Archive | March, 2011

Meditation: Gaining the Mind of Christ through Prayer

28 Mar

Meditation, pondering spiritual themes in reference to God, helps us understand how to apply God’s truths and gain insight into God’s truth.

It helps us understand difficult passages, relate truths to other scripture passages, network doctrines together and come to biblical understandings of doctrinal systems, and helps us distinguish between concepts, among other things. In Joshua 1:8, we are told to meditate on the Law day and night so that we will not depart from the way of God. Because of meditation, God will make our ways prosperous and successful.

Meditation is a part of praying without ceasing. It is pondering, chewing on biblical concepts and going at them in different angles, looking at the supposed contradictions of faith and the Bible only to ultimately crack the shell and find the truth therein.  We must work to find it and only when we really intend to obey the principle wrought by that word should we expect to find truth.

God doesn’t intend to impart undiscovered truth on us until we intend to obey it.

Meditation helps us gain and learn the mind of Christ, to be more and more like our Lord.

Because we don’t meditate, thinking clearly and biblically, we have messed up ideas of Scripture and doctrine. We then depend on others thinking.  We don’t want to do it ourselves.  When asked to justify our beliefs, many say, “That’s what so and so said, I heard it on TV.”  We are chronically gullible because we cannot distinguish ideas, due to our lack of meditation.

Meditation yields inner peace, brings greater satisfaction in our devotional lives, and gives us an opportunity to be a more obedient servant. It gives us a divine perspective, that we may see God’s thoughts and God’s ways. Meditation can help us understand life better and make better sense of our circumstances..

The fruit of meditation is insight to truth.  Truth liberates and changes things.

Thanking God in Prayer

21 Mar

Thanksgiving is related to praise but they are not one and the same. Thanksgiving is to express appreciation for the things that God has done for you, for others, or for any acts He has performed. Praise is to express appreciation for who God is, His Person, His Word, His Attributes.

Thanksgiving is mental or vocal. It is to be specific gratitude. Thanksgiving– like the whole of prayer itself, is not just an act, but a lifestyle (1 Thess 5:17-18).

It focuses on God’s faithfulness and thereby increases our faith because it reminds our hearts of what He has done. Faith is always trust based on the Lord’s faithfulness of the past.  Thanksgiving increases that. It is one of the best cures for depression, pity parties, disappointment.
As I asked readers to practice praise a few weeks ago, I ask you again now to practice thanksgiving. Allow your mind to wander through the days activities.  Allow God to direct you toward blessings you overlooked and failed to thank Him for.  Don’t just thank Him, “Thanks God,” but thank Him by exploring the goodness of God in those items.  Thank God specifically, not just a blanket statement. Thank Him individually and sincerely.

You can thank God for His goodness to you, to your family, to the world.
You an thank God for His blessings in the past, His blessings in the present, and His blessings that will come in the future. God’s blessings can be people, things, ideas, confirmation of His will, and nearly anything else. Blessings can be material, spiritual, relational, physical, and external.

You can thank God for His sovereignty and His ruling over the world. The Bible tells us to be joyful in trials and tribulations, so you can also genuinely thank God for tragedy, for hard times, for persecution. Our trials and tribulations bring about our perseverance and develop our character.

Give thanks to God in all circumstances, unceasingly.

Watching for God’s Working though Prayer

14 Mar

Just before being arrested, Jesus tells His disciples to watch and pray. ‘Watch’ comes from a Greek word meaning to be alert, awake or vigilant.  Intent, awake in order to guard, close observation.  Spiritually speaking it is to be awake and alert spiritually in order to be on guard.

On guard for what? The wiles of the devil and the working of the divine.  That’s what was the key issue in the garden of Gethsemane– discerning where God or satan was at work.

Watching means to develop discernment. Discernment means to separate truth from falsehood; better to detect and understand a distinction from that which is of God and that which is not.

Most Christians are not discerning.  Most do not always even understand when God is speaking to them and when He is not.  This is due to the neglect of our personal lives. The spirit of God communicates to us through prayer, Bible study, other Christians, and circumstances.  Since many neglect most of these we have only a part of what God is saying to us. For this reason, most Christians don’t know how to distinguish, detect or understand anything other than the most obvious things that aren’t of God– they rely on feelings.

That’s why watching is so important.  It is a time of examination, of peering closer and magnifying everything with the Illuminator. Ephesians 6 describes the armor of God and to conclude the passage, Paul commands the Christians in Ephesus to watch and be alert, continuing in prayer always.

Fatigue is often a harm in our prayer, and decreases our ability to watch, because it takes a clarity of mind that is not at our disposal when we are tired and our minds aren’t sharp.  It also makes us more susceptible to sin….Why?  We are not as discerning and do not recognize satantic snares as quickly.  We are reactionary.  Watching then is not an idle activity but an active one that requires diligence and vigilance.

To watch, we must make ourselves aware of satan’s work to hinder our prayer.  He tries to, through various means, distract us from prayer in the first place. Don’t allow satan to draw you from the important prayer issues. Satan works trough fatigue, though distractions, through anything to keep our minds from being alert.

We should keep from praying using meaningless repetition and many words. This can also be tools of satan and may actually weaken our prayer, because we dilute our request or distort it into uselessness. Take time to be aware of the wiles of the devil throughout your life and the world.  Where is he at work in the community, the nation, or the world?  Become aware of it.  Develop discernment and alertness and pray against such things.

Watching also means to become more aware of God’s working throughout the world. How is He acting and what is He wanting to do?

There are several things we can do to better watch for God’s working, to be aware of His presence and alert to His voice. Read material that aids you in becoming aware of specific global Christian needs, such as mission awareness books and publications, as well as news material. Newspaper, the radio, television, and news magazines can all inform us of what’s going on in the world, where God and satan are working. Merely looking around can also be a powerful way to watch for and discern God’s work. Weather disasters, picket lines, strikes, world crises, church crises, government actions and other things can all reveal God’s work to us.

Finally, ask the Spirit of God to show you how to react to it.  James 1:5 tells us to ask the Spirit for wisdom. We need wisdom from on High. If He doesn’t guide our prayer as we watch, we could be misled.

Watching involves God revealing His mind to us, like 1 Corinthians 2 says, and allowing us to see those mysteries, in a spiritual way.  As we are allowed into this realm, we begin to really identify with these items, and like Ephesians 6 says, we persevere for the saints with supplication, because God ignites our compassion and spiritual sensitivity.

We must watch to gain this sensitivity and discernment. This will cause us to pray more specifically, clearly, directly and hence, more powerfully and in line with the desires of God.

Praying Through the Scriptures

7 Mar

The Word is crucial to prayer. The degree to which we believe it and apply it in prayer is the degree that God will pour out His power in our lives.  YOU CAN NEVER expect to grow in spiritual confidence (faith) if you spend little or no time in His word, because that’s where you get to know him.

Use the Bible not just to read, but devotionally.  See it as God’s daily love letter to you, where you respond to what He says to you that day by praying it back to Him.  God’s Word is powerful, “Let there be light”, “peace be still” , “Lazarus, come forth.”  It has ability to create ‘ex nihilo,’ out of nothing.  When we believe God and pray to Him with His powerful word, He is able through faith in Him to create those things out of nothing, when it seems unlikely, because with God, nothing is impossible.

Not faith in faith or even faith in prayer, but have faith in God and the fact that His Word is a representation of His character.  But we don’t just try to have faith in His Word, we have faith in Him– His Person, from whom His Word emanates.  When we read His Word, it is guaranteed to be true, just as a dollar is guaranteed to produce buying power.  Just as a savings bond is guaranteed a return.  Prayer is nothing more than redeeming God’s Word into God’s actions.

Increasing our faith comes through the Word (Romans 10:17).  The Word of God is the Christian’s book of prayer.  It is a guide and foundation for all effective praying. Remember that in Luke 11 when Jesus taught the disciples to pray, part of that was ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.’

How do we know what God’s will is and How He wishes to build his kingdom apart from His word?

We can pray Scripture in praise of God, in our confession, and in the context of any devotional passage. Scriptural prayer flows from the Word of God and is alive, just as the Word is.