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    The Prayer and the Chain Saw

    I respect my Aunt Gladys’s intrepid spirit, even if that very spirit concerns me sometimes. The source of my concern came in the form of news she shared in an email: “I cut down a walnut tree yesterday.”

    You must understand that my chain-saw wielding aunt is seventy-six years old! The tree had grown up behind her garage. When the roots threatened to burst through the concrete, she knew it had to go. But she did tell us, “I always pray before I tackle a job like that.”

    While serving as butler to the king of Persia during the time of Israel’s…

    The Key to the Master’s Orders

    Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. —Matthew 9:38

    The key to the missionary’s difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work— that is, not work as the word is commonly used today, which often results in the shifting of our focus away from God. The key to the missionary’s difficult task…

    God’s Silence— Then What?

    When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was —John 11:6

    Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of …

    Much More Than Words

    At a dedication ceremony during which a Bible translated into a local African language was presented, the area chief was presented with his own copy. In appreciation, he lifted the Bible to the skies and exclaimed, “Now we know God understands our language! We can read the Bible in our own native mother-tongue.”

    No matter our language, our heavenly Father understands it. But often we feel unable to express our deepest longings to Him. The apostle Paul encourages us to pray regardless. Paul speaks of our suffering world and our own pain: “The whole creation has been groaning as in the…

    Praying to God in Secret

    When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place . . . —Matthew 6:6

    The primary thought in the area of religion is— keep your eyes on God, not on people. Your motivation should not be the desire to …

    The Right Way to Pray

    I admire people who record prayer requests in journals tattered from daily handling, those who keep track of every prayer and praise and then faithfully update their lists. I’m inspired by those who gather with others to pray and whose kneeling wears out the carpet at their bedsides. For years, I tried to copy their styles, to simulate a perfect prayer life, and to imitate the eloquence of the so-much-more-articulate-than-me folks. I strived to unravel what I thought was a mystery, as I longed to learn the right way to pray.

    Eventually, I learned that our Lord simply desires prayer that…

    Being Real with God

    I bow my head, close my eyes, lace my fingers together and begin to pray. “Dear Lord, I’m coming to you today as your child. I recognize your power and goodness. . .” Suddenly, my eyes snap open. I remember that my son hasn’t finished his history project, which is due the next day. I recall that he has an after-school basketball game, and I imagine him awake until midnight finishing his schoolwork. This leads me to worry that his fatigue will put him at risk for the flu!

    C.S. Lewis wrote about distractions during prayer in his book The Screwtape Letters. He…

    Watching With Jesus

    Watch with Me.” Jesus was saying, in effect, “Watch with no private point of view at all, but watch solely and entirely with Me.” In the early stages of our Christian life, we do not watch with Jesus, we watch for Him. We do not watch with Him through the revealed truth of the Bible even in the circumstances of our own lives. Our Lord is trying to introduce us to identification with Himself through a particular “Gethsemane” experience of our own.

    Bees and Snakes

    Some problems have Daddy’s name written all over them. For instance, my kids recently discovered bees had moved into a crack in our concrete front porch. So, armed with bug spray, I went out to do battle.

    I got stung. Five times.

    I don’t like being stung by insects. But better me than my kids or wife. Taking care of my family’s wellbeing is at the top of my job description after all. My children recognized a need, and they asked me to address it. They trusted me to protect them from something they feared.

    In Matthew 7, Jesus teaches that we too…

    The Purpose of Prayer

    Prayer is not a normal part of the life of the natural man. We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life.

    The Spiritual Search

    The illustration of prayer that our Lord used here is one of a good child who is asking for something good. We talk about prayer as if God hears us regardless of what our relationship is to Him (see Matthew 5:45). Never say that it is not God’s will to give you what you ask. Don’t faint and give up, but find out the reason you have not received; increase the intensity of your search and examine the evidence.

    Prayer—Battle in “The Secret Place”

    When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. —Matthew 6:6

    Jesus did not say, “Dream about your Father who is in the secret place,” but He said, “…pray to your Father who is in the secret place….” Prayer is an effort of the will. After we have entered our secret place and shut the door, the most difficult thing to do…

    A Prayer to Point Us Home

    One of the first prayers I learned as a little boy was “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep . . .” It was a prayer I learned from my parents, and I taught it to my son and daughter when they were little. As a child, I found great comfort in placing myself in God’s hands with those words before I fell asleep.

    There’s a similar prayer neatly tucked away in the “prayer book” of the Bible, the Psalms. Some biblical scholars suggest that the phrase, “Into your hands I commit my…

    The Theology of Resting in God

    When we are afraid, the least we can do is pray to God. But our Lord has a right to expect that those who name His name have an underlying confidence in Him. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the ones who are reliable. Yet our trust is only in God up to a certain point, then we turn back to the elementary panic-stricken prayers of those people who do not even know God.

    Help from Heaven

    SOS, the Morse code signal, was created in 1905 because sailors needed a way to indicate extreme distress. The signal gained notoriety in 1910 when used by the sinking ship Steamship Kentucky, saving all 46 people aboard.

    While SOS may be a more recent invention, the urgent cry for help is as old as humanity. We hear it often in the Old Testament story of Joshua, who faced opposition from fellow Israelites (Joshua 9:18) and challenging terrain (3:15–17) for more than fourteen years as the Israelites slowly conquered and settled the land God had promised them. During this struggle “the Lord was…

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