Do you pray, and if so how? Consider what Jesus taught. Our Father which art in heaven – The word “father” conveys relationship, like one has a relationship with one’s dad. This includes the notion of fellowship. When you think of your earthly father, it is hopefully in good sort of way. A father gives structure, instruction, love, advice/counsel. The Almighty does the same. There is a difference, though. A relationship with one’s dad is a relationship here on earth, physical proximity is close (perhaps). The Father we address in this context “resides” in heaven. He still gives structure, instruction, love, advice/counsel, but what He gives is more than any earthly person can give. Hallowed be thy name. Because He is in heaven, and because His admonitions are greater than anything earthly, we understand Him to be holy in all respects. His holiness is not to be trifled with, that is, there is no disrespect given because we act and live as if He is a cuddly “big daddy”! Frankly, this is blasphemous! The Father in heaven is holy and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God—something that is not and can’t be said about a “big cuddly daddy”! His name is holy, and our thinking is to correspond to His thinking…that is, if we approach Him properly (cf. Heb. 10:31). Far too many, Christians included, fail in this area. Thy kingdom come. Does this refer to the church, or something like God’s kingdom at time’s end? The word kingdom mean reign; in one respect God has always been in control of all that exists; He reigns over all His creation. That is not what is in view here. In this context, the kingdom is not something physical, but the spiritual reign of the Lord in the lives of each person who chooses to obey the Lord’s will. All those who obey are then added to the Lord’s kingdom (Acts 2:47; John 3:5), because the kingdom of God resides in the heart of one who obeys. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. When the one who has separated himself from this evil world to the Lord, this one is properly called a saint. With each and every saint, it is always the case the Lord’s will is to be done in life while on this earth. Are you doing so? If not, then start with separating yourself from a worldly way of thinking and adopt the thinking way of the Lord (Galatians 2:20) – this is the life of holiness. Give us this day our daily bread. Your reliance on the Lord is how much? Surely, we understand gratitude; we understand the need to be grateful to the Lord for that which He provides, food for day-to-day living. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. As we have been forgiven, let us have the same willingness to forgive others. Since pride goes before the fall, those who have pride within that prevents a forgiving spirit to be extended, the one who loves the Lord will not receive that which he/she desires, which is forgiveness (Matthew 18-21-35). And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: how can one avoid temptation? There are two answers to this, both necessarily related and connected. First, with devotion appeal to the Lord for strength and protection. Second, with determination, learn from the Lord His way of holiness, educating your mind to see traps long before they arrive. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. The way you choose to live life is your own, but be reminded the life you choose to live, at the end of that life, there stands the Lord. Solomon wrote long ago, “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him” (Ecclesiastes 3:14, KJV). RT
For those not religious, to whom do they pray?
Seems like a good question to me. According to a new survey, one in four non-believers pray when faced with a crisis.
A non-believer prays? Prays to whom? The very notion of being a non-believer is, presumably, not believing in a higher power, that is, not believing in a higher power to even exist!
Okay, I get it, they pray to themselves to make themselves feel better?
No, that is not actually so. They pray hoping there is something higher than themselves, though they admit the “higher-than-themselves” being may not even hear them, much less answer them.
Why pray then? There just must be something greater than the individual person struggling, and even greater than collective man (community) to give answers to a chaotic world.
Katherine Tait (atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russell’s daughter) often said she found what her father was looking for, but never admitted that he was – a higher power than the wisdom of man (p. 189).
To receive comfort and to feel less lonely in a very individualistic western society is a tall order, for try as he might, in the midst of all his friends, a man sits in a corner crying because no one understands him and his failings…wondering why life is even worth living.
“A thief does not come for any purpose but to steal and kill and destroy; I have come for people to have life and have it till it overflows” (John 10:10, Williams New Testament Translation). RT
Our Mother’s Day sermon came from 1 Samuel, chapters 1 and 2 – the story of Hannah, a great woman of faith. I gleaned from her story some particular points that will certainly benefit us all if we consider them and make some applications.
Hannah was a woman who loved the Lord. What love she had toward the Lord may not have been as great as the love she did come to have, but there is no reason to think that prior to her marriage to Elkanah she did not love the Lord with some great devotion. This emotional quality and behavioral response Hannah exhibited points to two strong reminders in human relations. First, a woman wants to be loved. She wants to be loved by the Lord and she wants to be loved by her family. If she was raised with no love in the home, that no-love experience carries into adulthood and manifests itself in insecurity, anger, distrust, etc. It takes the love of a husband to offset those burdens she carries, but he himself needs to understand what love is and does. Second, a woman wants to give love also. In the case of Hannah, she gave herself to her husband, she loved him. But the love she had for her husband, however great it was, was a love that is not necessarily the same as the love a mother has toward her child. Hannah wanted to have children and share with them her love, as she did with her husband.
Circumstances in life have a great way of drawing one closer to the Lord than what one previously thought was possible. Sometimes we experience travails in life that are not the result of our own doings; sometimes we experience affliction in life that is very much the reason because of our own failings. In both cases, knowing what to do when the travail/affliction comes is crucial to own life progresses from that point.
Hannah was childless and, as far as the Record is concerned, she did not know why. She did know, however, to whom she could turn for a solution to her present problem. Such an important point that many overlook it. It is not overlooked because one is callous, but it is overlooked because it is but a “small” point in the story. That’s just it! It is not small, but very important.
In a different context, the Lord encouraged and gave exhortation to the people of Israel after they returned from Babylonian captivity. Note what the Lord said, “For who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10, KJV). I really like the way that reads, but we must note the passage has specific application to the rebuilding of the Temple. At that time, some made comparison with the Temple Solomon built (destroyed by Babylon) and then compared it with the Temple the people of Zechariah’s day built; the people wept (Haggai 2:1-5). Though small in comparison, it was quite important.
Hannah’s prayer, though perhaps perceived as a small part of the story, is quite important to the whole of the story.
To the Lord she went in prayer; she poured out her heart and the High Priest Eli took note of Hannah praying and, after an initial correction by her to him, encouraged her in her prayer. Hannah found comfort in the Lord (cf. 1 Samuel 30:6) and she returned home to tend to the matters of ordinary life. What a great lesson here also. Life goes on, and we need to address those ordinary matters of life, even if they are extraordinary. Life does not stop because of my or your heartache, and neither did it stop for her. Hannah appealed to God and to the Lord she turned over her burden (cf. 1 Peter 5:6-7).
The Lord heard Hannah’s prayer and, more than that, He answered her prayer. How easy it would have been with all the joy a loving mother can possibly experience to change her mind after having received God’s gift of a child. “The Lord will understand,” someone might say. Yes, He would understand, but that is not the same as saying that He would be pleased with the change of mind after a previous vow (1 Samuel 1:9-11). This is what makes Hannah stand out; she did not change her mind.
About three years later, after all the nurturing, nursing and bonding that took place – to Shiloh (where the Tabernacle was located) she and her family went. Having arrived, she kept her vow. To Eli she handed her child over, dedicating him to the Lord’s service. Imagine the heartache and tears shed over that, and the many days following!
We don’t read anymore of Hannah, but we read of the greatness of her son, God’s prophet, Samuel. The story of Hannah is but a small (short) story, but the legacy of her virtue is her mark in human history. RT
“Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him” (Mark 11:23, ESV).
That which the Lord said is difficult to understand. Surely it was difficult at the time He spoke those words and, through the years, has become even more difficult to understand. Is it actually the case the Lord said that if one believes strong enough a mountain can be moved? The literal reading suggests as much. So, let me ask, when was the last literal mountain you moved in your prayer, or prayers? You didn’t? Is your faith not strong enough?
If it is not the case that a literal mountain is in view, then what shall we understand?
It is not the literal, physical accomplishment of something of this sort that is in view, but the devoted prayer/petition of one who loves, trusts and obeys God. When the Lord’s devoted servant prays, then there is no obstacle in the way that can’t be scaled or moved. That which is impossible for human accomplishment is easily accomplished with the “moving of a finger” by the Lord (if you will).
Think about your prayer life. Are you devoted to the Lord? To be devoted is more than saying “I believe” or “I love you, Lord.” It is much more than either of these, though it includes both. When you consider the frequency of your prayers, or the duration – would you say there is need of improvement? As you think on these things, begin with understanding what it means to believe on the Lord and to love Him. “This is how we are sure that we love God’s children, by loving God and obeying his commands (for love to God means keeping his commands). And his commands are not irksome” (1 John 5:2-3, Moffatt’s New Testament Translation).
Can you, then, move a mountain? No, but the Lord can. RT
The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29, NKJV). How often it is that a person looks to the Lord when in dire straits, but how often it is (also) when that one in a difficult circumstance refuses to hear the Lord when He appeals to us through His word. In such circumstance, the Lord may hear the prayer, but we are told here that He will not answer it. “The verb “hear” (שָׁמַע, shama’) has more of the sense of ‘respond to’ in this context” (NET study note). On the other hand, those who love the Lord, hear His word and obeys His will not only has the Lord’s ear, but a response from the Lord is certainly in the petitioner’s future. RT
Who is the troubler of Israel? In the story/contest between ideologies, two men presented themselves as “men of standing” in the community. One was chosen by the people as king over Israel (the ten northern tribes of Israel) and the other was God’s prophet (Elijah). While we know the story about what happened and why, it is my intent to reflect a little more on the why in this article.
King Ahab saw the Lord’s prophet and declared boldly that the “troubler of Israel” now stood before him. Elijah rejected this accusation and called the king the “true troubler of Israel” (1 Kings 18:17-18). The king was the actual troubler of Israel because, as the Scripture said regarding him, he not only followed the sinful activities of those who had gone before him, but he also married a woman of a foreign nation named Jezebel, a name that rings of evil even to this day (1 Kings 16:29-34).
A troubler of Israel was one who considered the Lord’s way and rejected it for the ways of man. This is what Ahab did; he followed his heritage and stayed the course of evil, going back to the time of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:25-33). With this acceptance of false religion the king and his subjects did whatever it was they wanted to do. This resulted in royal corruption, religious corruption and moral deviancy. When there is a departure from the Lord it can hardly be any other way!
King Ahab is a great lesson for those in leadership today. The leadership of which I speak is not political, but religious. I refer to the elders of the congregation. When there is departure from the Lord’s way, even just a little bit, then the door to corruption has been opened just enough for the influence of corruption to enter in. The Lord told the elders of Ephesus to take heed to the flock of which the Holy Spirit made them overseers. That means they are to pay particular attention to the following: 1) their own souls and personal standing with the Lord (2 Cor. 13:5), 2) the souls of those whom they lead (Acts 20:28), 3) the nature of that which is used to feed the saints (Titus 1:9).
Please pray for the elders, not only that the Lord will be with them, but also that each man will take inventory of where he is in relation to the Lord and seek to do a better work today, then tomorrow than what he did today and the day previous. The Lord’s adversary (1 Peter 5:8) is seeking to devour all the disciples that belong to the Lord, and in many case he is having much success. RT
This article is a brief contrast between two modes of prayer: that which originates in Islam and that which originates from the mouth of Jesus.
There has been (and continues to be) a significant battle between Islam and Christianity in religious ideology. I will begin a study of this battle in the sacred books that produce each. I am quite familiar with the New Testament Scriptures, thus, it is my plan to study the Qur’an in relation to the New Testament. I have been fortunate to purchase and access three varied translations of the Qur’an with comments by various Islamic scholars. They are Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Maulana Muhammad Ali, and Muhammad Asad. On occasion, in addition to these, I will reference other Islamic sources.
Surah 1 is the very foundation, or essence of Islam. In fact, it is identified that very way by Yusuf; the “Essence of the Book”, teaching the “perfect prayer” (footnote 18). The focus of the prayer is on “Allah” (the Islamic name for God) and his attributes of mercy and benevolence; this essence or foundation is the “guide to one’s life.” There are seven verses in the Surah 1 prayer, and these seven verses are recited continually, “being essential to every prayer” (Mauluna), no matter how many prayers are offered or in what context. Maulana said: “Its oft-repeated seven verses constitute the prayer for guidance of every Muslim at least thirty-two times a day and, therefore it has much greater importance for him than the Lord’s prayer for a Christian” (Maulana, introductory remarks, p. 1).
Obviously, it is a good thing that religious people put emphasis on the necessity of prayer, but is a memorized, even rote prayer a good thing? According to one Islamic scholar, to appeal to God for one’s personal needs would be to miss the point of prayer (at least in this Surah). In the “Introduction” to the first Surah, he leaves one with the impression that it is not worthy of Him to listen to our vanities; rather, we should pray to Allah and exalt him, not appeal for our needs (Yusuf, p. 13).
In contrast to this, notice what the Lord Jesus said to His disciples when He taught them to pray. First, note the personal relationship that the Father desires to have with His child: “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6, NKJV). Second, though the Father knows all, it is not vain repetitions that He wants, but a heart-felt expression of one’s needs/desires “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:7-8). Third, note the form of the prayer: it is one that addresses the Father of all life; His name is to be hallowed. Moreover, the Lord’s kingdom is to be the kingdom of the individual man (cf. Colossians 3:16; Luke 17:21), as well as the collective body of the saints. The influence of righteousness is great in this regard. In complete contrast to the Muslim perspective, the Father wants His children to depend on them for daily needs and showering mercy. With these thoughts in mind, read what Jesus taught:
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13, NKJV).
A Patient Response And Yearning towards Eternity’s Rewards. Prayer is the avenue the Lord gave His children that enhances one’s relation with the Father in heaven. It is a lot like one’s earthly dad who has a loving, firm, and nurturing connection with his child. A patient response is not asking the Lord for help/strength and then, in a weaken state, engage in that which one prayed to the Lord about to avoid. Eternity’s reward is more than eternal bliss, as we look at it from this “underneath” side, but it is rest for our weary souls. Speaking of reward, the reward for such a relationship is priceless. Well…almost. It did cost Jesus His life (Acts 20:28).
Psalm 120 is a prayer to the Lord to relieve one from the lying tongue. Who are the liars around the psalmist that he feels the need to offer this prayer? It is those who love war rather than peace (120:6-7). As I was reading the Psalm, the thought occurred to me concerning those who lie to themselves, and the struggle they endure trying to get a handle on it. The Psalm does not seem to address this notion, but can you imagine the struggle that many have as they reflect on their lives and see the damage done to themselves, not to mention that which is done to others? The Scriptures are plain—liars will not be in heaven (Rev. 21:8)! The struggle is great in this world of pain wherein, it seems, so many around us are nothing but liars, but the greater struggle is with ourselves when we lie to ourselves, and the Lord knows it.
Why does not the Lord hear my prayer, answering it? Have you ever asked yourself this question? It is likely you have; it is a question that many of us have asked. Perhaps the answer lies within the words of Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” The psalmist spoke these words, not because he was guilty of them, but as a reminder to himself and others about how true they really are. The idea of “regarding iniquity” in the heart corresponds to “harboring” (NET), “ignoring my sins” (GNB), or “cherished iniquity” (ESV). Next time you ask yourself concerning the hearing and answering of prayer, be mindful of these words and take inventory with regard to your relationship to the Lord (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5).