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7 reasons for Praying

It’s often said that ‘prayer changes things’ but I’m convinced that God uses prayer to change people including and especially us who are praying.

1       It’s wonderful to know that prayer was God’s idea and came from him to us humans. He invites us to bring our simple, small and large and complicated prayers to Him who hears even our individual heartbeats. In John 15:16, Jesus said “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.”(NLT), What an invitation! Whatever!

2      As we get close to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit (given to every Christian) then we can get to hear God’s heartbeat as we pray. We end up praying the prayers that are on God’s heart so that He can be glorified and the answers keep coming.

3      In the same chapter of John’s gospel in v. 7, Jesus teaches about abiding in him i.e. remaining in him, resting in him. Jesus says, “if you remain in me  and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want and it will be granted.” Then he goes on to say in vv.9-11, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow.” God loves to bless us by answering prayers.

4      Joy is the fruit of what we experience as God answers our prayers. Sometimes, we have to wait a long time for the answers but we know that they are coming as God has said he will answer and he’s the only One who doesn’t lie. We have many examples in the Bible of how God made promises and then fulfilled them as people prayed. e.g. Abraham with the birth of Isaac (see in the book o Genesis). Great politicians and leaders and indeed may make promises and then lie about them and we may lie at times but God never does. (We need to guard our hearts about even small lies as it says in Scripture that liars await a sad end – see Revelation 21:8 but there is still time to repent and Jesus is at hand to forgive us. How we need to be vigilant and alert and repent as soon as we’re aware of any such actions.)

5       Again in the next chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus speaks again very plainly and clearly in v.24, “Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” In Luke’s gospel, we are encouraged to ask, seek and knock in prayer, persevering and never giving up (see Luke 11). This was likened to a relationship with an earthly father. Usually, we can ask our human father for something specific and we expect our request. Good fathers wouldn’t give something nasty to their children especially when they have asked for something good and wholesome. So with our heavenly Father – we can simply ask using Jesus’ name and the request will be granted in God’s timescale that can be so different from ours. So praying teaches us to be persistent.

6       So, with our children, we need to teach and encourage them to expect great things from God as they and we pray. Praying makes us expectant for God to move in any given situation or extremity.

7       Praying brings hope. “Call to me,” says God, “and I will answer you. I will tell you wonderful and marvellous things that you know nothing about.” (Jeremiah 33:3.) [Put a child’s name instead of the ‘you’ italics to make it really personal and meaningful!] So, our children can ask God for help as they do their homework; they can ask for the desires of their heart; they can ask whatever and God will step in and provide all they need so that they can go from strength to strength in learning to trust their Heavenly Father to answer them!

Why Pray?

It is often said that prayer changes things. I would like to amend this statement by saying that I think that God changes things and people as we humans pray! God invites us to pray and He provides the answers. He wants to reveal Himself as we pray. As God invites us to pray about anything and everything, so to pray for things, people, situations or problems (as examples) is well within the scope of God to answer those requests.

I have found in my experience that the more I learn to abide (resting and relaxing in who God is) the more able I am to tap into what God wants and can pray accordingly. I can pray for anything but sometimes my prayers go amiss because I’m praying from a selfish or wrong motive. However, God is so big that he can, not only meet my need,  but also can give what I want as well. God seems to delight in blessing His children in all sorts of ways.

We are called to be like children in their utter simplicity, just taking God at His word. A child can trust their parents (usually) to hear what they say and to perform their simple request/requests if deemed the right time or something that will bless the child. Likewise, our heavenly Father longs to give us so much beyond what we could ever ask or think (see the end verses of Ephesians 3) so to ask him for things is part of His plan for us humans. He can cause us to wait for His answers which develops our character and faith so that God is glorified. He wants our lives to be a reflection of His.

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray and we have what we know as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ as a basis for prayer, given by Jesus as a means for us to learn. As we pray, we become dependent upon God so that we can rely on Him in any circumstance or happening. Psalm 91 is about what happens when we abide in God – there are lots of promises one of them being “He (i.e. any of us) will call upon me (God) and I (God) will answer him…” (verse 15). God is literally a prayer away from any one of us.

To teach children to pray is a wonderful thing. Then children can call on God anytime when they need help, especially at those times when perhaps they are not with their parents or maybe afraid or when at school needing some reassurance/assistance..Prayer is like breathing – we can’t do without it and the great God who answers through Jesus Christ.

Help!

What do I do when I need help? Binge, cry, shout, work out a plan, share about it with a friend or simply pray. I’ve done all these things but I find that when I can stop and pray, I can then be more at peace and see the answer coming. If I dwell on a particular problem, then I get all stewed up and can’t sleep.

God’s word has something to say about getting help. Psalm 121:1-2 (Good News Bible) says a lot about where we can get help.”I look to the mountains;” the Psalmist says, “where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” God is a very present help in trouble so we can turn to him at any time to gain His help and perspective in a given situation.

I think that we humans try to be so independent of God. We don’t take Him at His word when Jesus says, “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We think we can, but we can only produce the best when God is working through us and we let Him. As we abide and rest in  His love and power, His Spirit can guide and give us the ideas to pursue that can help us in our varying times of need. Even when in our pride we think we can do certain things, as we turn to God for help, He can do things in an even better way than we could ever have done on our own.

Jesus knew that we would need help when he returned to His Father after spending 40 days on earth following His resurrection from the dead. He told His friends that it was to their advantage that He return to heaven as then He could give us His Holy Spirit who would be with us forever and not even be limited to being in a certain place as Jesus was when on the earth. No wonder Jesus said that we would do even greater things than he had done as what He does now is multiplied by the Spirit working in every Christian and blessing others as well as blessing God – the reason we exist!

Children, particularly those that may struggle at school with various assignments, need to know that Jesus in the form of His Spirit can help them with every single task. As they learn to pray and bring even the smallest concerns to Him then God will act. Then their joy will abound as they see God not only answering their prayers by helping them in the practicals but also realising that God is indeed alive and is interested in them as individuals. How God loves us and wants the best for us!

God’s Love is Massive!

While studying the life of Jonah in the Bible, I’m really challenged by the way God loved, not only the Israelites, but also the Assyrians who were enemies of God’s people. It’s so easy to love those who are pleasant and kind and do lovely things for us or for others, but when it comes to people who murder others or steal or hate or do terrible atrocities, we can think that God has no love for these individuals.

God hates what we humans do but he loves us, the real individual that we each are. Jonah reacted probably the way that most of us would do in that he didn’t want to preach good news to his enemies and hence went the opposite way to where God wanted him to go.

However, God is bigger than our escape routes! He knew Jonah’s heart and he knew how Jonah really did fear him in a right sense. He even wanted to take a consequence of his wrong actions by dying overboard but God had other ideas.

To think that God instructed a big fish to look after Jonah and give Jonah time to think and pray. How we sometimes have to be put into extreme situations in order to get real with God.

This was not the end, however, for dear Jonah.  God was intent on seeing his plans for Jonah and Ninevah (the capital city of Assyria at the time) come to pass even though Jonah still had his sulks and moods when he didn’t get his own way.  How we can identify with Jonah.

The fact was that God loved the Assyrians even though they buried people in the walls of Ninevah when they built the city and even though they were very bloodthirsty tyrants. When they repented following the words of Jonah that he proclaimed on the streets of Ninevah, Jonah was the most surprised and angry too as, in his natural state he wanted the Assyrians wiped out completely.

So, today, when we see vile happenings around the world take some time to pray for these people who in the name of their god are doing such atrocities (not forgetting families of the victims of course). God has a good plan for each of them and as they hear about the love of Jesus Christ and turn in repentance to him, then they can have a completely new life to do good with and follow the plans that the true God has for them – plans for good not evil to give a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

For our children, the Lord would say, ‘Don’t fear, God’s in charge!”

Togetherness

With all the talk about Scotland leaving the UK, we, as Christians, are reminded about the unity of the Godhead (Father, Son and Spirit) which serves to teach us about togetherness. For Jesus Christ to have prayed for unity between his followers when on earth shows the importance of being one rather than different factions or groups.

The body of Christ, the church, seems fragmented at times but as we seek to allow God more room in our lives and allow his Lordship to permeate every area of our lives, then the desire to love one another and to lay down our lives for each other actually becomes a reality.

God knows us so well and he knows how opinionated, judgmental and selfish we can be.  Because we are each unique, it means that we have to make adjustments and allowances for one another. Someone has said that God made marriage so that the people involved would realise that this can only work if both lean on God for the love they need for each other. Marriage was God’s idea and he knew how difficult it could be without the creator in the centre. Oneness may appear to be in such a relationship but how deep is that love? Only God knows.

However, we can seek to be united in as many areas of life as is possible. I would be greatly saddened if Scotland went their own way – ‘doing it my way’ as the Sinatra song goes.  Scotland has so much to give to the United Kingdom and the UK is richer for Scotland being in it. Also, the rest of the United Kingdom has much to contribute to Scottish life. We each as individuals in it of every persuasion contribute to the whole. To have to chop and change countries within the Union seems unwise. Even the Union Jack would have to change if Scotland were to leave the unity. The cost of this big change would, in my opinion, almost be criminal and almost suicidal.

Here in the UK we have a ‘richness’ of life not necessarily in monetary terms although compared with the rest of the world we are extremely rich monetarily too.  The sheer beauty of the varied landscapes that make up the British Isles shows an abundance of natural wealth brought together with all the diversity of various counties and countries. We have so much and don’t fully realise what we have.

Let’s celebrate the togetherness of the United Kingdom and be thankful that we are in a unity of countries even if they need modifying, developing or changing from time to time but not being cut off from one another.

May our children not lose what we have. May they realise afresh that unity and working together spring from the God of love who gave us this United Kingdom to live in and to share with others.

The creation itself shows the unity and togetherness of the creator who shows off his handiwork from day to day. Let’s seek to keep teaching our children that the God of love favours unity and togetherness in all spheres of life.

Let’s pray that this blip on Thursday will be a wake up call to seek God afresh as the United Kingdom where changes can take place but not at the expense of countries cutting themselves off from the whole. Our children need to know the certainty of the unity of God in the midst of our nation as they consider his great creation and the way forward when everything seems to go wrong. God in Jesus Christ has provided the answer to human need for change as in Christ we each are ‘a new creation’  that can make an impact on the world only as we remain in unity together with him.

Holidays

Stopping! Relaxing! Chilling out! Listening to God! Being free to be! Enjoying the wonders of creation!  All phrases that could mean the same thing – but essentially needed in order for us humans to keep in balance.

How amazing that God created the world and then when he made humans he took a rest. He, being our Maker, knows we need that time out, away from the crowd, not in routine but taking in from Him.

We’ve just taken  a few days off and wondered into South Shropshire to a place called Stottesdon where we enjoyed loads of sunshine and the most idyllic bed and breakfast accommodation. The weather was glorious for November and we were able to take walks and look around the little country towns and villages.  We didn’t even see one large supermarket for the whole of the trip – that’s Britain at it’s best!

Would recommend the pattern of 6 weeks at work and taking one week off which is the routine I use while working on Diamond Books.  Also, the pattern of 6 days working and a day off works well, too – but then our Creator suggested it so it would work very well.  Whatever, he asks us to do always has a good outcome even if the process is sometimes difficult.

God is so interested in our growth and development more than we realise.  On holiday, I felt God impressing on me that I was in a millstone situation whereby God is grinding the self out of me so that I can learn to abide in Him more readily and say ‘no’ to self and selfishness.  Knowing what He is about makes it easier to swallow when the grinding wheel moves!

Let’s allow Him to mould us and guide us concerning our holiday times.  Even if we can’t get away we can put our feet up and read and just be.  I often do jigsaw puzzles with classical music in the background to relax at such times.  Making cards with pressed wild flowers in another pastime I love doing to relax although I haven’t done this for years!  Then there’s the knitting and watching a good film.  Whatever you do may His rest be yours as we seek to honour Him with our lives laid before Him.

New Book is almost born

I am taking a break from writing this week and am trying to relax and rest more than usual.  In the midst of this, I am liaising with the publishers (Westbow Press) of the second set of Diamond Books,  about the design and text of the first book of the second series. There is still so much to dialogue and communicate about as this book, ‘The Light,’ for 4-5 year olds to read themselves, takes shape. This book is one-sixteenth of the way towards ‘The Jesus Series’ being completed.

I waited a long time for the publishing process to continue after the publication and reprinting of the first series, The Creation Series’ for reading to 3-4 year olds. It is fascinating to me how God enables us to wait, then buckets down loads of encouragement and then a release of the route He wants for His project which is what Diamond Books is.  It was all His idea.  I just needed to be available to respond when He asked me to do this.  He used others to nudge me to do this including Christian educationalists who I found most inspiring.

God has built up a team around me to do this huge task of writing and publishing 100 children’s books.  Eight are in print, 16 are on the way and then another 76 to go if my maths is accurate!  Many of the latter group of books are at the draft stage and some have not even been started but am giving myself another three and three-quarter years, God willing, to get the whole project written.

The complicated stage of publishing each of the books in each of the sets is very challenging yet very exciting. Would value prayer, prayer and more prayer as this project unfolds and God gets all the credit for it all.

If you have any questions or queries about any of the books planned as shown on the website then please contact me.