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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Prayer)

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Posted by on November 29, 2022 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #17)

BLESSING #17: The Blessing of a Prayer Life
Samuel Chadwick, one of the greatest preachers of English Methodism, once said, “The one concern of the devil is to keep God’s people from praying . . . He laughs at your toil and he mocks at your wisdom. But he trembles when you pray!”

My lost friend Mike drives me to my knees every day as I think about what he doesn’t have in not knowing Christ. And his lack helps me focus on my blessings so I can pray for him to come into God’s family.

We are commanded in Psalm 103 to “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits . . .” (v. 2). I don’t think most Christians even know all the benefits they have in being saved. It’s hard to forget what we aren’t aware we have.

Let’s think about another benefit or blessing which followers of Jesus have —

17. WE HAVE A PRAYER LIFE!

I am not suggesting that my lost friends never pray. I’m sure many of them do. They pray when a loved one is seriously ill, when they’ve lost a job, when a child has wandered from the family at the beach and gotten lost, when the doctor comes in and says, “I’m sorry. But I have bad news.” And we Christians pray the same SOS prayers, don’t we?

THE BLESSING But I’m thinking about a prayer LIFE. What do I mean? I mean the believer should treat prayer as a critical weapon in his arsenal. He resorts to prayer when under attack by his supernatural foe the devil. He turns to the Lord in faith when all around him seems to shout “you’ve been abandoned by your God!” He cries out to the Father when he faces situations he hasn’t been able to deal with on his own.

THE BIBLE But those circumstances are emergency situations. How about daily interceding for our loved ones, praying for another believer’s spiritual growth, pleading with the Lord for a friend’s salvation? The prophet Samuel hit the nail on the head when he said to the people of Israel:  “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (I Sam. 12:23). Do we believers ever think of our failure to pray for others as a sin against the Lord?!
And we need to pray for ourselves. For we have many needs. That the Lord would reorder our priorities (Eph. 5:17). That He would give us His joy when life brings us down (Jn. 15:11). That we would rely on His strength instead of our own (Ps. 20:7). That we would engage in precious times of contemplating the Lord and His attributes (His mercy, goodness, kindness, strength, love, etc.) (Ps. 1:2; 77:12; 119:148; 143:5; I Tim. 4:15).

How we must grieve the heart of God when we treat Him as a kind of celestial vending machine. He is our Father, our Lord, our best friend, our Savior.

Scripture teaches us that prayer — (1) Can keep us from falling into temptation (Mt. 26:41); (2) Can help us love our enemies (Mt. 6:5); (3) Can give us sweet and secret times with our Father (Mt. 6:6); (4) Can remind us of God’s knowledge of our circumstances (Mt. 6:9); (5) Can test our belief in God’s meeting our needs (Mt. 21:22); (6) Can clarify God’s will for us and for others (Rom. 1:10); (7) Can make us aware of the Spirit’s assistance in interceding for us (Rom. 8:26); (8) Can test our faithfulness (Rom. 12:12); (9) Can practically help other believers (2 Cor. 1:11); (10) Can motivate us to pray for the spiritual growth of others (Eph. 1:18); etc.

ACTION STEPS 1. First of all, thank God for the gift of prayer, confessing your poor exercise of that discipline, if such is the case.
2. Is it not true that we often pray only mundane (meaning “earthly”) prayers, for such matters as health and jobs and conflicts? Each day this week read over one of the Apostle Paul’s prayers for a co-worker (such as Col. 1:9-14) and make a list of what Paul prays for . . . for others. Do the same for one of your friends each day this week.
3. Begin a prayer journal. This need not be a massive amount of time and energy, but make a few daily notes on what are the top items on your prayer list.
PRAYER 4. Pray for your unsaved friend — and perhaps even let him know that you are praying for him. Agree to pray for whatever he requests, and keep some notes so you can update your praying for him.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 16)

We are commanded in Psalm 103 to “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits . . .” (v. 2). I don’t think most Christians even know all the benefits they have in being saved. It’s hard to forget what we aren’t aware we have.

My lost friend Mike drives me to my knees every day as I think about what he doesn’t have in not knowing Christ. And his lack helps me focus on my blessings so I can pray for him to come into God’s family.

Let’s think about another blessing which my lost friends don’t have —

16. THEY DON’T Have a Prayer LIFE!

I am not suggesting that my lost friends never pray. I’m sure many of them do. They pray when a loved one is seriously ill, when they’ve lost a job, when a child has wandered from the family at the beach and gotten lost, when the doctor comes in and says, “I’m sorry. But I have bad news.” And we Christians pray the same SOS prayers, don’t we?

But I’m thinking about a prayer LIFE. What do I mean? I mean the believer should treat prayer as a critical weapon in his arsenal. He resorts to prayer when under attack by his supernatural foe the devil. He turns to the Lord in faith when all around him seems to shout “you’ve been abandoned by your God!” He cries out to the Father when he faces situations he hasn’t been able to deal with on his own.

But those circumstances are emergency situations. How about daily interceding for our loved ones, praying for another believer’s spiritual growth, allowing the Lord to reorder our priorities by getting before Him in systematic prayer? How about engaging in those precious times of contemplating the Lord and His attributes (His mercy, goodness, kindness, strength, love, etc.)? God is no celestial vending machine. He is our Father, our Lord, our best friend, our Savior.

Samuel Chadwick, one of the greatest preachers of English Methodism, put it this way: “The one concern of the devil is to keep God’s people from praying . . . He laughs at your toil and he mocks at your wisdom. But he trembles when you pray!”

One of my blessings as a believer is the possibility that I will develop a life of prayer, not primarily to make the devil tremble, but to help me grow in so many areas of walking with Jesus. Scripture teaches us that prayer — (1) Can keep us from falling into temptation (Mt. 26:41); (2) Can help us love our enemies (Mt. 6:5); (3) Can give us sweet and secret times with our Father (Mt. 6:6); (4) Can remind us of God’s knowledge of our circumstances (Mt. 6:9); (5) Can test our belief in God’s meeting our needs (Mt. 21:22); (6) Can clarify God’s will for us and for others (Rom. 1:10); (7) Can make us aware of the Spirit’s assistance in interceding for us (Rom. 8:26); (8) Can test our faithfulness (Rom. 12:12); (9) Can practically help other believers (2 Cor. 1:11); (10) Can motivate us to pray for the spiritual growth of others (Eph. 1:18); etc.

So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I may on occasion tell him I’m praying for him, not just for his salvation, but for his family, for his crises, for his coming to know Christ. Then I am to regularly and strategically intercede for his salvation. (to be continued)

 

 

 
 

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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Prayer)

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 6

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

C. Bearing fruit in every good work (v. 10).

Let’s notice a fourth request Paul makes for these believers —

D. Growing in the knowledge of God (v. 10)

When we get saved, we come to know God. But we must grow in that knowledge! And that, my friends, is a life-long quest for we will never reach a full understanding of God Himself.

J.I. Packer’s Knowing God is a must read for every believer who wants to grow in his or her knowledge of God. Packer writes, “How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each Truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.”

What truth have you learned about God recently? Is it leading you to prayer and praise to Him?

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 5

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

Let’s notice a third request Paul makes for these believers —

C. Bearing fruit in every good work (v. 10).

We are to be fruit-bearers! We are not simply decorative trees that take up space! We are to bear fruit. We are not to live for ourselves but are to look for opportunities to be fruitful in the works that we do. Our faith is not solely verbal. We are commissioned to do good works (Eph. 2:8-10).

What good work can you choose to do today that will bear fruit?

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 4

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

Let’s notice the second specific of Paul’s prayer. It is that —

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

Wow! What a request! The Christian life is far more than doing the right things or thinking the right thoughts. It is asking, everyday, “Am I pleasing the Lord?”

As grandparents of seven, we try to encourage our grandchildren to be “please and thank you” people. But Paul’s request goes way beyond being polite and grateful. This one question — “Am I pleasing the Lord?” — is huge and is guaranteed to recalibrate our choices and priorities every moment we ask it!

For whom should you pray today that they will seek to please the Lord in every way?

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 3

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

Can any of us do that? Really? It must be possible if Paul invested time in praying precisely for that need for these Colossian believers. But what does it mean to “live a life worthy of the Lord”?

To do anything worthy of another means that we are meeting their expectations, their best desires for us. Of course we are not worthy in and of ourselves, but we have hundreds of choices every day to honor Him and make Him proud of us. I’m reminded of a great story about worthiness. The late Dr. Howard Hendricks, beloved Dallas Seminary professor, asked a student to open the seminary class in prayer. The student prayed, “Lord, we know that we are worthless servants and . . .” Dr. Hendricks interrupted the student and said, “We are not worthless, son. We are unworthy. You may now finish your prayer.”

Are you and I living a life worthy of the Lord? How can we tell? (Comments welcome below)

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 2

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

We’ve noticed part 1 of my outline of this challenging text:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

Let’s continue our study by looking at —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our purpose in praying for others (at least in this text) is to ask God to fill them with the knowledge of God’s will. And that will is not discovered by human ingenuity, but “through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” The divine third member of the Trinity is intimately involved in helping those for whom we pray to know and do God’s will.

How easy it is to spend our praying moments on issues like money and jobs and food and the incidentals in life, rather than on the macro-matters of God’s will and wisdom and Spirit-given understanding! As you pray for others today, what specifically are you asking God for?

 

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 1

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

Here’s part 1 of my outline of this challenging text:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

Paul makes it clear that he began praying for these Colossian believers from the day he heard about them. And he doesn’t describe his intercession for them as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. He emphasizes His continual asking God to fill them with the knowledge of His will. There was a beginning point to Paul’s praying for these believers — but no end point. No indication that he would cease praying for them and move on to the needs of other believers.  That’s commitment!

In our next post on this topic we will notice Paul’s primary desire for these believers in verses 9-10. But for today may I ask you (as I ask myself), for whom are you continually praying? Would you say you are committed to continually lifting them up before the Father?

 

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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