“Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As He finished, one of His disciples came to Him and said, “LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY, JUST AS JOHN TAUGHT HIS DISCIPLES.” (Luke 11:1, NLT)
It is from the above scripture that the Lord’s prayer emanated. The Lord’s prayer is a model prayer. It teaches what to pray about and most importantly how to make prayers effective. Below are better ways to pray:
Prayer should be relational, and not religious: Jesus started the Lord’s prayer with “Our Father in Heaven.” It is noteworthy that literally everybody prays but many prayers are religious prayers. Religion is practices man engages in that he or she thinks is acceptable to God. But God wants relationship; He wants people to be born again and be renewed in their spirit man by the Holy Spirit. Then a relationship with God can start that makes the recipient of this grace to commune with Him acceptably (John 4:24). God is Spirit, and He is only truly reached by those who have the Holy Spirit resident within them.
Prayer should be God-focused, and not need-focused: Many people pray because of the myriad of needs in their lives. It is not wrong to approach God with our needs. The model Lord’s prayer shows us that we should take our needs to God. The challenge is that God is very relational. The Bible tells us that God will come in the cool of the day to fellowship with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8). This first couple in the Garden of Eden (before their Fall) didn’t have any need. Whenever God came to them, the intent was to fellowship with them. We can infer rightly that Adam and Eve’s dialogue with God was centered around His wonders of creation, and not needs. Everyday they saw a side of God that was hitherto unknown to them and was awe-inspiring. A better way to pray is to magnify God, appreciate Him for His lovely attributes and talk of His wonders (Psalm 105:2).
Prayer should be meditative, and not vain: Jesus said we shouldn’t pray vainly in a repetitive manner (Matthew 6:7). Effective prayers are not recitals, but rather they are heartfelt. It is not just from the head; it is from the heart. Meditation gives substance to our prayers. Taking time to digest relevant scriptures before praying is like the body breaking down food in the stomach and absorbing the its nutrients in the small intestine, while the useless (vain) elements are passed out as waste. Vain prayers lacking substance are ineffective (Scripture reference: John 15:7).
Prayer should be proactive, and not reactive: Please note the subject topic is a better way to pray. By affirming God’s promises, making scripture declarations regularly, and praying in tongues or in the Spirit, we are praying proactively or in advance and ahead of circumstances. A reactionary prayer can be found in Acts 12 when the church was been persecuted. The patriarch James had just been murdered and Peter was arrested thereafter, kept in prison and awaiting execution. The church started praying after the arrest of Peter fearing that what happened to James will also happen to him. The problem with always praying reactively is that it makes us lose territories or at times even lose the battle. It is often rightly said that the best defense is a good offense.
Prayer should be prayed in faith, and not in fear: Just waking up from a bad dream or a nightmare will set many people, including some Christians, into a panic mode. Rather than just praying spontaneously about the nightmare, the better thing to do is to relax and switch to a faith mode. Reminding oneself of scriptures like, “Be still and know that I am God” or “God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in trouble” or pulling out the Bible to assure one’s mind about His promises is a better way of approach. Starting to pray immediately after getting a bad medical report from the doctor will be tantamount to praying in a panic mode. It’s always better after a jolting news to calm down and then strategize. The Holy Spirit is best heard when we are still, and not panicky. It is the prayer of faith that gets the job done, and not prayer of anxiety (Scripture reference: Philippians 4:6-7).
CONCLUSION: It’s my prayer that the Holy Spirit, the Teacher Himself, will teach us better ways to pray and to be effective in prayers. Have a blessed new month!
“And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (James 1:13-15, NLT).
Anatomy simply defined is the structure or internal workings of something. Temptation to sin has a structure. There is a tempter, there are cravings in the Adamic nature of man, there is a pattern or process that leads to the temptation, etc. Understanding the structure or workings of temptation will go a long way in helping serious minded believers to overcome temptation all the time. Below are some important truths to note:
Temptations are distractions that are attractive: The aim of the tempter is to distract and detour us from a good course we are charting. A temptation is an attractive offer. All of us, as human, have certain things to which we are prone to being enticed. We have different cravings and proclivities. Some people are disposed to envy, whereas others are prone to lust for material goods, power, women, etc. King Solomon was said to love many foreign women (1 Kings 11:1). Things appeal to us differently, but we all have one or two things that catch our attention and have the potential to draw us away from God.
Temptations are passing pleasures: The Bible says Moses refused to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25). Temptation is fleeting, not a permanent phenomenon. Just by holding on and exercising restraint a little bit, we can overcome temptation. But yielding to it weakens our resolve. And our resolve can be so weakened that we get captured by the woven fabric of sinful practices. We are to stand and remain standing and not allow entanglements in our Christian lives (Galatians 5:1).
Temptations test our loyalty and love to God: Every time we are tempted, it’s a time to choose between self-love and God-love. Jesus said, “if you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Often, we delight in God’s laws but it’s clear that not all of us joins in the delight. Our human nature, with its desires, is a rebel against the laws of God. It takes a revelation of the love of God to choose the God way over and above the self-gratifying way. Every time we choose to obey and please God, it shows to Him that we love Him over and above ourselves.
Temptations are things within our reach we aren’t permitted to take: The instruction was clear to Adam in the garden of Eden. God told him that he is free to eat from all the trees in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Every tempting offer is always within our reach. At times just walking away or looking away can go a long way to help us overcome.
Temptation has a pattern: Many tend to eat more when they are disappointed or depressed. Many tend to smoke and do drugs when the weather is cold. Men tend to be more frustrated, unkind and edgy when they are broke. We are susceptible to falling and foibles in particular seasons of our life. This is so because Satan is principally the mastermind behind temptations confronting the believer. He is very strategic and knows our weaknesses, especially when we are most vulnerable. Every believer should understand the pattern and processes behind his or her failings. And because temptation has a pattern, it can be nipped in the bud. We can debar our lusts from getting pregnant and delivering a baby. We can further disallow the baby from growing into adulthood where it becomes a killer.
CONCLUSION: The mature Christian is the one who consistently wins over temptations. And these folks are those who have really taken time with the Word of God, ingesting it until it registers in their subconscious and becomes their default mode of behavior. There is no short cut to winning other than opening one’s heart sincerely to the infallible Word of God and exercising oneself in godliness.
“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever” – (Genesis 13:14-15).
In the secular world, many organizations and countries have been counting down to the year 2020. Many have expectations and believe it’s a year visions and aspirations will be realized. The World Health Organization (WHO) in 1999 launched a global initiative that by 2020 all cases of avoidable blindness would have been eradicated. The WHO launched Right of Sight for humans. Eye specialists also talk about vision 2020 as being good sight and use this as yardstick to measure eye deficiencies generally.
As it is in the secular, I believe so it is in the spiritual. The Bible says in the latter times that there will be a preponderance of visions and dreams because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:16-18). To have a clear vision from God the following are imperative:
Visualize: In our opening text, God instructed Abram to lift up his eyes and see. It’s a spiritual principle that whatever we see (and behold) is what we possess. Vision is a function of the heart, while sight is a function of the eyes. Real faith is a matter of the heart. God wants us to visualize His Word and promises in our heart till they become reality to us. Our hearts can be so flooded with enlightenment from the scriptures that we take a hold of spiritual realities even before they become physical realities. God responded to Abram’s complaint, when he said he has no child of his own, by bringing him outside in the night and asking him to look at the stars. We become what we constantly behold (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Inspire: Visions are often borne out of inspiration. Inspiration means breath. Breath is life, and breath animates. The scriptures say that divine breath in the soul of a man will produce understanding and insight in him (Job 32:8). David was inspired and animated when he saw Goliath. He saw differently than the soldiers of Israel. While the soldiers saw Goliath as too big to hit. David saw him as too big to miss. Inspiration makes one think, feel and act differently. On the other hand, a deflated tire will stagnate a vehicle. As we stay inspired in 2020, we will catch a vision.
Spiritual Intelligence: By deepening our walk with the Holy Spirit we become spiritually intelligent. Spiritual intelligence means we are able to evaluate and discern things from within our spirit man (1 Corinthians 2: 14-15). The Bible says because of the anointing within us we are able to know stuffs because the anointing teaches us all things (1 John 2:20,27). Many times, we don’t look for the witness of the Holy Spirit; rather, we are always prone to look for the spectacular (open visions, audible voices, etc) as God’s methods of communicating to us.
Insight: Foresight (ability to see ahead) and Far-sight (like God was recommending to Abram in our text) are critical and very important. Hindsight on the other hand is said to be 20/20 vision, because we have the benefit of clarity of vision after the event has taken place. Foresight and far sight are all based and hinged on insight. The light has to be turned on inside first before it can begin to shine all around. This light is the light of the scriptures. The Psalmist said in Psalm 19 verse 8b in the NLT version that “the commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” May we all receive grace for ardent study of the scriptures in 2020.
Ownership: To have clear divine vision in 2020, we have to take ownership of the impulses and convictions of our hearts. We take ownership by journaling what we think the Spirit is ministering to us in times of prayers, worship, biblical meditation and other spiritual activities (Habakkuk 1:1-2). When Heaven sees we are diligent in wanting to know and understand, more visions and revelations are released. On the other hand, when we are carefree and careless about Heaven’s downloads, the visions are withheld.
New Perspective: Our perceptions usually are our realities. How we see colors what we see. The kind of sunglasses and goggles we put on will certainly color what we see. The new and better way to see and adopt is seeing through the lens of redemption realities wrought for us by Christ Jesus. To hear Heaven correctly it must be through salvation in Christ and also through the baptism and sanctification of the Holy Spirit. These are perilous times that Satan shows up as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
CONCLUSION: Happy New Year! Our Year of Perfection!