Category: Prayer (Page 1 of 24)

A Thanksgiving Prayer

At the end of Matthew 11, there’s a short little prayer of praise and thanksgiving from Jesus. Two short little sentences. It seems very spontaneous, like it just comes out of nowhere. It’s almost buried in the middle of a whole page of red letters, so it’s easy to miss. When people do studies on the prayers of Jesus, this one never gets mentioned.

But this prayer really doesn’t come out of nowhere. This is a specific setting, a particular time and place for Jesus. There is a reason this prayer is where it is. And it has a lot to teach us.

At the beginning of Matthew 11, John the Baptist has been thrown into prison and he questions the Messiahship of Jesus. Through his own followers, he asks Jesus, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” For John, things were worse for him now than before Jesus arrived. John is suffering and King Herod has even more power and control. You’re not getting the job done, Jesus. I’m in trouble for preaching truth and the political powers are getting away with murder. Jesus is misunderstood by John. Everything Jesus is working toward, the whole reason he came, who he is – John doesn’t see it yet.

At the same time, the fishing villages around Galilee where Jesus was raised and where he was now living and teaching, were ignoring him. The synagogue in Capernaum was Jesus’ home church. The text tells us that Jesus did more miracles in Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum than in any other towns. But they were indifferent in their response. Jesus did not matter to them. So our Lord blisters the citizens of those villages, comparing them to Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom.

Verse 25 says, “At that time…” In the middle of all this. While Jesus was dealing with this. When Jesus was going through this. In this setting. In this time and place in his life. Jesus prayed praise and thanksgiving to God.

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” ~Matthew 11:25-26

Jesus says the wise and the learned don’t get it. He’s using irony in his prayer. I praise you, Father, because you have hidden these things from the smarty-pants and the know-it-alls. What God is doing through Jesus has nothing to do with worldly wisdom or worldly values or worldly knowledge – it comes from above. So those who are entrenched in the pursuits and goals of the world, those who identify with the ways and means of the world – they miss it. Jesus knows that. And he gives thanks to God. Jesus knows that misunderstandings and indifference are not reliable indicators of the presence of the Kingdom of God. And he praises the Lord.

The powerful and unstoppable energies of the Kingdom of God are always moving. Always growing. Always surging. Just beneath the surface. All around us. Huge rivers of prayer and faith and hope and praise and forgiveness and salvation and holiness flow right by us every day. In every single nook and cranny, hidden in the shadows, overlooked in the crowds, drowned out by the noise, it’s there. It’s always there. We just don’t always see it. Or experience it.

So, when Lazarus is in the tomb. When Paul is on a sinking ship. When Peter is confronted near the enemy’s fire. When the Samaritan woman is by herself at the well. When the broken man is living among the dead outside his community. When nobody will help the crippled guy into the healing waters. When Silas is arrested. When the apostle is sent to exile on a prison island. When the crowds are shouting “Crucify him.” When Jesus is hanging on a government cross. Our God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17).

When the doctor gives his diagnosis. When the marriage counselor says, “I’m sorry, but I’ve done all I know how to do.” When the pink slip shows up in your box. When your children have gone off the rails. When your best friends leave your church. When you have been completely misunderstood. When you’ve been hurt by that same person, again. I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

Peace,

Allan

Help and Hope

“Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Blessed is the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord our God,
the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the sea, and everything in them –
the Lord, who remains faithful forever.”

~Psalm 146

Midland Loves

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people. As the Lord surrounds his people, so his people surround Midland Memorial Hospital. God’s people at GCR and from at least another half dozen Christian churches in Midland spent an hour walking around MMH yesterday, reading Scripture over the hospital, and lifting everyone inside to our Lord in prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father, give our doctors and nurses and health care workers your comfort and peace during what has become an incredibly stressful time. Give them your strength. Give them your rest. Assure these good people with your loving presence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God, grant our doctors and nurses safety and good health and financial relief. Give them your knowledge and wisdom. Please give them increased compassion and patience. Give them more faith and trust in you. And, dear Lord, give them peace.

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Father, bless our doctors and nurses and all our health care providers with encouragement and hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Be merciful to us, O Lord, for we are in distress;
our eyes grow weak with sorrow, our souls and our bodies with grief.
Our strength fails because of our affliction, and our bones grow weak.
But we trust in you, O Lord;
We say, ‘You are our God.'”
~ Psalm 31

Father, Forgive

 

 

 

 

 

THE HATRED
which divides nation from nation,
race from race,
class from class;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

THE GREED
which exploits the labors of men and women
and lays waste to the earth;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

OUR ENVY
of the welfare and happiness
of others;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

OUR INDIFFERENCE
to the plight of
the homeless and the refugee;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

THE LUST
which uses for ignoble ends,
the bodies of men and women;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

THE PRIDE
which leads us to trust in
ourselves and not in God;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

~ Coventry Cathedral

Two Boats and a Helicopter

You’ve heard the story. A man was trapped on his roof in the middle of a terrible storm while the flood waters rapidly rose around him. The man was in trouble and he cried out to God, “Lord, save me!” A neighbor paddled by in a canoe and called to the man, “Let me get you out of here!” But the man refused. “No, thank you,” he said. “My God will save me!” And the waters continued to rise.

An hour later a police rescue boat cruised down the man’s street. “Jump in!” the officer called. But the man replied, “I’m trusting in the Lord!” and stayed on his roof and prayed. And the waters continued to rise.

Another hour went by and a rescue helicopter arrived on the scene. A rope ladder was lowered to the man but he wouldn’t get on. “God is going to save me!” he said. “My faith is in God, not in man!” And he prayed. And the waters continued to rise.

An hour later the raging waters tore the man’s house apart, sweeping him under the river where he instantly drowned. Upon entering the afterlife, he complained to God, “Why didn’t you save me? I prayed to you, I begged you to rescue me, I confessed my faith in you, I publicly testified to your power! Why didn’t you save me?”

The Lord replied, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter. What more do you demand?”

It occurs to me that we spent the whole spring and summer of 2020 begging our God to take away the coronavirus. Heal us, we prayed. Father, remove the virus from our world. Intervene, Lord, and give us a cure. You are the Great Physician, God. Save us from COVID-19. We were all praying those prayers. All of us. We were all confessing our faith in God to provide the remedy, we were publicly testifying to his sovereignty over the disease and the terrible effects on our health and economy. God, please heal us of COVID-19.

In his great mercy, he gave us three vaccines.

Yet, many Christians are still sitting on their roofs, proclaiming their faith in God while refusing his good and gracious rescue.

Seriously. What more do you demand?

Peace,

Allan

In Everything, By Prayer

If we really believe that God is who the Bible says he is; if we really believe that he is the almighty true and living God, the powerful creator and sustainer of heaven and earth; if we really believe this God is personal with us and not only hears our prayers but faithfully answers them; if we really believe that, then our prayers will be continuous. And filled with passion.

Not eloquence. Not etiquette. Not posture and syntax and order. Our prayers will be characterized by passion.

Abraham pleading for Sodom. Jacob wrestling with God at midnight. Moses fasting and praying for God’s people in the wilderness. Hannah intoxicated with sorrow. David heartbroken with grief and remorse. Huge, passionate prayers. Jesus overcome with loud cries and tears in the garden. Elijah exploding with confidence on Mount Carmel. Paul courageously petitioning on behalf of the new churches.

Tonight at GCR, we’re going to pray some passionate prayers together. As a church family, we are going to pray for the people of Afghanistan. We’re going to beg our God to provide safety for that nation’s people, particularly the women and children. We’re going to ask God to bring an end to the violence there. We’re going to pray that God will protect the Christians in that country and give them the strength to remain faithful. And we’re going to pray for the safety and well-being of those in Afghanistan we might consider enemies.

We’re also going to pray for the COVID-19 situation in Midland and our West Texas region. We’ll ask God to heal the sick. We’ll pray that he give strength, encouragement, and endurance to the doctors, nurses, and health care providers who are in the thick of the battle. And we’ll ask God for his divine peace and patience as we resist the hostilities and division that seem to be related to the pandemic.

And we’re going to pray for our church family at GCR. We will lift the burdens of our brothers and sisters at GCR, we’ll request heavenly wisdom and guidance for our shepherds, and we’ll pray that God empowers us to fulfill his mission for this congregation of his people.

E.M. Bounds famously said, “Prayer does not prepare us for greater works; it is the greater work.” We’re taking that to heart at 7:00 this evening at GCR. If you live in Midland, I’m inviting you to join us.

Peace,

Allan

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