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I received an excellent short teaching by email yesterday titled "How to pray successfully". I couldn't say it any better myself that these are "keys for prayer". I posted it to my weblog at http://www.madetopraisehim.com/item/324

My prayer agenda tends to happen in a number of different ways.

First, I want to make time and space to respond there and then to anything God puts on my heart. I want to be open to His promptings several times during the day.

I remember hearing of some well known Christian in modern history who was asked how long he prayed for at a time. His response was "about 20 minutes", which shocked the guy asking the question who was expecting to hear that he prayed for hours, until he added "and I never go more than 20 minutes between prayers". That's how I feel we should be - not legalistically, but simply learning to abide in Jesus throughout the day, no matter what else we are doing.

I also have lots of notes on pieces of paper scattered all around the house with topics for prayer, whether requests received from others, things that have occurred to me, or things God has said to me. Every now and then I go find them all, sit down before God and offer them all to Him. I pray through them all and really focus on those that He impresses upon me for specific intercession. I wish I could say this was a regular thing, but I really do mean "every now and then".

So this year, I've started a prayer journal which replaces all the bits of paper, allows me to track ongoing topics better, and will help me to make focussed intercession a more regular thing. It may sound a weird thing to ask, but I'm asking Holy Spirit to nag me about this!

Interesting to read Mike's comment on the OT passage since he is referring to the positive aspects of Abram/Abraham. I was surprised since I find we get to know Abram from a different angle in this passage. One sees he's human after all... :-)
I think that he and Sarai were probably a little worn out in waiting for God's promise to come true, after all these years. Prov 13:12 says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. And from that they were easy prey to wanting to MAKE things happen... I have struggled with this before and was reminded of an awesome book by Dutch Sheets on this ("Tell Your Heart To Beat Again").
To me it also seems that there's also a long-term consequence from having been to Egypt - they had Hagar and would consider using her for having a baby. And what a mess stemmed from that.
Women can be influential for good or bad - Abram picks up on Sarai's idea without considering the pro's and con's himself it seems - reminds me of Adam and Eve.
After the birth of Ishmael - did Abram realize that this was a bad idea after all I wonder? Took 13 more years of waiting.
I love how God speaks to Abram then, reminding him that he is strong enough to keep his promise (I'm the STRONG God) and asking him to live ENTIRELY before him.
Also awesome how names are proclamations - reminds me of my own name - Esther, meaning "star" - and that I am supposed to be in the business of shining...
- This blog is excellent - the comment section truly adds a lot to my own reading, e.g. Ramona's stuff - thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Can one subscribe to a feed for the comment section also - have I overlooked that? - or do I need to visit the site for that?

I have just joined you in this bible online reading journey. I have been reading the Scriptures from cover to cover for almost 30 years now using a variety of approaches e.g Daily walk and in the last few years the One Year Bible.

I like this poem by Arthur Pink as it relates to authentic prayer:
I often say my prayers but do I ever pray,
And do the wishes of my heart go with the words I say,
I may as well kneel down and worship gods of stone, as offer to the living God a prayer of words alone.

I think the Lord's prayer, more appropriately called "The Disciples'Prayer" is designed to be a framework for our prayers. Coming out of a liturgical background I used to say this prayer 'over and over'. I'm sure it helped create a God consciousness in me as a child but it struck me in my repeated readings of the New Testament that nowhere do we see the apostles using this prayer verbatim, nor do we see them exhorting the people of God to pray in this way.

However, when one studies Paul's prayers I believe many if not all elements of the disciples' prayer is evident.

thanks for creating this wonderful online Bible interactive Bible reading experience. I especially enjoy the art work to go with the readings.

Blessings to all...

When I first start to wake up in the morning, I try to say "Good Morning" to Jesus and begin praying. I'm still in a sleepy state, so I sort of drift in and out of sleep while I'm praying. A lot of this prayer is for myself, but I always try to include others. I do this at different times throughout the day. When I tell someone I will pray for them, I stop right then and pray. If I don't, there's always a chance that I might forget. I'm a quadriplegic, so I can't keep notes on papers -- I just have to keep notes in my head. I also would like to start praying The Lord's Prayer more often.

Shirley

I pray privately with the Lord in the morning using a journal. I do write out prayer because it forces me to slow down, think about what I want to say and quite often during this time, God will speak to me by reminding me of scriptures. He will actually hear and answer with wisdom and insight from the Word. Awesome. Then throughout the day I pray for issues in my life. When called to prayer by the Holy Spirit, I do pray and intercede for others. I use some lists and reminders at times, but sometimes that just becomes rote and meaningless- vain repetition. As for quoting the Lord's Prayer, like any other scripture it becomes life as you remember and say it out loud. Faith does come by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:13). I believe that whenever I quote scripture I am praying in the Lord's Will so I will have what I have asked. (1 John 5:14) Praying using Jesus own words ignites my heart to want to pray according to God's will and not my own.

My prayer today for you all: Hebrews 13:20-21 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I pray at night and throughout the day. Many times I pray when I need strength and when I see others in distress.
I do pray for myself quite often, but I try to keep it evenly proportioned for others to be included. Many times I pray in private, although I usually pray on the bus to/from work. Sometimes I come to a point where I can’t even think of what to pray for, so I ask God to have the Holy Spirit reveal what my heart needs to reveal. Or I just rest in his presence with nothing said.
I really appreciate this blog…and I really like the journal idea.

Thanks everyone!

Some years ago I found Leanne Payne "Listening Prayer: Learning to Hear God's Voice and Keep a Prayer Journal" a great book on prayer and keeping a prayer journal. http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/080105916X/

By the way Mike, this whole discussion seems to drift off-topic - is that OK?

Re Mike's: "Abraham does not hesitate - does not wait one more day - he and every other male in his household get circumcised that very day! Are we prompt with our obedience to God's will in our lives?"

Well, I think if I thought I heard God ask me to do that I would hesitate. I would go into full discernment verification mode: is this biblical, (read Paul's teaching to the Gentile's very carefully), is there confirmation, did I really hear correctly, did my mentor hear it too, is it legal? Oops. Hear in The Netherlands there is some discussion on the legality of circumcision. Did He mean the women as well? Here in The Netherlands ....

So, what DO we do when it seems God is asking us to do something crazy?

Sorry for the typos. "Gentile's" should be "Gentiles" and "Hear in the Netherlands..." should be "Here in the Netherlands ..."

You see, jumping into hasty posting can be just as messy as jumping into action when we mishear God!

Today's contribution:
http://www.chipbennett.net/wordpress/index.php/2006/01/oyb-january-7/

Excerpt:
"I pray in many ways, depending on the situation, my mood, and the leading of the Spirit. I pray out loud; I pray in silence; I pray in song; I pray in the written word; I pray alone; I pray with a friend or a small group of friends; I pray corporately, in worship services. I generally pray with words according to the leading of my heart, or of the Spirit. I rarely pray “rote” prayers - though, I’m beginning to see some of the beauty and simplicity in such prayers as the Lord’s Prayer, or other liturgical prayers to which I have been introduced through attending denominational services. I have some situations in which I keep a list of people and prayer requests. I have used a prayer journal in the past, and would like to regain the habit. My most meaningful prayer time seems to be the silent, meditative prayers in which I simply wait on the Lord. These prayers require me to “shut down my mind” or “separate” myself from my thoughts - something generally very difficult for someone of my personality! But, I think that is why this type of prayer is so meaningful; it is a sacrifice for the purpose of honoring God and an act of “dying to self” in order to hear from Him."

Andrew Said: >>You see, jumping into hasty posting can be just as messy as jumping into action when we mishear God!>>

Well, that could be called writing in "tongues." But don't worry I think many of us have the gift of Interpreting each others tongue writings, she said with a Big Smile on her face relived to know that I’m not the only one with typos and left out thoughts that I thought I had written but later realized that I hadn’t.

I don't have a specific time that I pray. I usually pray throughout the day just a short prayer~especially if someone asks me to pray for them. Then when I tell that that I will pray for them, I never forget. I have found that this has helped me stay connected with God throughout my day.

Andrew B: Thanks for your comments, and every person's for that matter.

How about I Kings 13: 14-26? How to really discern the Lord speaking to us. This is a BIG deal for young people in 'finding the Lord's will for my life!'

Genesis 16:1-18:15

It is always interesting how each time I read thought a passage something different jumps out at me. So here goes. The follow verses from Proverbs came to my mind as I read today’s readings:

Under three things the earth is disquieted, and under four it cannot bear up: Under a servant when he reigns, a [empty-headed] fool when he is filled with food, An unloved and repugnant woman when she is married, and a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.
(Proverbs 30:21-23 AMP)

Leaving behind all the opinions about Sari finding a surrogate, Hagar, to carry her husband’s seed, according to the writer of Proverbs, Hagar, Sari’s “maidservant,” may have either tacitly or directly challenged her mistress’ authority. If the writer of the above three verses is correct in his assessment, than Hagar may have been making the ground shake, so to speak. She had produced for Abram what Sari couldn’t. She had been intimate with another woman’s husband, even if that woman initiated and facilitated the act. Talk about one-upmanship.

We are a funny folk. We counsel people and when they received and act on that counsel and it goes awry, we distance ourselves from the consequences. Sari presented her handmaiden to her husband in an attempt to “work” God’s promise to her husband, or had Abram kept the promise to himself? Hmmm. (If Sari knew that God has given a promise of a child to Him, why whould she have laughed when the angel spoke to her husband? Or could she have thought the Promise was to her husband and not to her? That’s a whole ‘nother essay.) Either way, she turned on the one she gave counsel too, her husband. Abram heard the counsel but didn’t have to receive it. How many times do we accept someone’s counsel without considering what is being said just to make the person happy. When it blows up in our faces, if we go back to the person who was so generous with their ideas, what usually is the reception we received?

Every one of us is responsible for your own choices no matter how strong the pressure to accept that advice. Bottom line is this: Not only will we have to serve our choices, but those we are responsible for, those under our leadership at home, work or church, will feel the effects. Abram’s relationship with Hagar was of the flesh. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. It is only the things born of the Spirit that will last. My prayer for all those who come to his Blog, myself included, is this: That we consider the consequences of our choices. May all here evaluate their decisions, are they of the flesh or of the spirit. All things of the “flesh” lead to death. Let us go on to live in Life. Let us stop producing Ishmaels in our lives.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

A note to all those reading and especially the posters:


When I first came to this site a little over a year ago, I was hesitant and afraid to put my inner thoughts and fears, tears and victories on the Blog as I read through the text. In fact, as I posted, many days I would be the only one. From time to time we had others posting but they fell by the wayside so it was just Mike, Vance and I who became the old timers, so to speak. I’m not sure if Mike counts since it’s his Blog.

I thank God for this site and I pray for God’s sustaining power in Mike’s life as he continues to spend time preparing for each day’s text with study, prayer and pictures and most important, his comments and links to source material and commentary. This afternoon, my time, when I came to this board my heart jumped for joy and tears welled up in my eyes for the explosion of postings and kind words. Thank you Esther for your gracious words Luciano Del Monte, thank you for posting the words written in your heart about your journey. It is so refreshing and exciting to have someone who had gone through the Word for thirty years; I look forward to your comments.

The growth of this Blog from last year, 2005, to now is an example of how God grows the ministries, families, relationships in our lives when we 1) are in-line with His Will for our lives, and 2) when we submit to Him. Three folks and posts from the previous year explode to thirty. (On a Saturday, there is already 15 posts plus one TrackBack.) God is the God of increase and His increase is exponential.

Never despise “small” beginnings ‘cause nothing is ever to small or to insignificant to God!

'The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? even they shall see with joy the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel, even these seven, which are the eyes of the LORD, that run to and fro through the whole earth.'
(Zechariah 4:9-10 JPS)

Andrew B wrote -
"By the way Mike, this whole discussion seems to drift off-topic - is that OK?"

Absolutely okay! I'm a big fan of tangents. :)

Thanks everyone for all the thoughts / posts today! (and previous days too) Great stuff. Thank you for being active participants in this One Year Bible journey!

Mike

Okay everyone this seems like an appropriate time to ask this question. Does anyone have any prayer requests? And why shouldn't we use this forum to address requests for those who are reading this blog?

I would also like to add that I have a request for myself. Pray for me to get motivated to use a journal. I do feel that journaling is something that we should do to enhance our prayer life. I think I have about three that have not been used that are laying around my house. My Christian friends have given them to me as gifts. Do you think God is telling me something here? For me its a matter of time and setting my priorities straight.

I've been involved in many bible studies throughout the years. Those that I found to connect with more on a personal level, usually had more fellowship, discussion and allowed the group to pray for each individual that had a request. Our church has something called the prayer pyramid, which is started out by someone usually the designated leader who inturn will call several people. Those who are called can call others or volunteer to just pray only. I've chosen to just pray because of time constraints in my life. Either way it is very effective and gets many people involved with praying.

For me, I like to pray with a group holding hands standing together. Each person should feel comfortable with joining in when it's their turn but not feel pressured. Some folks don't like to pray out loud with a group but feel comforted just the same by the presence of the Spirit when others pray.

I also learned from one bible study that I attended for about 7 years, Bible Study Fellowship International that according to them, you need to be submissive to God. In order to do that the proper way is to kneel, find an appropriate place and time, bow your head and close you eyes.

I pray that is will be a good year for everyone out there who is reading the blog and their family's God Bless

Just wondering what you put in a journal

(Remembering not to post in haste!)

Re: Laura Jones' invitation for prayer requests: I would appreciate prayer for what I recently termed my 'struggle with discipleship'. My mentor remarked that it should not be a struggle. 'There's no need to merit the love, life, and freedom of and in Christ.'

But, my issue is that we are promised life to the full. The born again life in the Spirit as a disciple of Jesus should be a paradigm shift away from life in the world. In reality mine falls a bit short of that vision.

So, my struggle is to understand that. And I would appreciate prayer for discernment as to why, and what I should be doing about it.

Blessings,
Andrew

p.s. on technical matters I have been trying to follow the suggestion of Cory 'bald man blogging' http://coryaldrich.blogs.com/ a few days ago about Technorati tags. But it seems to be a minefield of technicalities. I got a very complex response from TypePad Support when I posted a help ticket. And if you look at the results on Technorati under the tag 'one year bible' they seem a bit thin. So does anyone have experience of making Technorati tags work?

A journal is what you want it to be. It is a daily, weekly, or monthly record. In finance, such as in accounting, it is a record of daily financial transactions, monies owed to venders and monies owed to the business. In Politics it is a recorded of what was done and spoken in front of the administrative body. A journal could also be a magazine or periodical, like the Ladies Home Journal, or the Wall Street Journal.

When you hear or read about people journaling on this site, think of a Diary where people write their thoughts down on paper. What one journals is up to them. Some may write their prayers down some write their thoughts. Again, what you write about is up to you. It really is a form of personal writing and does not have to be guided by a structure or formal writing rules.

Hope this helps

I pray in the mornings as I get up and again as I read God's word whether it's the daily mass readings or the bible. I also pray each night as I'm falling asleep. I thank God for the day and ask Him to watch over me. I've been trying to make an effort to pray during the day, whether it's just a quick thank you, or to ask for help, or just to check-in and say hi. I belong to an Internet prayer list and so I pray for requests each day too.

I recently started a journal that are notes to God. I felt I needed something that was just for Him.

What I am having trouble with is praying before meals. I get so upset that I forget this. Sometimes I don't remember is after the meal is finished, so I thank God for it, but I would like to get into the habit of doing it before.

I've often wondered too if I pray the right way. If God likes all these different ways, or if I should just stick to The Lord's Prayer. I do pray the Lord's Prayer almost everyday and I've noticed on Sunday's at Mass, when it's time for that prayer, it is the loudest the church gets.

I guess I like to pray different ways because it doesn't get routine. I mean routine by the words I say. I want my prayers to mean something and not just say something to say it. Maybe that what the verse meant by don't babble?

I'm on blogger, so I don't know about typepad, but I usually cheat and click the "this code" link in the left column on the appropriate technorati tag page and paste that in my blog. Seems to be working so far.

My husband and I teach an adult Sunday School class and we're challenging our class to read through the Bible this year. We have given them all One Year Bibles and a list of great websites (particularly this one!) which we hope will keep them encouraged and motivated.

My husband and I car pool to work, and have been using the drive home as our Bible reading time. This is helpful to us as it is a time we are together, without the phone or tv so we can think about what we are hearing or reading. So far this seems to be working for us and we're looking forward to making it through the entire Bible together.

I mentioned yesterday, we pray the Daily Office using Tickle's The Divine Hours. It consists of four regular prayer times comprised of Psalms, Readings, liturgical prayers, the Gloria, and the Lord's Prayer. This provides a foundation on which extemporanious prayers are added: grace, intercession, etc.

Scot McKnight, NT scholar and professor, has a great blog. Last month the purpose and role of the Lord's Prayer was a topic of discussion. (http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=627)

Andrew B/Laura,
I just signed up and claimed my blog at Technorati, so we'll see if that makes a difference.

Oh yeah... claim your blog.

On today's readings, I was once again impressed with the importance of the community. The punishment for refusing to bear the mark of the covenant (Gen 17:14, 24-27). Connection to the people of God is the most important thing. One cannot be a God-follower without the community and refusing to be a God-follower removes one from the community. This raises piles of implications for how we do discipleship and for who we are as church.

Now, I'm not a legalist, but I think there is a lack of clarity on what it means to be part of the church. It is surely more than attending--or even participating in ministry.

I guess I wonder what the mark of the covenant is today. What is the mark of our faith--of our heart's towardness to God?

On the technorati tag issue, make sure you put the tag in the body of the post.

Just a thought.

The scripture that jumped out at me was Genesis 16:8. The angel asks Hagar, "Where have you come from, and where are you going?" At the beginning of a new year and a new Bible study, it seems fitting that we ask ourselves, "Where have we come from? And where are we going?" I wonder how many of us, like Hagar, are running away from someone or something - a realtionship, a committment, a responsibiltiy, a difficult situation or even Jesus Himself? As I dig into God's Word this year, I hope to begin answering these questions for my own life.

Could someone please explain to me Chapter 7 in Matthew verse 6.
"Don't give what is holy to unholy people"

Good question! A brief commentary I saw on Matthew 7:6 is this - "Teaching about the Kingdom should be given in accordance with the spiritual capacity of the learners." Also, Bob Deffinbaugh w/ bible.org has a great few paragraphs on this verse - surf down about halfway at this link below to "The Need for Discernment" section. A quote of his from this link below includes - "But there is an opposite and equal error, and that is the profitless expenditure of our time in persisting to proclaim the gospel to those who have clearly rejected it."

http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=607

Hope this helps!

In response to Mike's comment on Jacob practicing superstition in placing the rods in front of the cows. I see it entirely differently- Jacob was exercising faith that the Lord would answer his prayer. Placing the rods in front of the cows was his was of focusing on what he was believing in the Lord for, Proverbs 23:7, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." I see this as an example of faith in motion and not superstition at all.

Melissa Thomas states:
>>In response to Mike's comment on Jacob practicing superstition in placing the rods in front of the cows. I see it entirely differently- Jacob was exercising faith that the Lord would answer his prayer. >>

One could see the act as a means of "faith" however the texts about Jacob state otherwise. At that time Jacob had no firm belief in the God of his father. When we get to the portion of Genesis that deal with Jacob we will see that he, Jacob, relied on his own manipulations and cunning to try to get his way. Jacob's name in Hebrew is a window into how he operated.

yah-ak-obe'
From H6117 (Based on Strong’s numbering system; heel catcher (that is, supplanter); Jaakob, the Israelitish patriarch: - Jacob.

aw-kab' (6117)
A primitive root; properly to swell out or up; used only as denominative from H6119, to seize by the heel; figuratively to circumvent (as if tripping up the heels); also to restrain (as if holding by the heel): - take by the heel, stay, supplant, X utterly.

It is not until God comes in to change his name from Jacob to Israel, calling those things that be not as though they were (Romans 4:17), that we see Jacob/Israel sometimes act like his new name.

Israel - he will rule as God; Jisrael, a symbolical name of Jacob; also (typically) of his posterity: - Israel.

Ramona states: "at that time Jacob had no firm belief in the God of his father"
would you be able to point me to the scripture or scriptures that backs this up? thanks. I believe the Lord honors faith not superstition, and as He is the Father of genetics He could change the cows to honor Jacob's faith and to teach us a valuable principle: what you focus on you become.

Melissa,

I will not engage in a tit for tat discussion. Time will prove me right or wrong when we get to the chapters that cover Jacob/Israel. Whether we see eye to eye on the text is inconsequential. The focus is what we each believe about the text and is our belief strong enough to act. Since the story of Jacob/Israel is in Genesis, we will get there shortly. If you believe what Jacob did was not an act of superstition then fine, but I do not believe God operates that way. What matters is our relationship with and to Christ. I believe strongly enough that if I have read something wrongly, the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to correct me as He has done in times past.

Grace and peace to you,
Ramona

==[Screensaver Prayer]======
A recent addition to my prayer life, is collecting pictures of people and other things/places I want to be praying for and adding them to my screensaver (google piciture rotation thing). Similar to the purpose of Orthodox Icons, I use the images to draw me into prayer.

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