The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

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  Blinded Unbelievers

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Maybe your story is like mine. I became a believer as a teenager, but nobody taught me to be a disciple of Christ. My church told me what I needed to do (like read the Bible, pray, and witness), but it did not show me how. Nobody told me how to walk in truth, righteousness, and faith (see Eph. 6:11-17). As a result, I lived a defeated Christian life for far too many years.

The enemy aims his arrows at young believers who have not been discipled. He strikes them with doubt and discouragement. Sometimes he hits them with loneliness, as they move away from their non-Christian friends and try to fit into a church that is unfamiliar to them. At other times, he lures them with the same temptations they faced as non-believers. Whatever his strategy may be, he wants to strike at new believers before they are solidly planted in the Church.

This issue is related to prayer in at least two ways. First, many new believers are never taught how to pray. What they are told to do, they are not taught to do—and the result is a frustrated believer who longs to pray but does not know how. The enemy thus wins when the new believer gives up trying. This failure to disciple is, in my estimation, a primary cause of prayerlessness in the Church today.

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Second, undiscipled believers often live defeated, sinful lives that hinder praying in the first place. Both Isaiah and the psalmist (Isa. 59:1-2, Ps. 66:18) knew that God chooses not to respond to the prayers of those who live in sin. It is the fervent prayer of a righteous man that makes a difference (Jas. 5:16), not the prayers of one living in unrighteousness.

How, though, does a new believer know how to stand for righteousness and fight against temptation unless the Church teaches him? An undiscipled believer may realize that his praying is ineffective, yet not know enough to understand why—and he gives up on the power of prayer. The enemy again wins.

A brief summary is in order here. The enemy seeks to keep unbelievers blinded to the gospel, thus holding them in bondage. He further schemes against believers, striving to discourage and defeat them so their faith is weakened and their prayers are ineffective. Powerless, prayerless believers make little difference in the war inherent in evangelism.

–Adapted from Chapter 69 of Giving Ourselves to Prayer (Strategic Prayer for God’s Mission and Missionaries by Mike Barnett).

Posted 30 Oct 2011

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This devotional thought strikes home and pierces me more than I would like for it to do.  It is true what was said above that many of us have been told what it is we are to do as Christians, but I dare say that few of us have had vibrant Christianity lived out in front of us so that we learn by modeling our lives after those who have and exude this kind of living faith.

As I was being drawn to God as a teenager, I was attending a church where there were excellent sermons preached every Sunday.  I still remember vividly how I would go to the preacher each Sunday after the sermon and ask plenty of questions as I sought out to know if the Bible was true or not.  It took over six months of dialoguing with different preachers before I came to fully believe and accept the Gospel message as truth, and was baptized into Christ.

But in spite of the fact that we had excellent sermons, I can’t remember seeing many of the believers live out their faith in such ways that I could model my faith after theirs.  I went down the path that many new Christians went, which was to major in intellectual Bible knowledge and minor in practical daily Christian disciplines and habits.

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That was when I was a child.  When I became a father, I had greater hopes of being able to be a good role model for my children.  I did have the tremendous honor of baptizing both of my sons, and I think that says a lot about how Jill and I were able to pass on our faith to the next generation.  And yet I know that there were also many lost opportunities to teach and to live out our faith in front of their eyes.

The key for me to actually believe that I had done a decent job in raising our sons in the Faith, came when I realized the meaning of the phrase, “The righteous shall live by faith.”  Translating Romans 1:17 this way hindered me as I would think “I’m not a righteous man, and in fact no one can claim to be righteous people seeing as we are all sinners.

But you can translate this as “The one who does the things that God says are right to do, that person will experience real life (eternal life) as a result of their faith.”  And I can live with this a whole lot better.  When I publicly declared that Christ was my Lord and Savior, salvation became mine, as well as the ability to discern from God and His Word what behaviors would be pleasing and have the inner strength to do all that God would want me to do.

And so as I look at the faith that both of my sons have at this time, I know in my heart that we taught them well.  But more than that, with our mission work, we lived out our faith and were constantly praying for and showing the boys how important it is to ask God what the right thing to do is.  And with our attention focusing like this on God, there was not any room for Satan to launch a successful attack against the faith of us all within our family.  And for all that, I say “Praise the Lord!”

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