RSS Feed

Tag Archives: praying

Walking in Habitual Fellowship with God

When you read the four gospels in the New Testament of the Bible, the majority of the travel over land occurs while walking. These trips throughout the eastern Mediterranean region of the Middle East often occur in groups. Jesus sent the other seventy disciples in Luke 10 in pairs of two. Meanwhile, the twelve disciples walked together from place to place, observing and watching their spiritual leader. As Matthew, Mark, Luke and John reflect upon Jesus’ life on earth, He walked in habitual fellowship with God.

Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God after the birth of Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him], Genesis 5:22-24.

After the first six generations of descendants of Adam were mediocre at best, a shining star is born to Jared and his wife not mentioned by Moses. While the first boy in the Bible called Enoch is Cain’s first son who he built a city in his honor, Moses does not reveal Jared’s inspiration for naming his first son Enoch. The key point to remember about this second Enoch of the Bible is that he habitually walked with God daily. Enoch made the Lord his best friend on earth, praying to Him without ceasing.

And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a [u]deserted place, and there He prayed. 36 And Simon [Peter] and those who were with him followed Him [[v]pursuing Him eagerly and hunting Him out], 37 And they found Him and said to Him, Everybody is looking for You. 38 And He said to them, Let us be going on into the neighboring country towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out. 39 [So] He went throughout the whole of Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons, Mark 1:35-39.

The best example of what habitually walking with God resembles comes from the passage above. John Mark recalls an account from one of the disciples who went searching for Jesus early one morning. As the twelve disciples became stressed out, Jesus was receiving instructions from the Holy Spirit on where to go and what to do, Galatians 5:25. Jesus modeled how to keep in step with the Holy Spirit by his spiritual discipline of an early morning walk and time of prayer. As 2023 approaches, may you be inspired to devote next year to habitually walking in fellowship with God.

by Jay Mankus

A Life Lesson Worthy of a Sermon

Jesus introduced the concept of spiritual life lessons during a conversation with a Pharisee described in John 3:1-21. As part of Jesus’ inner circle, John was either nearby praying or eavesdropping when this took place. Nicodemus wanted to know more about Jesus’ controversial teaching but was afraid of what his Jewish peers might think so he met with Jesus under the cover of darkness. Jesus spoke about the need to be spiritually reborn which Nick greets with sarcasm. As Jesus continues, Nick is left speechless.

And Cain said to his brother, [b]Let us go out to the field. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? 10 And [the Lord] said, What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed by reason of the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s [shed] blood from your hand, Genesis 4:8-11.

After Adam and Eve experienced conviction and shame following a bite from the Tree of Knowledge, more emotions are introduced by Moses in Genesis 4. Cain followed in his father’s footsteps as a farmer, enduring the same curse placed upon the earth’s ground as fertile soil surrounding Eden transitioned into an arid desert. Meanwhile, Abel decided to become a shepherd who could move his flock when a land ceased to grow grass. As Cain struggled daily, Abel began to prosper.

But I say to you that everyone who continues to be [ad]angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be [ae]liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be [af]liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You [ag]cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be [ah]liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire. 23 So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, 24 Leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way traveling with him, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison, Matthew 5:22-25.

When God asked each man to provide what the Bible refers to a first fruits offering, Abel freely departed with his firstborn sheep. This gift pleased the Lord greatly. When Cain scrounged up what he could from his fields, God was not impressed with his offering. According to Genesis 4:6-7, Cain had become bitter, envious, jealous and deeply depressed. Seeing Cain’s downcast disposition, God approached Cain, intervening this time before he could make a brash decision like his parents in the garden.

But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. 15 This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal). 16 For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices, James 3:14-16.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, one of the first topics mentioned after the Beatitudes is properly dealing with a jealous heart. If you allow envy or jealousy to fester, Ephesians 4:26-28, this allows the Devil to get a foothold inside of you. Subsequently, Jesus equates hatred with murder as the more jealousy takes control of your emotions, your sinful nature starts to plant thoughts within your mind on how to get rid of this threat. Cain listened to and acted upon his thoughts. May Cain’s story help you stop envy and jealousy before it takes root and poisons your soul.

by Jay Mankus

You Are How You Pray

Due to several consecutive weeks of mandatory overtime, my spiritual routine has fallen off the tracks. In the past few weeks, whenever I have skipped my personal prayer and Bible Study for the day, something bad has happened to me or members of my family. While some of you may say you’re reading too much into these unfortunate situations, I want to remind me of the book “You Are What You Eat.” Using the content of this material, I believe you are how you pray.

Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); 17 Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; 18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will], 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

When you attend a Bible Study or Prayer Group, it’s easy to recognize an individual with an active prayer life. My first experience praying out loud was a men’s prayer group in college. I initially went just to listen, learning how other people prayed. After I realized prayer is merely pouring your heart out to God, I started to join in. Like eating right and exercising daily, praying has always been a struggle for me. While studying the Bible comes natural for me, incorporating the Bible into prayer is a work in progress.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. 12 Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer, Romans 12:11-12.

The apostle Paul blames a lack of spiritual zeal for a drop-off in a Christian’s prayer life. You’re tired so you make a conscience decision to skip your time with God. You miss one day, then another. Before you know it, a whole week has passed before the last time you prayed. Living on a Prayer may have worked for Bon Jovi, but not in this age of spiritual darkness. While God doesn’t promise to answer your prayers, keep on knocking, Matthew 7:7-12, like the persistent widow in Luke 18.

by Jay Mankus

What Do You Need Help with Today?

Jesus models how to seek help from God daily in Mark 1:35-39. Jesus first took a walk every in the morning to clear His mind. After finding a solitary place where He could concentrate, Jesus began to pray in this place, pouring his heart out to His heavenly father. While John Mark doesn’t mention the length of Jesus’ prayer time, apparently, He had just concluded praying when the disciples found Him.

I have told you these things while I am still with you. 26 But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, 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 cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you, John 14:25-26.

While I haven’t taught in a decade and coached in 7 years, I have developed an eye and ear to help those in need. As long as I don’t put blinders on, I recognize the needs of my co-workers. Unfortunately, a lack of motivation often causes me to commit sins of inaction, James 4:14-17. Rather than be the hands and feet of Jesus, selfish ambitions and my sinful nature prevent me from doing what I know is right, Romans 7:15-17.

And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires. 25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit [g]we have our life in God, let us go forward [h]walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.] 26 Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another, Galatians 5:24-26.

According to the apostle Paul, the solution to human nature is keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. Just like Jesus fought off the desire to sleep in (hitting the snooze button today), the Spirit is willing but human bodies are weak, Matthew 26:41. Paul writes about willing your body like a professional athlete in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. If you’re like me, still struggling to constantly seek out those in need, pray verses Matthew 26:41 and Galatians 5:25 so God’s Spirit prevails, transforming you into a servant of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The Cure for a Troubled Mind

A troubled mind is like being a parent at a little league game. One error leads to another as a ground ball in the infield ends up becoming an inside the park homeroom. Great for the hitter who never stops running and gut-wrenching for the fielding team. As a former coach, I once watched my catcher not know the rule for a dropped third strike with the bases loaded. Electing to throw the ball to first rather than step on home plate, he airmailed first by 10 feet. As my right fielder loafed to the ball, all 4 runners scored.

Remember [earnestly] also your Creator [that you are not your own, but His property now] in the days of your youth, before the evil days come or the years draw near when you will say [of physical pleasures], I have no enjoyment in them—Ecclesiastes 12:1.

King Solomon suggests that troubled minds are a byproduct of forgetting God. I find this to be true in my own life when a go a few days without reading the Bible or praying. Rather than keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, I begin to feed my earthly desires, Romans 8:5-8. The apostle Paul goes on to explain in chapter 8 that a carnal mind can’t not please God. This points to the spiritual frustration within Cain in Genesis 4:5-8. Cain’s troubled mind made him to act out rather than submit to fruits of the Spirit.

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with the great majority of them, for they were overthrown and strewn down along [the ground] in the wilderness. Now these things are examples (warnings and admonitions) for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:5-6.

The apostle Paul uses history as a way to prevent yourself from making the same mistakes over and over again in life. Providing a brief summary of Israel’s past failures, Paul claims that these serve as warnings to not crave, covet or indulge your sinful nature. Denzel Washington uses a nearby field in Gettysburg in the film Remember the Titans to communicate to his players, “if we don’t learn from this battle, we too will be destroyed.” Thus, the cure for a troubled mind is seeking daily reminders from the Bible on how to live.

by Jay Mankus

Silence in Heaven

Earth is filled with emotions that lift human beings up to new heights and plummet others to the depths of depression. While reading one of Jesus’ parables, I discovered what causes mood swings in heaven. Whenever a lost soul repents and turns their life back to God, there are immediate celebrations. The Parable of the Lost Sheep illustrates the power of God’s love and its influence upon wayward sinners.

And when he gets home, he summons together [his] friends and [his] neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep which was lost. Thus, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one [[c]especially] wicked person who repents ([d]changes his mind, abhorring his errors and misdeeds, and determines to enter upon a better course of life) than over ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need of repentance, Luke 15:6-7.

Yet, one of Jesus’ former disciples writes about a side of heaven few people consider. According to John, there was 30 minutes of silence in heaven. Based upon the context of the passage below, this silence was due to anticipation and fear of what was about to occur. Perhaps, this time of silence was spent quietly praying for residents on earth, to prepare them for the tribulations to come.

When He [the Lamb] broke open the seventh seal, there was silence for about half an hour in heaven. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets, Revelation 8:1-2.

One of the things that causes me to become silent is being shocked. When something doesn’t go as I expect or takes an unusual twist that throws me for a loop, I’m speechless. Stunned by what just happened, I’m silent until I make sense in my mind why God allowed this to happen to me. Whether you’re watching a thrilling movie or sporting event, silence serves as a processing method to accept current events. May this blog help you consider what’s going on in your life through moments of silence.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 71: Pray for Rain

Today’s group began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, disbanded in 1997 and reunited in Nashville, Tennessee three years later. To avoid a lawsuit, Prayer for Rain shortened their name to PFR upon their return to the concert circuit. “Pray for Rain” is a line from a poem that touched band member Patrick Andrew who convinced the group to adopt this name in 1992.

Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand), Jeremiah 33:3.

From a genre perspective, PFR is the closest sound the Christian music industry has to a modern-day Beatles. When you listen to Pray For Run, you’ll sense and recognize how the Beatles influenced PFR’s distinct sound. The lyrics of Pray For Run speak to individuals who become comfortably numb, praying for rain to snap them out of their spiritual slumber. I hope you enjoy one of PFR’s first hit songs.

by Jay Mankus

The Casting Grounds

While growing up in New Jersey, my father took the entire month of August off of work. Since my father was in sales, he discovered a cabin for rent on a Thompson Lake in Maine. This experience opened my eyes to dirt roads and weekly trips to the dump. My father loaded up the back of our station wagon with trash bags and the kids were responsible for throwing them out the back. Little did I know that visiting these casting grounds 45 years ago prepared me for unloading my own burdens to the Lord in prayer.

Casting the [c]whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, [d]once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you [e]watchfully, 1 Peter 5:7.

Whether you’re young, old, or somewhere in between, life is filled with daily anxieties, concerns, and stress. If you don’t have someone to talk to on a weekly basis, these burdens will accumulate quickly. As a child, my only worries were making new friends and praying that one of my stuttering fits didn’t occur at school. Unfortunately, the older you get, life seems to become more complicated with overwhelming stress that can suck the life out of your soul. This is the context in which Jesus is referring to in the passage below.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [o]ease and relieve and [p]refresh [q]your souls.] 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([r]relief and ease and refreshment and [s]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, [t]good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne, Matthew 11:28-30.

One of roles of prayer is to provide a spiritual casting ground where troubled and worn-out Christians can unload their burdens. The key is you have to let go of each individual concern and let God cast it as far as the east is from the west, Psalm 103:10-12. Don’t take back these anxieties, concerns, and worries after you have said Amen. Rather, cast these burdens like I threw trash bags at the local dump in Maine. If you have to, use visualization to unload all of your troubles so that after praying you will find rest for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Removing the Leeches from Your Life

Leeches are an aquatic or terrestrial annelid worm with suckers at both ends of its body. Many species of leeches are bloodsucking parasites that are hard to remove once attached. My first encounter with a leech was in the state of Maine. Unaware of this native species, I was walking in swallow water when I first got attacked. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of using my finger to remove it which only made matters worse. This traumatic experience at age 7 made me want to immediately remove leeches from my life.

Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power. 13 Food [is intended] for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will finally end [the functions of] both and bring them to nothing. The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but [is intended] for the Lord, and the Lord [is intended] for the body [[a]to save, sanctify, and raise it again], 1 Corinthians 6:12-13.

From a spiritual perspective, a leech can be anyone or anything that clings, drains, and or sucks the joy from your life. The imagery used by Jesus in John 10:10 compares the Devil to a spiritual leech. This invisible force seeks to steal, kill, and destroy lives. While praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus explains why it’s so hard to control human bodies. God’s Spirit is willing to help you remove the leeches from your life, but the human flesh is weak.

Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a [b]preciousness and paid for, [c]made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.

This weakness is exposed through addictions, bad habits, and unwholesome cravings that individuals pick up over the course of their lives. While these inner desires may bring temporary pleasures, human bodies develop a dependency upon these highs that result in less and less satisfaction. In the passage above, the apostle Paul warns Christians against sexual immorality. This type of sin results in soul ties that make it harder to break free from. Perhaps viewing your body as a spiritual temple of God will give you the necessary motivation to remove all the leeches from your life in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

The Father of All Light

Exodus 8 reveals an important lesson about light and life. When King Pharaoh could not explain some of the miracles performed by Aaron and Moses, he sent for magicians who were actually able to duplicate the first two. Moses claimed that enchantments and secret arts allowed these magicians to turn water into blood and call forth frogs from the waters to fill the land. Yet, when these magicians were unable to bring forth gnats or mosquitoes, these men came to the conclusion that this was the finger of God, Exodus 8:18-19.

For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah). 14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light; 15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

According to the apostle Paul, Satan possessed similar powers in the first century. Apparently, Lucifer was able to retain some of his archangel abilities as Paul describes him as the ruler of the air, Ephesus 2:2. Just like the Egyptian magicians thousands of years ago, some modern leaders continue to masquerade as spurious counterfeits of faith today. Yet, at some point in time these individuals will be exposed as their hidden agendas and motives will be uncovered by the Father of all Light. Nonetheless, free will provides the power hungry with an excuse to see how much they can get away with in the darkness.

Every good gift and every perfect ([d]free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse], James 1:17.

When you grow up with a big brother who is perfect, you start to follow him around to find out the secret of his success. Apparently, James likely spied on Jesus while He was praying with His heavenly Father. While he may not have gotten as close as he wanted to hear every word spoken, James came to the conclusion that the Father of Light is what made Jesus who He was. Sharing eyewitness testimony, James wants every first century Christian to know that it is the God of heaven who is the giver of all good things. There is no doubt about it so don’t be deceived by luck, chance or coincidences.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: