Tag Archives: Prayer

Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part IV – Overcoming Anxiety through Prevention

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.
Note: I encourage you to read the earlier posts associated with this series to give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of this topic. Click on the following links for the first three installments of the series: Part I – Root cause of depression & Part II – What anxiety does to the heart & Part III – Root cause of anxiety

Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad

– Proverbs 12:25

We can overcome depression by employing strategies that are implicit in the same foundational scripture that forms the bedrock of this series: (1) Stopping anxiety from getting into our hearts (2) Expelling the anxiety that enters our heart before it has a chance to morph into depression.

To effectively overcome depression, both strategies much be employed. While learning how to prevent anxiety from travelling from your mind into your heart is the preferred strategy, no one on this earth will be 100% effective at executing this strategy. Therefore, it is equally as important to learn how to extricate anxiety form your heart.

Stopping Anxiety From Getting Into Your Heart

To stop anxiety from getting into your heart, you have to guard your heart. The bible puts it this way: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23). The best way to guard your heart can be found in the following scripture:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds – Philippians 4:6-7

Point A: The peace of God guards our hearts as we humbly submit everything to God.

Whatever we do not submit to God, we take responsibility for, and we try to exercise control over. While taking responsibility is generally a good thing, there are many things we cannot and should not try to control. These include things such as what others will do, and what will happen in the future. It is only when we get rid of our illusion of control will we become humble enough to submit our situation into the hands of a supreme being.

Point B: Prayer is the bedrock of humility. It diverts anxiety from travelling into our heart and into the hands of God.

Prayer says “I can’t do it by myself, God I need you”. Hence, prayer is the language of humility. This does not mean that your situation will change immediately, if at all. What it does do is prevent your heart from being infected with anxiety.

Unfortunately, we often think of prayer as the last resort in our lives. Have you ever heard, “there is nothing more to do now but pray”. Have you said it yourself? This is an attitude that speaks to our tendency to want to feel a sense of control. While this may be good for our ego’s, it does nothing to relieve us of stress and anxiety.

Whatever you think you should have control over is what you will stress over or have anxiety over.

For peace of mind, prayer should be your first resort and not your last resort. Therefore, pray more and pray often. Let go of control and watch peace flood your heart.

In the next blog, I will address how to overcome anxiety through perspective.

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Zechariah – A man who prayed without ceasing

Zechariah was a devout man who observed all of the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly (Luke 1:6). If there was ever a man whose prayers should have been answered, it was Zechariah. Yet, he prayed for many years for a child with no success! After so many years of seemingly futile prayer (for Zechariah and Elizabeth were very old), Zechariah could have taken umbrage with God. If not that, he could have said in his heart that it was not God’s will for his life that he have a child..

But no, Zechariah was a man who understood that he was to be persistent in his seeking and knocking.

For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened – Luke 11:10 (AMP) 

For Zechariah to be persistent in his prayer required that he marry himself to the journey of praying and divorce himself from its outcome. In other words, he had to let go (not look at whether his prayer was paying dividend) but not give up (continue praying). Zechariah was able to let go because he understood that the eyes of the Lord are perpetually roaming the earth to make Himself strong on behalf of those that trust Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). He was able to wait on the Lord for a long time because he knew that those who wait on the Lord will not be ashamed.

As we know, Zachariah’s trust in the Lord (faith), his patience, and his persistence (perseverance) ultimately paid off! He was told by angel Gabriel that he would have a child.

Moreover, his faith and patience was rewarded with an extraordinary child. His child was John the Baptist: A man who was a joy and a delight, whom many rejoiced over, who was great in the sight of the Lord, who brought back the people of Israel to God, reconciled parents and children, and prepared the way for Jesus (see Luke 1:14-16).  His child was a man whom Jesus called the greatest man to ever live (Luke 7:28).

Consider this: Perhaps God loved Zechariah so much that he wanted him to father the fore-runner for Jesus. Perhaps He made Zechariah wait so that He could bestow that honor unto him. Just because we may not know what God is up to does not mean He is up to nothing!

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised – Hebrews 6:12

Here are a 3 things the story of Zechariah encourages us to do when it seems God has forgotten about our prayer requests.

Stay loyal to God

Our level of loyalty will determine our level of royalty. We must stay loyal and devoted to God not matter the circumstance in our life. God knows what He is doing. We must not equate delay with denial.

Stay Persistent 

Persistence is the key to winning in life. Winston Churchill is quoted to have said that success is the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss in enthusiasm. Others put it this way: Failures fail once and quit. Successful people fail may times but never give up.

Stay Patient Until it is Time

John the Baptist was worth the wait for Zechariah. In fact, Zechariah became immortalized in history because of the birth of his son. If God closes a door today, it is because he has a better door in store for you. Perhaps it goes without saying, but we must walk through the door that God does open. E.g. Though Zechariah was told he was to have a son, he still had to play his part by being intimate with his wife.

Food for Thought: God answers our prayers when the time is right!


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How Do I Guard My Heart (Part II) – Prayer and Thanksgiving

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God  and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Instead of guarding our own hearts, Philippians 4:6-7 makes it clear that is it the job of the peace that comes from God to guard our hearts when we go to Him in prayer and with thanksgiving. Once we submit our request to God, we can rest assured that He is not hiding His face from us (Ezekiel 39:29) and that He who has the whole world in His hands loves us so much that He is working everything together for our good.

See, prayer and petition is the way we cast our cares upon God (1 Peter 5:7). It is what guards our heart and mind from worrying (anxiety) by unleashing the peace of God into our hearts. Therefore, when the bible says to ‘guard our heart for out of it flow the issues of life’, it is saying that we should guard our hearts from worrying (through prayer and thanksgiving), because worrying which comes from fear (or a lack of trust in God) causes the issues of our lives.  Indeed, it is a lack of trust in God that causes us to choose the world over the word (see How Do I Guard My Heart – The Word) and so unleashes turmoil in our world

Light-bulb moment: The way to stop worrying is to start praying wholeheartedly in trust and surrender.

In conjunction with Part I of this two -part series, we see that the way to guard our heart is to spend time in the word, through discernment, via prayer and supplication, and with thanksgiving. It is these spiritual disciplines when done in trust and surrender that allows us to walk obediently in the Spirit. They are what guard our hearts and minds from the filth of the world.

Without understanding this, the tendency is to guard our own hearts away from people out of fear. Since there is no fear in love and fear involves torment (see 1 John 4:18), it is no wonder so many people are tormented in their relationships. Let me explain:

Many times for a person – let’s say Kevin – who has been hurt before, guard your heart means ‘do not allow yourself to be hurt again’. If Kevin does not understand how to guard his heart with the word, prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and through discernment, then ‘do not allow yourself to be hurt again’ for Kevin turns into ‘scrutinize my partners every move, try to control her life, and never allow yourself to fully trust her’.

Alas for Kevin, fear-based doubt and self-preservation leads the relationship instead of love-based faith. In response, Kevin’s partner feels suffocated, controlled, and imprisoned. As a result she fights back and the relationship goes through turmoil and fails.

Kevin, not realizing his fear was the culprit of the turmoil and failure feels that he successfully protected himself from hurt. He says to himself ‘Aha, I knew she was going to hurt me’. He does not realize that he has hurt himself. He has made his worst fear come to pass by taking fear-based actions which made it so – all because he did not know what is meant to guard his heart.

In the example, Kevin thought he was protecting himself from hurt, but all he was doing was keeping himself from love.

This also applies in our relationship with God. If we do not know how to guard our hearts, we guard our heart from love (God) and so are unable to unlock the power of God over our lives.

Food for Thought: When we guard our heart, we guard love (God) right out of it. When He guards our heart, He allows love to flow right into it.

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Overcome Your Mountain: ‘Speak in Faith’

iStock_000000883811XSmallThere are two kinds of mountains (troubles) we will face in this life: natural mountains (those we stumble upon) and self-made mountains (those we create).

Natural Mountains

Natural mountains are those that Satan places in our path to do us harm and to stifle our God given purpose and in so doing change our predestined path. Whether in the form of a lovely distraction or a deadly circumstance; whether inflicted by sickness or inflicted by people, these are real mountains we encounter simply because we live in a fallen world. Natural mountains represent the trials and tribulations to which Jesus says we shall overcome because He has already overcome the world (see John 16:33). Furthermore, the way we attain victory over these mountains is by introducing faith. Here is how the bible puts it:

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith – 1 John 5:4

Note that this passage does not say faith brings victory. It says that faith is our victory. Hence, faith is victory. It does not say victory (faith) will overcome the world. No! It says that victory (faith) has already overcome the word (past tense). From this, we can no longer call ourselves people of faith without living in victory over the trials and tribulation in our lives.

Self-made Mountains

Man-made mountains are those troubles we heap on ourselves though sin and disobedience. These are the mountains we have built up over time as we refuse to turn back from our evil ways (our heart) and our evil doings (our actions).

Now, it is this particular kind of mountain we have built in the impurity of our inner self (our ungodly hearts) that many of us fail to recognize, for we convince ourselves that God is only interested in what we do (actions). But this is not true! Here is what the bible says:

…For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart… – 1 Samuel 16:7

Hence, God cares as much about our hearts as He does about our actions. It is because of this truth that He calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers. Although they (the Pharisees) were blameless when it came to righteousness that came from the law (works or actions), their hearts needed major reconstruction!

Wait Emmanuel; does God correct us based on what is festering in our hearts? I am glad you asked. Here is what the scripture has to say about it:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart; I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings – Jeremiah 17:9 -10

The answer is yes! Moreover, this correction may come through the actions of other people – such as when God allowed the Chaldeans to take Judah captive as a result of Judah’s sin. While some of the false prophets thought it was the Chaldean’s fault, it was really the fault of the people of Judah for not repenting. Let me put it this way:

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If people are always causing you trouble, check yourself for you may be the problem. People tend to manifest and become the manifestation of what you have allowed in your heart.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If you are always climbing one mountain after the other, it is likely that you have put some of the mountains there. Have you?

Overcome Your Mountain – ‘Speak in faith’

Now, no matter the source of the mountain, faith remains the answer. All we have to do to overcome is ‘Speak in faith’. Note, I did not say ‘Speak in hope’. If your mountain is self-made, all you have to do is confess (acknowledge) and repent (turn away) from your sin and ask God in faith to relent in the time He may be found, and He will.

The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it – Jeremiah 18:7-8

Similarly, when you tell the natural mountain that you have stumbled upon to be removed in faith, the mountain will move.

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says – Mark 11:23

If in doubt as to the source of the mountain, instead of praying ineffective prayers, ask God to reveal its source (your heart or Satan) and then speak to it in faith. Remember what God has promised:

 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them – Mark 11:24

Food for Thought: We should not be mountain climbers but should be mountain movers

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3 Keys to Take Hold of Your Birth Right

Morning Sunrise near BellingenWhile the Lord had already given the promised land of Canaan to the Israelites, they still had to take possession of it (see Jeremiah 32: 22 -23).  Just as Israel had to take possession of the land God gave them, we also have to take possession of all the victory and glory that has already been won for us on the cross of Calvary. See, God has already paid the price for us so we may live heaven or earth and attain all the covenant blessings. It is now ours by birth-right – by being born again of His Spirit. Yet, many of us constantly forfeit our birth-right simply because we do not know how to take hold of it. How much it must hurt God to see us refuse His blessings.

So how do we take hold of our promised land (heaven on earth)? We take hold of it the same way that the Israelites took hold of their promised land – through faith and obedience, and by patience and prayer. And unlike the Israelites, we make sure that we keep our promised land by refusing to revert back to disobedience. We have to maintain an attitude of letting go and letting God.

Faith and Obedience

In the battle of Jericho, the children of Israel were successful because they obeyed the commandment of God by marching around the city seven times and by blowing their trumpets so that the city walls would fall. Think of how silly the commandment of God must have seemed. Some may have said, ‘Do what God? You mean to tell me that if I march around this city and blow my trumpet, that this wall, this great wall that is more than twelve feet wide is going to fall.  You are very funny God!’ But Joshua was well trained and understood that no commandment of God is silly. His faith was strong in the Lord and he had seen the power of His might beforehand. He knew He had to do just what God told him if the walls were to fall down and if they were to take the city.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Victory is not about our logic, thoughts, or feelings. It’s about faith-filled obedience to the word of God.

Patience

Looking again at the battle of Jericho, can you imagine the complaints against Joshua? ‘Come on Joshua, this is silly’, they must have said. ‘We have already walked around this city six times and nothing has happened. Instead of wearying us by walking, why don’t we build up our strength to take this city in battle?’ While it is tempting to revert to our own ways when we do not see the result of what God is telling us instantly, it is best to stick with what God has told us even if it means going around the same mountain many times. Remember, it took 21 days for the angel of God to reach Daniel because the Prince of Persia withstood him (see Daniel 10:12 – 13). Likewise, patience is essential if we are to take hold of the blessings God has for us. Remember, it is by faith and patience that we inherit the promises (see Heb. 6:12).

Prayer

After the victory at Jericho, Israel decided that they no longer needed God. They allowed success to get to their heads and so did not go to God in prayer prior to sending out an army against the puny city of Ai. As a result, they tasted defeat and lost men in battle. Oh, how too many of us leave God after He has granted the desires of our hearts. The story of the battle at Ai is a warning to us that we lose every time we forget God and take matters into our own hands.

If only Joshua had asked God (prayed) concerning what to do before he sent men to battle at Ai, God would have beforehand revealed the sin that existed in the camp (see Joshua 7:10 – 11). But no! Men had to die before God was sought after.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We suffer unnecessarily when we leave God out of our lives. Just as prayer was the first thing that went out of the window after the victory at Jericho, the erosion of a prayer life (not when asked) is always the first sign that we have begun to rely on our own strength.

To conclude, the keys to take hold of what is rightfully yours by birth are as follows:

(1) Seek God in prayer

(2) Obey His voice no matter what

(3) Patiently wait for the victory that is already yours.

When you do this and do not turn back, you ensure you spend all of your days in the Promised Land rather than be cheated taken into captivity by the king of Babylon (Satan). Satan has stolen too much from us. It’s time to take back what is ours!

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The Mind of Christ – The Obedience That Wins

While humility, prayer, and seeking the face of God are the first three legs of our race towards victory, obedience is the power that pushes us across the finish line and unleashes the blessings of God in our lives. This analogy to the relay in track and field illustrates that obedience is only powerful when done out a heart of love – a heart set on humility which in turn leads us to prayer and seeking the face of God. If our obedient action is not motivated by love, then it is motivated by greed or by fear. Too many of us are obedient to God because we simply want to use Him as our cash cow!

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Cash cow obedience is not born out of love but instead is born out of our greed and self-seeking.

Jesus gives an example of obedience that does not please Him when he describes the people that put ashes on their cheeks to show they are fasting. Although they were being obedient to fast (for Christ says when and not if you fast), the motivation behind it all was the adulation of the people around them. In actuality, their action had morphed into a form of idolatry, with their god being the need to be recognized. Since the penchant to be glorified rather than give God all the glory comes out of fear (of not being good enough, or of rejection), we see that it cannot please God for it is not done out of love. This is why Cain’s offering was not pleasing to God; why Jesus called the seemingly perfect and obedient keepers of the law brood of vipers; why our obedience at times do not yield any fruit for us

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Obedience is simply a seed. Just like any other seed, it has to be sown into ground that has been fertilized by love to be effective and yield fruit

Since the opposite good is evil (wickedness) and anything that does not flow out of God (love) is no good, it becomes clear that the command to ‘turn away from our wicked ways’ is not simply talking about turning away from disobedience, but is also addressing obedience that is steeped in fear. Therefore, the only way to turn away from our wicked way is to turn to love. Why turn to love-driven obedience? We do it so that healing can take place in our life and we can have peace. See, while our obedience can yield fruit in other people’s lives, why we are obedient is what determines whether fruit is produced in our lives. A fantastic example of this is Prophet Jonah.  Although his preaching of the Gospel yielded the fruit of deliverance for the people of Nineveh, it produced bitterness in him because He was not obedient out of love. This is why Jonah asked God to take his life even when Nineveh was spared. Sheesh!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: What we do determines whether other people are blessed. Why we do it is what determines whether we are blessed!

Once we have truly developed the heart of love behind obedience, the question is how do we put it into practice? How do we ensure we do not fall into the trap of looking at ourselves in the mirror and forgetting what we look like as soon as we leave – of falling into complacency? (See James 1: 23 – 24).

Some Practical ways to ensure we do not fall into complacency and into disobedience are as follows:

  • Read the Word (Give no place to the devil – Ephesians 4:27): We do this by arming ourselves with the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). We have to get to the point where we are so filled up with the Word of God that it leaves no room for any junk to enter.
  • Have Accountability Partners (Bear one anothers burdens – Galatians 6:7): We help each other lift our loads when we do not forsake godly gatherings but keep each other accountable to lead a godly life
  • Stay Away from Ungodly Company (A little leaven leavens the whole lump – 1 Corinthians 5:11): We have to ensure we rid ourselves of the sin (leaven) that is leavening our lump. At times, that means we must distance ourselves from people who do not care to discard their sin for any leaven is infectious and has a tendency to spread. Once the leaven is removed, the fellowship may be restored. Note that the relationship was never broken.

Food For Thought: Those who love God obey Him because they love Him

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The Mind of Christ – Praying and Seeking God’s Face

Humility is a must if we want our prayers not just to be heard BUT accepted by God (see ‘The Link between Humility and Answered Prayer’). When we humble ourselves and pray to the Father, for many of us, the first thing that He shows us is the reason why He has not been able to say yes to us. When we go to God in humility, He shows us the true condition of our hearts – those portions of our heart that have not been broken up and so cannot bear the good fruit we have requested. The truth is that when we go to our watchtower – that quiet place where we cannot be reached or disturbed; that place of solitude where we can humbly set our sight on God in prayer – our vision becomes clear and we can through His help see the true and full layout of our land (our heart). I love the way this truth is written in the book of Habakkuk. There, the word of God says:

I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me,
and what I will answer when I am corrected – Habakkuk 2:1 – 2

It is through fasting and praying that we stand our watch and set ourselves on the rampart. When we do this, God reveals to us what we truly look like and corrects our prideful and flawed attitudes and image. If we are at all smart and want to shorten our wilderness experience, we will not try to argue with God when He corrects us but instead will apologetically fall on our face, say sorry, and agree to what He tells us to do.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Prayer is a key ingredient in discovering what is keeping us from God best!

After we have sought the Lord and He has corrected us, the right response is to break up our fallow ground. If we do not, anything we do is simply a waste of time – just as a farmer who plants on soil that has not been prepared is simply wasting his seed. The house of Jacob did not understand this during the time of Prophet Isaiah. They did not understand why God was not responding to their fasting, praying, and reading His Word. They asked God ‘Why have we fasted and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls and You have not taken notice?’ To this, God in essence replies ‘You have sin. You keep on doing the ‘right’ things but you have not corrected your erroneous ways’. The 58th chapter of Isaiah describes this very well – one excerpt from the chapter is given below:

“Tell my people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God…they take delight in approaching God – Isaiah 58:2

Our refusal to be corrected by God is the biggest impediment to us progressing in life. No amount of fasting, prayer, seeking or any other magic formula will do. We can ask, but His response will always be ‘Clean house in this area I have shown you first’.

Just as a piece of jewelry is just another lost item in a very junky house, the seed of the word of God gets lost and quickly losses its value if not sown into a receptive heart. The word of God tells us that the pre-requisite to seeking the face of God (seeking the word of God) is breaking up our fallow ground. Once prayer has revealed the location and depth of the ground we must break up, we must actively begin the digging with the help of God by exercising forgiveness, letting go of past baggage, journeying through our childhood to rid ourselves of past hurts, and laying all of what we are at His feet.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: After prayer has revealed the junk in us, we must begin the process of ‘cleaning house’ if we are to find the face of God!

Glory to God that we do not grow weary in seeking His face but persevere, we will find it and He will shower us with the riches of His inheritance. Hallelujah!

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you – Hosea 10:12

So, why is important to pray and seek the face of God? It is the only way we can experience the flood of His goodness (righteousness) in our lives.

Here are the practical steps we have seen so far to set ourselves up to experience the flood of His goodness:

  • Humble ourselves (see How can I grow in Humility?)
  • Fast and pray to discover unsavory areas of our lives (see Habakkuk 2:1 – 2)
  • Deal with the junk that God reveals is present in us by His power (see John 15:2)
  • Seek His face (His word)

Food for Thought: We experience the blessings of God when we till the land of our heart

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The Mind of Christ – The Link between Humility and Answered Prayer

In ‘Are You Experiencing the Love of ‘The One’?’ we established that the mind of Christ (which is the mind of success and victory) consists of the key elements of Humility, Prayer, Seeking the face of God, and Obedience. Knowing that these key elements build one on another, we then looked at the importance of humility and the practical ways to grow it in ‘How can I grow in Humility’. It was important to examine humility first and foremost because without it, the remaining aforementioned elements are highly unlikely to yield any fruit or any victory in our lives.While this statement may be somewhat hard to swallow, we can examine the truth of it by taking a look at the role of humility in getting our prayers answered.

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Humility is paramount if the other keys – prayer, seeking the face of God, and obedience – are ever to produce victory in our lives.

When it comes to prayer, the good news is that God always hears it. We know this for the Word of God says that the ‘hand of the Lord is not heavy that it cannot save, nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear’ (see Isaiah 59:1). Hallelujah, there it is! The Lord is always willing to listen to our requests, petitions, and desires – He hears us every time we communicate with Him. Now, the not so good news from our point of view is how He may choose to answer those petitions of ours. While God hears our prayers, He has a choice to either accept them (say Yes) or to reject them (say No). Since this is the case, the question then becomes how do we get God to accept our prayers? The answer is humility (which produces faith for it is steeped in love)

Note: ‘Not now’ and ‘silence’  have not been included in the way God answers our prayers because these are simply ‘delayed yes’ or ‘delayed no’ responses. At times, we receive delayed responses because God is trying to grow us up, point our attention to some unsavory areas of our lives, or simply because a spiritual battle is taking place (see Daniel 10: 13).

With regards to humility and prayer, His Word tells us that He will NOT reject (despise) a broken spirit and a humble (contrite) heart (see Psalms 51:17). Therefore, we know that He will not reject our prayers (our requests, petitions) when we are operating in humility. We see further proof of humility being linked with answered prayer in the book of Daniel where the angel of the Lord says to Daniel:

“Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words” – Daniel 10:12

This passage tells us that humility is a pre-requisite to our words being heard (accepted) by God and for Him to move on our behalf – the sending of the angel in Daniels case. This passage also tells of the importance of actually speaking to God. Without speaking to God (praying), the angel would not have come, and Daniel’s request – which was the explanation of his vision – would not have been granted. That just goes to show that we indeed have to ask in order to receive (see Matthew 7:7). It also shows us that we do not have to guess concerning our visions and dreams or anything else in life. We can just go to the Father who will longs to give us what we desire of Him when we abide in Him (see John 15:7)

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Humility is a pre-requisite to our words being heard (accepted) because humility is required in order for us to abide in the Father!

So why is humility so crucial to answered prayer? Simply put, humility is the passport that leads us to a place of surrender and causes us to exchange our desires for His desires. In fact, if we do a study of the Greek word for prayer (proseuchomai), we find that it can be interpreted as interacting with the Lord by replacing our wishes with His wishes as He imparts faith! This then explains what James was talking about when he says that we ask and do not receive, because we ask amiss, that we may spend it on our pleasures (see James 4:3). He is saying that we ask (pray) amiss when we ask in order for our own desires (pleasures) to be fulfilled rather than His desires (plans, purpose and pleasures for us) to be fulfilled. Asking for our desires to be fulfilled rather than His desires comes from a place of pride (thinking we are more than we are and we know best) and not humility (knowing that God knows best). It comes from a lack of the knowledge of His love; that His plans are always to prosper us and to give us a future and a hope (see Jeremiah 29:11). While our plans glorify ourselves, His plans glorify the Son in the Father. When in humility, we align ourselves with His plan; we find the following passage to be true:

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” – John 14:13 -14

Furthermore, the scriptures say that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (see James 5:16). As such, for our prayers to be effective, they have to be steeped in humility. The bible also tells us that the promises of God in Christ are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ to the glory of God (see 2 Corinthians 1:20). Thus, if we want our prayers to be answered ‘Yes’, we have to be in Christ for it is then He is glorified, and we have to operate in humility. If we want to here ‘no’ we can continue in pride and self-seeking!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  Humility is intrinsically linked with the word ‘to pray’. Therefore, prayers that are not steeped in humility are simply ineffective words that help us tick the box of prayer but yield no fruit.

Food for Thought: We must grow in humility if we want our prayers answered

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The Mind of Christ – Are You Experiencing the Love of ‘The One’?

Today, it is not uncommon to hear people say ‘I am looking for the one’. While the use of ‘the one’ for me invokes thoughts of the Matrix, its use is more commonly reserved for that individual we just know is perfect for us. A real superhuman who brings us love, joy, and peace. A passionate, compassionate, forgiving, courageous, hard-working, faithful, kind, gentle, patient, and self-controlled soul who loves us for who we are. If you are looking for such a person, then today is your lucky day for I have their contact information. They can be reached at 1800-ELI-DIAL, 1800-THE-WORD, or Jesus@walkintheSpirit.com.

While this contact information is obviously fictitious, it does point to the truth that God has already made a way for us to reach or contact Him through the sacrifice of His Son.  There is no other way! It is only when we accept Jesus that we are given the contact information to get to ‘The One’.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” – John 14:6

When we call upon ‘The One’, He (God) stirs up the Holy Spirit within us to move on our behalf – to guide us, empower us, and to rain down all the goodies of the Kingdom of Heaven that He (Holy Spirit) has brought with Him. However, many of us do not fully experience these goodies (love, joy, peace etc) because we seldom dial Eli (God) on the prayer line, fail to spend time in His Word, and choose not to walk in the Spirit.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We have to spend time with ‘The One’ if we are to ever experience His love.

Now, our example of always being in contact or having perfect fellowship with ‘The One’ is Jesus. We know He had continuous unbroken fellowship with the Father because He did not sin. In fact, that fellowship was so tight and so close that Jesus said ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in Me’. And because of that fellowship, He was able to imitate God in speaking what the Father spoke and doing the great works that the Father did (see John 14:10).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When we contact and fellowship with God, He enables us to bring forth the goodies and works of heaven into the earthly realm through the empowerment of His Holy Spirit.

The question then is this: How did Jesus do it as a man? How did He stay in constant contact with the Father? If we can answer this question, then we have a real shot at experiencing love (God) the way we should (since we have been granted access), and do the greater works He said we will do (see John 14:12). If we can have the same mind as Christ, then we can follow in His footsteps.

Since God desires for us to be in constant fellowship with Him, He gave us the answer of what the mind of Christ looks like through Paul the Apostle. He says:

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:5 – 8

So there it is. The answer is humility and obedience.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  Every time we set our minds on humility and obedience, we achieve the mind of Christ.

Since humility and obedience are the keys, it is important to know the practical steps to become humble and obedient – although we know they both flow out of love. In the case of humility, we ought to get to the point of humbling ourselves rather than have life humble us through vicissitudes. Similarly, the prerequisite to obeying God is asking what He wants us to do (via prayer) and verifying His direction for us (seeking His face). Thus, the mind of Christ can be expanded to include prayer and seeking the face of God.

When we develop a mindset of humility, prayer, seeking God’s face, and obedience, the bible tells us that God hears us and heals our land.

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

See, when we develop the mind of Christ, everything we think to request of God glorifies Jesus (for we have the same mind as Him) and so the Father hears us and grants us those requests (see John 14:13 – 14). Thus, when we tell the mountain to be moved, it is moved. When we tell the devil to flee, He flees. When trials and tribulations come, they do not stand a chance against us. Hallelujah! But God does not stop there! He also rains down righteousness upon us until the land of our hearts is restored and the fruit of love, joy, peace, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness, patience, goodness, and self-control is produced. He transforms us into ‘the one’.

We will examine the practical ways to develop the mind of Christ together in the concluding parts of the Mind of Christ. Please stay tuned.

Food for Thought: We cannot truly be ‘the one’ for our families until we develop the mind-set of ‘The One’ which consists of humility, prayer, seeking God, and obedience.

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I Am a Good Christian, So Why Am I Not Being Blessed?

What Am I Doing Wrong?

Many of us miss out on the blessings that God wants to bestow upon us because we think we have not sinned – that we have no sin to confess. We say ‘I have not done anything wrong, so I have not sinned and so have no sin to confess’. We say this because we erroneously think that sin occurs in the doing; in our actions. But this is not what the bible teaches us about sin. See, if sin was solely based on actions (obeying a set of rules), then apostle Paul would have been sinless! We know this because he tells us that he was blameless (guiltless) with regards to the righteousness (purity or holiness) that comes from the law or works (see Philippians 3:6). But Paul knew better than to think he had no sin because he was flawless in obeying the ordinances of the law. He knew his righteousness was like a filthy rag (see Isaiah 64:6) in the sight of God and that only God could impart righteousness onto him (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We can be perfect in our actions and still be full of sin, for sin is not measured by how well we are able to keep the law.

The question then is this: If sin is not about actions, when have I sinned? Jesus gives us the answer in the following passage:

“But I say to you that whoever looks at woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” – Matthew 5:27

Jesus is saying here that adultery (which is a sin) has already taken place when it reaches our hearts. In other words, we have to pay attention to our heart intentions. It is important to state that Jesus did not say ‘committed adultery with her in his mind’. If Jesus had said this, then sin would occur the moment we are tempted in our minds. But this is not so, for temptation is not sin. The scriptures tell us that Jesus Himself was tempted as a man in this world, but he did not sin (see Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, Jesus did not sin not because He was not tempted, but because He did not allow the temptation to reach His heart; He did not allow the temptation to linger long enough in His mind to enter His heart, but rather rebuked it away with the Word of God. Hallelujah!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Temptation only becomes sin when it crosses the barrier between our mind and enters into our hearts.

It is because sin has already taken place when temptation enters our hearts that the bible tells us that we deceive ourselves and that the truth is not in us if we say we have no sin (see 1 john 1:8). So you ask – how can I not sin? Well, here it is. The only way not to have any sin in our heart is to walk non-stop in the Spirit; we have to walk perfectly in the Spirit like Jesus did. Note that the bible tells us that if we are not walking in the Spirit, then we end up walking in the flesh or in sin (see Galatians 5:16). So, if you can master walking in the Spirit 24/7 for the rest of your life, then congratulations! You have no sin. If like us mere mortals (and you are being honest with yourself) you slip out of your Spirit-walk, then you have to confess your sins (see 1 John 1:9). The Hebrew word for sin (hata) literally means to ‘miss the mark’. We miss the mark when we are not walking in the Spirit. Conversely, we do not miss the mark when are walking in the Spirit (abiding in Him); this is why the bible says that whoever abides in Him does not sin (see 1 John 3:6). See, the challenge we fail is that of abiding in Him. It is not enough that He abides in us (that we have the Spirit), but we have to abide in Him ( walk in the Spirit). This is what Paul implores us to do (see Galatians 5:25).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If we say we have no sin, we are saying that we are walking perfectly in the Spirit. If we say we are walking in the Spirit perfectly, we have already deceived ourselves.

Now that we know we have fallen short, we have to check our hearts to see what is in there that is keeping us from God’s best. Is it the sin of unforgiveness? Is it lust? Is it envy or jealousy or pride? What is it? See, just because we put up all the barriers and boundaries we want so that we do not act on what is in our hearts does not mean we have no sin. All it means is that we are at best trying to keep ourselves and others from harm, and at worst hiding who we truly are by saying ‘see, my actions are flawless, therefore I am a righteous person’.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We fool ourselves when we do not take care of our sinful hearts (not sinful actions). While our actions determine whether other people are blessed, it is our heart intentions that determine whether we are blessed for those actions – for God cannot bless sin and disobedience.

Yes, God in His mercy can still pull us undeservedly out of situations and grant us favor, but with sinful hearts, we never experience the fullness of the riches of the inheritance that He has for us. To keep our hearts from being infiltrated by the temptations we endure, we must guard it with the sword of the Spirit (meditating on the word of God), prayer, command our angels to do battle on our behalf, and rebuke the enemy with His words flowing from our mouths. We must stay vigilant, humble, and surrendered.

When we fail to realize that sin occurs in the heart, we fail to put up barriers between our mind and heart and so we fall into sin immediately. Most of us spend our lives putting up all sorts of barriers (including locking ourselves away from the world because everything causes us to fall) between our heart and our actions without realizing that we have already sinned. It is those of us that do this that are always wondering why God is not moving in our lives! To this we usually fall into the trap of more legalistic law keeping or we simply convince ourselves that God does not have particular goodies for us! As if God withholds goodies from His children (see Matthew 7:11)

Food for Thought: If you are not eating of the good of the land, go to the doctor (see Paging Doc Jesus) to check your heart for you may very well have heart disease.

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