Day 21   Hebrews 11:8   “He (Abraham) did not

                          know where he was going.”

Everyone knows the saying – Ready, set, go! Of course it is predicated on the importance of preparation. That’s fine for starting a race, but what about life? What about faith. Here I think it’s backwards. The sequence of faith is – God, set, Ready! Some people spend their entire lives getting for what God wants them to do, but they never end up doing it because they never come to the realization that they will never be ready. We get stuck there. When we fail to act on what we know God is calling us to (because we aren’t ready) not only breeds doubt and discouragement; it’s a form of disobedience.

You’ll never be ready. You’ll never be ready to get married. You’ll never be ready to have kids. You’ll never be ready to start a business, or go back to school, or move to the mission field. You’ll never be ready financially, emotionally, or spiritually. You’ll never have enough faith, enough cash, or enough courage. And if you’re looking for an excuse, you will always find one.

I’m sure, I’ve never been, and never will be, ready for anything God has called me to do. That doesn’t me I haven’t prepared myself. I’ve worked hard at getting an education, going to special conferences, watching webinars, but I’ve come to realize that I’ve never been ready for anything God has called me to. I don’t really expect to be ready in the future and that’s OK because God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life.

Hebrews tells us, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (11:8) He didn’t know but he took that first step and God revealed the next. Our problem is, we want the next 25 year plan revealed to us. God doesn’t want us to rely on the revelation, he wants us to rely on him.

I’ve been asked over and over by different committee’s in the Church where do I see myself in 5 years or 10 years from now. They are always shocked when I answer I have no idea, that I’m just taking one step in faith and seeing where God takes me. They think I need to have some kind of plan for being in a larger and larger church somewhere. But if that’s my plan and not God’s, what good is that? We need to be obedient to the amount of revelation God gives us and step out with that praying for God to use us and move us where we need to be. Amen

Day 22  Joshua 1:3 MSG  “I’m giving you every

                            square inch of the land you

                                       set your foot on.”

Just what is it about physically circling something in prayer? Really there is nothing magical about it but there is something biblical about it. The Israelites circled the city of Jericho with no idea how God would give them the city. They still obeyed the command they were given to circle. They circled the city, the promise over and over and over again. They circled thirteen times over seven days. Why? Because even though they didn’t know how God would come through with his promise, they knew God would, somehow, in some way!

And God did! God showed off his power. He toppled the walls of Jericho like the game of Jenga!

Drawing prayer circles is a metaphor for “praying until God answers.” It’s a determination to pray as long as it takes, even if it takes longer than you ever imagined. Now, drawing prayer circles isn’t a magic trick to get what you want from God. It doesn’t work that way. Prayer circles start with discerning what God wants. Until God’s sovereign will becomes your best wish, your prayer life will never connect with God’s power supply. Getting what you want isn’t the goal; the goal is to glorify God by drawing prayer circles around the promises, the miracles and the dreams God wants for you. Draw those prayer circles!

Day 23   Judges 6:37   “I will place a wool fleece

                                on the threshing floor.”

Have you ever felt there was something you being called to do but just weren’t sure how that was ever going to happen or how that could possibly be. Maybe you were just so insecure about it that you just need some assurance that it was really what God was calling you in that direction. I remember when Jeanne and I were asked to go to India for the Walk to Emmaus. There because this stirring within me and at the same time a great insecurity. We were asked at a gathering and we left with all kinds of questions. We knew there was something to it but also that there was no way we could make it happen on our own. I felt a bit like Gideon who was addressed by an angel as “mighty warrior,” who I bet looked over his shoulder to see who the angel was talking to because there was no way it could be him. It had to be a mistake. After all, he was from the weakest clan in the entire tribe of Manasseh and he was the least in his entire family. So he put out a fleece to get an answer from God. And he did it twice. “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me.”

Well, Jeanne and I put out our own fleece. “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign that to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me.” Our sign was being able to get the time off work. Jeanne waited for my answer because she was sure I would get a “NO”, but I didn’t. We both got the time off.

This is something we do very often, in fact, hardly ever. If God has already answered the question in scripture then don’t do it. If your motives are selfish you better not do it either. Your fleece must come out of a genuine desire to honor God and do his will. And you must be ready accept the answer without reservation. All hard to do. We couldn’t make that trip work but God did.

Day 24  Jeremiah 1:4  “The word of the Lord

                                                   came to me…”

When I was 32 years old I was awakened at midnight by the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t sleep so I went down to the living room where I sat on the couch, prayed, and grabbed my Bible opening to Jeremiah 1 and read through verse 10. Those words were written for Jeremiah but at that moment the Holy Spirit was crashing into my life and that was my call to ministry. Those words were so where I was and suddenly I realized that it wasn’t the first call to ministry I had. It had been 16 years earlier and God came knocking again. I was so full of emotions good and bad I was almost stuck, maybe I was because I didn’t go back to bed until 5 am. How could I have failed Him for those 16 years? But here He is calling me again! What have I missed out on all this time? What do I do now? How could this be?

I’m naturally an introvert. Very much so. That’s why I said no at the age of 16. Now I read, “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. He spoke right into my life. I am with you – do not be afraid!

I have come to find out that God wants to talk through each of us and does it differently through each of us. Every life is a unique translation of Scripture. It doesn’t matter what you do – politician, preacher, entertainer, homemaker, teacher, musician, lawyer, chef, trash collector, maintenance worker, doctor, hair stylist or any other profession. You are called to be a prophetic voice to the people God place in your life. But the key to discovering your prophetic voice is cultivating a prophetic ear. If you want to find your voice, you need to hear the voice of God.

The first thing you need to do to hear the voice of God is to open your Bible. When you do, God will open His mouth. When you open God’s Word, God will speak to you and then God will speak through you. But make sure you have no unconfessed sin. Because sin doesn’t just harden your heart; it also hardens your hearing. It makes us turn a deaf ear to God because we don’t want to hear the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. If you can’t hear that voice, you won’t hear the comforting voice, the forgiving voice, or the merciful voice either. Sin causes a relational distance that makes nearly impossible to hear that still small voice of the Holy Spirit. So get close to God. Incline your ear to God and God will incline his ear to you.

If there’s too much noise in your life it may be time for a season of fasting. Fasting is like a noise cancellation. It tunes out the extra voices and retunes us to God’s frequency. It’s still difficult to distinguish between our own thoughts and the inaudible voice of the Holy Spirit, but just like a relationship with a loved one, we begin to discern His voice more accurately. We will soon be able to separate out that one voice even when it is so subtle. Pray for that ability. Amen.

Day 25   Numbers 11:29   “I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets.”

In prayer, we don’t just cultivate our own potential. It is through prayer that we recognize potential in others. It was through prayer that Paul was able to see with prophetic eyes gifts in Timothy that Timothy couldn’t see himself. It is through prayer that we too are given prophetic eyes – supernatural insight. We will then be prepared to speak with prophetic boldness into the lives God has put in our lives.

You might think that the prophetic gift is only for a few select people. But if you research Jewish philosophers, you might be surprised to find that becoming prophetic was the crowning point of mental and spiritual development. Really, the more we grow in grace, the more prophetic we become.

That doesn’t mean we will begin foreseeing the future; it means we’ll start creating it. What? You say. Well, through our prayers! Prayer is the way we write the future. It’s the difference between letting things happen and making things happen. When we speak prophetic words into someone’s life, it gives them a new lease on life.

According to 1 Corinthians 14:3, a prophet speaks words of comfort and encouragement as prompted by the Holy Spirit. That is always a byproduct of intercessory prayer. The more we pray, the more prophetic we become.

Do you know someone who has had their life changed because someone has spoken something positive into their life? Someone who may only hear the negative at home but one person has said positive into their life and that has made all the difference? You may not see yourself as a prophet, but you are one to your friends, even someone you may just come across every day. You’re a prophet to your children, and at work. Your words have the potential to change lives by helping people discover their identity in Jesus Christ. Yes, sometimes you need courage to rebuke when they are doing things that are wrong and lovingly remind them, “that’s not who you are.” But when they are doing things right, reinforce it! Celebrate it! Fan the flame into the flame of God’s gift. When you do, don’t worry about influencing many. You may just influence one who will influence thousands! Amen.

Day 26         1 Thessalonians 5:17  

                   “Pray without ceasing.”

I’m sure you have heard this before and probably thought, “That’s impossible,” and set the idea aside. I know it’s happened to me many times. I imagine it has for you as well. During this Lenten season I’ve really been trying to improve my intimacy with God and have found that the only way to do that is through prayer, and really, continuous prayer. Years ago I a book by Brother Lawrence called “Practicing the Presence of God”. Brother Lawrence talks about making all of life a prayer, whether working in the kitchen, which he did every day, or walking from place to place. He writes, “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.” That always amazed me – seemed impossible for me.

I’ve recently came across someone else who has written about his attempt at the same. His name is Frank Laubach from 1930. He called it an experiment with a game called “the game with minutes.” He was inspired by Brother Lawrence. This is how he described it. “We try to call Him to mind at least one second of each minute. We do not need to forget other things nor stop our work, but we invite Him to share everything we do or say or think. Hundreds of us have experimented until we have found ways to let Him share every minute of our waking hours.” One way Laubach practiced this was to “shoot” prayers at everyone he encountered. That act would turn the routine of life into a daily adventure as some person’s entire demeanor would change, some would walk past and turn around and then smile at him, others nothing would happen. He would simply pray silently while looking at people as they passed.

You could do the same by simply praying for people before or after a meeting, asking for favor, discernment, grace, and a blessing on them. If you are a child of God, you are a priest – as such, it is your right and responsibility to pronounce blessings over everyone in your life.

The key to praying without ceasing is turning everything into a prayer. It will probably start with the big things like problems and dreams and then graduate to little things like chores and routines. Then hopefully, eventually your entire life will become a continuous prayer. Every thought – every action – every moment. If your personality trait is that of a worrier, you have tremendous prayer potential. The apostle Paul writes, “Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything.” If you are a worrier, you’ll have a higher likelihood of praying without ceasing if you learn to turn your worries into prayers. A worry can become an alarm to pray and that will allow your anxieties to evaporate.

The reason most people don’t feel close to God – don’t feel intimacy with God – is they don’t have a daily prayer rhythm. Can you imagine talking with your spouse or child once a week? God wants a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute relationship with you. The good news is, God is only a prayer away. You don’t even have to hit your knees or bow your head or fold your hands to be heard. Prayer isn’t a sentence that begins with “Dear Jesus” and ends with “Amen.” In fact, the best prayers don’t even involve words at all. The best prayer is a well-lived life, day in and day out in the presence of God.

Turn your prayer life into a game. Try experimenting with how you pray. Try a new posture – walking, kneeling, laying, hands out, hands up? Try a fast – from food to television to sleep to social media – but remember the key is giving up something and replacing it with prayer. Try different times, different techniques, try to journal your prayers. Try “shooting” prayers at those who pass by you. Make your life a prayer. Amen.

Day 27   Matthew 17:21 KJV   “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

Have you had times of prayer that you just know God wants to answer but it’s not coming? It’s as though there is a wall in the way? You just can’t get through? Well, sometimes, really, sometimes, prayer isn’t enough. Sometimes we need to continue in prayer and add a fast. It’s as if there is a double lock on some things and we need to both pray and fast to unlock the miracle. You might think the two would add up to better effectiveness but really they multiply their effectiveness. Somehow, fasting has a way of fast-tracking our prayer life. It makes it like hyper prayer.

In fasting, (no matter what we fast) we need to decide what and for how long and for what objective. We could fast food, or TV, or Facebook. Whatever it is, we fast from it to help free us from the white noise in our lives so we can hear the voice of God. If we don’t decide on the time frame, it’s too easy to come up with excuses to compromise and quit. We fast for deliverance, for discernment to make a decision, for favor, to dedicate something or someone to God – maybe a new job, or year, or business. We can fast for a financial, rational, or emotional breakthrough, or to seek the heart of God.

Sometimes we find it hard to keep praying though. Most of us have a willing spirit. But Jesus’ words really get to the truth of the matter when he said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” So the problem is desire; the problem is power and, more specifically, willpower. Fasting gives us more power to pray because it’s an exercise in willpower. Physical discipline gives us the spiritual discipline to pray through. But oh how hard fasting is. That’s because we are giving up something we love. But it’s a way of saying to God, “I crave you more than I crave food.” Or whatever it is you’re fasting. It’s like a spiritual workout helping me to say no to other temptations. Fasting breaks down our spiritual calluses to regain sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

If we need more power – we need more Holy Spirit. If we need more wisdom – we need more Holy Spirit. If we need more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control – , we need more Holy Spirit. In order to be filled with the Holy Spirit, sometimes we need to empty ourselves first, and that’s done by fasting.

Is there something you’ve been praying for that you need to start fasting for? Take it to that next level. During this 40 day prayer challenge, see if your prayers aren’t answered by joining with someone else in and prayer and fast for the next couple of weeks. Amen.

Day 28                   Matthew 25:23        

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

That is something we all certainly want to hear when that day comes where we meet our Lord in heaven. Make sure you notice the second word in that verse – “done”. It’s an action word, a verb. Have you ever noticed that one of the books of the New Testament is a Verb – an action word – “Acts”? Has God ever called you to stop praying – especially when you already have the answer to that prayer or can answer it yourself? You see, God doesn’t want us praying about things that are within our power to answer. And still we ask God to do what we can do ourselves. Then we wonder why God doesn’t respond. God isn’t glorified or honored when we ask him to do what is humanly possible; God is only honored and glorified when we ask him to do what is humanly impossible! When those prayers are answered, God gets all the glory!

We don’t need to pray about loving our neighbors, giving generously, serving sacrificially or blessing someone. We have the power to do those things. We don’t have to pray about turning the other cheek or going the extra mile. God has already spoken on those things. There comes a time when praying becomes a form of spiritual procrastination. It’s time to stop praying and to act.

Maybe you need to stop praying about the friend you hurt and make a visit or phone call. Maybe you need to stop complaining to God about a coworker; circle them in prayer. Don’t just pray for a missionary, write a check – or children caught in the sex trade, find out how you can help.

I’m not really saying to stop praying, pray about everything. Then pray some more. But then we also have to act. One of the great mistakes we make is asking God to do for us what God wants us to do for him. Let’s not confuse our rolls. We can’t just pray like it depends on God; we also must work like it depends on us.

When Christianity becomes a noun, it becomes a turnoff. It’s always been intended to be a verb – more specifically, an action verb. The title of the book of Acts says it all. It’s not the book of Ideas or Words. It’s the book of ACTS. Maybe if we said less and did more we might have the same kind of impact the early church had. If our prayers don’t lead to action, are they true prayers?

When everything is said and done, what do we hope God will say? I hope it’s not, “Well, said, good and faithful servant.” Or, “Well thought,” or “well planned,” ore even, “well prayed.” There is only one commendation I know he will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Amen.

Day 29                     Psalm 96:1   

“Sing to the Lord a new song.”

There is something within me that is always wanting to sing a new song to the Lord. Jeanne (my wife) would say it’s because I am such a right-brain person. I probably drive the congregation crazy because I know so many hymns and songs, I think they should know them too. For me when we sing them too often, they become too routine and it seems we may too easily learn how and forget why, then we start just going through the motions spiritually. Even good routines, it seems can become bad routines if we don’t change them up.

I read about a really interesting study just this past week. It indicated that we stop thinking about the lyrics of songs after singing them thirty (30) times. I’m guessing that varies from person to person, but it’s a universal tendency. Does that have profound implications when it comes to worship? I think it might and just maybe that is why this Psalm is so important! If we aren’t careful, we just may not be really worshiping God when we sing, or pray for that matter; we’re just lip synching. Really, the words might just get in the way of genuinely expressing our thoughts and feelings to God.

There are actually six times the psalmist tells us to sing a new song. It must be that God gets tired of old songs. He doesn’t want you to worship him with just your memory; He wants you to use your imagination. You need a new song to express new dimensions of what you are feeling – your love – your needs – your hurts – your wants – your griefs. You don’t want to hear a mindless expression of the same old feeling, do you? Neither does God.

Jesus warns, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. The think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father know exactly what you need even before you ask him!”

It’s easy to fall into a prayer rut, asking the same thing in the same way. Maybe you need to shake it up a bit. Pray in a new way. If you kneel or sit when you pray, maybe try walking. Something new may come of it. You will see new things, feel new things to pray about. Get out of the left-brain prayer and into a right-brain prayer. Have you ever tried a joke with God? If he put humor in in your personality, maybe you should. Maybe you are silent in your prayers. Speak them out loud. Do something different. God will love it. Pray a new prayer to the Lord. Amen.

Day 30          John 15:7  

             “If you abide in me,

     and my words abide in you…”

I had never really looked into the word abide before. The word here is what is called a present imperative verb, which means it is in continual action. It is something that we don’t start and stop; it’s something we do for the rest of our lives, and we continually do more of it. The goal is to get closer and closer to God. So just how do we do that? I think you probably know. It takes getting into the WORD of God. It takes ABIDING in God’s WORD. When looking into this I found that the rabbinic tradition believed that every word of Scripture has seventy (70) faces and six hundred thousand (600,000) meanings! That would be like looking into a very find kaleidoscope at each word. What if we did that with abide.

In one way we need to linger in his presence and then God will linger on us. It’s as though God will add extra blessing on those who spend extra time with him. Maybe God can use those who spend more time in his presence because he can trust them the most.

Another way this abide works is that in the spiritual world, there is a battle going on and the most effective weapon is the Word of God. It’s the weapon Jesus used. Abiding in God’s word is the way we take on the enemy and hold our ground. It’s our best defense and our best offense.

Sometimes we are stuck between a rock and a hard place and God wants us to simply stand still. Think of Moses when the Israelites are stuck between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army: God said, “Don’t be afraid, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” That’s sure a place we don’t want to be in but it happens to most of us at some point in our lives and if we abide in God, and abide in God’s Word we will trust in his promises and be able to stand still and witness his most dramatic miracles.

Then there are the times we must move. When abiding in God puts a new passion in us so that we can no longer sit still and must move into the action God calls us to. You can no longer sit on the sidelines like David who ran to the frontlines looking for a giant to conquer.

And sometimes we just need to tarry like the disciples after Jesus ascension. Waiting and praying in the upper room before Pentecost. Tarry in the Word of God. Studying Scripture and praying aren’t two different disciplines. One is the key to the other. I said in another post that scripture was meant to be prayed. As you tarry in the Scripture, pray in the Scripture, press yourself into God’s presence by getting into God’s Word. Amen.