Archive for the 'Prayer' Category

Unleashed for the Unreached

prayer wall

100 man hours is a precious commodity these days. That’s the approximate amount of human resources we spent praying in front of the Wall of Unreached Peoples last weekend. 100 hours of uninterrupted praying over the nearly 7000 unreached people groups of the world. You could accomplish a lot with that kind of time. Think about the impact we could have made with 100 volunteer serving hours? And there are certainly plenty of people we could have prayed for here at home? Why do what we did?

God has always directed his people with an “arrows out” mentality. He told the Israelites to, “bless the nations.” He told his church, “Go and make disciples.” Unfortunately, the default setting for most of us in “arrows in.” The Israelites were always more concerned about their own blessing. The early church was slow to spread the gospel until persecution forced the issue. It’s always easier to think of my church and my community and my country. Yet from the beginning of time God has always expressed a heart for all people and all nations. His dream is “every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7:9) represented before the throne.

We prayed because the Bible tells us it is the most effective thing a believer we can do. “When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works” (Charles Spurgeon). We prayed, focusing on the unreached people groups of the world, because that’s what growing Christians do; we begin
praying for the things that God wants. Instead of always praying for our needs and the physical health of our loved ones…instead of “arrows in” praying, maturing believers pray for the things God’s heart desires. Those are they prayers God loves to answer. That’s praying “God’s will be done.”

I loved hearing comments like these:
“I didn’t realize there were so many unreached in our world.”
“I was touched because the person before me was sobbing while they were praying.”
“I didn’t think I could pray for an entire hour but it seemed like it went so fast.”
My personal thanks to all who participated in our Unleashed for the Unreached prayer event. Thank you for being a people of prayer. And thank you for letting God develop within you a heart like his.

Pray Long

2013-1-TheStory-Header(1)

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1 NIV). While there are a lot of confusing opinions and teachings that exist about prayer, Jesus’ parable about the persistent widow is not one them. Jesus was very clear: This woman was passionate about her petition to the unjust judge. This woman was specific about her request. And this unaided widow was relentless in her plea for justice. And we should pray to our Father like that.

What is Jesus teaching us through this story? We talked about these truths on Sunday:
Pray long because it’s possible for you to miss out on what you’re unwilling to keep praying for.
Pray long because it’s impossible as a child of God, for you to bother the Father.
Pray long because what God does in you while you pray is as important as what you’re praying for.
If you missed last weekend, I hope you’ll watch the message here:

Congressman Sullivan’s Values Action Team

I’ve served the last couple of years on U.S. Congressman John Sullivan’s Values Action Team. This group meets a couple of times a year to discuss issues and legislation facing our state and nation, especially those affecting moral issues. It’s reassuring to know that there are elected officials at a federal level who still care about what God says on the issues. It was a privilege for me to pray over our Congressman today at the conclusion of our meeting. I’ve told him several times that I may not contribute much to the discussion, but I can pray hard. Keep Congressman Sullivan, his family, and his leadership duties in your prayers.

Muslim Prayer Update

As I told you earlier, I’ve been praying along with a 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus book that coincides with Islam holy month of Ramadan. It has certainly made me more sensitive to what God is doing around the world to people of this faith. I was just reading over the weekend about how Muslims in Iran are responding in what is being reported as “spectacular church growth.” Read the article here because you won’t hear about it in the mainstream media. Keep praying for God to work and draw his children to himself.

Praying for Muslims

I did something today in my morning prayer time that I’ve never done before. I started praying for Muslim people around the world. Because I don’t know much about the Muslim beliefs or what exactly to pray about, I’m using a guide called “30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus.” It challenges Christians around the world to join together during the Islam holy month of Ramadan and pray for Muslims and their salvation. Not only does it give daily ideas for prayer, it also provides some insight into the Muslim way of life.

Unfortunately, because of conflict in the middle east and world-wide terrorism in the name of religion, its easy to see Muslims as the enemy. But God sees them as his children. They matter to Him. And He “…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

I recently preached on A Christian response to Islam and afterwards handed out about 250 Muslim prayer guides. If you’re interested in joining me in this prayer effort, but didn’t receive one, click here to find the same material online. I would love to know if you’re praying along and anything God is revealing to you.

Chaplain at Oklahoma State Senate

I had a really neat opportunity this week – I served as the Chaplain for the Oklahoma State Senate. I was invited by my own Senator, Mike Mazzei. I’ve also had the privilege of serving on Senator Mazzei’s Pastor’s Council.

Senator Mazzei is doing a great job representing our district, using his gifts to help keep our state government fiscally responsible. He is also a man of faith. He and his family attend Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa.

As Senate Chaplain this week, I was reponsible for praying each morning as the session convened. Thursday morning I shared a devotion on King Rehoboam’s refusal to listen to the wise counsel of elders.

A couple of things I observed this week. . .In spite of political differences and the usual party lines, there seemed to be a real spirit of cooperation. The debates I witnessed were respectful and many times contained some playful levity. There also seemed to be a real openness to spiritual matters. It was refreshing to see at least one place in our government where the tradition of prayer is maintained, even requested by many.

Keep our government leaders in your prayers. The Bible says that they are God’s servants, doing His work. They are sacrificing their time, their families, their businesses. They’re also making some pretty significant decisions that have an impact on us all. Ask God to direct those decisions and protect their family relationships.

24-7 Prayer

By far, one of the coolest things we will have done as a church this year was to spend a week in unbroken prayer; 168 hours straight through – people praying in our Prayer Room.  Sometimes individuals prayed.  Sometimes it was entire small groups.  Sometimes it was a husband and wife, or close friends.  Our Prayer Team was concerned at first with how we would fill all the hour-long slots.  We didn’t need to worry.  Not only did we fill the entire week, we extended it another couple of days.  Listen to what some of our people said:

“I can’t believe how quick the hour went.”

“It was impactful.  Each station helped me to reflect, meditate, and lift up petitions to God…”

“If I would have known it would be like this, I would have come earlier in the week.”

Unfortunately, praying for a solid week seems like a stretch for a 21st century church.  Evidently not the case for the early church.  “They all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14).  “They devoted themselves to…prayer” (Acts 2:42).  “They raised their voices together in prayer to God” (Acts 4:24).  I can’t think of too many qualities I would rather have my church known for than to be a praying church.  Instead of being known as “the church with the nice building” or whatever we’re known for, wouldn’t it be something if people said, “Oh yeah, you’re the ones who ‘pray continually'” (1 thessalonians 5:17).

This past Sunday, we passed the Prayer Flame to Iglesia Eficaz.  I have to say that I was disappointed it was over.  There was something powerful and at the same time humbling knowing that there were ongoing conversations with God in that place.  At the same time it was a little inconvenient having my personal “prayer closet” tied up with other people all week.  My hope is that individual prayer lives were jump-started and as a church, we stepped further and deeper into the presence of God.  If you want to hear more about other churches in the Tulsa area connecting their weeks of unbroken prayer for the entire year, go to www.tulsaprayer.com.

“Nothing significant happens in God’s kingdom without the faithful prayer of his people.”

I Don’t Need You

Last week my two bird dogs escaped the back yard.  I let them out of their individuals pens as I routinely do in the evening.  But when I opened the back door an hour later, expecting excitement and plenty of dog-saliva, there wasn’t a dog to be seen.  I called  for them – nothing.  I walked around the corner of the house and sure enough, someone had left the gate open.  I walked to the front yard and called again – and again no sign of the escapees.  Now I wasn’t too worried about my nine-year old English Setter, Jake.  He knows his way around.  After previous jail-breaks, he’s found his way home.  I was worried about my daughter’s 10-month old Golden Retriever, Bailey.  She’s just a pup.  And though she has a collar with my name and phone number on it, she isn’t used to traffic and doesn’t have enough maturity to forget the new smells and pay attention to getting back.  My first thought was, “if they stay together, they’ll be just fine.”  I drove around our dark neighborhood until midnight hoping to catch a glimpse of them, but with no luck.  Finally I resorted to waiting for a phone call.  That’s when Jake showed up in the back yard; wet and muddy, hungry and thirsty.  No Bailey.  That’s what I was afraid of.  In fact, no sign of Bailey all night long.  The only hope now was that someone would call.  That call came aroudn 7:45 a.m.  “I have your dog,” the stranger announced.  Bailey was a 1.5 miles away and excited to see me as I drove up.  Everything worked out.

Unfortunately, everything doesn’t always work out for those following Christ.  And even more unfortunate, we behave just like my two bird dogs – we don’t stay together.  “I don’t need close Christian friends.  I don’t need a small group.  I can make it myself.”  And for just a minute, let’s suppose that you can.  The reality is that someone weaker or with less experience may just need you.  They may need encouragement from you.  They may need wise counsel from you.  They may just need your friendship.  That’s what Christians are about – doing things even when the beneficiary is someone besides ourselves.  “Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other and each of us needs all the others” (Romans 12:5 NLT).