Mission and Vision

Simple Church Success exists to equip, inspire, and support those who want to know Jesus better and are hungry for simple participatory gatherings of two or more people.

We partner with Luke 10 International Ministries toward being a engaged network of visionaries, trail-blazers, church-planters, supporters, and inquirers who are learning to BE the church in simple Holy Spirit led, Christ-centered, Biblical ways.

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Your Life is Worth Living! Accept no Substitutes!

Your Life is Worth Living!  Accept no Substitutes!

“What’s the point of living?”

“I’m just in the way, no one wants me or needs me anyway.”

“It would be easier to just die.”

These are the voices of the spirit of death. It likes to talk people into losing purpose, giving up, and wanting to die. It is an unloving spirit and a suicidal spirit.

It deals out its deadly doctrines directly against the truth of God’s love and purpose. It is atheistic and rebellious. It preempts God’s plan for our lives by getting us to declare we, and/or those around us, would be better off with us dead and gone and out of the way. It is a liar that comes along when we are suffering, hurting, and tired.

The prophet Elijah got seduced by the spirit of death. After he’d won a mighty victory over the false prophets of Baal and helped the nation of Israel turn back to God, Israel’s wicked Queen Jezebel threatened him.

She raged, “The gods will get you for this and I’ll get even with you! By this time tomorrow you’ll be as dead as any one of those prophets.”

She was powerful and convincing. Elijah took her threats seriously and that set him up hear and believe the spirit of death.

“When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!”” (1 Kings 19:1–4)

Thankfully the Lord came alongside with food, water, angels, time and rest to encourage Elijah back toward life and living. He had more life for Elijah to live!

He has more life for us to live too! No matter how bad things seem, or how useless you may think you are God wants you to live.

Most of us who desire to serve the Lord have been attacked by the spirit of death. Just before writing this column I encountered at least three people who were struggling and thinking about giving up and getting out way or another.

I read a book about a man who had terminal cancer. He almost gave in and resigned himself to die. But the Lord gave him this Bible verse: “I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:17) Through tenaciously clinging to, believing and declaring that verse by faith in God’s promise he regained his hope and eventually his complete health.

The truth is God is at work in our lives even when we can’t make sense of it.  The Bible says, “For we are his (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) And, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

Let’s deny the devil’s lie and declare God’s truth, “I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord.”

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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Jesus: Terrorist Fighter How did he do?

wise men with jesusJesus is a terrorist fighting expert. However, Jesus’ strategy for fighting terrorism may seem disappointing, weak and impractical.

Terrorists fought Jesus constantly. In his day the government was the terrorist. Before the United States came into being that was the norm. That’s why we declared our independence and rallied behind the slogan, “Don’t tread on me!”

Jesus lived his entire life was under the threat of murder from religious and political powers. When Jesus was an infant, “King Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem.” (Matthew 2:16–18)

Jesus anti-terrorist strategy was a huge disappointment to many. The radical extremists and general populace he lived among believed Messiah would come and set them free. They were sure he would overthrow the tyrannical terrifying Roman government of their day and set them free. Jesus failed them.

Even his own disciples became disillusioned.  “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things…and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”” (Matthew 16:21–23)

Impatient for action, Judas may have set up Jesus’ arrest expecting Jesus to finally rise up and fight! Jesus didn’t and devastated Judas hung himself.

Taking charge, Peter pulled out a sword and cut off a soldier’s ear. Jesus, taking charge back, commanded Peter to put down his sword, gently healed Malthus’ ear, and allowed himself to be led away, like a lamb to the slaughter. All of his disciples. “left him and fled.” (Mark 14:50)

Jesus doesn’t think like us. He doesn’t think in terms of massacring the patrons of a bar—gay or otherwise. In fact, he was accused of hanging out with sinners, drunks, and sexually promiscuous partiers. When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” (Mark 2:16–17)

Jesus is not for massacring anyone. “He came into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17)

Jesus strategy for responding to evil is counter-intuitive and may seem illogical and even wrong. Some pass right by his teaching, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27–28) Yet, he says that we love him if we obey his commands. (John 14:15)

Jesus strategy addresses our deepest fear—death. He says, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear God…Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:4–5)

Finally, Jesus commands, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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“How do I know that I love God?”

chicken-or-egg“How do I know that I love God?”

Jesus’ answer is obedient love. He says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (John 14:15) and that love is seen in action. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)

Which came first love or obedience? Ask Jesus. He’s been doing both forever!

Is it that chicken and egg deal? Okay, which came first?

He would answer, “Both! Let it go! Just love and obey and obey and love!”

Jesus describes obedience as hearing and believing. He explains, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

Receiving and believing in Jesus brings a new life of love. John writes of Jesus, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11–13)

Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) If you are an “anyone” you can invite Jesus into your life. Then love begins in your heart as you personally and spiritually sit at table and “eat” with Jesus.

My mother called John 3:16 God’s telephone number, that “anyone” can dial. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) By faith, substitute your name for the word “whoever” the gift of eternal life is yours and love begins.

Some, who were interested in Jesus’ ways, asked him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”” (John 6:28–29) While we often think in terms of doing something, Jesus wants us to first believe something.

Belief leads the way in obedient love. The man asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The command comes, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved….” (Acts 16:31)

This kind obedient belief promises, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” This promise begins a new obedience of love, “and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” (1 John 5:1–2)

Love and obedience are tied together. Jesus put it this way, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)

John explains it this way, “If anyone obeys God’s word, love for God is truly made complete in them.” (1 John 2:5)

“So, how do I know that I love God?” The answer seems to be, obey Jesus’ call to believe. Then God’s love will be “made complete” in you. God will see to it.

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

 

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Want Less Stress? Try Homeostasis!

“All things work together for good.” (Romans 8:28)

In classes for organizations about managing stress, I teach about homeostasis which has the idea of balance, alignment, and peace. I propose the we may be designed to be in homeostasis psychologically and that this can be a great antidote for negative stress

Psychological homeostasis can be understood by referring to our physical bodies. When we cut our finger or bang our head we expect the cut or the bump to heal in good time. So, perhaps, I suggest, we may want to look for ways and means to allow our psyche to similarly heal. Participants (including nurses, doctors and other health workers) are usually very intrigued by this possibility for inner peace.

Lately, I’m also considering that homeostasis may be intended and provided for by God regarding every aspect of our lives—specifically in the area of God’s provision for us. Thus, homeostasis is not just provided physically and psychologically but also regarding work, finances, relationships, events and all other expectations as well.

What if there’s a precise place for each of us in each moment of our life in God’s kingdom? What if all things align and work together to that end?

Our headline verse, “All things work together for good,” sure fits here. The full verse is: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Isaiah 26:3 is also a good life homeostasis verse. It says, “God, you will keep in shalom, shalom (that’s “perfect peace” in English) those whose mind is resting in you because we trust in you.”

Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. Shalom means peace but in a much fuller way than our English language concept of peace, which implies serenity and a lack of trouble. Shalom a lot like spiritual homeostasis. It provides the peace that passes all understanding even in the midst of the whirlwind and the storm.

Jesus had such homeostasis in the midst of a great storm and a seemingly sinking ship. He even took a nap!

“And when Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.

“And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”

“Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”” (Matthew 8:23–27)

What sort of man is this? A peaceful man living within his Heavenly Father’s shalom and believing in his father’s homeostasis that is working all things together for good.

What sort of man is this? The kind of man into whom the Heavenly Father is conforming and shaping us!

Paul recognized homeostasis and shalom as contentment. He writes, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:” (Philippians 4:11)

Let’s also believe for homeostasis, shalom, and contentment, in Jesus’ name!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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The Smell of Fresh Bread! God loves it!

Rainbow bread or Wonder Bread! One of them has a bakery just off Interstate 80 by Arden way in Sacramento—at least they used to. I still recall the smell of fresh bread baking as I drive by—from the freeway no less!

When I “drive by” Romans 8:28 in the Bible I have the same sensation (spiritually, of course) because of a word in the verse that alludes to fresh baked bread.

The verse reads: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Purpose! That’s the fresh bread word. It is from “prosthesis” in the original Greek of the Bible and is defined: “to purpose or plan, a setting forth, presentation, an exposition, determination, plan, or will. It involves purpose, resolve, and design. A placing in view or openly displaying something.”

And, the definition continues to the fresh bread: “…Of food, in a descriptive sense—used for “the bread of the Presence” set out before Jehovah on a table in the sanctuary (Exodus 39:36; Matthew 12:4; Hebrews 9:2).” In the tabernacle and temple times of the Old Covenant, twelve loaves, one for each tribe of Israel, were freshly baked and placed on the Table of the Presence before God in the temple.

Prosthesis in English is about presentation too. A prosthesis is an artificial body part, such as a leg, a heart, or an implant used for presentation!

All this helps us understand that in being “called according to his purpose” we are God’s fresh bread, made specifically for his presentation. He is putting us out there to honor him and bring him fresh baked joy!

Indeed, Paul confirms our fresh baked status and aroma, writing, “God uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.” (2 Corinthians 2:14–16)

Okay, so not everyone thinks Jesus followers smell great, but, hey, others do! God gets our fresh baked aroma of love and faith out there and we live in the confidence that “God works all things together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Arby’s joyously claims, “We’ve got the meats!”

God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit happily declare, “We’ve got the breads!” And I think I hear them saying, “Dear ones, you’re our fresh baked breads! You are the people of our Purpose, Presentation, and Presence before us and in this world! You smell wonderful when we drive by!”

Here’s some great smelling Scriptures about living fresh!

“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!” (Isaiah 43:19 The Message)

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, NLT)

“Now is the time! Today is the day!” (2 Corinthians 6:2)n

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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Train Rolling – Romans 8:26-29

Train_loco_tender_box-car_cabooseAll Things Work together for Good

“All things work together for good!” Have you spoken this Bible phrase in a time of struggle, grief or confusion? Probably. It assures us that something bigger is working everything out, no matter how bad it gets.

This mighty phrase is nestled in a four verse passage in the Bible book of Romans 8:26-29. Picture the verses as a old-timey four car train with a locomotive for pulling, a tender car supplying fuel; a box car full of treasure; and a caboose for living with Jesus.

The train helps us see how and why God is working all things together for good. All aboard, to take our tour!

The Locomotive, verse 26: “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”

Groaning prayers of Holy Spirit power our locomotive. We become more aware of this as our journey continues. We stop striving, let go of human effort and let God work within us to do his good purpose and pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) We chug forward along his holy track, not by human might or power but by God’s Spirit! (Zechariah 4:6)

The Tender, verse 27: “And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

The tender car supplies the fuel for the locomotive. Here the Holy Spirit and the Father are coupled together for our progress. The Spirit lets Father God know what’s ahead and keeps the whole train together.

The Box Car, verse 28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

“All things work together for good.” Good in the original Greek means ethically, intrinsically, and inwardly good. Even when things seems bad God works the good.

Jesus hanging on the cross looks terrible to the natural eye. However, to the eye of the believer, Jesus’ suffering unto blood, is marvelously, mystically, and majestically beautiful. We know the good—we know his horrific crucifixion provides our eternal salvation! Ugly becomes beautiful. Death becomes life!

Therefore, we embrace God’s good and God’s purpose. When evil strikes and bad things occur we know he’s not the cause but the one who is turning all causes back into his good cause! We agree with Joseph words regarding his brothers’ murderous deeds against him, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20) By faith we see bigger.

The Caboose, verse 29: “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

The caboose has a kitchen, tables, sleeping quarters and a viewing deck up above. This is where we live with and become like, Jesus, his Son. It’s not often easy and sometimes exquisitely hard, but we stay on board for we are being changed to be like Jesus. What a ride!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla

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Pancho and Lefty, Merle and Willie

Chowchilla News Pastor’s Commentary by John Parker for Wednesday, April 20, 2016 (late but great)

Django-Jimmie-CoverGOOD FRIENDS

“What do you do if you’re a country music lifer and one of your friends and few equals in the field — one that, in fact, you’re supposed to be sharing the stage with right now — suddenly passes away?

“You gather your family and friends around you, mourn in your own fashion, and carry on.

“That’s what Willie Nelson did Saturday night at the Peabody Opera House, in St. Louis. Merle Haggard died last Wednesday, his 79th birthday. The pair had teamed for the recent album “Django and Jimmie” and booked a tour together.

“The show went on as scheduled.”—above by Daniel Durchholz for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sunday, April 10, 2016.

It’s important to see and admire good friends like Willie and Merle. Nowadays, I am seeing and admiring God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as the good friends that they are.

They talk with each other about us!  It says, “And the One who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.” (Romans 8:27, NAB) “The One” is the Father and the Spirit is “the Holy Spirit!”

The “holy ones” are the believers. The Greek word in the original Bible for “holy ones” is “hagios.” It is translates as: holy-, set apart-, sanctified-, or consecrated-ones, or simply, saints, as in the song, “When the ‘saints’ go marching in!”

The Holy Spirit talks to God, called here: “the One who searches the hearts.”

Why do they talk? After all, they are both God, so what is there to talk about? Why does God need to talk with God? Doesn’t God already know everything?

But here they are, visiting, like a couple of close friends, like Willie and Merle. Fact is, they care about and love talking about us and our success!

Last week we read that the Spirit prays for us to “the One who searches the hearts” with “groanings beyond words.” (Romans 8:26) The Holy Spirit and God the Father talk in a language that is beyond what we think of as words. “Deep is calling unto deep.” (Psalm 42:7)

Now, we get to hear their deep-to-deep talk in our own spirits. The Bible says, “No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, or imagined anything quite like it…what God has arranged for those who love him.

“But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. God not only knows what he (the Spirit) is thinking, but he lets us in on it.

“God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.” (1 Corinthians 2:9–13, The Message)

We have Eternal Friends! They are praying for us! What a joy and comfort. Enjoy!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla

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No Front Porch? Try this!

couch_dog_porchPorches in small towns and neighborhoods are almost extinct. And knocking on doors to witness for Jesus may not come easily for you.

So consider reaching the world with me up on the PORCH (a Google Plus Open Community). We’ll reach passer-byers (is that a word?) together.

The Lord, knows I need help figuring all this stuff out. I lift up my eyes and see a world of hurting people who would love Jesus if we would just learn how to love them. Please help me with this burden.

If you need help reaching others or can give help to reach others please check the PORCH out,  join it, and contribute anything that may help others want to hangout with Jesus and us.

Action steps:

Join Google Plus  

Find and Join PORCH

Begin sharing and commenting.

Invite others.

 

 

 

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All Groan Up! Beyond words, deep calls to deep!

Groaning beyond Words

waves_crashing_on_rocks-t2“But the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” (Romans 8:26, New American Bible)

We listened to the Lord today at simple church after asking him this question, “What is the significance of the of the Holy Spirit’s ‘inexpressible groanings’ in prayer for us?”

Before listening for a minute or so, we read a few other versions of the phrase “inexpressible groanings.”  They read: “groans that words cannot express,” and, “groanings too deep for words,” and, “groanings that cannot be expressed in words,” and, “groanings that cannot be uttered.”

After our listening, here are a few of the responses:

1. “Inexpressible groanings, are not polluted by words.”

2. “The fact that the Holy Spirit groans beyond words speaks to me about the Spirit’s deep compassion and empathy for us. When my grandmother who raised me passed away, I felt grief so deep that if I’d tried to say words at her funereal service I would have simply burst into tears.  There are feelings and thoughts beyond words.”

3. “The words of the Spirit are like the mighty waters of a waterfall and the rushing of a mighty wind.”

4. “I hear the vocal sounds of whales when I hear that the Spirit groans beyond words. There are whales like the Blue Whale whose sound are so deep that our best microphones cannot record  them.  “Deep calls to deep” is the Bible phrase the came to me.

Someone added about Pastor Louie Giglio’s, “Mashup of Stars Singing ‘How Great is Our God’” She said it has a prelude of whales and stars and other sounds leading into the popular song.

6. Finally, another sister shared that she took the groaning of the Holy Spirit literally because she sais, “I am a groaner and my niece is a groaner. It’s not negative groaning it’s just what we do at times in our pondering and praying.”

7. Another lady exclaimed, “I know! My husband is a groaner.” He was sitting next to her and said that’s how I pray, “I’ll groan when I don’t have words. The later words will follow.”

I wrapped up by sharing that groaning in the sound of creation and within the heart of the believer in Jesus.

First in the deep to deep passage:  “Deep calls to deep be  at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:7–8, ESV)

Second in the groaning verses of Romans chapter eight. 

So thankfully the Spirit groans to God the Father for us!  “In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” (Romans 8:26, NAB)

Those who are grown ups in the Spirit may groan as well.

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:22–23) “Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201.

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Don’t know how to pray? Perfect! Way to go! Don’t ever change!

spirit blows where it wishes listeth wills“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought…” (Romans 8:26)

Surely our minister knows “what to pray for as we ought.” She’s very devoted. He spends hours with the Lord. But that little pronoun, “we,” includes us all.

Well then, we protest, certainly books and schools can teach us “what to pray for as we ought.” But again, when the Bible says “we do not know.” This includes “Special Religious People”—those scholars, authors, and teachers we may adore, even the ones on TV, and yes, even those who’ve written books about prayer.

So, if “we do not know what to pray as we ought,” where does that leave us? Surely someone must “know what to pray for as we ought!”

Good news! The Holy Spirit of God “comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” (Romans 8:26, NAB)

The Greek word (alla) translated “but” in this verse describes a very strong contrast. “We do not know how…but,”—in happy contrast to our prayer’s ignorance and weakness—“the Spirit itself intercedes for us!”

Thus, our prayers are not dependent on how well, long, accurately, or fancily we, or someone else, prays. Jesus warns against religious antics saying, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the assemblies and on street corners so that others may see them.” (Matthew 6:5)

It’s easy, when we get comfortable with religion, to leave the Holy Spirit behind. Jesus tells us that it’s possible to pray beautifully, cast out demons, and do many wonderful works in his name and leave God behind. (Matthew 7:21-23) Imagine going to hell (away from the presence of Jesus) after praying so well!

Recognizing our weakness is the key. “The same Spirit” who helps our “infirmities, weaknesses, and sicknesses” prays on our behalf!

A well-intended believer once asked me how my prayer life was going. I was uncomfortable with the question because I have always felt weak and ineffective when it comes to praying. But I responded, “Great!” Now I think it was a defensive and sassy response. But I also had some sense that my prayer life was fine and, yes, even “Great!” from God’s perspective, since I knew I needed all the help I could get.

And if the Spirit of God is praying on our behalf with groanings beyond words, how can our prayer lives get any better than that? We rest in the work of the Holy Spirit within our prayers and lives.

Perhaps that’s why the Bible calls us to “pray in the Spirit.” There are three verses that directly mention praying “in the Spirit.” From them we can learn that:

1. It is commanded. “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 20)

2. It is for all occasions and through in many prayer styles. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18).

3. It occurs alongside our intellect. “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” (First Corinthians 14:15)

If you are feeling weaker about prayer after reading this, rejoice! When we are weak then we may let go and let God’s wonderful Holy Spirit take the lead!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla

P.S. I avoid referring to the Holy Spirit as him. It is mostly neuter gender in the N.T. and definitely feminine in the O.T.  The N.T. does have masculine pronouns once in a while for the Holy Spirit. I like that the Spirit’s wind “blows where it listeth…” (John 3:9 AV)…lots of creativity there!

P.P.S. Speaking, praying and singing in the spirit in a language we don’t understand can be very helpful to free us up into the mind of the Spirit who seems to pray that way anyway!

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