August 20, 2016 § Leave a comment
The popular prayer for a “hedge of protection” may be getting an upgrade to stronger materials. Many pastors and missionaries, seeing a higher level of danger both physically and spiritually in today’s culture, are praying for a more substantial means of protection than the hedge, which dates back to the book of Job.
“A row of leafy bushes simply doesn’t cut it anymore in today’s world,” said Dale Hill, a pastor and structural engineer in Bakersfield, CA. “At our church, we’ve started to pray actual fences. Wood or vinyl at least. When we feel really spiritually oppressed, we go for steel-reinforced concrete barriers and the like.”
Julian Deever, who leads worship at Hillside E-Free in Denver, is trying a more transparent approach. “We’ve actually constructed sturdy plexiglass cages, like the one surrounding our drummer, for our entire worship team and pastoral staff. Take that, Satan!”
Denise Stewalski, a prayer warrior who owns ToughTree Landscaping in Chicago, doesn’t think Christians need to abandon the traditional hedge concept just yet. “There are some very sturdy bushes available to pray around your pastors, missionaries, and loved ones. Junipers, for instance, make pretty formidable barriers, and the reasons most homeowners hate them make them a great option. The roots are tough, they’re prickly to the touch, low maintenance, and they’re usually full of spiders and lost baseballs. I’d like to see the Devil try to get through a Juniper hedge.”
“We also have a sale on them this weekend,” she added.
What many Christians see as an issue over what a “hedge” is made of, some have a greater faith in the One who plants it. “If God puts a hedge of protection around you, the kind of shrubbery doesn’t matter. You are safe!” says Ellen Green, head of Horticultural Ministries at Park Forest Chapel in Memphis, TN.
If God’s ideal place for Adam and Eve was a garden, should we worry that His “hedge of protection” won’t protect us? Maybe we’ll be just fine among the hydrangeas.
January 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
Why be pro-life? In the free booklet ’21 Days of Prayer for Life’ is a great summary of four reasons we can’t scripturally, scientifically, or logically deny that the unborn have life and value equal to that of you and me. Nor can we claim our nation’s founding principals leave any room for legalized abortion, which has polarized America more than ever 43 years after Roe v Wade.
2) Science affirms life: The science of embryology is clear that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings.
3) Logic affirms life: If humans only have value because of some characteristic (like size, intelligence, or stage of development) they possess in varying degrees, those with more of it have greater rights than those with less.
4) America’s founding documents affirm life: If pro-lifers are irrational and unconstitutional for grounding basic human rights in the concept of a transcendent creator, our important historical documents—all of which advanced our national understanding of equality—are irrational and unconstitutional as well.
July 3, 2012 § 2 Comments
They say “prayer changes things”, but what does that mean exactly? Who or what is truly changed by our requests made to God? In numerous places throughout Scripture, we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and reassured that “He hears us.” (1 John 5:14). We know that God answers prayer with either “yes,” “no” or “wait.” Jesus says, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:14)
PRAYER DOESN’T CHANGE GOD
It seems that our prayers have the power to change the will of God. But do we really pray to a God who would bend to our requests? Our immutable Creator Himself says, “I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6) Can an unchanging God change His mind?
In Jeremiah 26:19, God appears to change His mind.
“Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord, and the Lord changed His mind about the misfortune which He had pronounced against them?”
Some scholars have pointed out that nacham, the Hebrew term for “change his mind”, can mean just that, but more often it means to change direction.
God’s omniscience and His perfect foreknowledge of what Hezekiah did, and what Hezekiah was going to pray, enables God’s will to include how He will answer prayer. In other words, when God changes our situation in response to our prayer, our prayers haven’t really changed His will. But before our prayers are even offered, God has already planned to change His course of action according to His ultimate plan. God knows everything all along.
PRAYER CHANGES US
This might prompt us to wonder why God urges us to pray when our prayers and His responses are already planned out. Why doesn’t He just act out His will from the start since He isn’t going to allow us to change His mind about it anyway? Why entertain the requests?
Because God desires a relationship with us, and relationships are grown through trust. As Christians, we should yearn to be closer to God, and we are closer to someone if we trust them. Prayer is one way of practicing and nurturing trust in God.
When we pray for answers, we trust that He is El-Roi—God who sees. When we pray for forgiveness, we trust that He is El-Nahsah—God who forgives. When we need His protection, we trust that He is Yahweh Nissi—the God who is our Banner. When we need healing, we trust that He is Jehovah-Rapha—the Lord that heals. When we need peace, we trust that He is Jehovah-Shalom—which means God is peace. When we ask God for anything at all, we are naturally trusting in the idea that He is strong enough, wise enough, caring enough to provide it. And trust strengthens any relationship.
There are conditions to God’s response to prayer, as James 4:3 warns: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” What are the right motives for prayer? The right motive is to ask for things that God would want. In others words, praying according to the will of God. In Matthew 6:10, Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done…” Trust is built when we desire God’s will be done in our prayers, even when it isn’t what we were expecting or wanting for ourselves.
Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:15)
Prayer doesn’t change God’s will; it changes ours by bringing us closer to Him. By wanting what our loving God wants, we see our thinking renewed and transformed, walking in step with Him. Is there a greater blessing we could expect if we were to pray in our own will?