[typography font="Cantarell" size="16" size_format="px"]"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7[/typography] [hr]
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We wrote the song Pray because these are anxious times. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on the edge of my seat, watching and waiting as tensions rise and markets fall. The 2012 election has left me acutely aware of the fact that we are a nation divided, fragile and in dyer need of true hope. From my television screen to my twitter feed, I’m confronted with a minute-by-minute timeline of the latest news from around the world. The awareness that we’re just one thumb tap away from another shocking headline can be stressful. What will come next? We wonder if North Korea will launch a nuclear missile, if another homemade bomb in a backpack will be detonated at a public gathering, or if the mild-mannered kid next door will carry out another mass murder.
Sometimes it’s not world news that leaves me anxious, but parts of my own little world that seem to be falling apart. The pressure of holding it all together is daunting when I get to thinking it’s on my own shoulders. Sometimes I find myself tossing my hands up in the air and asking in an exasperated tone, “What in the world is going on?”
In those moments I have to remind myself of what’s behind our personal life challenges and the world’s headlines, the fist of a dictator and the face of a politician, the cape of a hero and the mask of a villain. In every conflict, no matter where we live or which side we’re on, behind every struggle is what the Apostle Paul described in his letter to the Ephesians.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” - Ephesians 6:12
Paul doesn’t leave us to wonder how we should view our struggles or what actions we should take. He tells the Ephesians to stand firm on truth, righteousness, salvation and the word of God. He ends by making an earnest appeal that we see him make over and over again in his letters to Christian men and women. He teaches them, and us, to pray; and not just every so often or when we’re in distress, but to pray “at all times” in Ephesians 6:18. Again, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, he writes that we should “pray without ceasing.”
These are indeed anxious times, and heaven and earth are at war. Every public headline and personal challenge is a reminder, as well as a call, not to lift our hands in despair, but rather to continue lifting our hands and voices in prayer.
Will you answer the call?
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[typography font="Cantarell" size="18" size_format="px"]And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt? - Matt. 14:29-31[/typography] [hr]
Greetings from the National Day of Prayer Task Force, we have been praying for you! Yes, you! If you are reading this message we have been praying for you. If you are one of the thousands of people that God has called to coordinate or attend a National Day of Prayer event on May 2, we have been praying for you. Our office has been in perpetual motion with phone calls, proclamations, reports and event postings in an effort to finalize all that needs to happen in the next two weeks. If you are planning a prayer event, we know that you are busy trying to promote and plan the final pieces. This last couple of weeks can be very stressful as prayer warriors across America battle to culminate and celebrate the year-round prayers lifted up on behalf of our nation. I pray that the following devotional encourages and energizes you as God equips and prepares us for the National Day of Prayer:
If you have ever had to put together a school play or musical, you know this is an incredible task. There are sets to build, costumes to sew, parts to assign, lighting, months of practice and dress rehearsals, before the curtain is raised for opening night. As the date for our school musical drew near, it seemed to the untrained eye that the choir would not be ready in time. But to our choir director, Karen, all was on track. Karen had been strongly encouraged by parents and administration to postpone the musical so that there could be more time to rehearse, but as the director, she calmly refused to postpone, insisting that she was confident in her scheduling.
Karen shared with me that the date was set so that the choir would know the words, know their parts, and know the songs well enough to get through the play as long as they kept their eyes on her. More practice might make them too self-confident and then they would not watch her for direction the night of the play. �
God, our Heavenly Conductor, has set the dates for every opportunity we are given to serve Him. Heaven eagerly awaits the chorus of prayers that will be lifted up on May 2nd. He has prepared us along the way for just the right day. We may think we are not ready; we are distracted by the winds of discouragement and waves of fear. We may even find ourselves begging for more time, more training, or more resources. Take courage! God always carries us to a specific place, for a specific service, fully equipped to do the job as long as we keep our eyes on Him.
Keep your eyes on Him and remember that He never takes His eyes off of you. If He called you to it, He will walk (on water) with you through it! To God be the Glory!
Can you remember a time where you really questioned God? If you are honest with yourself then I suspect I am not alone on this, although, personally, I’m not proud to admit the struggle. For me, it was a time early in prayer ministry. I was in a 12-hour prayer meeting in Alabama, participating with thousands of spiritually hungry young people and seasoned prayer warriors.
My prayer to the Lord began with an overwhelming since of inadequacy. The following words echoed through my mind, “I can’t believe You have me here in this place with these of such spiritual depth. Who am I? I am from a small, one high school town in Texas. I didn’t go to seminary. I don’t have a degree in Theology and here I sit with such giants in faith. I am so ordinary. “ I felt like a toddler among adults.
I was thinking all this from the additional perspective of my role with the National Day of Prayer Task Force. A daily part of my work then, and now, includes supporting the volunteer coordinator network across the nation. I have the privilege of working with our national area leaders, thousands of devoted volunteers and international ministry prayer leaders. So, I found myself questioning my Lord. How could He use “ordinary me” with the likes of these zealots? The setting was a large convention center space with row upon row of chairs of people agreeing in prayer. In the midst of this brief internal evaluation, riddled with self-doubt, I felt a stiff breeze and looked up. It felt like the convention center doors had burst open sending a gush of wind inside. However everyone else was still bowed in intercession, unaffected.
Then the Lord had my full attention for His contribution to this prayer. By His Spirit, I listened: “I DON’T DO ORDINARY”. With such clear and simple words surfaced deep instruction that still teaches me today. As I mediated more, God showed me that He is my Creator. Very simply stated, He taught me that He, as Lord God, just cannot make anything ordinary. Ordinary is not a word to associate with Him or His creation as we are made in His image.
This is all about His majesty and compete sovereignty; nothing that we do on our own. It is all about His plan for you and me.
Do you wonder what more He has for you? Ask Him. He delights to work through our weakness if we are in humble submission to His absolute holiness and divine nature. Through your extraordinary prayer life with the living God through Jesus our Lord, be assured you are living the life He wants for you. It will be one that bears fruit beyond your human capacity - beyond your days here on earth.
Here at the National Day of Prayer Task Force, there is plenty of room for you. The nation needs those who will participate in prayer observances on May 2nd; which is coming up quickly. Certainly, in our hope to see every county in America bathed in prayer, we need more who will step forward to plan and host these prayer gatherings. So, I am challenging you now to learn how you make a difference. Click the ‘volunteer’ link on the main menu of our website to get involved, helping your state coordinator mobilize prayer near you.
Additionally, consider joining the National Day of Prayer hosted prayer call, any night of the year, from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. CDT, (be sure to adjust for your time zone). Simply call our free conference line (uses minutes if you have a limited plan), 712-432-0075, and enter the access code: 4961322#. This is a wonderful way to connect with intercessors from across the country and experience prayer with praise, repentance and yielding to our Lord God. Then, on the First Thursday of each month this call concentrates on a national focus, based on our theme, Pray for America.
As you determine how you can get involved, please prayerfully consider lending your financial support as well, to help us continue to call this nation to prayer. No gift is too small.
Prayer moves on God’s willingness. Only He can heal this land and by His extraordinary design He moves through our earnest prayers. So, are you ordinary? No, remember, He doesn’t do ordinary! We are made by the one and only Almighty God who loves beyond imagination. As you go to Him today in prayer, listen and wait in expectation for His specific answers. They will not be ordinary.
[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.
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]