Login here: Password: Remember Me
No login? Register here...  

Inbox (0 new)
3rd Compass -> Group News and Articles -> Balancing The Truth and Prayer

Balancing The Truth and Prayer (Sermon) 1/20/2016 9:07 PM
Make Comment
Minister Ty Alexander
Rate This Story

Let me start by talking about my first book, 3rd Compass. I intended it to be a vehicle for evangelizing nonbelievers, as well as a tool for teaching believers about the complexity of our world. I tried to show how God made our reality confusing on purpose, but if we stop to look deeper at things, we can understand many whys and hows...
  • Why God made things so confusing.
  • How does God want us to follow Him?
  • Why is there so much suffering in the world?
  • And how things in the Bible, like God's act of creation in six days, actually does make sense and is possible with how the real world works.
I also talked about signs, which God uses to try and guide us. Many years ago I did not believe in God or Christ, though I did accept there were spiritual things in the world. God made me a believer in Christ through wondrous signs He gave over a span of five or six years, before I came to believe. They made me wonder more about supernatural things and if someone was trying to tell me something.

The first sign was a ticking clock, like golden sunlight, that glowed on the floor one morning. It appeared out of nowhere in a dim room with the curtains drawn. Nothing I did interrupted its projection. I waved my hand around it and the image remained unchanged on the floor. I couldn't figure out where it came from. Then I put my hand over it and the image was projected onto my hand. It was like the light materialized out of thin air. I knew it was something special and out of the ordinary, but I didn't understand what it meant. Sometime later a friend suggested it could mean a new beginning of prosperity and richness, since sunlight usually means prosperity and the sign came in the morning.

Over a handful of years, God gave me more signs and nudges. They made me stop and wonder, but I couldn't understand their meaning. Eventually God gave me enough to complete the picture, and I could understand the message He was trying to tell me.

God was telling me, "Find comfort in My Son, Jesus," and that would be a new beginning for me, full of spiritual prosperity. When I understood the message, I was dumbfounded and awed. It didn't take long for me to accept that message and leave behind my old life and start a new life with Christ. Having so many signs line up was like holding a winning lottery ticket. How could I just throw it away?

It took more years of following guidance from God for me to realize that He was guiding me in bits and pieces, small puzzle pieces coming over time, so when we get enough pieces we can see the complete image. God has given guidance like this throughout the Old and New Testaments that need to be pieced together correctly to understand the whole. Christ's First Coming was one of those pictures that had many pieces in the Old Testament.

Another example is Acts 10:9-17 where God gives Apostle Peter visions to tell him all sorts of animals are now ok or "clean" to eat, since the Jews were commanded to only eat "clean" animals as defined in the Law of Moses.

Peter protested and said, "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean," but God told him, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

Later, God sent Peter to a centurion's house named Cornelius. God had told Cornelius that Peter had something to say to them, and when he arrived, Peter got a revelation with the help of the Holy Spirit. He put together the purpose of coming to Cornelius with the visions he had earlier and said, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right."

Peter understood that, like all animals being made clean to eat, God had made His gift of eternal salvation in Christ available to even the "unclean" Gentiles - to everyone on earth (Acts 10:15,34-48).

This revelation came in pieces, too, and was properly put together with the help of the Holy Spirit, which we need to understand God, "for who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11).

One or two pieces of guidance, like the signs I got, may not have much meaning by themselves, but when we get enough pieces, the picture becomes more apparent. This piece by piece way of guiding taught me not to jump to conclusions about God's guidance until I had enough pieces to understand more completely. It teaches us to have discipline and patience to wait on God for guidance.

Sometimes God does give guidance that only comes in one piece and is self explanatory, like through dreams and visions that give plain instruction. God gave many people such things and still does today, like the dreams he gave Joseph, the husband of Mary. He was going to abandon their engagement and leave her, but his God-given dream told him to accept her as his wife (Matthew 1:20). In another dream, he was told they needed to flee Bethlehem after Jesus's birth to avoid the massacre of infant boys (Matthew 2:13).

However, we have to remember God doesn't always guide in plain, easy to understand ways. He often encodes dreams, visions and other guidance with symbolism that requires piece by piece revelation and the help of His Holy Spirit to understand. We often need patience to follow God's guidance.

We also have to test things and be discerning of guidance (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21) because the enemy can fake guidance like visions, words, and dreams, so simply following spiritual guidance blindly can lead to disaster if it is false guidance from the enemy.

Another thing we need to understand God correctly is balance - both emotional balance and the balance of Godly understanding versus worldly ways of thinking. We've all heard that love can blind us. Well, that bit of wisdom is no less true for love of God.

Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with love for God, especially when we first come to know Him and see the wonder and majesty of our Heavenly Father and all that He's done - it overwhelms us with joy, because we see there is real purpose in life and the world isn't just a big accident - but sometimes we focus so much on the joy and wonder that we don't move onward from our first baby steps with Christ.

God wants us to rejoice in Him, certainly... we should, especially when we are downtrodden, but if we only focus on the celebration and wonder of life with God, we can actually become blind to the fullness of His Character and Kingdom. There is much more that God wants us to understand then to just have passion for Him.

We need to balance our love for Him with the knowledge of His Ways and that His laws and commands continue to define His Kingdom today. In fact, they run the whole universe. People have developed the notion of karma because they see a cause and effect from good and bad behavior, but what most of the world fails to see is that karma is actually the cause and effect of breaking God's laws and commands or walking in them righteously so we get the benefits of His promises.

King David said, "Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (Psalm 103:2). He's talking about God's bountiful blessings and great mercy when we walk according to His Ways, which includes, trying to be righteous, depending on Him, and fulfilling any commands He's given.

So praise God always, but don't forget how to gain His benefits. We need to lean on Him as our guiding and nurturing Father, because He said if we'd just acknowledge Him, even His rebukes, He would have closer intimacy with us. In Revelation 3:20, He proclaimed, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me." And in Proverbs 1:23, He says if we heed His correction instead of turn it away, He would give His mind and thoughts to us in abundance.

We need to be actively open to working with and being with God in our daily lives, but the other side of the equation is how God wants us to love Him. It's more than our worldly notion of love for a parent or close friend.

We tend to think of great love for someone as general unconditional love that does not abate, even under difficult circumstances, disagreements, or strife. The Greatest Commandment would seem to say that was only what God meant by "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Matthew 22:37-38; Mark 12:29-30), but God has more in mind than a great passion for Him.

The apostle John clarifies this in 1 John 5:3 by saying, "In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands." Jesus also said in John 14:15, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." So it is faithful obedience to God's commands that is considered love for Him.

But why would He want us focus on obeying His commands? Isn't faith and worship enough? Not if righteous action is absent, because "faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17) and in the same way, what good is our worship if we do not truly honor God with our actions? Jesus talked about that when He said, "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Matthew 15:8, Mark 7:6).

He was talking about Jews following their made-up rules in favor of truly fulfilling God's laws and commands, many of which demanded generosity towards others. Their righteous action was absent.

But righteous action is a vague term. Can we understand what God wants on a better level? It goes back to 1 John 5:3, Love for God is to keep His commands. Why is that so important?

It has to do with the opposite of keeping God's commands, which is to sin - to break God's laws, not man's laws or what we may think are God's laws (1 John 3:4; Romans 3:20, 4:15,7:7). Sin is action or inaction that goes against God's commands. We can only know sin by God's laws and commands, for without His definition there would be no sin (Romans 3:20,7:7).

So now we can see that to keep God's commands is also to keep from sin. That's very important because sin has serious consequences for us as well as our children and descendents, even if we have eternal salvation in Christ. We have to remember that Grace in Christ negates our eternal penalty for sin, which is to spend the next life cast out of God's eternal Kingdom. It does not take away the consequences of sin in this life. God acts as Judge for everyone. He judges everyone's sins and repays us for what we do wrong (Romans 2:6-11; Numbers 14:18; Hebrews 12:4-11; Jeremiah 17:10,21:14,25:14,32:19; Proverbs 24:12; Ezekiel 3:20,33:12-13,18,20; 1 Thessalonians 4:6). Even the angels are not exempt from being judged (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6).

Remember the concept of karma? Bad karma is actually the curses or negative effects of sin, which is God's judgment for breaking His laws and commands, so being cursed is simply having a judgment for sin. The church gets confused about curses and doesn't believe they can come to people saved in Christ, but if you understand what curses are, you can see how people can be both blessed and cursed if they belong to God. Curses are God's judgments for sin or breaking His laws and commands.

God's Kingdom and what He considers right are still defined by laws and commands, so it's still important to understand our roles as His People with the knowledge of what laws and covenants are in effect now.

It's not only a heart for God that should make us learn how to keep His commands and avoid sin, but we must also turn our hearts toward our children and families, because our sin can affect them. God said children and descendents, even up to four generations, can be punished for our own sins (Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9; Jeremiah 2:9,32:18,36:31). We can see the effects of these generational curses everywhere when so many children get cancer or die prematurely. What sins did they commit to deserve so much suffering? We need to look to ourselves and be sure that we do not bring bad things on our families because of our own wrongdoing. We have to think about other people when we are tempted to sin.

And likewise, children need to think of their parents and others in their behavior. God did not say the sins of children are punished upon the parents, but a child's unruly behavior can cause parents or caregivers to sin when they act in anger and become abusive. All of us are responsible for thinking of others, whether we are parents, children, caregivers, teachers or someone in authority. Our sins can affect others and make sin multiply.

Remember the Second Greatest Commandment - to love one another as yourself (Matthew 36:39; Mark 12:31), and just as God wants us to be obedient to Him, we should also love each other enough to be respectful and obedient to each other.

That's why we need to walk with love for God and each other, balanced with the knowledge of the consequences of sin and disobeying God.


Has anyone read John Dau's book, God Grew Tired Of Us?

It's about John's flight with fellow war refugees from Sudan, which is the Land of Cush in the Old Testament, just under Egypt. He talked about how he fled on foot with thousands of other refugees, mostly children, who lost their homes and families. They crossed hundreds of miles of dry savanna, dangerous marshes, and crocodile infested waters to find refugee camps in neighboring countries. Many died along the way, murdered by hostile soldiers, or starved or succumbed to the elements.

The Lost Boys was what John's group of refugees were called. They had to flee several times as enemy troops forced them from one place to the next. At one time, there were so many refugees that their single file march took a whole day for the back of the line to pass through the point where the front had first set foot. They suffered many hardships, but some of them, including John were granted asylum in the United States where they were able to renew their lives.

Throughout the book, John wondered why God made them go through so much suffering. I felt his sorrow as I read about their many long and difficult hardships, and I continue to feel great sadness for all the horrible events around the world that are taking and displacing so many lives. I know more difficult times are coming for people everywhere because I understand why God brings judgment to the earth.

John Dau didn't quite understand why in his book, but I saw that God gave him a recurring dream to tell part of the story. John wrote:
"In my dream I sit atop an eight-foot-tall anthill and watch over my father's flock. As I perch there, I make toy cows out of clay. Beside me lie my knife, my stick, and my spear. I am chewing a sorghum stem and looking at my clay cows, when all of a sudden I hear something running. The curtain of grass opens, and I see a goat of mine, followed by a lion. The lion chases the goat around and around my anthill, and I think that perhaps the goat has run to me to get my help. I get up, grab my spear, and point it at the lion. The lion bows down, afraid of me, and freezes. I seize the lion by the tail and swing it around in a circle. I am so, so powerful. Holding the lion's tail like the handle of a whip. I beat the animal's body against the anthill. Still the lion refuses to move. I switch to my stick and beat the lion's head, then return to swinging it by the tail and whacking it against the hill.

When I look up from beating the lion, I see a group of boys having fun. I drag the lion to where the boys are playing. The boys ask me, 'Why are you killing that lion?' I say, 'If I kill this lion, he will not be able to attack my goats again.'

We talk like that for a while. In my dream I stand like a Dinka boy on watch, with my right leg straight, my left leg bent at the knee, and the handle of my spear tucked under my shoulder, its point stuck in the ground like a third leg.

'What do you want to do with that lion?' one of the boys asks.

'I want to throw it away,' I reply. 'I will take it far away and get rid of it so it cannot harm anything in my village again.'

I take the lion to a place where I can cast it into a swift flowing river, where the current will make it disappear. Just as I start to toss it in, though, it comes alive and stands up. In the blink of an eye, it grows strong again. The lion chases me, intent on catching and eating me. I run very fast, until I trip over a bunch of grass and fall. The lion leaps toward me... and I wake up."

(Dau, John Bul. God Grew Tired Of Us. pg 235)
John said he did not know what the dream meant, but because I'm familiar with Biblical concepts and God's guidance, I could see a lot of meaning in it. It has to do with having further knowledge of the world, which we've been talking about.

First, John stands on an anthill in the dream. Ants symbolize workers, especially restless, hardworking people. Ant drones also symbolize unthinking laborers that go about business more on instinct than logical thought. John stands on the anthill to symbolize how he, as well as the church in general, stand on those kinds of work ethics. We will see in the meaning of this dream how the church goes about business like drones, because she is not thinking as deeply about God's guidance and spiritual things as she should be.

The toy cows John makes and looks at symbolize the church's "sacred cows" or false beliefs and incorrect doctrine that she does not want to get rid of. The cows are made of clay (earth) to symbolize how those false beliefs come from worldly or earthy ways of thinking that do not come from God.

The lion symbolizes the enemy of mankind, Satan, who prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, from 1 Peter 5:8. It tries to kill a goat from his herd to symbolize how the enemy also tries to destroy the fruits of our crops and take our wealth, which they can do because of judgment for our sin. The enemy accuses us before God day and night (Revelation 12:10).

In the dream, John confronts and seemingly kills the lion, throwing it around in a circle, which symbolizes how we use covenant, and especially our strength and authority in Christ through the New Covenant of Grace to rebuke the enemy. That is why he feels so powerful in the dream.

In the dream he believes that killing the lion will protect his herd, which represents how people think that simply rebuking the enemy will protect us. However, that is only partially true.

When he tries to discard the lion in the river, it comes back to life and attacks again. This refers to how the enemy cannot be "killed" or kept away simply by rebuking or praying. God is trying to make John and the church aware that their current beliefs and knowledge about spiritual things is incorrect. They're tripping on their false beliefs, which is symbolized by the bunch of grass John trips on, since overgrown grass symbolizes overgrown false beliefs. The end of the dream is saying how John and the church are missing the important knowledge of how God's laws and covenants work, because when we sin or break God's laws, we are open to being attacked by the enemy.

That means when we sin, whether we know it or not, judgment comes to us through curses, such as bad illness, accidents, and loss of property and wealth. Rebuking the enemy and praying for help and deliverance does help, but the help can only be temporary if we continue to sin. That's why Jesus told people to not sin anymore after he healed them, like the man He healed at the pool of water. He said, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you" (John 5:1-14).

The only way to completely kill the lion in the dream is to become unaccusable before God, which means to become sinless as Jesus was. We can only get the full blessings of God's covenants if we walk in the terms of His promises and strive to keep all sin out of our lives.

This is very, very important to understand, not just for ourselves, but also for our children and families as I talked about before - our sin can affect others. We need to think about that, strive to get rid of sin from our lives, and teach the truth to our families, because it will help and protect everyone if we all try to walk righteous before God.

If we keep learning about God's ways and the laws and commands He expects us to walk in today, then we would not hurt so much as a People, like God said in Hosea 4:6, "My People are destroyed from lack of knowledge." That's a big reason why John Dau's people went through so much suffering and why much of the world comes to so much tribulation. People do not know how much they do wrong in God's eyes because of their lack of knowledge or because they were taught wrong. Unfortunately, the church works too much like ant drones without thinking deep enough about God's Word and guidance and excludes information from the whole picture.

So Godly knowledge isn't all we need to have a successful walk with God. We must also become approved workmen, who know how to rightly divide His Word and guidance. The notion of rightly dividing or correctly handling the Word of Truth comes from 2 Timothy 2:15. Apostle Paul refers to being accurate with God's Word and guidance, and being someone who can understand and use it in correct context, so that we do not mistreat or misconstrue the Truth.

Paul's analogy to rightly dividing and being accurate refers to his trades of leather working and making tents, which he did to supplement his income. It requires being precise with measurements and in cutting materials, so that everything fits together and works as it's intended. In the same manner, if we do not understand God's Word or use it correctly and in context, then we risk skewing God's intended meaning and making the wrong conclusions about what God really means.

An example of this is rightly dividing the word "salvation." We talk a lot about salvation in Christ and words for it are commonly used throughout the Bible. However, when we talk about it, we must be accurate and understand there are two types of salvation in the Bible - eternal and temporal or temporary.

Eternal salvation is what we get when we acknowledge Jesus through the New Covenant of Grace. It takes away the eternal penalty of sin, which is to be excluded from God's Kingdom of heaven in the next life. It's separate from temporal salvation, which is temporary or physical salvation in this life. An example of that is to be given healing from disease like cancer. That salvation can be temporary, though, because if we continue to sin, the consequences of that will come back to us when God judges our sin.

Another example of rightly dividing God's Word is understanding God's forgiveness. He said that He would forgive us and remember our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17), but then He also said through the apostle Matthew, "If you do not forgive others their sins, Your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:15).
Does that mean God will refuse your eternal salvation if you do not forgive other people?

No... we must keep things in context and rightly divide. When God said He will forgive us and not remember our sins, He was talking about eternal salvation in Christ. All our sins are wiped away by Jesus's blood (1 John 1:7, Colossians 2:13-14), but when He said He would not forgive us if we do not forgive, He was talking about temporal salvation or deliverance.

This was shown through someone who has a gift of healing. God brought a woman to him seeking healing for an illness, but his gift did not work as it normally did. He was confused and pondered it and prayed. God moved him to ask the woman if she had unforgiveness for anyone.

It turned out she did need to forgive someone and after he brought her to willingly speak forgiveness for that person, his gift of healing worked. God showed him many times how unforgiveness in our hearts prevents healing or deliverance, which is temporal salvation. That is what God meant when He said He would not forgive our sins if we did not forgive others. God's unforgiveness is His withholding of temporal salvation for our sins or taking away the curses that our sins brought on us.

Unforgiveness prevents God from giving us temporal salvation or deliverance. That's one of the reasons why Christ preached forgiveness (Matthew 6:12; Mark 11:25; Luke 6:37,11:4). He even said, forgive someone who wrongs us even seven times in a day (Luke 17:3-4) or even if they've wronged us seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:21-22). Obviously, holding unforgiveness in our hearts is damaging, not just for ourselves but also for those who we do not want to forgive. It not only goes against the Second Greatest Commandment to love your neighbor, but also prevents healing and closure for all parties involved.

There are many stories about people who commit great wrongs to people we love, even murdering them. The hate and unforgiveness can go on for many years, but when the person who was wronged comes forward and forgives, it can lift a huge weight from both parties. They feel healing in their spirits and can move onward with a new sense of well-being.

The last example of rightly dividing God's guidance I will give is about praying. Jesus gave His disciples instruction in a parable so they would always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1-5). He said,
"In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually come and attack me!'"
Well, people often think that because Jesus said "always prays and not give up," when He told the parable, that He meant we should constantly pray and ask for the same thing until we get it. I've seen people pray every day for the same thing for years without anything happening. However, that's not what God wants us to do. He is not like the judge in the parable who granted the request because he got tired of being bothered.

God truly cares about His People and will bring help even if we just ask for something once. We need to rightly divide again and understand what God really means in His Words, like when He said, "always pray and not give up," He did not mean to constantly ask Him for the same thing over and over again. He gives clues about what He really means by what He said after the parable:
And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:6-8)
A key statement is, "Will He find faith on the earth?" We know that having great faith in God helps our spiritual standing. Jesus said if we had enough faith we could literally tell a mountain to fall into the sea and it would (Matthew 21:21). We could even walk on water as Jesus did. Remember how Peter went out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus? But then the wind made him afraid and he began to sink.

Jesus pulled him out of the water and said, "You of little faith. Why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31) Doubt hindered Peter's faith, and likewise, if we pray and ask but doubt, it will hinder our prayers. We need to truly believe we will receive what we ask for in prayer (Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24, James 1:6).

So when Jesus said, "always pray and not give up," He meant we should always ask for what we want in prayer and not doubt that we will receive it. We aren't supposed to keep asking God for the same thing over and over again. In fact, God has guided people, including myself, to simply "be still" (Psalm 46:10) and leave things up to Him, so when we ask for something, we should do it once with undoubting faith and wait.

If we wait a very long time, though, and don't see our prayers being met, then we need to examine other things. First, what we ask for should align with God's will because He also said, "If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14). And also, like unforgiveness prevents God from forgiving us, other sins also affect whether God grants our petitions. That's why He told husbands to be considerate and respectful of wives, so that nothing would hinder their prayers (1 Peter 3:7) and in Isaiah 1:15-17, God said He would not listen to prayers because of sin.

A long wait for prayers to be met may not mean the Lord answered, "No," either. It may be that it's not the right time for what we ask, so we need to have patience and just let God do things by His will and timing. Circumstances out of our control may need to change for the request to be granted, so instead of asking God the same thing again after a while, ask Him why your prayers are not met and to guide you to correct anything you can do yourself.

Having discussed how to rightly divide God's Word and seeing that the Lord often does not speak plainly, but in ways that require deeper thinking, The Lord's Prayer is another thing that requires examination. It reads:
"Our Father Who is 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 debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." (Matthew 6:9-13)
Much of the church believes these words are to be recited and used often, but note that just before Jesus gives these guidelines, He said, "And when you pray, do not use meaningless repetition?" (Matthew 6:7). We already talked about how God doesn't want us to repeatedly pray the same thing over and over again. Instead, we need to pray with focused intent and great faith. Why then does the church so often recite The Lord's Prayer?

She simply misunderstood the Lord. He did not say recite or repeat His Words. He said pray in this way or manner, which means we need to use Matthew 6:9-13 as guidelines for how to pray about things.

The Lord's Prayer or "Our Father" is not a prayer but guidelines for prayer:
  • Our Father Who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name - We are to pray with respect and reverence for the Lord. Speak to Him as Your Holy Father, King and Lord and not simply as a close friend. Sometimes people pray inappropriately, such as inadequately dressed in underwear. We should be respectfully dressed or covered for formal prayer and give the Lord our complete attention. Address Him by title or name, such as opening your prayer with Lord Jesus or Heavenly Father. Hats and anything covering the head should not be worn in formal prayer, except in the case of women who've lost or cropped their hair too short, something like a prayer shawl should cover her head (1 Corinthians 11:4-15).
  • Your Kingdom come - We should be praying to expand God's Kingdom through Christ by asking people to be saved and for ourselves to be used as His instruments.
  • Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven - We should make our wills whatever the Lord's will is, like Jesus did in Matthew 26:39,42,44 and Luke 22:42 when He hoped to avoid or delay dying on the cross. He asked three times, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [the cup of duty and judgment] from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." Even Jesus had fear of dying, but He knew God's will and submitted to it. Killing the "Self" is an important aspect of following the Lord. We need to be able to leave behind our ways and thinking so we can take part in God's plans. They will bring completeness and maturity of spirit even if His plans result in great suffering.
  • Give us this day our daily bread - Ask the Lord for whatever you need or want at the moment, whether it's His Guidance, Spirit, Wisdom, Peace, Strength, Love, Faith or anything else the Lord can provide, such as income, other supply, or anointment of His Power. Ask for and expect great things and miracles, but keep your requests appropriate for the circumstances. Sometimes, the Lord's will is not to grant a miracle or deliverance. The faith and disposition of others also affects how much God can work in a situation, like when Jesus could not do many miracles in His hometown (Matthew 13:58). Likewise, sometimes we're not ready for great material success either, so don't hope for so much that it would corrupt you, as noted in Proverbs 30:8-9, "Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread [what I can handle]. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown You and say, 'Who is the Lord?' or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the Name of my God."
  • And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors - Ask God to forgive your sins (our debts or transgressions), noting specific sins as well as all your sin, since you likely have sinned without knowing it. Ask God for the knowledge to understand what you do wrong and for the help to change your ways. The second part of this statement about forgiving others who sinned against us goes with keeping unforgiveness out of our hearts. We discussed that above and noted how the Lord will not forgive us if we do not forgive others (Matthew 6:15).
  • And do not lead us into temptation - If we are presented with situations that tempt us into sin, we need to ask the Lord's help to keep us from it. We are often tested to bring us into maturity, so we should also pray for our ways to be righteous and perfect in all things. Jesus worried over His disciples in temptation, as He warned them to "keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). We often want to do the right things in God's eyes, but there is a war in ourselves with darkness and urges of the flesh (Romans 7:14-24). Jesus notes, "the flesh is weak," so if you are at all concerned you might sin, then remove yourself from situations where you might sin.
  • But deliver us from evil - Ask the Lord for help and deliverance from adversity and wicked people. Ask also that people who are not acting righteously to be changed and to come out of sin and darkness. Even bless those who do wrong to you (Luke 6:27-28).
  • For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever - All formal prayer should end with a note of praise for the Lord.
Above, I used "formal prayer" as opposed to prayer in general. Formal prayer is more focused prayer, such as when we sit alone to have prayer time with the Lord or when we do group prayer. General prayer, though, is any thought you give to God. It can be wordless and just expressions of love and appreciation for the Lord. God hears these simple prayers and values them greatly. This kind of informal prayer does not have to begin or end in praise and reverence as the guidelines above suggest.

Now knowing all this about prayer, there are things we should ask God for on a continuing basis - things that recur or that need to be renewed, such as prayer for blessing at meals, for recurring church services to be anointed with His Spirit and Power, or to be filled with the Holy Spirit in yourself. The alignment of our actions with God's Will depends a lot with how much we are filled with His Spirit. That's why we are urged to be filled with His Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). We need to be able to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), so we do things as God wants us to by letting His Spirit control us, but if we are not sufficiently filled with His Spirit, we could end up letting our worldly selves or darkness control us, like Ananias and his wife Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), who the apostle Peter confronted when they conspired to keep money they promised to share with everyone. Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?" (Acts 5:3)

Both Ananias and his wife died for conspiring against what they promised to God (Acts 5:1-11). Peter said Ananias' heart was filled by Satan to do the wrong things. To counter that, we need to be filled with God's Spirit instead. So renew yourselves daily with God in silent communion to become filled with His Spirit, and constantly give God your thoughts throughout the day. Slow down and think about what you do and say, so you don't make mistakes in haste and override what God's Spirit tells you to do. Don't be anxious about anything, but depend on God completely through prayer and petition to work for you and through you (Philippians 4:6).

We can see in all the things we talked about that God's Ways and Kingdom are not as easy to understand as we might think. We have to have a complete knowledge of things and be able to understand God's guidance correctly by rightly dividing and connecting the proper points of knowledge. It can be all very confusing, but God only asks that we be perfect, not to do perfectly or do perfect works. Being perfect is more about having the right outlook and faith under our hardships and trials - not to doubt or give up when we should not, or being content in every situation whether it is what we want or not. Being perfect is more about loving the Lord as He wants, which is to obey His commands as well as to give Him our love in worship and service. If we put our hearts into being perfect and keeping His commands, then the Lord is faithful to keep guiding us through everything, so we can mature into the People He wishes us to become.

3rd Compass -> Group News and Articles -> Balancing The Truth and Prayer
Oct 2018   

Copyright © 1999-2018. The Church South of Saint Paul. 3rdCompass.org. All Rights Reserved.