Blessings of Prayer

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.  What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.

—2 Cor. 5:11

As God’s coworkers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

—2 Cor. 6:1-2

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

—Eph. 2:18-20

James E. Faust (1920–2007), a religious leader, lawyer, and politician said, “A great heart is the beginning of greatness.  It is an expression of humility.  It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.”  What’s the effect of such prayer? Iyanla Vanzant (b. 1953), an inspirational speaker and lawyer wrote, “In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was prayer.  Sometimes my prayer was ‘Help me.’  Sometimes a prayer was ‘Thank you.’  What I have discovered was that intimate connection and communication with my creator will always get me through because I know my support, my help, is just a prayer away.”

True Prayer

Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892), an English Baptist preacher said, “True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise not a vocal performance.  It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”  What exactly constitutes prayer? Saint Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), a Roman Catholic and Spanish mystic said, “Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed.  Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.”

A Protestant evangelist Paul Washer (b. 1961) wrote, “One of the greatest attacks of the enemy is to make you busy, to make you hurried, to make you noisy, to make you distracted, to fill the people of God and the Church of God with so much noise and activity that there is no room for prayer.  There is no room for being alone with God.  There is no room for silence.  There is no room for meditation.”  But how should people counter such distractions and gain insights about prayer?  They should note like Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997), an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun who said, “Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”  This is the nature and power of prayer.

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Living like Christ

“You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”

—Mt. 5:14-16

… to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

—Eph. 4:12-13

But rejoice inasmuch you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

—1 Pet 4:13-14

How you live determines where your heart is.  To be like Christ people have to be open to the differences in humankind.  Denis Waitley (b. 1933), a motivational speaker said, “A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” Through a smile let others get to know you.  Invite them in your life like Christ did.

Always remember to show appreciation to others, and compliment them when they do the right thing.  Let people know that you care about their well-being.  To do so try walking in their footsteps, for this is the way you’ll be compassionate.  Alan Cohen (b. 1950), an inspiration writer wrote, “Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”

People’s Actions

So let your actions be like rays of hope even on gloomy days.  Reach out to the broken-hearted, soothe those who are hurting, and always remember to share your love.  Edith Wharton (1862–1937), a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist said, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

Not all of us are like a candle, but in all we do we can reflect the light of Christ.  This ought to be seen through our actions.  What we say and do is important.  Take time to be a blessing to all people – rich, and poor alike.  Tell them you care about them.  Go the extra mile, and let the grace of Christ work for you.  It’s through this way we share God’s nature on earth.  You could do so by remembering it isn’t only the big things that count, but the many small things people take for granted we are called to do in life.

Five Christian Crowns

“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”

—Rev. 2:10

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.  They put a staff in his right hand.  Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him.  “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.

––Mt. 27:28-29

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.”

—Prov. 16:31

The crown originated as a cap, turban, or other forms, and is at times decorated.  Its placement on the head indicates one was set apart for a particular calling.  Such crowns were used for high priests (Ex. 29:6; 39:30; Lev. 8:9), or for kings (2 Sam. 1:10; 2 Kings 11:12; Ps. 89:39; 132:18).  A crown indicates the consecrated role of the wearer (Ps. 89:39), and his, or her elevated position in life (Ps. 89:19-20).  There are five known crowns.

Crown 1 – Crown of Righteousness

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

—2 Tim. 4:8

Crown 2 – Crown of Self Control

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown which will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly, I do not fight like a boxer beating the air….I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

—1 Cor. 9:25-27

Crown 3 – Crown of Life

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

—Jas. 1:12

Crown 4 – Crown of Glory

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

—1 Pet. 5:2-4

Crown 5 – Crown of Rejoicing

“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”

—1 Thess. 2:19-20

“Undoubtedly those who are wise will shine like brightness in our Lord’s sight.  For they are those who have led many to righteousness, and they would be like stars forever and ever.”

—Dan. 12:13

Treasures in Heaven

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

—Mt 6:19-21

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”

—Mt 25:31-33

But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

—Phil 3:20-21

Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), a German mathematician and astronomer wrote, “The diversity of the phenomena of nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in heavens so rich, precisely in order of the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.”  But how do people respond to such blessings?  Lao Tzu (c. 6th to 4th century BC–533 BCE), a Chinese philosopher and writer said, “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion.  These are your greatest treasures.”  Those are Tzu wishes.

Treasures of Life

Bryant H. McGill (b. 1969), an author wrote, “There are amazingly wonderful people in all walks of life; some familiar to us and others not.  Stretch yourself and really get to know people.  People are in many ways one of our greatest treasures.”  How could Christian believers find such treasures?  Charlotte Bronte (1816–1855), an English novelist and poet said, “The human heart has hidden treasures, In secret kept, in silence sealed; The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, Whose charms were broken if revealed.”  Bronte saw treasures as profound.

Buddha (563/480 BC–483/400 BC), the founder of Buddhism wrote, “Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from pure and peaceful mind.  To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and guidance of virtue.” These prerequisites call for personal responses.  Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–1991), a Polish-born Jewish writer said, “For those who are willing to make an effort, great miracles and wonderful treasures are in store.”  Such treasures come to those who make the effort to succeed.