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Sadly, we American Christians aren’t known for our prayer. So when we come across Jesus’ teaching on prayer, we’re left either confused or frustrated. “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed,” Jesus told us, “you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matt 17:20). That’s an astounding promise—so astounding, in fact, that I think most of us just don’t believe it.

Our unbelief is, in one sense, understandable. After all, many of us know what it’s like to ask God to move a mountain, only to have it stubbornly sit there, immobile. If we’re honest, few of us even look for God to move mountains; we’d be satisfied with our prayers leading God to move an anthill. But even that seems foreign to our experience.

When our prayers seem to fall on deaf ears, our natural response is to assume something is wrong with us. Maybe we don’t have enough belief. Maybe we need to work up a little bit more feeling to qualify as “mustard seed” faith. But faith isn’t simply a positive emotion toward God. It’s not some presumptuous optimism that God will give us what we want if we just believe hard enough. No, in Scripture, faith is a response to what God has revealed. So if you want to pray in faith, discern what God has revealed, and then ask him for it.

God reveals himself through his Word. So if we want him to move mountains, we need to first look to the Word to find out which mountains he wants us to move. The more we ground ourselves in his revealed promises, the more we can pray with boldness. The prayers that are heard by heaven are the ones that start in heaven.

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Wisdom For Your Weekend: your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading around the web.

Video of the Week

I love Desiring God’s new series of “labs,” in which John Piper shows us how he reads and interprets a passage. It teaches us both what a particular passage is about, but much more, it also teaches us how to deeply investigate a text of Scripture. This is one of my favorite passages—one I memorized in a season of fear prior to going overseas—so I was excited to see Piper tackle it.

Articles of the Week

Don’t Adopt, Russell Moore. “For years, I’ve called Christian churches and families to our James 1:27 mandate to care for widows and orphans in their distress, to live out the adoption we’ve received in the gospel by adopting and fostering children. At the same time, I’ve maintained that, while every Christian is called to care for orphans and widows, not every Christian is called to adopt or foster. As a matter of fact, there are many who, and I say this emphatically, should not. If you want your ‘dream baby,’ do not adopt or foster a child: buy a cat and make-believe. Adopting an orphan isn’t ordering a consumer item or buying a pet.”

The Two Most Productive Hours of Your Day, Melissa Dahl. I’m just spit-balling on the numbers here, but I probably get about 90% of my work done on any given day within two hours of legitimate, focused work. From what I’ve read, I don’t think I’m alone in this: even if you’re “working” 10-14 hours a day, most of what you accomplish gets done in short bursts. So what time of day offers the best burst? (I’m proud to say that I dug up this little gem during my two most productive hours.)

Eight Trends About Church Bulletins, Thom Rainer. You probably don’t think too deeply about your church bulletin…if you even call it that. (As it turns out, many churches keep passing the things out and calling them something different.) But even if your church leans toward all things progressive and resists all things traditional, statistics indicate that you’re still passing some piece of paper out before your worship services. Rainer shows us what we’re using them for (and what bothers us about them).

No, You Are Not “Running Late.” You Are Rude and Inconsiderate, Tim Challies. I initially clicked on this link expecting to find something like Greg Savage’s delicious rant against the perennially tardy. As one who prides himself on his timeliness, I had donned my self-righteous punctuality hat (picture forthcoming), and was prepared to look down my nose at those too important to “respect my time.” And, well, Challies ended up giving me a well-deserved smack on the head instead. Promptness matters, and is often an indication of integrity. But—at times—lateness can be, too.

On The Lighter Side

“How to pronounce Worcestershire Sauce?” Orsara Recipes. I know it’s a bit of a tough word, but I’ve never come even close to some of this fella’s desperate attempts. It’s wonderful.

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Generosity is a peculiar topic. Whenever it comes up, especially in church, things get uncomfortable in a hurry. The question begins to crop up in our minds: “Am I giving enough? How do I know I’ve given enough?” And if the pastor lays it on thick—telling us all about the overwhelming number of poor unfed orphans in India while we fat, disgusting, overfed Americans waste our money on luxuries—we become pretty convinced that we aren’t giving enough. The greater the sense of the need, the greater our sense of guilt.

I’ve always found it telling that in one of Paul’s most majestic passages about generosity, 2 Corinthians 5:13–21, he doesn’t drum up donations by beating people over the head with guilt. Instead, he applies the gospel in three distinct ways:

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