Friday, May 8, 2015

How to pray? What is the proper way to pray?

Is it best to pray standing up, sitting down, kneeling, or bowing down? Should our hands be open, closed, or lifted up to God? Do our eyes need to be closed when we pray? Is it better to pray in a church building or out in nature? Should we pray in the morning when we get up or at night before we go to bed? Are there certain words we need to say in our prayers? How do we begin our prayers? What is the proper way to close a prayer? These questions, and others, are common questions asked about prayer. What is the proper way to pray? Do any of the above things even matter?

Far too often, prayer is viewed as a “magic formula.” Some believe that if we do not say exactly the right things, or pray in the right position, God will not hear and answer our prayer. This is completely unbiblical. God does not answer our prayers based on when we pray, where we are, what position our body is in, or in what order we word our prayers. We are told in 1 John 5:14-15 to have confidence when we come to God in prayer, knowing He hears us and will grant whatever we ask as long as it is in His will. Similarly, John 14:13-14 declares, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” According to these and many other Scriptures, God answers prayer requests based on whether they are asked according to His will and in the name of Jesus (to bring glory to Jesus).

So, what is the proper way to pray? Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to pray without being anxious, to pray about everything, and to pray with thankful hearts. God will answer all such prayers with the gift of His peace in our hearts. The proper way to pray is to pour out our hearts to God, being honest and open with God, as He already knows us better than we know ourselves. We are to present our requests to God, keeping in mind that God knows what is best and will not grant a request that is not His will for us. We are to express our love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer without worrying about having just the right words to say. God is more interested in the content of our hearts than the eloquence of our words.

The closest the Bible comes to giving a “pattern” for prayer is the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Please understand that the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite to God. It is an example of the things that should go into a prayer—worship, trust in God, requests, confession, and submission. We are to pray for the things the Lord’s Prayer talks about, using our own words and “customizing” it to our own journey with God. The proper way to pray is to express our hearts to God. Sitting, standing, or kneeling; hands open or closed; eyes opened or closed; in a church, at home, or outside; in the morning or at night—these are all side issues, subject to personal preference, conviction, and appropriateness. God’s desire is for prayer to be a real and personal connection between Himself and us.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Staring At Your Mountain

Your problems and worries may be like a big mountain before you. You have to make a definite decision to move your mountain. You may think that it is impossible. It is possible and many other believers, who have bigger problems and bigger mountains than yours, have proven it. They have successfully moved their mountains by their faith in the promises of God. Many of them are doing this miracle daily.

Staring at your mountain will not get it to disappear. Complaining about your mountain will not move it. Scolding others because of the mountain will not work either. The only way is for you to muster your faith and speak to the mountain.

"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." [Matthew 17:20]

You have to command it to go in the mighty name of Jesus. That's a decision you must make for yourself. God is waiting for you to make that decision. The power to move your mountain is readily available for you the moment you decide to take that step of faith.

"Everything is possible for one who believes." [Mark 9:23]

Albert Kang

Monday, April 13, 2015

Is ‘Grave Sucking’ Biblical?

Christians '"sucking up the anointing" at the grave of Evan Roberts.

The notion of ‘grave sucking’ or ‘mantle grabbing’ has become popular among believers in the hyper-charismatic circle. Such concept has been readily advocated by some of the better-known preachers such as Bill Johnson, Benny Hinn, Cal Pierce etc. The purpose of ‘grave sucking’ is for the believers to visit grave sites of specially gifted but dead ministers so as to ‘suck residue spiritual anointing’, especially the gifts of healing or prophesying, from these dead people .

Cal Pierce says, “Lord, if a dead man can be thrown on the bones of Elisha and be healed, then I’m asking for the anointing that is on these bones of John G. Lake.”

Bill Johnson expounds, ““There are anointings, mantles, revelations and mysteries that have lain unclaimed, literally where they were left because the generation that walked in them never passed them on. I believe it’s possible for us to recover realms of anointing, realms of insight, realms of God that have been untended for decades simply by choosing to reclaim them and perpetuate them for future generations.”

Benny Hinn is a firm believer of grave sucking when he openly shares what happened when he visited the grave of Aimee Semple McPherson – the founder of Foursquare: “I felt a terrific anointing when I was there. I actually, I—I, hear this, I trembled when I visited Aimee’s tomb. I was shaking all over. God’s power came all over me. … I believe the anointing has lingered over Aimee’s body. I know this may be shocking to you. … And I’m going to take David Palmquist and Kent Mattox and Sheryl Palmquist this week. They’re gonna come with me. You—you—you gonna feel the anointing at Aimee’s tomb. It’s incredible. And Kathryn’s. It’s amazing. I’ve heard of people healed when they visited that tomb. They were totally healed by God’s power. You say, ‘What a crazy thing.’ Brother, there’s things we’ll never understand. Are you all hearing me?”

Many of these hyper-charismatic practitioners believe that they would experience a heightened spiritual capability when they ‘suck’ the anointing from the dead ministers. Cal Pierce believes that “another generation’s ‘ceiling’ in God can become our spiritual floor”.

What the Bible Says About Grave Sucking?

Absolutely nothing. Yes, the Bible has no such precedent. Some of these grave-sucking practitioners may protest by pointing their example to an incident recorded in 2 Kings 13:21:-

And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulcher of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.

Why did the Lord allow this event to be narrated in the Old Testament? The record in the Bible expressly mentioned that the dead man became alive when his body touched the bones of Elisha. Didn’t that prove that the dead bones of Elisha were still full of the Holy Spirit?

The truth is that God did not give us a reason. As for the answer to the second question, God also did not give specific intention. But as people with reasoning power, we can make an educated supposition.

We all know that Elisha received a double portion of the Spirit which was upon Elijah. During the lifetime of Elijah on earth, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he performed a total of 14 miracles. Since Elisha had asked for a double portion of the Spirit, he should have performed 28 miracles. However, at the time of his death, he had only 27 miracles under his belt. The miracle of the dead man coming alive was the 28th miracle, thus fulfilling the requirement for the ‘double-portion’ promise. There may be other reasons but like what the writer has mentioned, they will all be conjectures. The one that is pure conjecture without biblical evidence is the transferring of the mantle of the dead saints to living ministers of God’s Word. That is a superstition at best.

Would the same type of ‘anointing’ from gifted but dead ministers be transferred to anyone who lay hands or roll upon their graves? Let’s check the Bible again. Reading from the same story of the bones of Elisha, we ask ourselves a question: “Did the dead man receive the mantle of Elisha after his dead body came in contact with the latter’s bones”. No, he did not.

Did the resurrected man ultimately receive the power of the Holy Spirit, just as most of the prophets and leaders of the Old Testament did? Did he become a prophet just like Elisha? Did he perform great miracles after that? The answer is a resounding no! The only thing that happened was that the dead man became alive again.

Moreover, in the Old Testament, the presence of the Holy Spirit was upon specific individuals and could be lifted at any time. That was why King David cried out to the Lord when he repented of his sin, “Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit did not operate in the same manner. He came upon all believers (Acts 2). God has poured out His Spirit upon all flesh (Acts 2:17; ref: Joel 2:28-29) and we have become the “dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). Paul emphasized, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Even though we appreciate the ministries of our predecessors, but it is God who gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul recognized that not only people worshipped dead spiritual heroes but also created living ones. God is the One who build His Church. He does not owe that to anyone. He is the only One whom we seek and not depending upon dead or live heroes of faith. Paul sent a strong message against this type of attitude: “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” (I Corinthians 3:5-7).

If we are not careful, our churches might be affected by teachings that are not found in the Bible but in other cults. The danger is that we mix a certain degree of pantheism into our theology and begin a spiritual journey with a sharp tangent that will carry us far away from the original Gospel and the Word of God.

Albert Kang

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jesus Bled Enough

On a Thursday afternoon, a young woman came by the office to give me something. She was going to put it in the offering plate, but decided to just hand it to me.
I was in a meeting, so she left it at the front desk.
On the outside it said, “Jim White,” and underneath, “Be careful…sharp objects inside.”
On the back it read, “I thought I was going to put this in an offering plate but I think it would be best to give you directly.”
I opened the envelope, and inside a plastic bag were razor blades.
And a letter.
I asked her if I could share it, and she said I could:
“I have been coming to your church on and off now since I was in 5th grade. I am now 23…When I was 12 years old I started cutting myself. Now my arms are covered in an overwhelming amount of scars, but I am proud to say there are no open cuts. I have not cut for probably a year now, but I still have razor blades that are hidden around my room…
“I quit when I was about to cut one day but heard Jesus in my ear saying, ‘I bled enough.’
“He took my pain on the cross and I no longer needed to take it out on myself.
“But I realized by holding on to razor blades I am not fully letting go of the pain and addiction to cutting. I want to fully let it go now...
“It says in the Bible, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him for He cares for you.’ So I’m doing that today. This is an offering plate and I am offering to Jesus today more than any amount of money I could ever offer Him. These are all my razor blades that I have keep hidden around in different places of my reach just in case.
“I am handing it over to God and I trust you also with this as well. Thank you for all you and this church have done in my life...”
And then she signed her name.
I have those blades in my desk drawer.
I will keep them there for as long as I pastor.
James Emery White

Editor’s Note
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.  His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is now available on Amazon .  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit , where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite .

I Am Certain He Will Find You

Some 14 years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our opening session in the theology of faith.

That was the day I first saw Tommy. He was combing his hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. My quick judgment wrote him off as strange – very strange.

Tommy turned out to be my biggest challenge. He constantly objected to or smirked at the possibility of an unconditionally loving God. When he turned in his final exam at the end of the course, he asked in a slightly cynical tone, “Do you think I’ll ever find God?” “No,” I said emphatically. “Oh,” he responded. “I thought that was the product you were pushing.”

I let him get five steps from the door and then called out. “I don’t think you’ll ever find Him, but I am certain He will find you.” Tommy shrugged and left. I felt slightly disappointed that he had missed my clever line.

Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was grateful for that. Then came a sad report: Tommy had terminal cancer.

Before I could search him out, he came to me. When he walked into my office, his body was badly wasted, and his long hair had fallen out because of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice, for the first time, was firm.

“Tommy! I’ve thought about you so often. I heard you were very sick,” I blurted out.

“Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer. It’s a matter of weeks.”

“Can you talk about it?” 

“Sure. What would you like to know?”

“What’s it like to be only 24 and know that you’re dying?”

“It could be worse,” he told me, “like being 50 and thinking that drinking booze, seducing women and making money are the real ‘biggies’ in life.”

Then he told me why he had come. 

“It was something you said to me on the last day of class. I asked if you thought I would ever find God, and you said no, which surprised me. Then you said, ‘But He will find you.’ I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time.

But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging against the bronze doors of heaven. But nothing happened. Well, one day I woke up, and instead of my desperate attempts to get some kind of message, I just quit.

I decided I didn’t really care about God, an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more important. I thought about you and something else you had said: ‘The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you loved them.’ So I began with the hardest one: my dad.”

Tommy’s father had been reading the newspaper when his son approached him.

“Dad, I would like to talk with you.”

“Well, talk.”

“I mean, it’s really important.”

The newspaper came down three slow inches.

“What is it?”

“Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that.” 

Tommy smiled at me as he recounted the moment. “The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I couldn’t remember him doing before. He cried and he hugged me. And we talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning.

“It was easier with my mother and little brother,” Tommy continued. “They cried with me, and we hugged one another, and shared the things we had been keeping secret for so long. Here I was, in the shadow of death, and I was just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.

“Then one day I turned around and God was there. He didn’t come to me when I pleaded with Him. Apparently He does things in His own way and at His own hour. The important thing is that you were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for Him.”

“Tommy,” I added, “could I ask you a favor? Would you come to my theology-of-faith course and tell my students what you told me?”

Though we scheduled a date, he never made it. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of humanity has ever seen or the mind ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time. “I’m not going to make it to your class,” he said. “I know, Tommy.”

“Will you tell them for me? Will you . . . tell the whole world for me?”

“I will, Tommy. I’ll tell them.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Struggling With Excessive Self-Awareness

TO EDWARD LOFSTROM: A letter of great encouragement for someone who had been struggling with excessive self-awareness.

10 June 1962

You are of course perfectly right in defining your problem (which is also mine and everyone’s) as ‘excessive selfness’. But per- haps you don’t fully realise how far you have got by so defining it. All have this disease; fortunate are the minority who know they have it. To know that one is dreaming is to be already nearly awake, even if, for the present, one can’t wake up fully. And you have actually got further than that. You have got beyond the illusion (very common) that to recognise a chasm is the same thing as building a bridge over it.

Your danger now is that of being hypnotised by the mere sight of the chasm, of constantly looking at this excessive selfness. The important thing now is to go steadily on acting, so far as you can—and you certainly can to some extent, however small—as if it wasn’t there. You can, and I expect you daily do—behave with some degree of unselfishness. You can and do make some attempt at prayer. The continual voice which tells you that your best actions are secretly filled with subtle self-regards, and your best prayers still wholly egocentric—must for the most part be simply disregarded—as one disregards the impulse to keep on looking under the bandage to see whether the cut is healing. If you are always fidgeting with the bandage, it never will.

A text you should keep much is mind is I John iii, 20: ‘If our heart condemns us God is greater than our heart.’ I sometimes pray ‘Lord give me no more and no less self-knowledge than I can at this moment make a good use of.’ Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted—i.e., keep on fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone. You are in the right way. Walk—don’t keep on looking at it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

That I May Love Him

Missionary Jim Elliot

I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious, to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and give oneself again to God—what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him.

Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose finger ends set them burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, and smile into His eyes—ah then, not stars nor children shall matter, only Himself.

“O Jesus, Master and Center and End of all, how long before that Glory is Thine which has so long waited Thee? Now there is no thought of Thee among men; then there shall be thought for nothing else. Now other men are praised; then none shall care for any other’s merits. Hasten, hasten, Glory of Heaven, take Thy crown, subdue Thy Kingdom, enthrall Thy creatures.””