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.

Day 33 – Prayers with Pure Motives

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3)

There is a poison that has infiltrated the church in the world masquerading as the “gospel”. Understanding this bad theology is important so we aren’t perplexed when God doesn’t appear to function in the way these false teachers claim. There are two flavors of the same false gospel known as the “prosperity gospel” and though it is hard for us to call out this false teaching, it is helpful as we consider prayer.

There are different degrees of this false teaching but at it’s core it goes something like this: God wants you to be happy, healthy, and wealthy… if you aren’t those things, it’ because you don’t have faith. The more faith, the more prosperity. The “name it and claim it” teaching goes along these same lines. If you “name it” in Jesus name, and “claim it” in faith, it’ll be yours… today’s Scripture destroys this entire false narrative. The God of the Scriptures isn’t concerned with your physical prosperity that is temporary and worldly, He is far more concerned with your spiritual prosperity since it has eternal consequences.

James writes that we have not because we ask not, but lest we be confused and tempted to think the “name it and claim it” teaching holds water, he follows up: when you do ask you don’t get what you’re asking for because you have impure motives. God cares about the heart of our prayers and thus the motives of our prayers matter. When we seek God in prayer above all else, we should seek His will. As it turns out, it may not be God’s will for you to have that brand-new house, that six figure salary, that healthy check-up, or that amazing new set of golf clubs. If we will remember that God isn’t some all-powerful, cosmic genie there to grant our hearts deepest desires, it will help build a proper foundation in prayer.

I recall Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane often and I think this prayer could serve as a stark reminder for us all. As Jesus spends his last night before the crucifixion with His disciples, he is desperately praying in the garden. On the other side of the sun rise Jesus knows He will face the mocking, the torture, the false accusations, the abandonment of His friends, and most cruelly He will face the cross to be put to a criminal’s death as He suffers for our sins. In His prayer He is almost overcome by emotion to the point of death and He prays: “Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass from my hand. But not my will Father, Thy will be done.” God’s will was done and the cup did not pass from Jesus hand…

As you prepare to pray today, I wonder: are you holding on to some false sense of what prayer is all about? Do you keep hoping that God might answer a selfish prayer with impure motives? Chances are He won’t. As you pray today, what if the things you are asking are contrary to God’s will for your life? Are you prepared, even to the point of suffering, to trust Him and His refining work? Although it may be easier to believe a false teaching about prayer and God, it is far better for us to pray for faith to trust God in prayer and that we would always yield our will to Him.

Father, forgive any impure or selfish prayers we’ve prayed. As we come to you in Jesus’ name, help us to seek Your will for our lives. When we pray Father, reveal to us the true motives of our prayers. Help us grow in this area as we seek to dispel any false teaching concerning prayer or faith. Lord, teach us to be faithful as you were in seeking the Father’s will knowing it is far better to suffer in God’s will than to prosper out of it. Teach us to trust you even when things don’t make sense and remind us that our treasure is in heaven. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Day 32 – The God of Our Prayers

“Answer me, O LORD! Answer me, so that this people will know that You, the LORD, are God, and that You have turned their hearts back again.” (1 Kings 18:38)

Because of our status through faith in Christ before God, we are His children (John 1:12), sometimes I think the “who” God is eludes us. As God beckons us to come boldly (with audacity) before His throne to find mercy and grace to help in our time of need, we forget that this same God also hung the moon and the stars. Though our Father is all powerful, all knowing, and the very manifestation of true love (1 John 4:8), sometimes for me at least I wonder if I forget all that when I come before Him.

Dr. James Dobson in his book “When God Doesn’t Make Sense” writes of something he calls the “betrayal barrier”. This is the barrier that so many of us feel when we think that God has let us down. When He could have kept us from pain or suffering, and didn’t. When we desperately prayed in faith that God would do something and He didn’t do what we asked. Dr. Dobson says that many Christians find their relationship inhibited by this betrayal barrier and some never fully recover. Do you feel like God has ever “betrayed” you in prayer?

If I’m being honest, I can remember several instances where I prayed to the God of heaven knowing He was fully capable of doing what I asked and yet He didn’t. Over and over again I have struggled with the thought: God is sovereign, all powerful, and fully in control… why didn’t He keep the wreck from happening? He could have prevented the wreck that stole my 4-year-old Brynleigh and claimed the life of my late wife Cassie, so why didn’t He? For some time, I felt betrayed, angry and hurt. It has only been God’s continued grace and loving kindness that has slowly helped me understand that He did have a purpose for the immense suffering in my life.

So, who is our God really? Elijah found out. In today’s focal Scripture we see Elijah (the last prophet of God) boldly standing against the false prophets that were numerous. Elijah prays a powerful prayer and God moves in a mighty way that leaves no doubt in the lives of those around him about who was the one true God of the universe. Instead of recounting the story with you, I encourage you to open God’s Word to 1 Kings chapter 18 and read the account for yourself. As you read it, remember this is the same God who loves you, knows you, and gave His only Son Jesus so you could be forgiven and free (John 3:16).

Elijah prays a powerful prayer in today’s focal Scripture. Notice the focus and hope of Elijah’s prayers: “Answer me, so that this people will know that You, the LORD, are God”. Elijah’s prayer is that God would reveal Himself as the one true God of the universe and that they would all know: “You have turned their hearts back again”. How does the betrayal barrier and Elijah’s prayer go together? Because God does not and will not answer prayers in the way we think He should. God is moving in ways outside of our understanding.

What was God’s purpose in taking my 4-year-old daughter Brynleigh? What was God’s purpose in allowing my late wife to lose her struggle and leave this life too? What good could have possibly came out of the suffering my son Kasen and I’ve done over the past three years? Looking back at each moment over my life, especially in the last three years, God has moved in an incalculable way. He has used the pain and suffering to help me pour out my heart to the nations praying He might turn “their hearts back again” to the only One who can save them.

Today I want to challenge you to remember the “who” you are praying to. The same God that spoke the universe into existence by the power of His Word loves you, knows you, and through Jesus hears your prayers. When He “Doesn’t Make Sense”, pray for strength to trust Him. When you are broken laying in a helpless mess on the ground, turn your heart towards Jesus, He will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). When you feel betrayed, you’re hurting and your Elijah moment never comes, be still and know Jesus is still “the LORD” and He alone is “God”.

Father, help us trust you even when Your way is not the way we would have chose. In Jesus’ name we ask that you would clear away the doubt, fear, pain, and any sense You’ve let us down so we could boldly trust You. Teach is Lord to seek Your will above our own. Teach us Lord to trust You even when it hurts. Lord give us just a glimpse of Your glorious plan and help us to understand that You are truly using all things for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. We pray that you would help us magnify the name of Jesus and lift Him up so that all men would come to know He alone is Lord. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Day 31 – Fasting Brings Protection

Matthew 4:1-2 — “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”

You thought I forgot about fasting didn’t you? I know the last time we talked about it was day 4, and I’m sure that many of you were probably hoping that it was the last time we would! When we think of athletes facing incredible challenges, they go into training for big matches or tournaments. When they face these challenges they go into strict training, exercising, strength training, studying their opponents — their bodies are machines and what is the fuel for those machines? FOOD!!!

So Jesus, led by the Spirit into the wilderness for his greatest challenge to date — being tempted by, going toe-to-toe with the devil himself! His first move to prepare for this huge encounter…deprive His body of food. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, we know that Jesus is quite literally on the brink of starvation. Physically He is as low as you can get before death occurs. Why would Jesus put Himself in such a “weak” position?

Because our physical bodies cannot help us overcome a spiritual struggle.

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63

“Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Colossians 2:23

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Romans 8:6-7

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do…And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:17, 24

Jesus knew that to face Satan and his temptations with His body full of fleshly, worldly strength would be disaster. When our bodies are weakened through the denial of food, or comfort of any kind really (TV, wealth, sex or pornography — yes these can be used to comfort, gossip, entertainment, etc.), then our Spirit begins to have greater power and strength than our flesh. Jesus knew that fasting was a pathway to protection. When he stepped into the arena with Satan, He was physically at His weakest…but Spiritually at His strongest! When we pray, we are engaging in Spiritual warfare, not physical warfare (Ephesians 6:12). If you want greater protection, weaken your flesh that wars against you by fasting. Fasting brings protection.

Jesus, thank you for the reminder that I cannot win a spiritual battle through physical means. Help me to strategically and consistently weaken my flesh in order to obtain protection and power. Lord, I admit that this scares me. I fear that my body will react strongly, I may get sick, or it may hurt me. Help me to seek the aid of physicians who can help me do this correctly and safely. But please don’t let me talk myself out of this important discipline. Maybe forsaking food is too much for me, help me forsake other fleshly appetites that keep me from spiritual success. God I trust You. And I believe that You will help me to apply this appropriately and successfully in my spiritual walk. Thank You for hearing me and helping me. I love You. Amen.

Day 28 – Wrestling God in Prayer

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. (Genesis 32:24)

Today’s focal Scripture takes us to a peculiar recounting in Scripture where Jacob, whose name would be changed to Israel, is wrestling with God. In this historic match we see a determined Jacob who is clinging to God and refusing to let go until he receives His blessing. In the end, God gave Jacob His blessing and changed His name to Israel. 

I wonder… have you ever persistently sought God’s face and refused to “let Him go” in prayer until He answered you? In our earlier devotions I’ve mentioned the parable of the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8). In both the parable Jesus spoke concerning the widow and the unjust judge and today’s Scripture, I think we see a principal of prayer that’s important: don’t stop praying. Don’t stop seeking God’s face. Don’t give up or turn away from seeking God’s intervention until He has given you a clear answer.

God could have easily overpowered Jacob (he gave him a lifelong limp to remember the wrestling match). But the God of the creation allowed this man who would further help fulfill God’s promises to Abraham to wrestle with Him. This epic show down didn’t change God or change God’s will, it helped change Jacob’s heart. Earlier in his life Jacob had stolen his father Isaac’s blessing by pretending to be his older brother. This time God asks him: “what’s your name” (verse 27) and this time Jacob replied honesty: “Jacob”. 

I find it interesting that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel at this moment and blessed him. Jacob didn’t give up and refused to let God go until he received an answer for his request. Sometimes this type of “wrestling with God” in prayer is reserved for our most desperate pleas. We pray this way when we are seeking His mercy for someone’s life. We pray this way when tragedy strikes. We pray like this when a life changing set of circumstances appear on the horizon and we are powerless to stop them. 

I think that God wants us to pray passionately and consistently all the time. Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I wonder how dramatically different our prayer life would be if we would seek God without ceasing and with passion and a fervent heart. As you prepare to pray today consider this: when is the last time you desperately prayed and sought God’s face? When was the last time you prayed continually until God gave an answer for a prayer? Simply put, when is the last time you sought God with all your heart? It’s time to do that today.

Don’t forget, prayer isn’t designed to change God’s heart but our heart. As we pray ceaselessly and wrestle with God in prayer, be prepared to accept His will. Let every prayer we pray be under-girded with the submission to God as we pray: “not my will but Thy will be done”.

Father we come before You in Jesus name seeking Your will for our lives. Lord forgive us for thinking that You are only concerned with the ‘big’ problems in our life. Help us ceaselessly seek You with passion about even decisions that appear small. Help us seek Your face consistently and be prepared to wrestle in prayer. Lord help us remember that the purpose of ceaselessly praying and wrestling in prayer is intended to change our hearts, not Yours. Thank You for being faithful and good. Help us trust You even when it feels like You are far away, because we know You don’t change. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen. 

Day 26 – Can MY Prayers Be Effective?

James 5:16 — Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

So we focused on one part of this verse in our devotion asking “Are My Prayers Effective?” But I could almost hear you thinking to yourself as you read that, “That’s great Scott, but the verse says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective…If I’m not a righteous person, can MY prayers be effective?” It’s a fair question that requires us to define what a righteous person is and who can be a righteous person.

A righteous person is a person who is in right standing, or right relationship with God. God cannot be in relationship with sin, Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Sin separates and breaks relationship. Sin in families brings about broken relationships, marriages end in divorce, children are alienated from their parents…sin separates. So as sinful people (because all of us sin), it is impossible for us to be in right relationship with God because only a sinless person could be in right standing/relationship with God. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

Then who can be a righteous person? The good news is that Jesus was a perfect, sinless and therefore righteous person. As God’s Son, he came to earth and lived the perfect life we could not and became a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. When he paid the penalty of our sins on the cross, our sins were taken away and no longer are they held against us. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:11-12) So, who can be a righteous person? “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:21-22) The answer is simple: all who believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Anyone can be and is righteous (in right standing/relationship with God) that puts their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. How great to know that we cannot earn righteousness, it is accomplished by Jesus and given to us by God through faith in Jesus. Wow. Place your faith in Jesus and your prayers can be powerful and effective.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your death on the cross. Thank You for purchasing my salvation and giving me Your righteousness. Thank You for paying my sin debt and forgiving me for all my unrighteousness. Today, I place my faith in You alone for my hope of salvation, and I trust You to lead me in all my ways. I commit to study Your Word and seek Your will for my life. May my prayers be answered, not because of anything I have done, but because You have accomplished righteousness on my behalf. Teach me to pray, and may Your heart become my heart. I love You, and I am so grateful to be called Your friend. Amen.

Day 25 – Are My Prayers Effective?

James 5:16 — “ Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

We asked the question earlier (Day 9), “Does God Hear Me?” But that certainly doesn’t address all our uncertainty when it comes to prayer. In reality, beyond being listened to and being heard, what we ultimately want to know is, “Are my prayers accomplishing anything?” “Are they working?” “Are they doing anything at all?” “Are my prayers effective?”

James says that Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t. That’s pretty effective. He says that Elijah prayed that it would rain and it did. Again, that is pretty effective if you ask me.

I don’t know about you, but I would love to walk into a children’s hospital, pray for each child with a terminal illness or a lifelong disease and walk out of that hospital followed by children who were miraculously healed and no longer in need of the hospital’s services. I would love for every family member of mine to never struggle again with sin, or need of money, or shelter, or food. Effective prayer doesn’t mean you get everything you want. Please allow me to repeat that: Effective prayer doesn’t mean you get everything you want. Because effective prayer is not about you.

Let’s go back to Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 18. The point at which he prays for rain is in verses 41-46. But we have to look back at the first verse of chapter 18 for the reason Elijah’s prayer worked: “Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!’” Did you catch it? The Lord said “I will soon send rain!” Even though I’m sure he wanted rain to come and heal the land, Elijah wasn’t praying for what he wanted…he was praying for what God wanted! He was agreeing with God.

When we take the focus off of what we want in prayer and learn what God wants, we begin to pray powerful and effective prayers. Because when our prayers are in alignment with God and with His Word, we just simply ask God — as Jesus taught us to, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Prepare to see your prayers become more powerful and effective than ever.

Father, please forgive me. Sometimes when I pray my heart runs to the things I need, the things I want, and to be honest I am often disappointed when I don’t see things happen the way I want…I become surprised when my prayers are ineffective. God, today I am ready to listen for what You want. I am ready to pray for what You want. I am ready to see my prayers be effective! So Lord, I submit my will to Yours. May my heart be Your heart. May my mind be Your mind. I want Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven! Bring Your Kingdom promises, Your Kingdom power, Your righteousness to the ends of the earth. Lord, restore, heal, provide, meet every need at Your move and in Your time. Have Your way in my life, and may I be astounded by the way You answer through Your Word and through answered prayers. Thank You Lord. Amen.

Day 23  – Finding God in Prayer

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

What does God want? Have you ever actually paused long enough to consider this question? When we come to God we find the Divine Creator of the universe who has absolutely everything He needs with-in Himself. He is fully self sufficient and humanity can neither add or detract from who He is. So what does God want from us since we have absolutely nothing to offer Him He doesn’t already have? Our heart. All of it.

When I begin to wrestle with this thought, it’s really hard to imagine the simple answer. Some try to answer this question with works thinking they can earn the love of God. Some give money or time or anything else they think might earn them God’s love. In the end though, none of this could ever put us in a place of deserving or earning God’s love or forgiveness.

Today’s focal Scripture reminds us that if we seek God with our whole heart, we will find Him. In the greatest commandment (love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength) we see the call to love God with our entire beings. Just as we are called to love God with everything we are and everything we have, we are also called to seek Him continually this way.

How often have we came seeking God in a half-hearted attempt that may be similar to looking for lost socks in the dryer. Yes, I’m looking, but am I really looking? The word “seek” is the Hebrew baw-kash’ and includes the indication of asking, begging, or beseeching. When we come seeking God in prayer we would do well to remember who we are calling on. The King of kings, the one true God of the universe, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Author of salvation and life, this is the one we come to “seek”.

God, in His amazing love, tells us to seek Him with our whole heart and promises we will find Him. Today, let us leave our half-hearted prayers at the door. Let us enter into our prayer rooms determined to seek God with every part of our being and let us cry out for Him. Let us continue seeking Him and crying out to Him in humility and expectation knowing that when we truly seek Him with our whole being, we will find Him.

Father, you are the Creator and Sustainer of our hearts. Forgive our half-hearted, distracted, self-focused, selfish prayers. We come seeking you with every part of who we are. We submit our whole selves in full submission to you and confess Lord that without You, we have no hope. Lord we come seeking Your face for our marriages, our children, our families, our lives, our church, and our nation. We need you. Your Word promises that if we seek You with our whole hearts, we will find You. Lord, please teach us to seek you out this way. We love you and ask all these things in Jesus’ name.