52 Simple Prayers for 2018. Do you ever feel guilty about the brevity of your praying? Do you feel like you’re short-changing God by shooting up “quickie prayers?” Let me relieve your guilt: Whether they’re long or short, God loves heartfelt ...

 

God, Help

52 Simple Prayers for 2018

Do you ever feel guilty about the brevity of your praying? Do you feel like you’re short-changing God by shooting up “quickie prayers?” Let me relieve your guilt: Whether they’re long or short, God loves heartfelt prayers. Here is one of the shortest but most powerful prayers you can ever pray: “God, help!”

With a quick prayer to the God of heaven, I replied to the king…

—NEHEMIAH 2:4

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A Simple Prayer for God’s Immediate Help:

God, help! I’m facing challenges that will overcome me without your protection, guidance and favor. I don’t know all that is before me, but what I do know is that you are already there. So I simply ask you to guide me into the victory that you have already secured. For your glory alone, I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen!
  

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Storm Sleepers

God’s Care and Competence Makes the World Perfectly Safe for You

Jesus slept through a raging storm because of what he knew about life in God’s hand: That given the care and the competence of his Heavenly Father, the world was a perfectly safe place to be, including the back of a boat in the middle of a storm. When you live in the predetermined assurance, as Jesus did, that you are always safe in God’s hand, you can, too.

Enduring Truth // Focus: Luke 8:24

The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.

Jesus and his disciples were in the boat in the middle of a lake when a fierce storm hit, threatening to capsize the craft and drown them all. Understandably, the disciples were frantic, but Luke says that Jesus was sleeping—snoozing away in the midst of a raging storm!

Now that is an interesting detail the writer throws in. So just why is that bit of information so important? I believe it is because Luke wanted us to know what Jesus knew about life in the hands of his Father: That given the care and the competence of his Heavenly Father, the world was a perfectly safe place to be, including a boat in the middle of a storm.

A raging storm is about to sink their boat, and the disciples are screaming and struggling for their very lives. They think they are going to die. But Jesus is living with a full assurance that had been settled long ago in his mind that his Father was both caring and competent, so therefore he has no problem sleeping right through this storm. In their frantic state, the disciples cried out to Jesus for help. They had faith in Jesus—and that is a very important thing. But what they didn’t have, not yet anyway, was the faith of Jesus. They did not live in the predetermined assurance, as Jesus did, that they were safe in the hands of God.

The Apostle Peter, who was in that boat, came to know what Jesus knew. He later wrote in I Peter 5:7, “cast all your anxieties upon him because he cares for you.” He too, had come to know that when your life is in the Father’s competence and care, this world, no matter what is going on around you, is a perfectly safe place to be.

Do you realize that the Father cares for you? Sure you do! So why not practice a little casting today—especially if you are in the middle of a storm. Cast your anxieties back to the One who cares for you, and don’t be surprised if you fall asleep in the middle of your storm.

Thrive: Offer this prayer of surrender: Lord, you care for me more than I will ever realize. And you are competent to take care of all of my needs. So I cast my anxieties back to you, and in exchange, I receive your peace.

With complete consecration comes perfect peace.

—WATCHMAN NEE

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The Greatest Virtue

What God Will Never Despise

The next time you see an arrogant religious leader in action, turn off the TV or turn around and walk away if you are in his or her presence. Next time you see a person humbly appeal for help, turn toward and humbly serve them as the Servant of All would. And the next time you’re tempted to think, feel, act or speak in any manner other than true humility, go back and review the life of Jesus, your Great Example.

Enduring Truth // Focus: Mark 7:33-35

Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man’s tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said … “Be opened!” Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!

It would be normal for us to focus on the unusual healing methods Jesus employed to heal this man with deaf ears and tied tongue. What a strange thing—Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears, then apparently, removed them, spit on them and then touched his tongue.

Yikes! I’m glad Jesus wasn’t setting a pattern for praying for the sick today. What Jesus did for this man—or more accurately, how Jesus prayed for this man—has nothing over some of the strange antics and overt showiness of some of today’s so called faith healers.

But don’t miss the first thing Jesus did when this poor man’s friends brought him to Jesus for prayer: He pulled the man aside so he could minister to him in private. Obviously, Jesus didn’t want his methodology to be the thing the crowd focused on. Nor did he want to turn this man into a sideshow or use him as a trophy that could build a greater following for Jesus. The Lord never used people in that way, so he simply, quietly healed the man in the most respectful way possible.

So why the weird methods? I’m not really sure, since Jesus could have simply spoke a word and the man would have been healed. But he had his reasons, and the bottom line was a man who had been victimized by this horrible physical bondage was miraculously, fully and gratefully set free.

Nor should we miss the greater message behind this event. It is a message, in fact, that runs throughout the entirety of Mark 7. What is that message? It is that God values “humility”. It is the lack of humility that frames the opening encounter between the religious elite and Jesus. When the scribes and Pharisees criticize Jesus and his disciples for not observing the man-made minutiae of the Jewish Law, Jesus rebukes them for their arrogant, manipulative and abusive misapplication of God’s true law.

On the other hand, it is the presence of humility that moves Jesus to respond to the woman who comes to him to get her daughter delivered from a demon. Jesus initially puts this Syro-Phoenician lady through her paces in order to bring out her faith—actually telling her she doesn’t deserve to be healed (really—check out Mark 7:27, NLT). But the woman, who is from a much wealthier, more prestigious culture than this simple, uncouth Galilean, won’t take “no” for an answer, so she humbly makes her request of Jesus, who gladly grants it.

Then, as we have seen with the healing of the deaf man with a speech impediment, Jesus rejects any form of showiness by doing in private what God does—restoring not only hearing to deaf ears but dignity to the human soul.

Nothing turns God off like arrogance. But there is nothing God treasures like humility. That is because nothing is closer to the core of God’s character than humility, which the Apostle Paul reminds us of in Philippians 2:1-11 through the example of Jesus. That is why humility is arguably the greatest virtue.

The next time you see an arrogant religious leader in action, turn off the TV or turn around and walk away if you are in his or her presence. Next time you see a person humbly appeal for help, turn toward and humbly serve them as the Servant would. And the next time you’re tempted to think, feel, act or speak in any manner other than true humility, go back and read Mark 7.

Thrive: Ask God to reveal any form of pride that may reside in your life and remove it from you. Then humble yourself before him and ask for his help in exhibiting the attitude of humility exemplified by Jesus.

In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

—ST. PAUL

  

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God, Everything Thing I Do, I Do For You

52 Simple Prayers for 2018

What if you did everything for one week as if you were doing it for Jesus? What do you think would happen? Do you think your life, and the lives of people who interact with you, would be different? Better? Changed for the good? The quick and easy answer is yes, you, others and the world would be better by miles!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

—COLOSSIANS 3:23-24

A Simple Prayer for Giving It My Best Shot:

God, in everything I do this week, I will give it my best shot. I will love you more freely, encourage others more fully, fulfill your purposes more diligently, and work at all times more excellently. I will do it for you, because it is you I am serving.
  

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Your Judas

Walking Where Great People Have Walked Before

Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? There is no pain quite like it! But are you willing to consider the possibility that God has a far deeper work to do in you that can only come through the betrayer’s knife? Charles Spurgeon said, “I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, the hammer and the file than to anything else in the Lord’s workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see the most.” If you are going through the pain of betrayal, just remember that you are only walking where most of the greats have once walked.

Enduring Truth // Focus: Matthew 26:16

From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

Sorry to be the one to break the news to you, but everybody gets a Judas in life. At one point or another, you will bear the pain of someone you trusted thrusting a knife in your back. It is simply, and sadly, the awful reality of living in a broken world alongside fallen human beings.

Among the 60 conspirators who assassinated the Roman leader on March 15, 44 BC was Marcus Julius Brutus. Caesar not only trusted Brutus, he favored him as a son. According to Roman historians, Caesar first resisted his assassins, but when he saw Brutus among them with his dagger drawn, he gave up. He pulled the top part of his robe over his face, and uttered those heartrending words immortalized by Shakespeare, “Et tu Brute” … “You, too, my child?”

Julius Caesar was not the only one to know such treachery. The passionate Scottish patriot William Wallace experienced it when Earl Robert de Bruce betrayed him. Not even the brightest theological mind who ever lived—the Apostle Paul—or the most perfect human being ever—Jesus Christ—was spared. No one gets a pass on betrayal.

So here’s the thing: Are you willing to consider the possibility that God has a far deeper work to do in you that can only come through the betrayer’s knife? Charles Spurgeon said,

I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, the hammer and the file than to anything else in the Lord’s workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see the most.

The truth is, the fire, the hammer and the file of a betrayal may result in some of God’s finest craftsmanship—if you keep your heart soft and your eye on him. If you are going through the pain of a betrayer’s wound right now, remember, you are walking where great people have walked before. Their greatness came because they didn’t allow betrayal to ruin them; they learned how to turn their pain into greater usefulness for the Lord.

Jesus responded to Judas’ money-making treachery with obedient submission to God—and transformed the world. Perhaps God wants to use your pain to form you, and transform your world.

Thrive: If you are going through the pain of betrayal, memorize and pray this psalm of David, who knew a little about betrayal: “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice…Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:16-17, 22)

Only a friend can betray a friend, a stranger has nothing to gain Only a friend comes close enough to ever cause so much pain.

—MICHAEL CARD

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