Saturday, February 25, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - February 25, 2017

Today's Reading:

Matthew 6:1-18

Exodus 33:1-34:35

Proverbs 15

Listen to the Bible








Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

From today's Bible reading, I was especially drawn to Matthew chapter 6. Effective prayer is highlighted in this chapter. And of course, the Lord's Prayer, which I've already discussed (from our reading in Luke) in this blog, is listed in this chapter. We all know that prayer is vitally important. Prayer is spiritual breathing!

But not all prayer is equally effective. God wants us, as His people, to have effective and fervent prayers:

James 6:16 “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
1 Peter 3:12  “For the Eyes of Yahweh (the Lord) are over the righteous, and His Ears are open unto their prayers: but the Face of Yahweh is against them that do evil.”
The reason that prayer is not all equally effective is that there are prerequisites to effective prayer, which we must first meet, in order to have a powerful and effective prayer life:
2 Chronicles 7:14  "If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."   
Today, I'd like to share with you a "prayer remix" in order to help you find a more powerful and effective prayer life. 

In music, a remix is a song that has been edited to sound different from the original version. The person who remixed it might have changed the pitch of the singers' voice, changed the tempo and speed and has made the song shorter or longer, or instead of hearing just one person singing they might have duplicated the voice to make it sound like two people are singing, or make the voice echo. It is taking something old, that was good in its day, and making it fresh, new again, and even better than it was before.

So, just like music is remixed to make it better, let’s talk about how to remix prayer, so that we can commune with God more effectively and with more power.

It may surprise you to know that the biggest factor needed to remix prayer is an attitude adjustment. What’s wrong with our past attitudes about prayer? Well, let’s take a look at some of the most common Christian attitudes about talking with God.

Sadly, many find prayer boring! They may not come out and say that praying is boring, but when you suggest communing with God for a whole hour on our knees, their reaction ranges from shock to: “I can’t spend a whole hour with Yahweh! I wouldn’t have any idea of what to SAY for that long? What am I supposed to DO for THAT LONG? Wow! If I can concentrate on praying for 10 MINUTES, I’m doing good!”

What do you call a human friend, who you can only stand to spend 10 minutes with? Of course you would quickly correct me…  If I can only stand to spend 10 minutes with a person – that person is definitely NOT my friend! There is no friendship, where there is no willing investment of time. In fact, if we are good friends with someone and then, for one reason or another, no longer spend time with them, we are no longer friends – only strangers with memories from a past friendship.

So the first attitude needing adjustment is our desire for God.  Our prayer life comes alive in living color, when we spend the time communing with God because we WANT to BE WITH HIM! 

The next issue that needs to be addressed in our prayer remix is saying the same thing over and over again, until it becomes meaningless. Saying the same thing over and over again isn’t the way to have a vital and meaningful prayer life. In today's reading, this is called "vain repetitions". Many are stuck in a rut with a certain number of phrases in prayer. We repeat these phrases over and over again in our prayers – day after day. 

For example, consider how most every Christian starts his or her prayer. What’s the first thing we say? Dear Lord, thank You for this day! Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with thanking Yahweh for the day. He made it – and He has given us life and breath to live in it. But, when we always start our prayer this way, there’s no depth of meaning in our prayer, nor comprehension in our words. It becomes as meaningless as verbal sneezing. And the fact that we start most every prayer off with this phrase is certainly repetitive. 

In Matthew 6:7, we read that God wants us to keep our prayers fresh and meaningful. The term “vain repetitions” means do not “prate tediously,” according to E-sword. In more common English, Yahshua is telling us not to “babble on boringly or without meaning.” 

Not only do we tend to say the same things over and over, in prayer, many of our pet phrases are also very selfishly motivated. They reveal a self-centered, instead of God-centered, way of thinking.

The phrases we tend to repeat over and over each time we pray are all about Me. We ask God to: Bless Me, bless my family, forgive MY sins, and bless what I’m doing. In other words, “Yahweh, I’m about to do this project, attend this meeting, read this book, go to this location, etc…  so, please put Your Stamp of Approval on what I’M doing here! 

This is a very self-centered way of thinking and praying. And we tend to pray this way, with very little variation, day after day, week after week, year after year.

Have you ever stopped to think about what God thinks of your prayers to Him? Does He look forward to hearing them? Is prayer time with you a special time of communion that your Heavenly Father finds pleasing?

Since prayer is how we communicate with our Heavenly Father, let’s translate that kind of me-centered communication onto the human level (see the picture on the left).

Do you know any people who consistently communicate with you like this? Now when someone consistently treats you like this, always talking about themselves, always making demands on your finances while not holding down a job to earn money, and not treating your kindness or gifts with respect or appreciation; we think of such people as USERS.

Have you been a USER in your prayer life with Yahweh? It's a terrible thought. But be honest!

Not only does Scripture suggest that me asking God for the same self-centered things day after day may weary Him; the Bible also tells us that when we just ask God for things to meet our own selfish desires, He cannot grant our requests, as He tells us in James 4:3. 

Now, don’t get me wrong here…  There’s nothing wrong with asking God to bless us. And it’s necessary to confess our sins and ask His forgiveness. These things are good and needed in prayer. But, if all I ever do is focus on asking God to bless ME, do things for ME, protect ME, and take care of ME; I have a very immature and self-centered prayer life, that seriously needs a remix!

Mature prayer revolves around God, instead of ME.

So how can I come to the place where I pray in a God-centered way? How can I mature, in my prayer life, so that I pray in ways that give my Heavenly Father glory, blessing, and pleasure? To start, we need to get our focus off of ourselves, and onto God.

The first consideration we should have in prayer is we need a deeper understanding of Who GOD IS…  Yahweh isn’t some weak, insignificant being. He isn’t able to be compared to anything or anyone on earth. He is the King of the Universe – the Creator of All. He is ALL Powerful, ALL Knowing, and ALL Encompassing. There is nothing made that was not made by Him. He is THE One and ONLY GOD. The Bible says, in Psalm 33:6, that God formed all the heavenly bodies – the planets, the stars, the worlds – He formed them all with His BREATH! God breathes out stars! (Yes, I've talked about that before in this blog, but it bears repeating.)

He holds the world, and the whole universe, in His Hands. This is the Almighty One we are praying to. Now when you consider Who God is and how powerful He is, how worthy of Praise, how wonderful…  We gain the motivation to remix our prayers from selfish and boringly repetitive, to God-Centered and sincerely fresh!

To do this, let’s replace the self-centered thinking with a new, God-centered motivation.

Self-centered thinking in our prayer life

Instead of focusing so much on asking God to bless YOU, praise Him for how He HAS blessed you! And then seek ways to BLESS HIM! 

Rather than only seeking protection for yourself and your family – ask Him to help you protect His Reputation in this evil world – and use you to protect His Family and Cause.

Instead of asking Yahweh to bless YOU in what YOU’RE doing, ask Him to use you in whatever HE’S DOING. God is already at work all around you seeking to save souls. You need to join Him, rather than asking Him to join you!
And when you ask God to forgive your sins, express your gratitude for His mercy and Sacrifice.

God-centered thinking in your prayer life

When you really think about it, it’s amazing to know that the King of the Universe is listening to your prayers! Through prayer, you enter the Audience Chamber of the Almighty and bow before His Throne. What do you have to say to the King of kings? Do you want your words to be a delight to Him? I do! So, I invite you today to remix prayer. Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit, not so we can get the power and the blessings – but so we can serve Yahweh better and more effectively. Most importantly, let’s seek to BLESS God in our prayers and lives – rather than always demanding that He bless US! Prayer- let’s remix it and remember – It’s all about HIM!
Psalm 96:1-9  "O sing unto the LORD (Yahweh) a new song: sing unto the LORD (Yahweh), all the earth.  Sing unto the LORD (Yahweh), bless His Name; show forth His Salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the heathen, His wonders among all people. For the LORD (Yahweh) is great, and greatly to be praised: He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD (Yahweh) made the heavens. Honour and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His Sanctuary.  Give unto the LORD (Yahweh), O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD (Yahweh) glory and strength.  Give unto the LORD (Yahweh) the glory due unto His Name: bring an offering, and come into His Courts. O worship the LORD (Yahweh) in the beauty of holiness: fear before Him, all the earth."