2: 50 Days of Pray – Time For a Change

I wonder how many believers take the time to pray and fast? I can honestly say I am not in the category of those who have. I have taken time away from things using the excuse that I work too hard to give up food, but I could give up something else. Sure, it can be giving up something else, but I believe there is something about fasting in the traditional sense that has meaning to it.  Here in Nehemiah, we see the prophet of the same name hearing the stories of the broken city of Jerusalem and her walls in shambles from those who had escaped. In his heart, he knew something needed to be done but he did not know what, so he prayed.

 

 

 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:

“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you”

Nehemiah 1:4-6

 

This is only the first part of his prayer but it is the cry of many believers who felt they have lost their way. Those who feel like they haven’t heard God’s voice in such a long time, maybe they have just been going through the motions. Then one day something breaks them, brings them to their knees with an unbridled passion to repent and crying out to the one who loves them. Nehemiah didn’t just expect God to answer, he fasted and prayed for some days, how long is not important but he prepared his heart to listen to what God would say. He trusted that God would answer and give him some sort of guidance in what was happening. We don’t hear what exactly God says to Nehemiah but what we do see is the confidence he has to speak to King Artaxerxes about what he needed to do.

 

What I love reading in 2:4 it says: Then the king said to me, “ What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. Think about it. He didn’t respond right away. Nehemiah stopped and went to ask God for what to do. I know all to often I have made brash and rapid decisions that have changed the course of my life. Did I stop and ask God, I wish I could say yes or that I took more than a 2 min moment with Him? No, I rushed into things and expected it to be okay. Why, because we love to make our own decisions.  We don’t know how long Nehemiah took from the moment he was asked till his answer but the king waited, and he gave Nehemiah what he requested.

 

Imagine with me if you will a church that takes the time to fast and pray for their communities.? What if believers when making life decisions took the time to ask God what he thought about the situation? We need to be church inside and outside of the building. Sunday is a place where we gather and grow but for the rest of the week, we need to be sharing the love of Jesus all over the place. How much more effective will we be if we take the time to ask and listen to what God’s thoughts are?

 

Maybe you have been living a life that is on the outs, you once served God but now you’re not so sure. God loves you and is calling you back. Take the words of Nehemiah and make them yours, let God know that you have fallen and you want to get right with him again. That’s the awesome thing about our relationship with God, he is not vindictive and will always be ready to welcome you back. Don’t ever think that you have done something that there is no returning from. Take some time and pray, I encourage you to try to fast a meal and focus on him. It is one thing to skip a meal but if you don’t pray and focus on him you might as well just eat. Fasting and Prayer go hand in hand. I am going to try to myself, are you up to see what God has to say to you?

 

Father, I am done making excuses for my actions. I choose things without prayer and wonder why life isn’t going the way I expected. This shouldn’t surprise me as I know that when I trust you it all works out. So forgive me for my arrogance. I give my life back to your hands and I will work at strengthening our relationship with more prayer and fasting. Help me to reach those around me that need to hear about the love Jesus has and the hope found in him. Let me now hide in the shadows but step out and share. Like Nehemiah, my heart breaks form those who are hurting living in shambles. Use me. Amen

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Day 44: 50 Days All In

In our desire to have an all in relationship we must remember that conversation is vital to survival. God wants to have conversations with us. This is displayed all throughout the bible and history with people doing amazing things after spending time in conversation with God. Moses after a heart to heart with God rescued a nation from slavery. Solomon in talking with God asked for wisdom, then becoming the most famous king of all time. Jesus continued to focus on talking with God and look what he did. Don’t forget the importance of communication with God.
 
“I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”
Psalms 116:1-2 NLT
So, who feels like praying? I mean the Psalmist here writes that he will pray as long as he has breath. I pray, and my mind wanders at times to things that don’t matter. Maybe if I didn’t fill my head with tv and movies it would help. Do I really want God to listen to my prayers? Yes, I do, and I am sure you do too.
How many acronyms do you know for ways to pray.
PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens
PRAY – Praise, Repent, Anything for others, Yourself
TIP – Thanksgiving, Intercession, Praise
I am sure there are more (love to hear them in comments) but it doesn’t matter how you pray, it is your heart behind it. Praying out if selfishness or greed will produce empty results. Love and humility, an earnest desire to do the work of Christ.
Jesus during his time on earth talked about an advocate he would send, to help us. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.” John 14:16 maybe we in our prayer life need to spend a few minutes inviting the Holy Spirit to join us in our prayers. If the Holy Spirit is in us, as promised by Jesus himself, then wouldn’t it make sense for us to ask him to stand with us in our prayers?
Holy Spirit, we welcome you today to stand with us in our prayers. All too often we come to our knees and petition and pray without you. Sure, we know your there, but we want to invite you personally to join us. We love you and welcome you to move in and through our lives and prayers. Complete the all in relationship we desire. Amen.
 
 
 
 

Day 35: 50 Days All In

As we earnestly work towards an all in relationship with God we must understand that this relationship incorporates all three sides of God. God the Son, who frees us from Sin. God the Father who loves us and watches over us. God the Spirit who works in us, without the Holy Spirit our relationship would be empty. He has been working in the world right from the start we see his debut in Genesis 1:2 where it tells us ‘ the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water’. In the Old Testament, his role was miraculous, working in times and place with one individual or group. Jesus, it seems to have changed his direction to dwell in all of those who have accepted salvation.
 
 
“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.”
Psalms 51:7-11 NLT
It’s amazing how Jesus is revealed in so many ways in the Old Testament. In the middle of the Psalms is a cry for salvation and repentance, David cried out to God because he was troubled and needed Gods forgiveness. To me, it is an example of brokenness and realizing that we can’t do it alone.
Now the Holy Spirit wasn’t known by that name in the Psalms and probably should read holiness, but none the less it is the same thing. The Holy Spirit has always been there comforting those who call on God. He wants to comfort you. As a believer, the Holy Spirit lives in you
David cries for a loyal spirit. I wonder how many of us can honestly say when we last prayed for a loyal spirit to reside in our hearts. Jesus promised that even though he was leaving to prepare a place for us in heaven that he would send another, just like him, to comfort us and give us power. Today if you have accepted Jesus and want an all in relationship with God then you need to know that the Holy Spirit lives in you. He is not there to control you but to guide you, strengthen you, encourage you and give you wisdom. We need to embrace the power he has for us. We need to ask him for a loyal spirit, a relationship where we trust in the one Jesus sent to help us. He does not impose anything on us, but I think it is the time we as a church start listening to his voice.
Father, today we pray alongside David. Create in me a clean heart. Wash away all my sins. Holy Spirit work in my life, feel free to take over and change anything or guide me to make changes to improve who I am in Christ. God, renew a loyal spirit in me. I want to be continually faithful to you and your call to reach the lost and make disciples. I want my all in relationship to include not only the Father and Son but the Holy Spirit who strengthens me. Amen
 
 
 

Day 12: 50 Days All In

As we journey together at becoming all in our faith there will come times where our passion and love for Christ should overflow and spill out of us. Paul prayed that this would be something that is more of a common occurrence than a once in a lifetime experience. We are called to keep growing in our faith, if your story and experience with God is not so fresh it may be time to reevaluate your life, asking God for an overflowing love and new knowledge and understanding.
 
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.”
Philippians 1:9 NLT
 
We never stop learning. This is evident in the fact that things are being invented or discovered every day. This is a trait we were given by God, to keep looking and exploring. Here in Philippians, we are called to keep growing in knowledge and understanding, this has more to do with your faith and understanding that time is running out, that we need to work at sharing our faith with others. We need knowledge now more than ever as some people have over thought life and have their own answers for everything when they need to do a reset and realize Jesus is the answer. A knowledge that is found in the scriptures and the powerful love of Jesus will help when connecting with the lost. These are also gifts of the Holy Spirit that we can access as believers by praying that he will guide us in reaching others.
 
You love for the lost needs to overflow your life. It must be a genuine love. This is hard to communicate to someone who doesn’t know their lost. A vast percentage of our population think they are fine and are just living normal lives. That they are good enough. We need to display love to them showing them what Jesus has done in our lives and what He has done for them. Many have been confused with all the different teachings of religion that works to muddy the waters of the true relationship Jesus wants us to have with him. Letting the love of Christ overflow our lives becoming infectious to those around us. The overflowing love is healing to the hurting, comfort for the broken, and sight to the blind.
 
So today will you let love overflow your life?
 
Jesus, fill me up with your love, fill me to overflowing. Let my life reflect everything you have for me. Let me be a witness to those who need to know you. They matter to you, so they matter to me. I ask for wisdom, knowledge and understanding to be effective in communicating your salvation message to those who don’t think they need it. Give me the courage to actually do it. I strive to be all in within my relationship with you, no turning back. Amen
 

Day 10: 50 Days All In

To be all in a choice must be made. There is only one God and one way to get spend eternity in heaven. If you compromise and think that there may be other ways to heaven, or that there could be other gods, then you aren’t living all in.

 

“There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.”

Ephesians 4:5-6 NLT

A vast majority of people in this world believe that there are many paths to God. Many believe that there are many gods and that each one is just as important. These gods have been created to counterfeit the one and only true God and distract mankind into believing all sorts of lies. The enemy, Satan is working diligently to ensure that mankind joins his kingdom, unfortunately for those who wish to follow him his path leads to eternal damnation.

Only one spiritual leader in all mankind was confident in his true nature by saying ” I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father but through me” and ” if you have seen me you have seen the Father. ” Jesus was and is God, the trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. So, if we believe that Jesus is who he says he is then what he says must be true, and there can only be one way to God, and all other gods are not really gods.

If that is true what, then are people worshipping and giving their allegiances to? The devil is working hard setting up false gods for man to believe in. Distraction from Jesus is his objective. Keep mankind away from following the one who will forgive them of their sins. I pray today if you know someone who is involved in a church that preaches something other then Jesus forgiveness that you start talking to them about the truth. You are vital in their spiritual health, don’t sit by and watch them fall away.

 

God when asked who he was he answered simply “I AM”. When the ten commandments were given He told us that “we are to have no other gods but Him” and that He is “a jealous God”, but also a merciful God. If we want to live all in, we need to trust the God we serve is the one and only God. We can’t compromise and accept another gods validity.

Jesus, today we ask that you open our eyes to the truth that is all around us. If we are having doubts that you are the only one true God, show us today in your word and world. Let us not have any other gods before us. We want to be all in, ready to reach the lost and love those who need to experience you. Help us to reach our friends, coworkers, neighbors and families. They matter to you and they matter to us. Amen

 

 

Day 8: 50 Days All In

There are many faiths out there that will boast that if you do enough good works you can make it to heaven. Atoning for your sins by doing more to help the poor, sacrificing everything in a vain grasp to please a finicky god whom you never have any idea if he is listening or not.
 
 
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT
I am excited to tell you that we don’t serve a God who requires a minimum amount of good works to consider you worthy. God in his infinite love provided a plan for salvation that doesn’t require you to work your way into heaven. He came and comes to you. He sent Jesus to die so we can live. It comes down to acceptance of the sacrifice Jesus made for you on the cross and the forgiveness and life he freely offers.
 
So, does that mean we don’t have to do good works? Of course, we must do good works, but in a thankful way not to earn a ticket to heaven but because we are going to heaven. As children of God, we should want to please Him by doing things He calls us to. If we are to go all in then we will desire to do things that will encourage others to find the hope and freedom we have found in our God.
If you are doing good works to try to atone for your sins, stop. Nothing you can do in your own power can get God’s attention. You already have His attention, He desires to have a relationship with you. He is waiting for you to cry out to Jesus and ask him to forgive you. Then do good work because He has freed you from sin, go all in and share your newfound faith with others fulfilling the mission to reach the lost and love your neighbor. You will see better results for your work.
Jesus, let us come to you for forgiveness and let us not try to work our way the heaven. Let our lives reflect your love, let what we say and do be a love song of who you are. Let us work to reach others for the kingdom. They matter to you Jesus, so they matter to me. I want to live all in for you Jesus. Amen
 

Day 47: 50 Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: Mauritania

We pray today for the believers in Mauritania. This nation is one of the poorest in the world. It can become easy to feel isolated as a believer with so few other believers around.

 

Of the population of under 4 million, there are a few thousand believers. For more information check out Open Doors USA.

 

 

Father, we pray for Mauritania. With so few believers the Christians in this nation can feel alone and will lack the disciplines needed as a follower of Christ. We pray that you will raise up leaders and missionaries in their own country who will be strengthened to share the love of Christ with their fellow countrymen. Work wonders in the reigning government and military, bless them as they do the work needed to be done and soften their hearts to the truth you bring to them. Move mightily among the believers in Mauritania. Amen