Prayer as Demonstrated in the Bible

The importance of prayer was instilled in me from little on. As a young girl my Opah taught me much about Jesus. We lived by my grandparents. Each Sunday evening my brother and I would have “church” with them. My Opah would be the “pastor”, Omah would be the congregation, and my brother and I were the choir. We would always sing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” A beautiful hymn outlining the truths about the importance of prayer.

Now when I think of my prayer life, my joys and struggles in praying, my mind returns to these precious moments. Opah taught me so much. He demonstrated so much about Jesus and life in Him. As an adult I now look to the Lord and His Word for help in prayer, but often wish that Opah was still here to guide me when I am struggling.

The Bible is filled with prayers demonstrating ways we can pray. It gives many examples of how others prayed. I would like to share a few examples of the different kinds of prayer, there is so much to learn in God’s Word.

Many of our prayers fall under the umbrella of petitions, sometimes this type of prayer is referred to as supplication, these terms refer to the times we cry out to the Lord with our needs. We may petition the Lord about anything; our finances, our health, for our protections when we travel, or about difficulties in our workplace, the opportunities are endless.

David shares his prayers throughout the Psalms. Psalm 3 is an example of him petitioning the Lord for deliverance. David is in the middle of a very stressful situation He is feeling as if everyone is against him. There are times in our lives when we feel exactly the same way, whether it is in the workplace or in our homes, or maybe just in dealing with inner conflict about an issue. David knew the Lord was on his side and he needed the Lord to help him through and out. He felt pummeled by his enemies. We may have human enemies but many of our emotions can seem like enemies. Guilt, greed, anger, and jealousy can entangle our hearts and destroy our peace and joy. We then may need to call out to the Lord for deliverance in these situations as well, petitioning the Lord for His help.

When we are not praying for ourselves, we often are praying on behalf of others. We see the needs of family and friends. We see problems in our world; problems of persecution, wars, human trafficking, abuse, and other injustices. When we look in the Bible, one of the most beautiful examples of intercession is found in John 17 when Jesus cries out to His Father on our behalf. He prayer for his disciples and ultimately, for us. It is such a beautiful prayer of love. Intercession is truly a prayer of love for another, there is nothing more important that we can do than cry out to God on another’s behalf. Paul also give us many examples of intercession, for example He speaks of his prayer for the people in the church of Ephesus in Ephesians 1:15-23. He prays for their spiritual growth. He asks that the eyes of their hearts be enlightened so that they will know the hope of God’s calling. You can’t go wrong interceding for someone’s spiritual growth, what could be more important to the Lord than that.

Another kind of prayer we see demonstrated in the Bible is the prayer of thanksgiving. In Psalm 138 we read the words of David giving thanks for the Lord’s favor. He thanks God for His loving-kindness, His truth, and His answers to prayer. He gives thanks for the confidence and strength that the Lord gave him in life, for fulfilled promises, for deliverance, and so much more. David has seen the hand of the Lord at work in his life and he is grateful for so much. We too have many reasons to give thanks. I think that we often neglect sharing our gratitude with the Lord, and in doing so we often miss out on the joy that can fill our hearts because of such a prayer.

Similar to this are the prayers of worship and praise. Hannah prays such a prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Hannah  rejoices in the Lord because of Who He is and what He has done. She is filled with worship and praise because after a time of infertility the Lord has answered her prayers and blessed her with a child.

When we see the reality of God’s goodness in our lives or recognize the gift of answered prayer we too may go to the Lord as Hannah did with words of worship and praise.

The last type of prayer that I want to mention is that of confession. David gives us a beautiful example of a prayer of confession in Psalm 51. He wrote this after he sinned with Bathsheba. You can read about his sin in 1 Samuel 11. David realizes his sin of committing adultery after the prophet Nathan confronts him. David then pours out his heart to the Lord in Psalm 51. He prays for God to have mercy and compassion on him. He asks that the Lord would blot out his sins (transgressions). He admits that he has sinned against the Lord by doing evil in His sight. He asks for cleansing and restoration. David desires to praise the Lord again. He wants his heart to be right before the Lord and his realtionship with Him restored.

When we personally find ourselves realizing that we have grieved the Lord with our sin, we too need to bring that sin before the Lord in confession. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Confession restores our relationship, broken by sin, with the Lord.

There are many reason to come before the Lord, to cry out to Him, these are only a few examples. These prayers give us words to express our feelings and needs. They can encourage us in praying when we are at a loss for what to say or when we feel stuck. Each of these prayers are expressed by real people going through real struggle, recognizing heartfelt needs, or responding to God’s intervention. We can relate to their heart cries, and our heart have cries of their own that we can bring before the Lord.

When prayer is a struggle we can find hope and help in God’s Word. The Lord often uses His Word to prick my heart to help me realize a personal prayer-need of my own or to realize the need of another. The Lord wants to hear from us. He wants to meet us in our neediness, in our desperation, as well as in our rejoicing and praise. Jesus is our loving Friend. The hymn I use to sing in my grand parents living room tells it all.

“What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer.

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear.

All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer.”

(written by Joseph M. Scriven)

What a privilege it is to take our needs to God in prayer. I am so grateful for these beautiful scriptural examples that serve as a guide when I struggle in my prayer life. I hope that you have found encouragement for your prayer needs also. Truly what a privilege we have to take our concerns to the Creator God of this Universe.

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God is Gracious

What does the graciousness of God mean to you?

The word gracious means to show kindness to those who are inferior, and to be filled with compassion. Grace is defined as unmerited favor. These words are a perfect description of who God is and how He has acted and continues to act towards us.

God’s grace towards us is a result of His unconditional love. Our Heavenly Father loves us, His children, as a parent does their own child. A parent desires the best for their child, and the Lord desires His best for us.

The Lord shows us His grace through His gift of redemption to us. He offers us forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Lord has demonstrated His grace throughout the Bible.

In the Old Testament, we learn this about our God and His graciousness:

Joel 2:13 “And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate. Slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness, And relenting of evil.”

Joel is telling the people don’t just tear our clothes in grief, but tear your hearts. Your sin should make you that sad. He wants the people to recognize what they have left when they turned their back on God. He is speaking to us too, we also turn our backs on the Lord and we also need to repent.

Psalm 145:8 “The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in loving-kindness.”

Psalm 116:5 “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.”

The Psalmists in these two Psalms is describing the God each one has come to know.

Isaiah 30:15 “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you, For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.”

Isaiah is explaining to the Israelites, who have been very rebellious, that although God hates their evil ways, He is actually waiting to be gracious and compassionate to them. God loves His people that much. God desires so much to show us compassion and grace, He waits while we walk the path of sin, He waits for us to turn back to Him so He can demonstrate His love to us. His heart longs to do that. Can we even comprehend a love such as this?

In the New Testament, we find:

Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” 

Paul explains in Romans that we have justification through our faith, we have been declared just or righteous, we, who believe, have been acquitted. And because of that we are no longer at war with God as we had been when we lived in sinfulness. But, now we stand in grace and can boast of the hope we have in this amazing grace. We have been declared right before God. God knows that we still sin, but he has robed us in Christ’s righteousness. 

Ephesians 2:8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good words, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Paul goes on to explain that none of this is about us, it is nothing that we have done, it is all God’s gift to us. We cannot take credit for any of it.

Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,”

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to earth for all of us, we all are in need of a Savior. He came to seek and save those lost in a sinful life, That describes mankind. He came to bring hope to sinners.

We recently celebrated Easter or sometimes called Resurrection Sunday by believers.

 We celebrate this holiday because:

  • Through faith in Him we have the hope of heaven.
  • Through faith in Him we have Eternal life.
  • Through faith in Him we have access to God (our Heavenly Father).
  • Through faith in Him we have forgiveness of sins.

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace, greater than all our sins. All of these are ours through faith in Jesus. Do you want to learn more about God’s grace? My posts for the month of May will center around the grace of God, topics such as the sufficiency of His grace, the equality we find at the foot of the cross, and the throne of grace that He invites us to. I also want to dig into some illustrations of His grace found in Scripture.

Our hope rests in the grace that Jesus has bought for us on the cross through His death and resurrection. Do you have that hope? I look forward to sharing with you about all we have through Jesus. Let’s find refreshment for our souls in God’s word, in His Truths, and in His promises. Without His grace we are left in the hopelessness of our sinful state.

Grace

Is your heart imprisoned by sin? God’s grace can set you free.

What role does grace play in your life? How significant does your sin have to be in order for you to feel the need to repent?

Sin made its way into the human race through Adam and Eve. But before the foundations of the earth God knew that man would turn away from Him in sin, and God had a plan. The Lord gave us Jesus to die for our sins. One’s relationship with the Lord only comes about through accepting Jesus’ payment for sin.  That is grace. Our sins are forgiven in Jesus, no matter what our sin is. Jesus took all of them to the cross. That is huge!

Yet I came to realize that I need to take my day sin much more seriously as I read The Broken Way. Grace isn’t a free ticket to sin. When I sin, I need to take time to talk with the Lord about what I have done, admit my sinfulness and ask for forgiveness. Grace wasn’t cheap, it cost Jesus His life.

It comes down to this,when I sin, do I even consider that cost? I need to keep that cross at the forefront of my mind to help me remember the cost of my sin to Jesus and the incredible value of the grace He gives me.

If I am not living life with a heart of repentance, I probably have no part of grace in my days. What does that say about my relationship with the Lord? What does it say about my love for Him? Do I even recognize the cost?

The Broken Way has made me take this to heart. We often take sin lightly, a white lie here, an angry word, or lustful look. These may seem small compared to sins like murder, adultery, or perjury, but they were all a part of the reason why Jesus died on the cross. They all are the basis of our need for grace.

So, what does it mean day-to-day? For me it means being more aware of how I live, act, and speak. It means being aware of my sin as I commit them. I need to talk to the Lord and receive His grace into my heart and life moment-by-moment.

Sin separates us from God, it causes a distance in our relationship with the Lord. The Lord desires our relationship, it is why He sent Jesus. His grace is always available, He looks for us to come to Him with humble hearts of sorrow about our sins.

When we come to the throne of grace, we come to find deeper intimacy and depth of relationship with the Lord. It means that my heart grows more tender to the things that hurt my Heavenly Father. It means a deeper understanding of what grace really is, leading me to knowing abundant hope in Him who died for me.

Do you need grace in your life today? At this moment? It is so easy to overlook our sins, and as we do our hearts become hardened and insensitive to the Holy Spirit’s convicting us. Realizing the truth of the correlation between my recognition of my sinfulness, my bringing that sin before the Lord and the reality of His grace being poured into my life and my heart, has created a new yearning for a deeper relationship with Him. I guess it made me recognize all the more how desperately I need my Lord and Savior.

So, how about you? What are you doing with the sin in your life? Is your heart hardened to the reality of it? Or is your heart opened to the grace the Lord wants to pour over your sin? We have access to the throne of grace through Jesus, His blood paid the way. Does that truth have any effect on your life? These are all questions I had to ask myself. It is so easy to take it for granted. Is the cross just being a shiny piece of jewelry around your neck? It is so much more. How do you keep this truth flashing in your mind as a reminder of Who you are living for, and of Who you belong to?

Grace greater than all our sin, Thank you, Jesus.

Yield Your Tongue

“I can’t believe I said that, I never meant to hurt her.”

“I never would have told him that if I would have known he would respond like that.”

“What can I do now? I can’t take the words back.”

The book of James tell us that our tongues are untamable. The tongue is beyond our control. Our words can be so hurtful and can damage whether they are intentional or unintentional. We say things that never should be said. But, no matter how hard we try, words of frustration, anger, and resentment seem to blurt out.

James 3:8 says, “But no human can tame the tongue, it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Our only hope is to yield our tongues to the Spirit’s power. It is only as we yield our tongues that we can be empowered to speak words of peace and healing to those we love and to those we come in contact with. We need to allow God to control what we cannot control.

Romans 6:13 tells us “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument to righteousness.”

How many times during the day does frustration get the best of you? How often does someone make you angry? Maybe it is the driver who pulls out in front of you. Or maybe it is your teenage son who doesn’t show you any respect. All too quickly and easily we speak unkindly, become rude, or exclaim words filled with hateful anger. Our tempers flare and get the best of us. The pressure builds until we explode unexpectedly over a trivial matter. Our words come from our tongues like fire and burn those around us.

Fire safety is a very important part of the curriculum in the elementary schools. Many children are afraid of the firemen in their uniform and mask. Children will often hide when a fireman comes in the home to rescue them. During fire safety week, we would have a fire fighter visit the school to show all of their gear and talk with the children to help them become acquainted.

The firefighter would always talk to the children about what to do if fire would get on their clothes. He would teach them “Stop, Drop, and Roll,” explaining to them that doing this would help keep the fire from spreading. There would be a time for volunteers to come up and demonstrate how to do this. Then, later, in the classroom we would have the children practice “Stop, Drop, and Roll” so everyone would have a turn.

When our tongues catch on fire with angry words, we too can practice Stop, Drop, and Roll.

1. STOP– Stop and put your finger over your mouth, hold your lips closed to keep the fire from spreading.

2. DROP– Drop the word(s), tell yourself, “I am not going to say that. It is (hurtful, cruel, mean…  fill in the blank)”.

3. ROLL– Roll the intolerance and frustration over to God, give it to Him. Yield to His way of peace and ask Him to deal with the situation according to His perfect wisdom.

Try it, practice Stop, Drop, and Roll next time a fiery word starts to burst from your mouth. Begin today to pray that the Lord will help you to honor Him with your words. Use Psalm 19:14 as your prayer.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

Tell the Lord that you desire to yield your tongue to Him. He will answer a prayer like that because it is His will.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV “Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Words of grace, words of peace, words of love, words of compassion, and words of honor are what should come from our lips.

Lord, we yield to You. We are not able to control our tongues. Empower us to use our tongues for Your glory. Help us Lord we pray. Amen. 

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