Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Special on Prayer

Volume 2 No. 47 January 12, 2012

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Tree from Austin- photo art by Dr. Jacob Mathew
Jesus told Nathaniel: 'I saw you under the fig tree.'
The Tree at Austin, Texas by Dr. Jacob Mathew
Table of Contents
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Reflections
As we enter a new year, it is time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future. Malankara World's mission is to help the families to grow spiritually. Although a lot remains to be done, we did accomplish quite a lot in the past year with God's help. Rather than getting into too many things and not making  an impact on any one, our strategy was to concentrate on few things and then expand the circle as we go along. The development of the website, branding of Malankara World, introduction of Malankara World Journal, and development of a community centered around MW were the initial objectives. We have made major strides in each of these areas.

If you look back at the past 46 issues of Malankara World Journal and the website, you will notice that we had several emerging themes:

  • Understanding God - Trinity, love, Theotokos, saints, keeper of promises and covenants. Malankara World has developed various supplements to explain these concepts in detail.
  • Servant Leadership. If you want to be a leader in Christianity, you should humble yourself to be a servant and to be of service to the community
  • God uses Ordinary People to do Extraordinary Things. God has a plan/purpose for each of us. Each one of us is special to God. Jesus has loved us so much that he has died for us.
  • Importance of Church in your Spiritual Journey. Church is the body of Christ. The head needs a body. Church is an important part of Orthodoxy.
  • Importance of Prayer - how, why, when, what. Prayer is our means to communicate with God. It is the relationship builder. So, understanding prayer is very important for our spiritual growth.
  • Understanding Bible - To get going, we started exploring the gospel passages read on Sundays in church.
  • What is Unique to Orthodoxy? This is a well kept secret to many. Our liturgy is one of the best. In order to understand our tradition and faith we need to understand our sacraments, liturgy, faith, feasts and our place in the Body of Christ.
  • Family in the cultural, and spiritual context. Family is the microcosm of church is very very important. What can we do to help families together?

If you now go back to our past 46 issues of the MW Journal, you will find that we have covered these themes several times. We will continue that process. This, after all, is a work in process.

One of the recurring themes we hear when talking to young people in our church is that they do not understand our liturgy, and that we are not spending time in teaching bible in church. Many of them are attracted to Pentecostal or non-denominational churches as a result. We have attempted to tackle this issue by expanding on the commentary, gospel analyses, sermons and studies of the gospel passages specified in the lectionary for the week by the Holy Church. We are gratified that many of our clergy from all over the world are using this material as a supplement to prepare for their sermons. We will get into the New Testament Epistle Readings and Old Testament Readings as we progress ahead.

We do not want to dwell on the other themes. If you had been following us along you would have recognized the emphasis we have placed on these already.

This week's Journal focuses on Prayer.  A quote I have come across, gives a good perspective on the power of prayer:

"If we really understand the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless.

During WWII an advisor to Churchill organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every day at a prescribed hour for one minute to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people and peace.

Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have."

This week in church, our Lord continues the preparation for his public ministry after his baptism. The memorable line in the reading is Philip's exhortation to Nathaniel: "Come and See." There is a beautiful book written about Mother Teresa, a favorite of mine, that has the title, "Come and See" describing Mother's work in Calcutta. Mother likes to show people what she does rather than giving speeches. She, obviously, learned it from her master.

Jesus had seen Nathaniel earlier sitting under a fig tree. A fig tree in Holy Land is about fifteen feet tall. Its branches spread out about 25 feet in width like a canopy providing a shady retreat to anyone who want to relax. Fig trees in Middle East is like  Banyan Trees in India. In Jesus' time, there were very few private houses and the ones in existence were very small - typically a one bedroom dwelling. If someone wanted to get away from the chaos of the day and want to relax, read scripture, reflect, meditate or pray, he or she would sit under the fig tree. So, sitting under a fig tree was a sign of seeking and praying for God's living presence. Of course, we use our church for the same purpose. We go to church with the yearning to experience the touch of the living God. Church provides us a "retreat" from the chaos of the world around us. We can read bible, reflect, and pray in the company of fellow worshippers. When I was young, I used to go to Manarcad Church (about 8 miles from our house) during the 8-day lent time with my mother. My mother won't make or serve any food during the lenten days, so we are fasting. But when we are in church, we forget all about food and hunger. We spent time listening to sermons, singing hymns with others, read or listen to bible readings etc. Nathaniel was doing similar things alone under the fig tree when Jesus saw him.

As I said earlier, one of the themes highlighted by Malankara World is that God picks ordinary people to do extraordinary things. The best example of this is the way Jesus assembled his disciples. Jesus could have assembled a team of renowned scholars like Nicodemus as his disciples. He didn't do it. In fact, if you brought all his disciples together into one room, you would never imagine that this sorry-looking pack of ordinary folks could change the world. But that is what Jesus expected from them and that is what they eventually did. The disciples changed the world because they were the first ones to whom the secret of the universe was  revealed.

Scott Hoezee made the following comments about the disciples:

"If you're going to save the world, you've got to start somewhere. And if in the end you're going to save the world through humility, gentleness, compassion, and sacrifice, it makes sense to begin with a bunch of fellows who couldn't get much more humble if they tried! The messengers fit the message. In fact, over the course of his ministry if Jesus had any significant struggles with his disciples, it was the struggle to keep them humble and ordinary-looking. Every time a couple of them started angling for power or arguing amongst themselves as to who was the greatest, Jesus slapped them back down to the street level of service. When Peter tried to wield a sword, Jesus told him to put it back in its sheath.

The disciples needed to be common, ordinary, and, above all, humble if they were going to do Jesus any good and so change the world."

Leonard Sweet narrated the story of an young woman who wanted to go to college. Her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, "Are you a leader?" Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower."

If we are honest, the main problems we face in Kerala is that everyone wants to be the chief and no one wants to be the 'Indian' - the follower. Jesus said, if you want to be the leader, you should first learn how to serve everyone. (Servant Leadership).

In the Gospel lesson this Sunday, Phillip comes to Nathanael and proclaims that he has found the one whom Moses wrote about. He is Jesus of Nazareth. Nathaniel, with a cynical sneer asked Philip, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip was calm and composed. His short answer: "Come and see."

Leonard Sweet wrote about the implication of this incident to our church today:

"You see, the church has the same problem. The church is full of those sure of themselves. We may even get to the point where we believe very little that we are told. We sit back under the fig tree with the sneer of a Nathanael and we ask, "Can anything good come from , Can anything good come from our Youth Group; can anything good come from (St. Paul's Men's Prayer Fellowship, St. Mary's Women's League, etc.) ..." People come in and out the doors of this church with a critical eye. Skepticism is not a modern virtue. 'Doubting Thomases' have been around since the dawn of time. By nature we don't want to be led. We want to lead. But, in the church, it is imperative that we have followers. In fact, it is imperative for all of us to be followers.

Nathanael learned this. He was skeptical at first but he was transformed. He became a follower because Phillip invited him.

Let me ask you: What was it that Phillip saw in Christ that moved him to follow, that stirred him so (much) to invite his friend Nathanael. Come and see what? What did Phillip see in Jesus of Nazareth? Come and see what?

1. Come and see souls redeemed.
2. Come and see lives transformed.
3. Come and see the heavens opened."

Read the bible commentaries, sermons, gospel analyses etc. pertaining to this week's Gospel reading in Malankara World to learn more.

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_2nd-sunday-after-denaha.htm

Think of the ways we can make a difference today so that our church will truly be transformed into the body of the Christ. In a few weeks we will be knocking at the door of the Great Lent and then the passion week. Enjoy the new year!!

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday
Sermons for This Sunday
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the 2nd Sunday after Denaha (Baptism of our Lord)
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_2nd-sunday-after-denaha.htm

More Sermons

This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today

Prayer As Seen by Saints

According to St. John Damascene, a 6th century bishop and doctor of the Church, "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God."

According to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, "For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy."

St. Augustine, the early church father and theologian, described prayer as like a man in a hapless boat who throws a rope at a rock. The rock provides the needed security and stability and life for the helpless man. When the rock is lassoed it's not the man pulling the rock to the boat (though it may appear that way); it is the pulling of the boat to the rock. Jesus is the rock, and we throw the rope through prayer.

Prayer is the lifeline that saves the drowning soul. Prayer is the umbilical cord that provides nourishment to the starving spirit. Prayer is the channel by which God's life-giving presence flows to us. (Rick Ezell, "One-Minute Uplift" newsletter)

Featured This Week: Watch and Pray

by Pat Higgins

"Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." - Luke 21:36 NKJV

In Luke 21:36, our Savior provides us with the two "tickets" we need—watching (careful, vigilant attention to overcoming our nature) and praying always—to be accounted worthy to escape the troubles at the close of this age and to enter the Kingdom of God. These two activities are pillars that support the foundation on which our Christian lives rest during these end times.

How important are these two pillars? Exactly what is Christ instructing us to do as we encounter the end of an age?

In Luke 21:36, when Christ says, "Watch," He is calling for us to scrutinize our lives in order to change them. We are not just to note the problems we see but to overcome them. How important is it to overcome? If God mentioning something twice establishes it (Genesis 41:32), how significant is a subject when He mentions it fifteen times? Not fifteen times throughout the whole Bible but in just one book! And not in just any book, but a book of special significance to us, one about the end time—Revelation!

In this end-time message, Christ says seven times, "I know your works" (Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15). What are works? They are simply the results of our efforts in overcoming, both the failures and successes. Jesus is saying, "I know the level of your overcoming." Then, for each church—whether era, group, or attitude—He comments on that effort. Overcoming is highlighted another seven times (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21), as Christ ends each of His critiques with a promise that begins, "To him who overcomes. . . ." As an exclamation point, Christ warns us seven times, a number signifying completeness, to heed what He says to all these churches (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).

Finally, in Revelation 21:7, Christ addresses overcoming a fifteenth time. He makes a promise to those who successfully overcome: "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son."

Revelation shows us that "Job One" for a Christian is overcoming, especially for someone living at the end time. This is the message in Luke 21:36 also: We have to overcome to be with Him in God's Kingdom. Salvation itself hinges on our cooperation with Him in overcoming (Matthew 25:30).

The parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) demonstrates the importance of overcoming. The difference between the wise and foolish virgins is their supplies of oil. While water represents the power of God's Holy Spirit to cleanse, oil represents its power to work, to do good. Thus, the difference between the virgins is their good works ("I know your works"), how much they overcame their selfish human natures by acting in love toward God and man.

Both groups had oil, but the foolish virgins did not have enough for the unexpectedly long delay (Luke 21:34-35). When the cry went out, their lamps were still burning but sputtering and about to go out. They were not prepared for the long haul. They had not continued to overcome. They were not enduring to the end. Their oil—their good works, their overcoming—proved insufficient for the task. In this one point, they failed, and what a foolish failure it was!

Emphasizing the importance of Luke 21:36 and watching, Christ makes a specific promise to those living at the end who are watching, that is, successfully overcoming:

"Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them" (Luke 12:37).

Conversely, considering the implications of John 17:3, Jesus gives a chilling judgment to the virgins who fail to overcome: "I do not know you" (Matthew 25:12).

Source: Pat Higgins: Praying Always (Part Two)

Book: 'With Christ In the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray

Lesson 19: Power for Praying and Working
[Editor's Note: Here is this week's lesson from the book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray. This book is a very important reference book on intercessional prayer, something Orthodox Church believes in greatly. Murray skillfully describes the role of the Holy Spirit within the church and exhorts Christians to use the blessings God has given us. This book is a guide to living a life as a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you have missed the earlier lessons, please read them in Malankara World.]

'Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do.' - John 14:12-13.

As the Savior opened His public ministry with His disciples by the Sermon on the Mount, so He closes it by the Parting Address preserved to us by John. In both He speaks more than once of prayer. But with a difference. In the Sermon on the Mount it is as to disciples who have only just entered His school, who scarcely know that God is their Father, and whose prayer chiefly has reference to their personal needs. In His closing address He speaks to disciples whose training time is now come to an end, and who are ready as His messengers to take His place and His work.

In the former the chief lesson is: Be childlike, pray believingly, and trust the Father that He will give you all good gifts. Here He points to something higher: They are now His friends to whom He has made known all that He has heard of the Father; His messengers, who have entered into His plans, and into whose hands the care of His work and kingdom on earth is to be entrusted. They are now to go out and do His works, and in the power of His approaching exaltation, even greater works: prayer is now to be the channel through which that power is to be received for their work. With Christ's ascension to the Father a new epoch commences for their working and praying both.

See how clearly this connection comes out in our text. As His body here on earth, as those who are one with Him in heaven, they are now to do greater works than He had done; their success and their victories are to be greater than His. He mentions two reasons for this. The one, because He was to go to the Father, to receive all power; the other, because they might now ask and expect all in His Name. 'Because I go to the Father, and—notice this and—and, whatsoever ye shall ask, I will do.'

His going to the Father would thus bring the double blessing: they would ask and receive all in His Name, and as a consequence, would do the greater works. This first mention of prayer in our Savior's parting words thus teaches us two most important lessons. He that would do the works of Jesus must pray in His Name. He that would pray in His Name must work in His Name.

He who would work must pray: it is in prayer that the power for work is obtained. He that in faith would do the works that Jesus did, must pray in His Name. As long as Jesus was here on earth, He Himself did the greatest works: devils the disciples could not cast out, fled at His word. When He went to the Father, He was no longer here in the body to work directly. The disciples were now His body: all His work from the throne in heaven here on earth must and could be done through them.

One might have thought that now He was leaving the scene Himself, and could only work through commissioners, the works might be fewer and weaker. He assures us of the contrary:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and he shall do greater works."

His approaching death was to be such a real breaking down and making an end of the power of sin; with the resurrection the powers of the Eternal Life were so truly to take possession of the human body and to obtain supremacy over human life; with His ascension He was to receive the power to communicate the Holy Spirit so fully to His own; the union, the oneness between Himself on the throne and them on earth, was to be so intensely and divinely perfect, that He meant it as the literal truth:

"Greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father."

And the issue proved how true it was. While Jesus, during three years of personal labor on earth, gathered little more than five hundred disciples, and the most of them so feeble that they were but little credit to His cause, it was given to men like Peter and Paul manifestly to do greater things than He had done. From the throne He could do through them what He Himself in His humiliation could not yet do.

Read the rest of the Lesson in Malankara World
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Prayers/Murray/Murray_19-praying-and-working.htm

Previous Lessons (Archive)
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Prayers/Murray/Default.htm

Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayers?

by Gary Zimak

Have you ever felt that God wasn't answering your prayers? Perhaps you have been praying for the conversion of a loved one, the physical healing of a close friend, a new job, a broken relationship, etc. Despite many prayers, the outcome wasn't what you expected. In some cases, you may have just given up and stopped praying. You may question the validity of Jesus' words, "Ask and you shall receive". Does prayer really make a difference or is it just something that makes us feel good? Let's take a look at prayer and why it is important that we not only pray, but "pray without ceasing" (1 Thes 5:17).

According to St. John Damascene, a 6th century bishop and doctor of the Church, "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." St. Thérèse of Lisieux stated, "For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy." The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Christian prayer as, "a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ" (CCC 2564). While we are most familiar with prayer of petition, the above statements make it obvious that there is more to prayer than merely asking God for something.

To put it in simple terms, prayer is a means of communicating and sharing with God. The Catechism discusses several different forms of prayer, including Blessing, Adoration, Petition, Intercession, Thanksgiving and Praise. While each of these methods of prayer uses a different approach, they all involve an encounter between God and man. Understanding that encounter will help us to better comprehend the meaning of prayer in our lives. Utilizing several of these methods will allow us to grow closer to the Lord, which is the ultimate objective of prayer. As we turn to the Lord in prayer, we'll begin to increase our desire for the things of Heaven and focus more on letting God's will guide our lives.

We must make time for prayer. Even if it means giving up 15-30 minutes of your leisure time — some quiet time with the Lord is a necessity! Prayer doesn't have to be formal and it doesn't have to take place inside of a church. We can talk to Jesus like we would speak to any of our friends. He wants to know all of our worries and concerns. Conversing with the Lord should be the main foundation of our prayer life.

We can then build on that foundation by expanding our definition of prayer. Origen, one of the early Church fathers observed, "He ‘prays without ceasing' who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in this way can we consider as realizable the principle of praying without ceasing." In other words, we can turn all of our work into prayer simply by offering it to the Father. The traditional Morning Offering provides an excellent means of offering our work to the Lord and can be said in less than a minute! By employing this technique, we are even able to pray while we work. While this form of prayer should never replace our quiet time with God, it provides us with a means to "pray constantly" throughout the day.

According to the Catholic Catechism , "The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction." This is a problem common to all forms of prayer. Whether you're in a church, praying the rosary in your car or praying before the Blessed Sacrament, you will encounter distractions at some point. These distractions provide us, according to the Catechism, with an idea of "what we are attached to" and give us an opportunity to choose the Lord over the distraction. When these thoughts occur, we should simply turn our minds to God and continue praying. Another common difficulty that we may encounter is dryness, which is a lack of feeling when we pray. This is something that many of the saints struggled with and is best overcome by perseverance. We need to rely on our faith during these times and struggle to continue praying, no matter how we feel. Bouts of dryness provide us with an opportunity to love God for who He is, not for the good feeling that we may experience during prayer.

As mentioned earlier, one of the most common complaints when we pray is that God doesn't answer our prayers. This complaint usually occurs with prayers of petition and provides an honest look into the reality of our human nature. The Catechism puts things into perspective with the following comments:

In the first place, we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions. What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?

When we pray, are we truly lifting our hearts to Almighty God or are we looking to "get what we want"? If we really trust in His will, we should be satisfied with whatever answer we receive. Our frustration arises when we think that we know better than God. We decide how our prayers should be answered and are not pleased when the Lord's answer may differ from ours.

While Jesus does promise that we will receive an answer when we ask (Mt 7:8), He doesn't promise that we will get what we ask for…Instead, He promises that we will get what we need. Jesus assures us of this when He states, "Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him." (Mt 7:9-11)

Still not convinced? Scripture gives us a very clear explanation for why we may not get what we request, "You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." (James 4:3) We could save ourselves a lot of aggravation by accepting this advice and seeking to discern God's will for our lives. In doing so, we would get a clearer idea of those "things" that God wants us to have.

Knowing God's will for our lives can sometimes be difficult, but a few basic principles can be very helpful. For one thing, it would be wrong to pray for something that goes against a teaching of the Church. For example, praying for the success of in-vitro fertilization or an invalid marriage would not be examples of praying with God's will in mind. God never wills anything that is prohibited by His Church. While He does respect our free will and permits us to do things that are not in line with the commandments, praying for sinful things is not an example of praying with God's will in mind.

Second, we should append all of our prayer requests with, "if it is your will." If we truly mean what we say, we'll have no problem accepting whatever God sends…even if it wasn't what we asked for. The ultimate example of praying in this manner was given by Our Lord as he suffered in the garden prior to His arrest and crucifixion. His prayer shows us the art of praying in union with the will of the Father. "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." (Mt 26:39)

While we do not know exactly why prayer is effective, we do know that it is important. Jesus instructed us to pray and prayed Himself on many occasions. The reason that it works is known only to God and is beyond our understanding. Our main concern should be that we continue to pray as often as possible. Most importantly, the next time that you are tempted to say that God doesn't answer your prayers, remember that He can answer in a few different ways — "Yes", "No" or "Not yet" are all valid answers! Therefore, when we complain that God doesn't answer our prayers, don't we really mean, "God doesn't answer my prayers…the way that I want"?

Lord, help me to trust in your perfect will for my life. May I always be content with your answers to my prayers, even if I don't understand them. Amen.

About the Author:

Gary Zimak is the founder of Following The Truth Ministries (http://www.followingthetruth.com), a lay apostolate. He is a regular guest on EWTN Radio's "Son Rise Morning Show" and appears frequently on several other radio programs.

When Praying: Want vs. Need

by Laura MacCorkle

So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."
1 Samuel 1:20, NIV

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? Or did you get what you needed?

What we want and what we need don't often go hand in hand. There are things that I have wanted for a long time now that apparently the Lord has not seen to be necessities in my life just yet. I know he knows what is best for me, but it is still hard to wait. And it is difficult not to look longingly at what others have received and wonder why I cannot be the recipient of such things as well.

This kind of struggle is not new to any of us. And Hannah, who we read about in the first chapter of 1 Samuel, is a great example of how to live when what you want is not yet something God says you need.

For years Hannah had wanted to become a mother. To bear a child. To give her husband, Elkanah, a son—just like his other wife, Peninnah. Being barren was considered a disgrace for a woman in those times, so Hannah most likely felt ashamed and alone and perhaps like a societal outcast. Instead of turning away, though, Hannah took her sorrow and her request for what she wanted to the Lord.

We don't know for sure how long she waited (perhaps years)—and we don't know the exact purposes of God's timing in her life—but we can still learn a great deal from Hannah's example.

  • She was persistent and continually sought the Lord. She did not give up and stop asking the Lord for what she wanted. Like clockwork, Hannah kept bringing her request to God, year after year (v. 7). No doubt her want continued to drive her to the Father and most likely deepened her relationship with him.

  • She was blessed with a lifeline. I am quick to forget that the beauty in the midst of Hannah's pain is that Elkanah loved her very dearly. I am sure this buoyed Hannah when she may have wondered if God would ever answer her prayer for a child. God was gracious in giving her a loving husband (v. 5, 8).

  • She did not give in to ridicule or naysayers. Even when Peninnah (who was fruitful and had children) taunted her because she was barren, Hannah did not add insult to injury (v. 7). She did not retaliate when ridiculed for her condition or her faith.

  • She shared her "want" and was encouraged by others. When the high priest Eli observed Hannah praying in the temple and inquired as to her condition, she shared with him what she was asking of the Lord. Eli encouraged her and asked God to answer her request (vv. 12-17).

  • She gave back to God what he had given to her. When God blessed Hannah with a child, she did not cling tightly to him. She kept her promise, let her son go and dedicated him to the Lord (v. 11, vv.21-28). That is model faith!

Like Hannah, are you waiting on the Lord to give you something you want in your life today? A new job? Reconciliation in your marriage? Blessing in your finances? A cure from illness? To find your soul mate? Victory over an addiction? A baby?

Each of us has something we want in our lives. But is up to God to decide if this is something we really need. May we continue to come to him with joy and thankfulness, as we acknowledge that he knows what is best for our lives.

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Do you know that God has already given you what you need for this very day? Ask him to help you accept his plans and timing for your life—even when you don't understand.

Further Reading:

  • James 1:17
  • Matthew 7:11

Source: Crosswalk com Devotional. Laura MacCorkle is Crosswalk.com Senior Editor

How to Open Your Heart to Christ

by Dr. Jack Graham

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…
Ephesians 3:14-17

There was a sermon preached several years ago by a man named Robert Boyd Monger called 'My Heart, Christ’s Home.' In it, he imagined his heart as being a house with many rooms. And he said that when he invited Jesus into his life, he first met Him in the living room, that place of daily activity. And he gave the Lord the living room of his heart.

On and on they went, through every room in the house, Jesus slowly taking over every aspect of his life. Then Jesus told him, “There’s something that still smells in this house.” He knew immediately what He was talking about… there was a locked closet upstairs no one knew about, and he certainly didn’t want the Lord to see it.

But the Lord said, “I must have that closet.” So he handed over the key and Jesus opened the door. And sure enough, there were those sinful secret habits right there in the closet. The Lord cleansed all of that, took all that out, and said, “Now, I can be at home here.”

As you look at your life, what rooms do you have locked to Jesus? Is it your bedroom, your personal life? Is it your game room, things you enjoy that aren’t pleasing to Him? Or do you have a secret closet that you’re trying to hide? Whatever it is, open the doors of your heart and let Jesus come and dwell there!

WHATEVER AREAS OF YOUR LIFE YOU’RE KEEPING CLOSED TO GOD, GIVE THEM OVER TO HIM AND LET JESUS LIVE IN YOUR HEART!

Source: Powerpoint Devotional

Prayer Kept Apostles Busy

by Wayne Jones

Prayer should play a valuable role in the life of any church worker. The twelve who were commissioned to go preach the gospel were afraid of being swayed from that task with serving tables. So special servants were chosen to care for the neglected widows so that the apostles could give themselves "continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).

Preachers of the Bible such as Peter, Paul, and Christ spent a portion (and sometimes a large portion) of each day in prayer.

  • Sometimes they prayed before making an important decision (Mark 1:35).

  • Sometimes they prayed at the end of a long day of work (Luke 5:16).

  • Sometimes they prayed in the face of tremendous adversity (Luke 26:39).

  • Sometimes they prayed with fellow workers (Acts 20:36).

  • Sometimes they prayed in the midst of physical danger (Acts 27:29).

  • Sometimes they prayed earnestly and intently that others might obey the gospel (Rom. 10:1). Sometimes they prayed at the grace of a dear friend (John 11:41).

  • Sometimes they prayed in thanksgiving for their fellow workers in the Lord (Phil. 1:4).

  • Sometimes they prayed that those converted would be strengthened and encouraged (Col. 1:9-11).

Truly, prayer has played a vital role in the lives of gospel preachers in the past, and it should be a vital part of life for current church workers as well.

Source: Excerpted from 'Prayer Will Keep us Busy' by Wayne Jones, The Southwesterner, January 13th, 2008.

Effective Prayer

by Greg Laurie

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." —Luke 11:1

Jesus gave us the model for all prayer in what we call "The Lord's Prayer." And although there is nothing wrong with praying it verbatim, The Lord's Prayer is more of a model, or a template, for prayer.

Jesus began with, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name" (Luke 11:2). Now if we had written this prayer, it would go along the lines of, "Our Father in heaven, give us day by day our daily bread." In other words, Let's just get to this. But Jesus said, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven . . ." (verse 2). Right off the bat, "our Father" speaks of intimacy. It speaks of relationship. It speaks of closeness.

"Our Father in heaven" speaks of the majesty and the greatness and the power of God.

"Hallowed be Your name" is effectively saying, "Lord, I glorify You. I worship You. I praise You. I acknowledge Your greatness.

"Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Before we offer a word of personal petition, we acknowledge that we want God's will more than our own.

The objective of prayer is to get our will in alignment with God's will. Prayer is not trying to align God's will with ours; prayer is aligning our will with His. So the thing we need to ask ourselves is, "Is this prayer according to the will of God?" And how would we know that? Through careful study of Scripture.

If you take more time to contemplate the greatness of God, I think it will affect your prayer. On some occasions your prayer might be shorter, and at other times, it might be longer. But certainly it is going to be effective, because you will recognize that you are speaking to God Almighty.

Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

Iesu, Dulcis Memoria - A Beautiful Prayer/Hymn
Iesu, Dulcis Memoria is a celebrated 12th century hymn attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Doctor Mellifluus. The entire hymn has some 42 to 53 stanzas depending upon the manuscript.
Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast!
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than Jesus' name,
The Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart!
0 joy of all the meek!
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!

How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus! our only hope be Thou,
As Thou our prize shalt be;
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity. Amen.

---Roman Breviary

Marriage

On their 50th wedding anniversary and during the banquet celebrating it, Tom was asked to give his friends a brief account of the benefits of a marriage of such long duration.

"Tell us Tom, just what is it you have learned from all those wonderful years with your wife?" an anonymous voice yelled from the back of the room.

Tom responded, "Well, I've learned that marriage is the best teacher of all. It teaches you loyalty, meekness, forbearance, self-restraint, forgiveness -- and a great many other qualities you wouldn't need if you stayed single."

Source: Preaching Daily

Humor: Fishing on Sunday

A village pastor, known for his weakness for trout, preached against fishing on Sunday.

The next day one of his members presented him with a fine string of fish and said, hesitatingly, "I guess I ought to tell you, pastor, that those trout were caught on Sunday."

The minister hesitated, gazed appreciatively at the speckled trout, and then said piously as he reached for his gift, "The fish aren’t to blame for that."

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