What Good is Prayer?

By Robert Burk

prayerSome experiments have been done to test if prayer works but this is not what this article is about. The question here is “What good is prayer?” Usually we already have the answer given us in Scripture.  At other times the answer is our head and two arms. We know what God wants. We have the information in the Bible and the tools in all the good things He has given us. Often all we need to do is to obey.

So, what good is prayer?

Prayer will not change the Laws of God; it does not change the Great Commission. Prayer does not alter what the church is or how we are to act with one another. After we pray, the words in the Bible remain as they have since dictated to the prophets.

Prayer does not change things. God’s Plan will unfold. It is the one certain thing in this universe. Yet, we all pray and many believe this is the main focus of a Christian’s life. But what good is prayer if it does not change anything?

Prayer does not feed the hungry. Prayer will not put a roof over a homeless person’s head. Prayer does not give those who are lonely a friend. Prayer does not introduce the lost to Christ. God works through us. What good is prayer if we are not the answer? We pray that lost souls should be saved but what is the point if we do not seek to save the lost?

What is the point of prayer to make the world a better place if we are not living as we ought? There is a right and wrong in this world, if we are not living right what is the point in praying for things to get better? God has given us our instructions and everything we need to carry them out. The Bible tells us how to live.  Why pray and ignore what He has told us to do?

What good is prayer when we are the answer? We are the way God answers prayers. If we are not the answer to prayer then what good is prayer? God made us to be an answer to each other’s prayers. If we were the answer to prayer, life would be far different and far better.

If the world does not believe prayer works it is because we do not do what we are meant to do.  We are not answering prayers and we are not doing the work of God.

The church prays but the church does not answer prayer. How then can prayer change anything? We were given a head and two hands for a reason.  If all we are to do is pray, Scripture would be far less demanding and contain fewer instructions. If we would focus on being an answer to prayer, we could and would change the world. We would create a church that is one body under Christ. Denominational difference would melt under the light of our love. And no one would be asking, “What good is prayer?” for they would see us and know the answer.

About the Author – Robert Burk is a writer and consultant on motivation who studies the Bible as a document that provides real clues to how we should be living and organizing our business and economics. http://www.rationalexchange.com/

Voices in a Crisis

by William Higgins

Crises are a part of life. If you aren’t experiencing one at present, you can be sure someone close to you is whether you know it or not.

healthelandDeath of a loved one, a family member in prison or living on the street, news of a debilitating illness, loss of a job; they all bring pain and added stress. The pain you feel is real. The stress you experience is real. And they aren’t to be minimized. They won’t go away with just a few words, or a few days. It will take time. And the time will be a challenge to your well-being and your faith.

Others go about their lives seemingly without a care in the world. Life’s a breeze. Everything’s great. But you’re dying inside!

During this time there are numerous voices clambering for your attention. Which voices do you listen to? Which voices do you give credence to? Do you listen to:

The voices inside your head? This voice challenges you to make it on your own. You say to yourself, “I really don’t need others to help me with this, I can do it.” You don’t want to rely on others and appear weak. You want to pretend that all is well and carry on as you always have. You are proud after all. This voice could also present the other side; you just can’t make it through this pain. You won’t survive.  However, in listening to these voices you’re denying what Christianity is all about; helping others and being a body as described in I Corinthians 12. Don’t listen to these voices.

The voices of others? These voices tell you to try this miracle cure, or that exciting moneymaker, this magical remedy, or that amazing counselor. While Christ does tell us in Luke 16 that the people of the world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind, you must weigh what these voices are saying. Too often they’re acting only on worldly wisdom, humanistic philosophy and easy escape routes. Weigh what these voices are saying on the scales of scripture to see if they have value or not. Don’t just listen to them and do what they say.

The voice of God? God is there in times of crisis. He is there to carry you through it. But His voice isn’t easily heard. His voice may be drowned out by the other voices you hear. You need to pay attention to what He’s saying, and how He’s saying it. Learn from the prophets of old.

Elijah was in a crisis. He had told Ahab of his wickedness and God’s punishment in the coming drought. He further angered King Ahab by defeating the prophets of Baal. He had a contract on his head thanks to Queen Jezebel. So he did what any of us would do; he ran. Forget the victory over Baal. Forget how God had taken care of him in the past; he just ran for his life man! Forget even trying to hear God’s voice. Doesn’t Elijah sound just like us?

But was this man trying to hear from God, or just running away from his crisis? You read the story starting in I Kings 17 and you decide. Even in Elijah’s running God took care of him. First, ravens fed him. Then a widow helped him out, an angel brought him food, water and comfort. But that wasn’t enough. Elijah kept searching for what he couldn’t seem to find. He went to the cave, he went to the mountain; but didn’t find God. He looked for God in the tornado, in the earthquake, in a firestorm, but God was not there. We look for God also, but fail to hear His voice.

But God finally got his attention in a gentle whisper. C.S. Lewis says, “God screams in our pleasure, but whispers in our pain.” God challenged Elijah to remember His faithfulness, encouraged him to retreat and spend time alone with Him, prompted him to reflect on how God had been there in the past, and directed him to re-establish relationships. These were the keys to Elijah’s renewal and are your keys to a renewed relationship with God also, and to handling a crisis.

Other biblical characters faced crises also. Joseph was a spoiled son to whom his father Jacob  presented a beautiful coat, which only added to how his brothers felt about him. They hated him and Joseph didn’t do anything to appease that hatred. He flaunted his dreams in their faces, so when they had the opportunity they threatened to kill him. Instead of killing him however, they sold him to a band of wandering traders. The traders in turn sold him to a high government official in Egypt where he worked as a slave. He was then thrown in prison as a result of a false accusation, where he spent the next ten years. You could say Joseph had a crisis, and his went on for over 13 years!

But we catch a glimpse of the fact that God was at work in him and for him even during the crisis. His story starts in Genesis 37, and in Genesis 40:2 you find a phrase that is repeated over the next few chapters, “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered…” We don’t have a lot of detail in the chapters starting in Genesis 37 about what Joseph did and didn’t do to find God blessing him, but what we do find is that Joseph was true to how God had made him, and he was true to his God

When he couldn’t see what was happening, Joseph was true to himself and to God. When he did what was right and still suffered, Joseph was true to himself and to God. When his crisis went on for years, Joseph was true to himself and to God. You can read more about Joseph and how God worked on his behalf in a soon-to-be-released book; Your Road to Damascus: 6 Biblical Secrets for an Effective Job Search (www.MindWarePublishing.com).

You can make it through your crisis; not just by listening to yourself, not just by listening to others, but by listening to God. He is there, and He knows your pain. He may not be visible. He may not be audible. He may not reveal Himself in miraculous ways, but you can trust that He is there and is working on your behalf.

The way Joseph and Elijah handled their crises is also your answer to how to handle your crisis and what voices to listen to. Learn from Elijah and remember God’s faithfulness, retreat and spend some time alone with Him, reflect on how God has been there in your past, and re-establish relationships to help you through the crisis. And learn from Joseph and be true to yourself, how God has made you, and true to God by believing that He is still in control even when you can’t see anything to prove that.

He is working and He’s not finished yet!

About the Author: BILL HIGGINS is currently the Managing Director of MindWare Incorporated, an independent training and career coaching consulting firm. He previously served on the pastoral staff of churches in the U.S. and Canada, and worked in a managerial capacity for industry leading organizations. Bill is a graduate of Biola University and Talbot Theological Seminary.

Truth Forged in the Fire

From the book: “Truth Forged in the Fire”  By Michael D. Daniel

TruthForgedintheFire_VCIn what continues to be a perpetual cause of concern for the body of Christ today, is the glaring absence of New Testament truth emanating from our pulpits. Uncompromising men of God that once flourished in the church just a generation ago are now only a fading memory. Saintly men that graced the pulpits like A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, Paris Reidhead and Watchman Nee, once set the bar of Biblical truth at a benchmark determined by God Himself. These stanch men of God knew nothing of concession, and would have gladly laid down their lives in defense of their sheep; their God; and their love of the truth. But where are their kind today?

 

The measure by which God tells us to judge anyone is by their fruit, and the fruit of a preacher must be evident almost immediately within his selfless humility. His life of surrendered obedience to God will only be exceeded by his complete hatred for anything that brings recognition to himself or his ministry. Like his Master, he will not shy away from the unpopularity that truth brings; but will embrace any hardship that counts him worthy to suffer as his Lord did. He will have a dedicated love for his sheep and will suffer with them through every affliction. In everything that he does, his life will be completely transparent, giving no place to the enemy or man to accuse him of questionable conduct. And most importantly, he will never neglect his time with God; his time in the prayer closet will be his most precious time of the day and will always exceed his time spent in the company of men.

 

Men of this caliber are not made by other men in the seminary, but are hewn out of a divine building material reserved exclusively for those saints that were chosen long before the foundation of the world; men that God knew would one day be willing to lay down their life in humble obedience to do His will. The great weight of their cross will never be relinquished for a minute, but will remain a constant source of self-renunciation as they surrender every hint of friendship with the world and the love of comfort that so easily ensnares those of a less noble character.

 

In contrast, what we find today is the product of a generation of politically correct crowd pleasers. The benevolent humility of the preacher’s heart has long been sacrificed on the altar of ambition, as he yields to the pressures to build bigger and better sanctuaries. The cross has become little more than a small piece of a vast curriculum learned by rote in the seminary classroom, and has never gained entrance into the preacher’s heart. The price for this costly sacrifice will be felt as soon as he opens his mouth to preach.

 

The greatest loss however to the body of Christ is not to be found in their loss of time sitting through hours of lifeless sermons, but in the loss of something much more costly; namely their relationship with Jesus Christ and the experiential knowledge that comes from an intimate revelation of New Testament Christianity.

 

The primary objective of every true shepherd should be to impart a vivid understanding of the sufferings of our Lord; the death of the flesh associated with His cross; and the spiritual maturity that is to be acquired on the other side of that suffering. But this kind of lesson can only be taught by someone that has carried his own cross and born his own stripes. Anything short of this experience will make the shepherd a product of his own design, and the sheep he feeds no closer to God than himself.

 

Those holding on to the teachings of Christianity without suffering, are those that have not examined the teachings of the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Hebrews were promised material blessings in exchange for their obedience (Deut 28:1-14). In the New Testament, Christians are told to be content with their basic needs being met (1Tim 6:8). In the Old Testament, believers were provided treasures here on earth (Deut 8:13). In the New Testament, believers are told to store up for themselves treasures in Heaven (Matt 6:20). You cannot claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ and expect material prosperity in this lifetime. What you can expect is to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29), who was meek, lowly, humble, and homeless! (1Co 4:11)

 

That’s not to say that a Christian can never be financially blessed; but before God would trust one of His children with something as spiritually lethal as wealth, he would first have to destroy every desire that the Christian might have in attaining that wealth!

 

This is the message of New Testament Christianity; deny yourself and take up your cross! Jesus set the example for those that wanted to follow in His footsteps; does anyone have the right to teach anything other than this (Gal 1:8-9)?  If your church makes no effort to teach the meekness, humility, and hardships that identified the followers of Jesus Christ, then this is not a New Testament church. It is one thing not to know the truth and be mislead, it is quite another to follow the crowds that choose to believe the lie!

 

Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Choose to be one of the few; surrender all affections for the world, and fully submit to the chastening hand of your Heavenly Father. The hearts of the saints are being tested my brethren; the Lord is separating the sheep from the goats, and sealing His remnant for the final harvest. Stay close to God, stay long in your prayer closet, and only pursue those treasures that will be laid up for you in the Kingdom of God!

 

About the Author – Michael Daniel was born in the early fifties in North Texas and raised in Southern California.  My career went the way of professional salesman and motivational speaker. God has since broken that man, replacing unquenchable pride with abject humility. Homeless now for 18 months.  http://www.whollysanctified.com (personal ministry website) michael@whollysanctified.com (email)

Power to Make It Happen

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

 Joshua 1:8 KJV

fist sunCan you imagine what it would be like if you had no way of doing anything at all?  What would that be like?  I am reminded of the young girl who had a sincere desire to paint but she was born without any limbs.  So she would use the muscles in her hips to maneuver her way around and use her mouth to hold the paint brush.  She is recognized as one of the more passionate artists today.  I am also thinking of the young man who lost his legs in the war and was able to enter into the Olympics after returning to the U.S.  He was given alloys in place of legs and was able to participate in the Paralympics with great success.

Well, in the supernatural, there are things that may seem like they are handicaps and will hold you to not having success.  But, when you are totally engulfed in the Word of God, this is not the case.  Today’s scripture explains that it is when the Word of God is spoken, meditated on, and adhered to, prosperity and success ensue.  Friend, trust God at His Word and just follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction.  You will always find that no matter what situation has arisen in your life, it will not stop what God has ordained just for you.   He has already provided the power that you need to make your way successful daily.

Prayer:
Heavenly and Gracious and Almighty God, glory to Your name.  Glory to Your Son Jesus, the Absolute Truth!  Glory to You, O Holy Spirit.  Thank You God, for giving me everything I need to make my way prosperous and successful each and every day of my life.  Even when things present themselves in my path, you have given me power to believe and speak victory over it.  In Jesus’ name, it is so.  Amen.

About the Author:  Juliet Bramlett, Co-Overseer of Queen JB Ministries in Chicago, IL, is a Christian teacher, psalmist, and writer.  She is married with 2 children.  Follow her Facebook page – Queen JB Ministries