People who are living breathe. People who are Christians pray. As soon as a child is born, he breathes the air around him, and as soon as a person is born again in Christ, he wants to pray.
But prayer can be a struggle. Why do we struggle so much with prayer? It’s because we lose sight of the most important reason we are praying. The purpose of prayer is fellowship with God.
When you finish praying, ask yourself this question, “Did I fellowship with God today?” If what you just did was filled with words to impress others, just trying to complete a checklist, or repetitive “spiritual phrases” over and over, you didn’t really fulfill the purpose of prayer. I’m sorry to tell you, you missed the point. Jesus wants your prayer life to be sincere, He wants you to know Him, talk to Him, and feel His presence.
Christ warns in the following verses about the ways we can get sidetracked in our prayers. The hypocrites prayed like this:
*Their Posture: Standing so they would impress others.
*The Place: In the synagogues to be heard by others.
*In Public: On the busy street corners, to impress others.
*The Product: They had their reward, which was the praise of man.
In other words… they missed the point of prayer completely.
Compare what the hypocrites did to what Jesus modeled and taught. Your prayer time could be kneeling (posture), in secret (place), privately conversing with God (not public), and the result would be that you genuinely fellowshipped with God and He heard and answered you (the product).
The greatest question you can ask yourself after you pray is this, “Did I fellowship with God today?
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Matthew 6:5-7
Do you focus on checking the boxes on your prayer list or do you intentionally fellowship with God in prayer? What changes do you need to make in order to be more connected to God in fellowship with Him?
Are you ready to quit? Some of the greatest spiritual experiences of my life have come after I reached my limits!
1. When You Are Under Attack God Hears You
If you’ve ever felt that circumstances were against you, that you were under attack, or you were on the verge of losing in life, then you need to read everything David wrote. He wrote Psalm 31 and it is possible he wrote it when he was being persecuted by Saul.
When you feel overwhelmed and overtaken by the enemy, remember that God hears you, he preserves you, and he strengthens you.
For I said in my haste, “I am cut off from before Your eyes”; Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications When I cried out to You. Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD. – Psalm 31:22-24
2. When You Treat Others Well, God Rewards You
God makes promises and you can be confident that He always keeps His word. Here is a promise, you will reap a reward from God if you don’t become weary and quit.
What is it that you should do to get this reward? He calls it “well-doing.” It is the act of treating others well, being kind and doing good to others. Everything you do to encourage others, build them up, equip them, invest in them, is an act of “well doing,”
It is so easy to become weary in treating others well and to eventually give up. God knows it can be a struggle which is why He admonishes us that He will reward us if we continue to invest in people, even when it is hard! Don’t give up on making an impact in the lives of others.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:9-10
3. When You Are Called To Lead, Be Strong and Courageous Because God Is With You
God calls servants to be leaders. Jesus humbled Himself as a servant to the Father. Joshua spent years serving under Moses. Christ calls us to live as servants to God and others. This should be viewed as an honor. But, when He calls you to lead, stand up and charge ahead with strength and courage.
In Joshua 1, Moses had just died, Joshua had been serving Moses, and God said the work must go on. God called Joshua to take the lead. In this context, He said to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
God knows that those who have the heart of a servant are the ones He will select to be the next leader, the next game changer. He also knows that those with the heart of a servant are well aware of their own weaknesses. That’s why He will continually remind you that your strength and courage are essential to the task, but that strength and courage comes from a constant awareness that He is with you!
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
4. When You Are Ready To Quit, God Is Ready to Give You Rest
Are you ready to quit? Some of the greatest spiritual experiences of my life have come after I reached my limits! You know the feeling, I’m sure. Have you said any of these things lately? “I’m tired of this. I don’t know how much longer I can last. I don’t want it to be this way for the rest of my life.”
Jesus is smiling right now! He’s been waiting to have this moment with you. This is where He says, “You have no idea how much easier your life could be if you get rid of your current burden and join me, walk with me, and exchange what you are doing for what I want for you.”
If the burden (the yoke) you are carrying is the burden of sin, He promises His yoke, a commitment to Him is so much lighter. If the yoke you are carrying is just the heaviness of life, He says the yoke He offers will make the load so much lighter.
So whether you need to repent of sin, accept Christ into your heart, or just stop trying to live in your own strength… Jesus is ready to lighten the load for you.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30
5. When You Commit To Him, You Build a Spiritual Legacy and Make a Difference
People are watching you. They are learning from your example. When you were in kindergarten you looked up to the first graders, in elementary school you thought the middle schoolers were so mature and in high school, college kids looked like full-grown adults!
Believe it or not, there are three groups of people you are influencing every day. Those younger than you, those who are your peers, and those older than you. Each is either being inspired by your testimony or to some degree, losing heart.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if your choice to “never give up” created a legacy that impacted others for generations?
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; – Romans 12:9-12
Jesus delivered HIs longest sermon called “The Sermon on the Mount,” and He began by identifying eight types of blessed people.
The Poor In Spirit: Empty of Self; Full of God
The first in His list of blessed people are the poor in spirit. Some people are living in spiritual poverty, wholly engrossed in the sins and lusts of the world. He’s not talking about that type of spiritual poverty here. The kind of poverty Jesus is talking about is the poverty of self. Jesus challenges us to be utterly empty of self to make room to be full of God. He promises happiness to come to those who are empty of self and full of God. And, theirs is the kingdom of heaven! That’s the future promise. That’s something to be happy about!
Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3
The Mourners: Caring Deeply about Spiritual Things
Blessed are the mourners? Really? Jesus didn’t say it was His intention for you and me to be downhearted, sad, or spend our days focusing on negative things. But He did say, “Blessed are the mourners.”
When children of God have a genuine sensitivity to sin and feel the remorse for their willful disobedience, that is a blessing from God.
Do you care deeply about your spiritual life, do you care genuinely about your fellowship with Christ, and do you care deeply about the spiritual condition of your friends, neighbors, and family? If so, you are blessed to have such a heart of concern for things that matter to God.
Remember, the blessing you receive for mourning for your spiritual life and the condition of others will be rewarded. If you don’t see the reward here, you will see it in heaven because in due season you will reap if you faint not!
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. – Matthew 5:4
The Meek: Happy and in Control
Meek people are happy people. They have learned to imitate Christ in their spirit, actions, and reactions. The meek are not easily offended and would rather forgive many than get even with one. Meek people are less stressed.
In their meekness, they have learned to be happier and more content. It’s not that meek people aren’t willing to stand for truth and fight when necessary, but they don’t have to completely explode to get a result. They have learned to rest in Christ, and live in His peace.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. – Matthew 5:5
The Hungry and Thirsty: Renewed and Refreshed
To hunger and thirst after righteousness leads to a joy-filled life. If you hunger for meat and you eat, you are sustained, refueled, and replenished to keep going. You desire food to eat to be renewed in your strength. Replenishing of strength comes from a desire to know God through His word, the Bible.
If you are thirsty, your desire is to be refreshed. When you focus on the forgiveness of sin, the pardon you have received and the love of God, you are refreshed.
To experience God and find a fullness of joy, you need to be both renewed and refreshed. Renewed by time in the word of God and refreshed by spending time in fellowship with Him in prayer, confession, and a clear conscience because of His forgiveness.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. – Matthew 5:6
The Merciful: Caring and Compassionate
There are many things God desires for us, not so much for His sake, but for our own sake. You see when you take today’s truth about mercy, and become a caring and compassionate person, it changes you.
Merciful people care. Whether or not they have the resources to fix a suffering person’s problem is not the motive of a merciful person’s heart. A Christian with a merciful heart has learned to genuinely care for the suffering, the struggling, the ignorant, the lost and the needy. Mercy doesn’t just see needs and walk away, mercy responds. If you can’t help meet the need, you invest by giving your heart of compassion. Because everyone needs a little more kindness and compassion in life.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. – Matthew 5:7
The Pure In Heart: Clarity and Understanding
Do you want a clearer picture of God? Do you desire a deeper understanding of Him? You can have it, and it comes to the pure in heart. The pure in heart are living the truest form of Christianity. Like unmuddied water, they have learned to differentiate between spiritual things and things that are of the world. Their motives are pure, their heart is right, and their desires rest in things that are part of the heart of God.
When you decide that the life God has given you here on earth is to be lived for Him and His will, not for yourself, your purity of heart will lead to a deeper understanding of God.
Some people struggle all their life to understand God’s work in their life. The pure in heart get to see God more profoundly.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. – Matthew 5:8
The Peacemakers: Joy and Impact
Jesus Christ was the Prince of Peace, the wisdom of God is first pure, then peaceable, and the birth of Jesus was to bring peace on earth. Do you see a theme here? Peacemakers are blessed of God. They have a peaceful disposition throughout life. They engage in peaceful conversations, and when peace begins to leave the discussion, they are aware and deliberate about bringing it back.
Peacemakers allow space in relationships and strive to accommodate the needs of others. When the peace is broken, they are skilled at making repairs.
Peacemakers are doing the work of God here on earth. Christ came to deliver peace and peacemakers understand when they are living peaceably, they are aligned with God’s plan. This is why they are called the children of God. They are happily fulfilling their Father’s will walking on earth as His offspring.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. – Matthew 5:9
The Persecuted and Slandered: Receive a Great Reward
Those who walk closest to Christ, His most committed disciples, will potentially face persecution and suffering for their faith. But wait, what about the blessed life He’s been promising all along? It seems confusing to mix blessings and persecution in the same promise.
God’s children from the beginning have suffered greatly for their faith on this earth. They have been “persecuted” and “reviled.”
Persecution comes in many forms. It could be physical threats, loss of opportunities to advance at work, fines, threats of legal action, loss of promotion, shunned in relationships, and don’t forget in some places in the world torture and death.
Reviling is verbal persecution. It’s when people say “all manner of evil against you falsely.” Name calling, slanderous nicknames, verbal abuse, gossip behind your back, all culminate to create an environment intended to make you suffer as a committed follower of Jesus.
The persecuted and reviled are blessed. (1) Because you have a home in heaven and a personal relationship with God. No one can ever take away from you the reward you have in being God’s child. (2) Because you will be rewarded in heaven. The Bible says, “Great is your reward in heaven.” (3) You are in good company. “For so persecuted they the prophets before you.” Matthew 5:12. You are among those who God honors who have truly suffered for His sake.
In your suffering, be blessed because the almighty God is with you and you are on His side. On the other side of eternity, you have a reward waiting for you that far outweighs any sacrifices you make on this earth.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:10
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. – Matthew 5:11
There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.
Thought For Today
The person who “scatters” or gives, increases even more. Like casting the seed across the field yields an abundance of corn, God blesses generosity by increasing what we have. He replenishes our supply through our acts of giving. But, when we hold on to everything and store it for ourselves, we miss the point of God’s provision and the joy that comes through generosity. He says, “He who waters will also be watered himself.”
Through faith-filled giving, God promises to return the blessing by providing more.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Thought For Today
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon continues his life-changing message, living for this world leaves us empty. He nails it down by revealing two life choices that lead to very different results.
The selfish life is a wasted life. The person who lives for himself and chooses work, success, and riches over relationships leads to emptiness.
Eccl. 4:8, There is one alone, without companion: He has neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his labors, Nor is his eye satisfied with riches. But he never asks, “For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?” A vain life and a grave misfortune.
The sociable life is a cure for emptiness. Choosing friendship, and investing in relationships bring many advantages. Strength, companionship, and resilience come to those who choose relationships as a priority. A threefold cord is hard to break.