A Personal Commitment to Pray by Richard R. Blake

Equipping for Life Change through Prayer

Each January as we begin a new year,  many of us will reflect on the year just completed with a desire to make the year ahead a year of new beginnings. As followers of Christ it is important that we take an inventory of how we are doing spiritually. The Monthly Prayer Digest continues to offer practical guidelines, inspiration, and challenge to help you “focus, stretch, rekindle, and renew” the effectiveness and enjoyment of your prayer experience.

Focus – The Central focus of our prayer life should be on the Lord Himself.

Thomas expressed worship when he acknowledged Christ as, “My Lord and My God.”

The four creatures in Revelation chapter four express their worship in the words,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is he Lord God Almighty.” This offering of praise is followed by the worship expressed in chapter five

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive…glory, and honor and praise.”

And “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb praise and honor, and glory and power, forever and ever.”

Stretch – Be intentional.  Resolve to make prayer a top priority in the year ahead.

Rekindle – Ask the Lord to reawaken that spirit of “first love” excitement, and intimacy you experienced as a babe in Christ newly “born again” by the oHoly Spirit of God. 

Renew – Begin each day by renewing your commitment to prayer by expressing gratefulness for the blessing and challenge of each new day.

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.

Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 108:1-5

A Few General  Guidelines on Getting Started

Adapt your prayers in light of the Model Prayer Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 6 (The prayer we often refer to as the Lord’s prayer)

Pray in confidence.

Be persistent in your prayers.

Pray for laborers in ministry and for evangelism of unbelievers.

Pray for the government officials: Leaders at the National, State, and Local level.

Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your prayers.

Pray in faith, believing for answered prayer.

Pray for the Lord’s will to be accomplished.

Some Specific Suggestions for Contemporary Christians

Think of your i-Phone as a resource tool for prayer – Text message or e-mail your friends to let them know you are praying for them, for their specific requests, and to alert them of your immediate need for specific prayer.

Use your computer search engine to download inspiring Scriptures from the Psalms on prayer for adaptation in your prayers of affirmation, intercession, and worship.

Download worship songs from your computer. These can be used later to provide spontaneous worship while driving, exercising, or while waiting for appointments.

Intercede for people intersect with while shopping, stopped for traffic lights, or waiting in line.

Some Pointers on Practicing the Presence of God

Read books on classic books on prayer. Check out our church library for a good selection of available resources on prayer. Augustine, John Bunyan, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and Andrew Murray are among the classic authors on prayer. More recent writers include books written by Bill Hybels, Henry Blackaby, Rick Warren, and Charles Swindol.

Join other for times of corporate prayer.

Set aside a time for and experiment in “time alone” in communication with God. A time for pouring out your deepest longing and listening for His response – Be sure to have your Bible handy.)

“God speaks through a variety of means.In the present God primarily speaks by the Holy Spirit, through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church.”

Henry Blackaby

Use a prayer journal to record your prayer requests, answers to prayers, specific guidance, and spiritual lessons you learn throughout your spiritual journey.

“Settle yourself in solitude and you will come upon Him in yourself.”

Teresa of Avila

Adapted from The Prayer Digest – Woodland Shores Baptist Church

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Book Review: Keys to PassingYour Spiritual Tests by Abraham John

Keys to Passing Your spiritual TestsKeys to Passing Your Spiritual Tests: Unlocking the Secrets to your Spiritual Promotion
By: Abraham John
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 172547-0310
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Practical Instruction in Meeting Spiritual Testing

“Keys to Passing Your Spiritual Tests” introduces, defines, and details: What is meant by spiritual tests, the purpose of these tests, Biblical examples of spiritual tests, and practical keys to victory through testing. I gained new insights and understanding in the areas of life where we may experience personal tests especially in areas of sickness and suffering, and from the specific tests learned by Moses throughout the wilderness years, the eight mistakes to avoid, and the seven tests David faced. I was impressed again with the need to allow the Holy Spirit to give us a right heart, teach us lessons of obedience, convict us of sin, and bring us to repentance as we grow in spiritual stability and move into spiritual maturity.

Author Abraham John encourages and strengthens Christians internationally through Maximum Impact Ministries equipping them for the ministry, church planting, and leadership and discipleship training. John’s writing is anointed, articulated, and authoritative.

“Keys to Passing Your Spiritual Tests” is rich and penetrating in unlocking insights into eternal truth through Biblical examples from the lives of Abraham, Moses, David, and many others. God’s principles and methods are presented in a way that reignites the desire for a fresh new encounter with the Lord.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Open Heaven by Tommy Tenney

Open Heaven: The Secret Power of a Door Keeper

Open HeavenBy: Tommy Tenney

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768403015, $ 15.99, 2012, 192 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Restoring Power and Passions to Worship

Highly acclaimed by pastors, worship pastors, and internationally respected Christian leaders are excited about Tommy Tenney’s new book “Open Heaven: The Secret Power of a Door Keeper.” Tenney challenges the reader to restore the passion of David to their worship.

Tenney’s writing is thought provoking, and heart probing; simple truths are profoundly presented, are illuminating, and infused with passion and authentic worship. “Open Heaven” is written for those searching for the heart of God, wanting to enter into His very presence.

Readers beware!  God may move you from your comfort zone, upset your agenda, rethink your theology, and take you into an experience a deep brokenness which leads to “the secret power of a door keeper and “open heaven” to you.

The format includes a rich balance of scriptures, short inspiring prayers, and life changing encounters with the power and presence of Lord of Lord in His throne room. Chapter titles and topical titles within each title capture the attention and imagination while conveying an important challenge, promise, or command.

“Open Heaven” is destined to become a classic. Tommy Tenney leads the reader into an encounter with the unfathomable glory of God’s presence. Highly Recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: The New Covenant Prophecy by Grant Berry

The New CovenantThe New Covenant Prophecy: A Supernatural Jewish Journey of Faith from the Old to New Covenant
By: Grant Berry
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
798-0768402940, $ 16.99, 2012, 252 Pages
Reviewed By Richard R. Blake
The Good News of Yeshua – Jesus the Messiah

In his book “The New Covenant Prophecy” Grant Berry records the story of his supernatural journey of faith from the old covenant to the new covenant. He draws from his own personal experience and from the depth of his study in the scriptures. This is a book for anyone seeking answers in their own journey of faith.

Berry’s study reveals God’s purpose for Jewish peoples, the nation Israel, and for Jewish Christians. Grant himself is a Jewish believer in Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah. He provides the reader with a deeper understanding of the New Covenant, and the good news of the gospel from a Messianic perspective.

I enjoyed Grant’s writing style; as a gifted communicator he establishes a conversational approach establishing a comfortable warm sense of sharing individually from his inner heart; challenging and inspiring the reader. Berry writes with authenticity and spiritual sensitivity. His story is engaging, well balanced with scripture and personal observation – a compelling narrative.

“The New Covenant Prophecy” invites the reader to move from observing a religious experience of ritual or ceremony to a quest to know the truth and to find an intimacy with God through the good news of Yeshua – Jesus the Messiah.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Heaven Is Beyond Your Wildest Expectations by Sid Roth & Lonnie Lane

Heaven Is Beyond Your Wildest ExpectationsHeaven Is Beyond Your Wildest Expectations: Ten True Stories of Experiencing Heaven

By Sid Roth and Lonnie Lane

Destiny Image Publishing, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 172587, 978-07684052865, $ 15.99, 2012, 190 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Ten Amazing Testimonies of Visits, Visions, and Dreams Describing Heaven

“Heaven Is Beyond Your Wildest Expectations” relates the testimonies of ten individuals who visited heaven, a vision, or a supernatural dream of a visit to heaven. These stories have been used to help millions “experience a touch of Heaven” through interviews by Sid Roth on his television program It’s Supernatural.

Dr. Gary Wood, author of “A Placed Called Heaven” tells of the magnificence of heaven, its design, the activities of angels, and the presence of Jesus.  Dean Braxton describes the throne of God and the depth of God’s love whenever he relates his experience during his visit to heaven.

Rhoda Mitchell helps the reader capture something of the sounds of joy and of the glory that permeate the atmosphere of heaven. Ian McCormack experienced the gracious mercy of God and a born again experience as a result of his visit to heaven; thousand have received forgiveness from their sins as a result of Ian’s testimony, including his son Michael who shares his own story of visiting heaven and now shares the same calling – telling others of Jesus.

Each story affirms the message that “Heaven is Beyond Your Wildest Expectations.” A wonderful message of hope and assurance.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: The Future of Worship by Nathan Byrd

The Future of WorshipThe Future of Worship: Preparing the church for a Tsunami of Change
By: Nathan Byrd
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768402902
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Timeline of Corporate Sanctuary Worship

Nathan Byrd, internationally known worship pastor, traces Sanctuary Worship from its Hebraic root right up to contemporary Christianity in his book “The Future of Worship.” He compares the three dimensions of worship with the Tabernacle: The Outer Court, the Inner Court, and the Most Holy Place. He describes the Shekinah glory and the worship of New Testament believers.

I became intrigued with Byrd’s word study of what he defines as the four eras of worship: The tabernacle, the temple, the synagogue, and the sanctuary. He also describes the evolution of worship over the last forty years. He uses a workable approach to develop his thesis with relevant illustrations and relational situations.
His conclusions are solid, alive, and applicable with a strong emphasis on holiness.

Byrd establishes a pattern and call to worship that will shatter complacent attitudes about worship which will lead the reader to a place of deeper worship likened to “the holy of holies.” This demands a paradigm shift back to the pattern and purpose originally designed by God. Byrd’s writing is biblically based and provides significant insight into worship as our heart’s response to the knowledge of God’s plan for approaching His throne of grace as individuals and as a church as we approach His throne to express our worship through music, praise, gratitude, and the teaching of God’s Word.

“The Future of Worship” paves the way wave to a new paradigm of the understanding and experience of Biblical worship.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Islands of Genius by Darold A. Treffert

Islands of GeniusIslands of GeniusIslands of Genius
By: Darold A. Treffert
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc. Philadelphia PA 19106
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Look into the Hidden Potential of the Brain,

In his book “Islands of Genius” Darold Treffert provides the reader with a look into the fascinating complexities of the mind. From the first page of the foreword, written by Daniel Tammet, who himself gained national attention as an autistic savant in 2004, (featured in chapter 16), to the last page of the appendix “Islands of Genius” is packed with information featuring the stories of lives of individuals gifted with unique skills and incredible gifts which Treffert labels Islands of Genius which co-exist side by side with certain disabilities within the same person.

These unique abilities may be expressed in memorization skills, lightning calculation, calendar skills, gifts of music or art, or in amazing mathematical and numbers skills, mechanical and special skills, and other obscure skills such as language abilities, and unusual sensory perception.

As a lay reader with a specific interest in the field of autism, the Savant Syndrome, Downs Syndrome, dementia and other brain studies, I found Part II of especial interest “The World of the Savant” which included a glimpse into 14 incidents of individuals impacted by various aspects of savant.

Dr. Treffert writing is sometimes repetitious which may reinforce some information for the general reader but may be considered redundant by the professional. Treffert conveys a genuine passion for his subject and a respect for the individuals featured throughout the book.

“Islands of Genius” will be of special interest to clinicians, parents, educators, and therapists working with individuals who have savant syndrome.

As Reviewed for the Amazon Vine Program.

Book Review: Visions of Heaven by Roberts Liardon

Visions of HeavenVisions of Heaven

By: Roberts Liardon

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768402971, $ 15.99, 2012, 174Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Testimonies of People Who Have Seen the After-Life

Bestselling author Roberts Liardon relates the accounts of four people who have had glimpses into the after-life in his book “Visions of Heaven.” The stories begin with his own account of an open vision of a visit to heaven as a child. This testimony has been received by over a million people through the use of spoken and written presentations.

Liardon carefully explains four types of visions and angels: he also discusses the subjects of the rivers of life, the substance of praise, the throne room of God, unclaimed blessings and the river of life. He describes Jesus as Lord, Savior, and friend and the awareness of God’s presence.

In Marietta Davis’ account of her vision of heaven in the year 1848 she provides the reader with assurance of the absence of fear in heaven, no sorrow, or suffering. Rebecca Springer’s vision tells of the beauty of heaven, the river of life, the mansion of heaven and of life in heaven.  H. A. Baker and his wife while serving as missionaries opened Adullam Home for teenage beggar boys on the streets Kotchiu, China. These children were caught up in a vision to the city of God and testify of seeing Jesus on the Throne, much as He appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos.

Every reader will appreciate the Question and Answer section included in the appendix. Answers include what the Bible says with specific references providing the answers.

“Visions of Heaven” is a beautiful story of promise; it is a revelation of God’s love, offering joy, comfort, affirmation, and rest to the believer.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Seventy Reasons for Speaking in Tongues by Dr. Bill Hamon

Seventy Reasons for Speaking in TonguesSeventy Reasons for Speaking in Tongues

By: Dr. Bill Hamon

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768487749, $ 15.99, 2012, 224 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. blake

Understanding the Purposes and Benefits of Speaking in Tongues

“Seventy Reasons for Speaking in Tongues” is Biblically based and well documented. Dr. Bill Hamon helps the reader understand the purposes and benefits of speaking in tongues.The book combines a balance of instruction, Biblical text, and clearly marked topical headings. Dr. Hamon discusses: Basic principles, descriptions, definitions, and illustrations of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, roles, and the potential power available to the obedient Christian.

Each of the 12 chapters are filled with “Power Packed” insights, Biblical proofs, benefits and blessings to help the reader activate and increase their faith, to exercise their spiritual gifts, to gain victory in spiritual battles, and to effectively intercede in prayer for a world needing to heed the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hamon’s writing is filled with anointed powerful and dynamic action words that generate excitement, command action, and infuse the reader with the desire to personally experience the benefits, blessing, and power of praying in their Spirit language.

“Seventy Reasons for Speaking in Tongues” is a basic primer on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit’s ministry and should be in the hands of every Spirit filled-believer, and every follower of Christ desiring to know more of the Spirit’s fullness and power in their life and ministry.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.