Posted on October 15, 2019 8:00 AM by Ken Slaughter
David was wise enough not to trust his heart. He prayed about it.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way
everlasting! (Psalm 139)
Human hearts naturally acquire inappropriate targets. The Book of Judges teaches that what seems “right in our own eyes” may be wrong. We faithlessly follow our first parents’ fatal footsteps. We are born into a wilderness of sin, consequences, and separation from God. Life is difficult. The difficulty is escalating as people increasingly love wrong targets of self, money, and pleasure rather than God and neighbor (2 Tim. 3:1-5). There is a time to love, and a time to hate (Ec 3:8).
It’s all too easy to follow Lot’s wife’s example and confuse the two. Our desperately wicked hearts (Jer. 17:9) make us love the wrong things. Loving the wrong things is still lethal today. Addictions of every kind are deadly. So, discipline yourself to deny yourself. Fast and pray as Jesus did.
Thankfully, God offers us right desires (good targets to desire). But wrong targets still abound. Choose your targets prayerfully and aim your heart carefully. Guard your steps even when you go to the house of God. Come as Jesus came, to serve. And after worshipping with the Church, follow Christ into the wilderness. Be His messenger. He is still seeking and saving the lost.
Is Christlikeness in your heart? Search it. And ask God to search it again, because love is powerful. And you’d better be sure of your target and beyond.
-- Ken Slaughter serves as CABA's Prayer Encourager. He also pastors Mt. Repose First Baptist Church in Milford, Oh.
Posted on June 5, 2019 7:00 AM by Ken Slaughter
When praying, we need a filter. When I was a child, a younger cousin was chattering on about nothing. My Dad interrupted saying, “Son, your tongue is loose on both ends isn’t it?” Decades later, it still makes me laugh! But then comes a sobering thought: Do I sometimes sound like that when I talk to God?
“Pray without ceasing” is not a call to “stream of consciousness” praying. God already know our thoughts, not all of which are worthy of prayer. Some thoughts should be screened out; others, refined and purified. Unceasing prayer is a call to raise our average spiritual aware-ness, resulting in more frequent and perceptive prayer.
As we “watch and pray” we gain understanding about what God is do-ing and what we should do. Prayer is part of a process of supernatural empowerment for insightful, holy action. Passionate prayers come when our hearts reach further than our natural abilities. Consider Anna and Simeon in Luke 2. Perhaps we must learn to care more before we can pray more.
It is bold of sinners to enter God’s holy presence at all. We can do so only because of the bloody self-sacrifice of our great High Priest. Guard your steps. Consider the effort David put into his carefully crafted prayer-songs. We may not be prayer artists, but we should be thoughtful.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 says: "Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few."
--Ken Slaughter serves as Prayer Encourage for CABA and pastors First Baptist, Mt. Repose.
Posted on April 15, 2019 9:07 AM by Ken Slaughter
Could it really be that the most important part of the worship service is prayer? It is difficult to understand these verses in any other way. Not forgetting the fact that this is the second chapter and not the first. The first chapter stresses the necessity of right teaching. That’s a given. A church with false doctrine is no church at all.
True churches will preach the truth. And when they gather for public worship, the most important part of the worship service is prayer.
“… supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings…” The idea is not to include certain types of prayer and exclude others, rather the idea is to prioritize prayer and plenty of it. Public prayer must be an emphasis in the public worship service.
These prayers are to “be made for all people” . You can’t get any more inclusive than that. There is nobody we should NOT pray for. Paul is emphasizing the local and global (glocal), scope of the church’s influence and work (which flows from the universal scope of the work of Christ Himself).
It is no accident that Paul makes this emphasis
4 times here:
Verse 1 - prayers for ALL people
Verse 4 - God desires ALL people to be saved
Verse 6 - Jesus gave himself as a ransom for ALL
Verse 7 - “Gentiles” means literally ALL the nations or ALL the people groups.
If a church loses its outward reach… caring most about itself and losing its concern for others… that church will find itself disconnected from the persona, purpose and power of Christ.
I invite you to pray about what more we can do to introduce people in our communities (and in Cincinnati) to Jesus. First of all, we should pray. Also check out saturateusa.org
Ken Slaughter serves as CABA's Prayer Encourager and pastors First Baptist, Mt. Repose Baptist Church in Milford, Oh.
Posted on February 5, 2019 8:00 AM by Ken Slaughter
We are familiar with the discipline of prayer. But I encourage you think of prayer also as a skill to be developed.
Most people (and all sheep) generally lack both discipline and skill. They respond instinctively or arbitrarily to whatever happens to them. Leaders (and shepherds) are just the opposite. They see more and they make new things, good things, happen for others. Christ has called His people to be leaders and shepherds.
We are the salt and light of the world… agents of Gospel conversion on a mission of world transformation. We don’t have the natural ability to accomplish this mission. It will not be accomplished by human might or power, but only by the Spirit of God. He is the Great Shepherd. He is the vine. Without Him, we can do nothing. But with Him all things are possible. And God is with us. It takes discipline and skill to be an effective leader. With skill, we take actions that lead to outcomes. And with discipline, we routinely learn (often from failures) to sharpen our skills. A disciplined hunter goes to the shooting range regularly. And while each shot is important, the shot taken on a hunt is most important. It is good to be disciplined to pray routinely and often.
But it is better to learn from that… and to go on to be a spiritual leader praying with developed skill. I don’t mean skill that sounds impressive to people. I mean skillful praying that brings results. It’s time to take our prayer lives off the practice range and into the field of spiritual battle.
Spiritual leaders develop skill to pray well, resulting in great effect. Purposeful, directed, passionate prayer focused on Kingdom victories…
praying for specific change…
outcomes beyond human ability…
that only the Lord can accomplish… these are skillful prayers.
God delights in connecting our prayers to His mighty actions. God delights in the one who chooses to pray skillfully for Kingdom advances. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
--Ken Slaughter is CABA's Prayer Encourager and pastors First Baptist Church, Mt. Repose, Oh.
Posted on October 2, 2018 10:00 AM by Ken Slaughter
When crisis strikes, think twice before reacting. It may be a blessing seen only through Spirit-aided sight. For reasons obvious to all, fear is the natural reaction to crisis. But for reasons unseen by most, faith is the reaction of the redeemed. And faith is first voiced in prayer.
Prayer makes sense when we realize the best possible outcomes are supernatural ones. But Americans don’t naturally think this way. So, we rarely pray with urgency and passion.
Jesus said people are most blessed when they least look like it. In times of grief, suffering, injustice, and slander… we are blessed. Natural eyes overlook spiritual realities. Jesus draws our attention to invisible blessings seen by spiritual eyes. Americans are a pragmatic people. We value the aid of human agencies. That’s why we pay taxes and invest in warranties and insurance policies. If we valued supernatural aid, we would invest in prayer and the Word.
We prepare for material threats because we see them. But what about unseen threats? What good is it if we gain the whole world and lose our souls? What of the inner life? Thoughts and desires? Character? Our spiritual condition? Relationships?
The human heart is an unseen battleground. For the lost, it is territory occupied by invisible enemy forces. The only hope for the natural (lost) person is the gospel. But if we believers are occupied with physical things, we are blind to the spiritual desperation of others. Seeing no need, we share no gospel, and pray no prayers. We fail not only the lost, but Christ also. The Church in America is a sleeping giant.
O God, wake us up to supernatural truth! You have called us to invisible Gospel work. Bend our lives around that mission!
Supernatural work will not be accomplished through natural human ability. Drive us to prayer and fasting, that we may come to our senses! Open our eyes to invisible realities. We are born again as Your children. You have washed us with Your Son’s blood. Speak to us through Your Word. Sanctify and empower us by Your Spirit…that we may see the invisible, touch the intangible, and accomplish the impossible for Your glory and for the salvation of many people.
-- Ken Slaughter serves as CABA's Prayer Encourager and pastors Mt. Repose Baptist in Milford, Oh.
Posted on September 4, 2018 10:00 AM by Ken Slaughter
I read somewhere that the average person can maintain only about 150 relationships. How can that be true when I have 800 friends on Facebook alone? It raises questions. What is a friend? What is a relationship? I’m not taking a shot at social media. I’m thankful to be able to keep up with high school friends (in Georgia), Navy buddies, and missionary friends. But we have to recognize that virtual friendships rank lower than close personal friendships. It leads to problems when people confuse the virtual with the vital.
In Matthew 7, we learn two things: People get confused about their relationship with Jesus. But Jesus is very clear about it.
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them,” I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Do you know Him? Do you post a prayer every now and then just to show some activity on the account? Or do you communicate deeply with Him about important and intimate things in your life?
Do you spend time listening for His voice speaking in your spirit?
Are your prayers virtual or vital?
--Ken Slaughter serves as CABA's Prayer Encourager and pastors Mt. Repose Baptist in Milford, Oh.