Remembering You

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…remembering you in my prayers.
Ephesians 1:16b

I recall speaking with an elderly woman about my faith. She said she would watch me from her third floor window as I tossed my Drum Major baton into the air over and over as a High School Senior (we’re talking Dark Ages here!). I’m certain she prayed for my safety as that 4-foot chrome baton often acted like a missile on its way down into my hands, but she never said that. Instead these were her words, “I prayed that you would come to know Christ.” Just wow.

Needless to say, I really really like it when someone tells me he or she is praying for me. First, it’s moving because we are limited beings. We can only do so much in a day and to think that someone would off my name in prayer to God is humbling. Second, it lets me know that we’re not alone in the life. There are others who want to go alongside you and utter your name to God. Lastly, it proves that God isn’t finished working on my (and the person praying) yet. If he was, why would He bother to remind that person of me.

So, have you told someone lately that you’re praying for that person by name? Someone once told me, “please pray for me because you need the practice and I need the prayer.” It was blunt but it was probably true.

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Thanks Again…and Again

I have not stopped giving thanks for you… Ephesians 1:16a

The next few days I will be discussing this passage in Ephesians because it contains a lot of practical material for the Believer.

A general (though not the main one) theme in the Bible is thankfulness. We see it clearly in the Old Testament in the Psalms and Proverbs. Kings made it a point to publicly thank God. Many prophets urged men and women to give thanks and to repent. Often the people did neither and their societies suffered because of it. Obviously I’m painting this subject with a very broad brush but there are just so many verses in the Bible that burst with thanksgiving. The subject of thankfulness is even stronger in the life of Jesus and the apostle Paul.

For us, though, it’s important to give thanks to God and for others. Period. I’ve said it before but we often get whiny. If everything doesn’t go our way, sometimes others never hear the end of it. We even whine about being thankful! But when we’re thankful to God for others, we (briefly) divert the focus from us and our “plight”, and we shine a spotlight on what others have done. Let’s face it, we like to be thanked when we do something well or have been available for others. Sometimes that thanks is given publicly; sometimes it’s private. The true reward comes, though, when we give thanks for others before the Audience of One.

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The Prayer to Crush Satan

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Romans 16:20

Keeping with the current theme of prayers in the New Testament, this may not be a prayer, per se, but it could be! We all are looking for peace in one form or another. Many of our Brothers and Sisters in other nations are constantly under attack. Whether it’s horrendous physical attack or more subtle spiritual attack, the end result is the same: they get worn down and weary. They feel like giving up because no one seems to take note of their plight. I suspect that this was penned for that reason.

Unfortunately, there are a treat number of countries that are under persecution right now. Iran, North Korea, India, Cuba, Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, and a large number of others. Pray that “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under their feet.” They need us to prop them up with our prayers.

Choose from one of those countries above and pray. If you don’t know a lot about that country, go to Christian Freedom International's "Where are Christians Persecuted?" for detailed articles.

Here are a few of the organizations that focus on the Persecuted Church:
Voice of the Martyrs
Open Doors
Christians in Crisis
Persecution Project Foundation

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Wrestling in Prayer

[Epaphras] is always wrestling in prayer for you… Colossians 4:12a

Paul’s choice of words in Colossians is fitting. Prayer is not easy. Praying consistently for someone is even harder. I think it goes deeper than that. It’s not merely the natural (often supernatural) internal struggle we have about praying for others. Recall the story of Jacob “wrestling with God” in Genesis 32:25-29. God right then and there gave him the name Israel, which means “struggle with God.” In the end, Jacob/Israel got the blessing he so desperately sought. We know that it was an intense struggle but we don’t know the nature of the issues. 

To wrestle with God over someone else requires us to know the person well. That takes time and intention. When we get to know that person is when we’re able to intercede on that person’s behalf. And that person may not even know that we are praying that way.

Can you think of someone you are willing to wrestle with God over? I am sure family members come to mind because we normally know them better but they are possibly the toughest BECAUSE we know them better! There is a person or persons out that that need your prayer, and you may very well be the only person praying on their behalf.

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Make Your Love Increase

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12

I am thinking of the once popular Christian camp tune “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Sadly in many churches and communities that is not the case at all. When I first became a Christian, someone said this about another Believer, ”I know I have to love him but I don’t have to like him.” I stopped short of asking for Chapter and Verse on that one!

I also think of the many denominations we have in the West that just do not get along. Often the theological differences are small and probably insignificant. It’s not that we don’t love the Presbyterians or Baptists or Pentecostals down the street, we just don’t talk to them regularly. I know it can be done because I’ve seen it. Where? Overseas on the foreign field, Southern Baptists and Assembly of God folks worked side by side to build the Kingdom of God (and probably unbeknownst to their superiors Stateside).

My point is this, I think we all benefit by praying this prayer for ourselves as often as we can. Then we can ask God to examine us to see where there might be obstacles in our love towards other Believers..

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Discernment

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. Philippians 1:9-10

This is the second prayer from the New Testament in as many days. It too should be memorized and prayed over people. How desperately we need discernment and purity in the present age. There are just so many moral, financial, social, and ethical decisions we need to make. We need the wisdom that brings discernment. It’s a prayer we can plead with God over our own lives.

I believe we’re entering an extremely difficult time financially as a nation (actually throughout the world) and it may become very very tempting to fudge a bit, to cut corners just to scrimp and save all you can. I suspect that even our moral and ethical foundations will be challenged and tested. People will be watching us. Our lives will be an example for those who are watching. People are hungry for truth, for someone who actually “walks the talk.”

Begin to make a list of prayers in the Bible. I will be discussing them in the days to come. Then one by one, memorize them. Recite them over and over and over again. Then begin praying them over people. They will absolutely love you for it. 

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Using the Bible in Prayer

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9-12

If you’re like me, you can get “stuck” when you pray. The words won’t come easily or you don’t know how to pray in a given situation. These few verses are powerful when you have someone in mind and pray for that person by name with these verses. Even if you were to dissect it and pray for the person “from comma to comma”, it would be an incredibly strong blessing on that person.

For instance, how I would have loved to have someone praying that I would “grow in the knowledge of God” as a new Believer. Or how about that I would “bear fruit in every good work?” Being able to “please God in every way” seems like a laudable goal to pray for someone.

So, why is this more powerful than merely praying your own words? First, it helps you to focus. As you’re praying through this, you are picturing in your mind’s eye what it would look like if this person “grew in the knowledge of God” for example. Second, it’s the Word of God. What can be more potent than praying the Word of God over someone?

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Get Wisdom

He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers. Proverbs 19:8

The older I get the more I find that wisdom is an extremely valuable thing to have.  When we’re young and impressionable, wisdom is a boring and tedious subject. We do foolish things when we’re young. But we’re also more daring and not afraid to try new and risky things (if you find yourself saying “I’m too old to do that,” you’re not young anymore!). Then as life happens to us, we are more reserved and cautious.

Wisdom in life is different. Making wise choices is difficult when we’re faced with hundreds of choices every day. Some are small and uncomplicated (what to wear in the morning), while others take more thought (what school to go to, what person to marry, etc). You rarely have ALL of the facts but are expected to make an educated choice. It takes wisdom! In fact, if you think about it, where you are today is a result of hundreds of choices you’ve made in your life. Some were great; some were good; others you’d like a “do-over” because they were so poor.

Even if you’ve made a wrong choice, you can correct course and get back on track. Every single time you can do that! One part of wisdom, then, is knowing (and acknowledging) that you’ve made a wrong choice and having the humility to correct it.

So when you’re faced with a difficult decision, “he should ask God, who gives [wisdom] generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

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Foolishness or Power of God

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Is it any wonder “they” don’t believe!

This man:

  • Claimed to be God, the Son of God, and Messiah
  • Was born of a virgin
  • Turned water into wine and walked on water
  • Raised the lame and dead
  • Cast out demons
  • Healed the sick
  • Lived a sinless life for 33 years
  • Preached for three years
  • Foretold of his impending death on a cross
  • Predicted that he would be raised to life and ascend to the Throne of God
  • Taught that if you believed in Him, your sins would be forgiven and you would have eternal life.

Foolishness or power of God? If you get annoyed or disgusted with that list, it’s probably foolishness to you. If, however, you feel energized after reading the list, it’s as the Scripture states, the power of God.

Our task as Believers is to help “them” make the transition from thinking the message of the cross is foolishness to believing it to be the power of God. Impossible task? Not really. The Man described above will show us how.

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