Archive for May, 2007

School of Prayer – 13: Why Fast?

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

‘Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible to you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting’—MATT. xvii. 19-21.

I don’t know about you, but these words of Jesus often come to mind when thinking about some of the great challenges we seek to overcome through prayer. Just last night I was having tea with some friends in Auckland, NZ (we have “tea” in NZ). During the course of the evening, the hostess mentioned how fasting had brought about signficant changes for one of their children, and that perhaps they should be fasting again for other members of the family.

Those were sage words and certainly sanctioned by the One who continually intercedes in heaven.

Many are confused about prayer and fasting. Is it about gaining greater merit and “forcing” God’s hand, or is it about focusing in a greater way on prayer. I strong believe it is the latter, as affirmed by Andrew Murray. Note:

“Prayer is the reaching out after God and the unseen; fasting, the letting go of all that is of the seen and temporal. While ordinary Christians imagine that all that is not positively forbidden and sinful is lawful to them, and seek to retain as much as possible of this world, with its property, its literature, its enjoyments, the truly consecrated soul is as the soldier who carries only what he needs for the warfare. Laying aside every weight, as well as the easily besetting sin, afraid of entangling himself with the affairs of this life, he seeks to lead a Nazarite life, as one specially set apart for the Lord and His service. Without such voluntary separation, even from what is lawful, no one will attain power in prayer: this kind goeth not out but by fasting and prayer.” Andrew Murray

It is important to note that fasting DOESN’T somehow convince God to overlook the hindering factors in our lives and give the answer anyway. No, if we are harboring things in our lives that God cannot condone and He has convicted us in their regard, we need to make sure we address those things first, then fast, for all the fasting of the world will not make for our not obeying God.

In this regard note the following: “When Lord Palmerston, premier of England, was petitioned by the Scottish clergy to appoint a day of fasting and prayer to avert the cholera, he replied, “Cleanse and disinfect your streets and houses, promote cleanliness and health among the poor, and see that they are plentifully supplied with good food and raiment, and employ right sanitary measures generally, and you will have no occasion to fast and pray.” (CTBH 106) I think the same thing could be said of many things in our day.

I hope you will read the rest of Murray’s chapter and take the lesson to heart. I hope I will do the same. I believe there are many things that still only go out by way of prayer and fasting.

Find the rest of the article at path2prayer.com

Prevailing Prayer Brings House Sale

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

The following testimony regarding the sale of a home was recently sent to me. Needless to say, the story is exciting and wonderfully affirming of the way the Lord works. However, I was additionally pleased that the pastor sharing the story related how his life had been so blessed in reading the book “With Christ in the School of Prayer.” He felt Murray’s book was the best he had ever read on prayer, and I wholeheartedly concur!

His Testimony:

Our house was becoming way too small. What had served us well as a newly married couple, now had to accommodate our two boys (4 and 1) as well. On top of this, our love for having church family over for meals and gatherings was tempered by the practical limitations of such a small home (72square metres, 3 bedrooms!).

We began to pray about this. If God could use a larger house for his glory, we would love for him to lead the way.

We shared our thoughts with Christia’s parents, who agreed to pray about it. In time they shared with us that they would be able to contribute a certain amount. We estimated what we might be able to get for our current house, and the search for our ministry home began. After some weeks, I remember Christia coming home ready to despair. “I just cant find what we’re looking for in our price range!” A friend at church introduced us to Jack, their local real estate agent, who in the coming days showed Christia through a lovely place that fitted our needs perfectly. Christia came home and told me “I think I’ve found our house!!”. At it’s first open home we put our offer in. We hadn’t even listed our current house, but felt so strongly that this new house was the one, that we put in an offer, believing that there was little or no chance of us winning it. A few phone calls later and a small alteration to our original offer and the vendor accepted our offer. Our real estate agent later told us that we bought at a VERY good price.

Speaking with our vendor after the sale, she said to me, “Jack told us that you are a church pastor – can I ask which church?” I told her I pastored an Adventist church. “You mean a Seventh-day Adventist church?” “Yes, that’s right.” I said. “You wont believe this,” she went on, “I have been praying with my best friend for the right people to buy our family home, and she is also a Seventh-day Adventist!” How wonderfully he leads!

Our prayers were now in earnest for the sale of our little home! We knew what we had bought for, we knew what we could expect from our parents, which left us with an exact dollar figure that we would rely on for the sale of our home. We asked our prayer leader at the church to join us in asking God if He would sell our house for this amount. We needed no more, and we needed no less.

We put our house on trademe (the NZ equivalent to e-bay) and waited. Our first few open homes passed without much interest. We were becoming weary and anxious, and found ourselves needing to confront our own faith in God. We finally surrendered our house to God and asked that He take over. We agreed not to worry, only to trust. The very next open home was literally crawling with interested people. At one point there were eight couples inside our house at the same time and others even told us they would come back when it wasn’t so busy!

Within days we had a young couple make an offer. As we talked with them, we agreed on a price that we were all happy with – it was the exact amount we had prayed for! They told us they were Christians too, and after signing the paperwork, we paused to pray together and asked God to bless ‘their’ new home.

As if that wasn’t enough, another offer came in just a few days later for the same amount! I should add that Jack was extremely pleased for us, and the amount we got for the house. We shared with him a little of our story with God. I pray that he was encouraged to believe.

Our new home is now a ministry home – it is put to good use every week with small groups, lunches, meetings, and prayer gatherings. We praise God for His abundant provision and pray that He will continue to involve us in what HE is doing. Not for us, but for Him.

Learn more about prayer at path2prayer.com

School of Prayer – 12: Exercise Faith In …?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

‘Jesus, answering, said unto them, Have faith in God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what He saith cometh to pass; he shall have it. Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them.’-MARK xi. 22-24.

The question arises, if we are to pray so specifically that we will recognize the answer when it comes, how can we obtain the faith to not only read the promise, but also take it as ours. Murray addresses this question in the next reading when he reminds us that we are to have faith in God and not doubt.

Easier said then done, you say. Yes! We all struggle a bit with faith, but often we struggle where the battle isn’t. Often we struggle to drum up confident feelings in our hearts, and feel like the words expressed in prayer need to somehow also indicate the right amount and the right kind of faith that will…, well we are not sure what faith is suppose to do, but we know we need to have faith. Apparently faith is not only the “substance of things unseen,” but also often the substance of things misunderstood in prayer! You know what I mean.

Andrew Murray points out in “With Christ in the School of Prayer” that this faith comes as a result of the time spent in the presence of God, and our seeing and hearing the promises of God for ourselves. Somehow, in the context of relationship, the faith, which by the way, isn’t about us at all, but about the one making the promises, comes which can appropriate as ours that which we can’t appropriate otherwise.

It is also about our so believing the words of the one making the promise, that we believe He will really grant that which he promised.

Here is what Murray says:

“When faith now is in full exercise as eye and ear, as the faculty of the soul by which we see and hear God, then it will be able to exercise its full power as hand and mouth, by which we appropriate God and His blessing. The power of reception will depend entirely on the power of spiritual perception. For this reason Jesus said, ere He gave the promise that God would answer believing prayer: ‘HAVE FAITH IN GOD.’ Faith is simply surrender: I yield myself to the impression the tidings I hear make on me. By faith I yield myself to the living God. His glory and love fill my heart, and have the mastery over my life. Faith is fellowship; I give myself up to the influence of the friend who makes me a promise, and become linked to him by it. And it is when we enter into this living fellowship with God Himself, in a faith that always sees and hears Him, that it becomes easy and natural to believe His promise as to prayer.”

Now go and bask in God’s presence, and let faith grow in you…today!

Read the rest of this reading on faith at path2prayer.com.

School of Prayer – 11: ALL Things!

Monday, May 28th, 2007

‘Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them.’-MARK xi. 24

I like the sound of “all things”! and freely admit that I have often reminded the Lord and encouraged others that God has given us that little clause as a precious gift!

The trouble is that though we have been promised all things, either we don’t know how to ask for them correctly, or He isn’t choosing to respond. What gives?

Well, actually when you get serious about prayer, you discover there are a few things, which if properly understood, can bring about answers-and we’ll get to them eventually.

However, the first issue is faith and being confident that God really means “all things”! As you will find in this reading, Murray is convinced that God not only means “all things” but He means to exercise that clause on a regular basis.

Notice what Murray says:

“Faith is so wholly the work of God’s Spirit through His word in the prepared heart of the believing disciple, that it is impossible that the fulfillment should not come; faith is the pledge and forerunner of the coming answer. Yes, ‘ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye receive.’ The tendency of human reason is to interpose here, and with certain qualifying clauses, ‘if expedient,’ ‘if according to God’s will,’ to break the force of a statement which appears dangerous. O let us beware of dealing thus with the Master’s words. His promise is most literally true. He wants His oft repeated ‘ALL THINGS’ to enter into our hearts, and reveal to us how mighty the power of faith is, how truly the Head calls the members to share with Him in His power, how wholly our Father places His power at the disposal of the child that wholly trusts Him.”

Like I said, I like the sound of “all things” and I like it even more after reading Andrew Murray’s thoughts on the subject. You can read them as well at path2prayer.com.

Read the rest of the short chapter at path2prayer.com and then begin dreaming, with God, about what the “all things” may mean in your life.

School of Prayer -10: Be Definite

Monday, May 28th, 2007

“What wilt thou?” Luke 18:41

I have already stated that in my estimation there is no better book on prayer! Years ago, when I was desperate for answers, I began reading Murray’s book “With Christ in the School of Prayer” and began immediataely applying whatever I learned. I began to experience answers to prayer that I had not previously thought possible! Time after time, following Murray’s directions, the most amazing things happened.

One morning I read how we should pray very specifically. The reasons, as I understood them, were two-fold: 1. God prefers to answer specific prayer, and 3. Being specific allows us to recognize the answer when it comes.

Regarding the first point, though I know God sometimes answers prayers without our hardly making a request, and sometimes when we don’t even know how to pray, most of the time God answers in response to specific prayer. I have personally come to know that and most people who are serious about prayer discover the same thing.

Regarding the second point, it helps us recognize answers when they come-I have come to realize it is also true.

One particular morning when I was already well along the path in my own journey to learn about prayer, I was needing to find a place to rent. My home had sold, the closing date was rapidly approaching, and I still had not found a place to live. Though I knew I was moving, personal circumstances dictated that I remain in the same area for another three months.

Well, having learned the importance of praying specifically and writing it down to recognize the answer when it came, I drew up the following list:

1. A condo (for those of you outside of the US, a condo generally means a two story house with a basement that is connected to other houses in a long row).

2. Plenty of bedrooms (I needed multiple bedrooms since the girls would be with me during those three months).

3. A quiet place to work (I worked from home and needed a place where outside noises would not interfere with the many telephone conversations that would be taking place).

4. A garage to store things (I wasn’t planing to stay, so I wanted to store my stuff in my own garage instead of moving them into the house).

5. Monthly rent of $600/month.

About a week later as I recall, I was at a store that had just opened up, and ran into another church member who was also there for the first time. we began talking and eventually conversed about my pending move and need for a place to live. “Why don’t you live with us,” she quiried? “Sorry,” I answered, “You have kids and so do I. It wouldn’t be appropriate!” “No,” We are moving to a house and need someone to rent our condo. We’d like you to live there!” “Really,” I responded. “Tell me more?”

She continued talking and described a condo with plenty of bedrooms, a basement with poured concrete walls, and a garage-as she put it “You can even park your car in the garage.”

She didn’t know anything about what I had written down on my list, so I was listening with great interest!

“What about the rent?” I asked. There followed a long “pregnant” pause as she pondered what she wanted to charge for rent. “How would you feel about $600 per month for rent?” she asked.

“I think it would be great!”

Needless to say, I knew that God had clearly answered my very specific prayer, and-because I had written it down-I also knew that the condo was His choice for my next dwelling.

Here is the paragraph that brought me that answer to prayer:

“There is now still many a suppliant to whom the Lord puts the same question, and who cannot, until it has been answered, get the aid he ask. Our prayers must not be a vague appeal to His mercy, an indefinite cry for blessing, but the distinct expression of definite need. Not that His loving heart does not understand our cry, or is not ready to hear. But He desires it for our own sakes. Such definite prayer teaches us to know our own needs better. It demands time, and thought, and self-scrutiny to find out what really is our greatest need. It searches us and puts us to the test as to whether our desires are honest and real, such as we are ready to persevere in. It leads us to judge whether our desires are according to God’s Word, and whether we really believe that we shall receive the things we ask. It helps us to wait for the special answer, and to mark it when it comes.”

Are you ready to pray specifically? I hope so. It will make all the difference in obtaining answers.

Now I have to share one other thing with you. Some people don’t want God to have the last word, and so they fear to write down their request, lest He disagree and not give them what they want. Yes, I know it sounds like the “obedience” thing, but it really is all about trust!

Read the rest of this chapter at path2prayer.com.

School of Prayer – 9: Pray For Laborers

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Jesus never told us to pray about the harvest, only about laborers being sent to gather the harvest. Funny how we seem to forget that the harvest being gathered in depends on God sending out laborers, and God sending out laborers depends on our prayers. Notice what Andrew Murray said on this account:

How little Christians really feel and mourn the need of laborers in the fields of the world so white to the harvest. And how little they believe that our labor-supply depends on prayer, that prayer will really provide ‘as many as he needeth.’ Not that the dearth of labor is not known or discussed. Not that efforts are not sometimes put forth to supply the want. But how little the burden of the sheep wandering without a Shepherd is really borne in the faith that the Lord of the harvest will, in answer to prayer, send forth the laborers, and in the solemn conviction that without this prayer fields ready for reaping will be left to perish. And yet it is so. So wonderful is the surrender of His work into the hands of His Church, so dependent has the Lord made Himself on them as His body, through whom alone His work can be done, so real is the power which the Lord gives His people to exercise in heaven and earth, that the number of the laborers and the measure of the harvest does actually depend upon their prayer. Solemn thought! O why is it that we do not obey the injunction of the Master more heartily, and cry more earnestly for laborers? There are two reasons for this….”

Read the rest of this chapter at path2prayer.com and join me praying that God WILL send out laborers into the harvest!

Godly Enthusiasm-I Want This Kind!

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

I want this kind of enthusiasm!

“Oh, for an enthusiasm for Christ that will not endure to be popular where He is unpopular; that will be fired rather than quenched when His claims are unrecognized and His Word is slighted; that will thrill us with joy if He allows us to share in the faintest degree in His dishonor and loneliness; that will set every pulse throbbing with exultation as we go forth . . . unto him.” Lilias Trotter

Learn more about living enthusiastically for Christ at path2prayer.com

School of Prayer – 8 Are You God’s Friend?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

What does it mean to be God’s friend? Does that mean to spend lots of time with Him? Does it mean to be focused on Him to the exclusion of others? Does it mean to be concerned about the things He is concerned about? It means all of these and more!

What does it mean to pray as God’s friend? Andrew Murray responds to this question in the eighth reading of his book. Notice this excerpt:

“But then we must be living as His friends. I am still a child even when a wanderer; but friendship depends upon the conduct. ‘Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.’ ‘Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and he was called the friend of God.’ It is the Spirit, ‘the same Spirit,’ that leads us that also bears witness to our acceptance with God; ‘likewise, also,’ the same Spirit helpeth us in prayer. It is a life as the friend of God that gives the wonderful liberty to say: I have a friend to whom I can go even at midnight. And how much more when I go in the very spirit of that friendliness, manifesting myself the very kindness I look for in God, seeking to help my friend as I want God to help me. When I come to God in prayer, He always looks to what the aim is of my petition. If it be merely for my own comfort or joy I seek His grace, I do not receive. But if I can say that it is that He may be glorified in my dispensing His blessings to others, I shall not ask in vain. Or if I ask for others, but want to wait until God has made me so rich, that it is no sacrifice or act of faith to aid them, I shall not obtain. But if I can say that I have already undertaken for my needy friend, that in my poverty I have already begun the work of love, because I know I had a friend Who would help me, my prayer will be heard. Oh, we know not how much the plea avails: the friendship of earth looking in its need to the friendship of heaven: ‘He will give him as much as he needeth.’”

Read thee rest of this chapter at path2prayer.com.

School of Prayer – 7 Seeking “Much More”

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Have you ever noticed how the promises in one book of the Bible are delineated in greater detail in another book of the Bible? For example the very familiar promise of Matthew 6:7,8, “Ask and it shall be given,” seems broad and is often claimed in a general way for whatever is needed. However, over in Luke it is given a particular sense having to do with obtaining spiritual blessings to share with another person (Luke 11:5-8).

The same is true when we read the “How much more” promise. Notice what Andrew Murray says on this subject:

“IN the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord had already given utterance to His wonderful HOW MUCH MORE? Here in Luke, where He repeats the question, there is a difference. Instead of speaking, as then of giving good gifts, He says, ‘How much more shall the heavenly Father give THE HOLY SPIRIT?’ He thus teaches us that the chief and the best of these gifts is the Holy Spirit, or rather, that in this gift all others are comprised The Holy Spirit is the first of the Father’s gifts, and the one He delights most to bestow. The Holy Spirit is therefore the gift we ought first and chiefly to seek.”

I wonder if we sufficiently value the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to make it the first and chief object of our prayers? Do you think this may be one of the reasons we find our lives so powerless?

Read more of what Andrew Murray says on the subject at path2prayer.com

School of Prayer – 6: Praying to Our Father

Monday, May 21st, 2007

What does it mean to pray in a “child-like” manner? How does knowing that we pray to the best Father in all the universe impact our praying? How do we come into a relationship with Him, where all His “more than able” benefits become abundantly available? Andrew Murray speaks to these issues in the following paragraph taken from the sixth chapter of his book “With Christ In the School of Prayer”:

“This is the one chief thought on which Jesus dwells here, and which He would have all His scholars take in. He would have us see that the secret of effectual prayer is: to have the heart filled with the Father-love of God. It is not enough for us to know that God is a Father: He would have us take time to come under the full impression of what that name implies. We must take the best earthly father we know; we must think of the tenderness and love with which he regards the request of his child, the love and joy with which he grants every reasonable desire; we must then, as we think in adoring worship of the infinite Love and Fatherliness of God, consider with how much more tenderness and joy He sees us come to Him, and gives us what we ask aright. And then, when we see how much this Divine arithmetic is beyond our comprehension, and feel how impossible it is for us to apprehend God’s readiness to hear us, then He would have us come and open our heart for the Holy Spirit to shed abroad God’s Father-love there. Let us do this not only when we want to pray, but let us yield heart and life to dwell in that love. The child who only wants to know the love of the father when he has something to ask, will be disappointed. But he who lets God be Father always and in everything, who would fain live his whole life in the Father’s presence and love, who allows God in all the greatness of His love to be a Father to him, oh! he will experience most gloriously that a life in God’s infinite Fatherliness and continual answers to prayer are inseparable.”

Read the rest of the chapter at path2prayer.com