In the desire to learn how to increase our prayer life we sometimes don’t know where to begin. It can be discouraging having zeal and then running out of things to pray for. I have definitely experienced this. A prayer list is great, but what exactly do we pray over those we have on the list?
I believe the best prayers are ones that are from the Word. This is a list of scriptures that will help give you dialogue material to speak with God.
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FFear of God
- I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. (Jer. 32:40)
- The Lord…you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. (Isa. 8:13)
- Unite my heart (to Your heart and Word) to fear Your name. (Ps. 86:11)
- His delight is in the fear of the LORD… (Isa. 11:3)
- Being strengthened with all power…may have great endurance and patience… (Col. 1:11 NIV)
- May the Lord direct your hearts into…the patience (endurance) of Christ. (2 Thes. 3:5)
- It was written, “Zeal for Thy house will consume me (Jesus).” (Jn. 2:17, NAS)
- Zeal for Your house has eaten me (David) up… I wept and chastened my soul with fasting that became my reproach. I made sackcloth my garment… (Ps. 69:9-11)
- Phinehas…was zealous with My zeal among them… (Num. 25:11)
Whenever I sit down in my quiet time with God I struggle to not think, “Where did I leave off and how many chapters do I have to read to catch up?” It’s as if God is more pleased with me cause I read 20 chapters today.
Imagine if we had that kind of relationship with our spouse. Imagine if we read our spouse’s journal and then never really talked with them. Would you call that a relationship? In the same way we develop a relationship with our spouse – talking with, asking questions, growing in relational knowledge – that is the same way we grow in relationship with God.
3 practical ways to encounter God in His word:
- Position your heart to meet with God. When we approach the word in our times of prayer we should position our hearts to meet with God. The purpose of reading the word is to get to know Whom the word points to. Before you read, invite the Holy Spirit there to give you understanding of who God is. We should approach our times with the Word as if we’re meeting a living Person.
- Ask God for revelation about what You’re reading. The Bible is full of scriptures that show God’s character, but there are also some that require a bit of searching out to understand the meaning. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Pro. 25:2). If you feel God giving you revelation of Himself through a passage, pause and verbally thank Him for showing Himself to you, then ask for more understanding. Thankfulness to God tenderizes our hearts.
- Dialogue with Jesus: Ask specific questions. I remember the first time I read Matthew with the intention of talking with Jesus to know Him better. I remember reading Matt. 4:13, “And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea,” and asking Jesus “Why did you choose that city to start Your ministry in? Did you like that city? Do you like that it’s by the sea? Do you like the sea?” All of the sudden, my understanding of Jesus became much more real – He likes things. Does Jesus enjoy looking out to the sea? Did He like the architecture in Capernaum? Was He nervous at all starting His ministry?
It’s important that we come to the Bible expecting to learn and grow in our relationship with God. In the same way we grow stronger in our relationship with our spouse or friends after a meaningful conversation, so it can be with God. Our study of the Bible must develop into an active dialogue with the Person of God. Scripture gives us the “conversational material” but it’s up to us to open up our mouths and have that conversation.
Life can be a mystery. But that doesn’t mean there are a shortage of opinions about what to make most important. The Bible teaches that every single person will be evaluated on what they did with their lives, but beyond that there are still many questions: Who will evaluate me? What will the evaluation consist of? What if I’m a Christian—do I get judged too?
Understanding the Judgment Seat of Christ brings a ton of clarity. This weekend, Mike Bickle taught on the judgment seat. He uncovered a number of myths and replaced them with really helpful truths from scripture. Here’s the MikeLite version.
Myth #1 Only unbelievers will be judged.
False. There are several scenes of Judgment in the New Testament, one for believers and another for unbelievers. Only believers stand before the Judgment Seat (JS), Unbelievers do not stand at the judgment seat. They will be evaluated at the Great White Throne (GWT). While both the JS and the GWT are places where people are evaluated, they are very different, and it is important to understand how they are different.
For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ…then each of us shall give account of himself to God. —Romans 14:10-12
Myth #2 The Judgment seat is where people get Sentenced for Punishment
Truth: In the ancient world, the judgment seat was a place for athletes to receive a wreath as a reward for their achievement, something like a gold medal at the Olympics. God has designed the Judgment seat as a place to reward his people. That means the JS is a massive indicator of God’s intent to honor His people for their dedication and faithfulness to Him and His kingdom during their lives. The only punishment would be if a believer arrives at the Judgment Seat and, after being evaluated, receives no rewards. Our goal as believers should be to stand at the JS and have no regret about how we lived our lives before God.
Myth #3 Works don’t matter
Truth: Some Christians confuse the role of good works in the life of faith by pitting works against grace. Though we’re not saved on the basis of our works (it’s a free gift of grace), our position and reward in the age to come is based on our works, which is our response to the free gift of grace. Scripture says we must be judged for what we’ve done, whether good or bad. This is not the same of impact in our personal ministry; we have no control over how big our impact is in ministry. We will be judged according to our capacities—the gifts, talents, and opportunities given to us by God. Jesus will evaluate believers at the JS based on the measure we loved him and followed through in dedication and obedience in our capacities and assignments. We may be willing in our hearts to serve God, but the reward system set up by Jesus is based on works. What matters is not our plans to be diligent or whole heartedness (a good place to start), what matters is the actually doing it.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. — 2 Cor 5:10
Myth #4 There are no rewards besides salvation
Truth: Jesus taught more about rewards than any other person in the Bible. Sometimes people protest saying, “we should serve God out of love without any thought of rewards.” But this protest overlooks the fact that Jesus clearly used rewards to motivate his people. Jesus understands rewards more than anyone else. Rewards in the Kingdom’s economy are not about dominating other people and strutting around in the age to come. They are about proximity to Jesus: greater rewards leads to having more of the glory of God expressed through our life in the age to come. That may be new information, but if we neglect this important truth, we will severely regret how we’ve spent our lives when we stand before the JS. We cannot lose our salvation at the JS, but we can lose out significantly in our destiny.
Myth #5 Every believer will have the same reward
Truth: The New Testament uses stars to illustrate the exact opposite point: just as stars are diverse in their size and brightness, so believers will be rewarded with differing degrees of reward reflected in our bodies, clothing, dwelling places, and authority in the age to come. Some people imagine that it’s humble just to be content with “a little cabin on the edge of glory.” But if on the day we see Jesus at the JS we find out that he actually cares about our response and our eternal destiny in a different way, we probably won’t agree with that idea . If Jesus desires to honor a greater response to his grace with a greater reward of His glory, then we should desire that as well.
There is one glory of the sun…and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. 1 Cor 15:41-42
The Judgment Seat is supposed to inspire believers to go hard after God in their life with bold confidence that God rewards those who abandon themselves to His Kingdom and His ways. Understanding the Judgment Seat causes a profound shift in the way we think about our lives—time, money, and relationships. Instead of asking, how much can I get away with and still be saved, we begin to ask, how far will you let me go, how abandoned will you let me be?
I have recently been (re)reading the book the Seven Longings of the Human Heart and I love it. I’m a little bit frustrated with myself, because I am supposed to be reading a different book before this one, but it’s just so good that I keep coming back to it.
The premise of this book is summed up pretty well in the title. God has placed longings inside of each of our hearts for the purpose of wooing us into His grace and presence; these longings are unquenchable and demand to be satisfied. This book focuses on seven foundational longings. Here’s an excerpt:
“He created these priceless longings only to watch men and women pursue a false fulfillment. How He longs for His people to position their hearts and their hunger rightly, and in doing so, to encounter the surprise of their lives—the pleasures of God which satisfy beyond measure.”
Why read about what I long about? What I have found is that by understanding my own longings I can then decide if the things I am doing in life is trying to satisfy these longings in an inappropriate way. I want to place all my longings in God, and not simply pacify them by lesser pleasures.
When reading this book, especially the chapter The Longing For The Assurance That We Are Enjoyed By God, my heart goes on a roller coaster. I find examples Mike and Deborah use really engage my desires for God. In anticipation of the next “drop” my heart goes “yeeah boii…” and when it comes I feel the longings in my heart for God being awakened in the screaming excited “YEEHAW!” Then the picture is taken, and I check out my heart making a really stupid face in the gift shop after the coaster.
In any case, you must read this book. Mike offers a free PDF download on his site or you can purchase a hardcopy at the IHOP-TLH bookstore.