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James 5:13-18 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Verses 13-18 are about praying in faith. Books have been written on this subject, so I acknowledge that I am only able to touch a highlight or two today.

James is reminding us to pray in every circumstance, not just when we feel desperate. We are called to offer prayers of rejoicing and praise as well as our petitions for help.

We are especially encouraged to pray for healing. James encourages the sick to call for the elders of the church to annoint them with oil and pray in faith for them. In Bible times, oil was used as a healing remedy for many ailments. I have seen Christians take that little piece of information and run with it saying this means to go to the doctor. Other Christians will rebuke them and say to put all your confidence in the oil and the prayer. I don’t intend to straddle the fence here, I intend to take both sides seriously and say that God intends for us to do what makes sense. Yes, do what you know to do for healing – if it is to take an asprin for a headache or if it is to go to the doctor for open heart surgery. We have no excuse to throw away hundreds of years of medical advancements and take the lazy way out by expecting God to just do it. But, we don’t need to put all our confidence in our doctors either. After all, it is God who gets the last word.

So when we are sick, we are called on to use the healing expertise we have available to us, and we are to call upon God. I have often seen church elders (or deacons or other officials depending on the titles used by various denominations) anoint the sick with oil and pray for their healing. God is honored by this and desires to bless their efforts.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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I went for a prayer walk this morning around the Hemingway Campground. This is a location that is rich in its spiritual history. Hemingway Campground was begun in 1961 when campmeetings were more plentiful and many came to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord in these holy places. Hemingway Campground still holds an annual campmeeting, though the attendance is slow in comparison to what it was in the earlier years. Times are so different today than it was then.

We are encouraging community members to use the Campground as a place for walking, and more specifically prayer walking – spending your time walking in prayer for the Campground, the community, the churches, etc. (I say “we” as I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Campground.)

As I was walking, this morning I listened for his whisperings, and felt the desire to share a few things I felt he brought to my mind.

As is typical, I began getting bogged down in little things when I looked up at that great big sky and the clouds and treetops and realized This is God’s world and he is a Mighty God. So I continued to walk and dwell on the greatness of God and of the things he is able to do. It isn’t about us or about our programs. It is about God.

Then I began to pray for the many people who have made commitments in the past. I prayed that God would keep those commitments alive, or that he would cause a stir that might awaken commitments that may have been tucked out of mind in some. If all those persons who confessed Jesus as their Savior were actively serving him, our world wouldn’t be in the mess it is in today. Too many commitments are based on pleasing people instead of God.

As I continued to walk I seemed to be drawn to a question: Who are we serving? Are we serving memories of the Campground or are we serving God, a God who is alive and well today? What is the role of a place like Hemingway Campground in the world of today…? …where people are spoiled with air conditioning and stay indoors to keep out of the heat and mosquitoes. …where youth are too busy with the damands of ball practice and band practice so it isn’t possible for them to participate in a week-long summer camp. …where we have to compete with technology at every turn to get the attention of the youth. …where many churches are so competative with one another that they are unwilling to bond with them to win the lost for Jesus.

Christianity isn’t about denominations. It is about living for Jesus. It is about studying the Bible to learn what it says, and believing it whether or not it fits into the belief system of everyone in your church or not. It isn’t about finding someone who will agree with you 100% on how to interpret the Bible or how to worship our God. It is about agreeing that God is God, that Jesus is his one and only Son and the one and only way to be one with God. If we attach too many legalities to this belief, we lose touch with the Spirit of Christ and return to the Old Testament Spirit of the Law.

So my prayer continues to be that we as Christians will grow in Jesus, not in denominations and strictness of beliefs. …that we will grow in holiness as we seek to learn how God wants us to live and as we listen to the Holy Spirit and allow him to apply the scriptures to our hearts.

I almost stopped walking on this round as I neared my car once again, but I felt the need to go around once more, this time seeking God’s direction in my personal life. I determined not to rattle on, but to listen. I hadn’t walked far when I saw a bird of prey (probably a kite) circling not all that high over the open space in front of me. I felt it was watching me as closely as I was watching it as several times it hovered directly overhead. It circled the field several more times studying the ground and the tree branches on my side of the field. Then it suddenly changed its position by pulling in its wings and diving toward the ground. As it opened its wings and flew upward again I noticed its intended prey, a butterfly, fluttering on its way. As I walked the rest of the way around the circle that last time, I pondered what kind of message I should take away from this. I pondered whether my part was in the bird who put all its energy into attacking that butterfly, or whether my part was the butterfly who is continuing to keep going in spite of the attacks that come from various circumstances in my life. Surely the butterfly was blessed to have escaped the beak of the kite, a very real threat. I prefer to see myself as the butterfly.

 

Psalm 141:1-4 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

This Psalm is written by David. It is a good prayer to use to start any day. Verses 1 & 2 express the intimacy that David felt when he talked with the LORD in prayer. I love how David anticipates that God sees his prayers like incense rising up to him.

David is not hesitant to lift up his hands to the God in prayer. I remember how self-conscious I felt when I first tried this. But then I did a little reflecting on other times when I reach toward other things I like with no sense of embarrassment at all. I would not hesitate to reach toward a beautiful flower, vase, or butterfly. It would not embarrass me to reach out to a baby or child to express love to them. We reach out our hands to our pets. Our hands seem to be designed for expressing love. I can feel my heart lifting to God as I reach up to him.

Verse 3 needs to be planted in my heart and mind 24/7. It is so easy to speak first and think later with regret. What a powerful prayer for every day of the week. Verse 4 follows 3 very appropriately. It is as if once the careless words are spoken we are all the more susceptible to go along with the crowd in other ways as well.

Re-read this scripture and offer it up to God in prayer. Lift your hands to him and speak the prayer out loud.

Lord, give us the courage…

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 119:33-40 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

What a wonderful passage. This does not need any explanation. It only needs to be made into the prayer of our hearts. I encourage my readers to read this scripture several times, and at least one of the times you read it, make it your prayer.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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2 Chronicles 6:40-42 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

Solomon ends his prayer of dedication by appealing to God to be attentive to the prayers offered in the temple. He invited God to come into the temple and make it his home along with the ark of the covenant.

When Solomon prayed that the priests be clothed in salvation, he was praying that their spiritual welfare would exceed their fine outer appearance. 

Then Solomon prayed for the saints, those who loved God, that they would always take joy in the goodness of God.

Solomon prayed for himself, that God would never reject him as his anointed one, and that he would always be mindful of the promise he made to his father, King David.

These prayers are still perfectly suited for our churches and sanctuaries today. I encourage you to pray this scripture over your own church.

Our God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in _____ (our church). Fill ________ (our church) with your presence. Clothe ________ (our pastor) with your salvation. May the people in our congregation rejoice in your goodness. O Lord God, do not reject us, your chosen people. Remember the promise you made to us through the blood of your son, the resurrected Jesus Christ. (Adapted from verses 40-42.)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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2 Chronicles 6:36-39  (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

Solomon appealed to God on behalf of the people in his prayer of dedication for the temple. In his prayer he didn’t say “If they sin against you…” He said “When they sin…” Solomon knew the people would sin against God. He also appears to have had a premonition of the time in the Israelites future when the Babylonians did conquer the Israelites.

Solomon understood the importance of repentance. There is no hint that Solomon expected God to forgive those who were not repentant. Rather, Solomon describes a sequence of events in his prayer that he prescribes for forgiveness.

  • Experience the suffering brought about as a result of their sin;
  • Have a change of heart;
  • Recognizing their sin for what it is, repent and plead with God confessing their sins;
  • Turn back to God with all their heart and soul;
  • Pray to God;
  • God will hear and forgive.

This is a pattern that is consistent from the book of Genesis through Revelation. God has continuously asked man to repent of sins and to return to him. Fortunately for us, we are born after the resurrection of Jesus, and can receive total forgiveness through him.

Lord, quicken our consciences that we may see our sins for what they are, and lead us to come to you in total repentance. Then fill us with your joy as you cleanse us and enable us to break the chains of sin that would keep us from living fulfilled lives.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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    23 “And now, LORD, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, 24 so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, ‘The LORD Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you. 1 Chronicles 17:23-24 (NIV)

David ends his prayer with his acceptance of God’s blessings. I suppose many would respond to this by saying, “Of course he accepted them! Who wouldn’t?” But if you truly want to understand David’s heart in this, look closely at this passage beginning with the end of verse 23 where David prays “Do as you promised, so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, ‘The LORD Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ “ David is not saying “bless me so I will be famous and it will be wonderful for me and my descendants.” In his heart he is still desiring that God’s name would be great and acknowledged by all men.

In 1 Chronicles 25-27 David continues to go over again in his prayer the awesomeness of what God has promised to him. In verse 25 he indicates that he needed to find courage to even pray to God after this great revelation was made to him through the prophet Nathan.

Do we feel David’s sense of awe when we are in the presence of God Almighty? Do we need to find the courage to approach God with our petitions, or do we simply jump in as if we were sending a letter to Santa Claus? If we want a powerful God to answer our prayers, we may need to learn to address him as the awesome God that he is.

Most holy God, we confess that our prayers are often so small and self-centered. Give us a right heart before you. Help us to truly align our wills with yours that we may know how to pray to you and to present our own petitions with reverence and respect.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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 1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Luke 10:1-3 (NIV)

     The Twelve were not Jesus’ only disciples, there were others as well. After the Twelve returned Jesus appointed seventy-two more followers to minister. He didn’t send them out alone, he sent them in pairs. Nor did he expect them to work in their own strength. Their first instruction was to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers. As Jesus described their ministry to them, they were being sent as lambs into a pack of wolves.

     How many times do we tackle some situation “for the Lord” without ever giving a thought to prayer. We think we already have all the answers–we are so sure of ourselves and our perfect little plan–and we strike out only to fall flat on our faces. When we try to fight the Lord’s battles for him without seeking him first we should expect no more. We can be so sure we are right and still be so wrong.

     I believe Jesus was not only describing the toughness of the situation when he described it as lambs going among wolves, I detect he was also giving them the spiritual posture he wanted them to assume. They were not to go with a plan of attack, but in a spirit of love and peace.

     My occupation has me sharing with students about the African-American giants like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks during the months of January and February. These people were masters at going out as lambs among the wolves. Their peaceful resistance to the unjust “Jim Crow” laws of segregation serve as examples to all of us. These leaders were master students of the Bible, and their activities sprang from their faith in God.

     Are you willing to be a sheep for Jesus? Do you dare to confront the wolves in our society who are trying their best to eradicate the Christian faith from public view and public consciousness? Is Jesus calling you to step out in prayer and in faith?

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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1 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.
   Psalms 31:1-5 (NIV)

     Have you ever been wrongfully accused or treated unfairly?  David experienced this over and over in his life beginning with the persecution from King Saul and later by his own son Absalom.  Yet David continually put his trust in the Lord and found him to be his strong fortress and salvation. 

     Notice in verse 3 how David boldly prayed that God would lead and guide him for the sake of God’s name.   If we dare to live faithfully for Christ, we too can pray with this boldness for the sake of His name. 

     This is a great scripture to use as a prayer when you are feeling oppressed or persecuted by others, and know that if God was there to see David through, he will be there for you as well. 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 

    4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'” 

    6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 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? 8 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 18:1-8  NIV)

     Our God is faithful.  The judge in this parable acted on behalf of the widow because she was wearing him down, not because he was a good judge.  But God wants to bless us. 

       Jesus does encourage us to be persistent in praying for our needs to be met.  I believe this is because our constant prayers are our lifeline to God.  If God’s answer is wait, we can have confidence that the waiting is for a good reason.  By being persistent, we are keeping in touch and growing in stature as one of his blessed children.  We will be blessed in God’s time, if not in ours; and the blessing will be glorious. 

     It is when we attempt to take matters into our own hands and run ahead of God that we fall flat on our faces–like Sarah helping God to give them a child by offering her maidservant to Abraham.  We are still suffering from that disaster.  I have had a few such disasters of my own where I tried to run ahead of God–with many regrets.       Verse 8 seems to catch me by surprise as if it doesn’t fit the parable.  But then I realize that it may very well be referring to those who through their lack of faith resort to taking matters into their own hands.  Then I see that it fits the parable perfectly. 

     I have been planning a children’s book and project that I want to get published.  I think it is good.  I believe God gave me the inspiration for this project, though it has been a loooooooong time getting it to where it is now and I face the very real possibility that it may end up in one slush pile after another.  It is very tempting to take drastic measures that could hurt me in the long run–especially if these measures are of my own logic and not of God’s directing. 

     Have you been tempted to run ahead of God in some way because you became weary of waiting on Him? Lord God, help us to be patient when you seem to keep telling us to wait.  Help us to trust that our times are truly in your hands and that you will bring to pass your perfect will for our lives.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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