A New Beginning

1st Quarter 2018

At the beginning of a new year I like to set new goals for the year. At the top of the list I write losing weight or exercising daily. Sometimes I follow through on my goals and some are dropped along the way.

However, this year I have set a goal I feel sure I will follow through to the end of the year. I have determined to pray my way through the Psalms verse by verse. I began Jan 1 with Psalm 1:1. I have not been disappointed in my reading. Often it is difficult to lay aside cares and worries of this life and the realm of prayer seems difficult to enter, but when the Word of God opens the door, you can step easily into His presence.

Psalm 1 begins with “Blessed is the man….” As I read the first verse of the Psalm, I saw that a blessed person does not do certain things. What then should a blessed person do? A blessed person walks in the counsel of the righteous. He stands in the way with the saints of God. He sits with believers where they are. He delights in the Word of God and thinks on it often.

What about men who do not follow in the path God sets out for them? They follow the counsel of the wicked or ungodly that leads to frustration.The path of the sinner leads to destruction, and the seat of the scoffers leads to emptiness. I had to stop and consider how often I thought on the Word during my day or whose counsel was I following, godly or worldly? It is easy to get caught up in the latest positive thinking position or popular psychological babble.

Only delight in the Word of God leads to fulfillment.

With the help of God we are energized and enabled to walk in the counsel of the righteous, stand in the assembly of the body of Christ, and sit with the believers. To delight in the Word of God is to be firmly planted by eternal waters. We can be assured of fruit and success in living for God as the Lord approves our ways.

As I prayed and mediated in this Psalm I found that the Lord led me into new avenues of thought and understanding. After one week of prayer in Psalm 1 I knew I had made a goal that was worthy of completion. As you plan your goals for the year, add praying through the Word to your list. You will find great reward.

BOOK SUGGESTION: Biblical Meditation for Spiritual Breakthrough — Elmer Towns

~Cheryl Craft

Seasons of Life and Prayer

4th Quarter 2017

We are all familiar with seasons of the earth: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Just as there are seasons of climate so there are seasons of prayer. I think seasons in prayer could be tied to our season in life and the place where we find ourselves. We understand the concepts of seasons of the year and we understand the seasons of life: birth, childhood, youth, adult and old age; however the seasons of prayer are less defined. There are times of great passion and energy and times of quiet and peace. The Spirit ebbs and flows, and we ebb and flow with it. We try to enter into the spirit of prayer but it is not always readily available. We think that prayer should unfold in a certain way, but it doesn’t always take the path we think it should.

Then it follows that we become disenchanted with prayer and it becomes more difficult for us to pray. The more we try to enter into the blessed halls of prayer, the more we struggle. In fact it becomes such a struggle that our prayer times become a battlefield. I’m reminded of the scripture: We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers and wickedness in high places. (Eph 6:12)

What do we do at these times? Keep praying. Pray whether you feel like you are touching heaven or not. Don’t give up. Hold fast to your time of prayer. Perhaps pray a little longer each time. Never give up. God is the same and he understands your struggle. He is near and hears you every time you call on Him. Persist in prayer and push past the inertia and stagnation. I believe that there are territorial spirits that rule in their area. When you move into their area, you need to prevail in prayer until you conquer them. Spirits of complacency and laziness that hinder and plague your prayer life have to step back when you prevail over them in prayer.

Remember we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. Rise up and use your authority. Push back the darkness that smothers your prayer life. Prayer does not always have to be a struggle. It should and can be a time of heavenly exchange and victory. Turn your season of struggle into a season of triumph through your prevailing prayer.

BOOK SUGGESTION: Mighty Prevailing Prayer—Wesley Duewel

~Cheryl Craft

Committment to Prayer

How do you pray when you do not feel like praying? This is a question we all ask at one time or another. Do not pray according to whether you feel like it or not. Your feelings change everyday. If you base your relationship with God on the shaky ground of your feelings, you would never seek God at all. Learn to pray when you are happy and to pray when you are sad. Pray when you are well; pray when you are sick. Pray when you feel a burden; pray when you do not feel a burden. Pray when you feel the presence of God; pray when you do not feel the presence of God. Pray when you are rested; pray when you are tired. Pray when you doubt God; pray when you believe God. Pray when answers do not come; pray when answers come. I think you get the picture. It does not matter how you feel; pray anyway.

Prayer requires commitment. Until you are committed, there is a chance to draw back. The moment you commit to God, He commits to you and all His grace is available to help you in your weakness. There is neither the power of God nor His blessings displayed without your being in the place of commitment. God’s power and gifts are available, but He needs a level of commitment that calls for the level of blessings He wants to give. Where there is no commitment, there is no anointing.

Why is there power in your commitment? Your commitment is an energizing force. Once you have decided to draw nearer to God in prayer, you will give all your energy, emotion, and time to it. You will discover you have all the strength you need to become a great man or woman of prayer.

Commitment is a choice. It is not just some mysterious force that comes on you from out of nowhere and overpowers you. You decide you are going to pray and nothing is going to keep you from it. Neither your feelings nor anyone or anything else will keep you from seeking God daily in prayer. Develop a daily habit of prayer first.

How do we develop our commitment?

  • Check your focus in prayer. Do you pray only when you are in trouble, need a blessing, or desire revival? There is a better way. Seek Him because you love Him and want to know Him better. If you only pray when there is trouble, you will only pray now and then. If you pray because you love Him and are committed to Him, you will pray daily. There is so much more to God than a salvation experience. The Holy Ghost is the earnest of your inheritance. It is like inheriting a million dollars. You may be given a thousand dollars as a token of what is to follow over a period of time. As you pray and grow into the knowledge of God, the Spirit brings you into the fullness of your inheritance. He leads and guides you into all truth. Your focus in prayer will be the foundation for your commitment.
  • Begin with little things. You may declare, “I’m going to start praying three hours daily.” How can you pray three hours when you find it difficult to pray 10 minutes consistently? Set your time realistically. Go to your place of prayer and determine to pray for one hour. If you are used to praying for a shorter time, take your Bible with you. Pray the scripture, or pray for the needs of your nation you hear about daily. Whatever you pray, develop your commitment by being faithful to the little things.
  • Make it a matter of prayer. Ask God to bring you into a new level of prayer. This year I committed to seek the Lord through understanding the depths of His Word. In prayer and study, He has revealed to me things I have never understood before. I now understand that song which says, ”I once was blind, but now I see.” What a joy!

To commit may sound like hard work, but it simply means to give yourself to something. At the beginning of your walk with God, you committed to Him in salvation. Complete that commitment by continuing the giving of yourself to Him in prayer and devotion.

Remember to:

  • Pray according to your commitment, not your feelings.
  • Commitment is a choice.

Develop your commitment by:

  1. Checking your focus
  2. Beginning with little things
  3. Asking God to help you

Book Suggestion: Prayer— O.Hallesby (Augsburg Press)

~Cheryl Craft

The Power of Prayer

What is the power of prayer?

It is an assault weapon in our spiritual battle. Paul tells us that it is a moving force. Eph 6:12-18 Put on the whole armor of God… praying always with all prayer and supplication.

While sitting bound in prison, he said, “Pray for me that I may speak with boldness the message given to me. Here he was in prison speaking as though he were free to preach to the people. Why such boldness? He knew that the power of prayer was available to him. Prayer is the avenue whereby God makes his power available to us in the challenges we face. Paul wanted to make sure the church understood this.

Prayer Is an Avenue of Peace. We can and do exchange our burdens and worries for peace as we pray. Prayer is always present in us. Even though the day seems dark, we are never out of range of prayer for God to hear our cry. In trouble and fear, peace can be found in prayer because we are in touch with Prince of Peace.

Prayer Is a Means of Receiving Counsel. Prayer is like a good counseling session. We walk out of a good prayer session with renewed hope that we can make it in and through our trials. Prayer infuses all our plans with God’s ability.

Power in prayer means hope, help, and relief. Paul tells us to pray always because the power of prayer ensures we have a spiritual weapon.

Prayer brings solution to problems. Remember Elijah prayed for rain and rain came refreshing the earth and bringing new crops to the hungry people.

Prayer gets the power of God involved. Remember Moses parted the Red Sea at God’s command when it seemed that all was lost and the enemy would win.

Prayer brings peace. The disciples were in a storm tossed boat and knew they would perish until Jesus said peace be still.

Prayer brings good counsel. David asked God if he should go after raiders who had stolen goods and taken his family hostage.God told him to go after them and he would win the day.

Prayer is and means for us peace, hope, help, and relief. Prayer is Power. Learn to pray and use this power God intends for you to have.

~Cheryl Craft

Remove the Clutter

We are in the process of a major move. Our life has been interrupted for several months as we packed up the house and moved to a new location. We now have to unpack all the boxes and find a place for everything.

Nothing fits like it did in the former house. We find we packed things we should have left and sold or gave away things we should have kept.

New habits and routines must be established. In the meantime all the things that don’t have a place are sitting in boxes or filling the corners of unused rooms.

It is a mess….clutter everywhere.

Our lives are disrupted. We will get it all straightened out in time, but until then we must endure the clutter.

In the spiritual life, the mind can also be cluttered.

I don’t know of anything that can disrupt a prayer life more than a cluttered mind. When we enter our place of prayer, we bring boxes of stuff that we have been worried about, troubles and fears interfere with our interaction with God. What to do?

Remove the clutter!

Write down the fears, worries, concerns and leave them on the paper. Give it all to God. Then with a quiet heart and mind continue in prayer until he speaks.

You will find that some worries are not as big as they seem, or that God has an answer for you. Learn to give it all to Jesus and trust him to give you wisdom and direction.

I have learned to embrace this text from Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and He will direct your paths.”

As you look on God and His beauty in prayer the worries, fears, and concerns will fade away when He reminds you that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

The clutter dissipates and you find the peace that only God can give.

Book Suggestion: The Reality of Prayer by E.M. Bounds

~Cheryl Craft