Welcome to Prayer University! Whatever your discovery level in the power and practice of prayer, the teachings offered are here to help.
PRAYER 101 - Teaches the basic that prayer is more than the necessary daily conversation with God – it is the recognition of His very presence with you in every circumstance. As your prayer life expands, you discover prayer is worship, getting our lives aligned with His will, making us aware of His provision and adding to our personal development.
EMPOWERED THROUGH PRAYER - Go further and deeper than ever in your practice of effective, persistent prayer through Prayer University, with lessons created especially to empower you to pray for America and her leaders during this vital time in the nation’s history.
Written exclusively for you by your prayer team writers, we are pleased to offer this continuing prayer education to you – and look forward to receiving your comments.
Snake Oil Statistics
Why your government manipulates employment data
By Jim Ray
“The Lord above gave man an arm of iron …” sang the inimitable slacker Alfred P. Doolittle, “… so he could do his job and never shirk. But wiv’ a little bit of luck, someone else will do the blinkin’ work!” Doolittle, of course, was fictional—a slovenly if amiable deadbeat from the classic Broadway hit My Fair Lady. But of late, many real Americans seem to have embraced him as a role model. And why wouldn’t they? Nowadays “a little bit of luck” isn’t needed to avoid work because it’s easier than ever to get by without having a job.
To be sure, most of those in the ranks of the unemployed are not shirkers. In addition to retirees and the legitimately disabled, millions have been sidelined by the recession, trade policies that ship work overseas, and misguided job-killing government programs. As the mid-term elections approach, Americans will look at the nation’s unemployment statistics to measure the performance of their elected officials. But could lawmakers be manipulating the data to make the jobless rate look more favorable?
The number of people unemployed has always been a key indicator of financial health because it impacts every other facet of the economy. Those without jobs don’t contribute payroll taxes while usually, at the same time, drawing government benefits. And federal and state officials control programs which stimulate or suppress business growth, so when a lot of people are out of work, the people hold their representatives responsible. More
Accordingly, legislators are highly motivated by job statistics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), working with the U.S. Census Bureau, conducts a monthly survey to arrive at the official unemployment rate. Importantly, though, only those actively looking for work are counted as “unemployed.” Those who have given up trying to find a job or have simply found it more convenient to live off government benefits or the generosity of others are not considered “unemployed.”
Some have accused the BLS of falsifying the jobs data but in reality, there are easier ways to make the unemployment rate drop. The most significant of these is the stunning abuse of the disability system.
As the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes recently reported, the federal disability program now serves “nearly 12 million people – up 20 percent in the last six years.” It has become a “secret welfare system,” CBS said, “ravaged by waste and fraud” and a favorite benefit of people who are not really disabled. Through feigned “disabilities,” in other words, citizens can be transferred out of the ranks of the “unemployed.” Not surprisingly, Congress has done virtually nothing to curb the abuse and there are armies of unscrupulous disability attorneys at work helping people game the system.
Other troubling realities that bear upon the unemployment rate in America:
Underemployment. According to the latest BLS report, 7.5 million Americans are “involuntary part time” workers, “because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.” This trend has increased since passage of the Affordable Care Act. “Though good in other respects,” notes The Economist magazine, Obamacare “tends to shrink the labor force because it helps people get health care without working.” It also encourages businesses to replace full-time workers with part-timers in order to avoid the law’s expensive health care mandates.
The Poverty Trap. The Federal government has almost 200 different welfare programs, and for many poor people, spendable income rises very little when an individual goes to work. In effect, while trying to help those in need, the government has perversely provided a disincentive to work, creating many Alfred P. Doolittles.
The unemployment rate, then, is a snake oil gimmick that means nothing unless you look deeper into the data. If you rely solely on this statistic, you will enable politicians to continue deploying policies which make the number look good and preserve their own jobs … perhaps at the expense of yours, sooner or later.
As you pray today, ask God to turn America’s leaders to the truth of Scripture, which teaches compassion for those truly in need (Proverbs 19:17) while also mandating that those who can must work. (2 Thessalonians 3:10) It is not a “little bit of luck” that America needs now, just a higher regard for the wisdom of God’s Word.
Jim Ray is a writer, fundraiser and consultant. He and his wife Stacey have two children and reside in Nashville, TN.
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PRAYER 101 LESSONS
Motivate Yourself to Pray
Four things you need to know to motivate yourself to pray:
Lesson 1 – Prayer is loving communication with God
Lesson 2 – You Speak; He Speaks
Lesson 3 – God listens and responds
Lesson 4 – Lack of prayer causes problems
Sovereignty of God in Prayers
Five-part series examining the sovereignty of God and how it relates to your prayers for the nation and its leaders.
Lesson 1 – The Sovereignty of God defined
Lesson 2 – How Prayer connects Earth and Heaven
Lesson 3 – Your Prayer help wage the battle
Lesson 4 – Praying for the lost
Lesson 5 – Praying for the salvation of others
Understanding Who God Is:
Four Characteristics of God Related to Prayer
Lesson 1 – His omnipotence – He is all-powerful
Lesson 2 - His omniscience – He is all-knowing
Lesson 3 – His omnipresence – He is all-present
Lesson 4 – He is love – all the time
The ACTS Model of Prayer
Helpful tool of the ACTS model of prayer (adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication):
Lesson 1 – Adoration
Lesson 2 – Confession
Lesson 3 – Thanksgiving
Lesson 4 – Supplication
What Jesus Revealed Concerning Prayer
Five important concepts Jesus’ actions and teachings reveal concerning prayer and the Christian’s relationship with God:
Lesson 1 – What Christ says about prayer
Lesson 2 – How the Holy Spirit guides and comforts you
Lesson 3 – Why and How Jesus Prayed
Lesson 4 – The power of confession and forgiveness
Lesson 5 – Lessons and benefits of the Lord’s prayer
Creative Ways to Pray as a Family
Lesson 1 - Kids Included
Lesson 2 - Dynamic Duo
Worship in Prayer
Lesson 1 - Worship defined – and how it motivates prayer
Lesson 2 - Meeting With Your Creator – Prayer changes you more than you know