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why should I pray?

Two days ago, I embarked on a five-parter with my GII shepherds on the topic of prayer, (loosely) based on JP’s chapter on Prayer in Desiring God. I’ll expand his excellent teaching in order to ensure that the lesson remains relevant and applicable to our context. This was a natural follow-up from my previous lesson on Philippians 4:4-7. Each time we meet for cell, I make us memorise scripture. Although these verses are familiar, I’m fairly confident they have taken a paradigm shift as they store these powerful, dynamic verses in their hearts.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (English Standard Version)

Anxiety does nothing for you. On top of adding zero benefits to your situation, it also distracts your concentration and injures your soul. Paul dispenses such practical advice – anxiety is so useless and negative that it doesn’t even change or improve your situation. No wonder he warns you against it.

The remedy to being anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything. When we pray, we acknowledge a few things: (1) We openly admit that without Christ, we cannot accomplish anything; (2) We deliberately turn away from ourselves because we have the confidence that God will provide the help that we need – I call this, “Anti-self-sufficiency”; (3) We actively humble ourselves as needy and exalt God as wealthy. No wonder Paul instructed us to turn to prayer!

Allow me to rephrase “prayer and supplication”. Basically, it is to present the request for the first time and continue to present the request earnestly (until something happens, or until the Spirit changes the way you pray). And you do this in an attitude of “thanksgiving” because you recall the many times that God has answered your prayers in the past. This should give you the confidence to ask boldly – for God is a faithful God who would answer prayers (according to His will)!  Remember also, that you are actually making known your requests and not telling God about it like He doesn’t know; this gives you the confidence that God already knows what’s in your heart; So your role then, is to verbalise your request(s), and to do it ardently, both audibly or inaudibly.

An easier way to understand “guard” is to imagine our hearts (or affections, passions and emotions) safely protected in a castle that has bricks made of God’s peace. The peace of God supersedes all human understanding, garrisons our hearts and protects it in Christ Jesus – what a powerful imagery! It’s not any other peace that will be in our hearts but that which is subjected to the rule and reign of Jesus. This peace is a result of the Holy Spirt that is at work within us.

We pray because we need God’s direction and support in our often misguided and heavy-laden lives. And the result is God’s peace – which is all that we really need. No wonder Paul exhorts us to rejoice in (verse 4)! Finally, the question then, in light of this knowledge, isn’t “Why should we pray?” but “Why shouldn’t we pray?”

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top ten things you must know about this blog.

I think it’s high-time to do some housekeeping so why not write it in my favourite top ten format? Whether you’re a new or regular reader, this post should help you to get the most out of my humble little blog/website. I will always try to improve it!

1. Firstly, time to celebrate! I welcomed my 10,000th visitor yesterday! Wooh! I have some plans for this blog and I do hope to execute it in the coming year. Having substantial readership is extremely encouraging. Thank you for your continuous support!

2. Bible-giveaway! I’m desperately trying to give away a swanky, brand-new, handsome denim-covered NKJV bible in my 100th entry anniversary competition. A slight change of rules (exhibiting signs of desperation) – you can leave comments in any entry.

3. Subscribe to msk! Receive my posts immediately and in the convenience of your mailbox. This is faster than checking bloglines, facebook or twitter. Simply submit your email at the top right of the navigation bar. Easy as 1-2-3.

4. Navigate with ease! Rummage through the archives by Recency (last 7 posts), Diversity (15 different categories), Museum (by month, since it inaugurated in October 2009) or Fragments (most commonly used tags). Sorted for your expedience.

5. What’s hot here? The three links of By Popular Demand changes everyday; the amazing WordPress captures the highest clicked links on my blog and reflects it there. See what the others are clicking on when they visit this blog.

6. Add me, okay? Every new post is automatically and simultaneously published on facebook and twitter. So if you don’t want to subscribe (why not!?), you can still keep yourself updated by adding me on facebook and twitter through the sidebar.

7. Stand-alone pages! See the five pages at the top of this blog? I’m currently working on four more and will update the existing ones in time. Nothing much to shout about at the moment, but it’s a work-in-progress.

8. Bygones be bygones! Though I’m not proud of it, my old blogs are still a part of my history. But don’t expect to find as many good reads in an angsty livejournal, a random blogspot and a shorn theshanghaitan. Enjoy the walk down memory lane.

9. 111 and 172! Not bus services but entries and comments respectively – I delight in every single one and it’d be great to hear from you because I write to be read; I’d love to have you bounce off my insights and share what’s on your mind – like you’re re-blogging.

10. Lastly, I write daily! Or at least I try to. I doubt I’d ever run out of ideas. (Pssst, I have 60+ draft posts!) If there’s something on your mind you’d like me to write about, and if I can, I will attempt to. Write in to me and I’ll (try to) write one for you.

Once again, THANK YOU for frequenting this blog. I’ve enjoyed writing as much as you’ve enjoyed reading. Here’s to the next 10,000 visitors…! I can barely wait. (:

housekeeping matters.

Warning: this post sounds relatively conceited and will be blatant, shameless self-advertisement for the blog. Bear with me because I’ll probably only do this once, I hope. Hehe. (:

First and foremost, and some of you may have already realised this…

I’d like to launch my new domain…

joeyasher.com!!!

(Feel free to update all your links if you so desire; misunderstoodsunshinekid.wordpress.com gets you here as well – both urls are one and the same.)

My silent countdown to the centenary post begins and I plan to put together a minuscule competition to spice things up a little here, so keep your eyes peeled to this one. Well, so far, so good; I’ve been enjoying the process of expanding on one thought per day – that’s what I’ve been telling myself to achieve, to think big, start small, build deep (thank you, EC). Blogging daily has become a part of my routine and I think that’s a good thing (for me) – kind of like my “think time”. After all, setting out with a purpose does result in a purposeful blog.

I love to write and (I think) you like to read (what I write); we have a nice little partnership going on here. At the beginning of March, I’ve actually set a readership target for this blog and told myself (and HY) that as soon as I hit a consecutive daily average of over a hundred hits, I’ll register my own domain name. Well, the time has come for me to do that. (Actually, I should have done that last month but I’ve been reluctant to part with the cash… Nonetheless, I think it’ll be a good investment.) Interestingly enough, the two days with the highest hits are for nice is never good enough and the recent top ten reasons to leave church at 162 and 170 views respectively. I’m surprised at the figures, to be honest; considering that I only have less than 5% of hits referred from Facebook or Twitter, I’d like to believe that I do possess a healthy following and a group of supportive readers. Thank you! Either that, or some joker has been hitting refresh non-stop.

Well, I promise you that more will come. There’s just so much to write about – for example, the one leadership question I asked PC during our bi-monthly lunch just two days ago resulted in an answer so rich, it could spawn 10 entries. (I had actually prepared seven questions to ask him but that one answer was enough food for thought.) I can only pray and ask God to keep sending me thoughts, and people to keep provoking my cognition. I take no credit for any of my musings anyway because my writing is post-prayer and inspired by the Holy Spirit. I try to follow what Paul advocates in 1 Corinthians 10:31 – that is to write for the glory of God.

And so I have decided to enhance your reading experience. I’ve already amassed a sizable number of posts and so it’s only sensible that I keep my writing organised and archived. I’ve created three new categories – The Greatest Gift, Top Ten Tuesdays and Football Fervour – for your navigation pleasure; in time, these categories will increase in volume. I will also create more “pages” (and update the current ones) as time passes. In a nutshell, if you keep returning, you’ll keep finding new things to read.

In a bid to achieve consistency, I’ve tried as much as I could to post/schedule new entries by/at the turn of midnight. Oh, I use Bloglines as my blog reader and I highly recommend it. However, an even more convenient method would be to simply subscribe to my blog via email; so if you’d like to be the first to read my daily updates, simply 1) fill in your email at the top-right of this page, 2) click on the link in the confirmation email and 3) MSK will appear automatically in your mailbox – I’d super recommend that. Easy as 1-2-3. HAHAHA.

For now, I’d like to express my sincere thank to you for the great support. If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing. Actually… I’ll keep writing, regardless. I promise! (:

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