A Praying Family

Not one word in Scripture is wasted: not one word is redundant or replaceable. When Jesus taught us to pray to a Heavenly Father, He taught us to say, “OUR Father.” That means we are all His children, with His Holy Spirit helping us to grasp this—The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that WE are God’s children. Now if WE are children, then WE are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ… (Romans 8:16-17). 

Did you know that the word saints never appears in the singular in Scripture? No one person is singled out for his or her saintliness. Because we are saintS, praying together to OUR Father, this means accountability. For some people, accountability is a bad word. It seems to them to feel like someone is looking over their shoulder or checking up on them. But Christians should never feel this way! I like how Ken Blanchard defines this: “Accountability means: We owe each other for something we’ve agreed upon.” 

What have the saints of God agreed upon? That God is our Father, that Jesus is His Son and our Brother, and that the Holy Spirit is our Helper. We’ve agreed that if we are brothers and sisters in God’s family, we are mutually accountable to one another. 

In the context of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, being mutually accountable means: 

  1. Power in our prayersgive US today our daily bread. Jesus talks about the power in agreement, and the apostle Paul emphasizes how the Holy Spirit helps believers harmonize in prayer with each other and with God’s will (Matthew 18:19-20; Romans 8:27). 
  1. Strengthening of our characterforgive US our debts, as WE also have forgiven our debtors. Jack Hayford points out that, “The believer’s best defense against self-deception is through mutual accountability to one another.” In order for our character to be strengthened, we have to allow others to speak into our lives—even the lovingly painful words (Proverbs 27:17, 6). 
  1. Protection from falling to temptationlead US not into temptation, but deliver US from the evil one. Samson became entangled with a prostitute when he was all by himself; Elijah became depressed when he sent his servant away; David fell into sin when he was alone; Peter denied Christ when all of the other disciples had run away. That’s why the writer of Hebrews counsels us to stick close to our Christian family members (Hebrews 10:21-25). 

In an earlier post, I noted that how we view God is going to determine what we pray and what we expect after we pray. Coming together and praying together will help us see God better. Just as the angels around the throne are always crying out to each other “Holy! Holy! Holy!”, when we come together we can show our fellow saints what we’ve learned about our holy Father’s love and power. This is both an encouragement to others and allows others to be an encouragement to us too. Then together we can pray more boldly and expect great things in response to our prayer. 

Being mutually accountable to the saints in prayer…

  • hallows God as our Father

  • glorifies Jesus as our Brother

  • honors the Spirit as our Helper

God never intended that you would have to walk through life alone. He wants us to share the journey with fellow saints—His family made up of our brothers and sisters. This praying family truly honors God’s name! 

Join me on Sunday as we continue to learn more about prayer. 

Book Reviews From 2015

3 Quotes From Rick Warren On Christmas

On This Holy NightI have been sharing quotes from On This Holy Night all week. It’s an excellent book from six insightful authors—John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, Max Lucado, Rick Warren, David Jeremiah, and Jack Hayford—that will open your eyes to the beauty of the Advent. Here are some quotes from Rick Warren’s chapter entitled “What Will You Find At Christmas?”

“What are you going to find this Christmas? I’ll tell you what you’re going to find: you’ll find what you’re looking for. … And there’s no better time than Christmas to become the kind of seekers the wise men embodied. Wise people still seek Christ.”

“Real peace is knowing that no matter what I do, God will never stop loving me. Real peace is knowing that no matter what happens, God will never leave me alone. He’ll always be with me. Real peace means that no matter what happens in the New Year, or in the years to come, I know that God is going to give me the strength to handle it. Real peace is living by God’s Word, the Bible, so I can avoid a lot of the needless hang-ups and hurts and habits that mess up my life.”

“Religion is just man’s attempt to get to God. Relationship is when you get to know Jesus Christ in a personal way and He becomes a Friend.”

You can also read other quotes I’ve shared from On This Holy Night:

And be sure to check out my review of On This Holy Night here.

2 Quotes From Jack Hayford On God’s Favor

On This Holy NightI really enjoyed On This Holy Night! The unique perspective from six talented authors gives a freshness to the Christmas story. Jack Hayford wrote a very intriguing chapter called “I Wish You A ‘Mary’ Christmas,” and I have shared two of his quotes for you.

“We tend to think of virginity only in terms of innocence and purity. Of course those terms are appropriate, but Mary’s virginity did not provide an earned holiness to which God might respond with a miracle. If we think the Mary Miracle can only work in us if we are innocent, pure, and untouched, then most of us will give up and go home. I’m not talking about whether you have been tarnished or sullied in the sexual dimension. That’s not the point. All of us have been marred in numerous ways by our sin and weakness. Mary’s virginity is telling us this today: we don’t have to be pure, innocent, or untarnished to receive the miracle. Mary’s virginity represents the impossibility, humanly speaking, of life coming forth. We need to see her virginity as a picture of the hopelessness of the situation.”

“I discovered that the verb translated ‘highly favored’ [Luke 1:28] is only used two times in the whole New Testament. It’s used for Mary: ‘You are highly favored.’ … But it’s also in Ephesians 1:6, which says you are ‘accepted in the Beloved.’ … The same thing that was said of Mary is also said of us. And that brings with it the same possibilities and the same miracle presence, because the same degree of favor is present. You and I are highly favored!”

You can also read other quotes I’ve shared from On This Holy Night from John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, Max Lucado, and David Jeremiah, and you can read my book review here.

On This Holy Night (book review)

On This Holy NightHere’s a great book to get you ready to celebrate Christmas: On This Holy Night. Just when you thought you had heard the Christmas story from every angle, six brilliantly insightful authors open our eyes to a fresh look at the First Advent.

John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, Max Lucado, David Jeremiah, Rick Warren and Jack Hayford are no strangers to millions of book readers around the globe. Their books have been so well received because of the unique insights they bring to everything they write.

In On This Holy Night, we are given a fresh look at the stable, the wise men, Joseph, Mary, and, of course the Messiah Jesus. I would encourage you to read a chapter each day during the countdown to your Christmas celebration, to help you really see the true meaning of Christ’s birth at Bethlehem.

I am a Thomas Nelson reviewer.

Over the next five days, I will be sharing some quotes from this book from Maxwell, Hybels, Lucado, Jeremiah, Warren and Hayford, so be sure to check back each afternoon this week.

Book Reviews From 2013

National Sin And Repentance

The Secrets of Intercessory Prayer“It is a sad thing when a nation’s sins accumulate to the point that God says, ‘Here, if you want that, you can have all of it and the hideous things that come with it. You have removed yourself from My mercy and its preventative grace.’ Preventative grace is a term we use to describe the merciful actions of God—essentially unseen in their execution and, by many, seldom honored because God’s kindness is presumed to be our right (if indeed He does exist, as unbelievers say). …America, for instance, has invited God out of its life, His Word out of its educational system and His moral values out of its laws. The plagues of venereal disease, gang warfare, teen suicide, divorce (the list could go on) are the direct outflow of the darkness to which our land has surrendered. However, our nation has not yet been swamped to the point of complete ruin—and therein is our call. As people who know our God, prayer for our land can bring healing. The passage is a virtual signal flag, summoning us with the assurance that it is not too late yet. God’s mercy promises that with our intercession, ‘Help is on the way!’ (see 2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 Timothy 2:1-5).” —Jack Hayford, The Secrets Of Intercessory Prayer (emphasis added)

What a powerful promise in Scripture:

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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Pastor, God’s blessings can return to our nation IF our people will humble themselves and pray. But our people will not do this unless we go first, and model the way for them!

Look how Nehemiah identified with the sin of Israel, and went first in his prayer of confession and repentance—

Let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer Your servant is praying before you day and night for Your servants, the people of Israel. I CONFESS THE SINS WE ISRAELITES, INCLUDING MYSELF and my father’s family, have committed against You…. (Nehemiah 1:6)

Lead the way, pastor, before it is too late for us.

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