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Digging Deeper into the Word Prayer Spiritual Development

The Kingdom of Heaven : Part II

Author: Rachel Kidd

Both Matthew and John refer to the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God in their respective gospels. Are these kingdoms the same? Are they a physical place or a spiritual place?  

This second part of the series on the Kingdom of heaven will focus primarily on the kingdom as described by Matthew, centered on the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes.  

Different theological perspectives have different understandings and varied beliefs in the application or ramification of this definition.  However, generally the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom Of Heaven, refers to the “spiritual realm over which God reigns as king, or the fulfillment on Earth of God’s will.” 

It is what the world will look like when God’s will has been fulfilled on earth, making all things new. But, what does that look like exactly? This blog will delve into Matthew chapter 5 and his descriptions of the Kingdom, both what it is and what it is not.  

What the Kingdom is not 

Before defining what the kingdom of heaven is, it’s helpful to understand what it is not. Matthew is clear that the kingdom cannot be found through human righteousness alone.  

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. –Matt. 23:13–15 

The Pharisees followed the law of Moses, the Jewish law, to the letter. They believed themselves to be the only righteous ones, making themselves the arbiters of what is good and what is not. They bend over backwards to create followers, yet their hypocrisy makes their converts just as lost as they are.   

Jesus tells the Pharisees and scribes that they are not the decision makers in the kingdom. They are hypocrites of the highest order, not compelling others to righteousness as they so believed, but they are pulling them down and causing them to stumble.  

He also emphasizes the distinct differences between the condemnation espoused by the religious leaders of the time and the welcoming arms of the Heavenly Father.  

What is it? 

In Matthew chapters 5-7, Jesus describes the Kingdom in His Sermon on the Mount. He paints a picture, inviting the crowd into His vision of the kingdom. 

He begins by welcoming the persecuted Jews around Him, providing comfort for people who are experiencing the torment of the Roman empire. He blesses them, promising them the Kingdom. I can imagine His words were soothing to a hurting, persecuted people, seeking to preserve their community. Jesus says; 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. –Mathew 5:3 

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. –Matthew 5:10 

Fulfillment of the Law 

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  

Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. –Matthew 5:17-20 

Jesus tells His Jewish listeners that He has not come to abolish the law they have faithfully followed for generations, but rather to fulfill it. Jesus is the Messiah, the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy who promised to bring renewal to the law of Moses.  

The remainder of the sermon, Jesus walks the crowd through each of the commandments, explaining how the kingdom of heaven will change and renew these laws. He did not come to remove systems of accountability, instead He emphasizes their importance, reminding us that only the most righteous can enter the kingdom.  

The next blog in the series will delve deeper into the commandments, studying the specific changes Jesus proclaims, like plucking one’s own eye out if it causes you to stumble. He flipped the law on its head, calling into question the root ethos of each, asking the crowd to look deeper and understand the meaning behind their rules.  

Righteousness 

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” –Romans 3:10-12 

Because the Jewish people were bound by a lengthy set of rules. The Jewish law, or the Halakhah, is an ordered way of life that includes rules about eating, drinking, bathing, dress, and how to observe Shabbat and other holidays. Many still live by this code today, observing centuries old tradition and living in a righteous manner.  

However, humans cannot be righteous enough for the kingdom by our works alone. The New Testament says that salvation then must come from Christ. Even the Pharisees, who follow the letter of the law, cannot enter into the kingdom without Jesus.  

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. –Matthew 6:1 

Jesus warns us to avoid performing righteousness for the approval of others. While we may be doing good work, like volunteering with a ministry, if we’re doing it for Instagram likes, we’ve already received our reward.  

The kingdom of heaven is the eternal reward, something that cannot be earned or bought. Jesus shared the vision of the kingdom to His people that day, bringing them close with comfort and hope for an eternity with Him.  

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Digging Deeper into the Word Prayer Spiritual Development

Peace in Chaos

Author: Rachel Kidd

Joy is peace dancing. Chaos is peace undefined. 

-F.B. Myer  

Baptist minister and prophetic evangelist Frederick Brotherton Meyer is best known for his part in the revival. Fittingly, his words on peace describe not a still peace, but rather one that moves, a living, active sort of peace.  

Revival happens when God’s presence brings hope and new life to His people, a renewal of faith, energy, and worship. Revivals tend to be on a large scale, inciting broad social change and inspiring zealous action.  

In short, revivals are not typically associated with peace. Many would describe revivals as chaotic, even sometimes energetic, and impassioned. Yet, they are also places of profound joy and peace, springing with God’s presence.  

I understand Myer’s description of peace as a spectrum, where joy becomes abounding peace personified and defined by the act of dancing. On the other hand, peace can also be utter chaos in its undefined and unregulated state.  

Without a clear definition and boundaries, peace can easily descend into chaos. God has the unique power to create, define, and transcend peace. Without the scripture, peace lacks the anchor it needs to exist. God and His word are the grounding force that defines peace, breathing it into our lives.  

 Peace, Defined 

You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. –Psalm 30:11 

Here in Psalms, God is described as a giver of joy, the source of a joy so profound, it overwhelms deep sadness and grief. A sackcloth was a piece of clothing made from rough, unfinished fabric worn by the Israelites in times of mourning.1  

By replacing the fabric associated with grief and death with fibers made from pure joy, we see God working to define peace as joy. This joy is manifested through dance, transforming into praise from tears.  

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,  a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. –Ecclesiastes 3:1-:4  

A scriptural support for the idea that peace exists on a continuum, this verse describes seasons of life. There is a time for everything, like the seasons change from summer to fall, from winter to spring, so we have times of sadness and times of joy. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. –Romans 15:13  

Romans encourages us with the hope of believing, praying joy and peace over those who believe in Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power of faith and the peace that follows.  

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. –Isaiah 55:12 

A prophecy of peace, this verse proclaims joy in the name of the Lord that is expressed through singing and clapping.  

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  

—John 14:27  

Jesus reminds us that He leaves us in peace, that He is the source of peace. He calls us to live not in fear and worry, but in peace that is not of this world.  

Peace Framework 

The concept of the peace framework helps us break down what it means to curate a peaceful life and truly understand the steps needed to take towards peace. There are three sides to the peace framework triangle; place, provision, and physical health.  

Each month in this series, we will dive deeper into each piece of the framework and get a better understanding of how we can apply these concepts as we create a peaceful life.  

 Much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the Peace Framework provides a structure that helps us understand the components of a broader concept. It breaks down something that can be difficult to grasp into pieces that are much easier to understand. 

  1. Place:  
    • Your environment, whether physical, mental, or social. 
    • Your place can impact your peace for the positive or negative. 
  2. Provision: 
    • Your belongings and monetary provisions that sustain you.  
    • Whether you have enough or not enough, the worry of providing for yourself and your family impacts your peace. 
  1. Physical Health 
    • Your well-being, safety, and mental stability.  
    • In times of sickness, whether physical or mental, people often experience a lack of peace.  

Each piece of the peace framework is applicable to everyone, regardless of where you live or your socioeconomic status. Helpful frameworks are broadly applicable and are easily adaptable to nearly anyone’s experience.  

 This series will delve deeper into each aspect of the peace framework and how we can apply the concepts to our lives, along with biblical knowledge, for a more peaceful and joy-filled life.  

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Prayer Spiritual Development

What is True Peace?

Author: Rachel Kidd 

In a tumultuous world riddled with anxiety and pressures ranging from irritating to life-threatening, we are constantly battling attacks to our peace. We are also bombarded with potential solutions for our anxieties, from spa days and self-care to therapy and medication.  

While these things are certainly beneficial and often life-saving and necessary, it is impossible to substitute any of these solutions for a relationship with God.  As believers, we know Jesus as the peace that passes understanding. He is the source of true peace.   

Finding Peace in Hard Times  

There is no doubt that life is hard, for everyone. We all experience the pain, heartbreak, and stressors of being human. While our experiences differ greatly based on our age, socio-economic status, and location, part of being human is going through hardships.  

 Particularly as Christians, God tells us that difficult times are to come, that we will face persecution and difficulties because of our faith. These trials, while seemingly impossible in the present, are used by the Lord to fortify us and bolster our character and faith. He provides us with strength and peace, enabling us to get through even the most difficult of circumstances. Leaning on Christ through earnest prayer and petition, casting our worries on Him, brings peace in dark times. When I feel discouraged, lonely, hurt, or scared, I open my Bible to find comfort. Praying and pouring over the Word promotes peace and a feeling of security, helping you grow closer to God.  

Peace in the Scriptures 

If you are feeling anxious, scared, discouraged, or alone, these verses may be what you need in those moments. Read these verses for a breath of God’s peace in your overwhelming day.   

Philippians 4:11-13 

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 

Paul is an excellent biblical example of finding the peace of the Lord in even the most dire of circumstances. He was beaten, imprisoned, and alone- yet he remained joyful and thankful to God. Paul reminds us that he understands our pain and that anything is possible with God.  

Matthew 5:9 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 

When you work to bring peace in your relationships and to others, God is sure to bless you. Blessings are not always tangible on earth in the form of money or possessions, but Christians can find comfort in the knowledge of heavenly rewards.  

Psalm 29:11 

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. 

When you are a believer and walk in faith, God calls you His and blesses you with strength and peace.  

Isaiah 26:3 

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  

In the Old Testament, in Isaiah, we are told that there are two conditions that must be met before God can bless us with peace. First, we must keep our minds steadfast, or resolute in our faith, and we must fully and completely trust in Him.   

Philippians 4:6-8 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  

Paul tells us that our thoughts are connected to our peace. When we ruminate on pain or darkness, we feel unsettled and discouraged. But, when we think of good and lovely things, even when those things are hard to find, we feel uplifted and encouraged. While it can be difficult to take control of our thoughts, doing so can make a dramatic difference in our emotional state.  

2 Corinthians 13:11 

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.  

Paul encourages us to live in a joyful community, fostering a spirit of peace and unity with our brothers and sisters. When we are in harmonious relationships with others, God blesses us with peace.  

Colossians 3:15 

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  

We are called to be thankful for what God has given us, allowing Him to rule over our hearts with peace.  

Romans 5:1 

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  

 Being faithful and sanctified through trials enables us to grow close to God and find peace in Him.  

To read more on peace and Paul’s explanation of the conditions God sets for peace, check out Prescription for Peace.  

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Digging Deeper into the Word Prayer Spiritual Development

Prescription for Peace

Author: Rachel Kidd 

Blessings 

Since the dawn of time, people have waged war and wished peace on each other. In the midst of feast and famine, peace and war, Believers in the early church pronounced blessings of grace, peace, and mercy. In the years that followed, followers of Christ continued this tradition of blessings of peace, especially in the most trying times.. This Gaelic Blessing is an excellent example of this emphasis on the peace that comes with Christ.  

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ, of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.
A Gaelic Blessing
God of Peace 

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3 

In the Old Testament book Isaiah, we are told that there are two conditions that must be met before God can bless us with peace. First, we must keep our minds steadfast, or resolute in our faith, and we must fully and completely trust in Him.  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:6-8  

In Philippians 4, Paul shares his practical advice for daily Christian living; a prescription for peace. He is talking about the peace of God, not world peace, rather the kind of perfect, personal peace that can only come through God.  

 Like Isaiah, Paul prescribes us twelve additional conditions we must meet in order for God to grant us His perfect peace.  

  1. Do not worry about anything.  

Paul was shackled in filthy, painful conditions in a Roman prison, beaten, whipped, and stoned. Paul was shipwrecked and blinded, experiencing all the horrors of persecution at the hands of the Romans. Yet, he did not worry because he relied on God’s grace.   

  1. Pray about everything.  

Sometimes prayer will deliver us from the pain we are experiencing, sometimes it will not. God sometimes chooses to give grace to live through the difficulty, the ability to endure it for His glory. 

  1. Think about good things.  

We are to control thoughts instead of letting them control us, not only for peace, but for sanity. To dwell on things that are unjust, painful, or impure only makes us feel discouraged and low. Even in the most difficult circumstances, thinking of good things that praise God will be uplifting to our soul.   

  1. Do what is right.  

Paul encouraged the Philippians to follow his example and live in a way that is right in the eyes of God. He tells them to do what they know and believe to be good and right.  

  1. Do not question the value of the good you have done.  

It can be difficult to live righteously and suffer in poverty, pain, or sickness while watching immoral, evil people live in comfort and wealth. But Paul reminds us that even if our good works are not rewarded on earth, we will be rewarded in heaven.   

  1. Be thankful.  

In prison, beaten and alone, Paul had two choices. He could grieve his unfortunate circumstances, or he could thank God for what he did have. He was alive and able to commune with the Lord, and so he chose to thank God for the opportunity to spend so much time with Him. We have that same choice too in our own difficult circumstances.  

  1. Be gentle.  

When we accept even our most difficult circumstances as the will of God instead of fighting against them, we can be at peace. This gentleness is of acceptance, understanding that we are a part of God’s plan.  

  1. Be patient.  

We have to learn to wait on the Lord, even when we don’t understand His ways or His plan for our life.  

  1. Remember the nearness of our Lord.  

The Lord always stands by us, even when others desert us. Paul was never alone, even when everyone he knew abandoned him, God never left his side. Remembering that our God is near brings us peace when we are lonely or afraid.  

  1. Find joy in knowing Christ and growing closer to Him.  

Our relationship with God should bring us joy as we learn about Him, bringing us peace rather than relying on the unreliable joy of earthly things.  

  1. Value the approval of God, far above that of others.  

The approval of man is conditional and fleeting, but walking in the way of the Lord means peace.  

  1. Rest your hearts and minds in Christ, knowing that He can do what you cannot do.  

It’s not what I am, it’s what He is. It’s not what I can do, it’s what He can do.  

God wants you to find true and lasting peace in Him. While the Western mind typically operates in “either, or” categories, the Eastern mind operates with the understanding of “both, and” categories. While God is a God of righteous wrath and judgment, He is also a God of peace.  May His peace rest upon you knowing that he wages war against the evil one on your behalf. 

Utilize this list from the Great Physician as a blessing and medicine for your soul in the midst of the battle. 

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Digging Deeper into the Word Prayer Studying the Bible

What is forgiveness? 

Author: Rachel Kidd 

We all want to be forgiven for our mistakes. When we bump into someone at the grocery store or forget about an important date, we usually want to be forgiven as quickly as possible. For little blunders, like stepping on someone’s toe, typically, a quick “I’m sorry” is met immediately with “that’s okay,” and all is forgiven. More egregious errors, like a car accident, usually take longer to be resolved and time for the relationship between the offender and the offended to be restored. Because we are human, we often struggle through our anger, hurt, and pride to forgive and be forgiven by others.   

Forgiveness is an intentional decision to let go of our resentment and anger towards someone else for an action that hurt us. It allows us to be in a continued, restored relationship with that person without hurt eroding it. When resentment is allowed to build up, it eats away at the fabric of the relationship and eventually destroys it.  

Forgiveness is essential to both interpersonal relationships and our relationship with God. Because of our sinful nature, we are inherently separated from the close relationship we were designed to have with God the Father. God cannot tolerate sin, no matter how much He loves us. This is why Jesus died to restore that relationship, forgiving all our sins that hurt God.  

 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. –1 John 1:9 

The Bible tells us that if we confess our sins and believe in the Lord, He will forgive us.  

Verses on Forgiveness 

We were shown incredible grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ and the scripture reminds us repeatedly that we are intended to extend this grace to others.  

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. —Ephesians 4:32 

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. –-Colossians 3:13  

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ 

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. —Matthew 6:12-14  

This section of the Lord’s Prayer, where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, specifically asks God to forgive us as we have forgiven others. It is a reminder to be constant in both asking for and extending forgiveness to others. It also indicates the importance of forgiveness, that it was included in the model Jesus gave us for prayer. He intentionally modeled and spoke about forgiveness, emphasizing how crucial it is in a faithful walk with God.  

What does it look like to forgive as Jesus forgave us?  

Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor 

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 

 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! 

“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. 

“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. 

“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. 

“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. 

When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. 

 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” —Matthew 18-21-35 

 Jesus tells Peter that we should forgive people “seventy times seven” times, extending a more than generous amount of grace. He then explains this concept in the form of a parable through the relationship between a master and his servant, who owed him a great deal of money. The servant is clearly in over his head, unable to even fathom repaying the debt to his master. He begged for pity and patience. His master did feel pity for the man, choosing to forgive him of his debt entirely.  

But the man then leaves and encounters another servant who owed him some money. He is angry and demands repayment, even when the other servant tells him that he is unable to pay. The man has the other servant arrested and shows no mercy. Hearing of his actions, the master rebukes the servant and tells him that because he showed mercy on him, he should have done the same to his fellow servant. As punishment, the master sends him to prison, destined to be tortured until his debt is repaid in full.  

Jesus gives us a glimpse here of our fate without forgiveness. He says that if we refuse to forgive others, we are destined to be judged for eternity. Because we were so graciously forgiven and Jesus paid our debts, shouldn’t we extend that same forgiveness to our friends and family, even strangers?  

Jesus is the ultimate example of forgiveness, the one who died so that all my sins could be forgiven and my relationship with God the Father would be fully restored. I know I sin every day, and I am far from perfect, but I still long for that forgiveness so I can be in a relationship with God. How can I then turn to a friend and refuse to forgive them for hurting me? How much more has God forgiven me? Jesus reminds us that our debts have been forgiven, debts that we could never even begin to repay. He urges us to lend that same forgiveness to others, giving them the gift that has been so generously given to us.  

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Digging Deeper into the Word Prayer Spiritual Development

Kingdom Minded Prayer

Author: Charles Hegwood

We do not often equate the Kingdom of God and our prayer life. We must answer the question of what does Kingdom minded prayer look like for the life of a follower of Jesus. Of course it should come as no surprise that Jesus has answered this question in several gospels. For example in Luke Jesus is modeling how to pray for His disciples. In Matthew, the focus of our discussion today, the context is the Kingdom of God. As we begin to dig into Matthew 6:5-15, we will see what a kingdom minded prayer is not and what it is. The main idea of our discussion is that unlike the hypocrites we should pray to the Father with His honor and Kingdom in mind.These are the prayers God hears and they change the way we talk with others.  

What Kingdom Prayer is Not  

Interestingly, before Jesus told His disciples what prayer is, He first reminded them of what it is not. If it was important for Jesus it must be important for us as well. People were praying. Prayer was not a new concept to the first century Israelite or the Gentile. But not all prayer is created equal. According to Jesus we should avoid praying to achieve adoration from others. This problem is not so foreign to us today. Imagine the person who stands up to pray and they give a great elegant prayer that is more of a performance than it is a genuine prayer. In Jesus’ day people would pray to be seen as holy and respected. Jesus’ response is to pray in private. Now Jesus is not suggesting that public prayer is wrong. The problem was the attitude of the person praying. Your attitudes toward your prayer are important too. Attitudes and motives matter. Remember, as we will soon see, we pray not to others, but to an audience of one; the Father.  

The second way not to pray is to not babel on and on. You may have experienced this. This is the person who gets up to pray and rambles. It is a salad of words and ideas. The use of the word ‘babel’ has the connotation of trying to capture God’s attention. This is a sputtering of words with the hopes of manipulation and pestering God. Jesus warns there is no need for this. The Gentiles pray in vain anyway. The Father listens to His children. You do not have to use many words or even fancy words to capture His attention or bend His arm. After all, God knows what you need before you ask. These are two attitudes and ways to not approach the Father. Then how are we to pray?  

What Kingdom Prayer is 

The word ‘therefore’ connects to what we just read and discussed which then progresses the conversation to what Jesus is about to say. Jesus will now utter the words that many a person can recite without much thought. I prayed this prayer with my marching band every Friday and Saturday during the Fall in my High School years. I often wondered if half of the people praying that prayer had given much thought to what it means. Have I? Have you? The ‘Lord’s Prayer’ is much more than just a prayer to recite; it is a guide to deep conversation with the Father.  

“Our Father”  

Words we say and so often overlook. We have become so desensitized to calling God Father that it does not mean much anymore. However, when Jesus told His disciples that Kingdom-minded prayer began with calling on God as Father, this was revolutionary. You would not have called God ‘Father.’ They did not think of God in this way. Yet Kingdom-minded prayer prays to our Father. We get to call Him Father. Marvel at the fact that we get to call on the King and creator of the universe Father. We are His family. We are His children. Pray not to a distant God in hopes that He may hear. Instead, call on a God who comes near and desires to be close to us. That should cause us to sit in amazement.  

“Your name be honored as holy.”  

We pray for the honor and glory of our Father. We do not pray from selfish ambition. The goal and hope of every prayer is that God would be lifted high. After all, this is how Jesus prayed while on earth. We want to realize that the Father is set apart from creation and perfect in all ways. As we pray kingdom-minded prayers we must keep God’s goodness and holiness at the forefront of our minds.  

“Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

  As we pray with the kingdom of God in mind, we pray for God’s will to be done. It will be done regardless of our prayer, but the beauty is that Jesus is welcoming us into the workings of the Father when we pray. We get to pray to unleash the will of God. We pray with the Kingdom in mind. We pray then with a purpose. What do I mean? Our prayers are not aimless and wandering, but driven with the glory of God and His purpose in mind. May we capture a kingdom vision for our prayers.  

“Give us our daily bread.”  

It is okay, even welcomed, to pray for our provisions. Kingdom-minded prayer incorporates what we need to accomplish God’s goals in this life. Jesus was preparing His disciples for a life of on the go ministry.  

Application of Kingdom-minded Prayer 

Wait, you skipped verse 12 and 13, you may be thinking. Well not quite. Verse 12 and what follows becomes the way prayer impacts our daily life. It changes the way we talk to other people. As we ask the Father for forgiveness we also forgive others as well. Look at verse 14 for reference. Jesus locked in on our forgiveness of others reflecting the heart of someone who prays to be forgiven and to forgive. Our prayers are not to be empty. They have purpose. Our prayers should promote change in our lives in how we interact and forgive others.  

Conclusion 

As we conclude our discussion of kingdom-minded prayer, we must realize that the follower of Jesus prays differently than the world. The glory and Kingdom of God drive our prayers. Our prayers drive us to engage the world around us as one who has truly met with the Father, the King of all Creation. This conversation with the Father leads us to forgive and show God’s love to a lost and dying world. Your prayer life will be reflected in your daily life. 

 

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All Digging Deeper into the Word Prayer

Five Verses on Prayer: Misunderstood Passages

Author: Jonathan Pruitt, Ph.D., Contributing Author for Foundations by ICM

 

Prayer is a powerful thing. If you ask around, you’re bound to find people who have incredible stories of how God made a real difference in their lives because of prayer. Many have stories about God-giving provision, transformation, healing, and comfort as a result of praying. Christians all over the world know the potency of prayer.

But even though prayer is something that we likely do every day, people sometimes misunderstand what the Bible says about it. Let’s take a look at five often misunderstood verses about prayer and five errors that come from reading them incorrectly.

Error #1: You Should Get Whatever You Pray For

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

If we read this verse without any context, it can certainly seem like the Bible promises that we can get whatever we want by simply asking and believing hard enough. If I want a new car, all I need to do is ask God and believe that. Then, sooner or later, there will be a shiny new car in my driveway. This magic formula is the secret to getting whatever I want. But, the Bible must always be read in context and the context can help us better understand what Jesus says.

James 4:3 helps us as well, showing that when we ask, our motives make a difference. God is not fooled by our words, he knows our motives as well.

Error #2: There is No “Right” Way to Pray

Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

If we read just a little further on in Mark, we find that Jesus gives us a command. When you pray, forgive. Forgiving others is a necessary condition for receiving God’s forgiveness. So, Jesus says, there is a right way to pray and a wrong way. We pray rightly when we are obedient to God’s commands and we stand in a right relationship with him. When we are obedient and want what God wants, we won’t pray for selfish or silly things. We will ask according to God’s will and then he is sure to answer our prayers.

Error #3: You Should Pray for Your Enemies to Be Destroyed

Psalm 10:15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.

Anyone who’s read through the Psalms likely noticed that in addition to the serene poetry of Psalm 23, we also find some angry, even disturbing passages, which ask God to bring severe judgment. These are called “imprecatory psalms.” One example comes from Psalm 10:15. Here we find David praying that God would “break the arm of the wicked and evildoer.” We should immediately note the context tells us that David is asking God to demonstrate his righteousness. David wants justice, not personal vengeance.

As Christians, it certainly makes sense to ask God to bring justice and righteousness to the world. But should we ask God to break the arms of the wicked? The first thing we should do is follow the command of Christ to love our neighbors and to turn the other cheek. We should pray for their repentance and that God would save them. But, like David, we can also ask that God vindicate us against injustice.

Error #4: You Should Pray for More Money

1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.

Jabez prayed that God would bless him by enlarging his borders, meaning that he would acquire more land. The Bible simply says, “God granted what he asked.” The question is, should we pray like this? God tells us that he wants to bless us after all (Matt. 7:11).

While some people might think it was selfish or greedy for Jabez to pray like this, the Bible says that it is acceptable to ask God for material things. Certainly, God does not owe us anything, and material prosperity does not correspond to God’s favor. Instead, His favor is on whoever does His will. If you ask anything according to His will, He will do it. But, as we highlighted earlier, if you ask with selfish motives, you should not expect the answer you are hoping for.

Error #5: You Should Pray Every Moment of the Day

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

The Apostle Paul writes that we should “pray without ceasing.” When I first read this passage years ago, I thought it meant that I should spend all day, every day, with my eyes closed and hands folded, praying to God. But that is likely not what Paul meant. This command comes at the end of a letter and, in letters of Paul’s time, it was common to end the letter with hyperbolic statements. It’s like when your mom tells you, “I’m always thinking about you.” She isn’t literally thinking about you at every second. Instead, she means she thinks about you a lot. Paul says we should pray like that. We should pray a lot. We should constantly be praying. It should be our consistent habit. As we go throughout the day, we should foster an awareness of God and turn to him with all our concerns and give him thanks for all his blessings.

Conclusion

It’s clear in Scripture that prayer is incredibly important, but that it’s frequently done wrongly. We can thank God that He saw fit to provide us with so many examples of how to, and how not to, pray. God wants us to approach Him boldly, frequently, and personally, but He is not a magic genie granting wishes. This shortlist of misunderstandings highlights the reality that God cares about how you pray.

 

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Reading the Bible Better: The Importance of Prayer

Author: Patrick Krentz Th.M., Managing Editor for Foundations by ICM

 

The Bible can be a bit intimidating. It’s huge, it’s ancient, and it’s inspired by the eternal God who made everything. How can we possibly understand it? Well, it is one of the great miracles of history that God has communicated His Word to us in a way that even children can get it. And He has made us a part of His Church, so we are not alone in the effort. So, let’s spend some time trying to understand how we can study Holy Scripture so that we might not only understand it, but be changed by it.

What makes the Bible so intimidating is also what makes it so approachable: it comes from God. This guarantees two things that we should always keep in mind: first, that it is inexhaustibly rich and full of meaning beyond anything we will ever know; but second, that God Himself desires to communicate to us in specific ways—ways we can understand and respond to. This means that, no matter who you are or how intelligent you may be, you will benefit from your study of Scripture, even if you study the same verses every day for the rest of your life. 

Now, if God desires for us to read and study His Word, we must come to it with certain expectations and follow certain rules in order to get the most out of our study. The first and most important rule is described in 1 Corinthians 2:14, where Paul tells us that “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” If we rely solely on our own, natural wisdom to understand God’s Word, which was breathed out by His Spirit according to 2 Timothy 3:16, it will seem to us a very foolish thing. We who are in Christ study Scripture in order to pursue God and deepen our relationship to Him. Therefore, we must rely on His Spirit, active in us, to fully comprehend and engage with His Word.

All of this is to say that, even before you read your Bible, begin your study with prayer. Ask the Spirit of God to do for you exactly what Jesus promised that He would do. Jesus tells us in John 14:26 that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” So, before you sit down to read Scripture, pray and ask God to teach you. Ask Him to help you understand what you read, to see new things that you’ve never seen before, and to understand and obey God as a result of what you read. 

Now, let’s take this understanding and apply it to an effective Bible Study method—inductive Bible Study.

Step 1: Observe the Text

The first step in a good inductive Bible study method is to observe the text. This means that you simply read the passage of Scripture, sometimes more than once, and make note of everything that stands out to you. Make note of what the passage tells you about God—who He is and what He wants. Make note of what it tells you about humanity—who we are, both as children of God and as sinful creatures. Finally, make note of any commands you see in the passage—how we are to respond to God. 

So far, this can all be done easily according to human wisdom, and it doesn’t require a relationship with God to do it. To transform your reading time from a book study to a devotional time of worship, take your observations and pray them back to God. Say anything that you find amazing or praiseworthy about Him. Remember, God loves to hear His own words spoken back to Him in praise and thanksgiving, so pray Scripture back to God. Then, tell God what you see about humanity, and about yourself, in the passage. You may see your own sin and shortcomings in the passage, so take time to confess. And finally, respond to any commands you see, telling God how you will obey, or confessing the difficulty you have with the command. 

When you respond to Scripture in this way, you are engaging with the God who is there; the very real and present God who indwells you by His Spirit if you are a believer, and who is the author of the words you are reading. You are no longer merely reading words printed on paper, you are conversing with your Creator who loves you and wants you to know Him. The next two steps fall in line with this:

Step 2: Interpret the Text 

After you have observed what is in the text, you can interpret its meaning. Sometimes the meaning will be clear, but there is often meaning beyond the surface. Other times you may have no clue what it means. Here, especially, prayer is needed. Ask God to help you understand His Word by His Spirit. God will certainly respond to the humble prayer, as James 1:5 says, “but if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” 

You will not likely experience an immediate flash of understanding. This will involve learning from others in your church community. It may be a long process of reading the Bible, wrestling with its content, and asking for clarity from people you can trust, but the Spirit of God will teach you according to His Word. The goal is not mere understanding. The Word is meant to change us, and that is why we also need step 3:

Step 3: Apply the Text 

Finally, you should look to apply what you have learned from Scripture and heard from God. If there were any direct commands in the passage you studied, this part is easy because it will be quite clear what you need to do. If your observation did not reveal an obvious application, ask God how He would like you to respond to what you’ve read. In either case, you can tell God how you want to obey His Word, what steps you will take, and that you need His help in doing so. And in every case, obedience means sharing what you have learned with others. 

Now, if you approach Scripture in this way, you will begin to see your Bible study time as a divine appointment; a meeting with Almighty God. Rather than sitting down with a boring, confusing book that you know you’re supposed to read, you can see that reading the Bible is like sitting down for a rich and engaging conversation with a friend who loves you, and a teacher who cares for you. This kind of study does not just inform you; it changes you.