Praying for a Breakthrough

Have you ever been faced with circumstances that seemed daunting and hopeless? Or impossible situations that were beyond your power to solve? Without prayer and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we don’t stand a chance against some of the obstacles we face in life. There’s no way around the fact that prayer requires commitment and persistence, and we see a perfect example of this kind of prayer through the prophet, Daniel, as he interceded for his nation.

While studying the book of Jeremiah, Daniel learns that the children of Israel would remain in captivity in Babylon for 70 years. He responds to this prophecy by crying out to God in intercession for his people. The Bible says he earnestly pleaded with God to end the captivity and send them back to their own land. And through Daniel’s humility and selflessness, his prayers were answered.

We should look at Daniel’s intercession as a model for our own appeals to God.

Let God speak first.

Daniel carefully studied the scriptures and then responded to what God already said. The key is to pray in alignment with God’s will revealed in His word, not according to our feelings or emotions. Our feelings can change from one moment to the next, but God’s word never changes.

Focus on God.

Scripture tells us Daniel prepared for intercession by giving his attention to the Lord (Daniel 9:3). When we passionately seek God with all we have, we can be confident we will find Him.

Express your desire with emotion.

Daniel came boldly with his request and laid out the specific purpose of his prayer. He expressed his desire for the Lord to answer by pouring out his heart and baring his soul to God (Daniel 9:4). Daniel didn’t just pray one prayer for breakthrough and hope God would answer; he pleaded with Him in prayer and fasting, and continued praying right up until the Lord answered.

Thank God for His promises.

Like Daniel, our prayers should always begin by acknowledging God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. Establish in your spirit that no matter what happens, God is faithful.

Humbly confess.

Daniel came to God in complete humility, wearing sackcloth and ashes. He confessed the sin of his people and acknowledged it was because of their sin they found themselves in the situation they were in. God doesn’t need to be made aware of our sin. He already knows, but He wants us to confess it. God doesn’t respond to prideful complaining or excuses for our sin.

While Daniel was still praying, the angel Gabriel brought the answer. There are so many lessons we can draw from Daniel’s example. We won’t experience breakthrough without prayer. But not just any kind of prayer - persistent, fervent, specific, unrelenting prayer. Our prayer life should hold the same weight as the breakthrough we’re believing for.

When we pray, we’re setting the entire supernatural realm into motion and God’s power is released into our circumstances. We don’t always see it in the natural right away, but we can be confident that God is behind the scenes shifting things in our favor. Do you need a breakthrough in any area of your life? Pray and keep praying until you see your breakthrough! Don’t relent. God is faithful to respond.

PATTERN OF PRAYER PT. 2

The Lord’s prayer continued…

Forgive us our sins…

Cleansing. Everyone is born with a rebellious spirit. So naturally, our fallen nature craves wickedness. However, when we say yes to Jesus and become children of God, we take on God’s nature, and in doing so we have direct access to a loving and forgiving Father. Confess your sins to God, and let him cleanse you from the inside out. He forgives instantly, freely, completely, and permanently. So, what do you need to confess?

As we forgive those who sin against us…

Release. The inability to forgive keeps us in bondage. Yet when we choose to forgive, we release that person into God’s hands and we step into freedom. This is the most challenging part of prayer because our flesh wants to hold on to pain and bitterness. However, when we do that, we are actually blocking forgiveness for ourselves. Who do you need to forgive today?

Lead us not into temptation…

Protection. Temptation isn’t just the lure to do something bad, it’s not doing what’s right. It will always pull us further away from God’s will. Some of our biggest, yet overlooked, temptations are doing what’s easy, only doing what’s best for ourselves, doing what’s unimportant, and procrastinating. We need to have the power to do the right things. When we’re so focused on doing what is right, we don’t have time to do wrong. Familiarity tempts us to remain in a place of comfort. What is God asking you to do that you keep putting off?

Deliver us from evil…

Deliverance. All of us are in a battle, and we all need to learn how to call out to God. As we call on him, he pushes back the darkness from our lives. It’s God’s power that delivers us from evil. What do you need deliverance from? Cry out to him, and allow him to heal you.

Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever…

Victory. The beginning and the end. The head and not the tail. Not to us but to Your name. This prayer starts and ends with the glory of God, reminding us that we cannot lose. The battle is already won! No weapon formed against you can prosper. Do you believe it?

When you have an authentic relationship with Jesus, this prayer is more than just something you recite in church on a Sunday morning. It’s a lifestyle. Praying isn’t convincing God, but conforming to his plans and his purpose; aligning yourself with his will and forsaking your own. It’s not about saying all the right things. God wants your heart; not your religious lingo.

So, maybe you woke up this morning and you have no idea what to pray about. Make it personal and use his pattern of prayer to create your own. If you get stuck, follow our teacher. As Jesus said, "pray like this…"

“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. AMEN.”

PATTERN OF PRAYER PT. 1

He was different.

He said things they didn’t fully understand, he spoke of a kingdom, but he didn’t act like a king, and when he prayed it did not sound like their own prayers. His were intimate and conversational; full of surrender and expectation. They prayed religiously. He prayed relationally.

“Teach us how to pray!” they asked. They knew how to pray; prayer had been a religious exercise for years. They were really asking Jesus to show them how to have a deep, more connected experience with God. And because Jesus is ultimately a teacher, he chose to not tell them what to pray, but how to pray.

And so we have the Lord’s Prayer: the ultimate example of how to pray. But consequently, we’ve made it into something to memorize and recite together. Mindlessly, it becomes a religious to-do; something to check off of a list, and we’re prone to miss the heart of what he was teaching us.

Our Father…
Connection. It’s how Jesus approached God to spark a conversation. He started with the relationship he had. Just like a child would approach a loving parent, we can approach God. So, how do you approach him?

Holy is your name…
Refocus. Before asking anything, before praying about problems, he chose to worship. Worship takes the focus off of us and lends us the perspective of Heaven. It brings us to a place of gratitude, and gratitude unlocks the presence of God. What do you have to be thankful for? What has he already done in your life so far?

Your kingdom come…
Cooperation. God invites us in, and on this adventure with him. Of course he can handle it all on his own; he certainly doesn’t need our help. But he wants us to partner up with him! He speaks promises over us, and then shows us how we’re going to adventure on together. Call it the greatest tag team ever.

Your will be done…
Surrender. It is not always easy, but it is necessary. After all, the crucifiction led to the resurrection. So, surrender can also bring about life. What in your life do you need to relinquish control of, and pray his will over?

Give us this day our daily bread…
Bread is a symbol for all of our needs. So, he’s telling us to bring everything-all of our needs-to God. If we look to anything else besides him to fill our needs, we’re heading down dead end streets.Rest; he’s working and faithful.

Pray With Confidence

If the question, “Can you pray for us?” makes you feel like the pressure is on, then it may be time to revisit what prayer actually is. By definition, prayer is simply the way we communicate with God and God communicates with us. And, when we do it with confidence, it has nothing to do with us and everything to do with who He is and our relationships with Him.

In this week’s talk we discussed how one of the biggest obstacles to growing in our prayer lives and connecting with God through prayer is the fact that many of us are lacking in our ability to pray with confidence. However, this sense of lack often stems from the fact that we often make praying all about us. When we make our prayers about us we either approach prayer from a place of fear and insecurity or we approach our prayer lives from a place of knowing it all and pride.

Oftentimes we mistakenly make prayer more about “self” by feeling like we have mastered prayer, or even when we become fearful of praying in front of others. But, when we pray with confidence the pressure is actually off, because we aren’t praying because we are able, but because God is able. Another important aspect of praying with true confidence is knowing it isn’t about how you pray, but rather knowing who you’re praying to.  

According to John 1:12 when we accept Christ into our lives we are given the right to be called children of God. Upon accepting Christ, we are also adopted into the family of God and He becomes our Father. Interestingly enough however, I’ve noticed that many of us have no problem being called a child of God, but have a hard time connecting with God as our Father.

In fact, for many of us the idea of God being our Father feels awkward and can evoke strong negative emotions because of the negative experiences we’ve had with our biological fathers in the past. But you have to understand how God’s character is different. God is not like your earthly father, and in the Bible we learn that God’s characteristics as Father are unmatched.

In a world of absent fathers and dads who were never around, God is a present Father. (Psalm 27:10)

In a world where dads don’t always show up and come and go as they please, God is a consistent Father. (2 Timothy 2:13)

In a world where many of us do not have close relationships with our biological fathers, God is closer than the clothes on our backs. (Hebrews 13:5)

And in a world where our dads’ actions, or lack thereof, can have a negative effect on our lives, God knows what He is doing and He is competent. (Ephesians 3:20)

We can’t base our perspective of God as Father off of the negative experiences that we have had with our earthly fathers. We must learn to look at God through the lens of scripture, because the level of confidence we have in who God is, is based off of our perspective of who He is. This is key because our ability to pray with confidence is connected to who we believe God to be.

As we go through these 40 days of prayer, be challenged to get to know God as Father. If you need to forgive your biological father, then do that. But, more importantly whether you’ve had a great dad or not, I want to encourage you to spend some time in the word learning about God’s character and who He is. God is our good, good Father who is perfect in all of His ways. And when we truly embrace the biblical idea of what this looks like, we can pray with confidence knowing that our Dad in heaven always has our back.

Purpose of Prayer

Wherever you are right now; what do you see yourself surrounded by? Are you surrounded by the walls of your home or work? Maybe as you look around, you are surrounded by buildings, cars, trees, etc. Those may all be true, but that is in the physical sense. Spiritually, we are all surrounded and covered by God, His spirit and His love. He is always there, with us and in us.  He knows what battle we are all going through presently and those we will go through. Some will fight that battle with worry, complaining, gossip, or feelings, but those are not weapons. God has equipped us with a powerful weapon, that of prayer. We were not meant to live in fear, but in love and in victory!

Prayer was created to be universal; for all of us. It is not meant to exclude any believers based on experience, a religious resume or anything else that may get in the way due to our human thoughts and fallen nature. We were created to pray, and we possess an inherent longing to pray to our Creator. Through prayer, we can all experience God and strengthen our personal relationship with Him.

There are many misconceptions of prayer. Some may say, “that’s not for me” or, “I tried it once, it didn’t work.” Still others may believe that prayer can only happen in a church setting, or that it must be a memorized set of phrases and recited back perfectly. This is not the case, as the Bible teaches us:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

God wants us to seek Him first in all things, and this begins with prayer. Prayer can be as simple as a conversation with our Heavenly father. Praise him and thank him for all he has done, tell him your needs and the needs of those you are praying for. He is waiting for you to talk to him. You will not be telling God anything that He doesn’t know already, but He still wants you to engage in a personal exchange with Him.

Prayer is an act of dedication to God. Seek Him in all things and pray to Him throughout the day, every day. Check your pride at the door, and realize that the end of you becomes the beginning of Him. Become “we” with God, and remain dependent and connected to Him. Communicate with God, invite Him into both your joy and your sorrow. He gave you free will, use that to choose a relationship with The Lord. Don’t be intimidated that He will only listen to big problems, or to those whose problems may appear bigger than yours. God is a big God, He is big enough for everyone at all times, and remains inexhaustible.  

Be challenged: make prayer a habit in your daily life and see what God can do. Everytime you want to tell someone exciting news, start with God. When you need advice or help, seek God first. Before you take to your cell phone, Facebook or other means of communication or social media to express yourself or your thoughts, express them to God first. Put God first in all that you do and watch the mountains move!

Crew Season

“My very first experience with crews began just 2 weeks after starting at New Life. Crew season was just beginning and I was very, very new to the New Life Church. When I was first told about crews, I remember thinking, “that’s not for me...I just took the leap to come to Church; that must be for the veterans.” I was scared of the intimacy that a small group would bring. I felt inadequate and as though I would be exposed as the “new guy” or the “rookie.” I prefered the anonymity that came with sitting in the back and flying under the radar. I was not going to budge on this…. until my wife decided that we should check it out. So we took a leap, and joined a crew. Of course I decided to grab the back seat against the furthest wall and thought, "I will silently observe from here."  And wouldn't you know, the leader of the crew sits right next to me! What are the chances? There I was feeling as though I was front and center, slowly edging my chair away and back further into the corner, little by little. In hindsight, I can’t say how thankful I am to have joined that crew! As the weeks progressed , I was able to go deeper into the Word and began to be comfortable praying out loud and with others. It’s now been a couple of years, and I can still say that I “do life” with a good number of my first crew family.

I can say through experience, that yes, crews are for me. Being in a crew was something that was once scary and intimidating. Now, I lead a crew and look forward to crews with every new season.The experience is something that has built lasting relationships, helped me grow deeper in my faith, and helped me to experience a deeper relationship with God.” -Richie

“I didn’t need any new friends. And I definitely did not need to open up or be vulnerable with a group of seemingly strangers. So why in the world was I sitting at home texting a crew leader to see if she had room for one more? Sometimes my voice shakes when I speak, groups of strangers tend to take up all of my energy, and I am a social sweater. But still, my fingers kept texting without the full consent of my conscience, and I walked into the first crew: nervous, a bit twitchy, and already starting to sweat in anticipation of being with a group of unknown women. Turns out, Jesus wanted to reveal some lies I had been hiding behind for years. He wanted to show me the beauty of vulnerability, and the power of community. He wanted to replace social anxiety with a confidence and ease that comes from Him alone; He wanted to challenge me to trust Him, and step more into who He originally created me to be.” -Jill

We are made for community; to stifle that integral part of us is to deny how God originally created us to do life-together!
We’re not meant to do this alone.
We’re not meant to fend for ourselves and fight battles alone.
We’re meant for life and community.
We’re meant to build together, tear through some dark nights with one another, laugh at the joys life brings together.
I don’t know what Jesus wants to do with you this crew season. And you won’t either until you step out and show up.

Don’t do life alone. It’s better that way.

The Gospel Effect

I was at the altar on Sunday when I looked down on the ground and a sparkle caught my eye.  I found myself gazing at many sparkling specs that were strung across the dirty carpet. They were very miniscule in size in relation to the large expanse of space in the sanctuary, yet they caught my eye.
It reminds me of how we can catch the eye of God in this unclean world He placed us in. We are not insignificant, we are not merely specks, we are His children. Just as the light reflected off the specks to create a beautiful sparkle, so we too must reflect God’s glorious light in hopes to bring His perfect beauty into this world. This is completed through the spreading of the gospel.

The gospel is defined as the “good news,” which is the fact that God has saved us sinful humans from an eternity away from Him by giving us a savior in Jesus, who has died for us in order to give us eternal life. The gospel is for everyone, however not everyone is ready for the gospel,causing different reactions and thus the “Gospel Effect.”  You can’t go with Jesus and stay where you are in your thoughts and actions. Following the teachings of the gospel and spreading the gospel demands action; it is not just an accumulation of knowledge.  The gospel is not to be seen as religious or moral superiority, behavior modification or merely bad people becoming good. Rather, the gospel is true repentance, the dead coming to life, and truly good news (not simply good advice).

We have all been bound by the shackles of our failures, but we must realize that we are set free and already redeemed. When we let Jesus come into our lives, our hearts undergo a transformation leading to the lifting of the veil that once clouded our worldly vision, causing us to see things clearly. This new vision can be difficult for others, and may scare those who are not ready for such a change in their lives. We fear what we don’t understand, we don’t like what we can’t control and we don’t like to be exposed. However, God will expose us in order to heal us, not to harm or condemn us.  

There will always be opposition to the spreading of the gospel because:

  • The gospel challenges the religious traditions.

  • The gospel confronts lifestyles contrary to God’s will.

  • The gospel demands action outside of our own comfort zones.

Today we see increasing moral relativism and legalism, spreading like a virus, in opposition to the teachings of the Bible. In an age of speaking up for tolerance, the world is becoming increasingly intolerant of the Christian worldview. This is evident from the removal of the Nativity scene from public places, and saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” Even a “Christmas Tree” is referred to as a “Holiday Tree,” slowly purging Christian influence out of society.

So let us not conform to the world, but rather be transformed by the grace and love of God. Let us stand up, speak up and be unafraid and unashamed to spread the truth that is the Gospel.Let’s worship God daily, learn from the Bible and demonstrate the gospel tangibly, through our daily actions and interactions with everyone. For today might be that day when one more person may be ready and receptive to the gospel, and accept Jesus into their life.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Suit Up

When you wake up in the morning, what do you put on? 
Think past clothing for a moment and look into the spirit. There’s a war going on, and your opponent knows you well. His goal is to isolate you, and numb your mind. He offers plenty of quick fixes for your life, and he wants to keep you busy so that you completely miss God altogether.

Pastor Nancy said something really powerful recently. She said, “when the enemy attacks, you can either back into a corner and die, or you can run at that thing.”

So, let me ask you again, what do you put on? If we are going into battle, we cannot afford to start the day empty handed. We need to be strong in the Lord if we are going to walk in victory. A weak spirit cannot bear the weight and honor of God's armor.

Watch out for the things that steal your strength:

-       Arguments and debates

-       Laziness

-       Too much time in the wrong company

-       Love of money and career

-       An unequal yoking with an unbeliever

-       Ungodly entertainment

Everyday we have a choice. We can either allow these things to come into our lives and make us weak or we can can rise up in the spirit, put on the armor of God and tell the enemy not today!

Wishful thinking isn’t going to win the war. God didn’t save you to make birthday cake wishes; He called you to make bold prayers. There’s a battle going on, and He has equipped you to fight! So when you get up in the morning, don’t listen to your doubts and worries! Instead, put on the belt of truth which protects you and gives you strength. Guard your heart with the breastplate of righteousness. Don’t put on frustration or anger, but walk in the shoes of the Gospel of peace. Hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Strap on the helmet of salvation to protect your thoughts from lies. And grab the sword of the Spirit – the word of God. You are a soldier in the army of the living God. There is nothing that can stand against you and win. So don’t give up! Keep praying. Keep believing. Keep fighting. Breakthrough is coming!

“You must wear all the armor that God provides so you’re protected as you confront the slanderer, for you are destined for all things and will rise victorious.” – Ephesians 6:13 TPT

Behind Enemy Lines

She said she was going to stop reading her Bible.
Whenever she was very consistent in reading, or setting time apart to pray, everything in her life started to go wrong. “I know it seems backwards, but when I just pray a bit here and there, things seem to go a lot smoother in my life.”

Of course it was backwards; it was also a total lie she had been cunningly fed. We’ll fall for anything and any lie when we haven’t grasped onto how much God loves us, and how much He’s for us. Ephesians 6 says we’re fighting in a war, but not one where we can see our enemies. This is a war of a dark world, against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen. Honestly, it sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, except it doesn’t end in a few hours.

Because, if you are immersing yourself in God, you have become a threat to the enemy. Images of warriors play in my head; a swarm of holy avengers in the spirit ready to battle for ourselves, our families, our communities.

The enemy has tactics he uses against us in this great war, and like in any war, both sides study the other. Knowing his tactics and the sweet lies he will suggest to us will help us know his moves and fight back against them.

He will try to isolate us from one another, and cut down our lines of communication with God (ever wonder why it feels so hard to pray sometimes?). If we’re isolated and no longer in community with one another or God, we’ll easily start looking for a quick fix. Quick fixes might look easy, but never fix anything! Quick fixes are dead end streets. If he throws the tactic of busyness on us it gives us less time to take inventory of our lives, or take note of what’s really happening in and around us. Numbing us desensitizes us to sin and mediocrity. So, do entertainment, Netflix binges, and endless scrolling on our phones give us a quick break in our day, or is it being used to numb our minds?

Sweet lies the enemy loves to whisper to us?

No one understands you!

Well, nobody is perfect.

JUST DO YOU!

You really need some time for yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a few Sundays off. Nothing wrong with not serving either.

You deserve this.

You can take a load off. It’s just this one time.

He seems to really try to shout these lies to us when we’re tired, angry, stressed out, or sad. So, check your emotions, and be aware of a familiar voice with an unfamiliar spirit. 

The enemy might be working, but God is working too! Smarter, fiercer, and with eternity in mind. God has given us authority, so take it! Doubt your doubts. Never stop praying or being in community with God’s people. Suit up, put on your armor, (Eph. 6:13-18) and fight back!

Well Built

Any architect knows how critical the foundation of a building is to its structural success. The foundation determines how the rest of the structure will be built and how well it’ll support any additions made to the structure. A solid foundation provides an anchor for the building, keeping it stable and secure when storms hit. Without a solid foundation, the building won’t last very long.

When you begin to look at this building principle through spiritual lenses, you’ll see that this translates into our everyday lives. In Luke 6, Jesus teaches us the difference between a foolish builder and a wise builder. The foolish builder hears the Word of God, but doesn’t apply or obey God’s principles and instructions. As a result, the shaky foundation won’t hold up when storms come. A wise builder not only hears the Word of God, but puts it into practice. Lives built on the foundation of obedience and trust in who God is stand unscathed in the midst of life’s storms. 

Have you ever wondered what your life is truly standing on? What are you counting on for security and stability in your life? If everything on the surface was stripped away, what would remain? We’ve got a ton of seductive choices to build our lives on: money, relationships, feelings, careers, power, influence, possessions; the list goes on and on. And sure, some of them may work for a while, but hard times will come. Then what? An unshakeable foundation is key when the world around you is falling apart.

Life is a process of building. Typically, when you build something, you want it to last. Who wants to redo something they’ve put time and effort into building? Jesus’ teaching is the blueprint and when we pursue Jesus and put His words into action, we’re constructing something that will endure and stand the test of time. Not only will it last but it won’t be destroyed when tested. We’re not building on the firm foundation of Christ if we aren’t doing what He said to do. 

How to build your life on Jesus:

Decisions - Filter every decision through Jesus (Proverbs 3:5-6). 
Family – Place your family under the authority of Jesus (Joshua 24:15). 
Relationships – Don’t team up with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
Finances – Honor Him with your finances and He will give you everything you need (Matthew 6:33). 

In order for us to weather the storms and survive the tough times that will inevitably come our way, we must be built on a strong, unmovable foundation. Jesus is the rock-solid foundation we can build our lives on. As long as we’re rooted and grounded in Jesus, when the winds blow and the earth quakes, He will hold us steady and we will not be shaken. No storm that comes our way will threaten our life when we’re built on the Rock.