Worship

Persevering Prayer

While most of us have never been imprisoned for our faith, I had an experience of being interrogated by the KGB in the summer of 1986 while serving on a short term mission in the former Soviet Union. Because of our evangelistic activity, our team was asked to stop “spreading our propaganda” or we would be asked to leave the country.

In Acts 4, Peter and John were facing similar opposition for their faith and likewise were commanded not to “not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” However, like my team in the Soviet Union, they could not help speaking about what they had seen and heard (4:20) and upon their release prayed to God in the midst of their opposition.

In looking at the prayer of Peter and John, I see four principles of how to pray in the midst of opposition. First, they focused on the character of God. They acknowledged God as the one who is in control of all things and as such, the one who they could trust with their lives. Second, they focused on the eternal truths of God’s word, quoting from Psalm 2. They focused on Scripture that was relevant to their situation and used it as a guide in their prayers. Third, they prayed for God to change their response to the opposition, not for deliverance from their circumstances. Finally, they got involved in what they prayed for and spoke the word of God boldly.

This year our small group ministry will be focusing on developing our prayer muscle. And I hope our prayers will be similar to those of the early disciples when we encounter similar opposition. I’ll keep you posted.

An Undivided Heart

Going to college in Santa Barbara was the ultimate experience! For four years I lived life on the coast with the all the amenities and distractions that come with beach living. I remember failing one of my first exams during my freshman year after attempting to study at the beach on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Even studying in the library was a challenge, as almost every window in the library had an ocean view.

College was full of distractions! There were plenty of things that could have easily divided my heart and my interests. Each day I was faced with choices and challenges; however, as I faced those challenges, I remembered the promise I made to God, which was to live for him no matter what.

In 2 Kings we see a picture of divided loyalty. 2 Kings 17:38 says, “they worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods.” In other words, the Israelites had a divided heart. Jesus taught about this during his Sermon on the Mount when he said, “no one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).

While the distractions in college were many, I find that there are so many more things to capture my affections in this technological age. I guess life has always had its distractions; however, I don’t want that to be an excuse. God desires that our heart would be unwavering in our commitment to him. May that be true of me! May that be true of us!

“give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” — Psalm 86:11, NIV

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