Meet the Pastor

Scott and Renee Boiser want to welcome you and your family to Shoal Creek! Watch this video for a quick introduction to the church.

Watch Now

Welcome

Welcome to the Creek! We are glad you are here. Click here to learn more about service times, our ministries, and to meet our family.

Learn More

Stream Service Live!

Can't join us in person? You can now stream our service live every Sunday at 11AM! Stream from your mobile device, tablet, laptop, or desktop now.

Follow us on Facebook

Day 43 – When Jesus Prays — Part 3

John 17:6,9,11 — “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world…I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours…Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”

After Jesus asks the Father to glorify him so that the Father might be glorified, Jesus prays for his disciples. And when Jesus prays he asks, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name.” Jesus knows that he has been their protection up until this point in the narrative. “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.” (v.12) Jesus does not want to leave them…because that would mean they are left unprotected. However, he must finish the work of the cross, in order that all mankind might be saved. Jesus has also promised that he would not leave the disciples alone, that he would send another counselor — the Holy Spirit — to be with them and to be in them. (John 14:16-17)

Aside from this Holy Spirit, Jesus also prays for God to protect them “by the power of your name, the name you gave me.” There is power in the Name of Jesus. Protective power that can keep followers (disciples) of Jesus from harm. This Name can make demons shudder and send them fleeing for safety (see James 2:19; Luke 8:31-32). There is everlasting life in the Name of Jesus (John 20:31). The gift of the Holy Spirit comes from repentance and baptism in the Name of Jesus (Acts 2:38). Healing comes in the Name of Jesus (Acts 3:6, 16). There is power in the Name of Jesus.

Ah, but Jesus also gives a reason for this protection, “protect them…so that they may be one as we are one.” The protective power of the Name of Jesus is ultimately for the purpose of his disciples uniting around the Name of Jesus. Picture one umbrella trying to protect 12 different men, each in different locations, from the thousands of raindrops falling on them…now picture each of those men running to that umbrella to seek shelter, protection from the storm. They huddle underneath the protection it provides. Each of the 12 hold on together as one man to the one stem of the umbrella to make sure it doesn’t get swept away by the strong winds. The Name of Jesus is the umbrella. Under the Name of Jesus they may look different, sound different, think different, understand different…but the Name of Jesus brings them together. They are bonded by common purpose and love. They call upon the same Lord, they worship the same God, they are one. When Jesus prays, he prays for protection, power, and unity.

Lord Jesus, thank You for praying for Your disciples. Thank You for providing protection and power. Thank You for asking the Father for unity…may we, as Your disciples, live out this unity of Spirit, truth and love. You are so very good to us. Help us in our frailty truly be one as you and the Father are one. Praise be to Your Name, both now and forevermore! Amen.

Day 42 – When Jesus Prays — Part 2

John 17:1 — After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”

The prayer in John 17 is often called the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. It is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in the Gospel accounts. Jesus is about to complete His sacrifice on the Cross for all humanity — this is a picture of what the High Priest did each year on the Day of Atonement, making an offering first for his own sins then the sins of the people. But, unlike the High Priest of the Old Testament, Jesus did not need sacrifice for his own sins…He was sinless, perfect. And he offered not an animal, but his own perfect life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty of all of our sins. Jesus completed the work of testifying about God his Father….by bringing Him glory and by making his sacrifice.

As Jesus prays he asks God to glorify him — “Glorify your Son.”

To glorify, means to “praise, extol, magnify, celebrate.” “To honor, make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendor.” “To make renowned, render illustrious, cause dignity and worth to become manifest and acknowledged.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I thought we were supposed to be humble, never seeking glory for ourselves, and certainly never taking any glory away from God. This statement may seem to be a little out of character for Jesus. But, Jesus shows his intention very quickly as he completes the thought, “Glorify your Son, (in order) that your Son may glorify you.” Jesus’ prayer for God to glorify him is not a selfish desire for his own glory, but so that all people that see him would glorify God!

This is in full alignment with the question that the Westminster Catechism asks, “What is the chief end (purpose) of man?” and the answer is: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” My life as a disciple of Jesus Christ is meant to glorify God. I want to be made known, acknowledged, rendered illustrious — glorified — in my life or death so that glory, all glory, will go to God my Father! “God, please put me on display publicly so that people will glorify Your Name!”

Before you get carried away with visions of glory, please understand the “glory” that came to Jesus from this request…Jesus was betrayed, arrested, beaten, spat upon, scourged, mocked, and crucified. He suffered the most humiliating and excruciating death possible…not exactly what we would call illustrious or honorable. However, millions have seen the beauty, splendor and glory of this death for over two thousand years. We celebrate it every year and live our lives to honor this death. We wear golden, lustrous, crosses around our necks and give glory to God through Jesus, His Son.

Are you ready to glorify and exalt God the Father by asking God to glorify you? Are you ready to glorify God and enjoy Him forever? When Jesus prays, He asks for glory…so that God may be glorified through him.

Father, You alone deserve all honor and power and praise and glory. Thank You for bringing glory to Your Son Jesus and thereby bringing glory to Yourself. Today Lord, I want to be bold like Jesus. Glorify me so that You may be glorified. If I may bring honor and glory to You, either by my life or by my death, Lord have Your way and maximize glory for You and Your Great Name! You are worthy of all my praise! You are high and exalted, glorious above all things…praise be to the Great God of heaven and earth! Please forgive me if I have ever stolen glory from You, or brought shame to Your Great Name. Please use me as You will, and I submit to every joy and happiness, as well as every pain and sorrow…no matter what, I will put my trust in You. Thank You, Father. Amen.

Day 41 – Is Prayer Important in Your Life?

Luke 10:41-42 – “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Is prayer important in your life? The default answer for most followers of Jesus would be: “yes”. But let me ask you to carefully and honestly consider this… is prayer important in your life? I’m not talking about just the type of prayer we pray when we are faced with difficult or challenging situations. Is daily communication with God an important part of our relationship with God or is it more of a ritual that we do out of “Christian duty”?

In today’s focal Scripture I see an important Biblical premise each of us should understand: nothing and no one should be more important in our lives than Jesus. Is prayer important? There is a quick test we could do to determine that. What is the one thing in your life that you just refuse to miss? Is it your favorite TV show? Is it your kids baseball game? Is it date night with your spouse? What is that one thing that you will rearrange your whole day for, cancel plans for, and make sure that you have time for? Chances are if we’re being honest, it isn’t prayer.

In my own life I can honestly say that prayer has intensified in challenging and difficult circumstances. I think this is natural and should be expected. But during times of prosperity it can be easy to forget the importance of prayer. In our focal Scripture today we see Martha, a woman on a mission to make sure everyone is served, her guest are comfortable, an amazing, gracious host I have no doubt. In the midst of her busyness, she finally gets overwhelmed and upset. Her sister Mary was far more concerned with hearing Jesus speak than stopping to help her sister with the serving. Although Martha had filled her day with many “good” things, she was missing out on the only thing that was truly needed: Jesus.

How about it then…  is prayer important to you? If I’m being honest, teaching and preaching are important to me. Updating the church’s website and social media are important to me. Writing this devotion has been important to me. Praying is important… but it certainly isn’t most important. How many words have I typed, how many lessons have I taught, how many times have I served and in the busyness of the moment, but I’ve missed God’s true intention.

As you prepare to pray today, I challenge you to truthfully consider the question: is prayer important to me? If prayer was important, wouldn’t you rearrange your day to make sure you never missed it? If prayer was important, wouldn’t you make and keep an appointment to seek God’s face? If you knew that every other part of your life was impacted through that prayerful appointment you kept with God, wouldn’t He then be the one thing you are seeking most? Let’s all be honest and today seek God’s grace to make real, intentional, Christ honoring change in our lives. Let’s humble ourselves and seek God’s face, then and only then will we see true healing in our land.

Father, I confess that I have traded so many good things for the most important thing: You. Lord, I ask for forgiveness for the times of busy distraction when I fill my days with service to You but don’t start by truly seeking You and Your will. Forgive me Lord for the times I have replaced the most important thing with all the other good distractions and have missed the most important thing. Please help me make and keep a devoted time of daily prayer with you. Help me put aside every good thing to seek You knowing that every area of my life will be blessed when I start with you. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Day 40 – The Art of Real Time Prayer

Nehemiah 1:11 – “Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

Nehemiah 2:4 – The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven

The scripture encourages us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) but what does that really mean? Surely Paul can’t mean that the church at Thessalonica is supposed to always be praying.. can he? As it turns out, that’s exactly what he means. The Greek word used for “without ceasing” is adialeiptōs which Strong’s Concordance defines as “incessantly”. Don’t you love when the translation of a word is another word that requires a Google search for context? Maybe that’s just me. Incessantly is defined by “without interruption”. The Message simply translate 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “pray all the time”.

So why is today’s focal verse Nehemiah 1:11 and Nehemiah 2:4 if I’ve focused so much on 1 Thessalonians 5:17? Because this is a perfect, real example of this direction in action. The Art of Real Time Prayer simply refers to the behavior we learn as we mature in the Christian faith of praying and seeking God’s guidance throughout our day. Getting ready for an important meeting at work? Pray. Getting ready to wake the kids up for school? Pray. Having a heated moment of conversation with your spouse? Pray. Learning to seek God’s guidance and obeying Him when He speaks is important.

I once heard of a man who literally prayed over every decision of every day. What should he eat? What should he wear? Where should he sit in the restaurant? All decisions that have to be made but probably don’t require the type of prayer we are talking about. Burger King or McDonalds? Chances are likely God doesn’t care (not like my wife, He really doesn’t care). Should you share the Gospel with the restaurant employee who struck up a conversation with you? Pray (but the answer will almost always be a resounding “yes”).

In today’s focal Scripture we see Nehemiah who was in exile in Persia. The Jews had been taken into captivity and now lived in a foreign land because of their rebellion against God. Nehemiah was getting ready to have one of the most important conversations of his life, and with the earthly king of the Persian empire no less. Although Nehemiah had been praying for weeks, we see the Art of Real Time Prayer come in to play when Nehemiah says that he “prayed to the God of heaven”.

The challenge for today’s devotion is not only make specific, dedicated, daily prayer time where we seek God’s will for our lives but also praying real time. It isn’t either/or, but both and. We should be praying daily for our day and then throughout the day for God’s guidance. We must learn to seek God’s will throughout the day and obey Him when He speaks. Learning the Art of Real Time Prayer can help us be a more Christ honoring spouse, parent, friend, worker, and neighbor. As you prepare to pray today, I wonder: how many times are you seeking God’s will throughout the day? How many wrong choices could have been avoided if you’d spent just an extra moment to seek God’s will before you spoke or reacted? Confess that to Him today and ask Him to aide you in this learned behavior of “praying without ceasing”.

Father, we confess that sometimes we wait to seek Your will until it’s too late. Lord, we say or do things before asking for Your directive and it can end poorly. Help us to learn how to pray without ceasing. Help us learn the Art of Real Time Prayer in which we communicate with You throughout our day. Lord, we know our lives will be richer, more abundant when we seek and obey Your will throughout our day. Lord, please help us know when to pray, when to act, what to say, and how to react when You speak. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Day 39 – When Jesus Prays — Part 1

Mark 1:35 — Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

I am still amazed at the thought of Jesus praying.  As fully God, he has no unmet needs (see Devotion – Day 1…The Why of Prayer? — we need God).  But as fully human, he has the same needs that we do…food, water, shelter, rest, God…I guess it makes it all the more profound just how much this human flesh prevents connection with our holy Father God.  So when Jesus prays, it may be helpful to go about it the way that he does and to pray for the things he prays for.  

Today’s Scripture reading points out that Jesus got up very early (while it was still dark) in the morning to pray.  Oh, I can hear the great groan of the masses as they read that last line!!!  I know for many of you morning doesn’t start till 10am!! (Or certainly not before coffee!!)  And believe me, your body will object to this disturbance…but remember what we said about fasting…“our physical bodies cannot help us overcome a spiritual struggle.”  Many of you have told me (and I’ve said it too), “if I get up early to pray or read my Bible I just fall asleep.”  You’re in good company (or bad, depending on how you look at it), because when Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, he is praying so intensely that sweat drops (like drops of blood) are falling off of him (and his disciples are supposed to be praying too) — But we find out,  “When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.  ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’” (Luke 22:45-46)

I know it’s hard to pray early in the morning…believe me, I know.  Nevertheless, there is something quite powerful about starting your day with prayer.  It does several things:

It gives the First Fruit of your time to God. — Now some of you will say, “the morning hours are not the best part of me or my time.”  That may be true.  But it is certainly not the leftover of what you have either.  It is acknowledging God with the first words you have in the morning.  It is putting Him in mind as your very first thoughts.  It reminds you to not forget Him all day and then suddenly say, “Oh yes, I almost forgot! Maybe I should thank God for my food, or ask God to help me in this situation now that I’ve worked my way into trouble!” It also sets the stage for speaking to your wife, your children, your coworkers, your boss…whoever you come into contact with — you are ready to speak with a mouth sanctified by communication with a holy God.  It’s a lot harder to cuss at someone after you’ve just spoken with God (or it should be, at least).

It shows your body who’s boss. — Your body will fight back in innumerable ways, aches, pains, hunger, nausea, tiredness, weakness — and let’s be honest, most of the time it wins (it gets what it wants, sleep, food, medicine, etc.)…this is one way you can gain some victory over your body.  You tell your body, “I don’t care if you’re tired…man up/woman up!”  I’m calling the shots because the Holy Spirit has given me, not a Spirit of fear but a Spirit of Power and of Love and of Self-Control!  When you weaken the flesh, the Spirit increases!  When you deny the body sleep, it will be weaker and you will be tired — but your Spirit will be stronger and stronger!

It helps drown out distraction. — Distraction is the enemy.  Satan may not be able to steal everything from us, but if he can distract us he can steal our time.  If he can distract us, he can steal our focus.  If he can distract us, he can steal our joy.  Our verse says that Jesus went to a “solitary place.”  Away from kids, spouse, work, hobbies, tv, cell phone, computer…the list starts to get big doesn’t it?  Can you find solitude in the middle of the day? At the end? While you’re working? While you’re cleaning the house or fixing dinner? Maybe, and if you can great…but Jesus found solitude at the beginning of the day…before most anyone else was awake…while it was still dark.  Because it is hard to fight distraction in all its forms throughout a 24-hour day that never stops.  Sometimes you have to fight the fight on ground that already gives you an advantage.  At least the kids are asleep.  At least my phone is not ringing non-stop.  At least I don’t have to be at work in 10 minutes and I’m late and I’m in a hurry and I need to…get on high ground to fight this battle against distraction, where you have at least a couple of advantages to start with. Find a solitary place.

When Jesus prays, he does so very early in the morning, in a solitary place.

Father God, thank You for Your Son Jesus.  Thank You for the example He set for us in all things, but particularly in prayer.  Help us to be more like Him in all things and in all ways.  Help us to engage in prayer the way He did.  Help us to fight off the pull of our bodies — your Son understands just how hard it is to resist the pull of our bodies toward temptation and sin. Thank You that we have victory over sin, death, and our bodies through the blood of Jesus.  Thank You that we can be victorious over our sinful flesh…help us have more victories than defeats.  But even if we do not have more success than failure, help us rest in Your grace and mercy that covers our sin and defeats even our failures.  I love You, Father.  And I ask for a restoration (or a new beginning) of the solitude and fellowship of early morning prayer with You for each end every one of my brothers and sisters (and for myself as well) in the Name above all names, in the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Day 38 – Not Giving Up in Prayer

Luke 18:1 – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

I have the cure for whatever your facing. Not really but pretend with me a minute. Is it some cruel disease like cancer? I have the cure. Are you trying to quit smoking or drinking? I have a solution that works 100% of the time. Is your marriage falling part? I have the advice that is going to change it all. Now that you know… are you going to come ask me to share it with you? Of course you are. What if I say no? No I won’t share it with you. Are you going to give up that easily? I didn’t think so.

Before we move on in today’s devotion, remember what we’ve already said: God is not some cosmic genie that responds to our every beckon and call. Sometimes God’s answer is no, even to our most desperate prayers. But the question for today is: do you give up in prayer too quickly? Do you pray half-hearted prayers never really believing that God would answer your request even know He could? Sometimes do you believe that God couldn’t even answer your prayer if He wanted to? Where is your persistence in prayer? Where is your faith?

In today’s focal Scripture we see that Jesus is telling His disciples a story. The purpose of His story is laid out in our verse: “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” I encourage you strongly to open your Bible to Luke chapter 18 and find this parable because it’s powerful. To summarize, we should persistently seek God in our prayers and not give up. Pray like your life depended on it. If God doesn’t answer right away… keep praying. Pray until God answers clearly and then trust Him through the answer.
I’ve said it before but prayer really changes our heart when we seek God’s will in it. I can remember for years praying about something I thought I desperately needed in my life. I prayed and prayed, ultimately God never answered that prayer in the way I thought He should. Fast forward and eventually the prayer I prayed had been answered in a very real and different way. Through the answer to my prayer when I finally had what I thought I desperately needed, I found that what I thought I needed was never really what God knew I needed.

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees; have you ever experienced that? As you prepare to pray today, I encourage you to start by asking God to reveal to you your heart. Ask God to search you and reveal the truth about what you’re praying for (Psalm 139:23-24). As it turns out, the prayer I desperately prayed was because I had totally misunderstood (or resisted) what God’s Word had to say concerning who I was supposed to be as a husband. Meditate on these two thoughts as you prepare to pray today: are you giving up too easy in prayer? If God answered your prayer, would it really be game changer you think it would be? Ask Him to reveal the truth and change your heart through it.

Father, I confess sometimes I give up too easily in prayer. Through a mixture of doubt, frustration, despair, and hopelessness, I get discouraged and stop praying before You’ve ever answered. Lord, help me to persistently seek You and to continue seeking You until You give me a clear answer. Once You’ve answered Father, help me accept that Your way is always the best way. Please encourage me when I’m disheartened and discouraged. Please fill me with Your presence and strength, in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Day 37 – Praying Prayers of Anguish

1 Samuel 1:10 – In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.

Chances are likely that if you’ve been alive long, you’ve prayed prayers of “deep anguish”. It’s interesting that in times of intense hurt that both those who trust in Christ and those who don’t even believe in God both pray desperate prayers. As the old saying goes: there are no atheist in foxholes. Webster defines anguish as: extreme pain, distress, or anxiety. Have you ever prayed in “deep” anxiety or pain?

Sometimes in the midst of great grief or suffering, God can feel far away. Sometimes God can appear silent or even worse, apathetic or uncaring to our prayers. The enemy fills our heads with lies and questions God’s goodness, so we begin to wonder. If we are being honest, each one of us have had a crisis of faith or will have at some point during our life. But as David so beautifully observed: we can’t escape God’s love (Psalm 139:7-12). Sometimes for me personally, it can seem as if Satan is relentlessly trying to bring every truth of God’s Word into question. Time and time again God reminds me: His Word is true, even when it doesn’t “feel” like it.

Today we see a desperate prayer of Hannah. A barren woman who was loved by her husband but unable to conceive a child. This woman comes before God and prays, weeps, and pleads with God to intercede. I imagine her prayer in “dep anguish” didn’t just come out of one painful experience. She and her husband must have tried to conceive time and time again and she was unable to carry a child. Hannah knew what everyone of us will learn: God is the only one who can answer our most desperate prayers.

Perhaps you’re like Hannah and you’ve been praying in deep anguish. Maybe you’ve prayed for mercy and that God would spare someone’s life. Maybe you’ve prayed a child might be delivered from a drug addiction. Maybe you’ve prayed for a job. Maybe you’ve prayed for a better marriage. Whatever you’ve been pleading with God about, sometimes it can seem like He isn’t listening or even aware of your suffering. I promise He is. One thing I’ve learned over the course of the 9 years I’ve been following the Lord is: I can trust Him even when I don’t “feel” Him. He will keep His promises.

Today as you prepare to pray, I wonder: has the enemy convinced you that God doesn’t care? Has doubt began to creep in and the anguish has become deep? Is your heart heavy under the stress and pain with whatever your dealing with? Begin your prayer here today. Just as Hannah said concerning her prayer, let us seek to do today: “I was pouring out my soul to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15). Come before God in humble honesty and pour out your soul to Him. No matter what the enemy or anyone else has said let us: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1 NIV).

Father, help us come before you in total honesty and submission today. Lord, let us leave our religious views of prayer at the door and instead come seeking Your faithful love. Our hearts cry out before You knowing that You and You alone are the Author and Sustainer of our faith. Jesus our hearts cry out for Your promises to fill us with joy. We confess every moment of doubt, every painful heartache, and every fear that has crept into our minds. Lord, we know that you are faithful and we can come to You in our desperation, You alone will give us rest. We thank you for Your unfailing promises and the love that You show us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Day 36 – Fasting Brings Power

Matthew 17:21 — “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Jesus is once again ministering to the crowds in Matthew 17, when a man comes and throws himself at Jesus’ feet. He pleads with Jesus asking him to cast a demon out of his son. This demon had often caused his son to have seizures that threw him into both fire and water. His life was in danger. The man had asked Jesus’ disciples to cast out this demon but they could not. Jesus’ response was rather interesting:

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” (Matthew 17:17)

Unbelieving? Perverse? How long will I put up (literally: endure, bear with, suffer, have patience with) with you? A little harsh don’t you think? Seems like the tolerant, loving, patient Jesus took the day off! Maybe it doesn’t make a lot of sense right away, but you must consider what experience this came on the heels of…Peter, James and John had just witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus, seeing Moses and Elijah communing with Jesus! The very voice of God spoke and they heard it! You may say, “well and good, but not all of the apostles were privileged to witness this.” You are correct, however they did witness Jesus feed 5,000 and 4,000 people. They saw Jesus walk on water (along with Peter) and watched him calm a storm at sea. They saw him restore sight to the blind, heal the lame and paralyzed, cast out demons – multiple times, even raise a young girl from the dead!

In John 10:1, Jesus had sent out the twelve to the lost sheep of Israel, but before he did he “gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” Jesus had already given them the authority and power he possessed to accomplish the task! So, on the heals of a few successful exorcisms and healings, the disciples’ question was understandable: “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus replied simply, “Because you have so little faith.” and “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Faith is spiritual. Unbelief/doubt is carnal, it’s physical, it’s worldly. If we have little faith, it is because our bodies have become “fat” off of things of this earth…we are feeding ourselves: too much food, too much wealth, to many toys, etc. But when our faith increases, it is because we have weakened the flesh by denying ourselves physical things that will hinder our spiritual growth and fed ourselves on God’s Word, on prayer, on praise. When we have fasted and then pray… demons beware! — fasting brings power.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me when I have little faith just like the disciples. Thank You for Your instruction to them and to me. Lord, I believe that our wants are in alignment on this — I want demons to flee and no longer plague the people of this earth. Help me to be ready to cast out demons and continue Your work until You come back for Your people. Lord, fasting is difficult and my body resists when I seek to weaken it. Help me to discipline my body and to find power through fasting and prayer. Thank you for hearing my prayer and answering. I love you, Lord. Amen.

Day 35 – In the Name of Jesus

Exodus 20:7 — “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

The third commandment handed down at Mount Sinai — Do not misuse (or take in vain) the name of the Lord your God.  As Daniel encouraged us to pray in Jesus’ Name, how do we keep from “misusing the name of the Lord?”

I remember Francis Chan saying one time that he had learned a prayer in Chinese that his family would say before every meal.  It was kind of a sing-song prayer, much like the prayers we teach our children before bedtime (Now I lay me down to sleep…).  He said that even as an adult and being away from home for years he found it very hard to not pray that same prayer because it had become so much a habit that he often could do it “without thinking.”

The danger of ending all our prayers with “in Jesus’ Name, amen,” is that it becomes a thoughtless tag line done out of ritual and tradition rather than out of conviction and faith.  If you go back through the devotionals you will see that none of my prayers ended with this tagline…that was very much deliberate.  It was to show you the same thing we find in the New Testament — none of the New Testament writers’ prayers ended with “in Jesus’ Name, amen.”  Paul’s great prayer for the Ephesians (3:14-21) does not carry this tagline.  Paul’s prayer in his letter to Jude (1:24-25) does not contain this line.  Even when Jesus teaches the disciples to pray (the Lord’s prayer: Matthew 6:9-13) he does not conclude with “in My Name, amen!.”

Am I saying not to end your prayers this way, or that if you have you are wrong…absolutely not!  I have ended many of my prayers this way and will most likely continue to.  I simply present a loving but firm warning: a danger exists any time we turn something spiritual into a mindless, mechanical activity, we are in danger of misusing the Name of Jesus, our Lord.  I am not wagging my finger, I am humbly asking you my brothers and sisters, to simply think about why and when you are using this precious phrase, “in Jesus’ Name, amen.”  Because the second half of that verse should bring us a sobering reality: “the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”  

Father God, I thank You for giving us Your Name.  I thank You that Your Name is powerful.  I thank You that Your Name is awesome.  I thank You that we can call upon Your Name and be saved.  Please forgive us when we have misused Your Name.  Please forgive us when we have mindlessly uttered prayers without believing that You are God and that You will answer.  Today we commit to You that we will pray prayers that are in alignment with Your Word.  We will trust the promises that You have given us. Today, in the Name of Jesus, we ask that You would help us to keep these commitments.  Today, we say that we believe in You, but in the Name of Jesus, please help our unbelief.  We love You Lord, and we give You thanks and praise for all Your many blessings. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  And all God’s people said:  Amen. 

Day 34 – Praying in Jesus Name

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)

In yesterday’s devotion we took a hard look at false teachings that attack our Biblical understanding of prayer. One false teaching we looked at was the “name it and claim it” delusion. In this we discussed the fact that God isn’t some cosmic genie that responds to our every beckon and call. But there is one very real, powerful truth we should remember in prayer: there is power in the name of Jesus. Claiming the pure promises of Scripture is not only Biblical, it is a great way to drive away the lies of our enemy.

You’ve often heard it in church or as others pray, we end by praying in “Jesus’ name”. Why do we end our prayers this way? In short, it brings glory to God through His Son Jesus. Our prayers alone are not powerful. Reciting God’s promises alone don’t have a supernatural affect. Praying in faith, trusting God’s will, through Jesus, and claiming the promises of God shake the very gates of hell. Plainly, there is power in Jesus name and through our faith in Him every promise is “yes” and “amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

One important reminder is that if our prayers contradict God’s will and character, it doesn’t matter how many times we pray in Jesus name, we shouldn’t expect a move of God. Sometimes I wonder why this is such a deep struggle for followers of Christ to understand. I think at the very root of accepting false teaching to be real is a deep desire for God to conform to our desires instead of us conforming to His (2 Timothy 4:3). When we allow our desires about who we wish God was to supersede the facts about who God is, disaster is always near.

I’ve heard of so many shipwrecked faiths where people stopped believing in God because He didn’t act the way they thought He should. Recently my wife and I took our daughter Annabelle in for her four-month check-up. For those who don’t have children or if you’re children are older, the four-month check-up features multiple shots for some of her earliest vaccines. Guess what? Shots hurt. Even my defenseless, precious daughter knows that. Guess who got to hold her little shoulders and arms down so the nurse could give her those shots? That’s right, dear old dad. Because I allowed pain to come into her life, do I love her any less? Certainly not. I know that even greater pain would come without the shots.

As you prepare to pray today, I encourage you to pray the promises of God. Don’t just pray the promises of God as a tool to try to remind God of what He’s promised, trust me when I say He hasn’t forgotten. Praying His promises should remind us of His unfailing love and faithfulness. I encourage you to pray in Jesus’ name knowing there is power in His name. Through the prayer of every promise and by praying in Jesus’ name, don’t forget to surrender your will and desire to God’s. Lastly, as you enter into prayer don’t let suffering past, present, or future, deter you from trusting in a faithful, unfailing God.

Father, the very fact that you allow us to call you Father should serve as a loving reminder for us today. Father forgive us when we fail to fully grasp the depth of your love. Forgive us when we struggle in prayer and help dispel any false teaching that has infiltrated our hearts. Lord, let us see your Word with new eyes and hear Your voice with clear ears. Your sheep know Your voice, help us hear You speak. Lord, help us trust you even when it hurts. Remind us to set our eyes on You as the Author and Perfecter of our faith, everything else is temporary. Help us know and claim Your promises, in Jesus’ name, amen.