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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"Man Up!" - Bold Confidence

I attended St Rose Parochial School from kindergarten through second grade.  Then when my family bought a new house and moved to another part of town, I went to a public elementary school for one year while on a waiting list for an opening for the new parish school whose area we moved into.  That opening came for the next school year and I attended St Eugene’s Parochial School from fourth through sixth grade.  From there I went to the public junior high where my Dad taught, and then moved onto high school in the same district where I met my wife… and the rest is history!

One fond memory I have of my time in Parochial School was the yearly church fairs that they used to hold on the elementary school’s playground.  As I look back today, I can’t really say how big or professional those fairs really were, but at the time, in my mind’s eye, they rivaled the large summer county fair!  I do remember one incident at the St Rose fair that served as a lesson that I have reviewed many times throughout my adult life.

Amongst the seemingly endless array of booths set up around the playground that year there was a ball toss challenge that caught my entire attention for the fair. 
The source of that attention grabber for me was a cool hat that could be won with a bullseye toss.  I am not sure why, but for whatever reason I felt like I couldn’t live without that fedora style hat.  (Who knew that they would come back into fashion today?)  But the more money I spent tossing balls, the more I realized that I wasn’t going to win that hat without a little help… so I began to pray earnestly, like I had NEVER prayed before.  I still recall standing in the quiet behind that booth begging God for the ability to win that hat!

Well, to make a long story short… I finally talked my big brother (who was a lot better athlete at the time than me) into trying his luck at the booth.  But his participation came with a cost.  He made me promise that if he won the hat that I would give him my parakeet!  So after a little consideration of his terms I consented… and he proceeded to hit a bullseye, win the hat for me and gain a long term relationship with my bird! 

That green parakeet ended up living for a LONG time and each year on her birthday, I still get a phone call, email or text from my brother telling me how old Jackie (the bird) would be if she were still alive!  - Oh, by the way… did I mentioned that I NEVER liked that bird as she would peck at me every time I put my hand in the cage… it really wasn’t a hard decision to give her away… but don’t tell my brother I said that!

As the Apostle Paul concluded his directions to us about the church’s role in God’s plan for all history (See Ephesians 3:9-11), he declared that “we can go to God with bold confidence.” (God’s Word ©)  With that scripture in mind, I will share that the major lesson that I learned, as I have matured in my Christian walk, from that childhood experience some fifty years ago, was that I need not ever BEG God for anything when I come to Him in prayer!  Instead I have come to understand that as a son of the living God, adopted into His family and as a member of Christ’s body, I am supposed to come into His presence with a bold confidence.

Jesus Himself told His disciples “Therefore I say unto you, what things so ever you desire, WHEN YOU PRAY, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24 KJV)  The God’s Word © translation says that we are to “have faith that you have already received whatever you have prayed for…”  It is that faith and/or believing in God’s will being accomplished in your prayer that causes the bold confidence in your approach to Him!  One thing that I appreciate when I read the four Gospels is that Jesus always proved what He taught by His actions.  Before publically raising his good friend Lazarus from the dead He prayed to the Father and thanked Him declaring “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.  And I knew that thou hearest me always…” (John 11:41-42 KJV)

I believe that the boldness and confidence that we are able to pray to God with is part of that authority that I wrote about Monday that Jesus said is inherent in us as part of His body.  Jesus and Paul were telling us that as we pray the will of God that we can expect Him to hear and answer our prayers accordingly!  Jesus taught His followers early on in His earthly ministry not to ramble on and on in prayer like the heathen do, but to “pray in this way, Our father who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10 MKJV)  And how can we be assured that we are praying His will?  By praying His Word… for His will is found in His Word!  Remember that in His final hours Jesus prayed to the Father asking him to “sanctify them (us believers) through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17 KJV)

Can you imagine how we could change the direction the world is going if we all came in faith to God in prayer with the bold confidence that we were praying the will of God and that His will was going to be accomplished?  Then instead of getting anxious or angry when we read the negativity in the headlines or hear of some new act of terror or new legislature that is being proposed that is contrary to the truth found in God’s Word, we would cry out in praise and thanksgiving to God knowing that our prayers were being answered and that His will would ultimately prevail!

That kind of bold confident prayer is what keeps me going day in and day out.  It is the thing that energizes my joy, maintains my strength, and keeps me focused on God’s perfect will for the healing of my wife.  You and I have the authority to pray this way, to stay strong, to resist fear and worry and know that we know that God’s will is being done because we have taken our place in prayer and are assured therefore, that Papa God’s plan for history is being accomplished through the body of Christ!

What do you think about that?  Let me know… and as you do, keep asking yourself… “In whose will am I expecting to pray and thereby see it come into being in my world today?”

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