When I do not pray I cannot overcome

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The second time and I believe it is the last time Joshua made a mistake in not praying before making a decision came when the Gibeonites came up with a plan. What a call to me when I even think about neglecting to pray. I can be so easily deceived and make wrong decisions. Then when I do not pray and fail, then those who I am responsible to and for, fail also.

The Israelites accepted some food from them, but did not consult the Lord about it. – Joshua 9:14  GNT

It is in my decision not to pray and walk through the word of God that  I am deceived by the evil one.

Here is a great prayer that shows the difference. It starts with a prayer for deliverance.

Save me, Lord, from evildoers;
    keep me safe from violent people.
They are always plotting evil,
    always stirring up quarrels.
Their tongues are like deadly snakes;
    their words are like a cobra’s poison. – Psalm 140:1-3  GNT

 “The persecuted man turns to God in prayer; he could not do a wiser thing. Who can meet the evil man and defeat him save Jehovah himself, whose infinite goodness is more than a match for all the evil in the universe?” – Spurgeon

Then moves to a prayer for preservation.

Protect me, Lord, from the power of the wicked;
    keep me safe from violent people
    who plot my downfall.
The proud have set a trap for me;
    they have laid their snares,
    and along the path they have set traps to catch me. – Psalm 140:4-5  GNT

“The ‘wicked’ may arrogantly desire, plan, and execute; but the Master of the universe cannot tolerate anarchy for long. To this end the plea changes into an imprecatory prayer.” – VanGemeren

There is a time of acknowledging that I am praying to the God of strength and salvation.

I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”
Hear my cry for help, Lord!
My Sovereign Lord, my strong defender,
you have protected me in battle.
Lord, don’t give the wicked what they want;
don’t let their plots succeed. – Psalm 140:6-8  GNT

When I pray, asking God to work for me and against those who desire to work evil is important.

In fact, I am encouraged to acknowledge the presence of those evil ones and pray specifically against them.

Don’t let my enemies be victorious;[b]
make their threats against me fall back on them.
May red-hot coals fall on them;
may they be thrown into a pit and never get out.
May those who accuse others falsely not succeed;
may evil overtake violent people and destroy them. – Psalm 140:9-11  GNT

This is a prayer of a heart poured out entrusting the punishment to God in heaven rather than taking it in my own hands.

It is a prayer for simple justice – for the evil they give, may they receive the same evil back. This is not evil for evil, this is like asking God to give us a cover and when the curese comes against us, it bounces off and returns back to the the one cursing.

The idea of course is that when they experience the power of their own curse in their lives that they would be destroyed and overthrown.

The prayer at the end is one of confidence in God being victorious.

Lord, I know that you defend the cause of the poor
    and the rights of the needy.
The righteous will praise you indeed;
    they will live in your presence. – Psalm 140:12-13  GNT

“At the time of the intervention and vindication, ‘the righteous’…will alter their prayers for deliverance…to songs of triumph.” – VanGemeren

I think the ability to be this courageous in prayer comes from a repentant heart.

A noise is heard on the hilltops:
    it is the people of Israel crying and pleading
    because they have lived sinful lives
    and have forgotten the Lord their God.
Return, all of you who have turned away from the Lord;
    he will heal you and make you faithful. – Jeremiah 3:21-22  GNT

The idea of prayer against evil people should translate to spiritual warfare as well.

When they returned to the crowd, a man came to Jesus, knelt before him, and said, “Sir, have mercy on my son! He is an epileptic and has such terrible attacks that he often falls in the fire or into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” – Mathew 17:14-16  GNT

“It is easy to feel Christian in the moment of prayer and meditation; it is easy to feel close to God when the world is shut out. But that is not religion – that is escapism. Real religion is to rise from our knees before God to meet men and the problems of the human situation.” – Barclay

It was because you do not have enough faith,” answered Jesus. “I assure you that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill, ‘Go from here to there!’ and it will go. You could do anything!” But only prayer and fasting can drive this kind out; nothing else can – Matthew 17:17-21  GNT

“There are some things which are obtained by a stronger faith, and by more fervent and importunate prayers, than others are. A mercy sometimes seems to come to out of the hand of God with more difficulty, and wrestling for it.” – Poole

There was no point in blaming the boy or his father or the demon, though the demon was strong and had been there long. The fault lay in the disciples. “When the ministers of the Gospel find their endeavours, with respect to some places or persons, ineffectual, they should come, by private prayer, to Christ, humble themselves before him, and beg to be informed whether some evil in themselves have not been the cause of the unfruitfulness of their labours.” – Clarke

I think that I show my faith in and reliance on God when I pray and fast. Prayer is that display with my occupation and my dependence on Jesus.

To pray with a sense of fervency brings a confidence that God will answer my prayer. How can I be moved with a dispassionate one where I give every indication that I am presenting to God an issue that I care little or nothing about?

If prayer and fasting demonstrates that I am willing to identify with the afflicted individual, and shows my regard of the strength of the demonic world as well as my dependence on God, and if it displays my incredible desire to fight and sacrifice for the sake of deliverance, then it all matters.

“He that would overcome the devil in certain instances must first overcome heaven by prayer, and conquer himself by self-denial.” – Spurgeon

For the ways he gives and sustains our physical life. For making us in his image, capable of knowing, loving, serving, enjoying him and other relationships; for preserving our lives thus far— bringing us through injuries and sicknesses so that we are alive today; for the supports and comforts that make our lives enjoyable, pleasant, and bearable; for the successes we have received, goals attained, and for the blessings we weren’t wise enough or capable of achieving but which he sent anyway. For the ways he gives and sustains our spiritual life. For the plan of salvation itself, and how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit planned it from the deeps of eternity; for Christ emptying himself of his glory for us; for his teaching and character that reveal to us the beauty of holiness; for Jesus’ death on our behalf, paying for our sins, fulfilling all the requirements, bringing us into a new covenant relationship with God through grace; for the Holy Spirit, for his power and presence in our lives enabling us to understand God’s truth, know his love and glory, be conformed to Christ’s character, and serve others with his gifts; for the Word of God, the Scripture— for its wisdom and truth, and its power; for the church, its congregations and leaders, who have shaped and formed us, who have helped us grow in faith, hope, and love; for the Christian friends who have given us so much; for the assurance of our salvation, that we can rest in the hope of future resurrection and living with him forever; for being able to know that, no matter what, everything will be all right. – Timothy Keller

Soul prayers for answers and guidance

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I look at prayer as part of my journey in being holy. I want to be holy because God has asked me to be holy.

Keep yourselves holy, because I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 20:7 GNT

John Wesley and his brother Charles were at Oxford University in England when they became part of a group dedicated to prayer, Bible study, self-examination, and works of charity. The group was called the “”Holy Club,”” and it included the great preacher George Whitefield. But even though John Wesley practiced rigid spiritual discipline, he grew increasingly frustrated. After three years in America, he wrote in his journal: “”I went to America to convert the Indians; but oh, who shall convert me?”” It wasn’t until after Wesley returned to England in 1737 that he realized he had been trying to practice holiness without a saving relationship with Christ. He was converted in 1738. John Wesley’s attempts to please God by religious activity and self-discipline put him in a long line of sincere, well-meaning people who have tried to manufacture holiness.

This is why I hear from those who pray everyday, read their Bibles daily, and go out and serve in the community and their lives are not transformed – they are so frustrated because they do not know why. I experienced this in a much smaller scale as a child – went to Sunday School every Sunday, memorized all the verses, tried my best to be a good student and yet something was missing.

As important as holiness is – being dedicated to and set apart for God – it is not meant to be achieved by human effort – God is the one who makes us holy.

 Obey my laws, because I am the Lord and I make you holy. – Leviticus 20:8 GNT

Now I can engage in what I call “soul” prayers. Let’s see if I can share what they look like with the help of Psalm 25.

“Prayer is the ascent of the soul to God; God must be eyed and the soul employed” – Matthew Henry

True prayer may be described as the soul rising from earth to have fellowship with heaven; it is taking a journey upon Jacob’s ladder, leaving our cares and fears at the foot, and meeting with a covenant God at the top. Very often the soul cannot rise, she has lost her wings, and is heavy and earth bound; more like a burrowing mole than a soaring eagle. At such dull seasons we must not give over prayer, but must, by God’s assistance, exert all our powers to lift up our hearts. Let faith be the lever and grace be the arm, and the dead lump will yet be stirred. – Charles Spurgeon

I trust God to keep me from shame.

 In you, my God, I trust.
Save me from the shame of defeat;
    don’t let my enemies gloat over me!
Defeat does not come to those who trust in you,
    but to those who are quick to rebel against you. – Psalm 25:2-3 GNT

I am open to being being taught and guided by God.

Teach me your ways, O Lord;
    make them known to me.
Teach me to live according to your truth,
    for you are my God, who saves me.
    I always trust in you. – Psalm 25:4-5 GNT

I ask God to forgive and forget my sins as I confess them. I appeal to the character of God.

Remember, O Lord, your kindness and constant love
    which you have shown from long ago.
Forgive the sins and errors of my youth.
In your constant love and goodness,
    remember me, Lord!

Keep your promise, Lord, and forgive my sins,
    for they are many. – Psalm 25:6-7, 11  GNT

“You or I may take a hold at any time upon the justice, the mercy, the faithfulness, the wisdom, the long suffering, the tenderness of God; and we will find every attribute of the Most High to be, as it were, a great battering ram with which we may open the gates of heaven.”   – Charles Spurgeon           

I focus on how God works and how He moves.

Because the Lord is righteous and good,
    he teaches sinners the path they should follow.
He leads the humble in the right way
    and teaches them his will.
 With faithfulness and love he leads
    all who keep his covenant and obey his commands. – Psalm 25:8-10 GNT

I experience intimacy with God.

Those who have reverence for the Lord
    will learn from him the path they should follow.
 They will always be prosperous,
    and their children will possess the land.
 The Lord is the friend of those who obey him
    and he affirms his covenant with them. – Psalm 25:12-14 GNT

I love getting closer to God when I pray. It is one of my most cherished thoughts that I could be a friend of God and through that friendship He shares things with me that are dear to His heart. Maybe even to the type of friendship that Abraham had with God.

I ask, I pour out my heart to the Lord to rescue me from danger, from loneliness, from my worries and distress and from the consequences of my sin. My eyes are on Him.

I look to the Lord for help at all times,
    and he rescues me from danger.
Turn to me, Lord, and be merciful to me,
    because I am lonely and weak.
Relieve me of my worries
    and save me from all my troubles.
Consider my distress and suffering
    and forgive all my sins. – Psalm 25:15-18 GNT

In order to continually lift my soul to the Lord, I need Him to guard it for without His help everything else can get out of order and turn into chaos. In Him I find refuge.

Protect me and save me;
    keep me from defeat.
    I come to you for safety.
May my goodness and honesty preserve me,
    because I trust in you. – Psalm 25:20-21 GNT

The evil that can present itself can be thwarted by the power of the Holy Spirit moving on my soul. As I wait on the Lord and seek Him continually, He will preserve me with integrity and honour and I will be in right standing with Him.

“Waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts.” – Eugene Peterson

“What they mean is that Christians should pray long enough and honestly enough, at a single session, to get past the feeling of formalism and unreality that attends not a little praying…If we “pray until we pray,” eventually we come to delight in God’s presence, to rest in his love, to cherish his will. Even in dark or agonized praying, we somehow know we are doing business with God. In short, we discover a little of what Jude means when he exhorts his readers to pray “in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20)—which presumably means it is treacherously possible to pray not in the Spirit.” – D.A. Carson

I ask on behalf of others.

From all their troubles, O God,
    save your people Israel! – Psalm 25:22 GNT

I remember the Lord’s Prayer when Jesus taught us “our Father”, “give us”, “forgive us” and “do not bring us”… This is the kind of prayer that connects us to the entire faith community.

When I pray at home, which is the place where I am safe, to search for meaning and identity, I deepen my interactions with family and from there find strength to face the increasing demands of life. We learn to pray and pray together and that enables us to be hope to other families who are in need for what we have found in Christ.

 But if any do not take care of their relatives, especially the members of their own family, they have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8 GNT

Our faith community is a place from where God can speak to us. As we pray for answers and guidance they can become instruments of divine counsel. There is wisdom there and experience.

To pray “give us – all the people of our land –
daily bread” is to pray against “wanton
exploitation” in business, trade, and labor, which
“crushes the poor and deprives them of their
daily bread.” – Luther