Persistence In Prayer

by Dr. BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One of the keys to being persistent in prayer is to be patient. Abraham had to wait about 25 years before God fulfilled His covenant-promise that he would have a son. For me, it took about 15 years of prayer before I saw one of my wife’s family members put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Perhaps many of you who are reading this have also been in prayer about a situation for an extended period of time. Regardless of how long it has been, remember not to put a time limit on God; continue to be patient and persistent! You never know when God will respond, and you do not know what God may be doing right now in that situation. Regarding the family member I was praying for; I never knew until later, all that God had been doing in his life during the time I was praying for him.

A quick word of caution! Persistence in prayer does not mean we always get the response we want. Paul understood this as he prayed three times for God to remove his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). Despite his pleading, God’s response to Paul is a great reminder to all of us: His grace is sufficient for anything we may face.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Persistence in prayer is not about trying to get God to do what we want. Instead, it is patiently waiting upon God to respond according to His will.

Praise From Man or God?

A Greater Acclaim

As a teenager I wanted to be accepted by a group of older guys so I was motivated to lift weights and train in the martial arts until I achieved that goal. However, when I became a Christian at age 18 the desire to be accepted by these guys (which I accomplished) was replaced with a passion to be inducted into God’s Hall of Fame.

The aim of my life since then has been hopefully to be included one day in what Hebrews chapter 11 refers to as “heroes of the faith.” What an eternal honor that would be – well worth any sacrifice I may make to attain it!
Athletes and soldiers train hard and give their all just to hear the commendations of their coaches and commanders. Their sacrifices and tremendous efforts result in amazing feats reflecting years of discipline and commitment. But there is greater acclaim than that given by coaches, fans or superior officers – God’s commendation.

The ultimate goal of my life – that for which I sacrifice, discipline myself and persevere – is to hear my Lord someday say these six words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” ~ Bill Rudge

Halls of Fame

Jim Tressel (former head football coach of Ohio State) cited a passage comparing his berth in college football’s shrine to God’s Hall of Fame:

The Hall of Fame is only good as long as time shall be, but keep in mind God’s Hall of Fame, is for eternity. To have your name inscribed up there is greater more by far, than all the praise and all the fame of any man-made star.

The Example of the United States

by Dr. David R. Reagan

We were founded as a Christian nation, committed to Christian values, and God greatly blessed us. But in the 1960s, we began to thumb our nose at God as a cultural revolution was launched. Our society quickly descended into a cesspool of sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, abortion on demand, legalized gambling, rampant blasphemy and a flood of pornography. Our national slogan became, “If it feels good, do it!” We adopted a hedonistic lifestyle, calling evil good and good evil.

God responded by raising up prophetic voices to call the nation to repentance. One of those was Dave Wilkerson, pastor of Times Square Church in New York City. I call him “God’s Jeremiah to America.” In the 1970s he began writing a series of books in which he clearly outlined the sins of America and warned of judgments from God if we did not repent. Like Jeremiah, his popularity plummeted because people – even church people – did not want to hear his “doomsday message.”

When the prophetic voices were ignored, God began to place remedial judgments on our nation – things like our defeat in the Vietnam War, the plague of sexually transmitted diseases and natural disasters in the form of monster earthquakes, killer tornados and hurricanes.

So, true global warming is on its way! But, more importantly, the Signs of the Times are screaming that we are on the threshold of the Tribulation. Meanwhile, the Church needs to wake up to the Signs of Nature and all the other signs that are converging for the first time ever. But for that to happen, our nation’s pastors need to get serious about the fact that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return, and they need to start proclaiming that fact from their pulpits.

The Church needs to stop yawning and start yearning for the return of Jesus. Maranatha!

Lamplighter, May-June 2020 – Used with permission.

If Truth Be Not Diffused

“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness, will reign without mitigation or end.”

Daniel Webster (1823)

Wisdom for an 18 Year Old … and All of Us, part two – Wisdom from My Father

Recently Bill and BJ Rudge were requested by a father to each send a letter to his son who was about to turn 18. Their advice is relevant to all – both young and old, male and female. The following is BJ’s response.

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

I feel very honored to share with you the realization that I had become a man. I was blessed to have a godly father who taught me to build my life upon the Word of God. This gave me a great foundation and outlook on what it meant to be a man from God’s (and not the world’s) perspective.

Bill and BJ in the Himalayas.

When I was 18, I took a class on philosophy. My professor did not have a positive view of religion, and more specifically, had a hostile attitude toward Christianity. From the very first class, he spent much of his energy showing why it was “foolish” to believe in God and the Bible. As my faith was attacked, I spoke with my father expecting that he would tell me to drop the course. Instead, he told me to take on my professor’s challenge by investigating the truth of the faith that he had taught me growing up. This led me on an incredible spiritual journey that moved me from having only a belief to a conviction that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be and that He had risen from the dead. This process created a powerful transition from being just a boy into a man who could take ownership over what I believed and why I believed it.

During this process, at age 19, I was hired as boys’ soccer coach at Hickory High School. To set context, this was the school where I graduated and where I played high school soccer, which meant the players on the team were not only my former teammates but my friends. So, literally overnight, I had to shift from being one of their peers to being their coach, placing me in many situations where I had to deal with “grown-up” issues and decisions.

For example, the very first week of the season one of my players, and very close friend, was caught drinking. As a violation of our program’s policy, this infraction required me, as coach, to not only meet with the player and his parents, but to levy consequences. Just two weeks prior, I was at this player’s house hanging out, talking to his parents as their son’s friend; now I had to meet with all of them as the coach who had to act as judge and jury over what happened.

Being a high school coach at a young age was a life-changing experience that made me realize that, as a man, I had a responsibility toward others that required me to hold them accountable for their actions.

Our world truly needs more godly men: men who will stand for what is right – even if it means standing alone – who will spiritually lead their families, who will protect and love their wives, and who will humbly seek to glorify God in all areas. May the Lord’s hand be upon you as He continues to guide you through the steps of becoming the man He wants you to be.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2).

Leaving A Legacy

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One afternoon while walking through the woods, and spending time with the Lord in prayer, I reflected upon my life. Not only contemplating my past, I began to examine where I was in the present; specifically how I was spending my time and how this might impact my future. I thought of my children and what type of legacy I was leaving for them, and asked myself, “If I were to pass away, how would my children describe me? Would they talk about a father who not only loved them, but also desired to continually be in the presence of the Lord? Would they see me as a man who invested his life in prayer and in fulfilling God’s calling on his life? Would they want to follow in my footsteps as a man of integrity and emulate my spiritual walk with the Lord?”

The reality is that all of us will leave a legacy. Regardless of whether we are married and have children or not, God places people in our lives who are part of our circle of influence. A friend of mine has never been married and has no children, but he recognizes that he has been called by God to be a spiritual role model for his nieces and nephews. Another friend told me that he and his wife were not able to have children. However, he realizes that God has still called him to be a godly example to others. So he invests his time working with the children at his church, and serving as a chaplain at a local hospital to patients who are dying.

Considering this, ask yourself the following question: “What spiritual legacy am I leaving with the people God has put in my life?” The answer will depend upon how much time you spend in prayer, for it is in the time we spend in prayer that God prepares and equips us for His calling on our lives. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones asserts in his studies on the Sermon on the Mount:

Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when, upon his knees, he comes face to face with God.

I Could Run But I Couldn’t Hide

By Bill Rudge

Fifty years ago, on May 16, 1971, I began my hitchhiking quest across the country with my weightlifting buddy to get away from my girlfriend and her Jesus. In reality, I was in search of peace, fulfillment and the purpose of life. The adventures along the way – as well as the dangers – were many but the story took a turn while stranded in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We received rides from all types of people.

I remember getting picked up by a businessman outside of Akron, Ohio. I thought, “Nice car!” Wouldn’t you know, he began to witness to me about Jesus Christ. I run right into this religious nut who is telling me about this Jesus who I do not want to hear about. He knew I did not want to hear about Jesus so when he discovered I was going to New Mexico he said, “I know some monks out there.” (I later discovered they were born again, Spirit-filled monks).” He wrote a note and said, “I want you to give this to them and they will take care of you.” He sealed it in an envelope and I filed it away.

I thought, I am never going to see some dumb religious monks, so I later opened the letter. It said something like, “These boys are deeply troubled. Please pray for their souls.” I kept the note just in case we needed to go there and get some food.

Then in Columbus, Ohio, we hitched a ride with a guy who pulled a Bible out of his glove compartment and I thought, “Here we go again!” But when he opened his Bible, there was a hole cut out of the center pages with a stash of marijuana hidden there. As we all shared a joint, I thought, “How cool; no cop would ever think of looking inside a Bible for that.”

Albuquerque, New Mexico

After only two days and nights on the road and many adventures, we reached Albuquerque. I hoped to see my oldest brother who was living in a hippie commune there and to obtain a “hot” [stolen] motorcycle to ride to California. My brother had phoned at Christmas and I told him I might come out to see him sometime. He said he could get me a “hot” motorcycle on which we could travel across the rest of the country. He didn’t really believe I would ever show up.

At the hippie compound I was told that my brother had left the day before to go swimming at some springs in the mountains a hundred miles away. They had no idea when he would be back.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

We decided to hitchhike to Santa Fe, which was about 50 miles north of Albuquerque. After walking about three miles we finally hitched a ride that took us right into Santa Fe. During our ride, the car radio informed us that the temperature was going down to about 25 degrees, a record low for this time of year. I had anticipated warm weather out west in May, so all I had was a short-sleeved shirt and a plastic poncho.

Our ride dropped us off and we walked the cobblestone streets of Santa Fe to find a place to spend the night. Darkness was settling in and it seemed as though the whole city had closed down. Finally we found an open bar but were not allowed inside because we were underage. We asked again if we could just go inside long enough to find someone to put us up for the night. The person running the bar did not care and assured us that without proper I.D. we would not be allowed in.

We saw a girl riding by on a bicycle (the only sign of outside life) and yelled at her to stop but she pedaled all the faster and disappeared down a side street.

We returned to our only hope, the bar, which was now closing. No one leaving the bar was willing to help or put us up for the night. It was very late and the temperatures had dropped drastically.

I had unknowingly served Satan faithfully over the years but now he knew that God was beginning to move in my heart so he led me here and set me up to freeze to death.

Hope was diminishing and then, seemingly out of nowhere, down a narrow street came a small, yellow foreign car with several longhaired hippies and a German Shepherd dog hanging his head out of the window. My friend and I began to wave and yell hoping they would stop. All of a sudden one of them started yelling, “That’s my brother, that’s my brother!” and my brother Larry screeched the car to a halt. One of the passengers, Rick, said, “Yeah, we’re all brothers. You and me are brothers. The guy in the back seat is your brother too.” Larry said, “It is my blood brother.” Rick said, “That’s impossible!”

My brother did not even know I was in New Mexico. He was supposed to be 100 miles away swimming somewhere in the mountains, and there in the small town of Santa Fe, on a narrow street, a God who knew I would one day give my life to Him, intervened and spared my life.

Larry, his buddies, and a German shepherd dog Larry found had hitchhiked up to Jemez Hot Springs (59 miles north of Albuquerque and 50 miles – by road – west of Santa Fe) and stayed for a couple days. Larry and his friends were thrown out of the Hot Springs after a few nights and were hitchhiking back to Albuquerque when a young female school teacher picked them up. She took them to her home – which just happened to be in Santa Fe – and let them sleep on her floor that night. She said to Larry, “You guys aren’t going to trash my house and steal my TV and other items?” Larry promised they would not.

The next day this single female teacher left them a note stating she would be back at noon and that they were welcome to wait at the house. She came back home from school at noon and gave Larry the keys to her car saying they could use it to see Sante Fe but to please bring it back that night since it was the only car she had. She asked Larry again, “You guys aren’t going to steal my car and take everything in my house?” Larry promised her they would not. Another schoolteacher who had followed her home at noon drove her back to school and then dropped her off at her house after school. It was later that night, as Larry was driving the car back to her house, that he saw me. Larry later told me they had thought about stealing her car but wanted to keep his promise to return her car since she had been so nice.

It was on Larry’s way back to her house that God used him to save my life. If the car windows hadn’t been rolled down, Larry would never have seen me. You know why the windows were down in such cold weather? Because they had been feeding Mexican beans to the dog and it had gas. Since the defroster wasn’t working, all the windows would have steamed up, he wouldn’t have seen me, and we would have passed like two ships in the night. So God used the dog’s gas for those windows to be down!

God uses the foolish things to confound the wise and the weak things to confound the strong.

We all scrunched into that small car and soon all of us were hanging out the windows. We went to where they were staying and I completely forgot, or cared, about God. We all smoked some grass and shared stories. Larry explained that he would not be able to get us a motorcycle so the next day my friend and I started hitchhiking back to Pennsylvania. Larry, his buddies, and the dog returned to Albuquerque – never to see that school teacher again and wondering not only why she ever picked them up, let them stay in her house, and borrow her car, but also why they didn’t steal it and take off. For many years, Larry was in and out of prison for drug related charges. He told many prisoners about that miracle in Sante Fe in 1971. Years later, Larry was on fire for Jesus Christ. He died of lung cancer and with his dying words He praised Jesus for what God did in Santa Fe.

Back in Pennsylvania

We encountered many more incidents along the way but were really happy when we arrived home. The first thing I did when I got home was call Karen and then go to see her. It happened to be Sunday so, after our reunion, Karen said, “Bill, I want you to come tonight and hear this fantastic evangelist speaking in Youngstown, Ohio.”

The last thing I wanted to do my first night back was to spend it in church hearing about Jesus. I told her, “Karen, take your religion and shove it.” She persisted so I decided to go since we hadn’t seen each other for so long and she looked so beautiful.

But that night the Holy Spirit was dealing with me in a way I had never known before. The evangelist spoke on Bible prophecy and how we could know God in a real and personal way.

I had been searching for meaning and purpose in life for a long time. I had tried everything imaginable to find lasting happiness and peace. I now knew that what I was looking for would not be found, no matter where I went or what I did, but only through giving my life to Jesus Christ and fulfilling the purpose God had for my life.

When he gave the altar call, Karen and her friends asked the usual question, “Do you want us to walk down with you?” I said, “No. This time I’ll do it alone.”

I stood to my feet and as I walked down the long aisle to the altar, I said, “God, if You prove Yourself real to me tonight, I’ll live my life for You.” That was May 23, 1971. God did, and I’ve never been the same since.

The next night I went to hear this same evangelist speak in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania.

During the service he pointed to me and said, “Young man, last night there was a battle between heaven and hell. Satan and hell wanted to keep you, but God won!”

And that’s exactly what happened. I’ve never been the same and I never will be the same.

God intervened and changed my life in a way no self-realization course, no mind-expansion technique, no latent mental powers, no psychotherapy technique, no martial arts involvement, no weight lifting, no hypnosis, no meditation, no Yoga, no occultism, no Eastern religion, no human potential, no atheism, no self-effort or works of righteousness could! Nothing and no one could change my life, except Him.

Dynamic Principles of Prayer

by Bill Rudge

After searching Scripture for God’s perspective on prayer, I compiled them in my book Fasting For Sensitivity and Power. You can read these nine dynamic biblical principles on prayer in just a few minutes. It will be worth your time as God’s Spirit enlightens your heart through His Word – giving you insight concerning one of the most beneficial practices in life – Prayer! Be blessed as you engage in some Bible study by looking up each one of the following verses:

1) Right Motives
James 4:3

2) According to His Will
1 John 5:14

3) Persistence
Luke 11:5-10

4) Do Not Doubt
James 1:6-7; Hebrews 11:1, 6

5) Mountain-Moving Faith
Mark 9:23; 11:23

6) Do Not Be Anxious – Be Thankful
Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2

7) Obedience
John 14:14-15; 15:7; 1 John 3:21-24

8) A Clean Heart before God
2 Chronicles 6:36-39; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 1:15-17; James 5:16-18

9) Delight Yourself in the Lord
Psalm 37:4; Psalm 84:11; Matthew 6:33

The Lord has taught me that I cannot coerce or manipulate Him to give me what I want. However, if I delight myself in Him, seek to Honor His name and walk in obedience, He will grant the desires of my heart (because they will be His desires as well) and abundantly bless beyond what I could ever ask or think.

Powerful Prayers in Scripture

Seven powerful prayers (two of which were accompanied by fasting) that should serve as an example and inspiration to us can be found in Scripture. Take time to study them and be inspired by their example of faith:

• Elijah’s effective prayer during his encounter with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:36-37).

• David’s magnificent prayer of thanks and praise to bless the LORD. David acknowledges that everything – including riches and honor – comes from the LORD (1 Chronicles 29:10-20).

• Solomon’s powerful prayer at the dedication of the Temple, acknowledging God’s faithfulness and sovereignty – His punishment of sin and His forgiveness and restoration for repentance (2 Chronicles 6:13-42).

• Nehemiah’s persistent prayer for favor in the presence of Artaxerxes, King of Persia (Nehemiah 1:4-11).

• Hezekiah’s earnest prayer in the Temple after receiving the threatening letter from Sennacherib, King of Assyria, demanding Jerusalem’s surrender (Isaiah 37:14-20).

• Daniel’s intercessory prayer of forgiveness for the people and for Jerusalem’s restoration after receiving understanding from Scripture – seeking the Lord God by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes (Daniel 9:3-19).

• The early Church’s courageous prayer following the release of Peter and John (Acts 4:23-31).

For additional information read Bill’s new and updated e-book, Fasting for Sensitivity and Power. It is available free of charge at https://billrudge.org/fasting-sensitivity-and-power-e-book or purchase through amazon.com.

Powerful and Effective Prayer

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

James 5:16

After calling his readers to pray in times of trouble and sickness, and to confess their sins one to another, James asserts that, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16). To illustrate, James refers to the prophet Elijah as a person who had a powerful and effective prayer life. Assuming that we can have an effective prayer life like the prophet Elijah, the question is, “How?” Some people would suggest we do things such as recite a verse or a word repetitiously, sit in silence to achieve an altered state of consciousness, walk a prayer circle, or employ other techniques and methods to experience God. However, prayer is not some “magical incantation” or “manipulative tool” we use to control God or conjure phenomena. As Jesus Himself taught:

And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetitions as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words (Matthew 6:7).

Prayer is not looking inward but upward. “Looking up toward heaven, He [Jesus] blessed the food” (Matthew 14:19). Jesus often separated Himself from others to spend time in prayer with His Father. He would slip away to the wilderness and pray (Luke 5:16) or go up on a mountain (Matthew 14:23) or to a secluded place to pray (Mark 1:35). Right after Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, He told them a parable illustrating the importance of persistence in prayer (Luke 11:5-10). In this parable, Jesus asks His disciples what they would do if a friend unexpectedly showed up at their house and they had no food to give them. In a culture that highly valued hospitality, this parable demonstrates how they could find the means to meet their obligation to feed and lodge their friend for the night.

For instance, despite the fact it was night and their neighbor was sleeping, the host went to the neighbor’s house and asked for food. Note the response of the neighbor: he did not want to get up to give them food because he would wake his children. This may not make sense to us today, but at this time:

the children would sleep on mats on the floor of the one-room dwelling; unbolting the heavy bar that was laid through rings attached to the door was a bother and would make noise that would awaken them (The IVP Bible Background Commentary).

So considering this, we can understand why the neighbor did not want to get up and get the food. Yet, Jesus goes on to explain that the person would eventually get up and do it, not because of his friendship, but because of his persistence.

The Greek word for persistence carries with it the idea of urgency, boldness, shamelessness, and relentlessness. Thus, just as the friend was not afraid to go to his neighbor, despite the fact it was late at night; so too, we should approach God with that same boldness and persistence. Why should we do this? Because as this parable demonstrates, “if a sleeping neighbor…will act in response to [a] persistent request, how much more God” (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels).

Any believer following the Bible can have a powerful prayer life just like Jesus and Elijah. Seven biblical principles on prayer are explained in BJ’s e-book, Powerful and Effective Prayer, which is available free of charge in the store at https://billrudge.org/store/e-books.

The Highest Example of Integrity

by Jim Weikal

Integrity: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness” (Apple Dictionary).

The highest example of integrity/honesty is God Himself. This quality is important to believers because we represent Him here in this fallen world. Believers are examples to unbelievers every day whether we like this role or not. It’s just the way it is. When we fail to live up to His standard, we sully God’s reputation as well as our own and hurt those in our sphere of influence.

According to Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

We need to realize that men and women in the church will disappoint, fail, or even disgrace the name of Christ. But we don’t serve them; we serve God. He does not disappoint!

In addition, how are you doing in living up to God’s example? Though they may curse you, the world sorely needs Godly examples. (Check out Psalm 89:35; Titus 1:2; Hebrew 6:18.)

Jim Weikal is a Biblical instructor at Bill Rudge Ministries.