Tag Archives: prayer

Fight The Good Fight (Audio)

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Fight with me in prayer! This is an excellent message about fighting in prayer, learning to pray, and the power of prayer. From Ephesians 6:10-13.

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Dr. Richard Foster, Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

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Fight With Me!

Fight with me in prayer. That is what the Apostle Paul asked the church in Rome to do (Romans 15:30). It may seem strange to think of prayer as a battle, but the Bible assures us that Christians are caught in a firefight, and without prayer we will fall.

In Ephesians 6 we learn that our enemies in this age are not flesh and blood but spiritual: Satan and his evil troops. Our real battle is not political, economic or cultural. Our battle is spiritual.

In order to stand against the spiritual forces of evil in this age we must be diligent in using all the spiritual equipment which God has provided. Like a well-armed soldier, followers of Jesus can face the enemy with confidence, knowing that victory is assured.

The Apostle Paul was incarcerated and being guarded by a Roman soldier as he wrote about spiritual warfare to the believers in Ephesus. His description of God’s full armor is a great way to think about the spiritual weapons that God has given his people.

The belt of truth enables us to stand against Satan’s lies. The breastplate of righteousness makes us impervious to the accusations made against us by the Devil. Feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace keep us from being frozen by fear of our Enemy.

The shield of faith protects us from the deadly temptations that are fired at us in order to destroy us. The helmet of salvation gives us confidence to pursue heaven in a world that is trying desperately to ignore the danger of hell.

The sword of God’s Spirit is the word of God. The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. No weapon can withstand God’s word.

When Jesus was tempted by Satan he wielded the sword of the Spirit, applying Scripture in order to push the Enemy back in defeat. The Bible gives us great power in our battle against the evil forces in this world.

After instructing his readers to adorn the full armor of God, the apostle directed them to pray with passion and perseverance. The battle is won in prayer. Prayer enables us to stand in the mighty power of God, which is greater than any enemy we might face.

Jesus fought the good fight of faith on the cross at Calvary and displayed astounding power by walking away from his tomb in triumph. But first he prayed with great passion and perseverance in Gethsemane. His sweat was like blood dropping to the ground, yet he prayed on. When his prayer was finished the victory was assured.

Paul finished his instruction in Ephesians 6 by asking for prayer that he would proclaim the gospel with boldness. Despite being chained to a Roman soldier like a common criminal, he realized that his true identity was ambassador for Christ.

We, too, are called to be ambassadors for Christ. Let’s fight together in prayer. Pray for God’s people. No weapon forged against us will prevail.

May we stand strong for Christ in his power and for his glory,

Brother Richard Foster

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If My People

Why did God visit Abraham on his way to Sodom and Gomorrah? He said that he would go down and see if things were as wicked as it seemed in Sodom. But the God of heaven and earth has no need to “go down and see” in order to know the state of Sodom or any city.

On his way to Sodom, God stopped by the home of Abraham. Abraham looked up and three men stood near his tent in the heat of the day. According to the customs of his day, Abraham was quick to offer gracious hospitality for the men. They accepted his offer of a restful meal.

During the after-dinner talk, Abraham realized that he was not entertaining normal visitors. In some mysterious way, God’s very presence had come to call. And God decided to share his mission with Abraham. He was apparently on a fact-finding trip that would determine the fate of a city and its citizens.

Abraham could have kept quiet and let the Lord go on. After all, what business was it of his? So long as God did not bother Abraham and his household, what good would it do to get involved anyway? God knows what he is doing. Let him go to it.

Or Abraham could have offered his opinion. After all, he lived just a few miles away from the city. He could have told God that what he heard about Sodom was right. It definitely was a desperately wicked city. Abraham could have told God that he would not blame him for sweeping the place away in judgment.

But what Abraham did was simply astounding. He appealed to God for mercy. He asked that God spare the wicked citizens of Sodom. God agreed with Abraham that if just ten righteous people could be found in the city then he would spare everyone. Abraham interceded with God for a corrupt, violent, and immoral people.

True, Abraham’s nephew, Lot, lived in the city. His intercession could have been for selfish reasons. But he did not ask God to save only his kinfolk. He pleaded for God to show mercy on the entire population of Sodom. Abraham appealed to God for undeserved favor.

Abraham’s example of intercession with God is timely for us. By almost every measure imaginable the cities around us are declining rapidly. The most important measure, of course, is spiritual. And the spiritual condition of America is deplorable. We are driving hard and fast toward a truly desperate situation.

We could easily feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem and choose to simply protect our own. We could rightly be angry about the horrible circumstances and just agree that God should wipe out the wicked. But Abraham, the man of faith, offers us a better response: we should intercede with God for America, appealing for his great grace.

America needs godly people to cry out to the Lord for mercy. God our Savior is gracious. He told Abraham that for just ten righteous people he would spare the desperately sinful city of Sodom. Unfortunately for Sodom, not even ten righteous people were left in the place.

We must cry out to God for his grace and mercy before the righteous dwindle away to nothing and it is too late for our communities and neighborhoods. The Lord has promised that when his people, those called by his name, humble themselves and pray, that he will hear and forgive and heal the land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

May we be found faithful,

Brother Richard

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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

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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

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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

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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

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