Category Archives: Prayer

How Can We Be Alert In Prayer?

Does your mind wander when you pray?

Praying alone in a quiet place can be a relaxing activity. In fact, it can be easy to doze off. When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane the night before his arrest, he asked his disciples to watch and pray with him.  They fell asleep . . . 3 times.

Being informed can make us alert. What if Jesus’ disciples had known that an angry mob with torches and clubs was coming to take Jesus away by force? I doubt if they would have fallen asleep!

The Bible urges us to be alert in prayer: “With every kind of prayer and petition, pray in the Spirit at all times; and to get this done, be alert by using all perseverance and prayer for all believers, and for me, that a word will be given to me when I open my mouth to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).

Persistent prayer for all believers is one way to stay alert in prayer.  Pray for all Christians everywhere, those you know and don’t know, those you like and don’t like, those in your local church and not, those in your denomination and not, those in your country or culture and not. That’s a tall order!

There are tens of millions of Christians around the world, we cannot know each one personally. Instead, we must learn what we can about believers in faraway places so that we can pray for them.

God’s Spirit may stir in us a special interest for certain communities or circumstances. For instance, we may have a special compassion for persecuted believers.

Then it says, “and for me,” that is, pray for me. In addition to praying for all believers everywhere, we should also pray for individual believers we know personally.

But what about people who have not yet been saved? Shouldn’t we pray for them?

When Jesus saw crowds of folks looking like sheep without a shepherd, he had compassion on them. He urged his followers to pray to God, not for the lost sheep, but for believers to do the gospel work.

In the instruction above, the writer asks his readers to pray that he will be bold in making known the mystery of the gospel. A mystery in the Bible is not something that is difficult to understand. It’s something impossible to know until it is revealed. The gospel is the revelation about Jesus, that he died and rose again so that we can be forgiven and have eternal life.

The best prayer for lost people is prayer for saved people to be bold and share the gospel. We need prayer for boldness to witness because our natural disposition is to keep quiet about the gospel. Telling others about Jesus requires the inspiration of God’s Spirit.

Pray for God to give you the same concern for others that Jesus has. Compassion for others will keep you alert in prayer.

May the God’s Spirit inspire us to share in his great harvest,

Brother Richard Foster

Leave a comment

Filed under Prayer, Religion

A Pleasing Aroma

Jesus expressed his dissatisfaction with the goings-on in the Temple in a dramatic and eye-catching way. He fashioned a whip out of some cords and started driving out those who were buying and selling in the Temple courts. He also overturned the tables of the moneychangers – very aggressive!

Once Jesus had everyone’s attention, he made an announcement about God’s house. He accused the people in the courtyard of turning God’s house into a den of thieves. Of all the sin and disobedience that Jesus observed, why did buying and selling in the Temple courts inspire so much fury from him? Because, he declared, God’s house is meant to be a house of prayer, not a marketplace.

Consider all the things that Jesus could have said about the house of the Lord. He could have said that it was intended to be a place of sacrificing to God, of singing God’s praises, of learning God’s word, of giving offerings to God, of giving alms to the poor, or of encouraging God’s people. Why did he single out prayer and mention it alone?

Prayer is at the heart of our relationship with God in this age. In the Book of Revelation we are promised that someday God’s people will see his face (22:4). For now, we enjoy God through his Holy Spirit, his invisible, powerful, personal presence dwelling among us and living in the hearts of all his people.

How do we commune with someone who is invisible? We pray. We speak to God as if he were sitting right in front of us. We speak confidently because God is in fact right in front of us. More than that, he is all around us. And he has poured out his Spirit into the hearts of all who belong to him. In fact, God’s Spirit is available to anyone who calls on him as Lord.

Prayer is not just a therapeutic exercise or an emotional experience intended only to make us feel better. We do not pray simply to relieve ourselves of the distress brought on by heavy burdens. Prayer is communing with God. We pray so that our words will rise up before the very throne of God as a pleasing aroma. Prayer is at the core and essence of all that we do in church. Church without prayer is an oxymoron, and an irritant to our Lord.

Jesus was angry because he knew the extent to which God was willing to go in order to open up an avenue for loving communication between himself and his people. Jesus was outraged because he would soon willingly sacrifice his own precious life so that God’s people could enjoy unhindered access to the Maker of heaven and earth.

When we gather in church in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ let’s sing his praises, teach his word, preach his gospel, encourage his people, and remember his sacrifice. Let’s also remember, however, that in God’s eyes prayer is not an afterthought or an add-on; prayer is the foundation for worship. Let’s pray more.

May Jesus Christ always be our ready access to the exalted throne of God’s unmatched grace,

Brother Richard

1 Comment

Filed under Prayer, Religion

Lord, Teach Us To Pray

Some people have a way with prayer. They are wonderful to hear, but they can also be intimidating. Listeners may get the idea that their own prayers are not worth hearing, or worse, that they need not try praying at all.

Surely Jesus had the most impressive prayer-life of anyone who ever walked the dusty roads of Israel, or of any country. But his prayers were not only impressive, they were inspiring. Once, after he finished praying, one of Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray.

Jesus could have told his disciples that they had no need to learn about prayer. He could have told them that their prayers were good enough. But he did not.

Or, Jesus might have told his disciples that they were not able to get any better at prayer. He could have said that his level of prayer was beyond them and so it would be futile for them to aspire to praying like him. But he did not.

Jesus apparently believed that his disciples could get better at prayer and so he gave them instruction. His disciples were ready and willing to learn from their Lord about how to improve their prayer. As a result, they learned from the Master about how to talk to God.

We, too, can get better at praying. Like Jesus’ first disciples, we can be inspired by the prayers of our Lord. His prayers create a desire within us to improve our ability at communicating openly and effectively with God.

Learning to pray better is something we can and should do together. Jesus’ disciple did not say, “Teach me to pray.” He said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus’ disciple apparently understood the importance of learning about prayer with his fellow disciples.

True, Jesus prayed alone and he taught his followers to have a private place of prayer, a prayer closet. But Jesus also prayed with his followers, where they could hear his prayers. And he taught them as a group how to speak with God through prayer.

Prayer is fundamental to our spiritual life. Prayer is our lifeline to the Lord. As we learn from our Savior how to get better at talking to God, we will grow stronger spiritually both as individual followers of Jesus and as a church family.

Pray often on your own, pouring out your heart to the Lord. Participate regularly in a local church family, learning how to communicate more effectively with the Lord. Attend prayer meetings, praying for others as they pray for you. And watch for opportunities to pray for anyone in need whom the Lord places in your path.

Lord, teach us to pray.

Brother Richard

1 Comment

Filed under Prayer, Religion

Teachings on Prayer

One sign of the Lord’s favor is answered prayer.  Jesus promised that if we remain in him and his words remain in us, that we can ask him for what we want and it will be done (John 15:7).  He also said that whatever we ask in his name, he will do (John 14:14).  These are startling promises from the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m afraid that many people have a short relationship with prayer.  Somewhere along the way they hear that you can ask God for things and he will answer.  They try asking in prayer for a few things that they truly want.  They do not get what they want.  As a result, they determine that prayer doesn’t work and that is the end of their serious efforts at prayer.

A person that has had an experience like this with prayer may say that prayer doesn’t work, but they are wrong.  The truth is that their prayer doesn’t work. Jesus’ prayer works.  His disciples were so amazed by Jesus’ prayer that they asked him to teach them to pray.  We can learn a lot about effective prayer from Jesus.

Jesus did not offer a principle or a formula to make prayer work.  Prayer is asking God for something and God is a person with certain characteristics and traits.  Children learn over time what kinds of answers to expect from their dad when they ask him for something.  They know because they have lived with him and they have learned to understand his character.  After asking him for things many times, they learn to predict pretty well what his answer will be to most of their requests.

In the same way that children should not expect their dad to give them things that go against his nature, followers of Jesus should not expect God to give things that go against his nature.  The Bible teaches us that sometimes we ask with incorrect motives and so God simply says “No” to our request.

Some people are disappointed to find out that God will only say “Yes” to things that he agrees with. Their idea about prayer was selfish all along and the notion of submitting to God’s will is out of the question for them.  Others are sincerely confused because they felt certain that God would agree with their request.  Perhaps they asked for a loved one to be healed or they needed a job in order to pay bills.  How could God say “No” to such good things?

Jesus said that we must pray in his name and that his words must remain in us.  Only then can our desires be expressed in prayer and answered by the Lord with his “Yes.”  This goes beyond simply knowing what God will do and limiting our requests to his character. Jesus is talking about having a heart that actually desires the things that God will do.  Only a change of heart will enable us to have the powerful prayer life that Jesus describes.

Jesus also said that answered prayer will bring glory to God.  In simple terms, to glorify God means to make him look good.  When our prayers are answered it makes God look good. He is glorified.  So prayer is not only something that benefits us, it also does something good for God.  If we really love the Lord and want to bring him glory, then this is another reason to learn how to pray.

The Bible tells us to pray continually! (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  Prayer can be woven into all parts of our lives, touching all that we do.  A single prayer can be very simple, but a life of prayer should be rich and complex.  One of the best ways to get better at prayer is to pray more.  Please pray.

May God’s Spirit give us a heart that desires his glory,

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

Leave a comment

Filed under Prayer, Religion

In Jesus’ Name

Jesus carefully prepared his followers for what they were about to experience.  Just hours before his arrest, conviction, and crucifixion, he gave special instructions which are recorded in John 13-16.  We spent five months looking carefully at the things that Jesus taught on that night.  What we learned will benefit us now.

Jesus developed three important ideas as he instructed his followers that evening.  His disciples would need the vital truth that Christ shared with them in order to have great victory in the face of many trials.  These truths will serve us well, too.

First, Jesus repeatedly promised his followers that although he was leaving, he would surely return.  “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me,” he said.  The Early Church lived in anticipation of Jesus’ imminent return. Our spiritual vitality will be enhanced by that same anticipation.

Second, Jesus wanted his followers to understand that they could depend on the Presence and power of God’s Spirit in their lives.  After Pentecost, when God’s Spirit was poured out on all Jesus’ followers, mighty and wonderful things happened.  The same Spirit of power and wisdom inhabits God’s people today.  By walking in the Spirit we can see God accomplish marvelous things in us and through us each year.

Finally, Jesus emphasized the importance of prayer in his followers’ lives.  Jesus was opening up unprecedented access to God.  In Old Testament days the worshiper was faced with walls, doors, priests, altars, and veils that stood between him and God’s personal Presence. In his name, Jesus’ followers could begin to speak directly to God and know that he hears and answers.

Consider this carefully. Never before had anyone prayed in Jesus’ name.  Many of us were raised hearing prayers always offered in the name of Jesus. As children we were taught to pray in Jesus’ name.  We may not fully appreciate what a great privilege it is to approach the throne of grace with confidence knowing that we will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Prayer is the key that enables us to understand God’s plan, which will climax with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Prayer also helps us to stay in step with God’s Spirit, living in the power and understanding of God’s personal Presence.

So, remember that Jesus is alive and he is coming back for you.  Learn to lean on the power of God’s Spirit dwelling in you.  And pray in Jesus’ name, knowing that God hears and answers you.

May God’s Holy Spirit do a mighty work in us and through us always,

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

Leave a comment

Filed under Prayer, Religion

Serious Prayer

Chapter 17 of John’s Gospel is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus. Jesus spoke his prayer to God the Father just before he was betrayed by Judas and arrested by the Jewish religious leaders.  In a matter of hours he would be crucified, but first he prayed.

Earlier that evening Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples.  He spent time preparing his small group of followers for what was about to happen.  They would soon take over the mission of God’s Kingdom in this world because Jesus was about to return to the Father.  He taught them many things.  He mentioned prayer several times.  It was now time for them to begin praying in his name.

To pray in Jesus’ name is more than just saying “in Jesus’ name” at the end of our prayers.  In part, it means to pray like Jesus prays.  While those eleven disciples listened, Jesus gave them an example of how he prays.  He prayed for himself, then for his close group of believers, and finally for all who would become his followers.

If the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of God’s people, needed to pray for himself, then we certainly need to pray for ourselves as well. Jesus prayed about his mission, his calling.  Like our Lord, we should pray about our calling.  The Lord has a purpose for each of us.  Knowing and following God’s purpose gives us a great sense of confidence.

After praying for himself, Jesus prayed for his close circle of followers, the eleven men who were his disciples.  They started out as the Twelve but Judas had left, making final preparations to betray Jesus.  So Jesus prayed that his close group of eleven followers would be safe from evil and that they would be focused on fulfilling God’s mission in their lives.  He prayed that they would penetrate the darkness of this world without being absorbed by it.

We live in a world full of spiritual darkness.  Compromising with the ways of this world is deadly.  But avoiding all contact with the world is disobedient because Jesus sends his followers into the world to carry on his mission.  Like Jesus, we need to pray for one another that we can be in the world but not of the world, representing our Lord faithfully to the world. Together, with God’s empowering Presence, we will be light in a dark place.

Finally, Jesus prayed for all those who would hear the Word of Truth and believe.  His prayer for all believers focused on unity.  As he looked into the future of his Church, our Lord knew what a struggle his followers would face in order to stay united in worship and service.  Many divisions have fractured Christianity since Jesus’ prayer late that night.  Division weakens God’s people, but unity at the expense of truth is deceptive.

Jesus’ prayer is as relevant today as it was that night almost 2,000 years ago.  Since unity is so vital to Christ’s Church, then we should only allow matters of the utmost importance to separate us from other believers.  When the Truth is at stake, we are not dividing; we are defining the true Church.  We must pray that our church will have the courage to stand strong for the Truth, and the wisdom to recognize when the Truth is really at stake.

Please pray like Jesus.  Pray for yourself that you will be clear about your mission in life.  Pray for fellow Christians whom you know well, that they will be protected from evil and passionate about following Jesus.  Pray for the church that we will be wise and courageous about standing strong for God’s Truth.  And pray that our Lord will continue to teach us to pray.

May the Lord’s light shine clearly through us despite the darkness,

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

Leave a comment

Filed under Prayer, Religion