Teach Us To Pray

Teach Us To Pray

Friends

Did you know?

What would cause people not to pray?  There are many facets to prayer causing people to feel awkward, unsatisfied, frustrated and/or confused when they pray.  We all need help to learn how to pray – even the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray because they understood that’s where His power came from. Most frustrations are caused by our misconceptions: prayer is not a magic wand; it is not an act of desperation; it is not a tug of war with God nor is it a ritual to relieve guilt. These are some foundational truths about prayer.

So, this week I want to put forth some questions that people have asked me, and try to answer them.

What Prayer Is and Is not:

Prayer is not some mystical process whereby we call out to some force.  Nor is it a kind of power with which we create things or speak them into existence, ordering God around like some bell-hop who art in Heaven.  Prayer is communicating with and hearing from God. 

True prayer is what happens when our will is aligned with the will of God, and we pray accordingly. Prayer is our connection to Heaven and Heaven’s connection to us—that is why you should always keep the lines open!

There is no greater privilege for anyone than being able to personally talk with and speak into the ears of Almighty God.

How should we Pray?

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18 NKJV).  Notice the use of the word “all” in this verse.  We are to pray on all occasions, with all kinds of prayer and requests, and for all the saints.

Is there a certain way or position we should be in to pray?  People in the Bible prayed standing, lifting up their hands, sitting, lying down, kneeling, lifting their eyes toward Heaven, bowing, and pounding their chests.  What works for you?  Just pray!

Is there a certain place we should pray?  Scripture tells us, “I want everyone everywhere to lift innocent hands toward heaven and pray,” (1 Timothy 2:8 CEV).

People in the Bible prayed during battle, in a cave, in a closet, in a garden, on a mountainside, by a river, by the sea, in the street, in Hades, in bed, in a home, in a prison, in the wilderness, and inside a fish.

Does Jesus tell us when to pray?  People in the Bible are found praying early in the morning, in the mid-morning, in the evening, three times a day, before meals, after meals, at bedtime, at midnight, and day and night.  People pray when they are young, when they are old, when they are in trouble, every day and always.  In any position, at any time, in any place, and under all circumstances—prayer is good and needed in the life of the Christian

Are there certain types of Prayers I should Pray?  The Bible identifies several different types of prayers we can pray.  One model for how we should pray is captured in the acronym ACTS.  Each letter stands for a specific aspect of prayer, arranged in a very natural order.

·         A: Adoration (worship)

·         C: Confession (of specific sins)

·         T: Thanksgiving (gratitude)

·         S: Supplication (specific requests).

Adoration:

Jesus essentially taught us the same thing in the Lord’s Prayer, which begins, “Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name” (Matthew 6:9 KJV).  This puts things in perspective for us.  A good example of this type of adoration is found in Psalm 95:1–7. When we take time to praise and worship God in our prayers, we are placing God where He rightfully belongs.  As a result, our problems and needs come into their proper perspective.

Confession:

The closer we draw to God, the more we sense our own sinfulness.  When Isaiah came into God’s presence, he said, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah 6:5 NIV).  The confession of our sin removes any barriers and clears the air of anything that would cause God not to hear our prayers. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).  This is, once again, modeled in the Lord’s Prayer. After “Our Father which art in Heaven,” we find, “Forgive us our sins” (Matthew 6:12 KJV).

Thanksgiving:

Our immediate response after confession should be thanksgiving. We should be thankful that God would indeed cleanse and forgive us. David said, Blessed is the person whose disobedience is forgiven and whose sin is pardoned.”  (Psalm 32:1 GWT).

Should we give thanks because everything is going perfectly in our lives or because we are in a good mood?  No, we should give thanks because God deserves our praise. Psalm 118:1NIV says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For his mercy endures forever.”  As another translation puts it, “His love endures forever.” By giving thanks, which is simply expressing gratitude for what we have, we prevent our focus from shifting to what we do not have.

Supplication:

If we are faithful in the first three steps, the last step will not have debased into giving God our spiritual shopping list.  Too often in prayer we start with requests instead of spending time in adoration, confession, and thanksgiving first.  Yet, God does want to hear our needs and requests.  Scripture tells us, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.   Then you will experience God’s peace...”   (Philippians 4:6–7 NLT).

We are also promised, “And my God shall supply all your need... “(Philippians 4:19 NIV). 

Do not neglect this vital part of your Christian walk.  As someone has said, “Prayer is the breath of the newborn soul, and there can be no Christian life without it.”

Prayer means hope.  Prayer means help.  Prayer means relief.  Prayer means power.

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

Come this Sunday and don’t stay home, learn how to pray with us

Start On Your Knees...

Friends

I hope your new year has started off with a BANG!  Every year Carolinas Cornerstone has a spiritual growth renewal.  It is an important part of our growth as a Christian.  We must focus intensely on spiritual growth. 

You might ask, “Why?” Great question! What we have discovered is that most of the problems in our life come from spiritual immaturity.  When we are not spiritually mature, we make dumb decisions.  We build our decisions based on how we feel, which is a terrible plan for making decisions.  A lot of times we say stuff like “Well I just feel like doing it.”  Please let me help you here, your feelings are wrong a lot of the time and you are manipulated by your moods.  Mature people make decisions based on truth, not based on feelings.  So many of the problems in our world today, national debt, people hurting people, talking down to people, and the list goes on, happens because of immaturity.  Most folks don’t know how to do what is wise, how to do what is mature.

 

The Bible is very clear that God wants us to grow.  This is the will of God.  Ephesians 4:14 GWT, “Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind.  We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray.”

We are not meant to remain as children, but we are meant to grow up and be like Christ.

I want to encourage you to come Sunday morning as we start a new series called “Start…On Your Knees”.  It is about prayer.  There is no greater privilege for anyone than being able to personally talk with and speak into the ears of Almighty God.  There is no issue we are facing that prayer cannot address because nothing is too difficult or impossible for God to handle. 

It should not surprise you and me, then, to discover that the greatest and most spiritually successful men and women in the Bible were always people of prayer.  There are so many examples of this.  Abraham walked by faith but was guided by prayer, and the nations of the world have not been the same because of it.  Moses spoke with God as a man speaks to his friend, receiving God’s guidance and revelation for his leadership decisions.  The world still has the Torah and the Ten Commandments as fruit of it.

If you look at King David, he talked to God “morning, noon, and night” Psalms 55:17.  If you look closer, he wrote the longest book in our Bible.  The Psalms are filled with a plethora of passionate prayers set to song.

Now look to Jesus, He is the ultimate model and Master of prayer.  Start at His birth, Jesus and His family were greeted in the temple by Anna, a widow who served God in prayer day and night.  At the start of His public ministry, He rose up out of the water at His baptism, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended while He was praying. 

Before Jesus choose His disciples, Jesus spent all night in prayer to God.  As they followed Him, they discovered His private habit was to rise early and pray before the sun rose.  When Jesus’ popularity was exploding, He would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. 

Before His betrayal and crucifixion, Jesus knelt alone in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed so deeply and desperately that His sweat literally became drops of blood.  Even at the cross He prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NIV).  With all that Jesus has done for us, He wants us to grow up spiritually.

This week’s sermon is called “We Gotta GROW!”  Our spiritual growth must be intentional.  Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-13 NIV, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”  

Growth in the human soul requires a commitment to grow.  A person must want to grow, decide to grow, and try to grow.  Spiritual growth begins with a decision.  It does not have to be a complex decision, but it does have to be sincere.  When Jesus’ followers decided to choose His way, they did not understand all the implications of their decision.  They simply expressed a desire to follow Him, and that was the beginning of an exciting journey of the soul.  Jesus took that simple but sincere decision and built upon it.

When you read Philippians 2:12-13, Paul offers insight into spiritual growth while speaking to people who already believe.  Notice that it says, “work out” — not “work on” — your salvation.  There is nothing you can do to save yourself spiritually; Christ took care of that with His life, death, and Resurrection.  The important thing to note is that God has a part in our growth — but so do we.  We must make an intentional effort to grow.

One last thing, you and I need each other to grow in Christ.  You cannot grow to Christlikeness in isolation.  You must be around other people and interact with them. You need to be part of a church and a Life Group. 

 

God uses His Word, people, and circumstances to mold us.  All three are crucial for character development.  

·         God’s Word provides the truth we need to grow

·         God’s people provide the support we need to grow

·         Circumstances provide the environment to practice Christlikeness

If you study and apply God’s Word, connect regularly with other believers, and learn to trust God in difficult circumstances, I guarantee you will become more like Jesus.

I want to challenge you over the next 60 days that you will start praying like never before!  Do what King David did, pray morning, noon, and night. 

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

Start the New Year off right Come to Church Sunday

God you...

Friends

WOW!  Where did 2017 go?  I don’t know about you, but I did not get done several things I had hoped to do.  Was 2017 a good year for you?  Maybe it was, and maybe it wasn't.  Maybe 2017 was a year filled with poor choices or unfortunate circumstances.

I want to challenge you with this one thought: forget 2017 and start right now.

I want to give you several verses to help you, Isaiah 43:18-19 GWT,

“Forget what happened in the past, and do not dwell on events from long ago.  I am going to do something new.  It is already happening.  Don’t you recognize it?  I will clear a way in the desert.  I will make rivers on dry land.”

One of the cool things about a new year is that it gives us an opportunity to evaluate our lives and move forward with a fresh start. 

Life is all about starting over.  Every big life-change usher’s in a time of stress and learning.  The cohesion in all change is having to learn something new.  In these situations, we are faced with a choice.  We can humble ourselves, knowing that we need help and have much to learn, or we can be stubborn and make life harder for ourselves and our loved ones.

Maybe your life up until now has been sad, or bad, or boring.  I don't know.  But I know this.  You have a choice.  You can wallow in the past, living with regret and shame and anger.  Or you can decide that the past is the past and cannot be rewritten. You can determine to start right now for God and see Him work in your life.

Life is a series of restarts.  Ask Joseph, who really did not envision his life ending up in Egypt as a slave or in prison for rape.  Joseph could have given up at each of those unfair moments.  But he did not.  He knew God was with him and he decided to make the best of what God put before him at that time.

The enemy wants you to think that your life is over; that there is nothing redeeming at all, and that you might as well give up and live for yourself.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Nothing at all!

Let me give you something that helps me, Ephesians 4: 22-24 NIV, “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and ... put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness ...”

If you want to have lasting change in your life, you must start with your body, and that includes changing the way you think so that what you let into your mind and the things you think about honor God.

Notice that there is a putting off and a putting on.  Your health really comes down to stopping some stuff you need to stop doing and starting some stuff, you need to start doing.  Stop putting negative, hurtful things in your body, and start putting in things that edify.

Stop putting negative, hurtful things into your mind, and start watching and listening to things that edify and make you more like Christ.  In the renewal of your mind, you have got to put off before you can put on.

Let’s say you go to a department store to look for a new coat (it is cold outside).  You find one and take it into one of those little changing rooms.  If you are wearing a coat already, you don’t go in there and put the new coat on over your old coat.  That would be stupid, because you are not going to know if it fits.  It makes sense to take off the old one before you put on the new one.

You have got to take off the old before you can put on the new.  That’s true spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

If you want to a fresh start, God wants to use His Word to give you a fresh start in life.

James 1:18 Living Bible says, And it was a happy day for him when he gave us our new lives through the truth of his Word,...”

Without God’s Word, we could never be saved.  We would not be headed for heaven.  We would not know about Jesus’ death on the cross.  We would not know about God’s purpose for our lives. 

Without the BIBLE we cannot know God.

God wants to give you all of that — but it starts with His Word.  Through the Bible, God re-creates our lives.  When I feel like I am at the end of my rope, God uses the Bible to give me a fresh start, a do-over.  The Bible calls it being “born again”.

The Bible is often compared to a seed.  Once the Bible takes root in your heart, it begins to sprout and grow and bear fruit.  As God’s Word does that, God changes your life for the better.

Jesus says this in John 6:63 NIV about His Word: “The Spirit gives life... The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”

God’s Word is not just words on page.  It’s spirit and life.  It’s spiritual power.  His Word can transform society and transform history.  It can do the impossible.  It can change your life.

I love what D.L. Moody, a famous Chicago pastor from 100 years ago, said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge; the Bible was given to change our lives.”

Let me ask you, how do you need your life changed?  What part of your life do you feel powerless to change?  In 2018, try going to the Bible daily, remember the Bible says the Word of God can change things that you cannot change on your own.

Make God’s Word a regular part of your life, and get ready for the impossible!

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

Hope is Choosing Wisely

Friends

Can you believe that Christmas has come and gone?  What happened to all the presents under the tree?  When you look around, almost everyone is exhausted.  Now it is time to clean and pack it all up for next year.  If you went to the malls this week people are returning those size 2 pants for size 6 or maybe even a size 10! ...Returns...Returns...Returns...
 
This Sunday is the final message in the series “Jesus is Our Hope.”  We will be sharing together that to find hope we must choose wisely.  When you look at Christmas cards there is something magical and mysterious about the age-old picture of three men wearing turbans, riding on camels, silhouetted against the night sky.  From across a continent, over the desert sand, beneath the silent stars trudge a curious caravan.  In the distant lands, these men have read signs and portents in the evening sky, sensing an incredible truth that few other living souls were to recognize for many years.  There seems to be a huge, magnificent start blazing on the horizon.
 
The reason that the wise men thought that the star would lead them to a king is because of the ancient belief that signs in the heavens portended great--or terrible--things to come--depending on who is interpreting the sign.  Some unusual movement or stellar event of great magnitude was often thought to herald the birth of a King or someone of great personage.  An event occurred in the sky and they went looking.  The fact that the star appeared and moved indicates more of a miraculous appearance than a natural one.
 
When you see the paintings and Christmas pageants from all over the world no one seems to agree on the roles of these men.  Were they Magi? Monarchs?  Magicians? Ambassadors? Astrologers? Or star watchers?  We like to envision them in color and exotic attire, preferably with camels. We do know that rulers, kings, and pharaohs sought out their counsel and guidance. 
 
They were most likely a King's personal advisors whose responsibilities included reading the stars, among other things.  They were from "the east" which most probably meant Persia or Babylon.
 
Early church traditions put their number at twelve.  Today, we imagine there were three (probably because there were three different types of gifts).  Church traditions have assigned them names and personalities.  Melchior, old, grey-headed, with a long beard brought the gold.  Caspar, young, beardless, with a ruddy complexion brought frankincense.  Balthasar, swarthy, with a new beard brought myrrh. 
 
They even have their own song to sing (in three-part harmony) as they plod along through the sandy wastes, seeking a newborn king:
 
We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

 
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

 
The Bible, however, never says there were only three, does not mention camels, and does not give them names. 
 
Over the years, the religious and political influence of the Magi continued to grow until they became the most prominent and powerful group of advisors in the Medo-Persian and Babylonian empires.  These men, then steeped in occultism and false religions became very powerful and were almost like royalty themselves.  So it would seem likely, that the ones going on the quest to find the babe, had a small army riding with them for protection.  No wonder they created such a stir when that whole resplendent cavalcade rode through the gates of Jerusalem!  It was like a foreign army coming in.  Most likely, no one had ever seen anything like it.  Matthew writes it this way in chapter 2
 
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”  Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child.  As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”  After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
 
Finally, the moment they had been waiting for was here, Matthew 2:11 tell us “when the (wise men) got to the house (not the manger) “they saw the young Christ” (not the baby) “with Mary His mother and they bowed down and worshipped Him.”  They knew in their hearts that this little toddler in a tiny, humble house, born to common working – class people, would one day rule the world. 
 
The Wise Men have something to teach us, something that we need to apply to our lives today!  It is the one thing many people will not do, WORSHIP!  Those men worshipped Him.  For us, it is not just saying “Merry Christmas” to people on the street, or in humming “We Three Kings” when we get up in the morning.  That’s not worship. The Bible is clear on this- they fell down and worshipped Him. 
 
The act of worship is one activity that will never disappoint.  Whole hearted worship of Jesus Christ, giving Him your best, giving Him yourself will always fill your soul rather than deplete it.  Most of us think of worship as what we do when we sing songs and hymns, close our eyes, and lift our hands; and in deed that can be a form of worship.  But worship can also be that meal you cook for a sick friend or that clothing or financial help you provide for someone in need.  What does your worship look like?
 
Make Every Day Count!
 
Barry