Book Review: Authority In Prayer by Dutch Sheets

This book is a good study on the source of authority, the purpose of authority, and the application of authority in prayer. The author gives good, Biblical principles for utilizing authority in prayer. He issues a challenge that to Christians today to pray with more authority and use prayer as a weapon in spiritual realms.

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I do need to say that much of the book is personal stories and examples of the power of prayer from the author’s life. While I do believe that, through prayer, the types of claims the author makes are entirely possible, I cannot verify the validity of his personal stories. I wish that the author would have spent more time proving his points and building his case from the Word of God which is entirely valid and cannot be disproven.

If you pick this book up, please be prepared to “spit out the bones.” There is some meat in there that will make it worth your time.

Invite Him In

Another long day of hard work is in the books. You did something that you can feel good about today, but as you begin to relax you feel as though something is missing. You are struck with the realization that among the hustle and bustle of life’s routine circumstances, you have been cut off from the presence of God, your mind rarely aware of His constant beckoning. You miss Him.

How does this happen? You have a wonderful time of prayer in the morning before beginning your day. You worship, repent, and cast your cares on the Lord. But somewhere between morning prayer and evening time the presence of God is forgotten for the present circumstances.

Sound familiar?

It is something I find myself resisting everyday. I don’t want to come to the end of a day, whether it was a good day or a bad day, and realize that I have been so busy that I was completely disconnected from Him. How do I avoid that?

I want to invite Him in to every situation, every interaction. I want to turn every problem into a prayer and every opportunity into a prayer. Regardless of how big or small the problem or the opportunity may seem to me, I want Jesus to be a part of it.

Be aware of His presence today. Invite Him in.

photo credit: nualabugeye via photo pin cc

Living Close To God: Book Review

Gene Edwards has, for a long time, been one of my favorite authors. If you have never read A Tale of Three Kings or The Prisoner in the Third Cell, do yourself a favor and move them to the top of your reading list. Both books are quick reads that will deeply impact your life.

In Living Close to God, Edwards writes of his personal struggle with feeling like a failure at personal devotions and the solution he found. Hint: it wasn’t to try harder to pray and read the Bible. If you have struggled to have a consistent time with the Lord or found that your mind is constantly wandering during prayer and Bible reading, you will benefit from the insights in this book.

Edwards points out the complexity we often bring into our relationship with God when it is really much more simple. He reminds us that, “From the day Jesus was baptized until today, the majority of believers have been illiterate. They could not read. So the solution must be simple.” He asks, “Does a Christian with a college degree stand a better chance of having a meaningful spiritual life than the Christian who cannot read?”

Jesus’ audience was 98 percent illiterate, and He gave no indication that He was planning on a future church filled with an intellectual, spiritually elite group of followers. Jesus’ teachings were consistently simple no matter who was in the audience.

The one thing about this book that I struggled with was Edwards’ view on the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible study. It seems to me that (on some level) Edwards has dismissed these disciplines as unimportant in the Christian life. I disagree. While I do believe that it is important that we are mindful of the Lord throughout the day, as Edwards encourages, I also believe in the need for dedicated times of focused prayer and Bible study.

I received “Living Close To God: When You’re Not Good At It” by Gene Edwards from Blogging for Books / WaterBrookMultnomah Press in exchange for my review, of which there was no pressure one way or the other regarding how I reviewed it.

Powers of Attorney

Over the last few weeks I have endured the arduous process of sifting through important documents as I prepared to file my taxes. Somewhere in the stack, about halfway down, was a folder containing the power of attorney documents which had been filed prior to my 2011 missions trip to Ghana.

A power of attorney (POA) or letter of attorney is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter. -Wikipedia

Due to the length of my stay in Ghana, I thought that it would be wise to give my father access to my personal bank accounts and check signing authority should a need arise during my absence. By establishing a POA, I could give him full access to all of my resources, meager though they may be. At any time he could legally write a check or withdraw money from my accounts, just as if he was me. I gave him the power of my name.

The Gospel of John is our spiritual POA document.

  • “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it]” (John 14:13-14).
  • “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16).
  • “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give [it] you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24).

He has given us the power of His name. We are agents of all of His resources. Whatever we ask in His name, if we ask according to His will and not according to our own desires (James 4:3), He will do it.

Peter proclaimed his right to act as an agent of Christ’s resources when he was brought before the high priest, rulers, elders and scribes in Acts 4. They wanted to know how the lame man at the gate Beautiful had been healed. “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this” (Acts 4:7)? Peter made his answer very clear.

“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole…Neither is that salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10,12).

Seven Prayers

At some point (I don’t know when) and somewhere (I don’t know where) I picked up a list of seven things to pray for. I jotted the list down on a prayer guide that I use and these seven prayer requests have been a part of my daily prayer ever since. I thought I would share them with you today.

1. Humility of Wisdom
I am briefly interrupting my series of posts on First Corinthians to share this with you today. If you have followed this series, you know that the Corinthians were extremely proud of their knowledge and yet they were completely lacking in love and humility. If you hold Truth, you hold a valuable possession which cannot be held in the slippery hands of pride. If you have human wisdom, it is nothing. But if you have heavenly wisdom, remember that it did not come from you. Remain humble.

2. Understanding of the Future
We are certainly living in tumultuous times. Uncertainty seems to be steering the ship. John begins his Revelation with these words, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3). We should pray that God would help us to understand the spirit of the age and how to combat it. Let us also pray that He would prepare us to live, and if necessary die, for the Gospel in the days ahead.

3. Counsel for Decisions
Try counting how many decisions you make over the course of a day. Good luck. I am fairly certain that it doesn’t matter to God if you wear the blue shirt or the red shirt today, but His council should be sought in every important decision that we must make. After all, His name is Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).

4. Power for Service
Let’s face it, serving is rarely an easy thing for our flesh to do. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians, “Be not weary in well doing” (Thessalonians 3:13). Where do we find power for service? In Jesus Christ and the power of His Spirit. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:” (Acts 1:8).

5. Knowledge of Revelation
One of the greatest battlefields for the Christian is the mind. The enemy will do anything to get you to believe a lie and be damned. Always remember, that which is closest to the truth is the most dangerous lie. Pray that God would guard your mind, protect you from every lie and false doctrine, and give you a love for Truth.

6. Respect for Holiness
It often seems that holiness is mocked and despised at worst, or defended in ignorance at best. We need to do more than practice holiness (inward and outward) because that is what our parents and grandparents did. We need develop a love and a respect for holiness. We develop a respect for holiness when we gain an understanding of the importance and benefits of living a holy life. Pray that God would give you knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in every issue of holiness.

7. Dependance on the Holy Spirit
We would be foolish to believe that we could do anything by our own talent, ability, or willpower. Paul even called the Galatians foolish for believing the same thing, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). What we need more than ever, in our church services and in our daily walk, is a move of the Holy Ghost. May we ever realize our complete dependance upon Him.

Repentance for America

State regulators got more than they bargained for in 1999 when they asked local minister Joe Wright to bless their session in prayer. Everyone expected the normal “politically correct” generalities that come with prayers in these situations, but what they heard instead was a stirring call to repentance and righteousness.

Photo by Beverly & Pack

Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance.

We know Your Word says, “Woe on those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We confess that:

We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism.
We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn children and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We had abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, O God, and know our hearts today, cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it int he name of Your Son, Living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Twelve years later, America needs to pray this prayer more than ever.

Bank On It

“Praying for a hundred new workers in 1887.”

This was the vision set forth by the China Inland Mission after a week of prayer and fasting. Hudson Taylor had gathered the council at Anking at the close of 1886 to receive direction from the LORD concerning the important issues of spreading the Gospel to the unreached masses in China. It was determined that if any advancement was to take place, a hundred new workers were urgently needed. With the permission of Mr. Taylor, the request was made know to the church in London.

To send so many missionaries in one year was completely unheard of. No organization in existence had ever dreamed of sending out reinforcements on such a scale. The China Inland Mission then numbered only a hundred and ninety members; and to pray for a more than fifty percent increase within the next twelve months was beyond what some thought was possible. The three-fold prayer they were praying in China was taken up by countless hearts: that God would give the hundred workers, that He would supply the fifty-thousand dollars of extra income needed, and that the money might come in large sums in order to reduce correspondence for an already short-staffed mission.

What happened in 1887? One hundred and two men and women were chosen, equipped and sent out. Fifty-five thousand dollars were received, without solicitation, exceeding the needs of the new workers. And how many letters had to be written and receipts made out to acknowledge this large sum? Just eleven gifts covered it all!

What a wonderful testimony that when we pray according to His will, He will answer. You can bank on it. Specific prayers get specific answers. What are you praying for today?

When Jesus Stops on the Road to Your Miracle

Sometimes interruptions are beautiful. Interruptions like the one in Mark 5. The crowd pressed and pushed, each one desiring to catch a glimpse of the One whose fame had spread like wildfire. The men and women jockeyed for position; if they were fortunate, they would be able to touch this Man of Miracles.

Not all touches are equal. Not all touches cause an interruption. Something was different about her touch. She had been sick for many years. She had spent every penny she had on the latest tests, treatments, and prescriptions; nothing worked. The doctors were out of ideas. There was only one hope left. She pushed past the crowd, she touched Him, and everything stopped.

Sometimes interruptions are dreadful. Interruptions like the one in Mark 5. He was out of ideas. His baby girl was sick. He couldn’t imagine life without her. Father’s aren’t supposed to bury their children! There was only one hope left. He made his way to the lakeshore. The rumor was that the Man of Miracles was coming and the crowd was swelling. Maybe he could convince Him to come and heal his daughter.

Every other day he was a leader in the synagogue. Today he was just a father with a very sick little girl. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and pleaded with Him to come and heal his daughter. Jesus went with him; so did the crowd. For the first time the father felt a tinge of hope. The crowd was slowing things down but at least they were moving in the right direction. The matter was urgent, they must not delay!  But then everything stopped.

Question’s raced through Jarius’ mind. Why has He stopped? We don’t have time for interruptions! Why is He asking silly questions about who touched Him at a time like this? Has he forgot that my daughter is going to die at any moment?

Jesus lingered. Messengers delivered. Hope died.

Jesus spoke. Jarius believed. Hope stood up and walked around.

What do you do when Jesus stops on the road to your miracle?

“Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” -Jesus (Mark 5:36 NLT)

 

Unlawful Hunger

I am not certain that my observations are totally accurate but it seems as if the dogs in Ghana just wander from place to place hoping to find something to eat. They don’t really belong, but they are hungry. When they do find a meal they may lay down in the shade for a bit but it isn’t too long before they are roaming from kiosk to kiosk tongue out and nose down in the red dirt searching for something to satisfy their hunger.

These dogs remind me of the Syrophoenician woman in Matthew 15 and Mark 7. I hope you will forgive me for saying so, but even Jesus compared her to a dog. Her hunger was not a natural hunger but a spiritual one. Her daughter was “grievously vexed with a devil” and she was desperate for an answer. The disciples were quite tired of hearing about it and even complained to Jesus, “Send her away; for she crieth after us.” Had they forgotten what it was to be hungry?

Not only was she hungry but like the dogs, she didn’t belong; she didn’t have any claim on that which she was seeking. Jesus made this quite clear, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” Hers was an unlawful hunger.

This is where I would have given up; she didn’t. Her unlawful hunger caused her to keep pushing.

“Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

And she got what she was looking for.

Never lose your hunger. Sometimes and in some ways it is better to be a hungry dog than it is to be a satisfied disciple.

Qaulity in Quantity

I have been thinking today about the importance of quality and quantity in the context of our relationship with God.  I have heard it said that it is quality alone that matters.  But how can you have a quality relationship with God, or with anyone for that matter, without giving the relationship a considerable quantity of your time?  I am sure that anyone who is married would agree (or so I’ve been told).

The flip side of the coin seems pretty obvious.  It is certainly possible to invest a high quantity of time in a relationship without having a high quality relationship.  The two don’t seem to correlate in this direction (i.e. the more time I spend with God the better my relationship).  Although I do find that when I spend more time with God for the proper reasons, my relationship with Him is strengthened.  And I find that the higher the quality of my relationship, with God or others, the higher the quantity of time and effort I desire to invest in them.

I want my relationship with God to be of a quality that forgets to the ask the question of quantity.  I simply long for and cherish every moment with my Savior.

I don’t want to just say my prayers.  I want to pray.

I don’t want to just sing songs and clap my hands.  I want to worship Him.

I don’t want to just do my duty.  I want to bring Him glory.

I would love to know what you think…