November 15 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Paul

Read Ephesians 3:1-21

I am crazy in love with Ephesians chapter 3!

I think I relate so much to Paul because I, like Paul, could not be more unqualified to speak out for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, God doesn’t give that a second thought.

The Jews were extremely proud people because they knew they were God’s chosen people.  Then, Paul comes along in chapter 3 and sets up the scene by telling them that there is ‘more to the story’ and they are going to have a very hard time grasping it.  In verse 6, Paul declares that the gentiles are now fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  Wait, WHAT?!

Religious thinking:  They don’t deserve that.  We deserve it.  It’s a rule.

Relationship thinking:  I don’t deserve this yet you give it to me anyway.

We can never reach God through a set of rules when we were created for so much more!

I remember a night during our Grace Group when my husband asked the group, “If you knew you had 24 hours to live, what would you do?”  Most of us stated that we would run through the streets trying to share the gospel of Jesus to everyone we met.  We would do that, if, we knew we were dying.  As sad as that is, it’s been my reality.  I go along in my very comfortable life and pray little prayers asking God bless this and protect that.  Paul didn’t have time for that and yet, he had all the time in the world sitting in that prison cell.  He was on a mission, the same mission I’m called to be on.  To know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Father, forgive me.  You have blessed me to live in a nation where I can hit my knees at any given time to come to you in prayer.  Forgive my surface prayers.  Thank you for Paul’s courage.  To kneel before you in inhumane conditions and declare that we become rooted and established in love. He wasn’t praying for himself, he was coming before you and praying for me.  Am I praying that over my family, my small group, & my co-workers?  Am I bowing before you daily, begging you through tears to show the lost people in my life how wide and long and high and deep your love is for them?  Oh, Lord, may we pray these prayers with the boldness as if it may be the very last prayer I am blessed to bring before you.  Time is running out and you have given me a job to do.  May I finish strong, not because it’s a rule, but because it is a privilege.

Rayonna Miller

7 Day Family Prayer Challenge

DAY 5: PRAY FOR PARTNERSHIP

Read Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10. Life is better together!! The Family and the Church need each other!  Parents have thousands of more hours with their kids than the church does. The Church has the privilege and opportunity to be another positive voice in the lives of our kids. So pray today for Grace Students and Grace Kids Grace Group Leaders. That they will be encouraged as they speak truth and hope into students and kids’ lives. Pray for God to show our church the very best ways to encourage and partner with families!

 

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November 14 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 23: 1-6

My 20th birthday was one that I will never forget. Six years ago, I was sitting on a hill in Bethlehem overlooking the very fields where it is thought that the angel appeared to the shepherds in Luke 2. It was in this setting that our tour guide/pastor walked us through Psalm 23. What better setting is there to talk about how the Lord is our Shepherd?

A lot of the imagery and phrases in Psalm is directly related to that of shepherding, as David was a shepherd before he was named King of Israel. Pastor Randy Smith (tour guide/pastor in Sebring, Florida) told us of his own experience with shepherding. Apparently, sheep aren’t the brightest animals out there. Without the constant guidance of their shepherd, most of them would not eat, wander away and get eaten or fall of a cliff. No joke. When Randy was talking about how high needs a sheep is, you can’t help but think about how we can also be like a sheep. Not the brightest species out there and very high needs.

Read through Psalm 23 again. This time, read it from the perspective of us being the sheep and God being our Shepherd. The phrases and imagery become even more real. Throughout our lives, God guides us, provides for us and protects us. If you take God out of the equation, we are “sheep without a shepherd”. Nothing good comes out of that.

This prayer really focuses on identifying God as our Shepherd and thanking Him for all that He does for us. Not only did He bail us out of our sin issue, but He walks with us through life’s many challenges. God isn’t an impersonal dictator holding lightning bolts in the clouds. He loves you. He wants to help you experience His best.

How often do you think to yourself that you can live your life alone? You may think that you have a handle on things and truly know what’s best for you. After all, what does an invisible man in the sky know about your life and your future? It usually isn’t until we are staring down the throat of a wolf or into the abyss on the other side of a cliff that we are confronted with the fact that we do a terrible job of leading our own lives.

Today, will you pray and continually give control of your life to the Great Shepherd? Will you live in His provision and go where He tells you to go?

Don’t be a rogue sheep.

Jake Lawson

7 Day Family Prayer Challenge

DAY 4: PRAY FOR RELATIONSHIPS IN THE FAMILY

Read Colossians 3: 12-14. Family life can be so difficult. We all have hurt each other in some way through the years. God calls us to forgiveness and reconciliation. He wants us to live in harmony with each other. Pray today for the relationships in your family. If things are going well, praise God for that!  If there are struggles: pray for wisdom, forgiveness, direction and reconciliation.

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November 13 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 27:1-14

Do you have enemies or people who you would consider an adversary? As you read David crying out to the Lord to shield him from them, do you picture these people?…

I don’t.

I do not have actual people in my life who I would consider enemies or adversaries. However, the Lord often brings to my spirit that my fears, my anxiety, my struggle with comparison, my thoughts of doubt and unbelief are just as much my enemies as is a person who would be trying to take my life.

As James 1 points out, sin is what separates us from the Lord and therefore can lead to death (of our spirit). So  I am up against all of these enemies in battle to keep my spirit and relationship with Christ alive. As most of us know, this is a heavy battle. To consistently combat the multiple lies of our lives in hopes that they are taken down once and for all. Yet, though the war has been won, the battle continues as we walk in this fallen world.

Psalm 27 is a cry of my heart when battling. The words of David ring loud in my mind whenever I am up against my anxiety and fear and I have to remember the truth and character that is our Creator because He is our safe place to bring the things that are trying to take us down BUT He is also the shield that protects us from the darkness around us.

We must use His truth, His strength, His joy, and His protection to fight that which wants to separate.

A piece of wisdom that a close pastor friend taught me was that the enemy’s number one goal is NOT for you to turn your back on God, but to forget WHO He is. Therefore, whenever you find yourself in a place up against an enemy, I want to challenge you to open God’s word to Psalm 27 and cry it out to the Lord. Seek Him, be confident and courageous as you fight knowing He is will you and watch how He moves.

“For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will list me up on a rock.”

Kelly Lawson

7 Day Family Prayer Challenge

DAY 3: PRAY FOR PARENTS

Read Proverbs 22: 6, James 1: 5. No matter what phase of life children are in, parents need prayer!  Prayer for wisdom in making tough decisions. For strength to have hard conversations and to follow through with what is best. For discernment as their children grow up and move out of the house. Pray today that parents would model Christ likeness and know best how to raise their children.

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November 12 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 30:1-12

David’s prayer illustrates for us the importance of prayer on both sides of difficult situations. Whether we find ourselves in desperation or, if we have been delivered, both provide us with reason to engage God. I will be candid enough to admit, though, that my prayers of praise and thankfulness in the face of His deliverance at times pale in comparison to my supplication in the midst of my desperation. I am not proud of that, but it is often true…and I want to see that change.

David described the desperate nature of his past situation with terms like these:

  • He was in the depths (v. 1)
  • He was in need of healing (v. 2)
  • He was in the “realm of the dead” (3a)
  • He was on the verge of “going down to the pit” (3b)
  • He was weeping (v. 5)
  • He felt as if God had “hidden His face” (v. 7)
  • He was dismayed (v. 7)

But David prayed to God in the midst of his desperation. He called for help and cried for mercy (vv. 2, 8). And God answered, sparing him from his situation and from the boasts of others. As a result, David committed the words of Psalm 30 to praising God…forever (v. 12). After all, it was God who turned David’s wailing to dancing. He was the one who removed David’s sackcloth of mourning and clothed him, instead, with joy (v. 11).

Can you be guaranteed of receiving all that you ask for in the midst of your desperation? The answer, of course, is no. Still, you can experience joy in adversity. Paul’s prison experiences are evidence of that. You can be renewed day by day as you remember that your troubles are momentary and light. Meanwhile, your future glory is eternal and far outweighs it (2 Cor. 4:16-18). David writes an Old Testament version of those ideas in verse 5:

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

On which side of the situation do you currently find yourself? Are you on the desperation side? Cry out to Him for help (vv. 2, 8), refuse to be shaken (v. 6), and remind yourself that this is only temporary. Are you on the deliverance side? Begin or continue to praise the same God who delivered you! He is deserving of your praise.

Steve Kern

7 Day Family Prayer Challenge

DAY 2: PRAY FOR STUDENTS

Read 1 Timothy 1:5. 7th through 12th grades are some very challenging years. It is a daily battle for students to choose their faith over the acceptance and approval of their friends at school. Pray for the students in your life and ask God to lead and teach them how to have a strong and authentic faith in Christ!

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November 11 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 139:1-24

A few years ago we went to the Alive Festival in Canal Fulton to listen to contemporary Christian music. As Michael W. Smith began to perform a song titled “Everywhere I go I see you”, he started to recite a prayer from memory. He had no notes to refer to. It was Psalm 139 and he had memorized it and he shared it before he sang. It was a moment I will never forget. You can watch it on YouTube – ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwNVuPOnKdI ) as he has recited it at numerous venues. It is uplifting and inspiring. I went home and the next day I started to read this Psalm regularly and memorize it myself. It is relevant to my everyday life.

I have learned from Psalm 139 that God is always with me. No matter where I go. Even if I am in Hawaii with my wife, Birdie, and we both get an urgent text that a nuclear bomb will be hitting soon (this happened last January – it was a false alarm). This prayer comforted us at the time, and it shows that God is always with me. No matter what.

At the beginning and end of the prayer are examples of God searching for me: “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me” (v. 1) and “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (v. 23).

“You are familiar with all my ways” (v.3).

He knows me.

“Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.” (V.4) This is absolutely amazing. He knows about me.

“If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (v.8). He is with me everywhere I go.

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (v.16). The days of my life were all prepared by God before I lived one day.

“Search me, O God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (v.23). Our dear God can scrape away our anxious thoughts.

“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (v.24). I want to live in a way that brings honor to you. Point out anything in me that offends you.

“Everywhere I go I see you”.

Take some time today and pray this prayer for yourself! Allow God to assure you of His presence and provision in your life!

Tom Weckesser

7 Day Family Prayer Challenge

DAY 1: PRAY FOR KIDS

Read Mark 10:13-16, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11. God loves kids! He calls them to Himself and calls those who love Him to have a childlike faith. Take time today to pray for the kids in your life – daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or the kids down the street! Ask God to begin to build a foundation for life change in their hearts!

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November 10 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Moses

Read Exodus 32:1-35

Only days before, the people of God had trembled in fear at the foot of Mount Sinai. The mountain smoked and quaked as God spoke to Moses in the midst of thunder and lightning (Ex. 20:18-21). No wonder the people had vowed in unison, “Everything the Lord has said we will do” (Ex. 24:3).

But that was days before. Perhaps the fear of God had subsided and been replaced with the fear that Moses would never return. In their minds, they needed something/someone to represent the one that had brought them out of Egypt and who would go before them into the Promised Land. The result was a golden calf…a clear violation of the 2nd of the 10 Commandments.

What followed in the remainder of the chapter is a revelation of God’s intent and a description of Moses’ intercession. God’s intent was to destroy the people. In fact, He even distanced Himself from the people, calling them Moses’ people (Ex. 32:7). God’s new plan was to do away with them and start over with the descendants of Moses.

Let’s push pause for a moment on the story line and make clear that God is not a hot-head given to quick emotional flare ups that He later regrets. In fact, just a couple of chapters later, God clarifies some of His attributes by describing Himself as “…compassionate and gracious…slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6). His intended response to the golden calf incident is only after enduring many other demonstrations of their obstinacy.

But Moses’ response was one of prayer. It was a prayer that asked God to act graciously and give the people a second chance. His prayer had at least three key elements that are worth highlighting for your prayer life.

  1. Moses pointed out that the Israelites were God’s people (Ex. 32:11). Can I ask…do you assume too much responsibility for people and their responses in life? Are you consumed with trying to control the outcome?
  2. Moses prayed about God’s reputation (Ex. 32:12). How would your prayers change if you had greater concern for God’s glory and fame than you do for your own?
  3. Moses reflected on God’s promises (Ex. 32:13). Has God made promises that you need to embrace and maybe even boldly pray back to Him?

Examine your most recent prayer to God. How would it change if you incorporated those elements?

Steve Kern

21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE

For the full challenge, go here!

Day 21: Pray for our loved ones in pain

Read Romans 15:13, Psalm 27:13-14 and James 5:13-18. Watching someone you love suffer hurts. You can’t take away their pain, but you can pray. He promises to be with us, comfort us, and provide for us. We can overflow with hope when we trust Jesus and put our faith in Him.

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November 9 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 63:1-11

Searching for life sustaining water and shelter and soul sustaining truth, is where David finds himself here in Psalm 63.  His enemies are near.

In military combat, they say the “3:1 principle” is a general rule leading to victory. The attacker has to be three times the forces of the defender. David was alone in the desert and his attackers were more than three times his strength.

I was with a group in the desert of Judah a few years ago. I can only imagine the physical desperation I would feel if I were left alone without water and needing to defend my life. It is beautiful if you are visiting and have a water bottle, but scary if you are hiding for your life.

As we toured the desert we stopped at a place called En Gedi. It is an amazing and surprisingly life giving location. There was a stream and even a waterfall with dozens of animals. This is where God led David during his escape. This is a wonderful reminder of how God cared for David and how he cares for us in our desert experiences.

In this prayer of David, we see what it is that gives and sustains life. Earnestly seeking truths of God with a heart of worship can lead us to the best protection for our souls.

I came to this Psalm as a young teenager when my family was engaged in a battle for the spiritual and physical life of a family member. For me it was a desert experience.  This Psalm brought such comfort as I lay on my bed and asked God for His intervention.   David put words to my prayer…”On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.  Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” I saw how God was glorified. I worshiped Him and never had to take up a man made weapon, but was able to rejoice in the One who fought for my family. He is our mighty King.

I have returned to this Psalm during the many battles in my life and am always reminded of His faithfulness. Because His love is better than life, my lips will praise and glorify Him!

Direct your heart to Him during your desert experiences and let Him fight on your behalf. He sure is greater than 3 times your enemy- Satan.

Celeste Kern

21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE

For the full challenge, go here!

Day 20: Pray for our world

Read Psalm 46:10 and 2 Corinthians 4:13-18. When you watch the news or look at social media, it can seem like the world has lost its mind. Thankfully, God is still in charge. What is something good you want to see God bring out of the chaos? Tell God how you hope to see Him exalted through the difficulties of the day.

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