I remember growing up, I was taught how to pray in our children’s church as it was called. We were actually given a formula on how to pray. Our Teacher’s said when you pray,
1. Start with thanksgiving
2. Ask for forgiveness of your sins
We had to ask for forgiveness every-time we pray, even if we knew what our sins were or not. The explanation they gave was that there was no way we could live without sin. Now, I know that’s wrong, If we can’t live above sin, why did Jesus die? But that’s a discussion for another day.
Read Romans 6 Selah.
3. Ask God for our needs, petitions and all
4. We should always end with thanks.
All these were backed up with scriptures, a good reference for such a sermon was always “The Lord’s Prayer”, so there was no way I could have questioned that then. Anytime, our teachers asked us to pray, and I used this formula, I was greatly applauded as a good student of prayer.
Things were fine, and I had strongly believed God must have been listening to me because I was using the “Prayer Outline Formula” until I started reading the book of Psalms.I am a lover of the book of Psalms. If an estimate is made, it might end up being my most frequent book of the bible. I noticed that David wasn’t using the formula. What? David, the king, the man after God’s heart, the prophet was bumping into God in prayers (many of the psalms were actually David’s prayers) without thanking and praising him first, then ask for your forgiveness. I had thought that no matter how urgent our need or situation was, one had got to stick with the formula. As a Mathematician, I understand the place of formulas, and I know it takes years of labor of some people to dig it out. And it always works, until proven otherwise. Without the formula, no going anywhere.
That was rude, I thought, for David didn’t just “bump” into God once or twice but almost every-time he prayed. Although there were times when all he did was to thank God and times when he asked for forgiveness. I noticed he prayed as it “flowed from the inside of him” and not as “our formula states”. Then I asked, does he actually know my formula? I have so much respect for David, and I knew he shouldn’t just be “ignoring the formula”. Something was wrong somewhere, I thought.
As I grew, the Holy Spirit taught me, “Prayer wasn’t supposed to be coordinated with a formula”. It should flow freely, directed by your Spirit. If God was my father I shouldn’t be making rituals and observing a formula before talking with him. Even my earthly father, I don’t have to observe rituals before talking with him. Even though we are thousands of kilometers apart now, if I need to speak with him, I will just pick up my phone, call him and tell him my concerns. Maybe I would want to say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” first, or call him “Baba ooo” (meaning father in Yoruba language) and we would both laugh and I tell him why I called. And when I miss him, or he misses me, we make a video call. If my earthly father being evil could be like that, how much more my father in heaven? (Matt. 7:11)
I also noticed David’s prayers were in the old covenant. If the prayers in the old covenant were this liberal, how much more in the new covenant? God said:
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16)
He actually not just said this but showed it when he the veil tore in the temple when Jesus died. A stop came to all the rituals to be observed before coming into the most holy place. God is saying come boldly, Come and present your requests, no need for prayer formulas!. Just pray and pray as you are led. Freedom comes when we don’t have to observe a formula in prayers. Enjoy the liberty of the Spirit.
Over-time, I have noticed that just like me a lot of Christians are still caught in the web of Religion; a dogged practice of what we have been taught from child-hood that doesn’t conform in what way ever with the truth, just like in the prayer example I gave above.
Freedom comes when we break the cords of Religion. Anything could become religious. Going to church without the understanding of why we go, why we give, fasting could also become religious,giving etc. When John the Baptist was given birth to, Zacharias his father was mute because he didn’t believe the prophecy of John’s birth. When he was given birth to, according to the words of the angel, the mother of the baby, Elizabeth requested the child be called John. The family members and neighbors who came for the circumcision said,
Luke 1:59 – 64
So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias (vs 59)
His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John (vs 60)
But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name” (vs 61)
So they made signs to his father – what he would have him called (vs 62)
And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote saying, “His name is John”. So they marveled. (Vs 63)
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God (vs 64)
The Custom was that John be named Zacharias. It was a norm. But God said he is to be called John which was against the custom. Just like Zacharias, a lot of us are caught in the web of religion, doing things the way we do them because that’s the way we’ve been told to them from our childhood, or the way accepted by the society. We oftentimes don’t ask why we do them the way we do them. Zacharias obedience to breaking the cords of Religion brought his freedom from being dumb. I believe the Holy-spirit is trying to paint an example for us from this scenario of how we can also be free if we dared to break the bonds of Religion. One way to do that is to always ask “why”. Why do you do what you do? Why do you have to do what people do?
I have had to ask, this kind of questions, like why should I be married?, why should I have a wedding ceremony, and even why should I have a reception afterward?. Interestingly I found many of my answers in scriptures and I am holding on to them. That’s the true test of spirituality. This would open the eyes of your understanding, and bring freedom your way swiftly from what bounds others. You would also have a good conviction of what you do.
Again let me say Freedom comes when we break the cords of Religion and also add that Christianity is not a Religion it’s a Life.
I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi
At the beginning of each year, there are always prophecies in almost every congregation, given by God to the shepherd in charge. It’s always beautiful to hear the promises of God for a new year as it always serves as a source of direction as we chart our course for the year, without which we would have been full of uncertainty and apprehension. With knowledge of the prophecies for the year, we can run with them and ensure their actualization by fulfilling our side of the promises. True prophecies never contradict the scriptures and the Bible make us understand that God always confirms the words that come through His prophets, and if we believe we will be established.
So they got up early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe and trust in the Lord your God and you will be established (secure). Believe and trust in His prophets and succeed.” 2 Chronicles 20:20
Reading through the Bible, we see that God never did anything without revealing to His children ahead of time, including the birth of Jesus and the surrounding events. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others foretold the future, as we see from scriptures:
All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet [Isaiah]: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel”—which, when translated, means, “God with us.” Matthew 1: 22-23:
They replied to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what has been written by the prophet [Micah]:‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not in any way least among the leaders of Judah; For from you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ Matthew 2:5-6
Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; She refused to be comforted, Because they were no more.” Matthew 2:17-18
When Jesus was born, the wise men saw a star in the east and it went ahead of them all the way to the place the child was. How did the wise men know what the star meant? So many commentaries have tried to explain this, but I believe the wise men by some means knew about prophecies concerning the Messiah in the first place, and that’s why they could identify the star. Also, in the account of Matthew, Herod asked for the place the child was to be born and sent the wise men there. The answer was also from prophecy.
4 So he called together all the chief priests and scribes of the people and [anxiously] asked them where the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) was to be born.
5 They replied to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what has been written by the prophet [Micah]:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not in any way least among the leaders of Judah; For from you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod secretly sent for the magicians and learned from them the [exact] time the star [had first] appeared.
8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”
God has always revealed his mind to man. It is not His style to keep his children in the dark. In this dispensation, God hasn’t changed. He still tells his children about the future. The good news is that we don’t have to wait for the beginning of the year to know about the future, or our pastor because we have the word of God, our certain and sure word of prophecy. Prophetic revelations aren’t meant to be a one-off.
So we have the prophetic word made more certain. You do well to pay [close] attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and light breaks through the gloom and the morning star arises in your hearts. 1 Peter 2:19
The Bible is all the prophecy we will ever need. It tells us everything we need to know, and every child of God has access to this revelation-it is not hidden. God has given us His Spirit to help us understand it, interpret it and appropriate it in our lives.
1 Corinthians 2:9-13
9 but just as it is written [in Scripture] Things which the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, who obey Him, and who gratefully recognize the benefits that He has bestowed].”
10 For God has unveiled them and revealed them to us through the [Holy] Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things [diligently], even [sounding and measuring] the [profound] depths of God [the divine counsels and things far beyond human understanding].
11 For what person knows the thoughts and motives of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So also no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the [Holy] Spirit who is from God, so that we may know and understand the [wonderful] things freely given to us by God.
13 We also speak of these things, not in words taught or supplied by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual thoughts with spiritual words [for those being guided by the Holy Spirit].
This prophecy doesn’t come once in a year; it comes as many times as we study the scriptures and fellowship in the Spirit. This means that every day of the new year and beyond, we can receive prophecies and see prophecies fulfilled.
In conclusion, the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelations is our sure word of prophecy. We cannot walk in the light of what we do not know, and prophecies cannot be fulfilled if we don’t fulfill the requirements. Therefore, we must read, believe, speak and do the Word. The Bible wasn’t given to increase our knowledge, but to change our lives. If we do this, we will see prophecies fulfilled because God’s Word can never fail and we will be able to say like Joshua after all is said and done, “and I know in all my heart and in all my soul that not one word of all the good words which the Lord my God has promised concerning me has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed”.
Written by Iyinoluwa Onobote
I remember those days we would pester my mum, ”mummy can I go to John’ s house?” Sometimes she would say no and at other times she would give her assent. The Yes answer always excited us as we would rush out to either play football together or squat on the floor for a game of ‘lego’ soccer. We were free to express ourselves, we were free to explore once we got the Yes answer. But no one liked to be given a No. No meant sorrow, restrain and sometimes confusion as it seemed you had nothing else to do except that for which you had just been denied permission. It was most painful when we had already dreamed big and fantasized about the prospects of fun, only to be denied permission to fulfill our ‘dreams’. We would sulk and become irritable, wasting the opportunity for better endeavors. But we were kids, we knew not much.
As I think on this I am reminded that God says No. God stops his children from embarking on purposes already planned out. Be it at the onset or right in the middle of proceedings, God still speaks to conquer our desires. God still speaks to stop our rational processions. Yes, God still speaks to redirect our spiritual passions and fiery enthusiasms. Even when it is logical, spiritual or sensible, God still speaks and it could be a No.
The Holy Ghost stopped Paul preaching in Bithynia, stopped him in Asia too (Act 16:7). The Lord stopped Amaziah from going to war with Israeli soldiers he had hired with a lot of money (2Chronicles 25:7). I mean, he had paid for them already. Yet the Lord said, ‘let not the army of Israel go with you.’ And then he got worried and voiced out his trouble having to see all the money he used for hire waste away. The Lord answered, ‘I am able to give thee much more than this.’ (2 Chronicles 25:9) So, friend, thy investment no matter how bounteous, thy journey no matter how far and thy race no matter how extended, if the Lord says no, it is a No.
But remind thy heart, that God’s No is for thy good. He – God – will eventually bring you into the, Yes you need. He is very intentional about your life to bring you into the best. His No is definitely for something better that has not entered thy sphere of thought. His No might bring a present pain but it is for a future gain. He is working something out, yes He is. If God says No, weep not, but rejoice that God is thinking about you and leading you with His mighty hands. If the Almighty has decided to be deliberate with my life then I shall instead rejoice. For is it not true that not everything we desire is the best for us? The Shepherd knows better, He shall lead us well and we shall find pasture.
Hence, we must be in constant inquiry as we travel. Let us not make the Lord look like ‘the sense of Logic.’ God is not logic and He is not always logical. Before we dream dreams and build castles in the clouds of uncertainty, let us make sure our desires are founded upon the word from God. Let ‘thus saith the Lord’ always be our watchword.
Written By Rotimi Alao
I would rather be wrong in my Lover’s embrace, than right away from Him.
For if I am wrong, I shall be taught aright, following my Lover, as He makes me lie in green pastures, and leads me beside quiet waters
His Spirit guides me on the right path, for my Lover is true and truth personified.
However if I was right and away from my lover, then my right is false as it is devoid of truth and what I know would soon run false as my knowledge would puff. And that which I know is nothing, for it is better to be known of Him, than to be knowledgeable without him, knowing nothing. To be known of God is to love Him.
For Truth is greater than right or wrong!
Blessed am I, when I seek Truth above right and wrong. For I come to know the love of my lover which passes knowledge. This knowing, is one that is built on intimacy, rooted and grounded in love which is produced by fellowship with Him as He dwells in my heart by faith.
In my Lover’s embrace I am taught, for he will draw me and I will run after Him. My Lover’s love is unfailing, He loved me before I could spell the letters of love, outside of my Lover I am dead, for He is my life, paradoxically though he slays me yet would I trust in Him.
In the end, my goal is neither to be right nor wrong but to be at the center of my Lover’s will. Pleasing Him. For I know that in loving my lover, my knowledge is pure and my lover is Truth.
Written by Abraham Omotayo
Abraham Omotayo is a is a teacher of the gospel of the Kingdom, he teaches on how believers are expected to live in the reality of Kingdom at all times by being the light and salt of the word as they conform to the image of the son. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org
I was in the library a day to my birthday, studying, when I met my brother, friend and colleague, ***** (name with-held), from Ethiopia. We greeted each other in love and I asked him to join me later for lunch at the departmental Mensa. Over lunch, we had a nice discussion, laughing and smiling as we shared our lives together. One of the things we laughed about was how our parents had recently been demanding we show them who it was we wanted to get married to. ***** said, “My Mum’s friend told me, I would love you to get married to someone from our tribe here in Ethiopia, so I could speak with her heart to heart in our native language.” He also added “My mum told my younger brother, she would love to be a grandmother”.
Well, I must say I can relate very well with such statements and expressions. My mum is just similar. She keeps telling me “I am not asking you to get married right now, but just show who it is you are dating”. She hardly believes when I tell her I don’t have a girlfriend. She keeps calling me whenever she hears of any of my friends get married telling me am the only one left. I tried hard to make her understand that she is mounting pressure on me, but she wouldn’t stop. I spoke with her husband, (my father, who doesn’t care about the issue) to speak with her, but it was one of those things my dad couldn’t stop her from her doing. I did find the perfect response whenever she asks me. I would just say, “I’m working on it”. That response always makes her happy, although I know the way she thinks of the response is not the way I mean it. But I don’t care as long as it works. I’m sure many who have African mothers can relate.
One statement struck me out of my conversation with *****, it made me consider writing this article. He said “While we were young, we dare not talk about women with my mum. She never wanted us to have a girlfriend while growing.”
For me, it’s almost same. So it is a surprise to see our mothers suddenly come out of the blue and start talking to us about marriage. You know the difference? We had grown. We had matured. We had come of age. We were not thinking like babies or kids anymore but as men. And so our parents think also it is right for “men” to have someone to date. Same it is in our Spiritual Walk. There are truths and lights we would only be exposed to when we grow up. When we mature. See what Paul said here:
“And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1)
Paul wanted to teach the Corinthian church a lot of truths, but he couldn’t because they were babes. They were children. They were divided. Just as in the natural world where there are R-rated discussions so also are there deep truths for those who over time have matured themselves in the world. The Holy Spirit through Peter said:
“As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that you grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2).
Notice the charge was to GROW! Not to remain a baby. You should feed on God’s word to grow. So you are not tossed here and there by every wind of doctrine. It is annoying when a Christian of many years is still a babe. It’s just same as seeing your 25-year-old son wet the bed. It is disgraceful.
Paul said this “I have fed you with milk and not meat because you can’t bear it and even now you still can’t bear meat” (1 Cor. 3:2 Revised by me). How painful would it be for God, if He would like to introduce new and deeper truths to me to save my generation but I can’t bear it because I am still a baby. Understand me, it’s not wrong to be a baby once but it is bad to remain a baby. See here to:
“Of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing” vs 11
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (vs 12)
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe” (vs 13)
“But solid food belongs to those who are not of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (vs 14) Heb. 5: 11 – 14.
The people addressed here were dull of hearing. They were babes. More about Jesus was supposed to be shared with them, but they were not matured enough to receive it. See these scriptures here also:
“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave though he is master of all” Gal. 4:1
Notice he is the heir, the owner of the property but he can’t be in charge if he doesn’t step up to grow. He is only a slave. Thanks to God that through believing in Jesus we are now sons and not slaves. Peter said this in 2 Pet. 3:18
“But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen”
How do I grow in grace? And what does it mean to grow in grace? Please read the article “GROW IN GRACE”.
There is a lot we stand to lose if we choose to remain as babies. Deeper truths and revelations are to be given to us to liberate our generation and establish his reign here on earth. Finally, let me say, “GROW IN GRACE”.
I call you blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi
Imagine being qualified to attend the inner circus meeting of your state governor and the members of his cabinet? Or imagine being called to enjoy the same privileges the children of your president enjoys? Sounds good right? Yes.
Imagine the amount of privy information that will be at your fingertips, the blessings of being able to get into the office or private chambers of the governor at any time. Personally, I would like to enjoy that.
But do you know we have been given the same privilege with the Kings of Kings, the Almighty through his Son Jesus Christ? See what 1 Cor. 1:9 says:
“God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord”.
Notice the word FELLOWSHIP. To fellowship is to be in partnership, it is companionship. There is a heartthrob. The Merriam Webster Dictionary definition gives “a friendly relationship among people, a relationship of people who share interests or feelings”. Synonyms such as fraternization, mutual liking and mutual support were also given.
“Jesus said unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17)”
This access to fellowship was granted at new birth. We were called to enjoy the same fellowship that Jesus enjoys with God. We were invited into the inner chambers of the Kings of Kings. But you know what, not just for a while or for some few days but FOREVER. We too can go into the chambers of the Father, speak with him and get to know of the mysteries that govern the earth. But the question, how much are we making use of this grace?
We were called to enjoy the same fellowship Jesus (God’s only son) enjoys. Jesus said
“I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). In fact he said, I do nothing except my father tells me to. They are in synergy.
It is the same for us. Our spirits are continually in this fellowship. We only need to tune our minds to this continually. I must say, speaking in tongues will help us do this well. We are seated far above, in fellowship with our saviour. Jesus said;
“He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matthew 13:11)
The Holy Spirit through Paul also said;
“Now we have received, not the spirit which is of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Cor. 2:12)
Notice, 1 Cor. 2:12 says our spirit has received this fellowship. Our spirits are always in this fellowship whether we are conscious of this or not, it is there.
Our spirits are one with God, when we are sleeping, eating, attending classes, in a meeting, walking on the street or whatever we might be doing, our spirits are constantly in this fellowship with the Father. And that is why God can speak to our spirits at any time. He does this either by giving us a message or in bringing counsel to us about a matter. You see that is why it is of great importance for us to be conscious of this fellowship at all times.
Be aware that you are connected with the King of Kings, and that His number is on your speed dial. Know that you can know all things and that God is always in connection with you.
Lastly, I will like to say that the unity of the church is rooted in us understanding this mystery. As Christians we are all connected and in fellowship because we are in fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. Let me use this to explain, you are reading this article right now connected to me because we are both connected to the Internet. So in some sense, being connected to the Internet has connected us both. If we understand that every Christian is one with the Father, we would understand that we are one body. We created to function together to bring His reign on earth.
I call you blessed