Category Archives: Prayer

Retreating, Eating, and Confessing

Michelle and I just returned from a wonderful weekend at Desert Harbor Retreat. We’ve been there a few times now, and each time we go, we are blessed, refreshed, and encouraged. The location is breathtaking, the accommodations are perfect, the food is incredible, and the wise counsel we receive from Raymond and Wesley Jo Linam is invaluable. Desert Harbor is open to anyone, and Michelle and I can’t recommend it to you enough. Take some time to get away to reflect on God’s goodness and be renewed by booking a stay there. Here are a few pictures that you click for a better look.

 
We were given much to consider, pray about, and work toward while we were there. Among many other things we were counseled to consider doing during my sabbatical, we were encouraged by Raymond and Wesley Jo to cook together. They are such good cooks, and the meals they provide their guests are very healthy and VERY delicious. Unfortunately, Michelle had to return to work today, so I took up the cooking challenge myself. We will be cooking together in the coming days, but I just couldn’t wait. Last night, we discussed 3 new meals we’d like to try, and I hit the grocery. Took me over an hour to find everything we needed, but it was so worth it. I made Quinoa Risotto with Carrots and Asparagus – a crock pot meal that was very easy to make and VERY easy to eat! I’m a novice, so I needed to start with the crock pot! You can find the recipe for it here. If you have a healthy meal you love, please send me the recipe at mpotter7088@gmail.com.

 
As the delicious smell of the meal slowly poured out of the crock pot, I spent some good time in the Word and in prayer. Part of my devotional rhythm consists of a time of confession.  There’s a prayer of confession I often pray from an old puritan book called The Valley of Vision. It is such a thorough and powerful prayer that encompasses so much of what I want to and need to confess to the Lord regularly. I want to share it with you in hopes that you will make this a regular prayer of confession too.

Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Your mind in Your Word, of neglect to seek You in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless You that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but rule over me in liberty and power.

I thank You that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness. Go on with Your patient work, answering ‘no’ to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to Your rule. I thank You for Your wisdom and Your love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.

No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If You should give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction. Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of Your grace in me, everything that prevents me taking delight in You. Then I shall bless You, God, for helping me to be upright.

Maximize the Benefit

With my sabbatical comes a new 6-month “rhythm.” My daily and weekly rhythm of ministry is being replaced with a new daily and weekly rhythm. Because I’ve been immersed in ministry for the last 10 years, switching to this new rhythm is a challenge. The elders of my church had me make a plan several months ago for what my life would like like these 6 months, and that has helped, but the transition is not that easy.

 
One of the pieces of my ministry rhythm that I will not change during my sabbatical is my weekly meeting for prayer with Peter Briggs. For 10 years, Peter and I have met weekly to pray together. Sometimes, we’ve been joined by others, but rarely has a week gone by when we haven’t met. This rhythm is just too important not to continue. Today Peter prayed that I would “maximize the benefit” of my sabbatical. He has always had a way with words, but this phrase especially impacted me. I immediately wrote it down and have been thinking about it all day. This is what I desire to do. I desire to maximize the (wonderful) benefit (for which I am so thankful to Foothills) of my 6-months away.

This weekend, Michelle and I will travel to the mountains outside Albuquerque for a weekend stay at Desert Harbor Retreat where we will receive our first session of counseling and life coaching. I plan to press into this phrase with the counselors there to get their guidance on how I can best “maximize the benefit” of my sabbatical – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Would you please pray for us this weekend that we would learn how to do this? Thanks!

Are You Praying Regularly for Your Kids?

Tom Bishop is a man who is passionate about prayer. He’s the author of several self-published booklets on prayer including the book, Praying Down the Path of Your Child’s Life. He believes that prayer is the most powerful tool by far in a parents arsenal. Here is what he told me a while back about about the importance of praying regularly for our kids.

All teenagers are going to go through crisis, problems, and all the stuff the world and the devil will throw at them. I think the difference is that those that are being prayed for survive and come out the other side. Those who aren’t being prayed for are in most cases the casualties. It’s really crucial that those we love the most are prayed for. In James, he says we don’t have because we don’t ask.

Do you want them to have the right friends? Ask for them. Do you want them to have godly instruction, godly counselors, and godly professors? Ask. Do you want them to connect up with the right mate? Ask.

God has a desired plan, but He doesn’t do things until His people ask Him. When it sunk into my head that God waits until His people pray before He moves, I decided that I didn’t want to miss out on all the things He has for me and my family. I vowed to start asking then and there!

Prayer is hard work. The devil fights it, and we don’t often see immediate results or get the immediate gratification we’ve been trained to expect. You have to spend time, you have to hear from God, you have to tie it to His Word, and you have to pray in faith.

Out of that process, He eventually gets us praying the things that He wants. It is then that we really connect with Him; it just takes quality time. It happens best when we set aside a time and place and really cry out to God.

Over the years, I have used some of Tom’s books to help me with my prayer life.  They can all be downloaded for free by clicking here.

Being Missional…Even During A Robbery!

I’ve heard of crying to get out of a traffic ticket, but I’ve never heard of crying in order to get out of being robbed…until now!  Police in Indianapolis say an armed robber spent nearly 10 minutes on his knees praying with a clerk at an Indianapolis check-cashing business before fleeing with $20 from the register and the clerk’s cell phone.  The robbery took an unusual turn after the clerk starting crying and talking about God.

The gunman said he had a 2-year-old child to support and asked for prayer about overcoming his hardships.  So, the clerk invited the gunman to come around the counter for a time of prayer.  Police say the man removed the bullet from his gun and gave it to the clerk before kneeling for prayer.  All of this was captured on the store’s security camera.

After saying “Amen,” the gunman got up, took a twenty dollar bill, grabbed the clerk’s cell phone, and ran out. Later, however, the suspect, turned himself in after his mother saw him on television.

One investigator said this about the bizarre robbery: “I’ve been an investigator for three years now and I’ve never seen anything like this. Especially one where the robber reaches out to hug the victim and then the victim later on hugs the suspect. Very unusual.”

For sure, the clerk gets my “Missional Living Person of the Week Award!”

The Launching Pad of Fasting

fastingAs Foothills wraps up our four-week church-wide fast, let me encourage you with these words from Acts 13:1-4:

Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

This fasting changed the course of history.

John Piper notes that it is almost impossible to overstate the historical importance of this moment in Antioch in the history of the world. Before this word from the Holy Spirit there seems to have been no organized mission of the church beyond the eastern seacoast of the Mediterranean. Before this, Paul had made no missionary journeys westward to Asian Minor, Greece, or Rome, or Spain. Before this Paul had not written any of his letters which were all the result of his missionary travels beginning here.

This moment of prayer and fasting resulted in a missions movement that would make Christianity the dominant religion of the Roman Empire within two and a half centuries and would yield 1.3 billion adherents of the Christian religion today with a Christian witness in virtually every country of the world. And 13 out of the 29 books of the New Testament were the result of the ministry that was launched in this moment of prayer and fasting.

So I think is it fair to say that God was pleased to make worship and prayer and fasting the launching pad for a mission that would change the course of world history.

What do the Foothills elders hope that God will “launch” through our prayer and fasting?  We hope and pray that God will launch us into our 36th year together in such a way that He uses us to usher in His Kingdom here on earth (in Albuquerque, Africa, Japan, South Asia, Iraq) as it is in heaven.  Thank you, Foothills, for joining us in this act of discipline, sacrifice, and worship.

Young Georgia Pastor Killed By Police

Not sure if you’ve seen this yet, but the more I think about this, the more my heart breaks…

Jonathan Ayers, pastor of Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Lavonia, Ga., died during the night of Sept. 1, hours after being shot by undercover police officers outside a gas station where he had just gotten money from an ATM machine.

The Stephens County Sheriff’s Office initially identified the shooting victim as a suspect involved in a drug transaction. Later officials clarified that drug enforcement agents were not investigating Ayers, but a woman who was riding in his car whom he had dropped off moments earlier.

Jonathan Ayers had been pastor of Shoals Creek Baptist Church a little over a year.

Officials said the officers didn’t know who Ayers was and wanted to talk to him. They were in plain clothes, but they claim they wore badges around their necks and identified themselves as police when they asked him to open his car door. Instead, they say, Ayers put the car in reverse and fled, striking one officer and causing minor injuries.

Police fired at the fleeing vehicle. One bullet struck Ayers in the abdomen. He managed to drive away but crashed about a half mile away. Police found him conscious and alert, but he died several hours later after surgery.

Friends and family believe Ayers thought the men were going to rob him and that he got scared and tried to run away.  Police have not identified the woman, who is charged with selling cocaine. Ayers’ sister, Rebecca Floyd, said her younger brother was known to help strangers.

“I could bet my life on it that he did not know her,” Floyd told television station WYFF News 4. “I could bet my life on it, because that’s the kind of person he was. He was a good Christian man…. His goal was to lead souls to Christ.”

My heart breakayerss for this man’s pregnant wife left without a husband and for his church left without a pastor.  I served on the grand jury for three months last year and gained a whole new respect for what officers go through each day on the streets.  But, to open fire on an allegedly innocent man who was driving away from undercover officers in an unmarked car seems excessive.

Please join me in praying for the family and church of Jonathan Ayers and for the officers who were involved in this tragic situation.