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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

When I first started practicing law, my mentor told me to write everything down after speaking to a client or another attorney. I nodded and smiled to myself knowing that I didn’t need to write every little thing down. I had a great memory!

A few years down the pike and some years of practice under my belt . . . and the birth of my child – and well, getting older, I started to see what he meant about writing things down.

Today, I write everything down – even so, I forget.

My relationship with God is no exception to this memory loss issue. I need to remember to remember God.

Sometimes, I can be in the midst of my trouble or trial, and I forget that I have a God who loves me–who is near to me–who will never leave or forsake me. I find myself acting as if I am in this trouble alone.

When I finally remember, I feel foolish. How could I forget about God?

My solution? I try to keep God always on my mind.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray without ceasing. In other words, keep a constant connection to God through prayer.

Remember to remember God. It will make a difference in how you handle life’s challenges.

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Hot Potato Prayer

When I was in elementary school and it rained, a regular occurrence where I grew up, we would play indoors at recess and lunch.  One of our favorite games was hot potato – you probably remember it.  The teacher would start it off by handing an object, usually a chalk board eraser (I do date myself) to someone, who had to pass it quickly to the next person, and so on.  If you were left holding the hot potato when the bell or whistle sounded, you were out and had to wait quietly in your seat until the game was finished. The children who were best at playing this game were successful because they never held onto the hot potato any longer than necessary before passing it to someone else.

The Lord reminded me of this game recently, when I was feeling disappointed with the outcome of my prayers.  For a long time, I had asked Him to fix my situation and had a clear picture of what the result would look like.  In fact, I prayed that way for many years.  So when my trial finally came to a conclusion – and it was clear that God’s direction was not exactly what I’d hoped for – I was confused.  All along, I had assumed He was moving in the direction I thought He should.

The problem with this kind of praying is that it can lead to confusion – or even worse, despair – if our requests aren’t answered according to what we want or anticipate.  Not the easiest lesson to learn.

“God didn’t answer my prayer!” many will protest, and some will even get angry with Him.  Maybe the best thing to do in a situation like this, perhaps what He would really have us do, is release whatever it is that troubles us and pass it to Him like a hot potato.  I can’t think of anything better than to toss our ideas in His direction – making suggestions, sure – but leaving the results to Him.

 

References:
     Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret-it only causes harm.
     1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

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I know my heart has prayed this prayer . . .

Prayer for Song

Mend my broken mood,

Maker of Life and Song,

Lest this interlude

Of silence be too long.

Call my soul awake,

Set my heart aflame!

Singing fire will make

Ash of sloth and shame.

Touch my lips with song,

Wing my words with good.

Shepherd of things gone wrong,

Mend my broken mood.

—Fay Lewis Noble

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On the subject of prayer and in the context of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  “Rejoice Always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

John Wesley said, “One who always prays is ever giving praise, whether in ease or pain, both for prosperity and for the greatest adversity.  He blesses God for all things, looks on them as coming from Him, and receives them only for His sake — not choosing nor refusing, liking nor disliking, anything, but only as it is agreeable or disagreeable to His perfect will.”

In essence, the heart of thanksgiving springs out of an understanding of God, His character, that He is the source of all things and that His will is to be sought above all else.  Having that focus, I can continue in a perpetual attitude of thanksgiving to God for all that He has done for me, is doing for me and will do for me.

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Is your life crazy busy?  Do you have a husband, kids, grandkids a house, a job, another job or just commitments?  We live busy lives, spent rushing from one thing to the next with little time for spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, Bible study or simply listening to God.

In his letter to Timothy in 1Timothy 2:1-4, Paul offers some ideas on how to have “quiet” in our daily lives, and he provides the rationale for doing so.  “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

How do I have “quiet”?

  • Supplications (humble prayer, entreaty, or petition)
  • Prayers (a spiritual communion with God)
  • Intercessions (a prayer to God on behalf of another)
  • Giving thanks for all men, for kings and all who are in authority
Why is this important?
Paul offers the following by way of reason for seeking to lead “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence:”
  • It is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior
The center of living the quiet and peaceable life is relationship with the Father, through the finished work of the Son.  We can come boldly to the throne of grace because of Jesus, our High Priest.

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John, in his first epistle, has several observations on prayer in 1 John 5:14-16:

  • God uses us in prayer
  • God gives us confidence in prayer (confidence in Him, not the prayer itself)
  • God hears us pray which should give us boldness, but not arrogance
  • God give us knowledge of needs, of those who are sinning, so we can pray for them
Prayer is man speaking with God, seeking God.  The quiet after the petitions, the time of waiting on God,  is when God communicates with man.   If he leaves the time of prayer without listening for God, he has had only 1/2 of the communication, a one-sided conversation.

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Poem on Prayer

I asked for strength that I might achieve–

He made me weak that I might obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things–

I was given grace that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy–

I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men–

I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life–

I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I received nothing that I asked for,

All that I hoped for.

My prayer was answered.

  –Author unknown


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I love this quote by John Calvin, great theologian and church father in the 1500s:

“Believers do not pray with the view to informing God about things unknown to him, or of exciting him to do his duty, or of urging him as though he were reluctant.  On the contrary, they pray in order that they may arouse themselves to seek him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating on his promises, that they may relieve themselves from their anxieties by pouring them into his bosom; in a word that they may declare that from him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others, all good things.”

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In our last post, we looked at some of the ways our thinking can become confused when God delays in answering our prayers.  For a review, you can look at Psalm 77:7-9.  The remedy for the confused thinking illustrated in those verses is found in the verses that follow, Psalm 77:10-12.

In these verses, the Psalmist gives us 3 things we can do to get our thinking straight and fight the confusion that can enter our thinking when we have to wait for God to answer our prayers.

  • Remember what God has done.
  • Mediate on what God has done.
  • Tell of what God has done.

REMEMBER

In battling the confused thinking, I need to remember the work of the LORD, both in the history of mankind and in my own history, my own life.  This is a good time to remember that reading through the Bible from cover to cover every year or so will keep the works of God and the deeds of God in my memory.  Also, keeping a journal of what God is showing me and how He has answered my prayers can be a good way of keeping track of my history with God.  When I become confused in my thinking, I can review the records I have kept of how God is working in my life and the lives of my husband and my daughter and my family and friends.

MEDITATE

The Bible teaches that we must bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”  By meditating on the Word and the works of God contained in the Word, I can train my mind to be obedient to Christ.  This is what is meant by taking every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  My thoughts can run in all directions and question God and be confused over His nature, but as I meditate on the Word and purpose to allow Christ to dominate my thoughts, I can learn to bring my thoughts through the Word and make them obey what Christ has said and done.  It is a discipline that must be practiced.  It can only be done if I know what the Word says.  I must be willing to sit and consider what the Bible means and how it can be applied to my life.

TELL OF WHAT GOD HAS DONE

How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  Isaiah 52:7.  It is important to learn of  what God has done and to mediate on what He has done, but it is equally important to tell others of what God has done.

When you become confused in your thinking because God has delayed in answering your prayers, and you are tempted to question God’s mercy, His faithfulness or His grace, consider the remedy for confusion discussed above:  Remember . . . Mediate . . . Tell!

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When I pray, I would like God to answer me immediately.  I would really appreciate visitation by a messenger of God to tell me that my prayer was heard and what God’s response will be.  That has not happened yet.  Sometimes, in His goodness and perfect timing, God delays in answering.  This time of silence on God’s part can lead to confusion on my part.  The Psalmist gives a good illustration in Psalm 77, verses 7-9 where he gives 6 statements which illustrate the potential confusion of thought in such situations.

  • Will the Lord cast off (reject me) forever? When God doesn’t answer right away, I can mistakenly believe He has forgotten me.  This is a mistake.  Consider what God says in Isaiah 49:15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.”  Just because God delays in answering, does not mean He has forgotten me.  I must remember His heart for me as written down for me in His word.
  • Will He be favorable no more? This is similar.  Because God has delayed, does it mean He will never do anything for me again?  Of course not.  God’s purposes towards me are all good.
  • Has His mercy ceased forever? The God of all mercy cannot change His character.  His mercy continues towards me.  It is a mistake to think He has suddenly changed His nature.
  • Has His promise failed forevermore? The promises of God are sure.  They will not fail.  As Paul tells us in Romans 3:4, “let God be true but every man a liar.”  Surely if God has promised to hear me when I call, He will answer.
  • Has God forgotten to be gracious? As with all of the confused thinking that results from unanswered prayer, this seems almost silly.  How would God forget to be gracious?  It is His nature, and that nature, the Bible teaches us, is unchangeable.  In Hebrews 13:8, we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
  • Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? The final example of confused thinking resulting when our prayers are not answered right away by God is like the others.  God is merciful.  It is part of His unchanging nature.

In our finite thinking, we quickly jump to some ridiculous conclusions when God doesn’t answer our prayers immediately.  We will learn in the next post how to cure or treat this confused thinking by countering it with what we know about God.

As you continue steadfastly in prayer, consider whether your thinking has gotten confused.  Remember these things about God:

  • He is always the same.  He never changes.  Heb. 13:8.
  • His thoughts towards you are for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jer. 29:11
  • If you seek God with all your heart, He will be found by you.  Jer. 29:13
  • Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.  Rom. 8:39
  • His mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness.  Lam. 3:23

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