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Posts tagged with: Pray

HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 26 (Mt. 6:9-13) “Lord’s Prayer”

“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Matthew 6:9-13

Do you think Jesus was direct and to the point? I do. In Hydrate 25, Jesus told us to not babble when we pray. Throughout the gospels in the Bible, it is clear that Jesus was direct. There are only a few occasions where Jesus spoke for a long time. Matthew 5 is the longest and we call that passage the sermon on the mount. I wrote a devotional book called Retweeting Jesus where I wrote about 14 phrases that were tweetable. My point is that Jesus was a man of focus. He still is today. I think you would agree with me that we as a people living in this world are losing focus. We need to be refocused. Jesus is the best candidate we should look to when it comes to focus. Today, during this study, I hope that you will use the Lord’s Prayer to help you focus. In fact, I am asking you to find a quiet place and spend 15 minutes or more to pray. I hope you will use this material to help you focus during your time of prayer. To help you focus, I ask that you remove your shoes, and, like I recommended in Hydrate 25, get an empty chair and set it in front of you and imagine God sitting in it as you pray through the Lord’s Prayer to Him sitting in the chair.

Jesus teaches us to pray. He tells us how to get started, what to say in the middle and how to end. This is the Lord of Lord’s and King of Kings giving us an example of how to pray. There is no better teacher! So today, pray like Jesus asked you to.

Let’s get started.

Jesus says when you pray…pray like this.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

In your prayer to the Father, simply acknowledge God. When you call me on the phone, or send me an email, you acknowledge my name which tells me that you are directing your message or communication to me. “Hey Trent…how are you.”

Do this for God.
Address God and then spend a few minutes thinking about all the “Hallowed” things of God. Spend the next few minutes simply thinking out loud all the titles, and wonderful traits about God. Give God praise. Do this to the empty chair where God now has taken a seat. It might feels weird, but stretch yourself. I believe God will take a seat in that chair and enjoy your company. When I do this, I always wish He would reveal Himself to me physically. I’ll bet it would rock my world!

When you are satisfied with the number of compliments you have given our Lord, then move on as Jesus says to.

“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Spend a few moments in silence thinking about Jesus coming back today. (Your kingdom come.) Let Him know you are excited to meet Him face to face. Then, spend a few moments speaking out loud to God about what you could do for the people you are going to encounter today and tomorrow and what you could do to bring a piece of Heaven on earth for them. How can you serve them, react to them, forgive them? How can you show the people around you that God’s Kingdom and His people are alive and well today and making Heaven come to earth? When finished, move on.

“Give us today, our daily bread.”
Speak your mind with God about what you need today. Now be careful with this one. God knows what you “need.” A good measuring tool to help you determine between what you need and what you want is to imagine a homeless person sitting in your presence as you ask God to give you what you need. Remember this…God is not your genie in a bottle granting you all your hearts wishes and desires. God wants you to communicate with Him. Bring to Him your needs. Try to focus less on physical needs and more on mental, emotional and social needs. See how that changes the way you pray. Then keep moving.

“Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.”
Be specific with God in this one. Confess every sin, out loud, to God, that you can think of. I love 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is confession time. Vomit them out to God. He knows what your sins are anyway. He already sent His only Son to die to pay the price for your sins, He just wants you to be done with those sins, get them off your chest and confess them. It will help you conquer them, if you confess them. Remember God’s not angry at you about those sins, He wants you to be free from the guilt and pain of those sins. Confession is the start of that becoming a reality in your life. Notice that Jesus assumes that you have already forgiven your debtors. This is expected. You must forgive the people who have hurt you, or God will not forgive you of your sins. In fact the Bible says that God won’t even hear our prayers if we hold unforgiveness in our hearts towards others. Maybe God is whispering in your ear that you need to write a letter, send an email, make a phone call, send a text and forgive the people you haven’t forgiven yet. Forgiveness is for you. Don’t worry about your offender not facing any consequences. Its not your job to make your offender face consequences, its God’s job. Make sure you forgive, which shows you trust God enough to take care of the revenge and consequences. If you are struggling with forgiveness and need a tool to help you learn about what true forgiveness is and how to grant it then I want to recommend that you go to www.vcli.org and purchase the workbooks called SALT and work through them. The material is dynamic and will help you become mature in Christ. Please make sure you are forgiving of others. Forgiveness is for you to be free. Forgiveness is for you. When you recognize this fact, you will be a person that lives in total freedom and forgiving others will become a common and wonderful practice in your life. Jesus was the best at this. Makes sure you are following His example.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

You need protection. Temptation is waiting for you around every corner. You know what your weak points are. Take them to God right now and speak your weaknesses out loud to the Father. He knows your temptations anyway. To speak them out loud helps you to be more aware and humble. Ask God to strengthen you. Converse with God about what you are going to do if that same temptation pops up again and again today. Verbally plan out what you are going to do, if you are faced with that temptation again. Then when the temptation does sneak up on you, you will be ready to conquer it. In your prayer time, ask God to help you resist the devil and protect you from His destructive and enticing ways.

Close with,
“In Jesus name, Amen.”

Think of how much more prepared and focused you would be if you started everyday off that way.
Pretty powerful. Right?

HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 13 (Mt.5:23-24) “Reconcile”

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Matthew 5:23-24

What the heck does RECONCILIATION really mean?

I think we can all agree on, for the most part, what Jesus is saying about offering a gift at the altar. The whole purpose of offering a gift at the altar is to give thanks to God for how much He loves us and for giving us the gift of forgiveness. Therefore it is hypocritical to offer a gift of thanksgiving for forgiveness and at the same time hold forgiveness back from others in our lives or have unreconciled relationships. Its a double standard.

Do you agree with me that God will not honor double standards? So, when the offering plate is passed and you are withholding forgiveness from anyone, don’t give until you have pursued forgiveness or have given forgiveness. If the communion tray is coming your way during a worship service, same thing, don’t partake until you have pursued reconciliation. If you are about to preach or teach the Word of God. If you are about to Lead Worship or sing on the vocal team. If you are about serve in the Children’s ministry. If you are about to work in your Church’s cafe, fold bulletins, make phone calls for the church, serve in the youth ministry, stack chairs, sweep floors….ANYTHING that you do for your local church as a form of work or volunteering is a form of “offering a gift at the altar” of God. Its ALL worship. Any worship that has a double standard will be rejected by God.

Bottom line…if we offer gratefulness and love and repentance to God without offering it to others around us, God wont accept our offering. Paul actually warns us in his letter to the Corinthians that if we take communion in an unworthy manner, it is the reason some of us are sick and even have died. This is a serious matter. Let me reinforce this notion a little stronger with a verse from the Bible. Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This is big deal. Unforgiven people do not enter Heaven. If we don’t forgive others or apologize to others then we won’t be forgiven by God. Please do not be unforgiven. I love the passage of 1 John 1:9, ‘If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Please make sure you are offering forgiveness to those who have hurt you. And make sure you are apologetic and repentant to those whom you have harmed. You can’t control how they respond to you, you can only control yourself. I would like to teach on forgiveness here, but there will be a better time in a future Hydrate Devotion. Let me say this before I move on to the subject at hand. Granting somebody forgiveness is more for yourself than for the person who harmed you. Giving forgiveness allows you to let it go and move on with your life. I love what Mother Theresa said about forgiveness. She said, “If you can’t forgive your offender, its like drinking poison and hoping it will kill them.” Think about that. More to come on forgiveness in the near future.

Back to point…
I want to get to something critical that most people have forgotten about. Reconciliation. What exactly is it? My immediate thoughts about reconciliation lead me to think about extreme situations. For instance. What does it mean for a woman who has been raped, to reconcile with her rapist? What does it mean for a child who has been sexually abused by a family member to reconcile with that family member? What does it mean for a man, who has faced harm and heartache from another man in his life, to be reconciled with him? If you have been fired and hold bitterness towards your previous boss, what does it mean to be reconciled? If you have gone through a very nasty divorce and enormous amounts of pain were experienced in the marriage and divorce, what does it mean to be reconciled? If someone murdered your family, what would it mean to reconcile with the murderer? Do see how this issue isn’t so simple?

So what does it mean to forgive and reconcile? Now the Cynic in me wants to write out the typical “Sunday School Answer.” This answer would go something like this, “Well, Trent, you know that Jesus was harmed by you because of your sins. Even though you hurt Jesus, He went to the cross for you anyway. And, Trent, even while you abused Him some more while He was on the cross, He said, “Father forgiven them, for they don’t know what they are doing. So, Trent…when someone harms you, you must ‘Let Go and Let God’ and everything will be alright, so let it go and go in peace.”

I wish it were that easy.

So, let me take a shot at this reconciliation idea, and hopefully when its done, we will have an answer that is actually helpful to us all.

I think we first have to define reconcile. I would like to say that reconcile means “to resolve a problem to the approval of one or both parties involved.” You may ask, “why not both parties?” In the case of a murderer, sexual abuser, and many other kinds of offenders, I don’t think we can resolve the issue to the approval of both parties. In my opinion, when an abuser breaks the law with any extreme case of harm, they quit acting “human” and they may still be human, but in their non-human behavior they lose their rights to decide the resolution process that is necessary. In other words, some offenses are so harmful to others that the offender loses his/her rights as a human to decide for themselves what is best for moving forward towards reconciliation. They must receive swift and strong punishment for their non-human behavior. This offender, in their choice to harm, also gave away their rights to determine their future fate. (Crime never pays…it only kills, steals and destroys.) In fact, nearly every offender…no matter the offense, loses their immediate rights to help set what happens next in the relationship. In their choice to sin and cause harm, they become disqualified to dictate what happens next, and will find themselves at the mercy of other people, especially the person they abused/offended/harmed.

So what is reconciliation in these extreme cases? The answer is really left in the hands of the offended party or the hands of the law, in which, the offended party still has most of the influence and power. i.e. They can Press charges, seek revenge, grant forgiveness, etc.

The individual doesn’t have to have any kind of relationship with their offender into the future if they do not want to. The offender might even be a family member, but that doesn’t mean the one who is harmed has to be fully present in the offenders life again…and then call that reconciliation. (Reconciliation does not necessarily means physically present in each others lives again.)

I think RECONCILIATION means that both parties will stand before God someday in full knowledge that God gave the free gift of His only Son to forgive their sins. These individuals, in order to stand before God RECONCILED, must have either apologized for their offense and changed their behavior (repented), or granted forgiveness to their offender. What happens from this point on between these two parties is solely up to any one of the two parties. If either paty freely chooses not to have any further relationship with the other, then that is still reconciliation and is good.

What reconciliation does do, is fully removes, bitterness, anger, hurt, revenge, or anything else even close to those evil characteristics and actions, but it does not mean that full physical restoration into each other’s lives is essential for reconciliation to take place.

Some might argue that Jesus is not that way…even after we abused Him, He forgave and His kind of reconciliation is full reinstatement of relationship, physical presence and a continued healthy relationship with one another.

I would reply to that argument that this is the ultimate end goal result of any abusive situation. I think everybody would agree that it would be a miraculous and beautiful thing for this kind of reconciliation to take place. However…People are not Jesus! Jesus’ kind of reconciliation is the ultimate kind. Jesus’ kind of reconciliation is one directional. By this I mean that Jesus, after being abused, laid down His own life to pay for the sins of His offender and this was to Honor the Father more than anyone else. Then, Jesus took up His life at the resurrection and proceeded to approach His offenders/us with an open invitation to reconcile by actually moving into our hearts and living in us, if we the offender accepted His offer. This is the PERFECT and ULTIMATE form of reconciliation and is only possible if the offended party offers it. However it is not the only kind of reconciliation. It is a very different kind of reconciliation when one of the two parties in the relationship is The Perfect Son of God! We live in a fallen world and the relationships we have amongst one another are between two fallen and imperfect people. This fact creates a different kind of reality and creates different kinds of acceptable forms of reconciliation.

So, whatever the example of hurt relationships, offenses and abuses above…full reconciliation does not mean that
both parties have to be “in” each others lives physically again. It DOES mean that somewhere, somehow, and sometime there is/was facilitated a peaceful ENDING of the conflict. There is a mutual acknowledgment that “things” are okay and everybody will do well to move forward with their lives. (To the offenders…prison or other consequences is moving forward.)

Reconciliation also means that there are now firm boundaries that have been set in place, and frankly, both parties do not have to be in agreement, or even like the new boundaries. But boundaries will have been established and they will be followed. The reality is, when boundaries have to be set, it is only the offending party that doesn’t like the new boundaries. Boundaries are set to protect and honor the offended from being hurt again AND they are set to protect the offender from harming again. Reconciliation does not mean free from all consequences. Only offending parties/law breakers/abusers desire to have no consequences. New boundaries are what wise people do as a consequence of evil behavior happening to them. It would be wise to warn the “boundary setter” to guard the motives of “why” the boundaries are being set. If the boundaries are set as a form of revenge or getting even, then true forgiveness hasn’t taken place, and now the boundary setter is beginning to have sinful reactions. This is not reconciliation in any form. However, if boundaries are not set, the abuser/offender might still expect to be in control of your new “reconciled” relationship. You need to set and enforce the boundaries of the new relationship. When it comes to actually setting boundaries and trying to decide what are good boundaries and what are boundaries that go to far, its important to ask a few of questions.

a.) Do you want your abuser/offender in close proximity of you again? (Physically, Emotionally, Mentally, Spiritually, or Socially?)
b.)What do you wish to gain by bringing your abuser/offender back into your life?
c.) Will your life improve by having this person back in your life?
d.) Is the abuser/offender aware, with total clarity, your desires in the answers to the questions above?

Its tiring isn’t it? God never intended for our world and our relationships to be this way. But they are and we need to become wiser in how we deal with it all. This is a serious issue or Jesus would have never taught about it.

If you have been abused by anyone with any kind of abuse, if you are carrying hurt, anger and lack of forgiveness in your heart and life, and you think you can deal with it all on your own. You will be in big trouble. I want to encourage you to seek out a well known and credible Christian Counselor and ask for help. Pay for help. The cost of not handling any of this right is way more expensive than paying somebody by the hour to help you do it right!

Do you have anybody in your life, that when you think of them, you know you have an unreconciled relationship with them? If you do, either apologize for your sinful behavior or tell them you are forgiving them for their sinful behavior. (Remember…you cannot control how they respond, you can only be responsible for your own action.) If you cannot work on reconciliation yet, then please don’t ask God to forgive you for your sins, because He won’t hear your prayer. Don’t give anything to God, for it won’t be accepted. Don’t pretend to be holy because it will be a double standard. Does this sound too harsh? It is harsh. It’s harsh because ETERNITY is at stake and your soul is in the balance. SEEK RECONCILIATION NOW. NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT.

Keep working on your relationships. It is a daily battle that will rage on until your very last breath. It is a worthwhile and holy battle. This battle is all to often a battle that is not about flesh and blood as much as it is about what is called Spiritual Warfare waging all around you. I pray you will do your very best to not have sinful reactions when other people sin against you, but you will forgive, set new boundaries and have a new reconciled relationship. Remember that reconciliation has many different forms. It is easier said than done. Remember this…Hurt people…hurt people. So when someone hurts you, try to discover how they have been previously hurt and are simply having sinful reactions in that hurt. Make sense? Hurt people, hurt people.
When you are hurt…don’t have sinful reactions and repeat the hurt. Break the vicious cycle by seeking “RECONCILIATION.”

I can’t think of anything harder in life to do, than reconciliation.
Let’s end with this…
Hurt people, hurt people.
Forgiven people, forgive people.
Which one are you.
Its a choice.
Choose well…according to Jesus it has eternal consequences.

Retweeting Jesus “RT@JesusChrist #7”

Pray that you will not give in to temptation. –JC
Luke 22:40(NLT)

What do you do to prepare yourself so you won’t give in to temptation when it presents itself? Jesus says you should pray. Have you tried this? Let’s play this out in our heads. You get up in the morning and you get on your knees and you clasp your hands together in the way people who pray do and you close your eyes… You say, “Dear God, help me today to not give in to temptation…In Jesus name…Amen.” You get up off your knees and you are prepared to fight temptation all day long. Porn, Violence, Greed, Selfish Ambition, Gluttony, pride, gossip, etc.

It won’t work will it? Why? My opinion is that we have the concept of prayer all messed up. In our western culture we have sub-consciencely made convenient what Prayer is.

The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17… “Pray continually.” Some translations say, “Pray without ceasing.”

How is this possible!? If prayer is something you clasp your hands and close your eyes to do in the morning…then you CANNOT do it without ceasing or continually! You would kill somebody while driving. You would drown while swimming because your hands would be together. You would trip over the curb on your way to the grocery store. You would be considered rude greeting someone because you couldn’t shake hands. All because you were “praying” without ceasing. Ridiculous…I know. Since I’m being cynical, I want to put a few other things that drives me crazy about what people think Prayer is. NOTICE…I said things that drive me crazy. I didn’t say they were wrong. So if I offend you, please lighten up and relax and try to chuckle because you know I’m right. LOL
Why is it that in Church services we have to start playing some soft music in the background when the preacher starts praying? Prayer is conversation right? (Can you imagine having a conversation with your kids teacher, but before you started to talk, a musician positions himself behind you and begins to strum his guitar or play his piano as you “converse” with the teacher?) Another thing that drives me crazy about people who pray. I could have a conversation with somebody all day long and they never use big demonstrative words in their chat with me. But then we close the day with prayer and they begin to use words that I need to get a dictionary to define. Another one is when, throughout the prayer, they continually use the word “Father/God” over and over interspersed through the “conversation.” Can you imagine the conversation with your own dad on the phone and you used his title over and over. “Hey dad…how are you dad…Father Dad…I so appreciate you dad. You are the greatest dad….and dad, thanks for the gift you gave me dad.” Maddening isn’t’ it? How about one more and then I’ll knock off the attitude. It drives me crazy when a preacher prays and they preach a mini sermon in the “prayer.” I mean come on…prayer is supposed to be talking to God, right? God knows everything about himself and He is the one who wrote the Scriptures, so why does a person praying “remind” God about who He is and what He wrote in the Scriptures. It would be like you talking to your Mailman (I know that title is not PC) and saying to him/her, “Hey Mailman…you are the great mailman, you open the mailboxes with such eloquence and you place the mail in the box with such expertise that I am so inspired. I want to have your skills mailman. And Mailman, your policy states that you must deliver the mail and not open any of it as the mailman, Oh great mailman. You are to drive carefully when you go from Mailbox to Mailbox. Thank you for being a great mailman, in the United States Post Office Name I pray…Amen.” Did I go overboard on that?

So…what is prayer…that when you do it…it helps you NOT give in to temptation?

Prayer is focus. Prayer is attention. Prayer is conversation. Prayer is communication.
If your desire is to honor and love your earthly dad so much that you want to not give in to the temptations that would upset your dad. Not offend him. Not hurt him. Not let him down. Then what you would need to do is continually stay in the presence of your dad. Keep talking to him. Take him with you when you drive and play and sing, and work and relax. Take your dad with you to the coffee shop, the school, the ball fields, the trips, the vacations and hotel stays and business meetings. Get it?

If you took your dad with you to every life thing you do and you knew he was always in your presence…wouldn’t it help you minute by minute to make good decision so as not to hurt your dad? If your dad was always with you and you “talked” with him throughout your day…how much easier would it be to NOT give into temptation and hurt your dad? Its more than just minute by minute being with you dad, you also take the time through out the day to have longer conversations with him where you spend time listening undistracted (Bible Reading) to him. You learn more about what he likes and dislikes. Those conversations are special and planned and put on the calendar. AND you take him with you everywhere you go. It would be harder and harder to fall into to temptation and offend him, wouldn’t it?
It would make all the difference.

Pray so that you will not give in to temptation.