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Prayer Resources to Revive Your Prayer Life

Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States, a day on which we’re all encouraged to turn to God in prayer. Any day is a good day to commit to prayer, of course—but if prayer is particularly on your mind today, here are some resources from Bible Gateway that will help you kickstart a flagging prayer life!

Famous Prayers in the Bible

What does a great prayer look like? Last year, we compiled a list of Five Biblical Prayer for the National Day of Prayer.

Those prayers demonstrate the range of circumstances that should bring us to prayer. God’s people are invited to pray when they need forgiveness, when they need courage, when they need wisdom and insight—and when they just want to thank and praise God. There’s no issue too great or small to bring before God in prayer; and as those five prayers demonstrate, prayer can be long and eloquent… or short and to-the-point.

Take a few minutes today to read through those prayers—and consider praying through them yourself!

Devotionals About Prayer

While prayer is a topic that comes up in most any Christian devotional, we’ve got two new devotionals that are focused entirely on prayer. They’re both free; just click on the devotional title to sign up:

  • The Daniel Prayer: The Bible gives us many good examples of prayer in action. But few lives of prayer were as effective as that of the Old Testament figure Daniel. Drawn from Anne Graham Lotz’ book of the same name, this five-day devotional will teach you how to pray with the same confidence and hope that Daniel did.
  • Praying Your Way to Spiritual Empowerment: How can a prayer-filled life empower you to bring about the kingdom of God in your community, your church, and your home? A week-long devotional that addresses important issues of prayerful living in the context of strong biblical scholarship.

(And if the character of Daniel intrigues you, see also our Thriving in Babylon and The Daniel Plan devotionals, both of which explore the valuable lessons we can learn from this famous Bible hero.)

Jesus praying at Gethsemane

Learn How to Pray Scripture

Are you ever unsure about what you should pray? Do your prayers become dull or repetitive? Do you feel like you’re praying “wrong?”

Those are common problems we all face when we try to make prayer a regular practice. One good solution is simply to pray God’s own Words! Our Praying Scripture essay explains how you can transform both your prayer life and Bible reading habits by using the words of the Bible (any Bible text—not just the prayers) as the basis for your prayers.

After the essay, you’ll find some practical tips for making this happen, as well as suggestions for praying Scripture in a small group.

Prayer Insights from Experts

Over the years, we’ve interviewed many different authors and other Christian thinkers about the value and power of prayer. Here are some of our best blog interviews about prayer:

The reality is that all of us could stand to take prayer more seriously, and to commit to re-energize our prayer life. These resources will help you do that.

New Devotional: Learn the Prayer That Changed a Nation with “The Daniel Prayer”

Do you feel like there’s something missing in your relationship with God? Do you look around at the state of your church, your community, and your country, and wonder what could possibly bring about revival? It’s prayer!

[Join The Daniel Prayer Online Bible Study with Anne Graham Lotz on StudyGateway June 11 – July 22]

That sounds like a good answer to most Christians—but if we’re honest, do we truly feel that our prayers are effective? When you pray, do you pray with the expectation that God will hear your requests and concerns, or has prayer become a rote practice, a routine you go through with no real hope that anything will come of it?

If your prayer life has fallen into a slump (or has dried up entirely), we’ve got a new devotional written specifically for you. The Daniel Prayer is a five-day devotional journey that looks to the biblical example set by Daniel, a man whose prayer radically transformed an entire nation. You’ll learn how to pray like Daniel did: with confidence and hope. Sign up today!

The Daniel Prayer is drawn from Anne Graham Lotz’ book The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations. (See our interview with Anne Graham Lotz earlier this week in which she discusses the importance of prayer.)

There’s no better way to observe the National Day of Prayer than to commit to take prayer more seriously. The Daniel Prayer will help you do that in just five short devotional reflections over five days. Sign up today!

The Justice Conference 2017: An Interview with Mark Reddy

Mark ReddyThe annual JUSTICE Conference (@thejusticeconf) (#Justice17) rests on the belief that “true life is found when we give our lives away on behalf of others.” The motivation of the conference is a “theology of justice”—the idea that an understanding of God should compel love for others and engagement in social justice issues.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog posts, God’s Justice Bible at The Justice Conference and God’s Justice: The Holy Bible—An Interview with Tim Stafford]

Buy your copy of NIV God's Justice: The Holy Bible in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Bible Gateway interviewed Mark Reddy (@markreddy1), executive director of the JUSTICE Conference.

Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other. Zechariah 7:9-10 (NIV)

What is the JUSTICE conference and why do people attend it?

Mark Reddy: The JUSTICE Conference is an annual conference held each year in Chicago. Since its beginning in Bend, Oregon in 2010, the driving force of the conference has always been a “theology of justice,” which is the belief that an understanding of God should compel love for others and engagement in social justice issues.

Attendees of The JUSTICE Conference range from professional justice practitioners to church leaders seeking to lead and guide their compassion and justice teams, to anyone seeking to understand how their faith compels an engagement with the world around us.

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV)

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3 (NIV)

How does the conference theme of “Love Thy Neighbor” integrate with current events in the news?

Mark Reddy: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love thy neighbor as yourself. ‘There is no commandment greater than these.” — Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

We live in complex and challenging times. Globally the threats of terrorism, violence, and environmental challenges continue to shadow our world. Locally, cultural divisions are being exploited for political advantage, whilst poverty and systemic injustice continue to lead to widening equity gaps within our society.

But Jesus’ message—love thy neighbor—is still our greatest call to worship and justice. When we thoughtfully examine the statement “love thy neighbor,” we’re compelled to ask “who is my neighbor?”. This question is often met with hostility and justifications, but if we’re to truly follow the example of Jesus, we must confront the uncomfortable reality of loving all God’s children—all made in the image of God.

The thread of each conversation at the JUSTICE Conference is within the context of a theology of justice that calls followers of Christ into a more intentional lifestyle of ‘living justly’ as we seek to live out our faith and be disciples of Jesus.

We believe that this theme could not be more timely as we answer the question the expert in the law asked 2000 years ago: well, who is my neighbor? And how do we practically and tangibly live out Jesus’ command to love, especially in a climate dominated by fear and a desire to protect and demand our rights.

Register for the Justice Conference

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NIV)

How is justice at the heart of the message of the Bible?

Mark Reddy: To quote Tim Stafford, editor of NIV God’s Justice (Zondervan, 2016): “He (God) loves the world, and he has every intention of redeeming every part of it. That is the very definition of God’s justice…It has never been God’s intention to simply save souls, and let the world he made and loves fall to pieces. He wants to redeem everything, and he calls his image-bearers to be forgiven and transformed in order that they might play a crucial role in redeeming everything he loves. God’s justice restores the vital connection of spiritual transformation to the world.”

This is my command: Love each other. John 15:17 (NIV)

What is a “theology of justice”?

Mark Reddy: Our theology determines our belief system when it comes to how we understand God as the Bible reveals him, and it also determines how we make sense of the way we engage with the world in which we live—and if we live according to our theology, our beliefs will dictate our actions.

We believe that a theology of justice commands that we study God through the lens of his heart for the vulnerable and marginalized and allow that understanding to determine the way in which we in turn live out our lives.

Throughout the Bible, justice is mentioned over and over again, and doing justice is a clear command from God to his followers. Micah 6:8 says that the Lord requires that we act justly and love mercy. When we see the thread of justice throughout the Bible, we’ll see God’s heart for it—and we’ll see our responsibility to actively engage in justice. Isaiah 1 tells us that our worship is meaningless and that we need to “learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

When Jesus returned from the temptation in the wilderness, he went to the synagogue in Nazareth and read from Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
If justice was this important to Jesus, so must it be for us.

Register for the Justice Conference

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8 (NIV)

The conference intends to “disrupt broken thinking.” What do you mean?

Mark Reddy: In Isaiah 58, God brings the challenge that our worship of him amounts to nothing if we don’t respond to injustice and those in need. The people are rebuked for their fasting, their worship, the ways that they seek God and ask his advice, then ignore what he says. We, too, can get so caught up in doing things that we’ve always done—in seeing things the way that we’ve always seen them—that we miss what God is so clearly telling us.

We believe it’s so important to listen to voices that are different to us, that provide different perspectives to the ones we’re used to. Our intention is to offer a different filter through which our attendees can view the world; to see other perspectives than our own and to learn from those who we may not otherwise have the chance to hear.

Often our exposure to only one, or a limited, narrative limits the way we see God and the way in which we engage the world. We’re seeking to expand our view of God and the gospel, and not limit God to the boxes we so often put him in. We firmly believe that this is done through really listening to one another and learning from those who are different to us, rather than remaining in our own tribes or living in echo chambers.

Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV)

Working to solve culturally entrenched unjust situations seems like a daunting and impossible goal. What do you say to Christians who are ready to give up before they begin?

Mark Reddy: Jesus calls his followers to take up their cross and follow him, and we need to do that daily; and we need to do that together. Entrenched unjust systems are daunting, and the desire to give up is real. I’m reminded of a post that one of our upcoming speakers, Christena Cleveland, wrote some months ago on the privilege of hopelessness. Having the option to give up means that we’re beginning from a place of privilege and we have an even greater responsibility to engage in the systemic injustice around us. We believe that having an understanding of privilege and what to do with it is essential to an understanding of justice.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22 (NIV)

How should Christians rely on the Bible to go beyond “hashtag slacktivism” to make a difference in their everyday lives?

Mark Reddy: Again, I’d return to Isaiah 58 where we’re reminded that we must engage in issues of justice because our faith compels us to; because the Word of God compels us to. When we engage in issues from this standpoint, “hashtag slacktivism” will not be enough. The deeper our understanding of the Bible, the greater our commitment to the flourishing of others should be.

The Bible should compel us to sacrifice that which we need to sacrifice and extend our love to our neighbor—this should outwork itself each day with every person we encounter, be it our literal neighbor living next door, the refugee fleeing terror on the other side of the world, the poor in our own city, or the person whose faith we cannot understand. It’s a journey and God graciously gives us new mercies every morning.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Mark Reddy: We’re offering a free copy of God’s Justice for the first 100 registrations for the 2017 JUSTICE Conference using the code BIBLE. Register now:

Bio: Originally from Sydney, Australia, Mark Reddy is a strategic thinker and cultural innovator with nearly two decades spent honing his craft of storytelling, casting vision and leading highly capable teams within various organizations including: Christian Media & Arts Australia, The Australian Christian Channel, Hillsong, Parachute Music, Easterfest, Compassion (Australia), CBM, Open Doors, Opportunity International, Hope Rwanda, Bible Society, Samaritans Purse, and others. He and his wife Vickie, are the founders of SPARC, a community of artists & creatives at the intersection of art, faith & culture. Mark is the Executive Director of The JUSTICE Conference and serves as senior vice-president of brand at World Relief USA. He lives in Chicago with his wife Vickie and their two daughters.

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The 4 Most Common Questions About Life After Death

Randy FrazeeA guest post by Randy Frazee (@RandyFrazee), author of the book, What Happens After You Die: A Biblical Guide to Paradise, Hell, and Life After Death (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, One Thousand Churches BELIEVE]

What will a day in the life on the new earth be like?

Essentially, it will be like a day here on the old earth, without the curse and with the very presence of God among us. That’s a pretty big difference, isn’t it?

First, there will be rest and sleep in heaven (Hebrews 4:1-4; Revelation 14:13). In many ways, this whole salvation experience is to enable us to enter into a life of rest with God. And for the most important point of all, there will be coffee in the morning! Can I get an amen?

There will also be meaningful work for everyone. In the garden before the fall, God partnered with Adam to manage the earth under his authority (Genesis 1:28). I believe this responsibility will continue on the new earth, but without the frustration caused by the curse, since it will have been lifted (Revelation 22:3). Some of us will need to be reassigned. I don’t see the need for law enforcement or armies, but there will be plenty of other things to do. There will be much room for creativity, inventing, and learning in our new digs.

Buy your copy of What Happens After You Die in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

What will we eat?

In Jesus’ model prayer we are instructed to ask God to “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Food and drink are essential to our survival and sustainability in our natural bodies. But eating and drinking often go way beyond the basic requirements for life. Gathering with family and friends to share a meal may be some of the most enriching experiences in life. Consider the one thing Jesus asked us to do over and over again: remember his death until he comes, or share communion as he did with his disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus brings us around the dinner table (1 Corinthians 11:26).

As we ponder eternal life on the new earth, will eating and drinking be essential, necessary, or even possible in our spiritual bodies? The answer is a resounding, confident yes.

We observe Jesus eating in his resurrected body (Luke 24:40-43; John 21:4-14; Acts 10:40-41). Jesus clearly demonstrated that the spiritual body is capable of eating and drinking.

Jesus also told his disciples explicitly that we will eat and drink in the new kingdom: For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. . . . And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:18, 29-30).

What will our resurrected bodies be like?

Here’s a question whose answer I know lots of people are interested in knowing. The answer is addressed explicitly in 1 Corinthians 15:35-55. Paul began this section of his writings with the $64,000 question: “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’” (v. 35). Paul immediately answered: What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body (1 Corinthians 15:36-38).

Paul compared the resurrection to planting. Our current bodies are the seeds for our new bodies. This seed determines the kind of body the sprouting plant will grow into, yet it won’t be the same as the seed planted. I think this means we each will have a body that looks like the one we have now, but it won’t be exactly the same. It’ll be better. That’s what Paul wrote next: The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

Will there be pets in heaven?

Our family enjoyed the company of a beagle named Lady for 18 years. Without question, she was the most loyal creature I ever encountered. There hasn’t been even a close second. If heaven could be earned through merit, Lady stands a much better chance than I do of getting into the new kingdom. So, will she, or any beagle for that matter, walk the new earth with believers in Jesus?

Let’s start at the beginning for clues. Revelation 21–22 has a theme identical to Genesis 1–2. God’s vision for life on the new earth is a restoration of his vision that was lost on this earth. So we can look at these two chapters in Genesis and safely conclude that what was there at that time will be recreated.

During creation, after God separated the waters below from the sky above on the second day, he filled them with all kinds of birds and fish: And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth” (Genesis 1:20-22).

After God created the land on the third day he filled it with all kinds of creatures on the sixth day: And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:24-25).

Creatures of the sea and oceans and the creatures of the dry land are on this earth as a part of God’s vision. It’s safe to assume they’ll be a part of the new earth. Actually, Isaiah received a vision of the new earth, and he most definitely found various kinds of animals present in it—and behaving in a most interesting way.

“The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.
Isaiah 65:25

Not only will there be animals in the new kingdom, but they’ll get along. Because there’ll be no death; there’ll be no predators. Frankly, I’m not sure how God is going to manage to control population growth—particularly among rabbits—but I’ll leave that up to his infinite ingenuity.

BIO: Randy Frazee is the senior minister at Oak Hills Church, one of the largest churches in America, leading alongside author and pastor Max Lucado. A leader and innovator in spiritual formation and biblical community, Randy is the architect of The Story church engagement campaign. He’s the author of What Happens After You Die: A Biblical Guide to Paradise, Hell, and Life After Death, The Heart of the Story: Discover Your Life Within the Grand Epic of God’s Story, The Connecting Church 2.0: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community, and The Christian Life Profile Assessment Workbook. He and his wife, Rozanne, live in San Antonio, Texas.

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The Daniel Prayer: An Interview with Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham LotzWhat is the secret to the revival of the church? To spiritual restoration? How can you renew your own relationship with God? How did the ancient prayer of Daniel move heaven and change a nation?

Bible Gateway interviewed Anne Graham Lotz (@AGLotz), the National Day of Prayer Task Force chairman, about her book, The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations (Zondervan, 2016).

[Sign up for The Daniel Prayer free 5-day email devotional: Learn the prayer that moved heaven and changed a nation]

Why is prayer such an important activity?

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Anne Graham Lotz: Communication with God is vital to a vibrant relationship with him. We will never really know God in an intimate, personal relationship if we don’t talk to him. Half of our communication with God is listening to what he has to say through his Word, which is why reading our Bibles is so important. The other half of communication is talking to him, which is prayer. Prayer is also important because the Bible commands us to pray.

[Join The Daniel Prayer Online Bible Study with Anne Graham Lotz on StudyGateway June 11 – July 22]

Why is prayer so often neglected?

Anne Graham Lotz: Prayer may be neglected for several reasons. Some of those reasons are doubt that God answers prayer, doubt that prayer really makes any difference, and doubt that God will truly listen to our prayers. Also, prayer is hard work. We may neglect it because we’re too tired, too busy, or too distracted to put into prayer the effort required.

What are the characteristics of an ineffectual prayer?

Anne Graham Lotz: Prayer offered without faith by a person that doesn’t truly believe God exists will not be effective. Sin in our lives that we refuse to confess will also render our prayers ineffective. A husband who dishonors his wife physically or verbally will be ineffective in his prayers.

How is effective prayer born out of a sense of desperation?

Anne Graham Lotz: Desperation compels us to pray with fervent, focused faith—especially when we have no one else to turn to. God honors our faith when we place it in him alone—with no back-up plan, no other recourse, no other way out. He hears and answers our desperate heart cry, because he loves to show himself strong on our behalf.

Why did you turn to the Bible character Daniel as a model for prayer today?

Anne Graham Lotz: Daniel’s prayer moved Heaven and changed not only his nation, Judah/Israel, but also the nation in which he was living at the time: Persia. His prayer is one that worked. God’s people were separated from God and were living in exile. But in answer to Daniel’s prayer, they were restored to God’s place of blessing.

I believe our nation is in deep trouble. We seem to have lost our identity because in many ways we’re separated from God. I believe it’s imperative that God’s people pray as Daniel did, or our nation may unravel morally and spiritually to the point of no return. I believe we desperately need the blessing of God.

What are the elements that make up The Daniel Prayer found in Daniel 9 and that you recommend should be followed today?

Anne Graham Lotz: Daniel prayed under compulsion. His prayer was based on a covenant relationship that he had established earlier with God. He was confident in the character of God whom he knew by years of experience, as well as knowing God as he’s revealed through his Word. He prayed with humble contrition as he confessed the sin of his people as though it were his own. He was very clear in exactly what he was asking God for. And he prayed until his prayer was answered.

What are the differences of praying in public versus praying in private?

Anne Graham Lotz: Both public and private prayers are acceptable. But public prayers take into account other people listening in. Private prayers are spoken to God alone. The difference is the same as the difference between public speaking versus a private conversation. Things we say, or confide, in private to our closest friend are different than what we would share in public.

What do you mean “patterns help us focus our prayers”?

Anne Graham Lotz: God knows that sometimes we lack words to express our feelings, heart-cry, thoughts. And so within the Bible he includes people’s prayers as models to help our own. Daniel 9 is one example. The entire book of Psalms is another. Our Lord’s own prayer in John 17, or the prayer we refer to as The Lord’s Prayer that many people recite every time they go to church are also examples. At the end of The Daniel Prayer, I include prayers that I wrote to help the reader articulate his or her thoughts after reading a particular section of the book.

What should be the ultimate goal of praying?

Anne Graham Lotz: The ultimate goal for me in prayer is to draw near to God…to fall in step with him…to discern his will so that my life might be lived accordingly…to discover what burdens are on his heart that I might take them into my own heart, then pray them back to him.

You say The Daniel Prayer is a battle. How so?

Anne Graham Lotz: Prayer taps into the very power of God. The devil resists serious, focused prayer because he’s defeated by it. And so the devil will try to attack our concentration in prayer; he will try to confuse or contradict the content of our prayers; he will do his best to distract and/or divert us in prayer so that we’re crippled by inconsistency.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Anne Graham Lotz: Bible Gateway is my go-to app when I can’t remember a Bible reference, or when I’m searching for a particular verse. It’s easy to use. I have it on my mobile device as well as on my computer.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Anne Graham Lotz: Yes. One of the most effective ways to pray is to ask God to give you a promise from his Word concerning whatever it is you’re praying for. Then hold him to his Word as you pray it back to him. It’s what has been called “reversed thunder.” God keeps his Word, and basing our prayer on his Word gives our prayers strength and confidence because we know we’re asking for something God wants to give us.

Bio: Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, is the president and CEO of AnGeL Ministries, a nonprofit organization that undergirds her efforts to draw people into a life-changing relationship with God through his Word. Anne launched her revival ministry in 2000 and has spoken on seven continents, in more than 20 foreign countries, proclaiming the Word of God in arenas, churches, seminaries, and prisons. She’s the award-winning author of numerous books, including The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations, The Magnificent Obsession: Embracing the God-Filled Life, Wounded by God’s People: Discovering How God’s Love Heals Our Hearts, and Fixing My Eyes on Jesus: Daily Moments in His Word. She’s also the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force chairman.

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Easter Inspirational Video from the Gospel of Mark

The season of Easter began Easter Day and lasts 50 days until the Day of Pentecost. Listen to and watch this inspirational video of the Easter account from the Gospel of Mark:

You can read the story of Easter in Mark 16:1-8 (NIV) (as well as in the other three Gospels). Here’s Mark’s account:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. — Mark 16:1-8 (NIV)

Hallelujah—Christ is risen!

[Listen to the NIV audio Bible read by David Suchet on Bible Gateway]

Also see the following video readings of the Easter account from

Browse the Easter section and apologetic resources in the Bible Gateway Store.

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Bible News Roundup – Week of April 30, 2017

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
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HarperCollins Christian Publishing Expands Its Focus on Spanish Bible Publishing
News Release
Read Spanish Bibles on Bible Gateway

90 Continuous Hours of Bible Reading at US Capitol Going on Right Now

Secular Education Network Challenging Bible in New Zealand Schools Through Human Rights Tribunal
The New Zealand Herald

Parents Angry Tennessee Elementary School Bible Club Was Shut Down After Complaint By Atheist Group

Oklahoma Author Awarded Ownership of Microfilm Lunar Bibles
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, First Liquid Poured on the Moon and the First Food Eaten There Were Communion Elements
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, God of the Big Bang: An Interview with Leslie Wickman, Rocket Scientist

Top 10 Bible Verses in Medieval England
The Anxious Bench
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Gateway 2016 Year in Review

The Earliest Known Draft of the King James Bible
Cambridge University Library Special Collections
Read the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible on Bible Gateway

61 New Scripture Translations Completed Last Year
United Bible Societies
United Bible Societies: Full Report
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Translation Organizations

Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving

Saving Languages from Extinction
Brookings Register

Gala Raises More Than $60,000 Toward Oral Bible Translation

Retired Police Captain Donating 247-Year-Old Bible to Elon University
The Times-News

1839 Bible in Hands of Original Owners’ Great, Great Grandson
WZZM 13 News

How a Bible Abandoned in the WWI Trenches Made Its Way Back to a Quebec Family
CBC News

Exhibition Dedicated to 350th Anniversary of First Printed Armenian Bible Launches in Halle, Germany
See the Reformation Studies section in the Bible Gateway Store

Photo Display: The Bible in Spain’s History
Evangelical Focus

Work, Technology, and the Bible
Evangelical Focus
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization: An Interview with Vishal Mangalwadi

James = Jacob in the Bible
Biblical Archaeology Review

Operation World Mapmaker Shuts Down Due to Donor Shifts

Poll: Less Than a Third of Britons Believe Religion is Important
Premier Radio

Why Religion Is More Durable Than Commonly Thought In Modern Society

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The Humanness of Jesus: An Interview with Trent Sheppard

Trent SheppardChristians believe Jesus is God. But this belief wasn’t the starting point for Jesus’ earliest followers. While Jesus’ humanity was a given for the disciples, his divinity was a truth they had to grow into believing—it was a journey of faith. As Christians today, we’re also called into a faith journey—this time, to rediscover Jesus’ humanity. Yes, we believe that Jesus is God, but do we believe in his humanness? And if so, how does that transform our own experience of being human?

Bible Gateway interviewed Trent Sheppard about his book, Jesus Journey: Shattering the Stained Glass Superhero and Discovering the Humanity of God (Zondervan, 2017).

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How did concluding that there’s no better way to see God than by looking at Jesus set you on your faith-shifting journey that resulted in this book?

Trent Sheppard: Our view of God is shaped by all sorts of things—family background, religious traditions, pop culture, etc.—and about ten years ago I realized that I was subconsciously filtering my reading of Jesus through my preconceived views of God.

The New Testament, however, invites us to do something radically different: to reshape, to reform, to reimagine our view of God through the person of Jesus.

Because Jesus, according to Hebrews 1:3, is the “precise expression” of God. Or, as Paul puts it in Colossians 1:15, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.” Or, better yet, here’s Jesus himself in John 14:9, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the father!”

Once that truth dawned on me—that there’s no better way to see God than by looking at Jesus—it set me on a journey deep into the heart of the Gospel accounts to encounter, to know, to be transformed by this vibrant, living, breathing, laughing, crying, dying, rising, flesh-and-blood first-century figure: Jesus.

How do you recommend Christians explain to their friends the concept that Jesus was fully God and fully human?

Trent Sheppard: Ha! I don’t. How could we possibly explain such a mystery?

I do, however, urge people to encourage their friends to actually read the stories of Jesus’ life in the Gospel records, and to let the Scriptures speak for themselves.

Also, we must always remember the disciples begin following Jesus long before they were convinced he was God, and in that sense we can trust the Holy Spirit to convince our friends too.

Why do you say the humanity of Jesus increases a person’s faith to follow him?

Trent Sheppard: Because I can’t even begin to identify with the Mind that made matter, with the Voice that spoke galaxies into existence, or with the Power that holds all things together…

    but I can identify with the compassion Jesus showed lepers,
    and I can identify with the frustration he felt with the religious leaders,
    and I can identify with the sorrow he experienced when people rejected him.

It’s this sort of stuff—raw, down-to-earth, “human stuff” (that is, compassion, frustration, rejection, etc.)—in which Jesus works out his humanity, and invites us to follow him.

And when we realize that Jesus really does understand what it means to be human (warts and all!), it increases our faith that he will help us know what to do with the bewildering, painful, joyful experiences of our own humanity.

What’s the significance of the “100 days” that you write about?

Trent Sheppard: Jesus lived for approximately 33 years. That’s about 12,000 days. Of those 12,000 days, if you add up each and every story the Gospel writers tell, those stories account for no more than 100 days of Jesus’ life—total.

One hundred days out of 33 years. That’s it. That’s what we know. That’s all the Bible tells us. Which just begs the question: What was Jesus doing for most of his life?

I guess you’ll have to read Jesus Journey to find out more (a shameless book plug!), but the vital point for you and me is this: All of life was important to Jesus because all of life is important to God.

Why do you think the Bible is relatively silent on the childhood years of Jesus, only telling that one extraordinary story from when he was 12?

Trent Sheppard: Well, the short answer—and the one that make most sense historically—is this: There probably weren’t any other “extraordinary” stories to tell. Young Jesus, in so many ways it seems, was like all the other kids.

The one extraordinary story we do have comes from Luke 2:41-52, and all the clues point towards Jesus’ mother, Mary, as the one who tells Luke this story. In fact, you almost get a sense that Luke may have actually asked Mary at some point, “So, what was he like as a child?”

To which Mary may have thoughtfully responded (and please keep in mind, of course, that this is complete speculation): “Well, in most ways he was like all the other kids, but there was this one time, in the Temple, when he was 12…”

There’s not enough space to elaborate here, but a couple of reasons why we think there may have not been any other extraordinary stories to tell from Jesus’ childhood are: (1) his hometown is “astonished” when he begins his ministry at age 30 (Luke 4:16-22), and (2) his family thinks he’s gone mad (Mark 3:20-21).

Basically, if Jesus’ childhood was marked by all sorts of extraordinary things (that is, miracles and the like), then surely his family and hometown would have responded differently to his public ministry when it began.

What’s the danger of people over-emphasizing Jesus’ deity and de-emphasizing his humanity?

Trent Sheppard: That’s an immense question—the sort of question that the early church councils were wrestling with (it was at one of those councils that Saint Nicholas punched a guy named Arius!)—but one danger is that we will move further and further away from the flesh-and-blood, in-your-face, dying-and-rising, historical Jesus who’s revealed in the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Again, the point is not to filter Jesus through your lens of God. Rather, the point is to (re)see God through the person of Jesus.

Why do you say Jesus retains his humanness even today in his resurrected body?

Trent Sheppard: Because, as I understand it, that’s how the Bible describes Jesus in his resurrected body. He walks (Luke 24:15), he talks (Luke 24:27), he eats (Luke 24:41-43)—like you and me.

But please don’t misunderstand me: the resurrected body of Jesus is most definitely different as well. I explore this in some detail in chapter 36 of Jesus Journey: “Biology 2.0.”

The vital point to keep in mind, however, is that according to the Bible there’s no indication whatsoever that the Incarnation came to an end after the resurrection of Jesus. And yes, that’s an overwhelming thought indeed.

Because it means that we’ll one day meet Jesus in the flesh—heart-beating and breathing, walking and talking, ruling and reigning—King Jesus.

What’s your intention in the way you want people to read your book?

Trent Sheppard: Life is incredibly full, and there are so many things (both good and bad) competing for our attention. Most people, myself included, simply don’t have enough time to read and take-in all that they want to.

With that in mind, I wrote Jesus Journey in 40 brief chapters, with the idea that each reading would be “bite-size;” the sort of thing you can digest one day at a time: with a morning coffee, on the commuter train, before you bolt to class, etc.

The other critical aspect of the 40-day encounter idea is that we desperately need to do something with what we read. I’m reminded here of a wise reversal of an old and well-known-saying: “While that may work in practice, it will never work in theory.”

Following Jesus is a lot like that. It doesn’t work in theory. It works only in practice.

Because of that, each of the brief, day-by-day chapters wraps up with a “Ponder, Pray, Practice” section that enables an immediate response to what you’ve just read. The goal, always, is to put these things into practice and not just think about them.

So, with the brief chapters and the “Ponder, Pray, Practice” response, the goal is for someone to be able to immerse themselves in the life of Jesus over a 40-day stretch.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App??

Trent Sheppard: It’s my “go-to” online Bible—every time! And I especially appreciate how easy it is to compare various translations. And since I use N. T. Wright’s New Testament for Everyone (NTE) as the primary translation in Jesus Journey, I’m thrilled that Wright’s translation is now available at Bible Gateway as well.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Trent Sheppard: As part of Eastertide, a number of friends and I are making our way through Jesus Journey one day at a time right now. Each day a new person is blogging their reflections on each chapter, and it really is amazing to hear so many different voices: Sarah in South Africa, Luke in Nicaragua, Vanessa in the United States, Philip in the UK, etc.

We’d love for you to join us in the journey here:

Bio: Trent Sheppard helps to pastor an urban house church called Ekklesia, and oversees Alpha’s work with college students in New England. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with his wife, Bronwyn, and their three children. Before moving to Massachusetts, Trent lived in the UK for eight years, working with Youth With A Mission. He’s the author of Jesus Journey and God on Campus: Sacred Causes & Global Effects. His teaching and travels have taken him to 50 nations. You can find Trent online at

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Easter Inspirational Video from the Gospel of Matthew

The season of Easter began Easter Day and lasts 50 days until the Day of Pentecost. Listen to and watch this inspirational video of the Easter account from the Gospel of Matthew:

You can read the story of Easter in Matthew 28:1-8 (KJV) (as well as in the other three Gospels). Here’s Matthew’s account:

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. — Matthew 28:1-8 (KJV)

Hallelujah—Christ is risen!

[Listen to the KJV audio Bible read by Max McLean on Bible Gateway]

Also see the following video readings of the Easter account from

Browse the Easter section and apologetic resources in the Bible Gateway Store.

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Latest Bible-Related Research

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Here is a continually updated collection of the latest research regarding the Bible:

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