Category Archives: Effective prayer

Job’s ten gut-wrenching cries he prefaced by an ‘Oh!’

Speakers of Hebrew and English can express their frustration dramatically by deliberately expelling air from their lungs to launch a sentence of deep emotion that starts with an explosive ‘Oh’. For example: [] ‘Oh will you kids take your noisy … Continue reading

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The few who knelt to pray     

Surprisingly, less than ten individuals are on record in Scripture as kneeling to pray, most of them on only one occasion! To kneel can be a physical way to manifest humility before God when interceding, although that could be faked. … Continue reading

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Praying With Compassion

Spurred on by the biblical exhortation to ‘remember . . . those being mistreated’ (Hebrews 13:3, all references New Living Translation, unless otherwise indicated), I have over the years been guided by the excellent prayer diaries published by Barnabas Fund … Continue reading

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The parable of ‘Peter the outsider’

In Acts 12:1-19 the apostle Peter had to negotiate several barriers to his progress. How did he get out of jail (Acts 12:1-11)? That was easy. Doors simply swung open before him as he made his escape that night from … Continue reading

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Will you not revive us again?

‘Will you not revive us again? (Psalm 85:6) Psalm 85 fits appropriately into the times of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. [] The testimony of ‘restored’ exiles (Psalm 85:1-3) Note the reference to ‘your land’ (1) which had lain fallow … Continue reading

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‘What do you want me to do for you?’

Jesus put this question to two very different parties, as recorded in Mark 10:35-52. Mark and Matthew narrate those incidents in straight succession. But those questioned each received quite different answers. Jesus granted the second request with an immediate public … Continue reading

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Twin qualities – loving-kindness and loyalty

Translation and Meaning (a) ‘Loving-kindness’ (NIV), ‘steadfast love’ (ESV), and ‘mercy’ (LXX eleos) are variations on the Hebrew noun hesed (the ‘h’ pronounced as in Scottish loch). Taken together they express the richness of this desirable quality: it is warm … Continue reading

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The ‘unoccupied prayer’ of contemplation

Contemplative prayer is little understood and rarely practised, yet is should form the basis of  all spiritual activity. It was best expressed in Psalm 27:4, ‘One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I … Continue reading

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The Blessed Virgin Mary, a model of how to pray

The Blessed Virgin Mary, a model of how to pray. When the wine ran out at that memorable wedding feast, what did Mary want Jesus to do exactly? Every preacher I have ever heard, and every piece of literature I … Continue reading

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Praying ‘the Jesus way

Praying ‘the Jesus way’ (Luke 11:1-13)  The setting for his teaching (11:1, 13) En route south to his death on Calvary (Luke 9:51), as ‘Jesus prayed’, ‘one of his disciples’ requested that he train them all ‘to pray’ (Luke 11:1). … Continue reading

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Prayer as an antidote to pressures

My son sent me a manuscript of an article he had hurriedly typed, requesting my critical assessment. His fingers had mis-typed the adjective ‘precious’ and his spell-checker had ‘corrected’ it as the noun ‘pressures’. Actually, those two words not only … Continue reading

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‘Lord, don’t let me die as a wicked old man!’

I’ve never managed to track down the legendary saint said to have prayed this daily. * Balaam prayed it once – but insincerely ‘Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his! ’ (Numbers … Continue reading

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Just listen to this! Some nativity utterances

Luke in his opening chapter lets us listen to a variety of vocal responses to God that can be of practical help to his readers in their own devotions. Zechariahs’ former voice of Frustration When Elizabeth was quite clearly well … Continue reading

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Jesus’ own teaching about his church

It seems strange that the Gospels only record two occasions during his time here on earth when Jesus referred to his church. And only Matthew mentions them both. Surely then, they must be packed with all the essential basics of … Continue reading

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How to stay motivated in tiresome times

Just turned forty, after years of meaningful service to victims of HIV in Africa, she was feeling unfulfilled as a nurse in a state hospital back in her homeland. ‘I’m missing Africa; I feel I am only working for money.’ … Continue reading

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Buried Treasure

I always hated gardening.  But my wife and all her relatives love it.  Mind you, I do all the heavy work for her: I dig the bean trench, mow the lawn, and pull up the weeds.  But in my garden … Continue reading

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Heart cries for a barren church

While praying one New Year with a church elder, at one point he called on God for their community to grow through new birth in the year ahead. He misquoted childless Hannah ‘who,’ he told the Lord, ‘pleaded with you, … Continue reading

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Guaranteed joy in the house of prayer

Christians experience various emotions in prayer meetings, such as boredom, confusion, or agitation, Yet God promised through Isaiah: ‘I will make them joyful in my house of prayer’ (Isaiah 56:7a). The surrounding paragraph, verses Isiah 56:1-8, has enduring significance because … Continue reading

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