24. Health Benefits of Prayer
Source: International Journal of of Psychiatry Medicine – Researchers at Duke University tracked nearly 4,000 people age 65 and older and found 40 percent less risk of elevated blood pressure among those who prayed or studied the Bible daily and attended religious services and/or fellowships at least once a week. Another study of nearly 15,000 American adults showed that regular attendance at religious services and/or fellowships was associated with lower blood pressure.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Hebrews 4:12-13 stated, “12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – God will discern whether or not we make every effort (Hebrews 4:11) and whether or not we have truly come to faith in Jesus Christ; nothing in all creation can hide from Him. We may fool ourselves or other Christians with our spiritual lives, but we cannot deceive God. He knows who we really are because the Word of God is full of living power. The Word of God cannot be taken for granted or disobeyed. The Israelites who rebelled learned the hard way that when God speaks, they must listen. Going against God means facing judgment and death.
The Word of God is living, life-changing, and dynamic as it works in us. The demands of the Word of God require decisions. We not only listen to it, we let it shape our lives. Because the Word of God is living, it applied to these first-century Jewish Christians, and it applies as well as to Christians today. Most books may appear to be dusty artifacts just sitting on a shelf, but the Word of God collected in Scripture vibrates with life.
The Word of God penetrates through our outer facade and reveals what lies deep inside. The metaphor of the sharpest knife pictures the Word of God cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires, revealing what we really are on the inside. Nothing can be hidden from God; neither can we hide from ourselves if we sincerely study the Word of God. It reaches deep past our outer life as a knife passes through skin.
Two thoughts are presented by the phrase, everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. (1) We cannot give excuses, justifications, or reasons – everything is seen for exactly what it is. No one can deceive God. (2) We are exposed, powerless, and defenseless before God. The Word refers to the paralyzing grip of a wrestler in a choke hold. The Word of God penetrates like a sword, exposing us to God Himself to whom we must explain all that we have done. All people must give an account to God, but without trappings and rationalizations. These Words give warning that believers must be careful not to drift away, but to obey God wholeheartedly. God is the final Judge. This verse paves the way for the following section describing Jesus Christ as our High Priest. With our lives laid bare before God, we would be hopelessly lost without Christ. Because He took our judgment and serves as our advocate with God, we can rest secure with God.
THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer