[hr] So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. - Matthew 5:23-24
An unforgiving Christian is an oxymoron. If you are a Christian, then you must forgive, because forgiven people are forgiving people. Therefore, you cannot be an unforgiving Christian. And if you want your prayers to be answered in the affirmative, then you must forgive others. Jesus gave this command: "If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God" (Matthew 5:23–24).
Jesus also taught us to pray, "And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us . . . (Luke 11:4). We need to learn to forgive, because we are all flawed. We will sin against people, and people will sin against us. Husbands will offend their wives, and wives will offend their husbands. Parents will offend their children, and children will offend their parents. Family members will offend one another. Friends will offend one another. So we must choose to forgive. We must determine not to let those offenses keep us from communion and fellowship with God.
It may be that someone has really hurt you. You may even have every right to be angry and bitter. But do you know who gets hurt the most when you harbor anger and hostility and vengeful thoughts toward someone? You do. And not only that, you are cutting yourself off from fellowship with God. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to "be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. . . ."
When God forgave you, did you deserve to be forgiven? Does the person who hurt you deserve to be forgiven? Forgive anyway. Based on God's love and grace, we should forgive.
[typography font="Cantarell" size="22" size_format="px"]Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us - 1 John 5:14 NKJV[/typography] [hr]
In a broad sense, we should pray about everything. But there are certain things that we don't need to pray about. For example, if someone were to say, "Greg, I'm praying about robbing a bank. Would you pray with me?" I will pray for that person, but I won't pray that God will bless their efforts. Why? Because the Bible says, "You shall not steal." We don't need to pray about that. Yet, there are certain things God tells us we can pray for.
He tells us we can pray for wisdom. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5 NKJV).
We can pray for His provision. Philippians 4:19 says, "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (NKJV)."
We can pray for protection. Psalm 91:5-7 says, "You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you (NKJV)."
We can pray for power to meet the challenges of life. Ephesians 1:18-19 tells us: "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (NIV)."
The key to effective prayer is getting our will in alignment with God's will, as the verse at the top of today's post explains. Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer, except that which lies outside of the will of God.
...if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses... [hr]
Greg Laurie, 2013 Honorary Chairman
[hr] "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."— Mark 11:25-26
Prayer is a wonderful privilege. We can pray anytime or anywhere. Daniel prayed in a cave filled with hungry lions. The apostle Paul prayed when he was in a dungeon in chains. Peter prayed on the surface of the water. And Jonah prayed under the water. So wherever you are, you can pray.
But maybe you have you been praying about something for a long time, and nothing has happened. Maybe it is a legitimate request—you are asking God for His wisdom or provision—yet it seems your prayer is going unanswered.
Here is my question to you: Are you harboring unforgiveness in your heart right now? Let me say it another way: Are you nursing a grudge against someone? Every time you see that person, do you begin to boil with anger and feel your blood pressure rising? You may say, "Well, you need to understand. That person has wronged me."
We all have been wronged in life. We all have been hurt in life. We all have been mistreated in life. We cannot control the universe, as hard as we try. But what we can do is choose how we will react when injustice comes our way in life.
Jesus said, "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."
Forgiven people should be forgiving people. So it is time to bury the hatchet (but not in that person's back) and forgive. Remember, when you forgive someone, you set a prisoner free: yourself.
[hr] A popular contemporary praise song contains the words, “Purify my heart, Let me be as gold … Refiner’s fire, My heart’s one desire, Is to be holy, Set apart for You Lord, I choose to be holy.” These sentiments, written by Brian Doerksen, reflect the Christian’s deep longing to be sanctified and to fulfill his Creator’s intentions for his life. The refinement process alluded to is used to remove impurities from precious metals – a task that requires intense heat (For comparison, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but gold doesn’t melt until it reaches a temperature of 1,945 degrees!). As the gold liquefies in the smelting furnace, unwanted properties called slag rise to the surface. After cooling, the slag is chiseled away and the purified metal remains. Similarly, when a believer yields to God, the Master Refiner strips away those things that hinder sanctification so the beauty of His character can shine through with clarity.
The image of the smelter appears numerous times in Scripture. In the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi speaks of Israel’s need for personal and national repentance, stating that the Lord “will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver (Malachi 3:3).” What will result? “Then (emphasis added) the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.” God knows just what is necessary to rid our lives of undesirable traits and get us back on track. Unlike a wildfire that burns uncontrollably, destroying whatever is in its path, the cleansing flames of the Lord remove only the slag. His actions are skillfully wrought to draw His children closer to Himself.
A number of parallels can be found between Malachi’s generation and our own. Pagan influences abounded, and while God’s people were “going through the motions” of practicing their faith, their hearts and commitments were elsewhere. In this context, Malachi stepped forward to warn the Israelites about the consequences of their disobedience and to call them to renew their devotion to the Lord. The prophet understood that before the nation could experience revival, individual lives had to be transformed.
If we as Christians are to influence our nation, we too must begin with personal holiness. We cannot expect our society to embrace morality as mandated by God if the actions of His people don’t reflect His teachings. We must echo David’s supplication in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” What a wonderful example of humility and submission to the Lord! If we will seek His kingdom and righteousness with equal sincerity, we can be confident that He will direct us and reveal His truth in new and amazing ways.
We can also trust that Christ will equip us to spread His powerful message of hope to others as they see the difference faith makes in our lives. The majority of Americans recognize that serious problems are confronting our culture. In a survey conducted by the Barna Research Group, three out of four adults voiced serious concerns about our country’s moral condition. This and other findings have led George Barna to conclude that millions of people are experiencing “moral fatigue and confusion” and are “yearning for leaders who will rebuild our society on compassion, decency, authenticity, and character.” As these individuals look for answers and leadership that will provide help for their families, communities, and nation, many may realize for the first time their need of spiritual guidance. And we have the privilege of pointing them to the Source of all wisdom and power, their Heavenly Father. What an exciting moment in history to be involved in calling America to repentance and prayer! I believe God has established and blessed the National Day of Prayer for “such a time as this.”
With these things in mind, our theme for 2013, Pray for America (based on Matthew 12:21, “In His name the nations will put their hope”), conveys a powerful reminder to us, for He is our only hope. God stands ready to refine us as gold for His glory, and prayer provides the impetus for change! In the words of E.M. Bounds, “How vast are the possibilities of prayer! How wide its reach! It lays its hand on Almighty God and moves Him to do what He would not do if prayer was not offered.”
As we strive to further the cause of prayer, we are thankful for the many ways in which God has provided for our ministry and allowed us to expand our efforts. As we rejoice in what has been accomplished and look expectantly to the future, may I ask you to prayerfully consider partnering with us financially in this ministry to our nation? Your tax-deductible donation would be greatly appreciated at this crucial time. If you feel so led, you can make a donation online, or call (719) 559-9560.
Thank you for your devotion to prayer for this ministry and our great land – you are impacting eternity! May God’s grace and peace be yours in the busy months ahead.
Greg Laurie, 2013 Honorary Chairman for the National Day of Prayer Task Force
[hr] Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"— Mark 10:46-47
I wonder whether Bartimaeus, a blind man, would have been healed by Jesus if he had simply sat in silence when Jesus walked by. Would Jesus have stopped and turned toward him and touched him? Perhaps. But there were a lot of blind people around during Jesus' earthly ministry. There were a lot of deaf people. There were a lot of people with leprosy. There were a lot of people with all kinds of physical problems.
But Jesus didn't heal all of those people, did He? In fact, we usually find in Scripture that Jesus responded to the people who called out to Him. In the case of Bartimaeus, he cried out, and his voice was heard. It probably helped that he screamed. We do not need to scream in our prayers, necessarily, but we do need to be persistent.
What is your need today? Do you need a touch in your body, like Bartimaeus did? Then call out to Jesus. Do you have a child who needs to be healed? Do you have a marriage that needs help? Then call out to Jesus. And don't give up if the answer does not come quickly.
Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." (Matthew 7:7–8).
When Jesus stopped to restore Bartimaeus' sight, He was on His way to the cross. He was on His way to die for the sins of the world—and for your sins and mine.
Do you need His forgiveness today? Then call out to Jesus. Romans 10:13 says, "For 'whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' "[hr]
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. — Jeremiah 29:13 [hr]
Sometimes we think a prayer wasn't answered when, in effect, it was. It just wasn't answered in the affirmative.
When we ask God for something and He says, "No," then it means no. So if we want our prayers answered in the affirmative, then we need to align ourselves with God's will.
God answers prayer in three ways: yes, no, and wait. Sometimes He wants you to grow through your challenge. The apostle Paul came to God with a prayer to remove a physical infirmity. We don't know what it was, but most commentators believe it was either a disability or an injury he suffered as a result of his ministry. Clearly there were many occasions this could have happened, because Paul was beaten, whipped, shipwrecked, and even put in prison and left for dead on one occasion. You name it, and Paul pretty much went through it.
Whatever the infirmity was, it bothered Paul. So he asked God to take it away. But God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Sometimes God does not take our adversity away, but He wants us to grow through it.
Then there was Moses, who wanted to see the Israelites delivered from bondage in Egypt. He didn't wait on God, but instead took matters into his own hands and killed an Egyptian guard. When the Pharaoh found out about it, he effectively put out a contract on Moses' life, and Moses went into exile for 40 years. Moses had the right idea, but his timing was way off.
Sometimes God will say, "Yes," sometimes He will say, "No," and sometimes He will say, "Wait." But we can be assured that when we passionately cry out to God by faith, He hears us.[hr]
Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders. - Psalm 107:32 [hr]
I can give you a very good reason why you should never be late to church: you miss out on that time when God is glorified. Worship is not a warm-up act; it is effectively prayer set to music. Worship helps prepare our hearts to receive the Word of God.
Worship also can be a powerful witness. I think that when a nonbeliever comes into a setting where Christians are honestly encountering God, it is a testimony, because there is nothing in the world like it. When we worship the Lord, it makes an impression on nonbelievers.
In fact, worship was one of the things that drew me to the little Bible study where I ended up giving my life to Christ. There was a cute girl I was looking for who I knew attended the study. But when I located her, she was sitting on the front lawn of our campus with her Christian friends. I sat down and was amazed at their music. They were simple little choruses back in those days.
Prior to this, I really had been into music. I considered myself a musical connoisseur. I was into the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix and the Doors. But when I listened to those simple worship songs at that Bible study, it moved me deeply. And the reason it moved me was not because of how great they were musically, but because these people were encountering God. And I had never seen anything like it.
So when nonbelievers come to church, they are not just watching what is happening up front. They are watching the people around them. And you are making an impression on them, whether good or bad.
Your worship brings glory to God. And it can be a powerful witness.[hr]
[hr] [typography font="Cantarell" size="24" size_format="px"]Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." — Luke 11:1 [/typography] [hr]
Jesus gave us the model for all prayer in what we call "The Lord's Prayer." And although there is nothing wrong with praying it verbatim, The Lord's Prayer is more of a model, or a template, for prayer.
Jesus began with, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name" (Luke 11:2). Now if we had written this prayer, it would go along the lines of, "Our Father in heaven, give us day by day our daily bread." In other words, Let's just get to this. But Jesus said, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven . . ." (verse 2). Right off the bat, "our Father" speaks of intimacy. It speaks of relationship. It speaks of closeness.
"Our Father in heaven" (emphasis added) speaks of the majesty and the greatness and the power of God.
"Hallowed be Your name" is effectively saying, "Lord, I glorify You. I worship You. I praise You. I acknowledge Your greatness.
"Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Before we offer a word of personal petition, we acknowledge that we want God's will more than our own.
The objective of prayer is to get our will in alignment with God's will. Prayer is not trying to align God's will with ours; prayer is aligning our will with His. So the thing we need to ask ourselves is, "Is this prayer according to the will of God?" And how would we know that? Through careful study of Scripture.
If you take more time to contemplate the greatness of God, I think it will affect your prayer. On some occasions your prayer might be shorter, and at other times, it might be longer. But certainly it is going to be effective, because you will recognize that you are speaking to God Almighty.[hr]
WHEN: Thursday, February 6, 2014
TIME: 10:00-11:30 p.m. Eastern Time Zone
HOW: Call 712-432-0075 (enter PIN: 4961322#)
The upcoming 62nd annual National Day of Prayer, May 2, 2013, will have profound significance for our country. We have an unprecedented opportunity to see the Lord’s healing and renewing power made manifest as we call on citizens to humbly come before His throne. To echo the words of Mary Ball Washington, mother of our nation’s first president, we believe it is time to “Remember that God is our only sure trust.”
Our theme for 2013 is Pray for America, emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men. To further highlight our theme, we’ve chosen Matthew 12:21 as our Scripture for this year: “In His name the nations will put their hope.”
For the May 2nd observances, Pastor Greg Laurie, the 2013 Honorary Chairman, has written a special prayer to be simultaneously read throughout the nation at noon (EDT). This recitation will create a huge wave of prayer, flowing from one coast to the other, illustrating the unity of God’s people and acknowledging His dominion over the circumstances facing us. Millions of people gathered, last year, to pray at thousands of events facilitated by our volunteer coordinators and people just like you! We hope you’ll join with our staff again this year as we seek to bring more communities than ever before together in prayer. As a way of assisting you, we have assembled a variety of resources that describe how to organize and publicize citywide prayer breakfasts, worship services, and rallies. These materials also present creative ideas geared toward helping individuals and families to establish meaningful devotional times. If you have any questions after reviewing these items, please don’t hesitate to contact our NDP staff at (800) 444-8828. We would count it a privilege to lend a hand in whatever manner we are able.
At this crucial time for our nation, we can do nothing more important than pray. Thank you in advance for making this spiritual discipline a personal priority and for standing with us as we encourage others to incorporate prayer in their lives. The Lord has graciously anointed our efforts, empowering them to touch and change many hearts and lives. We look forward to seeing His hand move across our land in exciting ways this May in response to our petitions! In closing, we ask that you prayerfully consider becoming a volunteer in your church or community to lead a National Day of Prayer gathering. May the Lord’s peace fill your heart as you rest in Him throughout the days ahead.