Category Archives: prayer

Mustard Seed Faith

MustardSeedFaith

 

As long as we have unsolved problems,
unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith,
we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life. 

—John Ortberg

Must…..

Mustard seed faith is sometimes a difficult concept but one that is very important to understand. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds found in the Middle East, but that smallest of seeds grows into one of the largest of plants. Jesus therefore used this illustration several times to show us that even the tiniest grain of true faith can do very great things.

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

—Matthew 17:14-21

We see here the central need of faith, without which nothing can happen. When Jesus spoke about removing mountains he was using a phrase which the Jews knew well. A great teacher, who could really expound and interpret scripture and who could explain and resolve difficulties, was regularly known as an uprooter, or even a pulverizer, of mountains. To tear up, to uproot, to pulverize mountains were all regular phrases for removing difficulties. Jesus never meant this to be taken physically and literally. After all, the ordinary man seldom finds any necessity to remove a physical mountain. What he meant was: “If you have faith enough, all difficulties can be solved, and even the hardest task can be accomplished.” Faith in God is the instrument which enables men to remove the hills of difficulty which block their path. —William Barclay (1)

Beloved, having and holding onto true faith is difficult in hard circumstances, but it is possible. In our own physical strength we cannot move mountains. We can’t make something from nothing. We cannot by ourselves change someone’s heart and mind about something. These are under God’s care and control.

What it does mean is that if we rely on the fact that God knows what is best for us, we can rest on the assurance that His ways and means are perfect. And if we believe—have true faith—in that fact, we will be able to pray with a faith that will steadily grow.

Just like that tiny mustard seed.

We will then understand that what we may regard as unanswered prayers are actually part of God’s grand design to mold us into becoming who He wants us to be—completely and absolutely trusting that His ways are best.

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(1) Barclay, William. “Commentary on Matthew 17:1“. “William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible”. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/view.cgi?bk=39&ch=17 . 1956-1959.

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Joyful … Hopeful … Prayerful

Romans-12-12

 

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Thankful for God’s Blessings

Thankful_Thursdays

Every so often I like to share some of my devotionals with you that were published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. My assignment was to write 30 devotionals for this book, and I had only 3 weeks to get them done. That tight deadline was stressful enough, but having migraines 24/7 only added more stress. When I wasn’t writing, I was sleeping!

Thankfully, God’s continuous grace and mercy got me through this difficult assignment. Looking back now, I can say that He carried me through all my painful circumstances to write what He had in mind for me. I hope you are as blessed when you read this as I was while I was writing it. To God be the glory for walking with me through it!

Please enjoy this devotional. It was the first in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving.

When I want to thank God for His blessings . . .

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. —Psalm 103:1-2

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. —John 1:16

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.. —Ephesians 1:3

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. —James 1:17

. . . I will pray.

Holy Lord,

Lately I’ve been reflecting on how much You have blessed me, and it brings tears to my eyes as I realize You supply all these things because You love me so much.

I look around my home and see how You have amply provided for all my needs. Comfortable furniture fills my rooms. There is food in the pantry and refrigerator to nourish my body. The clothes in my closet keep me warm in winter and allow me to be cool in summer.

I am surrounded by family and friends who love and care about me. Did You place them in my life to help me through the rough patches? It seems that way to me.

I know there are times I don’t appreciate You as much as I should. Instead, I grumble and complain about the most insignificant things. That’s when You remind me that You are always with me—and that is the biggest and best blessing of all. When I’m happy and joyful, You cheer me up even more. And when I’m feeling low, it helps me to remember that the most precious part of my life is knowing You.

Thank You for being the Giver of bountiful blessings.

Amen.

Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some. —Charles Dickens

[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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Ever Follow Good

1Thes5-15-Fall

See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

(1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, KJV)

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, NIV)

AnnaSmile

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Yahweh Is the Sweetest Name I Know [John Piper]

I receive devotionals from the Desiring God blog every day and am always blessed by what I read from them. Today’s writing by John Piper is so sweet I knew I had to share it with you. Please visit the Desiring God site, where you’ll find much wonderful reading!

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You are not wrong to sing, “Jesus is the sweetest name I know,” even though Yahweh is.

Here’s why.

God gave himself the name Yahweh. No man gave him this name. It is God’s chosen personal name. He loves to be known by this name. It is used over 5,000 times in the Old Testament. It is almost always translated by Lᴏʀᴅ (small caps). But it is not a title. It is a personal name, like James or Elizabeth.

You know the name Yahweh best from its shortened form Yah at the end of Hallelujah, which means “praise Yahweh.” I love to think about this when I sing. When I sing, “Hallelujah,” I love to really mean, “No! I don’t praise you Bel, or Nebo, or Molech, or Rimmon, or Dagon, or Chemosh. I turn from you with disdain to Yah! I praise Yah. Hallelu Yah!”

God announced his name to Moses in Exodus 3:15. God said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers. . . . This is my name forever.”

He preceded this announcement with two other statements so the meaning would be clear. He said, “I am who I am” (verse 14a). And he said, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you’” (verse 14b).

The Hebrew name Yahweh is connected to the Hebrew verb “I am.” So Yahweh is most fundamentally the One-Who-Is. “I am who I am” is the most foundational meaning of Yahweh. It means: My am-ness comes from my am-ness. My being from my being. My existence from my existence.

There are vast personal and covenantal implications of this. But this is foundational. No beginning. No ending. No dependence. He simply is, always was, and always will be. He communicates all of this with a personal name. To be sure, he has titles, and he has attributes. But this is a personal name. He packs the weightiest truth about himself into a personal name. Infinite greatness and personal knowability are in the name Yahweh.

Then in the fullness of time, Yahweh came into the world to seek and save the lost. The angel said to Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is an English transliteration of the Greek Iesoun. And this in turn is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Joshua. And Joshua is a combination of Yah and “salvation” or “save”. It means “Yahweh saves.”

So Jesus means “Yahweh saves.” Jesus is Yahweh with a human nature coming to save his people from sin.

Paul confirms this in Philippians 2:11. He says of the risen Jesus, “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That is a quote from Isaiah 45:23 where Yahweh is the one to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Paul is saying that, in the end, the whole world will acknowledge that Jesus is in fact Yahweh incarnate.

So you don’t have to choose between singing, “Jesus is the sweetest name I know,” and, “Yahweh is the sweetest name I know.” Indeed you dare not choose.


For more on this topic, see John Piper’s three most recent messages:

Topic: The Supremacy of Christ

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

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AnnaSmile

3 Good Reasons for Unanswered Prayers [reblog from Teshuva]

My bloggy friend Ugochi from Teshuva…Inspirations for a Better Life posted this today. I knew right away I wanted to share it with you. Please visit Ugochi’s site and spend time reading more of her writings.

3 Good Reasons For Unanswered Prayers

June 27, 2013 by

Every one wants their prayers to receive fast answers, like immediately! We all want God’s “suddenly” to happen for us, we would be very excited for the answer to come to us while we are still on our knees before we say amen. While this can happen, it is not always so, other wise we will not have the need to “wait” on God like He says.

The first thing to do when prayers are not answered is to check the following:

You are part of God’s family
You are not in sin
Your demand is in line with His word
Your faith is strong and unwavering
Your motive is right
You are walking in loveunanswered

God is perfect and very true to His word, plus He has our best at heart. If all of those boxes are checked in the affirmative then God might be holding back for the following reasons:

1. It Is Not Good For You- God is too good a Father to allow us have what would hurt us, no matter how hard we pray… or cry. This brings to mind a true story of a young man who asked his mum why one of his eyes was blind. She told him how a pair of scissors was taken from him while he played with it as a baby, but because he cried so hard and loud, she was moved by his cry and asked that the scissors be given back to him in order to pacify him. Then while he played with it he dug it into his eye and was blinded. Enraged, the young man yelled at his mum and said to her, “So because I was crying so hard you let me play with what could hurt me!” He picked a pair of scissors and dug into his mother’s eye and blinded her too. Very heart breaking story I know.

Someone once said that he prayed and prayed for a particular lady to give him a “yes” for marriage but it didn’t happen. Marriage is good, very good, but it is not every person that is good for us. Maybe that car you so desire is not good for you; it might have a default that will cost a life. It could be a good-looking business after a long time of dryness but God will not let you in because He knows it will only bring ruin. So just trust God’s judgment and be at peace, know He has your best interest at heart. God does not want to give you that which will hurt you…

… I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.  Jeremiah 29:11 (ERV)

2. It Is Not The Right Time- It may be that you are not ready for what you want at the moment. God may have looked at the surrounding conditions at the time and judged that it will not be to your advantage to receive that blessing when you asked.  God is a God of process, and sometimes we must wait on the process and mature before He lets us have certain things.

God has blessed us with so many promises in His word but He does not let us have them all at once. Take David for instance, God anointed him king but kept him from the throne until the right time; after Saul’s and Jonathan’s deaths.

Some of God’s promises for you are for an appointed time; be patient while you wait on God, your wait will neither be forever nor in vain.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 (AMP)

3. God Has Something Better In Mind-I will always remember the story I heard of a King who asked a golf player to demand anything he wanted as a gift for honouring his invitation. The golfer asked for a golf club, and was so anxious to receive it, going to the mail day after day to check if it has arrived. Days turned to several months but in the end the king gave him a huge land of already built and ready golf course.

Also a man told of how he fell in love with a house while he was house hunting and prayed and fasted to have that particular house, he lost the deal and was very disappointed. But as he continued his search he found a bigger and better house at a far cheaper rate than the former one and he sealed the deal with ease.

Sometimes when God does not give us what we want it is because He has something far better in mind for us. God always wants to give us His very best and we must trust Him enough to wait on and for Him.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 (AMP)

I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.  Jeremiah 29:11 (ERV)

Is there something you are waiting for, is your trust in shape?

© 2013 ugochi-jolomi.com

Ugochi, thank you so much for giving us a lot to ponder and pray about!

AnnaSmile

Eyes on God

EyesOnGod

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
    save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
    for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
    for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
    because you answer me.

—Psalm 86:1-7

AnnaSmile

2013 National Day of Prayer

National-Day-of-Prayer-2013

Today is the National Day of Prayer for the United States. The theme for 2013 is “Pray for America.” According to the National Day of Prayer web site,

As our nation struggles with continued economic insecurity, vast healthcare reform, and countless challenges to our constitutional rights, citizens of the United States are preparing to exercise their freedom to gather, worship, and pray.  Millions will answer the call to prayer on May 2nd in observance of the 62nd annual National Day of Prayer.  Organized events will be held in thousands of public venues where intercession will be made for America and its leadership.

This year’s theme, “Pray for America”, is based on Matthew 12:21 which reminds us that “In His name the nations will put their hope.”  National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force Chairman Shirley Dobson, wife of Family Talk founder Dr. James Dobson, has said that, “The American people continue to be plagued with challenges that defy simple answers, and our hope lies in humbly seeking the Almighty’s guidance, protection, and blessing – not only on the National Day of Prayer, but throughout the year.”

The National Day of Prayer tradition predates the founding of the United States of America, evidenced by the Continental Congress’ proclamation in 1775 setting aside a day of prayer.  In 1952, Congress established an annual day of prayer and, in 1988, that law was amended, designating the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May.

I would like to share a song written by the group Sanctus Real. Read below about how and why they wrote this song.

SanctusReal_Pray_Single

We wrote the song Pray because these are anxious times. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on the edge of my seat, watching and waiting as tensions rise and markets fall. The 2012 election has left me acutely aware of the fact that we are a nation divided, fragile and in dire need of true hope. From my television screen to my twitter feed, I’m confronted with a minute-by-minute timeline of the latest news from around the world. The awareness that we’re just one thumb tap away from another shocking headline can be stressful. What will come next? We wonder if North Korea will launch a nuclear missile, if another homemade bomb in a backpack will be detonated at a public gathering, or if the mild-mannered kid next door will carry out another mass murder.

For those who cannot view the video for whatever reason, here are the lyrics to this wonderful song:

I bow my head to pray, I don’t know what to say
I’m not sure how to fix the things I’m dealing with
I’m in a desperate place, I need to share the weight
But I just don’t know how, to let it all pour out
Though I’m silent, my heart is crying
Cause I was made to come to You

So I pray
God I need You more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray

I’ve failed to find the time, but You’ve been calling out
I let the days go by as if I could live without
But it’s gotta be here now, I won’t be pulled away
Cause it’s just You and I, so let the world around us fade

As I pray
God I need You more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray
I’m gonna pray

(Father)
Will You meet me here right now?
(Father)
I surrender, lay it down
(Father)
And every time I close my eyes
I know that I was made
To lift my hands and pray
I lift my hands and pray

You know my heart, You know my need
And every single part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray
I’m gonna pray

You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
All the words and all my life
Take it as an offering

Beloved, please join me in praying for the United States of America. We are a country dealing with so many things, and from my personal experience, prayer is the best way to work through any of this:

  • Pray for our government leaders, for right decisions during these troubling times.
  • Pray for people who are struggling with financial problems, feeding their families, keeping a roof over their heads, and the rising rate of unemployment.
  • Pray for those who have been harmed by terrorist activity, AND for those want to do us harm as a nation.
  • Pray for the unborn babies that are but a breath away from having their lives snuffed out.
  • Pray for all who are disabled and those who live with chronic pain illnesses, who struggle with getting even the seemingly easiest tasks accomplished.
  • Pray for our churches and church leaders, that none of them will forgo what the Bible teaches just to go along with the status quo.
  • Pray for all of those who claim to be Jesus followers, that none of us will forget our first Love.

This is by no means a complete list, so my final thought for you is: 

just pray…

Beloved, please know that I am praying for all of you, that God will bless you as you bless others through your prayers.

AnnaSmile

He’s listening!

Jer29-12

AnnaSmile

Prayer…

Col4-2

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.  —Colossians 4:2

AnnaSmile

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