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Tag Archives: Prayer

Iniquities That Drown Out My Prayers

“So when you spread out your hands [in prayer, pleading for My help], I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you offer many prayers,
I will not be listening. Your hands are full of blood! “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Get your evil deeds out of My sight. Stop doing evil, Isaiah 1:15-16.

How many times a day are you forced to listen to boring conversations? Co-workers may have to endure colleagues who love to talk and never shut up. Meanwhile, students have to sit through hour long lectures, often pretending to be entertained just to get a good grade. While some people crave intimate dialogue, others simply embrace the sound of silence.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save, Nor His ear so impaired that it cannot hear. But your wickedness has separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear, Isaiah 59:1-2.

From God’s perspective, billions of prayers are lifted up to heaven daily. Trying to sort through all of these requires an act of God as it is. Nonetheless, how many of these prayers are genuine, impure or selfish? Isaiah comments on disingenuous prayers. According to this Old Testament prophet, prayers aren’t designed as an escape plan or get well wish. Rather, God has specific expectations that requires a contrite heart.

“For the eyes of the Lord are [looking favorably] upon the righteous (the upright), And His ears are attentive to their prayer (eager to answer), But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil,” 1 Peter 3:12.

Thus, if your prayer life is like mine, you will experience days, weeks and months of prayers that go unanswered. According to the Bible, iniquities drown out your prayers. An iniquity is considered grossly unfair behavior, deemed criminal, foul or immoral. Essentially what God is trying to say to anyone before they pray, “get your act together, clean up your life up and stop doing evil things.” Unless acts of contrition supersede your prayers, the presence of iniquities will continue to drown out your prayers.

by Jay Mankus

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Inside Out

I’m usually not a big fan of animation movies. Yet, it seems like every Pixar film appeals to kids and adults. Whether you’re talking about Cars, Toy Story or Finding Nemo, there is something for everyone in the audience. When I first put Inside Out into my DVD player, my initial thought was “this is going to be lame.” The more I watched, I became glued to the screen.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer, Romans 12:12.

This 2015 animation illustrates how emotions affect the life of a newborn baby called Riley. Inside this little girl, characters compete to influence Riley’s life through a control panel. Joy, sadness, fear, disgust and anger take turns helping Riley understand these emotions. Until her family moves to San Francisco, Joy is the dominate emotion, maintaining a positive mindset despite what happens each day.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

As joy and sadness get sucked out of the control center during an accident, Riley’s life takes a drastic turn for the worse. This portion of the film pierced my heart, taking me back to my years in junior high when I was lost, lonely and searching for the meaning to life. Like Riley, I tried to find alternates, substitutes to fill the void in my heart. Nothing satisfied me until a friend introduced me to Jesus. The only way to truly change is to open your heart to Jesus who has the power to transform you from the inside out.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Be Afraid or Hesitant to Ask God

If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him, James 1:5.

Three pillars of faith advise readers of the Bible to essentially do the same thing. The earthly brother of Jesus suggests that if anyone lacks wisdom, ask God who has a long history of generosity. The disciple whom Jesus loved adds to the concept. The context to any prayer request should emphasize and align your wishes with God’s will. Meanwhile, during his Sermon on the Mount Jesus urges listeners to not be afraid or hesitant to ask God. Rather, continue to seek and knock on God’s door until answers are received.

This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us. 15 And if we know [for a fact, as indeed we do] that He hears and listens to us in whatever we ask, we [also] know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted to us] the requests which we have asked from Him, 1 John 5:14-15.

In the passage above, John speaks from experience. These words aren’t some unrealistic dream that you hope for God to answer a prayer. Rather, John refers to his degree of confidence as he reflects upon all the prayers that the Lord has specifically answered. One of the reasons some people don’t offer up prayer requests to God is the fear of being disappointed. John urges readers of the Bible to move beyond doubt by trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:21-22.

One of Jesus’ biggest frustrations with human beings is their lack of dependence on God. Throughout the gospels Jesus highlights one essential point, “you don’t have because you haven’t asked.” According to the passage above, prayers are directly linked to your degree of belief. The greater your faith, the more you will begin to see answers to prayer. However, when doubt enters your mind, prayers become words without any divine power. Therefore, if you want to see modern miracles don’t be afraid or hesitant to ask God. When you do pray, place your personal trust and confidence in Jesus to do what he promises in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

A Spiritual Dashboard

Dashboards are typically a console that a driver or pilot faces. This panel consists of controls, gauges and instruments that enables an operator to keep track of all the working parts. Modern dashboards have been developed by businesses in the form of a home page website. These electronic dashboards display charts, metrics and various elements that summarize daily, monthly and annual production numbers.

But the [Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you, John 14:26.

If you wanted to create a spiritual dashboard, the first piece would be a compass. Instead of containing a magnetized pointer which shows the direction of magnetic north, this devise would detect God’s will. Depending upon the choices, decisions and steps that you take, a spiritual compass monitors how close or far off you are from God. Other potential gauges include battery, fuel, lights and odometer. Each instrument serves as an assessment to indicate your spiritual health.

In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

The apostle Paul compares prayer to an invisible dashboard. Whenever you offer up prayers and requests to God, you will reach a point where you run out of things to say. If you draw a blank, lean on the Holy Spirit who knows your exact needs. Those who empty themselves by relying solely on the Holy Spirit will experience periods of intercession. Some of these God instances are hard to explain. Yet, if you are honest with yourself, God often saves the day by using some sort of spiritual dashboard.

by Jay Mankus

Freedom, Frustration and Finality

In that day you will not [need to] ask Me about anything. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name [as My representative], He will give you. 24 Until now you have not asked [the Father] for anything in My name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete, John 16:23-24.

One of the biblical definitions of freewill is the freedom to use a created will as a moral agent. For example, listen to what Jesus says about prayer in the passage above. Prior to the Holy Spirit, the disciples weren’t able tap into the power of prayer. Jesus makes the assumption that you don’t have because you haven’t asked. Perhaps, the prayer lives of these godly men had become bland, generic and stale, void of any specific requests.

You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God]. You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives [out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires, James 4:2-3.

However, there is a catch. When you do offer up prayer requests to God, you may possess impure motives. The earthly brother of Jesus refers to agendas not of God which are denied. Thus, if you treat prayer as a wish list for self-promotion, unanswered prayers will follow. Being rejected by God will result in frustration, especially if you think the content of your prayers are offered up with a sincere heart. The only other logical explanation for unfilled prayers are aspirations, dreams and goals that don’t align with God’s will.

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done,” Luke 22:41-42.

An hour before his betrayal, Jesus cries out to his heavenly father, overcome by anguish and stress. This prayer is mentioned by each of the gospel authors. The interesting aspect of this prayer is that as time passes Jesus moves from freedom to frustration toward finality. Jesus begins by asking, “if it’s possible take this cup, your will from me.” Reflecting upon his words, Jesus alters his request to include “not mine but your will be done.” Before completing his prayer, Jesus accepts his fate, surrendering to God with the words, “thy will be done.” May Jesus’ prayer help you to transition from frustration toward finality by embracing God’s will for your life.

by Jay Mankus

Before Anything Gets Lost It Becomes Loose

Initial signs that there may be something wrong in your life are subtle. Normal wear and tear may result in an occasional squeak or rattle. These vague warning signals may be ignored if time constraints, exhaustion or pressure exists. Unless routine maintenance is performed, cars, possessions, relationships and souls will continue to deteriorate. If no action is taken, things will become loose, fall off and get lost if neglected.

So he went with them; and when they came to the Jordan, they cut down [some of] the trees. But it happened that as one was cutting down a beam, the axe head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Oh no, my master! It was borrowed!” – 2 Kings 6:4-5

In the Old Testament, a servant of Elisha began to chomp down some trees along the banks of the Jordan River. The sound of each power HACK, one after another drowned out any hint that this axe was about to break. Borrowed from a neighbor, this servant wasn’t treating this tool in a malicious manner. Rather, the thought of clearing a small section of woods next to the river brought on adrenaline to get this job done as soon as possible.

The man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut off a stick and threw it in there, and made the iron [axe head] float. He said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out with his hand and took it, 2 Kings 6:6-7.

Nobody knows the exact time or place when one of your possessions will break. In a span of a few weeks, two cars that I was driving broke down on three different occasions, the last on Interstate 95 this year. How you respond to these unfortunate events will reveal your true character. The only description of this servant in the passage above is a man of God. Instead of complaining, this man immediately turned to prayer and a prophet for help. In an instant, that which was lost is found. May this blog awaken you to the principle before something gets lost it becomes loose.

by Jay Mankus

No Substitute Will Do

As a former teacher, I despised planning for my days off, putting together lesson plans for a substitute.  While this replacement for a class, day or week tries their best to follow the material provided, students will do all they can to battle for a movie day or study hall.  When I returned back to the classroom, I was usually disappointed by the lack of progress that was made.  Although there are several excellent full time subs, some individuals are impossible to replace.

And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed, Acts 14:23.

As an adult, I struggle to focus when I attend a church service and the senior pastor is off or out of town.  Maybe once or twice the guest speaker is just as good, but usually there is a big drop off.  When worship leaders are absent or the A team is away playing for another service, there is usually a noticeable difference.  Whenever superior talent is replaced by an alternate or reserve, these fill ins are put into a no win situation.  If surprisingly good, regulars might feel threatened.  When someone fails miserably, you will likely lose this volunteer, to avoid future embarrassment.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone, Hebrews 2:9.

These illustrations prove that no substitute will do for certain scenarios.  For example, attending church from an off campus sight or virtually on an electronic device is a growing trend.  When pastors or worship teams aren’t available, newly planted churches can participate by watching from a large screen.  If you are not careful, it’s easy to withdraw, staying home to listen to sermons and worship.  I must confess that I have fallen prey to this trap.  I rationalize my actions by listening to two to three sermons each Sunday.  Yet, when it comes to being part of a local congregation, no substitute will do.  God designed the body of Christ around imitate relationships.  Thus. getting involved means going to church, fellowshipping with others and making yourself vulnerable to God.

by Jay Mankus

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