Posts by Keith Roberts

I'm curious about what makes people tick... and about the quest for spirituality. Why are most of us hungry to discover higher powers? How can we relate to God and how do we get there? (See more at

Faith Failures Are Usually Prayer Failures

Jesus and three disciples came down from a literal mountain top experience (his transfiguration) back to the lowlands of heart-breaking need.

A father had brought his demonized son to the disciples, the ones Jesus left down in the valley, but they couldn’t overpower the evil spirit.

“O, unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” (Matthew 17:17 NIV)

After the Lord cast out the demon, his disciples privately asked him, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” His answer? “Because you have so little faith.” He said even a mustard seed would’ve dwarfed their faith. (Matthew 17:20-21 NIV)

It’s obvious their faith failed, even though Jesus previously “gave them authority to drive out evil spirits” (Matthew 10:1). They heard Jesus’ words, but they didn’t stick. When the devil showed up, their faith collapsed.

Yet, there’s another factor that Mark’s gospel adds to the mix. He records another part of Jesus’ answer to their question – “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He said, “This kind can only come out by prayer.” (Mark 9:29 NIV)

Did you know that even Jesus’ own miracles were backed up by a sturdy, disciplined prayer life? Just before he commanded Lazarus to come out of the grave, he prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” (John 11:41 NIV)

He’d been praying, maybe for a long time, to see this miracle happen, just like the time he prayed all night long before he walked on the Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 14:22-27)

Quite often our faith failures expose a hidden prayer failure.

Lord, teach us to pray!

Does Praying For A Person’s Salvation Really Matter?

Do your prayers really matter? You know, those prayers for unsaved people in your life that never seem to get answered.

            Here’s why they do matter.

            There are three parties involved in your prayer for lost souls: 1. You, 2. The person you’re praying for, and 3. God Himself.

            Which one of these three is the “reluctant” party?

           (1) Is God reluctant? No. The word says God isn’t willing for anyone to be lost and go to Satan’s hell (1st Timothy 2:3-4, 2nd Peter 3:9, and John 3:16).

           (2) Is the person you’re praying for reluctant? Yes. Usually because they’re resisting God or just don’t know the truth. According to the Word, they’re trapped in darkness and a slave to Satan (2nd Peter 2:25-26 & 2nd Corinthians 4:4).

           (3) Are you reluctant? I hope not. You’re the key.

            As you pray, you’re taking their place. You’re now the “seeker” yourself, a “stand-in” placing yourself between the reluctant seeker and our loving God; by proxy, you’re inviting Him into the lost person’s heart.

So—keep on praying!

How Can Praying For America Win Souls?

    What does prayer for our political leaders have to do with winning lost people to Christ?

    In his letter to the young missionary Timothy, Paul wrote, “ I urge that requests, prayers, intercession, and  thanksgiving be made in behalf of all people, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1st Tim. 2:1-2 NASB)

Notice he doesn’t say we should pray just for our “side” —for those politicians we agree with and support.

His emphasis is on the church experiencing “tranquil and quiet” lives, which pleases God, who “wants all people to be saved”.

Some people think a dangerous, chaotic world helps us win souls, yet the Bible teaches the opposite.

Praying for our leaders to encourage peace in America will open doors for the gospel.

Keep on praying!

The Power Of Unbelief and How To Avoid It

We’ve all heard that faith is powerful, but what about unbelief?

            Jesus said unbelief has enough power to stop miracles. When his disciples couldn’t cast out a demon, they asked Jesus why. He said it was because they were an “unbelieving generation” and a people of “little faith”. (Matthew 17:17-20)

            Unbelief can stop God’s supernatural power and cut off your blessings—just like it did in Jesus’ own hometown. They didn’t experience his miracles because of unbelief: “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matthew 13:58 NIV). (Mark’s gospel says he “could not do any miracles there…” in Mark 6:5-6 NIV).

So, since unbelief is such a powerful negative force, how can we avoid it?

1) Guard Your Heart. Solomon taught that a person’s interior thinking process influences and steers the whole life. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Prov. 4:23) Your spirit must be fed on faith-filled thoughts or you’ll fall into unbelief.

2) Fall In Love With God’s Voice. Believers know that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). So, faith gets energized and maintained by a close relationship with God’s words. That’s exactly how Jesus withstood Satan’s attack on his faith. (Read Matthew 4:1-11 and look for the “It is written” strategy of Jesus.)

3) Hang Out With Faith People. King Solomon said, “Walk with the wise and become wise” (Prov. 13:20), which is good advice for avoiding unbelief. If you spend time around scoffing, unbelieving people, you’ll fall into their habits.           That’s one reason Jesus wants us to assemble with other believers, so we can build each other up in the faith (Heb. 10:24).

Remember – “Without faith it is impossible to please God.(Heb. 11:6)

What is ‘revival’ and why do so many pray for it to happen?

Revival. What is it?

            To ‘revive’ something or someone (like a drowning swimmer) means to bring life back into a dying situation.

            So, what would spiritual revival do for a Christian?

            It would bring back your excitement, enthusiasm, and the commitment of those earlier days right after being born again.

            The world doesn’t need revival, it needs salvation.

            But the church (or believer) that has fallen into apathy, spiritual laziness, and coldness of heart needs revival.

            The church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) had become lukewarm and self-reliant, so Jesus counseled them to rely completely on Him instead of themselves. This would break the apathy and bring revival. He would “come in and eat” with them in a close fellowship.

            Revival is in Jesus, and constant prayer yields to His Lordship.

Car’s lack of power befuddles missionary

Generous people gave missionary Herbert Jackson a car to help him in his work.

            It was a major asset, but it had one difficulty—it wouldn’t start without a push or a jump-start.

             So Dr. Jackson devised a system to cope with the car’s inability to start. When he was ready to leave his home, he went to a nearby mission school and asked permission to bring some of the children out of class to help him push-start his car.

            Throughout the day, he always parked on a hill or left the engine running when he stopped for short visits.

            For two years the young missionary used what he believed was an ingenious method to start the car.

            When poor health forced the Jackson family to leave the field, a new missionary arrived to lead the mission. While Jackson explained to the new missionary his methods for starting the car, the young man opened the hood and began inspecting.

            “Why, Dr. Jackson,” he interrupted, “I believe the only trouble is this loose cable.”

            He gave the cable a twist, pushed the switch, and the engine roared to life. (Edited from Living Beyond Your Capacity, Paul Chappell)

            This little parable about powerlessness reminds me of the shaky relationship many of us have with prayer.

            We know God’s power should be working through us, but we’re too busy push-starting “the work” to ask how the Holy Spirit can step in and give us the prayer-connection we need.

            Let’s ask the Father help us tighten up that loose connection.


It was Easter Sunday 1973. Uganda groaned under the terror of Dictator Idi Amin.

          Still fresh in young Pastor Kefa Sempangi’s memory was a face burned beyond recognition, the sight of soldiers cruelly beating a man, and the horrible sound of boots crushing bones—all for the crime of being a Christian.

          But Easter of 1973 Pastor Sempangi bravely and openly preached on the risen Lord in his town’s football stadium to over 7,000 people.

          After the service, five of Idi Amin’s Secret Police followed Sempangi back to his church and closed the door behind them. Five rifles pointed at Sempangi’s face. “We are going to kill you for disobeying Amin’s orders,” said the Captain.

          “If you have something to say, say it before you die.”

          Sempangi, thinking of his beautiful wife and lovely little girl, began to shake. But the risen Lord living in his heart gave him the courage to speak.

          “Do what you must,” he said.

          “The Word of God says that in Christ I am already dead, and that my real life is hidden with Him in God. It is not my life that is in danger, but yours.

          “I am alive in the risen Lord, but you are still dead in your sins. May He spare you from eternal destruction.”

          The leader looked at Sempangi for a long time. Then he lowered his gun and said, “Will you pray for us?”

          Sempangi did, and those five officers, were converted through the witness of Sempangi’s bravery. They also became his protectors rather than his aggressors.

          (Source: 31 Days of miracles, Daniel Sathiaraj)


Hudson Taylor almost died before he ever got to his missionary assignment in China.

            The sailing ship carrying him fell into calm winds, then drifted toward a dangerous reef near an island where cannibals had settled.

            The captain gave up trying to save the ship, but Taylor said, “Four of us on board are Christians. Let us each retire to his own cabin and agree in prayer, asking the Lord to give us immediately a breeze.”

            Certain their prayers had been answered, Hudson Taylor went up on deck and asked the first officer to let down the sails, but the officer said, “What would be the good of that?”

            Taylor answered, “We’ve been asking a wind from God; it is coming immediately.” Within a few minutes the wind began to rise.

Taylor’s ship soon landed in China where he spent his life winning souls to Jesus. (Autobiography of Hudson Taylor)

Scriptures on Praying For Spiritual Strugglers

  1. Why Pray for Them?
  • “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2nd Corinthians 4:3-4 ESV).
  • Jesus said to Saul (Paul) in a vision: “But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose… to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:18 ESV).
  • “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 ESV).
  • “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV).
  • “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1st John 5:19 NIV).
  • “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Eph. 2:1-2 NIV).
man in orange top beside eyeglasses on brown book

2. Bible Examples of Praying for The Lost:

  • “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt. 9:37-38 NIV).
  • “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people… This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1st Timothy 2:3-4 NIV).
  • “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9 NIV).
  • Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our messagePray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” (Colossians 4:2-4 NIV).
  • “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness… After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:29-31 NIV).
  • “Paul replied…’I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.’” (Acts 26:29 NIV)
  • “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1 NIV).
  • Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel… Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV).
  • “Brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” (2nd Thessalonians 3:1 NIV).
  • Remember: “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2)

Is This The Great Neglected Prayer?

    Jesus said on two occasions, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:38 & Luke 10:2)

    Have you ever prayed that prayer? Or if you have, do you pray it regularly?

    I haven’t.

    And I guess most believers would say the same. It isn’t always at the top of our prayer list.

    I suspect most of us pray occasionally for lost people—especially for family members that we want to see in Heaven.

But Jesus thought, and said, that praying for harvest workers was important, so important that he spelled it out specifically, ”Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.”

If he thought it was so important, I’ll bet he prayed it himself. Often. And with passion.

So, here’s the big question—why don’t we pray more often for the Lord to send workers?

· Maybe we don’t think it’s a life or death issue. Are we reluctant to “change someone’s religion”, believing that most people are going to find God on their own without our help?

· Maybe we don’t believe that hell is real and that people actually go there. The reality of hell is a central doctrine of the Bible. And Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone else did. It’s real and people really go there—not because God hates them but because Satan rules human flesh (1st John 5:19) and he’s taking people to hell with him (Rev. 20:10-15).

· Maybe we don’t believe prayer makes much difference. We think God will do what He’s going to do without our input. But the Bible says otherwise; “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 5:2)

· Maybe we just don’t get around to it. Maybe someone else will do it.

Whatever has caused our prayerlessness, begin now to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send them out (and send us, too)!