Christians seem to have a hard time praying. They spend their days worrying, fretting, because they don’t have an answer to their problems. They talk to friends, seek out counselors, read self-help books, listen to podcasts, almost anything to avoid getting on their knees before God. But the Word is clear that we are to go to God first: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
David boasted, “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3). He was saying, “I’ve proven you, God! In all my trials, I turned to no one else. I sought only you and you heard me, answered me, and gave me strength for the battle I was facing.”
Additionally, “The Lord … hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).
These are but a few of the promises given as evidence of God’s care. How could any Christian miss them? Yet, when it comes to prayer, the Bible gives us more than promises; it also gives us warnings about the danger of neglecting prayer: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). The Greek word for neglect here means “showing little concern; to take lightly.”
The context of this verse is a discussion of the things related to our salvation — and prayer is obviously one of those. God is asking, “How will you know and recognize my voice in dark days if you haven’t learned to hear it in your secret closet?” It’s hard to understand how God’s own people — who are under constant attack from hell, facing trouble and temptations on all sides — can go week after week without seeking him.
Some Christians need to change their priorities. They find time for visiting with friends, washing the car, shopping, dining out, watching sports — the list could go on and on — but they simply don’t make time to pray. Their lives would be so much richer and more effective in every way if they would put Jesus at the very top of their list.
“Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing” (Psalm 34:10). I encourage you to go to your secret place of prayer regularly and seek him with all your heart.
We know that Jesus won the victory for us at Calvary when he defeated death, Satan and the power of sin. The question remaining for believers is, “Now what? I know Jesus won my victory on the cross, but where is his victory for the conflict raging in my life right now?”
When Jesus became your Savior, he made you a new creation but although you were changed, the world remained the same. And because of this, there are powers that align themselves against you — the world, the devil and even your own flesh — warring against your spirit.
Some battles are external, such as attacks on our marriage, our finances, our children. Other battles are internal, such as worry, depression, anxiety. “Can my marriage survive?” “Will my child ever come to the Lord?” “Am I even worthy to call myself a Christian?” All these pressures push us toward doubt and despair, causing us to wonder if God is in all that is going on in our daily lives.
We may take a stand against Satan and draw a line in the sand, as it were, but not see any progress. That’s what happened to Israel as they faced the Philistines. “The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them” (17:3). Saul lined up all his men to stop the Philistines’ advance, achieving a kind of standoff. But did that stop the enemy? Not at all. In fact, the Philistines brought out an even greater weapon in the person of Goliath.
We all know the story of Goliath, the giant who taunted Israel’s mighty warriors until they were dismayed and filled with shame. Satan uses the same tactics against us, trying to intimidate and shame us until we say with the young conqueror, David: “The Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s” (17:46-47). There was no sword in David’s hand but his gigantic enemy didn’t have a chance because the battle was the Lord’s!
Jesus triumphed on the cross and your victory is secured! God will do battle for you as you trust him.
The writings of the apostle Paul clearly show that his preeminent desire in life was to know Jesus. He wanted to be fully yielded to the living Christ whom he was now aware had taken up residence inside his earthly body. He wrote, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Paul was aware of something that we need to rediscover today: We are not called to simply bring the knowledge of God to our generation; we are called to be a visible expression of who God is by allowing him to demonstrate his power, wisdom, grace and love through us.
Paul also made a statement which should encourage us whenever we feel mediocre compared to those we read about in the Bible: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected” (Philippians 3:12). He was essentially saying, “I am not everything that I should be.” Paul was not — and neither are we! But he continued with something very encouraging: “But I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me … forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:12-14).
In other words, “God has a plan for my life, and I am moving forward to fulfill that which Christ has determined to do through me.” One of the hardest things for us to leave behind is our regret. We tend to carry it with us through life — those constant thoughts of, “If only I had done this; if only I had been this; if only I had not been so selfish.” And the list goes on and on.
Paul had a great many reasons to live in regret. For instance, he says, “I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9). And in Acts 26:10-11 he lists even more of his offenses. But he made a deliberate choice to forget those things that were behind him and go forward with Jesus! Likewise, you can choose to lay all your past failings at the cross and walk away from your regrets. He died to give you a new mind and a new heart — receive it by faith!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
We have heard talk of conspiracies down through the years but there is only one conspiracy that concerns our heavenly Father — a scheme aimed directly at Christians who have set their hearts on entering into the fullness of Christ. This conspiracy is meant to thwart God’s plan of raising up an army of sanctified people — men and women totally devoted to the lordship of Jesus in their lives. Let’s call it a conspiracy of interruptions.
The devil is terrified of Christians who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Indeed, he fears praying saints more than he fears a thousand years in chains. The powerful praying of just one intercessor sounds like raging thunder in the caverns of hell. That’s why the devil works so hard to distract and interrupt such a follower of Christ.
One of the favorite ploys of the enemy is to present human need that demands our attention. We cry out, “Lord, how can I turn away and neglect those who are hurting?” The answer from the Lord is, “How can you neglect me?” This is the crux of the issue.
Can anyone or anything ever be more important to us than our Lord? Should any need or hurt ever keep us from meeting with the Lord himself? Even Jesus drew away from the massive human need all around him so that he could quietly communicate with his heavenly Father. There comes a time in every Christian’s life when he has to say, “You can wait. I’ll be back but first I have to spend time in prayer. My soul is hungry and I must feed on God’s Word. If I don’t spend time alone with the Lord, I’ll have nothing to offer you but my feeble human compassion.”
In order to guard your prayer time and withstand all satanic conspiracies, you can do three things:
Make communion with the Lord your primary goal in life. Job declared, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
Consider your appointments with God more sacred than any appointments with people — no matter who they are!
Reject every interruption that is within your power and take spiritual authority over those interruptions you discern to be supernatural.
Enter into the fullness of your walk with Christ, as God has planned for you.
The Old Testament tells us of Jacob, a deceiving, conniving, cheating man — whom God loved dearly! His life is filled with marvelous lessons for us about God’s dealings with human nature.
Let’s pick up Jacob’s story just as he is fleeing from his older twin brother, Esau. Jacob had tricked Esau out of his birthright and obtained the “double blessing” from his father Isaac that was due the firstborn male. This blessing included all the father’s possessions but, most importantly, it meant that Jacob was the progenitor of the patriarchal seed through which Christ would come: “In you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 28:14). He was a direct ancestor of the Messiah.
Obviously, this particular birthright was of very great spiritual significance and its importance exposes the awfulness of what Esau did in giving up the right of the firstborn for a mere pot of stew. When Esau learned that Jacob had stolen his blessing, he was determined to kill his brother (see Genesis 27:36, 41).
It was against this backdrop that Jacob set off and while he was on his way, God gave him an incredible vision of a ladder with angels on it going to and from the throne of God, doing his bidding (28:12). These same angels are still working and ministering on our behalf today. After God blessed Jacob (verse 14), he added these wonderful promises: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you” (28:15).
God was giving Jacob an oath, saying, “I’ll never leave you, Jacob. I’ll be with you every step of the way. My purpose will be accomplished in your life no matter what!” It is hard to find any faith, goodness or grace in Jacob and yet God saw something in his heart that brought forth his great love and a desire to bless him. God saw beyond his greed and manipulation and knew that something in Jacob’s heart was willing to be changed.
We know that humans consider the outward appearance but God always looks at the heart. And that is exactly what God is looking for in us — a broken, contrite heart he can work on.