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September 2007
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November 2007

Effectual Fervent Prayer

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up both prayers and petitions with loud cried and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. - Heb 5:7 NIV

Can you picture with me the cries and prayers of someone who knows he has been sentenced to death, knowing he must go, but doesn't want to go? It breaks my heart to imagine this as it is written about Jesus while in the garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-45).  Jesus sums up his state of mind clearly when he says to his disciples:

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." (Mt 26:38 NIV)

Jesus goes off alone to pray and begs God, his Father, three separate times to take the responsibility of dying for the sins of mankind off of his shoulders.  Three times. But each of the three times, Jesus also acknowledges his willingness to humbly surrender to God's will in spite of the cost.  To me, this scene with Jesus is the best example of fervent prayer and submission in the bible.  Jesus cried.  Jesus prayed.  Jesus yielded to God's will.

If anyone was ever a righteous man, Jesus was it, wouldn't you say?  After all, he was the only sinless man ever to walk the face of the earth.  God heard Jesus' prayers, but still had no choice but to let his son suffer the death of the cross.  So what did Jesus' prayers accomplish then, if they were heard but God's will was not changed? The bible says the following in James 5:16:

Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. - James 5:16

We will be healed through our prayers if they are fervent and righteous.  Jesus was definitely righteous and his prayers were without a doubt fervent.  Maybe Jesus was "healed" that day even though he wasn't relieved of the duty of crucifixion that was yet to be his.   Maybe, all of those prayers gave him the strength to face that overwhelming sorrow and burden with courage.  We do know that they were worth something.

For further thought:

1) How often do I pray like Jesus prayed in the garden?

2) How righteous am I so that my prayers will touch the heart of God?

3) How willing am I to submit to all of God's will? 


God Rested

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.  (Genesis 2:1-2 NKJV)

Oh, the perils of having the type A personality.  We strive to achieve - or maybe we don't really strive, because the achieving is rather fun - and even when we have accomplished more than most reasonable people, we refuse to recognize how much progress we really have made.  Instead, we quickly forget the progress and choose to zoom in the endless list of projects our ever creative "do-er" minds have yet to finish.   Can anyone else relate?

I had a related discussion with my coach yesterday afternoon.  In the closing of our conversation, I was asked "What have you done or what will you do to celebrate the things you have accomplished?"  As I got off of the phone and proceeded with the rest of my busy evening, I decided that I would think about that later...tomorrow.  But then, around 6:45pm, I went to get the mail...

As I slowly walked to the mailbox on a perfect fall evening, I felt the slight breeze in the 75 degree air and noticed the sun starting to set in the west and I knew then, even though I only had 45 minutes until a conference call, what I would do to "celebrate".  I would take a short walk to the setting sun.   I put the mail away and changed clothes and walked -not very far and not very fast, which is a stretch for me.  I walked to a pond in our subdivision, found a bench around this pond and just sat there as the sun made its final pass through the sky.  I didn't see the sun go down in the west, but the reflection of its glory on the eastern clouds from a storm that had just passed was incredible.  It was quite the show of that beautiful orange/pink/red color that I hope everyone is familiar with.  Those colors reflected somewhat in the ripples of the pond as well.  Can you close your eyes and just imagine the night?  I still can.   God was so good to me to make me stop last night through the question of my coach and that little breeze on the way to my mailbox on the perfect fall night.

I sat there until the sun almost went down and walked slowly back home, taking in all of the colors of the flowers in the carefully manicured lawns and the western sky that had started to become a faded yellow.  That is what I did to celebrate.   

Why do we sometimes allow ourselves to get so busy that we let the beauty of our world (inside or outside) pass us by?  Sometimes, our busyness lasts for just a season, but we shouldn't allow it to become a lifestyle.  After all, even God took a break.    How will you take a break?  You will be glad you did.

Jesus' Prayer

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." - Jesus, John 17:20-21 NKJV

Every time I read Jesus' prayer for His disciples and for the rest of the believers, both present and future to Jesus, I get a renewed sense of God's love for me.  Jesus prayed for me.  Jesus prayed for you.  Yes, we know that Jesus is at the right hand of God right now intereceding for us in prayer, but there is nothing like seeing Jesus' actual words in black and white (or red, depending on what type of Bible you have) to show how much He cares.

Christian, can you see where Jesus prayed for you?  He prays for all those who WILL believe through the words of Jesus' disciples.  Jesus prays for a number of things for us in this entire chapter of John 17, among them protection from satan, unbelievers, and for our own purity in this world we live in.  All of these prayers undergird one basic wish: that everyone might know that Jesus was sent by God into this world.

Throughout the pages of God's written word, we find a similar theme.  In all of the plagues miracles and prophetic words, God merely wants His creation to know that He is God.  In Jesus' prayer in the above passage, I can sense His deep desire, birthed out of compassion for us, that we just believe in Him.  Oh that we would and that we would all be able to see the riches God has in store for us! 

God has so much in store for us in this life and in the life to come, but we can't know it nor can we have access to these riches of good character, blessings from service and rewards in eternal life, if don't take the time to be with God and get to know Him through His word.  How can we know Him without studying what He says if His ways and thoughts are not our thoughts.  There is no other option.  How will you get to know God better today so that you can make Him known to others? 

Dear Heavenly Father, I am awestruck by your love for me and amazed that no matter how many times I have read Jesus' prayer for me, I never cease to be deeply touched by it.  Show me more of yourself each time that I open my bible so that I can share You with others from the overflow of You in my life.  Put me in touch today with people who need a fresh dose of Your love in their life and allow me to share a Word with them from You.  Amen.