Category Archives: Prayer

Why Should We Pray Before Meals?

I don’t know if there are any reliable statistics on the subject, but I would guess that there are still a good many who still pray before they eat. What about you?

Personally, I try to say a short prayer before every meal I eat, sometimes even before something like a sandwich in between regular meals. I call it “saying the blessing,” but you may call it something else, like “returning thanks,” “saying grace,” etc.

Whatever we call it, I’d bet most of us either do it regularly or at least occasionally.

But this past Sunday morning I delivered a sermon which addressed the reasons for praying before a meal, both good and bad – yes, there are bad reasons. Below is both an outline (which didn’t like being translated to WordPress for some reason) and the recording of the actual sermon (which may vary slightly from the outline).

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject, so leave a comment. It would be MUCH appreciated 🙂


Click on the picture to listen.

Do You Pray Before Meals? Why?

     Illustration: Boy asking why dad thanks God.

I.       Bad Reasons

a.       Simple Habit… Matthew 6:7 – But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

b.      Superstition… Acts 17:22 – Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

                  i.      Definition of Superstition: “…a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.” (Merriam-Webster.com)

ii.      Earn favor (Ephesians 2:8-9)

iii.      To make it healthy/less harmful (Wrong idea of “blessing”). It’s not an incantation!

II.       Good Reasons (Should go without saying that we should imitate Christ)

a.       Thankful Heart… Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always for all things…  1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

                   i.      “Dark Side of Abundance”

“Those of us who live in prosperous regions of the globe and have never known food scarcity perhaps don’t feel much awe in it… God is kind not to give us heaven, yet. We would not appreciate more than a fraction of it.” –  John Piper

“Complaining about the food we have is a luxury very few have experienced in world history. If we lack gratitude, repentance is the only appropriate response.” – John Piper (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/why-we-pray-for-our-meals)

ii.      False Assumption of Righteousness… Psalm 37:25 – I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

III.       Recognition of the Provider (1 Chronicles 29:10-13)

a.       Who He Is

b.      That He Provides

IV.       To Be a Witness… Acts 27:35 – And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.

           Illustration: Chuck Colson praying at a diner while on a book tour.

1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Timothy 4:4-5 – For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

NOTE: Sometimes we should pray AFTER a meal.

Deuteronomy 8:10 – When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.

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Filed under Christianity, Food, legalism, Prayer, Preaching

But the Church Prayed

It Happened In Acts

It may come as a shock to some of you, but, believe it or not, there’s a lot more to the book of Acts than chapter 2.

As a matter of fact, the book of Acts is full of exciting, foundation-rattling accounts of God moving through the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 12 is no exception.

In Acts 12 we read Luke’s account of how Herod Agrippa (the 1st) thought he’d found a way to demoralize and ultimately defeat the young Church. After seeing that killing the apostle James made the Jews happy, he then arrested Peter with the intent of doing the same. It seemed like a fool-proof plan…

…but prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5).

That was the hinge on which the door swung…the church prayed.

Think of all the insurmountable obstacles we’ve encountered. How many times have we (as the Church or individuals) been faced with situations where there seemed to be no way out, no positive solution, no hope? What has been our usual response? Has it been fervent, unceasing, continual prayer? Not usually.

Imagine what would have happened to Peter had the story been more like: “Herod was going to kill Peter, but the church hired the best Gentile lawyer from Rome.” Or, maybe Acts 12:5 could have read like: “Herod was planning on killing Peter, but the church hatched a full-proof escape plan.”

No, the Bible says that the church in Jerusalem did what all of us should do – but we usually don’t – they prayed without ceasing.

If Acts is supposed to be an example of how the Holy Spirit can work through the Body of Christ (the Church), then I have a feeling we’ve lost a lot of battles by ignoring our most powerful weapon – PRAYER.

It’s Happing in Soddy Daisy

Well, my friends, I pastor a small church in Soddy Daisy, TN, that needs a few miracles. We need some locked doors opened…some chains to fall off…some manna from heaven…some pioneering workers for the field.

We need people who will work. We want to see souls saved. We want to make an impact on our community. We want to build the Kingdom. We want God to receive the glory for rescuing what many have deemed a lost cause.

So, we’re praying.

Every evening we are meeting to pour our hearts out in prayer. Every evening we are asking God to meet our needs. Every evening I am hoping others will join us, preferably in person. You are invited.

This past Sunday (May 6) I preached a sermon that laid out the context for Acts 12:1-5. I then called upon our congregation to join with me in serious, desperate, concentrated prayer for the rest of the month. You can listen to the sermon by clicking on the link below or the picture of our church sign.

Let us look forward to what God is going to do, but don’t be too surprised if He answers in a way that has never even crossed our minds.

“Now About This Time: The Church Prayed”

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Filed under Church, community, Prayer, Preaching

Tongues and the Church Today


A Guest Post by: David Fuller (Non-Cessationist)

 

The gift of tongues in Acts is always associated with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The promise of the Father, baptism with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and references to the Holy Ghost being poured out or falling upon believers are terms used interchangeably in Scripture with one exception which R. A. Torrey notes: Baptized with the Holy Spirit, is nowhere used in the Bible of any experience but the first and suggests an initial or initiatory experience.(65) He suggests we therefore use this term only to describe the initial filling of the believer with the Holy Spirit.

This point is generally agreed upon even by those who reject tongues, since the New Testament clearly and repeatedly admonishes believers to be filled with the Spirit. The points of contention are whether the initial filling necessarily happens to every Christian at the moment of regeneration, and whether or not tongues should still be expected as a necessary sign of it. This debate necessarily narrows down to the purpose of speaking in tongues. Given Luke’s relatively cursory mention of this gift, one could ask what his purpose is in mentioning it at all?

Luke’s purpose in writing, as stated by himself in Luke 1:1-4, was to set down an orderly account of those prophesies concerning the Messiah and His church which had been fulfilled before their very eyes, in order to strengthen the faith of Theophilus. In Acts, he shows how the church fulfilled not only O.T. prophecy, but Christ’s commission as well. Since Jesus Himself, in referring to the enduement with power as the promise of the Father, as well as Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in 1 Cor. 14:21, each indicate that the gift of tongues is a fulfillment of O.T. prophecy concerning the church and the last days, Luke includes it in his account; documenting its part in the fulfillment of Christs commission as well. Thus, the fulfillment of prophecy and of Christs commission are the only two purposes for tongues with which Luke is concerned, since this is the focus of his writing. An extensive treatment of the purpose of tongues in collective worship or the spiritual life of the average believer of that day would be a departure from his point.

Also, since he is writing for Theophilus, not for us, he naturally would have excluded extensive information about subjects with which Theophilus would undoubtedly have been all-to-familiar, such as the structure and events of a typical early-church worship service.

We know from Paul’s testimony in 1 Cor. that apparently quite a number of the believers in Corinth spoke with tongues, as did Paul himself. That the Ephesian believers spoke with tongues is indicated by his admonition that they should pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18 cf. 1 Cor. 14:15). The fact that Luke mentions only three major instances of tongues, and relates them to the spread of the gospel to the major people groups, while neglecting their mention in ch.8 and the many other salvation accounts, does not mean they did not occur in these instances. Luke may have just been avoiding redundancy (especially in light of that days paper costs) and sticking to his purpose, which was to chronicle the fulfillment of prophecy and Christs commission.

Luke also chooses not to teach us of the Eucharist in Acts, so we base our understanding of it on Christs command and Paul’s teaching on the meaning of and procedure for observing it, given to the Corinthians because of their abuse of this ritual. Likewise, we must look elsewhere for detailed treatment of the gift of tongues; and we find it from the same sources. In Mark 16:17, Jesus states that tongues are a sign that will be manifested in those who believe. Luke leaves us wishing for the testimony of one who was there as to what part, if any, tongues played in the individuals spiritual life and collective worship at that time. Paul gives us exactly this, and again his most detailed treatment is directed toward those who were abusing it. Thank God for the Corinthians! Is it not comforting to see how God can use even our shortcomings to the benefit of His church?

What does Paul tell the Corinthians (and us) about the correct purpose and use of the gift of tongues? Citing Isaiah 28:11, he says that tongues function as a sign. Just as the strange tongue of the Assyrians was to be a sign to Ephraim of Gods judgment, so the gift of tongues in the N.T. served as a sign to the Jews of Gods involvement in those events as well. There is, however, a further purpose for tongues. Paul says the gift, when properly used, is intended to edify the individual and, when interpreted, the church body.

But how is this accomplished? What is the point, after all, of speaking a language even you yourself cannot understand? Paul answers this question in 1 Cor. 14:2, For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God. In verse 14, he states, For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth (emphasis mine) and continues in verse 15 with, I will pray with the spirit and, I will sing with the spirit. In verses 16 and 17 Paul indicates that tongues are used to bless and give thanks to God. Instead of being in the form of a message directed toward the church, which is always the case with prophecy, it is intended to be a form of worship and prayer. This worship and prayer interpreted generates participation on the part of other members of the body, and thus it becomes a means of edification equal to prophecy, In prophecy the edification springs from the Spirit-quickened Word, while in tongues and interpretation the edification springs from Spirit-quickened worship and prayer.(Brandt, 55).

The speakers in tongues in Acts 2:11 were proclaiming the wonderful works of God. In the house of Cornelius, they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.(Acts 10:46). In Acts 19:6, who were the speakers in tongues addressing? Paul, who witnessed the event, tells us that he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God. Furthermore, he encourages the Ephesians to pray in the Spirit(6:18), and Jude likewise tells us to build ourselves up in our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit.

According , then, to both the record of Luke and Paul’s teaching, the gift of tongues serves two primary functions. It is a sign to the unbeliever of Divine presence and activity, and a means of building up the believer and the church through Spirit-inspired prayer and worship.

Although some contend that the gift of tongues was meant only for the early church, Scripture nowhere states that this is so. In fact, there are two quite strong statements to the contrary: Paul’s command in 1 Cor. 14:39 to forbid not to speak in tongues, and Peters statement in Acts 2:39, For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call (emphasis mine). Taken together with Christs statement in Mark 16:17, as well as the various admonitions to pray in the spirit throughout the N.T. , I see no scriptural reason for believing the gift tongues is not meant for believers throughout this church age.

Works Cited

Brandt, R.L. Tongues, the Greatest Gift?; Bridge Publishing, c.1981

Torrey, R.A. Baptism With The Holy Spirit; Revell, c.1897

Link to R. A. Torrey

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Guest Posts, Prayer, worship

Parsonage Update for July 21st

Greetings, everyone!

Below is a video I put together on Friday, July 21, at the parsonage where we will soon be moving – I hope.

As many of you already know, we are in a time of transition. The house we are in is being sold, and the house to which we are moving is being made livable (I could say “restored,” but that would be stretching it just a little).

A lot of work has been done, but a lot more needs to be done. The scary part is that I have no idea how it’s going to happen. As of right now there are not enough funds to do certain necessary repairs, the most expensive being roofing, windows, and something other than one wall-mounted window-unit air conditioner.

Yet, God is bigger than any of our problems. If He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; if He can raise up kingdoms; if He can speak to the storms and make the wind be still; if He can have a man catch a fish to pay his taxes; if He can part the sea one day, then walk on it another; if He can create time; if He can speak the world into existence; if He can save this old sinner and make me righteous in His sight; then He should be able to bring together what we need for some old block house in Soddy Daisy!

Can I get an “amen”?

Anyway, I’d appreciate your prayers for my family, our ministry, and this parsonage project.

(By the way, my special thanks goes out to all of you who’ve submitted guest posts to keep this blog active.)

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The Parsonage Project

What I’m Doing

I would really appreciate your prayers. Pray that God would give me wisdom and a steady mind. Pray that I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, for stormy waves are trying to distract my focus. Pray for me, if for nothing else, that I will myself remain in constant prayer.

This week the house that we are living in will be listed on the market to be sold, and we are not as ready as we would like to be. On top of that, the house in which we are planning to move is the parsonage of the church where I now pastor – but it is FAR from being ready.

Right now I am having to work a job and pastor a church; record a weekly radio broadcast; record lectures at the seminary; move a lot of stuff into storage; see that a house is ready to be seen by buyers; and oversee the restoration of an old house – a restoration which costs more money than we have and will have to incorporate the expertise of many people. That doesn’t count being a parent and a husband. Can you see why I wanted people to send me guest posts?

That’s why prayer is so important. In James 4:2 we read that we have not because we ask not, so I’m asking – pray for us.

The Parsonage

It is a well-known fact among pastors and their families that parsonages are a mixed blessing. For one thing, when you live in a parsonage (a house owned by a church, but meant to house the pastor), you live in a house that is not your own. Secondly, living in a parsonage usually means that you are not building up any equity or means to move into a normal home. So, what happens is that when the pastor ends up leaving the church where he pastors, if nothing else is done, he and is family are effectively homeless.

But, there are times when a parsonage can be a blessing, like for us, because without it we would have no place to live at this point. Also, the parsonage, if used properly, can be a tool for evangelism and discipleship. The parsonage can also show that the pastor and his family are personally invested in the health of the congregation he shepherds. Therefore, if the church does have a parsonage, it should be well-maintained in order to make full use of its potential.

Unfortunately, the parsonage at the church where I now pastor has fallen into serious disrepair. I am working with different groups and individuals in order to restore the old house, but that will take time, manpower, and a lot of something we (the congregation) don’t have…money. One group of men estimated that it would take $10,000 to make the parsonage livable. On the other hand, I was told by someone else that the costs would be closer to $30,000. And right now this little upstart of a little church only runs around 15 in a decent Sunday!

The Video

Below is a video I made last Sunday. In it I take you through the parsonage and let you see for yourself what needs to be done. Look, Nehemiah rebuilt a wall which his enemies swore would fall down if only a fox pushed against it. Noah built a huge ark with the help of fewer men than volunteers I will have. What needs to be done will get done, but this ship won’t sail without a strong wind of prayer.

If all things were easy and well within our own power, we wouldn’t need God’s help. But, when things seem impossible, we call upon the Lord to do for us what we cannot do (Psalm 57:2), thereby allowing Him to get the glory and praise.

The more impossible the project – even a parsonage project – the more praise, glory, and honor is due our Savior and King.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, Church, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships and Family

An Update On Jack (and answered prayer)

On Tuesday, June 6, our little dog, Jack, was attacked in our front yard by a roaming pit bull mix (I despise that dog). On June 7, the day after, I published a post entitled “Praying for an Animal” and addressed the biblical reasons for doing so.

Here are some photos of how bad he was messed up.

Jack had approximately 15 puncture wounds, a couple of which went into the muscle – these were the most troubling.

There was so much damage that drain tubes had to be inserted all over his little body so that fluid could drain. He had multiple staples holding his wounds together.

Most concerning was his back, because it was there that the skin was literally pulled away from the muscle beneath. Between that and the punctured muscle, the vet warned us this might not end well.

However, despite how crazy it might have seemed, the evening of the 7th we prayed for Jack, even anointing his little furry head with oil. Want to know what happened next?

The first thing Thursday morning the 8th Jack was sitting up and wanting to play with his favorite toy, a chewed-up cheetah!

Now, just a week and four days later…today…in our back yard…I filmed a camera-shy little Jack. You judge for yourself whether or not God answered our prayers.

Thank you, everybody, for your kind thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes. I believe Jack is going to be fine 🙂

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Praying for an Animal

I know I’ve got guest posts being posted, but I had to share something with you, something that I did tonight.

You see, my daughter’s little dog, Jack, was attacked in our yard by another dog that has been walking unattended through the neighborhood. Jack is a small dog, only about 12 pounds, and the dog that attacked him was a larger pit-bull mix. Ugly, too.

According to the vet to which my wife and daughter took Jack today, he had around 15 puncture wounds, torn skin, and possibly some muscle damage. Jack has been in a lot of pain, very weak, and very pitiful.

It’s been difficult for us, too.

So, this afternoon, before I came home from work, I told my wife that we would be praying for Jack this evening. She agreed. She also agreed with me that there was nothing unbiblical about doing so, either.

Have you ever prayed over a wounded pet? Have you ever anointed one with oil and prayed for one while being on Facebook Live? Well, that’s what I did tonight.

What do you think about praying for this little dog? Do you think it was silly thing to do? Do you think it was sacrilegious? If so, let give you some things to think about.

First, there is nothing too big or too small, nothing too important or insignificant, to keep us from praying to our Heavenly Father. Are you a parent? Tell me, when your little children drew a picture that made no sense, did it still thrill you when they brought it to you as a gift, all proud? Did you think it was beautiful, even though others may have thought is was scribble?

God is our Abba, our Father, so don’t you think it pleases Him when we bring ANYTHING to him in prayer? Of course it does! That shows Him we care about something and we want Him to care, too! It shows Him that we have faith in Him to take care of something, something we have no control over. It shows that we believe in Him enough to take our petitions to Him, not someone else.

Do you think a hurt little dog is insignificant? Guess what, how big do you think your biggest prayer request is in the light of Omnipotent God? EVERY need we have is small to Him!

Secondly, what do you think about praying for a dog? Do you think it is crazy to ask God to heal a dog? Do you think that matters nothing to Him? Well, what about how He takes note of every sparrow that falls (Matthew 10:29; Luke 12:6)? What about the time He chastised Jonah for not even caring about the cattle that could have been killed (Jonah 4:11)? What about how one of the characteristics of a righteous man is how he cares for his animals (Proverbs 12:10)? Need I go on?

When the Lord created all living things, what did He say? He said, “It is good.” God cares for His creation, and that is why He expects us to take care of it and tend it. If God made our little dog, then He cares for our little dog.

Third, there’s this thing called faith. Are you aware that whenever we put our faith in the Lord for anything, that brings Him glory? Our trust in Him to do something we can’t shows our dependency on Him (Psalm 57:2).

Fourth, God cares about us. That’s the biggie. God, our Father in Heaven, is so much better of a father than we could ever be (Matt. 7:11; Luke 11:13). When our children hurt, that hurts us. Likewise, when we hurt, it must pain our Father. Does he not collect our tears (Psalm 56:8).

So, I prayed for our little dog. I even anointed him with oil when I prayed – as a symbol of faith (believe me, I understand the context of the passages, so you don’t have to offer any exegesis). I prayed, and I believe, that my Father, little Jack’s Creator, will heal him and raise him back up.

So, for my daughter’s sake, and for the glory of the Lord, will you say a pray for Jack, our little dog? He is in pain, has multiple wounds, some of which are down into the muscle. A large portion of his back had the skin pulled away from the muscle. He even has multiple tube protruding from his body in order to help his wounds to drain. He also has multiple staples all over his body.

Thank you for caring.

Poor little guy even has to endure a “cone of shame.”

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Filed under animals, Prayer