Of Fire Pits and Prayer

I must confess…  I love a good campfire. Whether at the campground or in the fire pit in the back yard, I put down roots right next to the fire and hang out there until it’s all done. The smell, the sounds, the dancing flames, the soothing wonder of it all. Our fires have been one of the best places for family conversation and also for family silence together.

Before we start the fire, we make sure we have an ample supply of fuel for the fire. A lot of it, please and thank you. I build a leaning tower of wood and light it up. No wood. No fire. It’s as simple as that. Without the preparation of gathering and chopping the wood, there is nothing to light.

I see many Christians standing around holding a full tank of prayer lighter fluid and a big match, with the gleam of good intentions in their eyes. And nothing comes of it. There’s no fuel for the prayer fire. There has been no preparation fitting for prayer (no time in the Bible, no vision of our extreme need and God’s extreme generosity, no worship vocabulary beyond the standard sunday school answers, no attempt to see the war that already exists in the life of the Christian and for the souls of the lost). Instead, there has been a lot of fun, fun, fun. Entertainment by the forest full. Distractions by the thousands.

When this sad situation is pointed out, many Christians panic and immediately set the match to the lighter fluid, and have the hottest one or two minutes of prayer that you can imagine. These impromptu prayer immolation pyres are not necessary, dear friends.  If you are one that struggles with prayer, here’s an article from author Don Whitney that recommends remedial, accomplishable, and wise steps to be taken.  To give you a preview of his main point, here’s a small excerpt.

“The Psalms are the best place in Scripture from which to pray Scripture.  This is because of the original purpose and usage of the Psalms.  The Psalms were songs inspired by God for the purpose of being reflected in song back to God.  Moreover, there’s a Psalm for every sigh of the heart.  The entire range of human emotion is recorded in the 150 Psalms.”

You can read the entire article here.

The Rightness of Trouble

Sometimes the brokenness of this fallen world pours into your life like a flood that washes away every familiar landmark, drowns every self-sufficient anchor point under the roiling waters, and leaves you gasping for air as it washes over your head and pulls you ever downward. When the curse of sin crashes  and crushes you, prayer is not a problem. The Lord is our refuge, calling us home through the clamoring of the Spirit’s warnings. Our heart sees the Son of Man lifted up and we cry out to Him for help in our trouble, in our disaster, in our darkness, in our pain. Trouble is the servant of God, a teacher for the saints, helping us remember how far we’ve fallen, how high our Triune God is, and how willing God is to help us in our trouble.

Two Prayers to Jesus: Jehovah’s Witnesses Take Note

At the end of I Corinthians, Paul is closing his letter with final encouragements, writing by his own hand. His heartfelt desire for the return of Christ springs forth in a brief prayer to Christ:

… O our Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22, New World Translation)

In the NWT Reference Bible, there is a cross-reference at this point to Revelation 22:20, which reads as follows:

“He that bears witness of these things says, ‘Yes; I am coming quickly.’” “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20, New World Translation)

Jesus is coming! These precious prayers spring instantly from the saints, offered without hesitation in full faith in the one they call on. Both Paul and the author of Revelation pray to Jesus, asking him to come. They pray to Jesus. This is spontaneous prayer to Jesus, reflected in the Jehovah’s Witness translation of the Bible. These biblical passages contradict what the Watchtower teaches JWs worldwide. The organization tells them it is unacceptable to pray to Jesus because he is not God. And yet… their own Bible tells them otherwise. Paul and John prayed to Jesus.

Who is the Watchtower to restrict what these apostles demonstrate by their own prayers to the Coming One? Is this how the “biblical religion” of the Watchtower works? The words and rules of men overrule the Word of God? It is deadly dangerous to trust the words of men over the Word of God. You are in danger if you eat their so-called ‘food in due season’. The so-called spiritual feast of the Watchtower religion is, in reality, corruption and death, killing the soul with rules that directly contradict the Word of God.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, time and time again you go house to house and try to convince people that the Watchtower religion is the only true and biblical faith. How can a religion be called ‘true and biblical’ when it restricts people from following clear teachings of the Bible? The Watchtower places its own words as more important than the inspired text of Scripture. The Scriptures teach, proclaim, and demonstrate the faithful practices of the apostles and early church.

You are safe in following these fine examples of faith found in the Bible. Call on Jesus today! He can hear your prayer and will be faithful to answer it.

Come, Lord Jesus.

A Prayer On Redemption

Grant, Almighty God, that as we now carry about us this mortal body, yea, and nourish through sin a thousand deaths within us; O grant that we may ever by faith direct our eyes toward heaven, and to that incomprehensible power, which is to be manifested at the last day by Jesus Christ our Lord, so that in the midst of death we may hope that thou wilt be our Redeemer, and enjoy that redemption which he completed when he rose from the dead, and not doubt that the fruit which he then brought forth by his Spirit will come also to us when Christ himself shall come to judge the world; and may we thus walk in the fear of thy name, that we may be really gathered among his members, to be made partakers of that glory which by his death he has procured for us. Amen

–John Calvin

A Walk Through Philippians – #5

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11, ESV)

Paul loves the Philippians. He knows it. They know it. And we know it. We looked at that in the prior post of this series. Right on the heels of his profession of Christlike love for the Philippians – God as witness of Paul’s heart – Paul explains the subject of his prayer for the Philippians. He prays for the Philippians frequently and with joy, but what does he pray for them? He approaches God out of the sincere desire of his heart for the benefit of his dear friends and the glory of his God. Paul wants the Philippians to grow and grow and grow and grow in their already abundant and overflowing love. It’s something he requests of God on behalf of the Philippians, ultimately for the glory and praise of God.

Paul is looking to the Lord to show his might in the lives of the Philippians. It’s not like they are starting at ground level and need to learn to love. They were no slouches in the love department, already displaying overflowing love repeatedly since their conversion to Christ. Here comes Paul, piling grace upon grace in his prayers for them. To paraphrase the missionary apostle, he is asking God to help them overflow deeper and deeper, again and again. Not simply to love. Not simply to reach a pinnacle of love and remain there. No, overflowing more and more. What a tremendous blessing he is seeking for the Philippians.

[Time for a praise break] If this is the case on this earthly plane, what does eternity with God hold in store for us who know Christ? Dare we hope for an eternity of abounding more and more in love, more in 10,000 years… more in 10,000,000 years… more in a trillion years! There is so much more to heaven than our puny, sin-soaked minds can even begin to grasp. Praise be to God who has shown us love in humility, in sin-bearing, in mercy and forgiveness.

In our current “it’s all about me me me” culture, our first inclination on hearing what Paul was praying for is to turn it on its head and pray this blessing for ourselves and our own church. But that’s not what’s happening here. Paul is praying for others… one of the churches he helped establish and which has helped him in ministry and in trouble repeatedly.

Brother and Sister, this type of prayer can rightfully take its place in your worship vocabulary, following Paul’s example in praying this blessing for others. How often we struggle with prayer, not knowing what to pray for on behalf of our missionaries and churches once we exhaust the short list of immediate concerns they give us. Here is biblical fuel for your prayer fire.