Cheap Prayer

(Edited at 10:19 p.m. on May 21, 2015 for grammar and clarity or for butchering the kings English.)

Any prayer that asks God for something and then has no expectation of God to do something (or more personally have a personal cost as a result of God answering that He might call upon you to do something) is a cheap prayer. It’s like knowing a biblical instruction and then not obeying the Lord. It’s like asking God to help orphans and foolishly thinking that God has placed this need upon your heart with no expectation to be used of God to be a doer of His word. Being a doer may cost you something; your time, your reputation, your money, your friends, your effort, your agenda…

Consider James 4. After reading this text, how would you pray?

7   Submit therefore to God.
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8   Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners;
and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9   Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.
10  Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

  • It would be a cheap prayer to ask God to help you submit to Him and then resist submitting after you are done praying.
  • It is a cheap prayer to ask God to help you from falling into sin and then not expect that God would expect you to resist such devilish desires.
  • It is a cheap prayer to think you are drawing near to God while at the same time remaining where you are. You can not obey this directive to “draw near to God” without moving from where you currently are.
  • It is a cheap prayer to think you are guiltless of sin and that you are not the sinner being instructed to cleanse his hands.
  • It is a cheap prayer to expect God to purify your heart while you remain double-minded in your understanding of God.
  • It is a cheap prayer to mourn and weep over your sin while you are plotting your next sinful encounter.
  • It is a cheap prayer to pray for God to correct others and draw them unto Himself while pride rules your own heart.

Do you see how cheaply our prayers might be?

Prayer is costly… maybe this is why so few people pray anymore? Maybe this is why the prayer meeting has grown so cold in the life of the Lord’s church? Maybe this is why we don’t see the mighty hand of God as frequently as before? We have become so addicted to praying such cheap and silly prayers and refuse to pray costly prayers.

So many within the church don’t even know that it’s possible to instigate God to anger with our cheap prayers.

“O LORD God of hosts, How long will You be angry with the prayer of Your people?” (Psalm 80:4 NASB)


Definitions Are Important

Because my office number is forwarded to my mobile phone I get the normal telemarketer calls that come to the church office even when I’m away from my office. This is convenient, but not always.

If I’m not busy with someone or in a spot where I can’t take a call I’ll let it go on to voice mail. I had just pulled into a parking stall at the hospital yesterday and my phone began to ring. I didn’t recognize the number as an Idaho number but I answered “Eastside Baptist Church, this is Paul” anyway.

The phone conversation went like this…

Person on the phone was kind and professional; “Hello, Paul, can I speak to the person in charge of ministering to your children or youth?”

Striving to be kind, I asked “maybe you can help me understand what you mean by ‘the person in charge of ministering to our children and youth?'”

Person on the phone, still kind and professional, but clearly confused by my need for clarity said, “I don’t know what you mean? Do you have a children or youth pastor I could talk to?”

I don’t ever want to be snarky with a well meaning person doing their job, I really don’t. I get that they are doing their job and respect this of them, but I also don’t want to waist their time or mine so I only asked one more question, “Oh, well, what is your definition of a children/youth pastor?”

Getting to the bottom of the reason for the call, the salesperson simply said, “Who is in charge of fund raising for your children and youth ministry?”

This kind of information on the front end would have saved both of us some time.

Granted, a person hired to call churches to get them to hire them as their “fund raiser” is doing a job and will hope to be rewarded for doing a good job. They have no idea when they call the next phone number on their list of Southern Baptist Churches what they are in for when they call Eastside Baptist Church.

It would have been overwhelming to this salesperson if I gave them the phone number to every father and mother in our church. Because that’s who I consider to be in charge of our children and youth ministry. Plus I don’t think all the parents would appreciate me giving out their phone numbers either.

I concluded the conversation politely and kind and just said, “We don’t have anyone in charge of fund raising in our church. Thanks for calling and I hope you have a great day.”

Definitions are important. We do have ministry to children and youth in our church, they thought we were like every other church, we care about all who attend our church, they have learned that churches are a good place to generate revenue.

Has the church been reduced to little more than a potential group of fund raisers? I hope not. I don’t mind defining what I mean and I don’t mind knowing what others mean when they call.

“Thanks for calling and I hope you have a great day.”

My Experience in Haiti (from Josiah Bain)

Fullscreen capture 552015 125754 PM.bmpThis month in the Intermountain Christian News, Josiah Bain shared his experience at New Horizon Home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Full story is here: Intermountain Christian News, My Experience in Haiti is on page 6.

Unalienable Rights

from “Unalienable Rights” by Richard Owen Roberts, 1993

“Human government is not the invention of the fertile minds of men. The sacred record makes it clear that God Himself first instituted and regulated human government. From the beginning it was unquestionably designed to guarantee the unalienable rights of both the Creator and the created.

The founding fathers of America clearly understood that government had the capacity to hamper or restrict the rights with which God Himself had endowed His people. Many of them had personally experienced the destruction of their own rights by oppressive rulers. It was their profound conviction that when this happened, government should be either altered or abolished and replaced by a new government.

We need to realize that whenever government seeks to grant rights to individuals and classes that God Himself has not endowed, and whenever this granting of rights by humans to humans impinges upon the rights that the Almighty has reserved  for Himself, that government ceases to be of God. Neither is it any longer truly for the people, for the best interest of the governed can never be served by a government which elevates itself to the stature of God. When this happens, either the people themselves will alter or abolish their corrupt government, or God will, in His own time and way, accomplish that nation’s destruction.

God has clearly revealed the specific areas in which He will, throughout all time, control the rights affecting man. These restricted areas were long weighed, regarded, and yielded to by the American people. They are set forth in the Ten Commandments which were, in the early years of our nation, a prominent part of every schoolroom. Their principles were incorporated into our national law and into the laws of our several states. Included in the realms where God never endowed man with the right of choice are His restrictions on man’s relationship to Himself, on the taking of human life, on the use of sex, on the appropriation of the goods and private property of others, and in the regulation of truth and falsehood.”


What Would Happen If Your Church Did This?

I’m starting week 10 of a 12 week bible study entitled “Behold Your God” (I recommend it to all of you).

The teaching has been challenging and convicting in many respects. Likely the most sobering moment, a reality check if you will, came in the day 5 portion of week 9. The author John Snyder, was explaining that Jesus was submissive to the Father in all he said and did. Meaning the way He did things was as important as what he had to say.

on page 187, Snyder hit the nail with accuracy as he spoke about John 10:37; “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me..”

He expressed it like this for the pastor.

“This is certainly not a popular pattern today. Just imagine for a moment a church that prints a great banner and hangs it over the pulpit. It reads: “If our pastor does not do the kinds of things that are in harmony with our God, then he is a liar and you are not to listen to him.”

I think I would preach with much more fear and trembling. I would preach with more grace, I would prepare sermons with more tears, I would preach with more urgency. But more so, I would live my life with more grace, I would shed more tears, I would live with greater purpose and urgency, I would be more careful with how I live.

I told my church last night that I would be alright if they put this kind of banner behind our pulpit. Not because I don’t fear the implications, but because I want this kind of accountability.

What would happen if your church did this?


Imitating Marriage

As the hearing began today at the highest court level I see again that people want to claim what is not theirs by force and by imitating the original. Only what is real and has value is ever imitated. Cheap knock offs are never imitated.

Marriage between one man and one woman is ordained by God and given value by His blessing it and warning no man to ever attempt to destroy or tear it apart.

There are many people expressing their opinions about this significant hearing. The result of this hearing will effect our nation, regardless of the outcome.

As for me, I’m pleased to express and plead to God for the preservation of marriage as defined by Him in the Bible. Even if the law of the land changes the meaning of the word marriage I must speak of it and defend that which God ordained and blessed with great value. This idea of marriage should not be worshiped, but surely defended as its meaning and value are being stripped, changed, weakened and devalued.

How do I show this to my church and community?

  • give intentional attention to my marriage.
  • speak in favor of the historic definition of marriage.
  • press my local legislators to give the church freedom to conduct marriages without the mandate of a state issued marriage license.
  • speak with clarity to the young in our church of what is God ordained and pleasing biblical marriage.
  • remind all biblically married people that their marriage is not stripped of value if the law of the land cheapens marriage by redefining it.
  • pray to God for my marriage.
  • pray to God for the integrity of marriage in the land.
  • ask God to restore marriages that are broken or on the verge of disaster.


Church Planting Lessons from the Strawberry Plant

While my mom was visiting a few weeks ago I built my first “strawberry barrel” (see picture below) out of a 55 gallon drum and she bought me 50 strawberry roots.

After looking for the best variety, I settled on the Ft. Laramie. We ordered them and the waiting began. I looked in the mail every day, even thinking that every UPS truck driving down the street might be carrying my strawberries. Renee called this afternoon… and finally, the strawberries are here!

Strawberry02I ordered my strawberries from the Four Seasons Nurseries, in Bloomington, Illinois.

They came through the U.S. Postal Service with all the instructions. We ordered two packages of 25.

Today, I opened one package and was pleased and surprised to discover nearly 40 strawberry roots. I followed the instructions and now have half of my strawberries planted in my “strawberry barrel”. Because there were more than 25 strawberries in the first package I’ll have to prepare more space for the other 25 (or 40+).


I’ve grown strawberries before and enjoy the church planting lesson my dad taught me years ago. I’ll keep you posted and lay out the church planting lessons from the strawberry plant along the way.

(look for follow-up posts.)
I’ve just reopened my garden blog that has been dormant for two years. I’ll begin posting regular posts of the new garden space. I began this blog when I started at the College of Southern Idaho’s community garden in 2010. I now have more garden space and now preparing for the start of Thompson Springs Urban Farm. This year is the testing year followed by a second year to implement the most efficient ways to grow a lot of food in an urban setting, in the high desert, before launching Thompson Springs Urban Farm to the public. Until then, and even then, come by the urban homestead some time and pick a few weeds with me.

New Sermon Series Begins on Sunday, April 26

If you’ve never driven on an interstate highway in the west you don’t know about this, but if you miss an exit it could be half an hour or forty-five minutes later before you are able to get to the next exit to turn around. Just one simple miss and now you are far off the mark of where you were wanting to be.

This can happen before you know what has happened. This is how it is with sin too. You have a plan of where you want to go, you even know where you are going and then… all of the sudden you’ve missed your exit and too far down the road to quickly fix the matter. It can still be corrected, the right path can be reclaimed, but for now, the consequences of not giving attention to where you are may have a longer effect than desired.

This is the story of the book of Kings.

We will take First Kings this coming Sunday and begin examining where Israel became derailed and why. While doing so it will be of greatest interest to learn as much as can be learned about the God of Israel.

Join me this Sunday as we begin the examination of First Kings


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