Category Archives: Prayer

The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation (Part II)

You’re reading a novel in which the main character has a fantastical experience which changes him. From that time on, whenever he shakes hands with someone, he can see what that person will be in twenty, thirty, even forty years.

He meets a handsome young man who is brilliantly successful – straight A’s in college, captain of the basketball team, with acceptance letters from Harvard Business and other top graduate schools. But when he shakes his hand, he can see that alcoholism will destroy his life, his wife will leave him at 35, take the kids, and he’ll be dead by 50.

He is amazed to see how people’s lives turn out, some beautifully and some tragically. Then he meets and shakes hands with … you. Continue reading

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Powerful Prayers: Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation (Ephesians 1:15-21)

I once read about a young Irish woman who emigrated to the U.S. in the first decades of the twentieth century. She had family in New York, who told her she could find work there, so she saved and scraped … Continue reading

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Powerful Prayers: The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation

We’ll discover another way to pray for the people and the church we love.

After Josh Ferrin of Bountiful, Utah, bought his first home, he went poking around and found a little access panel in the ceiling of the garage. He thought it might be a place his kids would like to play. When he investigated, he found eight boxes, each with rolls of cash wrapped in twine – $45,000 worth.

He called the previous occupant, whose family had owned the house for years, and told him to come and get the cash. The owner, a Mr. Bangerter, never realized what treasure he had in his own home.

St. Paul knows that Jesus’s people might not realize what treasure they have in their relationship with Christ, so he prays that they might discover it. Continue reading

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A Prayer for Your Love Life: Philippians 1:9-11 (manuscript)

St. Paul wrote more of the New Testament than any other writer – he is the author of something like one quarter of the New Testament. If we are going to understand his letters, it is important to realize that he wrote them with some basic assumptions in place. He doesn’t argue for these things. He takes them for granted and assumes his readers do the same. For example, Paul assumes that the Creator of heaven and earth is actively involved in what is happening in our world. He is not on vacation. He is paying attention.

He assumes that the Creator, who is the God and Father of Jesus Messiah, is currently at work in our day-to-day world. All people on earth and every institution of which they are a part is known by God, accessible to God, and responsible before God. That includes you and me and Lockwood Church. This is not something Paul argues; he takes it for granted.

He further assumes that this God is pursuing a specific goal and is employing individuals and institutions to achieve it, whether they realize it or not, whether they cooperate or not. That goal is stated this way in the letter to the Ephesians: “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Ephesians 1:10).

We read over that and miss how revolutionary (in the fullest sense of the word) it is. The goal is to bring all things – nations, for example, and their governments – under the headship of one leader: Jesus. The U.S., Russia, China, England, France – and the other 191 so-called sovereign states – will be governed by one head, Jesus Messiah. That’s the plan. Talk about a one-world government – this is it – and it is God’s intention to make it happen.

But it is not just nations. It is people, animals, weather systems, physical processes, spiritual forces – authorities, powers, and dominions – everything. Paul sees God making all things work together toward this goal and Paul has committed himself – even to the point of sacrificing his life – to that cause. He further assumes that the Colossian church exists for the same purpose: the realization of the universal lordship of Jesus; otherwise, they would not be a church. Continue reading

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Prayer for Your Love Life

I’ve often asked myself what must happen for someone to discern what is best in a given situation. Is it best to take this job or stay with the one I’ve got? Should we move to a larger house or continue making do? Shall we retire or should keep working for a few more years? How can we discern what’s good from what’s best?

When we ask: “What must happen in order to discern what is best?” we’re assuming that discernment is primarily a procedural thing, as if discernment is just a matter of following the right steps. I’ve come to think there is a prior and more important question: “What kind of people do we need to be to discern what is best?” The Apostle Paul’s surprising answer to that question is: We have to be people with a healthy love life.

That love life – what Paul elsewhere calls “a life of love” – is critical to godly discernment. And that’s what Paul prays for in Philippians 1:9-11: that his dear friends’ “love will abound … so that [they] will be able to discern what is best…”

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Powerful Prayers: Colossians 1:9-12 (Part 2)

Note: for the next few weeks , I will post the manuscript that goes with the audio (posted Tuesdays) from a sermon in the Powerful Prayers series. People have requested the sermon manuscripts many time, but I’ve always been reluctant to make it available for two principal reasons: 1) I never simply read a sermon, so what people read is not exactly what I spoke. The manuscript might be better or it may be worse but it will be different. And (2) because the sermon has not been edited for publication. With those caveats, here is Prayers God Love to Answer: Colossians 1:9-12, Part 2. Continue reading

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Powerful Prayers: Prayers God Loves to Answer

How strong are you? How much weight can you bench press? How many miles can you run? (In my case, it might be better to measure in yards.) How high is your vertical jump?

But what about spiritual strength? What does it mean for a follower of Jesus to be strong? Are there tests to measure spiritual strength?

Yes, there are and we learn about them from the Apostle Paul’s description of his prayer for the Colossians. There are three principal tests for spiritual strength. Take the tests – see how you do. Continue reading

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Powerful Prayers

Imagine you find yourself unable to do something you want to do, should be able to do, and have done in the past – say, eat ice cream. You go to your doctor and she does all kinds of tests and discovers that you are missing an enzyme which is necessary for the digestion of ice cream. She then gives you the good news: your body can produce plenty of this enzyme just by eating mangos. But you dislike mangos; dislike them as much as you like ice cream. So what do you do? Do you learn to eat mangos (ugh!) or do you give up ice cream (aww!)?

Let’s pose the same type of question, only let’s change the issue from a physical one to a spiritual one. You find yourself unable to do something you want to do and should be able to do: recognize God’s will. You go to your pastor and he runs a variety of soul tests and comes to the conclusion that you’re missing a spiritual enzyme (of sorts) which is necessary to the recognition of God’s will. That spiritual enzyme is loving relationships with other Christ-followers.

What do you do? You are an introvert. You don’t like big groups. You just aren’t easy with people. Being in a fellowship group or a Bible study is work for you; you think of it with distaste. So do you learn to have loving relationships with other Christ-followers or do you give up on knowing God’s will? Continue reading

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