Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

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Does God know us? Doesn’t He know everything? While He certainly does know everything–He is omniscient, apparently He doesn’t know everyone.

The Scripture above is among the scariest of all. Jesus goes on from there to tell us that many who are presently famous in the Christian culture will not be the ones we see honored in heaven. In fact, they are the ones in danger of not even making it through the gates. They themselves will be as flabbergasted as the rest of us.

On the other hand, those who are obscure in our Christian culture, those to whom fame has not been granted, are the ones more likely to be famous in Heaven. It doesn’t mean, of course, that every person who enjoys fame in our society is disqualified from honor in Heaven. It just means that being known on earth doesn’t necessarily mean we are known by the One who matters most. Being known by God is something altogether different.

I think of my dear friend Diana, a retired special needs educator, who spends her entire morning everyday worshipping God and interceding for those the Lord puts upon her heart. I daresay, God knows her well.

I think of my beloved neighbor Patsy, who gets up long before dawn to pray. She’s not a celebrity here, but in Heaven I imagine she is well-known, heeded, and honored. Currently short in stature both literally and figuratively, yet in Heaven, she will be head-and-shoulders taller than most of us.

Who will be featured on God’s Red Carpet?

Only those whom He knows. Again, this begs the question: why doesn’t God know everybody? Isn’t He all-knowing?

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me…
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts. (Psalm 139:1,23)

Perhaps allowing God to know us only happens when we give Him access. David’s prayer is an invitation to be known by God. Just like reading Eric Metaxas doesn’t make Eric Metaxas know me, studying the Bible helps me know God, but doesn’t allow God know to me. For me to get to know Eric Metaxas would require spending time with Eric Metaxas. I would need to be granted access into His life, make an appointment with him, and persevere until enough time was spent in order for him to understand my character, temperament, dreams, hopes, and abilities.

Thank the Lord, allowing God to know me isn’t quite as difficult nor logistically challenging. The good news is, we have been granted access to God’s presence, any time, any day. His calendar is wide open to us. All we have to do is take time to be quiet before Him and share our heart with a plain and simple prayer, like this one…

My Father,

I feel like I know You because I am aware of Your Word. Though I can recite passages, I am fearfully aware that that doesn’t presume intimacy with You.

So I ask You today: please get to know me. I know You are willing, for You make that clear on every page of the Bible:

“Call to me, and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” Jeremiah 33:3.

You invitation stands open indefinitely. Today, I want to sit at Your feet and let You know me. I will share my heart with You and ask that You share Yours.

I won’t bring my list of things I need or want from You. I just want You to know me.

Teach me to be known by You. As I grow in this understanding, I believe You will enrich my life in ways I never dreamed. Thank You in advance, dear Lord, dear friend.

Amen

 

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Because he has set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him. I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name (has a personal knowledge of my mercy, love and kindness; trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no never). Psalm 91:14 Amplified

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The Lord’s primary commandment to humanity is to love him. It’s fascinating to me that He is more interested in my love than He is my obedience. He’s not demanding submission first and foremost; He wants my love.

Love involves relationship. I can obey a superior without having a relationship with him or her. I can submit to an authority figure without having an ounce of admiration for him nor a smidgen of affection. I can’t love God without a relationship with Him. Love presumes relationship.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:5).

He longs for us to have a personal understanding of His love and kindness and, with that understanding, love Him in return.

It is in loving Him that we reap the benefits of Psalm 91: we receive His help and deliverance. You see, we assume that God just helps and delivers everyone, but is that a correct assumption? It certainly doesn’t bear out in our experience, for everywhere we look, terrible things happen to people. Tragedy strikes us all irrespective of our attempts to live godly lives.

But if we dig a bit deeper, we can see that the promises of God are often contingent on something. The protective promises of Psalm 91 are contingent on our love for God, our willingness to dwell under His shadow–or to abide in Him, as Jesus taught–as well as to deliberately trust in Him in all circumstances.

I’m writing this out of my own raw, painful struggle that I have faced for almost a decade. I’m with you, looking for answers and crying out to God for breakthrough. Could this be it:  simply making it our daily task to love our Father God? To bless His name, to continually speak our thanks and whispers of love to Him?

Let’s give it a go! Agree with me in prayer for breakthrough over the challenges we face by learning to love God with everything we have and everything we are.

Father,

You have promised to protect me, deliver me, keep me from death, shield me from calamity, command angelic charge over me, grant me victory from my enemy, answer me and help me in times of trouble, and to give me a rich and long and satisfying life, showing me Your salvation along the way.

These magnificent promises are partially realized in areas of my life, but there is one gaping hole, one thorn in my flesh in which I have yet to discover victory. I lay all other questions and requests aside now as I seek just this one thing:

May I be granted the grace to love You more? Give me the understanding to know Your love and to return love to You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

I want to love You from my heart.

I want my emotions to be engaged in my worship.

I want to want to love You.

I want my thoughts to reflect how much I love You, my God.

And I want my day-to-day actions to show forth a love for You that is genuine and growing daily.

I believe I receive the answer to this request. I am expecting Your help as I purposely engage in loving You from my heart.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

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If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)

Oliver Twist

I love the redemptive nature of Charles Dickens’ novels. Oliver Twist is a favorite, and the moment when Oliver gets coerced into asking for a bit more gruel (it being a futile as well as doomed prospect) is a classic moment in classic literature.

“Please, sir, I want some more.”

Mr. Bumble shames and humiliates Oliver as if it were the cardinal sin, a capital offense.

How unlike Mr. Bumble is our God! He glories in giving us both what we need as well as desire.

Particularly generous is He with certain specific requests. Wisdom is one example. James encourages us to ask freely, for He gives it liberally to those who ask without wavering in doubt.

Jesus encourages us to ask for more of the Holy Spirit in our lives, a prayer He is bound to answer without delay.

Mr. Bumble-like church leaders and their denominations might tell you that you have and deserve all the Holy Spirit you’re going to get and that you best be content and grateful. But Jesus seems to indicate that the Holy Spirit’s presence, His fruit, His gifts, and His anointing in our lives can indeed grow and that He is available for you in greater measure simply for the asking; it’s not a one-time fix, but a continual well that we can drink from everyday, all day.

Revivals in history were opportunities to drink from the fire hose of the Holy Spirit; bodies were healed, souls delivered, and people born again into an incorruptible, eternal loving relationship with God.

Currently, one such revival is happening near us, and we are taking every opportunity we can to delight in the Holy Spirit’s sweet presence, as we rejoice with people of all ages who are getting healed of cancer and other incurable diseases in the presence of the Holy Spirit.*

Are you hungry and thirsty for more from God? Ask to experience more of the Holy Spirit in your heart and life, and you will receive, for it is a prayer worth praying, and it is a prayer God always answers.

Father,

I am hungry for more. There is within me now a godly dissatisfaction with my life. I just want more of what Jesus promised. I long to do the things–the greater things–Jesus said I could do. I long for more involvement of the Holy Spirit in my everyday world.

Please grant me more. Increase my hunger and thirst for You, Holy Spirit. Thank You that You never leave me nor forsake me. You came to live in me when I made Jesus Lord of my life, but I long for more anointing to do the things God is calling me to do.

Holy Spirit, take on a greater leadership role in my life. Break off every hinderance that would inhibit Your power working through me. Free to follow You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

In Jesus Name
Amen
*Join the meeting online here: http://dsmi.org/revival-continues-in-josiah-center-maplewood-mn.htm

 

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If God hadn’t been there for me,
I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,”
your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
you calmed me down and cheered me up. (Psalm 94:17-19)

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:30-31 NIV)

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Storms come. We can count on them. God never promises us a challenge-free, trial-free, pain-free path. It is up to us to learn how to navigate in stormy waters. The Bible is our manual for doing just that.

The Bible is full of instruction and stories of people who tried and succeeded in the storms and those who tried and failed. We can learn from both.

Let’s look at the disciple Peter. Jesus sent the disciples on ahead in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. It was after a long day, and Jesus needed time alone on the mountain to pray. John the Baptist had just been brutally murdered.

As the disciples reached the middle of the sea in the middle of the night, a big storm came up and blew them about fearfully. In this fear-filled state, suddenly they saw what they thought to be a ghost coming upon them, and they panicked. Jesus immediately comforted them telling them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”

Peter thought he would test this “person” coming to them. He challenged Him, “If it’s really you, call me to come to You.” The voice said, “Okay, Peter, come on then!” A ghost wouldn’t call him by name, so out of the boat he went. And he walked on the water towards Jesus!

It was when Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and on to the waves that he “started to sink.” Sinking generally is instantaneous, but in this unusual experience, his sinking was gradual and resulted from fear. He cried out to Jesus; Jesus immediately grabbed him, saved him, and gently rebuked him for losing faith.

How does this apply to us? If we are to stay afloat in our faith and not drowned in the challenges that will inevitably come our way, we have to determine to make it a habit to keep our focus on Jesus, His Word, and His promises.

Father,

Teach me what it means to fix my gaze on You. Help me moment by moment to draw away from my own point of view, and simply look to You.

I look to You for all that I need, for the sustenance of my spirit, soul, and body.

I look to You for wisdom in every circumstance.

I look to You to know Your love that sweeps away every fear I face.

I look to You for forgiveness, both to receive it and to give it away as a gift to those who do me wrong.

I look to You for joy in this life, for nothing else nor no one else ultimately satisfies.

I look to You for the gift of great fellowship with You as well as with those You have given me to love.

I’ll keep my eyes on You through every day so that I can stand strong when the storms of life come crashing in my direction. You are a good God, and You will sustain me through them all.

In Jesus’ Name
Amen

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. (Psalm 18:16)

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