Pray like Jesus!

Matthew 6:9-13 “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we also forgive this who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever, Amen.”

The one thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to do was to pray. Traditionally, this has become known as the “Lord’s Prayer”. In fact, it should be renamed the “Disciples Prayer” because it was for our benefit, not Jesus. Jesus never committed any sin, so Jesus never had to pray for forgiveness but in the prayer taught by Jesus, he taught the disciples to ask for forgiveness. In addition, this prayer contains within it all the key ingredients needed for a powerful breakthrough in every area of your life.

Prayer is WORSHIP: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Begin with praise and worship of God’s goodness every time you enter into God’s presence. Worship lifts your focus off of yourself and magnifies God’s greatness over your life.

Prayer establishes GOD’S RULE: Your kingdom come means for the authority of God’s kingdom to be present in your daily life.

Prayer aligns with GOD’S WILL: Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Prayer releases the abundant resource of heaven into the earthly realm so that more and more of our natural reality looks more and more like the kingdom of heaven.

Prayer PETITIONS and RECEIVES by faith: Give us this day our daily bread. Prayer deals with the practical areas of our lives. God delights to give good things to those who ask in faith.

Prayer is REPENTANCE: And forgive us our trespasses. Repentance is turning away from self and turning towards God. In prayer God gives us the strength to overcome sin.

Prayer releases GRACE for RELATIONSHIPS: As we also forgive those who trespass against us. Because of the fall of humanity, our relational worlds are under the stress of brokenness. In prayer we receive grace to reconcile and engage in healthy relationships.

Prayer builds CHARACTER: Lead us not into temptation. In prayer we find the strength to become more like Jesus and resist the temptation of the enemy and our flesh.

Prayer is SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Deliver us from evil. One of the primary weapons to fight against Satan is prayer. Pray in the Spirit on all occasions and you’ll discover grace and power to be victorious over all the attacks of the enemy against you.

Prayer is DECLARATION: For yours is the kingdom. Prayer partners with the primary message of Jesus, the gospel of the kingdom. Prayer isn’t passive, it’s forceful declaration of God’s heart for his kingdom to be established in the earthly realm.

Prayer releases God’s POWER and PRESENCE: The power and the glory forever and ever, Amen. Without prayer, we have no access to God’s power. We need power top effect change in our lives and in the earth. In prayer we become aware of God’s glorious presence. Prayer manifests the glory of God. Selah!

Do All God Asks Of You!

Genesis 6:22 “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.”

Life is complex! Complexity seems to grow the longer one lives. Everyone at some point in their life feels overwhelmed by the complexity that exists, not only in our culture but in our personal lives. Noah, the great patriarch, found himself alive at a time when the complexity of man’s wickedness was at an all time high. Every intention of man’s heart was perpetually evil and God decided to hit the reset button of humanity and start again. However, Noah was an exception. Noah found favour with God and walked with him all the days of his life. Noah became the patriarch of a remnant that would begin the re-genesis of humanity but it required uncompromising obedience. God asked Noah to build a huge boat to preserve a remnant of humanity and the animal kingdom for the rebirth of the planet. Without any evidence of weather patterns pointing to rain or any historical context to aid his boat building directive, Noah did everything God asked of him and ended up saving the future of the world. Noah is the original superhero. The complexity of your life will only be eased when you settle firmly in your heart the Lordship question. Who is Lord over my life? Am I Lord or is God my Lord? When you surrender your heart to God and live for the audience of one, you resolve 10,000 problems all at once. Why? Because your hearts affections and directions are shaped solely around one primary thing, obeying God without reservation. Selah!

Your Future is in your Mouth!

images-15When you pray, whatever you desire, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. Mk 11:24

Too many of us “pray the problem” when we should be “prophesying the solution”. Jesus didn’t say ‘pray the problem’, he said, ‘pray your desire’ and believe that you have received it. Your prayer life may need a renovation. You may be guilty of praying too much, ‘Houston, we have a problem’, rather than, ‘Heaven has a solution’. It’s too easy to become pre-occupied with our problems than to pay attention to our words. If you become more word-conscious and less problem conscious, your problems will lose their power in your life. Magnify your words and you will minimise your problems. Words are powerful, they have creative power in them. The power of life and death is in the tongue. Jesus said, ‘If you speak to the mountain to be removed, it will be’. Too often we complain about the mountain, we spend inordinate time defining the mountain, we take pictures of the mountain to show our friends but Jesus said, ‘Speak to the mountain’. Nothing moves until you speak to it. Your future is in your mouth!

Prayer is not an event, it’s a lifestyle!

kneeling_in_prayerPrayer is becoming the core instinct of my life. It’s my first response and my last thought. Prayer is something I have learned as a result of being positioned time and time again in situations where I had nothing else to rely upon except God.

Prayer is 2 way communication with God. It’s both talking and listening. It’s a dialogue, not just a monologue. Prayer is partnering with God. If we don’t, he won’t. God is sovereign but history recalls that he does limit himself to our prayers at times.

If there was one primary principle to accessing the supernatural power of God in my life, it’s daily prayer. The secret of the great generals of the faith throughout the ages has been the daily commitment to getting in God’s face and calling upon his name.

Prayer is not an event, it’s a lifestyle. Prayer is oxygen to our spirit. It is the air we breathe, not just the gasp we take when drowning under the pressures of life. Prayer is the supply line to the front lines of the spiritual battles we face in our lives. Paul said, ‘We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers of darkness in the heavenly realm (Eph 6).’ If the enemy can cut off the supply line to the front line, he can limit the firepower needed to overcome him.

The one concern of the devil is to stop Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayer-less toil, prayer-less study or prayer-less ministry. He laughs at our efforts, mocks at our wisdom but he trembles when we pray.

Prayer unveils and reveals. Prayer accesses God’s heart and mind giving you insight into His remedies to combat the challenges you face. With all of these benefits why wouldn’t you want to make prayer more central in your life?

A.W. Tozer once said, ‘The greatest key to prayer is simply praying.’

For all of our books on prayer, sermons about prayer and exhortations to pray, there comes a point when you simply must sit still and start praying.

Nothing will replace it and nothing compares to it. Prayer is multi-dimensional. Prayer is worship. Prayer is conversation. Prayer is fellowship with the Spirit. Prayer is clarifying. Prayer purges your soul of impurities. Prayer relaxes the body and stimulates your mind. Prayer unlocks the supernatural realm. Prayer is woven into the fabric of humanity and prayer is the master-key to relationship with God. It’s time to pray!

The Oracle!

Prayer Works!

Prayer is fundamental to every human being on the planet. All of us verbalise a form of prayer at some point in our lives. Prayer is the most accessible thing to do on the planet and yet many of us struggle with the words to truly express what is in our hearts. Prayer is a dialogue with God, not a monologue. Prayer is an expression of hunger and passion in our hearts. Prayer is the key that unlocks heaven. Prayer is the portal of God’s power. Prayer requires us to slow down and pause on what is eternal rather than what is temporal. Prayer leads to an outbreak of miracles. Prayer is God’s supply line to the front line of ministry. Prayer connects us to God. Prayer is an invitation to hang out with God. Prayer is a lifestyle, not an event. Prayer must become the air we breathe. Prayer Works!

Jesus said, ‘Pray then like this, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…’ (Matthew 6:9-10)

The Oracle!

The Portal of God’s Power!

James 5:16 ‘The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.’

Prayer is the ancient art form of worship that every human being has been hardwired up to engage in. My parents gave me a great example of an active prayer life throughout my entire upbringing. David Yonggi Cho’s best selling book, ‘Prayer that brings revival’ left an indelible mark on me and my relationship with God. I had a mentor, Mike Grechko, who encouraged me to get up every morning and pray for an hour and read God’s Word for an hour everyday. His challenge shot straight into my heart and has largely shaped my devotional life to this day. What is prayer?

Prayer is 2 way communication with God. It’s a dialogue, not a monologue. Prayer is our opportunity to pour out our hearts toward God and Him pour into us. Prayer is the posture of divine exchange and the birthing position for breakthrough in our lives. Prayer brings to the surface what lies in the depths of our hearts. Prayer is the chief mechanism of relational transactions with God.

Prayer is the portal of God’s power. A portal is a doorway, a gate or an entrance that makes a way into another realm. A portal literally means, ‘gate of the palace’. Prayer is the gateway into the palace of God’s presence, provision and peace.

Prayer is relevant to every dimension of life. Whether you are experiencing suffering, sickness, success or a stretching situation, PRAY. Don’t compartmentalise prayer to one dimension of your life. Jesus said, ‘My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer for all people’ (Mk 11:17). The whole of God’s house is is to be saturated by prayer, not just one of the rooms in the house. Prayer isn’t an event, it’s a lifestyle. Paul said, ‘Pray without ceasing.’ We need to cultivate an attitude and a spirit of prayer, not just a daily appointment with God.

Righteousness empowers our prayers to be effective. Sin separates us from God but God’s righteousness given to us through Jesus Christ rightly positions us as justified in Christ. Righteousness is a position we’re called into, not a performance we have to labor for. We are the righteousness of God and thus we can boldly pray in faith, expecting Gods ears to be open to the prayers on our lips. We have access to God’s throne room through prayer and we are to boldly enter in. Prayer has a capacity to work all by itself.

You don’t have to be superman for your prayers to be effective. Prophet Elijah was a man with a nature like ours and yet through his fervent prayer, the natural order of things was broken and miraculous intervention to the extreme became a reality. Fervent prayer cracks the code of the impossible. Stop waiting for superman to turn up and start use the portal to God’s power working in your life = Pray!

The Oracle!

Why Australia needs a Great Awakening!

Australia has never had a nation wide awakening of the Gospel and it desperately needs it. Why? Because the general population is dead in sin.

Throughout history other nations like Wales, Scotland, England, Nigeria, Argentina, South Korea and the USA have been awakened by God’s Spirit working through the proclamation of the gospel and the prayers of the saints.

Australia is one of the most popular and prosperous nations across the world and yet we are one of the most spiritually impoverished nations on the planet. We are steeped in materialistic comfort and spiritual apathy. We are consumed with our houses and holidays and care little for eternal matters. While we seemingly have everything, we seem to be more bored and miserable than ever before.

I had the privilege of visiting Calcutta, India in 2012 with Compassion Australia and had one of the Indian professional development program students comment, “I want India to become like Australia because Australia is heaven.” I understood where he was coming from but I thought to myself, “Ahh, you probably wouldn’t think this if you knew the spiritual climate in my nation.” I remember hearing Ps Wayne Cordeiro respond to a Chinese Christian on a ministry trip to China when it was said to him, “I’m praying that China will become like America”, Wayne said, “Well, I’m praying that America will become like China.”

There is the misguided perception that western nations like the USA and Australia have it all going on for them. While this may be true from a material perspective, it is very far from the truth when it comes to the decline in mission, church attendance and biblical fervency.

I have a strong conviction that Australia needs pastors, preachers and believers to remain on these shores and pray and proclaim the gospel and plant churches like never before. We are more pagan than ever before but never has there been such an opportunity in our history when the church can rise up and march forward into mission engagement than right now.

We are facing the same dynamics of the early church in the book of Acts. It’s in these pagan lands that the faithful, powerful proclamation of the Gospel abounds in much fruit and kingdom advancement. I refuse to believe that just because the spiritual plains seem harder here than other lands, that the Holy Spirit can’t move as he has in other countries throughout history. We have got to stop making excuses and continuing contending for the gospel, whilst we contextualize it in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart,  Darwin and beyond.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)

Grace!

How to get the MOST out of your Devotions!

Tuesday I did a video interview with Dr Allan Meyer (CEO Careforce Life Keys) and towards the end of the interview I asked him about his devotional life. I have often asked this question of several leaders, as an individuals devotional life is of a real interest to me.

Whilst I know that my own performance doesn’t earn me any brownie points with God, I do have a deep desire and conviction that spending time with Jesus on a daily basis is fundamental to everything called LIFE.

Allan gave an interesting insight into his own journey with devotions and identified the need for an upgrade in his current devotional life. He commented on the seasons of intensified prayer that lasted 7 years post a visit to Yonggi Cho’s praying church in Seoul, Korea. He reflected on the impact of his son’s poor life choices on his devotional life and how it was brought to a standstill by his anger and confusion with his sons behaviour. He reflected on the SOAP method of devotions (Journalling through Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer). Allan’s response to my question was very revealing and very helpful.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

It’s unique – How you connect with God will be different to how others connect with God. While, I think, there are some fundamental keys to knowing God better, we are all wired up in different ways and will express our worship and love for God accordingly.

It’s seasonal – How you engage with God in one season might be different to how you connect with him in another season. Rather than building a tradition that is inflexible, build a lifestyle of intimacy that reflects what God is doing in you in each season of your life.

It requires a daily appointment – You can connect with God anywhere at anytime but I have observed and found for myself that If I schedule it in my diary, it is far more likely to happen than if I simply hope or wish for it to happen. For me I get up early each morning, because I am more of an morning person and I spend a couple of hours meeting with God.

It could look something like the following – Reading through a daily bible reading plan or a book of the bible, praying what’s on your heart, prayer walking, worshipping God while listening to music, watching or listening to a sermon podcast, reading a book that compliments your bible reading, viewing blogs and articles that point you toward Jesus, meditating on one verse of the bible for an extended period of time and then sitting in silence and allowing God to speak to you out of it… The possibilities are endless, however, I would suggest that the foundation of whatever you do is built on a daily dose of Scripture and prayer.

It will occasionally need an upgrade – Anything we do can become stale if we don’t continually pay attention to it. What served you well last year, might not serve you well this year. Don’t be content to go through the motions but refresh your devotional life and ask God to give you an upgrade in your intimacy with him.

It must focus on Jesus – The hero of the story is Jesus. Anything that brings you closer to Jesus and connects your heart to his and refocuses your mind on him is worthy of pursuing. The Holy Spirit guides us into the way, the truth and the life of Jesus.

Grace!

What Makes Ministry Effective?

My observation of the current climate of ministry, particularly, in the western world is that it is saturated by trends and techniques rather than by the power of the Gospel. In light of this, what makes ministry effective?

Does the right program make ministry effective? If you run the right seeker sensitive service, evangelistic program, recovery program and community social program, will you get the results you are looking for? I’m not against programs at all. I think they can be very helpful and in many cases are needed to compliment the mission of the local church but I don’t think they help ministry be most effective.

Does eye-catching and compelling marketing make ministry effective? Well, I think good marketing helps but plenty of churches and ministries have great marketing that no-one is really paying attention to. At Activate we have a marketing director and take this area of our church seriously with the resources God has entrusted us with but when I started the church with 13 people and no budget in our lounge room, we needed something more than slick marketing.

Does ministry credentials make ministry effective? Do I really have to answer this question? Give me a break.

Does being connected to influential people make ministry effective? Well, as they say, it’s not what you know but who you know. How does this line of reasoning work for a pastor in a 3rd world country who is isolated and neither connected to people of influence or even basic technology? There are many stories of incredible ministry happening in isolated regions where God breaks out in a powerful way, without the latest and greatest rock star preacher traveling through.

Does theological knowledge make ministry effective? Now, personally, this is something very close to my heart because I do believe to my core that our theology (the way we think and talk about God) affects everything we do, however, I know plenty of people who have high IQ’s with more theological degrees than a thermometer and couldn’t share their faith with a stranger while stuck with them in a wet paper bag.

Does a ‘spirit of excellence’ make ministry effective? Presenting things well is a great and important goal to have but you can have the form (external presentation) without the power and nothing change. So what?

So, what makes ministry effective? Consider Jesus disciples. They spent approximately 3 years with Jesus, learning, observing and practicing ministry with the master in the closest possible way and yet Jesus still told them to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 follows this up by saying, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” 

Unfortunately, we often mistakenly think that having power in our ministry means we ought to see results like Billy Graham or Smith Wiggles-worth but it is not so. The local church pastor who has a gift-mix of leadership, teaching and wisdom needs the demonstration of the power of the Gospel in their ministry just as much as the healing evangelist in the revival tent.

The Apostle Paul said, “The kingdom of God does not consist of talk but of power… Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power… I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you, except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (Holy Bible, ESV)

What makes ministry effective is the power of the Spirit working through the power of the Gospel in our lives. Martyn Lloyd Jones says it like this in his Tour De Force on ‘Preaching and Preachers’, “The addition of the power of the Holy Ghost, (to God’s Word) is what ultimately makes preaching effective. This is what produces converts and creates churches, and builds up churches – power, Holy Ghost, and much assurance.”

Grace!

Correlation between Prayer and Faith!

Matthew 21:21-22 “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Prayer is communication with God, which involves both talking and listening to God. To pray to God is to believe that he exists and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. There is a direct correlation between prayer and faith and prayer without faith is a pointless exercise.

We all wrestle with doubts, however for prayer to be effective, doubt must submit to faith because prayer works through the energy of faith. Jesus had dramatic results in his ministry because he prayed and moved in complete faith. Many people throughout history have been used in dramatic ways because of their complete faith in God. Faith moves God’s heart and faith positions you for a miracle. I personally am very hungry to grow in my faith and pray prayers that move God’s heart to act in the natural realm in powerful ways.

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Just think about this statement for a second. This is a profound insight. Because this is true and God’s word cannot lie why wouldn’t you receive something you pray for?

I think there are 3 basic reasons why you wouldn’t receive something you prayed for:

  1. You prayed without faith – In other words, you prayed a token prayer filled with doubt and you hoped for the best but deep down your prayer was dominated by the opinions of others, the logic of your own mind and the circumstances you’re facing.
  2. You prayed with the wrong motives – James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Wrong motives undermine your prayer life and can cause your prayers to fall on deaf ears.
  3. You prayed out of God’s time – Ecc 3:1, 10 says, “There’s a time and a season for every matter under heaven. God makes everything beautiful in its time.” Your prayer life must take into consideration the timing of God. Our timing is very rarely God’s timing and often our desires in prayer come well before the answers do.
Having said all this, it’s so important that you keep in the forefront of your mind that the prayer of faith, rightly motivated should be prayed and expected to be answered. I don’t think it’s our job to be focused on the timing of the answer but to keep focused on the persistent praying of the prayer itself. Luke 11:8 shows us that God responds to persistent prayer.
What is it that you are believing for? Are you praying into it and are your prayers rightly motivated? It’s good that you have a desire for something but you must pray into it. Jesus said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive, if…if…if…if you have faith.” (Emphasis mine)

Insight!