40-day Prayer Challenge – The Glorious “No!”

Why pray? There are so many answers to that question like:

  • We are commanded to.
  • It demonstrates our trust in the Father.
  • This is the way we develop intimacy with God.
  • This is how we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
  • Miracles do happen.
  • Prayer changes us.

All these reason for prayer are correct and can be found in Scripture, however the overarching purpose of prayer is to bring glory and honor to God.

When we pray we demonstrate our need and humility. We declare our inability to control our lives and place ourselves in the palm of God’s sovereign hand.

The reality is that some of our prayers will be answered with a “no” for our good and for His ultimate glory. Several years ago I was pastoring a church in Southern California where we were looking at some land to purchase for 1.1 million dollars to develop a ministry center for our city. It seemed like God’s will as I prayed with other pastors, leaders of the church, fasted, prayed over the land, and even sold my truck to help with the purchase. But God said no, He had a better plan, even though it didn’t make sense at the time.

A few years later I got called to a church in Western Michigan where there was a small group of people praying to purchase a hospital and turn it into a ministry center. They had the same vision we had in California except there was a move in ready facility that could house several ministries. The long and the short of it is that God performed miracles and the hospital was purchased for 1.1 million dollars. This year City on the Hill in Zeeland MI will celebrate 10 years of ministry with 43 ministries housed there it is a beacon of God’s glory to the community around it.

This experience showed me God’s “no” is ultimately for His glory. His “no” means there is a better plan and purpose that fits His sovereign plan to shine forth His glory. I have learned over the years to accept His “no” because it will lead to another day where His plan will be revealed and I will get to experience His glorious will.

The greatest example of this is found in Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when he cries out; “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me…” Matthew 26:39. He was praying for another way to bring in the kingdom other than the cross. His Father said “no!” But gave Him the strength to journey through it. Oh the glory of God that exploded forth from the grave on the third day that is still transforming the world. Keep on praying and know that His “no” is a “yes” to something even more glorious.

“The best answer to prayer is what brings God the most glory!” Mark Batterson

40-day Prayer Challenge – Draw Your Circle

For the next 40 days I have joined with a few others who have committed to praying bold prayers. This challenge was inspired by book that my step-dad Bill gave to me over the holidays called “Draw the Circle, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge,” by Mark Batterson. The book is a call to be bold in your prayer life and shares faith-building stories of answers to prayers, as well as scripture, and prayer prompts that inspire you to call out boldly to the Father.

One of my favorite illustrations from the book told of a crazy Rabbi who lived before Jesus he was nicknamed “Honi the circle maker.” When a severe drought threatened to wipe out a generation of Jews, Honi drew a circle in the sand, dropped to his knees, and said,

Lord of the universe, I swear before Your great name that I will not move from this circle until you have shown mercy upon Your children, (p. 44).

Can you imagine this audacious request; Honi could have been in the circle a long time. But God honored the bold prayer; this shameless type of praying can bring honor and glory to God. That story reminds me of one of my favorite hero’s of faith in the Bible, Elijah, who also prayed bold prayers. In the book of James we are called to follow his prayer pattern:

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops, James 1:16-17.

Elijah brought glory to God by praying audacious, shameless, prayers, trusting that nothing was impossible for God. I think the Father is waiting for His children to ask relentlessly for miracles that only He can do, in order to show a cynical world the absolute power of His glorious Kingdom coming to earth. This too is how Jesus prayed and what followed were signs and wonders that announced His Father’s reign on earth.

What impossible situation confronts you at this time? What miracle are you in need of? What dream has the Father placed on your heart that seems unattainable? Join me and a few others for the next 40 days and lets draw a circle and kneel in it and ask our Father to reveal Himself glorious by answering bold prayers.

I believe that at the end of this 40-day challenge many will have their own stories to tell of the Father’s greatness. I would love for you to share them with me and post them on the blog for others to see and bring glory to our King!

Go ahead and draw your circle today!


Mount Trust – A Place of Peace


Last week my son TJ and I were invited to join some friends skiing. I love to ski, but the older I get my favorite part has become the breath-taking views from the top of the mountain. It is hard to describe the scene from Copper Peak, which sets at 12,441 ft. above sea level. From this high point the sun brilliantly illuminates the surrounding snow covered peaks with a backdrop of the deep blue Colorado sky. The iPhone photos couldn’t even begin to justify the overwhelming beauty! Such an incredible, tranquil peace surrounded us!

Even though this was the grandest spot on the slopes there were very few skiers since the only way to the peak was by way of an old T-bar. I hadn’t been on one of these since I was a boy learning to ski. I must admit that as I grabbed the cable and leaned back on the bar my heart increased several beats and I hoped my skis wouldn’t cross and cause a chain reaction with the people behind me. But as the confidence came back, I found the ride exhilarating as I was pulled to the summit and overwhelmed by what was before me.

Our journey up Mount Trust also has as its goal a glorious summit. A summit that leaves us in awe of what is before us. Notice how Proverbs 3:5-6 ends:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

In other words He will bring you to the right place. What is that right place? The Revelation of the Father’s love for you, a place of peace and tranquility. In the Bible it is referred to as Mount Zion, this was the place where God would meet His people in intimate worship. We read about in Revelation 14:1:

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion,and with him 144,000 (those who trust in Jesus) who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.

Oh the trust to lean back into the arms of Jesus and to remember all He has done for us at the Cross-and through His resurrected life. Oh the peace to know He will bring us up the Mountain and reveal to us the Father’s glorious love that no words can describe. The mission of Jesus is to bring you to the Father, to know Him intimately and to trust Him, to allow Him to make your paths straight and to live with Him on Mount Trust.

As I continue to learn to lean on Jesus and travel up Mount Trust, I have found myself more transfixed on the beauty of the Father and His faithful love for me. And this love has brought about a tranquility that lets me freely embrace the mystery of the journey to the right places, the places in front of me, places which I would have missed had I not clutched the T-bar and let Him lead. Join me in grabbing on to the powerful words and promises of Proverbs 3:5-6 for 2016!

Mount Trust – Yada

A few Sundays ago our family heard a challenging sermon on one of the greatest mountain hikes of all time. It was Moses’ accent up Mount Hebron for the second time after the children of Israel rejected the LORD and chose a golden calf. In Exodus 33 we read the passionate dialogue between God and Moses. In this conversation God states that He has had enough of these stiff-necked people and will not personally lead them to the Promised Land, He will send an angel instead.

Moses replies boldly and earnestly says to the LORD, “if Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us from here,” (vs. 15). Moses doesn’t want an angel to lead them; he desires only the glorious presence of God. He would rather be stuck in the barren wilderness than journey on without the intimate presence of the LORD. Moses knew a deep friendship with the Father; he talked face to face with Him, “as a man speaks to a friend,” (vs. 11). Moses would not leave with out His Presence.

Proverbs 3:5-6 makes the same point, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your way acknowledge Him…” At the heart of these verses is the little Hebrew word, yada, translated acknowledge. Yada is an experiential and intimate knowledge of another person. I would translate verse 6 like this: “in all your ways make it your passion to intimately know Him…” This describes Moses’ deep personal friendship with the LORD. Yada is the objective of Mount Trust; everything flows out of an intimate trust relationship with Father God. The goal of climbing Mount Trust is Yada, to be drenched by the river of God’s glorious presence. Moses refused to move on unless he knew God’s presence accompanied him, we should do the same in our lives.

Our family, challenged by the sermon, ended 2015 by praying Moses’ prayer on the mountain, “Now shows me your glory,” (vs. 18). Moses wanted a deeper revelation of God’s glory. It was granted to him! The evidence was reflected in the radiance of God’s glory bestowed upon him and a renewed strength to follow His leading.

What if we daily prayed these words of Moses in 2016? What if we asked for a fresh revelation of the Father’s Glory as we climb Mount Trust? The Father delights in answering your prayers for Yada, His presence, and in His perfect timing will flood you with more of His glorious intimate presence! May you radiant Him in 2016!