Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Good is Good but not Good Enough


Good Enough?

Recently I heard a ministry colleague make a statement I am sure I'll never forget. I have already used it dozens of times in teaching and training.

He made the point that, while what we usually do a good job of praying or studying or whatever, it is not good enough! My immediate reaction was defensive but, after thinking about it, I realized how right he was. Most of what we do as believers and as congregations is good; it is just not good enough if our objective is to blanket the globe with the Gospel. If our aim is to see entire communities impacted by Christ, then my praying (and maybe yours), as good as it is (whatever that means) is just not good enough.

So, when it comes to praying for lost neighbors and hopeless neighborhoods, is your praying good but not good enough? It is good to pray for the youth of our churches but that is not good enough to impact their schools. Yes, pray for a Christan who has influence in business or government or media but that will not be good enough unless you pray also for the sphere of life he or she is sent to each working day.

I know you pray. And every congregation I visit has prayer times and prayer lists and prayer rooms and prayer guides. Good. But not good enough to see the Great Commission fulfilled in our nation or even your neighborhood.

We must refocus our prayers on Christ.

We must reorient our praying to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We must review our petitions and intercession according to the will of the Father as revealed in scripture.

"Lord, teach us to pray prayers that are good enough that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."(Hab 2:14)

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Praying For Those Who Suffer

Prayer in the Midst of Physical Suffering

By Susan Sorensen, co-author of Praying Through Cancer

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also

through Christ our comfort overflows.

2 Corinthians 1:5

We all know people who suffer with physical ailments. Maybe you are one of them. My battle with cancer began more than 20 years ago at the age of 19. I was home from college and getting a few routine medical check-ups. My doctor noticed a lump on my neck which proved to be thyroid cancer. Several surgeries later, they had removed both my thyroid and lymph nodes as a result.

At the age of 41 it happened again. An annual mammography and subsequent biopsy revealed that I had breast cancer. I was at a completely different place in life…now a wife and a mother of young children. Once again, I walked down a path I wouldn’t have chosen but where I found God to be faithful.

To say I was carried through these physical challenges is an understatement. God transformed my prayer life and taught me some very important lessons about praying for others.

Prayer Boot Camp

During my first battle with thyroid cancer, I came to love the story of Gideon in Judges 6. God told Gideon to raise up an army to fight the Midianites. After needing much confirmation, Gideon gathered nearly 40,000 men. Then God told him there were too many! The ranks were narrowed until only three hundred men remained. The Lord then explained that He was keeping the army small so that the Israelites would not boast in their own strength but would know that the Lord saved them.

In the midst of my treatments, these verses spoke close to my heart. Through them I was challenged with a question, “Do you take enough risk in your life to know that it is not you, but God who won the battle?” I have come to realize that when we step out in faith (or are pushed out!) we begin to see God do extraordinary things in our lives.

My greatest prayer lesson? Instead of asking, “Why, Lord?” I began asking “How, Lord?” “How are you going to work through this? How are you going to provide for me?” I have found that by simply changing the question, my doubt is replaced by the anticipation of seeing how God will work His way.

The Power of Praise

The Psalms have become a daily companion. I’m learning to praise God for who He is and thank Him for each and every situation. As I read the book of Psalms I am struck by David’s attitude of praise. He doesn’t always start that way but he always ends up there. David often begins by pouring out all his hurts and heartaches. Somewhere in the midst of gazing upon the Lord he begins to realize who God is. Then the praise begins.

A resource that has blessed my life immensely is a little book titled, 31 Days of Praise, by Ruth Myers. It literally provides 31 prayers of praise. I am learning that as I praise God I get my eyes off my situation and onto the solution which is my Lord. Psalm 50:23 says, “He who offers a sacrifice of praise honors me.”

Trials Transformed into Chariots

Hannah Whitall Smith, in her classic book, A Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life, said that trials are “God’s chariots sent to take the soul to its high place of triumph.” She encouraged, “When your trial comes, then, put it right into the will of God, and climb into that will as a child climbs into its mother’s arms. The baby carried in the chariot of its mother’s arms rides triumphantly through the hardest places, and does not even know they are hard. How much more are we who are carried in the chariot of the ‘arms of God!’”

I was reminded of this on the morning of my mastectomy. On the way to the operating room a rather tall and muscular orderly sang many of my favorite Christian hymns as he navigated my gurney through the hallways. I might have believed him to be an angel, but everyone seemed to know him! His voice and message were beautiful. I truly felt I was in God’s chariot all the way to surgery. I had climbed in, and my loving Father was reminding me of all His great promises as we rode on our way.

When we pray we have the opportunity to step into the chariot and experience a ride with our Savior. Even down rocky mountains at breathtaking speeds, we find Him faithful.

The Lonely Road

When physical suffering continues for a long period of time, the road can become quite lonely. We have an opportunity to uphold others as they suffer just like Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms in the day of battle.

I had the privilege of working with 47 amazing women to put together a 90-day devotional for women facing cancer titled, Praying Through Cancer: Set Your Heart Free from Fear. Some experienced times when God seemed far away…even prayer warriors had difficulty praying. That’s when we especially need to come alongside and lift up our suffering friends. It might mean partnering with them in regular prayer. It may be through a prayer chain or email update that gives specific prayer concerns.

How can we support our friends in their battle? I have personally discovered there are several ways to unleash the power of prayer.

Take them to the One who is able to heal

I often picture myself carrying my friends to Jesus just as sick people were brought to Jesus in the Bible (Matthew 9:2-8, Mark 2:1-12). Hebrews 13:8 tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” We have the privilege of asking the One who is able to heal to work on their behalf.

Thank God for being the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort

Thank God for His promise to pour out His comfort. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (1 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Ask God to miraculously overcome any fear in their lives

One of the greatest battles in illness is the fear. We must constantly take captive our thoughts according to 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. I have often prayed Psalm 112 for myself and others. Ask God to enable your friend to “have no fear of bad news; that his heart will be steadfast trusting in the Lord. His heart will be secure, he will have no fear.”

Assist them in putting on their armor

Come against the devil’s schemes by walking through Ephesians (6:10-18) on behalf of another. Ask God to awaken their desire to put on their spiritual armor. Than prayerfully dress them with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and the shield of faith “with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ask God to be mighty in battle on their behalf.

Ask God to show His power in and through their lives

The Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Our bodies are “jars of clay” so that God has opportunity to show “that this all-surpassing power is from Him and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Let us proclaim in prayer… “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 [our friend]…” (Ephesians 3:20).

We can do battle in prayer for our friends and family who are suffering. You may have opportunity to partner with them in a tangible way. One woman I know has come alongside of a number of women to battle breast cancer in prayer with them. Another has become a patient advocate (in more ways than one!)…and a doctor pays her to do this! Before heading in this direction, reread the book of Job for a quick reminder of how not to do it.

The Apostle Paul had an interesting perspective on suffering. He said…

I want to know Christ…and the fellowship of his sufferings. (Philippians 3:10)

Fellowship? This is not a word I would place with suffering. But God’s ways are not man’s ways. As we experience suffering directly or walk through it with someone else, we have an opportunity to experience Christ in a unique and powerful way. We have God’s promise that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance; character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:4-5)


www.prayingthroughcancer.com – the website for W Publishing’s newly released book, Praying Through Cancer: Set Your Heart Free from Fear, a 90-Day Devotional for Women, by Susan Sorensen and Laura Geist

www.RestMinistries.org – a ministry that serves people who live with chronic illness or pain and their families

www.CancerPatientAdvocate.com – a site with resources to equip people to encourage others dealing with cancer and serious illness. Includes information on starting a support group, becoming a patient advocate, combining faith and medicine.

www.hopeforcancer.org – Outreach of Hope is a ministry founded by former professional baseball player Dave Dravecky and his wife. It is designed to serve suffering people, particularly those dealing with cancer and amputation.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A No-Plan Prayer Meeting

A No-Plan Prayer Meeting

I just returned from a three-day prayer summit where the only agenda was to seek and praise God. Three experienced prayer leaders led the event—but they did no advance planning. Imagine that! A prayer meeting for 75 pastors and prayer leaders with no outlines, prayer lists, handouts, pre-picked Scriptures, themes, or music, nothing!

Recipe for chaos? It might sound that way, but really, that’s not at all what happened. When the leaders gave the planning over to God, He seemed more than eager to take charge. Which is exactly what He did. He picked the themes for each session. He picked the Scriptures. He picked the songs. Each segment of our three-day prayer summit was powerful, meaningful, worshipful, and consistent to a particular theme or characteristic of God. And participation was pretty incredible. People could hardly wait their turns to interject their prayers and praises.

How’d it work? At the beginning of our time together, we asked God to make us all worship leaders. Then we started each segment with a spontaneously chosen song or Scripture and let the Holy Spirit take over. If, for example, someone led out with “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever,” we would then take turns praising God for His various expressions of love toward us. If someone worshiped God from Psalm 13: “I will sing to the LORD for he has been good to me” (vs. 6) we might then share spontaneous prayers praising God for the specific ways He had shown goodness to us. Get the idea?

I led some adventurous friends in a one-hour prayer meeting using a similar “un-plan” yesterday and it went great. God set the theme. God selected the Scriptures. God showed us who to intercede for who especially needed the mercies He’d led us to praise him for. And we came away refreshed and encouraged in the Lord.

I wish you could have joined us either yesterday, or last week. But you can check out a book by Pray! author Daniel Henderson in which he describes this style of Spirit-led, worship-fed prayer. It’s called Fresh Encounters: Experiencing Transformation through United Worship-Based Prayer. Or if you’re interested in learning more about prayer summits in general, go to: http://www.prayersummits.net/. Once you’ve experienced prayer in which God is the prayer leader, you’ll never think of corporate prayer the same way again.

Cynthia Bezek

Cynthia Bezek

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prayer Station @ the Beach

Cape beachgoers at holy crossroads

Falmouth selectmen have given permission to four area churches to set up a “prayer station” in the Old Silver Beach parking lot. The churches say they're just reaching out to people, but some beachgoers view the effort as a public affront.Cape Cod Times/Paul Blackmore

NORTH FALMOUTH — Sunshine, sand and surf are Beach 101 in town. Even weddings and an occasional sunrise service. But a prayer station in the beach parking lot?

Earlier this month, selectmen voted 4-0 to allow volunteers from four Upper Cape churches to set up a prayer station in the Old Silver Beach parking lot.

The "prayer station" only takes up one parking space — from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day this week — but the selectmen's decision doesn't sit well with some beachgoers. Staffed with volunteers from Heritage Christian Church in East Falmouth, First Baptist Church of Pocasset, Falmouth Church of the Nazarene and Bay Community Alliance Church in Buzzards Bay, no preaching or solicitation is allowed. The volunteers can only talk to those who approach them. Still, the board's decision has drawn the ire of some residents who feel that a line in the sand, separating church and state, has been crossed.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Spiritual Formation Meets Prayer Ministry


>>>We gratefully post this chapter with permission from InterVarsity Press (you may link to this post but may not revise it in any way) ... The recent rise of spiritual formation must catch the attention of practical-minded prayer leaders and pragmatic-focused small group leaders - This book will help build those relationships. ===>Click headline to access information or to purchase this book.

book cover
Seeking God Together: An Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction
Chapter 9

Sharing the Journey Of Prayer
Rebecca was scheduled to present one evening in our spiritual direction group at church . She began by saying, "Tonight I want to talk about my prayer life ." Then she told us how it was changing, what she liked and didn't like about it, and the questions she had about her own ways of praying . The group listened, affirmed and asked questions to help her process her experience . She seemed encouraged . But in all honesty, it was one of those experiences of group spiritual direction where I wondered if anything had "happened ."

Reflecting back on the time, I realized that something astounding had happened: Rebecca had been given the opportunity to talk with several other people about prayer--one of the most intimate and mysterious experiences of life . As she talked about how she prayed, her prayer life became more real and more alive for her . She was no longer alone in this deeply personal part of her relationship with God . Furthermore, as she shared about her experiences in prayer and received the companionship of others, she opened herself to more of the companionship of God .

Prayer is Love
St . Augustine said the "true, whole prayer is nothing but love ." The subtitle of Richard Foster's book on prayer is Finding the Heart's True Home. Praying, then, is like coming home to a loving God . In my own life, I like to think of prayer as the experience of running into the arms of God, who is waiting for me just as the father waited for the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24) . Michael Casey says that "prayer is not just dialogue; it is the first stage of surrender ." When I pray, I am surrendering myself to the love of God .

We often think of prayer as something we do or say . "I prayed," we tell our friends, "that God would heal [or help, or give me something] and God answered my prayers ." There is nothing wrong with praying that God will help us and heal us, but this description of prayer misses the point . It sounds like we're in charge, like we make something happen by praying . We give God instructions . This is not what prayer is really about . If, as Augustine said, prayer is nothing but love, then when we pray, we are allowing ourselves to be loved by God and we open ourselves to experience and to reflect that love in whatever way it's manifested . Prayer is not something we do to control life, just as love is not something we control . Love is something we receive and we give. Prayer, then, is a gift we receive from God that allows us to participate in the work of love which God is doing in our lives and in the world .

Spiritual direction is all about our relationship with God . Prayer is at the heart of that relationship . The more we can learn about prayer, the more equipped we'll be to companion others in their prayer experiences . In this chapter, then, we'll look at prayer in light of Scripture, our daily lives and our spiritual journey .

Prayer and Scripture
People who are experienced in prayer often notice that their prayers are deeply rooted in Scripture . When they pray, they pray Scripture .

Calvin Miller says that "the key in all of our Scripture praying is to let the Word become the mode of our transport . . . . When we are reading the Scripture, the border between Scripture and prayer becomes so thin that they meld into each other and we are united with God ." We do this when we read slowly, as in lectio divina . We do this when we stop our reading and muse on a truth we see in Scripture . We do this when we carry a verse or two in our minds and hearts throughout the day . And we do this when we use the words of Scripture to pray our own prayers .

I have found that praying the Scriptures is a very helpful way to express my inner desires when they are hidden by stress, defeat or anxiety . At one difficult time in my life, all I could do was pray the prayer of Job: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him" (Job 13:15 niv) . That may have been a little dramatic, but praying those words helped me hope . Another time Psalm 23:4 became my prayer: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . ." As I prayed this, the operative word for me was through . I prayed that God would lead me through the valley of the death of my expectations for my life at that time, that I would make it through the changes which were happening in my circumstances, and that God would sustain me and strengthen me to do what needed to be done as I walked through the valley . On more ordinary days, I often pray that God will "carry me" as God promised through the prophet Isaiah that he would carry the Israelites (Isaiah 46:3) . When Scripture becomes my prayer, I am drawn closer to God, the author of all truth .

When we meet together in group spiritual direction, Scripture provides a foundation for our conversations about prayer, whether this foundation is verbalized or not . Most of the time we'll just listen, and hear how others have prayed and experienced Scripture in their own lives . Occasionally, we may suggest something from Scripture ourselves, but we do this tentatively and lovingly . In a recent group experience, during one of the times of silence, words of Scripture came to my mind with unusual clarity . After the silence, I mentioned the words to the person presenting . But I didn't elaborate or pontificate on them . I just offered them to her . If those words turned out to be a way for her to pray about what she had presented, I'm grateful . I didn't need to give her my application of the truth of that Scripture . That's the job of the Holy Spirit, who gives us truth, in love, at the moment we can hear it .

Examining our Daily lives
Ignatius, who was known for his advice on discernment, suggested a discipline which can also be a form of prayer: the daily examen . This is not, as I first thought, a time to think and pray about all of our sins . It is, rather, a way to reflect on our day, in dialogue with God . After we take a minute or two to quiet our hearts and focus our attention, we think back over the last day or two . Then, in the presence of God, we notice the times when we felt the closest to our loving Father . These may be times when we felt joy or freedom or a deep sense of God's presence . They may even be times when we felt conviction--the conviction that comes with the invitation to return to God's love . Then we notice the times when we felt most distant from God, such as times when we felt anxious or discouraged or tied up in knots . In these moments we might have felt that the weight of the world, or at least our own lives, sat squarely on our own shoulders .

This is not a prayer of request or commentary . In this prayer experience, we simply notice . It is a prayer of relationship . It is sharing our day with the Holy Spirit of Love . After we pray this way, we may want to move into confession, petition or intercession . But first of all we look "with the eyes of [our] heart" (Ephesians 1:18) to see our lives as God sees them .

Some people have found that this prayer of examen is a good way to begin group spiritual direction . This is especially helpful in a setting where people are not used to thinking of God intersecting their lives in intimate ways . When the group gathers, allowing a brief time for this reflective prayer can be a good way to quiet down before the presenter begins . This can remain a personal experience, or it could lead to a time of brief sharing .

Prayer on the Journey
Prayer is an integral part of our spiritual journey . It is the essence of our communion with God . Sometimes our prayers are verbal, sometimes they're silent . Sometimes we can describe our prayer life, sometimes it's beyond description . Sometimes we seem to initiate our prayers, and sometimes it seems as though God speaks to us first .

Brendan, the Celtic pilgrim, was known for his seafaring journeys, undertaken out of spiritual longing and obedience . Calvin Miller wrote this about Brendan:
When the wind died and the sail hung limp, the men rowed, though they knew not where . Finally Brendan ordered the fatigued rowers to stop . He cried, "God is our helper . He is our navigator and helmsman, and he shall guide us . Pull in the oars and the rudder . Spread the sail and let God do as he wishes with his servants and their boat ."

Sometimes as we pray, we sense that the Spirit is inviting us to stop our hard rowing, pull in the oars and let God guide the boat . We need to let go . Letting go of our own agenda does not mean that it won't happen, or that it is necessarily contrary to the will of God . It just means that we stop trying so hard . We receive, rather than make something happen . We let God guide the boat . This sense of letting go is at the heart of prayer .

Thomas Keating, well known for his teaching and writing about prayer, suggests that there are three desires we need to let go of: our desire for control and power; our desire for affection, esteem and approval; and our desire for security and survival . In all honesty, when I read that list, my first response was, "That will never happen!" And many times since then, as I have prayed "I let go of my desire for control, affection and security," I find myself having this one-way conversation with God:
  • "Well, actually, I don't let go at all ."
  • "But I want to ."
  • "Well, I sort of want to ."
  • "God, help me want to ."
The experience of letting go, I have found, is not something for the faint-hearted in prayer . It is not something we learn once and then live out of ever-after . It is, rather, the syntax of our ongoing spiritual journey . Over and over again we remember that God invites us to let go . Jesus, the God of the universe, is in our boat. (Remember the story in Mark 4:35-41 .) When we pray, sometimes God invites us to pull in the oars, spread the sails and let God take us where he wills .

Silent Prayer
When we "pull in our oars," we may find that we have nothing else to say . This reflects the experience of Paul that he described in his letter to the church at Rome . He wrote that "the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words" (Romans 8:26) . I like to think that when I am silent in prayer, the Holy Spirit is interceding for me "according to the will of God" (Romans 8:27) .

In writing about silent prayer, Thomas Keating describes centering prayer, which is the experience of being intentionally silent before God . Keating suggests that when we pray in silence, we use no words, we do not dwell on any thoughts, and we do not follow the wanderings of our minds . It is, as he says, like taking a vacation from ourselves . Keating recommends that we intentionally do this for twenty minutes twice a day . Many people have found that this discipline deepens their relationship with God immensely .

Other people are helped just by remembering that silence, as well as words, can be prayer . "For God alone my soul waits in silence," the psalmist wrote (Psalm 62:1) . If prayer is nothing but love, then that love can be expressed silently or with words .

Spiritual Direction as Prayer
When we meet in group spiritual direction, we want to encourage each other to grow in whatever ways the Spirit leads us to pray . In some literature, spiritual direction is actually called prayer, since it's a coming together in the presence of one another to listen to God, and then, as we talk with one another and sit in times of silence, it offers time to talk to God . Walter Wangerin says that in prayer, we talk and God listens . Then God talks and we listen . In group direction, we talk and we listen .

This is what happened when Elizabeth presented in her group . She chose to talk about how sad she was that a close friend, Lynn, was moving away, and that she feared she was too attached to Lynn . Elizabeth talked and God listened . Elizabeth's friends, in whom the Spirit dwells, also listened . Then they entered a brief time of silence for members of the group to listen to God . After that the group listened again to Elizabeth and affirmed her love for Lynn . Members of the group observed that God loved Lynn even more than Elizabeth did . The response of the group completed the circle of prayer because through their support, God talked and Elizabeth listened . In this way, the group experience was indeed prayer .

Becoming Pray-ers
Early in our experience of parenting, my husband and I were drawn to a quote we saw on a seminary bulletin board: "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother ." Even as young parents, we had an inkling that this was true . In a similar way, one of the best things we can do to become better spiritual companions of others is to seek to deepen our own prayer lives and relationship with God . As we grow closer and more in love with our heavenly Father, we are more inclined and better equipped to love God's children . In group spiritual direction, we can do this by offering to one another what Rebecca and Elizabeth's groups offered to them: against the background of our own love for God, we listen, support and reflect back what we hear as someone describes his or her own prayer life .

Because we ourselves are pray-ers, we know the many questions prayer brings and can include in our group spiritual direction conversations gentle and nonjudgmental questions about prayer such as
  • What is it like for you when you pray about this situation you're presenting?
  • How has prayer been helpful to you in the past?
  • What are some new ways you might like to experience God in prayer?
As with many of the questions we ask, the words are not as important as asking the question in an inviting, compassionate way .

Prayer in Group Spiritual Direction
Sometimes groups can offer to pray for the person presenting at the end of their presentation, but it's important to ask the presenter if that sounds like a good idea . Also, some people in the group may not feel comfortable praying out loud, so it might be good to suggest silent prayer, with the group leader closing either with the Lord's Prayer or a simple "Amen ." Alternately, one person could volunteer to pray on behalf of the whole group .

If your group chooses to pray aloud, remember that the purpose of prayer is to bring your friend's needs to God, not to talk to your friend about what he or she needs to do . I have been in groups where people have prayed, "God help this friend do [or believe, or think] such-and-such ." When that happens, prayer can sound a lot like preaching--which is not part of spiritual direction . But even with that precaution, prayer can be a truly meaningful group experience . Every group will need to come to their own way of praying .

In his book The Path of Celtic Prayer, Calvin Miller tells another story about Brendan that gives some hints for us in approaching prayer in group direction . In this particular story, the monks who were with Brendan on his sea journey saw land in the distance .

Then the monks were filled with joy and began to row as quickly as they could . When [Brendan] saw this, he said: "Don't row so hard, or you will exhaust yourselves . Is almighty God not the helmsman and captain of our ship? Do not strain yourselves, since he guides us where he will ."

This is a metaphor for me of what can happen on our prayer journey . We can have a prayer experience that seems like we have "arrived," or at least come to some milestone that is meaningful to us . It is, metaphorically, as though we are in a ship and we see land . Naturally, we want to row hard and take everyone with us! But once again, Brendan reminds me that it may be better to pull in the oars and let God guide us all .

In meeting together for group spiritual direction, we have agreed to get into the same boat . But the landscape we are heading toward, especially in prayer, will look a little different for all of us . The invitation we give to one another is to be in the boat together, but not necessarily to row harder and harder . Instead of rowing we are invited to pray, alone or together, and see where God guides us .

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Five Ways God Answers Prayers

Five ways God can answer your prayers.
BY: Luis Palau

Over the years, I've discovered from Scripture and experience that God loves to answer our prayers. Here are five of his most frequent answers:

1. "No, I love you too much."

The Lord of the universe isn't under obligation to say "yes" to every prayer. That's a good thing considering some of the things we request!

But sometimes God says "no" to our most heartfelt requests. Have you discovered this to be true in your own life? I certainly have. When my friend Diane started losing her hearing. When my mother-in-law came down with polio. When my nephew contracted AIDS.

I would be known as Luis Palau Jr. if it weren't for the fact that God said "no" to my most earnest childhood prayers. Shortly after my tenth birthday, my father, Luis Palau Sr., contracted bronchial pneumonia and died ten days later.

Death became, to me, the most undeniable reality under heaven. Everything else can be rationalized and wondered about and discussed, but death is there, staring you in the face. It's real. It happens. Even to the most godly people. No matter how hard we pray. Why? Because we still live in a fallen world.

I've been reminded of this repeatedly since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America. Tens of thousands of lives were spared. But God said "no" to thousands of other prayers. Will good come of their deaths? I believe so.

Without a doubt, the death of my father has had more impact on my ministry than anything else in my entire life, besides my own conversion to Jesus Christ. My wish and desire is that people get right with God, settle the big question, and die happy, knowing...like my father...that they will be with Jesus, "which is better by far" (Philippians 1:23).

Does that mean we shouldn't bother to pray? Just the opposite.

Over the years, traveling throughout the world, I've discovered four other ways God frequently answers prayer. Believe me, He loves to say "yes!"

2. "Yes, but you'll have to wait."

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Friday, August 07, 2009

New Study from National Prayer Leader

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is well known as a teacher and prayer leader with fresh insights. She has released a brand new Bible study called Set Apart: A Six Week Study on the Beatitudes.

Set Apart is a 6-week interactive Bible study perfectly suited to either group or individual study. In this study, author Jennifer Kennedy Dean explores the Beatitudes. By bringing in the distinctively Jewish setting of Jesus inaugural sermon, Jennifer uncovers fresh nuances and overlooked undertones. Her distinctive communication style and approach to the Scripture is on full display in this challenging, encouraging , indispensable study.

Click headline to read more about it/ If you place your order from there, you will get an email that directs you to a page of bonus gifts from some of your favorite authors, ministries, and artists ready for you to download immediately. You will also be invited to a free webinar with Jennifer Kennedy Dean as she introduces the study.

"God calls His people to be set apart, living lives of holiness in devotion to Him. Jennifer Kennedy Dean leads you through the riches of God's Word and helps you learn in a very practical way how to live a holy life yielded to Him. Her love for the Bible shines brightly through the pages of this study, and I know your life will be enriched and blessed as you join into this journey of joy. Whether you use it for your own personal study or in a group setting, you are sure to grow in a deeper walk with Him."

Karol Ladd ~ Best-selling author of The Power of a Positive Woman

“Even though scripture has the power of profoundly change our lives, the familiarity of some passages can limit our receptivity to their transforming impact. Every time I hear or read Jennifer’s teaching, I am aware of her unique ability to extract applicable truth in a fresh way. While you may have read the Beatitudes many times, Set Apart will give you the sense that the Beatitudes are reading you.”

Daniel Henderson ~ President - Strategic Renewal, Author of numerous books, including PRAYzing and Fresh Encounters

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