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Prayer and Testing

In my last post, I talked about the way Jesus taught, by example, how to pray in times of distress.  How well did the disciples learn this lesson?

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.  “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep?  Could you not keep watch for one hour?  Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Once more he went away and prayed the same thing.  When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  They did not know what to say to him.
Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting?  Enough!  The hour has come.  Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Mark 14:37-41

Unfortunately, this prayer session was a little past the disciples’ bedtime.  They didn’t last very long before they dropped off to sleep.

The fact that Mark records some of what Jesus prayed shows that they were awake for a little while.  The Lord probably knew what they could take and prayed accordingly.  I personally believe that He spent most of the time praying in the spirit.

In this whole incident, there’s a statement that Christ makes that should really speak to us.  He said to His disciples, watch and pray so that you will not enter temptation.  This is an important truth.

First of all, we must understand what temptation is.  It’s a test of whether or not our faith is genuine.  This same Greek word is translated by both temptation and testing throughout the New Testament.  The translators use one or the other word based upon the context of the verse.  It’s this testing that proves if we really believe the Word.

Jesus tells us that some testing can be avoided by prayer.  I only wish that all testing could be avoided.  But that’s just not the case.

If anyone could have avoided all testing, it would have been the Lord.  Yet, even He was tempted while He was fasting in the wilderness.

From my study of the Scriptures, I believe that there are at least 4 different kinds of testing.  The first is the trials that are common to all humans.  These cannot be stopped.  They’re used by God to show His power working in us.

Next are the ones that come as a result of what we desire.  These desires are not necessarily bad things.  Paul talks about those who desire monetary wealth having more tests than the normal person (1Timothy 6:9-10).  That’s because wealth comes with a trap, such that if your character isn’t strong enough, it could destroy you.

Another kind of testing comes from the sinful desires of our flesh.  When we allow ourselves to focus on them, we are pulled down the road of temptation.  Through watching and praying, this is one type of testing we can avoid.  As we renew our minds, it protects us from falling into these traps.

The fourth kind is the tests that we blindly walk into because we’re not being watchful.  Again, through prayer and having a listening ear to the voice of the Holy Spirit, these tests can be sidestepped.  Sometimes we find ourselves in the same test again and again because we don’t learn the lessons that only come through time spent with the Lord.

That’s why a deep prayer life is so important to the believer.  While it can’t stop all testing, it will give you a straighter and clearer path into the place God has called you to be.

Question: When have you found that prayer helped you to avoid a problem in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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The Battle Zone and Passion

JetsI’m posting about the spiritual battle that we face in our generation. In my last article I talked about the need to be diligent and press in past our comfort zone.

The New Testament speaks a lot about prayer. That’s what we really need to be strong toward. That’s what the enemy would like to stop. That’s where our victory comes from.

In talking about Moses, the writer of Hebrews said…

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
Hebrews 11:27

This is an important verse for us to understand in our times. Moses SAW Him who is INVISIBLE. It sounds like an oxymoron. Of course many things in the spirit don’t make sense in the natural.

The fact of the matter is that Moses pressed in. It wasn’t easy to get the children of Israel out of Egypt. He kept running into unseen hurdles along the way.

In Moses’ original encounter with God, he was basically told to “Just do this. Go to Egypt and bring My people out.” It sounded simple at the time.

In order to accomplish his calling, Moses had to keep going back to the presence of the Lord. He stayed strong because, through prayer, he saw the end.

That brings us back to our original verse in Ephesians.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

The phrase keep on praying literally means through all diligence and petition in the Greek language. I had a problem with this – reconciling petition and life in the battle zone. I understood the need to be alert and diligent, but how did petitioning fit into all this.

It turns out that my lack of understanding had to do with being raised in church. From what I learned, petition was a list of needs presented to God.

“O God – bless my work, heal this one, provide this money, etc.”

That’s what I thought it meant to bring a petition before God. Because of that, I couldn’t understand it as a part of warfare.

The Greek word in that verse is deesis. It means begging. Literally, it’s what a beggar would do. Over time the church had turned it into a “holy” word. Actually the root of this word is want, lack, need, desire, ask, or beg.

I began to pray and seek God’s wisdom as to what this means for us. I found that this word came from a root even further back. The root meant to bind, either by chains or duty. It spoke of someone who was duty bound.

That’s when it clicked. When a military person receives orders, they are bound by their duty to perform it or die trying.

Here is a company of men who are told to take that hill. They’re pinned down by enemy fire. But they have a duty to perform. What do they do?

Do they send off a list of things they need? NO! They get on their radio with a passionate call for air support. Their communication is specific, passionate, and urgent. As they make this call, they are ready to move immediately when it arrives.

Now I know the Scriptural truth. Petition is more about the passion than the list. This requires us to have the same heart as our Commander and Chief. It requires us to press in by the Holy Spirit.

Question: What are you passionate about in the Kingdom of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Warfare

 

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You’re in the Battle Zone – Stay Alert

mhXQFuIWhether you know it or not, the world is a spiritual battle zone right now. Unless you have the right mentality, you could become a casualty of this war. That’s why it’s so important to know how the Bible says for us to live.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:17-18

As I’ve posted in the past, this verse is talking about the authority and power of God. The Lord wants to work this through us. To read the series where I talked about this – click here.

In this new series of posts my question is; if we know we’re in the battle zone, then how should we live? The last sentence of this passage literally reads attend to this with all persistency and petition. The fact of the matter is that there’s a battle zone mentality.

The first thing we’re told is that it requires us to be alert. The Greek word there means to be sleepless. We must be awake and alert in the battle zone.

We’re told in this same chapter of Ephesians that our enemy isn’t flesh and blood. They don’t take a day off. Does that mean we don’t need rest or take a vacation? No, but we have to stay spiritually vigilant no matter what’s happening in our lives.

“There’s not much going on in my life right now. I don’t need to pray today.”

That kind of thinking can destroy you in this battle. Look at how Jesus put it to His disciples.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Matthew 26:41

Watching – staying spiritually alert – and prayer go together. According to Jesus, it’s so that you will not enter into a test, a proving.

In the battle zone there are traps and ambushes. You must be alert. Like someone who’s walking in the middle of minefield. At that point you’re in the test.

Did you know that many of the tests and temptations of life can be avoided? I wonder sometimes how many of these battles are of our own making. Or maybe we’ve just walked blindly into them.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

This is how the enemy works. In the natural, it’s the oldest, weakest lion that does the roaring. The strong, young lions wait on the other side of the prey. When the prey hears the roar and runs away from it, they run right to the lions waiting for their dinner to arrive.

It’s the same with our spiritual enemy. He’s trying to get you to head into a trap. We have to keep spiritually alert at all times. That only happens as we watch and pray. It will help us to avoid many of the problems that are before us.

Stay alert!

Question: Can you think of a time that you were tested or tempted because you weren’t spiritually alert?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare

 

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The Last Days – Finishing Strong

JogToday’s post will conclude my series about last-days attitudes. I’ve talked about the things that cause the world to worry and fret about the future. God’s people are not to act like this.

The promises of God don’t go null and void simply because we’re living near the end of the age. We’re still under our covenant with Christ – a better covenant. That’s why we can look to what’s ahead with hope and anticipation.

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”
Luke 21:29-31

This should be an exciting time for the Church of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom is near! That thought should push us forward to greater effectiveness in the Kingdom.

Jesus does give us a warning, however. That’s the key reason for this series. I think that we’ve somehow lost sight of His Word to us.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.”
Luke 21:34-35

The Lord tells us that there are three things that we should be especially careful about in the last-days. The first of these is dissipation. Think about something like fog, when it dissipates. It seems to vanish right before our eyes.

That’s the distractions of the world. They dissipate your time, money, and strength. Then you find that you have nothing left to put into the Lord’s work.

Then there’s drunkenness. I don’t believe that Jesus is only talking about alcohol here. It could be anything that intoxicates God’s people. We end up chasing things when we should be pursuing the Lord.

The third is the anxieties of life. This is when you’re worried about things you can’t control. Put them in God’s hands. If you trust the Lord and follow His plan for your life, then the rest will fall into place.

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:36

This is the bottom line of how to live in the last days. We must be a people who watch and pray. We must spend quality time in the presence of the Lord. This includes praying in the Spirit and listening to hear God’s voice.

In this way, the Holy Spirit will give you insight on how to live. We’re told that living like this will allow us to escape. Escape what? The anguish, perplexity, fainting from terror, and the apprehension that’s coming upon the world.

Isn’t that our ultimate goal; to stand boldly before the Son of Man at His return? If we heed His exhortation to us, then we’ll be unashamed by our life on earth. I’ll know that I lived by His power operating in me.

We’ll finish the race strong, knowing there’s a reward waiting for us. Not in fear, but the faith that Christ is with us.

Question: What do find most exciting about living in the last-days?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Return of Christ, Revival

 

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How to Live in Dangerous Times

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIn my last post I said that we are in spiritually dangerous times. How do we live in light of this? Christ gave an important exhortation. In talking about the last days, Jesus said…

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.”
Luke 21:34-35

His first words are, “Be careful.”

“Pay close attention to what you are doing.”

That sounds like good advice to a rock climber. The words that Jesus used literally mean hangovers, intoxication, and distractions of this life.

So many believers are caught up in what the world have going on. Others are distracted watching what the world is doing. These things can knock you out of the race, in spiritually dangerous times.

You would never think of climbing in this condition. Yet, right now, there are believers on the edge, not prepared for the dangers of this age.

What are we to do if we want to avoid disaster? Christ gives the answer.

“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:36

“Watch and pray in all times”.

God has certain times appointed for certain things. But now is always the time to pray. It doesn’t matter what else is going on – now is the right time.

We must keep watch – pay attention and pray. That’s the foundation for everything else. We must do this so that we can prevail against, flee away from, and stand. Because of a rich prayer life we can prevail against demonic forces. We can flee away from temptation. And we can stand in the face of severe pressure.

We especially need this in our generation. Paul explains it.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

This is almost the exact same line that Christ used. We are to pray in the Spirit in all times. We have a more powerful prayer weapon than they had under the Old Covenant.

By praying in the spirit we can build up our faith. It opens our heart to hear from God, laying the groundwork for the supernatural. By it we gain wisdom for discerning the times that we live in.

Prayer in the spirit is our greatest advantage in overcoming the dangerous times we live in. Don’t let this great gift go unused in your relationship with Christ.

Question: How has prayer in the spirit strengthened your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Prayer, Prayer in the Spirit, Revival

 

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