JOHN MACVANE WAS a reporter for the National Broadcasting Company during World War II, and his broadcasts from the battlefront kept Americans riveted to their radios…
One day in November 1942, while he was in North Africa, he was told to prepare the Army Hour broadcast from Algiers for the following Sunday. It was a tremendous undertaking. MacVane had to interview leaders, obtain messages from chief commanders, write scripts, and then have them approved by war censors. Then there was the music. MacVane found some American GIs who could play jazz, and he started them practicing.
Finally the night of the broadcast came, and a cast of fifty assembled in a makeshift studio, all of them excited about beaming a wartime broadcast to the people of America. Precisely at 8:30 PM, the orchestra began playing. MacVane leaned into the microphone and said in his most sober voice, “This is Algiers, the heart of North Africa.”
During the interviews with MacVane, soldiers and pilots for the RAF and the US Air Force told their dramatic stories. The show ended with the band playing America’s national anthem. It was a great program, and afterward all the participants were ecstatic. They had just given a riveting account from the warfront — and it had been heard live by forty million people back home.
Several days later, however, MacVane received a telegram asking what had happened to the expected broadcast. Nobody had heard it. Apparently it had gone out on the wrong frequency and was never picked up by engineers in New York. Nobody at home heard so much as a single word. MacVane’s program had disappeared into thin air. (Robert J. Morgan)
THOUGHT: The same thing can happen to prayer.
KneEmail: “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2).
WE RAISED PIGS…
We raised about a thousand pigs a year. In one field we had two or three hundred little oinkers running around. Every day, at four in the morning, as I’d walk into the field to feed those guys, they’d scatter.
Once a little pig came up and began to chew on my foot, so I picked him up and began to pet him. Soon he wanted down. I said, “No, I’ll let you down when I’m ready.” At that moment, he let out a squeal such as I had never heard. In about two seconds, thirty mama pigs weighing five to six hundred pounds each were headed my way. I put him down and headed for the fence. I barely made it over, and all the mama pigs were snorting and walking back and forth, daring me to come back over and bother one of their kids. I look back at that and realize the little rascal wasn’t intimidated. He was out of control, but he wasn’t intimidated. Why? Because one squeal away he had resources. (Rod Cooper)
THOUGHT: We can “squeal” (e.g., pray) and know that the God of the universe will employ His resources to meet our needs.
KneEmail: “Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer” (Psm. 61:1).
NATIONWIDE, ALMOST FIVE million acres have been torched by wildfires this year…
In Montana alone, 2,000 fires have raged over 457,000 acres. The Washington Post called it “a 100 year catastrophe” for the state (Susan Gallagher, “Western Wildfires Show No Sign of Slowing,” Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2000, p. A22).
Of interest, it is believed that a cricket landing on an electric fence caused one of these natural disasters. Try to picture that for a minute. There was a spark, a small fire, a brush fire and then, the death of acres.
Does that bring a Bible verse to mind?
“Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire! And the tongue is a fire…which defileth the whole body” (Jas. 3:5b-6a).
Someone has said, “As one grows older and wiser, he talks less and says more.” Why wait? Look through the NT book of James. There are so many constructive ways to use the tongue.
We can pray. Jas. 1:5, 13; 5:13-16
We be kind instead of critical. Jas. 2:12-13; 4:11; 5:9
We can praise God and encourage man. Jas. 4:13-15
We can help brethren who are struggling. Jas. 5:19-20
Read the passage above one more time (Jas. 3:5b-6a). When you and I misuse our tongue, who gets burned? (Dan Winkler)
KneEmail: “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (Jas. 3:5).
RICH MCCARRELL EXPLAINED to his young son how his secretary screened his phone calls at the office…
He said, “If your Mom calls me and I’m busy, the secretary will tell her what I’m doing, and then Mom will decide if I should be interrupted or if she should leave a message.” Then he said to his son, “If you call me, you’ll be put right through. I want you to know that you can call me anytime, because you’re my son.”
A few days later, the secretary put a call through to Rich from his son. He said hello and asked what he could do for him. He replied, “Nothing, Dad. I just wanted to make sure I could actually get through to you that easily.”
THOUGHT: Christians also have instant access to their Father in heaven. There’s no secretary to screen His calls. No need for a decision on whether or not we should bother Him. No need to leave a message so that He can get back to us later. Because Jesus has provided the way by His death and resurrection, you and I can have boldness and confidence as we draw near to the Father. (Anne Cetas)
KneEmail: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…” (Heb. 10:22; cf. Psm. 34:15).
JESUS TOLD HIS disciples to ask, seek, and knock…
The original text uses words that indicate continuing action. In other words, Jesus said to keep on asking; keep on seeking; and keep on knocking. Our Lord has told us to be persistent in making our requests to the Father for the things we need.
Why does the Lord require us to be persistent in prayer? Is God just being stubborn or is He playing some kind of a game with us? Not at all. Persistence shows what kind of faith we have. God doesn’t always give us what we ask for the first time. If He did, we might think that He had nothing to do with it and that we would have gotten what we wanted anyway. Continuing in prayer gives us time for our trust to be nurtured and to grow.
Persistence in prayer shows our sincerity. By continuing to ask for wisdom, spiritual growth, our daily needs, help, healing, etc., we show God that we are sincere in our prayers. Again, not everything in life comes easily. Those who have endurance to the end will be saved.
Persistence in prayers helps us to get in tune with the will of God. Prayer is more than just asking for what we need or want. Prayer is a communication lifeline with God. Just as we listen to God speak to us in the Bible, we talk with God in prayer. Communication is vital to relationships. When we pray for a need over a period of time our perspective changes and our wisdom grows. We must not just seek to please ourselves, but consider how our request will benefit the Kingdom. If our request is good and right, God will grant our desire.
Ask. Seek. Knock. (Roger Wright)
KneEmail: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).
OFTEN WE HEAR that “prayer changes things…”
I have only one question. It deals not with what prayer changes, but whom.
Perhaps we are under the illusion that it is the role of prayer to change God’s mind. The astounding thing is that there are indeed times when frail flesh can change the intention of eternal Deity! Moses averted God’s anger against Israel (Exodus 32:11-14); Hezekiah bought extra time (Isaiah 38:1-8). These incidents remind us that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Talk about friends in high places, the child of God can go to the most powerful figure in existence, and be heard!
But the marvel of prayer lies not in our ability to change God, but in his ability to change us. When we pray, we admit that we need his help; we express humility and dependence with regard to the course of our lives; we throw ourselves on his mercy; we seek his wisdom, his strength, his love.
When we pray, the universe is reoriented. Our universe!
Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind; it’s about changing ours! “God,” someone has said, “never alters the robe of righteousness to fit a man; he changes the man to fit the robe.” God seeks to mold us, change us, make us something wonderfully better. And the process begins when our posture changes from standing to kneeling.
KneEmail: “O house of Israel, can I not do to you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:6).
Prayer won’t change things until we allow it to change us. (Stan Mitchell)
WHEN I PRAY…
I can acknowledge that my help comes from above (Psalm 121:1, 2).
I can acknowledge that if God is for me, no one else can be against me (Romans 8:31).
I can see my unworthiness contrasted with the magnificence of God (Nehemiah 1:5-7).
I can, as a child, talk to my Father (Matthew 7:11).
I can pursue the will of God in my life (Matthew 26:39).
I can seek true wisdom (James 1:5).
I can seek the blessings of God on behalf of the ones I love (John 17:20, 21).
I can seek forgiveness—even for my secret sins (Acts 8:22).
I can ask what ever I want—according to his will (1 John 5:14).
I can have confidence that my prayer will be heard (1 John 5:14, 15).
I can thank God for all that has done and is doing on my behalf (Philippians 2: 13; 4:6).
I can thank God for my brothers and sisters in Christ (Philippians 1:3).
I can draw closer to God (James 4:8).
I can petition God on behalf of the sick (James 5:13, 16).
I can take advantage of the promises God has made (Hebrews 13:5).
I can “tap into” the vast resources of heaven (Ephesians 3:20).
I can request help in resistance of the devil (Ephesians 6:18).
I can win a battle against the devil (James 4:7).
I can separate my self from the world—for a while (Matthew 6:6).
I can expect mercy and grace in time of trouble (Hebrews 4:16).
I can find peace (Philippians 4:7).
THOUGHT: I must not stop praying! (Lance Cordle)
KneEmail: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).
I WAS SPEAKING at a summer camp and drove into town late one night to get a snack…
About the only place open was McDonald’s, so I hit the drive-through. When it was my turn, I rolled down the window and gave my order: “Yes, I’ll have a large yogurt twist in a cup and some McDonaldland cookies.” The lady repeated my order over a speaker system that had more static than a dryer full of double knit bowling shirts.
I drove up to the window and handed the lady my money. She handed me a box of cookies and small water cup of yogurt. I handed the cup of yogurt back to her and reminded her that I had ordered the large cup, not the small size. She took the cup back inside, and I waited. While she was gone, the clothes I was wearing went out of style and came back in. She came back carrying the forty-two-ounce, super-duper-size drink cup filled with yogurt. In one motion, she hoisted the cup with both hands and kicked open the drive-through window. The window flew open, and she nearly dropped the three pounds of yogurt in my lap. I regained my composure and asked if the large size comes with a free pair of Depends. “If I drink all of this,” I said, “I’ll need them.”
She started to close the window, but I stopped her. “Seriously, ma’am, do I get a spoon with the yogurt?” “A spoon?” she said. I paused and said, “Yeah, you know, it’s white, has a handle, and is concave on one end.” Her expression never changed; she just closed the window and was gone long enough for me to change my oil and rotate my tires. Yogurt melting, cookies half-eaten, the window opened again. She held out a plastic spoon in an environmentally safe plastic wrapper and asked me, “Is this it?”
THOUGHT: When we pray, we can’t be presumptuous. God is not a drive-through window. We can’t expect to roll up to God arrogantly assuming that He will answer our prayer exactly as we want it. If we want our prayers to be powerful and effective, we have to pray and live in harmony with the will of God. (David Edwards)
KneEmail: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (Jas. 4:3; Psm. 66:18).
GOD SEES, HEARS and answers “closet” prayers…
God observes things which are secret from men, unknown to men. A thing does not have to be done publicly to be seen and rewarded by God. Recall how the Psalmist talks about God (Psm. 139:7-12). God is in secret. All things are naked before Him: “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). The way to the open reward is the shut door. This principle is true even of the judgment (1 Tim. 5:24-25).
A closet for the spirit is whatever helps us close the spirit in from all distractions and thus make it feel alone with God. Secret prayer is a true measure of a Christian. We cannot always measure a man by his public prayers, but if we knew the secret prayers of a man, we would have an index of his soul. Yes, secret prayer is the expression of a person’s heart. (Carl Dulap)
KneEmail: “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and you Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matt. 6:6).
…SOME PEOPLE WORSHIP their bodies…
People spend hours at the gym, sculpting their bodies, yet completely neglecting their spiritual lives. …Some people think nothing of getting up at the crack of dawn and heading to the gym for that hour-and-a-half workout. But they balk at the idea of spending ten minutes reading the Word of God. They think nothing of sweating till their muscles burn, yet they recoil from spending time in prayer. They find time to work out, rain or shine, but if it rains on Sunday, that pouring rain is a really great excuse to skip services. Some people think nothing of working out for hours on a stair-stepper or a treadmill; yet they back down at the thought of building their “spiritual muscles” through the disciplines of prayer and Bible study. They easily accept the pain that comes from completing a 10K run, yet can’t see the value of applying themselves to run the race of life (Greg Laurie).
KneEmail: “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).