Do Your Prayers Put God to Sleep?

This article was inspired by my friend and brother in Christ who posts articles at For Freedom – Galatians 5:1.

In a recent post, he offered some insights on prayer. I left the following comment:

One of my pet peeves are those repetitious corporate prayers that are recited in many evangelical churches. For example:

“Lord, we just want to thank you for (long pause), Lord, this opportunity, Lord, to worship you, Lord. And, Lord, (very long pause) we thank you, God, for blessing us, Lord, with every good blessing.”

After a minute or so your mind starts to wander, and you’re thinking about lunch. Imagine if people spoke like this in normal conversation:

“Michael, I really enjoyed this article. You made really good points, Michael. I think, Michael, you’re a great writer.”

People don’t talk like this! Most corporate prayer I hear is so awkward. I think this is what Jesus meant by vain repetition — speaking just to be heard, but with nothing to say.

[End comment]

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words (Matthew 6:7).

Ellicott suggested that modern prayer has become mechanical — lacking emotion. Compare the standard church service prayer with Yeshua’s prayer on the Mount of Olives:

And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:44 ).

I hear so many prayers that are devoid of any thought or feeling. They’re nothing more than a robotic recitation as if the speaker has given no thought as to what they might say. Then there are the speakers who have something to pray, but they repeat it a dozen different ways. After the second reprise I start to get droopy.

A good source of study on prayer is a book by Benjamin Reynolds, The Ten Greatest Prayers of the Bible. It’s available in Kindle format, or you can read it online here.

The greatest prayer ever spoken was the petition offered by Jesus Christ atop the Mount of Olives, but who among us has ever prayed with such emotion that we sweated blood?

Reynolds begins his book with Hannah’s prayer. If you’ll recall, Hannah was barren and this caused her extreme grief and distress. She prayed for years that the LORD might bless her with children. I said, she prayed for years. How many of us pray once and when nothing happens we conclude one of the following?

God doesn’t hear my prayer.
God doesn’t answer prayer.
God said no to my prayer.

The Lord doesn’t work according to our timetable. Abraham and Sarah were promised a son, but it was 25 years before Isaac was born. We have to understand that God is not constrained, but sees the bigger picture. Why didn’t Messiah enter our world after the Fall? Why were God’s people enslaved in Egypt for 440 years? Why has the Lord delayed his second coming?

Hannah’s long story short was that she finally reached an emotional break point, and poured out her heart to the LORD. Eli, the high priest, thought she was drunk, but Hannah answered:

No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation (1 Samuel 1:15-16 ).

Within a year, Hannah gave birth to Samuel — one of the greatest figures in the Bible. As evidence that the LORD always provides more than we may ask, Hannah delivered five more children.

We cannot worship the LORD nor offer prayers in vanity, unbelief or with an unclean heart and expect that God will receive them.

There is so much more to say about this, but I wanted to share with you the story of Benjamin Reynolds. He was afflicted with ulcerative colitis. One day his wife found him unconscious on the bathroom floor. He was held lifeless in her arms as she prayed to God to save her husband.

His was an out-of-body experience so dramatic and detailed that it is difficult to dismiss. Yet, we believe Ezekiel’s testimony of being carried up into the inner court of heaven (Ezekiel 8:3, Ezekiel 11:24, Ezekiel 43:5), or Paul’s testimony of being caught up in the third heaven after he was stoned and left for dead (2 Corinthians 12:2), or even John in his vision of the Apocalypse (Revelation 4:2).

I strongly recommend that you read Benjamin’s testimony. Due to Fair Use copyright laws I am not permitted to post his story here, but he recounts it in the preface of the book which can be viewed in preview format on Amazon. (Simply click on Look Inside on the product image.) I sincerely hope that you take a few minutes and read this brother’s compelling story of how prayer healed his body and saved his life. It’s truly amazing. I know you will be blessed.

Book Review: The Ten Greatest Prayers in the Bible by Benjamin Reynolds.

The book received outstanding reviews on Amazon (93% 4-stars or above). There were only a few 3-stars, and none lower.  One of the 3-star reviews noted the poor editing, but they recommended the book as a “tremendous tool”. If you view the author’s bio you’ll see that he is rather accomplished and well-educated.

The book was poorly edited as if it had not even been proofread. However, I agree with the reviews that it is a useful tool if for no other reason than it encourages discussion, promotes Bible study and highlights the importance of prayer. For me, the Table of Contents is valuable as the starting point for further group study. The ten prayers are useful examples of how we should pray individually and as a body.

I posted the link to the free online version of the book. You don’t have to sign-up, and may close the box that asks you to log in. As a group study tool the book may inspire a deeper appreciation for the necessity of prayer.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

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A Call to Prayer

A house divided against itself cannot stand. — Abraham Lincoln

Today, I want to address the escalating tensions that are rocking America. To my brothers and sisters in Christ who are apolitical I only ask that you hear me out. I promise to conclude this post with a spiritually relevant observation.

Readers of this blog know that I am a conservative. The radical left hates people like me. They hate my faith and they hate my politics. One of their weapons — quite effective, actually — is to simply smear the opposition. One way they do this is by hurling insults. If you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth so they label their opponents as racist, sexist, homophobic, and misogynist until it sticks in people’s minds and becomes their reality.

As I’ve noted before these tactics are right out of the leftist playbook, Rules for Radicals. The author, Saul Alinsky, influenced the politics of people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who wrote that conflict is the route to power.

This echoes Alinsky’s thoughts that a community organizer should be abrasive, inciting resentment and hostility, an agitator to the point of conflict.

The Democrat Party, at least in my lifetime, has adopted these principles in order to gain and hold power. They incite class warfare on a variety of fronts — sex, race, age, income and, more recently, gender identity. These tactics are intended to divide the country, and create a power base from which Democrats can rule in these Divided States of America.

A young woman, speaking on a university campus, said:

There will be casualties. Unfortunately, people must die in order to effect change.

I guess she took Obama’s change theme to the extreme. Christian, you can hide your head in the sand for so long, but this is the face of evil. This young woman is an Obama-baby who represents the base of the Democrat Party.

Have you heard of Antifa? DisruptJ20? DC Welcoming Committee?

Antifa (antifascist) is a worldwide movement that organizes protest marches against the establishment (Western, capitalist democracies). They are known for wearing masks and inciting violent resistance through a diversity of tactics. You saw them marching in front of the Trump hotel on Inauguration Day.

DisruptJ20 is an organization that pre-planned many of the nationwide marches against President Trump. (What appeared on the nightly news as spontaneous protests were events organized before Trump took the oath of office.)

DC Welcoming Committee is a branch of the national Welcoming Committee. With offices in cities across the country it is a LGBTQ activist organization that participated in the protest marches on Inauguration Day. That explains the gay protesters I saw kissing in front of the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave.

Antifa and DisruptJ20 were involved in the violent protests at Berkeley which resulted in the cancellation of speeches by conservative pundits such as Milo Yiannopoulos (senior editor at the conservative Breitbart News).

Yiannopoulos was especially targeted because he is homosexual. Aren’t liberals the defenders of gay people? This is the deception that lies at the core of liberalism. If you are a conservative member of any one of the designated oppressed classes you are an even greater threat to the liberal agenda, and must be silenced.

Ask yourself this: Who are the fascists?

Recall Madonna’s profanity-laced speech at the Women’s March where she blurted out that she often thought of blowing up the White House. It was an inciteful thing to say prompting an investigation by the Secret Service and FBI.

More recently, Kathy Griffin made headlines for posting that very disturbing photo. (No further comment is necessary.)

Conservatives (and Christians) are excoriated for the most innocent of offenses. The double-standard and hypocrisy is numbing to my soul. Then Griffin had the gall to stage a photo-op with her lawyer claiming that she was the victim.

At the pre-election debate, Donald Trump was asked if he would accept the results of the election, and was crucified for his uncommitted response. Democrats have refused to accept that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. They have behaved like temperamental infants, and will not be satisfied with anything less than impeachment.

For months the public has been fed a steady diet of anti-Trump rhetoric. It has become an obsession of the mainstream media to defame, belittle, libel, slander, malign, smear, vilify, besmirch, disparage, and discredit this President.

Hillary lost the election because of her policies, and in the end she resorted to mudslinging. The media picked up Clinton’s fumble, and has continued pushing the negative stereotype. Push the negative hard enough, taught Alinsky, and it becomes the reality.

Let’s stop here for a moment and consider these things in light of the shooting at the Republican softball practice. The shooter reportedly was a volunteer on the Bernie Sanders campaign. He posted anti-Trump propaganda on his Facebook page, and allegedly asked if the softball team was Democrat or Republican before opening fire.

There is a civil war (small letter “c”) raging in this nation. The Republicans didn’t start it, nor did the Christians. It is fueled and flamed by leftist activists who are intolerant of anyone who resists their imposition of an ideology that is anti-Christian, anti-Constitution, anti-capitalist, and anti-democratic.

The Democrat Party is complicit. The politics of division breeds discontent which is sometimes manifested in violent protest.

Young people, idealistic by nature, have been so indoctrinated by leftist ideology that they are emotionally incapable of even hearing contrary views. I fear for a nation where colleges and universities have to provide safe-rooms (stocked with Play-Doh, crayons, coloring books, and bubbles) to sooth the angst of students who panic whenever they hear the name Donald Trump.

The Spiritual Lesson

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

I did not vote for Barack Obama, and disagreed with his policies. He was wrong on health care, abortion, and gay marriage. I did, however, pray for President Obama (as I do for President Trump.) It is the Christian’s duty to pray for our leaders.

We are not like the zealots who expected Jesus Christ to take up arms against the Romans. We are non-violent and peacefully resist. We do not wear masks, throw bottles, break storefront windows, overturn cars, nor set fire to emergency vehicles. We respect the office of the President — as Kathy Griffin once lectured Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

And we pray.

LORD,

May you pour out your Holy Spirit upon this nation for restoration and revival.

May you strengthen our families, and protect our children.

May you heal this nation of its spiritual ills which are manifested in social strife, cultural malaise, moral decline, political violence, and financial bankruptcy.

May you lift up America unto Thy glory, and as a witness unto all the nations.

In the blessed name of Jesus.

Amen

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

In Search of God

The pastor of a mega church in Colorado led his members in a Tantra meditative session to close out the Sunday service. People who felt uncomfortable with the breath and hum meditation were invited to leave.

The pastor had just come back from a missionary trip to Africa. While there he had a crisis of faith. He couldn’t understand why God would allow so much suffering and deprivation.

He said that he was on the verge of a breakdown when, one evening, he called his wife and sobbed uncontrollably. The peace of God had left him yet he couldn’t help but notice that the tribal people, in the midst of their squalor, were comforted by their worship of pagan deities.

The pastor then remembered the books that his mother gave him when he was a child. This was what interested me about the pastor because my mother gave me the same books about Native Americans and their cultural and religious customs which were not unlike the tribal rituals in Africa. He noted that indigenous people everywhere seek after their gods for comfort. They are no different from Christians and Jews. By whatever name He is called, people are seeking God.

To deal with the stress of his African trip he started doing breathing exercises that he had learned from his study of Eastern religions. There, somewhere on the African plain, he claims to have had a ‘God’ experience.

He couldn’t explain what happened except that it was a deeply spiritual event that was triggered by his chakra breathing technique.

We are all searching for God. People have different customs around the world, but they all are seeking communion with God. Their ways may be different from ours, but they are seeking the same peace of mind. As Christians we believe in Jesus Christ, and that’s a good thing; but other people groups seek God according to their customs and traditions. They don’t know Jesus Christ, but they are spiritual people. We seek God in the way we were taught, but it’s not the only way. I mean, we believe that Jesus Christ is the way to God, and that’s fine; but tribal people who are without that knowledge seek the same God.

I want us, as a church, to close our eyes and breathe together — in and out. As we breathe I want us to notice the rhythm of our breathing. In that rhythm we find harmony and closeness with God. This is sort of like what happened to me in Africa. A sudden peace just washed over me.

This practice is foreign to us as Christians so if you feel uncomfortable you may leave.

So, on this particular Sunday, the pastor decided to close out the service with a group breathing exercise. It was an interesting experiment where Christianity was seasoned with a touch of Hinduism.

Christians Practicing Yoga posted on their Facebook page:

(We) want a Church that takes the connection between the body, mind, and spirit more seriously. (We) envision a Church that recognizes the importance of the body in the spiritual life and is more open to popular practices that lead to calm and connection.

These popular practices include yoga. The blurb was an excerpt from an article about Ignatian Yoga that appeared in The Jesuit Post. Ignatian Yoga is a blend of Christianity and Eastern meditative arts designed to create body awareness, spiritual and psychological development and connection to the presence of God. Breathing and stretching techniques are necessary to create the proper balance between body, mind and spirit. Only in this balanced state can we connect with God.

Trendy millennials, young women in particular, are especially seduced by New Age, metaphysical practices. According to the Yoga Journal over 80% of the 23 million yoga practitioners are women (18-44). It has become a $27B  industry.

The Christian Research Institute (CRI) called this popular trend Satanic, but when faced with opposition and declining contributions they recanted (although CRI still advises caution for those who practice the Eastern arts.)

I noted in another post an article titled, How Satan Deceives Women to Corrupt the Church. Since Eve in the Garden this has been true. Anyone who claims that the church is patriarchal does not understand the powerful influence that women have always held in the church. Christian women who are practitioners insist that yoga has physical and mental health benefits that are separate from the spiritual implications. And, they argue, the Bible teaches that we should meditate. However, when the Psalmist (Aleph) wrote …

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways (Psalm 119:15) …

… he did not mean that he would twist himself into a pretzel, breathe in rhythm and chant Jehovah’s name. The verse following explains that, by meditation, the psalmist will delight in God’s statutes and remember His word.

One Christian woman said that the yoga she practices is so Westernized that the pagan symbolism has no force of effect. It’s like eating meat offered to idols, but all of the Yogi masters I researched concurred with Dr. George P. Alexander from Sri Lanka:

Yoga poses are offerings to the 330 million Hindu gods. Many Westerners who practice yoga today are unaware that the physical positions assumed in yoga symbolize a spiritual act: worshiping one of the many Hindu gods. To a Hindu, yoga is the outward physical expression of a deep spiritual belief. You cannot separate one from the other.

Yoga professor Subhas Tiwari, Swami Param and Hinduism Today agreed that yoga is Hinduism, and it is naive to think one can separate the physical aspect from the religious structure.

The positions and breathing techniques are designed to make the practitioner one with God. But what god? Certainly, Christianity does not teach this as we learn from the Apostle Paul …

… for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).

There are many ways to stretch and tone and care for your body that are not tainted by Eastern mysticism. Paul does not imply that we should not exercise — only that godliness is of more value in this life and beyond.

Yoga practitioners claim mental health benefits, but a study by the University of Rochester concluded that prayer has meditative health benefits and is the most widespread alternative therapy in America today. The study found that people who pray are statistically healthier and longer-lived. Prayer calms the mind, lowers blood pressure and boosts the immune system while increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is associated with a greater sense of well-being.

Consider this, 35 years ago aerobics studios were the ubiquitous cultural fad. Like yoga shops are today, there were aerobic dance gyms everywhere. Inspired by the very popular movie Flash Dance, aerobic exercise was the dominant trend of the 1980’s. Likewise, yoga is a youth-oriented fad that may go the way of leg warmers.

The world is a distraction, and Satan uses that to deceive many. In my neighborhood yoga shop they have a little Buddha that people rub as they greet one another with the cordial namaste which is a recognition of the Divine spark dwelling within the heart chakra.

There is a lord god of Yoga. His name is Shiva. He represents the eternal life force, and the one who conquers death. Christian practitioners will say that yoga is as harmless as putting up a Christmas tree. But is it?

CRI reported:

“Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “yogah”, which means “to yoke or to unite.” Indeed, the goal of yoga is to uncouple oneself from the material world and to unite oneself with the God of Hinduism, commonly understood to be Brahman, the impersonal cosmic consciousness of the universe. Put another way, yoga is the means by which the user’s mind is merged into the universal mind.

While an alarming number of American Christians suppose they can harmlessly achieve physical and spiritual well-being through a form of yoga divorced from its Eastern worldview, in reality attempts to Christianize Hinduism only Hinduize Christianity.

The sin of Israel is that it adopted the customs of its pagan neighbors; and Christians are similarly called to not be conformed to the world. My recommendation? Go for a walk, eat a good meal, take a nap … and say a prayer.

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate