All posts filed under: Prayer

Independence day celebrations at the National Mall in Washington, DC Credit: Mark Andre/Flickr/Creative Commons

Did this Prophetic act in Washington, DC break a curse over the US?

According to an article on Charisma News, some are calling an event that took place on October 21, 2016 a prophetic act that could profoundly impact America. On that day, 1000 Native Americans representing Indian tribes across both the US and Canada gathered in Washington DC to forgive the early Americans who broke treaties they made with Indian tribes decades ago. At the event called the National Day of Prayer for First Nations held at the Washington Mall, representatives of America’s tribal groups spoke declarations forgiving America. Speaking on behalf of the (Euchee) Yuchi tribe, Negiel Bigpond stated he was forgiving “the US, whether it asked for it or not.” Bigpond who organized the prayer event is a fourth generation pastor and serves as a tribal chief. He along with other native leaders and intercessors spoke a number of declarations that are posted at the All Tribes DC website. This included: “We repent of every curse spoken over America by our ancestors and we release the power of forgiveness to bring healing and the peace …

The battle in the heavenly realm Photo: 君勇 林/Flickr/Creative Commons

Battling in the heavenly realm for your nation

In an earlier post, I talked about Jesus delivering a man possessed by a legion of demons in an area called the Gadarenes. What I didn’t talk about is the bizarre request this horde of demons made to Jesus. Mark writes about the encounter in his gospel. He notes that the deliverance is a bit unusual, because the demons didn’t immediately leave when Jesus commanded them, which had been standard practice up to this point: 8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he *said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. (Mark 5:8-10 NASV) Because the spirit was able to initially resist, Jesus asked for its name and even that was not provided right away. But Christ had authority, and the evil spirit finally buckled and coughed up its name. It called itself Legion, “for we are many.” At …

Praying in a cathedral in Tuscany, Italy. Photo: ashokboghani/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: Prayer reduces alcoholic cravings

Researchers with New York University’s Langone Medical Center have discovered that prayer helps a person reduce their cravings for alcohol. In their study, the group performed MRI brain scans on 20 people who were long-term participants with Alcoholics Anonymous. The chosen 20 all stated that they did not have any cravings for alcohol during the previous week. There were two phases to the testing. During both phases the participants viewed alcoholic drinks and across the board all participants said they felt a craving for alcohol. After viewing alcohol in the first test, the AA group was given a newspaper to read and during the second test they were told to recite AA’s prayer that promotes abstinence. The AA prayer also called the serenity prayer was developed for the organization by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and goes like this: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can. And wisdom to know the difference.” The research group discovered that the participants stated there was a significant reduction …

Soldiers with Israel's defense forces praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Mor/Flickr/Creative Commons

Described as unprecedented: Orthodox Jews call for three-day fast in Israel

Describing it as unprecedented, Breaking Israel News (BIN), a Jewish news site, is reporting the Orthodox Jewish group HaTzom is calling for Israelis to fast for three days commencing Sunday night, March 20. The fast, which will end 72 hours later, will be done during the Jewish feast of Purim, held annually this time of year. The feast of Purim is derived from the Book of Esther when Queen Esther called for Jews to fast for three days before she entered the throne room of her husband, the Persian king, to expose a planned massacre of the Jews organized by a senior bureaucrat in the Persian administration. HaTzom, whose name in English means “The Fast,” has over 22,000 participants agreeing to join in the three-day fast. They organized the fast because of the unrelenting terrorist attacks in Israel and the growing hatred around the world to their country. BIN recently reported three attacks that took place on March 8 and 9. On the first day, Palestinians riding motorbikes opened fire on Jerusalem police guarding a …

Photo: Alesa Dam/Flickr

Is thanksgiving a key to unlocking answered prayer?

This past year I realized I was receiving noticeable answers to prayer and I believe it was tied to thankfulness. I could keep praying, pleading and asking God for what was on my heart but I knew at some point I needed to start thanking Him for the answers as well. Although I did not understand it at the time, I believe the reason for my prayer answers was a result of consciously including thanksgiving in my petitions. Gratitude acknowledged my faith in God for answers I had not yet received. “Who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.” (Romans 4:17 NKV) Thankfulness calls into being that which does not yet exist. It gives life to our requests, creating the movement that brings  answered prayer forward to the present. Being thankful for answers yet to come is the springboard to faith, the catalyst that gives life to our prayers. By being thankful, I was believing instead of doubting. An expectancy accompanied me throughout the day.  The spiritual atmosphere …

A time for solitude. Photo: Martijn Roos/Flickr

A Woman’s Perspective: Solitude

There are times when I enjoy solitude. With no distractions, I can get lost in whatever I am doing and time just flies. Simply defined, solitude is the state of being alone. I always feel more refreshed and peaceful after such times. But I believe there are benefits to solitude other than just having ‘alone time.’  Author, Sue Monk Kidd has been writing books since 1990. In her early years of writing on contemplative prayer, she wrote ‘God’s Joyful Surprise.’ In it she says: ‘Solitude is a time for ‘God and God alone’. Who knows what can happen when we focus only on God. In solitude we sense our deep oneness with God and keep company with him. Solitude is breaking through my isolation into sharing and being in touch with my Creator. In fact we can begin to heal our loneliness by transforming it into solitude.’ Even Jesus practiced solitude during his life and invited his closest friends to do the same: Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He …

A medieval prayer circle or magical rite?

[by Dean Smith] The Liesborn Gospel, listed for sale at $6.5 million, contains the four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The book, with a cover made of carved oak, was ordered by the Abbess of the Leisborn convent in Germany probably for a wealthy woman who had just taken her vows. These books of the Gospels are extremely rare with only five complete sets known to exist. They were also very sacred and considered mystical as they were thought to be “the physical embodiment of the Word of God.” The books were often elaborately decorated with rare jewels. The one being sold by Les Enluminures Gallery, an ancient manuscript dealer based in Manhattan, dates to around 980 AD and comes with a special added feature — a prayer circle.

Can we change the past through God?

[by Dean Smith] I won’t pretend to understand anything these guys are talking about, but I am always fascinated when scientists talk of Quantum mechanics. In a recent study, a scientist has suggested that contrary to our personal experience time runs both forward and backwards. Our experience with time is that it goes from the past to present to future and only the past and present can affect the future. However, professor Kater Murch from Washington University has been looking at quantum mechanics and discovered that time in the quantum world seems to run both ways. And by doing so, the future has the ability to change the past. As odd as this sounds, I sometimes wonder if these strange theories may help us understand some puzzling statements made by Jesus in the Gospels. But before we get to those verses, let me explain a bit more about Murch’s theory.

Characteristics of an intercessor: Will you riot in the streets?

[by Dean Smith] In an earlier post, I discussed Jesus’ parable on prayer. It involved a woman’s run-in with a corrupt judge (Luke 18:2-8).  It was an interesting passage as the Greek words portrayed intercession as little more than a street fight. As Jesus wraps up this teaching, He clearly wants to separate our Heavenly Father from the character of the Judge and says: “Now will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry [boao] to Him day and night, and will he delay long over them.” (v 7 NASV) Where the judge was selling justice to the highest bidder, God wants to bring justice to those who cry out for help. Where corrupt judges delay justice as a subtle hint money is needed to open doors, God wants to answer quickly.

Characteristics of an Intercessor: Are you a street fighter?

[by Dean Smith] We all struggle for answered prayer. Sometimes we wonder if God even heard us. When we look at the Gospels, Jesus used a variety of parables to teach on prayer. One found in Luke 18:2-8 — involves a widow who was taken advantage of by an unscrupulous person and went before a judge seeking legal help. We are told the judge did not fear God and did not respect man (v 2). It was a simple way of saying he was corrupt. Justice was for sale in this town.

When Paul encouraged prayer for secular leaders was he thinking ahead of Hustler magazine?

[by Dean Smith] A recent article in the National Journal reports that Harry Flynt, the founder of the porn magazine Hustler, has been sending unsolicited copies of the publication to American politicians in Washington DC since 1983. It arrives every month in an unmarked manilla envelope. And every month staffers open it. Who knows why Flynt does it? We can only guess. But many assume he is trying to influence them.

A woman’s perspective: Birthing through prayer

[by Barb Smith] Lately, I have been thinking back to the days when my husband and I looked to adoption as a way to have children we could not produce on our own. We had gone for prayer and then went through a battery of fertility tests and procedures to no avail, because God had a different plan. After two years of pursuing adoption through private and government agencies, our hopes for a child faded. As a final option, we considered international adoption and pursued various avenues.

What coughing teaches us about prayer?

[by Dean Smith] My children were the first to get it. A couple of weeks later, I started to feel stuffed up. Then came the sore throat and finally the cough. It wasn’t like I coughed all the time, but I had regular coughing episodes three or four times an hour. And through this miserable time, I learned a lesson on prayer. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to “pray without ceasing.” This verse is a bit puzzling, because if you prayed without ceasing — as the New American Standard reads — it would be near impossible to do anything else, like work, talk, eat or sleep. At first glance, the Greek word “adialeiptos”  (translated unceasing) suggests we are to pray all the time. Thayer interprets it as “unceasing and continual.”

From 3 to 5 hours: Changing God’s mind through prayer

Several years back, my wife and I attended a camp meeting in the U.S. God was moving in the services through the Toronto revival and both of us were impacted by God’s Spirit. 

One night, I felt the Lord say He wanted me to stay in the tabernacle and pray for three hours after the service. The meetings were going late, so it would be about three in the morning before my head hit the pillow. My preference was to go to bed. But it seemed like God, so I decided to do it. Now to be honest, I was very legalistic about the time and I looked at my watch every 15 minutes or so to see how much time had passed. 

I was a true watchman. God was going to get three hours and not a minute more.

A key to successful prayer: Do you believe God loves you?

When the pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, He replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 NASV) Can anyone be commanded to love God or love anyone for that matter? Yet we are told this is the greatest commandment for a believer. How do we do it? The Apostle John provides the answer: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NASV) The key to being able to love God is first understanding and believing that God loves you and this is our “great” struggle to obeying the “greatest” commandment. A study by Baylor University, published in the journal Sociology of Religion, concluded that understanding God loves us is even an important key to successful prayer.

Praying two and a half weeks for a slurpee?

A few year’s back, my wife was talking to a woman who told of struggles with her oldest son. He was having problems at school and teachers were constantly asking his mother to come in to deal with behavioral issues. As they discussed what was happening, the woman shared that the boy was her only child from a previous marriage. Divorced, she had remarried and now she and her new husband had children of their own. However, the step-father was finding it difficult accepting the oldest son. He found it hard to praise him and easy to criticize. 
My wife heard the story, saw the need and decided to pray about it. For the next two and half weeks, this became the focus of her prayers.

Spiritual and now health benefits to fasting

Researchers from the Intermountain Heart Institute in Murray, Utah have concluded there are health benefits to fasting. In particular, they pointed to its benefits with those struggling with diabetes. The researchers said an occasional one-day, water-only fast, can help those in a pre-diabetic stage. This is the stage where people have high glucose or sugar levels, but not high enough to be considered diabetic. They stated by occasionally fasting a person can lower their glucose levels. It should not surprise us an important spiritual activity comes with a physical benefit.

Characteristics of an intercessor: Persistence more important than friendship

Why doesn’t God answer my prayer? This question plagues many Christians. We pray and not only are there no answers, we wonder if God even heard us. When we look at the Gospels, we read a number of parables Jesus used to teach on prayer. I want to specifically look at one of them and draw out a key principle to successful prayer. The account is found in Luke 11:5-13. This parable– following on the heels of Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s prayer –is about a man who unexpectedly had visitors show up at his home late at night. Without food to offer them, the man pops next door to a friend’s place to borrow some bread.

Paga: The intercessor carries a burden

This is the last article in my series on the Hebrew word “paga” — translated intercessor or intercession in the Old Testament. The word is used in many ways and each I believe describe a unique aspect of prayer. In my earlier article I talked about the intercessor as one who negotiates with God. In this article, I want to discuss how intercession is a burden that God wants us to carry. According to  the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, one of the meanings of the word “paga” is “‘to lay, burden’ (Isa 53:6, ‘the Lord has ‘laid’ upon him all our iniquity’).”

Paga: The intercessor negotiates with God

I am writing a series of articles on the Hebrew word “paga” commonly translated intercessor or intercession in the Old Testament. It is an unusual word that has a wide-range of meanings and each describes a particular attribute of intercession. In my earlier article, I discussed how “paga” referred to claiming territory for the Kingdom of God. In this post, I want to discuss the word “paga” and its meaning of negotiating with God on behalf of others.

Paga: The intercessor claims territory for God

This article is part of a series I am doing on the Hebrew word ‘paga’ translated intercession in the Old Testament. The word has a broad range of meanings that offer unique perspectives on intercession. In my earlier article, I discussed how the word was used to describe the spiritual warfare associated with intercession. Another one of the unusual ways ‘paga’ is used in the Old Testament is in staking out and claiming territory. After Israel entered the Promised Land, God gave each tribe an inheritance of land. In Joshua 16:5-7, we have a record of the territory given the tribe of Ephraim described as “the border of their inheritance.” “It went down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, then reached (paga) Jericho and came out at the Jordan.” (v 7 NASV) The word ‘paga’ is used in this passage to mark the territory or boundaries of each tribe’s inheritance. In almost every instance “paga’ described the outward border (see also Joshua 17:10, 19:11, 22, 26-27 etc). Paga is translated in this context as …

Paga: The intercessor as a warrior

I have been doing a study on the Hebrew word ‘paga’ translated as intercessor or intercession in the Old Testament. This word has a large range of meanings and each of these help us better understand intercessory prayer. In my previous article, we saw ‘paga’ meant hitting the mark and discussed how God wants to guide the prayer of the intercessor. In this post, I want to look at a third usage of the word ‘paga’ — it means conflict or war. The word is used 15 times in the Old Testament to describe battle. In fact, it became synonymous for “falling upon” people or attacking them. (1 Samuel 22:17, Judges 8:21; Judges 15:12, 2 Samuel 1:15). 

Paga: Hitting the mark in intercession

In my previous article on the Hebrew word “paga,” translated intercession in the Old Testament, I discussed one of its primary meanings which is “making contact” with God. This is what differentiates prayer and intercession. While prayer is one way communication — us talking to God, in intercession we make contact with God which leads to Him communicating with us. In the Old Testament, “paga” has many usages which give us different understandings of intercession. In this article, I want to look at the unusual way the word is used in Job 36:32.

Paga: The Intercessor

Prayer warriors have written many books on prayer, but this statement was not from any of these writers. It came from the driest of all — The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament . Yet, this quote from an article written by Dr. Victor Hamilton is extremely profound: “An intercessor is one who makes contact with God as opposed to many who simply dabble in prayer.” He made it while discussing the Hebrew word “paga” often translated “intercessor” or “intercession” in the Old Testament. I want to talk about intercession as defined by the word “paga.” It has a wide range of meanings and usages. Each of these shades serve up a fuller understanding of  the word.