Praying Glorifies God

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Praying Glorifies God

James R. Aist

“Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

In an earlier article, I presented biblical evidence for the understanding that the main reason God created mankind, and, thus, the reason for our existence, is to glorify God (click HERE). In this article, I will argue that the very act of praying, regardless of the outcome, glorifies God, and therefore, it helps us to fulfill the main purpose for which God created us.

In evangelical Christianity, we are used to the idea that we glorify God by our singing, preaching, serving and even our giving. But, in my experience, bringing our concerns, our cares and our needs to Him in prayer seems to have been relegated to more of a self-serving exercise, where any glory given to God depends on the answers, if any, to our prayers. Such an attitude can prevent us from praying, or, worse still, it can lead us to put God on trial, as it were, where we, in effect, demand that God give us an explanation for unwanted outcomes, or else! But God has shown me a better way to approach His throne of grace, an attitude that will always give Him glory, regardless of His response. I believe that this better way, when embraced and employed, will allay the fear of unanswered prayer that so easily can become a roadblock to praying at all.

This better way is really very simple, albeit not necessarily easy. Start with acknowledging that God is on His throne in heaven and does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). The corollary to this fact is that you, on the other hand, are not God. And, God is still God regardless of the outcome of your prayer. These three things we must settle in our hearts, before approaching Him for help. Then, be prepared to accept and make peace with the outcome of your request as the best outcome possible, regardless of how it stacks up against your personal opinion or desire. Trust that God always has a good reason for His response to your request, and remember that He doesn’t owe you an explanation if you don’t like it! “Where is the glory in that?”, you might ask. Well, the glory is in the act of going to God for help, thus acknowledging both who He is and His great and everlasting love for us. The mere act of praying to God glorifies Him by acknowledging who He is, and it fulfills the very purpose for which He created us! There is no such thing as a fruitless prayer!

Finally, in this context, I want to leave you with a thought to mull over. Could it be that maybe, just maybe, praying is ultimately more about God than it is about us. If the act of praying, regardless of the outcome, glorifies God, and if that, in turn, fulfills our primary purpose for existing, then what outcome could possibly be more important than that?

(To find more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 2

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The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 2

James R. Aist

“I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

In a previous article , I gave an account of how God was miraculously fulfilling a prophecy given to me that all of my children would be saved (click HERE). My second daughter, Liesel, was visiting me from Norman, OK, and she asked me an amazing question that confirmed to me that God was at work in her, confirming the gift of saving faith that He had given her as a little girl. But, she was not yet ready to profess that faith again.

Liesel returned to Norman, and several months went by with just the usual “visits” by phone and e-mail; she did not reveal to me whether or not she was professing her faith in Jesus again. The only evidence I had at that point that God had saved Liesel was her earlier professions of faith and His promise that He would save all of my children. Liesel was now 20 years old, and it was late April of 1997. That’s when I got a phone call from the hospital in Norman with the shocking news that Liesel had been struck by a car while walking across an intersection. She was in critical condition with little hope of surviving severe head injuries. She was in a coma, and we were told to get to the hospital as soon as possible. So, we flew to Norman fearing for her life and not having any tangible evidence that Liesel was, again, professing her faith in Jesus.

Let me share with you now three independent testimonies that week in Norman that re-assured me that Liesel was saved. The first of these three testimonies was shared with me in the hospital by her Christian co-worker, Rocky, who used to talk with her privately during work breaks and witnessed to her frequently about Jesus. Rocky told us that, not more than a couple of days before her accident, Liesel had confided in him that she does believe in Jesus. That was a very encouraging testimony, indeed! But, God did not leave it at that. At God’s direction, I testified at the funeral of Liesel’s faith in Jesus, based in part on Rocky’s account. Then, as we were driving to the cemetery after the funeral service, Liesel’s boy friend, Joe, who was riding in the seat behind me, spoke up and told me that, after hearing about Rocky’s testimony, he wanted to tell me that a friend of his (not Rocky) had told him 2-3 weeks earlier that Liesel told him she believes in Jesus. Moreover, Joe had just found a letter that Liesel had recently written to Jesus asking Him to help her with a problem. She would not have prayed for help to a Savior that she did not believe in!

Upon hearing that, I was ecstatic and knew full well that when Liesel died, she was professing her faith in Jesus. I now had three, independent and credible witnesses to that effect! God not only kept His promise to save Liesel, but He also provided me tangible evidences of it. To God be the glory for demonstrating that He was at work making good on His promise to save my children, by saving Liesel. I can’t wait to be with her again, in heaven!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 1

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The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 1

James R. Aist

“For God is the One working in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

My second daughter, Liesel was a beautiful, musically talented, athletic, sweet and endearing little girl with a special sense of humor. I called her my “Lee-Lee Bell.” She had already professed her faith in Jesus at an early age, before she was 10 years old: in a Sunday School class, she told the teacher that she had accepted Jesus. Then, when Liesel was 10 years old, I had the precious opportunity to lead her in a prayer to receive Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Here’s what happened. Near the end of a sermon at church on a Sunday morning, Liesel leaned over and asked me, “When did you make your decision for Jesus?” I replied “When I was 8 years old.” “Is it too late for me to do it?” she asked. I replied, “No, you can do it any time before you die. Do you want to do it now?” After further discussion, we agreed that I would help her do it at home, after church. So, after we had lunch, I asked her if now was a good time, and she said it was. So, that’s when we prayed, and Liesel confirmed, by her profession of faith in Jesus, what God had been doing for! And she said, “This is the biggest day of my life!”

Unfortunately, in the ensuing years, as Liesel passed through her teens, she became unsure of her faith in Jesus. But, like the one sheep that had gone astray (Luke 15:3-6), Liesel already belonged to Jesus, and God was not done with her.

The following encounter that I had with God is not only pertinent, but essential, to the rest of the story. I was attending the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International Men’s Advance at Lake George in upstate New York. One day when they were immersion baptizing in the lake, I stepped forward to be immersed by Pastor Don Yarborough. We had never met, and he knew nothing about me. As I approached him in the water, he just stared at me straight in the eye with a blank look, and kept staring. I thought to myself, “That’s strange; he doesn’t seem to even see me coming.” Finally, as I drew near to him, he reached out his hand to me, we shook hands and I introduced myself. Then he said that something very unusual had just happened; it had happened only once before in his ~20 years of baptizing people. He said that as I was approaching him in the water, he received a prophecy for me, in the form of several Bible passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. They all had to do with the head of the household being saved and all of his family with him. He then proceeded to share with me all five of those Bible verses. When he had finished with that, he gave me the interpretation of the message: God wants me to stand on and hold fast to these promises, which he is confirming to me and my children. Wow! Through this prophecy, God had just told me that all of my children will be saved! Needless to say, I was a “happy camper” the rest of that afternoon. But, I didn’t say anything to any of my children about this glorious promise at the time.

In August of 1996, Liesel had just turned 19, and it was time for her annual visit with me in Ithaca, NY, from her home in Norman, OK. As was my custom, I brought up the matter of her current position regarding her faith in Jesus, and we talked about that for a while. It was clear that she had a good understanding of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ was all about, but she said that she didn’t want to profess faith in Jesus again unless she was absolutely sure of it. I was OK with that. Now, I had not yet said anything to Liesel about God’s promise to me to save all of my children. Nevertheless, she looked at me and somehow knew to ask this amazing question: “Daddy, have you ever received any indication from God as to whether or not I will someday become a Christian?” Well, this question blew my mind. I was so overwhelmed by it that, for a few seconds, I was unable to respond. How did she even know to ask me such a thing at that time? I had to conclude that God must have given her that question, and so I haltingly, but eagerly, proceeded to tell her about God’s promise to save all of my children. When I finished, Liesel was visibly pleased and very encouraged by this good news.

God had revealed, in a miraculous way, that He was continuing the good work that He had begun in Liesel when she was a young girl! That was one of the most amazing days of my life. Click HERE to read Part 2, the rest of this story.

(To read more of my article with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The “Handwriting” on the Wall

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The “Handwriting” on the Wall

James R. Aist

“… I have now come to give you insight and understanding.” (Daniel 9:22)

From the time I was eight years old, God has been communicating with me, now and then, through visions. I was forty years of age when this vision came to me. It was springtime, 1985. One Sunday morning I began to pray earnestly, asking God what He wanted me to do with the rest of my life. Just four days later, in the middle of the night, I was awakened suddenly and sat straight up in bed, aware of the presence in the room of a “spirit being.” At first, there was nothing visible to explain this phenomenon. By this time in my Christian walk, I had enough Bible knowledge (e.g., 1 John 4:1) to “test the spirits”, so I said to it, “Who are you?” There was no verbal response, but something bright then appeared on the wall to my left. So, I looked in that direction and saw, in large, white, bold lettering, a Scripture reference: “DANIEL 9: 22…” As I was pondering that message, the writing slowly faded away. Through this vision, God was directing my attention to the book of Daniel, chapter nine, verses 22 and following. Realizing that this was no ordinary spiritual experience, I made note of the message on the wall and went back to sleep, with the intention of looking into the matter thoroughly the next morning.

Now, up until then, I had virtually no idea what was in the book of Daniel, except for the story of “Daniel in the Lions’ Den.” So, the next morning, with the aid of a study guide, I carefully studied the book of Daniel through twice. For our reference, here is the passage of Scripture to which I had been directed: 21 indeed, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22 He informed me and talked with me, and said, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved. Therefore understand the matter and consider the vision: 24 “Seventy weeks have been determined for your people and upon your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make atonement for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

Let me share with you now my understanding of the message that God was giving me through this vision. First, in verse 22, Gabriel, speaking to Daniel of a prophecy given many years earlier by the Prophet Jeremiah, said “… I have now come to give you insight and understanding.” God was saying to me that He was giving me insight into and understanding of the Scriptures that I did not already possess. And second, I found out that Chapter 9 is considered to be the “backbone of Bible prophecy”, because, in Chapter 9, it predicted to the day when Jesus would make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the long-promised Jewish Messiah! God was confirming to me the accuracy and reliability of the Bible as His Word and calling me to become a student of the Bible then and there, no longer just a casual and occasional reader of it.

You may wonder how this vision impacted my life. Simply put, it set my life on a different course. After all, this vision was God’s way of answering my question concerning what He wanted me to do with the rest of my life! Since that day, my worldview has become thoroughly and unequivocally biblical, and I have become, not only a student, but also a teacher, of the Bible. And, I now have the courage of my convictions, courage to stand boldly and publicly for the truths of God’s Word. To God be the glory, all of it!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)