The currency of hope

When you are ill and feeling like this could be what carries you under what drives you is hope. Hope that the medication the doctor prescribed will do the job. Hope that your body is strong enough to fight the pathogens. Hope that tomorrow you’ll wake up feeling much better. 

But hope is not only a valuable currency when you are lying sick in your bed. Hope drives the world around. Did you know that there’s a thousand death traps that could kill you anyday? From your bedroom to your workplace and yet we wake up every day and match on like nothing could go wrong. Why? The bliss of ignorance? Perhaps for some of us. Don’t care attitude? I suppose for a number. But mostly it’s because hope tells us it’s okay. That it’ll be well.

I know I’m exaggerating but just think about it.  What made you work so hard in your studies back in school? What makes you give that extra hour in the office? Why do you try so hard with that relationship? There could be many reasons but I bet one of the main ones is hope. Hope that things will get better in future. That you’ll succed in life if you put the extra effort today. You’ll get into that college, get that job, that girl will marry you…

Listen to what famous people have said about hope:

There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” – Bernard Williams

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson

The problem is when what we’d hope for doesn’t pay off and unfortunately that happens a lot. When hard work doesn’t always means a better job and pay. When giving more in a relationship doesn’t reap more love. When the boss doesn’t even realise just how hard you work. It’s the cause of many a depressed souls, many drug addicts and has even killed a good number. 

But someone will say such tragedies only happens when we give up hope. Realise how twisted that sounds, you get in trouble because of hope and hope is what will take you out of it. Hope that it’ll be better next time if you tried a bit harder this time or if you are a bit smart this time it’ll work out and the same story continues. Hope motivates us to go the extra mile but when it fails it may cost us our lives.

But what if our hope was placed in something or someone that could never fail? A hope that guarantees results not just as a cliche to make us work hard and for longer hours now. But hope that guarantees what it promises and delivers when’s it’s called upon. That would be worth everything. Wouldn’t it? That my friends is my hope this Christmas.

I’m talking about the hope of Christians based on what God said on his Word. You see God made a promise thousands of years ago that he would send his son to be ruler and rescuer of his people and he fulfilled that promise by sending Jesus to save his people from their sins, see Matthew 1:21. In this God proved he can be trusted and so his promise of the future informs our hope for today and tomorrow.

Hope that this same Jesus will come again to rescue us from this broken world, from it’s corruption, sickness and death. And bring us to that heavenly mountain to dwell with God in peace and gladness forever. Hear how John puts it when Jesus showed him a small peek through the window of this new world:

…4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.(H) There will be no more death’[b](I) or mourning or crying or pain,(J) for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21

This hope is sure because God has kept his word by sending Jesus to be born among men and to die to save us from our sins. This same Jesus was raised from the dead and is preparing this home for us now. So our hope is not only better than limited success, better pay or a working relationship. It’s sure and that’s the currency that drives the Christian and the work of the Gospel. 

This hope drives us out of bed into the world. It takes us through sickness and health, it informs our success and failure and gives us great joy even when circumstances are difficult. It’s not just a wish that things will get better. It’s a guarantee that the future eternal holds so much more for a believer that they can easily give up this life for Jesus and the Gospel now. And they can do that with great joy because of the reward of our hope. This is my hope and joy this Christmas

What’s your hope this Christmas? 

One joy at a time

It’s hard sometimes to find something to be grateful about when you are bombarded with all the bad that is going around us. It’s certainly been the case for most people this year with COVID 19 and its ripple effects. Sometimes I’m in a dilemma whether I should turn on the news because though I want to keep updated I know what I’ll see. More deaths, more sick, broken systems, bad leadership, more confusion…

But I’ve realized with all that’s been going wrong this year there’s still been a lot of good happening and there’s still a reason to be grateful as we come to the end of the year. Amidst the cloud of darkness that has been heavy on us light has shone and I wouldn’t be shocked if for some this might be the best year of their life.

But I’m also concerned about something that seems to become common and acceptable even among believers, that is , discontentment and ingratitude. It seems to me we have allowed the prevailing circumstances to be the sole determinant of our happiness and joy. That we are happy because things are going well and mostly that means they are going our way. We’ve finally got that job, or like me we got married, or because we haven’t slept hungry or been kicked out by our landlords or just because we are alive.

I know you must be getting confused because certainly these are things to be happy about and praise God for. But my problem is if our joy depends on external factors then we surely haven’t understood our identity in Christ and the Gospel. And this is not only unbiblical it’s a dangerous thing for our souls because we are left at the mercy of our world not our Lord.

Just imagine with me how life would have been for the first disciples. Imagine if they let the world around them define their happiness. Wouldn’t they have been the saddest people on earth. I mean people and governments were out to get them literally speaking. Think about all that the apostle Paul went through and yet when you read his epistles you don’t hear him mourn and complain all the time. Instead he says things like:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5

Now my aim is not to undermine our problems or even suggest we should never complain or get angry when things are going wrong especially when they can be fixed. Rather that we understand happiness rightly from the Gospel’s perspective so that we don’t end up like everyone else. There are many reasons to be sad and depressed when you look around or even look within. But for a believer the cure to that is by looking above.

How else do you suppose the apostles lived and went to their death happy? It wasn’t because they had great lawyers or believed in themselves. It was because they looked up to the one who called them who could make good out of every situation. They saw him who called them from darkness to his light and the one they were soon going to spend eternity with. And in that case suffering and death couldn’t hinder their joy.

Christians have always had a reason to be happy even when they were not sure of the next meal, or about their jobs, relationships, health, parenting, retirement… Because their joy was found in their relationship with Jesus. It was founded on what Christ had achieved for them by rescuing them from slavery to sin, the mess that is this world and the lies of its ruler the devil. It was based on that promise, behold I’m with you always to the end of the age, Matthew 28:20. And the assurance that even if they died that night things would only get better as they woke up to eternal life in heaven. This is a joy that the prevailing circumstances can never rob from a believer.

So there’s always a reason to be grateful and when you start thinking about it you realize there’s more than one. And so what I want to suggest is as we reflect on all that’s happened this year let’s remember the joys however little and simple. To pause from all the chaos and reflect on God’s grace and goodness in 2020. Ingratitude blinds our eyes from God’s immense love, kindness and mercy and when that happens the devil only needs whisper a lie and soon we start to doubt, become discontent and get angry with God and fellow believers falling for his petty schemes.

Let’s cut him off by reflecting on God’s goodness to us. This will sound cliché but the first thing I’m grateful about is hearing the true saving Gospel over and over again this year. That God in his kindness brought people my way through the church family and friends all over the world to remind me the Gospel this year. In moments of confusion and desperation I was reminded about God’s sovereignty and his loving kindness on all his children. That I was not alone and that whatever happened God would use it to grow my love, dependence and commitment to him.

Don’t get me wrong there were times that I struggled knowing this in my head but finding it hard to believe in my heart. Times when I knew my help was a prayer away and yet found it hard to stretch that arm.

But I was reminded my hope isn’t built on me and what I feel or experience but on the unfailing and irrevocable word of God. And in that word Jesus had promised to be with me, to keep me and present me holy before his father on the last day.

I didn’t need a godfather or a guardian angel because Jesus was with me through it all. And he used his Word through his people to keep my eyes where they should be, not focused on my circumstances here and now or inward looking but looking to him the pioneer and perfecter of my faith, see Hebrews 12:1-3. I’m so grateful to God for the Gospel, for my loving church family here and beyond and the faithful preaching of his Word. What are you grateful for?

The Underrated Miracle

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One of the amazing miracles from the Gospel accounts is that of blind people like the Blind Bartimaeus receiving sight. Most of us can barely handle darkness for a minute. Imagine living all your life in darkness imagining what is all around you, touching and feeling but never seeing. And then within seconds after Jesus says the words, the world is opened to you like a newborn. Imagine seeing the mountains, people, bulls, insects, trees, rivers… all in your first ever gaze. I’m already feeling overwhelmed imagining it.

You could say every miracle must have been exciting and overwhelming at the same time. I guess that’s what happens when the impossible happens. This is what drew crowds to Jesus and it’s what many preachers crave even the ones who don’t call for the “deliverance service”. If only a miracle happened when I was preaching then people would listen to me more and of course God would be glorified, says the man of God. I think all of us would actually want to see a miracle first hand. Our unbelieving friends insist this would convince them to repent and believe the Gospel. In truth, we see miracles everyday but they don’t seem to excite or overwhelm us as much.

You see behind the spectacular, crowd-drawing miracles was Jesus’ words and behind the scenes bigger miracles were happening that only those whose hearts he touched and healed could testify to. It’s the miracle of spiritual sight. It’s what happens when we hear the Gospel and our eyes are opened to see our sinfulness and our desperate need for salvation. When we understand just how blind we have been all our lives of God’s love and patience with our rebellion and idolatry. And when we first see the light of the Gospel we realize the darkness we’ve lived in and how blind the world is. Paul expresses this perfectly writing to the Ephesians. He says before they heard the Gospel they were so blind in sin and blind to their blindness, they couldn’t even feel and touch like Bartimaeus, they were dead:

1. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2. in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.

Ephesians 2, ESV.

But when Jesus’ words were spoken to us from the preaching of the Gospel our first ever gaze overwhelmed us seeing God’s love to such wretched sinners like us. It was a greater wonder than seeing oceans, mountains, children, skies, birds… for the very first time. Now we could see God and ourselves clearly than ever before. I can remember vividly that first time when I saw the love and mercy of God and my very clear guilt before him. I couldn’t believe how blind I was before to see how I toyed with God’s judgement on me. And to imagine that a sinner like me could be forgiven and called a child of God, my mind was blown away. That’s the miracle I see every day because like King David my sins are ever before me and yet God’s love and mercy is ever true and all consuming. And what’s more, I’m continually being changed by his Spirit in me through his Word to sin no more.

You see, to the naked eye this doesn’t seem as spectacular a miracle as restoring physical sight or raising the physically dead. But what’s more troubling is that even believers don’t seem to appreciate this miracle and privilege as much. We still crave for what is tangible because we like using our physical eyes instead of this new pair of spiritual eyes. Can you imagine Bartimaeus choosing to close his eyes and cross the street with a stick as he used to before. How outrageous! And yet that’s what we like doing, pack our faith on the side and take a step with the world for old times sake. May the Lord have mercy on us! May he quicken us to see just how privileged we are that we can see him, ourselves and the world around us as he sees it from the spiritual eye of his Word. And may we be overjoyed living in light of this Gospel in this blind world as we look forward to our eternal home.

Spiritual sight, walking by faith not sight, is what we need everyday in the good times and when our ministries are struggling. Because it’s the eyes of biblical faith that distinguish those who make it to the end and those who walk away. It’s what we need when our joy and enthusiasm in witnessing is failing. It’s what keeps missionaries on the field and faithful Christians living for Jesus in a hostile world. Spiritual sight is our unique blessing and dare I say the most important one this side of eternity. It’s what will keep our eyes set on the eternal prize while we are constantly tempted by the fears or pleasures of this world. Don’t forget to carry your pair with you at all times and in every circumstance.

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I can’t help but speak

Hi there! My name is Peter Muturi and I would love to share with you how I became a Christian. I grew up going to church all through my primary school and I was okay with it because I sort of believed in the idea of God and honestly my mom couldn’t have it any other way, haha. What I couldn’t get though was the idea that this God was interested in a relationship with me.

To me, God was all-powerful but wouldn’t be at all interested in me. This made it increasingly hard as I grew up to care about church on a Sunday while I could be out having fun with my friends.

Something else that bothered me was that God would one day punish me for my sins. It seemed cruel and trivial for an almighty being who should have more things to concern himself with. In time, I strayed away and stopped going to church altogether choosing instead to hang out with friends and watch movies despite my mom and aunt’s rebuke. In the end, it took my mom reaching out to my pastor to get me back to church. It was embarrassing for all of us but I caved in for their sake and went back to church. In any case, I wasn’t going to have my freedom while still at home so I decided to work hard and try it at uni.

I performed very well and finally, I could smell my freedom. I was a university student in the city free to do anything I wanted to enjoy life. I tried my best chasing a happy life but it didn’t really give me the satisfaction I had craved all those years. In the end, I felt emptier and more depressed.

In my gloom I remembered a friend had always been trying to get me to Christian union so finally I went to attend a Friday fellowship and I got hooked from that day. I kept coming for the company and sense of belonging until one Sunday morning when my comfort seat was shaken again. The speaker spoke from Revelation 3:16 warning those of us who had lukewarm comfortable faith. She went on how you were supposed to be either fully in with Jesus or out and if not, God would spit you out in judgement.

For the first time I realized I had always judged God on my standards and never considered he was right to judge me on his own standards. And looking back to my life I realized God had been very kind to me and I really deserved his judgement for repaying his love with my indifference.

I became very aware of my sins and was trembling in my seat and couldn’t wait to leave. I went straight to find my friend who prayed with me and I rededicated my life to Christ this time willingly. It’s not been an easy journey I must say but that day was the best day of my life and the beginning of a life dedicated to honor Christ with my life as he did with his death. And now I can’t help but speak of him!

#MissionMonth

#Ican’thelpbutspeak

#GracepointchurchKikuyu

Normal isn’t better!

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I've heard it in our prayers and seen it on the news
The pagan and the believer crying for the same thing
Take away this pandemic, give us back our normal life
We want to hit the button and restart the year again
We miss the good old days, away with the masks!
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That was the life wasn't it?
When you could go anywhere
And do anything you wanted
We were invisible back then
We clicked our fingers and got our wishes
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Everything was perfect and we lived the dream
Our leaders were amazing, ruling with truth and justice
None died of hunger or knew of economic breakdown
Our society was built on truth and integrity
Do you remember them those good old days?
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So we cry as we dream of what we had
But what really did we have then?
Could it be we were all dreaming
Maybe we are in a bad stupor right now
Supposing that yesterday would be any better
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You could go back to normal but not better
You see it's not the "normal life" we need
It's a better life where disease are unheard of
Where we don't turn wondering what will hit us next
Normal isn't nearly better it's only a milage
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In normal life we laboured and toiled 9 to 5
We did our best to make every coin count
Trying and beating the odds to climb the ladder
But always fearing what would eventually brings us falling
We were always in a pandemic only it wasn't labeled so
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As long as it didn't hit home or someone we knew
It was okay, it's the way of life we said casually
But occasionally we would be victims
Then we would see life in true reality
Because when death glares we see things as we should
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So I call you to see beyond the normal
Don't settle for less problems when you can have none
Don't dream of less sickness when you could be free
Free yourself from the traps of this vain life
And embrace the offer of abundant eternal life that Jesus offers
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Sure, there was something good with our "normal life"
We had a bit more control on things and plans
At least some of us did! 
But it was a always a step away from a pandemic
And who knows what awaits after this one! 
*****
We pray that things get better while down here
But we should see this as a wake up call
To know what the world offers is really overrated
We need a better home with no viruses and fear of death
And Jesus went to make the perfect home for those who believe
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The God behind the scenes

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One day as we stroll the streets of heaven we will look back
And learn of the pain and sacrifice of many unknown heroes
We will hear of wounds and scars unseen before
Of hidden sin, doubts and possible backsliding
And will glorify the God who worked behind the scenes
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We will see our heroes of faith as we should
As mere feeble men and praise the one who worked in them
We will see those we look down upon
And hear of their unknown acts of charity
Then will we rightly praise the Saviour behind it all
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We will hear of much generosity and unrivalled patience
Of the hospitality of godly women and discipline of caring fathers
We will see those who suffered and died for their faith
And those who endured bearing their cross everyday
Then shall our mouths be filled with true praise
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We will know of greater evangelists and Bible teachers
Those who never came to the limelight but served faithfully
We will hear of businessmen and stay at home mums
Those who supported and served behind the scenes
And great shall be their joy meeting the one who saw it all
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We crave the reputation of men that will fade in time
We worry about things that will be deemed insignificant
Because we see more with our eyes than our faith
But if we paid attention and looked carefully
We would see the God at work behind the scenes
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Sometimes all we need is his sympathy

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I really hate it when I feel helpless. You know when you are in a crisis or someone shares their problem with you and you know you can’t help them. At times you wish they didn’t tell you to enjoy the bliss of ignorance. And you might quickly want to forget it by overindulging in some distraction.

The problem is when we share our troubles many people especially men rush to look for solutions. They mean well but they are also naive and shallow to realise the depth of the problem. Because sometimes the problem isn’t merely finding a solution but living with the problem.

Take our sinful heart for example. We know there’s only one cure, a new heart conformed to the nature of Christ. But we are here on earth and we have to live with this wretchedness. We don’t just need a cure for our sinful heart but the strength to endure living with this cancer.

This is why I find great comfort in the Lord Jesus because he doesn’t just fix us. He gives us the power to endure living with the problem. Because he knows what it means to bear the burden of sin in our weak bodies. As the author to the Hebrews says:

18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2.

I cry to him when I mess up and wish he could rip out this sinful heart. But I know as longs as I’m down here I’ll have to live with this sickness before I see him in eternal glory. So I live with the comfort of knowing he’s with me through the thick and thin. I know however bad and hopeless it feels I have him by my side as I fight sin.

And not once will I ever say, God you didn’t know what it was like living in this broken world because he knows. As a matter of fact I’ll never come close to facing what he faced on his way to earn me salvation.

Sometimes all we need is sympathy. It’s not someone to try fix us because in truth we are broken beyond repair. We don’t need someone to download their theology on us on right and wrong, evil and good, righteousness and wickedness.

We need someone who can say I know how you feel. I know the guilt within you. I can see the pain and anguish, the regret and remorse. I know exactly what you are going through because I have faced it and much worse. And Jesus the friend of sinners can say this and do much more. He can sympathize with our weaknesses, he is our strength in the journey and the cure to our weaknesses:

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2.

We need not fear anything when we are beside him. He has conquered the monsters, that is sin, death and the devil. And now he lives in us by his Spirit and has walked ahead of us as a perfect example. Whatever we face he can sympathize with us. He’s the surgeon in the operating theater that worked on our heart cancer but also the friend beside us as we face the pain of recovery.

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Calm down my worrying heart

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When I toss back and forth in my bed
And a hundred thoughts run through my mind
When the night feels like an eternity
And my worries too many to bear
I look to the one who calms my heart
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I worry of that which I cannot change
My fears run to a future so uncertain
It looks bleak and feels like the end
So I toss again with hopelessness
And I cannot calm my worrying heart
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I could toss all night and change nothing
I wet my sheets with my tears for nothing
Perhaps if I knew the future I could do something
But it’s not mine to know or change
Mine only is to surrender my heart to him
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So I give you this little heart and my worries
I offer my pain and distress as a sacrifice
Take it, Lord, as a pleasing aroma of my worship
I surrender this my heart and mind to you
For only you can calm this worrying heart
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It’s another night and fear looms in the dark
A new day comes and new problems are born
Where can I run far away to peace everlasting?
I will hide in the arms of my loving Father
The one who calms down my worrying heart
*****

Christian, don’t waste this Pandemic!

Title borrowed from John Piper’s book, Don’t waste your Life.

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If as Christians we believe that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 then we need to ask whether we are missing the good out of this Pandemic?

It’s inconceivable to the human mind that anything good would come out of tragedy but church history since the Exodus to the Cross and the birth of the early church proves it happens this way. Suffering is the gateway to Christian growth and will ultimately usher in eternal glory with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus.

It was Jesus suffering and death in the hands of evil religious leaders and a cowardly ruler that bought us eternal joy and salvation. The groom and darkness of that Friday birthed the precious Easter Sunday. We were reconciled to the Father and given the hope of eternal life. The resurrection of Jesus from this life of suffering and death is the foundation of our faith and what informs how we live now. Otherwise, as Paul says:

… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15.

So going by this foundation it means death won’t be the end of us. Our hope of resurrection goes beyond the threat of diseases and economic breakdown. Those things will affect us and to some of us worse than others but they won’t steal our hope. On the contrary, God can use this time to shape us to be more like Christ in his sufferings. To grow in the flames of suffering in our love and trust for God if we align ourselves with his plan and purposes.

This could turn out to be a memorable time of Church growth numerically and in regard to its discipleship. But it could also be a time of great confusion and backsliding if we focus on the bad, the uncertain and forget our sovereign Lord is still in control. My cry is that we won’t waste this time but make the most use of it to live for Jesus as we always ought to as strangers in this world.

To turn to God in prayer. Seek to grow in our knowledge and love for Jesus and his Word. Seek to expand his kingdom by our witness in word and deed. To look at the fields as Jesus would say and see it’s ripe for harvest:

I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. John 4

This is the time to reach out to friends and family with the Gospel truth and Gospel love. It’s the time to soak in fellowship with God in our devotion and prayer. It’s time to model family devotion and fellowship. It’s time to learn Biblical reflection. Time to encourage one another with the life-giving truths of the Gospel. Time to create and develop good spiritual disciplines. Time to preach. As Steve Lawson echoed;

There has never been a greater hour to preach the gospel. The darker the night, the brighter the light.

We don’t know how long this COVID-19 will take before a cure is found or we recover from it. And we should continue praying for a cure and be wise in controlling it’s spread. But as Christians, we should also make the most use of the time as we live for King Jesus even in this.

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5.

Why praise as you pray?

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Why praise as you pray?

This is a question I should have asked when they taught me the ABC of prayer as a young Christian. But back then I didn’t think it was right to question matters of faith as that would seem like a sign of doubt or unbelief. But now I know God would have wanted me to ask that question because he’s interested not with my blind faith but with my Biblically informed faith and trust in him.

So why then do we praise as or before we pray? Is it that God just loves being praised? Is this how we bribe him so he can act on our behalf? Why did Jesus teach his disciples to start with honoring God’s name in the Lord’s Prayer? David in the Psalms and the apostles all seem to adopt this approach when they write their prayers. Is it merely a tradition?  We’ve actually adopted this in our Sunday service where we start with praise songs, thanksgiving prayer before we make our requests before God. It’s a great tradition but I’m afraid to some this could be just a tradition, something they do without stopping to ask why this is the case.

Why pray at all?

Perhaps the bigger question is why we pray at all? Why pray when God knows our needs and is able to do it without us asking? And my best attempt on that is to say that prayer isn’t actually a transaction between us and God. Though it’s about God and about bringing him our needs, it has a lot more merits for us in building our faith and trust in God. This means prayer will benefit you regardless of the outcome because prayer is our exercise of faith. It means not once does a Christian pray and leave empty-handed even if God didn’t answer that prayer as they wanted. There are times I have gone before God with my needs, desperately wanting him to act on my behalf only for him to do this by strengthening my faith in him. Sometimes I come out of this and my needs are still before me but my confidence in God is reassured.

I believe this is the reason why praise needs to come before or as we pray because prayer has more to do with our confidence in God than simply getting our needs sorted. We need to know we can trust him before we bring him our requests. Praise changes our perspective because it reminds us of who God is and what he has done. By the time we finish praising him, we should have no doubt that he’s a good God who is able to do far more than we think or imagine. We should be soaked in his merits that our needs seem like nothing before him. And by the time we make our requests, our faith in him is already strengthened. As a matter of fact, I would say, our greatest prayer is already answered when we do this. Our trust and confidence in God are re-established when we praise him.

How do we praise him rightly?

But how do we praise God in a Biblical and genuine way without simply buttering him with words as pagans do? As I said, remember this isn’t merely a transaction to get what you want but a gift from God to build your faith. So how do we do this in the right way?

I’ll say we need to know and believe in God’s Word like David, Jesus and the apostles did. Their prayers are full of Bible language because prayer is speaking back to God in response to his Word. God delights when his people take him by his word and in prayer echo what they believe. But I don’t simply mean that you know the Bible so you can quote it back like a lawyer in a courthouse.  I mean what Paul says in Colossians 3:16 :

 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

This will take careful and disciplined meditation of God’s Word in your devotion, through sermons, Bible fellowship and through good Biblical songs. It’s what David teaches us in Psalm 1:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

Start where you are

I hope and pray that this will lead you to praise and pray more with confidence. You don’t have to wait until you have studied the whole Bible to do this. You just need to start by meditating on what you are reading in your devotion or from a faithful sermon.

Praise God for what he has said in his Word, for what he’s teaching us about himself and what he’s done for us in Jesus. I have been doing my devotion in the book of Psalms and they are a great way to do this but I’m sure you can do the same with any other book of the Bible. I pray that God will give you the requests of your heart as you turn to pray. But above all, I pray that he will grow your faith as you focus on him, his character and his deeds as ultimately reflected in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3.