Let your prayers also be your worship

Have you ever had someone say to you “where were you? I texted you and left you a voice message and you did not get back to me”. Do their question and attitude cause you to feel a little bothered? Or, have you ever gotten frustrated when you tried to get a hold of someone and didn’t get an immediate response? Our technology, combined with an immediate gratification consumer expectation has resulted in an expectation of immediate responses, an expectation we know is unreasonable but some expect it.

God encourages communication with Him anytime, day or night. He does not limit our airtime with Him nor does He restrict our conversation to a numbers of words. He says He is available whenever and for whatever reason. Many believe this about God but have adopted an odd approach to prayer. They often behave like the caller who becomes frustrated when they do not get the immediate response they desired. Often they call and talk, but rarely listen and if they are honest with themselves, will admit they don’t talk to God as often as He desires. God understands why we offer spontaneous, spur of the moment prayers, and He does hear and respond but often we miss His interaction because we have moved on and left it with Him. Prayer is a form of worship and God would like us to worship Him with more intimate conversations. He actually wants to convey to us His response to our prayers. He doesn’t want us always calling and not waiting to see if He picks up and, although He allows us to leave messages, He’d like it if we listened for his reply.

James writes “When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives” (James 4:3a). He is talking about our attitude regarding prayer and could even be suggesting many don’t take time to talk or listen. Maybe all our prayers are one-sided and we talk without even acknowledging who we are talking to. It is appropriate to schedule time to pray so we can be uninterrupted and able to give God our full attention. James’ complete statement at verse 4:3 is “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). This may suggest our reason for calling on God may not be to glorify Him but to satisfy our own desires. Spontaneous prayers may sound needy at times and God understands, but He wants intimate prayer time with Him to be different. We go to God in prayer because He is the Lord Almighty who created and oversees the universe and also loves us and finds our time with Him to be precious. He wants to tell us that we are on His mind and that He has specific things He wants to say and personally give us.

In the days of the landline and even pre-answering machine, we knew when those we loved or cared about where available to talk on the phone. We may have even scheduled a weekly call because we wanted to ensure our time together would be uninterrupted and more cherished. God would be pleased if He could have a similar arrangement with us because He wants those uninterrupted, warm talks with us. He wants to hear us, and more importantly, He wants to talk to us.

If you are not in the habit of spending some time alone with God, you must consider making a change in that area. We know the benefits of giving and receiving someone’s undivided attention and with a few changes to our prayer practices, we can experience something special. We can continue with the short prayers or cries to God we offer in response to our daily life encounters, but it is important to make time for deeper conversations and to listen to Him. God sought us first and when His grace caused us to seek Him, He let it be known that our relationship would grow through meaningfully interactions where we both talked and both listened. Let your prayers also be your worship and be intentional about it.

Blessings

Anton Topilnyckyj
Prayer Coordinator

Sharing Hope

When military leaders attend staff meetings and are given orders, the one certainty clear to them is, that they are not asked to interpret or modify their orders. Their education, training, and experience allows them to share with confidence and that is basically what they are required to do. It is accepted that not every leader will have access to the depth and complexity of the operation at hand yet, that does not prevent them from sharing the orders they have been given.  If necessary, they may need to seek clarity for things they do not understand before leaving the Orders Group meeting. Their duty is pass on the orders as if they were their own.

Christ followers have been given instructions to share Jesus’ truth; such as God’s promises for humanity leads to salvation from the consequences of sin. Jesus’ truth shed light on those promises and He offered hope that God’s plan offers eternal community with Him. We are called to believe and accept Jesus’ teachings. It is very possible to share what Jesus said even if we don’t understand the depth or complexity of God’s plan. Most followers understand the hope of eternity with God but many have not sought clarity about the hope that sustains us while we wait for Jesus to return. We must study His truths so we can put them into practice and experience the hope fulfilled by living a life focused on God.

If you have been on the receiving end of military orders you may have known a leader who seemed to lack certainty about their role. Some have passed on their orders and it has been obvious to the listener that the leader may not be in agreement with them. For whatever reason they discredited their orders by their tone, sarcastic comments, or reluctance to share information necessary to get the troops believing in the mission. This action both compromises and jeopardizes the mission. Some followers of Jesus have offered a poor witness to their faith and have not followed Gospel guidance. Those watching or listening notice the follower’s good news is not reflected in their behaviour or attitude. The truth becomes more acceptable if we share it as if we are living it.

Jesus told His disciples that “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12). We have hope but must live as if we believe it. If we express hopelessness every time we face adversity are we not discrediting Jesus’ truth about being able to shoulder our burden to offer us peace? What message do we send if seek gratification from wealth and worldly things and then try to excuse our absence from church because we don’t like the music, or setting, or because we had something else to do? Are we suggesting that hope is linked to our actions, not God’s?

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 ). We pass on Jesus’ orders by expressing our hope through words and actions. We are called to share the truth; to offer hope. “Hope for the future, that we will be redeemed. Hope for the present, that we are not alone, but are loved and have purpose. Hope even over the past, that our failures are not greater than God’s power to transform.” (Suzanne Benner).

Blessings

Anton Topilnyckyj
Prayer Coordinator

HOPE

Job’s response to the unexpected death of his children and the destruction of his wealth could have been anger and despondency. Yet, he fell to the ground in a posture of worship and stated “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1: 21). This did not signify he agreed with what had happened but it does show that, regardless of how the world seemed to be treating him, Job chose God. Friends later gathered to console him but were anything but encouragers or supporters. As they talked, Job at one point cried out “where is my hope – who can see any hope for me” (Job 17:5). We know that he was not giving up but just wanted to understand why life was playing out the way it was.

Many of us have been in a similar situation where we have wondered why life seems to be treating us so poorly; why the world seem to be behaving so badly. If you follow world news headlines you may have found yourself confused and even angry at the words being spoken by world leaders. Hedonism, immorality and even demands for individual rights taking precedence over societal harmony, offers uncertainty not only for us but for future generations. It can make you angry, despondent, confused or even fearful and some may say those responses are expected. However, we had foreknowledge of the world’s destructive nature as well as God’s restorative plan. Jesus is on the throne and will remain there and at the time chosen, will finally rid the world of wickedness. We must be prepared to be the beacon of hope of those around us.

Should we be concerned about increasing immorality growing around us, it is everywhere, in schools, and entertainment and in politics? Yes we should be and where appropriate, we should stand for righteousness and instruct our children to think biblically about the sin they will most certainly encounter. But if we’re constantly outraged, disgusted, discouraged, or panicked, then we haven’t come to grips with the Bible’s grim description of the world, and we aren’t fully trusting in our coming, conquering, and reigning king.

The future of hope to those who call Jesus Lord and Savior is the consummation of our salvation at death or when God brings present the world affairs to an end. However, we have a purpose while on this earth which includes being the hope to our circle of family and friends. We need to help them see beyond the ugliness that is all around us. We do this by being the image of God that we are created to be.

Job, despite his confusion, stood firm in his belief that God was in control. Although he wanted to understand why he was experiencing such misery, his hope did rest with God and His promises. He declared, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth” (Job 19:25). This motivational statement is what should keep our eyes focused on heaven and our hearts on the mission He has entrusted to us. I was reminded this week, that some of us need to get on our knees and repent for our feeling of hopelessness. God in His wisdom and grace and according to His will, allowed the events of Job’s life to play out as it did just as He is allowing the world to do the same. We don’t give in or give up. We look in and look up to be able to inspire and encourage hope in others.

Anton Topilnyckyj
Prayer Coordinator

Is your foundation solid?

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man (person) who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man (person) who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

I recently watched some television episodes of a home repair program and noted a pattern amongst a few home owners. They sought the help of a celebrity trade person to fix a problem with their newly purchased home and often, when explaining their purchasing experience, they blamed someone else for their decision. They would mention some of the steps they took to validate their potential purchase, including having a home inspection. However I noted that the desire to own a particular home blinded some people to the possibility of problems. During the program they mentioned they thought the crack running along the foundation or the wires dangling from the ceiling were suspicious. They had observed the large puddle on the basement floor and instead of seeking an explanation, they accepted the words “don’t worry”. To their untrained eye they noted faults that caused them apprehension and yet ignored the obvious.  It was as if their desire to have that home overrode their common sense and all they wanted was the approval of the inspector to validate their decision instead of the details about potential problems.

Do you know someone who has shared their life struggles with you and during your conversations some solutions seemed obvious? You may have realized the individual was not really looking for advice on how to correct their situation, but was wanting your validation of their actions or behaviour. You may have even shared some scripture that would assist them in their decision making, but they wanted to ignore those especially if they did corroborate their choices.  Sadly, we know that some want to blame others when life comes crashing down on them instead of looking at themselves to see if they have contributed to their troubles.

On the home repair program it was obvious that some families had made their purchases using the best advice available but were swindled or mislead. Instead of pointing fingers, they took time to acknowledge their errors and then sought the best assistance to move forward.  Sometimes things happen in our life that we know we were not the cause. In those times, and in times where our contribution is obvious, we need to know what we are made of; how our house is built. Are Christ’s words our foundation? Have we sought to listen and follow His words?

When the unexpected or difficult occur, even if we contributed to it, do you have something to fall back on?  Do you have God’s words that offer hope? Have you built your life on Jesus’ words and sought to follow them?  Do you go to God in prayer asking Him to settle your mind so you can look at the issues, yourself, and your relationship with Him? Do you have a friend who will lovingly listen and offer you wisdom?

Jesus analogy of the wise person building a house on a strong foundation and us building our life on the Word seems to point out the obvious to even the untrained follower of Christ. If your life has no foundational truths you will struggle to survive. Take some time to read and reflect on these verses and then ask yourself are you are prepared to face life.

Blessings to you
Anton Topilnyckyj
MCF Prayer Coordinator

WEEK 1 – Personal Relationship

PRAYER  “God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I want to have a hunger and thirst for you as I go about my day. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I want to really live. Draw me close to you. AMEN “(modified Psalm 63)

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WEEK 2 – Freedom

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. I acknowledge that I have sinned and that I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus came to give me life, and by faith I now choose to receive you into my life as my Lord and Saviour. By the power of your indwelling presence enable me to be the person you created me to be. I pray that you would grant me repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth so that I can experience my freedom in Christ and be transformed by the renewing of my mind. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.”

WEEK 3 – Empowerment

Holy Spirit, you know I have my own expectations about what I should and should not do. I now surrender to you my ideas, my limitations, my preferences, and my goals. Fill me, Holy Spirit, with all your supernatural gifts! Empower me to accept and grow in the supernatural life as much as the early disciples did. I want to be useful to you. I want to go where you lead me. Holy Spirit, send me forth gifted and empowered to make a difference spreading the Good News of God’s forgiving love. Amen.”

WEEK 4 – The Lost

Dear God, You know our hearts, you hear our prayers, and care about all that concerns us.  You understand the burden we carry and how we want, more than anything, to see our loved ones come to you.  Help us to remember that you love them more than we ever could.  And you desire to extend your great love and forgiveness, your mercy and hope.

Thank you that nothing is too difficult for you.  Thank you that your power is unlimited and you came to set the captives free.  Thank you that you wait, arms open, for the prodigal to return, that you look for his arrival to lavishly celebrate that he’s come home.

Thank you for the gift of our Saviour, God with us. Thank you for your goodness and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Download:   SUMMER OF PERSONAL WORSHIP – WEEK 4 – THE LOST

WEEK 5 – PRAISE

“Wonderful Father, I come to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, entering into your presence with thanksgiving and a worshipful heart. My soul will bless you for I know the reason behind my creation, and my heart desires to bring you pleasure. Praising you for your mercy and goodness in my past, offering up to you the sacrifice of praise in my present, and thank you for what you are preparing for my future – it is the joy and purpose of my life. You have chosen me in this generation to show forth your praise, expressing to all how you have called me out of my former darkness into a life filled with light. I know when I praise you I am given access to your very presence. I know that heaven opens up to my life and supernaturally intervenes on my behalf. As I magnify you, my troubles are minimized; as I worship your name, help is on the way. I choose to praise you. I refuse to permit an unthankful heart to interfere with my inheritance. My mind will be filled with thoughts about how good you are. My emotions will release their joy. My body will express itself freely. You alone are God and worthy to be praised, and I will worship none other. Praise is going before me and dealing with every evil tactic and scheme of my enemies. Thank you that I am living under an open heaven, free to praise and worship the One who loves me with an everlasting love. AMEN”.

Download your daily: SUMMER OF PERSONAL WORSHIP – WEEK 5 – PRAISE

WEEK 6 – COMMUNITY

“Wonderful God, with all our hearts and with all our minds, we pray to you. We pray for your peace from above, for your loving-kindness, and for the salvation of our souls.

We pray for our community, and for those who live in it. We pray for the aged and infirm, for the widowed and orphans, and for the sick and the suffering. We pray for the poor and the oppressed, for the unemployed and the destitute, and for prisoners and captives and for all who remember and care for them.

We pray that we and others may end our lives in faith and hope. Defend us, deliver us, and in your compassion protect us, O Lord, by your grace. AMEN”

Download:  SUMMER OF PERSONAL WORSHIP – WEEK 6 – COMMUNITY