DayBreaks for 2/5/14 – Disappointment #5 – Struggling With Prayer

DayBreaks for 2/05/14 – Disappointment #5 – Struggling With Prayer

1 John 5:14-15: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.

Does that verse describe your own personal experience with prayer? Do you have faith? Have you received everything you prayed for? Of course not. I’m asking silly questions, aren’t I? Yet the experience of having prayed – and not received – is real and troubling when we wrestle with life. Eugene Peterson once noted: Most of the people we meet, inside and outside the church, think prayers are harmless but necessary starting pistols that shoot blanks and get things going.

Was John wrong? I don’t think so. John had a confidence from personal relationship with Jesus. It wasn’t so much a conviction about the power of God (though that is implied and a given), but a confidence rooted in knowing God is listening. 

In Jesus’ teaching on faith and prayer, he said faith the size of a mustard seed could move mountains, that the size of the faith didn’t need to match the size of the request before God would act. We often act as if we can only get more people to pray that God will have to pay attention, so we recruit “prayer warriors” to batter down the doorway to God’s throne room. We read, we meditate, we try so hard to increase our faith. But Jesus never said for us to increase our faith. The problem is that we don’t rely or act on even the smallest amount of faith. God doesn’t require great faith – a small one will do just fine, thank you! If we are like the disciples (people of “little faith”), chances are we have enough.

Faith isn’t the same as confidence. The disciples, if anything, were too confident – think they had been successful before, so surely they could be successful again – trusting in their own ability to cast out demons. That’s not biblical faith. Biblical faith isn’t confidence as much as it is a dependence – not blind, but justifiable dependence. Faith may be smaller than its object, but the effect of faith cannot be any greater than its object. Or, said differently, that mustard seed of faith is sufficient when I pray not because my faith is stronger than my need, but because God is more powerful than my faith. 

As John Koessler said: Prayer’s greatest demand may be that it requires that we restrain our tendency toward activism and wait for God. But this gets to the crux of our disappointment with prayer: we address Him but get no answer, so we think He is unmoved. But have we forgotten that silence is also the mark of a good listener? Isaiah 65:24 says he listens so well that he knows what we’ll say before we speak.

Another possibility: we may be waiting for God to speak when we should be talking to ourselves. We may have focused so much on hearing from God that we have neglected to address ourselves in response. It is popular to think of prayer as a two-way conversation (and in my experience, sometimes it is), but if the Psalms are models of prayer then prayer isn’t a two-way conversation but a one-way conversation that moves in two directions – 1) we speak to God; 2) we speak to ourselves. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said “..you have to take yourself in hand…to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.

Prayer can be frustrating and disappointing when we don’t receive what we prayed for or “hear” from Him. No, it’s not easy, but it is simple. Koessler: It is as simple as the infant’s cry or the beggar’s reach. The power of prayer does not lie in the rigor of its method or the beauty of its vocabulary. Its strength is not in the supplicant’s posture or the prayer’s length. The essence of prayer is in the asking. Prayer is fundamentally an expression of our need…We cannot impress Him with our language. We will not shock Him with our bluntness. (The Surprising Grace of Disappointment)

When you are next frustrated with prayer, ask yourself: 1) Is God perhaps just being a good listener, waiting for me to come to the point I pray in accordance with His will? 2) Am I preaching to myself (as David so often did) after addressing God? It was often in addressing God that David came to realize what was real and what was really his need…and then he preached to himself. For the most part, God has already given us the answers in His Word. We just don’t want to have to wrestle with how to apply it to our lives and we think prayer may be an easier way out. God doesn’t do things the easy way or He’d not have sent His Son. He won’t let us off easily, either, for struggle is the pathway to growth and maturity.

Don’t let disappointment with prayer/God dissuade you. Pour it out. Then, address yourself with what He has already told us. That is what worked for David, and I suspect it will work for us, too.

PRAYER: Father, forgive us for thinking You don’t hear and don’t care! Thank You for being the best listener and Father possible! Help us in our weakness to apply Your truth to every situation, to discern where the Word has already spoken answers and revealed truth about who You are and what You are like. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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NOTE: Galen is a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) and raises his own support.  DayBreaks is free – and will remain so – but if you wish to help Galen in his ministry work, you can donate on his behalf.  Donations (one-time or recurring) may be made by going to this link: http://www.medicalambassadors.org/donate.html.  Look down the left side of the page until you find the SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section then click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to PayPal where you can make your donation.  If you prefer to donate via check, you may do so by writing your check payable to Medical Ambassadors International and put S090 in the “memo” field. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  All donations are tax deductible as MAI is a 501.c.3 organization certified with both the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and Guidestar.

Thank you!

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DayBreaks for 11/19/13 – Removing the Trace of Guilt

DayBreaks for 11/19/13 – Removing the Trace of Guilt

Ezekiel 33:30-32 – “30 “As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’ 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.

It would have been hard to be Ezekiel.  Consider the role of the prophet – they had a calling from the Lord, a specific message He wanted them to proclaim – and as often than not, God told the prophet that all their speaking would be in vain.  Oh, sure, people might come to hear and listen to what the prophet had to say.  But that wasn’t God’s objective for His message.  It never has been and it never will be.  God doesn’t just want people to hear His Word – what He really wants is for people to make the changes in their lives that the word reveals.

Chuck Swindoll put it this way, as he warns us all of our human tendency: “Beware of the temptation to alter your theology instead of adjusting your life.  By accommodating your theology, it is remarkable what the mind can do to remove even the slightest trace of guilt.

You see, the problem the people had who heard the words of Ezekiel (you could substitute the name of any prophet, and even of Jesus in that phrase), is that they altered the meaning of the words to mean what they wanted it to mean instead of surrendering themselves to the pure and simple demands of the Word of God.

How do you react when confronted with the demands of the Scripture to change something in your life?  Do you start to think that it doesn’t apply to your life situation?  Do you rationalize and explain away why it doesn’t apply to you?  If you do that, you are like those who listened to – and ignored – Ezekiel’s message so long ago.

PRAYER: Let us not just hear, but do Your Word.  Spirit, keep us from altering the words or meaning to make ourselves feel better and give us the courage to face the truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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NOTE: Galen is a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) and raises his own support.  DayBreaks is free – and will remain so – but if you wish to help support Galen in his ministry work with MAI, you can make a donation on his behalf.  One-time donations may be made by going to this link: http://www.medicalambassadors.org/donate.html.  Look down the left side of the page until you find the SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section then click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to PayPal where you can make either a one-time or recurring (monthly) donation for his support.  If you have any questions, call 209-543-7500 ext. 219.  You can also write a check to Medical Ambassadors International. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  All donations are tax deductible as MAI is a 501.c.3 organization certified with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and Guidestar.

Thank you!

DayBreaks for 06/13/12 – Waste Not, Want Not

DayBreaks for 06/12/13 – Waste Not, Want Not

waste-not-want-not-sloganLuke 8:18 (NLT) – So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.

We sometimes talk about people living a privileged life.  Typically when we say that, we’re talking about someone who had plenty of money and lots of comfort and luxury.  And, if we were to be honest about it, we probably envy such folks.  We think it would be wonderful to have privileges.

What we don’t think about very much is what a privilege we have to be able to read the words of Jesus.  For 1400 years barely anyone had that opportunity.  There are many today who still can’t read the words for themselves or hear it read in their own language. 

But there is more to it than just hearing – that’s why Jesus cautioned us to “…pay attention to HOW you hear.”  We must listen to it not as a daily talisman to gain us blessing because we had our quiet time, but rather to listen for understanding and how to apply it to our life.  Failure to do so as individuals, as the church, and even as a nation, may lead to the loss of this great privilege.

Hearing is great.  Understanding is greater.   Application of what we hear is the place of greatest blessing – and it leads to a life of great privilege!

PRAYER:  We have been so conditioned to the noise that surrounds us that we seldom, if ever, listen for understanding.  Help us listen rightly and then have the desire to apply what we hear!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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NOTE: Galen is working as a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) (medicalambassadors.org) and is responsible for raising own support.  DayBreaks is free – and will remain so – but if you wish to help support Galen in his ministry work with MAI, you can make a donation on his behalf.  One-time donations may be made by going to this link: http://www.medicalambassadors.org/donate.html and look down the left side of the page until you find the SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section.  Then look for “Galen Dalrymple”.  Click his name and you’ll be taken to PayPal where you can donate to his support.  If you wish to make a recurring donation, contact suzette@med-amb.org or call her at 209-543-7500 ext. 219.  You can also write a check to Medical Ambassadors International (a 501.c.3 non-profit – meaning your donations are deductible) and put S090 in the Memo field.  Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368. 

Medical Ambassadors International is a 501.c.3 organization that has been serving the needy, sharing the gospel and helping them become self-sufficient for 32 years.  Check them out!  They are also members of ECFA (the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability).

Your support is greatly appreciated!!!!  Thank you!

DayBreaks for 10/09/12 – Who Ya Gonna Listen To?

DayBreaks for 10/09/12 – Who Ya Gonna Listen To?

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. – Mt. 16:16-17

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” – Mt. 16:22-23

On Sunday, the preacher was talking about Matthew 16:13-26.  One of the advantages about not being the preacher for a change is to be able to listen and think about passages and someone else’s thoughts about them.  And sometimes, as you ponder the text, you get a new insight that you’d not seen before.  That happened to me this past Sunday.

Jesus and his followers are in Caesarea Philippi, a place that was a hotbed for idol worship.  Jesus poses the question to his disciples to find out what people are saying about him (he already knew – but he had a higher purpose, as usual).  The disciples reply, but then Jesus gets to the real point: he wants to know who they think he is…and Peter makes a great confession.  Jesus told Peter that he’d not come to that conclusion by listening to his own mind, but by hearing the voice of God.

Then, just a few verses later, Peter is trying to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem where he would die.  At first glance, we might be tempted to applaud Peter because of his concern for the Lord’s well being.  Peter, I’m sure, thought he was doing a good thing, a right thing, by trying to forbid the prevent the death of his friend.  But this time Jesus is not thrilled.  He sharply rebukes Peter.  Why?  He wasn’t listening for God in this instance, but was hearing the thought of his own origin.

How quickly, how rapidly!, we can traverse from hearing the voice of God to listening to our own voice again, or the voice of another human!  The mind of man cannot possibly think the thoughts of God on its own.  We cannot hear Him when our minds are full of our own reasoning and thinking.  He ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts like our thoughts (Isa. 55:8).  We should never confuse the two!!!

PRAYER: I fear that I listen more closely to my own thoughts and inner voice rather than listening for Yours, Lord.  Help me to remember where hearing my own thoughts has taken me as a way of reminding me to wait to hear You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 09/11/12 – Get the Sequence Right

DayBreaks for 09/11/12 – Get the Sequence Right

Sequence is important…

Mark 7:32-35 (NIV) – There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. 33  After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34  He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). 35  At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

There are certain sequences in life that are unavoidable.  Life comes before death.  Childhood comes before adolescence and adulthood.  Being a child comes before having children.  Being a parent comes before one becomes a grandparent.

In the text from Mark 7, there is another sequence that we would do well to consider, understand, and incorporate into our lives.  The man was deaf, and could barely speak, when he came to Jesus.  Notice how Jesus approaches the situation:

FIRST, he puts his fingers into the man’s ears,

SECOND, he touches the man’s tongue.

Children hear before they learn to speak.  If we can’t hear, we will not likely be able to learn to speak, because we speak by imitating the sounds we hear: “momma”, “daddy”, “dog”, “cat”, and the like. We imitate those sounds before we can read them.  We must first hear.  Once we hear, then we can speak.

It is especially important for Christians to hear what Jesus has to say before we attempt to speak for him, or in his place.  Yes, we are to be his ambassadors and that means we speak what he has instructed us to say, but if we haven’t heard from him, we should keep our mouths shut!  We should not be offering, “The Bible says X, Y, and Z, but here’s what I think…”.

The first step in communicating is to listen…then to speak.  Let’s get the sequence right!

PRAYER: We are too prone to quick to speak on your behalf before we have heard from You!  Teach us discipline, give us patience, to wait to hear your voice before we open our mouths!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 04/25/12 – Prayer and the Ceiling

DayBreaks for 04/25/12 – Prayer and the Ceiling

It certainly is a common enough phrase that “Sometimes it just seems my prayers can’t get past the ceiling.”  Why is that the case?  Because it is a common experience of nearly everyone I know who has ever prayed that there are times it seems that God just doesn’t hear – that our prayers never get out of the room in which we find ourselves, or that the ceiling is lead-lined and stops not only x-rays but prayers from passing through.

I’ve said it on more than one occasion.  It is difficult to pray when one feels as if God can’t hear you.  It’s maybe even worse to think that He won’t hear you or because you’ve convinced yourself that you’re such a horrible sinner that He doesn’t even want to hear you anymore.

I liked something I read today that was written by John Ortberg in the Spring 2012 edition of Leadership Magazine in an article called Fighting the Good Fight (I’ll share more from that article in the next few days).  Here was his observation: “People often speak of feeling frustrated that their prayers never make it past the ceiling. Of course, if the Spirit of God is present right here right now, they don’t have to make it past the ceiling—God is already on this side of the ceiling.”

As with most of our perceptions about God, our perception that He doesn’t hear our prayer is flawed.  There is no magical ceiling through which our prayers must pass, no level of holiness me must first reach before He will listen, no sin to great that will cause Him to turn from us when we are turning to Him in repentance.  In fact, He was in the room waiting to hear from you before you even thought about praying.

“God is already on this side of the ceiling.”  I like that.  I hope that if you’re in one of those times right now where it seems He is not hearing, you’ll remember He’s in the room with you…listening!

PRAYER: Forgive us for our weakness that makes us doubt Your desire to hear us, to listen to us, and to respond to our requests and cries, especially in those times which seem to be the darkest to us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

I Am 2 is now engaged in a project to provide temporary shelter, food, water and adult care to 37 orphans in Migori, Kenya.  We are trying to raise up an army of compassionate people who will each contribute whatever they can – even $5-10 each, to help us provide care for these children until our partner in the project, BrightPoint for Children, can secure sponsorships for these 37 kids.  If you want to contribute, follow this link and scroll down to find the “Donate” button: Help the 37 Migori Orphans

Thank you!  Your donations are tax deductible for 2012.  If you prefer to send a check rather than give through PayPal, write it and mail it to: I Am 2 Partners, Inc., c/o 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092.

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DayBreaks for 03/12/12 – The Need to Hear

DayBreaks for 03/12/12 – The Need to Hear

Hearing is vital for life...

Oh, that my people would listen to me! Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths! 14 How quickly I would then subdue their enemies! How soon my hands would be upon their foes! Psalm 81:13-14

There are many prayers recorded in Scripture, especially in the Psalms, where people cry out to God with heartfelt prayers, imploring Him to listen.  Over and over their pleas fly heavenward.  We ask God to listen to us a great deal.  Isn’t it interesting that God longs for us to listen to Him?

The emperor Frederick, who ruled the Roman Empire in the 13th century, thought it would be a useful experiment to discover what our original language was–Hebrew, Greek, Latin or whatever. So he decided to isolate a few infants from the sound of any human voice. He reasoned that, if so isolated from anything prejudicial, when they spoke, it would be in the universal, natural tongue of the human species.

Wet nurses were obtained to care for these infants. But they were sworn to absolute silence and could not engage in any socializing with these infants in any way. From the moment they were born, these infants never heard the sound or hum or song of a human. Within a year they were all dead.

We cannot over-emphasize the importance of listening to God, even as we ask Him to listen to us.  Our willingness to hear Him is the difference between life and death.  How much time and energy are you spending to try to hear Him, instead of asking Him to hear you?

PRAYER: We are hard of hearing and hard of heart, Lord!  Open our ears, give us hearts that long for Your voice and words even more than we long for the air to breath, for Your Word is life to us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “I Am 2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

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