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Just a Little Talk with Jesus Is All It Takes

Posted on July 31, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

Here’s a lyric to an old gospel song you may recall: “I once was lost in sin, but Jesus took me in.” That familiar line comes from Just a Little Talk with Jesus — written in 1937 by gospel music legend, Cleavant Derricks. And it raises some interesting questions. If someone is lost in sin, is a little talk with Jesus all that’s necessary for forgiveness and eternal salvation? And is there a point at which the sin condition goes too far, beyond God’s willingness to forgive and grant eternal life?

According to Romans 10:9, the following must occur in that little talk: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Saying “Jesus is Lord,” is a profession of faith to which God responds with grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8)

It is essential that you wholeheartedly believe in the resurrection of Christ. Without that belief there is no salvation. “… if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)

And when our hearts are fully persuaded that Christ was raised from the dead, we can know with all certainty we shall also be resurrected to be with our Lord. “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.” (1 Corinthians 6:14)

But is God’s offer of eternal life open to everyone? Certainly, there is the unpardonable sin to which Jesus referred in Matthew 12:32. “… anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

What does it mean to speak against the Holy Spirit? It means that you reject the Holy Spirit’s attempts at opening your heart and mind to the reality of the person and message of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts your heart of sin and reveals Christ as the remedy.

God’s offer of salvation through Christ is granted to everyone who believes. But what about those who have committed the most heinous and despicable crimes? Are they too far gone in their sin to be saved?

How about those murderers and rapists on death row? Or pedophiles who prey on innocent children. What about heinous dictators who commit unthinkable atrocities upon their own people? Even more, those who have committed their atrocities against you or a family member. Will God save them?

There is plenty of evidence to prove that God will save them if they meet the conditions of faith as previously mentioned. John 3:16 is the first to come to mind. “… whoever believes…” Later, in John 12:32, Jesus said, “when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  And in 2 Peter 3:9, we’re told that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, “… but everyone to come to repentance.”

Two criminals were executed with Jesus. One of them called upon Jesus to remember him when He entered His kingdom — to which the Lord responded, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Remember, too, that the Apostle Paul once persecuted the church he later defended. For that reason, Paul labeled himself as “the worst of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16) God forgave him, saved him, and used him as no other to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

How difficult it is for you and me to forgive those who have committed atrocities against mankind, especially those who have harmed us or our loved ones. We see them as having forfeited their right to God’s grace.

Yet, God’s love transcends human understanding, the greatest example of which was demonstrated by Christ from the cross. Instead of cursing or condemning His accusers, Jesus prayed for their forgiveness. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

There is no greater love than the love of God. And, yes, when someone comes to the place where they can have that little talk with Jesus, they can be saved.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Jesus Saves and Keeps You Saved

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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The Simple Heartfelt Prayer that Says It All

Posted on June 4, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

24 “The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

Many pastors close their worship services with this blessing. I heard it spoken every Sunday in my home church, St. Paul’s Lutheran, in Strasburg, Virginia.

This beautiful passage of scripture is integral to worship in liturgical denominations. It was adopted from the standard blessing as given by God to Moses and used by Israel’s priests.

But as with many often repeated Biblical texts, the meaning can be lost. It’s like driving your car. When you first learned, you had to think about each step of the process, but in time you could brake, switch gears, check your mirrors, and change lanes without thinking about what you were doing.

Many of our hymns and worship songs have been sung so often, we can sing them while thinking about something else, like what we will have for lunch or a problem at work.

So it is with our focus text. The rich meaning of this prayer for God’s blessing can be lost. It must be spoken consciously and meaningfully.

Just a word about the difference between a prayer, a greeting, and a blessing. A prayer is 2-way communication between you and God. A greeting is a 1-way statement of kindness offered to someone. But a blessing is 3-way communication involving you, God, and someone else. Our focus text then is used as a blessing in which you are calling upon God to help the hearer(s).

  • “The Lord bless you and keep you.” (v 24)

In other words, God bless this person and keep on blessing them. Keep them in our continual provision and care.

  • “The Lord make His face shine on you…” (v 25)

A friend of mine is going through a rough patch in his life. Recently he asked me to pray for favor, which begs the question, “Does God play favorites?” The answer is YES. ABSOLUTELY. As His children adopted into God’s forever family through the shed blood of Jesus, we can expect the scales of justice to be divinely tipped in our favor. When we ask for the Lord’s face to shine on someone, we are requesting His favor in the life of another.

  • “… and be gracious to you…” (v 25b)

God is in the business of grace. The greatest example of his generosity is the gift of eternal life through Jesus.

You want to give good gifts to those you love. God can bestow gifts to your loved ones that exceed anything you could ever give them.

“…the LORD turn his face toward you…” (v26)

This part of the blessing calls upon God to be attentive to the concerns and needs of someone. The worst thing that can happen is for God to turn His back to us.

  • “… and give you peace.” (v26b)

God’s peace transcends all understanding, exists despite turmoil and unrest.

Now, it would be wonderful if we could offer these sentiments to everyone we meet. But that’s just not practical. However, there is a condensed version that can be used daily.

When someone sneezes we reply, “Gesundheit,” which means good health. Or we say, “God bless you.” The only problem with these expressions, we most often speak them reflexively, with little thought.

In antiquity, “God bless you,” was spoken in earnest because it was believed that when a person sneezed their soul left the body, and ill health was eminent. Well, you and I don’t believe that, but the expression adequately captures the essence of the Numbers 6:24-26 blessing.

“God bless you” or “Have a blessed day,” are suitable quick and easy blessings to offer to anyone.

When spoken from the heart, with a genuine desire for God to help and tend to the needs and concerns of others, we are effectively offering intercessory prayer on their behalf, while giving a simple expression of our concern.

Think of these mini-blessings as 3-way communication. You — God — and the recipient. Just don’t forget to mean it when you say it.

A while back in The Forever Notebook I shared thoughts on continual prayer. Well, this is one more tool for making continual prayer a reality in your walk with God.

For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Pray Continually

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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How to Pray According to God’s Will

Posted on May 17, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

1 John 5:14

On yesterday’s evening news, I saw a story in which the President was meeting with a group of businessmen. In fact, there have been many similar reports lately of citizens responding to invitations to visit the American leader at the White House. I’m still waiting for my invitation, but I’m not holding my breath.

A few years ago, a friend of mine visited Washington and successfully had his picture taken with President Bush, albeit a cardboard cutout representation.

Meetings with high ranking officials in government and business are hard to attain. However, you and I have been given an open invitation to visit with God anytime we want. Not only will he meet with us at the time and place of our choosing, He will listen to anything we request… IF we ask according to His will.

Just in case you were wondering, if He hears, He grants our requests. “And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (v15)

Praying in God’s will is productive prayer. We get what we ask for. But how? How can you know for certain that God is listening and will grant your request?

The prayers that get God’s attention are those based on His word from a pure heart and proper motivation. God will never act contrary to His word, and He will do what is in our best interest and that of those for whom we pray. (Mt 7:11)

When my boys were younger, they begged. They begged in the grocery store, the toy store, and frequently after watching TV ads aimed at kids. But I didn’t give them everything they wanted. Why not? Everything they asked for wasn’t in their best interest. Of course, there were many things we couldn’t afford to give them, but that’s not a problem for God.

God gives because He loves us. And some things He gives us when we are willing to put in the effort to attain it. Remember what Jesus said? “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt 7:7) In the original language, Jesus’ directive meant to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.

I’m not saying that God won’t answer your prayer by dropping the answer in your lap. Sometimes His answers come swiftly. Other times, His favorable response comes years later after you have sought and knocked.

His will, for example, is for His disciples to carry His Gospel into the world. But for those who have taken that command seriously, accomplishing that goal didn’t come overnight and was met with varying degrees of success. God’s will is based upon His master plan as revealed in the Bible. The more we study His word the more confidently we can pray.

You have been uniquely designed for a purpose within his master plan. When you pray to fulfill that purpose then you are praying according to His will.

Let’s revisit the example of God’s mandate for carrying the Gospel into the world. There was considerable difference in how the Great Commission was accomplished by the first disciples. In our times, there’s a big difference between Billy Graham and the pastor of your church. Each has been given different spiritual gifts, talents, and opportunities.

If God has given you a talent — that’s His will. Your spiritual gifts and unique abilities are His will. Loving others is His will. Acting upon His word is His will.

Praying confidently according to His will is, as the old people used to say, “Standing on the promises.” When you find a passage of scripture that speaks to your concern, and you have a correct contextual understanding of the verse(s), pray it back to God expectantly without doubting.

Praying in His will is listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit to confirm your request is in God’s will. And in those times when you don’t know how to pray remember that the Spirit intercedes on your behalf. In Romans 8:27 we read, “… the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

Is there habitual sin in your life? It is impossible to ask according to God’s will when you are living contrary to His will. Don’t just pray that He’ll forgive you for your sin, but repent. Turn away from it and request His help to get that sinful behavior out of your life once and for all.

When your desire is to honor and glorify God with your life, and your objective is to please Him with love and devotion, you can confidently ask whatever you want.

What is it you need to request from Him today? No burden is too small. No challenge is too great. God loves you and wants to hear what’s on your heart right now.

For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Walk by the Spirit

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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God Still Answers Big Specific Prayers

Posted on May 14, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

Proverbs 31:10

When I woke up this morning, one of the first thoughts to enter my mind was that I needed to come up with something specific to lift up to the Lord in prayer. More often than not, we have a tendency to offer blanket prayers.

The content of a blanket prayer goes something like this: “Lord, take care of my neighbors. Help them according to their needs and protect them.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of prayer. But I do believe we should try to be specific in our requests whenever possible — and we should never shy away from going big.

Your big specific prayer should be asked according to God’s will and directed by the Holy Spirit. And it should be for something that transcends human effort and can only be accomplished by divine enablement and provision.

When you pray big and with specificity, you demonstrate your confidence in God’s promise to do more than you can think or ask.

By the way, I’m not suggesting that you ask God to make you rich or help you win the lottery. Make it a genuine need, the fulfillment of a worthy dream, something that helps others, or advances the gospel. It should glorify and honor God.

So, why am I telling you this on Mother’s Day, and what does praying big and specific have to do with today’s focus text?

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Proverbs 31:10

My wife was the answer to one of those big specific prayers. She is that one of noble character worth far more than rubies.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I never dated in high school. No, not once. So, emboldened by a previous answer to a specific and big prayer, I began to pray for a wife.

Often times, those prayers were fervent, driven by loneliness. They continued through four years in the Navy. And then, on my first day home after my discharge, I met her in church.

Guess who else had been praying a big specific prayer? Janet grew up hundreds of miles away and had moved to my hometown a few days before I came home.

And there she was, on a sunny day in September, 1970. The girl who would be my wife of noble character, worth far more than rubies.

Since then I’ve prayed more big specific prayers and God has answered in big ways. So this morning, it’s time to go big again.

How about you? Is there a need or unfulfilled passion or burden on your heart that is beyond your ability to attain? There is nothing God can’t do.

Can you imagine what could be accomplished for Christ if all of us decided to go big with our prayers? If there was ever a time in our world when Christians needed to go big, this is it. What will you trust Him for today?

For more on this topic, check out this article: A Roadblock Called Unforgiveness

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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How to Pray Continually

Posted on April 12, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

1 Chronicles 16:11

Today’s scripture challenges us to continually and consistently spend time with God. “… seek His face always.”

Time with God comes with benefits. You will always gain something positive and useful.

How well I remember visits to my grandmother’s house. Before we left, she always gave us gifts for the journey back home. Cakes, pies, cookies, and sandwiches for the road sufficient to feed a small army. She expressed love by giving. Visits resulted in benefits.

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5)

God ALWAYS has time for you.

Did you ever have a friend, family member, or co-worker who “wore out their welcome?” For whatever reason, you prefer to see less of that person.

When my wife and I were dating, we spent as much time together as Janet’s family would allow — and then some. I feel a Willie Nelson song coming on. She was Always On My Mind. Ah, young romantic love. How sweet it is. Fast forward ahead forty-six years. We’re still best friends and spend a lot of time together. But it’s common for her to tell me to give her a break, or get out of her kitchen, or she needs to be left alone. Yeah. I get on her nerves once in a while. It happens.

But we can never wear out or annoy God by spending too much time with Him. He’s never too busy or self-absorbed to avail His undivided attention. He desires our fellowship and wants to give to us from His inexhaustible resources, infinite wisdom, and supreme power.

Have trouble memorizing Bible verses? Here’s one that’s easy to remember. “Pray continually.” (1Thessalonians 5:17)

Paul amplifies his instruction in Ephesians 6:18. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Here we learn how continual prayer is possible. “… in the Spirit.” Continual prayer is ongoing dialogue with God “on all occasions” and addresses our thoughts and concerns, “all kinds of prayers and requests.” And it is not just about self, “… always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Does God talk back? Sure. But I’ve never heard an audible voice. Years of Bible reading and study have entrenched his word in my mind and scriptures often surface in response to my thoughts and concerns.

I call these little inspirations, thought seeds from God. They encourage, give hope, rebuke, direct, or instruct and require added consideration/meditation. NOTE: if the seed thought is contrary to His word, it is not from Him.

God plants thoughts and ideas in our minds. Usually it’s a hindsight experience. Looking back, you realize that God was directing your path or giving you wise counsel.

An example would be The Forever Notebook. I originally began the project in 2010, as part of my morning quiet time with God. From that came a short-lived internet blog, ultimately abandoned and forgotten.

In February of 2017, I noticed a Facebook post from someone who was struggling with self-publishing. I volunteered to help her out, so she sent me the book she was trying to complete for an Alabama pastor.

His work brought my old quiet time project to mind. If only I had kept it. To my knowledge, all my notes and work were gone. But two days later, they appeared as if out of nowhere. Was God trying to tell me something? I was willing to find out. And so The Forever Notebook devotional series was born.

Get to work on that ongoing dialogue with God. Talk to Him now and continue to share your heart with Him throughout your day — every day. “… seek His face always.”

For more on this topic, check out this article: The Simple Heartfelt Prayer that Says It All

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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When Things Fail to Turn Out the Way You Pray

Posted on March 6, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Romans 5:3-5

Surely you have stumped your toe more than once on the ugly rock of disappointment. Something for which you had planned or dreamed didn’t work out as you had hoped leaving you disappointed and discouraged. For some reason, for which you have not a clue, your fervent prayers to God did not result in the answer you wanted or expected. Then you attempt to reason why: “Is God punishing me? Is there some un-confessed sin in my life of which I am unaware? Did I not have enough faith?” Possibly you even thought, “Is there really a God or is all this Christian stuff foolish nonsense?” Severe disappointment often produces doubt in the heart of the believer.

Did you ever get what you thought was an answer to prayer and it turned out to be a great disappointment? A while back my wife and I were having financial difficulties and we determined that she was going to have to get a job. We met at the church and went into the sanctuary to pour our hearts out to God in prayer. When we arrived home the phone was ringing. Someone was calling to tell her about a job opportunity. She went on the interview, got the job, and started almost immediately. We rejoiced in what we thought God had done. But it didn’t take long to realize that her new job was miserable beyond imagination. What we believed to be an answer to prayer turned out to be a great disappointment.

In today’s focus scripture, Paul talks about something you and I would classify as a valid reason for disappointment. He talks of “suffering” which most often results in disappointment. Suffering can be found in just about every area of life. We can suffer in relationships, in jobs, in family life, in health, in finances, living conditions, and in ministry.

You thought he was Mr. Right, but he turned out to be from the pits of hell. You thought that was a wonderful job opportunity but, boy, were you wrong. Your home life was supposed to be a haven of security, support, and love, but it turned out to be a chaotic mess. You had a good life going until that dread disease hit you.

Perhaps you worked all your life to prepare for your senior years only to have your hopes shattered when your retirement funds went down with the stock market. That nice home you had hoped for turned out to be a rundown one bedroom apartment. The church God gave you to pastor that looked to have so much potential for growth, severely declined. You had high hopes for those children you brought into the world only to see them go in a direction that broke your heart.

Paul saw something in “suffering” that can easily be missed. When he looked at his ample share of “suffering” he did not see disappointment. Rather, Paul saw “suffering” as a pathway to hope that “does not disappoint.” When we continue to walk with God through our “suffering” we grow in “perseverance.” That “perseverance” builds Christ-like “character.” When we possess Christ-like “character” the result is “hope.” It is a higher hope that “does not disappoint.” This ultimate hope is born out of God’s love and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

My life has provided a plentiful supply of disappointments. I have always been a dreamer and consequently taken on projects and jobs at which I failed miserably. There have been things that I prayed for that just never came to pass. Some pursuits have been blessed greatly by God. In others I felt like I was left to hang on a very weak limb of faith.

Through it all I have learned a great lesson on why things don’t always turn out the way we pray.  More important than what we want out of life is what God wants for us. What He wants in you and me is the highest quality “character” that always maintains godly integrity regardless of our circumstances. It is “character” that always produces “hope.” And when we reach that pinnacle of “hope” we enter into a place where there is no disappointment.

Are you suffering today? Rather than giving into disappointment and discouragement, surrender your circumstances to God and rejoice in your sufferings because it is a sign that God is working to grow you in the faith with Christ-like character that brings glory to Him. In that place, you will experience hope that does not disappoint, “because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”

For more on this topic, check out this article: What It Means to Hope in the Lord

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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Make Time for Quiet Time with God

Posted on January 6, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:13

How have you prepared yourself for the challenges of this day? What have you done to prepare for the unexpected obstacles that you will encounter this year? What are you doing right now to prepare for the future?

In today’s selected scripture the Apostle Peter instructs, “prepare your minds for action.” The context of the passage reveals that Peter is talking about our need to live holy lives. When our minds are sufficiently prepared we can respond to all of life’s changing circumstances in a way that honors God.

In recent days here in The Forever Notebook I have been talking about Christian behavior. We are God’s representatives on this earth and we have a responsibility to behave in a manner that rightly reflects our relationship to Him and His mission for us on this earth.

Our behavior is affected by the situations and people we encounter each day. How will you respond when a co-worker sets you up to make you look bad? What will be your response when you are passed over for a promotion you deserved? What will be your response to the driver who cuts you off in traffic or the person at the grocery store who breaks in line in front of you? Will your response to negative, hurtful, and provoking stimuli honor God? Will your choices and decisions be pleasing to God?

Every moment of every day there is something before you that requires a response. When your mind is prepared for action then you will “be self-controlled” in every situation and thus honor God.

Holiness is not just a theory but it is a state of being. It is the way that we should desire to be found when Jesus returns. “…set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

So then, how do you “prepare your mind for action?” I believe that the greatest way to accomplish that is to have a daily quiet time with God. Find a place where you can be alone with God without interruption. And then make a daily appointment with God.

Prepare yourself physically just as you do prior to going to work. Bathe, dress, and have a cup of coffee if that is part of your routine. Be alert and ready for your meeting with God. Give Him your undivided attention.

Pray, read from His word, and meditate on what He is saying to you and how you can apply it to your life. Then pray His word back to Him affirming your desire to incorporate what you have learned into your life. Keep a journal of your thoughts and how you are using God’s instruction in your life.

I know of no other activity or discipline that can produce more positive benefit for the Christian. In your daily quite time with God, He will “prepare your mind for action.”

The Forever Notebook comes from my daily quiet time with God. It is my hope that as God speaks to me that He will also speak to you. He has done and continues to do so much in my life. I pray that you can experience His incomparable presence in your life.

I am convinced that the Lord can transform, renew, change, revitalize, encourage, give hope, and help for any and all of life’s challenges. Let Him prepare you — for action. Make time for quiet time with God.

For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Pray Continually

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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How to Expand Your Circle of Prayer

Posted on November 25, 2017 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

“Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Matthew 8:6

All of us have an inner circle of prayer. That’s the people we consistently pray for. And if we’re not careful, we offer the same prayers for the same people every day. Today, let’s look at ways of expanding that circle, to include more people and more concerns.

We’ll begin with something quick and easy. I call them drive-by prayer requests.

After Sunday morning services, I stood at the church door to shake hands and share pleasantries with the congregation. Frequently, those who passed by requested prayer. Those requests were seldom specific, just, “Pastor, pray for me.” Soon after, I joined my family for lunch and those prayer concerns were forgotten. To prevent that from happening, I adopted the habit of praying for those people immediately.

When people know you’re a Christian, you will get similar drive-by requests for prayer. It can happen anytime and anywhere.

Recently, I was sitting in the waiting room of an auto repair shop. Struck up a conversation with another customer. Soon we learned we were both believers. Before she departed, she asked me to pray for her. Again the request wasn’t specific, just “pray.”

Simple, quick, non-specific prayer is important. We don’t need all the details of someone’s problem to appeal to the Lord on their behalf. God already knows what they’re going through. Train yourself to pray right away, silently, and quickly based on the limited information shared. An old Aretha Franklin hit just popped into my mind. “I say a little prayer for you.”

In our focus text, a centurion came to Jesus to request healing for his paralyzed servant. We’ll call him, “Sarge.” He was burdened for someone who worked for him. Wow. A boss including his employees in his circle of prayer.

In James 5:16, we’re told to “pray for each other.” I wonder how many times we ask for prayer from someone, but fail to follow the “each other” directive. When someone says they’re praying for you, offer up one for them in return.

Consider your current circle of prayer that includes family and friends. Maybe some coworkers, neighbors, church members, or your pastor are also in your prayer circle.

Now I want you to think about expanding that circle. But doesn’t expansion mean devoting more time to prayer? Actually, you can expand your circle and still effectively manage your prayer time.

We always want to make room for individuals who need prayer, but I have found it helpful to add groups. Notice this example in Paul’s letter to Timothy:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

That’s a BIG circle of prayer. “All people.” “Kings and all those in authority.”

Prayer is to be individual but also like a blanket. We pray for those we know, but we also intercede for groups of those we don’t. President, governor, and governmental leaders. The people who live in your community. Your city or town. Your church and the church universal. Your nation and world.

Consider adding groups to your circle that include those who have come and gone from your life. For example, I pray daily for the people I went to school with, the graduates of the Strasburg High School class of 1966. (They’re my age. Definitely need prayer.) I pray for the people I worked with in radio, and the members of the churches I pastored. And when specific names come to mind from those associations, I lift them up individually.

Occasionally, you will recall the name of someone from your past. Take that as a prompt from the Holy Spirit to pray.

Your circle of prayer should never be closed, but always open to “all people.” Pray for somebody new today. Then cast your blanket to cover a new group.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Christians Are Far from Perfect, We All Stumble in Many Ways

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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