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I received permission from Jon Graf to post the daily Connection! prayer devotions on Pray.Network.  These devotions are available as a free e-mail subscription from the Harvest Prayer Ministries website at http://connection.harvestprayer.com/.

I have found these devotionals to be not only inspirational but also great equipping for my own prayer life.  There aren't many devotionals that are actually about prayer - most have a quick prayer at the end and that's about it.  But this one has prayer as its focus.  I thought others on the Network might be interested in it.  I will attempt to post each one daily - although I'll inevitably miss here and there. 

I have previously written a Spotlight blog post on the Connection! devotional; if you're interested, check it out here: http://www.pray.network/profiles/blogs/praynetwork-spotlight-connec....

I hope you enjoy and benefit from this devotional as much as I have.

--Andrew

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May 19: Getting to Know God

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6).

God does not want us simply to toss requests at him, hoping that some of them will be answered. He wants us to ask, knowing he is there, claiming what he promises, trusting that he will act in line with his nature and that his purposes will be achieved. That’s praying in faith.  When you ask a person for something in good faith, you don’t ask for something the person would not be willing to give. Similarly, if you truly know God, you will only ask for what is in accord with his will and not for anything that is purely selfish. If you want to grow strong in prayer, grow strong in faith. If you want to grow strong in faith, get to know God better. If you want to get to know God better, spend time with him, reading his Word and listening to his Spirit.

Father, draw me closer to You today so that my requests will be in line with Your perfect will. Keep my prayers focused upon Your kingdom come, Your will be done rather than upon my own selfishness. I want to know You, Lord God! Give me the discipline I need to dig into Your Word, spend time with You and help me to listen to the voice of Your Spirit!

Prayer Points

Praise the Lord, “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6). Thank God that you have been forgiven of all your sins because of Jesus’ work for you. Confess in detail your sins, asking for a greater awareness of sin in your life. Commit yourself to putting on “the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Ask “to be made new in the attitude of your [mind]” (Eph. 4:23).

Pray that no animosities or rivalries will be at home in your congregation, and that your congregation will experience peace and wholeness. Ask that you and your fellow Christians will prize the healthy relationships which you have with each other.

–Adapted from Love to Pray: A 40 Day Devotional for Developing Your Prayer Life by Alvin J. VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 20: The Church Triumphant

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Perhaps the greatest need of our day is for praying Christians. When we look at the warfare, both in the world and in the church, the clear-minded, self-controlled Christian will drop to his or her knees in fervent, Spirit-led prayer. The church triumphant is a church connected with her Head through prayer and moving boldly through the current warfare with her eyes fixed firmly on Jesus…  take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

“Lord Jesus, I give You thanks for Your victory over the enemy. I choose today to walk in Your victory. Through You Lord, I push back my enemy, through Your name, I trample my foe. Help me to always keep my eyes fixed on You. I take heart this day that You have overcome the world!”

Prayer Points

Praise God as the constant and loving provider for all your needs. Give thanks to the Lord that his grace is sufficient for you (2 Cor. 12:9). Confess any times you have questioned the Lord’s dealing with you and others. Commit yourself to “be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11). Ask that daily you may confidently say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

Pray that specific “Christ-less” individuals whom you know will be discontented with life without Christ, and seek life in him. Ask for the privilege of being involved in their conversion.

–Adapted from The Devil Goes to Church (Prayer as Spiritual Warfare) by David Butts. This resource is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 21: Reverential Awe

“He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm 145:19).

When we draw near to God in reverential awe, what the Bible often calls “fear,” we are in the proper place to receive from Him the desires of our heart.  Fear of the Lord means that we are aware that He is God and we are not.  It places Him over us as Lord, and we bow before Him, seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.  In that godly place of prayer and submission, it delights the Lord to delight us.  “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed” (Psalm 20:4).  “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).

Holy God, I bow my heart before You, longing to hear Your voice.  Draw me close to Your grace-filled heart so that I might be completely transformed by Your Presence living within me. 

Prayer Points

Praise God as the one from whom all things have come; praise him as the one to whom you are going when you are called home. Thank God that your relationship with him extends beyond this life. Confess the times when your focus has been only on physical needs, not God’s eternal purpose for you (Mt. 6:33). Commit yourself to seeking God’s will for you and to hearing the voice of his Spirit through the preaching of the Word. Ask God to reveal himself to you in his splendor and glory.

Pray for those preachers in other countries who must serve eight or ten churches at a time. Ask God to give them strength and to provide lay leaders who can minister in their absence.

–Adapted from Pray like the King: Lessons from the Prayers of Israel’s Kings by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 22: A Heart of Gratitude

Praise is so important to an effective prayer life.  In Paul’s experience, we see praise opening the way of victory as he and Silas sat in prison (Acts 16).  Praise affects both the one giving praise and the One receiving praise.  Psalm 22 tells us that God inhabits or indwells the praises of His people (22:3, KJV).  While we benefit greatly from our praise of God, always remember that we should not praise Him for the purpose of getting something for ourselves.  We praise Him simply because He is worthy of praise.

After reminding Timothy where Paul had come from and what Christ had done for him, Paul said, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17).  His praise spilled over from a heart of gratitude.  We need to continually foster the same posture in our lives.  When we pray, we often should reminisce about all that God has done for us…then let that gratitude overflow into bursts of praise!

God, I praise You for who You are: the only One worthy of praise and honor.  You are worthy of all my praise, for You have all power and strength and honor and wealth.  Your glory overshadows all.  I am humbled in Your Presence.

Prayer Points

Praise God as the great and powerful Creator who has no equal on earth or in the spiritual realm. Give thanks for the vast, eternal reaches of God’s knowledge and wisdom. Confess those times when you have not trusted in God’s leading. Commit yourself to spending more of your prayer time meditating on the depth of his knowledge and understanding. Ask God to daily make you aware of his power, his wisdom, and his great love for you.

Pray that your pastor and elders will spend increasingly more time in prayer for God’s guidance in the direction of the church, relying on the Spirit’s leading and the instruction of God’s Word (Acts 6:4).

–Adapted from Praying Like Paul (Learning to Pray the Kingdom for Those You Love) by Jonathan Graf. This resource is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 23: Praying for Our Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45a).

“But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Jesus had enemies…and they crucified Him. Yet, as we know, He had the ultimate victory in the end. But because God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to die, His Son did not leave the earth without praying for those who were responsible for His death. Jesus, who told us to love and pray for our enemies, demonstrated the ultimate gift of love while hanging on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34a). Jesus prayed for His enemies…how can we do less?

One of the most amazing commands of Christ is to love our enemies. In our flesh, we naturally want to retaliate or fight back when we are treated unkindly or persecuted. Jesus preached forgiveness and mercy: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). His lifestyle demonstrated grace, that ours might also. He took His command one step further, adding another level of difficulty: “Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44b). Jude also spoke about the importance of mercy: “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them…” (Jude 1:22). Because of God’s mercy, we were saved. We must extend His mercy to those who are still enemies of God, so that they might also receive what we have been given.

Father, give me a heart filled with mercy so that I am able to love and pray for those who mistreat me.  Give me Your grace to love them as You do, and to see them with Your eyes of compassion. 

Prayer Points

Praise God as the provider and sustainer of all things (Ps. 145:15-16). Give thanks for the tenderness and the care that the Lord gives to the creatures that he has made (145:8-9). Confess those times this past week when you have forgotten to look on other people or other parts of God’s world with the same love that is in God’s heart. Commit yourself to treating others with the same compassion as God does. Ask God to fill your heart with his care, concern, and tenderness.

Pray for families in which the parents are too busy to really listen and respond to their children’s needs. Ask God to help them set their priorities in line with his will for their families.

–Adapted from the article Praying for Our Enemies by Kim Butts. Click the link to read the entire article.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 24: Do What He Asks

“We have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him” (1 John 3:21-22).

Obedience is fundamental to effective prayer. Only people who obey God have the right to go into his presence with requests. God delights in the prayers of his obedient children. When we want what God wants and live the way he likes, then we will tend to pray prayers that God will answer in the way we expect. And God, in answering our prayers, is supporting what he approves. Were God to answer the prayers of the disobedient, he would be aiding and abetting what he does not approve. That would be out of character for God. To put it in other words, if we expect God to do for us what we ask, we should be prepared to do for God what he asks. If we listen to his words of command, God will listen to our words of request.

This principle also explains much of the weakness of prayer. Lack of power, lack of perseverance, and lack of confidence in prayer all stem from some lack in the Christian life. Often when prayer fails and we receive no answers, we assume the problem is in God while in reality the problem really is in us.

Gracious God, I give You praise for Your generous, giving nature.  Forgive me of my failure to keep Your commands and to do what pleases You.  Help my desires in prayer to be in perfect alignment with Your will for the glory of Your kingdom. 

Prayer Points

Praise God as the Rock, your stronghold and fortress (Ps. 144:1-2). Thank him for being a solid foundation on which to stand spiritually, so that nothing can shake you (Mt. 7:24-25). Confess those times in your life when you have stepped off the rock solid foundation of God’s Word and relied on your own understanding. Commit yourself to building your life on Christ’s teachings. Ask God to help you plant your feet firmly in his Word each day.

Pray for the devotional times of the families that you know, that regular times of prayer and Bible reading will help bond family members to each other and to God. Pray that your single friends may find a group of spiritual brothers and sisters to do this with as well.

–Adapted from Love to Pray: A 40 Day Devotional for Developing Your Prayer Life by Alvin J. VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 25: Clothed with the Armor of Christ

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).

When I put on God’s armor daily I am reminded that I am in a battle. Awareness floods into my soul that I have awakened to danger that day. But even more there is the quiet assurance that I follow the Commander-in-Chief of the Lord’s Armies. He has provided both victory and protection for me in the midst of the day’s struggles. He has loaned me His very own armor. So with great joy, I pray, gratefully accepting and clothing myself with His armor. Alert to the battle, prepared through prayer, I move through the day’s battles, not with fear, but with confidence in my Lord’s victory.

Father, forgive my unawareness that I am in a battle daily, and that You have provided the means for my victory through Your resurrection! Thank You for the precious armor that helps me to meet the challenges and struggles of each day with confidence rather than fear.

Prayer Points

Give praise to God as the Comforter, who feels deeply for those who have been mistreated and abandoned (Isa. 49:13). Thank him for calling many believers into compassionate ministries for the sake of those who are suffering.

Confess those times when you may have withheld comfort from others who needed it. Commit yourself to receiving God’s encouragement and grace each morning and allowing that to flow through you to others. Ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his love, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19).

–Adapted from The Devil Goes to Church (Prayer as Spiritual Warfare) by David Butts. This resource is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 26: Lifestyle Transformation

“Against you, and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:4).

Confession is simply agreeing with God concerning our sin.  Like the parable of the lost son, we must say to the Lord, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you” (Luke 15:21).  Then we will hear Him say lovingly to us, “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:24).  As soon as we confess with a repentant heart, we have His forgiveness!  Repentance is when we determine to make a change in our mind and our will that comes out of deep sorrow for sin.  It leads to a transformation of lifestyle!  David certainly determined to live a life worthy of God’s call upon his life.  Read Psalm 51 to hear his heart on the matter.

Loving Father, help me to keep short accounts with You from day to day, so that I am not overcome with sin.  May Your Holy Spirit convict me quickly so that I may confess and repent of my sins before You.  Thank You for promising to forgive when I come before You with a “broken and contrite heart.” 

Prayer Points

Praise God as the eternal and triune God—the mystery of God in three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thank him for promising to make all believers one, just as the three persons of God are one (Jn. 17:20-23). Confess any tendency in your conversations or thoughts to work against this oneness of mind and purpose in the church. Commit yourself to working toward the unity of believers that is beautiful in God’s sight (Psalm 133). Ask God to make you more sensitive to his will and purpose in this area.

Pray that less important issues and controversies not be allowed to prevent the church from “being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Phil. 2:2).

–Adapted from Pray like the King: Lessons from the Prayers of Israel’s Kings by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 27: Ever-Increasing Glory

 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Jesus wants to change us into His image.  Believers who grow deeper in their faith understand that.  The Christian life is one of constant change, constant refining, constant reshaping.  Every experience that comes into our lives has a refining purpose, an “ever-increasing glory” purpose.  We join the process to an even greater degree if, through prayer, we surrender and open ourselves up to it.

Father, I know You want to transform me into the image of Jesus.  I want that in my life.  I surrender to Your work in me.  Please sanctify those areas of my life that continue to need refining.  I want to be kept blameless until the coming of Your Son.  Even if it is painful, Father, keep drawing me into a greater walk with You, into a deeper faith and experience of Your Son.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer Points

Glorify the Son of God as one who is worthy to receive all power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise (Rev. 5:12). Thank him for having given up all this to die on a cross in your place. Confess any times when you have put your own interests above those of God and others. Commit yourself to being a faithful disciple of Jesus, finding your life by losing it for him and the gospel (Mk. 8:35). Ask Jesus to help you understand what it means to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him.

Pray that family and friends will be kept from a materialistic lifestyle that serves money rather than God (Luke 16:13).

–Adapted from Praying Like Paul (Learning to Pray the Kingdom for Those You Love) by Jonathan Graf. This resource is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 28: Silence in Heaven

“The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:4).

In Revelation chapter eight, we see the incense burners and the smoke, which John says represents the prayers of the saints. He says when they are offered up there is silence for thirty minutes. Why? Because something is about to happen, the magnitude of which we don’t even begin to know. Everyone is breathless and watching. After the silence, the angels move into place and the rest of the Book of Revelation unfolds – with all the thunder and lightning and all the destruction, as well as the redemption, with the saints rising up and showing themselves to be overcomers and victorious through it all. The rest of the Book of Revelation is the answer to the prayers of the saints.

There is silence in heaven because God is about to answer the prayers of the saints beyond what any of them had dared to dream or believe was possible. They’ve had foretastes to be sure. But there is even more to come and somehow in the divine economy, what God does in the rest of the Book of Revelation is related to the prayers of His people, including your prayers this very day. The implications of the supremacy of Christ for our life of prayer are significant. As Paul says in Ephesians 3:20-21, He whose power is at work in us is willing to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. “Now to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever.”

Father, breathe Your life into my spirit, so that I might see the supremacy of Jesus in all of life – past, present, and future. 

Prayer Points

Praise your Father in heaven (Mt. 6:9). Thank him for including you as a son or daughter in his family. Confess moments when you’ve acted like an orphan, turning your back on God’s fatherly love. Commit yourself to deeper fellowship with your Father. Ask him to reveal his abiding love in your life through his Word and Spirit.

Think of one friend or coworker who has not experienced God’s fatherly love in a redeeming way. Pray for an opportunity this week to speak to that person of the hope that you have (Eph. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:15).

—Adapted from a message by David Bryant entitled, A Christ Awakening and the Movement of Prayer, given at “The Christ Awakening” Conference, held in Terre Haute, Indiana, October 23-25, 2003. Used by permission. Click on the link to read the entire article.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 29: Blank Checks

“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24).

By offering to let us pray in his name, Jesus is offering an amazingly great privilege. It’s as if he is giving us blank checks to be drawn on his account, knowing we will use them for his honor and his advantage. Jesus is demonstrating great trust in us. He is trusting that his honor and his interests are safe in our hands. Consider what it would mean to place your estate in the hands of another person: your credit cards, your home, your investments, your automobiles, your responsibilities, everything. You’d pick that person very carefully, wouldn’t you? You’d really be giving that person control over your life and your future. That’s essentially what Jesus did when he authorized us to use his name in prayer. He gave us authority over his accounts. He asked us to exercise control over his estate—the kingdom of God.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the powerful privilege of using Your Name to accomplish Your purposes in and for the kingdom of God.  May I be a good steward of all You have entrusted to me.

Prayer Points

Praise the name of God (Mt. 6:9). Thank God for revealing his name to you through his Word and Spirit (Ex. 3:15). Confess times when you have misused the name of God in word or deed. Commit yourself to living in a way which hallows God’s name. Ask God to glorify his majestic name in all the earth (Ps. 8:1).

Pray for Christians working in public service. Ask that they will have the courage to hallow the name of God without compromise in their daily work.

–Adapted from Love to Pray: A 40 Day Devotional for Developing Your Prayer Life by Alvin J. VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

May 30: Called to Intercede

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

I see and hear of many churchgoers who seem to feel they have the spiritual gift of criticism. Accusing their fellow believers is pretty much a weekly event. Would it shock them to know they are doing the accuser’s “ministry”? Our job is to pray for our brothers and sisters, not to criticize them. Intercession is what Jesus is doing. Accusation comes so easily to us. We don’t have to decide to be critical. The people around us do plenty of things that warrant criticism. We all carry around enough flaws to attract accusation. What is critical for us to see though, is that accusation is the job of Satan, not the job of the Christian. We’re called to intercede, not accuse.

Father, help me to see that accusation and criticism only damages Your Church and the work of Your kingdom.  Help me to join Your Son in the ministry of intercession so that You will be glorified. 

Prayer Points

Praise King Jesus, who today rules and reigns over his kingdom (Mt. 6:10). Thank him for including you as a citizen of his earthly and heavenly realm. Confess any disloyalty you’ve felt as one of Christ’s much-beloved subjects. Commit yourself to serving as an agent of peace in God’s kingdom. Ask that all of Satan’s attempts to overthrow this divine government will come to nothing.

Thank God that his kingdom has no end (Dan. 7:27) and that it extends to every corner of the map (Ps. 103:19). Pray for revival in countries where the church is weak and has lost its way.

–Adapted from The Devil Goes to Church (Prayer as Spiritual Warfare) by David Butts. This resource is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

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