“Prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer has become impossible and your heart has turned to stone. If you have never had any distractions you don’t know how to pray. For the secret of prayer is a hunger for God and for the vision of God, a hunger that lies far deeper than the level of language or affection.” Thomas Merton
…he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit… Titus 3:5
She was not a skeptic or an agnostic…neither was she looking for an argument. The question came from a cultured, refined woman who asked in sincerity, “Dr. Sala, what is a Christian?” Strangely enough, if you ask the question of twenty different individuals as I have done, you would probably come up with twenty different answers. Often when someone answers that question, “What is a Christian?” they describe certain activities that are associated with the Christian life. Here are a few typical examples:
“A Christian is one who goes to church,” or, “A Christian is one who does not cheat on his taxes or his mate.” In reality, being a Christian has no direct correspondence with the number of hours you may spend in a church, or where you were born, or the habits that govern your life. These are results, not the root cause of being a Christian. Incidentally, those who first were called Christians were called that in derision in the city of Antioch in the first century. The term stuck and followers of Jesus have been called Christians ever since.
The word Christian is a diminutive of the word “Christ” and actually means “a little Christ.” In simple terms, I think of a Christian as one who has had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, and as the result of receiving Him into his or her life begins to follow Him. Too simple? Perhaps it is. Understanding what really happens may make it easier to comprehend.
The Bible tells us that when man was created, there was a beautiful oneness, and we did not sense that feeling of separation which makes God seem so far away. The separation which results in estrangement and loneliness was the result of man’s saying, “God, get out of my life and let me choose my way.” The prophet Isaiah put it like this, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way.” This wanting to go our own way is the very essence of what the Bible describes as sin.
Over the centuries, man has done his best to prove to God that he is really a pretty good fellow, but someway our very best falls short of what God demands. This is why Paul said, “We are saved not by works of righteousness or human effort, but completely by God’s grace” (Titus 3:5). Man’s total failure to be good enough to please God resulted in Christ’s coming from heaven to earth, bridging the separation between us and God. When Christ died, God was willing to accept His death in place of ours so that we could be forgiven and a new relationship with God could be established.
One more thing: becoming a Christian involves personally accepting by faith what I have just shared with you. Jesus Christ Himself put it like this, “I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and will open the door, I will come into his heart and have fellowship with him and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
In the city of London stands one of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals, St. Paul’s, and just off the nave of the church hangs a famous painting of Christ based on the words of Jesus which I quoted. It shows Christ standing at the door of a home knocking. On one occasion a visitor stood and observed that the picture had no handle on the outside of the door. He pointed this out to the painter, Holman Hunt, indicating that the painting was unfinished. Then Mr. Hunt replied, “No, there is no handle on the outside because only you can open the door from within.”
And so it is, Christ promises to come into our life at our invitation, but He never forces Himself upon us. It is up to each person to decide what he will do with Jesus. “As many as receive Him,” said the Apostle John, “to them God gives power to become His children, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12). And that is what being a Christian is all about.
Resource reading: John 1: 35-51.
Prayer Lays the Foundation for Everything
Matthew 21:21-22 says; Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
In building any and everything, in and for God, there are some basic building principles that must be adhered to. Just like with any natural building, its foundation is the strength behind the structure of that building. The foundation dictates the height, width, and weight of a building. A small foundation dictates that you have a small building. A deep and wide foundation dictates that you can have a building of some size and height. In God s Kingdom prayer (communication with and faith) is the foundation for all things. Prayer is the principle component that you need to build or do anything in, or for God.
One day the Lord showed me that prayer can cause you to fly somewhat in the spirit, but praise, which should be an important part of your prayer, causes you to soar or fly high. To put this in layman s terms, when you pray, things begin to happen in the spirit and manifest in the natural up to a certain measure, but praise causes you to have abundant breakthrough on a constant basis.
The word prayer in Hebrew is tephillah (pronounced tef-il-law), meaning intercession, and supplication. Now supplication means to petition or request. When you pray you are either interceding (praying on behalf of someone or something else, other than your own person) or you are making supplications (request) onto the Lord.
Not Only Is The Foundation Prayer, But The Whole House Is Prayer.
The Word of the Lord tells us in both the Old and New Testaments that God s House shall be called a House of Prayer. Matthew 21:13 says;
And he said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Also Isaiah 56:7
Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
You are now the Lord s house and you should have a foundation of prayer established in you.
I Corinthians 6:19-20 says;
What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God s.
You should have constant prayer going on in your life. It is in this kind of atmosphere that God dwells and calls His house. Because you are His temple (His house) you must establish it as a place of prayer.
The Early Church And Prayer.
The early Church laid a foundation of prayer, which brought forth the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4), along with many signs, wonders and miracles. Acts 1:14 says;
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
This same formula must be applied to receive the same results today. As with the early Church, whenever you are called to do anything for God, that call comes with prayer as its foundation and regular activity. You will find this to be true, that whatever you are called to do in, and for God, it will be blessed or hindered by your level of prayer.
Many Christians have been called to do great things, but they have not built the foundations of a strong prayer life, and so, those great things are never realized or brought into manifestation, due to the lack of prayer.
Prayer is like the gasoline that makes your car go. You can have a beautiful car (ministry, Church, ability, and ideas), with all the extras, but a car can do nothing without fuel. Prayer is the fuel that makes your car go, and just like with natural fuel, it can run out, and must constantly be refilled.
Whatever It Is, It Will Always Require Prayer.
Whenever God gives you a mandate, shows you a vision for your life, or reveals His purposes for you, it always requires prayer to establish it, and cause it to continually progress. Whenever I have a strong consistent prayer life, I always see progress in my life and ministry. When my prayer life is not strong, praying a little here and little there, I find myself struggling. During these times, I struggle in every area of ministry, including getting people to come and hear what I know the Lord has given me. It is very frustrating when you know that the Lord has called you to something, yet there is no breakthrough. Prayer causes the initial and continual breakthrough that you need in your life and/or ministry.
To be a strong Christian, or build a strong Church or Ministry, you need more than just ability, you need a strong prayer life. You must learn to discipline yourself to establish a strong prayer life, that is consistent and brings about fruit.
Why Does Prayer Mean So Much?
It is in prayer that we get direction to do what God wants us to do. Now you must understand that the greater the gift or level of power, the greater the direction needed from God to use it. So, if you don t have a strong prayer life, you don t have the necessary direction to use or operate the great power or Anointing that you seek, which without God s constant direction can cause great damage. You can do nothing without God, and so the enemy tries to keep you distracted, so that you can not be in God s presence, which would enable you to do what He has called and purpose you to do.
Prayer keeps us connected to God, helping us to not get misdirected by the devil or be prideful regarding any ability in ourselves.
Prayer And Power.
The power and Anointing is founded and brought forth in your prayer closet. This includes other gifts. I have found that when I am in prayer God begins to reveal to me great teachings and books that I know I could not do or understand in my own limited knowledge. Most of my teachings are birthed in the prayer closet. It is in prayer that the foundations for signs, miracles, wonders, healings, deliverance, utterances, revelations, wisdom, and knowledge is laid. The foundation that you receive in prayer may be instructions, direction, empowerment, etc It all happens, begins, and is maintained in prayer.
The Lord told me that My people have to stay in my face. Only here will they get continual strength.
Beloved child of God, when the Church (you) begins to pray, you lay the foundations for the miraculous. Acts 4:24-31 gives us an example of this truth, it reads;
And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
Who by thy mouth thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
And now, Lord, behold their threatening: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Also Acts 12:5-11 speaks of how the Church was praying for the Apostle Peter, which caused God to send an Angel to free him. Your prayers hold great power.
When we examine the lives of most of the great servants of God in the Bible, we find in each of their lives a strong prayer life. Jesus was constantly in prayer as well. Luke 5:16 says;
And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
Also Mark 1:35 says;
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
It was not just public prayer that Jesus did, rather He would get alone with God the Father to have those intimate moments of the heart. It was at these times that strength and direction was given. It is also here (alone in prayer with God) that you will receive the necessary strength and direction for your life.
Lets look at the lives of some of God s servants and the work that prayer accomplished in their lives. Peter laid a foundation of prayer for resurrection in Acts 9:40-41, which reads;
But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
Elijah prayed and laid the foundation for the resurrection of the widows son in I Kings 17:19-22 it reads;
And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
And cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child s soul come into him again.
And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
Elisha prayed and laid the foundation for the resurrection of the Shunammite woman s son in II Kings 4:32-35, it reads;
And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.
He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord.
And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.
Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
Jesus prayed and laid the foundation for the resurrection of the dead on more than one occasion. Again, it is prayer that lays the foundation for everything in God. Prayer lays the foundation for miracles of every sort.
It s In The Asking (Petitioning Prayer).
When the children of the Living God begin to ask Him in faith, He then answers with the results that we have requested. If you do not ask, you will not receive. Again, Matthew 21:22 says;
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Your prayer lays the foundation for receiving all that you need from the Lord. Please don t believe that God has forsaken you, for He will never leave you nor forsake you. Just begin to ask in faith or believing that God will answer. Don t look for the answer to come this way or that way, rather expect it to come God s way, and in God s time. Your job is to just believe that it will come. Looking for the way it will come will always cause doubt, when it does not manifest the way that you wanted. Don t tell God how to answer you, just expect Him to do it, because His Word said that He would.
Whatever It Is, Put It In Prayer.
Whatever you need is supplied in prayer. When you need a revelation of truth or direction, pray about it and it will come. Elisha prayed that God would open the eyes of His servant, so that he could see the armies of Heaven who were on their side, II Kings 6:17 says;
And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
Not only did God give this revelation because of prayer, but He also smote the eyes of the Syrian army that were come for Elisha with blindness, II Kings 6:18 says;
And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And He smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.
This revelation and miracle happened because of the foundations of prayer. Cornelius got a revelation also, which gave him direction from the Lord, by a visitation from a messenger of God (Acts 10:30-33). Some people wonder why they are not seeing miracles or hearing from God in the night season? My answer to them is raise your level of prayer and expect God to do what He said, as you honor and do what He told you to do.
How important is the foundations of prayer? It is of utmost importance, for it opens the door to the resources of God for His children, so that every need, every request and often every desire that is submitted to God is met.
Even when we are dealing with deliverance (casting out demons), prayer is necessary. Jesus declared that certain spirits could not be cast out without laying a foundation of prayer. Matthew 17:21 says;
Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Prayer Can Restore What Was Lost.
When you establish a foundation of prayer, it can restore what was lost to you. Samson lost his strength, but it was restored to him through prayer. Judges 16:28-30 says;
And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.
And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
Just like Samson, if you have suffered loss for any reason, repent for your part and begin to pray for restoration and it will come, as the Lord sees fit.
God is calling this generation into prayer. Don t be too busy or distracted by all of the busyness of our day to sit with and talk to the greatest one of all, the Living God. Crucify your flesh, and lay before God daily, seeking His face and expecting His directions and provisions. Beloved, remember that God hears and responds to your prayers regarding any, and everything. When you seek to see the sick healed, you must know and employ prayer as your foundation. If you want to do anything in the Lord Pray!
Here is an equation that you can follow (get and do these things):
The Character Of God + Faith + Prayer = Godly Results
There is something else that you need to understand and that is a prerequisite for effective prayer. You need to repent (turn away from doing and feel sorrow) of all sin, which causes righteousness (right standing with God). Right standing with God causes the ear of God to be open to your voice (Isaiah 59:1-2). You must strive to live holy.
Beloved, if your lacking anything, then it could be because of a lack of prayer or a need for an increase in your prayer life. Often when I am not praying sufficiently, God gives me close to what I need, but not exactly what I need or above what I need. Why does this happen? Because God knows that I need His direction in life daily, and if He just met every need before I sought Him out, then I probably would not seek His face, and thus would be headed toward disaster. When I don t have a strong prayer life, lack causes me to seek God out in prayer, and thus He meets the full measure of my need at this point. If you are finding yourself just a little short, time, after time, after time, perhaps there is something that God is trying to get across to you, and the only place to truly receive the answers that you need is in prayer.
Pray Without Ceasing!
By the Holy Spirit through Tony Owens of House Of David Ministries and Tony Owens Ministries
Why are more than a billion people around the world abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex from dawn to sunset this month? They are Muslims who are fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of the religion of Islam and one of the highest forms of Islamic worship. Abstinence from earthly pleasures and curbing evil intentions and desires is regarded as an act of obedience and submission to God (Allah is the Arabic word referring to “the one God”) as well as an atonement for sins, errors, and mistakes.
Called Ramadan (or Ramazan), Muslims fast during this month from the moment when it first starts to get light until sunset. They fast as an act of faith and worship towards God, seeking to suppress their desires and increase their spiritual piety. Fasting together as a worldwide community (Ummah) affirms the brotherhood and equality of man before God.
WHEN IS RAMADAN?
Muslims follow a lunar calendar which is approximately 10 or 11 days shorter each year. The month of Ramadan is the ninth month and officially begins with a combination of the sighting of the new moon and astronomical calculations. Some Muslim authorities rely more heavily on the physical sighting of the new moon than on scientific calculations. An Imam (Muslim holy man) will declare the exact time of Ramadan just prior to its commencement. The fasting period ends upon the sighting of the next new moon, which occurs after 29 or 30 days.
In 2018, Ramadan begins in the entire U.S. on May 15 and concludes on June 14. In some other parts of the world, it begins on slightly different dates. The exact date is not the same in all parts of the world because the actual time when the “new moon” begins varies around the world. So that we might initiate our prayer focus when Muslims first begin Ramadan, we will start May 15.
WHAT’S RAMADAN ALL ABOUT?
The name Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word ramida or ar-ramad, denoting intense scorching heat and dryness, especially the ground. From the same word there is ramdaa, meaning “sunbaked sand” and the famous proverb kal mustajeer minar ramadaa binnar — to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. Some say it is so called because Ramadan scorches out the sins with good deeds, as the sun burns the ground.
Ramadan brings out a special feeling of emotional excitement and religious zeal among Muslims of all ages. Though fasting is mandatory only for adults, children as young as eight willingly observe fasting with their elders. Children look forward to the excitement of sighting the moon and eating special meals with their families. Adults appreciate the opportunity to double their rewards from God and seek forgiveness for past sins. As Ramadan emphasizes Muslim brotherhood and community, all feel a particular closeness towards their Creator and amongst their family and friends.
Muslims must adapt themselves both physically and emotionally during these 30 long days of fasting. A typical day of fasting begins with getting up early, around 4:30 a.m. and sharing a meal called sahur together before the fast begins at dawn, about 5:10 a.m. As dawn breaks, Fajr, the first of five daily prayers is offered.
As the day proceeds, fasting Muslims are constantly bombarded with messages from their stomachs that it is time for breakfast, snack, lunch, and so on. And each time, Muslims remind themselves that they are fasting for the sole purpose of pleasing God and seeking his mercy. They offer the second and third prayers during early and late afternoon, respectively. Fasting helps one to experience how a hungry person feels and what it is like to have an empty stomach. It teaches one to share the sufferings of the less fortunate. Muslims believe that fasting leads one to appreciate the bounties of God, which are usually taken for granted – until they are missed!
Throughout the day Muslims are encouraged to go out of their way to help the needy, both financially and emotionally. Some believe that a reward earned during this month is multiplied 70 times and more. For this reason, Ramadan is also known as the month of charity and generosity.
RAMADAN IS MORE THAN JUST FASTING
To a Muslim, fasting not only means abstaining from food, but also refraining from all vice and evils committed consciously or unconsciously. It is believed that if one voluntarily refrains from lawful foods and sex during Ramadan, he will develop self-restraint and be more able to avoid unlawful things and acts the rest of the year.
The fast is broken at sunset. The Prophet Muhammed recommended breaking the fast with a meal of dates. Muslims are urged to invite others to break the fast with them. These gatherings are called iftar parties.
Just after breaking the fast but before dinner, Muslims offer the fourth of the five daily prayers, which is called the Maghrib prayer. After dinner, Muslims go to their houses of worship, called mosques, to offer the Isha prayer, which is the last of the five daily prayers. The day ends with a special voluntary prayer, the Taraweeh, offered by the congregation reciting the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam.
CLOSING THE MONTH OFF
The last ten days of Ramadan are considered highly blessed, especially the 27th night which is called laylat al-qadr – the “Night of Power,” or the “Night of Destiny.” It is believed that on this night the prophet Muhammed received the first revelation of the Qur’an. For many Muslims, this 10-day period is marked by a heightened spiritual intensity, and they may spend these nights praying and reciting the Qur’an.
After 30 days of fasting, the end of the month of Ramadan is observed with a day of celebration called Eid-ul-Fitr. On this day, Muslims gather in one place to offer a prayer of thanks. It is traditional to wear new clothes, visit friends and relatives, exchange gifts, eat delicious dishes prepared for this occasion, and wait patiently for the next year.
CHRISTIANS AND FASTING
In the Bible, we do not find any one method of fasting required of us, but the Lord Jesus did say however, “when you fast…” (Matthew 6:16), seeming to assume that His followers would imitate His own example. We fast as an outward symbol of our devotion to God, being willing to deny ourselves food for His sake. Fasting adds intensity to our prayer, and often leads to breakthroughs. We do not fast to convince or persuade God, but rather to identify with His broken heart and with His desire for all mankind to know Him.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out?” (Isaiah 58:6-7)