Quality Prayer

prayer-teachus1Prayer is powerful because of God. The power of God is the power behind prayer. As Christians, we know we need to pray, but at times we struggle in prayer. Just recently a Christian author and friend, whom I consider to be strong, confessed to me their struggles with prayer. Just the thought of wanting our prayer life to be better is a statement of our faith in God.

If we are not vigilant our prayer life can become rote. If we are not careful our prayers can become idolatrous. If we pray simply out of habit at the same time(s), only at meals, only before we lay our heads on our pillows, and when lead in class or worship, we run the danger of prayer being a ritual and not truly prayer. I encourage you to make prayer personal. Take time to simply talk with the Father in Heaven about your day, your cares, and fill it with praise for His role in your life.

Be sure to take the following frame of mind and spirit into you “closet” when you prayer:

  • Humility” . . . if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14.
  • Thoughtfulness“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
  • Penitence“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1Peter 3:12
  • Discipline“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.: Matthew 6:33
  • Sincerity“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
  • Fervency“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44
  • Perseverance – Cf. Luke 18:1-8
  • Watchfulness “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self- controlled and sober- minded for the sake of your prayers.” 1Peter 4:7
  • Faith“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

– Scott

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What If . . .

When I was in elementary school at Escambia Christian School a local church puppet team would come every so often and perform during chapel. I do not recall all their shows, but one sticks in my mind – well part of it. The narrator posed the question, “What if . . ? Then the puppets would act out scenes depicting a “what if” scenario. The one particular thought I remember is this: A puppet dressed as Col. William Prescott commands his army at Bunker Hill, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” As the patriots sit and wait, the British soldier puppets march in wearing sunglasses. I still laugh (at least chuckle) when I remember that scene.

But what if . . .

  • What if today were your last day?
  • What if the Lord were to return today?
  • What if? Would you be ready? Would you know without a doubt that you would spend eternity with Him in heaven?

1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” We can know. We can have confidence.

Yet our sin separates us from God. My sin separates me from God and your sin separates you from God. (Isa 59:2). We need a way back to God. That way is His Son – “Jesus said to him, ” I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). When we are in Christ we can have confidence in our home in heaven.

Are you in Christ? Consider the words of Paul, ” . . . for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ ‘s, then you are Abraham’ s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:26-29 emphasis added by me – BSMc).

What if you gave your life to God today?

– Scott

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Join With Me?

Over the last three weeks I have written about prayer on Tuesdays.  I have more to say about prayer, faith, and God over the 20110928-080944.jpgnext few weeks, but while we are thinking and studying about prayer, will you join me in praying to the Father concerning the following situations? Some of these are very personal to me.

  • Pray for my family’s year of transition that is coming to a close. Last May I began working with Central Church of Christ. We stayed in our home an hour north of here while Amy taught Fourth Grade at OMS and while Andrew finished his Senior year at OHS. Now our house is on the market and there is some interest. Amy is looking at teaching in the Tuscaloosa area. Andrew is getting ready for college at Faulkner University.
  • Pray for a fellow minster – Brent – who is leading the invocation for the Alabama State Legislature on the National Day of Prayer.
  • Pray for our dear friends the Moores as they are away from home at a Migraine specialty clinic and undergoing tests to see if she is a candidate for a procedure that may relieve her 16 year migraine.  Yes, I said sixteen years with a headache 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
  • Pray for a family at Central as Hospice assists them with their adult child and his cancer.
  • Pray for the families of the two teenage cousins who were fatalities in an early morning wreck in Curry, Alabama yesterday.
  • Pray for students at Curry High School where these two attended.
  • Pray for the 42 year old who has a serious heart condition, but is not yet a candidate for a transplant. Pray for his wife and young children.
  • Pray for our nation and her leaders.
  • Pray for those you know of that need a special blessing and care.
  • Pray for God’s will to always be done.

Thank you for your prayers.

– Scott

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Prayer Problems

prayer-teachus1Prayer is popular. Not a day passes that someone in my circle of social media connections does not ask for prayer for themselves or for someone they know. Religious people believe in a need to pray. Many post that “Prayer is the only thing that can save America.” There is reason to rejoice in this current prayer and religious fervor . . . or is there?

Can this faith be “superstitious?” Would the apostle Paul scan Facebook and say, “I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious (religious) . . .” (Act 17:22)? Can people think of prayer as a magical incantation that if they say it at the right time in the right way, God will act in the way they want – “Accio ___________.”

Could modern Christians be misguided in their concept of prayer? Can we be like James and John who ask for a place of honor? Jesus replied to them, “You do not know what you are asking.” (Mat 20:22).

Prayer is so much more than asking for or worse demanding what we want or think we need. Prayer is so much more than a magical phrase to call God down to earth to intervene the way we see fit. Prayer is not America’s only hope – God is! Prayer is so much greater because God is the power behind prayer!

  • Prayer is entering the presence of God.
  • Prayer is speaking to the Creator.
  • Prayer is asking Him to act in our best interest and trusting His answer is always best – even if we do not like the answer.
  • Successful prayer is not about getting God to do what we want, but spending time with the Father, pouring our heart to Him, and trusting that he hears and cares.

Will you take time to pray?

– Scott

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Do you have a Favorite Hymn?

Recently, we have started singing Magnificat (Words and Music by Randy Gill) as a congregation. This song is based on Mary’s praise to God when she learns that God has chosen her to bring Immanuel into the world and her visit to Elizabeth, the soon to be mother of John the Baptist. – Luke 1:46-55.

If you are unfamiliar with the song the embedded video is from The Zoe Group:

What is a favorite hymn of yours?

– Scott

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Beauty

100_1488Father,

Today is a beautiful day. Beautiful in my part of the world because of the temperature, the early morning sun, the blue sky and white clouds. Today is beautiful because of the birds that sing and the flowers that bloom. Today is beautiful because You made it. Thank you for the beauty of your creation.

Today is beautiful in the people around me. The family in my house and the love we have for each other. Thank you for them. But also the people I saw as I commuted to the study this morning. Thank you for the drivers who kindly let others pull out of their subdivisions so they could get their children to school or arrive at work on time. Thank you for the construction worker I saw pulled off to the side of the road assisting a stranded motorist of a different ethnicity. Thank you for those that teach our children. Today is beautiful because of Your creation and Your influence.

Today is beautiful because of Your mercy (loving kindness) that is new every morning (cf. Lam 3:22-23). Today is beautiful because this is a day You made (cf. Ps 118:24). Today is a beautiful day because of You!

Thank you, Father, for today.

In Jesus’ name.

– Scott

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Good Church Leaders and Ministers

A few years ago I shared an adaptation of what education author Todd Whitaker writes in “What Great Teachers Do

#bealight

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Differently” {2nd Edition (Larchmont, NY:Eye on Eye Education) 2012}, applying it to parents as their child’s first and primary teacher.  Specifically chapter 11 where Whitaker discusses how good teachers repair relationships with students.  I thought about that blog this morning and considered how it applies to ministers and other church leaders (teacher, deacons, elders, etc.) Whitaker describes three types of teachers that I think describes church leaders as well.

1. Need to Repair – But Never Do: Some church leaders need to repair relationships with other Christians (church members) but never do. At some point a leader will make a mistake, they will say or do something that will hurt feelings. Some church leaders take an approach that communicates being unapproachable and unwilling to admit wrong.

2. I am Sorry That Happened: Leaders, learn to say you are sorry.  Learn to say, “I am sorry that happened.”  Even if you were unaware of your part in the pain.  The following story is true, it has to do with my role as a minister from early in my church work.  I think this event illustrates this point.  Years ago a man approached me on a Sunday morning after our assembly. “Scott, why don’t you like me any more?”  I was floored.  I liked this man and his family.  They were good workers in the church.  I replied, “I do like you, and love you as my brother in Christ.  Why do you think I don’t like you?”  He explained that I appeared to be avoiding him.  For the last month, he perceived that I had not made an effort to speak to him.  (In my defense there were an average of over 300 each Sunday at that time, I could not talk to everyone.)  What did I do?  What did I say?  I said, “I am sorry I made you feel that way, please know I do like and love you and will do anything I can for you.  I may not be able to talk to you every assembly, but I will try to speak to you as often as possible.”  We “man-hugged” and he promised to come to me and not wait for me to come to him. When you say you are sorry an event happened, don’t stop with the simple acknowledgement – make effort to change.

3. Never Need to Repair – Always Do: Simply put, if we want to be great church leaders, we must always work to repair and maintain our relationship with church members.  Church members and other leaders may think everything is good, and if you work hard to maintain and repair it will be, but learn to keep it that way.  Consider Jesus’ relationship advice in Mat 5:23-26 and Mat 18:15-17.  We have the responsibility to work things out with others – especially our fellow servants of Christ.

I think you can see that the best leaders are the last group. But when we find ourselves falling short we must apologize and do our best to make things right. Good leaders work hard to avoid personally hurting other Christians physically or emotionally.  Great leaders also work hard to repair any inadvertent damage.

– Scott

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