The Power of Praying Scripture

Most of us would agree that prayer is one of the most important things in our Christian walk. Our walk with God is a relationship, and relationships are only built through communication. You can not have a relationship without communication and prayer is communication with God! Therefore, one can not have a relationship with God if they don’t pray because it’s the very core of our connection to God!

Yet many people seem to hit a brick wall in their prayer life. They try to pray but after a while their prayers all end up sounding the same. And we begin to wonder, what’s the point? Are my prayers doing anything at all?? There are seasons in my life where my prayers seem alive and vibrant! They just seem to flow naturally. But it isn’t always that way.

A few weeks ago, I was at a loss on how to pray for certain people in my life. I had been told that praying for my “enemies” was the only way to actually love and forgive them. But there was a problem…I wasn’t sure on how to pray for my enemies. To just pray “God, help so and so to have a good day” didn’t seem beneficial at all! I mean really, do I expect God to give everyone in my life a good day just because I prayed that for them each morning? These prayers soon became so habitual that they seemed meaningless, like a ritual or a superstition. And I didn’t want this for my prayer life. I didn’t want to just babble some meaningless words out of habit! I wanted to PRAY! I wanted my prayers to make a difference in the lives around me! I wanted my prayers to transform and change my heart!!

One day, as I was stumbling over my prayers for someone who I was having a hard time forgiving…I was praying “God, please help them to see what they’ve done. Help them to see that I am also your child…” and suddenly I just stopped! What if I was wrong about them! What if they had done nothing wrong and I had done something wrong? What if…So I started praying the “other” side…”God if I’m in the wrong help me to see what I’ve done…help me to see that they’ve been obedient…” I stumbled over these prayers and something just didn’t seem to flow. This sounded so stupid! I was so unsure of anything I couldn’t even pray! Was I just praying from all angles just to “cover” my bases? Was there any power to these prayers?

Finally out of frustration, I just said out loud: “God! I don’t know how to pray for this situation! I don’t know what’s right and wrong! I don’t know what’s going on in their hearts! How can I pray for them? Teach me how to pray!!”

And you know where God led me? To Psalm 23. And I felt as if he was asking me to pray this Psalm over them:

 “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” 

There is nothing more healing than praying these over your enemies. The first time I prayed these words for them I broke down and wept because I realized how much God LOVES them and how he truly wants the best for each one of us. “God, be their shepherd… lead them beside quiet waters…restore their soul. Guide them along right paths for your name sake…be with them through the dark times and comfort them…”

I prayed these verses everyday and I began to see that God isn’t taking sides! He loves ALL people, and he wants the best for ALL of us. He’s not concerned about who’s right and who’s wrong. He doesn’t see things the way we do and he doesn’t work the way we expect him to.

Blessing your enemies day after day changes you. It wasn’t long before I realized that I actually meant what I was praying!  “God, let your goodness and love follow them ALL the days of their lives! May they dwell in your house FOREVER!!!” I meant these words with all my heart…for my enemies!! I was praying God’s will for their lives and the power of God’s words were transforming mine.

For my children my prayers were different because I had specific things I wanted to see in their lives…”God help Isaiah with his test today, help Bella to be kind to her brothers, help Jonas to control his anger, help Dallas to obey the first time, help Emerson to have a good attitude…” These were the types of prayers I’d pray, and I don’t think they were wrong! But after the transformation with my other prayers, I wanted more for my children! I don’t just want them to succeed and be “good” people, I want them to be godly men and women of faith! Once again I asked God to show me a scripture to pray over my children and I started praying Psalm 63:

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Finally, I had the words to pray my actual desires for my children! And I KNEW these prayers were in his will for them, because they’re in God’s word!

For “my” three churches (Blumenort EMC, HOPE church, Southland) that I’ve attended and loved in the past 29 years of my life:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousnessthat comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

Do you feel unsure of what to pray? Are you in a situation where you don’t know how to pray? Do you feel like you’re just praying the same prayers over and over again? Ask God to show you a verse or passage of scripture to pray over the people in your life. I promise you that if you persist in it, you will see your prayer life transformed!

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Is Starvation the Churches Fault?

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I saw this exact picture posted on Facebook by one of my Christian friends. And many other Christian friends “liked” it. I’m not going to address the particular church pictured in the photograph. Nor am I today going to write about what more the church should be doing about starvation and poverty. That’s a huge world issue (and also church issue) that has to be discussed on a totally different level. But today I simply had to address something that many people seem to believe:

Wealth = An Unspiritual Person.

It feels so spiritual to believe this, since often people who have great wealth become corrupt. They can become proud and arrogant. They can have anything they want! And giving up things for God can feel so righteous! And indeed it is righteous and good to give, even sacrifically at times!

I think of many heroes of the faith and they all had this in common: they were unbelievably generous people. George Muller, David Livingstone, Gladys Aylward and many, many others lived incredibly generous and poor lives, yet they blessed hundreds if not thousands of people. Even present day examples like Francis Chan truly encourage us to be willing to give it all up for God. He is worthy of all we can give!

And when we read about these amazing stories, we sometimes feel even more convinced that our riches will testify against us.

Let’s look at some of the scriptures that are often quoted to back up this belief:

“Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.” James 5:3

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25

So many people understandably come to the conclusion that followers of Jesus should not be rich. After all didn’t Jesus once tell a rich man to sell all his possessions and then turn and follow him? We must all, therefore be called to do the same…right?

Actually the belief that it is wrong to be wealthy is so unbiblical and founded in judgement, pride and self-righteousness, that I would say that it’s actually just as wrong and deceptive as the prosperity gospel which teaches that all Christians will be rich, happy and healthy. Neither are biblically accurate. Neither are correct.

” For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10

The LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Money itself isn’t evil. Because if wealth equals sin, then what on earth are we to do with all the wealthy righteous people listed in the bible? How about the rich man, Joseph, who lovingly buried Jesus? Or Abraham who had riches, servants and livestock that outnumbered many of the kings in his day? Then we have Job, an unbelievably wealthy man in his time…yet God said that there was no one else in his day as righteous as him. Or King David. Or King Solomon (who also build a temple for God, made with gold!) And guess what…there were starving people back then too.

Yet somehow that “waste of money” seemed to please God.

Remember the story of the disciples judging Mary for “wasting” her perfume on Jesus’ feet? They ironically used the same argument, in the same way as the one above. I mean, just pouring out a years worth of wages, surely God wouldn’t approve of that waste!

“But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was going to betray Him, asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor…” John 12:5

And here I say the same to you! Church, wake up! This “meme” was not made because of a person who actually cared about the poor! It was not made out of compassion! If it was about compassion it wouldn’t leave you shaking your head at “Those Rich Religious Christians” rather it would turn your attention to the poor! It would challenge you to look into your own heart and wallet to see if you could possibly sacrifice more to help!

But it didn’t accomplish that, did it? It was made for one purpose: To judge the way those “hypocrites” spend their money! And how DARE they make a fancy building to worship in?!?

If we really cared about where our money is going, why not post pictures like this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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Each year $25.4 billion is spent by Americans on professional sports.

Last year, people spent $24.62 billion US dollars at McDonalds, with a total $117 billion  spent on fast food all together.

$65 billion dollars was spent on soft drinks.

$18 billion was spent on credit card late fees in America.

$70 billion dollars was spent on lottery tickets in the year 2014 according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

$90 billion dollars a year is spent on alcohol in the U.S. alone.

Americans spend $80 billion on cigarettes  per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And here’s the deal, The annual estimated cost to end world hunger is $30 billion dollars.

Let that sink in for a moment.

That means if everyone in the U.S. would quit drinking alcohol for one year and drink water instead, we could end world hunger for three years.

But still, it’s so much easier to blame it on the church isn’t it?

Friends, I tell you, self righteously pointing at the way some spend their money, while wasting your own will never end world hunger and it will never end starvation. And I’m not writing these statistics to say that going to a NHL hockey game is wrong. Neither am I claiming that every Mega Church is spending their money right. But if we’re going to start picking out specks in our brother’s eye, we better make sure we are ready to take out the log in our own!

Money isn’t evil. The LOVE of it is. And having a big house, fancy clothes, a new car or even a big church doesn’t mean you are full of sin and greed anymore than having a small rental house, a rusty car, and a small church means you are free from sin or even that you’re spending wisely.

IT’s so so SO easy to look at others and say: “Well, if they can buy a car like THAT, they are obviously living for self!” Yet unknown to you, that person may be giving 90% of their money away and living off the rest. And you aren’t giving a dime to charity.

Please don’t post memes like this. It isn’t helping world hunger. Instead find a way rework your budget, have a yard sale, or organize a fundraiser to really help the cause.

Generosity pleases God. It’s a trait of a true follower of Christ. And if God’s asking you to sell your big house and move into a trailer: OBEY HIM. Bless you for being obedient, God will reward you!

But realize that God may call the next person to keep their home so that they can use it to offer the homeless a place to sleep, or to foster children, or to let their elderly mother move in so they can help care for her.

If you don’t have wealth, consider it a blessing, for much wealth brings many troubles. If you have wealth, consider it a gift, hold it loosely, and give generously, for what God has given you he can certainly take away.

And always remember that it isn’t about what you do or do not have, it’s the heart that God sees.

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Claiming your Thoughts are God’s

There are not many things that make my blood boil… but there are a few things that make me furious… these include:

Children being abused, neglected or  abandoned.

People abusing their authority over others who are weaker than them.

A person in power who turns a blind eye to evil and refuses justice when it is in their power to judge.

Rich living comfortably at the expense of the poor.

And I’m sure there’s a few more but one thing that bothers me just as much as those listed above are those who say “Thus says the Lord” when the Lord Almighty has not spoken.

Now don’t get me wrong, God speaks. God speaks today in many ways. He speaks to me and guides me in many ways…he comforts me when I’m hurting, he gives me courage when I’m afraid, he corrects me when I’m wrong. He’s even given me clear direction when I’ve felt completely lost and told me very specific things about my children so that I may better know how to raise them.

But there’s one thing he doesn’t do…he never tells me that I’m the centre of it all and that the people around me are here for my benefit. Actually, his message never is centred around my life completely. His message always points me back to himself. His message never puts down other people. His message brings life, repentance, forgiveness and truth.

Now what on earth got me to start writing about this today? Well today I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and I saw this:

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And it really, REALLY bothered me. Not because the message was entirely untrue…. actually there is some truth to it. But because the message was not biblical and it claimed to be straight from God’s mouth.

And if it said: “The reason some people have turned against you and walked away with from you without reason, has EVERYTHING to do with you, because they will not go where you are going next. They will only hinder you on your journey because they have already chosen their purpose in life. Let them go and keep moving, greater is coming,” I might even agree!

This would be true in many situations for me. I have had to let go of many good friends in my teenage years, because if I would have held on to them I would not have become a good wife or a good mother. I couldn’t hang out with people who drank and did drugs if I wanted to move forward in my life. I couldn’t go to those parties or bars if I wanted to live purely before God. I couldn’t go on hanging out with all sorts of other men and expect to have a healthy marriage. And it was ENTIRELY because of me! I had changed. I was a new creation. I was no longer content to live for myself.

But the thing is:

a) I completely changed what the quote said to make it biblically true,

and b) I didn’t say “God says” because he didn’t say it! I actually made that quote up!

Now sometimes God does remove people from your life, for seemingly no reason. This last year he removed some very dear friends from mine. It hurt. It stung SO bad. I’ve cried and begged him to bring us back together. And I don’t know why it happened, or why he allowed it. But I know for certain he didn’t do it because they were “hindering me” or because I was “hindering them.” In fact these people were always a positive influence in my life. They spoke truth. They did not compromise their relationship with God for lesser things. And honestly I am who I am today because of these dear people. But God, for now, has seemingly led us on different paths. Whatever the case, I believe he still leading all of us… we’re still all going in the same direction, we’ve just parted ways for now.

And here’s my problem with lies spoken in the name of God: when we believe that God is only on our side and against those who’ve hurt us, we have made false image of God that we are bowing down to. It’s not him. It’s not God. You are bowing down to an idol. God doesn’t bring people into our lives so they can serve their purpose in our self-centred world and then remove them when they can no longer meet our needs. That’s called Narcissism, a belief that everything exists for MY good.

God brings people together so that they can learn to serve and love each other. He wants us to stop and care for those around us who have fallen, not to shove them aside and keep climbing higher. Now if those who stumble are dragging you down with them, then yes you may have to leave them in God’s loving hands, or turn them over to someone who’s stronger than you to help them. But it’s not a light decision and it’s definitely not because they’ve “fulfilled their purpose” in your life…as if God would create people to serve you.

Now, the last thing I want to do is to make people fearful of sharing any encouraging words or things that God has spoken to them. But please, PLEASE, if what you’re sharing isn’t directly out of the bible, do not say “God says” or act as if it’s a direct quote from his mouth. Share it as your thoughts or say, “I felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking this to me today.” Then you will not risk deceiving those who may not know the Living God or the Words he speaks.

Because one of the greatest tragedies in the church today are people who think that their thoughts are God’s thoughts and speak/judge accordingly. We are often so blinded by sin that we cannot see clearly and as good as our intentions are, they aren’t pure like God’s. We see things dimly, but he sees it as it is. We judge partially, but God’s judgements are based on truth. And let’s face reality here: God does not think like man.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

So please, dear friends, take credit for your own thoughts and give God the glory for His.

The Very Best Thing

I realize that I’ve had quite a few heavy posts lately and that usually reflects that I’ve had a hard month. It really had its ups and downs. But today I’m feeling truly blessed!

On Sunday, I went Prayer Summit at my church. If you’ve never hear of it, basically it’s a huge prayer meeting. I’m sure there are well over a thousand people attending from many different countries, languages, and denominations. I was just overjoyed to be a part of so many people worshipping together. And it’s times like those that I really get a different perspective.

I’m sure that if we had all come to search for something we disagreed on, we’d find as many opinions as there were people in the room. But we weren’t there to focus on those things. We were there because we agreed on ONE thing. The very best thing: Jesus. And the love that flows when we focus on worshipping Jesus together is unlike anything else.

Too often the body of Christ is so consumed trying to figure out how to all agree on everything that we really forget how much we have in common. Jesus! Our Hope, Our Life, Our Saviour, Our Righteousness, Our intercessor, Our friend!

And yet there’s this struggle among believers for unity. And I truly believe it’s because we talk too much and don’t worship enough! How can I tear down, gossip about, judge my fellow brothers and sisters if my eyes are on Christ? How dare I focus on the negative things in the very people Christ DIED for?!? How dare we fight over foolish controversies and ideas?!?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about ignoring or turning a blind eye to evil and injustice…but really, how easily am I willing to tear down a brother or sister in Christ?  Over political views? Over child rearing? Over fitness or eating habits? Over a wrong attitude they may have? I shamefully admit that all too often, I’ve been quick to point out the flaws in other people. But why? Why do we insist on turning on each other, rather than walking beside each other in humble love? Why do we insist on always being right? Why do we continue to think the worst of others? Should we not rather in holy fear focus our own imperfections and give others the benefit of the doubt? How often do we actually see what’s going on in their hearts anyway?

And here’s something remarkable: When we come together to worship, we suddenly don’t feel like those little things matter anymore. It is here we come and find peace. It is here we come to be made whole.

What is it about worship that binds us together? Why do I look over beside me and see a complete stranger worshiping and feel like I’m beside family?

When we worship it is actually an expression of our reverence for God. And when we stand before a Holy God it complete awe, suddenly we can’t help but begin to feel very small. So far are we all from God’s perfection that all our sins are comparatively equal. And then looking at this perfect Jesus, who lavished his great love on us, dying for us and continues to care for our needs so tenderly everyday, how can we say I’m not willing to love my brother? And it’s here where our differences don’t seem to be all that important any longer: All made in his image, all dearly loved by God.

And he says: “This is my command to you, that you love one another.” He doesn’t say just to love those nice to us, those who look like us, those who agree with us, those who smell nice, or who are fun to be around. Love one another. I’m pretty sure that means everybody.

And with all the hate in the world today, it’s especially important that we don’t follow those patterns. Please dear brothers and sisters, we have so many opportunities everyday to speak life or death to each other. Choose love.

There’s a song I used to sing in church. I wonder what would happen if we stopped just saying the words and started living them:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” -Jesus Christ