Expand Your Prayer Life (4): Truck Caps and Daily Bread

I used to think that God was so busy managing the cosmos, he didn’t have time for my peewee concerns.

I thought that if I asked him for money to pay the bills, he’d shout down at me, “Can’t you see I’m directing the destinies of nations? Away with you and your petty requests.”

Jesus taught us that when we pray we should make our Father’s honor and kingdom our first concerns. But our Father who is both rich and generous also wants us to bring our daily needs to him.

In Luke 11:3 Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us each day our daily bread”. What could be more down to earth than bread?

R. Kent Hughes says, “We are not to use the Niemann Marcus catalog as our daily devotional guide. One of the sweet realities of our prayer life is that God cares about the simple, day-to-day needs of life. He cares whether his children are warm, fed, and housed. He is concerned for our well-being, including those things necessary to maintain a whole, happy family.”

God doesn’t limit us to praying for big things – he invites us to ask him for a new coat or new tires, money for groceries or tuition or vacation.

Here is an amazing truth: God gets glory by meeting our smallest needs. God’s sign reads: “No job too big, no job too small.”

My friend Bob bought a “new” used truck. His previous truck bed was 7 feet long but the new one was 6. This rendered his 7-foot truck cap 1 foot too long for his new truck. So he prayed about the situation. The audacity – praying about a truck cap. Doesn’t God have enough on his mind without being bothered about Bob’s truck cap? One day Bob saw a truck pull into the parking lot where he works. He noticed that the cap on that truck’s 7-foot bed was a foot too short. So Bob approached the man, whom he’d never met, to ask him if he’d be interested in a swap. Amazingly, both Bob’s cap and this man’s cap were the same brand and both fairly new. They were able to trade caps and each fit perfectly.

One of the ladies at a “Caring Sisters” party in our church shared how the Lord used her sister in Christ to give her very specific gifts that she had secretly desired, but could not afford. Among them: a pair of earrings on the day she came to church with none on; a new watch when she hoped for one; and a spoon rest after a fleeting desire for one had crossed her mind in her kitchen that week. God gave her a spoon rest! How specifically and tenderly the Lord cares for us! And if he provides these material things, think how eager He is to meet us in our souls. (Thanks to Sarah B for sharing this).

We need daily provisions of wisdom, strength, joy. God invites us to make our requests known to him and bring our needs to him. So seek first God’s glory and his kingdom, then ask him for whatever you need each day. And watch him provide!

Expand Your Prayer Life (3): Bring Your Rule

When we pray, we’re tempted to start dumping our needs on God, like a scene from the movie “What About Bob” – “Gimme, gimme, gimme, I need, I need, I need.” I’m glad that our Father isn’t like the movie’s Dr. Leo Marvin, always trying to get rid of us. Our Father, who is both rich and generous, invites us to bring our needs and desires to him.

When Jesus taught the “Lord’s Prayer”, he encouraged us to seek God’s interests first, instead of always beginning with our laundry list of requests. Jesus instructed us to begin by “hallowing” or honoring our Father’s Name – to worship him for all that he is and does – and pray that his name be glorified in all the earth. And one of the primary ways God is glorified is by the coming of his kingdom.

That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come.” (Luke 11:2). As God’s kingdom comes, he is seen as great, powerful, merciful and glorious.

God’s kingdom is his rule. When we pray for his kingdom to come we pray that our Father would bring his rule into the world, particularly into people’s hearts and lives. When God saves us, he begins to rule us. And as he rules us, he transforms us into the likeness of Christ, and he is glorified.

Let’s pray that
the gospel will spread and
multitudes of sinners will be saved. Let’s ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up laborers. Let’s pray for the salvation of our family members and friends. And pray that our Lord will rescue thousands in our localities.

Let’s pray that God will bring an end to the wickedness of the wicked. Pray that he will remove governments and leaders that persecute his people and replace them with those favorable to the gospel.

Let’s pray for the persecuted church. Pray that God will cause many of his saints to find favor in their captors’ eyes and get to return to their families. Pray that our Father will give those who continue to suffer strength, joy, hope and the grace to love their persecutors.

When we pray for these things we are praying for God’s kingdom rule to come.

Put God’s interests first and he will provide for you.

Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).

If we put God and his rule first, he’ll take care of our needs like food and clothing. I always figure that if I spend time praying for God’s concerns and don’t get around to mine, my Father will take care of me. And he’s always been faithful.

Links For Your Pleasure

In my various wanderings about the WWW (that’s shorthand for the World Wide Web), I’ve come across the following interesting links.

A company called Compass Cinema has put out a DVD Bible study tool called Modern Parables, which attempt to bring the parables of Jesus into today’s world. These DVD’s were reviewed very positively by Carolyn McCulley, Justin Taylor, and Tim Challies. You can check out their website by clicking here.

Sovereign Grace Ministries
has announced that for the month of February all their CD’s are six bucks and have free shipping. For the price of a Big Mac value meal you can get music that will feed your soul. Check out the details on Bob Kauflin’s blog.

The Billy Graham Association has a great article on how John Piper’s son, Abraham, came to the Lord after years of rebellion. Click here to read it.

Winter is the time for sledding, and this do it yourself website tells you how to make the ultimate sled. Learn how by clicking here.

Got a camera phone but have no idea what to do with it? Here are some interesting uses for your camera cell phone.

Quick Spiritual Fixes

I like quick fixes. When something breaks in my house I do two things. First, I decide if we really needed the item in the first place. If not, I toss it. Quick fix. If this item really was of some importance, such as a large piece of furniture, a stove, or a kitchen table, I determine if the item can be repaired using duct tape. I have been known to use upwards of two hundred yards of duct tape on home repair projects. Quick fix number two. If it can’t be fixed using duct tape I call in the pros.

I like quick spiritual fixes as well. When I’m struggling with a sin, I want someone to tell me how to get over it, right now. Give me a scripture verse that will solve my problem, or a book that will lay out a precise twelve-step plan for overcoming sin in three weeks. I’m not a big fan of going to my accountability group on Friday mornings and confessing the same sin that I’ve confessed for the last 17 weeks. I want change, and I want it now. I’m sure you can relate.

This desire for change is good, and God-honoring, but I think we often forget that sanctification is a slow process. Becoming like Christ doesn’t happen in days, it happens over decades. I recently read a quote that reminded me of both the slow nature of change, and the necessity of regularly reading scripture for the purpose of change. In his book Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life, Don Whitney quotes a man named Geoffrey Thomas. Thomas says:

So do not expect always to get an emotional charge or a feeling of quiet peace when you read the Bible. By the grace of God, you may expect that to be a frequent experience, but often you will get no emotional response at all. Let the Word break over your heart and mind again and again as the years go by, and imperceptibly there will come great changes in your attitude and outlook and conduct. You will probably be the last to recognize these.

I love this quote! Growth in godliness is the result of consistently letting the Word of God “break over your heart”. Our hearts are like stones and the Word of God is like the ocean surf. We must regularly let the “surf” of God’s word break over our hearts and erode away our sinful thoughts, attitudes, and desires. That’s why regular devotional times are so crucial. Apart from regular time in the Word of God we simply won’t grow in godliness. It’s that simple. If you want to grow in your love for Christ, you must spend time sitting at his feet, hearing his words. There is no substitute.

Are you letting the Word of God shape your heart? Are you regularly spending time in the Word of God? The grace of God flows through his word, like water through a channel. We just need to stand in the channel.

Another Free Scripture Song

The reviews are in and the critics are raving about the free scripture songs we’ve been giving away.

Jonny Tsunami of Rolling Stone says, “We haven’t seen anything like this since Hanson released their smash single ‘Mmmmmbop’.”

Siskel and Roper say, “Look out Hannah Montana, there’s some new competition on the block.”

Bono of U2 says, “What are we talking about?”

And now we’re giving away another one. In all seriousness, we really believe that these scripture songs can really help you grow in scripture memorization. So we want to keep feeding your iPod with the word of God. Today we’re giving away 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV).

To download the free scripture song click here.

The CD’s from which these songs came can be purchased at Forever Grateful Music.

In case you missed the other scripture free scripture songs, you can download them here:

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

Psalm 30:4-5

Please pass these scripture songs on to as many people as possible!