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It's Time to Pray - A Devotion

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James 5:13-15 (NLT)
Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

Are any of you suffering hardships? Hardship is defined as conditions of life that are difficult to bear. I find that as I share our son’s journey to victory over cancer that they often play down anything that they are going through compared to this battle between life and death. They will compare the trials, troubles and pain that they may be suffering from to what our son is going through and decide that they have nothing to complain about. Well, the truth is that we really have nothing to complain about at all in this life. We are given another option that is way more powerful but often overlooked – it’s called prayer. A prayer offered in faith will heal the sick and the Lord will make you well. If you sin, it is prayer that will lead to your forgiveness. Are you happily living a carefree life today, then you should praise which has the same effect of prayer when directed to God. God wants to communicate with you. He wants you to talk to Him as a child speaks to the father they love. God is powerful but we tend to struggle in our heart with His Dependability based on other experiences in life. Faith is empowered by belief. If we do not believe that prayer is beneficial, then we will not pray. Hardship in life is anything that we struggle to endure. Endurance is important in any situation. Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13)

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

If hardship are those things that are difficult to endure, then they must be the very thing that the Lord uses to develop endurance in our life. Recently a man approached me at the gym inquiring about my workout particularly the thirty minutes or so that I spend on the elliptical each trip. He wanted to know why I do it and what purpose it served. Now my smart-alecky nature really wanted to make a snarky comment when considering where we were and what everyone else was doing there, but I refrained because he was so earnest. Without thinking, I blurted out “endurance”. He looked puzzled. I told him that I wanted to finish a race and run to the very end but I am not a runner. Satisfied, he moved on. However, I did not. They gym has become the place where I force my mind to release those burdens and weights that are holding me back and run. I don’t know that my initial purpose was to get fit but just get away. I cannot count the number of times that I have jumped on the machine, plugged in my headphones, closed my eyes (careful it is not safe and you do get dizzy sometimes) and just imagined myself running up the mountain. What mountain? The mountain standing between our family and victory. I have to make it to the other side. I cannot stop, give up or quit. It is not an option. When we “run” into problems, we have to learn to pray first rather than saving it for last. Trials of life help us to develop endurance. Endurance develops strength of character which strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Hope never ever leads to disappointment when by faith we choose to be confident in the God of our Salvation. Prayer and praise puts emphasis on our faith as the primary motivator in our life and the deciding factor in every situation. The Lord knows that in His Power you can overcome in every situation but He is waiting for us to put our faith in Him that you will.

James 5:16-18 (NLT)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

I cringe every time I read the first line “confess your sins to each other”. I do not believe that the Lord is giving the go ahead for you to run to other people and share all your business. I do not believe that God gets any Glory in our dirty laundry yet we hang it out there every single day. Grace does not require that we line dry our laundry. I believe that this phrase is talking about forgiveness. Confess our sins to one another and pray for each other might indicate the restoration of relationships. We are inclined to seek the counsel of other people before we talk to God about the situation. We hesitate to find out what the Word says about the matter until we have “Googled” it. We do not sit quietly waiting for His Response or stir up His Spirit for the answer because we are too busy plastering it over social media or telling everybody and their brother what we are going through. The earnest (serious in intention, effort and purpose) prayer of a righteous (faith in God through Jesus Christ – Romans 4:21-22) person has great power and produces wonderful results. It is not enough to tell God our problems but we must believe that He is able to take care of us. We must believe in His Word. We must decide that His Power is real and for us. This is crucial. “God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law.” (Proverb 28:9) We must know and believe that God is all-powerful. We must know and believe that by faith in Jesus Christ we are in right-standing with God. We must live what we believe and that begins with praying about everything.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
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.

Pray about everything. If I accomplish nothing else in the Word of God, it will probably take my entire lifetime to achieve such a purpose. I am much better than I was but not there yet. How do I know? Because I still have bouts of worry and fear which tells me that I need more faith and confident hope as I learn to trust in the Lord. I need to tell God what I need even when it seems small and insignificant. I must thank Him for everything that He has done. Everything good in my life is from God so I should remember to thank Him for it. Everything bad in my life has the potential to be turned into good so I must learn to thank Him for the potential in every situation as well. (Romans 8:28) If I can learn to maintain constant and ongoing conversations with God more than seeking the advice of people or relying on myself, I will experience God’s Peace that passes all human understanding. I am learning about that kind of peace. Once you experience His Peace firsthand, you will strive to maintain it. It is freedom like I have never known. We must guard our heart and mind living, depending and relying on Jesus Christ for everything we need, want and desire. It begins with prayer. Or are you too good to pray?
Romans 12:2-3 (NLT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

Too good for God? The Word of God says that we should not think of ourselves as better than we really are but be honest in our evaluation measuring ourselves by the faith God has given us. I can hear your pride rustling around right now. Getting a little uncomfortable with where this is going, that’s okay mine is too. When we decide as believers NOT to pray about something, we have made the decision to handle it ourselves. By doing so, we have made the declaration that we are more powerful than God. For me, that was a direct hit. There are many times that I try to accomplish something and do not take it to the Lord until I have tried everything and anything to do it myself. Grace is perfected in our weakness because that is when we are willing to accept the Lord’s help. Endurance is pressing through difficult to make it to the end. When our strength is gone, we will fully rely on Christ. The world in which we live has made God the last resort. The last great move of God in our nation was September 11, 2001 when terrorist hit us at home. Churches were filled with fear-driven people crying out to God for protection. It has been many years since those attacks. People have gone back to copying the behavior and customs of this world. Godly transformation begins when we change our mind about who God is and His True Potential in our life. We must learn to depend on God for everything and tell Him so.

Matthew 7:7-11 (NLT)
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.”

Living a life of prayer and praise not only reveals our faith and confidence in the Lord’s ability but also in God’s Love. Keep asking. You will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking. You will find. Keep on knocking. The door will be opened. God’s Children are given the privilege to come boldly before the Throne of God and make petitions (requests) of their father candidly. (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16) Our youngest daughter knows that mommy is the tough one and daddy a big softy. She knows that if she can get past mom to talk to dad then it’s a done deal. It doesn’t have to happen right when she asks, but she is confident in her dad’s love and inability to keep any good thing from her. So she asks, then waits. He would move heaven and earth to give that little girl (all our children) their heart’s desire sometimes ridiculously so. If my husband loves our children that way, imagine the Love of God for His Children. Why don’t we take everything to the Lord in prayer? Maybe we are not confident in His Love for us. Is it possible that we know ourselves so well that it is hard to believe that His Grace, Mercy and Love could save, heal and deliver us? Grace is for you. Grace is for me. It is received fully and completely when we put our faith in Jesus Christ and turn to follow Him. We need do nothing else to make it happen. At that point, we have the right to come to the Lord asking, seeking and knocking. This is when our Heavenly Father responds by giving us the good gifts that He planned for us long ago.

Hebrews 5:7-9 (NLT)
While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.

Finally, we are to pray because Jesus prayed. To follow the Lord requires a life of prayer and praise to God because it is the example that He set for us. It is a requirement of priesthood which we are now considered to be one. “But you are not like that, for 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.” (I Peter 2:9)

I Peter 3:11-12 (NLT)
Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right and his ears are open to their prayers. But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil.”

It would be ashamed to think that the only thing standing between you and the Power of God manifesting in your life is a simple request. We are the proud owner of a teenage girl with another one on the way. Boys are so different from the girls during the teenage year and it totally makes up for how they run us crazy as boys. Our first daughter did not fit the mold of the average teenage girl so I shrugged off the warnings when this one turned into one. Almost instantly she went into her room and rarely comes out. She has nothing to say to us, but will go on endlessly with friends. She is not an unhappy teenager just not in much need of parental attention. Her dad will say almost daily how much she misses spending time with her. When he calls her out of her room to come sit and talk to him, she acts as though we have asked her to clean the whole house, scrub the toilets and clean the baseboards. It is a chore. But when she ventures out of her room and we are enjoying a treat, she becomes offended that no one offered her anything. Excuse me while I beat my head against the wall, oh wait that’s how I have treated my Heavenly Father. Okay so maybe it’s time to hit my knees. Before wasting the time and energy complaining about my life, maybe I should spend some time with my Father. When He calls me, I should respond willingly and lovingly. Perhaps, I should take the time to converse with Him more than all the other people I talk to or at least just as much. Is it possible that if I do, I will not be envious of other people’s blessings or mad that God is doing it for others but not me. Did you ask Him to do anything? Did you come to Him believing not only in His Power but His Love? Turn from evil. Do good. Search for peace. Work to maintain it. PRAY – because the Lord watches over those who do right AND His Ears are open to their prayer. He is just waiting for you to ask. He is listening. He would not listen if He did not expect to hear something. It is time to become a people that prays. If you are suffering hardship which most of us are, it is our chance to endure. He will build our character through endurance and confident hope will anchor our soul in His Presence as prayer and praise become consistent factors in our life. It’s time to pray!

Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

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