish His will!

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Matthew 28:19-20

August 6: Petition – Ask for Wisdom

This is our 3rd day of looking at Petition – praying for ourselves.

Wisdom is needed by everyone. How can you be the best employee at your job, or manager to your team? Fulfill your responsibility as a father, mother, pastor, friend, or coach? Provide advice to the child, friend, co-worker, or relative who needs help? Wisdom is calling for you to heed her voice:

Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

Proverbs 1:23

How do we partake of this wisdom? Let us ask of God!

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:5

In your prayer time today, ask God for wisdom!

August 5: Petition – The Answer to Worry

We’re on Day 2 of Petition – how to pray for personal prayer requests:

WebMD lists the following as possible results of worry:

the chronic anxiety and outpouring of stress hormones can have serious physical consequences, including:

Suppression of the immune system

Digestive disorders

Muscle tension

Short-term memory loss

Premature coronary artery disease

Heart attack

If excessive worrying and high anxiety go untreated, they can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts.

What does the Bible say we should do?

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

August 4: Petition – The Prerequisite for Personal Prayer Requests

We’re returning to the Hour of Prayer and looking at Personal Prayer – the Petition.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John 15:7

First – It’s ok to ask God for personal needs!

Second – How do we abide? What do we need to do to abide?

John MacArthur points out this is something that should already be decided. He says that Jesus is contrasting those who are in proximity to Jesus with those who are “abiding” in Jesus. You can be near Jesus but not “plugged in” – a lamp won’t go on if it’s near the outlet, it must be plugged in. Judas was “close” to Jesus, but he didn’t “abide” in Jesus.

You can be connected with Jesus Christ and not saved. Do you realize that people were called disciples of Jesus, according to John 6:66, that “many of his disciples went back and walked no more with Him.” They were identified with Christ, but they weren’t for real. In John 8 they believed on His name, and He said, all right, if you believe on My name, you’ll continue with Me, and they didn’t. They left. In 2 Corinthians 13, Paul warns us and he says you better examine yourself to see whether you’re really in the fellowship or not, because there’s so many people who think they are. So you have here some professing people in John 15, and they are similar to the ones in Hebrews 6 in the sense that they are on the edge, but they’ve never made that genuine commitment; and they’re in tremendous danger of being cut off, cast into the fire.

John MacArthur

Throughout church history people have tried to bridge the gap to allow people to be “near Jesus” that weren’t “plugged in” / “abiding” in Jesus. During the Colonial period, this was known as the Half-Way Covenant.

The Puritan-controlled Congregational churches required evidence of a personal conversion experience before granting church membership and the right to have one’s children baptized. Conversion experiences were less common among second generation colonists, and this became an issue when these unconverted adults had children of their own who were ineligible for baptism.
Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards

It was in this setting that Jonathan Edwards warned them that “half-way” wasn’t good enough. They were still Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

Make sure that you are not just nearby Jesus, or even half-way. Make sure you are abiding in Jesus!

July 19: Intercession – Praying for the Persecuted

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Hebrews 13:3

As we look at our final aspect of intercessory prayer, we are looking at praying for persecuted brethren.

If you haven’t seen The Printing, it’s a great movie on the persecuted church in the former Soviet Union. Another film on the persecuted church under the Inquisition is Flame in the Wind.

Persecuted believers are just like us – they’re not superChristians – they are merely those whom God has chosen to suffer for His name!

And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Acts 5:41

How can we pray for persecuted believers?

We can learn about them and pray for them that they remain faithful to Jesus!

Our prayers can go where we cannot…there are no borders, no prison walls, no doors that are closed to us when we pray

Brother Andrew

Another way is to pray for boldness for ourselves to be faithful.

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Philippians 1:20

At the same point we want to make sure we’re not glorifying martyrdom. God calls us to endure persecution, but not to seek it out!

At the end of a youth camp, teens were telling what God had done in their lives at the campfire service. One teen said that they were so excited they’d be willing to die for Jesus. Another teen echoed the statement. Soon a stream of teens repeated the thought. The camp speaker came to the microphone, and said they missed the point of the messages. “God doesn’t want you to die for Jesus, until you’re willing to live for Jesus.”

Let’s pray that those God has called to pay the ultimate price can be faithful, but pray for faithfulness for those also to “die daily”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

July 18: Intercession – Praying for enemies!

We’ve looked at praying for those in the ministry, for our brethren, but did you know Jesus told us to pray for our enemies!

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:44

They don’t like you. They mistreat you. They took the promotion that you wanted. They have the position you tried to get. They leave you out of their cliques. They give you that look.

Yet Jesus said we need to love them – and pray for them!

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:44

Επηρεαζοντων from επι against, and Αρης Mars, the heathen god of war. Those who are making continual war upon you, and constantly harassing and calumniating you.

Adam Clarke

How can we pray for our enemies? Again Adam Clarke has a great analysis:

Pray for them – This is another exquisitely reasonable precept. I cannot change that wicked man’s heart; and while it is unchanged he will continue to harass me: God alone can change it: then I must implore him to do that which will at once secure the poor man’s salvation, and contribute so much to my own peace.

Adam Clarke

July 17: Intercession – Brethren, Pray for us

Brethren, pray for us.

1 Thessalonians 5:25

As we continue looking at the hour of prayer – we are looking at interceding for others.

Sometimes we think of praying for people as a Christian culture thing (maybe a 15% chance I’ll pray for you). But Paul concludes both letters to the Thessalonians with a request for prayer.

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:

2 Thessalonians 3:1

In Hebrews, the epistle ends with a similar request for prayer:

Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

Hebrews 13:18

Colossians see Paul again asking for prayer:

Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

Colossians 4:3

There are a couple people who ask me regularly how they can pray for me – they are an incredible blessing to me – and I am truly grateful for those who pray for me.

I’ve heard a past governor of Wisconsin share that one of the most touching things he ever heard on the campaign trail was people telling him, “I’m praying for you.”

Prayer changes things – so please pray for others!

July 16: Intercession – Praying for others

As we continue looking at the hour of prayer – let’s focus on interceding for others

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

Romans 1:9

Paul writes to the Romans that he prayed for them continually in his prayers. Who’s on your prayer list?

Perhaps start by browsing the VCY Prayer Line – and see what needs God is laying on your heart to pray for.

Perhaps instead of discarding the Wednesday night prayer bulletin, keep it by your bed and pray for the requests throughout the week.

Perhaps when someone tells you their troubles, instead of just saying “I’ll pray for you” – make a note in your smartphone or notebook.

Perhaps when a relative shares the family tree and invites you to their account they’ve been working on – add your family tree to your prayer list and work through the “branches” as you pray for your family.

Perhaps use the school, church, or work directory as a start – and maybe ask some of the people – “Anything I can pray for you for?”

Imagine what it must have been like to be a member of First Church of Rome, to receive a letter from the Apostle Paul – and you read:

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

Romans 1:9

Now – what if God wanted to use your prayers like He did Pauls?