Election Ideas of 2018

Final ballot box

I’ll be out of pocket on election day, so I thought I’d remind you of a few simple things as election day draws near.  First, I’m not a big political activist.  In fact, I am very disenchanted with both political parties and our political leaders.  There are so many things in my life that hold more eternal importance to me.  However, I know the importance of Christians being involved in this process, praying for God’s wisdom, and voting accordingly.  Nonetheless, I wish most Christians would have the same passion for sharing Jesus with people as they do in sharing their political views.

I’ve never been more discouraged with how I see so many Christians treating politics these days. Too many Christians are responding, with what I feel, is hate and fear.  If I feel this way, how much more would a lost person feel?  If I did not know better, I would think Christians believed our eternal hope is somehow tied to our political systems.

As we approach Tuesday, here are 10 things to simply keep in mind.  (I think you will agree with these  they are simply here to remind us as the Election Day approaches.)

  1. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God first and citizens of America second.
  2. The United States is not the Kingdom of God.
  3. Our loyalty is to King Jesus first and foremost. Our allegiance is never to a political party or a candidate.
  4. Party affiliation is not a test of eternal security.  I have many “liberal” friends who stand securely in the righteousness of Jesus, just like me.
  5. Our hope is in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary not the final ballot box on Tuesday.
  6. “Win or Lose” God will continue to sovereignly reign on His throne. We will never give the impression to a lost world that our hope is somehow tied to a political outcome. God will not be waiting with wringing hands to see the outcome of Tuesday’s election. He already knows.  His man or woman will win on Tuesday.
  7. “Win or Lose” we will never allow our responses to be motivated by fear or hate but always by love and compassion.
  8. Facebook will not be the avenue Christians will use to launder their political thoughts and positions.
  9. We will faithfully pray for whichever candidate wins.
  10. People, illegal or legal, are not political pawns but people God has given us to love and reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

On Wednesday, November 7th, our greatest concern, as it is every day, will be to shine brightly for Jesus Christ and represent Him well in a crooked and depraved generation.  I know this is a very hot-button issue.  Go to the polls and vote for whomever God’s leads you to vote. Don’t be afraid if the “other” candidate wins; by all means, don’t let the world think, even for a moment, our eternal hope is tied to the election. One other thing, unless it’s kind and to affirm the winning candidate, don’t say anything on Facebook for a few days. Remember, there will be a lot of scared and hurt people on Wednesday.  Let’s not add to their pain.

Finally, no matter the outcome, BE KIND, CHURCH.

So what do you think?  Let me know your thoughts.

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Silence in Prayer

silence

Have you ever noticed how we have an aversion to silence?  We sit trying to meditate and pray. But the silence of the moment quickly invades our space in a way that overwhelms our soul.  Immediately we reach for the nearest source of noise and turn it on and turn it up so we can cancel out and overcome the silence.  Admit it, we hate silence.  It is such an enemy to us we keep the TV on in the background and worry if we think our children are “too quiet.”  We are accustomed to noise and conditioned to clamor for any sound at all.  We can’t stand silence.

I have found this to be especially true in prayer.  Most of us find it hard to keep silent in prayer.  We immediately jump into our prayer with request after request.  Instead, slow down and add these two practices to your prayer life and you will pray with power and confidence.

The first practice is silence.  We are commanded to pray in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18).  Could it be mos

t of us pray so little in the Spirit because we pray too much with our own words, our own strength and never give the Spirit an opportunity to pray? In Romans, Paul tells us “we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes” (Romans 8:26).  What would happen if we began praying in silence while begging the Spirit to intercede for us?  Ask Him to pray the will of the Father. After you ask, sit in meditative silence. Could this be part of what the Psalmist meant in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know I am God?”  I think one of the keys to praying in the Spirit is silence before God and allowing the Spirit to pray.

Before we proceed, consider two important things:

  1. We don’t always know the will of God. Case in point. A missionary is going to the 10/40 corridor (https://joshuaproject.net/resources/articles/10_40_window) to be a witness for God.  What is the Father’s will?  What if it’s martyrdom?  We always pray for safety for our missionaries (I do too).  How often do you see the early church pray for safety?  I’m sure they did, but their focus was boldness to speak the Gospel fervently and with great power.  As you pray for missionaries, begin with silence.  Ask God’s Spirit to intercede.  Then pray for all the “normal” things we pray.  But give time for the Spirit to intercede.
  2. The Spirit always knows the Father’s will. Who would you rather have interceded for you? A person who could only know the will of the Father partially, or fully?

Let’s continue.  Silence is not only needed in prayer; it allows you to implement the second strategy for powerful prayer: Listening.  Richard Foster has stated well, “Though silence sometimes involves the absence of speech, it always involves the act of listening” (Celebration of Discipline page 86). How can you hear a Word from God much less understand Him if you are always talking during prayer?  Jesus warns us not to use too many words in prayer (Matthew 6:7).  One of the greatest virtues in prayer is listening in silence.

Two practices to implement in the closet of your prayer life are the art of silence and listening.  To implement these practices, you will have to practice the discipline of solitude.  You must be willing to be alone.  When you are away from the everyday distractions and as you start your time of prayer and fellowship with the Father, begin on your knees in silence.  Give the Spirit of God a chance to pray and then listen. You will know when it is time for you to speak.  It is then when you begin to pray over your list with confidence that God hears your prayers and He can meet every request.

Get off alone; turn off Facebook and the TV.  Be quiet, listen, and then pray.

 

 

Monday Night Football

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My dad died on August 14th of this year.  There’s not a day I don’t think about him and miss him in some way. I have found it interesting the things that bring waves of grief.  It could be something as simple as reading a commentary he gave me or listening to an old phone message.  Today it’s Monday Night Football.

One of my early memories of my relationship with dad and football surrounds a Monday Night Football game many years ago. It had to be in the late 70s. We were big Houston Oilers football fans.  If my memory serves me correctly, Houston was playing the Miami Dolphins.  I had to go to bed with the game in the balance. I couldn’t believe I had to go to bed and I’m sure I threw a fit or two trying to stay up past my bedtime.  But to no avail. I had to go to bed and miss what I was sure to be a great game.  As it turns out, it was a classic game.  During the second half, my dad came into my room to wake me up and watch the rest of the game.  Earl Campbell had a career game and dad wanted to make sure I didn’t miss the epic comeback and win. I’m sure it would have to be one of the most famous MNF games ever, and I got to see the ending with my dad.  It was a good day. It’s a great memory.

Tonight the Denver Broncos play the Kansas City Chiefs.  Most of the time I would have called dad to see what he thought about the game.  We would both talk about how good Mahomes looks and would wonder together if Von Miller could do anything to slow him down.  He would probably say how crazy it would be to kick to Terek Hill and I would agree and say something about Denver better be smart enough to kick away from him.  I would say our only hope is how porous Kansas City’s defense is and dad would say something about how feeble Denver’s offense has been.  In a year like this one, we would not spark a lot of hope between the two of us. We wouldn’t talk long and would leave our conversation open to the possibility of a great Bronco win but also resigned to the fact that they would probably get beat by 30.  I would tell him about a bet I made with one of our high school kids, and he would laugh and tell me to send pictures when I had to pay up.  We would tell each other how much we loved each other and that we would talk after the game.  I am sure missing that phone call today.

My grief is a great reminder of how blessed I am and how much I love dad.  Grief is an indicator of love.  We never grieve what we don’t love.  The more one grieves, the more one loved.  Don’t despise grief.  Though extremely hard, embrace your grief as a gauge of God’s immense love for you.  I realize there are millions of people who would give anything to have a dad as great as mine for even a day. God gave me my dad for nearly 53 years.  I wish it would have been a few more years.  To know he’s with Christ and I’ll see him again is enough for me today.  I think that is part of what Paul means when tells us to grieve with hope (1 Thes 4:13).  I’ll miss him like crazy. Win or lose tonight, I’ll miss our phone conversations. Dad was starting to text.  It would have been fun to text during tonight’s game.

Grief is a process. But I sure don’t want to stop grieving dad.  It is a great reminder of how much he loved me, and how much I loved him, and even more of how exceedingly good and gracious God is to my family and me.  I’ll talk to you later, Dad.  Go Broncos!!

House Window QuoteMy father is dying.  It’s a sentence I never dreamt I’d be writing this year.  Just a year ago my dad was a vibrant and healthy 77-year-old man.  In February, my Father was diagnosed with lung cancer.  The cancer had already metastasized into his liver and bones.  Dad began a valiant yet short battle with cancer.  He handled the chemo very well and at times we were very hopeful and encouraged.  However, just a couple of weeks ago, we found out cancer had engulfed his entire body and traveled into his head and even has lodged itself in my Dad’s bone marrow.  With very little hope of physical healing, Dad stopped treatment and we called in hospice to care for him during his remaining days. Today, he is literally sleeping in his deathbed waiting for the Father to call him home.

Two things I have learned well in ministry: I hate cancer and death stinks.  I learned to hate cancer when my sister, Krista, battled cancer so courageously and won.  Far too often in ministry, and with my father’s illness, I am reminded how much I hate cancer.  And as Dad lay dying, I am reminded once again about how much death stinks.  If you have ever suffered through the death of a loved one, you know what I mean.  In preparing my fall sermon series, God had me in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians.  It is a beautiful and a very personal letter.  In the first two chapters, Paul teaches us a remarkable dichotomy about death.  It is something I’m learning first hand and a lesson I want to encourage you.

The first lesson is found in chapter 1.  It’s rather simple and straightforward: For Paul to live is Christ to die is gain (1:21).  The second lesson is in chapter 2.  Paul’s friend, Epaphroditus, was very ill. He was ill to the point of death but God spared his life.  Paul’s second lesson is rather simple too: If his friend would have died, Paul would have suffered “sorrow upon sorrow” (2:27).  Do you see the contrast?  On one hand, if Paul died, it would be gain. Why? Because in death he will be “with Christ which is better by far” (1:23).  On the other hand, if his friend died, Paul would have been greatly grieved and would have experienced sorrow upon sorrow.  Paul is giving us the right to grieve and to hurt even though we live in the knowledge of the reality of the resurrection.

Quote Marks QuoteWhat can I take from this?  For the believer who dies, death is beautiful and is a remarkable gain.  If the Lord’s tarries, the only way a Christian will see Christ is through the passageway of death. However, for the loved ones left behind, death stinks.  The void we feel is real, the pain in the depths of our soul is real, and the tears we cry never seem to dry up.  My father’s death will mean gain for him.  He will be absent from the body yet present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).  The presence of Christ is “better by far” (Phil 1:23).    He will be more alive than you and me.  I heard one time that Christians leave the land of the dying and enter the land of the living. I really like that idea.  But for my mom, my brother, sister, my family and dad’s friends, his death means sorrow, pain and hurt.

So, what will I do when my father passes away?

  1. I will grieve.

In his amazing grace, God gives us tears.  I will cry. I already find myself crying.  Just the other day, I turned to one of my dad’s old books and I saw his handwriting. If you have ever tried to read his handwriting, you will know I didn’t really read his note. I just knew it was his and I cried.  I find myself crying in the most bizarre places.  I came home the other day and just wept driving into the driveway.  How weeps driving into a driveway?  A person thinking about this father dying, that is who. Tears are a very healthy way of expressing grief.  Do not be afraid to cry.  God also gives us touch.  I can’t tell you how invaluable my wife and kids will be to me. I will hold Heidi’s hand and hug my kids.  I will share my pain with my family.  As we hold one another, cry and hug God’s healing balm will be passed from one individual to the next.  Together we will walk through this difficult time.

  1. I will grieve with hope.

My dad is dying but he will not die!  My dad will breathe his last breath but he will be alive!  When my father was diagnosed with cancer in February, I knew my greatest hope was not for my dad to be physically healed.  My greatest hope is that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God.  My greatest hope lies in the fact that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for my sins, for dad’s sins, and for your sins.  My only real hope is that Jesus was resurrected on the third day and my dad will be resurrected on the Last Day.  Because Jesus lives my dad shall live! That is the truth of the Gospel.  That though my father dies, he will be alive forevermore.  It is that truth I trust.  It is that truth I press into and anchor my soul in those dark moments.  It is that truth I continually preach to myself through my pain and tears.  In time, it is that truth that will overcome the darkness of my grief.

Tears, touch, truth and trust are all given to us by God to help us navigate the road of grief.  My grief will be a journey I take with my Lord and family.  It will be a journey, unlike anything I’ve traveled. You may be on a similar journey.  Don’t compare your grief journey with mine.  If you have had to endure the death of a spouse or child, your grief and pain will be much more than mine.  Allow yourself to grieve.  Allow yourself to cry.  If you are walking through grief, remember you are not alone. Find someone to talk to.  If you are in Salina, I’d be more than happy to talk with you.  I may not have a lot of answers but I will point you to our wonderful Savior and the truths of the hope in the Gospel.  As a pastor, I am giving your permission to grieve, to hurt and to heal.  God is faithful and will see you through.  Pray for my family and me.  We are asking God to allow us to grieve but in our grief to make much of Jesus. My dad is dying and that really stinks.

Gospel Lessons from a Thai Cave

superhero-csotumes2

I have joined with millions of Americans and literally millions more people across the world who have watched, prayed and rejoiced with the 12 soccer players and one coach freed from the cave in Thailand.  It has been remarkable to watch the footage and see the heroic rescue taking place.  On June 23 the soccer team was exploring a cave with their soccer coach when a flash flood occurred trapping the team over 2 miles away from rescue.  For the past few days I’ve watch and prayed for the young boys, the coach, and the rescue team.  On Monday morning, I woke to the incredible news that all 12 boys and coach were saved.  I praised God from whom all blessings flow.  As I’ve considered this amazing story, I was reminded of a couple of lessons for the church.

  1. Life Matters

I don’t know these boys.  I have absolutely no connection to them except they have been created by the same creator who created me. Therefore, their lives have intrinsic and immense value.  They have  been created in the image of God, just like me.  Their lives matter; their lives matter a lot.  As a Christian, I am reminded over and over life matters.  That is why we are here.  From the womb to the tomb life matters and all life matters.  Whether they are a fetus in a mother’s womb, an illegal at the border, a prisoner on death row, the president of your neighborhood bank or 12 young boys and a coach from Thailand.  Life matters.  Can I ask you a simple question?  When was the last time you prayed for your neighbor the way you prayed for these 13 lives?  When was the last time God broke your heart over a lost friend in dire need of rescue the way God broke your heart for these 13?  When was the last time your rejoiced with the news that a person you just met came to know Christ and was rescued from death into life? We prayed, worried, and rejoiced with 13 lives we didn’t know, as well we should have.  But should we pray, worry and rejoice with our neighbor, with our family, friends, and coworkers?  Since life matters, we must allow compassion and grace to fill our hearts and impact our treatment of others.  Romans 2:4 reminds us “that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.”  How would the church grow if our first reaction is always kindness, grace, and compassion?  I think I would love to pastor a church like that.

  1. Every Great Rescue Needs an Even Better Plan!

The 13 were alone.  Scared.  They were facing certain death. Unbeknownst to them, there was a plan in the works to bring rescue to them.  The need was great, but the plan was even greater.  Our need is great, but God’s plan of rescue is even greater.  The Bible says we too need rescued. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  The wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23).  The entirety of scripture is a story of rescue and redemption. It begins in the Garden.  In Genesis 3:15, God , gives His declaration of war against Satan.  Satan may have turned one man who created a sinful spiral of death and destruction, but God would send one who would create an abundant life of hope and joy.  The Old Testament is the story of God preparing His people for the Messiah and Satan doing everything he can to extinguish the possibility of the Messiah.  Satan almost succeeded.  For instance, in the story of Noah, God’s people numbered one.  Noah was the only righteous man left but the righteousness of this one man saved himself, his family, and the world.   Noah is a type of Christ.  Likewise, in Jesus, the righteousness of one man saved the world.  Throughout the Old Testament, God continues to have a faithful remnant who remain true to His name and who long for the coming of the Messiah.  Rescue came many years after the Garden in the form of God, Himself.  God put skin on and rescued you and me through His death.  The wages of sin is death but instead of you dying, Jesus, the Messiah, died in our place.  In a nutshell, that is the Gospel.  That is God’s wonderful plan of rescue.

  1. We love a good rescue story

From Thor to Iron Man and Batman to Wonder Woman, we all love a good super hero and we are absolutely obsessed with a daring story of rescue.  We love to root for the underdog and we thrive on the excitement of an underdog in the grips of certain death waiting on their rescuer.  At the perfect time, the Avengers crack upon the scene and rescue the underdog and all is set right with the world again.  We are fanatical with stories of rescue, just check the box office for proof.
Remember our story, we need rescue.  At the perfect time, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, on a mission of rescue (Galatians 4:4; John 3:16) and through Jesus, we who were objects of God’s wrath were reconciled to God and became children of God (Ephesians 2:1-9; 1 John 3:1).  Make no mistake, we were rescued out of God’s rich mercy and His great love so we can become rescuers. And now we have the mission and ministry of reconciliation.  When you talk to a person about Jesus, let them know He is the Superhero.  People love a story of rescue – Give them the greatest rescue story of all.  Use yourself as a main character and tell them how Jesus rescued you and He can rescue them too.  It’s all by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Not sure where to start?  Why not start but developing your story?  Know who you are and what God has done for you through Jesus Christ.  Get excited about your rescue story and share it with others in the form of an exciting adventure of rescue.  Who in your circle of influence is in need of rescue?  Who do you know is far from God?  Begin there.  Find time to tell them how God rescued you through Jesus Christ.  Let them see your excitement.  Ask them if they’ve ever seen an Avenger movie and tell them your God is an amazing superhero.  Begin to pray for them by name, invite them to church, and tell them your story.

To Separate or Not to Separate

We are living in a most interesting time.  I think it’s fair to say we are more divided today than we have ever been. As I write this, the Immigration Policy is being debated in Congress and families are being separated from their families.  “According to internal Department of Homeland Security data, from April 19 to May 31 there have been 1,995 children taken from their parents at the border. That’s an average of roughly 48 kids per day separated from their families” (see article at www.erlc.com). Honestly, that simply breaks my heart.   I wanted to take just a moment to put my thoughts down on paper and offer my suggestion to you.  First, let me stress I do not have answers to the immigration conundrum.  I  know the policy must be practical, affordable, and contain a pathway to legal status.  It must also be a policy that keeps American’s safe.  We must protect our borders from those who desire to hurt America and Americans. Finally, any answer to the immigration issue must also assure family stability and unity.  Currently, our system is broken and the events on the border of Mexico simply highlights the brokenness of our system.  While I’m not trying to answer the immigration issue, I am writing to remind Christians in America of a few things.

Before starting, I do have a unique perspective.  For eleven years, I lived in Dodge City, Kansas. In those years, I saw the good, bad, and ugly of both legal and illegal immigration.  I have had the joy of baptizing children of parents who are in the nation illegally.  I have had the headache of trying to walk through the impossible process of citizenship with pastor friends from Mexico.  I’ve struggled with the language gap in Dodge City and I’ve worked through some of the hurdles of living in a city made up of many immigrants. Overall, I found the great majority of immigrants coming to work and live in Dodge City hard-working, God-fearing, and family loving individuals.

Therefore, I write this from a place of empathy and sympathy for those who are on the border and trying to better their lives in America.  Furthermore, I write this from the perspective of a Pro-life, Republican, follower of Jesus Christ.  As a follower of Christ, I am reminded of a few things that shape my values:

  1. As a Christian, I am to seek the Kingdom of God first; The United States of American is not the Kingdom of God.
  2. I am a citizen of God’s Kingdom first and an American second.
  3. I am a foreigner and stranger in this world; I am only passing through. I do think there’s a special irony in this when we realize as Christians we are all aliens.
  4. God has offered me amazing grace that I must extend to all people rather they are American or not.
  5. I know very godly people who love Jesus as much as I do who are affiliated with the Democrat party. Your salvation is secured through the blood of Jesus Christ and not secured by your party affiliation.
  6. As a Pro-life proponent, I believe strongly in the value of life in the womb, the value of life on a deathbed, and the value of life at the border of Mexico. We must value all life.
  7. My loyalty is to God and His Kingdom first, my love is extended to all, and I must live explicitly tied to the Gospel of Christ which extend grace to all. Christians, we can not allow the world to love the refuges more than the Church loves them.
  8. My loyalty is to the family of God even before it is to my own personal family. The family of God extends way past the borders of The United States. I literally have brothers and sisters in Christ coming to America.

We must respond in grace and love not hate and fear.

I am so troubled as I read Facebook and Twitter responses.  I often read what Christians write and I’m grieved to the core.  We are responding in anything but love.  No matter how you feel about the immigration issue, we are commanded by God to love others.  This love contains empathy.  Imagine what it must be like to be at the border, wanting nothing more than improving your life, and your children are taken away.  Shouldn’t that thought break a Christian to their core?

Put a face to the immigration crisis

Make the immigration issue personal.  Imagine your adult children on the border and your grandchildren being taken away.  Feel the pain.  Imagine the fear.  Take a moment as you read this to hurt for the people who are at the border; people created in the image of God.  Understand, that many of the people who are at the border are our brothers and sisters in Christ or people who need to hear the Gospel. God is literally bringing the nations to us.  Isn’t there a better way?  Can’t we as Americans do better?

Respond like Jesus.

It’s such a simple truth.  When we are confronted with a difficult choice, we always chose the way of Christ.  Matthew 25 reminds us that when we treat a “stranger” with compassion, it’s as if we are doing it to Jesus, Himself.  I believe deeply that God is grieved with our current policy of separating families at the border.

This is a very difficult issue.  We need Jesus. Here are a few action points for each of us:

  1. Pray for our Congress and our President. Pray that God will intervene, and our nation can come up with a strong bipartisan solution to the immigration crisis.
  2. Be devoted to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Put His Kingdom above your loyalty and love of America. Love the immigrant with a Christ-like love.
  3. Be loving and kind to all people. Be motivated by love.  You will give an account on the way you treat all people.
  4. Ask God that His wisdom will prevail.
  5. Listen more and speak less. Can I tell you a very simple secret?  You don’t have to answer every person on your Facebook news feed.  Often, silence is a good and godly response.
  6. Don’t try and justify our actions by saying it’s been going on for years. Instead of trying to justify, be broken.  If it’s been going on for 6 months, separating families is a bad policy. If it’s been going on for 10 years, it’s still a bad policy.

I’m not sure of the answers to this pressing question, but I do know what I’m seeing on the border and the separation of families is not right and I believe absolutely not pleasing to our heavenly Father. I also believe much of the words and actions of American Christians are not pleasing to the Father as well.

As I close, take a look at a resolution made at last week’s Southern Baptist Convention.  Messengers voted on a good resolution on immigration. I think it is very timely and good.  You can see it here: http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/2288/resolution-5–on-immigration.

By the way, I love living in the United States. I believe it’s the greatest nation in the world.  That is the reason so many want to come and live here.   I am very proud to be an American.  I’m hopeful and prayerful our legislature will come up with a good and viable solution.  One that is both protective to Americans and kind to our immigrants.  In the process, don’t forget who you are.  You are citizens of the Kingdom.  Act like children of God.  Always, respond in love and grace.  I guess my only real point is overly simple: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Who’s your neighbor?  Not only is your neighbor those who live next door to you, but your neighbor also includes all of those people on the border of Mexico.

 

Powerful & Effective Prayer

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Today is the National Day of Prayer.  I enjoyed a prayer breakfast this morning at Kansas Wesleyan University. I enjoyed the gathering of Christians from 19 different churches in the area.  I think Christ was honored and exalted and God was glorified.  The prayer breakfast reminded me of a couple of important prayer lessons from scripture.  Too often our prayers fail because our prayers are too small, too few and too selfish of prayers.  Let’s not make those mistakes anymore. Let’s take a moment and consider a few traits of powerful prayer.

Luke 11 offers us many wonderful lessons on prayer.  Let’s examine four traits of effective and powerful prayer.  Verse 1-13 deal with the topic of prayer.  Take a moment and read verses 5-13.  First, make note that God is not teaching us that if we bug and bother Him enough He will finally give in and give us what we want. It’s almost like a crying and whining toddler who wants something at the store and he falls to the ground in a temper tantrum and the mother finally gives in to her son hoping he will get up and stop embarrassing her.  That is not a picture of biblical prayer.

What does this teach?  On this National Day of Prayer, let me offer you four things I can glean from this passage. Effective prayer is persistent prayer. Too often we don’t get an answer from God in the first couple of times we pray, and we give up.  At the heart of this passage, God is saying, don’t give up in prayer.  Continue to pray.

Secondly, effective and powerful prayer is praying in boldness.  I’m not a huge fan of the 2011 translation of the NIV. However, I do love Luke 11:8 “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”  I love the idea of praying with shameless audacity.  Now that is with great boldness.  Too often our prayers are too small.  The church must be praying with shameless audacity.  What are you praying for that only through God’s intervention will an answer come?

Thirdly, effective and powerful prayer is expectant prayer.  As you pray, believe God will answer. Look at the promise in 9-10.  We pray with doubt.  Instead, pray in faith believing God is able and will answer.  There are so many promises in scripture that assures us if we pray with faith and in line with God’s will He will answer and give us what we ask.  Pray expecting God to answer.

Finally, notice verses 11-13.  The key to effective and powerful prayer is the Holy Spirit.  To pray effectively, you must be filled with the Holy Spirit. He is the one who will lead you; He is the one who intercedes for you; He is the one who knows the Father’s heart and what the Father’s will would be.  As you pray, ask the Father for the Spirit. He will give you the fullness of the Spirit so you will be able to pray powerfully and effectively.

Why does prayer fail? The main reason prayer fails is we simply don’t pray.  My challenge and encouragement to you today is to pray and pray with effectiveness and power.  Don’t give up in prayer.  Pray with shameless audacity. Pray expecting God to answer your prayers and pray in the Spirit.  You will begin to see God powerfully move in and around you through prayer.