How fun we get to fan the flames for Bibles for Asia. We don't often realize the kind of sacrifice they're having to make in order to continue being Christians. Sometimes as Christians we look the other way and we say God will look after them. We can fan the flames for Bibles for Asia. Five dollars sends a Bible or a hundred sends twenty.
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This is the Truth Network. Encouraging Prayer. God offers an open invitation for His people to talk with Him at any time about anything. On Encouraging Prayer, Dr. James Banks, author of the bestselling Prayers for Prodigals, and many other books on prayer, provides weekly biblical insight to help you learn to love to pray.
And now, here's James. Oh, I think you're going to be so excited about today's episode of Encouraging Prayer because we're going to be talking about coincidences and prayer, but you're going to want to put quotation marks around the word coincidences because where we're going is about so much more than that, right, James? Oh, yeah, it is. I mean, we probably all heard it said that coincidences happen, but they seem to happen more frequently when we pray. And I, you know, that's really something worth talking about. Oh, it really is because, I mean, we can all think of those times when we prayed about something and maybe it didn't seem like, you know, that would happen, but all of a sudden the very thing we were praying about seems to come, you know, in a way that someone might say, oh, that was just a coincidence or we're just lucky, you know?
But, you know, it wasn't. I mean, I can think of so many things like that in my life. Even last Sunday, I was getting ordained in the church where I serve and— Congratulations.
Yeah, thank you. And I, being 67, Tammy and I were praying on our way, you know, about that, God, you would show me at this point in my life, you know, exactly what, you know, what's going on. And the coincidence was the pastor was preaching a sermon on Moses, you know, being ordained at 80. Just coincidence, though. It was coincidence, right, James? Oh, that's awesome.
That's awesome. I mean, I just kind of see you there looking like Charlton Heston. But you're so right, the skeptics aren't going to see that, you know, because they're looking in the wrong place. If you start with the assumption that prayer doesn't work, or that there is no loving God who loves to answer prayer, or there may not be, you know, you're not going to see much happen when you pray, because obviously you're praying without faith. But even believers have to be careful with that kind of thinking, because sometimes we can fall into the perspective that, well, sometimes prayer works, sometimes it doesn't, because God is sovereign, and you, you know, never know what he's going to do, that kind of thinking. Oh, that's interesting, because it sounds so good, but it can also be sort of an off-ramp to doubt, right? Because you're thinking about all the times you prayed, and something didn't happen, but, you know, you're trying to protect the idea that God is there at the same time somehow.
Like, how does that work? Yeah, exactly. It gets complicated, but again, life is complicated. And, you know, I think we've all fallen into that at one time or another, and while it sounds rather rational and may not be the same as, you know, doubting that God is there, there isn't a lot of faith in that kind of praying either. But when we think that way, we might think, well, we're just being mature, you know, in our faith. And, you know, but the truth is, you're already thinking about, you know, how what you're praying about isn't going to happen or may not happen. And I really don't think God wants us to pray that way.
Oh, yeah, I mean, I agree. He wants us to believe that all things are possible with him. But still, how do you guard against a perspective that says, God should just give me whatever I want when I pray, you know, if I ask with enough faith? Yeah, I mean, that that sounds biblical, too, in a way, right?
But we have to remember that all of Jesus' promises are made in the context of relationship. And you have to think about how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. You know, he prayed, Father, all things are possible for you.
So he's still believing that. But then he goes, not my will, but yours. So if we have a relationship with him, one that is genuine, he's going to help us to learn how to pray like he did, sort of holding that both-and intention together, you know, not just insisting on our own way, but yielding to him. And I really believe that if we keep trying to pray and stay consistent with him in prayer, not just asking for things, but seeking his faith and loving him, again, that relational aspect, he'll help us work this out.
So let's go back to what we were talking about earlier, the concept of seeing coincidences happen more frequently. Darrell Bock Yeah, you know, I understand you being out there in California today, having an amazing example from that this past week, didn't you? David Schanzer Yeah, let me tell you about why I'm out here. I had to take a puppy out here because my wife is, you know, really into our labradoodle breeding business. We're actually one of six CKC preferred labradoodle breeders in the country. And so we were flying a puppy out to California. But, you know, I felt so sorry for this puppy because he was going to be cooped up in a little carrier underneath the seat in front of me for this long flight from North Carolina to California. And so before I left, I asked the church to pray and I said, Don't.
Yes, pray for me, but especially pray for the puppy. Because, poor little thing, you know, she's having to leave her mama, and then she's cooped up in this crate, and I had no idea how it was going to go. And so, interestingly, on both flights out, so I'm sitting on an airline that has free seating, open seating. And the first flight, there's enough room on the plane where there's a middle seat in between. And I can put the puppy in the middle row under the seat, which is larger by a couple of inches, actually, a lot of people don't realize that, but and open it out. And then this, this girl sits down beside me, who is just in love with the puppy.
And that's great. But I end up flying into Chicago O'Hare. And if you've ever been there, that's just kind of a cramped airport.
In my opinion, not a very pleasant place. And people are grumpy, you know, and I get on the adjoining flight with the dog. And the first thing the flight attendant says to me is, well, you realize the dog has to stay in the crate the whole time.
And I'm thinking, yes, welcome aboard. And, but the next flight attendant is I'm coming down the aisle, sees what I have in this crate. And she says, I'm going to take care of you. And she says, do you want an aisle seat or a window seat? And I said, well, I should probably sit in the aisle seat.
That'll make it easier. And she said, I'm going to find someone for that window seat. So she finds another young woman who loves puppies and puts her in the aisle seat. And then she says, go sit in the middle seat. So I sat in the middle seat and then she stood in, she stands there in the aisle seat right beside me. And as people are coming down and that seat looks like it's open, she says, no, I'm sorry, the seat is taken.
So there are only six seats open on the whole flight. Let's wrap things up that way. Lord, thank you that you come through with us for us and with us in so many different ways, the most amazing just being that we can even talk to you and have that time together in the relationship that James described. And Lord, I pray that you would help us to seek your face in so many different opportunities that we can share life, even a trip with a dog in an airplane, whatever that may look like that we could go on these adventures together with you and sense your presence. And I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen. You can hear more from Pastor James by visiting his website, jamesbanks.org, or by visiting Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina. May God bless you and encourage you as you pray. This is the Truth Network.
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