Lamplight Ministries, Inc. :Judy Hartman’s Eight Week Teaching on Jack and Judy’s book, Effective Prayer.
God’s School of Prayer: The Bible is your textbook. God is your teacher.
(Note: I use the King James Version of the Bible because I am most familiar with it, but also because it is in the public domain and can be used freely. When you meditate on a verse, please use the version that you prefer, but be certain that it is true to the original manuscript.)
Who can talk to God? There is only one way to have a two-way conversation with God. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” (I Timothy 2:5-6). So, first of all, we have to be certain that you are a child of the one true God.
How do you know that you are a child of God? “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” (Romans 10:9-10). We think in our minds. We believe in our hearts. I will tell you how great the distance was from my mind to my heart. I cannot explain why my heart took so long to receive the glorious news that Jesus Christ came to live there. I was 27. The two friends who prayed me into God’s kingdom treated me to a week at Forest Home Christian Conference Center Family Camp in Forest Falls, California. (I had graduated from the University of Redlands in Redlands, California and had spent many days studying near the falls which were just a few miles from our college campus. Never had I heard of Forest Home.)
I spent the week with my eyes wide open, observing a joy on faces, a joy that I knew I wanted, a joy that I had not seen before, or had not recognized. I seem to have been born loving God. I talked to Him so often, but I never heard Him respond to me. I was very active in a denominational church that was adjacent to our elementary school. So, I went to choir practice after school and to youth meetings. I even had an early morning prayer meeting in my home before school. We all thought we knew God. Some probably did. The problem was that although we heard the Bible and said the Apostles’ Creed, we never were told, or I did not hear it, that we needed to make a personal decision to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. Are any of you second born in your family? Second born children are usually compliant and naturally like to please people. I was born with a compliant nature. Therefore, doing the right thing came naturally to me. I did not try to be good. I just was. I never wanted to do anything bad. So, when I was confronted with the truth that I am a sinner, I could not figure out what I had done wrong. Then, I found out that I was born with a sin nature. I have the capability of doing the most gruesome act that anyone could do.
I was born in the image of God. I have God imprinted on my heart, but my nature was tarnished by the choice that Adam and Eve made to choose their own way over God’s way. Not until Jesus Christ became alive in my heart did I receive the full impact of my sins. They came at me in full force. Pride and selfishness hit me right between the eyes!
I had found the door out of self. I was home at last! My heart was in the heart of God. While at Forest Home I made the decision to give my life over to Jesus Christ. I already knew the Bible to be true. I already loved God with my whole heart. I did not know Jesus Christ as He so wondrously makes Himself known to His own. Each morning when I woke up, I would say, “Father, You know I believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord, but we both know that I haven’t grasped the truth of it.” That went on for three months!
One morning I woke up and I knew Jesus Christ to be my Savior and Lord! From that day in September of 1967 to today, April 27, 2017, fifty years ago, I have known Jesus Christ to be alive in me and me to be alive in Him. How I thank Him. What would cause the truth to take so long to come alive in my heart? I can only conjecture, but I will. I was born into a prosperous family. When we became not so prosperous, I already had a mentality that I was a prosperous person. I didn’t even think of anything but doing well all during my childhood. I was a good student, not the top, but received honors here and there. I was recognized as a leader in student government. In fact, in my senior year, I was Secretary of the Student Body. We spent a whole semester on Robert’s Rules of Order. Do you now that now when we have Lamplight Board meetings, I use Robert’s Rules of Order to conduct the meetings?
Self-sufficiency is a dangerous weapon of Satan. God tells us: “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” (Matthew 19:24). People who have gifts, abilities, and skills and are self-motivated definitely have an anchor around them pulling them away from surrendering to God Who is the All Sufficient One. Understanding that I am nothing apart from God is the most liberating reality. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing,” (John 15:5). God is not saying to do all that I can in my own strength and when I run out, call on Him. He is saying that I can do nothing on my own, nothing. Abiding in God through Christ Jesus for fifty years brings that reality home. I really cannot do anything apart from God and I do not want to fly on my own steam. I choose to live in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
The following passage explains what happened to me. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” (Ephesians 2:1-10). This passage is one to print in a version that you prefer. Carry it with you. Weave your personal journey to salvation into this passage. Focus on the Word of God more than on your personal story.
What needs to take place in order for you to know that you are a child of God in Christ Jesus?
- Know that you are a sinner, born with a sin nature, that you are separated from God, that you are by default under the power and influence of Satan and all of his demons. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that abundantly,” (John 10:19).
- Turn from all thoughts and actions that you know are ungodly. Ask God to reveal anything that you may be thinking or doing that is detrimental in your life. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” (Philippians 4:8).
- Ask God to forgive you. (He has already forgiven you for every sin you ever committed or ever will commit, but your confessing it to Him acknowledges to Him and to you that you are turning from it.)
- Now with your whole heart pray: “Father, I come to you in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. I confess with my mouth that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I believe in my heart that You raised Him from the dead. I surrender my life to you. I am now born into Your family. Father, I thank You for sending Your Son to shed his blood for me, so that my sins are forgiven. I thank You that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that He is coming back for me. I thank You that from this moment on I will always be with You. You will never leave me. Holy Spirit, flood me with Yourself. Empower me to live godly in Christ Jesus. Anoint me to boldly speak of You. I thank You, dear Father, for saving me. I am Your child, in Jesus’ name, Amen.” When someone prays this prayer, follow up with the following essentials for walking with Christ Jesus.
- Welcome the person into the family of God. Explain that he or she has left the kingdom of darkness and entered into the kingdom of Light, that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12 KJV).
- Explain: Now you will have the joy of getting to know God.
- Read the Bible. If you read three chapters in the Old Testament and two chapters in the New Testament, you will go through the Bible in one year. You can also listen to these chapters each day at biblegateway.com. Click on Audio Bibles. You can choose different translations. If you are interested in a certain topic, look in the concordance in the back of your Bible and find that topic. You will find verses there to look up, print out, and study. Write the verses on three by five cards or just print them out from biblegateway.com or whatever Bible website you use. I use biblegateway.com most of the time. Carry passages and/or verses with you all of the time. Go over them whenever you have a free moment.
- Pray: now you can talk to God and He will answer you. I promise. We will be journeying in prayer all through this course. For starters, pray Scripture prayers. Pray them to God, your Father in heaven. Talk to Him about them. Say whatever is on your heart.
- Put on the whole armor of God each day. You will be learning about the work of each piece of armor in your life: Ephesians 6:10-20. The power of putting on the whole armor of God in today’s world is beyond our comprehension.
- Pray Psalm 91 each day over your family, your loved ones, and those God puts on your heart.
- Listen to God. Ask Him questions. Keep a journal of what you hear in the quietness of your heart. You will learn to hear God speak to you.
- Begin prayer with worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for Who He is.
- End prayer with worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for Who He is in your life and what He will do today. Live with expectation and eagerly watch God work in your life each day.
- Find a church, a fellowship, where the presence of Jesus Christ is evident. The group will be focused on the Word of God, on worshiping God, on prayer, and on fellowship with each other, treating each other like family, the family of God. Don’t settle for less. The fellowship will also focus on reaching others for Christ and on helping the poor, the homeless, and the widows, as God tells us to do.
- Tell others of your gold mine: you have come alive in Christ Jesus! From day one, share what has happened to you! You will live forever with Jesus Christ on earth and in heaven! (We will spend time on writing your story and just sharing it in your daily life.) Sharing your faith is one of the key ways that increases it. If a person is not interested, stop. You just open the door, in case the person’s God-shaped vacuum in his heart is ready to be filled with God Himself in Christ Jesus.
- Live in joyous expectation of what God will do in your life each day:)