Category Archives: Prayer

Who Sets Your Agenda?

Last week, I took a break from the daily grind of work and walked to my car which is parked in the parking garage at my work.  I shut the door to my car and resisted turning on the radio for some background noise.  I picked up my personal cell phone to put it on silent and noticed that I had multiple texts that I had yet to address… so I quickly worked through them.  While doing so, my blackberry from work was “dinging” with e-mails and calendar reminders… once again, I scanned them quickly and put my phone on silent.  My attempt to withdraw has already been sidetracked multiple times!

To some extent, I believe that this 10 minute exercise represents a microcosm of my life (I’m guessing yours as well).  There are phone calls to make, deadlines to meet, agendas to keep, and that is just during the work day.   My effort of even putting this all aside during the middle of my work day has led me to conclude:

1. Communion with God requires effort

I’m typically not one to shy away from effort, with the caveat being that my effort is for something that I desire!  Too often, I find that my desires are based on selfish motives.  I desire success in my job, the feeling of being a valuable member of my team, and the satisfaction of a task well done.  I was recently challenged to consider my use of time as a plumb line for determining my desires (any one else not want to answer that challenge?!).

2. Communion with God requires the denial of self

Too often, my thoughts are more “kingdom” focused than “Kingdom” focused (little “k” vs. big “K”).  My outlook is more temporal than eternal and my desires more superficial than genuine.  In fact, my entire purpose of withdrawing during the middle of my work day was to test myself regarding the driving force in my life: work or communion with the living God?

3.  Communion with God requires the submission of one’s will

Until I was able to shut down “Travis’ agenda”, I had no chance for true communion with God.  I praise God that he works in me through the power of the Holy Spirit, consistently and faithfully drawing me into communion and prayer.  While my shortcomings are many and my faults easily identifiable, I can boldly ask God, just as King David did, not to cast me away from His presence nor take His Holy Spirit away from me (see Psalm 51:11).  I am forever indebted to the grace of God and my God does not withhold good from those who walk uprightly (see Psalm 84:11).

To reduce it all down to one sentence, communion with God requires effort, denying oneself, and the submission of one’s will.  I pray that my journey to true communion with the living God will come quickly today!

Blessings,

Travis

 

 

Encouraging Prayer

This post is mainly written to myself as a way of encouraging myself to engage in the joy and discipline of prayer.  My wife and I enjoyed some great conversation as we traveled to and from my grandpa’s 70th birthday party (4 hours in the car and a total of 7 hours out of the house away from the kids).  To be utterly transparent, I think I may have discovered the number one barrier to the vibrant prayer life that I desire:

P – R – I – D – E

What a truly ugly word!  I loathe the reality that it currently describes my prayer life.  I believe the reason that my prayer life has sputtered and become ineffective is because I have allowed myself to think more highly of myself that I ought to. For how can one be dependent on God, when he thinks that he has gotten things figured out!  Anyone else ever been there???

I believe that our prayer lives are direct reflections of our dependence on God (i.e. our faith).  What is faith but dependence on God and trusting in His promises.  It should be out of our sheer helplessness that we stretch forth hands of faith in prayer and dependence.  A heart aligned with God does not boast or think highly of what has been accomplished in his own life, but instead projects with gratitude the glory to God.  Prayer should not become some obligation nor duty, but an overflow of faith that cries out for God to move on our behalf.

I came upon this quote that I love from E.M. Bounds on Prayer – “True prayers are born of present trials and present needs.  Bread for today, is bread enough.  Bread given for today is the strongest sort of pledge that there will be bread tomorrow… No amount of praying done today will suffice for tomorrow’s praying”

I pray that this will be my model.  That my children would see me as a man of prayer with present needs to bring before my Creator and Lord.  That I would encourage my wife and all that I come in contact by projecting my faith on God in utter dependence and humility.

Blessings,
Travis
_____________
Father God, thank you for your reminder of my need to cast aside my pride (to kill the sin), to align my heart with yours, and project my faith on it’s true object, Jesus.  Help me to never lose sight of my daily need for the cross of Jesus in my life.  Impress upon my heart the need for DAILY bread and communion with Jesus.  Strengthen my faith and dependence on you.  Thank you for my wife and family and for leading me in truth.  Thank you for changing me and not leaving me the same as I was yesterday!  In the precious, holy, cleansing name of Jesus.

Urgent Prayer Request

Please pray for Tommy and Amber Flinn and their baby boy Miles Lawton Flinn.  Miles was born late Thursday evening and has been having difficulties breathing.  Please pray for God’s merciful healing on this baby’s life!  Tommy and Amber are believers who trust God, but they need the peace of God to transcend every aspect of this trial.

“And they implored Him (Jesus) that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured” ~ Matthew 14:36

Let us enter the throne room with bold, confidence before our Lord that we might implore Jesus on behalf of Miles!

Pray and Watch

“Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning.  Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.  In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to you and eagerly watch.” ~ Psalm 5:1-3

How many people cried out to God for help this morning?  How many people cried out to God with the expectancy that He will hear your voice?  How many people ordered up their prayer to God and now eagerly watch for his answer?

My hunch is that more people would answer in the affirmative to the first and second questions than the third.  The follow-up application is to consider why it is that that we don’t pray with and eager, expectant watch for the answer of the almighty God.  Maybe it is time that we heed the words of God spoken through the brother of Jesus, “You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2b-3).

O Lord, I long to be a disciple who will order up prayers to you in intimate communion with the God who made me.  Let my heart be ever turned towards your heart, and teach me to have the bold, confident, faith to eagerly watch for your answer!

Isabel Hope & Elliana Faith

I’m at a loss of words for where to start this blog post, so I started it with a picture.  The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of events in our home.  I am in awe of God for his protection and provision for our family (which started 4 years ago today – Happy Anniversary Angela !).  I am so incredibly grateful for my wife’s health and the birth our twin girls.  Isabel Hope (left arm – right in picture) and Elliana Faith (right arm – left in picture) were born on May 28, 2009.  They were born via c-section weighing 3 lbs 15.8 oz and 5 lbs 10.2 oz respectively.  While Elliana and mother were able to come home from the hospital on Monday, June 1st, Isabel remains in the NICU as she continues to grow and catch up from her intrauterine growth restriction due to her two-vessel cord .  My heart is so grateful as I reflect on the events of the past week, months, year, etc.  My joy in the Lord is as strong now as it ever has been.  I can see his goodness in the midst of trial and praise him.  I see His protection for His children (my wife and I) as He sees fit to answer prayers according to His will and not ours (Mark 14:36)!  I see we have a God who truly answers our prayers and am thankful for the body of Christ and everyone who has committed to pray for us.  I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts at a later date ~ but I just wanted to give Him praise, because he is worthy and due all glory, honor, and praise (Revelation 4:11).

Surpassing Peace

It’s been a whirlwind of a week for my wife and me.  My wife is almost 29 weeks pregnant with twins and has been experiencing some signs of preterm labor.  That is only part of the story, as we returned to the hospital the next day to be monitored again and to spend the night in the hospital.  As I sit here, blogging from the hospital awaiting our second, and hopefully final, night of staying in the hospital this trip, the Lord is currently seeing us through this trial.

It’s easy to say that the Lord is seeing us through the trial now (after test after test has confirmed that my wife is not currently in active labor and the babies are doing fine), however, our Tuesday evening drive to the hospital was not the most pleasant experience.  It seemed that anxiety had gripped me since being in the hospital for testing on Monday afternoon.  I remember praying to the Lord, “Lord, I just don’t know how to pray in this situation, let me experience your peace concerning this trial.”  I wouldn’t necessarily say that this was answered immediately, but I did believe the promise of God.  For in Philippians 4:6-7 it says “Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  I found myself wanting the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension, but I realized that I desperately needed to be in communion with God to make known my prayers and supplications before Him. So I poured out my prayers, meek as they were, before Him.  I sent out an e-mail to some friends and family and Lighthouse group at First Family Church.  I knew that those prayers were going to rise up to the very throne room of a Holy God who cares for his children.  At this moment, I find myself resting in the peace of God, in the midst of this trial, knowing that the peace of God is guarding my heart as I trust in Christ Jesus.  Praise God for answered prayer and seeing us through this trial!

Lord, Teach Me to Pray!

What makes it so hard for me to have a consistent time to pray and commune with God?  From talking with other Christian friends, I get the impression that I’m not the only one who struggles with this.  During the past year, I have attempted to reign in my untamed prayer life and attempt to pray like a “godly man”.  I want to be motivated to a life of petitionary prayer which will call down God’s power upon my life and the church.  It goes without saying that there are scads of scripture dotted throughout the Bible admonishing us to pray.  Ephesians 6:18 states, “with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”  Praying in the Spirit is the will of God, and what God wills He empowers as we let Him.

Do you ever feel as if your mind is constantly wandering when you pray?  Or that you just aren’t sure what you should prayer about?  Those were questions I was asking myself not too long ago.  With that said, I have felt led to share how God has empowered me through the Holy Spirit to be more motivated in living a life full of petitionary prayer. God has empowered me to develop the spiritual discipline of prayer more fully in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve figured it all out, I just wanted to offer encouragement to anyone who struggles with consistent communion with God and knowing how and what to pray.  Basically, I have a daily list and four separate other lists that I consistently cycle though (why four, I don’t know you can have as many as you want but this works for me).

Daily – Family, Co-workers, Present problems
List I – Ill, Personal Requests, Evangelism, Spiritual Warfare
List II – Personal Life, Personal Qualities
List III – Small Group, Church, Elders
List IV – Government Leaders, World / USA, Missions

These lists represent the broad topics about which I pray on a daily basis.  I have more detailed topics under each list and am consistently adding to them.  I have found these to be a useful framework for having an intimate focused prayer time and time of communion on a daily basis.  For one final word of encouragement I offer this: prayer is work, not a sport.  It is not something that you do if you like it, or devote your spare time to, or do only if you are good at it.  Prayer is the proper work of the soul which loves Christ.

May God bless you with a sweet time of communion before His throne as you pray with an eternal outlook!

Imagine that…

God has been doing a mighty work in my heart. It was three weeks ago tonight, that our small group (Squires Lighthouse) kicked off. Nothing profound or supernatural happened that night. We just met as a group of believers in the name of Jesus Christ. We prayed specifically that night, as the Spirit moved, that God would empower us to be a group the met the physical and spiritual needs of our group and of those we came in contact with. Well…surprise, surprise God heard that heart cry (not like it’s really a surprise because God always hears and answers our prayers). The answer to prayer is not yet a finished work though. Because I sincerely feel that God is orchestrating circumstances for each man and woman in our group in order that we would prove ourselves faithful. To first prove ourselves faithful in the so-called “little things” and then allow God to use us as he so pleases to accomplish his will on this earth. God is faithful to our prayers…imagine that…

Lord, help us to “walk by the Spirit” so that we will not carry out our own selfish desires. Awaken your Holy Spirit within is us to battle our fleshly desires. Enable us to have the power to stand faithful and surrender ourselves to your will. Let us not be become boastful, but instead humble and gentle as we live by the Spirit of God!

Be Careful what you Pray for!

I often find myself asking God to do something “mighty” or “amazing” in my life or through my life.  Yet sometimes I wonder if I actually realize what I am asking for in my life.  Hear me out on my reasoning:

In order for God to do something mighty or amazing in me or through me, He would have to change me.  Because as an imperfect vessel of God’s grace, I am very “not” qualified or able to be a vessel through which God does something mighty or amazing.  So my prayer essentially becomes, God change me in order that you can do something mighty or amazing through me. 

But what does this biblical change look like?  I’m glad you asked.  Biblical change is not easy, because it requires becoming more “Christ-like”.  To become more “Christ-like”means, crucifying my life and desires of my flesh, taking every thought capitve and making it obedient to Christ, disciplining myself for the purpose of godliness, not transforming to the image of the world, etc.  Now those all sound like good christian things to do, but it’s the accomplishment of these ideals that makes it painful at times.

Because real biblical change is not just an idea, it is an action.  God has to plow through the soil of heart to uproot the seeds of selfish desire (as many of you may know that can be a painful process).  I must willingly face isolation because of holding to biblical beliefs in order to not conform to the image of this world.  I must sacrifice personal pleasure and hobbies in order to discipline myself to be more godly.  Real biblical change requires action.

My prayer asking God to do something “mighty” or “amazing” in my life or through my life, is essentially giving God the go ahead to make the painful changes in my life that need to be made.

So God….do something “mighty” or “amazing” in my life or through my life…I know what I’m asking for!

Answered Prayer!

Work has been very hectic this week, so I haven’t been able to blog as I would have liked to. There is so much to say…

I have experienced first hand the faithfulness of our God to answer our prayers and hear the cries of our hearts. My mom was diagnosed with ampullary cancer 14 1/2 months ago (and given 6-9 months to live originally). Since that day she has undergone three major surgeries, one in Cedar Rapids, and two at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. She has also undergone various chemo and radiation treatments. She just had her first post-treatment check-up after three months of no surgeries, chemo, or radiation. Her tests came back clear, she just needs to make some minor diet adjustments to raise her potassium levels. We know that she is not completely out of the woods yet, but she does not have to go back up to the Mayo Clinic for check-ups for another three months! Praise God! He is such a good and faithful God. We have been praying since day 1, that God would heal my mother and that she would live and to God would be all the glory! I am thankful that the Lord blesses men, such as the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, to be instruments of his grace for his glory!

Never doubt that God does not hear your prayer or that he is not concerned about the affairs of men. We have a faithful and responsive God, who meets our needs when we cry out to him.