Tag Archive: praying


D.J. Martin  (SingleFocus Ministry®)

I used to attend a church where, when it was time to pray, one particular deacon prayed for an extremely long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people fell asleep while he prayed. Seriously, he was long-winded when he prayed. I’ve heard people say, “If we ever needed prayer before, we sure do need it now.” Well, that has never been truer then it is today! Matter of fact, I think we would welcome that praying deacon right about now. Just the other day, I read about a 5-year-old child bowing their head to say ‘Grace’ over their lunch, which was their habit at mealtime, and a teacher told them that they were not allowed to pray. Huh? Like I said; “If we ever needed prayer, we sure do need it now.”

Daniel faced a similar challenge during the reign of King Darius. (Daniel 6) The king set over the regions 120 princes, and over them, he appointed three presidents. Daniel was one of those three presidents. Then, Darius planned to appoint one man over all the regional leaders, including the presidents. Daniel, a man of integrity, was highly favored, by the king, for the job. The jealous leaders didn’t like that. Therefore, they searched for something to discredit Daniel but, could find nothing. So, they decided to use Daniel’s faithfulness to God against him. (Daniel 6:5) Three times a day Daniel opened his window facing toward Jerusalem and prayed to the Lord, God of Israel.

Darius conquered many nations, and though he did not worship the God of Israel, he allowed the people to continue to practice their religions. The jealous princes and presidents went to Darius and persuaded him to sign a decree which would outlaw prayer. For thirty days no one could pray to anyone except to Darius. Violators would be put down into the lion’s den. After Daniel saw that Darius signed the decree, he went to his chambers; opened the window towards Jerusalem (which was his habit), got on his knees and prayed, and gave thanks to the God of Israel three times a day. (Daniel 6:10)

Believing that this would eliminate Daniel from Darius’ favor, the princes hurried to tell the king of Daniel’s violation of the law. Darius, regretting that he had outlawed prayer, tried to think of a way around it but, reluctantly, he had to have Daniel put into the lion’s den. However, after fasting and not sleeping all night, the king hurried to the lion’s den early the next morning and in anguish called, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you faithfully serve, able to deliver you from the lions?” To the delight of the king, Daniel answered,  “O King… My God sent His angel, and shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me…” (Daniel 6:12-22)

Darius had Daniel pulled up from the den, and there were no scares or injury found upon him. Afterward, the king (angry at their ploy) commanded that those men who had accused Daniel, be cast into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives. Then, King Darius wrote unto all the people, nations, and languages, which he had conquered; “Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel for; He is the living God, and steadfast forever, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:23-27)

Look at this. After Daniel prayed; the king fasted for Daniel’s safety, Daniel escaped harm from the lions, and the king glorified the living God throughout the nations. Wow! Imagine what would have happened had Daniel not been persistently praying when they outlawed prayer. I think that Daniel went to his knees in prayer after Darius signed the decree because, “if they ever needed prayer, they sure did need it” then: when they outlawed prayer.

Think it is bad now? Imagine what it would be like if we had ever stopped praying. Then, imagine what it will be like because we never stopped praying.

“…I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and He shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:16-17

Don’t stop praying.

Pray without ceasing… 1Thessalonians 5:17

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D.J. Martin  (SingleFocus Ministry®)

What outrageous times we live in! There are places where tyrants dictate how many boys or girls they can have. And then there are places where people delight in shedding the blood of innocent babies to the tune of over 60 million. I don’t know how that compares to the number killed by Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. (Exodus 1:15-22) The irony is that there are wives desperate to have children. Some of them are trying to adopt, and some are on fertility diets. Some are working out and taking vitamins. Some women are soliciting surrogates or going to fertilization specialist. And of course, there are those who are reading their Bibles, and weeping and praying.

I don’t know how long you’ve been waiting and praying. No doubt, you’re thinking, “What is this silence from heaven?” Even though you may not have conceived yet, the words of the three Hebrew men put into the fiery furnace remains true; “…our God whom we serve is able…” (Daniel 3:17)

Take a look at what Hannah did when the LORD shut up her womb. (1 Samuel 1:1-28; 2:1-10) Though she wanted children, her husband’s other wife, who was very fertile, mocked and harassed her. Hannah and her husband were devout worshippers. They were good people. Consistently, they went to the “house of the LORD,” where Hannah prayed for a child. Year after year, though she prayed, she was verbally tormented by the other wife.

As unremitting harassment and anxiety brought her to tears, Hannah relentlessly prayed. On one of their usual visits to the “house of the LORD,” she wept and prayed intensely. She prayed quietly and desperately; only God could hear her. However, when the priest, Eli, saw her moving her lips with no sound, he thought her drunk from drinking too much wine.

Notice in verse 11 of 1Samuel 1, when Hannah prayed, her request was no longer about the embarrassment or her pride. This time, her request became about the glory of God. “O’ Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of me, your handmaid, and remember me, and give me a man-child, then I will give him unto You LORD all the days of his life…”

After explaining that she was not drunk but praying, Eli, not knowing her prayer request, blessed Hannah saying, “Go in peace and may God grant the request you asked of Him.” (1Samuel 1:17) Then, Hannah left the “house of the LORD” with a different attitude. She was not anxious anymore. (Philippians 4:6-7) She wasn’t pregnant but, she left feeling very good. (1Samuel 1:18)

What happened? Eli was a confirmation to Hannah that God heard her prayer. Hasn’t that happened to you? After you’ve prayed in secret to God about something, someone from your church or the pastor says something relevant to your prayer. Then, your anxiety disappears, and suddenly peace comes over you.

In timely fashion, the LORD opened her womb and blessed Hannah so that she conceived a boy name, Samuel (1Samuel 1:20). She kept her vow, and when he was only a child, she left Samuel with Eli to serve in the “house of the LORD.” (1Samuel 1:24) But, praise God; that is not how the story ends. Hannah praised the LORD and declared His goodness and power. (1Samuel 2:1-10) Then, Eli blessed and prayed for Hannah and her husband that they have more children. (1Samuel 2:20) God answered that prayer and opened her womb again and again. Hannah had three more sons and two daughters.

Perhaps you can identify with Hannah. Could be the culture is tormenting you. Could be it is pride that makes you anxious. It could be that having a child or children is the sincere desire of your heart, so you are praying. I’m not going to tell you what I think the lesson is in Hannah’s prayer or her testimony. I want you to do that. Study the story for yourself.  Let the Holy Spirit minister to you.

However, I will point out the glaring or most obvious:

  1. Though her womb was shut, she persistently prayed to the LORD
  2. She received confirmation that the LORD heard her prayer
  3. After prayer and that confirmation, she had an inexplicable peace
  4. At His sovereign timing, the LORD answered her request and opened her womb
  5. She gave the LORD thanks

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Be encouraged. Don’t give up. Don’t stop praying.

“Go in peace; and the God of Israel grant you your petition that you have asked of Him”  1Samuel 1:17

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D.J. Martin  (SingleFocus Ministry®)

One spring, I took the opportunity to spend my vacation in Israel. While there, I boarded a boat on a pleasant sunshiny day with a group of people. We wanted to get to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The Sea was blue and calm as we started to cross over. The day was clear so that I could see the other side. When we entered the middle of the sea, the wind began to blow. At first, it was a gentle breeze then it became more intense. The boat was rocking so much that I was sure a storm was coming soon. I began wondering if we would have to walk on water, and hoping and praying that we would reach the other side before the storm hit.

stormy seaThankfully, we made it to the other side before the storm came. There were palm trees whose leaves rustled in a gentle breeze as we approached the shore. We passed the trees into a city where the sunshiny sky was clear, blue and calm. There were no signs of an approaching storm. In fact, I don’t remember rain at any time during my stay in Israel.

Thus, this is similar to the life of the saints of God. God gives directions, and we follow them, only to occasionally be in the midst of a brewing storm: family and friends not acting right, relationships fizzling, money is funny, coworkers acting insane, the car is falling apart, or the body is aching, etc.

It looks like smooth sailing as doors open with little effort on our part. Until all these things and more begin shaking and rocking our boat. The storm seems to get so bad that if we weren’t saints, not only would we be angry, we would sin. But instead, we pray and cry, cry and pray. The fierce storm makes you wonder if God called you and if you heard right.

Unfortunately, sometimes it makes us stop forging ahead. We get caught up in trying to fix the boat and calming the sea ourselves: working overtime to get the money right, take vacation days to fly across the country to mend relationships, whatever.

Summer used to be the most frightening season for me because rainstorms could be very violent in Texas. Since my new birth in Christ, I wake up, hear the storm, and whisper “Peace. Be still,” then go back to sleep. Oh, to be able to do that with life’s storms. I found out that when I am in the middle of a storm, there is calm on the other side if I trust in God. I remind myself that I know He loves me and has forgiven me.

Storms also shape character and spiritually prepare you for victory in the task He has for you. Spend more time with God, so that He can encourage you when in the storm. He will open doors. And remember that it’s all about His glory. Focus on Him and His calling. Pray and press on. Put all affairs in the Master’s hands, and do what He has called you to do because only Christ can calm the storm.

Believe me, if a storm is brewing and you are in God’s will, a blessing is on the other side.

Be of good cheer. Christ can give you peace in the midst of a stormy sea. Ask Him for it. Christ can calm the storm.

 

“…He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” Mark 4:39

 

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DJ Martin (SingleFocus Ministry®)

I love this time of year because it causes all men to take time to reflect on all things we are thankful for. We owe a great deal of gratitude to the Pilgrims and Indians who started the right tradition of gathering together on one accord to give thanks to God. The same things they were grateful for are what we in this country can be thankful for today. It was not easy, but they survived. God brought the rain and increased the fruit of the ground which was often times barren land. Thanks be to God, for now they had food from their garden and meat on their table.

confessbwI am thankful for the farmers all over this land. I am thankful for my Uncle Bud who had a peach orchard and my Aunt Birdie who raised my Mom as if she was her own. I am grateful for my grandpa and grandma who had corn fields and raised chickens on a small farm. I am grateful that God sends the rain in due season. I’m thankful for the fresh smell after the rain and the beauty of the frost on a cold morning.

Because some of their family and friends didn’t make it, the Pilgrims and Indians were grateful to be alive having survived disease, hunger and unpredictable weather. There they were, two ethnic groups on one accord, though they had to endure the hardships that those with wicked intent had brought upon them. For there had been thieves and opportunist there. Yet, God kept them safe and brought them together to show their gratitude to Him.

I’m grateful that I was not home when thieves broke into my house and nothing was taken that could not be replaced. I’m grateful that my brother is alive today having survived retrieving my stolen car which he found parked in front of a crack house. I’m thankful that my sister is alive having survived a shooting episode in our community and the disease of cancer. I am grateful that my brothers survived a fire in our house when they were young.  I am thankful that God healed my mother of cancer and protected my father on the battlefield. I’m truly grateful to God for allowing a crack house in the neighborhood to burn down after I prayed.

I am grateful that God established a nation like this where we can freely worship Him in spirit and in truth. I am grateful that I live in a country where I can pursue life, liberty and happiness. I’m grateful that I can pursue my dreams no matter my status or financial beginnings.

I’m grateful for God consistently providing food on my table when I didn’t have two dimes to my name. I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on, though Christ had “no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58).” I’m grateful for Sears Department Store for giving me a part-time job while I pursued my desired and more permanent vocation. I am grateful for a handsome silver-haired Superintendent of Schools for taking a chance on me, when others had not. I am thankful to God for keeping me through the barrage of bomb threats and clandestine but sometimes overt bigotry. I am grateful for a fourth grade student, named Joe who showed me unconditional love, and for three talented third grade boys who boldly discussed Jesus Christ among themselves. I’m grateful for parents that instilled within us love for others no matter the color of their skin, financial status or position.

God has blessed my going out and my coming in, whether in the country or in the city.  I will praise His name and magnify Him with thanksgiving. I am grateful for family and friends. I praise Him for a pastor that teaches the uncompromising truth, which is Jesus Christ. I thank God for His mercy for I have survived rejection, poverty, car crashes, sickness, three surgeries, and a fall from a ladder.

I am grateful that He loves me enough to correct me and refuses to leave me ignorant without understanding. I’m thankful that He freely gives me wisdom and discernment. I am thankful for open doors He created while I rested in Him. I am grateful for praying parents who taught us to seek His face. I’m grateful that He hears and answers prayers. I am thankful that He forgives my sin and loves and has redeemed me.

I could go on and on, but I won’t this time. I will simply say “I will bless the Lord at all times and daily give Him thanks. I will bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits (PSALM 103:2).

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.  Psalm 100:4

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lion

It is a difficult thing to find a job where everything is like a paradise; everyone agrees that God reigns and Christ is Lord of their lives in every way. Unfortunately, sometimes it is difficult to work in an ‘all pleasant’ atmosphere, even when you work for an evangelical church, because the jealousy demon spirit lingers at every corner.  I would venture to say that most faithful children of God have or will encounter this jealousy spirit as a roaring lion at one time or another.

Paul writes that we were chosen before the foundation of the world for a purpose (Ephesians 1:4-5). God knew us before we were born and has chosen us and compassed us with His favor. The glory of the Lord is all over us. We are a light that blinds the wicked. Wickedness determinedly cannot prevail as long as the servants of God are present.   Furthermore, the purpose of God will be fulfilled, if they don’t stop us (Amos 3:4). But I think that the story of Daniel illustrates our victorious position even in the midst of a Lion’s Den.

Compare your family or your co-workers or your government to the Lion’s Den. What do they have in common? They spread rumors and lies about you with their roaring mouths (Psalm 22:13). They encircle you with their plots against you (Psalm 17:12). They lay in wait ready to devour you (1Peter 5:8) as meat as they conspire against you. They watch your every move, like a lion tracking his prey, to report negatively if you even twitch. They aren’t concerned about your God, they are just jealous of your presence, your favor, your position and your focus on God’s ‘Will and Purpose’ for your life. They are your jealous adversaries who, unwittingly, are in league with the devil. So how do you handle the torment? Jesus said, “It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come (Luke 17:1)!” “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”

Take Daniel for an example. This is a man who worked most of His life for governments who did not know his God. Yet Daniel was highly favored.  In Daniel Chapter 6, we see the ‘green-eyed monster’, jealousy, take an extreme turn. Daniel was faithful and wise and loyal in his position as a president. The scripture says that an excellent spirit was in him (Daniel 6:3 ) and the king wanted to make him head over the whole realm. That meant that he would be promoted over all the presidents and princes. So like a lion stalking his prey, they spied on Daniel, hoping to find a flaw that they could report to the king. But they couldn’t find anything negative to report. Daniel showed up on time to work, he put in his ‘eight hours’ and fulfilled his duties without hesitation (most likely because he worked as unto the Lord); they had no opportunity to pounce. So they stroked the ego of the king and persuaded him to create a 30 day law. They decided to make Daniel’s love for God a crime. So like a pack of roaring lions they went to the king and charmed him into making it unlawful for anyone to petition their God or gods for 30 days; as Daniel had a habit of praying to the excellent God three times a day (Daniel 6:10). The law was that anyone caught would be thrown to the lions.

Well they knew Daniel would continue to pray, because they had watched his every move for days. Like a pack of lions wetting their lips, they hurried to the king and reminded him of the new law. Though angry at himself and the trickery of his princes and presidents, the king had Daniel put into the Lion’s Den (literally). But, look who encouraged Daniel; the king who did not know his God but had observed Daniel and the excellent spirit (God) with him (Daniel 6:16). This king expected impossible results.

He was anxious all night and hurried to the Lion’s Den early the next morning. There at the top of the Lion’s Den, the king called out Daniel’s name and Daniel answered saying, “My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me (Daniel 6:22).” The king had Daniel promptly removed from the Lion’s Den. Then he gathered all those two-legged lions who had plotted against Daniel and ordered they and their families to be tossed into the Lion’s Den where they were utterly destroyed by the four-legged lions. And then the king said of God, which is the moral of the story of you and the Lion’s Den; “He delivered and rescued, and He worked signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, Who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Do you feel like you are a Daniel in a Lion’s Den? If you are a “servant of the living God, [your] God, whom you serve continually, is able to deliver you from the lions (Daniel 6:20)” If you are a faithful servant of God, “…God [will] send His angel, and [will] shut the lions’ mouths and they will not hurt you.

The scripture goes on to say that “this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian (Daniel 6:28).” You may be in a Lion’s Den surrounded by roaring lions, but you are filled with an excellent spirit (the spirit of God). Praise God and give Him glory, because He will shut their mouths, deliver you from the lions and their power and then cause you to have favor and prosper the rest of your days.

Thy God whom thou serve continually, He will deliver thee.  Daniel 6:16

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by DJ Martin (SingleFocus Ministry®)

I believe that this is God’s resolve for us. I’ll let  Him speak in His own Words…

Happy New Year!Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; Oh, what a sinful nation they are loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are evil people, corrupt children who have rejected the LORD. They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; Strangers devour your land in your presence; and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
Stop bringing Me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts Me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting; they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. Your new moons and your appointed feasts I hate: they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear [them].
When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
A. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
B. Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil;
C. Learn to do good;
D. Seek justice,
E. Rebuke the oppressor;
F. Defend the fatherless;
G. Plead for the widow.”
“Come now, and let us reason together”, saith the LORD: “though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land: But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword”; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 1:1-20

Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt
A. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”                       Matthew 22:37

And when you stand praying,
A. Forgive, if you have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25

Jesus said unto them, “My meat is to
A. Do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.” John 4:34

Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and
A. Fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,
B. That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11

Though we face uncertainty and challenges in the New Year, may we resolve to examine ourselves and put away sinful disobedience so that we will do the work that God has called us to and focus on His will & purpose. May this New Year bring ‘Good News’ and experience of the delivering, providing, forgiving, healing and victorious grace, mercy and power of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ!

“Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.”   3 John 1:2

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