If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
John 15:7 KJV
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
John 15:7 KJV
Prayer as religious ritual is difficult to maintain. It requires constant self-motivation. But if prayer is your opportunity to talk to the God you love, then you will keep coming back.
In writing to Christians who were suffering because of their faith in Jesus, Peter reminds them of why they are holding strong: “Though you have not seen him, you love him” (1 Pet. 1:8). They were able to keep going because of their love for Jesus. This generation of Christians had never met Jesus, but that did not hinder their love.
In Psalm 27, David says the one thing he desires is to dwell with the Lord forever. This is the kind of longing that drives a consistent prayer life. Prayer for prayer’s sake rings hollow because it is hollow. But if prayer is our connection to the God we love but have never seen, then prayer becomes natural, conversational, and non-negotiable.
Conversation is inherent in relationship. Since prayer is what we label our conversations with God, prayer is inherent in our relationship with God. It’s probably not too much to say that if there is no prayer, then there is no relationship with God. The converse is also true: If there is no relationship with God, there will be no prayer.
Prayer begins when we follow our impulse to talk with God. Prayer becomes habitual in our lives when we foster those impulses, when our relationship with God becomes fully conversational. Prayer will only be a burden when your longing to speak with God disappears.
Note: As with any ongoing practice, consistency is difficult to develop. Consider using the Echo Prayer app to organize your prayers and remind yourself to pray regularly. Echo is available in the iTunes and Google Playstores.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9 KJV
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord , that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord , and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord . Hear, O Lord , when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord , will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. Teach me thy way, O Lord , and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord : be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord .
Psalms 27:1-14 KJV
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV
Take to live in the Grace of the Lord.
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Ephesians 5:1-2 KJV
There are times when words simply fail us. Praying in these moments can seem unimaginable. And yet—remarkably—God makes provision for us to pray even when we have no clue what to say.
In Romans 8, Paul acknowledges that we live in a broken world. We experience suffering now. Loss. Sometimes the brokenness comes at our own hands; sometimes we are the ones who are broken by outside factors. Paul first encourages us that things won’t always be this way. We were made for a whole, healed world, and one day that will be reality. In the meantime, we groan. And all of creation groans along with us.
Then Paul says that even when we don’t know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit of God intercedes for us with groanings that are too deep for words. In a broken world, we often don’t even know what to ask God for. But he still wants to be with us. He still longs for that conversation. So in these moments, his Spirit will pray for us. We don’t know what to say, but he does. We may not even know what we truly want or need. But the Spirit will do the talking. Our role is to simply enter his presence.
This is praying in faith. We don’t have the answers, but we know the one who does. The specific requests are not as important as the conversation. So we keep coming back to God in faith, not because we know how he should solve our problems, but because we know he is the only one who can. Sometimes the conversation is quiet and tear-filled, but it matters even then. Perhaps especially then.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Romans 8:18-30 KJV
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 14:27 KJV
Andy Stanley: Enemies of the Heart
Devotional Day 5
“Taking Your Desires to God”
Scripture: James 4:1-3
Each of the enemies of the heart is energized by the idea that somebody owes something. Guilt says, “I owe you.” Anger is fueled by the notion that you owe me. Greed is kept alive by the assumption that I owe me. This fourth heart issue is no differently. Jealousy. Jealousy says, “God owes me.”
When we think about jealousy or envy, we immediately think of the things others have that we lack—looks, skills, opportunities, health, height, inheritance, etc. We assume our problem is with the person who possesses what we lack. But let’s face it; God could have fixed all of that for us. Whatever he gave your neighbor, he could have given you too. That’s why you may feel inside that he owes you.
Jealousy can terrorize your life and wreak havoc in your relationships. The good news is, this behemoth, like the other three, has a vulnerability. And it’s something you might not expect: stop coveting what others have and start asking God for what he knows is best for you.
As James says, our external conflicts are the direct result of an internal conflict that has worked its way to the surface. We want something but we don’t have it, so we get in fights with others. The desires James is referring to in this passage represent unquenchable thirsts—our thirsts for stuff, money, recognition, success, progress, intimacy, sex, fun, relationship, partnership.
So what do we do with desires and appetites that can never be fully and finally satisfied? James says we take them to the one who created them in the first place. In other words, James is giving us permission to pour out our hearts in an unfiltered conversation with our Creator.
Every concern you have, great and small, matters to the Father because you matter to the Father. Whether it pertains to your love life, your career, your marriage, your parents, your children, your finances, your education, or your appearance, bring it to him. And keep bringing it to him until you find the peace to get up off your knees and face the day, confident in the knowledge that he cares for you.
Let me assure you, your heart will always be dear to his heart.
What is your heart aching for? Spend some time in absolutely free, uninhibited conversation with God about what you feel you lack. Ask him to bless you in the way he knows is best—and to reveal his love to you along the way
We hope you enjoyed Andy’s 5-day YouVersion devo on “Enemies of the Heart.” Dig deeper and find long-term healing and restoration by picking up a copy of Andy’s book, Enemies of the Heart,from a retailer near you.
From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
James 4:1-3 KJV
Andy Stanley: Enemies of the Heart
Devotional Day 4
“Watching Out for Greed”
Scripture: Luke 12:13-21
The third enemy of the heart? Greed. It’s when we feel that we deserve more and more worldly wealth and goods. Greed says, “I owe me.”
Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” Why? Because of the four heart conditions we’re considering, greed is the most subtle of all. Greed can take up residence in the heart and live there for years undetected. The unguarded heart is highly susceptible to this debilitating disease. It’s difficult to diagnose—especially to self-diagnose.
Jesus went on to uncover the lie that fuels all greed: “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” But doesn’t everybody know that? Do people really believe that their lives are equivalent to what they own? The answer is no and yes. No, not everybody knows that. And yes, there are people who believe that your life is pretty much the sum total of what you own. And many of us today are more prone to this belief than we might imagine.
After telling a parable, Jesus gave his definition of a greedy person: someone who stores up things for himself or herself but isn’t rich toward God. Being “rich toward God” is Jesus-talk for being generous toward those in need. A greedy person is the man or woman who saves carefully but gives sparingly.
Generous giving will break the grip of greed on your life. So whether or not you think you have extra, give and give generously. You’ve got to give to the point that it forces you to adjust your lifestyle. If you’re not willing to give to the point that it impacts your lifestyle, then according to Jesus, you’re greedy. If you’re consuming to the point of having little or nothing left to give, you’re greedy. If you’re consuming and saving to the point that there’s little or nothing left to give, you’re greedy.
I know that’s strong. Actually, it’s harsh.
But it’s true.
Break the power of greed through the habit of generous giving. It’s a habit that changes everything.
Assess your generosity in giving over the last twelve months. What does your charitable giving say about your heart? Pray about what it would look like for you to launch into a new level of generosity in the next twelve months.
And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Luke 12:13-21 KJV
What are my gifts?
You may have noticed that God doesn’t whisk you safely up to heaven as soon as you are converted to faith. You’re still here! That can mean only one thing: your work here is not completed. You’re not just killing time here until death or judgment day ends it all. You are part of God’s mission team to make a spiritual difference in other people’s lives.
You are called to be distributors of God’s Word and God’s love. You have been given a place and a set of relationships by God. The only question that remains is the particular role that he needs you to play. For that you need to take a personal gifts inventory of your life. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).
Q: So how do you know what those gifts are? A: What are you good at? Where does your spiritual passion lie? What kinds of work and service do you care about? What do other people compliment you on? Do people tell you that you are good at teaching and explaining? singing? playing a musical instrument? creating a spreadsheet? growing and arranging flowers? telling stories? writing? graphic design? caring for buildings? creating great meals? caring for children? designing websites? curating a church Facebook page? organizing care for seniors?
Using God’s gifts satisfies your soul.
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Peter 4:10 KJV
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 26:3 KJV