Are You Ready?

“Then He said to him, ‘A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, Come for all things are now ready.'” (Luke 14:16-17)

Over and over in the Bible, we learn that ONLY GOD can provide a feast that truly satisfies the hunger and thirst of the soul. For ALL who repent and believe in Jesus Christ, the banquet is prepared by the God of grace and mercy. There is enough food for everyone. 

As you study the parable of the great feast, you find some pretty foolish excuses and you see the fearful fate of those who reject the gracious hospitality of God. The feast to which we have been invited is a banquet that provides for the very deepest hungers of our hearts. When I think about the feast God has prepared for us, I’m reminded of David’s words in Psalm 23:5 — “Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anoints my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

In Revelation 7:17, John saw into heaven and observed this wonderful feast to which we’ve been invited. He said, “for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

FORGIVENESS is on the menu at this feast. God is eager to forgive every sin and every sinner. When we confess our sin and repent — He forgives. What a great encouragement when I am burdened and crushed by the grief of my sin.

The FELLOWSHIP at this feast is indescribably wonderful. We are assured in the Scripture that every believer has access into the divine presence of God CONTINUOUSLY. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” There is no other fellowship in the world comparable to this.

When we sit down at this great feast, we will experience the FRIENDSHIP of our Heavenly Host. Abraham was called the “friend of God.” He responded to God’s invitation. He trusted God. He obeyed God. He lived to do things that would be pleasing to God. 

Isn’t it wonderful that God even allows us to be His friend? One of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 15:14 which says, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” I have many friends, but only one that the Bible says sticks closer than a brother — that’s Jesus!

Who wouldn’t want to attend a great banquet like the one I have described? And yet, there will be many who offer foolish excuses and refuse to attend. (Examining the excuses may be a topic for another day.)

Let’s skip down to Luke 14:24. This verse tells us what happens to those who decline the invitation. “For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.” Those are sad words! Jesus said that when people decline the loving invitation of our gracious God to come and sit down at this glorious feast — they miss the joy of forgiveness, the fellowship and friendship of the living Lord Jesus Christ. 

There is absolutely no hope for a person OUTSIDE OF CHRIST. There is NO other Savior — there is NO other Gospel. Final rejection of the invitation results in final ruin.

I often say — and it bears repeating — You will never understand how good the Good News is until you understand first how bad the bad news is. We are wicked sinners (all of us) and we don’t deserve to be invited to this wonderful banquet (NONE of us) and yet God — in His grace and mercy — invites anyone who will repent of his/her sin to come. No person is below the notice of our God. You may be poverty-stricken — you are still invited. You may be crippled by sin and think that nobody could ever forgive you or love you — you are still invited. You may have lived your life blind to the love of God and the need you have for salvation — you are still invited. 

Everything is ready. God is ready. Those of us who are believers are ready. The question of the day is this…ARE YOU READY? Come to Jesus today and be saved.

Have a great day.

Responding to Insults

I only wish I had written this.

The Unappreciated Pastor

Insults. If you are in the ministry get ready for them. I’m not talking about insults from the community. It’s not the watching world that usually gets to us. Insults from those within your congregation are the ones that will bother you the most. I remember vividly my first insult. I had just started preaching. I think it was my third sermon. At my home church it was the custom of the preacher to stand at the front door and speak to folks as they left. A cute little girl walked up to me and said “My mom says you’ll learn to preach one day!” As Rose Mary’s baby departed I resisted the strong desire to remind her mother of what an awful job she was doing as a parent. I would be lying if I said that remark didn’t hurt. I quickly learned that if I was going to…

View original post 710 more words

Bearing Precious Seed

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:6)

This is one of the times when I especially love the King James Version. Other translations often leave out the word “precious” when referring to the seed. I’m not interested in a debate about the accuracy of Biblical translations today. My position is that the best translation of Scripture is the one YOU WILL READ AND OBEY!

I love this verse because I sincerely believe that the seed we sow is indeed precious. This verse implies a command to me. It implies that I am to be a witness — a seed-sower of truth. This verse shows me that it is a privilege to witness for the Lord. It promises me that if I am faithful in sowing the seed — a harvest will come.

I believe the greatest weapon the devil uses against us is the weapon of FEAR — especially in sharing our faith with others.

We are afraid we will fail our Lord.

We are afraid we will not give the right information as we witness.

We are afraid of failing because it would wound our pride.

But over and over in the Bible, we are told that we are to be witnesses. Personal evangelism is the will of God for every believer. To Abraham, God said, “You shall be a blessing.” To the disciples, Jesus said, “You shall be my witnesses.”

Some people hesitate to witness because they are afraid somebody will ask a question they can’t answer. But in Matthew 28:20, Jesus promised that He would be with us and help us with all those things. We are told that the Holy Spirit is always present to bless our testimony and the Word of God so that people might be saved.

Hebrews 4:12 reminds me that God’s Word is different from any other word. It says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God’s Word penetrates the heart and is used by the Holy Spirit to draw people to Christ.

Your educational achievements do not necessarily equip you for personal witnessing. The only thing that matters is your fresh, vital, real experience with the living Christ. Many times, a brand new Christian is more effective in personal evangelism than a Christian of many years because the new Christian is so anxious to tell others about what Jesus has done in their life. 

Remember — our verse today promises us that those who serve God as personal witnesses SHALL come with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them. The law of the harvest says that if a person continues to sow — in due season he shall also reap a harvest. 

You can write this down big and plain.

If you don’t sow any seed — a harvest is absolutely out of the question. But when you share what Jesus has done in your life and scatter the Gospel seed everywhere — the Holy Spirit will bless it and a harvest is assured.

The old hymn says…

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Though the loss sustains our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Get busy. We SHALL come rejoicing! The harvest is assured.

Have a great day.

God’s Poetry

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

The Greek word that we translate “workmanship” in Ephesians 2:10 is poiema. It means, “that which has been made — a work” or “a poetical work.” In other words, Paul teaches us that we (believers) are God’s poems! The word is a picture of artisanship, craftsmanship and skill.

Look at this verse and you will see some very encouraging principles that deal with the gift of salvation given to us by God through His grace and by the sacrifice of His Son.

1. We are HIS workmanship — divine origin
Only God can save us. We are saved by God’s grace and grace is God’s unmerited favor in spontaneous action toward undeserving sinners. Grace seeks the sinner, grace satisfies the sinner and grace is sufficient for the sinner.

Our salvation is a work that God begins at conversion and continues until we reach the end of our journey in Heaven. The theological terminology for this process is justification, sanctification and glorification.

2. Created in Christ Jesus — divine method
Acts 4:12 reminds us that there is salvation in no other person but Jesus Christ.

John 14:6 says that He is THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life.

The minute you add ANYTHING to salvation, you have inserted human effort and it becomes a process of God AND something else. The Bible is clear that God’s method was completely divine in providing salvation for us.

3. For good works — divine purpose
God demonstrates His mercy and grace THROUGH you and me. We are not saved BY our good works, but once we are saved — good works are the result. 

Titus 3:8 says, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”

God has a purpose in saving us — that HE might be glorified and others may see His holiness and wonder. As we do good works — in His name — we reflect the character of God that is within us.

4. Which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them — divine program
God saves us so that in us and through us His redemptive program might continue throughout the world. The privilege of being a child of God carries with it the responsibility of service. Our works of love and faith and obedience are expected because they point people continually to the cross of Christ.

We indeed are God’s poetry — created by Him, saved by Jesus Christ, for God’s divine purpose of good works, that we might share the Good News of salvation with every person we meet. We are walking poems! God works lovingly, wisely, patiently and skillfully so that His poem might truly reflect His love and glory. Pray today that YOU will be the poem God intends.

Have a great day.

Is He A Shepherd or YOUR Shepherd?

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)

Take a few moments and read carefully this paragraph by Dr. F.B. Meyer.

“Psalm 23 has been described as a creed. That is my creed. I need, I desire no other! I learned it from my mother’s lips. I have repeated it every morning when I awoke for the last twenty years. Yet I do not half understand it; I am only beginning not to spell out its infinite meaning, and death will come on me with the task unfinished. But, by the grace of Jesus, I will hold on by this Psalm as my creed, and will strive to believe it and to live it; for I know that it will lead me to the Cross, it will guide me to glory.”

I believe that Psalm 23 was written by David in his senior years. He was reflecting on what it means to be a forgiven sinner. The king who had been taken from the fields keeping sheep to rule over Israel was singing of the One who is the true Shepherd and King of all who believe and trust in Him.

There is a big difference between saying that the Lord is A shepherd or even THE shepherd and being able to say He is MY shepherd. The Bible teaches us that the good Shepherd knows you, loves you and pleads with you to hear His invitation to come to Him for an abundant, eternal life. Psalm 23 reminds me that MY shepherd offers His guidance and His leadership in every area of my life.

Dr. Charles L. Allen used to tell a story about a man he counseled. This man was nervous, tense, worried and sick. He had achieved great success in the world but somehow he was unable to find inward peace. Dr. Allen said that he “prescribed” the 23rd Psalm five times a day for seven days. He insisted that the man take it exactly as prescribed. He was to read it the first thing when he woke up in the morning. He was to read it carefully, meditatively, and prayerfully. Immediately after the breakfast, he was to do exactly the same thing. Also immediately after lunch, , again after dinner, and finally, the last thing before he went to bed. At the end of one week, Dr. Allen promised the man that things would be different for him. AND THEY WERE!

Most of us are activists. By that, I mean we seem to be miserable unless we are going somewhere or doing something. Our lives are frustrated because we have not taken the time out of each day to think about the way our shepherd leads us. Burning the candle at both ends will eventually take its toll on us. We need to spend time every day simply meditating on the mercies and purposes of God, our Shepherd.

I challenge you to try Dr. Allen’s “prescription.” For the next seven days — read and meditate on the 23rd Psalm FIVE TIMES A DAY — first thing in the morning, after each meal and just before you go to bed. Let me know how God reveals Himself to you! I know He will.

I’m thanking God today that He is MY Shepherd. I pray He is YOURS too.

Have a great day.

God Doesn’t Need Me…I Need God

“I planted, Apollos waters, but God gave the increase.” (I Corinthians 3:6)

Some of the greatest news I ever received came when the Holy Spirit convicted me of the fact that God doesn’t need me — I need God. You see, God’s love for us is so complete that NOTHING I do can make me more lovable to Him or less lovable to Him. He doesn’t love me because of me — He loves me because of HIM!

“OK Pastor. I think I understand the concept of who needs who — but I can’t figure out what that has to do with today’s verse.”

AH HA! Here’s some more Good News.

God ALLOWS us to work for Him, but our achievements are simply small parts of His greater plan. He still doesn’t NEED us to do His work — but we need HIM to accomplish anything for Him. Let me explain.

Too many people I know operate under the impression that everything in the Kingdom depends on them. We think our methods and programs and our efforts will be the things that actually save people. In fact, our method or program may just be a seed planted or watered on the way to a harvest provided solely by God Himself.

If you know anything about farming, you know that the farmer realizes that the harvest of an abundant crop depends on something other than the effort of his hands — as necessary as that is. The same is true in the spiritual realm. When we understand this principle, there are a couple of other things that go alone with it that are a great encouragement to me.

1. We do not all do the same work.
Paul said, “I planted and Apollos watered.”

I’m so glad that God doesn’t not expect the same ministry or testimony from all of us. There is no fixed form into which each of us must fit as the servants of God. Paul’s message was different from Apollos’ — and yet God used BOTH to do the work of the Kingdom. 

Maybe you are a planter like Paul. Are you planting the seed of the Gospel every time you meet someone? Maybe you see yourself as a waterer like Apollos. When you meet others, does your message and testimony encourage others? Does your testimony provide the necessary water for the Holy Spirit to use to help others?

The important thing here is that each of us be about the work in our own unique manner which is the result of our experiences and circumstances.

2. Planting and watering are BOTH necessary.
Some people get discouraged because they work in the fields and they don’t experience the “miracles” that others may see. Don’t get discouraged! Keep planting the seed or watering the seed because BOTH are necessary if a harvest is going to be seen. Seldom is a soul converted because of the testimony of a single Christian witness. 

Make sure you plant the seed of the Gospel in the hearts of others. May sure you are irrigating the crops planted by the efforts of those who may have gone before you. We must do our job faithfully and cheerfully — whatever it is.

3. GOD ALWAYS GIVES THE INCREASE
God and God alone brings about conviction of sin and the awareness of the need for forgiveness in the heart of the unsaved person. He does that by the preaching of the Gospel message as it comes through the lives and lips of His children. Only God can give new life, spiritual life, and eternal life to the souls of men. 

When we finally understand this important principle — we will be thankful that we are not responsible for the results. We just plant the seed or water the plants or whatever else God ALLOWS us to do. 

God doesn’t NEED us to accomplish His work — but I am so thankful today that He has chosen to ALLOW me to play a small part in this wonderful task of winning the world to Christ. I just want to get out there and plant or water or pull weeds or anything else God might allow me to do.

Have a great day.

GOD is my REFUGE…

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

In my list of “Favorite Bible Verses” this one has to be included near the top! I probably quote this verse to myself several times a week. What an encouragement to know that God is my REFUGE! From time to time, we all need a refuge — and in a day when our nation stands in danger of becoming a cinder heap on the trash pile of history — the Psalmist reminds us of a message that is desperately needed.

God is our REFUGE
A. Leonard Griffiths said, “The Psalmist sings not of life’s perils, but of the Power protecting him against these perils.”

God is our storm shelter when the tornado comes. He is our high tower when the waves of defeat and disaster beat at our feet. 

To understand the historical context of this psalm, read Isaiah 36-37. God proved to be the refuge for the children of Israel when Rabshakeh and the armies of Sennacherib had surrounded the city. The word REFUGE literally means “a place to which to go quietly for protection.” Just think about that — the God of the universe is our REFUGE!

God is our STRENGTH
In II Corinthians 12, Paul said, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” Look how personal that is. MY grace is sufficient for YOU!

Already today, I have prayed FOR and WITH people who simply need the strength of God to face the things in their lives. I prayed that God would BE their strength so that in their weakness, He would be seen. 

God is our VERY PRESENT HELP
If does little good if when I need help — help is absent! This passage tells us that God is our PRESENT HELP. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Have you ever been in a tight place and you needed PRESENT HELP? I have — and I am thankful that the Lord is ALWAYS there to help. God is more present than the nearest friend I have.

“So, Pastor — how can this help me today?”

Simple…

The fact that God is our REFUGE, our STRENGTH and our VERY PRESENT HELP means that we can confidently approach whatever the day presents to us. We can find comfort where we need it and we can cheerfully obey whatever He asks us to do. No one else can trust God for us. No one else can be obedient for us. Our responses to Him should be immediate and complete. He is our refuge, our strength and our very present help.

Martin Luther’s most famous hymn is probably “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” The text of that hymn reflects Luther’s awareness of our intense struggle with the devil and our need for God’s help. It is said that often in difficulty and danger, Luther would sing this song.

One of the interesting things about this hymn to me is the difficulty of translating it from German to English. There are at least 80 English versions of the translation. In 1868, the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book contained this version:

A mighty fortress is our God,
A trusty Shield and Weapon;
He helps us free from every need,
That hath us now o’ertaken.

Another British version of the hymn contains this version:

A safe stronghold our God is still,
A trusty shield and weapon;
He’ll help us clear from all the ill
That hath us now o’ertaken

I’m thankful today that God is indeed MY REFUGE, MY STRENGTH, and MY VERY PRESENT HELP. Rejoice that His personal protection is available to all who call on His name.

Have a great day.

Children of God

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (I John 3:2)

ALL people are CREATURES of God.

Only those who by faith receive Jesus Christ as Savior can truthfully be called the CHILDREN OF GOD.

There seems to be some confusion on that fact in the world today. Many want to say that no matter what you believe — we are ALL children of God. That’s just not true. One of the most blessed truths of the Bible is that not only are we CREATED by God but we can become CHILDREN of God by His grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Sonship is established when we are “saved” and it is a nearer and closer relationship to God than the one established by God’s creative action. This new relationship is the fundamental basis for all of the sacred, holy, and far reaching obligations and responsibilities given to us by God.

Notice what John says in our verse today. “NOW we are children of God.” There many good people who don’t think they can say “I am a child of God.” Maybe they think that salvation is a result of God’s grace PLUS human effort. That would make me timid about saying I was a child of God. Suppose I haven’t DONE enough to earn that distinction?

Other people hesitate to say they are children of God because they didn’t have a dramatic, Damascus-road type conversion experience. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we all have to have the SAME experience when we meet Jesus. I’ve never seen a burning bush or been swallowed by a big fish, but when I repented of my sins and placed my faith in Jesus Christ — I was just as saved as Moses, Jonah or Paul the Apostle!

I believe that John is teaching us a very important lesson in the verse today. God wants us (His children) to have the assurance of our salvation. In Romans 8:14-16, Paul said, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

This assurance God gives us provides great comfort and security and inspires me to express my love and gratitude continually to God, my Father. The assurance of my salvation (by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone) equips me with a Christian witness that enables me to look any person in the world in the eye and say — “God loves you, Jesus died for you and if you will repent of your sin, God will save you.”

Because you and I have been saved through no effort of our own, the only proper response to God is absolute, loving obedience. My obedience to God comes from my love for Him rather than my fear of Him.

I don’t completely understand all that is involved in our salvation — nobody does. But this one thing I KNOW. I am NOW a child of God! I’ve been saved by His grace and I desire to be completely obedient to Him all the days of my life.

356 Podcast

DON’T FORGET…
Remember to subscribe to the 356 Podcast through iTunes. If you don’t use iTunes, you can still subscribe but you must have a podcast player on your device. You can also listen to the podcast directly from iTunes without downloading to a device. Thank you for your kind comments and support of the new part of our ministry.

 

Looking for the PERFECT Church

10530487_10202678924960311_1674663397532799460_o

“Another parable He put forth to the, saying: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.” (Matthew 13:24-25)

Someone sent me the cartoon above today and I find it funny — AND SAD. After 31 years of being a pastor, I could tell you some true HORROR stories of people who remember something that happened in church 50 years ago — but they can’t remember what they had for breakfast this morning.

The parable of the tares (Matthew 13:24ff) was taken from nature and spoken by Jesus to illustrate one of the mysteries of life. This parable provides us with a picture of life — personal life, family life, community life and church life.

I constantly meet people who are not involved in church and their number 1 reason for not going is — “the church is full of hypocrites.” My response? You are absolutely correct! And so is the gym, the grocery store, the gas station, the football stadium and every other place you go — but that doesn’t stop you from going to those places — does it?

People want to know why the church can’t be ideal and perfect? It’s simple — the church is made up of sinful people. While many of those folks are SAVED sinners — they are sinners nonetheless. This quest we have for perfection in the church often produces pride instead of perfection. 

As long as we are here on this earth — there will always be weeds in the field. There are NO fields in which only flowers grow. In fact…if you are searching for a perfect church…and if by some stroke of luck, you find one…DON’T JOIN IT — YOU WILL RUNI IT!

“So Mr. Funny-man Pastor…what do you suggest?”

Let me suggest three things you and I can do to help us deal with the limitations of our world. We must learn to live with these limitations — these weeds in the wheat. And we do that 

WITH GRACE

WITH PATIENCE

WITH HUMILITY

Remember, when the last judgment comes — the Righteous Judge will be the one in charge — not you and not me. And I’m guessing there will be a few surprises at that judgment. I’m thinking that God will be more merciful than I have been. God will be more strict with MY sin than I was and God knows more than I do.

Instead of dwelling on something that happened all those years ago — give it to the Lord. He’ll handle it. Instead of criticizing every little thing about your church — get busy being obedient to what God has called YOU to do and you won’t have time to criticize. And finally, remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 6:9. He said, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

One day, the wheat and tares will be separated by the ONLY ONE who is qualified to do it — the Lord Jesus Himself. He’s got it covered!

Have a great day.

Principles for Effective Prayer

“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24)

Last night (7/13) at Valley Grove Baptist Church in Knoxville, I preached a message on the Principles for Effective Prayer. Several people have asked this morning for the list and Scripture references I made — so I decided to use the outline as my blog post for today. I pray that these principles are an encouragement to you as you seek to grow in your relationship with God through prayer.

The Bible urges us to pray. I Thessalonians 5:17 actually says we are to “pray without ceasing.” As believers, that means we are to have a constant communication with God by talking to Him and listening to Him as He speaks to us. 

Throughout my ministry, I’ve met many people who complain that their prayers are unanswered. They have not received the results they were looking for or expecting. Does that mean that God failed to keep His promise? Of course not.

If there is no answer to our prayers, the fault does NOT lie with God but with us. We need to understand the principles set forth in the Scripture, which, if followed, assure us of God’s answer to our prayers.

1. Pray according to the will of God
I John 5:14-15 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

Remember — God is sovereign over ALL things. Therefore we dare not dictate to Him what He MUST do or what He SHOULD do. God knows better than we know. He knows what the future has in store for us. Whenever we pray then, we make our petitions known to God (to the best of our understanding) and then ALWAYS pray that He answer our prayers according to HIS WILL.

2. Pray in the name of Jesus Christ
John 14:13-14 says, ‘And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

Sin often stands in the way as a barrier between us and God. Therefore, those sins need to be removed. But the problem is — I can’t remove them! I don’t get a “do over” in my life. Jesus is the only One who can remove our sins, and He has done so by the blood of the cross.

NOW — in the name of Jesus, we can approach the prayer-answering God. If we come to God THROUGH CHRIST — we will find a loving Father who will lift our burdens or give us strength to bear them.

3. Pray conscious of the ministry of the Holy Spirit
Far too often, we minimize the work of the Holy Spirit for fear that we will become too Pentecostal. But the Bible is very clear. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit has an important ministry in our lives — especially our prayer life. 

Romans 8:26 reminds us, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

When I cannot frame my words to express the deep yearnings of my soul, the Bible promises that the Holy Spirit helps my weakness and my inability to express my deepest thoughts by making intercession for us.

4. Pray BELIEVING
We don’t pray mechanically or automatically. We don’t drop a prayer into a machine and wait for an answer to come out. Prayer comes from our hearts and we must have faith that God will answer. 

Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

5. Don’t Pray Selfishly
James 4:3 says, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

This is where the Health & Wealth crowd gets it wrong. They believe that if we should just NAME IT AND CLAIM IT. The problem with that is I can’t trust myself to want the right things. I may want something to exalt myself instead of exalting God. God will NEVER give His glory to anyone else. My prayer should ALWAYS be that whatever I have would be used to bring people to Christ.

6. Pray with a Forgiving Spirit
This one is HARD — but here is the principle. There is no use praying if you harbor a grudge against anyone. We must forgive one another as Christ has forgiving us. 

Mark 11:25 says, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

7. Pray and Ask God to Forgive YOUR Sin
We are all sinners. Before God will answer our prayer — in fact, before God will even HEAR our prayer, we must confess and repent of our own sin.

Psalm 66:18 reminds us, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

8. Pray with Patience
Don’t ever give up. I believe we have lost many rewards for lack of perseverance. Read Romans 4:20-21 and you will see that Abraham prevailed because he persevered. The Bible teaches that Jacob prevailed with God because he would not let go as he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord. Elijah prevailed on Mount Carmel because he continued in prayer when there was no sign of rain.

Remember Hebrews 11:6 which says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Eight simple principles that I believe will transform your prayer life. I pray you are encouraged today to take ALL your burdens to the Lord in prayer.

Have a great day.