Come With Everything

(Day 26 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

“The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. Elijah was a human being as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit.” – James 5:15-18

One of the most incredible things about the gospel is that we are encouraged, throughout the New Testament, to pray always and in all circumstances. God did not give us access to Himself begrudgingly, hoping that we would never actually pray. He wants us to come to Him with everything-good, bad or indifferent-so that we can continue to build a relationship with Him, and so that He can continue to shape us into the people that He wants us to be.

In this passage, James reminds us to pray boldly for big, even miraculous things. Remembering to also be submissive in prayer, we must keep in mind that God’s highest goals are our sanctification and His glorification. Sometimes that means He will answer our prayers in very unexpected ways. But that should not stop us from praying with boldness. Rather, it should spur us on to pray with more perseverance and fervor, so that we may see God work in better ways than we can imagine in our limited view.

This is where James’ example of Elijah’s story becomes so helpful. In 1 Kings 17-18 Elijah prays for the drought that James describes, and the Lord brings it upon Israel, stopping the rain for three and a half years. Throughout that time, all of Israel suffers greatly from the resulting famine, but the Lord provides for Elijah in miraculous ways. And through the drought, the Lord turns the hearts of the people back to Himself, so that they worship Him once again. It is an amazing story of our great God and a righteous man who knew how to pray well. I encourage you to read it and dwell on how Elijah’s example can encourage you to pray with boldness.

By Kyle Reilly

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The Power of Bold Praying

(Day 25 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived. – Genesis 19:27–29

In this familiar passage, Moses describes the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah from Abraham’s perspective. Abraham rises early on the morning God brought sulfur and fire down upon the evil cities, returning to the place he had stood before the Lord a day earlier. He then looks down on the valley where these sinful cities once stood. Instead of a crowded civilization, the entire region had filled with smoke and fire.

It occurs to me that even though Lot and his family are safe and sound, this scene had to be very sad, even crippling in a way. Abraham most likely does not realize his nephew had been rescued, so his initial look toward the valley probably caused him grief and pain. I think we can all identify with this. Who among us has not felt the pain and fear, at least momentarily, that something terrible has happened to someone we love?

I believe that Verse 29 gives us one of the most important lessons we can learn from Sodom’s destruction: “God remembered Abraham,” …, “and sent Lot out.” We can understand from the greater context that Abraham’s interceding prayer saved Lot. It was not Lot’s own goodness but rather Abraham’s boldness in prayer on the behalf of Lot that saved him. “God remembered Abraham.” Isn’t it wonderful that God remembers bold prayers?

Consider also that if God remembered Abraham, how much more will He remember the prayers of His Son? The Lord Jesus Christ can “save us to the uttermost” because He continually intercedes for all those with faith in Him. This makes me want to shout and sing praises to His name!

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

By Doug Hull

Pray Boldly

(Day 24 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. – Romans 8:34b

Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16

Even though we are addressing the Sovereign God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, we can pray boldly and without fear or timidity. How is that possible? By his grace, through his provision of salvation in his Son, we call him, “Father,” and we are his children. He invites us to come; he loves us, and he knows our needs.

We can pray with boldness because Jesus is our intercessor.

We have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ the Righteous One. – 1 John 2:1b.

He is the one who gave his life for us, and God raised him from the grave by the power of the same Holy Spirit who lives in the heart of every believer. We come to the Father by him and pray in his name.

Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them. – Hebrews 7:25.

Christ is our example in praying boldly. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus perfectly combined boldness with submission. In the High Priestly Prayer of John 17, Jesus made bold requests of His Father, as he prayed for himself, his disciples, and all who would later believe – you and me.

During his earthly life, he offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. – Hebrews 5:7.

Likewise, in Acts 7, Stephen prayed boldly in words very similar to those of Jesus on the cross.

In his book The Case for Miracles, Lee Strobel recounts a more recent example of Ruth, a ten-year-old girl praying boldly in Equatorial Africa. A mother had died in childbirth, leaving the premature newborn and a two-year-old daughter. The missionary doctor, Helen Roseveare, asked the orphans to pray for a hot water bottle to keep the baby warm, since there was no electricity or incubator. Ruth’s prayer was bold and specific, asking God for the hot water bottle to come that afternoon, since without it, the baby may not survive the night. Then she added her own request that God would send the two-year-old girl a doll, to remind her that he loved her. The missionary confesses that she really didn’t believe God was going to do that. The only hope was a package arriving from her homeland, and that had not happened in her four years there. Two hours later, a package arrived. As the missionary and children opened it, they found a hot water bottle. Little Ruth immediately decided that since God sent that, he must have also sent a doll. She started digging through the box and found a beautiful doll. God had led in the packing of that box five months earlier.

“Lord, please grant me the faith and boldness of a little child.” Amen.

By Pat Browning

Be Bold

(Day 23 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

I once heard a story about a man who, when he was a teenager, wanted to ask out a pretty girl he liked. However, he chickened out and did not ever ask her. Years later he found out that the girl’s mother had told her it takes a lot of courage for a young man to ask a girl out and that she should date anyone brave enough to ask at least once (within reason). So if this man had been bold enough to ask this girl on a date she would have said yes, but it was too late by the time he learned that.

Sometimes the idea of being bold scares us to the point of never trying something. And I think that can happen when we pray to God, too. Plus we are always told to “fear” God, to have a deep sense of awe and respect for God above anything else. That can make it easy to think that the God we fear should not be bothered with our little issues, and we should pray for only big things or things we feel safe praying.

The good news is God loves us! He showed His unending love for us when He sent Jesus to save us. When God became a man it also showed us that God is not bothered or inconvenienced by our small issues. He cares about every part of our lives, big and small.

To take it another step further Jesus was very bold, even in death. And we are to be like Jesus. When He died, the curtain to the temple was torn in two, symbolizing that we can come to God at anytime from anywhere. We do not need a priest or pastor to help us, and we do not have to pray only in a temple or a church building. Those things are great but not necessary in order for God to hear you.

The curtain tearing was like God telling us, “Come to me, I am ready to hear it all! So don’t hold back.” God is a big boy, and He can handle anything we can come up with. And all of this together should bring us hope and encourage us to be bold.

God is all-powerful, He loves us each more that we can imagine, and He invites us to talk to Him about anything because He cares about us so much. Whatever you want to pray about, you can pray about. Any struggle, or joy, or confusion, or anything else you want. You can even pray to God when you are mad, even if you are mad at Him for a while. The important thing is that you believe in Him, you are talking to Him, and being honest with Him. When you interact with God that way, great things happen. So go to God with anything you want or need. Be bold!

This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Ephesians 3:11-12

So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! Since this new way gives us such confidence,we can be very bold. 2 Corinthians 3:11-12

By Frank Welch

Bold Praying

(Day 22 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

When we pray earnestly and sincerely like a child…

After we’ve put on the full armor of God and prayed the offensive prayer to keep us from temptation and protect us from the enemy…

After we have prayed the submissive prayer, subjugating our own desires and committing ourselves to the perfect will of God…

Then we are ready for the bold Kingdom prayer. “Father, let your kingdom come and your will be done here in my heart, in my home and in my country as it is in heaven.”

The writer of Hebrews encourages us:

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

If you had a request to make of the president of the United States, could you just waltz into the Oval Office, or even call him on the phone? Even if you want to talk with the pastor, you must make an appointment. However, as God’s children we have full access to the throne of Heaven. We can approach Him with confidence that He will hear us and answer our petitions. 

Jesus is our great high priest. He made the sacrifice for us so that we could be adopted as heirs in the family of God. He stands at God’s right hand day and night to intercede for us. Because of what He did and who He is and where He is, we have direct access to God to offer our prayers.

It is our privilege to invite heaven to invade earth. We ask God to set up His rule in our hearts. He affects the world around us through His work in us. He only intervenes when we make that request of Him. Therefore, this prayer is our honor, our responsibility and our sacred duty.

We remember who we are as the children of God. We confess our sins and pray for protection from the evil around us. We submit ourselves to the will of God for our lives, even if we don’t understand the path He chooses for us. And then we invite the Kingdom of God into our reality.

Dear Father God, may your perfect plan be executed and may your Kingdom reign on this planet in the same way that it exists in heaven.

Understanding the moral climate in which we live, can there exist any bolder prayer than that?

By Lisa Fulghum

Le Messiah

(Day 21 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

How often do we submit to pray? We should submit ourselves to God more often. It seems we have a hard time humbling ourselves when it comes to prayer.

I also struggle with submitting or humbling myself to God during prayer. I would rush and complete a prayer and expect God to answer that insufficient prayer. I always wonder why I don’t feel God talking to me anymore, because I don’t take the time to actually speak to him. I don’t discipline to humble myself when I’m speaking to my Creator. I don’t submit nor act as if I really want to speak to him. I always give him half-finished prayers. I noticed that I use to only call on God when I’m in trouble and I realized I was in trouble. I notice my prayers weren’t submissive or humbling in any way, shape, or form. I started to do my research on how to submit to God during Prayer.

I realized I had to change this rabid form of prayer. This wasn’t even a Prayer; it was an “I’ll talk to you when I really need something” prayer. I noticed God deserves more respect when it comes to submissive/ submission Prayer. “Submission is not a dirty word; it is a liberating word. We are all under God’s protective authority, and we can only be free if we seek it and submit to it. Coming under authority is your protection. Living free is your opportunity to be all that God created you to be.” (Crosswalk Devotional)

Do you submit to God in other ways than prayers? We need to submit to God in other ways than prayer, like how we live our everyday lives. Do you have trouble submitting/ humbling yourself to God? Sit and talk to God, one on one. Let him know your problems, and he will redeem you. He will show exactly what you need to do. God needs to be in authority of our lives.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner. Hebrews 13:17

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

By Shanti M. Washington

Gandhi’s Autobiography


Took me a while to finish this book, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I’m no longer ignorant about M. K. Gandhi.

His writings by no means cover every facet of his life’s history; but they walk you through his thinkings, choices, and beliefs. Christianity was not something he completely embraced, but he shared insights that Christians could endorse or receive challenge. Here are a few:

  • The church did not make a favorable impression on me. The sermons seemed to be uninspiring. The congregation did not strike me as being particularly religious. They were not an assembly of devout souls; they appeared rather to be worldly-minded people, going to church for recreation and a conformity to custom.
  • Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant not the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.
  • ‘Hate the sin and not the sinner’ is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.
  • Service without humility is selfishness and egotism.
  • Human language can but imperfectly describe God’s ways. I am sensible of the fact that they are indescribable and inscrutable. But if mortal man will dare to describe them, he has no better medium that his own inarticulate speech.
  • You can wake a man only if he is really asleep; no effort that you may make will produce any effect upon him if he is merely pretending to sleep.

God Knows Better

(Day 20 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:25-33 

The key to submissive prayer is an understanding that God knows what we need better than we do. We are His children, and He is a good father who is pleased to provide for our needs. Therefore, Jesus instructs us to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness foremost, because those are what we need the most. As we eagerly seek to know Him more, He will provide for our needs. As he promises in the passage above, He will provide for our physical needs, making sure we are fed and clothed; but more importantly, he will provide for our spiritual needs, giving us more of Himself.

Psalm 37:4 tells us to “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” It is not wrong to have desires, and we know that God loves to give good gifts to His children; but we must first delight in Him. As we seek Him more, He will become our heart’s greatest desire; and He will never fail to give us more of Himself, allowing us to know Him and love Him more.

By Kyle Reilly

Difficulty in Submission

(Day 19 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

We often find it difficult to pray. Many times we feel praying is next to impossible. If you really think about it, the very act of true praying is getting over ourselves and coming to the end of our stubborn sinful ways. When we pray, we die to self and engage in a warfare against the flesh that so often wants and seeks its own way.

Many times we find it difficult to pray because we focus on praying itself and not on the God who answers those prayers. We set our own rituals and habits in place when and how we pray and that sometimes keeps us from Him. By God’s grace alone, we know Him, and we know He is there and not only hears us but listens. He is not silent. He always answers our prayers and acts in accord with His perfect will for our good and His glory.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14–15 (ESV)

It is not by prayer pattern or method that we reach God, it is by our submission. When we recognize God’s sovereignty in our prayer life, we are also reminded of His love, grace, holiness, and righteousness, and we are thereby faced with the harsh reality of our own sinfulness in the light of His glory and grace.

People have often said “I believe in the power of prayer” and there is merit to that statement. However, it may be more accurate to say that we believe in the power of God…so we pray. When we pray, we are reminded of our own insufficiency and lack of control. It is through prayer that we daily submit that insufficiency to someone greater than ourselves. God is able!

Think of it this way… God is omniscient (knows all things) and omnipotent (all powerful), and because He has our ultimate good and His glory in mind, we can trust Him with everything. You and I, however, are sinful. We don’t know everything, and can’t control everything. Our submission is a work that should be primary and given daily attention. It is difficult at times but critical to our relationship with God.

We will always to some degree find it difficult to let go and submit, but, nevertheless, we must always desperately seek God. We must also pray for God to help us pray, treating prayer less like a grocery list and more like a relationship.

Lord, help me swallow my pride and submit to your will. I recognize my own sinfulness and ask that you lead me, through your wonderful grace, to a more complete submissive prayer relationship with you.

By Doug Hull

Is Prayer Bargaining with God…or Submitting to Him?

(Day 18 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

“He willingly submitted to death.”- Isaiah 53:12b

“But please, not what I want. What do you want?”- Luke 22:42 (The Message)

Isaiah prophesied that the “Suffering Servant”, the Messiah, would have a submissive attitude in his death. Mark recorded the way Jesus fulfilled this as he prayed in Gethsemane, “Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.” – Mark 14:36. Not only did the Savior voice this prayer of submission; he acted on it. He had already said that he would give his life willingly. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.” John 10:18. He prayed in submission to His Father and acted in fulfillment.

We too, are to offer prayers of submission to our Heavenly Father. Sometimes we express these in song: “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” “I Surrender All,” “Where You Lead Me, I will follow.” But in our hearts, we may be adding conditions: “as long as it fits my plans,” or “I surrender all except…,” or “if you don’t lead me out of my comfort zone.” Submission is not a bargain with God. It is Unconditional Surrender!

Why do we need to pray – and live – in submission? Many reasons come to mind: Jesus did, and I should too. He is God, and I am not. He has all power, and I am weak. He knows all things, and I am limited. He is sufficient, and I am not. His will and plan for me is perfect, and my will is often self-centered and stubborn. He is my Master, and I am his servant. All glory and praise belong to him – not to me.

We often think of submissive praying in the big matters of life. True, but he also deserves our commitment in everything. I learned this lesson again a few weeks ago. At 9:30 p.m., the thought came, “Where is my wallet?” After looking in the usual places, I realized that I had left it in the restaurant where we had celebrated my friend’s birthday some hours earlier. Credit cards, driver’s license, and more ran through my mind. I felt my anxiety growing, “what if I don’t find it?” I prayed that God would help me get it back. A phone call to the restaurant resulted in the manager’s words, “Sorry, I can’t find it.” Then it was as if the Lord’s voice came to me, “You have me. Am I not enough?” In submission I said, “Yes, Lord, you are enough. You are all that I need.” He calmed my spirit and made me realize that whether my wallet was found or not, it was okay, because he was in control. I went to bed and slept. At 11:30, I was awakened by a phone call, telling me that it had been found.

I received a more valuable lesson in trusting and submitting to Christ.

“Father, help me in all things to pray, and live, in submission to you. Amen.”

By Pat Browning