Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

If and only if… part 2

posted by Mark Herringshaw

There’s a second Biblical condition to answered prayer. Jesus makes some amazing promises about the power of intercession, then attaches some contingencies. You can check out Thursday’s post if you’d like to explore this more. Bottom line: God has put himself on the line with audacious promises!

 

Yet as bold as these promises are, they come with specific conditions – if/then. Jesus includes some lines of fine print at the bottom of the contract: “If and only if…” God will honor his promise to answer prayer… when certain conditions are met. Asking is the first. Here’s a second:

 

Faith: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it will obey you” (Luke 17:6).  Jesus places “faith” as a condition for response.  What does he mean?  Faith as the Bible defines it is an action based on a conviction that something promised with be delivered, even before any evidence appears that it will be so.  Faith in God means a Christian is to begin prayer from a posture of confidence, knowing ahead of time that God listens and keeps his word.  Jesus invites his followers to pray to God knowing that he already knows what they truly need.  But God enjoys the relationship that grows from the asking and responding process.  Prayer is not a broadcast shot into the skies, but a direct and focused communiqué that will be received. 

 

How can foster this kind of faith when it’s hard for me to trust anyone I can see let alone God who I can’t see? There’s a simple answer: the first condition – ask. If I don’t have faith I can ask for it as a gift. I may not be able to manufacture it myself, but God can give it. If you need faith, ask for it… It’s all a kind of circular experience, I admit, but this seems to be the process. I can’t have an answer to prayer without faith, but I can’t get faith without prayer. One man who Jesus addressed answered this problem by saying to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief.” That’s a good prayer. Take the little sliver of faith you and spend it asking for more faith.

 

God always answers the prayer for more faith… Try it.

Enough is enough, but not enough is never enough…

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Enough is enough, but not enough is never enough. 

On paper my income should be sufficient.  I get a steady paycheck every month.  We don’t spend what we have recklessly either. My wife Jill shops at garage sales. We’ve paid off both our cars. I think we work hard very hard to make the ends meet. 

But we still struggle. We have two children college, and two boys and home who he eat half their body weight in roast beef sandwiches. Maybe that’s why they grow out of their shoes every other week. On paper what we have should be enough, but often at the end of the month the numbers just don’t jive.

My reaction: fear.  I have a deeply embedded instinct to panic provision.  Maybe this comes from some wound of disappointment in my childhood. Or maybe I’m just a normal human. Truth be told I really battle against fear of not having enough. When I search my soul I find that this fear is one of my weakest links.  I guess I really believe that I have to supply all my needs, though I know I’m not clever enough to succeed.

I need another source of supply beyond my own ability.  I need God’s provision. 

As David says in his famous Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd I will lack nothing…”

Provision is something God promises, and something he delivers.

I need to see and believe this again, today…

He’s another piece from Mark’s Gospel about the wonder words of Jesus and provision.

“Be yours” (Mark 11:24)

“What do you need?”

The enemy is your thief. You shall want. He makes you lie down in desolate places. He leaves you beside cesspools of deprivation. He devours your hope. He guides you down alleyways of empty promises for the sake of his own perverted pleasure. You shall want.

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered back. “I’m shooting straight with you. If anyone tells this mountain, ‘Go, dump yourself in the ocean,’ and inside his heart does not doubt, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. So, this is what I’m saying, whatever you ask of God, believe that you have already received it, and in reality it will be yours.” “Be yours!” “Be yours!” Jesus promised.

“Be yours!” was enough. It was enough for more bread and fish. It was enough for the water to become wine. It was enough to put a gold piece into a fish’s mouth. “Be yours!” brings enough. For the Lord is your shepherd. You shall not want.

The thief is taunting you with poverty-words. Never enough time. Never enough money. Never enough energy. He talks a “zero-sum game” of scarcity. But you will borrow Jesus’ words and set them loose to work the wonder of multiplication. Never again, “never enough.”

Answer the poverty mindset: “Be yours!” Answer real lack: “Be yours!” Answer debt and hunger and fear and self-pity and pride and anger and worry: “Be yours!” Fight poverty with words. Put Jesus to the test. Rest. 

Your mission: Make a promise on behalf of Jesus. Find a need. Fill it with his words: “Be yours!”

Question: “What do you need” Answer: “Be yours!”

You can down load the entire Fight Like Jesus ebook at www.markherringshaw.com.

 

If and only if… part 1

posted by Mark Herringshaw

We pray behind some remarkable promises from Jesus about the power of prayer. You can check out yesterday’s post if you’d like to see a few of those commitments. Essentially, the founder and CEO of the universe offers to put himself at our beckon call! It seems crazy and backwards, but he promises to serve us…

 

Yet as bold as these promises are, they come with specific conditions.  There are some lines of fine print at the bottom of the page: “If and only if…” God will honor his promise to hear and respond to prayer… under specific circumstances. Here is one “if/then” condition we can find in the Bible.

 

Ask: “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7).  We must ask.  Just before Jesus begins the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6 he offers this: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” But then Jesus immediately challenges us to “ask…” There seems to be a reason for this. Asking is not to inform God, it is a contact point for our relationship with God.

 

The asking-response sequence of dialogue seems to be the procedure God has designed for running the universe. Rather than designing a machine, he has facilitated relationship. God wants conversation and he wants us to see by experience that we can’t live up the duties he assigns us – raising children, earning a living, living in health, without walking step by step in a relationship. Life is team sport, teamed with God. And asking helps us see the reality of our position: God is God and we are not!

 

Do you have a hard time asking people for things? I do. I don’t want to humble myself or be in their debt. But unless I ask God for the things I can accomplish on my own, there is no promise that God will initiate on his own. He’s waiting to be asked because asking is an admission that we’re sane and know the reality of our situation.

 

What should you ask for from God today? What failure are you facing is now giving you the opportunity to ask? Ask that now…

Telling the Voices in My Head Where to Go!

posted by Mark Herringshaw

I’m not a schizophrenic, at least I haven’t been diagnosed. But I do hear voices in my head.

 

I don’t think I’m alone. I bet you do as well. I hear my own voice of course, what some people call my “self talk. I also hear others: the voices of old teachers I once feared, my parents, people who said hurtful words to me in the distant past, and strangers who said odd things that stuck in my memory. Most of the voices I hear have a logical connection to my experiences.

 

Most, but not all.

 

Some of the voices I hear I believe do come from outside my own head and my own experiences. Some of those voices, I believe, as do most Christians, can be hostile and dark and sinister. Some voices can be from the devil.

Yes, I do believe in a devil, a real force of evil who works under and beneath to bend wills and minds and actions. I don’t blame the devil for my choices, but I do believe at times the devil and his foes push and pull me toward one action or another, away from God’s ways,

 

Jesus thought this. He taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one…” Jesus saw the world as a war zone. He taught us to fight those influences with prayer…

 

Here’s another bit from Mark’s Gospel about fighting temptation with Jesus’ words.   

 

“Be careful” (Mark 8:14)

 

“Where is temptation?”

 

Voices in your head riot. Your appetite throws tantrums. Fear hangs in the shadows feeding suspicion. Shame and pride slug it out. Envy agitates discontent. Haunting memories blast messages over the speaker system of your mind. Anger stokes fires in your heart. “Do this; don’t do that!” they say. Voices want to hold you hostage. Be careful!

 

Jesus’ followers panicked. They had forgotten food for their journey across the lake and feared they’d starve. “Be careful” Jesus warned. “Beware of thinking in finite terms. Beware of bad memory that ignores past provision. Beware alarm and its urge to manipulate circumstances. Beware thinking God is dead, or even that he is indifferent. There is plenty of food. I can simply make more! I’ve done it before. Beware the temptation of pessimism. Be very, very careful!

 

“Be careful!” was enough, or it should have been. Just two simple words from Jesus laid bare the deception of doubt. God is great and God is good. “Be careful” is plenty!

 

The devil lies when he says you are self-sustained. He force-feeds this lie into your instinctive fear of starvation, and tempts you into desperate independence. Your spirit is willing, to be sure, but your flesh is weak. We are all prone to expect the worst. Beware the temptation of pessimism!

 

Solution: Stand and borrow words from Jesus. Rebuke panic, “Be careful!” Tame your instincts of hunger, sex, and survival with “Be careful!” Manage your imagination, reason, intuition, and memory with “Be careful!” Do not conform to the pattern of pessimism. Renew your mind with Jesus’ reminder, “Be careful!”

 

Then relax; he has plenty.

 

Your mission: “Know yourself.” Anticipate your own unique brand of pessimism. Study your own weaknesses and prepare to resist the temptations tailored to weaken your resolve. When you see the slightest drift toward panic step up and say, “Be careful!” “Be careful!” “Be careful!” Say it. Say it until the pressure to expect the worst falls back into the pit of hell from which it comes.

Question: “Where is there temptation?” Answer: “Be careful!”

 

You can down load the entire Fight Like Jesus ebook at www.markherringshaw.com.

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