Live before God’s face in the secret place and let there be a constant cry in your heart after Him. Christianity becomes a dry, empty religion when this longing after God is gone. So, preserve that longing after God at any cost. That is the most important part of your faith. We must constantly long after God like the thirsty deer pants for water (Psalm 42:1).
“Our testimony as Christians must be far above the standard of the world.” God’s education for us includes many things that the world calls “disappointments”. But these are “His-appointments” for something better for us. If we don’t face such disappointments, we will never be able to counsel others. Life’s education includes failing as well, for failure is necessary if we are to help others in a world in which 99.9% of people are failures. Two purposes of failure are (1) to humble us (break us) and (2) to make us compassionate towards others.
Your spiritual battles are also part of your education. If you work so hard for temporal earthly degrees, how much harder you must be willing to battle for an eternal, heavenly one. The time is short, and the days are evil. We must keep the eternal perspective in mind, in all our earthly pursuits. Live in a constant judgment of yourself and in a pure inner walk with the Lord at all times.
Paul told Timothy, “Guard through the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Tim.1:14). God has given us our bodies as a sacred treasure that we must preserve for Him during our earthly journey. We are to present these to Him every day so that they can be cleansed of all sin and preserved in holiness, until one day we complete life’s journey.
To use an illustration: It is like a company having given us five million rupees to carry safely from one place to another. But we have wasted some of it and lost the rest of it along the way. Now we repent and come back to the Lord in failure. What does He do? He does not reject us. Instead, He forgives us and gives us another five million rupees and tells us to carry that safely till the end of our lives. How good God is.
Our testimony as Christians must be far above the standard of the world. We must not do anything that has even the appearance of evil. It is better when in doubt to err on the side of caution and discretion rather than on the opposite side.
There’s a story about a judge whose own son was brought before him for a crime he had committed. The judge felt a deep grief that his son would violate the laws upon which he based his entire life. Tears welled in his eyes and he listened painfully as the evidence against his son was presented. The courtroom sat in silence wondering how the judge would rule. Would he just give him a reprimand in an act of mercy? Would he give him the minimum penalty for the offense? Much to their surprise, he handed down the maximum fine, upholding the law to its fullest degree. The son was in shock, for he knew that he couldn’t pay the fine and was anguished at the thought of imprisonment. He looked up at him in disbelief.
But then something happened that nobody expected. He stepped down from the bench, took off his judge’s robe, told his son how much he loved him and then paid, out of his own pocket, the fine he had just handed down. Not everyone understood what he had done. As a judge, he showed his commitment to honor the law to its fullest, but he then stepped down from that seat of honor and showed his love for his child. His son never understood the depth of his father’s commitment to the law until that moment, and, until that moment, he never knew the depth of his father’s love for him. He felt deep sorrow for the pain he had caused him and for those he had hurt by his act of crime. With his head bowed, and his tears flowing freely, he asked for his forgiveness, which he willingly and freely gave to him.
This story is actually an allegory for God’s relationship to us. Our crimes are our willful departure from the laws given us by God for the way we are to live. When we break those laws, God is grieved and pained. Inevitably there are natural consequences of our failings that hurt others, sometimes affecting lives for generations to come. This is why God’s laws say that the penalty for sin is death. His holy nature demands that He not just let us off the hook or go easy on us. So what did He do? He came down from heaven to us in Jesus Christ to help us to understand His laws, to show us the depth of His love for us and to pay the price of our sin with His own life. This never made sense to me until I understood how I fell short of God’s standards for life and how deeply that had hurt those who depended on me the most. But once I knew the love and forgiveness of God, I turned away in disgust from my deepest sins and understood, in a way I never had before, how to love and forgive others.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:36-37)
If you don’t know the love of Christ yet and how He came to save us from our sins and restore our relationship unto the Father, I say to you today: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes unto the Father but by Him. If you haven’t welcomed Jesus into your heart and into your life, now is the time. Do it before it’s to late, for today is the day of salvation! Ask for the forgiveness of your sins (the wrong things you have done), repent (turn from them) and leave your old ways behind, and begin a new life trusting in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour and soon coming King!
The North Wind and the Sun had a quarrel about which of them was the stronger. While they were disputing with much heat and bluster, a Traveler passed along the road wrapped in a cloak.
“Let us agree,” said the Sun, “that he is the stronger who can strip that Traveler of his cloak.”
“Very well,” growled the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the Traveler.
With the first gust of wind the ends of the cloak whipped about the Traveler’s body. But he immediately wrapped it closely around him, and the harder the Wind blew, the tighter he held it to him. The North Wind tore angrily at the cloak, but all his efforts were in vain.
Then the Sun began to shine. At first his beams were gentle, and in the pleasant warmth after the bitter cold of the North Wind, the Traveler unfastened his cloak and let it hang loosely from his shoulders. The Sun’s rays grew warmer and warmer. The man took off his cap and mopped his brow. At last he became so heated that he pulled off his cloak, and, to escape the blazing sunshine, threw himself down in the welcome shade of a tree by the roadside.
Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail.
One day a very wealthy father took his son on a trip to the country for the sole purpose of showing his son how it was to be poor. They spent a few days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
After their return from the trip, the father asked his son how he liked the trip. “It was great, Dad,” the son replied. “Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Oh Yeah,” said the son.
“So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
“We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.”
“We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.” The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “It showed me just how poor we really are.”
Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don’t have. What is one person’s worthless object is another’s prize possession. It is all based on one’s perspective.
Sometimes it takes the perspective of a child to remind us of what’s important.
“Lord, bend that proud and stiffnecked “I,” Help me to bow the neck and die, Beholding Him on Calvary, Who bowed His Head for me.”
The following are some of the features and manifestations of the self-life. The Holy Spirit alone can interpret and apply this to your individual case. As you read, examine yourself in the very presence of God. Are you ever conscious of:
A secret spirit of pride-an exalted feeling in view of your success or position; because of your good training or appearance; because of your natural gifts and abilities. An important, independent spirit?
Love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy, drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have had a free time in speaking or praying?
The stirrings of anger or impatience, which, worst of all, you call nervousness or holy indignation; a touchy, sensitive spirit; a disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproved of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated flings at another?
Self-will; a stubborn, unteachable spirit; an arguing, talkative spirit; harsh, sarcastic expression; an unyielding, headstrong disposition; a driving, commanding spirit; a disposition to criticize and pick flaws when set aside and unnoticed; a peevish, fretful spirit; a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?
Carnal fear; a man-fearing spirit; a shrinking from reproach and duty; reasoning around your cross; a shrinking from doing your whole duty by those of wealth or position; a fearfulness that someone will offend and drive some prominent person away; a compromising spirit?
A jealous disposition, a secret spirit of envy shut up in your heart; an unpleasant sensation in view of the great prosperity and success of another; a disposition to speak of the faults and failings, rather than the gifts and virtues of those more talented and appreciated than yourself?
A dishonest, deceitful disposition; the evading and covering of the truth; the covering up of your real faults; leaving a better impression of yourself than is strictly true; false humility; exaggeration; straining the truth?
Unbelief; a spirit of discouragement in times of pressure and opposition; lack of quietness and confidence in God; lack of faith and trust in God; a disposition to worry and complain in the midst of pain, poverty, or at the dispensations of Divine Providence; an overanxious feeling whether everything will come out all right?
Formality and deadness; lack of concern for lost souls; dryness and indifference?
Selfishness; love of ease; love of money?
These are some of the traits which generally indicate carnality in the heart. By prayer, hold your heart open to the searchlight of God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalms 139:23-24).
The Holy Spirit will enable you, by confession and faith, to bring your “self-life” to the death (Romans 8:12-13). Do not patch over, but go to the bottom. It alone will pay.
Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord, Oh, to be lost in Thee; Oh, that it might be no more I, But Christ that lives in me. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
~ Poem by Roy Hession author of ‘The Calvary Road’
A New Year prayer: “Teach us Lord, to number our days, so that we can present to Thee a heart full of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12)
Spiritual growth and transformation into Christlikeness do not happen overnight. It happens slowly – day by day and little by little. As we sing in the chorus: “Little by little and day by day; little by little in every way, my Jesus is changing me; I am not the same as I was last year; and though the picture is not quite clear, I know He is changing me; Although it’s slow going, this I am knowing – that one day like Him I shall be”. So, let us yield ourselves to the Lord every day this year, so that He can do that work of transformation in us.
Transformed by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word
When the Holy Spirit is allowed to be Lord in our lives, He will liberate us first of all (2 Corinthians 3:17) – freeing us from the power of sin, from the love of money, from the traditions of men that are contrary to the Word of God, and from being enslaved to the opinions of people. The Holy Spirit will then show us the glory of Jesus in the Scriptures and seek to transform us slowly into that likeness, by changing our way of thinking so that we begin to think the way Jesus thought (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 12:2). The Holy Spirit wants to do that work in us this year. So, submit to Him.
Transformed by Praise and Thanksgiving
“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:18-20). The Holy Spirit wants to give us a spirit of thankfulness that frees us from all gossip, slander, bitterness, and anger. In the seven glimpses of heaven that we see in the book of Revelation, we find that the inhabitants of heaven are constantly praising God. The atmosphere of heaven is one of constant praise, without any complaining or grumbling. The Holy Spirit wants to bring this atmosphere into our hearts and into our homes this year. So, submit to Him.
Transformed by the Grace of God
“The grace of God enables us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live in a righteous, godly way in this evil world” Titus 2:11-12. God wants to transform our thought-life through His grace and make our speech so gracious that it blesses everyone we meet this year (Colossians 4:6). God’s grace also wants to transform the way husbands and wives behave towards each other this year (1 Peter 3:7). And in every trial that we face this year, God can give us grace that is sufficient to meet the need (2 Corinthians 12:9). So, humble yourself in every situation this year – for God gives His grace only to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
Transformed by Obedience
We are told that Jesus “learned obedience through the things He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). Anything that His Father said “No” to, Jesus also said, “No” to. That involved the suffering of denying His own will always. After years of such self-denial, “Jesus was made perfect” (Hebrews 5:9). “Perfect” here means “complete”. In other words, Jesus graduated from the school of obedience and got His degree. This is the degree the Holy Spirit wants us to get too. So, He will take us through many tests. If we fail in any test, He will give us a chance to do it again! He wants us to get the same “degree” that Jesus got and to make us overcomers (Revelation 3:21)! This is the most important degree that we can ever get. So, this year, let us say “No” to our own will and “Yes” to God’s will in every situation, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Transformed by Encouragement from God
“God wants to encourage us in all our trials, so that we can encourage others with the same encouragement that He gives us in our trials” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We are surrounded by people who are facing many trials and problems. If we want to help them to overcome, we have to go through many trials and problems ourselves first and overcome. The strength and encouragement that God gives us to overcome in our trials will then be what we can offer to others. God wants to make us a blessing to every person and every family that we meet this year (See Galatians 3:8-9, 14). He wants us to encourage someone or the other every day of this year (Read Hebrews 3:13). May it be so.
If you are a man or a woman and claim to be a believer and part of the church, you are Jesus’s wife. You are His Bride and He is the bridegroom, and if we are His Bride, we need to ask ourselves the question, “what type of wife am I?” Am I asking God to send me a spouse, when I’m not even a good wife to Him. If you are saved, do you recognize you are part of the Bride of Christ? And instead of getting people to try and understand your love language, how about you trying to understand God’s love language.
Do you know what God’s love language is?
A) Quality time B) Words of affirmation C) Gifts D) Acts of service E) Physical touch F) All of the above
Answer: F, all of the above.
First of all, Jesus loves quality time. He loves when you spend time with Him in prayer. He loves when you dedicate the morning and just bask in His presence, and seek His face and dwell in His Word. He loves quality time when you dedicate the evening or when you set apart a time in your life where you’re fasting to get closer to God. You want to hear His voice and want to know His sound, and want to be in His presence. God loves quality time.
The Lord loves words of affirmation, not because He needs to be affirmed, but He knows that when you affirm Him, it affirms you! Can I mess with you a second? You don’t read the Bible for God, you don’t read the Bible for God, you don’t pray for God, you’re not watching this message for God, you don’t listen to sermons for God, you don’t worship for God, all that’s for you. You praying is not going to make God any more faithful.
It’s not going to make Him any more Holy, it’s not going to make Him any more righteous. You worshipping is going to help your mind from worrying, because you can not worry and worship at the same time, and a lot of us has got it muddled. We think we’re doing God a service, because we attend church, because we are giving, because we are praying, because we are fasting, and God’s like… don’t you understand I’m already Holy? I can’t get any holier than I already am. I am in a lane all by Myself, there’s no league, I have no competition. The devil’s not even my adversary, I have no competitors, no adversities! You are doing this for you, you’re doing this for your words of affirmation, it affirms you.
He loves when you use your gifts, why? Because He gave them to you. He loves when you worship, because you are using that gift. He loves when you exercise your gift of artistry, your gift of speaking, that gift of business skills, He loves when you do that, because it shows Him off.
The Lord loves acts of service, when you are serving your community, when you’re serving your wife, when you’re serving in the Church. He loves service because you are His hands and feet, so it makes Him look good when you do this!
And God loves physical touch, you know how you touch the heart of God. Anytime you choose His will over your will, that touches His heart. Anytime you say, “God I don’t want to do this, but I trust you and you’re my husband and I’m going to follow you, and I’m going to submit to you, it gives God glory.
Once upon a time… Many years ago, there was an Emperor, who was so excessively fond of new clothes, that he spent all his money in dress. He did not trouble himself in the least about his soldiers; nor did he care to go either to the theatre or the chase, except for the opportunities then afforded him for displaying his new clothes. He had a different suit for each hour of the day; and as of any other king or emperor, one is accustomed to say, “he is sitting in council,” it was always said of him, “The Emperor is sitting in his wardrobe.” Time passed merrily in the large town which was his capital; strangers arrived every day at the court. One day, two rogues, calling themselves weavers, made their appearance. They gave out that they knew how to weave stuffs of the most beautiful colors and elaborate patterns, the clothes manufactured from which should have the wonderful property of remaining invisible to everyone who was unfit for the office he held, or who was extraordinarily simple in character. “These must, indeed, be splendid clothes!” thought the Emperor. “Had I such a suit, I might at once find out what men in my realms are unfit for their office, and also be able to distinguish the wise from the foolish! This stuff must be woven for me immediately.” And he caused large sums of money to be given to both the weavers in order that they might begin their work directly. So the two pretended weavers set up two looms, and affected to work very busily, though in reality they did nothing at all. They asked for the most delicate silk and the purest gold thread; put both into their own knapsacks; and then continued their pretended work at the empty looms until late at night. “I should like to know how the weavers are getting on with my cloth,” said the Emperor to himself, after some little time had elapsed; he was, however, rather embarrassed, when he remembered that a simpleton, or one unfit for his office, would be unable to see the manufacture. To be sure, he thought he had nothing to risk in his own person; but yet, he would prefer sending somebody else, to bring him intelligence about the weavers, and their work, before he troubled himself in the affair. All the people throughout the city had heard of the wonderful property the cloth was to possess; and all were anxious to learn how wise, or how ignorant, their neighbors might prove to be. “I will send my faithful old minister to the weavers,” said the Emperor at last, after some deliberation, “he will be best able to see how the cloth looks; for he is a man of sense, and no one can be more suitable for his office than be is.” So the faithful old minister went into the hall, where the knaves were working with all their might, at their empty looms. “What can be the meaning of this?” thought the old man, opening his eyes very wide. “I cannot discover the least bit of thread on the looms.” However, he did not express his thoughts aloud. The impostors requested him very courteously to be so good as to come nearer their looms; and then asked him whether the design pleased him, and whether the colours were not very beautiful; at the same time pointing to the empty frames. The poor old minister looked and looked, he could not discover anything on the looms, for a very good reason, viz: there was nothing there. “What!” thought he again. “Is it possible that I am a simpleton? I have never thought so myself; and no one must know it now if I am so. Can it be, that I am unfit for my office? No, that must not be said either. I will never confess that I could not see the stuff.” “Well, Sir Minister!” said one of the knaves, still pretending to work. “You do not say whether the stuff pleases you.” “Oh, it is excellent!” replied the old minister, looking at the loom through his spectacles. “This pattern, and the colors, yes, I will tell the Emperor without delay, how very beautiful I think them.” “We shall be much obliged to you,” said the impostors, and then they named the different colors and described the pattern of the pretended stuff. The old minister listened attentively to their words, in order that he might repeat them to the Emperor; and then the knaves asked for more silk and gold, saying that it was necessary to complete what they had begun. However, they put all that was given them into their knapsacks; and continued to work with as much apparent diligence as before at their empty looms. The Emperor now sent another officer of his court to see how the men were getting on, and to ascertain whether the cloth would soon be ready. It was just the same with this gentleman as with the minister; he surveyed the looms on all sides, but could see nothing at all but the empty frames.
“Does not the stuff appear as beautiful to you, as it did to my lord the minister?” asked the impostors of the Emperor’s second ambassador; at the same time making the same gestures as before, and talking of the design and colors which were not there. “I certainly am not stupid!” thought the messenger. “It must be, that I am not fit for my good, profitable office! That is very odd; however, no one shall know anything about it.” And accordingly he praised the stuff he could not see, and declared that he was delighted with both colors and patterns. “Indeed, please your Imperial Majesty,” said he to his sovereign when he returned, “the cloth which the weavers are preparing is extraordinarily magnificent.” The whole city was talking of the splendid cloth which the Emperor had ordered to be woven at his own expense. And now the Emperor himself wished to see the costly manufacture, while it was still in the loom. Accompanied by a select number of officers of the court, among whom were the two honest men who had already admired the cloth, he went to the crafty impostors, who, as soon as they were aware of the Emperor’s approach, went on working more diligently than ever; although they still did not pass a single thread through the looms. “Is not the work absolutely magnificent?” said the two officers of the crown, already mentioned. “If your Majesty will only be pleased to look at it! What a splendid design! What glorious colors!” and at the same time they pointed to the empty frames; for they imagined that everyone else could see this exquisite piece of workmanship. “How is this?” said the Emperor to himself. “I can see nothing! This is indeed a terrible affair! Am I a simpleton, or am I unfit to be an Emperor? That would be the worst thing that could happen–Oh! the cloth is charming,” said he, aloud. “It has my complete approbation.” And he smiled most graciously, and looked closely at the empty looms; for on no account would he say that he could not see what two of the officers of his court had praised so much. All his retinue now strained their eyes, hoping to discover something on the looms, but they could see no more than the others; nevertheless, they all exclaimed, “Oh, how beautiful!” and advised his majesty to have some new clothes made from this splendid material, for the approaching procession. “Magnificent! Charming! Excellent!” resounded on all sides; and everyone was uncommonly gay. The Emperor shared in the general satisfaction; and presented the impostors with the ribald of an order of knighthood, to be worn in their button-holes, and the title of “Gentlemen Weavers.” The rogues sat up the whole of the night before the day on which the procession was to take place, and had sixteen lights burning, so that everyone might see how anxious
they were to finish the Emperor’s new suit. They pretended to roll the cloth off the looms; cut the air with their scissors; and sewed with needles without any thread in them. “See!” cried they, at last. “The Emperor’s new clothes are ready!” And now the Emperor, with all the grandees of his court, came to the weavers; and the rogues raised their arms, as if in the act of holding something up, saying, “Here are your Majesty’s trousers! Here is the scarf! Here is the mantle! The whole suit is as light as a cobweb; one might fancy one has nothing at all on, when dressed in it; that, however, is the great virtue of this delicate cloth.” “Yes indeed!” said all the courtiers, although not one of them could see anything of this exquisite manufacture. “If your Imperial Majesty will be graciously pleased to take off your clothes, we will fit on the new suit, in front of the looking glass.” The Emperor was accordingly undressed, and the rogues pretended to array him in his new suit; the Emperor turning round, from side to side, before the looking glass. “How splendid his Majesty looks in his new clothes, and how well they fit!” everyone cried out. “What a design! What colors! These are indeed royal robes!” “The canopy which is to be borne over your Majesty, in the procession, is waiting,” announced the chief master of the ceremonies. “I am quite ready,” answered the Emperor. “Do my new clothes fit well?” asked he, turning himself round again before the looking glass, in order that he might appear to be examining his handsome suit. The lords of the bedchamber, who were to carry his Majesty’s train felt about on the ground, as if they were lifting up the ends of the mantle; and pretended to be carrying something; for they would by no means betray anything like simplicity, or unfitness for their office. So now the Emperor walked under his high canopy in the midst of the procession, through the streets of his capital; and all the people standing by, and those at the windows, cried out, “Oh! How beautiful are our Emperor’s new clothes! What a magnificent train there is to the mantle; and how gracefully the scarf hangs!” in short, no one would allow that he could not see these much-admired clothes; because, in doing so, he would have declared himself either a simpleton or unfit for his office. Certainly, none of the Emperor’s various suits, had ever made so great an impression, as these invisible ones.
“But the Emperor has nothing at all on!” said a little child. “Listen to the voice of innocence!” exclaimed his father; and what the child had said was whispered from one to another. “But he has nothing at all on!” at last cried out all the people. The Emperor was vexed, for he knew that the people were right; but he thought the procession must go on now! And the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever, to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.
“Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” ~ Isaiah 26:2-3
Prayer: Father God, the peace that comes through faith in You surpasses all human understanding. Help me to keep my faith in you alone that I would have peace and not falter in my thinking. The world wants to destroy the peace I have through faith in You. Protect my mind and heart from the things of this world. Pour out your perfect peace. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen!
The Bible is filled with reminders of how important it is to pray for one another. Jesus gave us the best example as He prayed for those who followed Him. Paul also left us prayers written for the churches he had visited over time. The truth that rings through all is this: “Keep on praying” (Matthew 7:7), “Pray at all times” (Ephesians 6:18), “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
It’s that important.
So, if we’re called to pray for the “church,” what is the church, exactly? The Bible reminds us that the church is more than just a building or a gathering place of people. And it’s much bigger than any single denomination, social status, or country. The church quite simply is the body of believers all around the world who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is referred to in the Bible as the Greek word “ekklesia” and is defined as “an assembly,” or the “called out ones.”
In a world that is often very dark, and in times that we know the end is drawing nearer, may we be found faithfully praying for one another until Christ’s return. Many believers are persecuted, even killed, daily all around our world. Many are being intimidated by others around them, or are ridiculed and attacked because of their beliefs. We can be sure of this – Satan is very aware of the power of our prayers. And he will do everything he can to render us ineffective and to silence our voices. May God help us to recognize those traps and do all we can to show His love and light in this world that so desperately needs Christ’s hope and healing.
Here are 10 powerful prayers for the church:
1. Pray for unity in the church.
“I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
We are so incredibly in need of your power and your strength. We ask that you would fill us with your Spirit of love and unity among believers all around our world. We ask for your help to set aside our differences and look to the greater cause, the cause of Christ. Please help us to truly live out a life of love. We know that this is only possible through the power of your Spirit, so we ask that you would move across our land in miraculous ways, with fresh filling and awareness, turning your people back to you, drawing others to come to know you. We need your unity and your love to stir our hearts and give direction to our days. We need your wisdom to guide us, we need your Spirit to lead us, to live out godly lives that would bring honor first to you. We thank you that you are always with us; and give us great purpose and hope.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
2. Pray that God would be glorified in all things and that the name of Christ is exalted.
“To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
We give you the glory and honor for all that you’re doing in our lives every day, even in the times we can’t see it or understand your ways. Shine your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes. Set your way before us. May all your plans succeed. We may reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing.
Thank you that:
Your ways and thoughts are far greater than ours
You had a plan to redeem and make all things new
Your face is towards the righteous
You hear our prayers and know our hearts
You reign supreme
We are more than conquerors through the gift of Christ
You are holy and just
Help us not to follow after the voice of the crowds, but to press in close to you to hear your whispers and seek after you alone. We will declare that your love stands firm forever. For your lovingkindness endures forever.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
3. Pray that God’s Spirit and power would fill the church.
“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)
Fill us with the power of your Holy Spirit this day. Fill us with your joy, your wisdom, and with constant reminders that Your Presence will go with us, and you will give us rest. Thank you that you came to give new life, peace, hope, and joy to your children. Thank you that your power is made perfect in our weakness. We know that you are with us, and you fight for your people. We believe that it’s not by might, nor by power, but by your Spirit that you make a difference in our world. We choose to trust you today and to recognize the authority of who you are in our lives.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
4. Pray that the body of Christ would faithfully show love to a hurting world in His Name.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Help us to keep our eyes on you, so that we can follow your promptings and respond to your call. Help us to see when another soul around us needs to be encouraged. Help us to be faithful to carry one another’s burdens, remembering that we’re all in this life together.
For your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in seasons of brokenness, you’re still with us
That your Word says you are close to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit
Our comfort abounds through Christ
That our greatest source of help and strength comes from you
That though we face trouble and loss in this world, we can be assured you have overcome it all
We ask for:
Great miracles for this hurting world
The comfort of your Spirit to bring a covering of grace and healing to all those who have been broken.
Through our own struggle and pain, help us to be your vessels to offer comfort and strength to others who are hurting.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
5. Pray for God’s provision and that the church would be faithful to give generously.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
You are Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides. We thank you that you own it all and hold everything in your hands. We thank you that you know our needs before we even ask. You’re aware of all that concerns us, and you have a plan and provision. You alone can move mountains to make a way for your children. We ask for your answer, in your timing, for every need that weighs our hearts down.
Forgive us for doubting you, for worrying, and for trying to work everything out on our own. Help us to trust you more. We choose to recognize and to believe that you are able to accomplish far more than we even thought possible.
We thank you in advance for your miracles, for paving out pathways, for your provision for those who love you – the church. Thank you for the abundance of blessing and goodness you have already stored up. Thank you for teaching us to be content in all circumstances. We love you Lord; we’re leaning on you.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
6. Pray that the church would be faithful to go into all the world and share the gospel of Christ.
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)
Thank you that sin and death have been conquered by Christ, and that your power is everlasting. He paid the price to offer us the gift of eternal life. Help us never to forget or take for granted this huge gift of love on our behalf. Help us not to hide this great truth or to keep it to ourselves out of fear of judgment. Forgive us for being too busy, or distracted by other things, for not fully recognizing what you freely given, what you have done for us. May we be found faithful to go into all the world – our communities, the nation, the whole world. May we share this light of hope that so burns within our hearts. Open doors that no one can shut, Lord. Protect your people as we carry the truth of Jesus into all the world.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
7. Pray for the leaders of every church, that their hearts and minds are directed towards Christ.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)
We pray for every leader in our churches around the world – give them your wisdom and discernment as they lead. We pray that their hearts would be directed first to you, that they would recognize where their true help and strength come from. We ask that you would guard their coming and going, that you would be their refuge and their peace. We pray that you would surround each one with wise counsel, that they would be humble and kind, patient and loving through their actions and words. We pray that their faith in you would be unwavering.
We pray for their families – give them great strength, protection, and grace for the days ahead. We ask that you would continue to pave the way for strong, faithful men and women to serve your people. We ask you for the outpouring of your Spirit to raise up those you’ve chosen to lead.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
8. Pray for the church to have a love for God’s Word and to walk in His wisdom, humility, and strength.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Thank you that you have victoriously overcome sin, and death, and any evil that we may face today. And because of you, we are overcomers too. We too can have victory, and we can walk strong in your peace.
Thank you, Lord, that You are producing in us great endurance through the hard places. You are building spiritual muscle. We press in close to your presence today and ask that no matter what obstacles we’re facing as a church, we choose joy.
Keep your words of truth planted firmly within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right; give us the power to be obedient to your Word.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
9. Pray for God’s power and protection against the attacks of the enemy.
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
The battle feels intense some days. We get tired and weak, and t’s hard to keep going in the face of defeat. Help us to remember that you will never leave us – that you’re our Refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
We know that the enemy wouldn’t be fighting so hard against us if we weren’t making a difference for your Kingdom. He wouldn’t be trying so hard to stop us if he didn’t think you had so much good still in store. Remind us that this battle belongs to you Lord, and whatever we’re up against can be taken down in one fail swoop by your mighty hand. Help us to trust you more and to never waste time spinning our wheels fighting in our strength.
Thank you for your daily presence in our lives; that we can be assured your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us, and your ears are open to the prayers of your people. Thank you that you surround us with favor as with a shield, and we are safe in your care.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
10. Pray that God would wake up the church and stir us to action.
“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:18)
We pray for your great healing on our land. Shine your face and your blessing over us. Give us courage to go into all the world and take the message of the Gospel of peace. We need you now, more than ever before. Our times are in your hands.
Thank you that you are:
Rich in mercy and full of grace
Forgiving and merciful
Strong and mighty.
For us and you fight for us still today
Wake us up Lord! Remind us to live aware, listen to your words, and be willing to make a difference in this land. Give us courage to speak out. Help us not to stay silent but to do all things through your wisdom and love. Bring honor to your name in these days Lord, for you alone are worthy.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
P** By Debbie McDaniel at ibelieve.com / Photo Credit: Thinkstock/Rawpixel
One of the most common things that couples say to me is, “My wife and I just can’t seem to have a normal conversation anymore with each other. Our words seem so superficial and only about the facts of the day. We just never get to those heart-to-heart times of fellowship we used to have before we got married.” Have you ever thought or said these words? If you have, then this article is for you.
Why does conversation seem to turn in this superficial direction within a marriage? Once you understand why the communication has deteriorated between you, then you will see how to change it.
Why does communication deteriorate over time?
1. Holding resentment from past unresolved conflicts. This is one of the most common and obvious reasons why communication deteriorates in a relationship. If a prior conflict is not fully resolved, the heart becomes closed and the walls will go up and communication will shut down. This is why Solomon told his son, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (Prov. 18:19). If you have been fortifying your heart with bars, you have unresolved issues. If you want the superficiality to be removed then you must identify and deal with these conflicts.
2. Hardening your heart. When you refuse to resolve your conflicts, a hardened heart will always be the natural result. Why is this true? Paul equated hardness of heart with an unwillingness to repent of your sin. He warned the Romans that, “because of your“hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5). If you are hard-hearted today, there will not be any heart-to-heart fellowship between you. It is an impossibility!
3. Allowing pride to control you.When pride controls your heart, you will relate to each other in one of two ways. First, you can be verbally harsh, authoritarian, and speak to your spouse with a superior attitude. Or secondly, pride can also make you indifferent to your mate’s requests to talk, and cause you to be unwilling to confess your own faults. These attitudes will only result in the walls being fortified between you. Remember, “By pride comes nothing but strife” (Prov. 13:10). Pride is the death-nail to heart-to-heart fellowship.
4. An unwillingness to talk. When one or both of you stops being willing to talk, your hearts only grow harder, and the walls are strengthened (Acts 7:57). This refusal to talk things through is another sign of the pride and hardness of your hearts. You are, in reality, moving further backwards and not forward in your relationship.
5. Dominating the conversation. If you dominate a conversation by the number of words you use, to attempt to overpower your mate’s point of view, this will only further drive you apart. You should never think that you “will be heard” by the number of words you use (Matt. 6:7). If you say the same thing over and over again but just in different ways, and you don’t allow your spouse to respond, nothing will get accomplished. This again only reveals more pride within your heart.
6. Trying to control and force. When one or both spouses attempt to dominate the conversation, this is a controlling and forcing technique that only assures there will not be a true heart-to-heart conversation. Trying to control a person or a conversation is not love! Controlling behavior is also another form of pride.
7. Not being a good listener.Listening is a vital part of good communication. But, do you want to be heard more than you want to listen? Do you interrupt your spouse and not allow them to complete their thought before you begin your rebuttal? Solomon declared this behavior as folly. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). The word folly means stupid or to be without wisdom. This unwise practice will guarantee that there will be no heart-to-heart fellowship.
8. Lying and deceitfulness. When there is dishonesty between two people there will be no trust. Lying to one another is a rejection of your marital oneness with each other. Paul said, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). If Paul taught this truth concerning Christians in general, how much more would it hinder your marital oneness (Gen. 2:24)? Lying and deceitfulness calls into question your entire relationship together.
9. Harsh and condemning words. Harsh words are like small knife wounds or razor blade cuts that slowly drain the life out of your love relationship. David said of his enemies who constantly pursued him, “Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully”(Ps. 52:2). When harsh and condemning words are allowed to thrive in a relationship, they will bring destruction to every marriage. Be assured, there will be no heart-to-heart conversation within this marriage!
10. You don’t want to reveal anything that might be used against you in the next conflict. If you are afraid to be honest about what you are thinking, feeling, or what you have done, there can be no real intimacy in your conversations. This kind of fear will shut down any real heart-to-heart discussion, because there is no trust. If you are afraid to open your heart to your spouse, it reveals that there are several basic needs missing in your marriage.
11. Not spending time together. Sometimes the distance grows between a couple not because they have a major communication problem, but simply because they just don’t spend much one-on-one time together. When you don’t take the time to date each other, pray with one another, or recreate together, the closeness and friendship between you will die. Before you were married, as you dated, you spent plenty of one-on-one time together, which is why the communication was so much better. Don’t allow all of the distractions of life to keep you from the one person you are to be one flesh with.
These are just a few of the hindrances to heart-to-heart communication. If you recognize yourself in any of the above issues, you must realize that this is the reason the communication has deteriorated in your marriage. I would suggest asking God to forgive you, and then turning to your spouse and doing the same. Then take the steps in the next few paragraphs.
How to change the way you communicate, and get back to heart-to-heart fellowship.
1. You need to confront the problem. Many times, when couples struggle and they sense the distance growing between them, they beat around the bush with their mate, and don’t specifically address the problem. This is a major mistake. When this happens the problem only gets worse. If your car was running roughly or wouldn’t start, you wouldn’t just hope that the engine trouble would resolve itself. You would take the car into the mechanic to get the problem resolved. If you chose not to do this, one morning you would go out to start your car, and it wouldn’t run. So, don’t let the lack of heart-to-heart fellowship in your marriage get any worse. Resolve to talk to your spouse about it today.
How should you bring up this problem with your mate? Choose a weekend day, when you and your mate are not tired, and there are no distractions. Find a time when you can be alone, with the children playing outside, or at a friend’s house. Ask your spouse to sit down to talk, and express that you believe that you are drifting apart. Express your love and desire to change things between you. Don’t blame your spouse, but express that both of you are at fault, and that both of you need to make some changes. Go through the following steps.
2. Reconcile past issues. If you regularly fight about specific issues with your spouse, or you have past issues that have never been resolved, make a list of these conflicts and begin a discussion about how you can resolve them. Without a truly reconciled relationship with your spouse, your communication will never be heart-to-heart. Unresolved conflicts are what caused you to drift away from each other, and resolving them is the first step back. To help, I have two worksheets that would be very helpful for you to begin the process. Go to www.covenantkeepers.org and click on “Articles” and then “Worksheets” and print “How to Resolve Conflicts” and “How to Solve Conflicts.” Work through these together with your spouse to begin the reconciliation process.
Jesus made it absolutely clear that resolving conflicts with anyone was one of His top priorities. He said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also said, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). So, if you have resentment toward your mate, or you know your spouse is upset with you, you have the responsibility to go to them and try to reconcile the issue. Keep talking and praying until it is resolved. When you take this step, you are removing one of the greatest impediments to having a heart-to-heart relationship again.
3. Admit your communication failures. Humility concerning your faults and your communicative abilities, is absolutely essential to opening up a new and deeper fellowship with your spouse. God has explained in many places throughout the Scripture that if you want revival and awakening in your souls, you must humble yourself. God spoke through Isaiah the Prophet and said, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones’” (Isa. 57:15). Jesus spoke heart-to-heart with anyone who would listen to Him, and He was “gentle and lowly at heart” (Matt. 11:29). Humility is a fundamental key to this entire process.
Go back and look at the list of communication failures that I gave at the beginning of this article and consider if any of these are yours. Do you do any of these behaviors? If you do, turn from these today!
4. Be vulnerable. How does vulnerability affect your ability to communicate with your spouse? It reveals your willingness to be honest and open with your mate. Vulnerability allows you to admit your faults, ask forgiveness, and listen to your wife or husband’s thoughts, and speak heart-to-heart. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5). What is Jesus encouraging in this verse? He wanted His disciple’s to be honest with themselves about their own sins before they ever tried to tell others about their faults. Honesty with yourself is an absolute necessity if you want to become vulnerable with your mate.
King David revealed his own vulnerability throughout the Psalms. What an example for all of us to follow. He could talk about his failures and sins, his fears, his personal struggles, and his hopes (Ps. 51:3; Ps. 34:4; Ps. 119:81; Ps. 42:5). But the question is, will you be vulnerable like this with your mate? If you won’t, then don’t expect your spouse to be vulnerable with you. If you want heart-to-heart communication with your mate, then vulnerability is essential!
5. Vulnerability also requires that you walk in humility. The essence of vulnerability is humility. You know your own struggles and faults; therefore, you are not quick to judge your spouse for his or her faults. You can admit your needs before your mate. You can give and receive encouragement and correction from your spouse. Note how open Paul the Apostle was with the elders of the church of Ephesus. He said to them, “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews” (Acts 20:18-19). Can you talk about your struggles with your spouse? If your husband or wife has some helpful encouragement or correction, will you listen to it and not get angry?
Humility also enables a mutual submissiveness with your mate that further enables this openness and vulnerability. Peter clearly commanded this kind of fellowship with others when he said, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5). Humility is the key to this submissive attitude that can listen to the other. In addition, without this vulnerability and humility, you will forfeit the great grace God wants to bestow upon your marriage relationship.
6. Choose your words carefully. One of the most critical requirements for heart-to-heart fellowship with your spouse will be the words that you choose to use. As Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). The word soft in this verse means tender or gentle words. The word harsh means to speak offensive and hurtful words. So, which takes place with your spouse on a regular basis, tender and gentle words, or offensive and hurtful ones?
Only you have the ability to choose how you will speak with your mate. You are the only one who can change the words you speak. Don’t blame-shift and excuse your own responsibility by saying, “I wouldn’t talk the way I do, if he or she didn’t come off so harsh toward me.” Being honest with yourself is vital in changing this part of your communication. You have the choice as to how you will respond! God has made it clear what He wants, He said, “choose what pleases Me” (Is. 56:4). This is your responsibility!
You can say things several different ways if you choose. When your spouse fails to do what you have asked them to do, you can say, “This is the fifth time I’ve told you that this bothers me. What is your problem? Are you deaf, or are you just dumb?” Or, you can say, “Honey did you forget about this or that issue? This is really important to me.” Then explain the reason why this issue is so important to you. Which response would create a conflict, and which would help you get to a solution? The answer is obvious!
7. Become a better listener. In most marriages one person is more verbal that the other. The person who is more verbal usually dominates the conversations which hinders the less verbal person from taking. Consequently, the less verbal spouse begins to believe their mate does not value their thoughts and opinions. This causes the less verbal person to retreat and not share equally, which destroys the ability to have a heart-to-heart fellowship together. This is why James taught the church, “My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”(James 1:19).
How can you change this imbalance? It is just a choice. The more verbal spouse must learn to use less words, and the less verbal person needs to use more words. For couples that just can’t seem to do it, I recommend using a kitchen timer. Set it for one minute, and say whatever you need to say. Then reset it for your spouse, and allow them to talk without interruption. This ensures equal time. Eventually people learn to discipline themselves to give this equal time to each other. Remember, you can’t have heart-to-heart talks when only one person is allowed to talk.
8. It takes two to tango. The tango is the most intimate dance that two people can enjoy. Each must move and step in a precise manner, or the couple will step all over each other, or fall to the floor. My point is that communication is like the tango. Both partners must participate and work together to enable heart-to-heart fellowship. It can’t be done alone. You need a willing heart, and your spouse also must be willing. You both must deal with your own personal faults, and you both must choose to be vulnerable with one another. Each of you must listen and give equal time to the other to respond.
Therefore, I encourage you to respond to the Lord in your personal life, and allow Him to work within you to change the way you communicate. Focus on getting to the place of heart-to-heart communication with each other. It will take work, but the work will bring the rewarding relationship you desire.
All of the steps I have just outlined in this article must be obeyed by both partners. It can’t be done by just one spouse alone. One of you must choose to start to speak heart-to-heart with the other. Trust that God will soften your spouse to respond. Remember, not even God Himself with all His power and authority, can by Himself fix the relationship with mankind. Ultimately, reconciliation requires men to respond to Him in repentance. This is why Jesus commanded those who heard Him to, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). So, I am asking you to repent of your side of the problem as it relates to communication, and humble yourself before God and your spouse. You take the step to start the conversation. You won’t regret it!
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