Tag Archives: prayer

Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #40 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 12

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter. Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 12.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, and to be patient in affliction! Wow!

The twelfth critical imperative is —12. Believers are to BE FAITHFUL IN PRAYER (v. 12)!

This imperative is, for me, rather painful. I am not a prayer warrior. I’m not a prayer conscientious objector. I’m what might be called a prayer pacifist. I’m usually at peace that I’m such a pathetic pray-er! And that’s SIN.

There is so much that I need to learn about prayer. I need to learn that having God on speed dial when I’m in trouble is, at the very least, insulting to Him. I need to learn that prayer is often a missing weapon in my spiritual arsenal, and that’s lethal. I need to learn that I rely way too often on my own strength and forget about GOD! And that’s just dumb.

This critical imperative is not worded as “PRAY!” But rather “be faithful in prayer.” Faithful to what? to Whom? It certainly means that I keep my word when I promise others that I will pray for them. It certainly means that I will trust God’s faithfulness to me — and rest on His promises. It certainly entails a discipline of getting on my knees (spiritually, not physically [I’d have trouble getting back up!]) and getting serious about my walk with Him, others’ struggles to do the same, and the raw truth that He knows far better than we do. About everything. So I need to do more faithful praying!

Today’s Challenge: How would you rate your prayer life? Would “faithful” be the adjective that immediately jumps to your mind about this critical discipline? Why or why not? And . . . what are you going to do about it?


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Posted by on February 27, 2021 in Romans 12


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A Ministry Update!

Friends: I am so thankful that the Lord is giving me opportunities to serve Him in my dotage (I’ll be 71 on Groundhog’s Day!). Here are a few areas that you could pray for!

Teaching ministry with my Ethiopian brothers and sisters: Linda and I were to go to Addis Ababa last August to work with some national pastors, but the trip was cancelled due to Covid. Since then I have taught a couple of courses to this group of pastors via Zoom. Presently we are in a short course on the Holy Spirit. Please pray for their encouragement as we study together.

Editing work for Christian Focus Publishers in Scotland: One of my few talents is uncovering dangling participles, comma splices,and basketfulls of sentence fragments! Please pray for my work on one manuscript right now entitled “Behold! An Invitation to Glory!” by Justin Huffman.

I continue to have great joy in teaching first year Greek to my friends Paul and Stephen in New Jersey through Zoom. They are to be commended for their diligent work in this tough language. Please pray for them — and for me! Just a reminder, I’m open to starting a new online Greek class for any who have an interest. Here’s the link you need.

The Lord has given me opportunities to produce message videos for several churches. I’ve done a series such as “Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World!”, “The Spiritually Healthy Family (A Study of the Epistle of Titus)”, and “Developing a Biblical Relationship with God the Holy Spirit.” If your church wants to use any of these, I’m available to meet with your church via Zoom. Please pray for my ongoing work on such messages.

I’m always writing stuff and I’m still committed to several of my own projects. I think my next book will be on the topic Developing a Biblical Relationship with God the Holy Spirit. I’m also working on a study of Philippians entitled Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World. And I’m seriously considering a series with the title A Five Minute Theology: Devotions in the Basics of Belief. I would appreciate your prayers for focus and commitment to these projects. (Man, that’s an irritating graphic, isn’t it?).

That’s it. Please pray for me. And for the Lord to bless the work of my hands in my senior years! Thanks!

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Posted by on January 7, 2021 in ministry


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Hard Truth for Husbands! (A Study of I Peter 3:7)

Ten questions about this verse:

1. To what, specifically, is Peter referring when he writes “in the same way”?

2. What is meant by the word “considerate”? Where else is that word used in the New Testament?

3. There are two commands here for the husband: (1) “be considerate” and (2) “treat them with respect.” What are practical ways we can test to see if we men are doing those two things?

4. What does Peter mean by “the weaker partner”?

5. This idea of being “heirs with you of the gracious gift of life” — to what is Peter referring? Salvation? Heaven?

6. How important is prayer to Peter? To the Lord? How do our prayers get “hindered”?

7. Where else in the New Testament do we read of our prayers being hindered because of our conduct in our marriages?

8. Why is only one verse of instructions for husbands given — and so many for the wives?

9. Notice that no excuse is given for husbands not to follow these instructions (if their wives don’t follow the instructions given to them) or vice versa. Our obedience is not conditional on the behavior of the spouse.

10. Do you and your spouse pray together? Linda and I have been married 49 years and only recently have begun praying together (almost) each morning. What took us soooo long?

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Posted by on September 25, 2020 in I Peter 3


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John Piper’s Prayer for Minneapolis

The Sorrows of Minneapolis

A Prayer for Our City

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Founder & Teacher,

Almighty and merciful Father,

Hallowed be your name in Minneapolis. Revered, admired, honored — above every name, in church, in politics, in sports, in music, in theater, in business, in media, in heaven or in hell. May your name, your absolute reality, be the greatest treasure of our lives. And may your eternal, divine Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord — crucified for sin, risen from the dead, reigning forever — be known and loved as the greatest person in this city.

It was no compliment to the city of Nineveh, but it was a great mercy, when you said to your sulking prophet Jonah, “Should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left?” (Jonah 4:11).

Oh, how kind you are to pity our folly rather than pander to our pride. Jonah could not fathom your mercy. His desire was the fire of judgment. And you stunned him, and angered him, with the shock of forgiveness.

“Oh, how large is your heart toward cities in their sin and misery.”

And have we not heard your Son, crying out to the city that would kill him, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)?

Oh, how large is your heart toward cities in their sin and misery.

Yes, we have heard you speak mercy to great cities. Did you not say, to Jerusalem, “This city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth” (Jeremiah 33:9)? They were not worthy — not any more than Nineveh, or Minneapolis. But you are a merciful God, “slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).

And what are we? Debtors. Whose only hope is grace. For we could never pay back the honor we have stolen from your name. How precious, then, is the lightning bolt of truth that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!” (1 Timothy 1:15).

And for what have you saved us, Father? To what end did you forgive, and cleanse, and free, and empower your people? You have told us, “In the coming ages I will show the immeasurable riches of my grace in kindness toward you in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). Yes. That is best. You are your best gift to us.

But that’s a long way off, Lord. What about now? For now, we live in Minneapolis, not heaven. This is our home away from Home. We love our city. We love her winters — yes, we do — and cherish her spring. We love her great river and her parks. Her stadiums and her teams. We love her lakes and crystal air. We love her beautiful cityscape. We love her treelined neighborhoods, her industry, her arts, her restaurants, and recycling.

And we love her people. Her old immigrant Swedes and new immigrant Somalis. Her African Americans, her Asians, her Latinos. We love those with so many genetic roots they don’t know what box to check. We love her diversity — every human precious because you made each one like yourself and for your glory.

This is our home away from Home. We are sojourners and exiles in this city (1 Peter 2:11). So we ask again: For what have you saved us? Here and now?

Open our hearts to hear your answer, Lord: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Yes, Lord. Yes. This is our heart for Minneapolis. We seek her welfare. We pray on her behalf.

For those who knew George Floyd best and loved him most, bring them your consolation, and direct their hearts to the God of all comfort.

For Derek Chauvin, who put his knee on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes, until he died, we ask for the mercy of repentance and the judgment of justice. For officers Thomas Lane and Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng, who stood by, we pray that grief and fear will bear the fruit of righteous remorse; and may the seriousness of the killing and the cowardice of the complicity meet with proper penalties.

For the upright police who have watched all ten minutes of the unbearable video of Floyd’s dying, who consider it “horrific” and “inhuman,” who find it unbelievable that Chauvin did not say a single word for seven minutes as the man under his knee pled for his life, and who lament with dashed hopes that they must start again from “square one” to rebuild what meager trust they hoped to have won — for these worthy servants of our city, we pray that they would know the patient endurance of Jesus Christ, who suffered for deeds he did not do.

“We pray that the compounding of sorrows will not compound our sin, but send us running to the Savior.”

For police chief Medaria Arradondo, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, our Mayor Jacob Frey, and our Governor Tim Walz, we ask for the kind of wisdom that only God can give — the kind king Solomon had when he said, “Cut the baby in half” (1 Kings 3:16–28), and discovered the true mother.

May our leaders love the truth, seek the truth, stand unflinching for the truth, and act on the truth. Let nothing, O Lord, be swept under the rug. Forbid that any power or privilege would be allowed to twist or distort or conceal the truth, even if the truth brings the privileged, the rich, the powerful, or the poor, from the darkness of wrong into the light of right.

For the haters and the bitter and the hostile and the slanderers — of every race — we pray that they will see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We pray that the light will banish darkness from their souls — the darkness of arrogance and racism and selfishness. We pray for broken hearts, because “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

We pray that our city will see miracles of reconciliation and lasting harmony, rooted in truth and in the paths of righteousness. We pray for peace — the fullest enjoyment of shalom, flowing down from the God of peace, and bought at an infinite price for the brokenhearted followers of the Prince of Peace.

And as the scourge of COVID-19 has now killed 100,000 people in our nation, and still kills 20 people a day in our state — most of them in our city — and as the virus wreaks havoc with our economy, and riots send lifetimes of labor up in smoke, and the fabric of our common life is torn, we pray that the compounding of sorrows will not compound our sins, but send us desperate and running to the risen Savior, our only hope, Jesus Christ.

O Jesus, for this you died! That you might reconcile hopeless, hostile people to God and to each other. You have done it for millions by grace through faith. Do it, Lord Jesus, in Minneapolis, we pray. Amen.

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Posted by on June 7, 2020 in Minneapolis


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“Trouble! Right here in River City!” (A Study of 2 Corinthians 1:8ff)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. Here’s my outline for several verses in chapter one:

“Trouble! Right here in River City!” (vv. 8ff)

1. We don’t keep our troubles private (v. 8)

2. We admit our inability to endure by ourselves (v. 8).

3. We are honest about our feelings — “despaired of life itself” (v. 8).

4. We see God’s purposes in our difficulties — “that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (v. 9).

5. We recognize that the worst, death, is no match for God (v. 9) – He’s the One who raises the dead! (cp. Dan. 3:17 – “and even if He doesn’t!”)

6. We deal with the critical question of “where do we put our hope?” (v. 10)

7. Let others help you — by their prayers! (v. 11).

For those of you, like me, who couldn’t help but think of the song from “The Music Man” entitled “Ya Got Trouble!”, I have included the video of that song below. Enjoy! (couldn’t help but think of my roomie from Emmaus days, Steve Decker!)

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Posted by on May 12, 2020 in trouble


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On Becoming Seventy! A Few Reflections (Part 6 of 7) T=TRUSTING!

Groundhogs’ Day. February 2nd. That’s my birthday! Now, I think that Groundhogs’ Day ought to be declared a national holiday. This furry creature comes out of its comfortable underground home to prognosticate about the next six weeks of weather — Surely that deserves to be honored as a national holiday!

But it’s also my birthday. My 70th birthday. And as it approaches, I want to think about a couple of issues before it is “here.”

We’re using the acronym SEVENTY as our guide. We’ve thought about the letter “S” (survival), the letter “E” (for engagement), the letter “V” (for victory),  the letter “E” for (evangelism), and the letter “N” (for newness). Let’s think about the letter “T” for TRUSTING!

Linda and I are in the stage where TRUSTING the Lord has become very real. And sometimes quite difficult. When our children (or our grandchildren) face challenges, we want to rescue them, fix all their problems, help them (with godly advice, of course) to overcome all their obstacles. but sometimes all we can do is . . . TRUST.

So, after almost 49 years of marriage, we are getting much more serious about praying together. So after we’ve both had our coffee in the morning, we sit on our couch and we pray. We lift up our children and their families to the One Who is worthy of our TRUST. But it’s a lot easier to give advice (when it’s not asked for) or to worry in silence about circumstances and situations. I’m not sure it’s easier to TRUST when one gets older, but, in some sense, the options get more limited as time goes on.

Would you pray this prayer with me? “Lord Who Is Worthy of My Trust, please forgive me for relying way too much on my wisdom, foresight, advice. Help me and my wife to TRUST You in all circumstances ‘as long as we both shall live.’ In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

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Posted by on February 1, 2020 in 70th birthday


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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6- His Ministries to the Believer (Part 3)

“I believe God is leading me to marry Alice,” my German friend said. “But, is she a believer in Jesus?”, I asked. “Well, no, not yet. But I can sense the Spirit’s directing me to marry her.” “Oh,” I said, “you might not want to hear my opinion.” “Yeah, you’re probably right. I don’t.”

(1) The Convicting of the Believer by the Holy Spirit
What in the world convinces Christians that the Holy Spirit only convicts THE WORLD of their sin? What about US? What about the many areas in which we need His divine finger to show us our bad thinking, poor choices, and misguided priorities?

We are studying God the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity. The reason for our study is the conviction that some Christians often either overemphasize Him or overlook Him. We need a biblical balance in understanding His ministries in the world . . . and in us!

But how does God the Holy Spirit bring about conviction of sin in the believer’s life? Again, if His primary tool is the Word of God, then the Word properly preached (or shared) is the vehicle by which the Holy Spirit brings biblical guilt into the heart of the Christian. There is, of course, unbiblical guilt which the world (and even other Christians) tries to inflict upon us. But biblical guilt occurs when the Holy Spirit gets real specific with us about something that needs to change — and we submit to His leading.
I mentioned at the beginning of this short book that I did my doctoral dissertation on John Nelson Darby’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I read most of Darby’s 55 volumes of tough theological prose and was so glad when I was done and my dissertation was approved! But one thing Darby said that stuck out to me had to do with conviction of sin. He said that conviction of sin occurs when I stop defending myself and go and stand with the Holy Spirit in condemning the sin in my life. I thought that was helpful.
Where has the Holy Spirit brought a kind of biblical guilt to your soul? Are you standing with Him and asking God to help you abandon that sin, change that habit, repent of that attitude?

The Challenge: We should be bold enough to admit sin and tell a selection of others how the Spirit led you to change.

(2) The Holy Spirit’s Help in Our Prayer Life
Romans 8 is a primary passage on God the Holy Spirit. Let’s look carefully at what Paul says there —
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Just a few notes on this incredible text:

1. There’s a lot of groaning going on! Creation has been groaning (because of its fallen condition, v. 22).

2. Believers themselves also groan inwardly as they await their adoption as sons and the redemption of their bodies (v. 23).

3. The Holy Spirit also groans! In our weakness we often don’t know what we ought to pray for. But we have the interceding ministry of the Spirit “through wordless groans” (v. 26). And His intercession for us is “in accordance with the will of God” (v. 27). How often we pray not in accordance with the will of God. But, thank God, the Spirit knows — and prays — better!

(3) The Leading of the Holy Spirit
We Christians often make one of two errors about God the Holy Spirit: we either overemphasize Him or we overlook Him. We are studying what some have called the “Shy Member of the Trinity” and we have already shown that as a Person we can have a relationship with Him. And as God, we can and should worship Him.

The next ministry of God the Holy Spirit that we want to consider is His leading. If He is indeed personal, He can lead the people of God. But, we must ask, what saith the Scriptures?

Matthew 4:1 [ Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness ] Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Acts 13 1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

How does God the Holy Spirit lead His people? God has certainly used dreams and visions in the Word of God to move His children in certain directions (one thinks of the Apostle Peter in Acts 10). Should we strive for and long for dreams and visions today? If we do, it seems we are minimizing the Word of God and the Spirit’s leading the people of God through the people of God! What I mean is, isn’t it the case that most of what the Spirit does today He does mediately? By “mediately” we mean through human instruments. He does not appear to perform His ministries today primarily immediately (not as to time, but as to solitary directness).

The idea of “finding the will of God,” by the way, is not a magical quest that only a few Christians are able to successfully complete. In fact, Dr. Bruce Waltke rightly suggests that some forms of “seeking God’s will” smack more of divination than devotion. His excellent book Finding the Will of God is subtitled A Pagan Notion?

How does God lead you? Isn’t it through a face-to-face encounter with God’s truth in God’s Word? Isn’t it through a believer who loves you enough to tell you the truth about something hard? Isn’t it in the quietness of your soul when you pray and ask God to move your heart to seek Him more deeply?

A Challenge: How has God the Holy Spirit led you? Sometimes we must simply step out in faith and trust God as He leads us. We are, afterall, to walk by faith and not by sight.

(4) The Assurance of the Holy Spirit
We want to consider the internal ministry of assurance which the Spirit of God gives the believer. We read again in Romans 8 —
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
What we see in these incredible verses from Romans 8 ought to bring encouragement to the believer’s heart. It is by the Spirit that we cry, “Abba, Father” (v. 15).

What about when you’ve really blown it as a believer and you think, “There’s no way that God loves me right now or calls me His child!”? We read in verse 16- “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we re God’s children.”

God the Holy Spirit assures us that we are His children. And not only that, but we are heirs — “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (v. 17). The biblical doctrine of assurance is one ministry of the Spirit of God to our hearts — and it ought to calm our hearts and steady our minds in living for Him!

The Challenge: Are you listening to the Spirit’s internal words to you, assuring you of your place in God’s family? As you read the Word, be aware of his voice of encouragement and assurance.

Study Questions:
1. What is the Spirit’s primary tool in bringing conviction to the believer’s heart?
2. How exactly does the Spirit help us in our prayer lives?
3. What are some dangers in our asking the Spirit of God to “lead” us?
4. How does the Spirit’s ministry of assurance differ from the sin of presumption?

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Posted by on November 7, 2019 in The Holy Spirit


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Please pray for My Saturday Seminar — October 5!!!


Posted by on October 5, 2019 in ministry


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Time for a Great Quote from Corrie Ten Boom — On Prayer!

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Posted by on October 2, 2019 in prayer


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Time for a Great Quote: Philip Yancey on PRAYER

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Posted by on September 30, 2019 in prayer


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