Praying For The Politicians Who Infuriate Us

Almost everything she posted on Facebook swelled with her hatred of President Trump, though she never really explained why she felt such animosity toward him. Her relentless vitriol seemed unbecoming to a Christian. Her disagreement with his policies, though confusing to me, didn’t bother me too much, but the intensity of her anger certainly did. After weeks of scrolling though her rants about him, I finally asked if she prayed for him.

“Yes,” she answered. “I pray daily that he’ll be removed from office!”

Now we have a president that I dislike. Most of my friends share my feelings about his socialist agenda, his support of abortion and his mishandling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, I noticed an increasing number of Christians admitting to praying imprecatory prayers since his inauguration.

Imprecatory prayers are prayers for God to exercise curses or judgment on our enemies, as in Psalm 35:4-6, Psalm 55:15, and (most germane to our discussion) Psalm 109:6-20 with the particular emphasis on verse 8.

Let his days be few;
Let another take his office. (NASB95)

I’ve seen several Christians lately argue that the current administration calls for imprecatory prayers, just as my Facebook friend believed the last administration called for them. I must admit that praying that way has sounded more tempting in these last 8 months. But I have to step back from my emotions and seriously question whether or not Christians really ought to use this method of prayer.

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Preaching The Gospel To Myself As I Pray

I don’t know where people get the idea that those of us with physical disabilities are especially proficient in prayer. I definitely struggle in that spiritual discipline, quite frankly. Thankfully, E-Sword, the free Bible software that I use, includes a feature that helps me organize my prayer life.

So this past year I’ve been taking time during my daily prayers to thank the Lord for saving me. In so doing, I have developed the practice of thanking each Person of the Trinity for His specific role in bringing me to that salvation. Prayers along those lines has both heightened my awareness that my salvation comes completely from God and deepened my love for the Trinity.

Writing about aspects of my prayer life makes me nervous, fearing that I come across as boastful. Believe me, I’m all too aware that I have a very long way to go before I could consider my prayer life to be exemplary! In writing this article, I most assuredly don’t mean to hold myself up as a standard to follow.

Rather, I write this article in hopes that I might honor the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit while demonstrating how each of Them has worked to save me from the due penalty of my sins. Although time doesn’t allow me to give you all the Scriptures substantiating my points, perhaps this little blog post might encourage you to study the matter for yourself.

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The Strange Effect Of Praying

As Mom drove across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to the train station, my sister and I expressed our dread of another year-long visit from Granny. It wasn’t so much that we’d have to share a bedroom again (actually, I kind of liked that part). And I looked forward to her lemon cake.

But Granny complained. A lot. About everything. My sister and I spent that car ride telling Mom how much her complaining bothered us.

Mom validated our feelings by responding, “Granny’s not happy unless she has something to complain about.”

Lately, I’ve been struggling with the sin of complaining. I wake up complaining that it’s time to wake up. Throughout the day, I notice myself grumbling internally about various matters ranging from my assorted aches and pains to my frustrations over COVID-19 restrictions. I understand that complaining exposes a lack of trust in the Lord, not to mention an ungrateful attitude.

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Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Prays For Their Wisdom (Reboot)

As I’ve mentioned before, I had started posting these Bible Studies back in January. At the end of February, a compression fracture in my back forced me to discontinue it. About a month ago, I felt well enough to resume it, and I decided to run the original installments again just to reestablish some continuity. However, I’m augmenting these reruns with a few additional comments to provide clarification or because I missed something earlier.

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Although we’re getting into the meat of Paul’s letter to the Colossians today, our text will demand that we look at some background information on the false teachings that he addresses. I aim to demonstrate how he uses sound doctrine, rather than direct discussion of the errors at hand, to steer the Colossians away from faulty theology and practices.

We’ll most likely only get through two verses in this installment of our study, but (as usual) I’ll quote the whole passage for the sake of context.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ~~Colossians 1:9-14 (ESV)

If you take verses 9 and 10 at face value, you could get a fairly accurate interpretation of them. Definitely, Christians should pray for each other along these lines, getting beyond the superficial prayers for health, finances, marriages and other temporal matters.  Therefore these two verses encourage us to pray for each other far more deeply than we generally do.

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Ancient Hymns Exalt God

For the past few weeks I’ve been reading through Psalms. I started doing so in response to COVID-19, eager to find encouragement in these troubling times. Indeed, many of the psalms do offer wonderful comfort as they point to God’s protection of His people in all sorts of affliction.

Psalm 57 begins with David telling the Lord about some of his trials. The early verses depict his despair as circumstances close in on him. Yet almost immediately he intersperses his statements of fear with his confidence in the Lord. He knows that only God has the power to deliver him from his encroaching enemies.

David wants more than simply his own deliverance, however. He wants the world to see God’s power, and to exalt Him. Verses 9-11 close the psalm with a prayer that God would exalt Himself above the heavens and spread His glory over all the earth.

When I read this ancient hymn during my time with the Lord a few days ago, I fondly remembered singing a portion of it as a praise song in the early 1980s. How beautiful to sing such an ancient hymn that centers on the exaltation of God!

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Needing Prayer Again

The woman we hired as our morning PCA just wasn’t working out. She was uncomfortable with how we do  things because it goes against her CNA training. I guess she doesn’t understand that PCA work is different from CNA work. I think I picked up on her nervousness, which in turn made me nervous.
To make a long story short, we decided it wouldn’t work out. As she left she threatened to report us to the CNA board (she didn’t specify which she would report, but said we did something illegal). Of course the CNA board has no jurisdiction over the PCA program — so it was an empty threat.  Our case manager at Boston Center for Independent Living assured us that we’ve done nothing wrong. Still, it rattled my cage a bit.
Another person interviewed for the position, so I emailed her offering her the position. Please pray that we’ll get a suitable person who will cooperate with us. We know God is sovereign, but sometimes it’s hard aligning our emotions with the Word of God. Please pray for my struggles with anxiety. Also pray that God will be glorified in this mess.

Rejoice With Us

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One of the best reasons for sending out prayer requests is that more people can praise and glorify the Lord when He graciously answers those prayers. His loving provision strengthens our faith and assures us of His intimate care.
We conducted three interviews for the PCA job. Two of the candidates were very good, but one particularly stood out. I confess to feeling anxious about the transition, since the PCA who is leaving has been with us for twelve years. But mostly I feel relieved and grateful. The Lord has once again shown Himself to be faithful — obviously He will also be faithful in this transition period.
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. Please rejoice with us at the Lord’s goodness.

John And I Need Your Prayers

IMG_3173A couple of weeks ago, I took a vacation from blogging. At the time, it seemed like a reasonable decision — I work hard at blogging, and wanted some time for myself.

Looking back, I question whether such a self-indulgent course of action genuinely honored Christ. That point could probably be debated at some other time, and I tend to doubt that Scripture would exonerate me. Nevertheless, I took a the break, and I can’t undo the past.

But now I have another reason for wishing I hadn’t taken the break. For the next week and a half, my time will (hopefully) be taken up with Read More »

Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Prays For Their Wisdom

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Although we’re getting into the meat of Paul’s letter to the Colossians today, our text will demand that we look at some background information on the false teachings that he addresses. I aim to demonstrate how he uses sound doctrine, rather than direct discussion of the errors at hand, to steer the Colossians away from faulty theology and practices.

We’ll most likely only get through two verses in this installment of our study, but (as usual) I’ll quote the whole passage for the sake of context.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ~~Colossians 1:9-14 (ESV)

If you take verses 9 and 10 at face value, you could get a fairly accurate interpretation of them. Definitely, Christians should pray for each other along these lines, getting beyond the superficial prayers for health, finances, marriages and other temporal matters.  But how much better would it be if we prayed for each other’s spiritual development?

At the risk of sounding like a late night info-mercial, I’m going to say, “But wait — there’s more!” Paul’s not only modeling an important way we should pray for each other. He’s also attacking the pre-gnostic mysticism that threatened the First Century churches in that region.

That mysticism had too many facets to explain in this article; I’ll talk about specific aspects as they come up in the course of our study. Today, therefore, we’ll look at verses 9 and 10 in light of Paul’s introductory reference to the pre-gnostic ideologies that floated around Colossae.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (ESV)

You can’t help but notice the emphasis on knowledge, wisdom and understanding, can you? Paul beats that drum quite forcefully. As we’ve seen earlier, this apostle has a habit of choosing his words with great deliberation, and these two verses are calculated to counter the claims of secret knowledge that the pre-gnostics purported to possess.

Those false teachers insisted that they offered insights into spiritual mysteries that required initiation into their group (sort of like our present-day Freemasons). Paul counterbalances this error by emphasizing that the Lord is the true source of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Furthermore, rather than seeking the knowledge that would enhance their pride, Paul prays that they would be filled  with the knowledge of God’s will. He prays that they would be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding.

The knowledge of God’s will, as well as spiritual wisdom and understanding, comes through the teaching of the apostles — which the Holy Spirit preserved for succeeding generations in the Bible. Thus Paul prays for the Colossians to be filled with sound teaching, not with the mysticism of the pre-gnostics.

Verse 10 elaborates on the knowledge that Paul prays for the Colossians to possess by mentioning its purpose. Whereas the knowledge of the pre-gnostics served only to inflate egos, the knowledge of God’s will enables Christians to walk “in a manner worthy of the Lord.” This phrase targets the pre-gnostic separation of the material and the spiritual that allowed people to claim spirituality while indulging fleshy appetites. Paul prays that his readers will be given a knowledge and wisdom that has implications on their behavior.

The spiritual wisdom Paul desires for his readers will cause them to please the Lord instead of pleasing themselves. Clearly, the apostle makes a distinction between the imitation knowledge of the false teachers in Colossae and the true wisdom that comes exclusively through the knowledge of God.

Interestingly, as Christians please the Lord and bear fruit for Him, we actually increase in our knowledge of Him. The pre-gnostics would never have thought that obedience could lead to even more knowledge. Paul cleverly strikes at their false teaching by simply informing the Colossians as to the nature of his prayers for them.

As I suspected, I can’t go past verse 10 today. Next Monday, Lord willing, we’ll continue with this passage, which is packed with some of the most glorious teaching I’ve ever read! Be sure to join me then.

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Confession Of A Discernment Blogger And What You Should Learn From My Sin

Praying WifeBeth Moore is a false teacher. If you need evidence for that claim, Elizabeth Prata has an excellent archive of resources substantiating the various ways Moore rebels against the Scripture she professes to love. In Elizabeth’s essays alone, you’ll see that Moore both teaches and practices a false imitation of Christianity.

Christians absolutely must avoid Beth Moore!

Over the years, I’ve written my share of articles exposing Moore (both in this blog and the now extinct blog I had in previous years). I’ve seen the dangers in following her, and I haven’t been afraid to expose those dangers. And as I’ve watched her Read More »