Acknowledge Conditions of Prayer

Acknowledge Conditions Of Prayer

Chapter Two

Acknowledge Conditions Of Prayer
Can You Spare A Buck? 28 Facets Of Faith – #1 Little Faith 36
A Matter Of Trust 30 Facets Of Faith – #2 Great Faith 38
Persistence In Petition And Thanksgiving 32 Facets Of Faith – #3 Perfect Faith 40
Asking With Unselfish Motives 34 Discussion Questions 42

Matthew 5:41

Can You Spare A Buck?

Perhaps it was a test. Definitely, it was an answer to prayer. Upon reflection, it was probably both. During morning prayer (unfortunately, not a daily practice), I requested to be able to hear the Holy Spirit speak to me. For some selfish reason, I wanted to personally know that my Lord was hearing my prayers and would indeed answer them. You would think, after this many years of being a Christian I would not feel the need to push God in this manner. However, I do know enough to realize that in order to be able to hear God speak, I would have to be willing to be obedient. The more consistent our obedience when we pray, the easier it becomes to hear His voice. So I prayed, "Holy Spirit, speak to me today."

Answers to prayers come with many faces. We expect the smiling, good-natured, full of glory kind of face. This face was downcast. This face looked desperate. This face was of a healthy looking young (younger than me) man wearing a sweatshirt and stocking cap… just enough to keep warm with the dropping evening temperature. He stood on my front porch holding an empty red plastic container designed for storing gasoline. Hurriedly, yet politely he asked if I could give him a dollar for gas, leaving me to assume that he had run out of fuel somewhere in the neighborhood.

Knowing the nearest gas station was half a mile away, I told him that I would drive him in my car to purchase the gasoline. I excused myself for a minute in order to put on a pair of shoes. While tying the laces I questioned, "What am I doing? Why am I taking a stranger in my car in order to buy him some fuel?" It sure would have been easier to just give him a dollar. But the service station was some distance way… I had the time… he was in need… so I resolved to take him with me.

By the time I returned to the front door, the man was gone. I stepped onto my porch in order to find him. Perhaps he would be beside my car, waiting for me to take him to the station. But he was not there. I looked up and down the street and could see no one. "He couldn't have walked out of my line of sight in this short time" I thought. How could he simply disappear? I felt heartbroken because I could not help the man.

Saddened by the sudden turn of events, I headed toward my house when I heard his voice. "Could you spare a dollar for some gas?" Looking across the street, I saw him speaking to a neighbor as he did to me only a few minutes earlier. Did he really need the gas? I was willing to take him to the station and back to his car, but he could not… or would not wait for me.

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My conclusion was blunt and obvious. This was a scam. It was a twisted ploy to try and hustle money from innocent, caring individuals. No one wants to see a man run out of gas. I've had to borrow money for the very same reason. But he was taking advantage of the kind folks in my neighborhood. I did have to give him high marks for ingenuity – it was rather novel.

But how does this relate to my morning prayer? I asked God to help me be obedient when He spoke to me. Although I did not hear a voice from heaven telling me to drive this man to the station, I somehow knew that is what God would have wanted me to do. Obedience is not always accomplishing what God asks; it is found in being willing to do what God wants us to do. For the moment, I was willing to "go the extra mile" for this man. Jesus instructed his followers to carry a soldier's cloak for two miles when they were only required to walk one mile. "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles" (Matthew 5:41). It is God's will that we go beyond normal, worldly expectations. Taking the man to the gas station, for me, would have been the right decision as opposed to handing him a dollar bill. I am sorry that I could not help him and that he really did not need my help. There is an assuring peace in my heart, however. My spirit did hear the voice of the Holy Spirit urging me to help him. Perhaps he was a con artist pulling me into his scheme. On the other hand, maybe he was an angel in disguise (Hebrews 13:2).

"Lord, help me to be willing to hear and obey your will today. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will not be surprised when God answers my prayers… instead, I will be prepared to obey.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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1 Samuel 15:22

A Matter Of Trust

The wisest decision I made while driving through a snow storm one day was to find a radio station which provided road and weather information. As I listened to the radio announcers offer up-to-the-minute details about accident spots and road conditions, I not only found it useful but soothing. Their confident voices kept encouraging me to drive slowly and carefully. Before long, I was relaxed and able to brave the weather and icy roads.

Upon reflection, I considered how hearing those radio voices kept me calm and gave me direction. I thought how wonderful it would be if I could have that same experience with life. If I could turn on a receiver in my brain and listen to a voice give me encouragement and direction, I would be calm and confident in life. But I can do this. After all, that is what prayer is all about!

The voice of God is always near. He is forever speaking to us, if we are willing to listen. One thing I have learned about the voice of God is that when God speaks, He whispers. The world and the lures of the world which mislead us, are always screaming in our ears. To hear the gentle, guiding voice of God, we must listen for His quiet whisper. He may be speaking to you at this very moment. Do you hear Him? Are you listening?

I decided to listen for the voice of God. I asked God to speak to me in His gentle way. I reached out to Him in faith, trusting He would speak and I would hear. Let me emphasize that this was an action of faith because I asked God to speak to me and then I listened, believing that He would answer. I simply prayed, "Lord, I want to hear Your voice." It only took a fraction of a second to realize that I had a response. However, the response I was given was not the response I expected.

I do not believe I am so righteous that God will speak to me. I believe, as the Bible says, "no one is righteous," except for Jesus. However, because of my union and faith in Him, I did believe God would speak to me when I asked to hear His voice. However, it is less important to hear His voice than it is to respond to Him. I asked God to speak to me and what I heard sounded more like my own thoughts than anything else. Did God use my own inner voice to speak to me, or did I simply hear myself thinking? Either way, I believe God answered. When I prayed, "Lord, I want to hear Your voice," the answer I immediately heard was, "are you willing to obey?"

That, of course, was the perfect response to my request. It took about three seconds to realize that, if I have to hesitate to answer God, then my answer is most likely to be "no,

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I won't necessarily obey." Startled by "his voice," or rather by His answer, I found two truths which I hope will offer more additional insight.

First, if we are not willing to obey God, then why should He speak to us and offer His direction for our lives? The response I wanted to speak was, "if it is something that I want to do, then I will obey." Here is the basis of the first truth: Christians are not volunteers. When God needs our service, He needs us to be willing to serve. To subjectively select how we are willing to serve God is not an option. If we are wanting to receive direction from God, then we must be willing to follow His direction without question.

Second, obedience is a matter of trust. The issue is not just whether I am willing to obey, but do I also trust God to empower me to do what He has asked? When God asks us to take an action, it is often one which does not make sense or appears to have any chance of success. That's how you know it is from God. God Himself, through our faith in Jesus, will make us capable for the task. He will give us the power and if necessary, "super ability" to accomplish whatever He asks.

Obedience is really a matter of cooperation. If we are willing to do our part, God will do His part. He will never fail to be faithful to us.

"O God, am I willing to hear Your voice? Am I willing to be obedient? Speak to me, and I will obey. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: When God speaks, I will listen and obey!

– Thomas Duckworth –

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Luke 11:1-13

Persistence In Petition And Thanksgiving

A certain parable Jesus told came alive for me today. A certain neighbor, who is one egg short of an omelette, started ringing our doorbell at 7:30 this morning. Normally, that would have been late for us, but since it was after 1:00 a.m. before I went to bed, I was still enjoying my slumber. When I discovered who was at the door, I determined to ignore her. She has some of the craziest requests she makes of us and I just was not in the mood to deal with her. The only problem with that decision was that she kept ringing the doorbell. After several minutes of ringing, she knocked on the door for awhile before returning to use the bell. Finally, silence. I was up (who could sleep with that racket!) So I walked to the door to see if she had left. No such luck. She was standing on the porch talking to herself. I could not stand it any longer. She was not going to go away! Before she could ring the bell again I opened the door.

She had a message for me. The message was quite simple: "I just wanted you to know that my telephone is not working."

"I'll come down later and take a look at it," I answered. Deliberately I took my time eating breakfast and reading the newspaper. When I went over, the problem was easily solved. She had her speaker phone turned on and could not make her earphone work. After pushing a little button, I returned home.

Jesus spoke of our persistence in prayer, citing a man who had a midnight visitor but nothing to feed him so he went to his neighbor to ask for bread. The neighbor gave him food because of his persistence. Had our neighbor not been persistent (stubborn!), I would not have helped her with her telephone dilemma. God wants us to be persistent (tenacious) in prayer. He wants us to keep bugging Him until we know He has an answer. My dear neighbor helped me relearn this lesson.

However, the saga still continues. Now that her telephone is working she keeps calling, insisting on paying me for "repairing" her phone. She won't let me go to sleep tonight unless I accept her act of kindness! She will keep calling until I wear out!

Here again is a beautiful message. We may be persistent in prayer, but are we persistent in praise and gratitude when God answers our prayers? Would He not like it if we wore Him out with our grateful hearts? I discovered that I am too often quick to ask, but slow to thank.

"Lord, about my neighbor…"

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"Help me to understand how much You love me, O my Father. You desire to give me all good gifts, yet I have been afraid to ask. I don't mean to 'bug' You, but Your Word instructs me to keep on asking. Therefore, by faith I come to You again…"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God is true to His Word. He will do what He promises.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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John 14:1-14

Asking With Unselfish Motives

The remaking of the movie trilogy Star Wars has certainly created tremendous excitement. Yes, I am a Star Wars buff, and yes, I did attend the opening night exhibition this week. It was fascinating to watch people much younger than I stand and cheer during the added scenes and the enhanced effects.

A subsequent development of this movie is the marketing of Star Wars action figures. Taco Bell is promoting these toys with the purchase of a children's taco or burrito meal (which certainly gives new meaning to the phrase, "May the force be with you").

While dining at this less than five-star restaurant, admiring our new Star Wars toy, I overheard the voice of a child in the booth behind me. Of all the things to do at T.B., he was praying! This eager child's mother was waiting at the counter to receive their food and he was reserving the booth. Sitting with his brothers or friends, I could hear him communicating with the Almighty God. His prayer went something like this: "Oh God, please let it be the action figure I want. Please God, let it be the one I want!"

Honestly, I did not quite know how to feel about this. It was cute, yet sad at the same time. Here is a child, so excited about a toy that he turns to God as if He were some kind of cosmic Santa Claus, and asks for a piece of molded plastic valued at $1.49.

On this prayer alone, for this young man, the entire integrity of God is at stake. If he receives the toy for which he earnestly prayed, it reinforces the concept that God is there just to give us what we want. On the other hand, if he fails to receive the toy he wants, his conclusion would be that God is incapable of handling such a request, if there is a God at all! Either way, God loses.

I realize it is difficult to explain to young children that God desires for us to simply have a relationship with Him so we may enjoy Him. But children tend to grow into adults who often carry their childish concepts with them into adulthood. When is the last time you asked for a "thing" from God? Are you counting by minutes?

I wonder if God is amused or saddened when we, His children, come to Him in this way. My suspicion is that God is happy even when we come to Him like this child. He would much rather we come to Him misguided than not to come at all.

"…receive the kingdom of God like a little child…" (Mark 10:15)

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"As a child I approach You, heavenly Father… unafraid and bold. I know You are able to do anything I ask. Therefore, I ask that whatever I ask, it be for the glory of Your Son, Jesus, my Lord! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God loves me for who I am. He accepts me just as I am. Therefore, I can be honest and real in my relationship with Him.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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Matthew 6:25-31; Matthew 8:23-27;

Matthew 14:22-33; Matthew 16:6-12

Facets Of Faith – #1 Little Faith

In each of the above texts Jesus used the term "O ye of little faith…" The Greek for this term is oligopistos. To comprehend what Jesus was saying, it is necessary to read each scripture given.

Matthew 6:25-31 (30). The Master made it clear, those who are content to possess little faith, will have problems with anxiety or worry. Worry is of Satan; never God. It is needless, useless and may be injurious to our well-being. Please read Philippians 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:7. Anxiety does not alter the past, but can drastically affect the present and future. Worry is blind, as it refuses to learn truth from God's Holy Word.

Matthew 8:23-27 (26) The disciples were with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee, when a great tempest arose. The ship was covered with waves and tossed to and fro. They were overwhelmed with fear. Christ was there, but was asleep. The word used here for fear means cowardly or timid; it is an inward sensation of fear. I recall moments of fear in my life which were totally groundless. The danger was more a matter of mind than reality. I believe Jesus is teaching us that FAITH in God minimizes our Fears. Many of us do not witness for Jesus, for fear of rejection.

Matthew 14:22-33 (31) Fear created doubt in the minds of the disciples. Doubt cancels faith. The word for doubt in this text means, to separate oneself or to be in strife with oneself. 'Do I trust God, Or Do I Doubt God?' Doubt digs the grave of Faith. Doubts are more cruel than the worst of truths. Every step toward Christ kills a doubt.

Matthew 16:6-12 (8 & 11) When Jesus spoke this time to the disciples, the fear factor now caused them a problem of forgetting past miracles Christ preformed. Jesus indicated their little faith had dwarfed their ability to recall the works of Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

'Little Faith' will keep us in the realm of Anxiety, Fear, Doubt and Forgetfulness.

Tomorrow, we will reach for Great Faith, and leave little faith behind.

"Father, help my faith to increase. Your Word tells me in Romans 10:1 that 'faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God'"

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As I read God's word, and believe it to be true, I determine to reach for great and perfect faith.

– Lowell Weller –

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Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 7:1-10

Facets Of Faith – #2 Great Faith

As believers, we want to leave little faith and ascent to Great Faith. As you read the above scripture, you will notice two different individuals seeking Christ's help. One, a very poor woman, the other a man of great power. Jesus referred to both having great faith. There are three Greek words for "Great". Jesus uses a word which means "large, of physical magnitude or measure.'

In Matthew 15:25, we read about the poor Gentile woman who sought Jesus' help for her demon possessed daughter. She worshiped Christ. The original text means crawl or crouch like a dog at the master's feet. It also means to prostrate itself. One Greek translation puts it this way, "she fell on her knees and touched her forehead to the ground in profound reverence." She humbled herself before Jesus, and received her request.

The second scripture tells us about a Roman Officer, whose servant was sick. He sent word for Jesus to come, believing that Jesus could heal him. As Jesus approached, the centurion sent word to the Master to come no farther. Say the word and his servant would be healed. Jesus did, and he was healed.

Jesus saw humility in both. Each came from different social status: one extremely poor, the other powerful. One compared herself to a dog. The other was in command over many. Social position was not the criterion for their great faith. They were different and yet similar. The characteristic both possessed was genuine humility. As I see it, humility and great faith go hand in hand.

Since God is the inspirer of all scripture, according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Matthew and Luke used the exact word to describe humility. Therefore, I believe real humility is a vital step to great faith. God has been faithful, through His Word, to show believers steps to a deeper and more fulfilling life. It is found through prayer and in-depth Bible study.

Humility is not a profession made with the mouth. It is exemplified by the life we live. St. Augustine wrote: "Should you ask me: What is the first thing in religion? I would reply: The first, second and third thing therein is HUMILITY."

Another important factor in the two individuals in our scriptures is Love. The woman deeply loved Jesus; the centurion sincerely loved his servant. Love and Humility move us toward great faith.

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PRAYER AND AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Father in Heaven, I desire to have great faith. I am willing to walk the road of humility to achieve this level of faith.

– Lowell Weller –

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James 2:14-25

Facets Of Faith – #3 Perfect Faith

We have left little faith, advanced to great faith, and now learn the way to perfect faith. Note in verse 22 the word perfect or complete faith. The Old Testament reference to James' writing is found in Genesis 22:3-14. The story tells of God's command to His servant Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. This had to be the most difficult order any human had ever been asked to obey. It was in the context of this historical event that James, the brother of Jesus, credited Abraham of possessing perfect or complete faith. It is evident that perfect faith is the result of OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S COMMANDS.

Years ago a saint declared, "Even the true faith will die if we do not live in the spirit of OBEDIENCE." I believe it is significant that forms of the word 'obey' appear more than 130 times in Scripture. Hebrews 5:8 says that Christ, though a son, learned obedience through suffering. Before His death, Jesus prayed to His Heavenly Father "I have done that which you have given me to do." In Deuteronomy 11:26-28 Moses informed the people if they did not obey, they would suffer a curse from God. If they were Obedient, God would BLESS them. If we read and study passages from the Old and New Testaments, we will understand why obedience to God is the path that leads to perfect or complete FAITH. Many translations use the term perfect faith. The original language uses a word which means complete faith. I interpret it thus: Great faith arrives at perfect faith via the route of complete obedience to our Lord.

Perhaps these quotations will enhance our devotion for today.

"Noting is really lost by a life of sacrifice; everything is lost by failure to obey God's call." Harry P. Liddon

"Obedience to God is the most infallible evidence of sincere and supreme love to Him." Nathanael Emmons

"If you love me, keep my commandments." Jesus Christ

I thrill at what even a little faith can accomplish. That thrill is magnified over and over when I realize God hag made it possible for His adopted children to progress on to Great and Perfect Faith.

"Dear Savior, I praise You for a faith that can move mountains. I praise You for faith that sees me through the storms of life."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Through God's eternal word I press toward great and perfect faith. May I be found faithful in every aspect of my life.

– Lowell Weller –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Tell why you think the following statement is an authentic (Biblically- supportable) statement: "The more consistent our obedience when we pray, the easier it becomes to hear God's voice." Is it your desire daily to pray the following prayer? "Holy Spirit, speak to me today." How can you discern in your inner spirit when it is truly the Holy Spirit speaking to you?

  2. From your own experience of communion with God, tell if you 'identify' with the following statement: "One thing I have learned about the voice of God is that when. God speaks, He whispers. To hear the gentle, guiding voice of God, we must listen for His quiet whisper."

  3. Share your personal response (or reaction) to the following statements: "When God asks us to take an action, it is often one which does not make sense or appears to have any chance of success. That's how you know it is from God. God Himself, through our faith in Jesus, will make us capable for the task. He will give us the power and if necessary, 'super ability' to accomplish whatever He asks."

  4. Why do you think God desires for you (His child) to be tenacious and persistent in making your requests (prayers) known unto Him? (Matthew 6:6)

  5. When God wonderfully answers your requests (prayers), do you persistently praise Him and express gratitude (thanks) to Him? Why is spending time in praise so very important in the development of a mature "Christian Walk"?

  6. How can you personally determine that your prayers are directed by unselfish motives? How can you personally discern that your prayers are offered for 'the glory of God' and for the 'good of your fellow men'? When is it 'right' (proper) for a believer to ask God for 'things' which will personally benefit himself? When God's answer to your prayers is "No' or 'Wait', are these answers just as beneficial to you as when God's answer to your prayer is 'Yes'? Why or why not?

  7. Why, according to Matthew 6:25-31, is worry needless and even hurtful?

  8. How can Faith in God's person and power, help minimize your Fears? (Note Matthew 8:23-27)

  9. What steps have you taken in your Christian life to deal with Doubt? (Note Matthew 14: 22-33)

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  10. Do you believe that "humility' and 'great faith' go hand-in-hand? Why? Does deep humility give birth to great love for God, which motivates one to place great confidence and trust and dependence in God?

  11. Tell if you agree with the following statement: "Even true faith will die if we do not live in the spirit of obedience."

  12. Tell with what degree of conviction you believe the following statement: "Obedience to God is the most infallible evidence of sincere and supreme love to Him."

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