Tag Archives: prayer

“How to Pray When You are Pissed at God or Anyone Else for That Matter

Mad at God? Ian Punnet says you need to tell Him about it

Like most people, I’m sure you’ve been angry at God at one point or time in your life, but have you ever taken that anger to Him in prayer?

I’m sure most people haven’t. I know I didn’t until I read Ian Punnett’s new book, “How to Pray When You are Pissed at God or Anyone Else for That Matter.”

In the book, Punnett, a popular nationally syndicated radio host and Episcopal clergyman provides insight on feeling anger and resentment toward God and offers advice on how to deal with the pain and blame that accompanies these emotions.how to pray when you are pissed at God1 199x300 Mad at God? Ian Punnet says you need to tell Him about it

Punnett does this by sharing personal stories, stories of other believers, and hilarious anecdotes and Scripture—Scriptures that people don’t like to talk about like Psalm 22. Punnett points out that Christians avoid these sections of the Bible because the passages are full of anger, fear and lamentations and they don’t know what to make of it.

He also says that parts of the Bible that actually show God’s anger, have been sanitized to make us feel more comfortable, when the Hebrew actually shows God (usually through a prophet) saying things we might consider profane, such as “whore” and the “F-Word” in Jeremiah 3:1-3.

Punnett points this out to us to show us that we serve a God who is able to understand our weaknesses in every way. This is the real reason that we should be taking our anger to him in prayer.

In conclusion, ““How to Pray When You are Pissed at God or Anyone Else for That Matter” is a great book. In a book that is edgy, timely, funny and compassionate, Punnett presents real help in everyday language for transforming the negativity of anger into a positive and useful force that will ultimately help us pray more effectively, bring us closer to God, enhance our spiritual relationship, and change the way we live and love others.

Get the book on Amazon.

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Supreme Court poised to turn right in 2013 term

WASHINGTON (RNS) After two blockbuster terms in which it saved President Obama’s health care law and advanced the cause of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court appears poised to tack to the right in its upcoming term on a range of social issues, from abortion and contraception to race and prayer.

a922thumbRNSSCOTUSHIRING100511 Supreme Court poised to turn right in 2013 term

Members of the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Oct. 5 in a case that pits government anti-discrimination law against the autonomy of religious groups to hire and fire employees on the basis of religion. Photo courtesy U.S. Supreme Court

The justices, whose term begins Monday (Oct. 9), could rule against racial minorities in two cases and abortion rights in one or two others. They also could uphold prayers at government meetings, ease restrictions on wealthy political donors, strike down federal environmental regulations and take a first bite out of Obamacare.

The court, whose work won’t be halted by the government shutdown, also may be ready to restrict the power of the federal government and stand up for states and municipalities in several cases, furthering their defense of federalism.

“They don’t defer to the other branches. They don’t seem to care about precedents,” said Stephen Wermiel, a constitutional law professor at American University Washington College of Law. The justices, he says, are “more than willing to step up to the plate.”

That was evident in June, when the court on successive days struck down the most important sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, over the objections of President Obama and congressional Democrats, and the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, over the objection of Republicans.

“You could not have less deference to a legislative institution,” said David Salmons, an appellate lawyer who has argued 14 cases before the high court. “This is a court that’s very comfortable in exercising their power.”

Conservative interest groups, perhaps seeing their best chance in years to advance their causes, have argued aggressively in their briefs to the court not only for favorable rulings but for overturning some of the court’s time-honored precedents: a 37-year-old campaign finance decision, a 31-year-old ruling on racial integration, even a 93-year-old opinion allowing the federal government to supersede state laws when implementing international treaties.

“They think they have the wind at their back,” says Pamela Harris, a former Justice Department lawyer now teaching at Georgetown University Law Center.

Most of the high-profile cases on the docket fall into one of two categories: Lower courts sided either with liberal activists or federal agencies. They include:

  • A challenge to the Federal Election Commission’s limit on how much donors can contribute over two years to candidates, parties and political action committees. It comes from a Republican businessman, Shaun McCutcheon, who wants to exceed the current $123,200 cap.
  • A defense by Michigan’s Republican attorney general of the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning affirmative-action policies at state universities. If the justices reverse the lower court’s decision, it could bolster such bans in other states, including California.
  • The Greece, N.Y., town board’s defense of its policy allowing local clergy to deliver prayers at town board meetings. The lower court sided with two women who argued the predominance of Christian clergy and prayers is coercive.
  • A challenge by abortion opponents to a Massachusetts law setting up 35-foot buffer zones around reproductive health clinics that perform abortions. The lower court dismissed what it labeled arguments “old and new, some of which are couched in a creative recalibration of First Amendment principles.”
  • A defense by Oklahoma Republican officials of a state law that has the effect of blocking most medical abortions. The law bans off-label uses of drugs that end pregnancies, including RU-486, even though doctors routinely prescribe the drugs that way.

The court also is likely to choose from among dozens of challenges to the Obama health law’s requirement that employers include contraceptive services in preventive health insurance plans. In that case, lower courts have ruled both ways, and the government is among those seeking the high court’s review — but conservatives have the most to gain.

“The court will get another shot at the Affordable Care Act,” says Paul Clement, a former solicitor general under George W. Bush and the nation’s premier Supreme Court litigant. Clement represented states challenging the law in the historic 2012 case.

The medical abortion case probably won’t be the last effort to push the justices into further limits on abortion rights. More cases are in the pipeline, including state laws banning abortions after 20 weeks, mandating ultrasound tests and imposing new restrictions on abortion clinics.

Even the landmark cases most recently decided on same-sex marriage, voting rights and affirmative action could get encores at the high court in the near future. The lawyers who defeated California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage joined a Virginia case that seeks to legalize the practice there.

Such cases, says Tom Goldstein, publisher of Scotusblog.com and a frequent Supreme Court litigant, are “making their way to the Supreme Court like a rocket ship, or a series of rocket ships.”

(Richard Wolf writes for USA Today)

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Australian prayer partners say country’s recent election results an answer to anti-gay marriage prayers

In Australia’s recent federal election, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party lost control of the Australian government to a coalition force comprised of members of the Liberal and National Parties led by Tony Abbot.

Some Christian groups are saying the Labor Party’s defeat is an answer to prayer.

Dr. David Phillips, National President of Family Voice Australia, said the following day, “One of the reasons for such a clear defeat was Labor’s change of mind and support for same-sex marriage.” Kevin Rudd promised to legislate for homosexual ‘marriage’ within one hundred days of being re-elected.

tony abbott 213x300 Australian prayer partners say countrys recent election results an answer to anti gay marriage prayers

Tony Abbot

David Rowsome of the Australian National Day of Prayer and Fasting team said, “It has been thrilling to see how Christians in Australia and around the world have been praying for our election which was held on the same day that Pope Francis asked the world to pray and fast for Syria.

The Australian Prayer Network prayer point, compiled months earlier, was to ” pray for policies that protect and strengthen the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.”
Amazingly, the global Billion Souls Revival Prayer Call devotion for that same day, also compiled months earlier, asked us to pray against the ‘culture of death’ that seeks to re-define marriage and remove the life potential that comes from the union of a man and a woman marriage.”

Matt Prater one of the leaders behind the Billion Souls Revival Prayer Call said, “On national television on Monday 2 September I asked a question of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd about his sudden change to support homosexual marriage. Mr. Rudd, who claims to be a Christian, tried to dismiss the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:5 supporting man-woman marriage in the Bible. The YouTube clip of the 4-min incident went viral, as did an article in Australia’s national newspaper, The Australian, titled ‘Judas Kiss’.

Tony Abbott, said during the Australian Christian Lobby webcast before the election, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.” Seven days later God heard our prayers and your prayer and there was a change of government. A miracle has occurred. A victory has been won, but the battle is far from over. We thank you for your continuing prayers.”
"Creation of Adam" by Michelangelo as shown in the Sistine Chapel.
Credits:   Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

God of the prophets, apostles not of the philosophers, wise

In a prayer that preludes the very first chapter of his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, Aiden Wilson Tozer addresses God in accordance with the claims of biblical religion: “not the God of the philosophers and the wise but the God of the prophets and apostles.”

In so doing, Tozer offers in principle what an unconverted ivory tower theologian or philosopher cannot: the ability to tell the difference between knowing God and knowing only about Him.

creation of adam God of the prophets, apostles not of the philosophers, wise

“Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo as shown in the Sistine Chapel.
Credits: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Tozer then proceeds to his subject-matter right after this prayer, saying,

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us … Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God.

For this reason,

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.

God of the philosophers and the wise

The thought of God has been a major subject of philosophical inquiries for centuries, whether ancient, modern or postmodern.

Against the wishes of their antitheistic colleagues, many philosophers, who found it their duty to locate the traces of God, if any, in the created order, could not help but concur that, indeed, there must be a Being of infinite perfection: self-sufficient, eternal, pure, all-powerful. all-knowing, immaterial, immutable, with no unrealized potential, whatsoever. Otherwise, there could be no viable explanation for the origin, nature and purpose of the universe and everything therein.

This God, the Unmoved Mover as they call him, sets all things into motion, the Uncaused Cause, the necessary Self-Existent Being.

But what of it? For it brings too little a benefit to man. At best, it has made him feel that by knowing all this about God and many more, he must have found the road that leads through the heights of his intellectual prowess, something to brag about. At worst, it has given him the right to dismiss it altogether as irrelevant to his own existence, to his struggles, his aspirations, his ambitions. In both cases, there has only emerged a distance between God and man. No relationship has been established.

For the God that these philosophers have come to know, whom many of them have also agreed to call as the Wholly Other (rightly so), can only afford to entertain man’s curiosity but is terribly incapable to satisfy the inner longing, or the existential angst, of his heart.

As Augustine of Hippo puts it,

Thou hast created us for Thyself; and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.

No. The restless human heart can in no way find its rest in the God of the philosophers and the wise. Only the God of the prophets and the apostles offers this.

God of the prophets and apostles

The philosophers and the wise have for their “book” in their search for God the complex and ambiguous natural universe, and along with it, the equally complex and ambiguous human nature. And this search they do by way of observation and speculation through the lens of autonomous reason.

Not so with the prophets and the apostles of ancient times. For them, it’s not even a matter of man’s quest for God. It’s the other way around.

For in the prophetic and apostolic testimonies, which make up the whole of the Judeo-Christian Scripture, we find the God who did the initiative to make Himself known to man. Here, the knowledge of God is more than mere information, but goes all the way through the depths of intimate covenantal relationship established between God and man, His image bearer. And this He did by way of revelation, which came to man by way of divine speech and deeds.

That is to say, the High and Lofty One, as He is sometimes called in the prophetic-apostolic write ups, perfectly holy, transcendent and unapproachable, graciously condescended to the lowly level of finite, sinful man, in space and time, in order to speak to him, to act on his behalf, for his redemption.

God revealed

Echoing the Protestant reformer John Calvin, Francis Turretin has this to say,

When God is set forth as the object of theology, he is not to be regarded simply as God in himself … but as revealed … Nor is he to be considered exclusively under the relation of deity (according to the opinion of Thomas Aquinas and many Scholastics after him, for in this manner the knowledge of him could not be saving but deadly to sinners), but as he is our God (i.e., covenanted in Christ as he has revealed himself to us in his word) …

As Michael Horton brings to mind how the Protestant reformers unpacked this truth,

The knowledge of God in His blinding majesty is deadly, while the knowledge of God in His condescending self-revelation is saving.

Or to recall the way Donald Carson reflects on this in light of the biblical record,

True, his existence and power are disclosed in the created order, even though that order has been deeply scarred by human rebellion and its consequences (Gn. 3:18; Rom.8:19-22; see Ps. 19:1-2; Rom. 1:19-20). It is also true that rather a dim image of God’s moral attributes is reflected in the human conscience (Rom. 2: 14-16). But this knowledge is not sufficient to lead to salvation. Moreover, human sinfulness is so ingenious that not a little energy is devoted to explaining away even such revelation as this. But in his unmeasured grace God has actively intervened in the world he made in order to reveal himself to men and women in still more powerful ways.

In this age of sophisticated skepticism, which, by and large, appears in various modern or postmodern forms, the common complaint against the apparent hiddenness of God is hereby addressed accordingly. Not through the mind-boggling philosophical deductions accessible only to the wisest of men. But through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ that even the simplest of minds can grasp.

References:

  • D. A. Carson, “Approaching the Bible” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. by G. J. Wenham et al (Downers Grove: IVP, 1994), 10–12.
  • Michael S. Horton, “Hellenistic or Hebrew? Open Theism and Reformed Theological Method,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45 (2002): 317-341.
  • A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: Harper and Row, 1961).
  • Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George M. Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., Vol. 1 (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1992).
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Will we be their voice?

(Morning Star News) – Christians worldwide just celebrated the birth of Jesus.

For many in the West this was a festive season marked by worship services, gift-giving and time with family and friends. But for the church in the Middle East, fear of persecution cast a long, dark shadow over the Christmas holiday.

Oppression has marked the church since its birth. The book of Hebrews enjoins us to “remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Do we suffer with our brethren?

German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, faced with the tyranny and horror of Nazism, famously said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

And that is precisely what many in the church did, or failed to do, as Hitler unleashed his murderous plans. I recently encountered this haunting account by a German Christian in the book, “When a Nation Forgets God”:

“I lived in Germany during the Nazi Holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because, what could anyone do to stop it? 

“A railroad track ran behind our small church and each Sunday morning we could hear the whistle in the distance and then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard the cries coming from the train as it passed by… 

“We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more…

“I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. God forgive me; forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians and yet did nothing to intervene.”

The parallels are imperfect, but the sentiments are the same. Has our comfort led to complacency?

A phrase not often heard outside the majority Muslim world is “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.” The “Saturday people” are of course the Jews. Their once vibrant communities in countries throughout the region are now decimated. In 1948 there were roughly 150,000 Jews in Iraq; today, fewer than 10 remain. In Egypt, there were once as many as 80,000 Jews; now fewer than 100 remain.

It appears a similar fate awaits the ancient Christian community in these same lands. Iraq’s Christian population has fallen from as many as 1.4 million in 2003 to between 500,000 and 700,000 today. Churches have been targeted, believers kidnapped and families threatened if they stay. In October 2010, Islamist extremists laid siege on Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad, killing more than 50 hostages and police and wounding dozens more.

In Egypt, with the ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood, Coptic Christians numbering roughly 8 million to 10 million are leaving in droves.

In the midst of devastating bloodshed in Syria, the Christian population there is particularly vulnerable. A recent ABC News story reported, “They [Christians] are fearful that Syria will become another Iraq, with Christians caught in the crossfire between rival Islamic groups.”

Over the span of a few decades, the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, was virtually emptied of Jews. The same thing will happen to the Christian community if the current trajectory holds true. And yet such stories receive scant attention in the mainstream media and, perhaps more strikingly, are rarely spoken of from our pulpits.

This is all the more striking given that the Middle East is the very cradle of Christendom. Consider Iraq: with the exception of Israel, the Bible contains more references to the cities, regions and nations of ancient Iraq than any other country. The patriarch Abraham came from a city in Iraq called Ur. Jacob spent 20 years in Iraq, and his sons (the 12 tribes of Israel) were born in northwest Iraq. A remarkable spiritual revival as told in the book of Jonah occurred in Nineveh. The events of the book of Esther took place in Iraq, as did the account of Daniel in the lion’s den. Furthermore, many of Iraq’s Christians still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

How do we account for the indifference of the Church in the West?

The persecution plaguing the Middle East is no exception. Christians are targeted throughout the world in countries like China, Vietnam and Pakistan. If the faith community in the West isn’t engaged, are we surprised when government leaders turn a blind eye to matters of religious freedom?

Consider the following: bipartisan legislation to create a special envoy position at the State Department charged with advocating on behalf of religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives over a year and a half ago. But it remained stalled in the Senate as a result of State Department opposition and the refusal of the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and presumptive secretary of state, John Kerry, to even hold a hearing on the legislation.

Just this week I reintroduced this legislation (H.R. 301) and remain committed to seeing it become law. I don’t pretend to think that a special envoy will single-handedly solve the problem, but it certainly can’t hurt to have a high-level person within the State Department bureaucracy who is exclusively focused on the protection and preservation of these ancient communities. Furthermore, to do nothing is simply not an option.

I have had the privilege of meeting individuals who boldly follow Jesus despite unbelievably hostile circumstances. Shabbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s federal minister for minority affairs, the only Christian member of the cabinet and an outspoken critic of his country’s blasphemy laws, was one such man. On March 2, 2011 he was murdered, his car riddled with bullets, while leaving his mother’s house for work. In a video filmed shortly before his assassination (accessible on my Website at http://wolf.house.gov/bhattivideo), Bhatti appears to sense that the path he has chosen will come with a price.

When asked about the threats against his life, he said, “I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of [the] cross. And I am following the cross. And I am ready to die for a cause.” And so he did.

The book of Proverbs tells us to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves …” Bhatti can no longer speak. The Chinese bishop under house arrest cannot speak. The North Korean believer enslaved in the gulag can’t speak. The Iraqi nun fearing for her life cannot speak.

Will we be their voice? I posed this very question in a letter to more than 300 U.S. faith leaders earlier this month and urged them to act.

The church globally is under assault. Our response must not be to simply sing more loudly, thereby drowning out the cries for help from our brothers and sisters.

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Stories of grace and light: Don’t no. 2 (My 3 don’ts and 1 be)

worry not 300x225 Stories of grace and light: Dont no. 2 (My 3 donts and 1 be)

Don’t no. 2

So we move to the second don’t — the principle I apply in this journey called ‘life’ when facing a storm. It is never easy, but I have these “three don’ts and one be” that help me paddle through the storms while other times, they help me calm the storms. But either way, it helps and I apply them, so I decided to share.

Don’t Worry or fret

Worrying, panicking and fussing were commonplace when I was an unbeliever. Even Christians are prone to worrying sometimes

An unusually good example  from my own life comes to mind right now:

I was on my way to the airport and there was heavy traffic. A trailer had an accident, so there was no possible way for any car to pass. There were about four dozen cars ahead of us. I knew that if I missed the flight, I would “be finished.” The major purpose for my intended travel was for an appointment the next morning, and that was the final flight to my destination.

I started panicking; then I remembered my second “don’t”– Don’t fret or worry. Then I remembered  whose I am, and what my Master said, so I just stopped worrying and prayed instead.

No immediate miracle followed. I was still stuck in traffic while I listened to music for two hours. By the time I finally got to the airport, my flight should have been gone, but on this day,  it was delayed for four  hours. While on the plane, I thought about the million times I had been in an almost similar situation. I thought about how often I used to worry and how it never helped my situation.

So really, why worry when it does no good?

Thinking and looking for a solution to a problem is majorly different from worrying about the problem – especially if it is something you cannot change, and only a prayer or a touch from God can.

Now I shall share another story with you.

A professor began his class by holding up a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see and asked the students, “How much do you think this glass weighs?”

“50 grams.”  “100 grams!” “125 grams,” the students answered.

“I really don’t know unless I weigh it,” said the professor, “but, my question is, ‘What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?’”
“Nothing,” the students said.

“Ok what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?,” the professor asked.
“Your arm would begin to ache,” said one of the students.

“You’re right. Now what would happen if I held it for a day,” asked the professor.
“Your arm could go numb, you might have severe muscle stress and paralysis and have to go to hospital for sure,”said another student.  All the students laughed at his answer.

“Very good., ” said the professor. “But during all this, did the weight of the glass change,” he asked.
“No,” said the students.

“Then what caused the arm ache and the muscle stress,” he asked. The students were puzzled.

“What should I do now to get rid of my pain,” asked the professor.

“Put the glass down,” said one of the students.

“Exactly,” said the professor.

Life’s problems are something like the glass of water in that story. If you hold them for a few minutes in your head, things seem okay. If you think about them for a long time, your mind begins to ache. Hold them in your mind even longer and they begin to paralyze you, so that you will not be able to do anything.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to ignore your problems. It’s important to think of the challenges or problems in your life, but it’s even more important to “put them down” at the end of every day before you go to sleep.

That way, you are not stressed, you wake up every day fresh  and strong & can handle any issue  or any challenge that comes your way!

Matthew 6:25-27

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

I like looking at different versions of the Bible for comparison purposes. Look at how verse 27 in the passage above is translated in the NIV. Now look at how it’s translated in other translations.

MES says:

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch?

ASV reads:

And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life?

NSAB

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

NKJV

Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

Each version says the same thing: Worrying doesn’t make things better, so stop it!

no worries Stories of grace and light: Dont no. 2 (My 3 donts and 1 be)

So when you find yourself in the middle of a storm, pray about it and learn to “Let Go and Let God.”

Quit worrying and instead let him take the situation over. In this new year let us all learn to trust God and worry less not.

Check out the first post in this series  Don’t no.1

Question of the week: What about our prayers that don’t get answered

Question: “How should a Christian respond to unanswered prayer?”

Answer: How many Christians have prayed for someone, only to see their prayers go unanswered? How many have prayed and perhaps have “given up” because either they have become discouraged through a weakness of faith or have come to the sometimes presumptive conclusion that whatever they have been praying for isn’t God’s will? Nevertheless, how we deal with unanswered prayer is not just for our own benefit but for the benefit of others as well. When we pray, we are engaging in the most precious and God-given act of communication with the One to whom we are accountable in all our affairs. We have been truly bought at a steep price—the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ—and therefore we belong to God.

Our privilege of prayer is from God, and it is as much ours now as when it was given to Israel (Deuteronomy 4:7). Yet, when we pray or speak to the One in Heaven, there are times when He seems not to answer. There can be many reasons for this, and while it is not the intention here to list them all, the Scriptures themselves suggest why and how our prayers are being dealt with by the One who is so tender and loving, who Himself loves our communing with God the Father, for He, Himself, is our representative (Hebrews 4:15).

A primary reason why prayer is unanswered is sin. God cannot be mocked or deceived, and He who sits enthroned above knows us intimately, down to our every thought (Psalm 139:1-4). If we are not walking in the Way or we harbor enmity in our hearts toward our brother or we ask for things with the wrong motives (such as from selfish desires), then we can expect God not to answer our prayer because He does not hear (2 Chronicles 7:14;Deuteronomy 28:23; Psalm 66:18; James 4:3). Sin is the “stopper” to all the potential blessings that we would receive from the infinite “bottle” of God’s mercy! If only we would be more careful to avoid sin, we would be more worthy recipients of all the blessings and foretastes of the glory that is ours in Christ Jesus (Job 11:13-18). Indeed, there are times when our prayers are heinous in the Lord’s sight, most notably when we clearly do not belong to the Lord either because of unbelief (Proverbs 15:8) or because we are practicing hypocrisy (Mark 12:40).

Another reason why prayer seems to go unanswered is that the Lord is drawing out of our faith a deeper reliance and trust in Him, which should bring out of us a deeper sense of gratitude, love and humility. In turn, this causes us to benefit spiritually for He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34). Oh, how one feels for that poor Canaanite woman, who cried out incessantly to our Lord for mercy when He was visiting the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28). She was hardly the person a Jewish rabbi would take note of! She was not a Jew and she was a woman, two legitimate (in their minds) reasons for Jews to ignore her. The Lord doesn’t seem to answer her petitions, but He knew all about her situation. He may not have answered her stated needs immediately, but still He heard and granted her request.

God may often seem silent to us, but He never sends us away empty-handed. Even if prayer has not been answered, we must rely upon God to do so in His own time. Even the exercise of prayer is a blessing to us; it is because of our faith that we are stirred to persist in prayer, and isn’t that a rebuke to all of us? It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our prayer life is wanting, does that not reflect our spiritual standing also? God hears our impoverished cries for mercy, and His silence inflames us with a sense of persistence in prayer. He loves us to reason with Him. For example, we do not see many souls saved in this day of “small things,” but only that we would cry out, like Rachel, “Give me children or I die!” (Genesis 30:1). Let us hunger for the things that are after God’s heart and let us walk in His ways and not our own. If we are faithful to pray without ceasing, then we are living in the will of God and that can never be wrong (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

Recommended Resource: Prayer, The Great Adventure by David Jeremiah.

Word from Scotland: The consequences of intense, intimate prayer

We are in the concluding verses of John Chapter 17, where Jesus Christ is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Having mentioned briefly that astonishing degree of unity which we witnessed 30 and 40 years ago I want to repeat these comments, as some reading this may be totally unaware of what happened over a period of around 20 years.

When I recall what was happening back in the 1970’s and 1980’s it was remarkable. Following that global and universal outpouring of the Holy Spirit, there was inter-communion, at these ‘Charismatic Conferences’ and occasions, as each served and received the bread and the wine. Even in Scotland, we thought we were going to take Scotland for Christ, and then something went wrong.

Protestants, Roman Catholics and Jews each had a taste, or experience of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I know it was real. I was present at the various Conferences, and with the ‘Messianic Jews’ on the banks of the Lake of Galilee.

It was real – so very real. Will there be another outpouring of the Holy Spirit before Jesus Christ returns?

Verse 23 of John Chapter 17 – Jesus is praying that the world may know. Jesus is concerned about unity, for the sake of evangelism and mission.

One day the Father will answer the prayer of Jesus. The unity of the Church of Jesus Christ is the greatest ‘evangelistic tool’ we have not used for well over a thousand years.

Verse 25 – Righteous Father, the world does not know You. Many people know that there is a God, but only a few know Him. And what a wonderful thing it is – to know God – to be on talking terms with our Creator God – to experience His forgiveness and mercy and love and power, and peace – to be absolutely certain that you are forgiven and that you are His – and to have that assurance in your heart – and to feel His peace flowing through you – and to know that no man can take that peace away.

This whole prayer just flows. Do take time to read it and meditate upon its significance.

When we receive eternal life, we then want the Word, and when we receive the Word it strengthens us, and when the world sees strong Christian witness and testimony it responds with hatred, and we have to learn to come to terms with that.

There are many spiritually profound aspects to this intimate prayer of Jesus which we are so privileged to read and understand.

If any man is going to stand on his pride and keep himself apart from any other Christian, he is guilty of working against the very prayer of Christ Himself, and thereby guilty of violating God’s Holy Law. This is serious.

It is sad when the community of peace is at war.

Verse 26 – Those closing words are so beautiful. Righteous Father, and Jesus looks up and away from this world, to the loving Father – “I pray that the love with which you loved me may be in them!”

We would hardly believe that this could possibly be true, if Jesus had not prayed these words.

Ponder what Jesus Christ is praying. “Father, over these 33 years, You have been utterly loyal to me. Father, I pray that You will continue this same quality of loyalty to these My disciples. “Father, this is My prayer. Hear Me.”

Then He is arrested and taken away for a series of illegal trials and crucified.

This too is reality. Following such intense intimate prayer, there is arrest, humiliation, and suffering.

Jews rally around woman arrested for praying at Western Wall

JERUSALEM (RNS) Jews from Manhattan to Mozambique held prayer vigils on Monday (Oct. 22) to protest the arrest and incarceration of an Israeli feminist as she was leading 250 American Jewish women in prayer at the Western Wall.

The Oct. 16 arrest of Anat Hoffman, who co-founded Women of the Wall to enable Jewish women to pray together at the wall, has elicited outrage, especially from American Jews, the vast majority of whom do not practice Orthodox Judaism.

The wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism, has segregated prayer sections for men and women. Israeli regulations on holy sites forbid “conducting a religious ceremony contrary to accepted practice” and “wearing unfit attire.”

Hoffman was officially arrested on charges of “disturbing public order.”

Police have recently begun to arrest women praying at the wall for wearing black and white prayer shawls, the type traditionally worn by men. Hoffman was wearing a brightly colored shawl worn by many Women of the Wall members.

Hoffman said she was handcuffed, strip-searched, dragged on the floor and forced to spend the night on the floor of her cell, wrapped in her prayer shawl.

The police deny that Hoffman was mistreated.

The arrest comes against the backdrop of growing tensions between non-ultra-Orthodox Israelis and government authorities who, critics say, are increasingly caving into demands by religious extremists to segregate and marginalize women in the public sphere.

The New York-based United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism spearheaded group recitations of the Sh’ma Yisrael prayer – the prayer Hoffman and the American women intoned before her arrest – and the observances quickly spread to Jewish communities around the world.

In Jerusalem, at exactly 7 p.m., about 50 mostly young women and men took up positions at a pedestrian mall in the heart of Jerusalem and, flash mob-style, came together as they sang, quite loudly, the Sh’ma Yisrael prayer.

Simultaneous vigils were held around the world.

Marne Rochester, who came to the Jerusalem vigil with her 7-year-old daughter, Leora, said she participated “to show support for Anat Hoffman and my disdain for what is happening in this country.”

Two decades ago, Rochester said, “I used to be able to pray at the back of the Western Wall plaza in a mixed group of men and women and nobody bothered us. Now, that’s impossible. The wall has been taken over by extremists.”

Wembley Stadium submerged by waves of prayer, praise

By Peter Wooding
Europe Bureau Chief for ASSIST News Service
LONDON (ANS) – Wembley stadium was overtaken by a wave of prayer and praise when over 32,000 gathered for the National Day of Prayer and Worship on Sept. 29.

Tens of thousands more were able to join the day through live broadcasts and streams via GOD TV,

ndop wembley 300x199 Wembley Stadium submerged by waves of prayer, praise

Youth being commissioned to carry baton of prayer (credit: www.jordanmary.com)

Revelation TV, OHTV, Premier Radio and UCB.

During one of the key moments of the day as 300 young Christians in red
hoodies were being commissioned to carry on the baton of prayer into the next generation, a Mexican wave of united prayer engulfed the whole stadium as tens of thousands were believing for a new wave of revival to hit the UK.

The day carried the theme of the Lord’s Prayer and began with a time of thanksgiving for the fulfilment of a 17 year old Wembley vision, the Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics, More Than Gold and for Government.
Then many key leaders from different denominations and organisations took to the stage to lead prayers for the nation and unity.

Later Samaritan’s Purse UK Executive Director Simon Barrington prayed for the world’s neediest children, after a touching performance by a children’s choir, while Tearfund’s Matthew Frost then led a time of prayer for the one billion people going hungry all over the globe.

There was such a wave of praise and worship throughout the day from a wide variety of artists including Remanente, Sound of Wales, Tim Hughes, Noel Robinson, Matt Redman, Guvna B, Hillsong, LZ7, Graham Kendrick, Lara Martin, and the NDOP Mass Choir.

Also prayers were said for the global church and more locally for some very
new and exciting community prayer and outreach initiatives in the UK including Neighbourhood Prayer Network, Hope 2014 and Crossing London – Mission 2013.

That carnival atmosphere combined with the fantastic weather even greeted the thousands pouring into the stadium along Wembley Way with bright and colourful exhibitions and market stalls. Also before the day began, in an unprecedented display of unity 1050 leaders gathered in the Bobby Moore Suite for a lunch reception.

Jonathan Oloyede, the NDOP Convener gave a mandate for everyone to take the baton of prayer back to their streets, towns, cities and stadiums. He urged all Christians across the British Isles to join the dots in prayer and mission.

NDOP organisers are hoping that Wembley 2012 will be a catalyst to help regional gatherings of prayer emerge in the months to come as well as support other stadium events.

To facilitate this NDOP is producing a number of resources including a Legacy DVD coming out soon, and in partnership with Neighbourhood Prayer Network a Wembley legacy book now available called “Neighbours, Transform Your Street”. For more information go to: www.neighbourhoodprayer.net

The Mexican wave of prayer continues across the nation…
For pictures, videos and testimonies of our time together at Wembley, visit www.ndopwembley.com