If God is Sovereign-Why Pray?

While working on the upcoming book and study guide for Climbing Prayer Mountain, a survey was sent out. I was grateful not only for the responses, but also to the variety of questions on prayer. So for the next several weeks I thought I would address a few of those questions. Some will be covered in Climbing Prayer Mountain and others will not.

I thought it would best to address the “big one” right away:

Why pray when the answer has already been decided, we can’t change God’s mind, right?

There are many ways to try to answer this question but I will give you the one I think answers it best, JESUS! Isn’t He always the best answer? Seriously, if you study the gospels you will notice Jesus is always praying. He prays at the beginning of His public ministry, before several miracles, and his prayers intensify at the end of His ministry. Jesus, who is perfect theology, prayed! He knew the Father better than anyone before or after Him, and yet He prayed. He knew the Father was in complete control over every detail in the world, and He still prayed fervently.

If you study the Lord’s Prayer, or more appropriately called the “Disciples’ Prayer” (Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-13), Jesus teaches us that our prayers matter and we help bring His Kingdom to earth through prayer. In Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” (John 17), He pleads with His Father to work in the hearts of His followers to live out the Father’s desires pertaining to unity, love, and victory over the enemy. These desires for His followers are still being prayed-for, and answered, in our daily lives.

By studying the life of Jesus, the Son of God who believed in the Sovereign control of His Father, we realize prayer is part of His sovereign plan. Prayer unleashes God’s purposes in our lives. Our prayers are powerful and effective (James 5:16), and are used to do the miraculous in our world for the Father’s glory. It is hard for our finite minds to fully embrace how God’s Sovereign control works with human prayers to fulfill His purposes, but somehow in heaven these two seemingly contradictory things become one beautiful plan in the heart of Father God. This mind-blowing truth always leads me to want to shout out praise to a Mighty Father God who is beyond my imagination and comprehension.

So Keep Praying! It is part of His Sovereign plan to change you and the world you live in for His glory!

A quick note, Climbing Prayer Mountain is almost ready for publication, so be looking for it in the next few weeks! Thank you to so many of you for your help in this project. Please join me in praying that the Father will use the daily devotionals in the lives of many to heighten their desire to seek His presence.



Sin, Nails, and a Consuming Fire

Before the first session of the Souly Business retreat officially started I was introduced to a man I’ll call Joel. It was one of those awkward moments where we are all waiting for whatever was up next on the schedule and essentially making small talk. I asked Joel how he ended up here at the Souly retreat and he said his AA sponsor invited him. Joel’s refreshing honesty took me by surprise as told how he had fought to be sober for 9 months. I shared how my dad faithfully attended AA and has been sober for 29 years. As the conversation stalled the bell beckoning us to the opening meeting saved us, we shook hands and bid farewell.

But in God’s good providence Joel and I were assigned to the same table and sat beside each other over the next 3 days. Early on it was apparent that Joel was extremely uncomfortable in this type of retreat setting. I came to find out he had never stepped foot in a church, and singing worship songs with a bunch of strangers was more than frightening. Later on, Joel shared with me that if there was a way he could have snuck-out, he certainly would have. However, since his truck was blocked in, it was just not going to happen.

Yet, in the midst of the battle going on inside of Joel, the Holy Spirit was at work. After a time of individual mediation each of us returned to our table of eight and Joel blurted out, “I don’t know how to be a loving husband or a father to my kids.” We all nodded our heads in agreement and stated that this was an impossible task for each one of us. My heart started to race as I sensed the Holy Spirit prompt me to ask Joel about the 3rd Step in AA? He hesitantly responded, “To surrender your will over to God as you understand Him.” I reiterated what the group had just said with, “That is exactly how to start loving your wife and kids because we can’t do it on our own; we need supernatural help.” Again moved by the Spirit I asked him, “Would you be ready to put Step 3 into practice? Surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and ask Him to take over as your Savior and Lord?” He responded, “YES!” And right then and there Joel prayed the sinner’s prayer and asked Jesus into his life!

You could tell Joel was overwhelmed by what had just happened and after hugs by the guys in the group he sat back exhausted. Our assignment that evening was to write down a list of specific sins that stood in the way of our relationship with Father God. After a good length of time, the lights were turned off and we sat in the chapel reflecting on the words we had just written. The only light emitted was from a roaring fire at the front of the room, reflecting the outline of a wooden cross nearby. In the midst of the silence, men made their way to the cross and nailed those pieces of paper into the wood. This tangible act of repentance was a powerful moment for all. I followed right behind Joel as we each pounded our list of sins with the blow of the hammer-the echo reverberated throughout the room. As we walked back to our table, I gave Joel a hug, and watched him keep walking past his seat. A few minutes later one of the leaders ripped off all the pieces of paper nailed to the cross and threw them into the blazing fire. It was a wondrous sight to see all “our sins consumed” by the glowing flames of red and orange.

The next morning Joel wasn’t seated next to me as the session was starting. I glanced around the room and began to wonder if all the events of the day before were just too much for him and he found away to maneuver his truck and drive off. But a few minutes later he entered the room and I saw him hugging his AA sponsor. He eventually made his way to our table with tears and smiles and greeted each of us with a hug. He proceeded to tell us that he just couldn’t sleep last night as he prayed for God to make Himself real to him. Joel went on to say that in the middle of his restless night a fire burned down deep in his soul and ignited a powerful love that he had never felt before. It was a combination of both joy and freedom and he just couldn’t find the words to describe it. Later that day Joel found himself standing in front of 140 plus men and sharing his newfound relationship with Jesus Christ. All those present that weekend shared what Joel was talking about, the promises found in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves  and pray, seek My face, turn from their wicked ways. I will hear  from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land.

Not only did Joel experience the promises of 2 Chronicles 7:14 at Souly, but most of us there that weekend felt the fire rage anew in our hearts. I’m holding onto these promises believing that Abba is getting ready to release them in a powerful revival that will bring down the fire all over the earth. Please continue to pray into and practice these truths with me until the Father sends the fire of His Holy Spirit to our needy hearts.

The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift


I was looking out the window sipping my coffee at a Holiday Inn express in Sioux Center, Iowa on Sunday morning. My Bible was opened to Psalm 18 as I reflected on verse 30:

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.

As I ruminated over the text my thoughts drifted to my son’s college graduation the day before, the wonderful time of celebration, and the continuing of God’s plan for his life. But my heart was also heavy with thoughts of my father-in law Ray seating next to his dear wife Jan of 53 years in Western Michigan, as she struggled with the last moments of life. In both of these diverse circumstances there was a perfect plan that Abba Father would unfold. In the midst of these meditations my phone beeped and I realized I had missed a call. In my spirit I knew what was coming and as I listened to the tearful voicemail of my father-in-law state that the time had come for mom to pass on into eternity. Her fight with Alzheimer’s was over and now she was dancing on streets that were golden with her glorious Savior Jesus Christ.

As I shared the news with the rest of the family, with tears we reflected on how perfect it was in God’s plan to take mom on Mother’s Day. She loved being a mom, and made serving her family one of her top priorities. Now she was being honored as a great mom and daughter of the King of kings, with well done good and faithful servant enter into your eternal home!”

But not only did Jan receive the perfect Mother’s Day gift we did as well. In our 10 plus hour drive back to Colorado we were being reminded what really matters in this life. Yes graduations, degrees, and vocations have a place in life but to contemplate the eternal and what we all will one day face is of the utmost importance. As we drove Interstate 80 my eyes kept looking up at the sky and my thoughts lingered to what mom was experiencing in heaven, what her renewed mind was comprehending, how as one of our friends texted, “her faith has now become sight!”

Thomas a ‘Kempis, in his powerful devotional Imitation of Christ, declared that the children of God,

“Though they see the things that are present, they contemplate the things that are eternal. They look at the temporal things of earth with their left eye, and with their right eye they behold the eternal things of heaven.”

In the Father’s perfect plan He gave mom a perfect Mother’s Day gift and her family a perfect perspective on keeping our eyes fixed on eternity. Thank you Father!



Find His Face

As I was driving up into the mountains North of LA I thought I better give my wife a call before the Souly Business retreat. I’m glad I did because that would be the last time I would talk to her for 2 ½ days. If you want to test whether or not you are addicted to your phone or the media on it try giving it up for a few days. At the Souly Business men’s retreat one of the requirements presented right away was that cell phones were not be seen or heard. As this announcement was made you could sense the pain in the room. No sports updates from March Madness, no texting, emails, Facebook, Instagram, it was an unplugged weekend.

I don’t consider myself too attached to my phone and all the data on it but there was definitely some withdrawal issues going on, as an urge to check my messages was a tad overwhelming at times. Perhaps I’m more addicted than I thought. The goal of the weekend was to encounter the Father and His unfailing love. It is crazy how our culture works against that goal with multiple weapons aimed at distracting us from the most important relationship we could ever have.


Cultivating a relationship takes time and the leaders of Souly made sure that we had time to seek after the face of God. Saturday morning we were sent out to find a quiet place in the mountains and ask the Father two questions:

  1. What do you want me to know right now?
  2. Please show me how You care for me and show me how You love me?

After I found the right spot in the sun overlooking a beautiful valley of trees I began asking the Father these questions. It wasn’t long after that I knew He took over my thoughts, and my pen, and overwhelmed me with words of love and encouragement. There was no phone to contend with, no appointments to go to, just Abba, His beautiful creation and me. How He loves to show up when we take time to seek Him.

Reread 2 Chronicles 7:14 notice the place where the words “Seek My face” are:

If my people who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face turn from their wicked way….

I see a powerful progression in this verse that prepares us for revival. It starts with humility that leads to prayer, a prayer that becomes passionate about encountering the Face of God. When we find His Face we will find a Father who loves us and desperately wants to help and heal us, which will propel us with the desire to “turn from our wicked ways.” 

Not just in my morning quiet time but throughout the day. To keep the radio off in the car and put social media aside so I can use that time to Find His Face. I challenge you to join me in this quest for seeking His Face and the gifts that come with it. Make time this week to turn off the phone, find a quiet place, and ask your Father the two questions above and wait for His answer. You won’t be disappointed with what He has to say!!!

Attracting the Ruwach of God


At the end of the Souly Business retreat I received a note from a young man named Jason. Jason was one of the first men I met at the retreat and he was the one who volunteered to carry my bags to the cabin. Over the course of the next few days I would bump into him several times. He would always smile and ask how I was doing, it seemed as if there was some sort of connection going but I couldn’t quite figure it out. Later on I found out that there was indeed a spiritual connection, as Jason was the one assigned to pray for me that weekend. The written note indicated that in his prayers he was asking the Father to touch me with the Holy Spirit and to breathe fresh life into my soul. Each man that attended the Souly retreat for the first time had a “Jason” interceding for him as well.


What was the source of the spiritual miracles experienced that weekend? Prayer. Not only was every first time camper assigned a prayer partner, but also every hour of the retreat was covered in prayer. It was touching to look over the list of names inserted into each prayer slot, especially the 12 AM to 6 AM ones. We also learned each speaker was prayed over for 30 minutes before speaking and again 30 minutes after as well. Talk about a prayed over group and a room saturated in prayer! No wonder the words articulated transformed hearts and lives!


These prayers, coming from humble servants totally depending on God, attracted the “Ruwach” of God. The Hebrew word Ruwach means the wind, the breath, the power, the very life of God, which comes to us through the Holy Spirit. Prayers birthed out of broken hearts desperate for God will pave the way for a mighty Ruwach of God to revive His people as promised in 2 Chronicles 7:14:


If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.


I praise God for Jason as well as the leaders of Souly whose humble prayers attracted the Ruwach of God to breathe fresh life into my life as well as so many others that weekend. What is encouraging to me is that this type of prayer is happening all over the world as well. Last week my friend Ray Haakonsen living in South Africa sent several links to a National Day of Prayer event on April 22 called It’s Time. Over a million people gathered on a farm for a day of prayer for their troubled nation. At the very end of the prayer time a powerful Ruwach blew through the crowds, a sign of God hearing the prayers of His people. Don’t just take my word for it, go ahead and look it up for yourself.


How our churches need the Ruwach of God to revive us from our lethargy and lukewarm spirit that has led to a nation also in crisis. On May 4 we are called to pray for our nation during the National Day of Prayer. It is undeniable that humble, desperate prayer attracts the Spirit of God as evidenced through Souly Business and what took place a few weeks ago in South Africa. Oh may the Spirit of Christ awaken believers in our nation and beyond as we too cry out for a mighty wind of His Spirit to breath life into “dry bones” desperately in need of a spiritual awakening.