Jun 24

#Pray2020

In case you didn’t know…

Presidential elections begin 18 months or more before the actual date. It doesn’t matter who controls the White House, there is no shortage of individuals throwing their hat into the ring. The media helps to create the drama. They love a good horse race! Long before the Iowa caucuses, news outlets compile lists and bios for all presidential hopefuls.

#Pray 2020 is bathing the entire presidential process with the Spirit and direction of God. We ask Him for peace, order and fairness.

We’re on the brink of chaos!

It’s 2019. A very large group of people have not gotten over the election of Donald Trump. On college campuses, students protest with screams and cries, NOT MY PRESIDENT! Where does free speech end and political discord and chaos begin? Three years into a presidency and these groups continue their cry.

In the past, the two political parties would put aside their differences and come together. Unfortunately, that did not happen in this cycle. Since getting elected, Democrats have schemed for ways to discredit and indict President Trump. So far, nothing substantial has been uncovered. Don’t get me wrong–if Trump has done something criminal, he should be prosecuted. So far, all I’ve seen is speculation and a waste of money and time. Resources like air time are limited. Many valuable news stories don’t get air time because we are focused on railroading the president. #Pray2020

Freedom of Speech and Thought

The First Amendment is what makes America so remarkable! We don’t have to approve of the way others believe or speak but we need to let them have their opinions. If we don’t, we become North Korea or Communist China. In those countries, people who disagree with the State get sent to “re-education camps” AKA prison. I believe all people have the right to voice their opinion, even if I disagree with what they say! However, groups do not have the right to cause physical harm to others. Many of the college protests at Berkeley have resulted in vandalism. This crosses the line. #Pray2020

Popular vs. Electoral College

On this issue, I have to side with the electoral college. Do we want large cities like New York, Miami and LA will choose every president? Citizens living in Montana or Oklahoma will not bother to cast a vote because it won’t matter. However, I do believe the winner-take-all for the state’s electoral casting could be updated. Again, dissenting voices are silenced with this system. #Pray2020

CHEATERS!

Nobody likes a cheater. Nobody likes a sore loser either. If people suspect cheating, the legitimacy of the results comes to question. Remember the hanging chad controversy of the 1990’s? If not, the state of Florida had to recount thousands of votes. This was back when we used a stylus to punch out our choice. In the process of the recount, some of the punches got damaged and it was unclear who people voted for. #Pray2020

Project Veritas just came out with video from Google. It looks like the search engine is trying to shape the outcome of the election by manipulating the results of searches online.

Who is allowed to vote?

  • Dead people? Rumors have been circulating for years how thousands of deceased individuals cast ballots.
  • Convicted felons? Once someone completes his/her probation, should voting rights be restored?
  • Illegal immigrants? The debate rages on as to who should be allowed to vote. Recently, Congress approved voting rights for illegal immigrants.
  • Citizens without photo IDs? I have to show my ID to buy cold medicine or board a plane. Is it really too much to ask? #Pray2020
Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood

It’s spiritual warfare

Unfortunately, many of us (myself included) separate politics from spirituality. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6). The real puppet master is Satan! The only way to defeat him is through the Word of God and with prayer. That is why we need to start the #Pray2020. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are at stake! The new religion is humanism and the savior is government.

The silencing the voices of people of faith is in the “air”. This is why we need to pray for this upcoming election. This is why we need to encourage each other to pray for our country with #Pray2020. People on both sides of the political aisle both want peace and unity. We need to be specific in our prayers. Encourage others to act in fair ways and report those who do otherwise. Only if voters feel the election is fair and ethical can we abide by the final vote count. Prayers need to be lifted for our leaders to act in ways that are moral and ethical. The very existence of our country is at stake. Pray for our nation and pray often #Pray2020.

Feb 26

3 Reasons NOT to Pray

prayHave you prayed today? Why? Is it because you ought to or because you want to? Is it because you WANT something? What if it were true there are 3 reasons not to pray–legitimate ones? Remember that the Christian life is all about FREEDOM! The old covenant was all about rules and regulations, 613 to be exact. Following those rules was how people showed love and devotion to God. We should still follow some of those rules like the familiar ones in the 10 Commandments because they keep us safe and give blessings. Thankfully we don’t have to follow rules like milk and meat don’t touch. Many of us would be heartbroken to think that eating a cheeseburger could hamper our Christian walk! But what are these 3 reasons not to pray?

  1. God knows what we need before we ask. Matthew 6:8 Are you kidding me? Jesus made this statement in the section about the Lord’s Prayer. You might have missed that phrase in verse 8. Jesus was setting up the model of how we ought to pray. So why would He make a statement like the one in verse 8 and then show us how to pray?
    1. Prayer expresses our trust in Him. While we don’t need to pray, we get to pray. When we cry out to God, we are showing we trust Him with our lives and not merely saying it. We are showing we genuinely trust God, His wisdom, His plan, His sovereignty over our lives.
    2. Fellowship with God. Can you believe the God of the universe wants to be your friend? Prayer is the vehicle by which we can have this friendship with Him. But prayer needs to be more that just a quick sentence or two in the morning or before a meal, it should be an ongoing dialogue throughout the day. He’s always with us. Don’t shut Him out!
    3. He allows us to be involved in eternally significant activities. Wow! Have you ever stopped to think about that? I’m thinking about when we pray for someone struggling whether physically or spiritually. We are fighting for that person’s very soul! Doing battle in the heavenlies! Have you ever read This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti? He does an excellent job at portraying what happens in the spiritual realm when Christians pray. It’s like our prayers empower the angels to fight for good! This is what our prayers do–push back the enemy!!
  2. Get out of Jail free. Is this the way you see prayer? A cry when nothing else works but then you turn away again when life settles down. In the book of Revelation, we are warned about being this type of follower of Christ. They are called lukewarm followers, not hot and not cold. In Revelation 3:16 it says Jesus will vomit those types of believers out. Ouch! Verse 17 shows these lukewarm followers are wealthy, in need of nothing physically. Sounds like most Americans doesn’t it? But Jesus’ response in verse 17 is to say, “hey, you think you have it all but in reality you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.” Jesus is looking at us spiritually. At the end of days, all will be burned. Only that which withstands the fire will be proven worthy and will last. Revelation 3:18-21  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
  3. Study and not prayer is the highest form of worship. When we pray we speak to God. When we study God speaks to us. This is one of my favorite quotes from the book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Ann Spangler. In my own prayer life, I’ve stopped by endless cries. The Holy Spirit has convicted my heart that when I constantly pray about a particular unpleasant situation in my life, it is like being in a conversation with someone who has diarrhea of the mouth! Point 1 says God knows what I need before I utter the prayer. Every once in awhile I gently offer it up in prayer but I don’t harp on it like I used to.
    1. The Bible is God speaking to us. Isn’t that what we really want to know? What does Jesus say about a particular situation. So many times the answer we seek is for God to take the hurt and difficulty away.
    2. Read this excerpt from Hebrews 12…In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

      “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
          and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
      because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
          and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

      Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it

Focus on this promise of righteousness and peace that come from being trained by hardship. Jesus, Himself, endured hardship and allowed Himself to be trained by it. If our Lord and Savior did it then so can we. As we push through the pain, lean into the Word, let it become a part of you.

So, if I’ve convinced you there are 3 reasons not to pray, what now? Should we all stop praying? No. But I do believe we need to change how we pray.

I’ve been studying different aspect of Judaism for years now. In the past year, I discovered a book of prayer, one that Jews have used for centuries. It’s called a Siddur, the Jewish book of prayer. In it are all of the prayers Jewish people recite for all types of festivals, blessings, and prayers for all of Jewish life. As I’ve studied the book there are a few things I’ve noticed.

Jewish prayer is about praise and not supplication. In my opinion, 99% of the prayers they utter are in praise and remembrance to God. Only 1% is requests. Now I may be exaggerating a little but the difference is staggering. Jews have been praying in this manner for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. Jesus would have prayed like this. They knew the principle in point 1 that God knows what we need before we ask it. They know that prayer allows us to enter into fellowship with God and shows we trust Him and His plans for us. Prayer i.e. praise–Jehovah Nissi the Lord is my banner. Moses named the altar this after the Amalekites were defeated in Exodus 17. When we praise God, His presence goes before us to fight our battles.

 

As I read through the Siddur, I’m struck with how much praise they give for every minute detail of their lives. Here’s little tidbit you probably didn’t know. We all know we should say a short prayer of gratitude before we eat a meal. Well, Jews pray before and after a meal! They have a complete and utter desire to praise God in all aspects of their lives, so much so, it is their goal to praise God at least 100 times a day!! If we all spent that much time getting in our praises, there wouldn’t be any time left to send up those whiny prayers for deliverance. God knows what we need before we ask, Matthew 6:8.

Forgive me for calling yours and my typical prayers whinny. It’s harsh, I know, but true unfortunately. When you get to the heart of our typical prayers, we pray because we WORRY. My prayers for deliverance, to make the hurt stop, for salvation for loved ones, for provision, are all wrapped up in worry.

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.