Category Archives: Prayer

An exhaustive list of the verses telling us to listen for messages from God (when praying or otherwise)

[Beginning of list]

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[End of list]

Yep, there aren’t any.  Be cautious of leaders who claim otherwise.  Ask for verses, in context.  That doesn’t mean that God couldn’t speak to you that way, just that it isn’t normative or biblical and that the burden of proof is on the one claiming they did hear from God.  If they quote what He allegedly said to them then they are putting their words on par with the inspired Bible.  It is possible, but that’s quite a claim.

And it means you shouldn’t teach others that they must be doing something wrong if they aren’t “hearing” from God in personalized ways.  Don’t harm the faith of others with non-biblical teachings.  It isn’t loving.

If you want to hear from God, read the Bible.  If you want to hear from him audibly, then read the Bible out loud.  I suggest a deep study of the 31,173 verses He definitely gave us before insisting on a personal bonus revelation.

P.S. Please note that I am not discounting the Holy Spirit in any way.  I love him as I love the Father and the Son and He has unique roles outlined in scripture.  But again, please offer specific verses, in context, if your claim is that the Bible says it is normative to get specific communications from him when praying.

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Prayer requests

prayer2.jpgHi – I thought I’d try something new.  Many churches (mine included) have email prayer chains, but I thought I would give you all a forum for prayer requests as well.  I’ll list a couple that you are invited to pray for.  You can add your own in the comments section and we can pray for each others’ concerns.  Let’s give it a try.  Electrons are cheap.

Here are a few for me:

  • Praises for a friend I used to work with at HP who had a successful operation to fuse some nerves in her back (if it sounds painful that’s because it is!).
  • Praises and prayers for a friend who is doing better but still suffering from severe headaches.  This has been going on for months.
  • Prayers for protection, wisdom and discernment for some recently and about-to-be released prisoners.  There are so many ways for Satan and our own natures to trip us up.  One gentleman I met through Kairos visited our church last week.  I pray that he is welcomed at church and successful with his new freedom.

Exploring Christianity – Part 7 – Prayer

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See below to see the latest installment of my friend Nicholas’ interview with me about Christianity or click here for the whole thing.  

Nicholas wrote: In my experience, most prayers fall into one of two general categories – prayers of thanks and prayers of request. I understand the first quite well, and I understand that prayers of the second type help one to feel as though they are helping – but do they really? Does praying to God with a request make Him more likely to pay attention to that request, or is it purely a symbolic act? After all, if you believe God is all-knowing, then He is already aware of your request before you make it.

Hi Nicholas – good questions.  The Bible is the primary way God speaks to us and prayer is the primary way we speak to him.  The more time you spend with someone the more you act like them.  In our “Santa Claus God” culture we tend to only think of praying for things that benefit us.  But prayer is a huge opportunity and blessing for us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence” and do so much more than that.

There are prayer paradoxes (or “prayeradoxes,” as I call them) – seemingly contradictory statements that are still true.  Here are a few things I do know about prayer.

Jesus said to pray, to pray often and to pray fervently.  He followed his own advice and set an example for the Disciples.  Let me know if you want verses for any of those (there are plenty).

You are right that we believe that God is omniscient and knows our requests before we ask him.  Jesus said that very thing just before teaching the Disciples the Lord’s prayer:

Matthew 6:8-9 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . .

So the paradox of God knowing what we’ll ask and God telling us to pray anyway was not lost on Jesus.  He noted as such in successive sentences.  There are obviously still reasons to pray.

Prayer is definitely not just symbolic.  But I don’t think the effectiveness is as formulaic as God saying, “Well, 999 people prayed, but I’ll only answer this prayer if 1,000 pray.”  There is a little mystery there.

I have come across many examples of answered prayers.  Will they convince a skeptic?  Usually not, but sometimes they do.  But that isn’t the purpose of prayer according to the Bible.

C.S. Lewis pointed out that Satan’s desire would be a heads he wins / tails we lose scenario: If prayers aren’t answered, people will assume God doesn’t exist or at least doesn’t answer prayers.  If prayers are answered, we’ll rationalize that they could how they could have been answered anyway. 

Prayer does so much more than just offer thanks and requests.  You are conversing with the one true God and your Creator.  He knows everything you’ve said and done, so you don’t have to be fearful in confessing to him.  And confession literally means to say what God says.  You aren’t telling him anything He didn’t know.  You are saying that you agree with him now and plan to do things his way.

One key, of course, is to pray in line with what Jesus would want.  When we often say, “In Jesus’ name,” that isn’t some type of superstition.  It is a recognition that we think we’re praying for the same things He would want and that we’re praying with the power of his name.

While we’re on the topic, here’s an acrostic that spells out A-C-T-S.  It is a prayer primer that some people use.  It covers some of the basic attributes of prayer.

A – Adoration / Praise

C – Confession

T – Thanksgiving

S – Supplication (a fancy church word for requests)

For anyone wanting a more thorough discussion on prayer, I recommend Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey.  We just studied it in our Sunday School class. 

Previous installments

Introduction

Part 1 – The Bible

Part 2 – Credibility of the Author(s) – A

Part 3 – Credibility of the Author(s) – B

Part 4 – Hell and More on Hell

Part 5 – Interpreting the Bible or abusing it? – A

Part 6 – Interpreting the Bible or abusing it? – B

Prayer requests

lumc.jpgLakewood United Methodist Church (where we worship) has upgraded their web site. It really looks good.

One of the great new features is that you can submit prayer requests here. Offering to pray for others is a kind and effective thing to do. I have found that if you offer to have someone’s prayer concerns sent through a prayer ministry, they are often quite moved. I always ask permission first, but have never had anyone decline. You can follow up with them later to see how the prayers were answered, to see how you can help them and to perhaps engage in discussions about Jesus.

The prayer ministry at LUMC is expanding into many new areas, and I’m excited about it.