?In an article in AARP magazine, Dolly Parton, legendary county singer, speaks of her dependence on prayer. Her main home has a 10-foot-square prayer chapel complete with stained-glass windows. She says she has a place of worship in all her homes. She says, “Even in my apartment, I have a little pray-do where I can kneel. I pray as I walk around, but it’s a way to remind you that it ain’t gonna hurt you to get on your knees and humble yourself before God.” It wouldn’t hurt any of us to have a little prayer chapel with us wherever we go.
If you have ever read the “Dennis the Menace” comic strip, you know that Dennis often comes up with some interesting prayers. One time, Dennis was on his knees beside the bed and said to God, “You might want to pull up a chair. I’ve been very busy today.” As many mistakes as we make and sins we commit, it is certain that we keep God very busy. He is, however, always
willing to listen and to forgive.
County music star Josh Turner tells a story of how he came to meet Johnny Cash. He told USA Weekend that he had been reading about Cash’s illness and wanted to meet him and encourage him. He found out where Cash lived and went to drop in and hoped he would not be seen as a stalker. He knocked on the door and Johnny answered the door himself. Josh asked if they could talk and the music legend mentioned that he could not talk long because he had been very ill. As they talked Josh mentioned that he had been praying for him. Cash reached out his hand and shook Josh’s and said, very sincerely, “Your prayers are appreciated.” Josh left that day with tears in his eyes. It doesn’t matter how famous, talented or wealthy you are, if you are having hard times, prayer is appreciated.
According to an old story attributed to Aesop, a man married off his two daughters. One married a gardener, and the other married a brick maker. The father came to visit the daughter who married a gardener. He asked how things were with her. She replied, “I am doing well, but I only wish we would have a hard rain so all my husband’s plants will be watered.” Later the man went to see the daughter who married a brick maker. He asked how things were with her. She said, “I am doing well. I can only wish for more dry weather so the sun might dry my husband’s bricks.” The father said, “If your sister wishes for rain, and you for dry weather, what do I wish for?”
Sometimes when we pray, we forget that sometimes for God to answer our prayer, he would have to deny someone else. Perhaps the best approach is to ask God for what we want and let him sort it out.
Recently Bill Keane’s comic strip, The Family Circus, showed a little girl kneeling on her bed and telling her Mother, “I couldn’t remember The Lord’s Prayer so I said the Pledge of Allegiance.” Isn’t that sweet? Who can doubt that God would also find such childish innocence sweet – and wonderful! But there is an unintended wisdom in it. All our prayers are, in some sense, a pledge of allegiance are they not? Along with our want list and our wish list, along with our confessions of sin and pleas for forgiveness is there not always an unstated pledge of our allegiance to God?
-Robert Shannon, Preaching May/June 1998
A convention was called in 1787 in America to revise the Articles of Confederation. For weeks delegates reviewed ancient history and analyzed governments of modern Europe in search of insights. But nothing suited the circumstances of this infant nation. Finally, one of the distinguished gentlemen, Benjamin Franklin, addressed the group. Referring to their meager progress, he said, “In this situation of this assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth and scarce able to distinguish it when it is presented to us, how has it happened that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?” Those early leaders were not all evangelical Christians, yet many of them believed in a sovereign God and sought His wisdom in the affairs of state.
-Sermons Illustrated November/December 1988
The Associated Press told of a New Jersey fisherman who discovered a shopping bag filled with unopened prayer letters. The letters displayed variety. One man asked to win the lottery. A teen girl asked for forgiveness for an abortion. An unwed mother asked God to get her baby’s father to marry her.
There were about 300 letters in all. They appear to be the property of a New Jersey minister who died about two years ago. The letters were unopened. No one knows why the minister left the letters unopened or how they ended up in the sea, but we can be sure that our prayers are always heard by God.
Hall wrote: It is not the arithmetic of our prayers – how many they
are. Nor the rhetoric of our prayers – how eloquent they are. Nor
the geometry of our prayers – how long they are. Nor the music of our
prayers-how sweet they are. Nor the logic of our prayers – how
argumentative they are. Nor the method of our prayers – how orderly
they are. Nor the theology of our prayers – how good their doctrine
is. Fervency of spirit is that which availeth much.
J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.
Today recently discovered that people find prayer as effective as drugs
for the relief of pain. The survey was sponsored by USA Today, ABC News
and the Stanford Medical Center. The bottom line is that more than half the
respondents to the poll said they used prayer to control their pain. Of those,
90 percent said it worked well and fifty-one percent would say it worked very
well. This is almost identical to the results reported by those who said they
used prescription drugs. No other technique came even close.
Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati,
the Middleton’s comic strip by Dunagin and Summers, little Wendie is
getting ready to pray. Her mother says, “Time for prayers Wendie.” Wendie
declares, “I’m going to pray for my friends.” Her mother responds by reminding
her daughter, “We’re also to pray for people we don’t like.” Wendie has the
final word when she observes, “Sort of takes the fun out of praying.”
Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati,
In his book Falling
in Love with Prayer (NexGen), Mike MacIntosh writes: “When I was a
teenager I wanted so much to be accepted by my peers, and I decided that a foul
mouth was a way to act like a man. I noticed that most men swore and told dirty
stories. So by the time I was twenty years old, I had developed an extensive
vocabulary of swear words. There were not many filthy stories I didn’t know
either, and those I knew I repeated as often as possible. If there had been
an Environmental Protection Agency in those days, I am sure my mouth would have
been quarantined for the safety of society.
“In the spring
of 1970, I had just accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Right from the start,
I knew that daily prayer and Bible reading were imperative for me. One morning
as I was praying and having my devotions, I suddenly felt as if a lightning
bolt had hit me in the center of my mind. I realized I had gone seven days without
saying a swear word or telling a dirty story or thinking of anything filthy.
It had only been a week since I dedicated myself to Jesus, but my prayers and
the purifying work of the Holy Spirit had already made a dramatic changed in
my life. From that day until this one, the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed
my mind and mouth. I found it refreshing to know that I am growing in the Lord.
Gentleness replaced anger and wrath. Joy and peace dispelled the party spirit.
Self-control took away the drunkenness and drugs.
“Just as we
can look at our past failures and wrongs and see them in the light of God’s
love and grace in our spiritual lives, so we must see growth in our prayer lives.
We must grow beyond rote and repetitive prayers such as “Now I lay me down
to sleep” and “Bless this food.” Our prayer life should become
ever richer, fuller, and more joyful as we learn to talk with our heavenly Father.
need a prayer monitor to watch over your growth. Just take my challenge and
listen to your own prayers, and you will see that you are growing in prayer.
The more your prayers turn from self to others, the more you can count on spiritual
growth. As God removes issue after issue from your life, you will see that you
are praising God more than begging God. You will grow in prayer, and as you
do, your spirit will grow along with your relationship with God.
is this: One of the best ways to develop your prayer life is to be attentive
to the changes and growth that are occurring in your life as a result of prayer.
The more you grow, the more you will want to pray.”
In the Detroit
Free Press, Nancy A. Youssef reports that in response to a wave of violent crime
– 104 homicides compared to 68 at the same time last year – the Detroit Police
department took an unusual track and scheduled a day of prayer. In fact, the
mayor and chief of police mandated that each precinct would honor an hour for
officers to spend in prayer.
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
acknowledged that bringing peace to the city is a bigger task than the police
alone can achieve, “The change, the mayor and chief said, must come from
the community and with God’s help. It depends on everyone to call “on the
power of God,” Kilpatrick said.
have complained. Youssef writes, “From national experts to cops who work
the city’s streets, (they) said the Police Department was just throwing its
hands up in the air.” Interesting – that is exactly what the psalmist calls
us to do. In Psalm 88 believers are called to spread out their hands to God,
why because in Psalm 140:4 the psalmist calls out to the Lord, asking God to
protect and deliver them from the hands of those who plan to trip my feet. Congratulations
to the mayor of Detroit and the Detroit Police department as they acknowledge
where their real help resides.
A father sat down
on one of the stools at the counter and lifted his son up to the seat beside
him. They ordered food, and when the waiter served the meals, the father said, “Son,
we’ll just have a silent prayer.” The Dad got through praying first and waited
for the boy to finish his prayer, but he just sat with his head bowed for an
unusually long time. When he finally looked up, his father asked him, “What
in the world were you praying about all that time?” With the innocence
and honesty of a child, he replied, “How do I know? It was a silent prayer.”
– Turning Point Daily Devotional, 11/17/03
once said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming
conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
Today in the Word,
C.H. Spurgeon once said, “Prayer pulls the rope down below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly; others give only an occasional jerk at the rope. But he who communicates with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously with all his might.”
NewPrayer.com “knows” where “The Big Bang” occurred and can
allegedly direct you– and your prayers– to God’s residence. It explains,
“NewPrayer has designed and built a directional radio transmitter that
will transmit your prayers to this location–at absolutely no cost to
you.” There’s a place online to help you think “inspirational
thoughts,” then compose a prayer, click a button to send your prayer, and
later submit your “testimony” of that answered prayer.
Someone is dreadfully lost in the cosmos! Jesus says, “I am the way, the
truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6
KJV).” My way into God’s presence is through Jesus Christ – -not a radio
beam – -how about you!
(from Internet for Christians newsletter, February 28,
Among Tibetan Buddhists it has long been believed that marmots (similar to our
groundhogs) are the incarnations of Lamas — Buddhist priests. When they
hibernate in the winter they are said to be meditating and praying. It is also
believed that when the cat purrs, she is praying. The fact is that only humans
pray. Indeed, it is only Christians who are assured that their prayers are
heard. They have this assurance because Christians have a Mediator between man
and God: Jesus Christ. It is remarkable that we who have such high privilege
exercise it so seldom and sometimes so casually.
The family was on vacation when they came upon a playground. The little girl
wanted to get in but the gate was locked. Her father explained that she
couldn’t play there because of the locked gate.
“But Daddy,” she said, “you’ve got lots of keys.” She
hadn’t learned yet that one must have the right key in order to open the door.
Nobody today remembers the little chorus we once sang, “Prayer is the key
that opens Heaven’s door.” But it is still true. James wrote, “You
have not because you ask not.”