Bless the Lord All The Time

”I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalm 34:1-4 (ESV).  

One of the Psalms of David, Psalm 34, focuses on dedicating someone’s life to God and leaning on Him even during hard times. It is a psalm of renewal, written as David was coming out of a difficult situation and having to face pain later in his life. It is written from the perspective of a teacher, perhaps even of a father talking to future generations about the importance of magnifying God in all things.

The first verse declares, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). Blessing God all the time can seem like an impossibility. Life is hard, yet David is telling us that he would bless the Lord at all times.  The word “all” includes the good times as well as the bad times.  All meant that David would bless the Lord in times of lack and in times of abundance. What about us? Do we bless the Lord when times are good and we’re enjoying a season of abundance? What about when we are in the valley. David said, “…His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  David wouldn’t let his circumstances dictate his praise, rather he made up his mind to praise God even in tough times. We need to have the same mindset. 

“I get it, but I feel weighted down by the trials and tests I’m going through; it is not easy to bless the Lord all the time when I am busy putting out fires.” It is not easy, and more importantly, it takes time.  The first thing to do is to focus on Him. Our life as a believer should be focused on the Lord. This focus should start in the morning and go all day. It is still important for us to set our minds on the things above at the start of the day and continue on that trend for the entirety of it.

Reading your Bible daily will help you focus on Him. Studying the Bible to stay focused on God may seem like a no-brainer, but how often do we have trouble focusing on God without ever actually picking up our Bibles and reading it. If we want to keep our minds off of the things of the world and focus our hearts and minds on the Lord instead, then we must seek God in His word. We cannot know the truths of God, the components of His character, and the direction He gives for our lives if we don’t pick up the Bible and read it? After all, how can we focus on someone we don’t really know that well?

Finally pray: Prayer is an important part of focusing on God because it pulls us into a conversation with God. Whether we are praying to thank God, ask forgiveness for a particular sin, worship God for who He is, or bring our requests to Him, we are focusing on God when we pray. We come to Him because we know that He is in control and we acknowledge that He is the Lord of all. And we praise Him because we know He is worthy.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does it mean to be a blessing or to bless someone?
  2. How do we go about blessing God all day long? 

 

Getting Ready For Easter

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. King David said this about him: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’“Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. – Acts 2:22-32

As we approach the celebration of Good Friday, we are reminded of the horror and the power and glory of the cross. Jesus was alone. He had come to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11 ) When He was being arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, we are told that “the disciples deserted him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56). The crowds who had so recently shouted, “Hosanna!” would soon shout, “Crucify him! … Crucify him!” (Matthew 21:9, 27:22–23) Now even His loyal twelve had left. And at last, we hear Him cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). 

Good Friday and the Easter Sunday that follows purchased eternal life for us. But what does it mean for you and me, right here, right now, in the difficult situations, locations, and relationships of everyday life? The same God who planned that the worst thing would be the best thing is your Father. He rules over every moment in your life, and He wants an intimate relationship with each one of us.  

It is hard not to be awed by the cross. There is a line in the song by Michael Smith, “Here I am to Worship,” where it says, “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.” We will truly never know the magnitude of the grace and love of Jesus Christ. It’s going to take an eternity to know and grasp the fullness of Christ’s infinite love and grace towards us. Yes, we know Jesus is our Redeemer, but do we truly know the magnitude of the cost? I don’t think we can even ever come up with a figure or currency to match that price, and that price was paid for each of us.

John Piper said, “Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us—a crucified God—must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the hardest part of the cross for you to understand? Why?
  2. What can we do this week to better understand and appreciate the significance of the cross?

Our Identity In Christ: Knowing Who We Are Determines How We Live

“Knowing your identity in Christ makes you feel unbreakable because no matter what Satan tries to do you, you know how strong you are in Christ and that’s all that matters.” – Unknown.

Our culture is all about discovering individual identity. There is no end to different methods people use to identify their identity. It seems like everyone is searching for something to tell them who they are, and where they belong.

While our world encourages you to look within yourself for your identity, your natural tendency is to search for your identity in external things.  One of the first places that you can be tempted to look to is your career. Spending your time and energy pursuing your career can cause you to feel like it is a defining characteristic of who you are. Other people use financial success and status or relationships, appearance, grades, and reputation to provide them with a sense of identity.

Any or all of these may feel like solid foundations, but none of them are permanent. Any of them could change without warning. God, however, is unchanging. He is reliable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Understanding your identity in God starts with understanding who He is, what He says about Himself, and what He says about you. If you put your faith in Jesus, you have a new identity in Him. The more you get to know Jesus, the more you will be able to identify areas of your life that you are not living in this identity by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you believed that you were all that God says you are in Christ, how would that change the way you lived, the way you interact with others, or the way that you relate to the Lord? As you find your identity in Christ, you will grow to look more like Him and less like the world. You will grow in intimacy with Him and with other believers.

Having an understanding of your identity in Christ is essential to living your life in the way He intended.  You will never have to work to fit in or be someone you’re not.  Jesus has rescued you, redeemed you, and brought you into His family forever. God has the answer to our identity issues. It is all about who He is and what He can accomplish in our lives if we let Him. In all things, at all times, He is with us.  Every problem, every feeling of inadequacy, every painful circumstance- He is there with abundant resources to offer us. Embrace the fact that you are His child, and remember how much He loves you. “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17). Our accomplishments in life can be significant, but they don’t qualify us for God’s love. They don’t add any value on our behalf in God’s eyes. His love for us is truly unconditional, for once we have our identity in Christ, we become who we really are: Children of God.

When you see yourself as Christ sees you, others may begin to see you that way too. If you are steady and secure in your identity in Him, your actions, speech, and life will express God’s love. You may find more opportunities to share the gospel, and Christ will be all the more glorified.

Remember who your Father says you are because it’s in Him where your true identity can be found.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. The only way we grow in our identity in Christ is by seeking the Lord because He is the one who restores and transforms us. Agree or disagree and why?
  2. Our fingerprints identify us as unique individuals with a specific identity. According to Ephesians 1:4, what truth should be fully realized in order to find identity in Christ?

The Holy Spirit And Me

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” – Luke 24:49.

At the end of Luke’s gospel, we read the words Jesus spoke to His disciples just before His ascension to glory. With Jesus’ impending departure, the disciples were naturally worried about being left alone. Who could blame them?  But they were not left alone. This is one of the most uplifting verses in Scripture. Think about it for a few moments: God did not leave the disciples or us alone to fend for ourselves. He provided an amazing Helper in the person of the Holy Spirit. We need never be afraid again, or lonely, or hopeless, or sorrowful, or helplessly inadequate. For the Helper is always with us.

No matter what your circumstances or what season of life you are in, there is always Someone standing by to assist you. God has provided every resource you need through His Spirit. When you can’t, He can. When you’re tired, He isn’t. When you’re weak, He’s strong.  You were never meant to carry it all alone. You were never meant to live as an orphan. 

As believers, we’ve been given the Holy Spirit as a Helper, Teacher, and Friend. His presence, guidance, and wisdom in our lives are our greatest gifts while here on earth. Through Him, we have access to direct connection with our heavenly Father. Through Him, we receive spiritual gifts to empower us. We house His Spirit in us, and if we allow His Spirit to operate in our lives, we’re going to be more than okay, no matter what comes our way.  

The Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of the reader is essential to our total understanding, appreciation, and implementation of Scripture.“But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:10-12) John 14:26 says, “ But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” And we know from 2 Peter 1:20-21 that the Holy Spirit moved upon the authors of Scripture to write the Bible. And it is He who inspired Scripture that helps us interpret it and apply it to our lives today.

The Holy Spirit longs to declare to you God’s plans to love you, provide for you, heal you, transform you, and deliver you. He longs to lead you to the fullness of life available to you.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When you think of the Holy Spirit, what comes to your mind? 
  2. How familiar are you with the topic of the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit a confusing or encouraging topic of study for you? Why or why not?
  3. Identify one practical way you will live in the Holy Spirit more fully as a response to this week’s study and sermon.  

Jesus Living Inside Me

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20. 

What drives you? What drives you to get up in the morning and tackle the challenges of the day? When you are striving for a goal what drives you? When you fail what drives you to pick yourself up and try again? It is probably the people around you, family, friends coworkers that are motivating you to achieve your goal. Or maybe the person who is pushing you relentlessly is you. Without that motivation, it is very difficult to reach your goal. 

What if your goal is to lead a God-pleasing life? The temptation is to look at this question like any other goal-oriented question in our life. We simply need the right motivation and often we try to motivate ourselves. So, how can we lead a God-pleasing life? What is our motivation? What drives us? It’s grace. It is by grace and by grace alone that we can live our lives in service to God. Grace is our motivation. Grace pushes and carries us to lead God-pleasing lives where Jesus lives in us. 

Christ living in us does not mean that He possesses our bodies and lives our life for us. It does not mean He controls our minds and makes all our choices for us. The Bible makes it clear that “we are the temple of the living.”  God dwells in us today through the power of His Holy Spirit. In Romans 8 Paul explains that “you have the Spirit of God living in you.” (verse 9). Verse 10 adds, “and Christ lives within you…” Jesus Christ can live in a person through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is in us, He empowers us to actually become like God the Father and Jesus Christ in nature, character, spirit, attitudes, approach, and love.

Jesus living in us means we live as Jesus did. What all the scriptures on this subject reveal is that Jesus Christ’s life will be in us only as we seek to make His way of life our way of life—to walk as He walked, to live as He lived. “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6). Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” God wants us to choose for ourselves to live as Jesus lived. This involves a humble, earnest seeking to become like Jesus Christ so His life becomes our life.

In order to have Christ in us by living as He lived, we must deeply desire to change and become more like Him. That’s our motivation. We live for the One who lives in us. We live for the One who has set us free. We live for the One who has given us new life. Because of Christ’s death on the cross, our sinful nature is lost and our new-Christian nature has been created… giving us exactly what we need to follow our Lord.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does living for Jesus and Jesus living in you mean in practical terms? 

Look Backward to the Cross

”Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” – Hebrews 12:2-3 (MSG). 

How often when you think of the cross do you let the whole experience wash over you? At Easter time we spend time in reflection and thoughtful prayer about the cross and the resurrection. But reflecting on the cross is not a one-time thing, nor should it ever be taken for granted because of what it cost. 

We know the story: the flogging; they twisted together a crown of thorns and placed it upon Jesus’ head. Due to the punishment that Jesus received, He could not carry the cross all the way to Golgotha. Even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus suffered greatly.  When crucified, you would die a suffocating death. It was a slow process. Jesus took six hours to die. It was horrific. 

Jesus could have gotten down from the cross at any time. Remember how He said that He had twelve legions of angels at His disposal? (Matthew 26:53)  He didn’t have to go through with it. He could, at that time, very easily have said, ‘That’s enough of this. I don’t want to have to deal with any of this any longer”, and then just come down off the cross. Think of it. No more pain. Vindication before His accusers. Who could doubt Him then?  Jesus was betrayed by one of His own apostles, abandoned by those to whom He invested the last three years of His life, denied, not once but three times, by one of His closest followers. But it had to be this way if there were to be any salvation.

When you take the time to reflect on the cross you understand better what that means. Jesus wasn’t trapped or forced to the cross. He laid down His life of His own accord. It was His choice. Jesus endured all that the cross meant willingly. John 10:11 tells us, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.’ He did it for you. For me. Everything you need to make it through this day is found in the truth of the cross of Christ. You should wake up remembering the cross. You ought to eat breakfast thanking the Lord for the cross. You should go about your day thinking about the cross, and when troubles come, run straight to the cross. Why? Because God left heaven, became a man, and gave His life over to torture and death all because He wanted you. He loves you that much.

Take time to remember the cross.

Discussion Questions

  1. Read Matthew 16:24. We are told to daily come to the cross of Jesus. How does this help us everyday? What keeps us from going to the cross daily? 

Getting Ready For Easter

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.“ – John 3:16.

Another week filled with uncertainty and anxiety over COVID-19 wars and such has come to an end. But we cannot allow these crises to rob us of the love and hope found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is a celebration of the Good News of God’s love, demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a gift and what a gift it is.

The account of Jesus’ resurrection can be found in all four of the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each book (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20) tells a slightly different account of the Easter story from four different perspectives. Jesus knew this day would come. He, being God, was on this earth for that very reason. Easter remains an intentional reminder of the redemptive work of a loving God. While Easter calls our attention to Christ’s remarkable sacrifice, we should never lose sight of His willingness to give His life for our sake. 

We are nearing Easter and many people are thinking about church and their relationship with God. This is a wonderful time to assess where you are in your spiritual walk and how you connect with God. We’re at our best when we’re in communion with Him. Be intentional about seeking Jesus in the weeks leading up to Easter because Easter is all about Him. 

Prepare for Easter through prayer. Jesus made prayer a priority in His life as an excellent example for us to follow. “After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23) He prepared His heart before His crucifixion by spending it in prayer. In preparation for Easter, pray for a time to give your attention to what He treasures. Pray against distractions from worries, schedules, or life’s problems- anything that leads you away from the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Pray for an open heart to hear Him, listening for His guidance and direction.

Immerse yourself in the Easter story by meditating on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Leading up to Easter, immerse yourself in the Easter story and discover how to hold onto hope when you feel forsaken, alone, or unworthy. Interact with God in the early morning, curled up with a cup of coffee. Or maybe on a late afternoon walk with the sun sinking low behind the trees. Reflect on His sacrifice made for you. His sacrifice began when He left the perfection and glory of heaven to come to earth, to live, work, teach, and die.

Finally, start thinking about inviting people to Easter services. Easter is the perfect time to invite someone to church. The question is who should we invitee and how do we go about doing it. Is it that neighbor you casually say hi to when checking the mail? Or is it your brother who hasn’t been to a service in years? Maybe it’s someone you haven’t seen for a while, but they’ve been on your mind. Think of three or more people. Write down their names. Pray for them, then reach out with some type of invitation to church. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “…you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What can you do this week to prepare for Easter? 
  2. Pray that people everywhere will take a step this Easter and either return to church or visit for the first time. 
  3. What three people can you invite to the Easter services? 

Have You Ever Tried Negotiating with God?

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.  – 1 Peter 5:6-7.

Life is negotiation. Life is all about our interactions with others—family, friends, colleagues, and most significantly, God.  We tend to do our most negotiating when we face setbacks or difficulties in our life.

Life is challenging for everyone. We should not compare our lives to others because everyone has different circumstances. What we all have in common is we will experience disappointments. Maybe it is the end of a once-promising relationship. The loss of an opportunity that has thrown a monkey wrench in your hopes for the future. The disappointments that are the ones that are the hardest to deal with those are the ones you prayed about but God gave you a different answer than the one you wanted. You feel a little like David did in Psalm 73: 13-14: “Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.” In other words,  you have tried to do things right and obedient, but things aren’t working out from your perspective.  

Disappointment also motivates us to figure out what mistakes or wrong moves we made and figure out the right moves. If we do that then God will give us what we desire. It’s kind of making unspoken deals with God by trying to decipher the right formulas: the secret recipe for finding a spouse; the way to seize the opportunity in front of us, etc. The right formula will result in the right ending. We even word our prayers in a way that we hope will persuade God to resolve a particular circumstance. Most of us tried this as kids. “If I eat half my brussel sprouts, I can have a bowl of ice cream, right?” Parents were too smart for that and demanded we eat everything on our plate if we wanted dessert. But such deals cannot be made with God because He is God and sees what we cannot see. Deuteronomy 29:29 says: “The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.” We need to learn to trust God rather than negotiate with Him. Often the reasons why things happen are only known to Him.  If I think I can somehow negotiate with God to manipulate Him into doing things my way by following a certain set of rules, I am in for some disappointment.

We tend to look at prayer as a way of asking things from God. However, when prayer is just asking we often grow frustrated when the answers are not immediately forthcoming or not according to our expectations. God often uses the process of prayer to bring us around to His way of thinking; to understand His mind and perspective on things. In prayer then, God often changes us to see what He sees and then asks for what He wants.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever negotiated with God? How did it work out? 
  2. What can we do this week to trust God enough to accept His answers to our prayers? 

God’s Plan For Good In My Life

“This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:10-11.

How do we choose what path to take for our life? We have more options than any generation before us. Technology, status, material wealth, and a global community presents the average person with more opportunities than our parents could have ever imagined. With all those choices, how do you choose the direction of your life?  

As believers, we trust God and know that His plans for us are good as we read in Jeremiah 29:11. Romans 8:28 tells us that God desires good for His children. This theme is repeated throughout the Bible. When we think about God’s good plans for us, we usually focus on the usual suspects; finding and marrying our soulmate, raising wonderful children, rising up through the ranks at work, and retiring comfortably by the time we are age 60. When we have our plans mapped out like that, God can become our life coach rather than our Lord. We want God to monitor our progress as we move through those steps and to intervene when we need His help. Instead of seeking God’s plan, we too often expect Him to comply with our prayer instructions for our lives. And when God says no, we wonder why when our lives wind up nothing like our expectations. Sometimes the path He leads us down is a difficult one. Sometimes we may find ourselves out of our comfort zone.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Notice it doesn’t say, “my way, but my ways.” God has more than one way of doing things. He’s not limited in His options. He’s never forced into one answer. He has many alternatives. Our problem is that we get a preconceived idea and want God to do what we want our way. We always pick the least painful way of having God answer prayers. God may not see it that way.

Hebrews 11:39-40 says, “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” When God says no we need to continue praying and trust God. God is good. He never disappoints. Though He doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we would like, He knows what’s best for us. The Bible says “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16:11) God is good and His plans for your life can be trusted.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When was a time when you really knew you were living God’s plans for you? How did you know?  Or, when was a time when you realized that you were not living God’s plans for you? How did you know?
  2. Proverbs 16:4 says: “The Lord has made everything for His own purposes.” What are the implications of this verse for our lives?

Prayer: Delight Or Duty?

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7. 

What do you think of prayer? Is it just another line on your “to-do” list when you’ve completed a lot of the other things on the list? Do you sometimes view prayer as a distraction, or as drudgery or chore? Are you uncomfortable that you know enough “prayer speak” to do it well? Is prayer a requirement you regret or an opportunity to communicate that you relish? 

Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about prayer is that it needs to be done a certain way using a formula with just the right religious words. Scripture presents a much less rigid picture of prayer, one that looks more like a conversation. For example, Moses argued with God about going back to Egypt (Exodus 3:11-14), Elijah complained to Him about feeling alone (1 Kings 19:10) and Mary responded to God with a spontaneous, heartfelt song (Luke 1:46).

Prayer is a different conversation than we normally have. We are used to talking with people face-to-face or over the phone and getting immediate responses that enable us to drive the conversation in the direction we want it to go. A conversation with God is completely different.  It takes faith and honesty. The Book of Psalms is basically a prayerbook and in its pages, you will find joy, serenity, victory, thanksgiving, petition, anger, disappointment, loss, grief, fear, and despair. It’s all there. One of David’s most profound prayers is striking in its simplicity: “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’  (Psalm 27:8) This is an uncomplicated statement born out of an intimate friendship: “You want to talk with me, and I want to talk with you.” 

Prayer is a conversation with God. But it has to be honest. Five minutes of honest prayer is better than two hours of a prayer of rhetoric and “stained glass” themes. And something starts to happen when we become really honest in prayer.  All of a sudden, prayer is not so much another thing to do as it is a foundation for everything we do. It feels good to communicate with someone who loves us and has plans for our life. Because prayer is about building a relationship with God rather than getting what we want, He welcomes all of our feelings, thoughts, and doubts. In return, He offers us His steady, loving presence. 

God wants us to come to Him and lay everything — our dreams, desires, struggles, anger, temptation, fear, confusion, and heartache — at His feet, not just so we’ll feel known by Him but so we’ll learn His heart and develop the deepest, most faithful friendship we’ve ever known.

So pray. Pray honestly and wait for the Lord. It’s not a chore, it’s a privilege and a delight.

 

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the antidote to duty-driven prayer? 
  2. What can we do this week to make prayer a delight rather than a chore?