Part 5: How to Share My Faith

Part 5: How to Share My Faith

I finish this series on “How to Exercise Spiritually” with one more daily spiritual exercise. It is the spiritual exercise of sharing our faith in Jesus with other people. Most Christians do not share their faith in Jesus with anyone. Some Christians don’t see the need to share. Others are afraid to share. Still others don’t know how to share. So today I want to help you see the need to share your faith, learn how to share your faith, and finally to understand the benefits of sharing your faith in Jesus.

I. Why must I share my faith?

Because this is God’s plan for my life.

Before leaving this earth, Jesus gave this final instruction to his disciples. “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere.” Acts 1:8 (NLT) This was the last face-to-face contact Jesus had with his disciples. So he took the opportunity to remind them what they were to do. They were to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit, and then they were to tell people about Jesus.

Years later after hearing this specific direction from Jesus, Peter, one of the twelve disciples, states a similar instruction. “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you.” 1 Peter 3:15 (TEV) Peter was talking to people who already had the power of the Holy Spirit, and he is reminding them what they were to do—tell others about Jesus, the hope that is in you.

So Jesus gave this instruction to the disciples. The disciples obeyed and followed the instruction. Once they did that, then they reminded the new Christians of the same instruction—tell others about Jesus. This same instruction has been followed and handed down from generation to generation.

II. How can I share my faith?

  1. Identify the people around me who don’t know Jesus.

After healing a man of being demon possessed, Jesus gave the man this specific direction. “Go home to your family and friends. Tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19 (NCV) Jesus’ specific direction was, tell others about me. Start with your family and friends. Start with all those people who knew you as a demon possessed man. Go show them the transformation in your soul. So this man had no training in a Bible college or seminary; this man had not been to a Billy Graham training conference; this man did not have the capacity to explain the Old Testament prophecies; this man could not expound upon theology; this man had not been to a worship service; however, this man did exactly as Jesus directed. He went home. He found his family and friends that knew nothing about Jesus and he told them about what Jesus had done for him. And the scripture in Mark 5 goes on to say that all the people were amazed.

  1. Discover common ground with the people who don’t know Jesus.

Obviously, we have lots of common ground with family and friends, but what about the people we don’t know. When faced with the opportunity to share Jesus with those people we don’t know, what do we do? How do we get the conversation started? From Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 9:22 (LB), we find this behavior. “Whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.”

Paul’s practice was to find a place of common ground with a person and then tell that person about Jesus. This practice is a way of connecting with a stranger and building trust in the relationship. And it is simple to do. It doesn’t matter if two people are from different cultures, backgrounds, economic levels, or educational levels; there is always some common ground. All humans suffer from fears. All humans have doubts about the future. All humans struggle with bad habits. All humans worry. All humans wonder about life after death. Finding common ground with another person is simple to do. Once the common ground is established, then there is a connection, a trust, and a listening ear.

  1. Share my experience of being rescued by Jesus.

In Acts 22:6-7 (NIV), we find Paul’s example of sharing his experience of being rescued by Jesus. “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’” Paul had been persecuting Christians and Jesus spoke to him, stopped him, and rescued him from a life of misery and a destiny of hell. Paul was given a new life, and he shared that new life in Jesus with others. This was one example of Paul sharing his faith and experience of being rescued by Jesus.

In 1 Peter 2:9 (MSG), we have this encouragement. “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you.” Jesus has chosen us, rescued us, brought us into his family, made us holy, and filled us with his love. As this passage says, we are to speak out for him and to tell others about the night and day difference Jesus has made in us.

III. What are the benefits of sharing my faith?

  1. Joy

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a story about a shepherd leaving behind ninety-nine sheep to find one lost sheep. His point in the story is this. “Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.” Luke 15:7 (MSG) When you and I share Jesus with others and they accept Jesus into their lives, it is a joyous experience. All of heaven is rejoicing and we too can experience that joy of seeing people rescued by Jesus.

  1. God’s power working in me.

In 2 Timothy 1:7-8 (LB), we find this encouragement. “For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them. If you will stir up this inner power, you will never be afraid to tell others about our Lord.” Earlier, we read the scripture where Jesus promised the power of his Holy Spirit upon his disciples for telling others about him. In this Timothy passage, Paul reminds us that this same Holy Spirit power helps us to be wise, strong, full of love, and to overcome the fear we have of sharing Jesus with others.

God’s specific instruction for us is for us to tell others about Jesus. But he doesn’t send us out there alone. Instead, God fills us with the power of his Holy Spirit. So we must let go of our fears and take hold of the Holy Spirit so that we can love others, be wise in how we talk to them, and be strong in the face of rejection.

Will you share your faith in Jesus with others?

 

Part 4: How to Fellowship with Others

Part 4: How to Fellowship with Others

So far, we have looked at two day-by-day spiritual exercises; prayer and Bible study. And we have looked at one weekly spiritual exercise, tithing. Today we will look at another weekly spiritual exercise, Fellowship. I want us to first define what fellowship is and then we will look at the why and how of fellowship.

I. What is fellowship?

Fellowship is the intentional friendship one Christian develops with other Christians. In Acts 2:42 (NLT), we have an example of fellowship. The scripture says this, “They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer.”

This verse is part of a summary of the first Christian church in Jerusalem. We will read the rest of the summary later. It describes the believers in Jesus as being devoted to fellowship. The Greek word for fellowship is “Koinonia”. It means sharing or partnership. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become partners with Jesus and with other Christians. However, just as we intentionally enter into a relationship and friendship with Jesus, we must also intentionally enter into a relationship and friendship with other Christians. In order to have real Christian fellowship with others, there must be an intentional effort to build a friendship. As I read this passage in Acts 2, I see the intentional effort here of a congregation to build friendships.

II. Why must I be in fellowship?

Does it really matter whether or not I intentionally develop a friendship with other Christians? The Bible answers this question for us. I want to share with you three reasons why we must be in fellowship.

  1. Because I ­belong to other Christians in God’s family.

Romans 12:5 (NIV) says this. “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” As a Christian, I am one of many in the body of Christ. I have a unique place in the body of Christ and I belong there. You have a unique place in the body of Christ and you belong there. I need for you to fulfill your place in the body of Christ, and you need me to fulfill my place in the body of Christ. We belong to each other, and together in fellowship we form one body of Christ.

  1. Because I need encouragement and accountability.

There are two scriptures that teach us this truth. The first one is Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV). “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”

Concerning encouragement, I cannot be encouraged if I am not in Christian fellowship with other Christians. “Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” I know how much I need encouragement. Therefore, in order to receive the encouragement I need, I must be in fellowship with other Christians.

Galatians 6:1 (NIV) says this. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” This scripture reminds us that we as Christians can sin and that we need accountability. If I am in fellowship with other Christians, then they can restore me gently when I sin. The goal here of a fellowship group is gentle restoration, not harsh condemnation. Without the accountability, we are more likely to continue in sin rather than be restored from it. With accountability, we have real Christian friends that help us to overcome the failure, the sin, and the shame in our life.

  1. Because I am to serve other Christians.

1 Peter 4:10 (NCV) says this. “Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.” We understand from this scripture that as Christians we all have a spiritual gift. The purpose of that gift is to serve others. If I am in fellowship with other Christians, then I have the opportunity to serve that group of Christians with the spiritual gift God has given me. And in my service, I am being a good steward of God’s gift. If I am not in fellowship with other Christians, then I can’t serve them, and my spiritual gift is not used. If my spiritual gift is not used, then I am not being a good steward of God’s gift.

So here we have three biblical reasons to be in fellowship with other Christians. We belong to each other. We are to encourage and hold each other accountable. And we are to serve each other. These ideas can take place only if we make an intentional choice to be in fellowship with other Christians. Christianity was never meant to be lived in isolation. It was meant to be lived in fellowship with other Christians. You cannot grow, develop, serve, and love if you live apart from other Christians. However, if you live in fellowship with other Christians, then you can grow, develop, serve, and love.

III. How can I be in fellowship?

Here is the rest of the summary in Acts 2:42-47 (NLT). “They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.”

There are many ways to be involved in fellowship discussed in this passage and others as well. But I have two ideas that I want to point out from this scripture of how to be involved in fellowship.

  1. Participate in a small group Bible study.

The scripture states that the believers were devoted to the apostles’ teaching. These Christians came together on a regular basis in order to learn from the apostles more about Jesus, God, and how to live a Christian life. From their example, I encourage you to participate in a small group Bible study.

  1. Devote myself to caring and praying for others in my small group.

This scripture states that these believers were devoted to praying together; they shared everything in common; they helped those in need; they worshipped together in the temple; they met in their homes for the Lord’s Supper; and they shared meals together. I use this word “devote” to stress the intentional effort that these believers gave to each other. They were committed to praying for and caring for one another. I get the sense that no one was left out, and that everyone was involved in a small group of Christians. I encourage you with this biblical example to participate in a small group Bible study, and then devote yourself to the caring and praying for others in your group. It is a spiritual exercise that will transform your life. Because of their devotion to God and to each other, God blessed this Jerusalem congregation with new believers every day. They grew larger and smaller at the same time.

Will you develop the spiritual exercise of fellowship?

 

 

 

 

Part 3: How to Tithe

Part 3: How to Tithe

So far, we have looked at two spiritual exercises; prayer and Bible study. Those are daily exercises. Today we are going to look at a spiritual exercise that we can do once a week, tithing. We will begin by looking at a definition of tithing. Then, we will look at why we should tithe, how to tithe, and finally the benefits of tithing.

I. What is a tithe?

Leviticus 27:30 (NIV) says this. “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” Tithe in the Hebrew language means one tenth. A tithe of our income would be ten percent of our income. Concerning our giving to God, a tithe is giving the first tenth of my income. An offering is anything I give in addition to my tithe. For example, some of you give ten percent of your income each week as an offering to God. In addition to that, you also give an offering to different missions’ offerings. Or maybe you give an offering to another charity outside of the local church. Bottom line, ten percent of our income belongs to the Lord and it is holy to the Lord.

II. Why should I tithe?

  1. Because God commands it. From this same verse, Leviticus 27:30 (NIV), we learn that this is God’s will and he expects us to give ten percent to him. “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” Most of us have income in the form of money, not produce from the land. The Bible teaches us that we are to take ten percent of our income and give it to God. It belongs to him. This is God’s command, not man’s. This is God’s expectation.
  2. Because tithing demonstrates that God has first place in my life. Deuteronomy 14:23 (TLB) says this. “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.” God is a jealous God and he doesn’t want anything else, especially money, to have first place in our lives. Therefore, if I dedicate ten percent of my income to God, then I am demonstrating that God has priority in my life rather than money having priority. I also am demonstrating that I am in control of my money rather than my money being in control of me.
  3. Because refusing to tithe is stealing from God. Malachi 3:8-9 (NIV) says this. “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse–the whole nation of you–because you are robbing me.” We learn from this statement that God knows everything about us including our finances. So the question we must ask is this: When I give an offering at church, is God pleased? God is the one who has blessed me with an income, a house, food, a car, clothing, furnishings for my house, and the stuff in my garage. Is God pleased with my offering or am I stealing from God?

III. How should I tithe?

When we looked at the spiritual exercise of prayer, I encouraged you to prayer with the right motive. The same is true with giving to God. We must give with the right motive and attitude. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NLT) gives the right motive and attitude for our giving to God. “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.” From this scripture, we gain four ways to tithe.

  1. I must tithe with a hopeful heart. This verse teaches us that whatever we sow we will also reap. When we give an offering to God, the percentage we give is an indicator of the hope and trust in our heart about the future harvest. If I really believe that God can create a fruitful harvest, then I will give generously. If I don’t believe that God can create a fruitful harvest, then I will not give generously. What is the hope in my heart? Is there any hope in God? Is there any hope that God can do something great and awesome with my offering? I challenge you to give with a hopeful heart. Believe and trust in God to do something wonderful with your tithe.
  2. I must tithe with a prepared heart. The scripture teaches us to “make up our own mind as to how much we should give.” I would encourage you not to wait until you arrive at church to decide on how much to give. Instead, sit down with your spouse or family and make out a family budget with a certain percentage dedicated to God. Start with ten percent. If your income goes up or down, you can still give ten percent to God.
  3. I must tithe with a willing heart. The verse says “Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.” If some pastor or Christian puts pressure on you to give, then the Bible says don’t give. Instead, we are to give willingly.
  4. I must tithe with a cheerful heart. The last part of this verse says “God loves the person who gives cheerfully.” The word used here in the Greek language of the New Testament for cheerfully is our English word hilarious. Our attitude should be that of great joy and cheerfulness when we give to God.

IV. What are the benefits of tithing?

  1. Tithing is an investment in eternity. In Matthew 6:20 (CEV), Jesus gives us this instruction about money. “Store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them.” Jesus points out to us that we have the opportunity to make investments in heaven that will last forever. These investments are secure and incorruptible. There are several ways we can make these types of heavenly investments, and our offerings to God are one type heavenly investment. When we give our offering to God, we are investing in something far greater the stock market or mutual funds or bonds. We are investing in something more secure than real estate. We are investing in God and in the lives of those who love God.
  1. Tithing helps me overcome greed. In the same passage of Matthew 6:24 (NLT), Jesus goes on to say, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” There are two choices here. Either we can serve God with the money he has given us and overcome greed or we can serve money as our god and be overcome by greed. The choice is yours to make. Jesus makes it clear we cannot do both at the same time. We cannot multitask when it comes serving God and money. Serving God with my money helps me overcome greed.

Will you develop the spiritual exercise of tithing?

 

Part 2: How to Study The Bible

Part 2: How to Study The Bible

Last week, I challenged you to develop the spiritual exercise of prayer. I hope that you are growing in your prayer life and relationship with God. Today, we continue with Part 2: How to Study The Bible. Given the world that we live in today, we desperately need to study the Bible. We desperately need the wisdom and direction that God’s Word offers. Allow me to share with you why the Bible is so important, what we are to do with the Bible, and finally how to study the Bible.

I. Why is the Bible so important?

One scripture that answers this for us completely is 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (MSG). “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” This scripture gives us seven reasons why the Bible is so important.

  1. The Bible is God-breathed.
  2. The Bible is useful.
  3. The Bible teaches me truth.
  4. The Bible exposes my rebellion.
  5. The Bible corrects my mistakes.
  6. The Bible trains me how to live God’s way.
  7. The Bible prepares and equips me to do God’s work.

When you look at this verse from the perspective of these seven statements, it really does emphasize the importance and relevance of the Bible for our everyday life. We could also calls these benefits of Bible study. Since the Bible is from God, and it is useful in all these ways listed here, then you and I should be eager to learn from it.

II. What am I to do with the Bible?

  1. I am to listen to the Bible. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 (NIV)
  2. I am to read the Bible. “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:3 (NIV)
  3. I am to study the Bible. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
  4. I am to meditate on the Bible. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2 (NIV)
  5. I am to memorize the Bible. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
  6. I am to obey the Bible. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 (NIV)

These six are not a list to pick and choose from; instead, we are to do all of these. Every day that we live is an opportunity to learn from the Bible through these six methods. As we learn from the Bible through these methods, then we will begin to experience the benefits listed in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” If we choose to ignore the Bible and refuse to learn from it, then we will not experience these benefits and we will not grow spiritually. So I challenge you to use all six ways to learn from the Bible.

III. How do I study the Bible?

Last week, we looked at a model prayer given to us by Jesus. However, we don’t have a model Bible study in the Bible itself. There are numerous ways to study the Bible so I want to share a simple model with you.

  1. Pick a book of the Bible to study.
  2. Gather other resources to aid my study.
  • A Study Bible
  • A Bible Dictionary
  • A Bible Handbook
  • A Bible Concordance
  • A Bible Commentary
  • Different Bible Translations
  • Bible Software for your computer
  • Bible study websites on the Internet
  1. Read a paragraph at a time.
  2. Ask questions of the scripture I read. Who—What—When—Where—Why—How.
  3. Pray for insight into the passage.
  4. Write down answers to my questions and insights I discover.
  5. Write down a personal and practical application to obey.
  6. Memorize meaningful verses as I study.

 Will you develop the spiritual exercise of Bible study? So far, we have looked at two spiritual exercises: prayer and Bible study. These are daily exercises that we must develop. They are the most basic and most necessary spiritual exercises for spiritual growth. If you are not spending time in God’s Word and in prayer on a daily basis, then you will not grow or mature as a Christian. Spiritual growth is not automatic. It occurs as we intentionally give of ourselves to daily spiritual exercise. Today, I specifically challenge you to develop the spiritual exercise of Bible study. Set aside a place and a time when you can study God’s Word each day. Make it a priority. Allow God’s Word to teach you truth, expose your rebellion, correct your mistakes, train you how to live God’s way, and prepare and equip you to do God’s work. Then, teach others to do the same. Pass this exercise along to someone else.

Part 1: How to Pray

Part 1: How to Pray

This series of blogs is entitled How to Exercise Spiritually. My goal is to encourage you to exercise the basic disciplines that promote spiritual growth. We are going to look at five spiritual exercises: prayer, Bible study, tithing, fellowship, and sharing our faith.

We begin with Part 1: How to Pray. Looking at the model prayer that Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:5-13, I want to share with you six ideas for praying.

  1. Approach God with the right motive.

Jesus says this in Matthew 6:5-8. “When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They like to stand in synagogues and on street corners to pray so that everyone can see them. I can guarantee this truth: That will be their only reward. When you pray, go to your room and close the door. Pray privately to your Father who is with you. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you. When you pray, don’t ramble like heathens who think they’ll be heard if they talk a lot. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:5-8 (GW)

The wrong motivation is trying to impress God or others. He gives two examples of the wrong motivation for prayer: the Jewish leaders and the heathens. The motive of the Jewish leaders was trying to impress others. Jesus called the Jewish leaders hypocrites because they were like actors on a stage, pretending to be holy and righteous by their actions of prayer. The second example of a wrong motive is the heathens. Their motive was trying to impress their gods. The Gentiles believed that their gods had to be aroused into listening. So they would chant meaningless words over and over only to end up in some kind of self-hypnotism. Jesus teaches us that these motives are wrong and hypocritical.

Rather than be like the hypocrites or heathens, Jesus gives us the right motive: Desiring to communicate with God. Jesus says in verse 6, “When you pray, go to your room and close the door. Pray privately to your Father who is with you. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you.” Does this mean we are to never pray in public? No, that is not what Jesus is saying. The point here is our motive in prayer, not where we pray. I believe Jesus is teaching that if we will spend the time in private prayer with the right motive, then our public praying will take care of itself. When we practice intimacy with God on a daily basis, then it doesn’t matter if the whole world listens to our prayer. God is the one we are focused on, not others who listen.

  1. Approach God with praise for who He is and thanks for what He has done.

Jesus now gives us a model for praying. “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored.” Matthew 6:9 (NLT) Jesus is teaching us here that our prayer is to include praise of God. We are to praise God for who he is. We learn about God and his characteristics through his different names in the Bible. Here, Jesus calls him “Father”. We can also praise God by thanking him for what he has done. Psalm 100:4 (NIV) reminds us to praise God and give thanks. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” So we are to honor his name and give thanks to him.

  1. Approach God with commitment to do His will.

“May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 (NLT) Here we learn to pray for God’s will to be done. In the Bible, we can read about what God’s will and his kingdom were like in the past. We can then recognize it in our present day and pray for it for tomorrow. As we pray for God’s kingdom and God’s will to be accomplished, then we must be committed to do it ourselves.

  1. Approach God with dependence on His provision and protection.

“Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 (NIV). “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:13 (NIV).  As Jesus pointed out earlier, God knows our needs even before we ask. But we still must come to him asking for his provision and protection. And notice here the daily dependence for daily needs. Each day brings new needs that we have and that we must ask God to provide for. Praying for God not to lead us into temptation is a great reminder for us to stay away from those places where we are so easily tempted. I have a responsibility to stay away from temptation and God has a responsibility to protect me from Satan. We need God’s provision and his protection, and we must ask for it. By asking God, we are demonstrating our dependence on him.

  1. Approach God with admission of sin.

“And forgive us our sins…” Matthew 6:12 (NLT) How could we possibly approach God without admitting that we have sinned against him? Everyday, we sin against God. Everyday we commit specific sins against God, against our neighbors, friends, and family. We are not perfect. So we must approach God admitting our sin and receiving his forgiveness.

  1. Approach God with concern for others.

“…Just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” Matthew 6:12 (NLT) Our primary concern to is forgive others when they sin against us. Without God’s forgiveness, we cannot enjoy a relationship with him. Without our forgiveness towards others, we cannot enjoy a relationship with them. When we forgive others, it doesn’t mean that we will forget, but it does mean that we will no longer blame them. As long as I still blame someone else’s sin for my present circumstances, then I haven’t forgiven them. But if I can look at my present circumstances without blaming others, then I have forgiven. There are other concerns that we can pray about as well. For example, we can take this model prayer and use it to pray for our family and friends, church family, or government leaders.

Jesus gives us a great model to use as we exercise our communication with God. However, we all have numerous excuses to keep from exercising prayer. I’m too busy. I’m too tired. I can’t focus long enough to pray. I don’t know what to say. I’m mad at God. My mother prays for me so I don’t have to. We all have our excuses and we all struggle with faithfulness in prayer.

I encourage you today to make a fresh commitment to God to spend time in prayer each day. Every morning, will you set aside time to communicate with God? Will you develop the spiritual exercise of prayer? God is waiting to communicate with you.