31 Days of Prayer: Day 18 – Prayer and Anxiety

Stress ManDo not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil 4:6)

I find there’s something strangely comforting about getting anxious. When I start to worry about the pressures of life that are weighing on me – relationships, money, workload, whether the Rabbitohs will win the Grand Final – retreating into the safe space of personal anxiety is a cosy little coping mechanism.

But you know what I don’t like to admit but I’ve realised is true? Anxiety isn’t just a coping mechanism or a safe place. Anxiety is sin. Anxiety is sin because anxiety is the opposite of actively trusting in God. Continue reading

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31 Days of Prayer: Day 15 – Stop telling people not to pray

Praying Family“When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matt 6:7)

Over the years, whenever I’ve heard a prayer meeting of any kind being advertised, it’s usually introduced with this kind of caveat: “By the way, you don’t have to pray out loud or anything – just saying ‘Amen’ at the end of other people’s prayers is fine.”

‘You don’t have to pray out loud.’ Why do we say this? Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 14 – Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?

Child Father's Hand“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: our Father in heaven…” (Matt 6:8-9)

One of the most confusing – and sometimes the most painful – aspects of prayer can be the reality of our ‘unanswered prayers’.

Put together some of the pieces that we’ve seen already in this series of brief reflections:

  • God is all-powerful – he can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Nothing is too hard for him.
  • God is perfectly loving, and he welcomes the prayers of his children. Through Jesus’ death for us, we have access to God and a relationship with him as Father, so we can approach with boldness and confidence.
  • God is not just like a good earthly father. He is the perfect Father, and he delights to give good things to his children when they ask.

Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 12 – Approaching God as Father

You Can Pray“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven…’ (Matthew 6:9)

If you’ve been a Christian for a while, starting your prayers with the words ‘heavenly Father’ (or some similar variation) may have become so customary that you don’t think about it much. If you’re not a Christian, the idea of referring to the Creator as ‘Father’ may seem bizarre, even wrong. And if you’re a new Christian, maybe you haven’t got your head around this name for God and you’re still defaulting to safer options like ‘Lord’ or just ‘God’.

I guess that covers just about everyone. Calling God ‘Father’ when we pray has the potential to be a strange, confusing, or empty Christian habit. But it should never be any of those things. Instead, we should pause daily and reflect on the mind-blowing idea that we can call the God of the Universe ‘Father’. Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day Six – Jesus’ most shocking command

Keep Calm Love Enemies“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:44)

During his earthly ministry, Jesus said some shocking things. Perhaps none is more shocking than this part of ‘the Sermon on the Mount’: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:43-48)

Christopher Hitchens (died 2008), one of the most famous and boisterous atheists of recent years, saw the offensiveness of these words. Here’s how he responded when asked about the idea that someone could be commanded to love: Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day Two – God is willing

Child KnockingIf you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matt 7:11)

In Mark 9, Jesus meets the father of a boy possessed by an ‘impure spirit’. The man desperately wants his son healed, but is unsure of Jesus’ ability to help: “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” he begs. Jesus replies “‘If you can’?” Jesus then heals the boy with a simple word – he is more than able to meet the father’s request. “All things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27) Continue reading

Jesus on healing broken relationships

We should always take the first step to fix our damaged relationships, no matter which side of the breakdown we’re on

Healing RelationshipsThere’s an old cliché in Christian circles – often said half-jokingly, but through quietly gritted teeth: “I love everything about Christian ministry apart from people.” It’s a cliché laced with bitter irony because, of course, so much of the Christian life and ministry is about people and relationships. Yet it acknowledges the painful reality that relationships are always difficult, because people are always flawed and sinful. We all make mistakes. We hurt others, and we get hurt.

The Bible is the most realistic of books, dealing directly and honestly with the reality of our sin. And that means it contains forthright, practical wisdom on handling broken relationships. Continue reading

Don’t Waste Your Vote – Part 2

Badge - 2008 election

Four tips on how to vote

In this series, I’ve been aiming to help you put together the biblical pieces on how God thinks about government, and how Christians should therefore think about and interact with our governments. Last time, we looked at seven ways not to vote. In this post, we’re looking at four ways to vote. Continue reading