Tag: Communion

A Little Prayer is Better Than No Prayer

Yesterday’s Daily Teaching was entitled, “A Little Bible Reading is Better than No Bible reading.” The premise was simple – the potency of God’s word is not determined by quantity. Jesus, for example, spoke short succinct commands when He raised the dead, stilled the sea, and healed the sick. Those words had life-giving power in them; and so does the text of Scripture. Therefore, even a little Bible-reading on a given day is much better than no Bible reading.

Now, with that being said, let us also be reminded that a little time in prayer is so much better than no time in prayer. The publican’s prayer, “God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk 9:13) was brief but impactful (vs.14). Nehemiah’s prayer, prompted in response to Artaxerxes’ question (Neh. 2:4), must have been incredibly short – reading verses four and five of chapter two show how his prayer must have happened in his head in between hearing the king’s question and giving him an answer. But given the fact that the Spirit saw fit to inspire that narrative detail connotes its importance. Consider the length of Solomon’s four-verse prayer in response to the LORD’s appearance to Him in a dream by night (1 Ki. 3:6-9). From what we read in the text, it surely doesn’t look to have taken him even five minutes to pray that prayer. But nevertheless, what he said “pleased the Lord” (vs.10a).

Too often people are not spending time in prayer because they think, “I ought to be giving God more time than just five minutes on my knees.” Granted. I can understand that sentiment. It’s legitimate. But if that way of thinking sounds familiar to you please be reminded – five minutes is much better than nothing. In five minutes you can pray through the Lord’s Prayer (Mt. 6:9-13). In five minutes you can pray through most psalms. In five minutes you can pray through some of the prayers of the apostle Paul (Eph. 1:17-19; 3:16-19; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-14; 1 Thes. 3:11-13; 2 Thes. 2:16-17; 3:5). In five minutes you can tell God how thankful you are in a one-on-one personal way, make mention of about 25 people (give or take) that come to your mind, confess your sins to your Heavenly Father and ask Him to fill you afresh with His Spirit. In five minutes you can enjoy exhaling and remembering that you’re loved, not because of your prayer performance, but because of God’s grace. In five minutes you can pray for your family, your church, your neighborhood, and your elected officials.

And the list could go on.

The point is – you can do a lot more in five minutes of prayer than you might at first realize; which in itself illustrates the reality: a little time in prayer is better than no time in prayer. 

An Exhortation with a Glorious Implication

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17).

Usually the exhortation above is remembered within its immediate context of commands: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (vs.16-18). And, when remembered, these verses appropriately function as imperatives that Christians ought to embrace at any given moment. Christians always have reason to rejoice; Christians ought to be in constant communion with the Lord; and, regardless of circumstances, Christians invariably have an ample array of reasons to give thanks. And as true as those realities are, I would like to briefly consider the glorious implication behind the middle exhortation: “pray without ceasing.”

Via the apostle Paul, the God of the universe is commanding His people to interact with Him non-stop!
 
Think about that. Could you imagine telling someone, “Please, don’t stop talking to me. Just keep going. Be unceasing in your conversation and interaction with me.” If you did tell someone that, and they took you up on the offer, at some point you’d reconsider and say, “Actually, relax, I need a little break.” Yet, the God who redeemed His people commands them to be relentless in their commune with Him.
 
I think that one of the best ways to heed the command “pray without ceasing” is to see the heart of God behind it. Rather than simply thinking, “this is what I have to do because it is the right Christian thing to do,” we ought to say, “God loves a wretched sinner like me so much that He not only sent His Son to die for me, but He likes me enough to want me to continuously commune with Him?” That kind of thinking sets God’s gracious disposition towards us right before our eyes. And at that point, the desire to pray will hopefully come as a response to such amazing love and kindness.
 
Therefore, may you be exhorted today to think upon the glorious implication behind the exhortation, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17); and then, in light of such magnificent love, humbly and joyfully respond to the imperative and invitation of your God.

Beware the Busyness Syndrome

Beware the Busyness Syndrome.

Granted, for some a touch of the “busyness syndrome” would be a good thing. It’s as though ‘hyper-busyness’ and laziness are on either sides of this spectrum. The Bible speaks to both ends. For our consideration today we will give attention to the former.

In Luke 10:38-42 we find Martha “distracted with much serving” (vs.40). In her busyness she neglected that which was most needful; namely, sitting at Jesus’ feet. Martha’s tendency is emblematic of many ‘type-A’ personalities. Being wired for production and enjoying labor are very good things. The Bible often commends such behavior (Prov 12:24;13:4;14:23; Col 3:23). But too much of a good thing is bad when it leads to the neglect of that which is greater, or needful.

Some can become so busy that they neglect ministering to, or spending time with, their families. Others can become so committed to their work that they make church fellowship take the back, back seat. Some can enjoy laboring for the glory of Christ but neglect communing with Christ in prayer. These are just three of the symptoms of having come down with the busyness syndrome.

Clearly, each of the aforementioned ramifications aren’t good. They need to be addressed and changed so as to avoid sin and relational damage.

How, then, do you avoid the busyness syndrome? We’ll consider three ways.

1. Keep Jesus’ words in the forefront of your mind. Jesus told Martha, “One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Lk 10:42). The good part that Mary chose was sitting at Jesus’ feet and hearing His word (vs.39). When you’re tempted to become, or stay, so busy that it leads to the the neglect of communing with Jesus, let those words ring loud in your mind.

2. Remember, Christianity can better be described as following Christ as opposed to working-for-Christ (Mt. 4:19; 8:22; 16:24; 19:27-28; Mk. 10:21, 28, 52; Lk. 5:11; Jn. 1:37-40, 43; 8:12, 10:4-5, 27; 12:26; etc.). Granted, a follower will be a laborer (1 Cor. 15:58; 16:10; Gal. 6:9), but inextricably connected to the following that happened in that 1st century context was some measure of abiding. Jesus, for instance, called His apostles and disciples to “follow Him” (Mt. 4:19; 9:9; 16:24) and “be with Him” (Mk. 3:14). And then, from that place of consistent communion, they were to do the works He called them to do. So it should be with us.

3. Keep trying to leverage your schedule to balance communion, labor, and interpersonal fellowship. If you find you’re too busy, do something to change it. If you’ve tried before and failed to be consistent with the changes you made, keep trying. Keep your current commitments but look ahead for ways to clear out the time you need to ensure balancing personal communion with Christ, with others, and the work He has called you to do. Should you need inspiration, remember that Christ, your Savior, is also your example. In Mark’s Gospel we see that Jesus rose “a long while before daylight… went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mk. 1:35). Then, after Simon and other disciples found Him, Jesus went with them to preach in towns and synagogues throughout Galilee (vs.38). The Savior well modeled keeping first things first and maintaining fellowship while being busy.

What change can you make today, or plan to make, to ensure you will not be overtaken by the busyness syndrome?

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