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RIGHTEOUS PRAYERS

1 PETER 3:12

“’FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.’”

There has never been a more misunderstood truth. So many people believe that whomever prays to God will have their prayers answered. That simply isn’t true. Now, hear me out. God will always respond to the prayer of anyone who is repenting and coming to surrender to Him. But if that same lost person is begging God for relief without surrendering to Him…well…today’s verse answers that question.

God longs to answer our prayers. He wants to work in our lives. But we must come to Him with repentant hearts. We must acknowledge our need for a Savior. He is not going to look on our sin and just look past them. He demands and deserves our allegiance in order for Him to work as He desires in our lives. This may sound harsh, but it is meant to drive us all to our knees.

APPLICATION

Teaching our kids this truth is so important. We want them to understand how to pray. I use the acrostic A-C-T-S to pray. A stands for Adoration. I praise Him for who He is and acknowledge His supremacy in my life. C stands for confession. I confess my sins each time I pray. I long to be sinless, but I haven’t arrived yet. T stands for thanksgiving. I thank Him for His blessings in my life. And S stands for supplication. Here is where I come to him on behalf of loved ones and myself, asking for His will to be done.

If our children will learn to pray this way, they will not go wrong. Our children need to understand that our righteousness depends on the blood of Christ, which we claim every time we confess our sins to Him. We, the righteous in Christ, have an open portal to the very throne of God.

Are you praying as a righteous child of God? Or do you pray because you are doing good deeds? Righteousness is not yours to earn. It is given freely through Christ to those who call Him Savior. And because we are righteous, we desire to live righteously. God is waiting to answer your prayers. Pray in righteousness.

I know the only thing good about me is You, Lord. It is Your righteousness that gives me the freedom to call on You daily for my needs and the needs of others.

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GET ON THE ROOF

ACTS 10:9

“On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.”

When we lived in Florida, my teenage son would climb up on our roof to sunbathe. He said he could get a darker tan up there. He didn’t do it a lot and the desire to do that didn’t last long, so I didn’t make a big deal about it. I don’t think Peter went on the roof to get a tan. He went up there to get alone with God and pray.

The following verses in Acts 10:10-16 tell the whole story of what happened as he began to pray. God gave him a vision that changed his mission approach for the rest of his life. Read those verses and think about that. God shook up Peter’s way of thinking about the Gentiles which caused him to be used by God in some pretty amazing ways.

APPLICATION

The application for your kids from this verse is find a place they can pray to God without interruption. I had a prayer closet one time. I worked at a children’s home in South Carolina, and my office had these two closets just inside the door to my office. I made one of them a prayer closet. I spent a lot of time in that closet where God spoke to me as I prayed to Him.

When we get alone with God, away from the distractions of life, we can truly hear Him. It’s amazing what we can hear when we get alone. His still, quiet voice speaks volumes to us. That’s what your kids need to learn at an early age. Find that spot that works for you and protect it from intrusions.

Where do you pray? Can you get alone with the Master of the universe and talk to Him? He wants to talk to you, but He won’t compete with your distractions. Get quiet somewhere and listen. Stop talking so much during your prayer time. Let God speak.

Father, I want to hear Your voice in my prayer time. Remind me to keep my mouth shut and listen to You. I long to hear You.

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ANSWERED PRAYERS

ACTS 10:5

“’Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter;’”

Acts 10 is a great story about Cornelius and Peter. I just love how the Lord honored Cornelius’ faithfulness and sent an angel to give him direction. In fact, the angel said, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.” I am pretty sure Cornelius didn’t expect an angel to appear. I am willing to bet he didn’t ask for that in his prayers either. But, as usual, God outdid himself.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that Cornelius was given very specific instructions by the angel. The rest of the chapter tells the story. Let me ask you a question. When you pray for direction or clarity from the Lord and He answers you, do you follow His instructions? Or do you keep praying for a different answer?

APPLICATION

Answered prayers! When are they answered? How are they answered? Children are always curious about that. The only right answer is God will always answer your prayers. He may not answer in the way you planned, but He will answer. He may not answer when you want Him to, but He will answer. That’s the way to explain it to your kids.

If you haven’t kept a record of answered prayers, start now. Make it a family affair. Write down when you started praying for a specific thing. And when God answers that prayer, write it down. Make sure your children know it’s been answered. You may have a financial need that the Lord meets. Celebrate it as a family. But whatever you do, listen to the Lord when He answers.

What have you been praying about? How long have you been praying this particular prayer? Has the Lord answered, and you are refusing to listen? When you get an answer, listen close. You may not like the instructions you get, or they may not make sense to you. Don’t question the answered prayers. God doesn’t waste words.

I am listening Lord as I pray. I long to hear Your answers. I will obey as You speak.

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YOU CAN’T BUY GOD

ACTS 8:20-21

“20 But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.’”

You are probably asking yourself what this verse has to do with you. Peter was addressing Simon the magician who asked Peter for the power to lay hands on people and give them the Holy Spirit. His motive was not pure. He probably thought he could make some money on this new movement that was sweeping the region.

Well, let me ask you this question. How many times have you tried to bargain with God about something? You promise to do something for God if He will do something for you. You are basically trying to do just what Simon did – buy God. But God isn’t for sale. He only works in and for those who are committed to Him.

APPLICATION

Bargaining with God is something children are prone to do. When they have done something wrong and you (the parent) haven’t found out yet, they will say almost anything to God to stay out of trouble. We need to teach them to pray honestly and truthfully to their Heavenly Father. He knows the motives of their hearts. They need to know that.

Teach them to confess their sins daily. Teach them to open up to God and trust Him with the outcome. God blesses a humble heart. In fact, He says He will exalt the humble. Our children need to understand that at an early age. Prayer is a conversation with God, not a bargaining time.

So, how do you bargain with the Lord? Come on, we all have done it at one time or another. Let me encourage you to be honest and forthright with Him. He knows all anyway. There is nothing you can say or do that He is not aware of. God wants to use you. Just let Him use you how He wants to.

Father, I want to be used by You. Direct me in the ways You have planned for me. Forgive me for “begging” You at times.

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NO NEED TO FEAR

1 PETER 3:6

“just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

We all know the story of Abraham and Sarah. They longed for a child, but through their many years of marriage they had not been blessed with one. Throughout their marriage Sarah responded to Abraham as God instructed. She wasn’t perfect, but she was seeking to please her heavenly father and therefore, pleased Abraham.

This passage today, although directed towards women, can apply to all of us. We cannot be driven by pleasing mankind. You will never be able to do that consistently. Sure, you may make some people happy, but it won’t last. Listen, our allegiance is to God first. Wives, submit to your husbands, as God directs. Husbands, submit to God and die to your selfish desires in regards to your wives.

APPLICATION

This is a tough verse to apply to children. They don’t understand the whole idea of submission in marriage or even the biblical roles of marriage. The best way to teach this, parents, is to live it out. Give your children a biblical model of marriage. When they are older and read these verses they will say, “Hey, that’s the kind of marriage my parents have.”

Role modeling these verses will give them a visual example of biblical truths. That’s true for many of the verses in Scripture. Let me challenge you, parents, to live out the Word. Allow your kids to see that. Don’t just teach it with words.

Are you living in fear because you aren’t living according to God’s standards? If you are, go to Him today and confess that. Allow Him to show you in His Word what He expects from you. He will never ask you to do anything beyond your ability.

Father, I will live according to Your word and will not fear. I will teach my children by the way I live out Your Word.

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MISPLACED FAITH

ACTS 5:14-16

“14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. 16 Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.”

Peter’s reputation as a miracle worker and healer had spread. People were clamoring to get to him to be healed of their diseases or impairments. However, the crowds were so big they couldn’t get close enough. So, they resorted to lying in the streets where Peter might pass with the hope that his shadow might fall on them and heal them.

I must quickly say that there is no evidence this happened. We have no record of anyone being healed by his shadow. Nevertheless, the people believed it could. Strong faith in the wrong thing does not make things right. You may believe passionately in something, only to find out you were passionately wrong.

APPLICATION

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to redirect your child when you know they are headed in the wrong direction. Your child may have some strong beliefs about some things in our culture. It’s happening more and more. While we want them to hold strongly to their beliefs, we also want those beliefs to be biblically based.

The only way you can redirect them is to go to Scripture. If a belief is not backed up by the Word of God, it’s not a true belief. Now listen to me. Satan loves to disguise his lies with a little truth. This can be so confusing to a young believer. That’s why you, Mom and Dad, must be grounded in the Word and able to show them in Scripture what God says.

Have you taken a good look at your beliefs? Why do you believe what you do? We all need to do a self-check every so often. It is so easy to bring in traditions or church practices and consider them doctrine. Let me encourage you today to reevaluate your beliefs. Check them out with the Word before you start betting your life on them.

Your Word is clear to me, Lord. I will put my trust in what You teach me there and check out other teachings that are put before me.

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JUDGE IF YOU HAVE TO

Acts 4:19

“But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;”

Obeying God can have consequences. Peter and John faced this dilemma when the Jewish authorities ordered them to stop preaching about Jesus. People were coming to Christ due to the miracles they were performing and their message about repentance. The Jewish leaders didn’t want that.

But Peter and John knew they had to answer to a higher authority. They weren’t trying to be ugly or hard to get along with. They just knew the Lord had told them to preach the Gospel, so they had to. They were willing to accept the consequences that could have come from the authorities.

APPLICATION

Years ago, I served as Chaplain at a Children’s Home. Occasionally, former residents of the home would want the Chaplain to marry them in the Chapel on campus. When I could, I was honored to do so. On one occasion, however, I was asked to marry two former residents who both had multiple former marriages. I couldn’t do that and remain true to my calling. I was questioned by the Superintendent why I refused. Fortunately, he understood and supported my decision. But I was prepared to leave my job if necessary.

Your children may face a decision between standing up for Christ and their beliefs or giving in to pressures from others. You have to prepare them now for those times. They have to know why they believe what they believe. They need to know that God will be with them to support them. Share with them how you have handled similar situations.

Are you willing to stand up for Christ? There may be a day when you are faced with that decision. Are you ready? He is. He will stand beside you. Then you can say as Peter said, “you be the judge.”

I am ready to follow You, Lord, wherever You lead me. If that means I am judged by others, so be it. I will be proud to be named as Your follower.

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