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    His Ascension and Our Access

    We have no experiences in our lives that correspond to the events in our Lord’s life after the transfiguration. From that moment forward His life was altogether substitutionary. Up to the time of the transfiguration, He had exhibited the normal, perfect life of a man. But from the transfiguration forward— Gethsemane, the Cross, the resurrection— everything is unfamiliar to us. His Cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to anyone, and by His ascension our Lord entered heaven, keeping the door open for humanity.

    The Habit of Having No Habits

    When we first begin to form a habit, we are fully aware of it. There are times when we are aware of becoming virtuous and godly, but this awareness should only be a stage we quickly pass through as we grow spiritually. If we stop at this stage, we will develop a sense of spiritual pride. The right thing to do with godly habits is to immerse them in the life of the Lord until they become such a spontaneous expression of our lives that we are no longer aware of them. Our spiritual life continually causes us to focus our attention inwardly for the determined purpose of self-examination, because each of us has some qualities we have not yet added to our lives.

    Covering David

    During their 1987 Joshua Tree tour, the band U2 closed their shows with “40,” their take on David’s 40th psalm. You might say U2 did a “cover” of King David’s song.

    Vital Intercession

    As we continue on in our intercession for others, we may find that our obedience to God in interceding is going to cost those for whom we intercede more than we ever thought. The danger in this is that we begin to intercede in sympathy with those whom God was gradually lifting up to a totally different level in direct answer to our prayers. Whenever we step back from our close identification with God’s interest and concern for others and step into having emotional sympathy with them, the vital connection with God is gone.

    Praying for Each Other

    When I was fourteen, with the help of a friend’s dad, my friends and I started a worship band. Before practice each week, we would gather in a circle and read a chapter of the Bible, then go around the circle sharing prayer requests and praises. We each took time to pray out loud for the person sitting next to us. This not only helped us get to know one another better, but allowed us to support and encourage one other through difficult times. It also helped us celebrate in praise together.

    A Change in Perspective

    My hometown has experienced its heaviest winter in thirty years. My muscles ache from hours of shoveling the unrelenting snow. When I step inside after what feels like a fruitless effort, weary as I kick off my boots, I’m greeted by the warmth of a fire and my children gathered around it. As I gaze out the window from the shelter of my home, my perspective of the weather shifts completely. Instead of seeing more work to do, I savor the beauty of frosted tree branches and the way the snow blankets the colorless landscape of winter.

    I see a similar,…

    What Do You Want?

    Are you seeking great things for yourself, instead of seeking to be a great person? God wants you to be in a much closer relationship with Himself than simply receiving His gifts— He wants you to get to know Him. Even some large thing we want is only incidental; it comes and it goes. But God never gives us anything incidental. There is nothing easier than getting into the right relationship with God, unless it is not God you seek, but only what He can give you.

    If you have only come as far as asking God for things, you have never come to the point of understanding the least bit of what surrender really means.

    Only by Prayer

    My friend called me one late night during her cancer treatment. Grieved by her uncontrollable sobs, I soon added my own tears and a silent prayer. What am I supposed to do, Lord?

    Her wails squeezed my heart. I couldn’t stop her pain, fix her situation, or find one intelligible word of encouragement. But I knew who could help. As I wept with my friend, stumbling through a prayer, I whispered repeatedly, “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.”

    Her cries quieted to sniffs and whimpers, until her breathing slowed. Her husband’s voice startled me. “She’s asleep,” he said. “We’ll call tomorrow.”

    I hung up, weeping prayers…

    Toward or Away

    Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) and John Wesley (1703–1791) lived more than a century apart and in very different contexts. But both created a means of self-examination to aid in their spiritual transformation. Ignatius recommended that those in the religious order he formed pray an “examen” prayer twice a day to open themselves to the Holy Spirit and to discern the movements of their soul either toward or away from God. John Wesley, similarly, formed a series of twenty-two questions that he and his small group in Oxford asked themselves each night, including, “Did the Bible live in me today? Am…

    Helpful or Heartless Toward Others?

    It is Christ…who also makes intercession for us….the Spirit…makes intercession for the saints… —Romans 8:34, 27

    Do we need any more arguments than these to become intercessors– that Christ “always lives to make intercession” (Hebrews 7:25), and that the Holy Spirit “makes intercession for the saints”? Are we living in such a relationship with others that we do the work of intercession as a result of…

    Heedfulness or Hypocrisy in Ourselves?

    If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. —1 John 5:16

    If we are not heedful and pay no attention to the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other people are failing, and then we take our discernment and turn it into comments of ridicule and criticism, instead of turning it…

    Friendship with God

    Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing…? —Genesis 18:17

    The Delights of His Friendship. Genesis 18 brings out the delight of true friendship with God, as compared with simply feeling His presence occasionally in prayer. This friendship means being so intimately in touch with God that you never even need to ask Him to show you His will. It is…

    Honest in Our Pain

    An article titled “Jacob and Our Wrestling Match with God” reflects on the significance of God changing Jacob’s name, arguing that the name change points to a character transformation. “Jacob,” which means “crooked,” becomes “Israel,” which likely means “One who wrestles with God [and] One who is straight (direct, honest) with God.”

    Giving the Gift of Prayer

    “I didn’t realize what a gift prayer was until my brother was sick and you all prayed for him. I cannot tell you what a comfort your prayers were!”

    Laura had tears in her eyes as she thanked me for our prayers of the people in our church for her brother, who was facing a cancer diagnosis. She continued, “Your prayers have strengthened him in this difficult time and have been an encouragement to our entire family.”

    One of the best ways to love others is to pray for them. Jesus is our ultimate example in this. The New Testament tells us…

    Phone Zone

    One of the benefits of cell phone technology is that we now have virtually unlimited access to others. As a result, many people talk on the phone or text even while driving—sometimes resulting in terrible car crashes. To avoid such disasters, many areas of the world have made distracted driving illegal. In the United States, highway signs are popping up to remind drivers of special cell phone zones where they can pull off the road to safely talk and text to their heart’s delight.

    While it is a good idea to restrict mobile phone communication for drivers, there is another kind…