Monday, March 30, 2020

Listening and Speaking to the God who Speaks and Listens

I am going to make a big deal about something because it is such a gift of grace to me that I have to say it.

I have encountered someone who does these three most wonderful things for this attachment-needy man:

  1. He initiates speaking to me freely because he loves to have me know what he is thinking and doing[1]
  2. He listens to me constantly because he wants me to enjoy what it feels like to be heard (he likes it when we hear him, after all)[2]
  3. He answers me when I call on him so that I get to feel the satisfaction of attachment to someone who is perfection itself.[3]

It might sound like that is only two things, that God speaks to me and I speak to God. I see it as three things, that God initiates speaking to me, he welcomes me initiating speaking to him, and he responds to me when I call on him.

What stands out is how determined God is to customize his communication to me so that my attachment need is satisfied in him in the God-sized way so I can bear with the attachment-distress that is woven through my life experience in the people-sized ways.

When people are put in the place of filling our God-sized attachment need, losing them, even through this terrible time of social isolation, is losing everything. On the other hand, when it is God who fills our God-sized attachment need, our attachment need is constantly met in Christ so that our attachment/relationship with him helps us with the detachments we feel with people.

Which brings me back to this expression of God speaking.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)

This is what Jesus addressed with his disciples in his first group encounter after his resurrection. Look at all the references to God speaking! Everything was already written, which means it is what God had already spoken. Jesus had spoken to his disciples repeatedly about these things. Jesus was right then speaking to his disciples about what he had spoken about what was written. And now we have these words recorded in Scripture so that the whole collection continues to speak.

I’ve been meditating on this Scripture for some time, following the threads of revelation woven into my morning tapestry (other Scriptures that show the same things). Yesterday this connected to Romans 1 where Paul introduces his ministry and tells us why he is not ashamed of the gospel. I was overwhelmed with wonder and joy at what God was speaking about.

What is standing out is that God is SPEAKING!

I now realize that I was brought up in a man-centered institutional church culture that hid from me the relational dynamic of God speaking to his people. When Henry Blackaby introduced the biblical picture of God speaking to his people way back in 1992, I began welcoming something that seemed like a wonderful addition to my life to help me along the way. In no time at all I was so thankful that God had me listening and speaking to him as never before.

Twenty-eight years later, I can feel this wonder that the issue of God speaking was never an add-on to what I already had. It was God calling me back to the beginning. And today, that is literally what he did!

This morning, as I was connecting the layers of God speaking in relation to what Jesus told his disciples, God led me back to the very first lines of the Scriptures. In thirty-nine English words, God introduces the whole book of Genesis. And then we read this: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”[4] For a long time I have looked at this through the issue of creation, that the Bible absolutely defies the fairytale of evolution and reveals the glory of God’s creative genius. [5]  I can see how the book of Genesis lays the foundation for everything else we have in Scripture.

However, what God wanted us to know about him from the beginning was, “And God said…”! Understanding everything from the foundational reality that God created is necessary. But it is equally necessary to see this thread of revelation introduced in the first words of the first chapter of the story: God speaks!

The Bible is not merely a brilliant and concise description of human history. It is the speaking of a God who speaks. The God who spoke light into existence spoke ahead of time of the coming of the Messiah. When the Messiah came, God with us, he spoke the good news of the kingdom for all to hear. When anything happened in Jesus’ ministry, he spoke to people about how to understand it. When he was going to die, he spoke to his disciples so they would be ready. When he was raised, he spoke to them so they could understand that he didn’t lay down his life to save them from Rome, but to save them and us from sin!

Now we have the completed Bible with all the writings of the New Testament that are the continuation of God speaking. God speaks. He loves to speak. Jesus is the Word (logos) of God.[6] This is not just a personification figure of speech to make an inanimate thing have living characteristics. This is the Son of God who is the living Word of God who speaks the word of God to us even to this day.

And then we have this tragedy that is far more grievous than all the restrictions of social-distancing due to COVID-19. Satan is convincing professing Christians that not listening to the God who speaks to them is acceptable Christianity. Not speaking to the God who listens is considered by many church folks as acceptable Christian living. Not asking God for what we need like dependent children is something that so many professing Christians are okay with.

And the whole while, it is the Father’s very nature to speak and to listen. It is inherent in our identity as the only creature made in the image and likeness of God that we speak and listen because our God speaks and listens.

On the other hand, the pride that does not like to listen and refuses to speak is so not like our real selves that Satan is the one glorified by the deception. Look at what God says about a time when he was going to discipline his people for refusing to engage with him in listening and speaking:

“'Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.’”[7]

When people who had plenty of opportunity to eat at the table of God’s words refused to listen and speak to their Father, he used this distinctive discipline of hiding from them the food of his words. This is the result:

“They shall wander from sea to sea,
    and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD,
    but they shall not find it.”[8]

As the discipline ran its course, the people would come to the place of frantically looking for the word of God, but they would not be able to find it. They had to know what that felt like so they would never let it happen again.

What would be a key characteristic of the future when God fulfilled all his promises regarding our gift of salvation?

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.[9]

The “heart of stone” that will not listen or speak to God will be replaced with a living heart that relates to God in both word and deed. The relationship of, “they shall be my people, and I will be their God,” means that we will listen and speak to God because he is speaking and listening to us.

Not very long after God got my attention on these things in 1992, I was hit with an explosion of painful experiences that would have destroyed me if I was not listening and speaking to God. Today he has stirred my heart with a fresh wave of wonder at how determined he is to not only speak to me, but to make certain that I know he is speaking to me. As I listen to him and speak to him what is in my heart, I then have the freedom to keep in step with his Spirit and follow him wherever he leads.

When God says, “Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am’”,[10] it is just that, that God is speaking! He is speaking to us about speaking to him, and if we will listen to him and do as he says, we will experience him listening to us.

And if you aren’t encouraged yet, let Jesus’ words lead you to the throne of grace to hear and speak what your relationship requires: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”[11] That’s what God wants for us, that in the abiding relationship of branches attached to the vine, us hearing what he has to say leads into the greatest joys the human soul can experience.

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] The whole Bible is God initiating speaking to us.
[2] Everything God’s Book says about prayer is God showing us that he loves to listen to what is on our hearts. Jesus constantly listened to what people brought to him and spoke to them what was on his heart.
[3] The theme of us calling and God answering is huge in God’s Book. For example: Psalm 4:1; 17:6; 20:9; 81:7; 86:7; 91:15; 99:6; 102:2; 118:5; 120:1; 138:3; Proverbs 1:28; 21:13; Isaiah 50:2; 65:12 and Isaiah 66:4 show God as the one who calls and no one answers; Isaiah 58:9; 65:24; Jeremiah 7:13; 7:27 and Jeremiah 35:17 refer to God calling and people not answering; Jeremiah 33:3; Jonah 2:2; Zechariah 13:9. Of course, the Bible is also full of examples of people calling and God and being answered. Note: If you are familiar with the conflict between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18:20-40), Elijah made it a central issue of their test to see which God/god answers when his people call on him.
[4] Genesis 1:3
[5] If you are unaware of the overwhelming evidences that show the Bible’s description of God’s work is precisely what science keeps affirming, check out these sites that address the creation-science issues:; (Institute for Creation Research);  
[6] John 1:1-3
[7] Amos 8:11
[8] Amos 8:12
[9] Ezekiel 11:19-20
[10] Isaiah 58:9
[11] John 15:11

Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Prayer: The Great Blessings of our Salvation

Although there is no power in wording a prayer in just the right way, we sometimes find it helpful when someone else puts into words things we hadn’t thought to say. Especially when these words draw us into expressions from God’s Book that build up our faith that his word is true and trustworthy, we can then express ourselves with the same thoughts, making the words our very own.

Read the following prayer through and see if it expresses what you would like to say to God. There is nothing magical about it. The words themselves have no power to them. It is just something I found myself expressing to God as I began my morning time with him and I wondered if it would help others to do the same.

However, without a genuine relationship with God as our heavenly Father through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, any praying is just religious activity. So, be sure to ask for help if you don’t think you have ever received Jesus Christ as your own Lord and Savior.

On the other hand, when our prayers are an expression of genuine faith, even of the, “I believe; help my unbelief!” variety,[1] praying what we know is true from God’s word is not only good for us in the moment, but helps to lead us into the attachment with God that finds us joining him in his activity wherever he is working.

Here are some statements from God’s Book that show the justification for expressing ourselves to Father in the ways the above prayer describes. Feel free to simply pray out those Scriptures in your own words as well. My hope is that this sample prayer will encourage us all to pray back to God the Scriptures through which he speaks to us each day.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.[2]
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,[3] 
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?[4] 
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."[5] 
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.[6] 
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.[7] 
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.[8]

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Mark 9:24
[2] Ephesians 1:3-4 (read the context of Ephesians 1:3-14)
[3] I Peter 1:3-4 (read the context of I Peter 1:3-9)
[4] Hebrews 2:1-3 (read the context of Hebrews 2:1-5)
[5] Luke 2:10-11 (read the context of Luke 2:1-20)
[6] Matthew 24:14
[7] John 3:16-18 (read the context of John 3:1-21)
[8] John 19:30 (read in the context of John 19:1-42 into John 20:1-31)

Monday, March 23, 2020

How to Pray the Lord’s Prayer For COVID-19

  What we commonly refer to as, “the Lord’s Prayer,” should really be named, “the Disciples’ Prayer”. After all, it was not Jesus telling us how he prayed, but how he wanted his disciples to pray.

  With that in mind, I’m not sharing this as something that everyone should pray even if they do not believe in Jesus. I am not trying to get the Lord’s Prayer back in public schools where it never belonged in the first place.[1]

  I am simply inviting those of you who already know that God is your Father because you have come to him by faith in Jesus Christ to apply his prayer to our present situation with COVID-19.

  This is also an example for anyone who wonders if God’s invitation to come to him by faith in his Son is for you. Perhaps the consideration of the way Jesus leads his brothers to pray would encourage you that following him is better by far than what you have already experienced of life in the world.

  I encourage you to read the Disciples’ Prayer in context.[2] My focus in this post is simply on the prayer itself. For each of the expressions of Jesus’ model prayer, let’s consider how we would expand it to deal directly with the current pandemic.

  “Our Father in heaven,

  The introductory expression to this prayer invites us to make much of our relationship to God as Father. We can express our love for him as our Father, our thankfulness that he is our Father, our appreciation for the salvation that has brought us into the adoption of sonship, and even our struggle to relate to him as a Father because of unresolved childhood-issues.

  In relation to COVID-19, we can thank God that we have him as our Father as we face such terrifying situations in life. We can also ask him to bless people all around us by using the shared insecurities to open their hearts to him as the only one who is sovereign over all things.

  The idea here is not to merely pray the exact words Jesus modelled, but to call on God as Father in all kinds of ways, and pray for all kinds of people we know to experience him as the Father he is.

  “hallowed be your name.

  With this prayer request we are asking God to lead people to honor and glorify his name in the midst of a terrifying situation. We may pray for governments to honor our Father’s name. We may think of specific people who have dishonored his name in the past and ask God to turn their hearts to feel the reverence and awe of truly knowing him. As we see people overwhelmed with fear, we can pray for them to come to know God so personally that his name would be hallowed, exalted, praised, adored, over everything that is taking place.

  “Your kingdom come,

  While a cure to COVID-19 would be great, and praying for adequate medical help for its victims is good, the greater need is for the kingdom of God to come into the helpless plight of humanity and show them how to receive eternal life. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, so we are not praying that the world would embrace this kingdom.

  Instead, as the good news was always proclaimed with the message of, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,”[3] we need to pray that people would hear and receive this good news. We can pray that God would bring his kingdom to be “at hand” for suffering and terrified people. We can pray that, in his kindness, he would lead people to repentance.[4] We can pray that God would open the eyes of the blind, and release prisoners from their chains of oppression. There are all kinds of ways to pray that the activity of God in bringing people into his kingdom would saturate the world with the hope of eternal life.

  “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

  A lot of us likely wonder what God’s will is in pandemics. Those who understand what God’s word describes about these end times would accept that it is his will for the seven seals to be opened and all their trumpets expressed.[5] One of the key purposes of God in bringing disasters to the earth is to demolish man’s idolatry. However, the book of Revelation shows that, even when such small scale judgments take place, the people “did not repent”.[6] Since, then, it is not God’s will to stop pandemics from taking place, we need to think of how his will would be done in the midst of such troubling times.

  One way to pray for God’s will to be done is in relation to the call of the gospel. God wants people everywhere to repent, so we can pray that people would come to repentance through the hearing of the gospel. We know that it is God’s will for people to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, so we can pray that God would make his good news stand out so clearly that people would believe in his Son.

  Another way to pray for God’s will to be accomplished is to pay close attention to whatever he is teaching us in his word each day and pray that his will about these matters would be fulfilled in our lives, our churches, our communities, and any specific applications that fit those Scriptures. There is always something God is teaching us, and some will he has in those matters, so praying that his will would be fulfilled will help us be part of his work as he answers.

  Before I address the second half of Jesus’ model prayer, I just want to say that the focus now changes. Our first interest is God, his glory, his kingdom and his will. When we come to the second half, God’s interest is on his children. You will notice that each prayer request is for “us”. The us is specifically the children of God, those who call on God as Father in the name of Jesus Christ his Son.

  With that in mind, the following prayers are what we pray for Jesus’ church throughout the world. This is especially given that the countries in which the pandemic is hitting the hardest are also the countries that were already persecuting our brothers and sisters in Christ before this happened. You will see from the requests that it is clear how to pray for God’s people in these areas.  

  “Give us this day our daily bread,

  This pandemic is most certainly going to affect the economies of nations, and the personal finances of many of the citizens. Christians are already suffering loss of family, loss of income, loss of finances, loss of property, because some countries consider them fair game for persecution.

  What we are asking for in this prayer is God’s provision for his people on a daily basis. Many of us North American Christians are able to stock up on food supplies that would last us a while if things got very bad. Plus we have money in the bank to get us through difficult times, at least for a season.

  However, in other places, putting food on the table is a daily chore. If people are cut off from financial resources through persecution (sometimes with the main bread-winner being martyred), and now they are hindered all the more with the pandemic, we need to pray for the daily provision of food for all God’s children all over the world every day of our lives. We may know of people among the believers of our community who live paycheck to paycheck. Our prayers for their daily provisions of food are in order. And, since God answered this prayer in the early church by leading the wealthy believers to contribute to the daily-bread needs of the poor, we can pray that God would move people who have much to share what they have with those who have little.

  “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

  In short, because I believe that forgiveness in the Bible only refers to cancelling the debt of repentant people,[7] Jesus is reminding us that, when we come to him in repentance, asking him to forgive us, it presupposes that we are forgiving people when they come to us seeking mercy about anything they have done to us. We cannot withhold forgiveness from a repentant brother or sister and expect God to forgive us when we repent.

  Since pandemics have a way of increasing life’s pressures, there may be an increased need for forgiveness where we are not acting or reacting well. What we are praying for is that God would lead his children to be quick to repent and quick to forgive. It may be that someone has wronged us, and even though they have confessed or apologized, we are having trouble forgiving them. Or, it could be that someone has confronted us with the way we treated them and we are having trouble fessing up, so to speak. Such scenarios invite us to pray that repentance and forgiveness would happen everywhere it is needed.

  “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

  These scary times offer distinctive temptations to sin. Evil increases as we see the ugliness of the human heart moving people to incredible acts of selfishness. Fear can drive people to be quite different from the way we thought we knew them.

  In the midst of these things, the children of God want Father’s help so that we don’t give in to temptations. We also want to be delivered from the evil around us so we don’t fall prey to it, and we want to be delivered from it when we have already blown it.

  Naturally, there may be specific situations that we face that give us customized opportunity to pray for people or circumstances as they unfold. It will not be difficult to see when we are facing temptation and need help, and when we have caved already and need deliverance.

  I hope this gives enough of an idea of how to use the Disciples’ Prayer to customize what we pray for Jesus’ kingdom during these dark times. Even without a pandemic of any kind of sickness, there is still the pandemic of sin that is destroying lives all around us. The Disciples’ prayer always serves as an example in things to pray for, so it is always a good guide as we address the needs of the church as we await Jesus’ return.

© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] I mean by this that the Lord’s prayer is what Jesus taught his disciples to pray. It was never intended to be a rote prayer that non-believers recited as a duty to begin a school day. It was to teach Jesus’ disciples how to pray about anything at any time.
[2] Matthew 6:5-15
[3] Mark 1:14-15
[4] Romans 2:4
[5] The Book of Revelation shows that pandemics fit in to the description of the kinds of things that will happen during the time between Jesus’ first and second comings. The imagery of Jesus opening the seven seals shows that God is the one who is sovereign over these things. I do not believe that the images in Revelation enable us to make a timeline of events, but it does tell us characteristics to look for. Pandemics are a characteristic of Jesus opening the seven seals, so we can accept that God is using such things to carry out his sovereign plans.
[6] Revelation 9:20; 16:9; 16:11
[7] If you look at the topic of “forgiveness” on my blog, there are a few posts where I explain this. A few are videos of sermons I shared with our home church to help us understand the issue.  

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Returning to Jerusalem in Spirit and in Truth

  For a while, I have been processing the picture of the two men from Emmaus returning to Jerusalem. You can read the account in Luke 24.[1] Our home church has worked through the passage from its beginning, where Jesus joined two men heading away from Jerusalem to Emmaus, to its end, where the two men were suddenly compelled to rush back to Jerusalem (where they would have been already if they had believed in the resurrection!). 

  A major part of the picture for us is how the men were only leaving Jerusalem on that day and time because they had given Jesus the third day to show that he really was alive, and he didn’t show up. At least to them. They concluded that he must still be dead, and so they headed home in deep grief.

  The rest of the picture is the amazing way Jesus attached to them in what they were going through while laying the foundation that would not only get them back to Jerusalem where he could reveal his resurrection to all the disciples, but to be the church he was building throughout all the rest of time.

  I sometimes hear Christians refer to God’s call to return to something and lament that they’ve never been there, so how can they return to it. Perhaps you know that feeling when the Bible seems to call us to go back to something, but we can’t recall ever being there in the first place.

  For example, many church folks know they do not have the first-love we read about in Revelation 2.[2] They don’t recall falling away from first-love, so how do they “remember therefore from where you have fallen”? They can see that the church is called to “repent, and do the works you did at first,” but don’t believe they ever had those kinds of first-love good works, so how do they return to them?

  In the same line of thinking, if we don’t see ourselves as ever having been in Jerusalem at all, how do we return there? If we have never known Jesus in the power of his resurrection, how do we learn any lessons from these men returning to where Jesus’ resurrection was being so clearly revealed?

  The way I’m looking at Jesus’ ministry to the two men is as a call to people whose heritage goes back to Jerusalem and a first-love relationship with him. It is like a blind man who may have been blind since birth, but he wants his sight restored because he knows his eyes were made to see. Or like the people who were born during the exile and had never lived in Israel, but they have heard the stories of who they were as Abraham’s descendants, and that they were citizens of Israel, and so they could see themselves as a people who want to return to their homeland even though they had never lived there.

  In the same way, the church Jesus is building began in Jerusalem. It is where Jesus died, where he was buried, where he rose from the dead, and where the Holy Spirit came upon the church. The life of the kingdom that began in Jerusalem is our heritage. The two men going back to Jerusalem do not set the example that we have to do the same in a literal way. No child of God is lacking anything of our salvation because we have never been to Israel.

  Rather, the example of the two men is in relation to disciples of Jesus who have never lived with a personal attachment to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many church folks have inner places in them that still feel more dead than alive. They very much resemble two men who were only heading down that road because they believed Jesus was dead. And then, suddenly, they attach to him as alive, and they want to get back to everything he was doing in his people.

  Many Christians feel like exiles, cut off from that real Christianity we read about in God’s word. We feel cut off from a people who are filled with the Spirit and worshipping God in spirit and in truth. But then we discover that Jesus is showing us what his word has told us all along. He is showing us that he is alive, and we have the opportunity to return to a kingdom-life that is filled with the Spirit as surely as what we read about the early church.

  What is fascinating to me right now is that, in the whole encounter with the two men, Jesus didn’t tell them what to do. When he reproved them, he never said it was because they were on the wrong road heading in the wrong direction. What was wrong with them was their foolishness of mind and slowness of heart to believe what is written. He left them to process for themselves what they wanted to do with the discovery that they were only doing what they were doing because their minds were believing wrong things and their hearts were pumping those wrong beliefs through their souls. That’s it.

  Why did they suddenly get up and go back to Jerusalem when Jesus didn’t tell them to do that? Because he had made them so aware that they weren’t just wrong, but that the right thing was waiting for them, that they simply couldn’t stay where they were. They had to go back.

  This is another example of how the Beatitudinal Valley works.[3] He led them to see the poverty of spirit within them as they believed that he was dead. He let them mourn his death while he was with them fully alive because he wanted them to feel where their own self-made beliefs were taking them. He took over the situation with his talk of the Scriptures so that they could become fully aware that they were not the ones who would fix their situation. And then he kept awakening in them a hunger and thirst for righteousness that first wanted him to stay with them, and then absolutely had to go back to Jerusalem where the good news of great joy was giving them the Savior who was justifying them from their sin and leading them into the righteousness of faith.

  God’s children are now living between two Jerusalems. The first Jerusalem has given us the kingdom of God. It has given us our salvation, and a Spirit-filled church that we can return to with all our hearts. What we read in the Scriptures of the church that began and spread out from Jerusalem is the church we can be part of today wherever we are.

  And in the spirit of that first Jerusalem we await the day of Jesus’ coming when he will create a new heavens and a new earth, and the new Jerusalem will be our home forever. As John had the joy of seeing in his vision:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[4] 

The church that arose from Jerusalem is a church that Jesus is with in the presence of his Holy Spirit. It gives us everything we need to live in hope of the new Jerusalem where we will live with him face to face. The encouragement of two men returning to Jerusalem from Emmaus is that we would embrace the life of Jesus’ resurrection and join with Jesus’ church to become everything he intended us to be, both now and forevermore.

© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] You can read it here: Luke 24:1-53, or on biblegateway at:
[2] Revelation 2:1-7
[3] I have shared on this many times as an application of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12.
[4] Revelation 21:1-4

Friday, March 20, 2020

An Uplifting Prayer for Demoralizing Times ~ Part 1 ~ A Prayer For the Uncertain

  Probably the most famous prayer of the last two thousand years is what is commonly referred to as, “The Lord’s Prayer.” It begins with the awe-inspiring expression, “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name…”[1]

  The problem is that this isn’t what Jesus told us he was praying for us but what he taught his disciples to pray to his Father. It would be better to call it, “The Disciples’ Prayer”, since it is the essence of what every child of God should pray in every possible application every day of our lives.[2]

  Since that is the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray, what would we teach someone to pray when they are not a disciple? When people who do not know and love our Lord Jesus Christ are facing scary times as the coronavirus is now giving us, what would we teach them to pray if they wanted to know?

  I aim to use a few posts to show some things I would encourage non-disciples to pray. I present these in a variety of scenarios that would help anyone to see that we can come to our Creator from any starting place, talk to him about anything at all, and he will lead us to understand and know him as he really is.

  At the same time, I am sharing this from the viewpoint of one of Jesus’ brothers who knows that there is no other way to experience Father-Creator except through faith in his Son, Jesus the Christ.[3] The only way I can encourage anyone to pray is in line with what I know is true even if those considering prayer don’t yet agree.

A Prayer For the Uncertain

  Let’s begin with those who are quite concerned about our scary and threatening times but aren’t even sure there is a God up there who is listening to them. What are some things we could lead them to pray? Here is a suggestion, along with the clarification that this is not intended to sound like a comprehensive prayer that covers every possible way an uncertain person would need to talk to Father-God. It is an example of how we can come to the true God of heaven with our uncertainties and ask him to help us know for sure who he is, who we are to him, and how we can know that he hears and answers our prayers.

I pray to, “the unknown god.”[4]
  I understand from the amazing wonders of the world around me that someone out there “made the world and everything in it.” I acknowledge that whoever is responsible for the creation of the heavens and the earth could hold me accountable for how I am relating to your creation. I would like to be sure you are okay with me.
  I appreciate that you would not need me to serve you, as though you needed anything, since you yourself are the one who “gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” I understand that I am somehow dependent on you even though I don’t know who you are. 
  I can also appreciate that you made the first two human beings from whom all the nations on our planet have descended. There is an inescapable longing in our hearts to find out who we are, who you are, and what in the world you want with us. 
  I am not satisfied with the world’s ideas of a god who is just like us, always ready to do what we want. I know that a god who could create everything in our universe would necessarily be greater than us, with thoughts much higher than our own. You couldn’t possibly be what our puny minds have tried to imagine. I just don’t know how to know you.
  God, we are in scary and threatening times that demand that I know for sure who you are, and who I am to you. I want to know how to change my mind about you until I am confident that I am seeing things your way. I want to know the truth.
  The bottom line is that I am quite certain that, if I were to suddenly die from any cause at all, particularly through the present threat of a deadly illness, I would find myself standing before the one person who has a right to judge me for how I have lived, and how I have treated you. 
  For that reason, I ask if you would make clear to me whether it is true that Jesus Christ is your Son. Is he the only way that a person could come to know our Creator? Did Jesus truly die for my sins in order that you could forgive me? Did he rise from the dead so that I could know that I, too, would rise from the dead if I trusted in him?
  I want to know how it could be true that believing in Jesus is enough for you to accept me as your child. I don’t know how that could work. It sounds too good to be true, but it sounds like something I would like if it is “the only way” I keep hearing about.
  I ask you, God, if you would settle in my heart and mind whether the Bible is truly your Book. If it is, I want to receive it with all my heart. If it is not, I don’t know what else could be. If you have expressed yourself from the spiritual world you live in to this material world that is my home, a Book written by God makes sense. But I need to know whether the men involved in recording it messed it up by their participation, or whether the involvement of forty different men over fifteen hundred years proves that only you could have pulled off such a comprehensive and complimentary testimony of your activity in our world.
  I’m going to end with a request for help to read the Bible and find out if you are willing to speak to me like others say you speak to them when they read it. Something in me says that I can’t do this all by myself, and so I’m asking for help. If you are my Creator, I would like to know you as my Father, and so this is what I pray.

  Along with praying this prayer, I do strongly urge you to consider the Bible as God’s expression of everything we need to know him, to know who we are to him, and to know and understand what he wants to do with our lives. If we are willing to listen, we will discover that he has been speaking for longer than we have known. Plus, his word contains all kinds of things we can express to him in prayer.

  I also know that there are disciples of Jesus all around the world who would love to pray with people who are uncertain about their heavenly Father. God very likely has someone in your life who already knows him and would be delighted to pray for you, to teach you how to pray, and to be a source of encouragement regarding how God is our strength through the most demoralizing of times.

  Whatever the case, God delights in making things certain for those who call on him. He promises that, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[5] If you aren’t able to call on him for his gift of salvation, call on him to settle whether that is the gift you need.

© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Matthew 6:9-13 is the prayer Jesus taught us, with Matthew 6:5-15 as the immediate context on prayer, Matthew 6:1-18 is the context relating to not doing our acts of righteousness for show but doing everything for God and his glory. And this is all in the context of the whole Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-7:29.
[2] The Disciples’ Prayer is a model, not a formula. That means that each expression was intended to guide us in how to pray such things about specific scenarios and circumstances we are going through. I will be expanding on this in the final installment of this series on how to pray during demoralizing times.
[3] Jesus made this clear in John 14:6, and Peter clarified the same message in Acts 4:12. The whole Bible shows that there is only one true God and only one person who can bring us to know him. John 17:3 expresses Jesus’ description of eternal life as, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”  
[4] Based on the way God addresses people who knew there was a god they didn’t know in Acts 17:22-34.
[5] Romans 10:13 echoing what is stated in Joel 2:32 and Acts 2:21.