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Do Christians & Muslims Have the Same God?

Do Christians & Muslims Have the Same God?

Some assume that Allah, the God of Islam, is just another name for Yahweh or Jehovah, the God of the Bible. Is Allah and Yahweh the same God? Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

No! The God of Islam is not the same God revealed in Scripture. This can be seen in two distinct areas. First, the God of the Bible and the God of Islam have different attributes or characteristics. Second, the God of Scripture is a Trinity while the God of Islam is not.

Difference in Attributes

The Christian God and the Muslim God have different attributes. While the Bible and the Quran attribute similar powers to Yahweh and Allah, they are certainly not the same God. This can be seen in several ways.

Yahweh is a God of Love, Allah is Not

Muslims recite ninety-nine names of God, going three times through a prayer strand with thirty-three beads on it. Christians can agree with Muslims on almost every one of these attributes of God. The fourth attribute is that He is the Holy One, and the forty-seventh is that “He is the Loving One.”

However, holiness and love are not driving passions in many Muslim’s understanding of God. This is seen in a contrast between the God of the Bible and the God of Islam. Islam emphasizes Allah’s absolute power and control and Muslims submit to its many rules.

Yet they cannot have any assurance whatsoever about their standing before God, that is until Judgment Day. Islam teaches that God is aloof in His majestic glory; that He is a God who is detached from all else.

In contrast to this, the Bible depicts God as a personal being whose love and compassion toward humanity was shown by the coming of Jesus Christ. The loving God showed His love for this world by sending His Son.

The most famous Bible verse also referred to as the “Heart of the Bible,” speaks of God’s love for the entire world. We read the following.

Is Yahweh and Allah the Same God

God’s love was demonstrated in sending the Messiah, the Christ.

God is also specifically called love in 1 John 4:8. God is not only “full of love;” the God of the Bible is a God of love.

Yahweh Never Lies, Allah Deceives

It has been observed that in three different places, the Quran seems to teach that Allah actually intentionally deceives people. They are as follows:

“And the disbelievers planned, but Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners” (Surah 3:54).

Elsewhere it says:

“And when those who disbelieved devised plans against you that they might confine you or slay you or drive you away; and they devised plans and Allah too had arranged a plan; and Allah is the best of planners” (Surah 8:30).

“And when we make people taste of mercy after an affliction touches them, lo! They devise plans against Our communication. Say, Allah is quicker to plan; surely Our messengers write down what you plan” (Surah 10:21).

Note that the English translations of these verses use words like “plan” or “best planner” when speaking of Allah. However, it has been argued that the Arabic word actually means “deceives.” If this is the case, then the Quran teaches that Allah is a God of deception.

This is in contrast to the God of the Bible who does not and cannot lie. Paul wrote this to Titus:

“This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God – who does not lie – promised them before the world began.” (Titus 1:2 NLT).

God cannot and does not lie because this is not part of His nature. We are told the same thing in Hebrews 6:18 (NLT). Indeed, Scripture says that there are two unchangeable things about God: His promise and His oath. Consequently, it is not possible for Him to lie.

Again, the Christian God, the God of the Bible, is the God of truth.

Trinitarian vs. Unitarian

The Quran portrays a different God than that of Christianity. The first duty of a Muslim is to publicly recite the Shahada which says, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.”

This statement of faith is primary for the Muslim. Allah alone is God and within his nature, there is only one divine person. Islam rejects the Trinity and the New Testament teaching that Jesus Christ is the eternal God. They consider Him only a prophet, for God does not and could not have a son.

The Quran says, “But it is not suitable for (the Majesty of) the Most Beneficent (Allah) that he should beget a son” (Surah 19:92).

In another place, it says, “And behold God will say, “O Jesus the Son of Mary! Did you say unto men, ‘Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God” (Surah 5:116)?

The Quran assumed that the Trinity consisted of God the Father, God the Son Jesus, and Jesus’ mother Mariam (Mary).

In no uncertain terms, Islam rejects the Trinity. The Quran further says, “They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them” (Surah 5:73).

The Quran, therefore, contains direct attacks against the doctrine of the Trinity. The following statement could not be clearer; Allah does not have a son.

“People of the Book, do not exceed the limits of devotion in your religion or say anything about God which is not the Truth. Jesus, son of Mary, is only a Messenger of God, His Word, and a spirit from Him whom He conveyed to Mary. So have faith in God and His Messengers. Do not say that there are three gods. It is better for you to stop believing in the Trinity. There is only One God. He is too glorious to give birth to a son. To God belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God alone is a Sufficient Guardian for all” (Surah 4:171).

The Quran assumes that Christians believe in three gods, Of course, this is blasphemy against Allah, the only God who exists.

The Bible Teaches that God is a Trinity

What should the Christian response be to the accusation of Muslims? The Bible teaches that there is one eternal God who has revealed Himself in three eternal persons, or three centers of consciousness. They are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

These three persons are the one God. This is the doctrine of the Trinity.

Unfortunately, there were some Christians who were teaching false ideas of the Trinity in Mecca. One such distortion of the Trinity claimed that God actually has a wife named Mary. God and Mary produced a child whom they named Jesus.

This is the sort of distortion of the doctrine of the Trinity that Muhammad was acquainted with. He, along with many others, concluded that Christians believed in three gods; “tri-theists.”

Here’s a video of a former Muslim, turned Christian, explaining the Trinity.

The Importance of the Trinity

The importance of the Trinity doctrine cannot be overestimated. There are many reasons why this is so.

This is how God has revealed Himself. God has revealed Himself in Scripture as a Triune God. Scripture teaches that the one God exists in three eternal persons. They are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is what the one true God has said about Himself. He is the only God who exists (Isaiah 45:5; Isaiah 46:9) and He exists as a Trinity.

This is His revelation to us, and we are obligated to believe it, not doubt it, nor question it.

The Trinity is an example of the statement, “God is love.” For all eternity, there has been love between the three members of the Godhead. Consequently, God has never needed anything or anybody because there was love and communication among the different members of the Trinity.

Islam Claims Allah and Yahweh are the Same God

While it is obvious that Allah, the God of Islam, is not the same as Yahweh, the God of the Bible, Muslims insist that it is so. In fact, Islam not only demands that faithful Muslims believe this, it also demands that Jews and Christians believe it as well. This is consistent with their belief that the Quran is the divine revelation from Allah which supersedes the Bible.

Since Muslims acknowledge the Scriptures to be the Word of Allah, they must, therefore, insist that the same God who has been revealed in the Old and New Testament is the same God as revealed in the Quran.

When the Bible and the Quran differ in their characterizations of God, it is the Quran that always provides the final word since it is Allah’s later revelation to humanity.

Of course, Christians and Jews do not accept this line of argumentation since they do not believe the Quran to be the Word of God or Muhammad to be a prophet of God.

Consequently, the differences between the biblical view of God and what the Quran teaches, are further evidence that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam cannot be harmonized.

Conclusion

Although Christianity and Islam each claim that there is only one God that exists, they do not actually believe in the same God. Indeed, the Christian God as the Bible reveals, and the Muslim God, which the Quran speaks of, are entirely different.

As mentioned earlier, Islam believes and teaches about an impersonal God who does not love sinful humanity. He is not someone who can be known on a personal level. This is in contrast to Yahweh, the God of the Bible, who is a personal God and desires to have a personal relationship with each human being.

It is clear: the God of Islam is not the same God as in Christianity. Therefore, the explanation of God, in at least one of these two faiths, must be wrong. Either God is a Trinity or He is not. Islam and Christianity cannot both be true at the same time.

Indeed, Christians and Muslims do not believe in the same God.


Reference: Understanding Islam by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource: No God but One: Allah or Jesus? A former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi

Do Christians & Muslims Have the Same God?Having shared his journey of faith in the New York Times bestselling Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi now examines Islam and Christianity in detail, exploring areas of crucial conflict and unpacking the relevant evidence.

In this anticipated follow-up book, Nabeel reveals what he discovered in the decade following his conversion, providing a thorough and careful comparison of the evidence for Islam and Christianity – evidence that wrenched his heart and transformed his life.

In Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi recounted his dramatic journey, describing his departure from Islam and his decision to follow Christ. In the years that followed, he realized that the world’s two largest religions are far more different than they initially appeared.

No God but One: Allah or Jesus? addresses the most important questions at the interface of Islam and Christianity: How do the two religions differ? Are the differences significant? Can we be confident that either Christianity or Islam is true? And most important, is it worth sacrificing everything for the truth?

Nabeel shares stories from his life and ministry, casts new light on current events, and explores pivotal incidents in the histories of both religions, providing a resource that is gripping and thought-provoking, respectful and challenging.

Both Islam and Christianity teach that there is No God but One, but who deserves to be worshiped, Allah or Jesus?

What is the Second Death?

What is the Second Death?

Scripture speaks of a final place of punishment known as the “lake of fire.” It is where people experience the “second death.” John wrote about this in Revelation 19:20 where he said the beast, the final Antichrist, as well as the false prophet, would be sent to this place of everlasting punishment.

“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

The Lake of Fire is the Second Death

In chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation, we read further of the place of punishment, the lake of fire which is the second death.

“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever … Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10, 14-15).

We also read this in Revelation 21:8.

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Second Death & First Death

If there is a second death, then there also is the first death. What is the difference between the two? Death in the Bible always means separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body while spiritual death is separation from God.

When one dies physically, there will be a separation between his physical body and his soul and spirit. Physical death is what the Bible refers to as the first death and it will be experienced by both the righteous and the wicked.

Man is a tripartite being consisting of material (the physical body) and immaterial parts (soul and spirit). At death, the body which is made of dust will return to dust (Genesis 3:19) while the soul and spirit will go to one of two places: heaven (for the righteous) or hell (for the wicked).

While every human being will experience the first death, the second death has no power over those who confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior.

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years (Revelation 20:6).

Descriptions of the Second Death

The Bible gives us several descriptions of the Second Death.

It is Eternal

The lake of fire, which is the second death, is the final destination for all unbelievers. It is a place from which there is “no hope.” It is equivalent to saying the “last death.”

Those who had been kept in Hades, the temporary place of punishment, will eventually be thrown in this lake of fire, their ultimate destination (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:14).

There is Conscious Suffering

Those suffering in the lake of fire are conscious (Revelation 20:10). Furthermore, their conscious suffering is eternal. In other words, the dead are not in a state of extinction as some teach and believe.


The Lake of Fire is a Burning Lake

The lake of fire is referred to as the burning lake. Four times, fire and sulfur are mentioned in the book of Revelation when referring to the lake of fire (Revelation 14:10; 19:20; 20:10 & 21:8).

The Wicked are in Some Type of Bodily Form

If the wicked are to suffer eternally in the lake of fire, they have to assume some type of bodily form. Jesus emphasized this fact when He said the following.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

The apostle Paul also said the following about his hope for the resurrection.

“I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15).

If the unrighteous dead were merely annihilated, there would be no reason for their resurrection. They are raised for the purpose of judgment and then punishment.

Indeed, if they were in their final place of punishment in Hades, there would not be a need for a resurrection. Hades is temporary, while the lake of fire is permanent.

Conclusion

The Bible is clear that God will pour out His wrath upon the wicked. This will include Satan and his angels as well as wicked humanity. They will all go to a place of final punishment which the Bible calls the “lake of fire.”

The lake of fire, the second death, does exist, and it truly is a place everyone should want to avoid. The common question people ask is, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?”

We need to understand that God does not send people to hell. We are all bound for hell because of sin. But God in His grace and mercy does not want anyone to go to hell and that is why He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us (John 3:16).

Hell is never God’s choice for us. But a countless number of people will send themselves there because they reject the God of the Bible and His free gift of salvation.

Hell is an awful place, but it can be avoided. If a person trusts Jesus Christ as his or her Savior, then heaven awaits them instead of this horrific place.

Have you trusted Jesus to save you from eternal punishment in the lake of fire? If you haven’t yet and you want to receive God’s gift of salvation, pray the  Sinner’s Prayer with your whole heart.

Sinner’s Prayer

“Lord Jesus, I acknowledge I’m a sinner in need of forgiveness and saving. I renounce my sinfulness and accept your gift of eternal life. Please forgive all my sins and cleanse me from my filthiness. I believe that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the grave to secure my place in heaven. I ask You now to come into my life to be my personal Lord and Savior. This I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, I welcome you into the family of God.


This article about the Second Death which is the Lake of Fire is an excerpt from Don Stewart’s book, “Hell, The Final Destination of Unbelievers.”

When God Transforms His People

When God Transforms His People

Listening to some prominent Christians say that the church has replaced Israel and that God is finished with them makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs, “That is so, so not true! Please read your Bible very carefully.”

Needless to say, I am not surprised at all that this so-called Replacement Theology has slowly crept into the church, thus, deceiving many. The devil hates God and Israel so much that he will use even Christ’s followers to spread a lie.

But the Bible is very clear that in the last days, God will once again deal with Israel as prophesied by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah (Jeremiah 30:1-22; Ezekiel 11:14-20; 34:11-15; Isaiah 11:10-16). In the last days, when God brings His chosen people back to the Promised Land (Ezekiel 36:24), He will change them spiritually.

After all, only a transformed people can enjoy a transformed land.

Why Should Christians Support Israel

The Future Restoration of Israel

Ezekiel 36 talks about how God is going to restore and transform Israel as a nation. God gave the Jews the land of Israel as a part of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-18; 15:7-21) but their possession and enjoyment of the land depended on their faithfulness and obedience.

The Christian life is similar. We enter God’s family by trusting Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9), but we enjoy God’s family by believing His promises and obeying His will (2 Corinthians 6:18 – 7:1).

Israel was guilty of two great sins, the first of which was polluting God’s land (Ezekiel 36:16-19). Long before the Babylonians had swept through the kingdom of Judah, the sins of the leaders and the people had polluted the so-called Holy Land. When God’s people disobeyed God’s law and behaved like the heathen nations around them, they defiled the land and broke the covenant.

Their second sin was that of profaning God’s name before the Gentiles (Ezekiel 36:20-23). Polluting the land God allowed them to enjoy was bad enough, but they also had profaned God’s holy name instead of being godly witnesses in the Gentile lands where He sent them.

But Ezekiel 36:1-38 looks forward to that day in the future when God would restore His people and the land of Israel.

The Transformation of God’s People

How exactly is God going to transform His people? What are the events that will unfold as God fulfill His promise to restore and transform His people?

God will Cleanse Them from Their Sins

First, God will cleanse His people from their sins, and this is pictured by the “sprinkling of clean water” (Ezekiel 36:25). See also Ezekiel 36:29 and Ezekiel 37:23.

According to the Mosaic Law, every Jews who became defiled had to be cleansed before he or she could return to the camp and the blessings of the covenant community. This was accomplished either by bathing in running water or by being sprinkled with water prepared for that purpose (Leviticus 14:1-9; Numbers 8:5-7; Hebrews 10:22).

Of course, sprinkled water can never change the heart, but this is only a picture of the gracious forgiveness we have through faith. God sanctifies and cleanses us with water through His word (Ephesians 5:26). We are forgiven because of the death of Jesus on the cross (Ephesians 1:7).

God also cleanses us with the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). When believers confess their sins to the Lord; they are cleansed because of Christ’s blood (1 John 1:9).

God Will Give Them New Hearts

Second, God will give His people new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26).

Ezekiel had already spoken about this inward change in Ezekiel 11:18-20 and 18:31, the kind of change that the Lord yearned for Israel to experience before they entered the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 5:29).

The prophet Jeremiah shared the same promise that Ezekiel gave (Jeremiah 24:7). He was speaking about the new covenant that God would make with the Jews, a covenant not written on stones but on their hearts and in their minds (Jeremiah 31:31-33). See also Hebrews 8:8-13.

The basis for the new covenant is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and the emphasis is personal rather than national, with each person putting faith in the Lord and receiving a “new heart” and with it a new disposition toward godliness.

God Will Give Them the Holy Spirit

Third, God will give His people the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:27).

The Spirit accomplishes what God’s people cannot do on their own: walk in accordance with God’s law and keep His judgments. When God gives us a new heart and a new spirit, He also gives us a new desire to love and obey Him. The Holy Spirit is given like refreshing water upon parched ground, and this produces the “fruit of the Spirit” in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

The witness of the Spirit is proof that the person has been born of God (Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13-14). Because we have God’s Spirit within, we share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:1-4) and therefore want to obey God’s divine will.

When God Transforms His People

God will Claim Them again as His People and Cause the Land to Flourish

Fourth, God will claim the Jews again as His own and will cause them and land to flourish (Ezekiel 36:28). Under the covenant God made with Israel before they entered Canaan, He agreed to bless them and meet their needs if they would obey Him (Leviticus 26:1-13; Deuteronomy 28:1-14).

This will be like a renewal of the covenant, for they will live in the land – He will be their God, and they will be His people. This will be a permanent arrangement, for they will no longer rebel against the Lord and disobey His will.

Since the founding of the nation of Israel in 1948, great progress has been made by the Jewish people in reclaiming the land. A great deal of reforestation and irrigation has taken place, and the waste places are being transformed.

As wonderful as this is, it is nothing compared with what the Lord will do when His people are gathered back to their land from the nations of the world. God will bless them and make the land like the Garden of Eden. The land will once again produce abundant flocks, herds, and harvests, and the people will be enriched by the blessing of the Lord.

This was a part of God’s covenant with Israel (Leviticus 26:3-5). The land would not only be fruitful; it would also be safe and secure (Ezekiel 36:10-12). The cities will be rebuilt and the ruins removed. This will be a wonderful new land for the new people of God and the beauty and fruitfulness will be a testimony to the nations (Ezekiel 36:36).

God’s People will Abhor Their Sins

Fifth, God’s restoration of His people will cause them to abhor their sins (Ezekiel 36:31-32).

One of the shreds of evidence of the Spirit’s presence within is a growing sensitivity to sin and a strong desire to turn away from it. So, when some people remember their sins and they enjoy them again in the dirty depths of their imagination, it simply shows that they really haven’t acknowledged them and repented.

When true children of God remember their past disobedience, they’re ashamed and abhor themselves because of what they have done to the Lord, themselves, and others. For he who loves the Lord hates evil (Psalm 97:10). Also, love without hypocrisy will hate evil and clings to what is good (Romans 12:9).

God’s People Will Enjoy Fellowship with the Lord

Sixth, God’s people will not only call once again the name of the Lord, but they will also enjoy fellowship Him (Ezekiel 36:37).

In Ezekiel’s day, individuals couldn’t inquire of the Lord or pray and be heard because they had sin in their hearts (Ezekiel 14:1-5; 20:1-3, 30-31). God even told the prophet, Jeremiah, not to pray for the people (Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11).

But under the new covenant, the people will have fellowship with the Lord and be able to pray to Him. The picture is of the people going to Jerusalem for the annual Passover festival, bringing animal sacrifices with them.

The Lord will be Glorified

Finally, the Lord will be glorified. Israel did not glorify God in their land or the Temple, nor did they glorify Him in the countries to which they had been scattered. But the day will come when God will be glorified by His people and the glory of the Lord will return to the Land.

The Lord promised to change His people because He desires to sanctify and glorify His great name.

Parallels to the Christian Life

The spiritual experience of Israel’s transformation parallels what happens to all sinners who trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Every born again believer sees a parallel here with his or her own experience of faith in Christ. The Lord has washed us (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), given us new hearts and His Holy Spirit within, and because of this, we should have a holy hatred for sin.

We have the privilege of coming to God individually in prayer and petition, as well as the desire to do things in accordance with His will. God also wants to make our lives abundantly fruitful for the glory of His name and the Lord has made us a part of His new covenant (Hebrews 8:10) so that our union with Him through Christ is eternal and unchanging.


Conclusion

God is faithful to His promises. So when He promised to restore and transform rebellious Israel, He will surely bring it to fulfillment. We must never assume that God has done away with the nation of Israel.

But in the last days, when God gathers His people back to their land, everything He will do for them will be because of His grace and not because they deserve it. God didn’t give them the land because of their righteousness (Deuteronomy 9:6) and He won’t restore the land because of anything they have done.

In the same way, God in His grace gives us what we don’t deserve, and in His mercy, He doesn’t give us what we do deserve. We must always remember that all we have in Christ comes from God’s grace and was designed for God’s glory.

Why did God Test Abraham’s Faith?

Why did God Test Abraham’s Faith?

We often hear many believers in Jesus say that trials are part of the Christian life. And most of the time they quote James 1:2, the story of Job, the temptation of our Lord (Matthew 4:1-11), and of course the classic example of God testing Abraham’s faith.

Genesis 22:1-24 records the greatest test that Abraham ever faced. But why did God test Abraham? Although the passage presents a beautiful picture of our Lord’s sacrifice at Calvary, the main lesson is obedient faith that overcomes in the trials of life.

Abraham eventually became known as the father of faith as a result of believing God’s promise despite the impossible circumstances.

Bible Verse: Genesis 22:1-2

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Trials vs. Temptations

As I said earlier, trials are different from temptations and we need to learn how to distinguish between the two.

Temptations come from our desires within us (James 1:12-16) while trials come from the Lord who has a special purpose to fulfill. Temptations are used by the devil to bring out the worst in us but trials are used by the Holy Spirit to bring out the best in us (James 1:1-6).

Temptations seem logical while trials seem very unreasonable.

Why did God Test Abraham's Faith

God Tests Abraham’s Faith

In Genesis 22:1-2, we read God asking Abraham to go out early the next day to Mount Moriah with his son Isaac and sacrifice him there as a burnt offering. Why would God give Abraham a son and then ask Abraham to kill him?

So, let me get this straight. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son. What? Consider how unreasonable God’s request was. Isaac was Abraham’s only son, and the future of the covenant rested in him. Isaac was a miracle child, the gift of God to Abraham and Sarah in response to their faith. Abraham and Sarah loved Isaac very much and had built their whole future around him.

When God asked Abraham to offer his son, He was testing Abraham’s faith, hope, and love, and it looked like God was wiping out everything Abraham and Sarah had lived for.

Jehovah Jireh – The Lord Will Provide

Two statements reveal the emphasis of the passage: “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8), and “Yahweh-Yireh” which means, “The Lord will see to it,” that is, “The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14).

As he climbed Mount Moriah with his son, Abraham was confident that God would meet every need. Abraham could depend on the promise and provision of the Lord. He had already experienced the resurrection power of God in his own body (Romans 4:19-21), so he knew that God could raise Isaac from the dead of that was His plan.

Apparently, no resurrection had taken place before that time, so Abraham was exercising great faith in God. According to Ephesians 1:19-20 and Ephesians 3:20-21, believers today have Christ’s resurrection power available in their own bodies as they yield to the Spirit of God.

We can know “the mighty power that raised Him from the dead” (Philippians 3:10 NLT) as we face the daily demands and trials of life.

In times of testing, it is easy to think only about our needs and our burdens; instead, we should be focusing on bringing glory to Jesus Christ. We find ourselves asking, “How can I get out of this?” instead of “What can I get out of this that will honor the Lord?”

Isaac, a Type of Christ

If ever two suffering people revealed Jesus Christ, it was Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. Their experience is a picture of the Father and the Son and the cross and is one of the most beautiful types of Christ found anywhere in the Old Testament.

Jesus said to the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). In Isaac’s miraculous birth, Abraham saw the day of Christ’s birth, and in Isaac’s marriage (Genesis 24:1-67), he saw the day of Christ’s coming for His bride. But on Mount Moriah, when Isaac willingly put himself on the altar, Abraham saw the day of Christ’s death and resurrection.

We sometimes waste our trials and sufferings by neglecting or ignoring opportunities to reveal Jesus Christ to others who are watching us go through the furnace. But we make good use of difficulties by developing Abraham’s attitude, “God will provide.”

Trusting God means we keep moving forward even though we don’t know exactly how things will turn out. The outcome we leave in God’s hands.


Bottom Line

The greatest thing that can happen as we experience the trials that God sends is that we grow closer to our Father and become more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Calvary is not only the place where Jesus died for our sins, but it is also the place where He sanctified suffering and, by His resurrection transformed suffering into glory.

Every experience that God allows into our lives comes with the possibility of glory for God. He can take those times we find unspeakable and make them fountains of praise to Him. But we can’t see this until after we have trusted and obeyed, the same way Abraham did.

Let us then seek to glorify the Lord even when God tests our faith by bringing us trials, and He will do the rest.

The 3 Levels of Heaven

The 3 Levels of Heaven

In the previous article, “Is Heaven a Real Place,” someone posted a comment asking how many heavens are there and who lives in each of them. I say his question is valid because Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Heavens must mean more than one, right?

But instead of writing a long response to the commenter’s question, I decided to write an article about the 3 levels of heaven and look at the various Scripture references supporting the idea of more than one heaven.

Jesus Passed through the Heavens

Hebrews 4:14 says, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”

The fact that Jesus “passed through the heavens” seems to give evidence that there is more than one heaven.

Another translation puts it this way: “We need to hold on to our declaration of faith: We have a superior chief priest who has gone through the heavens. That person is Jesus, the Son of God” (God’s Word).

Consequently, the reference to plural “heavens,” seems to refer to more than one “heaven.”

The Third Heaven

The Bible specifically refers to the third heaven. In 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul refers to himself in the third person when he said, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven.”

So, if there is a third heaven it seems there must also be a first and second heaven.

What are the 3 Heavens

The 3 Levels of Heaven Explained

It is important to note that the term “heaven” is not used symbolically in Scripture; instead, it usually refers to one of three realms.

The three heavens are divided as follows:

1. Our immediate atmosphere

2. Outer space (the sun, moon, and stars)

3. The home of God

The Atmospheric Heaven – The First Heaven

The first heaven is linked to what we call the “atmospheric heaven.” This includes the air that we breathe as well as the space that immediately surrounds the earth. The technical term for this is the “troposphere.” It extends about twenty miles above the earth. The space above this is called the “stratosphere.”

The Bible uses the term heaven to describe this area in Genesis 6:7.

So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

In this passage, the “birds of the air” are the “birds of heaven.” The Hebrew word used here is the same word, in other contexts used of the presence of God, heaven.

Jesus also spoke of the “birds of the air” or the “birds of the sky” in the Sermon on the Mount. “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they” (Matthew 6:26)?

The word translated “air” is ouranos, the same Greek word that is elsewhere translated “heaven.” Thus, the word can mean heaven, sky, or air. It all depends upon the context.

Another example of this use of the term can be found in James 5:18. In this verse, we are told that the “heaven gave rain.” It is the sky, the first heaven, which gave rain. Therefore, Scripture often uses the term heaven in the same way as we would use the word “sky.”

The Celestial Heaven – The Second Heaven

The term heaven is also used of what we call the celestial heaven, known as the “second heaven.” This use of the term heaven refers to outer space or the stellar heaven. It includes the sun, moon, and stars.

We find this use of the term in the words of our Lord Jesus when He describes coming events. He said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).

The stars are said to be “in heaven” or “in the sky.”

Deuteronomy 10:14 also speaks of heavenly spheres which beyond that is visible from the earth. “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.”

The psalmist also wrote about this heaven of heavens when he said, “Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens” (Psalm 148:4)!

Therefore, there seems to be a second heaven, a celestial heaven.

Heaven, God’s Dwelling Place – The Third Heaven

The Bible is clear that God cannot be limited to any one geographical place. At the dedication of the first temple in the city of Jerusalem, King Solomon asked the following question when praying to the Lord:

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built” (1 Kings 8:27)!

King Solomon realized that the Lord was not limited to that one particular place. Indeed, the entire universe cannot contain Him.

Yet, Scripture also teaches us that there is a certain geographical place where God’s presence resides in some unique sense. It is also designated heaven. The writer to the Hebrews said, “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1).

God’s throne is spoken of as residing somewhere – heaven.

Quote about Heaven

Heaven is God’s Presence

When Stephen was being stoned to death, he knew that he was going to a specific place and that would be in the presence of the Lord (Acts 7:55). While God does not reside in one particular area, there is a place where His presence dwells in a unique way. And Stephen was allowed to see that place as he was nearing death.

We also read this in Hebrews 9:24, “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”

Although the exact location of the abode of God is not revealed in Scripture, it is spoken of as being above the first and second heavens.

Heaven is an Actual Place

We can conclude that that there is such a specific place as third heaven. And since the first two heavens are actual places we should also conclude that a third heaven is also a real place. There is no reason to assume it is symbolic especially since the first two heavens are speaking of known realities.

But then again, while the Lord is not limited to this third heaven, in some special way He has a place there. This is the clear teaching of the Bible on the subject.

Conclusion

Heaven may be beyond the limits of our vision and many people do regard it as merely a sphere of life, or a state of independent locality. But heaven is a real place – the three levels of heaven are actual places.

The first heaven is the immediate atmosphere above us, the second heaven is the place where the sun, moon, and stars exist, and the third heaven is God’s dwelling place. And someday we will be in the third heaven too. The Bible says we are citizens of heaven living as strangers and pilgrims on this foreign land (Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 2:11).

But while we wait for our Lord to come back for us and take us to our native home, we are to live heavenly lives here on earth.


Reference: Heaven, the final Destination of Believers by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource: Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths about Your Eternal Home

If any of us learned we were going to move to a foreign country, we’d do everything we could to learn about that place so that we’d be prepared when moving day arrived. As Christians, we know some day we will leave our familiar country and be united with God in heaven. And yet many of us know very little about this place called heaven.

In this enlightening book, bestselling author Dr. Robert Jeffress opens the Scriptures to unpack ten surprising truths about heaven and explain who we will see there and how we can prepare to go there someday.

Perfect for believers or skeptics who are curious about heaven.

How Does One Today Commit the Unforgivable Sin?

How Does One Today Commit the Unforgivable Sin?

In the previous article, we said that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the one sin that cannot and will not be forgiven in this life or in eternity. In Jesus’ day, this sin was committed by the religious leaders when they attributed the miraculous works of Jesus Christ, performed through the power of the Holy Spirit to the devil (Matthew 12:22-24).

Since the ministry of the Holy Spirit gave clear testimony to Jesus being the Messiah, those who rejected this truth could not be forgiven. Indeed, apart from Jesus Christ, there is no forgiveness of sin.

This brings up and all-important question. Since Jesus is no longer on the earth, how does one blaspheme the Holy Spirit today? How does a person commit the “unforgivable sin?”

In other words, what sin does a person commit that will keep them out of heaven for all eternity?

Explaining the Unforgivable Sin Today

We certainly do not want to be guilty of committing the unforgivable sin. So, how can it be avoided? We need to understand that this particular situation, where Jesus spoke of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, was unique. 

Jesus Christ was physically present on the earth, performing miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit to testify that He was the promised Messiah. The religious leaders rejected His miraculous deeds as coming from the Lord. Instead, they attributed them to a demonic source.

Thus, how they insulted or blasphemed the Holy Spirit was clear.

How Does One Commit the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

But Jesus Christ is not with us today in a physical presence like He was in the first century. Indeed, Christ is not on the earth to personally work His miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit.

How then does the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit occur in our day and age without Jesus’ presence? Can a person still commit the unforgivable sin?

The World Still Needs Forgiveness

To begin with, we find that the work of the Holy Spirit is still the same; nothing has changed. His mission is to testify about Jesus Christ and to show the world it needs His forgiveness (John 15:26).

On the night of His betrayal, Jesus said to His disciples that it is to their advantage that He goes away, for if He does not go away, the Helper will not come to them. But when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11).

Among other things, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict the unbelieving world of sin. His mission is to show them their need of Jesus Christ as Savior.

The Unforgivable Sin Today: Unbelief in Jesus

Today, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unbelief in Jesus.

It is insulting or rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit which testifies that Christ is Savior and Lord. This is confirmed by what Jesus said in Luke 12:8-12 (NIV), where He equated the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit with the preaching of the message by His disciples.

The message of Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, is still to be proclaimed today. Those who reject it are actually insulting the God of the Bible. It follows that those who continually reject the Holy Spirit’s ministry of portraying Jesus Christ as the only Savior of humanity are blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

If this state of sin continues they will not receive forgiveness for their sins but rather the wrath, or judgment, of God, will remain on them. The Word of God makes their fate clear in John 3:36.

Those who reject the Son can only expect to experience God’s wrath. They cannot ever receive forgiveness for their sin, neither in this world nor in the next.

A State of Continuous Unbelief

Today, as in Christ’s time, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a continuous state of unbelief rather than the commission of one particular sin. Unless that state of unbelief changes, the person will suffer eternal separation from the Lord.

The Bible speaks of the state of condemnation unbelievers now find themselves in John 3:18. Those who have rejected Jesus Christ are in this state of unbelief. This unbelief will result in eternal condemnation unless a person turns to Christ for forgiveness.

John 3:36

Conclusion

How does one commit the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in our day and age? Today, one blasphemes the Holy Spirit by rejecting the ministry of the Holy Spirit that speaks of the necessity of accepting Jesus Christ as Savior.

Jesus specifically said the Holy Spirit was to come into the world and convict the unbelievers of their sin. If they did not respond to His work, then there is no hope for them. There would be no forgiveness in this life or the next.

Jesus also made this clear when He spoke of the future ministry of His disciples. Those who rejected their testimony about Jesus would also be blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, in our day and age, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the state of unbelief in Jesus Christ as Savior. It is more of a continuing and persistent rejection of the Holy Spirit than one particular sin.

To sum it up, the only unforgivable sin which will keep people out of heaven is the rejection of Jesus Christ as their Savior. Every other sin we do commit can and will be forgiven.

On the other hand, once a person trusts Christ as their Savior, then there is no possibility of them committing the unforgivable sin.


*Excerpt is taken from“Living in the Light of Eternity” (The After Life Series Volume 1) by Don Stewart.

What is the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?

What is the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?

When asked what is the unpardonable sin, some Christians might think it is suicide; it’s not. As tragic as it is, a person who commits suicide does not mean he or she automatically goes to hell.

However, the Scripture teaches that there is an unpardonable sin that will keep people out of heaven – blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. What does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

Let us look at what the Bible says about the unforgivable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit and understand exactly what it is so that we will not commit it.

The Unpardonable Sin in Jesus’ Day

In a confrontation with the religious leaders during His ministry, the Lord Jesus spoke of an unforgivable sin called the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.” He said that whoever commits this terrible sin would never be forgiven. Indeed, they could not be forgiven in this life or the next.

What is the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit in the Bible

What Does it Mean to Blaspheme?

The Greek word blaspheme is translated “slander.” It has the idea to “speak against, insult, or curse.” In Scripture, the word is used for insults hurled at both God and humans.

For example, the Greek noun blaspheme is used of people slandering one another. The apostle Paul used it in his letter to the Ephesians when he encouraged the believers not to “slander” others (Ephesians 4:31 NIV). In this context, it speaks of insults or curses one person directs at another.

The word translated blasphemy can also be used for strong insults or curses directed against God. Scripture records several examples of people cursing the God of the Bible.

The Israelites who came out of Egypt were accused of insulting or blaspheming God, for not only did they build a golden calf; they also claimed that this image was the actual god who brought them out of the land of Egypt (Nehemiah 9:18).

These acts by the people were considered insults or blasphemies against God. We find that Jesus Himself was accused of blasphemy by the religious leaders because He claimed the right or ability to forgive sins (Mark 2:7). They realized that God alone can forgive sins so they assumed Jesus was blaspheming by claiming the same authority.

Cursing God: A Serious Offense

We read in the Old Testament that cursing God was an extremely serious offense. Those who openly defied the Lord were to be cut off from the people, whether native-born Israelites or foreigners (Numbers 15:30-31). In Leviticus 24:15-16, we read that those who cursed the Lord were worthy of the death penalty.

Therefore, simply stated, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would involve some type of insulting or cursing the work of the Holy Spirit, and the Jewish audience which Jesus addressed certainly knew the serious nature of such a sin.

The background of Jesus’ statement about the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can be found in Matthew 12:22-30.

Jesus healed a man who was possessed by a demon, His demon possession made him blind, mute, and probably deaf. This combination of illnesses made it impossible for anyone to cast the demon out of the man because there was no way anyone could communicate with him.

When the people saw Jesus heal the man they wondered if he could be the long-awaited Messiah. Indeed, who else but the Messiah could perform such a miracle? However, not everyone was convinced.

The Jews Accused Jesus of Blasphemy

The suggestion that Jesus could be the promised Messiah brought a quick response from the religious leaders:

But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons” (Matthew 12:24).

They accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. In other words, they could not deny His power but rather they attributed it to some evil or demonic source. Who would want to follow someone who is working with Satan?

Since the religious leaders were supposedly in a position to determine the source of Jesus’ miracles, this accusation had to be answered by the Lord.


Jesus’ Response: Satan does not Work against Himself

How did Jesus respond? By showing them how illogical their arguments were. He made it clear that Satan would not cast out Satan. We read this in Matthew 12:25-29. Satan was not in the business of casting out himself. The power to exorcise demons belongs to God and Him alone.

The fact that Jesus could cast out demons made it plain that the power of God was operating among them. Therefore, these people were held responsible to respond to God’s miraculous power in their midst.

To reject God’s work among them was insulting or cursing God. It was blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit. As mentioned earlier, the Old Testament prescribed the death penalty for those who did such things.

Consequently, attributing Jesus’ Spirit-led miracles to a demonic source was the worst sin that they could commit. Indeed, by doing so, they were cursing the God of the Bible.

Jesus’ Response to those who Commit such a Sin

Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Jesus’ words about the fate of those who blaspheme against God the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 12:31-32 and Luke 12:10-11, Jesus was recorded saying no forgiveness is possible for those who commit this sin while Mark quotes Jesus calling this eternal sin (Mark 3:28-30).

Nature of the Sin of Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

From the above-mentioned sources, we can make some important key points from Jesus’ statements about the nature of the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

The Sin was Unforgivable

First, this sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable.

When the religious leaders attributed the miracles that Jesus performed to demonic forces, Jesus made it plain to them the seriousness of their sin by telling them that there would be no forgiveness in this life and in the next for what they had done.

Indeed, this sin would keep the offenders out of heaven. In Mark’s gospel, we read Jesus calling this sin an “eternal sin.” In other words, it has everlasting consequences. Anyone who engages in such insults to God will not be forgiven whether in this life or in the next to come.

It is a Public Rejection of Jesus and His Message

We discover something else from Luke.

It also seems to consist of some public rejection of the ministry of Jesus as well as that of His disciples. In His next statement, after speaking of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, Jesus says that the Spirit will be with His disciples as they testify about Him before the religious authorities (Luke 12:11-12).

It is, therefore, seemingly more than a lack of belief in Christ. It is also the public denial of the testimony of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.

Sins done in Ignorance against Jesus can be Forgiven

Interestingly, Jesus said that sins against Him could be forgiven but there would be no forgiveness of those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit. This seems to mean that people could ignorantly or unintentionally say things against Jesus without committing the unpardonable sin. Forgiveness is still possible for those who do this.

However, if a person knowingly and defiantly speaks insults against the power of the Holy Spirit, who is testifying to the truth of Jesus and His message, there is no forgiveness possible. This was an especially terrible sin that the religious leaders were committing.

What does it mean to Blaspheme the Holy Spirit

They were publicly attributing Jesus’ miraculous power to the devil. It was not done in ignorance. In fact, it was a willing rejection of the God of the Bible, the God whom they were supposed to be serving.

Furthermore, they were doing it publicly, in front of the multitude. By doing so, they were pitting their authority against His.

It was an Insult to God

Especially in this particular context, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was a denial of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was working in Jesus as well as through Jesus. The Spirit of God was testifying to everyone that Jesus was the Messiah.

Rejecting the message of the Spirit was the same as rejecting or insulting the God of the Bible.

It was a Continual State of Sin

Something else worth noting is that these religious leaders were in a continuous state of sin by denying that the miracles of Jesus were accomplished through the power of God. Thus, they were in a constant state of sin or rebellion against God.

What made matters worse was that these men were the religious authorities, the spiritual leaders. Their testimony carried great weight with the people. Their false accusations could not go unchallenged.

In fact, this continual rejection of the work of the Holy Spirit is the one sin that would keep them out of heaven. All other sins could and would be forgiven.

This was what Jesus meant when He spoke of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. These religious leaders were committing the unforgivable sin. No forgiveness was possible as long as they were doing this

Related Article: Understanding the Personality of the Holy Spirit

Conclusion

The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the public attributing of the work of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ to Satan. The Holy Spirit testified of Jesus’ identity as the promised Messiah. Refusal to acknowledge this obvious testimony of the work of God was blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was more than one particular sin which the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were committing. It is a continuous state of publicly insulting or cursing the work of the Holy Spirit which was done in the Person of Christ.

Since there could be no real question that the miracles of Jesus had been brought about through the power of the Holy Spirit, anyone who would consciously and publicly reject this fact and attributes His work to Satan or some demonic force could not expect to be forgiven in this life or eternity

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit meant eternal damnation. Consequently, this is the one sin that would keep people out of heaven.


*Excerpt is taken from “Living in the Light of Eternity” (The After Life Series Volume 1) by Don Stewart.

Types of Christian Prayers

Types of Christian Prayers

The Bible teaches that God is the Father of all who believe in Jesus Christ and that He is a loving Father. Since God loves His children, He wants them to communicate with Him. This is the very definition of prayer – talking to God.

As God’s children, all Christians have the privilege and the right of approaching God through prayer. It is through prayer that Christians personally communicate their deepest thoughts, needs, and desires to God.

Indeed, prayer is one of the most important things that believers can do.

The topic of prayers is quite broad and cannot be tackled in a single post. In this article, we will look at the kinds or types of prayer that can be prayed by believers in Jesus Christ.

Types of Prayer in Christianity

From Scripture, there are several types of prayers:

Prayer of Confession

Even though God has forgiven Christians all of their sins, not one of them ever lives a perfect life. We all still sin; no one is exempted. These sins need to be acknowledged before God. Consequently, prayer always involves a confession of our sin.

The Lord’s Prayer which Jesus taught to His followers as a model of prayer when He gave His discourse known as the Sermon on the Mount, includes a prayer of confession.

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name … And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:9, 12).

Likewise, the psalmist emphasized the need for confession of sin. He wrote:

“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

1 John 1:9 NKJV

When King David realized that he committed a great sin against the Lord, he prayed a prayer of confession (Psalm 51:1-4).  Likewise, Daniel and Ezra realized the importance of confession, humbled themselves before the Lord, and confessed their sins as well as the sins of the nation of Israel (Daniel 9:20; Ezra 9:5-6).

One of the questions Christians often ask is: Should we pray (confess) only the sins that we remember? What about those that we do not remember? The simple answer is, we ought to pray for those sins that we do not remember.

In psalm 19:12, the psalmist asked God to cleanse him from his secret (hidden) faults – those faults that were perhaps unknown to him, or those that must have slipped through his mind.

And the Lord is loving, compassionate, and forgiving. He promised to forgive our sins when we confessed them to Him (1 John 1:9).

All of us should want to walk worthy of our high calling in Christ Jesus, and confession of sin will help us achieve that because it gets us back on to the straight and narrow way that the Lord has for each of us.

Prayer of Petition

Much of our prayer is for ourselves; this is called the prayer of petition.

And there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, James says we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2). And at times we do not receive what we have asked for because we have the wrong motive (James 4:3).

The key to receiving what we have asked for is to ask for the things that God wants for us. Psalm 37:4-5 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”

In other words, we should want things that God wants and desire for ourselves the things that God desires for us.

Prayer of Intercession

When we ask for things that are not for ourselves, it is called a prayer of intercession, and the one asking is called an intercessor. Let us take a look at some examples in Scripture of those who prayed or interceded for the needs of others.

Paul indicated that he always prayed for the church at Thessalonica and said that he would continually ask the Lord to meet their needs (2 Thessalonians 1:11).

The prayer of intercession does not necessarily have to be for a certain individual or group of individuals; it can also be for an entire city or entire nation. The psalmist declared that we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

Blessings for Blessing Israel

In times of global chaos, disaster, or pandemic, like what we are going through right now as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, Christians need to get down on their knees and intercede for the nations.

Intercessory prayer is important because it emphasizes that we are not merely to address the Lord for our needs but we need to think about others too.

Jesus also told us to pray for our enemies – those who have hurt us, are persecuting us or making things difficult for us, may it be within our family circle, community, or society (Luke 6:28). This is something difficult for us to do. Indeed, we need the Holy Spirit’s help and direction to pray for those with whom we are enemies.

Prayer of Praise, Worship, and Thanksgiving

When we pray, we do not only ask God to do something for us or others. There are times when our prayers consist of praise, worship, and thanksgiving. Jesus began His model prayer for His disciples with praise to God:

In this manner, therefore, pray: “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9).

Consequently, we begin our prayers with words of praise and worship to the Lord. The psalmist wrote about the need to bow down and kneel before our God (Psalm 95:6-7). We should also pray with a thankful and humble attitude before the Lord, especially when we remember all that He has done for us.

In Exodus 13:3, the children of Israel were told to remember what the Lord has done for them.

And Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.”

The apostle Paul says that we should give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18) and told the church at Thessalonica that he constantly gave thanks to God as he continually prayed for them (1 Thessalonians 1:2).

Thankfulness and praise should always be part of our prayer life.

Prayer of Benediction

The prayer of benediction is a prayer of blessing for others. Paul wrote to the Philippians:

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).

This is the type of prayer that we should often pray. We should desire God’s blessings to be bestowed upon others.

Prayer Containing All the Above Elements

The Lord's Prayer Matthew 6:9-13When we pray The Lord’s Prayer or use it as a model for our prayer, our prayer will likely contain each of the above-mentioned elements.

For example, when we pray, we will probably confess our sins, pray for others, pray for ourselves, give thanks to God, and pray a specific prayer of blessing for others. While this is not the case with every prayer we pray, these elements will certainly be in most of our prayers.

The psalmist wrote:

“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. But certainly, God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me” (Psalm 66:16-20)!

Conclusion

The prayers we offer to God should contain these elements of confession, petition, intercession, praise, thanksgiving, and blessing. This is the biblical way in which we should pray.

However, there may be times when we miss some of these elements in our prayer. The important thing is this: we need to pray!


Reference: Prayer by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource: Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller

Prayer by Timothy Keller

Renowned pastor and New York Times bestselling author of The Prodigal Prophet Timothy Keller explores the power of prayer.

Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But few receive instruction or guidance on how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act.

With his trademark insights and energy, Keller offers biblical guidance as well as specific prayers for certain situations, such as dealing with grief, loss, love, and forgiveness. He discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader.

Dr. Keller’s previous books have sold more than one million copies. His Redeemer Presbyterian Church is not only a major presence in his home base of New York, but it has also helped to launch more than two hundred fifty other churches in forty-eight cities around the world. His teachings have already helped millions, the majority of whom pray regularly.

And with Prayer, he’ll show them how to find a deeper connection with God.

Ecclesiastes 3 Explained

Ecclesiastes 3 Explained

Ecclesiastes 3 is unarguably one of the most quoted Bible passages not only by Christians but also non-Christians, especially when talking about the meaning of life. Now, why is that? What is this passage all about? What is Solomon, the author, trying to tell us about life?

An Introduction to the Book of Ecclesiastes

Some argue that the book of Ecclesiastes may not have been written by Solomon but by somebody else under his instruction. However, there are powerful arguments that the author was Solomon himself.

The author calls himself “the son of David, king in Jerusalem” in Ecclesiastes 1:1, 12. And Solomon was the best qualified Davidic descendant for the quest in this book as he was the wisest man who ever taught in Jerusalem (Ecclesiastes 1:16; 1 Kings 4:29-30).

The description of Qoheleth’s exploration of pleasure (Ecclesiastes 2:1-3), impressive accomplishments (Ecclesiastes 2:4-6), and unparalleled wealth (Ecclesiastes 2:7-10) were fulfilled only by King Solomon.

Note 1: The Hebrew title Qoheleth is a rare term, found only in this book (Ecclesiastes 1:1, 2, 12; 7:27; 12:8-10). It comes from the word qahal, “to convoke an assembly, to assemble.” Thus, it means “one who addresses an assembly, a preacher.”

The Septuagint used the Greek word Ekklesiastes as its title for this book. Derived from the word ekklesia, “assembly, congregation, church,” it simply means “preacher “ The Latin Ecclesiastes means “speaker before an assembly.”

Ecclesiastes 1:1 in Hebrew reads, “The words of Qoheleth, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.”

The book of Ecclesiastes was probably written late in Solomon’s life, about 935 B.C. If this is so, the great glory that Solomon ushered in early in his reign was already beginning to fade; and the disruption of Israel into two kingdoms would soon take place.

Jewish tradition asserts that Solomon wrote Song of Solomon in his youthful years, Proverbs in his middle years, and Ecclesiastes in his latter years. There are no references to historical events than to personal aspects of Qoheleth’s life and the location was Jerusalem, the seat of Israel’s rule and authority.

A Time for Everything

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Solomon affirms in fourteen paired statements that God is at work in our individual lives, seeking to accomplish His will. It must be noted that all of these events come from God, and they are good in their time.

A Time to be Born and a Time to Die

Ecclesiastes 3:2a

Things like abortion, birth control, mercy killing (euthanasia), and surrogate parenthood may give the impression that humans control birth and death, but Solomon said otherwise.

Birth and death are not human accidents; they are divine appointments, for God is in control. We may foolishly hasten death, but we cannot prevent it when our time comes, unless God wills it, such as in the case of King Hezekiah in Isaiah 38:1-8.

Psalm 139:16 NKJV

A Time to Plant and a Time to Harvest.

Ecclesiastes 3:2b

Farmers may plow and sow, but only God can give the increase (Psalm 65:9-13). “Harvest” translates a word that may refer either to reaping or pulling up unproductive plants.

A successful farmer knows that nature works for him only if he works with nature. This is also the secret of a successful life: Learn God’s principles and cooperate with them.

Casting Away Stones and Gathering Them

Ecclesiastes 3:5

Israel is indeed a rocky land, and farmers must clear their fields before they can plow and plant. To hurt an enemy, you would fill the enemy’s field with stones (2 Kings 3:19, 25). People also gathered stones for building walls and houses.

Whether stones are good or bad depends on how they are used. If your enemy fills your land with rocks, don’t throw them back. Instead, build something out of them!

A Time to Tear and a Time to Sew

Ecclesiastes 3:7

This tearing and mending probably refer to the Jewish practice of tearing one’s garments during a time of grief or repentance (2 Samuel 13:31; Ezra 9:5).

God expects us to sorrow and grieve during bereavement but not like unbelievers who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). At times we must get out of the needle and thread and start mending.

A Time to Love and a Time to Hate

Ecclesiastes 3:8

God’s people are expected to love others, even the unlovable, following Jesus’ example. But are they allowed to hate? The fact that the next phrase mentions “war and peace” suggests that Solomon may have had the nation primarily in mind.

However, believers are expected to hate some things such as covetousness (Exodus 18:21), evil (Psalm 97:10), the deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6), the doctrines of Balaam and sexual immorality (Revelation 2:14), and the seven things that God hates in Proverbs 6:16-19.

The inference in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is plain: If we cooperate with God’s timing, life will not be meaningless. Rather, everything will be “beautiful for its own time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), even the most difficult experiences of life. Life is something like a doctor’s prescription. Taken alone, the ingredients might kill you, but properly blended, they bring healing.

Making Sense of God’s Gift: Life

Ecclesiastes 3:10

Given the travail that we experience from day to day, life may seem like a strange gift, but it is God’s gift just the same. We exercise ourselves in trying to explain life’s enigmas, but we don’t always succeed.

If we believingly accept life as a gift and thank God for it, we will have a better attitude toward the burdens that come our way. If we grudgingly accept life as a burden, then we will miss the gifts that come our way. As Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, “Outlooks help to determine the outcome.”

What Does Ecclesiastes 3 Mean

Understanding God’s Plan

Ecclesiastes 3:11

God created man (us) in His own image and has given him dominion over all other creatures (Genesis 1:26-28). Humans, therefore, are different from the rest of creation. God “has planted eternity in the human heart” and we are linked to heaven.

Don Richardson, a well-known missionary and author, used the phrase “eternity in their hearts” to describe the phenomenon of redemptive analogies in almost all aboriginal cultures. Almost every culture has customs, traditions, or ways of thinking that reflect basic biblical truth, and these can be used by missionaries to explain the gospel

The bottom line here is, God accomplishes His purposes in His time, but only when we enter eternity will we begin to comprehend His total plan.

Contentment and Enjoyment

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

The Teacher hinted at contentment in Ecclesiastes 2:24 and was careful to say that this enjoyment of life was God’s gift (see Ecclesiastes 5:19; 6:2 and 1 Timothy 6:17). Solomon is not encouraging pagan hedonism but rather the practice of enjoying God’s gifts as the fruit of one’s labor, no matter how difficult life may be.

Life appears to be transitory, but whatever God does is forever. So, when we live for Him and let Him have His way, life is meaningful and manageable. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, let’s enjoy what we do have and thank God for it.

Fear God and Submit to Him

Ecclesiastes 3:14

The proper attitude for us is the fear of the Lord, which is not the cringing of a slave before a cruel master but the submission of an obedient child to a loving parent (see Ecclesiastes 5:7; 7:18, 8:12-13; 12:13). If we fear God, we need not fear anything else, for He is in control.

Proverbs 9:10 also says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

God Controls the Cycle of Life

Ecclesiastes 3:15

This verse helps us recall Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 and gives us the assurance that God controls the cycle of life. The past seems to repeat itself so that “nothing under the sun is truly new” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), but God can break into history and do what He pleases (see Isaiah 46:10).

God’s many miracles are evidence that the cycle is a pattern and not a prison. God’s own Son broke into human history through a miraculous birth. He then died on a cross and rose again, thus conquering the life-death cycle.

The Common Fate of Man and Animals

Ecclesiastes 3:18-21

God will judge when history has run its course, but God is judging now.

In the experiences of life, God is testing humans (“proves to people”). (The Hebrew word means “to sift, to winnow.”) God is revealing what humans are really like; He is sifting them.

For example, when someone leaves God out of his or her life, that person becomes like an animal. (See Psalm 32:9; Proverbs 7:21-23; 2 Peter 2:19-20.) He or she lives like a beast and dies like a beast.

As Solomon thought of an animal dying and its body decomposing, he realized that the same happens to the human body. We sensed that he hoped there was a different destiny between humans and animals, yet in his thinking “under the sun,”  he saw no real reason to believe it.


Enjoying Life Everyday

Ecclesiastes 3:22

Is there a way for man to know what will happen after him? Nothing, because death ends it all, and therefore ultimately his life has no more significance or meaning than the life of an animal.

So in ending, Solomon calls us to accept life, enjoy it a day at a time and be satisfied. We must never be satisfied with ourselves, but we must always be satisfied with what God gives to us in this life.

If we grow in character and godliness and live by faith, then we will be able to say with Paul, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

Vanity: The Key Theme of Ecclesiastes

The key theme of Ecclesiastes is vanity. It reports the results of a diligent quest for purpose, meaning, and satisfaction in human life. The Preacher poignantly sees the emptiness and futility of power, popularity, prestige, and pleasure apart from God.

The word vanity appears thirty-seven times to express the many things that cannot be understood about life. All earthly goals and ambitions, when pursued as ends in themselves, lead to dissatisfaction and frustration. Life “under the sun” (used twenty-nine times) seems to be filled with inequities, uncertainties changes in fortune, and violations of justice.

But Ecclesiastes does not give us an answer to atheism or skepticism; God is referred to throughout. In fact, it claims that the search for man’s summum bonum must end in God. Satisfaction in life can be found only by looking beyond this world. Contentment and joy are found only in God.

Note 2: Summum bonum is a Latin expression meaning “the highest good,” which was introduced by the Roman philosopher Cicero, to correspond to the Idea of the Good in ancient Greek philosophy.

Conclusion

Although the Preacher concluded that time is short and there is no eternity on earth, He connected beauty and eternity as ideas implanted in the human personality by God. Obviously, beauty in God’s creation or in our own creative efforts awakens in us an awareness of eternity.

When King Solomon wrote the balance and harmony of all the various aspects of human existence, he concluded, “He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. The word translated “beautiful” in Ecclesiastes 3:11 is not the term translated “good” in Genesis (Genesis 1:12, 25, 31).

The word in Ecclesiastes is much closer to the English word “beautiful” with its emphasis on visible attractiveness rather than internal harmony.

Beauty gives us a glimpse of what endures forever – maybe as though it were a pale reflection of some aspect of God’s perfect beauty. A sunset, a scene of mountain grandeur, the ocean at peace or in a frenzy, a symphony, a painting, a poem or an innocent child can stab the human heart with a certainty that God – a personal God who embodies perfect beauty – is the source of all this.


References:

New King James Version Study Bible edited by John Hagee

The New Living Transformation Study Bible edited Dr. Warren Wiersbe

Recommended Resource: Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur

Found: God's Will Does God have a path for me? How do I make the right choices in life? Why is it so difficult to uncover God’s will?

Trusted pastor and teacher John MacArthur answers these vital questions and more.

Offering assurance that God does have a plan for your life and that He wants you to know it, MacArthur examines six powerful biblical principles that will give you direction, fill you with purpose, and give you the confidence to live out His plan for you.

When those five fundamentals are operating, we’re free to exercise number six – and do whatever we want!

A Prayer for the Nations

A Prayer for the Nations

With the current situation we are facing today, the nations need prayers desperately. We could blame the COVID-19 for causing this global pandemic, or the wicked for our nations’ lack of moral direction, but the church must bear the responsibility.

Let’s face it, our churches live far beneath the standards of holiness established in the New Testament. The church has become so compromised that they ordain homosexuals, defend abortion, and denies the truth of God’s Word. Let us be warned that when a nation abandons God, He abandons that nation.

Today, more than ever, Christians need to get down on their knees and unite in prayer. But where and how do we start?

How to Pray for the Nations

Praying for the NationsChapters 78 to 81 of the book of Psalms give us a blueprint on how to pray for the nations with a call for praise, repentance, and restoration and concludes with God’s expectations and promises.

In Psalm 78, Asaph recalls Israel’s history, which was saturated with God’s provision, His leadership, His miracles, and His working power. But despite all that, the people had become stubborn and rebellious, and they suffered because of their disobedience.

One thing we can learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. If we study the Bible and church history, we discover that Israel made that same mistake.

Asaph did not want the people to imitate the “exodus generation” that died in the wilderness, or the third generation in Canaan that turned to idols, or the ten tribes that forsook the Lord and established a new kingdom and a false religion.

Asaph wanted the people to trust God, to learn from the past, and to obey God’s word. Only then could they be sure of the blessings of the Lord.

A Call to Praise God 

The first blueprint on how to pray for the nations is a call for praise for the wonderful things God has done in the past and still doing at present. Before we even pour our hearts out at the feet of Jesus, we are to give Him all the praises. As the Bible points out, God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).

Going back to Psalm 78, Asaph reminds the nation of Israel God’s law that each generation of Jewish people must pass on God’s Word to the next generation and not hide from their children the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done (Psalm 78:2-3).

This law still applies to the church today. Sadly, many nations have abandoned God. In America, God has been omitted from the public school textbooks to separate church and state even at the expense of truth. Historical revisionists are rewriting America’s history by presenting the founding forefathers as evil and corrupt.

Why? So that the coming generations will ignore what they said and did to make America great. In reality, America’s history is full of God’s grace and power in the establishment of this nation, and there are countless examples of leaders who pursued God’s grace and power in times of trouble.

Remembering the Mayflower Compact

On the Mayflower, the future colonists drew up the first written agreement for self-government ever put in force in America. After sixty-five days at sea, the pilgrims anchored their ship off Plymouth Rock.

Before going ashore, forty-three pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact, which begins with the words, “Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith.” Today, that document would be attacked by the ACLU demanding separation of church and state.

At Valley Forge, as the ragged soldiers braced themselves against bitter winter wind and fought hunger, George Washington knelt in the snow to pray. God answered him. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln pleaded with God to spare the Union. God answered. Lincoln’s speeches were full of scripture. Today, he would be ridiculed for his faith.

In World War I, America’s doughboys knelt in the trenches, hiding from mustard gas and praying to God for victory. He answered. During World War II, there were numerous times when the war could have been lost – Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Dunkirk – but the hand of God spared us.

Some of you perhaps still remember D-Day or The Battle of Normandy, when General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was raised by praying parents, sculpted the D-Day invasion on the Normandy Beaches.

The day was not going well as the US troops were pinned down by gunfire. But believers started praying. Hundreds of people gathered and knelt on a gymnasium floor to pray for American troops. Nobody knew what was happening on the front, but they knew they needed to pray and they did, all day and all night. And God heard their prayers.

What does this story tell us today? For us to claim God’s blessings on our nation’s future, we must praise Him for all the blessings He has bestowed in the past. Every nation must acknowledge the work that God has done for them and humbly plead for His help.

Let every nation put God back into their lives, into their government, and into their society. May we always remember to give God all the praises and adoration for all His mighty deeds, grace, and mercy.

A Prayer for the Nations

Repentance is the Key

The next part of the blueprint is repentance. What is repentance? When John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Lord Jesus, went about preaching that the kingdom of God is at hand, he started out by preaching repentance (Matthew 3:1-2).

In the Bible, the word repentance literally means “the act of changing one’s mind.” But true repentance is more than just feeling remorse, regret or feeling bad about your sin. Isn’t it turning away from sin? Sure! But it involves more than that.

In its fullest sense, repentance involves a complete change in the heart and mind of a person resulting in a radical and persistent pursuit of holy living and walking with God in obedience to His command.

In praying for the nations, we must first and foremost repent of the way we have failed God over and over again. We must recognize that God is sovereign and that the national welfare is at stake. Without His intervention, the nations would fall.

In Psalm 79, Asaph lamented over the destruction of Jerusalem

“O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps.” (Psalm 79:1)

“For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.” (Psalm 79:7)

Yet, Asaph knew that God isn’t finished with the Jewish nation. He then pleaded for God’s help for the glory of His name but no deliverance came. Then it hit him! He needed to confess his own sins and the sins of his contemporaries and repent (Psalm 79:8).

In the same way, we need to confess and repent of our sins and the sins of our nation. We need to acknowledge that without God’s intervention, we will fall; all the nations will fall. Let us ask God to not hold against us our former iniquities.

“Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us, for we have been brought very low.” (Psalm 79:8)

Here’s a song called, “Stand in the Gap” (Pray for the Nations) by Tom Inglis.

Stand in the Gap (Pray for the Nations) Lyrics and Chords

A Plea for Restoration

Restoration is the third phase of the blueprint. Three times Psalm 80 carries the prayerful words “Restore us, O God.” (See Psalm 80:3, 7, 19.)

We know that God restored Israel numerous times. And so, this should be our plea as well – for God to restore our nation to the day when “in God we trust” was a way of life and not just a meaningless slogan on a piece of paper or coin.

Psalm 81 proclaims God’s expectations from us. This is the foundation upon which everything rests. As God expected the Israelites to follow His ways, God expects us to do the same.

“But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels. Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!” (Psalm 81:11-13)

If they had, God would have subdued their enemies and fed Israel with the “finest of wheat” and with “honey from the rock” (Psalm 81:16).

May we learn from Israel’s history and not repeat their mistake. The only thing God requires from us is to heed His voice and walk in His ways.

Promise of Blessings: God Heals a Nation

God’s expectations for our nations or for any nation are no less.

Israel’s history shows how a nation can find and lose favor with God and what God will do if the people repent and ask to be restored. “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 I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

In this well-known text, the Lord promised to answer every request. He was willing to forgive His people when they sinned if only they would humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their sins.

Although some scholars say this is only applicable to the nation of Israel because God has never made a covenant with any other nation but them, Christian believers today can claim this promise because they are God’s people.

Our nation needs to be restored. Our nation needs our prayers. Let us take our country back to God one heart at a time, one home at a time, one city at a time.


Recommended Resource: The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz

How to Pray for the NationsIn this book, bestselling author Anne Graham Lotz will teach you how to pray effectively for your nation, for your families, and for yourself.

Many people today find that their prayers don’t “work.” And like a broken cell phone, DVD player, or TV remote, they throw prayer out as unnecessary “clutter” in their busy lives. Anne Graham Lotz has found that while prayer does work, sometimes the “pray-ers” don’t. So, she has turned to the prophet Daniel for help.

The Daniel Prayer is born deep within your soul, erupts through your heart, and pours out on your lips, words created by and infused with the Spirit of God quivering with spiritual electricity.

It’s really not an everyday type of prayer. It’s a prayer birthed under pressure. Heartache. Grief. Desperation. It can be triggered by a sudden revelation of hope. An answer to prayer, a promise freshly received, a miracle that lies just over the horizon.

Join Anne in a thrilling discovery of prayer that really works.

For extended study into The Daniel Prayer message, Anne has also created The Daniel Prayer video study and study guide. Available now.