Praying for Open Doors

Colossians 42 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Colossians 4:2–6 (ESV)

2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul asked the believers at Colossae to pray for him. He was not asking for them to pray for his health or safety. Those things were not his primary concern. Paul wanted prayer for his missionary efforts. He wanted prayers for open doors to preach the word of God. He wanted to clearly preach the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people would hear and believe.

Let us join in praying for open doors for the gospel and let us “continue steadfastly” in this prayer. We are currently living through circumstances with COVID-19 that I believe is an open door. Our neighbors are fearful of the future. Let us pray and then let us take the message of Jesus Christ to a world that is hurting and searching for a foundation to stand on. The gospel is the message of hope that people need right now.

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Submission and Honor in a Pandemic

1 Peter 213–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 13:1–7 (ESV)

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we are living through the Coronavirus pandemic there are going to be many challenges along the way. One of those is deciding how we will respond to the daily changes in restrictions that are being placed on us. I have heard and read much complaining about these things and I understand the reason for some of the complaints, but how should we respond? What is the proper Christian response to what we are facing right now?

The Apostles Paul and Peter are helpful to us. In Romans, Paul tells us that those in authority over us are there because God placed them in their positions. Therefore, we should submit to our leaders. After all, they are working for our good (Romans 13:4). Peter tells us in his letter that we are to submit to our leaders and honor them. Not only should we obey, but we should not be whiners and complainers. We should be the best citizens there are!

As we face each day of this outbreak and as we are asked to self-quarantine or any number of further restrictions, let us remember that our leaders are trying very hard to do what is right and they are working for our good. We may not agree with every decision, but we are called to submit to their authority and we are called to honor them. We do that by not constantly complaining and arguing about the decisions. And we can also do that by praying for our leaders. They have much on their plates right now and need all of the support they can get, especially our prayers.

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Peace Surpassing All Understanding

Philippians 46 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Philippians 4:4–7 (ESV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We are living through circumstances right now that are unprecedented in our lifetimes. The whole world is facing the rapid spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as Coronavirus. Many people are afraid because there are so many questions right now and very few answers. So how should we respond?

In our reading for today, we are told that we do not need to be anxious about anything. We can go to the Lord in prayer about the things that are troubling us. He hears us and he cares for us. When we pray to God, we pray to the Creator of all things and the One who is sovereign over all things. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for the good of those who love him. So, while the world seems like it is in turmoil, we have a God we can talk to and we can have peace knowing he is in control that he is working for our good.

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God Cares for You

1 Peter 57 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 5:6–7 (ESV)

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever felt that you would like to take your problems to God, but you wonder if your issues are a nuisance to him? Have you ever decided that your problems are too small and that God should not be bothered with such things? 1 Peter tells us that we can go in confidence to God and cast all of our cares upon him. Why? Because God cares for us. And not only does he care, but he is the mighty and all-powerful God who can actually do something about our concerns.

It is a wonderful and amazing thing to be called a child of the living God. He loves us a father loves a child, but in an even greater way than we have ever known because God’s love is perfect. Do not hesitate to go to him. He wants his children to draw near and he wants you to share what is on your heart. He cares or you. He loves you.

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Ask, Seek, and Knock

Prayer_hands-1024x682

Reading the Word

Luke 11:9–13 (ESV)

9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

When you pray, what is your expectation? Do you pray knowing that your heavenly Father is listening or wondering if prayer is worth the time? Do you pray expecting that God will answer your prayers or expecting that nothing will come of them? What is your attitude towards prayer? Do you pray at all?

Jesus tells us that we should ask, seek, and knock. We should go before the Lord and pour out our hearts knowing that our God cares deeply for us. He desires to hear from us and answer us. He desires what is best for us and will not withhold it. Just as earthly fathers desire what is best for their children, our Father in heaven does the same, but in an even greater way in his perfect love for us. This does not mean we get everything we ask for. God knows better what we need than we do and will not give us what will cause us harm. Prayer allows us to pour out our hearts to God in deep communion with him and show our dependence and trust in him. It is a wonderful privilege to go before our great God knowing that he welcomes us as his children.

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The Love of Christ

Ephesians 318–19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Ephesians 3:14–19 (ESV)

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When you pray for others, what do you pray for? The Apostle Paul records many prayers in his letters. In those prayers, he calls on God to work on behalf of fellow Christians. It would be a profitable study to take the time to look at those prayers in more detail. In today’s reading we find one of them.

Chief among Paul’s concern for his readers was that they would have a greater knowledge of the love of Christ. He wanted them to know the “breadth and length and height and depth” of it. What an amazing thing to comprehend! Our Savior gave his life for us. Why would he do such a thing? We did not deserve it. It is only explainable by love. Christ loves us with a greater and purer love than we have ever known. Let us pray that we would grow in our knowledge of that amazing love!

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His Grace Is Sufficient

2 Corinthians 129 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 12:7–10 (ESV)

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We must never forget that God’s greatest desire for his people is that they would be more like Christ. We may desire a life of ease, comfort, financial success, health, and many other things, but sometimes the best thing for our spiritual growth is struggle. Paul struggled with a “thorn in his flesh” and pleaded with the Lord to take it away, but God did not. Instead, God reminded Paul that his grace was sufficient and that Paul needed to trust in the Lord. This was to keep Paul from becoming conceited in his special role as God’s apostle (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7).

What struggle are you facing that you have asked the Lord to take away, but he has not? Are you ready to accept that whatever you are facing may be for your benefit? It is not wrong to ask the Lord to remove our struggles, but we must do it while at the same time trusting him even if he does not and trusting that he will give us all we need. It is in times of difficulty that we learn how small and weak we really are and how great and gracious our God is. Let us turn to him knowing that his grace is sufficient for our every need.

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Who Are You in Private?

person standing near lake

Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 6:5–6 (ESV)

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is amazing what we will do to bring attention to ourselves. It may be the way we dress. It may be the things we say, as we exaggerate the truth or make up complete lies. It may be any number of things. It may even be the way we practice our religion.

Jesus warned against the hypocrisy of some who used religion to draw attention to themselves. In particular, he spoke of those who liked to pray in public places so they would be seen. They wanted to be thought of as holy and devoted, but they were far from that in reality. Those who are truly devoted to the Lord are not interested in attention. They are interested only in their relationship with their Creator. Those who are truly devoted to the Lord will spend far greater time in private prayer where no one sees or knows than in public prayer. It is who we are and what we do when we are alone with no one watching that tells us what we really are.

Who are you when you are alone? Does your private life mirror your public life?

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Asking in Jesus’ Name

Praying Friends

Reading the Word

John 16:16–24 (ESV)

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus told his disciples about his coming crucifixion. He was going to die, but he was also going to be resurrected. The world would cheer Jesus’ death while the disciples mourned. However, the mourning would turn to joy when Jesus rose from the dead.

To encourage his followers, he assured them that they would not be abandoned. They could go to the Father knowing that he would answer their prayers. Jesus told them that whatever they asked “in my name” the Father would give to them. This does not mean that they simply needed to tack “in Jesus’ name” at the end of their prayers to make sure they were answered. Jesus’ words meant that when their prayers were in line with the will of Christ, those prayers would be answered. When we have learned to love and trust Jesus, it means we also trust his plans and purposes in all things. So praying “in Jesus’ name” becomes our desire because we want the same things he wants.

Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and encourages us to pray, knowing that our prayers will be heard and answered when they are in his name. Let’s begin by asking him to conform our desires to reflect his will.

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Hallowed Be Your Name

Worship

Reading the Word

Matthew 6:9–15 (ESV)

9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this passage, commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer”, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray. Jesus’ words here were not meant to be simply memorized and repeated, but used as an example. We learn a great deal about prayer when we analyze Jesus’ words.

In the opening of his prayer, Jesus says, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” The word “hallowed” comes from the word “holy.” It means “to be set apart.” God is to be treated as holy. He is to be treated as set apart. He is unique and to be revered as God alone. All that we do is for his glory and for his name to be lifted up and honored, as he alone is worthy. When we follow Jesus’s example and desire for God’s name to be hallowed, we are saying that we want God’s name glorified not only in our words, but in our circumstances. Consider the words of Thomas Manton:

We need to deal with God that we may have the end, and leave the means to his own choosing; that God may be glorified in our condition, whatever it is. If he wills for us to be rich and full, that he might be glorified in our bounty; if he wills for us to be poor and low, that he may be glorified in our patience; if he will have us healthy, that he may be glorified in our labour; if he will have us sick, that he may be glorified in our pain; if he will have us live, that he may be glorified in our lives; if he will have us die, that he will be glorified in our deaths (Romans 14:8). – Thomas Manton, Works

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