The Prayer of a Haitian Woman

by Bill Rudge

IMG_0009About a hundred people were gathered outside a witch doctor’s hut in Haiti in a voodoo village. We formed a large circle and were about to pray when one woman became very agitated.“You didn’t bring us food and clothing!” she cried out in Creole. Having nothing left since we had already given away the food and clothes my team had, I responded through my interpreter, “If I give you food today, tomorrow you will be hungry again. If I give you clothes today, in a few months they will wear out and be tattered and torn. But what I came to give you today will last forever. I offer you spiritual food that will satisfy you now and for all eternity.” She nodded to acknowledge that what I said was good.

During my prayer, I glanced to see if this woman was participating. Her head was bowed and her eyes were closed. The thirst of her heart was greater than her need for food and clothes.

Giving water to someone who is thirsty is admirable, but unless we also offer the life-quenching water of Jesus Christ, we deprive them of their most crucial need. If we give a bottle of water or food or clothes to someone in need, we should do so in Jesus’ name. While we should care about people’s material and physical well being, we should be even more concerned about the condition of their soul.

Reverence for His Name

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

The Lord’s Prayer opens with this concept of reverence: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9). Addressing God as our Father identifies us as His children. How do we become one of His children?

But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).

Besides having the privilege to address God as our Father, we are to hallow God’s name when we pray. This means we should approach God with reverence and respect. In ancient times a name expressed the individual’s essential being. Thus, by approaching God with reverence for His name, we are in reality expressing a respect for His very being. As David proclaims, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9).

Seeking His Will

The essence of Jesus’ life reflects His willingness to humble Himself and submit to the will of His Father (see Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus taught this in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). The apostle John reiterates that we should pray according to God’s will.

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14).

He could not have stated it more clearly, if we want God to hear our prayers, then we must seek God’s will and not our own.

In my youth, I wanted to be a professional soccer player. Certainly, there was nothing wrong in aspiring to such a lofty goal. The problem was, I allowed my desire to play soccer to be more important than my desire to serve and honor God. Soccer had become my identity and I based my self-value upon it. Essentially, I was living a self-centered life, rather than a Christ-centered life and my prayers reflected it. The pursuit of my own dreams nearly destroyed me; it took three injuries, which required surgery on my left ankle and both knees, to bring me to the point in my life where I began to seek God’s will and not my own. After my third operation, I wrote the following in my prayer journal,

“God, I give my life and desires to you. Take this and build within me a desire to serve You; stronger than my desire to play soccer.”

As it says in Proverbs, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (19:21).

Our prayer lives will be ineffective if we approach God on our own terms and in accordance to our own will. It will not be until we are willing to humble ourselves, and submit to His will for our lives, that we will see our prayer lives becoming powerful and effective.

Jesus Is Our Example

Jesus’ life was defined by prayer. At the start of His ministry, as He was baptized, He prayed (Luke 3:21). Before He chose His disciples He spent time in prayer (Luke 6:12-16). Before He was betrayed, arrested, and condemned to death, He was on His knees in prayer (Matthew 26:36; Mark 14:32; Luke 22:41; John 17). This consistent pattern of prayer obviously left an impression on Jesus’ disciples. As one of my former students, Mike J. Sarkissian, asserts in his excellent book: Before God: The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer:

The disciples had been used to going to the synagogues and the temple and hearing the cold, impersonal, repetitious prayers of the Pharisees. But once they began following Jesus, they must have immediately noticed that His prayer life was different. It was passionate and powerful. It was much different than what they were used to. When Jesus prayed things happened. Jesus’ prayer life commanded the disciples’ attention enough for them to ask Him for instruction on how to pray.

Spending Time in Prayer

Jesus separated Himself from others to spend time in prayer with His Father (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). Challenges we all face include distractions and busy schedules. I understand this! I have six children, work full time in the ministry, travel for speaking engagements, author books, coach high school soccer, and teach as part-time professor at an area university.

None of us is busier than Jesus was, and if He could make time to separate Himself to pray, we can do the same. While we may not have a mountain or wilderness available for solitude, we can still find places and make ways to spend time alone with God.

Wake Up and Watch!

Bill Rudge Ministries received a letter with prophetic perception from Mrs. Valerie Graves, a pastor’s wife from upstate New York, who has read much of what Bill has written over the years, finding the teaching insightful and encouraging. Valerie described her and her husband’s adventurous trip to California, visiting their daughter who is pursuing a PhD at Berkeley. They enjoyed sunny skies and cool breezes as they toured the San Francisco Bay area and surrounding sleepy beach towns. One moment they were relaxing in the lap of luxury and the next they were fleeing for their lives as wildfires ravaged the area.

Some of Valerie’s thoughts:

We were to end our time in California at a lovely house on a vineyard in Sonoma Valley with a spectacular view of the surrounding area. We drove up a long driveway through a vineyard. The front lawn was meticulously landscaped with pathways leading to the front porch where welcoming rocking chairs awaited. There were pomegranate, lemon and apple trees. The inside was gorgeous with large windows to enjoy the beautiful view. It was difficult to take it all in.

That night as I was falling asleep I remember hearing the wind outside picking up, leaves blowing against the window. My husband Charlie and I woke up at five in the morning and went downstairs to make coffee. It was still dark outside. Just as Charlie was reaching for the pot of coffee there was a loud banging on the door. Clearly something must be wrong. Then I heard shouting, “Wake up! Quick, you need to leave now. There is no time to waste.” Within five minutes we were in the car heading away from the beautiful house on the vineyard. As we headed slowly in the opposite direction of the fire in a line of traffic, we could see the sky aglow with the fire which was close.

It was a scary night, and the moment when I realized how serious this fire was, the Lord pressed on my heart to “go back and warn My people.” It became clear the fire I was seeing was a picture of the impending judgment and that it would come suddenly and unexpectedly to all those on the earth who are living lives in the lap of luxury.

Though we don’t see ourselves as rich, we are! We have our own homes, heated in winter and cooled in summer; we sleep on our comfortable beds and wake to warm water to bathe in and food in our cupboards to eat…Food we buy from a local store that we drive to, by the way, in our heated or cooled vehicles. We get to select the foods we enjoy (if we don’t feel like preparing it, we simply call and order our dinner) or go to a restaurant where someone brings us our food, chosen from the many options on the menu. We take breaks from our relatively easy jobs, for which we are well compensated, to go on “vacation” from our easy lives. We entertain ourselves with movies, games, shows and shopping. We paint and redecorate our homes when we become bored with them. We have so much that we have garage sales to pare down our “stuff” that has gotten out of control. We run to the doctor when we don’t feel well and our health insurance pays the tab for testing and medicine. We have gym memberships to get the exercise we need because our lives are so “cushy” we get out of shape.

Living in all this ease, it is difficult for us to imagine that judgment will come and we will hear that sudden alarm:

At midnight a cry was heard: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet Him!” (Matthew 25:6) and “Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32)

The Lord loves each one of us and wants us to be ready when He returns, suddenly and unexpectedly for His Bride, before He judges this world. Heed the warnings He provides through His Word. Do not prefer this world with all of its allure; the things that are coming to an end. Wake up and watch! Be ready and waiting for Him! Pray for each other and pray for the Lord to open the eyes of our unsaved loved ones. Flee from the wrath to come. Don’t look back. I sincerely believe the Lord is about to return for His church and it is His desire we all be ready! The finish line is in sight.

God Sees Our Potential

by Bill Rudge

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Michael and Bill

It was my first year of coaching soccer when I met Michael. Tryouts had just begun. As the skills of the new kids were being tested, we coaches gathered to observe. We were looking for raw talent – someone we could work with.

Then I spotted him. He was the heaviest and slowest kid on the field. None of the other coaches seemed interested, but I wanted him for my team because I saw potential in him. I wanted to train him and turn him into a great player.

The next two years our team won the championship, and Michael played a crucial role by putting into practice what we had trained him to do. He shut down the other teams’ offense. He used his great size to power kick the ball down the field and to take penalty and corner kicks. As a result, all the other coaches wanted him, and encouraged their “big” players to imitate him.

Michael went on to become an excellent wrestler and football player. He won the high school PIAA state heavyweight wrestling title in his senior year, and received a full football scholarship to the University of Buffalo. While there he became a standout in football. He was well respected and ranked nationally in wrestling, all the while maintaining dean’s list academic standards.

Michael now has a successful career in Pittsburgh, is married to a wonderful woman and has three beautiful daughters (all of whom have taken the challenge of the Obstacle Course at Bill Rudge Ministries). Michael and his mom attribute much of his success in sports and life to inspiration from the early influence I had on him – especially when the other coaches saw no potential.

Jesus Christ saw His disciples in this way. Although the growth of His Church did not depend solely on that group of ordinary people, their development was assured by the power of His Spirit and by His sovereign design. Jesus chose to begin His work with weak, sinful people who later turned the world upside down for Him. Jesus sees that same potential in each of us. Through the immeasurable power of His Word and His Spirit, He continually works in us to fulfill His purpose as we give our lives to Him and live by the principles of His Word.

The primary goals of the Bill Rudge Ministries are: 1) to evangelize a searching world with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ; 2) to challenge believers to reach their maximum potential in Christ – physically, mentally, emotionally, and above all, spiritually – and to walk in faithfulness until He returns.

You will discover in future blogs (and in a new and expanded book when this series is completed) the dynamic biblical principles that have transformed my life and molded my ministry. Jesus Christ can take an ordinary person and use him or her in an extraordinary way. That’s what He did with me, and with thousands of others who have accepted the challenge. As you apply these truths, you too, will begin to reach your maximum potential in Christ!

New and Expanded Book

One of our most popular books among athletes, military personnel, prisoners and missionaries is Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ. Thousands of copies of this powerful book have been requested and distributed nationally and worldwide.

Bill is updating and expanding Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ for its third printing in English. It has been translated in various languages and printed in several countries. Once completed it will also be available as an E-Book and possibly as an audio book.

Two Men – Two Destinies

by Bill Rudge

Stephen Hawking was a brilliant physicist – but the intricate prophecies in Scripture and the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ far surpass any human knowledge or ability. The psalmist stated, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). The human conscience and the Creation point with definitive clarity to a magnificent Creator. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

The prophet Isaiah declared, “Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me” (Isaiah 43:10). Moses wrote, “There is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life and there is no one who can deliver from My hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

If Stephen Hawking was right about God, then he and Billy Graham lost nothing. However, if Billy was right, then he won everything and Stephen lost everything. In other words, Stephen Hawking had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Billy Graham had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The apostle Paul makes it clear that when we stand before God we will have no defense for rejecting Him.  He states in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

Jeremiah the prophet precisely stated, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). God will move heaven and earth to make known His way of salvation to anyone who seeks Him with a sincere and humble heart. Each of us has both the freedom and opportunity in this life to determine our eternal destiny.

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:11, 12).

Instead of discounting a creator and replacing Him with a faulty system of evolution that ultimately leads to a dead end, you can come to know the Creator in a real and personal way. Once you do, your endless hours of studying theories that continually change and dissipate can end and you can look at this amazing Creator’s creation through eyes of gratitude, hope and assurance.

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

The Sovereignty of God by BJ Rudge

Powerful and Effective Prayer

“The Lord is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!” Psalm 91:2

A good place to begin a powerful and effective prayer life is in realizing that we are, in every way, completely dependent upon God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego understood that their lives were under the control of a sovereign God. Consider their response to the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, before he had them thrown into the fiery furnace:

O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (Daniel 3:16-18).

Think on these verses which highlight the sovereignty of God:

The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it (Psalm 24:1).

Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps (Psalm 135:6).

Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9, 10).

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17).

Once we acknowledge that God is sovereign we must place our trust in Him as it says in Proverbs:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

The Importance of Communication

As in any relationship, trust is established through communication – the exact essence of what prayer is all about.

A friend of my family went through a very difficult divorce. From all appearances, it seemed everything was fine in his marriage. He and his wife were active in their church and home schooled their children. He was very vocal about his faith and was very intentional in sharing the Gospel at work. When I received news that he and his wife had divorced, I gave him a call. As we talked he said, “BJ, at some point in my marriage I became a stranger to my wife. I felt like a single parent raising my kids.” This man’s marriage was destroyed when he and his wife stopped communicating.

Our human relationship with God will never grow unless we spend time communicating with Him. It is during those moments on our knees when faith develops. I foster trust in God by utilizing a prayer journal to record prayer requests and write down spiritual lessons God has taught me. This journal has proven a great resource to remind me of God’s faithfulness. It is encouraging to reflect on past requests and see how God has responded to them. Sometimes God did not answer the request in the way I thought He would, nor in the time I wanted, but in each case I am reminded that I serve a God who listens and responds to the needs of His children (Psalm 34:17; Matthew 7:7; John 14:13-14; Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 5:14-15).

Some of the spiritual lessons God has taught me have come through times of trials and tribulation, others during times of prayer and fasting. Regardless of the situation, in each case it has been valuable to reflect upon what God has taught me through the years. I also jot down key verses that have given me strength, encouragement and direction through various times in my life. What a faithful God we serve!

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7).

So then, the first principle in having a powerful and effective prayer life is trusting in the sovereignty of God. We are merely the vehicles which God uses to accomplish His sovereign will. Even in the uncertainties of life, we must realize, like Job, that we are dependent upon Him (Job 42:2-6).

The preceding was excerpted from BJ’s new E-book Powerful and Effective Prayer.