4 Ingredients of Effective Prayer


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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Prayer.

It’s one of the key components to an effective life as a Christian.
Yet most Christians either only pray when they want something, or many who call themselves Christians simply babble in nonsense sounds and assume that constitutes prayer.

One of my jokes during a sermon was that the only way to get some Baptists to pray was put food in front of them. We laugh because its funny, and we laugh because it’s true.

Prayer is not “Earthly license for heavenly interference”, as one televangelist put it.

Prayer is an act of worship.

Let’s let that sink in for a minute.

Prayer is an act of worship. Bible study and devotional reading also are acts of worship.

But prayer is worship in a different way.

To have a relationship with God, you need to pray. If you don’t pray, you don’t have much of a relationship with God.

So let’s look at how to begin to change this.

Tim Laheye liked to diagram prayer sessions as “ACTSAdoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication.” I personally like CATS better!

I think that confession should come at the beginning – if you’ve got unconfessed sin and unrepentant sin, God does not hear your prayers until you take care of that. I think that should be actually taken care of first.

The adoration section of prayer should be fairly lengthy. About 30% of your prayer time really should go into this part. If you’ve set aside 5 minutes of prayer, that would mean almost 2 minutes should be on this.

How do we work on this? Read the Psalms. A good portion of Psalms is the psalms of glory, where David magnifies the Lord for the length of the Psalm. “The mountains skipped like Rams”, “You who set the seasons in order” “You who set the boundaries of the seas…” “Who ordained the stars…”

We can learn a lot from this. Consider praying at first those Psalms. Then use some of that formula as a blueprint. Think about the Glory of God. The Majesty of God. The Forgiveness of God. The Mercy of God. God as our father. God as the righteous judge.

These are ways to start for now.

Thanksgiving – try thanking god for salvation! Try thanking God you are alive! Try thanking God that He is merciful!

If you really dwell on God’s attributes, there’s a lot of things to thank God for. Remember when a group of men came to Jesus Christ and asked to be healed, and the Lord healed them, only ONE came and thanked Him. And Jesus Christ said something about it!
Hint number one: That’s God’s way of saying he wants more than just Credit – He wants thanks as well.

The last ingredient – supplication… that part I don’t need to tell you about! WE all beg God for a million things. “Lord, can I have an Atari 2600?” What we don’t know is sometimes God answers us with, “In five years, you’re going to just throw it away because you’re bored with it.” Everyone knows how to ask for things, so I don’t have to explain how this part works!

Conclusion

Prayer should be a regular part of the Christian life. Learn how to adore God and thank God, and not just ask for things!

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7 Ways to Backslide


Most Christians want to stay true to the Lord, and avoid backsliding into sin. The rest really aren’t Christians, so they’re not worried about it.
But did you know Evangelicalism has you programmed to backslide? A lot of people struggle with daily disappointments and besetting sins, and try to find a way to avoid sliding back. Let’s look at what Evangelicalism is doing to keep you in sin, and ineffective for the Lord right now.

  1. Devotionals, instead of the Bible. Single biggest thing, right there. Our Daily Bread starts with ONE Bible verse, a pithy story that usually isn’t well connected to the Bible verse at all, a call to inaction, and a sample prayer to pray. Throw the things away, and never read them again. This hits you on so many levels I could write an entire blog post on this alone! Not to mention that someone else is interpreting the Bible verse for you, and you have no idea who they are, their theological standing, etc.
  2. Refusal to separate from error. No kidding. This is another big one. I’ve heard Evangelicals praise the writings of modernists who denied the deity of Christ and the virgin birth, and are suffering right now in eternal torment. I’ve read so many times the “In Essentials, unity, in all else, tolerance” nonsense too many times. If you study and devour the writings of non-Christians, it will not help you to maintain a holy, sin free lifestyle. If you’re spending a lot of time reading C. S. Lewis, how will that help you to live a Godly life? He thought salvation was by works, and believed in Universalism. C. S. Lewis had problems with the idea of Hell (I wonder if he still does? If he;s in heaven, then no. If he’s in Hell, then… no). People who teach error – and I could spend a full time job exposing them – lead you into error. That’s a bottom line statement. My purchase of Logos came with so many modernistic materials I had to issue warnings about soe of them on this blog.
  3. Lack of prayer. Prayer is not just asking God for whatever you want… prayer is about praising God, speaking to God, giving glory to God,and asking for intercession, healing, etc. Tim Laheye used the ACTS acronym – adoration, confession, thanks, supplication. Try that, If you spend one minute a day on each, you’ve only prayed four minutes, but it’s four minutes more than you’ve been praying!
  4. Lack of Fasting. There are times that Christians need to fast. That’s obvious from the Bible. When you’re seeking God’s will for your life, BINGO – fast time. All Americans could use a fast. Biblically, a fast includes no water as well as no food. You have to start slow, and build your way up. By the way, unless God is strengthening you, it is impossible to fast 40 days with no water. Day number 4, someone is calling an ambulance to take away your cold, cold remains. For most people, I would not recommend a fast with no liquids.
  5. Lack of church. If you’re not attending a Bible believing Narrow is the Way Fundamentalist King James only fried chicken eatin’ Baptist Church, you’re backsliding already. It takes like-minded believers to keep you strong.
  6. Television. Yup, I know them’s fightin’ words. And you only watch Godly programming, but there’s TV commercials. And I’ve seen Godly TV programs throw something in there that never should be shown on a Christian’s TV. I remember dialogue on “Seventh Heaven” that really should never have been said EVER on a Christian TV show (that should bring you to some conclusions…). Better to not have a TV.
  7. Foul Language. Taking the Lord’s Name in vain and cursing are two of the quickest ways to backslide. Evil communication corrupts good manners!
How do you fix this?

Do the opposite of these seven errors! Throw away your daily Bread. Separate from error and false teachers! Pray daily, the more the better! Fast when the Lord leads you to, be faithful in church attendance. Abstain from Television, and be exceedingly careful what videos you watch, and finally avoid taking the Lord’s name in vain and cursing! This includes watching movies where people DO curse!

Being a Christian – Prayer Part 2


prayingYesterday, we examined the first two of how to pray, using the ACTS acronym.

WE did adoration and confession. Now is thanksgiving.

So, how do you find which Psalm is a thanksgiving psalm? Well, in the King James… they usually tell you!

“A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David. I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, And hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, And give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. LORD, by thy favour thou hast Made my mountain to stand strong: Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; And unto the LORD I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.” (Psalm 30, KJV)

Again, using what we learned yesterday… we’re going to take single verses, and make them personal.

“Lord, I thiank you that your anger endures only for a moment.” Sounds harsh? LIsten, if you took a good 5 minutes and went through your life, and thought about God’s restraint against sin, how He should have punished you every time you sinned (but didn’t)… you’d have no problem praying that.

“Lord, I thank you that you have kept me alive.” You know, how many close calls have you had? I’ve had several. More than my fair share. Remember that time you just changed lanes in your car, then looked in the rearview mirror and eralized how close you came to driving into a semi truck? Remember that time you got the flu, and lived? Some people don’t. When I was a kid, some new sinus medication came out that they never tested, and somehow the FDA never realized it. I took it, and had serious chest pains for several minutes. Later that week, the news reported they took it off the market… because it was killing people from heart attacks.

Yeah, that’s a good prayer to pray.

Now, let’s move to supplication. THis part, we’re all experts in. I don’t need to teach you this. Just remember, prayer is not about “gimme gimme gimme”. Prayer should be about spending time with God. Believe it or not… human beings are designed to praise God. It is what we’re designed for, besides tending His creation. We should be caring for animals (part of our design), caring for gardens (part of our design), and praising God (part of our design).

This is the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes I praise God for the universe He made. Sometimes I praise God for snow. I just had a dream where we got three feet of snow, something I’ve actually lived through. It was wonderful. Except it took until late May for all that snow to melt.

Sometimes I praise God for the ocean. A house on a good rocky shore would be a wonderful place to live.

These are your prayers. I’ve given you some ideas. Run with them!

Being a Christian – Prayer


devotionalMost Christians are completely lost when it comes to prayer. It seems like really there’s no books that instruct us on how to pray. Well, E. M. Bounds wrote on prayer a lot… but I don’t know… I never really read his books and thought, yeah, that’s the key.

And recently I was researching more of the Word Faith movement, so I watched the entire Strange Fire conference by John MacArthur, for which I should get a medal, because I stayed awake during all the speakers, and… that was tough. But MacArthur made a throwaway comment that the writings of E. M. Bounds were Higher Life… which I never noticed! Was EVERYTHING that Broadman published in its first 20 years all Higher Life???

The biggest two changes in my doctrine that really opened the Bible for me was becoming King James Only…and local church only. The King James Only carried with it the understanding the Bible interprets itself, and is all sufficient. So, where do we go to learn how to pray?

Psalms.

“Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: For praise is comely for the upright. Praise the LORD with harp: Sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; Play skilfully with a loud noise. For the word of the LORD is right; And all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: He layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: He maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, The thoughts of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; And the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. The LORD looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh Upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; He considereth all their works. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: A mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: Neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, Upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, Because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, According as we hope in thee.” (Psalm 33, KJV)

Take a SINGLE VERSE from this Psalm, and work it into your prayers. “Lord, let all the earth Fear you.”

Wow. Easy, huh?

Then, when you can remember that, let’s alternate that with a different verse… but remember to turn it personal. “Lord, I praise you… your counsel standeth forever, O my king.”

“Lord, your word is right, and all your works are done in truth.”

Remember from the other day, we’re using the ACTS acronym of Tim LaHeye. Adore, confess, thanksgiving, supplication. Right now, we’re in the Adoration phase. The idea here is to GIVE GOD HIS DUE. REally simple concept.

David did this, Asaph, the sons of Korah, Moses… if they all did this in some form or another, then its an example.

“Lord, you love righteousness and judgment.”

“By your words were the heavens made.”

Easy!

Now you need to start taking some verses and adding them in for confession of sin. For this, really, it’s sufficient to say, “Lord, I have sinned before thee. Please forgive me, and help me to grow stronger as a Christian, that I might not sin before thee.”

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old Through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: My moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, And mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: Surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, Or as the mule, which have no understanding: Whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, Lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: But he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: And shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” (Psalm 32:1–11, KJV)

“Lord, I will not hide my iniquity from you.” That’s a good thing to pray. You can’t hide your iniquity. But by praying this, you’re taking responsibility for sin.

“Lord, I acknowledge my sin before thee.” Seems to say the same thing? Exactly. That’s called parallellism. If it’s okay for David to do it, you can too.

Tomorrow, we’ll do the next two.

Being a Christian – Sanctification.


bibleMany years ago, the Higher Life/Holiness movement produced a book called “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life”. It’s still sold for a couple of dollars in the cutout “Cheap book” bins at Christian book stores.

Countless millions have been led astray by her books. Speak in tongues? Your tongues speaking is an indirect result of her book. Why? That book influenced Frank Sandford, THE mover and shaker in Christianity who’s confused doctrine directly led to the Charismatic movement.

Why do I mention the “Christian’s Secret of a happy life?”

Because Hannah Whitehall Smith had not the slightest idea that there’s a difference between salvation… and sanctification. Literally, she uses the word Sanctification when she means salvation throughout the book!

She obviously was completely confused, and understood salvation to be a process – which it is not. The salvation by faith through grace part seems to compeltely miss her and pass her by – instead, she’s focused on salvation by how you live your life. Or perhaps, she thought of salvation as God’s gift, but you had to maintain it or lose it. Since they were moving in Methodist circles, that’s most likely what it was. I’m hoping for her sake she finally understood salvation.

Why do I bring this up? Most christians make the same mistake, but in the other direction. They assume since they get saved…

…you’re done. That’s it. No more growth.

Those are the same Christians who don’t read their Bibles.

Let me explain sanctification. Salvation is getting saved – free gift, nothing you do, all you do is accept it. No works involved. Ssanctification is “becoming holy” or “Set apart for Holy use”.

“But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: The LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” (Psalm 4:3–4, KJV)

“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” (Acts 13:2, KJV)

ἀφορίζω aphoridzo is the word in Greek. It basically means to set aside, to pull from a group. YOU are set aside for holy use.

ἁγιάζω Hagazio is the word here for Sanctify. The word means to set apart, to make holy.

The two words together give us the sense. You are set apart from the rest of humanity, separated by salvation. After that comes the process of becoming holy, for holy use.

forget all the Catholic interpretations! EVERY Christian is set aside for holy use. And so, you must grow in the Lord. That’s Sanctification. Making yourself holy.

So, how do you do that?

The last two days, we discussed what to write down in your daily studies. Tim LaHeye in his book on How to Study The Bible For Yourself included in his example sheets of what to write down one thing in particular: “A command to keep” or “a timeless principle.”

The Bible is the word for today (John 10:9) – oh, wait, I borrowed someone else’s catchphrase. sorry. Anyway, the point here is, those commands in the new testament actually outnumber the ones in the old. Many are repetitions of the other. Let’s try a command (gasp, LEGALISM!!!!):

Love one another.

Oh. Really? That’s all?

Buddy, when’s the last time you tried being loving to today’s Christians? Man, they will cut you up and spit you out! I try to act in love when speaking to other Christians – the thing I keep finding is (to borrow 19th Century terminology) we have a lot of professors of Christ, verses possessors of Christ.

The most loving thing you can do once you become aware is to tell a professor of Christ is they are not a possessor of Christ. Seriously. “I have a lot of questions about whether or not you’re saved.”

That’s a heavy thing to tell someone.

What other highly legalistic things are Christians required to do.

Pray without ceasing. Be alwayss in prayer. Ya know, it’s kind of hard to sin while you’re in a constant conversation with God. I’m sure most of us can manage to do it, but… try it. I’ve often said, the only way to get some Baptists to pray is put food in front of them.

“You… legalist!”

Forgive one another.

Hm! Let’s tackle some of the other ones. “Study to shew thyself approved.”

Witness. Pray. Give to charity. Tithe. And start putting the old man of sin to death.

If we start taking just one of these verses a week, and try working on it, perhaps we’ll all stop being baby Christians… and grow into what the Lord needs us to be.

I’m aware there’s a growing group of supposed Christians who teach Christians should not do ANYTHING, and call it Free Grace or hypergrace. It’s a serious error. It borders on heresy, because…

The Apostles wanted to see the fruit of salvation before they baptized you. If you’re not showing any fruit of salvation… They didn’t let you join the church. Because you’d be a professor of Jesus Christ, and not a possessor.