Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chapter 1 Prayers

Prayer is a passion of mine. I have read many books on prayer, and sometimes I feel like they’re more about getting things from God than just getting God-abiding, dwelling, connecting with our Heavenly Father. There came a time when I finally just had to stop reading books on prayer and started looking at examples from The Bible.

Some of my favorites are Paul’s Chapter 1 prayers! He opens his epistles with thanksgiving and praise and prays for heavenly things, not material things. He asks that the people he’s writing to be filled with knowledge or spiritual gifts, increase in wisdom, grow in love, he thanks them for being partners in the gospel, and to be filled with fruit that pleases the LORD.

If you have time, just glance through the first few verses of Chapter 1 in all of the epistles. It has influenced and inspired me to pray differently, to pray for eternal things rather than material (although we are instructed to pray for these things too). Below are 2 of my favorites, I have started to regularly pray these scriptures for myself, family, friends, and the ladies in my life group.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9-10)

Learning how to pray different . . . Hoping my heart conforms to His, that I’d be able to “seek first His Kingdom” or pray for “His Kingdom to come, His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven”.

Oh LORD . . . teach me to pray!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Heart

February is here, the month of love! Hearts are everywhere. I was thinking about the issue of the “heart” according to the bible. Again, I’m in the process of unlearning everything the world has taught me about my “heart” (will and emotions) and my “mind” (knowledge and understanding) and trying to learn what God has to say about them.

You’ve heard it said “Trust YOUR heart . . . what is YOUR heart telling you to do . . . follow YOUR heart, etc”. But God’s Word would tell you . . .

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:19)

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

Do you see a pattern here? The world tells us that our hearts are completely reliable, that’s what should trust the most-ourselves! God’s Word would tell us not to trust our hearts, they are deceitful!

Once we put our faith in Christ and begin to walk with Him, our life becomes a process of sanctification (to make holy, be set apart, consecrate). The rest of our lives is learning to rely on our SELF LESS and rely on HIM MORE.

God wants us dependent on Him, not independent trying to fix of thing on our own! That’s why Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). Those that are blessed are the ones who humbly bow their heart to the LORD and say “Lord, my way is not right. I want to live according to Your way, help me to understand the path that you have set out before me.”

We think of sin as doing “bad things”. But as you begin to read about what God has to say about sin, you see that sin is just trying to do life on your own, dependence on self, on your own heart, rather than on God. So whether you live your life morally pure or your life is a disaster, if God is not involved, it’s all sin.

God isn’t about our lives being “perfect”, that’s religion-walk the straight and narrow, try your best, don’t fail, and you’ll gain eternal life, etc. Our Heavenly Father cares much more about an honest pursuit and dependence upon Him than “perfection”.

He tells us over and over stop trying to do this on your own! Stop trying to understand life according to your own heart and understanding. Seek me and my ways, and I will make your paths straight.

Again, I am unlearning as much about God as I am learning. I desire to know what is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2) but I can’t know that unless I consult the Maker, His Word, and seek His plan for my life.

I am have been in the practice of going to the LORD and asking Him what He wants me “to learn” about this trial, experience, etc. I realize now, I also need to ask Him “LORD, what do you want me to unlearn? Can I encourage you to do the same? Remembering life is about trust not self-reliance; dependence, not independence; humility, not pride, process, not perfection.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)

“For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)