Prayer is Like a Ladder

Prayer is like a ladder, an ascent to God, step by step. This imagery can show us where prayer begins and to what heights it is capable of rising.

Step 1: Emergency prayer. Prayer commonly begins with the cry of escape. The lowest step on the ladder of the soul is the cry wrung from disaster or adversity.

Step 2: Confession. The next step of the ladder is the stage when prayer for outward help becomes a cry for deliverance from sin. Initially there is no thought of anything but the calamity which has befallen us. But slowly, as a person prays for help, there steals on him the strange conviction that he needs something deeper than assistance and that he is a sinner. So we cry out for a clean heart and right spirit.

Step 3: Request for personal virtue and grace. Deliverance is not everything if our walk is to be well-pleasing before God.  We must become something, something in the image of Christ Himself, full of patience and courage and control. This can only happen through grace.

Step 4: Real submission to God’s will.  We have to learn to get to the place where we can honestly trust God with the phrase, “Thy will be done.” This is the point at which we can have joy in prayer. Most people pray out of duty and not joy. Joy can’t be found in prayer if we come to God demanding our own way. Joy is born when we come to God wanting nothing but God and His ways

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What Characterizes Being Filled With the Spirit?

Ephesians 5:18b says that we need to be filled with the Spirit.  How do we know if we are?

1-2. Speaking and Singing (Ephesians 5:19) within the context of worship.  But Paul isn’t just talking about vertical “God praise.”  It should be to one another.  There is a horizontal dimension to worship.  In praising God we consciously should be directing our worship so it edifies others.  Of course our hearts should be directed to the Lord (5:19b) and not in any attitude of “performance.”

3. Giving thanks (5:20).  Thanksgiving is a natural outflow of the Spirit-filled life.

4. Submitting (5:21). Despite the “break” in most translations, grammatically this fits with the previous section.  In submitting ourselves for the good of others, our crucified and risen Savior shines powerfully through us and we are filled with His Spirit.

The Most Important Question We Can Ask of the Bible

The most important question we can ask of a biblical text is not, “What does this mean?” but “What can I obey?” A simple act of obedience will open up our lives to the text far more quickly than any number of Bible studies.

Soren Kierkegaard said,

The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.

15 Questions from I Corinthians 13 (Love Chapter) For Self-Evaluation

Most people have heard 1 Corinthians 13 at weddings and maybe a sermon at church.  But it’s also a great parameter to assess our own “love” for others.

#1 – “Love Is Patient” – Am I giving others the same room to make mistakes as I want them to give me?

#2 – “Love Is Kind” – Do the people that I spend time with actually like being around me?

#3 – “It Does Not Envy” – Am I automatically jealous of anyone who has a great idea?  Do I rejoice when others are rejoicing or do I wish they would be struggling like me?

#4 – ‘It Does Not Boast” – Do I feel like I always need to remind people of my previous victories?  (If we are obsessed with the past, then we’re not advancing towards the future!)

#5 – “It Is Not Proud” – Do I feel that I am the only one that has all of the answers?

#6 – “It Is Not Rude” – How am I treating those who serve me?  Do I treat the waiter/waitress, customer service rep., and others with the respect I would show my own family?

#7 – “It Is Not Self Seeking” – Who is this about–really?

#8 – “It Is Not Easily Angered” – Are people afraid to bring me information that is true and accurate because they know I will lose my mind and begin to yell?  (Don’t shoot the mailman!)

#9 – “It Keeps No Record of Wrongs” – Do I remind people of their past failures or encourage them in their current condition?

#10 – “Love Does Not Delight in Evil but Rejoices in the Truth” – Can people be honest and open with me?

#11 – “It Always Protects” – Do I have the back of my co-workers and friends?  It’s very discouraging to have a relationship with someone who demands loyalty but will not extend it.

#12 – “Always Trusts” – Do I believe others (the staff at church and my wife at home) can make day-to-day decisions without my input?

#13 – “Always Hopes” – Do I always automatically assume the worst or the best about people?

#14 – “”Always Perseveres” – Am I quick to give up on people after they make one mistake, or am I willing to teach them through it?

#15 – “Love Never Fails” – Am I failing others?  Or am I loving them?

Four Signs of Weak Faith

4 Signs of weak faith…

  1. Demanding visible proof (John 4:48). We desire to see and yet we may be deceived through sight more readily than through almost any other sense. Faith based upon sight is weak. “The devils believe and tremble (James 2:19).” It is really unbelief which demands visible proof (John 20:25, 29). People who will not hear God as He speaks through the Bible will not hear Him when He speaks through miracles.
  2. Driven to God only by overwhelming need. Now, such faith is better than no faith, but it is not so good as the faith that draws us to God by gratitude and love. It is better to be driven than not to come at all; it is still better to be drawn.
  3. While it prays it dictates to God. Strong faith prays out of humility which allows God to guide and dictate rather than the folly of thinking vice versa. Those of weak faith have the impression that they could do better than the Lord, if THEY had the whole thing in hand.
  4. Impatience with God.  It is comforting to know that Jesus honors even faith like this. Though impatient and dictatorial, driven by need and seeking visible evidence, He answers the prayer. He pities our weakness. The fire of trust doe not blaze up; He sees more of the smoke of impatience and unbelief than of faith, but He will not allow the sparks to be trampled. Indeed, He fans the sparks into a flame.

 

How To Recognize the “Children of God”

First, the children of God are known by their actions:

  1. They love each other (1 John 4:7).
  2. They believe in Jesus (1 John 5:1).
  3. They love God and keep his commands (1 John 5:2).

As a result, children of God receive certain blessings:

  1. We have victory over the world (1 John 5:4).
  2. We have an intimacy with the Father by which we can call him “Abba” (Romans 8:15).
  3. We become fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
  4. We await future blessings when Jesus returns (Romans 8:19-21).

So…are you a child of God?  How have you been blessed as a result?

Prayer Obstacle No. 2

Another common obstacle to prayer is an enslavement to “feeling.”

“I don’t feel like it.”

They assume that prayers are only efficacious when they rise from an eager and emotional heart.  We should keep our appointment with God, whether we feel like it or not.  The meek submission of our will deepens our surrender; our resolution to engage in prayer strengthens thought control.

Faith, not feeling, measures the efficacy of prayer.