As we celebrate Easter, I'm comforted by the reminder that our Savior remains as present in our world today as He was when He walked the earth more than 2,000 years ago. This is a wonderful time of year to reflect on the unfailing reality of "God with us" and to rediscover our adoration for the Lord.
Psalm 89 says, "I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations."
Easter is a time of reflection and to count our blessings, to show our appreciation for each other, and most importantly for appreciating God. These moments remind us that Jesus has given us everything through his life, death, and resurrection. We have all we need in Him!
Author Ruth Myers writes, "I find that my worship is richer when I offer the Lord praise and thanks for three things: who He is, what He does, and what He gives." At this very moment, what can you say about each of these? I urge you to review often the questions of who God is, what He does, and what He gives. I pray that your answers every day will be a little richer, a little stronger, and a little more powerful in the grip they hold on your heart's affections.
He is Risen Indeed!
[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.
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]
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be children of your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:43-45 [hr]
After the last elections, our vice-chairman, John Bornschein, wrote a poignant article, addressing the state of our culture, and just how wide the chasm of biblical truth and moral relativism has grown. Here is an excerpt from that article:
“Abraham Lincoln, quoting from the biblical passage of Mark 3:24, boldly stated that “a house (nation) divided against itself cannot stand.” The issues that divided our nation during the 2012 elections were of greater significance than the prevailing economic scrutiny. Rather, the moral values of the sanctity of human life, preservation of marriage, defense of Israel and religious freedoms became the overwhelming subject of many attack ads, speeches and debates. There seemed to be more emphasis on the definition of marriage and the defense of the unborn than ever before.
Clearly candidates aligned with opposing sides of the spectrum with no middle ground. Based on the arguments, life was described as either 1) sacred and meant to be preserved no matter what the circumstances or 2) life was a decision and not a right. Either marriage was described as one man and one woman as it was from the beginning, or it was left to interpretation and redefinition based on social moral relativism. In addition, there were clear divisions on the subject of Israel and religious freedoms.
Therefore, we must examine ourselves as a nation. Aside from party affiliation, the election was clearly a revelation of the values of the voter. Therefore, the problem isn’t as much in Washington D.C. as we would like to believe. The problem is in our homes, our communities, and even our churches. Indeed, the heart of the American people has changed.”
In plain language, we find ourselves living in a nation, and at a time, when seemingly, more than half of the voting population have beliefs and philosophies that are contrary to ours. In the spheres of government, military, family, education, media, business, and even in the church, it is becoming difficult to find people who hold to, and stand up for, a strong biblical world view. In such a contentious environment, those who ‘try to live godly’ will certainly make more enemies and experience more persecution.
The word translated ‘persecute’ literally means ‘to make to flee or drive away’. The idea, being to harass, trouble, molest or mistreat someone, until they give up or leave. So when Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12, “The fact is, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”, we can, as the old saying goes, ‘take that to the bank’! Not a pleasant thought, and it certainly doesn’t feel good! Deep down, we all want people to like us, but when we take a stand against ungodliness in our culture, many will stand against us. And when they do, we are to pray.
Knowing what to do is one thing, but doing what we know to do is quite another. When we pray, Jesus directs us not only to pray, but to pray with love. When we take a closer look at the word translated ‘love’ in Matthew 5, we find that it’s the same Greek word used in John 3:16 to describe God’s love for us, in John 3:35 to describe God the Father’s love for Jesus and in John 11:5 to describe Jesus’ love for Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Unconditional, never failing, always enduring love! You see, Jesus knew a little something about human nature. He knew that our natural response to ‘enemies’ and ‘persecution’ would NOT be prayer. He also knew that our prayers, if not sincere, would not ‘availeth much’. So He began with a command to love. You see, prayer, motivated by love, will always produce passion.[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]
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6:12 [hr]
Growing up in Iowa, wrestling was a part of the culture, and Iowa’s favorite wrestling ‘son’ was Dan Gable. During his prep days and college career at Iowa State, he compiled an unbelievable record of 182 wins and 1 loss. His only defeat came in the NCAA finals his senior year. Gable was a three-time all-American and three-time Big Eight champion.
Dan Gable, 1972 Olympics USA Gold Medalist
After college, he added titles at the 1971 Pan American Games, the 1972 Tbilisi Tournament and the 1971 World Championships. He won an unprecedented six Midlands Open championships and was that meet’s outstanding wrestler five times. In 1972, in Munich, Germany, he won a gold medal at the Summer Olympics without surrendering a point to any of his opponents. The Soviets came to the Olympics with only one goal in mind: to defeat Gable. They were unsuccessful.
His coaching career, reflected the same intensity and skill. As the University of Iowa’s all-time winningest wrestling coach from 1977 to 1997, Gable compiled a career record of 355-21-5, all at Iowa. He coached 152 All-Americans, 45 National Champions, 106 Big Ten Champions and 12 Olympians, including four gold, one silver and three bronze medalists. The Hawkeyes won 25 consecutive Big Ten championships, 21 under Gable as head coach and four while he was an assistant coach and administrator. An amazing record, compiled by a man who knew a little something about wrestling!
The concept of ‘wrestling’ was not unfamiliar to early believers. Attempting to describe the continual battle that believers face, Paul used a Greek word, often translated ‘wrestle’. He wanted us to understand the nature of the battle. That we don’t wrestle with human beings, but with spiritual beings. And not just any spiritual beings, but principalities, powers, and rulers! Demonic angels of every rank and description, who are not to be approached casually, or half-heartedly.
As we wrestle in prayer for our nation, our families, and our congregations, perhaps we can learn something from Dan Gable’s philosophy. In his own words, he said, “I’m a big believer in starting with high standards and raising them. We make progress only when we push ourselves to the highest level. If we don’t progress, we backslide into bad habits, laziness and poor attitude.” [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]
National Observance – Thursday, May 1, 2014
Cannon House Office Building – Caucus Room 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Pledge of Allegiance – Mr. John Bornschein, Vice Chairman National Day of Prayer Task Force
Opening Remarks – Mrs. Shirley Dobson, Chairman National Day of Prayer Task Force
Scripture Reading – Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, President of Hope of the World Ministries
Blowing of the Shofar – Rabbi Neal Surasky, Chosen People Ministries
Prayer of Blessing – Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, S.J. Chaplain, U.S. House of Representatives
Prayer for the Nations – Ambassador Bobby Little and Ambassador Zoran Jolevski (Republic of Macedonia)
A Congressional Welcome – Congressman Robert Aderholt (Alabama)
Worship – Don Moen
Prayer of Repentance – Jeff Noel, National Prayer Committee
Judicial Branch Remarks – Judge Maurice Foley
Prayer for the Judicial Branch – Dr. Dick Eastman, Every Home for Christ
Personal Remarks – Dr. James C. Dobson, Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk
Legislative Branch Remarks – Congressman Mike McIntyre (NC, 7th District)
The Legacy of Prayer in America – The Honorable Bob McEwen
Military Remarks – Major General Joseph S. Ward, Jr.
Prayer for the Military Branch – Chaplain Wayne Brittian (LTC)
Keynote Speaker – Anne Graham Lotz, Honorary Chairman National Day of Prayer Task Force
Prayer for the Executive Branch – Mr. David Butts, Harvest Prayer Ministries
Prayer Challenge – Mr. John Bornschein and Rabbi Jonathan Cahn
Closing Song – Don Moen
This program agenda is tentative and subject to change.
This special observance was hosted by Congressman Robert Aderholt (Alabama, 4th District)
Anne Graham Lotz, 2014 Honorary Chairman and daughter of Rev. Billy Graham, delivered a powerful message on prayer and repentance at the National Observance of the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer. Her 29-minute appeal to God's people was one of the highlights of the solemn assembly in Washington D.C. and was viewed around the world in more than 200 countries.
The 2014 National Observance was broadcast on DirecTV channel 365 and streamed LIVE on this website.[hr]
National Observance in Washington DC - National Day of Prayer Task Force
By the President of the United States of America
Throughout our history, Americans have turned to prayer for strength, inspiration, and solidarity.
Prayer has played an important role in the American story and in shaping our Nation's leaders. President Abraham Lincoln once said, "I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day." The late Coretta Scott King recounted a particularly difficult night, during the Montgomery bus boycott, when her husband, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., received a threatening phone call and prayed at the kitchen table, saying, "Lord, I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can't face it alone." Dr. King said, in that moment of prayer, he was filled with a sense of comfort and resolve, which his wife credited as a turning point in the civil rights movement.
It is thus fitting that, from the earliest years of our country's history, Congress and Presidents have set aside days to recognize the role prayer has played in so many definitive moments in our history. On this National Day of Prayer, let us follow the example of President Lincoln and Dr. King. Let us be thankful for the liberty that allows people of all faiths to worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience, and let us be thankful for the many other freedoms and blessings that we often take for granted.
Let us pray for the men and women of our Armed Forces and the many selfless sacrifices they and their families make on behalf of our Nation. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm's way every day to protect their fellow citizens. And let us ask God for the sustenance and guidance for all of us to meet the great challenges we face as a Nation.
Let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those who have been affected by natural disasters at home and abroad in recent months, as well as those working tirelessly to render assistance. And, at a time when many around the world face uncertainty and unrest, but also hold resurgent hope for freedom and justice, let our prayers be with men and women everywhere who seek peace, human dignity, and the same rights we treasure here in America.
The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a "National Day of Prayer."
Now, Therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2011, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith or conscience directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I ask all people of faith to join me in asking God for guidance, mercy, and protection for our Nation.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.