“Frustrated with Your Prayer Life?” January 7

 

Frustrated with Your Prayer Life? - Do you ever feel inadequate or frustrated with your prayer life? If so, you're not alone. It appears even the disciples wanted more when they said, "Lord, teach us to pray."Do you ever feel inadequate or frustrated with your prayer life? If so, you’re not alone. It appears even the disciples wanted more when they said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

In our New Testament reading, we’ll talk about Jesus’ outline for prayer and how we can use it during our devotional time, along with another help that can lead to a consistent, satisfying prayer life. We’ll also talk about our motives for praying and other spiritual endeavors.

From our Old Testament reading check out “How Do You Evaluate Opportunities?” See how not to make decisions and some ways to evaluate opportunities.

Also, today, “The Joy of Spiritual Prosperity,” “The Fear of God,” and “The Importance of Forgiveness.” 

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 13 & 14
Psalm 4.4-8
Proverbs 2.1-5
Matthew 6.1-18

 

Frustrated with Your Prayer Life?

 

Matthew 6.1-18:

Motives

 

In the introduction to what we call the “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus begins with our motives. Why do we do what we do? Whether that means praying, fasting, giving, reading the Bible or anything else we do for the Lord.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 

16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

We shouldn’t do those things to look spiritual or receive recognition. If we do, that’s all the reward we will get! Our goal should be the same as Paul’s was in 2 Corinthians 5.9.

“I make it my ambition [some translations say goal or aim] whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to the Lord.”

Paul was saying, I want to please God with my life whether through life or through death. There may be other appropriate goals, but pleasing God should be our primary goal in all of life. When we do things out of our love for and a desire to please Him, He will reward us in obvious and less obvious ways.

When it comes to reading His Word, what would be pleasing to Him? Not to gather a lot of Bible knowledge so we can impress others. Not just to say we did it. Not to check one more thing off our to-do list.

We are to discipline ourselves to read and study and meditate on God’s Word for the purpose of becoming more like Christ (1 Tim. 4.7). Our desire should be to sit at His feet and come to know Him better (Lk. 10.38-42).

So as we start this new year in God’s Word, let’s read more thoughtfully. Let’s take time to ask God how we should apply it to specific areas of our lives and pray for His grace to make those changes.

The same principles apply to other things we do like praying, fasting, and giving.


“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”

 

#prayerMost people I talk to are to one degree or another, dissatisfied with their prayer life. We may know that we’re undisciplined about prayer and feel guilty about it. We may believe we don’t know how to pray. Sometimes, if we admit it, we’re bored with prayer because we seem to pray the same way about the same things day after day and even year after year.

First, we need to realize that we don’t earn God’s love by how or even how much we pray. The Christian life is not about earning anything. Jesus paid it all on the cross. If we belong to Him we have all the love and acceptance there is.

Prayer is about relationship. Like any relationship it grows as we spend time together, talking to one another, taking our cares to one another, and listening to one another.

All that said, I believe there are some things that we can do to have a more satisfying and consistent prayer life. One of those things comes from today’s reading, the passage we call “the Lord’s prayer.” It’s really more of an outline for prayer.

In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

We’re not alone in our struggles with prayer. In the parallel passage in Luke 11.1, one of the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” That request was followed by the same model prayer.

Most of the time we think of it as a prayer to be prayed word for word. That’s not wrong, as long as we’re not praying it repetitious or without thinking about what we’re saying (v. 8).

But if we take each phrase and expand on it in our own words, it becomes a framework on which to build our prayers.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” – Let worship be the starting point. You might pray one or more of the names of God or talk to Him about His various attributes or worship Him in some other way.

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done” – This is an opportunity to verbally submit your will to His.

“Give us this day our daily bread” – This is about more than food, but expressing all our needs to Him. Be specific.

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” – We should be asking Him to forgive us of our sins on a regular basis and staying in an attitude of forgiveness toward others. Again be specific. Confess known sin to Him and ask for His help to repent and go His way in that area.

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” – Ask Him for His protection. guidance and discernment. Bring your struggles to Him.

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever” – We should end as we began, with worship.

 

The Importance of Forgiveness

 

Jesus ended this passage on prayer by re-emphasizing the importance of forgiving others.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

If you are struggling to forgive someone, take it to the Lord, repent of your unwillingness to forgive, and ask for His help to forgive from the heart and then step out in faith and act on that forgiveness.

 

Pray as You Read the Bible

 

Another way of re-invigorating your prayer life is something I’ve talked about in recent weeks. It’s praying the Scriptures back to God as you do your Bible reading. The Psalms are especially good, but almost any passage can be turned into a prayer.

If you follow along with me this year, I’ll be giving an example of this at the bottom of each daily post. Check out today’s example below. You can read more about praying the Bible in “Praying the Bible: Why We Don’t Pray More” and “Praying through the Bible in 2018.”

 

Praying the Bible:

From Matthew 6.14-15 and 2 Cor. 5.9:

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

“I make it my ambition whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to the Lord.”

 

Lord, help me to forgive others their trespasses so I can be right with you and please you in this area of my life. Help me to be a good “repenter”—to be quick to seek Your forgiveness when I have sinned. Help me to be quick to seek forgiveness from others, as well, and to stay in an attitude of forgiveness when others sin against me. In Jesus name—amen.

 

Frustrated with Your Prayer Life? - Do you ever feel inadequate or frustrated with your prayer life? If so, you're not alone. It appears even the disciples wanted more when they said, "Lord, teach us to pray." #prayer #Lordsprayer #bible

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Genesis 13 & 14:

How Do You Evaluate Opportunities?

 

Chapter 13 contains an interesting story about Abram and Lot. We find them both prospering with growing herds and a growing need for water and pastureland. This caused strife between their herdsmen, so rather than allow that to happen, Abram suggested they split up.

Abram was the elder and certainly had the right to the best land, but he unselfishly gave Lot first choice of the land. Lot’s response was quite different, verses 10-13:

10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. 12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.

Lot, it seems, looked longingly at the prosperity and blessings this region offered without concern for the spiritual conditions to which he would be exposing himself and his family, setting the stage for events to come.

What is your first thought when offered a job or some other opportunity? Is it the thought of material blessing? Is it the prestige? Or are your first thoughts about how it might affect your family spiritually, how it might affect your marriage, or how your relationship with God might be affected?

Will taking on a new opportunity allow you to be involved in ministry? Will you have time to devote to God and your personal relationship with Him? If it involves a move, do you check out the churches or do you look primarily at the temporal advantages? Do you pray and seek God or do you make the decision which seems right to you and expect God to get on board?

Perhaps, too often we do the latter and then wonder why God isn’t blessing what we do. Let’s purpose as we start this new year to follow Elizabeth George’s advice when she says, “No decision made without prayer.” You can read more about it in this post, “4 Questions to Ask When Faced with Decisions.”

 

Psalm 4.4-8:

The Joy of Spiritual Prosperity

 

Verses 7-8, “You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

The psalmist understood that God offered something far beyond material blessings, something the “Lots” of this world do not understand. His blessings include a kind of peace, joy, and safety that cannot come from the world and cannot be purchased with money, fame, or success. They come from a relationship with Jesus Christ and a willingness to allow Him to be the Lord and Master of our lives.

 

Proverbs 2.1-5:

The Fear of God: Awe-Filled Respect

 

1 My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
4 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.

The Word of God and the wisdom of God lead us to the fear of God—that awe-filled respect in knowing that He alone is God and we are not!

 

Coming Up:

As we continue through Genesis, one of my favorite books of the Bible, we’ll meet real people with real stories like yours and mine. In the coming weeks, we will read more about Abraham and Sarah, about Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Esau, and Joseph, just to name a few. We’ll witness sibling rivalry, murder, favoritism, idolatry, deception, manipulation, and revenge. But through it all, we’ll see God’s sovereignty and grace and find hope for the messes we make of our lives.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope (Rom. 15.4).

In the New Testament, we’ll talk about our functional gods and consider those scary words, “I never knew you!”

Be sure to sign up here so you won’t miss any of these upcoming daily posts. If you sign up now you will have a chance to win one of the best books on prayer that I’ve read in a long time: Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney (sign up by January 31). You can read more about it below.

You can also sign up here for occasional Christian living posts on a variety of subjects or the weekly newsletter.

Blessings,
Donna

 

Why Read through the Bible in 2018? #Bible #NewYear #2018 #resolutions

Do you have a plan to grow spiritually 2018? If not, see why you should make it a goal to start a daily Bible reading plan.

 


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This Month’s Featured Resources:

 

Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney

“This little book is explosive and powerful.”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

When you pray, does it ever feel like you’re just saying the same old things about the same old things?

Offering us the encouragement and the practical advice we’re all looking for, Donald S. Whitney, best-selling author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, outlines an easy-to-grasp method that has the power to transform our prayer life: praying the words of Scripture. Simple, yet profound, Praying the Bible will prove invaluable as you seek to commune with your heavenly Father in prayer each and every day.

 

The MacArthur Daily Bible

The MacArthur Daily Bible takes a portion of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs for each day of the year, with daily comments that guide and inform you as you read through the Bible in a year. John MacArthur’s insight maximizes the benefit of each day’s reading. If a commitment to daily Bible reading never worked for you before, this is the answer. With John at your side, there’ll be no such thing as a tough portion of Scripture.

6 thoughts on ““Frustrated with Your Prayer Life?” January 7

  1. Prayer alongside of reading the Bible is more than just a good idea. It’s essential. As we sit in the passages with a prayerful spirit, it’s then that God makes the words personal! Thanks for this post!

    • Amen! I like the way you put that. The two together make up the give and take of relationship. So glad you stopped by, Karen.

  2. “We should be asking Him to forgive us of our sins on a regular basis and staying in an attitude of forgiveness toward others.” Amen and amen! If only we could see our need to repent and teach those we disciple the same…

    • Yes, we live in such a “me” time or maybe it’s really always been this way. Since we’re the center of our universe, it’s easy to justify not forgiving anyone who has hurt me, slighted me, or not co-operated with me. Instead, we need to contemplate just how much grace God has extended us and realize who are we to withhold grace from anyone else … at least speaking for “me.” 🙂

    • Mine, too! It’s something I feel like I’m always wanting to do more faithfully. I have to guard against coming under condemnation because it’s an area where I feel like I fall short.

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