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Is There a Proper Place to Pray?

You can pray to God at any time, day or night. God never sleeps and is always available (Psalm 121:3). His ears are always open to the righteous, and He hears their prayers (1 Peter 3:12). But do you ever wonder, “Is there a correct or proper place to pray?”

True believers with clean hearts can approach God anywhere with their prayers. This was true in both Old Testament and New Testament times. For example,

  • King David prayed in a cave (Psalm 57).
  • The Israelites prayed in the wilderness (1 Kings 8:33-34, 47-49).
  • Elijah prayed in an upper room in a house (1 Kings 17:20).
  • Daniel prayed in his personal chamber (Daniel 2:19).
  • Sailors prayed in their boat (Jonah 1:13-14).
  • Peter prayed on a housetop (Acts 10:9).
  • Lydia and a group of women prayed by the riverside (Acts 16:13).
  • Paul and Silas prayed in stocks in a prison (Acts 16:25).
  • Paul and the disciples at Tyre prayed on the beach (Acts 21:5).

God’s people are to pray everywhere (1 Timothy 2:8). And that includes you! You can pray from any place, at any time.

From Jim’s Heart—Becoming God’s Man

Do you share in God’s desire for your spiritual growth? God won’t force growth upon you. No, you must desire it enough to do something about it. As you look at your own heart, what is the burning desire of your soul? Do you truly want to be God’s man who makes a difference, who has a positive, dynamic impact on those around him? I hope you’re saying, “Yes! I want to grow spiritually. I want my life to have a positive impact on others. I want to be God’s man.”

So where and how do you begin? Here are some steps you can take:

  1.  Desire to follow Jesus. A true follower doesn’t merely follow Christ only when it’s convenient. You are called to full-time faithfulness without hesitation or reservation.
  2.  Grapple with sin. Each day you will struggle against the temptation to fall into sin and experience a constant battle with the flesh and its desires and passions. To ensure that your growth remains steady and uninterrupted, confess any and all sins to Him right away.
  3.  Refuse to be spiritually lazy. Life is full of choices regarding what you will or won’t do. You must make serious choices when it comes to the spiritual realm. Will you read your Bible and pray today? Your ongoing choices will determine whether you grow spiritually strong or become spiritually lazy.
  4.  Find a role model. It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, look around for a “picture” of a man who’s making a difference, a mature-in-the-Lord man who can mentor you and provide you with counsel, guidance, and encouragement on a regular basis.
  5. Realize that spiritual growth is ongoing. Spiritual growth must be pursued daily. You cannot rest or count on yesterday’s growth. Without regular spiritual nourishment, you’ll wake up one day and find yourself defeated in your Christian walk.

To become God’s man, get the help you need. Find the resources that will educate and stimulate ongoing growth. Dedicate yourself to growing spiritually every single day for the rest of your life. Then you will become a man who makes a difference.

More Like Him

Have you ever noticed that the more you are with someone, the more you become like that person? If you’ve been married a while, you’ll notice you and your spouse use some of the same figures of speech. You share many of the same opinions and perspectives on life. You’ll even see this principle at work in your children. And if you’re single, you experience the same thing with your close friends and family.

And it works the same way when it comes to God! The more time you spend reading the Bible, the more you resemble Him. You begin to think as God thinks and do what He would do. You desire what He desires. As you spend time with Him, your life takes in and reflects more and more of His love and glory. Commune with Him each day and spend time in His Word. You’ll reap tremendous rewards!

Lord, I know You are with me always, but the special times we spend together are so life-giving and life-changing! Thank You for Your Word and the light it gives on my journey. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—Imitating God

Are you a spiritually sensitive man? By way of definition, this means walking through life with a God-consciousness. It means knowing how God would act, talk, and respond to life’s situations.

How can you develop this kind of sensitivity? A key way is to observe God in action in the Bible. For example, as you see how He responded graciously to His fallen creation and sacrificed His only Son for us, you begin to understand how you should be more loving, giving, and selfless. As you see His other traits—His patience, His wisdom, His goodness—you’ll discover character qualities you’ll want to imitate in your own life.

As you read your Bible, observe God carefully. Learn from His example. And you’ll grow in spiritual sensitivity.

God, how can I imitate You at work today? At home? In the community? Help me to remember how my simple words and actions can reflect Your saving work in the world. Amen.

Your Heart Is Your Voice

It’s easy to say all the right words when we pray. We can use prayer books containing the eloquent prayers written by others. We can spend hours in prayer crying out to God. But no matter how important the prayer or the need, the key to prayer is the condition of our hearts. Consider these sobering truths—God will not answer when we…

…hold a grudge

…fail to forgive others

…fail to make our wrongs right

…refuse to apologize for our faults and sins

…are not kind and gentle to our enemies

…are jealous or critical

…indulge in known sin

…yield to temptation

In short, Psalm 66:18 states: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”

Are you wondering, is there any help… and hope? And, what, dear Lord, is it that I need to do for my prayers to be heard by You? Psalm 34:17-18 gives us the answer: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”

The issue is, has been, and always will be the heart—your heart. The greatest lesson you must learn, beyond how to better love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27), is how to pray from the heart—your heart!

From Jim’s Heart – Godly Ambition

Ambition can be both positive and negative. An example of the latter is people who have scratched their way to the top and, in the process, left their claw marks on the backs of you and others they climbed over in order to reach their goal.

That’s not the kind of ambition we as Christian men should have. No, we are to have a godly ambition—that is, a desire to serve the Lord and focus on fulfilling His will. God’s kind of man strives solely for the glory of God and the good of others. This is part of what Paul had in mind when he said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Let’s follow Paul’s example by bringing our ambition in line with God’s will.

God, when I am consumed by selfish ambition, help me focus on glorifying You and serving others. And when I lack ambition, remind me of Your purpose for my life and the tremendous prize of knowing You. Amen.

The Pruning Process

Are you worried you’re never going to get your act together? Do you wonder if life will ever go smoothly for you? Hang in there, dear friend. What is that saying? Oh yes! “God isn’t finished with me yet.” You are a masterpiece in process.

Remember the story of Sarah in Genesis? She was impatient, angry, manipulative, unbelieving. Her life with Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael was constant tension. But God used the failures, time, and even unhappiness to bring her to a mature faith in God. In fact, you’ll find her name in “God’s Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 as an example to us (verse 11).

Pruning is always painful, but it gives you an opportunity to love God by trusting He’s at work in your life. Take heart. God will bring about full beauty in you.

Lord, I’d love to see my name next to Sarah and Abraham and the other believers in Your “Hall of Faith.” They overcame tremendous obstacles through faith in You, Lord, prune me. Cause my faith to blossom. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—Work as a Calling

What do you picture when you hear or read the word calling? Most people immediately think of some form of vocational ministry. We often hear a pastor or missionary say, “I was called into the ministry.” The apostle Paul spoke of himself as “called” to be an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:1).

But what if I told you that your vocation—the job you have right now—is a calling as well? Webster defines the word vocation as coming to us from the Latin vocatio, which means “a calling.” And the English word means “a call or summons”; specifically, “a calling to a particular state, business, or profession.” Just as pastors or missionaries passionately serve God because of their “calling”, so you too can be passionately serving God in your work—in your calling.

In my life I have had many “callings.” One of those included being called into the ministry. But, like the apostle Paul, who was a missionary and a tentmaker, I have also provided for my family as a pharmacist, an Army reservist, a pharmaceutical salesman, and a pastor. And, also like Paul, I viewed all of these as callings from God.

Your commitment to Christ does not mean you have to become a pastor or a missionary. That’s not the case. Work done for a church or a church organization doesn’t make anyone any more holy or spiritual than those whose work is done at a factory or in an office or in a private studio. Your place or type of work is not what matters to God. What does matter to Him is being in His will (Romans 12:2). You should approach your vocation, whether as a painter or a plumber, as a soldier or a mechanic, as a teacher or a “techie,” not merely as “just a job” but as a calling—a special calling from God.

Seasons of Life

“I noticed Mom could barely hear us at dinner this weekend. Since Dad died she’s never been quite the same.”

I can so identify with this woman. Can you? I’ve walked through several seasons of life myself. My dad died and my mother was institutionalized all within a few months. And yet during those days I also welcomed my first two grandbabies… one month apart!

Like you, I need God’s promises for the seasons I’m experiencing as well as those to come. Isn’t it wonderful that God’s care for us is unceasing? His love unending? His guidance unfailing? And His presence everlasting? Absolutely! He is with you, dear friend, every season. What a joy to know you are cared for by such a great God.

You are “the God who is there,” Lord. Right now I can’t see the end of this season in my life, but because You are here with me now, I can make it through today. Thank You! Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—Praying in the Midst of a Busy Life

The prayer life of the apostle Paul is most evident in the epistles he wrote while in prison. Some people assume that confinement in prison gave Paul little choice but to pray. They would imagine Paul saying something like, “Oh well, since I have nothing else to do, I guess I’ll pray.” Not true!

Busyness is often used as a favorite excuse not to pray. But in reality, it’s not our schedule that keeps us from praying. It’s our failure to understand the importance of prayer. When we don’t pray, it’s because we don’t believe it’s all that necessary. Instead of utilizing the power of prayer to make an impact, we try to have an influence through physical activity. We roll up our sleeves and get busy, turning to our own power instead of God’s power.

A commitment to prayer and some muscle are needed among Christians today. In fact, Paul himself would wholeheartedly agree. He definitely spent a lot of time “in the trenches” confronting sorcery, angry mobs, and hostile religious leaders. But that didn’t divert his thinking about the need for prayer. Martin Luther, the great church reformer, captured the essence of Paul’s prayer philosophy with this paraphrased quote: “My schedule is so busy today that I need to spend more time than usual in prayer.”

Paul’s—and Martin Luther’s—message to us is, “Don’t let a busy life keep you from prayer. You need it!” And, like the people Paul prayed for, others need your prayers as well. And who knows? Maybe the reason your own life is so busy and often out of control is because you haven’t taken time to stop and pray to discern God’s priorities in your life.