The Problem with Prayer

Philippians 4:6-7 (6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

My favorite book, when I was a little girl, was a Sesame Street book entitled I can do it Myself. The characters tell about activities they’ve learned how to do on their own - like cleaning up and getting dressed. Over the years I’ve embodied much of that message, learning how to do things on my own, for myself, without asking or needing help. And that’s where I discovered the problem with prayer.

The problem with prayer is this: me. I fail to recognize that the God who created the universe wants to commune with me and wants to speak to me through His Holy Spirit. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. . . the great I AM . . .isn’t surprised by what I say nor does he tire of my incessant questions, and He’s not disappointed in my shortcomings either. Yet I fail to bring Him my burdens - and I know I’m not alone in this. You do it, too.

Our God is faithful, patient, kind. He is the same faithful God who kept allowing Abraham’s “but if there are only 50 [45, 30, 20, 10] faithful in Sodom, will you not destroy it?” (Genesis 18:24) He didn’t yell at Abraham for his questions, and He won’t yell at us either. He wants us to draw near to Him (James 4:8a)! That verse even goes on to say, “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

The “wavering in mind” (that of a double-minded person) can only be countered by setting our hearts and minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-2). By setting our hearts and minds on things above, we take ourselves out of the equation. We focus our hearts and minds back to our faithful God who never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:4) and who is over all and in all (Ephesians 4:6).

I can’t do it myself, and neither can you. But God can! And when we come to Him in prayer, He’ll give us His peace which will guards our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Prayer: Father, thank you for loving us enough to hear our questions and concerns. Thank you for hearing us. Calm our anxious thoughts, Lord; please give us your peace that surpasses our own understanding. Thank you for guarding our hearts and minds when we submit our prayers and petitions to you. Help us not to have wavering minds but to focus on your goodness and faithfulness. We ask for renewed minds and a desire to commune with you throughout the day. We can't do it on our own, God. We need You! Thank you, Father. Amen.

  • Devotional by Bonnie Sanford

Sweet, Solid Home

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” - Matthew 7:24-27

A home is only as safe, valuable, and comforting as its foundation. Just like a marriage, a friendship, a job, or a dream. A foundation is the core, the center, the real stuff that you have to trust and lean on when the winds and rains of life hit.

I grew up in Eastern NC and a downside to that part of the state is hurricane season. I remember growing up I knew of these hurricanes well. I remember looking out the windows and seeing the whipping rains and stirring winds, and being completely awed by them, but never afraid of the storms, not even once. My sweet dad would always say, “There is no need to worry, our house is strong and on a hill. The water can’t hurt us.”

Our house is strong and on a hill.

The water can’t hurt us.

Those kind and comforting words put my childlike mind at ease instantaneously. I never doubted that my dad was right and we were safe. I knew we were safe because our foundation was secure. It was unfaltering. My parents built their home and fully trusted it, and as a child, I clung to their trust and made it my own.

When I read this passage in Matthew, it brings me back to being a little girl resting easy in the security of my father and our home. I long for my life to be built with the same security as my childhood home. When I face hopelessness, let my solid home provide a room full of hope. When hit with sorrow, let me walk into my room of boundless joy. When overwhelmed with weariness, let me step into a room of rest and peace. Let us seek to build our lives on the solid foundation of truth.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we fix our eyes, minds, and hearts on you right now. We want to build our lives with and for you. You are the center and core of who we are and want to be. Thank you for being the solid rock upon which we can stand and believe. Holy Spirit, we invite you into every room in this home we are building, this life we are curating. Be our foundation. Be our heartbeat. Be our first and last, and in between. We trust in you, no matter what storms we face. This home and life are built on you and you alone. With joy and hope we pray, Amen.

  • Devotional by Annaliese Thornton

Peace, Confidence, and Strength

Scriptures:

Ephesians 5:15-16  (ESV)

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Colossians 3:17  (ESV)

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Romans 8:26  (ESV)

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

1 Corinthians 12:11  (ESV)

11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

In the hectic pace of life in the 21st century, we can easily become overwhelmed, confused, short-tempered, and worldly. Here is a simple prayer that is meant to bring us back to a place of peace, confidence, and strength.

Prayer: “Lord, I have so much to do, and it is all important. People are depending on me, and so I am relying on You. Help me to not get lost in the dizzying details and frantic pace. Give me wisdom to set priorities, a peacefulness to calm my cohorts, and strength to compensate for my weaknesses. Lord, Help me manage time and resources, so that I can be a good steward. Guide my steps and keep me safe from the cares of this world.” Amen.

  • Devotional by Steve Ruckel

With Eyes of Faith I See

2 Kings 6:15-16 (NIV) “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

I’ve always wanted to be a seer, one who sees what is really going on in the spiritual realm. So far, God hasn’t allowed that to happen. I read both of Blake Healey’s books about his life as a seer and was enthralled with what he did with this gift. Some of my problem may be that my gifts of mercy and exorcism are not compatible with being a seer. Therefore, I walk out my life with faith according to Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

One instance that really helped my faith happened when I read the 2 Kings verse. I received a picture to illustrate it more intimately for me. The song Michael W. Smith sings about being surrounded by the enemy came to mind and God showed me just how He surrounds us. It was an image of God’s presence being laid upon me – kind of like being immersed into paint or covered by a sheet of laminating plastic. It was upon me, touching, being formed by every part of my physical frame, including my hair. There was nothing that could get between God and me. Yes, there may be forces and struggles that are around me on every side but God is still between me and them. The things that want to harm me must go through God first!

How much more do we need to know? We can learn day-by-day or even minute-by-minute about God’s character, but we understand by faith that His presence is always with us. God tells us throughout Scripture that he will never leave us. We have to take that by faith – He said it as a promise that He cannot turn away from. I don’t always see it because my eyes are looking for Him through a different filter, but I can know by faith that He is always there.

“It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you!”

Prayer: “Lord, help me to understand more deeply how you are always with me no matter how my circumstances may try to convince me otherwise. You have promised it is so and I believe it--again for the now and future of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

When I am weak, then I am strong

1 Corinthians 4:6-7 (ESV) “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

Have you ever wanted to mow your neighbor’s lawn, just for fun? Probably not. Why? Because it’s not yours. It doesn't belong to you. You didn’t pay for it, so you're not responsible for it.

Why then, do we try to take on the full weight of what God has given to us by grace and purchased for us by his Son’s blood? What I have from God has been purchased for me. I didn’t earn a single good thing that God gave me. If that’s the case, then I am not responsible for maintaining any level of righteousness on my own strength.

Isaiah 46:3-4 says,

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”

My identity is not my responsibility to maintain or define. It has been created by God and redeemed by the blood of Jesus. God, who created it, will sustain it.

My spiritual vitality is not dependent on my performance. Even disciplines like prayer, worship, and reading Scripture are all simply a means of positioning myself to receive his grace and empowerment -- which has already been purchased for me.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay...”

In Jesus, there’s no pressure for you to be anything other than who you already are -- a new creation. My weakness does not disqualify me. Rather, my weakness perfectly positions me to receive grace -- the only thing that is powerful enough to enable me to walk out the call of God on my life. I don’t have to pretend that I am anything “better” than what I am. I don’t have to put up a facade for others.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Prayer: "Jesus, thank you that you are enough for me. I ask for you to reveal your grace to me in a new and fresh way, and to remove the temptation to measure up in my own strength. I receive your grace and empowerment to walk out Your calling on my life."

  • Devotional by Adam Baldwin

Let Your Roots Run Deep

Mathew 6:1-13 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Prayer

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you needbefore you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.”

These verses are just a short passage from the sermon on the mount, the best sermon ever taught. In this passage, Jesus is revealing to us how rewarding it is to live for the presence and pleasure of God instead of the praises of man. I love how God is never calling us to do anything that He hasn’t done himself. Jesus taught, healed and prayed in front of so many people, yet you see Him constantly prioritizing getting alone with his father over and over. Our secret life with God is like the root system of our life ... Our roots are how we intake nutrients allowing us to grow and stand tall and firm, yet they are underground and unseen by most. I believe that God is calling us as a body to grow our unseen life with Him, especially in the place of prayer, because He wants to be with us and reward us openly! He wants to fill our branches with fruit, but the only way to bear fruit is to abide in him. In this season of prayer we will be having plenty of context for corporate prayer together, which is incredibly important, but in the midst of this season of praying together let’s remember to get in our rooms.. alone.. and “pray to our Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

Activation: Make time today to be alone with God. Unpack your heart and prayers, and ask Him what’s on His heart.

  • Devotional by Ian Thornton

Pray Without Ceasing

“Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

That’s it. Pray without ceasing. I used to struggle with this command all the time! I mean I pray for my meals, usually if I’m not too tired I pray in the morning when I wake up and almost always say my prayers as I drift off to sleep each night. That’s enough right? God knows how busy I am. I want to spend more time in prayer, but life just gets so full. God has grace on me thankfully. But there it is right there: pray without ceasing. Did God just give me an impossible command? There’s got to be a better answer.

There is a better answer. As I’ve learned with so many other things in the kingdom of God by walking through the fires of sanctification (a lot of times whether I want to or not), this short but powerful phrase, is not a command at all but rather an invitation. It takes nothing more than a simple mindset shift to see with my heart what the Father is actually saying instead of what my mind wants to interpret.

It is a glorious invitation into constant and never ceasing communion with him. How do we build a deeper relationship with others? We do it through communication, through union and with time invested. In accepting the invitation, we never have to experience a moment without the Father, we acknowledge that our lives and our thoughts and our minds are not our own and we are ever in union with the trinity and they are at the same time in union with us. Prayer is not an activity that we must do all the time, it is a continuous embrace that we get to enjoy, if we have the courage to receive it.

The mindset shift is indeed simple, but it can also be intimidating. It is easy to view this verse as a command that relies on my strength, my control, and my ability to accomplish. I don’t have to trust anything outside of myself, right? In fact it is another thing altogether. I have to abandon the reliance on myself and my own sense of control. But what is life, what is true relationship without risk and trust? And we know that God is trustworthy and He is good. So the real question is... In the light of His character that’s steadfast and unchanging, will we let ourselves be vulnerable and accept the Lord’s invitation to pray without ceasing?

Prayer: Father I thank you that you’re always with me and you never leave me. Help me have strength and the courage to open myself to your invitation to live in constant union with me. I receive your love and I trust you with all that I am. Help my life to exist in the place of prayer without ceasing.

  • Devotional by George Gilliland

Know God's Way

Proverbs 4:10 “My son, if you will take the time to stop and listen to me and embrace what I say, you will live a long and happy life full of understanding in every way.” (The Passion Translation)

I love to knit! I really enjoy being creative in this way. How about you? How do express your creativity? I had a situation that taught me a spiritual lesson through this hobby.

I saw an ad for yarn on sale and a pattern for the cutest string beach bag. Deciding that I would like to have this bag, I bravely determined to branch out of knitting and crochet this project. How hard could it be?

The project started off great. Along the way, I would hold up my work so as to gauge how straight and long it was. So, by the time I stitched a strip of 30 rows of lace stitches, there should have been only 5 more rows until I finished. I laid it out to see the work overall. Wow! Instead of a rectangle, there was a ragged kind of parallelogram! I almost cried. I didn’t understand how it could have gone so wrong while I was following the directions so closely. The only thing to do was to unravel it, ball the yarn back up and start at the place where the stitches went out of alignment.

I often see spiritual truths in my everyday experiences so, I looked to see what was going on here. It became very apparent and, you might see the analogy yourself.

I saw my project as a Christian’s life that is based on the Bible and Scriptural teaching. Somewhere along the way, maybe early-on, the influence of our society comes to us with a “new” way to think about how we apply the guidelines of the Bible. It’s not so far off that we recognize it as a wrong direction but, it gets a foothold in our thoughts and we carry it out. That’s where we should immediately take it to God for clarification. It’s not a matter of whether it is “right for me” but, what God and the Scripture say about it. Without discernment or correction by the Holy Spirit, we find our lives becoming ragged and out of alignment with the Word.

Can you see anything in your life that needs to be unraveled and reworked into your life’s fabric with the supervision of Holy Spirit? Let’s lay out our lives to allow God, as our Lord and Master, to root out the “wicked way in us” and teach us any new ways of thinking about His Kingdom.

Prayer: “Lord, I want to follow you without the influence of the world in my life. Give me discernment to know what is from you and what I should turn away from. My greatest desire is to live happily with more understanding of you and your ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

  • Devotional by Kay Cook

Intimacy with God

Prayer is the path for nurturing intimacy with God. It is how we successfully express and received love from God. All vertical relationships with persons of the Godhead, when there is any degree of intimacy at all, involve prayer.

Did you know that those who have a strong prayer life experience more intimacy in their human relationships, especially their marriage? When we become practiced in our ability to love God through prayer, we, in turn, grow in our ability to express and receive love from all of our relationships, spiritual and human. Your prayer life directly connects to your human relationships! I used to compartmentalize prayer as only a “spiritual practice”, but I have received the revelation that prayer creates a positive change in all my relationships. Practice intimacy with God and watch all your relationships grow and become more healthy!

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Prayer: Father God, I love You. I am so thankful for the love You show me. I truly want to know you more! I pray that You would increase my capacity to express and receive love in all my relationships, especially with you. Thank you God for the pure love that flows so freely from your heart to me. I choose you Lord. I choose to be vulnerable with you, to process the deepest places in my heart with you. I hold nothing back from you. Help me to live with a heart that is free to be transparent and trusting as I open up my life to you and others. I pray that the fruit of my relationship with you would spread to every relationship in my life. I pray that you would bring healing and life to all that I interact with this week. Amen.

  • Devotional by Pastor Matt Ruckel

Don't Give Up!

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1 NIV)

It’s significant that Jesus shared a parable specifically designed to encourage His disciples to persevere in prayer. The prayer that precedes breakthrough is often a costly prayer – a process of praying through opposition on every front – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is a perfect example – “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”

Our salvation was secured when Jesus persevered in prayer. When faced with the greatest challenge of His earthly existence, Jesus turned to His Father in prayer and pressed through until He received the strength to endure the cross. His breakthrough opened the door for our breakthrough! Jesus calls us to a lifestyle of prayer (“always pray”) and perseverance (“not give up”). Simply put, prayer + perseverance = breakthrough.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the example of your Son and the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside us. We yield ourselves fully to you. Pray your prayers through us and give us the strength and grace to persevere. In Jesus’s mighty Name!

  • Devotional by Lindsay Reed

Prayer of Surrender

Luke 22:42 ESV “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Sometimes when we as God for direction He tells us something we don’t want to hear. Sometimes even when we don’t ask, God tells us to do something that we don’t want to. It may be something uncomfortable, it might be something difficult, or it might be something crazy, but if you are sure that it is coming from God then you know it is something you should obey. It’s in these times that we have to surrender to the Father’s will, letting go of what we want in favor of what God has in store for us. Surrender is hard, and often God’s way doesn’t make sense to our earthly minds, or it conflicts with the grand plans that we have developed for ourselves.

Surrendering to God requires complete trust. It takes faith to step out into the unknown, and thankfully we can pray to the Holy Spirit and ask for his help. When our wants and desires don’t match up with God’s will for our lives, we can pray a simple prayer of submission. Jesus set the example for us when he prayed to the Father on the Mount of Olives the night before his crucifixion.

Luke 22:42 ESV “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Jesus prays and pleads with the Father. Like many of us would have been, Jesus was afraid, but despite that, he surrendered to the Father’s will and gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. When God is calling you to do something you don’t want to, simply pray, “Father, not my will, but Your will be done.”

Prayer: Father, I surrender my will to yours today. Help me to trust you, even when things don’t seem to make sense. I know that you are faithful and that your ways are higher than my ways. Give me strength to do your will, Lord. Amen.

  • Devotional by Trent Fuller

What Brings the Rain?

Then Elijah called to the people, “Come over here!” They all crowded around him as he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down. 31 He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel, 32 and he used the stones to rebuild the altar in the name of the Lord. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons.33 He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood.

Then he said, “Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood.”

34 After they had done this, he said, “Do the same thing again!” And when they were finished, he said, “Now do it a third time!” So they did as he said, 35 and the water ran around the altar and even filled the trench. 36 At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. 37 O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”

38 Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!”

40 Then Elijah commanded, “Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don’t let a single one escape!” So the people seized them all, and Elijah took them down to the Kishon Valley and killed them there. 41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”42 So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.

43 Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.”

The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.”

Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. 44 Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.”

Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

45 And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. 46 Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt[e] and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.

- I Kings 18:30-46

There are numerous places in Scripture where passionate, timely prayers became a “HINGE OF HISTORY” swinging open a door to release a beautiful future to God,s people. One of these was Elijah’s confrontation with the controlling force of the Baal religious spirit on Mt. Carmel in northern Israel. Jezebel, as high priestess, had already murdered most of God’s prophets. It was a bleak time. This critical moment was preceded by years of prayer by Elijah and a small godly remnant that are later described as the “7,000”. At this hinge of history a special extra time of prayer was needed to birth a national turning to God. Elijah knelt in a birthing posture on his knees with face on the ground and 7 times (the number of completion) prayed “UNTIL” a cloud of promised revival rain appeared. Rain meant survival. Revival came behind it to renew faith in the true God. And this preserved a future for a nation lost to paganism. WHOA!! Are we talking America here?!!! Thank God for a Lou Engle and a Mike Bickle who pioneered with years of prayer and fasting for this land. BUT NOW LET US SPEND A MONTH PUSHING FOR THAT REVIVAL RIGHT HERE IN HAMPTON ROADS. LETS PRAY UNTIL .......

Prayer: So “Father” hear our cry and fill us with passion to pray UNTIL your purpose and plans for us and for many are made more fully manifest with clear direction and to fulfill the dreams of your heart. AMEN AND AMEN!!!!

  • Devotional by Jerry Cates

Thank Him in the Waiting

Philippians 4:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

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, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I've found that a normal reflex to almost everything in life can be worry instead of prayer. Worry is like a virus that infiltrates the mind, heart, and soul and before you know it your whole world is focused on getting rid of that virus that's telling you everything is not okay. And yes, sometimes things are not okay. But Jesus made a way in the "not okay". So instead of worrying, we are asked to literally PRAY about EVERYTHING. In the waiting, in the storms, in the stillness, in the joy, in the mystery, in the doubts, and even in the worry itself...pray. And with it, give thanks.

I was driving to work one morning and didn't really know what to pray about. It was one of the mundane mornings where I felt kind of blank. The song "Thank You" by Jonathan David Helser happened to be playing in my car at the time. It says, "For all that you've done, and all that you'll do, my heart pours out, thank you." It caught my attention... Does my heart pour out thanks? How easily do I forget how much I've been given? As a response, I just started saying prayers of thanks and gratitude for anything and everything. And immediately it was like my heart gushed open, my mind was set free from the dullness of another day, and my soul woke up and I remembered how good God is.

Thankfulness is the weapon that destroys small-mindedness, breaks discontentment, and launches us back into the reality that we need and want relationship with the Father. Today, let's pray with thankful hearts and let our lives be opened up to the Father's goodness, kindness, and His intentionality with us. He knows, sees, and hears every part of who we are. He's a good dad that knows just what to say. And for that alone, I am so thankful!

Prayer: In addition to the following prayer, I challenge you to give the Father a bouquet of thank you's - 12 things you are thankful to God for today. Father, THANK YOU. Thank you for your Son, Jesus who made a way for us to be close to you and receive your goodness. Thank you Holy Spirit for taking away my loneliness and worry, and instead giving me friendship, hope, and dreams that will change the world. Today, I exchange my worry and doubt, for thankfulness and praise. God I am asking for courage and boldness to pray for the big things, because you are a good Father that loves to dream with me. Specifically, I pray for Big House and that you would show us which door to walk through and that your presence would never leave us as we continue to grow as a church. Thank you again Lord, for all the You've done and all that You'll do. I love you! Amen.

  • Devotional by Liz Montgomery

Keep Believing

But Jesus refused to listen to what they were told and said to the Jewish official, “Don’t yield to fear. All you need to do is to keep on believing.”
— Mark 5:36 The Passion Translation (TPT)

How often do we succumb to fear supposing ourselves to be wise? Scripture has given us instruction to listen to counselors in our decision making and, that, of course, is the better method. However, we must be discerning in all our ways, listening more to the Holy Spirit than man.

I understand what it means to hear from God, although, I also understand what it means to be concerned – maybe even afraid – that you have only expressed your own desires. Confirmation from God, usually through another discerning person, helps settle the matter. But there are times that just isn’t the way it works out.

In this verse, Jairus has brought Jesus to his home to pray for his fatally ill daughter. As they approach the house, the people around him say she has already died – which is the truth! The truth of man is spoken pompously and vehemently all around us. And, since it is the truth, it can’t be wrong, right? But we all have learned that even truth can have a “spin” to it.

The truth of man doesn’t take into effect the next sentence, “But Jesus…!” In this case, Jesus said ‘don’t even listen to them…they don’t know my truth.’ The spiritual realm is unseen yet it impacts us every day, in the big momentous things like life and death and also in the small things like which road to take home. It’s where we meet God in our daily lives and where He can take us higher or where we can remain earthbound. Hear His truth from Him every day – for that day.

As Jesus spoke and told Jairus to be steadfast against fear, He is speaking on two levels (as He often does). Firstly, He wanted Jairus to keep believing in Jesus’ desire and ability to heal even though the initial sight would be a dead child. “Keep believing” was the admonishment. Even though you don’t see the results you wanted or feel like your heart cry wasn’t heard, “keep believing” so I can finish what I am doing. Belief in God is tantamount to seeing the outcome.

Secondly, Jesus was saying that His love would conquer the doubt that would unconsciously enter into Jairus’ mind immediately upon the door being opened. God’s love casts out all fear! That is a truth which is indisputable, but we often experience fear unaware that it has happened. Jesus was telling Jairus that the fear could overwhelm him and how to handle it when it came directly at him.

Thus, Jesus is speaking to each of us also, ‘the fear is coming right at you but you can overcome it by believing in my love for you.’ Maybe it’s not fear in particular that is besieging you; maybe it’s indecision or insecurity or listening to the lies of your heart’s enemy. Name it for what it is – fear – and tell it to leave because you believe in the Almighty God! And then, keep believing.


Prayer: “Father, thank you for your love of me, the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross and the daily guidance of Holy Spirit. Give me grace to identify the fear that tries to overwhelm me and understanding of your incomparable love that you show to me time and time again. I stand up to be counted as your child and know your truth is the ‘whole truth’ for me to live by. I believe you; help me replace the unbelief with your love. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”

  • Devotional by Kay Cook

Your Heavenly Kingdom Come, Father

“But whenever you pray, go into your innermost chamber and be alone with Father God, praying to him in secret. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you should pray: ‘Our Father, dwelling in the heavenly realms, may the glory of your name be the center on which our lives turn. Manifest your kingdom realm, and cause your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth, just as it is fulfilled in heaven. We acknowledge you as our Provider of all we need each day. For you are the King who rules with power and glory forever. Amen.’ “So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly.” Matthew 6:6-10,33

Jesus’ disciples asked their teacher how to pray? The above verses are his answer. They had seen Jesus get alone with His Father daily then, step out and regularly do miracles. They wanted to have what Jesus had and prayer and dependence on the Holy Spirit, was the answer.

The main emphasis we see from Jesus’ words and his ministry is the expression of His Father’s will for all of us. This is, that the Kingdom of God, which exists in heaven, would come and be manifested on the earth.

Another version says it this way, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I grew up praying these words and we prayed them with our children most nights as went to bed.

Because this prayer is so familiar, I believe it has lost its meaning and significance.

Jesus is expressing the absolute desire and will of God the Father -to have the reality of heaven’s realm, which is the Kingdom of God, where the King’s domain operates around His Presence, come to earth. How?

Heaven on earth is possible because Jesus got the keys of authority and dominion back from the devil, which Adam and Eve had given up to him. Authority was regained through His death and resurrection, then He gave it back to us! “All Authority has been given to me!”, Jesus said, then He imparts it to us!

The Kingdom of God is the manifest Presence of God where His Spirit is expressed as righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Spirit. Jesus brought this heavenly reality to mankind to restore God’s initial purpose when he created man, which is intimacy with the Father and man’s dominion here on earth.

Jesus paid for the sin problem, demonic torment, and disease, so that legally we have received, not only salvation, but deliverance, and healing (Greek word for salvation is SOZO means all three). We are now His ambassadors, seated with Jesus in the heavenlies (Eph 2:6). We walk in His power and authority to do what Jesus did which was to preach and demonstrate the Kingdom and make disciples of all nations.

When Jesus came He said, “Repent (change the way you think so you can see), for the Kingdom of heaven is here!"It is in us. Our job as Jesus’ disciples is to obey the Father’s will and see heaven come to earth which looks miracles, signs, and wonders, because there is no sickness, demons, or sin in heaven! When we pray, we co-labor with the Spirit to destroy the works of the enemy and establish the ever-increasing government and domain of Jesus as King on the earth.

Prayer: Lord, we want to follow your instructions on how to pray, so we pray “Your Heavenly Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” “Empower us as your servants…stretch out your hand of power through us to heal and move in signs and wonders by your name!” Acts 4:29,30. We want to do the “greater works” You spoke of, and see the miraculous signs and wonder that are to follow those who believe until the nations of this world become the nations of our God.

“As you seek His Kingdom passionately above all else, He will supply all your needs. Don’t be afraid dear friends, your loving Father joyously gives you His Kingdom realm with all of its promises. “ - Luke 12:31,32

  • Devotional by Lisa Wright

Our Foundation

We never graduate from the place of intimacy. God’s agenda will always remain, it's to reconcile humanity to be one with Him again, through His Son Jesus; to bring us back to the garden where we where naked and unashamed. He wants to awaken us up to the sound of His voice and His loving words of affection towards us that flow into our soul like honey. He wants us to walk and never grow faint, to soar and never become weary (Isaiah 40:31).

There is a holy violence that rises from the heart of a Bride, which releases God’s Kingdom into the earth. Without this bridal fire, we only have a story to share. With our hearts intimately burning for our King, we have a combustible element to share—called Love. This is Heavens method for evangelism and setting nations on fire and in love for Jesus! It’s when we love them with a holy and pure heart, bringing them into a direct experience with the Flame that burns in you.

Love overpowers fear. Love crushes the weight of insecurity and shame. Love conquered death, sin and the grave. No greater love than this—one who lays down his life for another. The Holy Spirit is the only One who can reveal this profound dynamic and revelation to us. He is the One who cries out with the Bride (the Church): Come Jesus (Revelation 22:17)!

The cornerstone and building block of our lives is so important. Without a solid foundation, what is built will not last. The Scriptures teach us that in the last days, the heart of many will grow cold and weary. Many will turn from Christ (1 Timothy 4:1/ Matthew 24:10). If Jesus doesn’t return in its intended time, even the elect could be deceived (Matthew 24:24). There is only one thing that holds us and keeps us grounded in our foundation—bridal intimacy with King Jesus.

A daily life of bridal intimacy with Jesus cultivates an ardent heart that desires no-one else and nothing else. Come what may, nothing can stand between His love for me and what His love has done in me and to me. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, “…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Christ Jesus is the rock and as we cling to Him and draw from Him; water flows—refreshing the dry soul back to life again. Simply calling upon the name of the LORD and you shall be saved!


Application:

Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit, what does the foundation of my heart look like? If there are any other lovers, allow Him to dethrone them.

After the Holy Spirit has shown you areas where the foundation of your heart needs attention, repeat this prayer with me:

Say, “Holy Spirit—thank you for counseling me and showing me areas where my heart needs your shepherding. I repent and turn away from _________________________ and ask that you now fill me and heal me, in the name of Jesus. I am yours. You are mine. For all eternity my heart is yours. You may burn in me a Bridal Fire for you alone. I love you. In Jesus name. Amen!”

  • Devotional by Bryant Borges

Prayer: The Means, and The End

  14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with powerthrough his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~Ephesians 3:14-21

The church in the Western world has perhaps allowed itself to be lulled into thinking that prayer and action are at opposite ends of the scale of Christian activity. On the contrary. Those who want their actions to be effective for God’s kingdom should redouble their time and effort in prayer. Prayer brings together love and power: the relation of love that grows up between God and the person who prays, and the flowing of power from God to, and especially through, that person.

(Wright, N. T.. Ephesians (N. T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Guides) (p. 34). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition. )

I love this segment from NT. Wright’s Ephesians, which I have recently been enjoying. He commentates on the power of prayer utilized by Paul as he encourages the church in contrast to how we often employ it in our modern lives. Prayer is not only a "weapon we use to demolish strongholds” (2Cor 10:4) it is our communication and intimate connection with God our Father, Jesus our Bride-Groom. May this encourage you to enter into conversation and communion with God, who lavishes his love on you, today!

Prayer: And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power.

17 Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.

18–19 Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude[b] of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! (TPT)

  • Devotional by Jacob Dyer