Tag Archives: answered prayer

Slow To Learn (I Chronicles 3-5)

In one place we see God’s people defeat their enemy “because they cried out to Him during the battle. He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him.” (5:20)

Yet a few verses later, we see those same people unfaithful to God, worshiping idols, and living in harmony with the very people God had defeated earlier. Why would God bother to answer their prayer during the battle when He knew it wouldn’t be long before they turned from Him, and joined the enemy?

Because that is who He is! God is faithful to answer the prayers of a repentant heart every time.

We read that the Jews will pay a price for choosing sin. But what speaks to me is God’s faithfulness to His children. To me.

The truth is, God always blesses me, always defeats my enemy, always draws near to me when I trust Him and am obedient to His Word. It’s at those times when I choose sin, even in the privacy of my heart, that God removes His blessings, and I must face the consequences.

I can shake my head at the rollercoaster ride the Jews lived in the Old Testament, and wonder how they could trust God one minute, and blatantly sin the next. But God is reminding me today that they aren’t the only ones slow to learn.

Quit Crying (Joshua 5-7)

The Jericho walls had just come tumbling down on Israel’s enemy. Why wouldn’t the Jews assume God would continue to give them the victory? But things didn’t turn out so well for them at Ai. Their defeat put the Jews in a deep depression.

“WHY?” they asked. “Why would God do this to us?” They tore their clothes and fell on their faces, crying out to the Lord. But God was not moved by their tears.

“Quit crying! You have sinned. You have violated my commands.” Then to cap it off, God said, “I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” (7:12)

I’m on FaceBook, and read post after post of people calling us to prayer concerning this pandemic our world is facing. Many of the blogs I follow are asking people to fast and pray that God will move among us, stop the virus. I want you to know I am praying.

However, today I realize I can fall on my face and cry out all day for God to have mercy, for God to heal our world, only to hear Him say, “Quit crying! You, Connie, have sinned. You, Connie, have violated my commands. And I will not be with you until you get rid of the sin in YOUR life.”

It’s easy to pray for our world, to plead with God to stop the spread of this disease. But the disease that concerns God the most is the disease of sin in my heart- and yours.

I think God would have us search our hearts, to allow Him to break our hearts over our own disobedience, to get right with Him as we confess our own sin and accept His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. More than the stop of this virus, God wants us to be healed of sin.

I hope you will continue to pray for our world and the stop of this virus. But hear God say you and I both need to deal with the sin in our own lives before He will be moved by our prayers for the world. Oh, there is a fatal disease out there spreading faster than covid19. And there is a cure. His name is Jesus.

December 14; Wrestling

Colossians

Sometimes I run across a person mentioned in Scripture and wish I knew more about him or her. Like Epaphras. Paul describes him as a fellow-worker, someone in ministry with Paul. But Paul also said this about Epaphras:

He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. (4:12)

Earlier Paul challenged us to be devoted in prayer, and combined with what he said about Epaphras, I am convicted this morning.

What does it mean to be devoted to prayer, or to wrestle in prayer? And what would happen if we Christians really prayed like that?

I’ve shared that I don’t often stop to pray. I rarely spend more than ten minutes praying at a time. And I don’t even do that every day.

But I don’t think I’m the only Christian who doesn’t pray like we should. I don’t think our world would be in the state it is in if we were all devoted to prayer, if we wrestled in prayer for each other, and on behalf of unsaved people.

I pray we will learn to pray, that we would be devoted to prayer, and not too lazy or too uncaring to stop and wrestle in prayer, crying out to God, pleading, laying bare all our longings and all our cares. God wants to answer our prayers.

But we have to pray.

 

November 30; Rock Bottom

I Corinthians 15:35-16:24; Acts 20:1-6; 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:4

Can you recall a time in your life when you would say you were at your lowest point? The pressures of life were such you felt there was no hope; you tried to do the right thing but even that blew up in your face. Why is it when we’ve hit rock bottom we can feel totally alone, like no one understands or even cares to understand what we are going through?

Paul gives us a hint at his lowest low. In 2 Corinthians 1:8 he said at some point he had wished he were dead. He was that discouraged. Then he shares with us what he’d learned from that awful time:

But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

Paul, arguably the most prolific missionary/evangelist in the history of the Church, the apostle whose words still instruct and encourage people two thousand years later, needed to be reminded he needed God.

God delivered Paul from that dark place, and continued to deliver him. The apostle tells us it was through the prayers of the Corinthian believers that God did that:

Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (verse 11)

Paul said Jesus’ suffering overflowed onto them, but so did Jesus’ comfort. As a result that comfort overflowed onto the Corinthians. It overflows yet today!

So here are a few things I take away from this passage today:

  1. We all go through hard times. All of us get discouraged and need to be reminded we need God. Sometimes those hard times even sweeten our relationship with Jesus as we learn to depend on Him.
  2. We need to pray – really pray – for our hurting brothers and sisters even if we don’t know the details of their trouble. God answers prayer. But He can’t answer a prayer not prayed.
  3. When we come out on the other side – and we always do – we need to use our experience to encourage others, to assure them they are not alone, and to help them recognize the power of God in their lives.

I asked if you remembered a time in your life when you were at rock bottom. I hope that’s not where you are today. But if you are, or if you are headed there, let me encourage you from Paul’s example. You are not alone. And I am praying for you.

 

 

October 15; From A Distance

Mark 7:1-8:10; Matthew 25:1-39

I was reminded about the centurion’s dying daughter whom Jesus healed from a distance. In the passages we read today, Jesus is again healing a little girl, this time demon-possessed, from a distance. Both the centurion and this woman were Gentiles – a whole race of people at a distance from God. Yet both put their faith in Jesus, and their prayers for their loved ones were answered – from a distance.

I’m encouraged, and I hope you are, too. I have loved ones who are living at a distance from God. I would imagine you do, too. God is reminding me today that no distance is too great for Him to save. We should never start to believe anyone is too far gone.

Let’s continue to put our faith in Jesus, and pray that our loved ones will accept His amazing grace. That is a prayer Jesus died to answer.

I would ask you to pray for my pastor, his dear wife, and their 30 year old son. They are at his bedside in a Miami, Florida hospital right now as this young man faces a life-threatening condition. He has been living a great distance from God the past few years. But I thank God that His Word has assured me today that no distance is too great for our great God.

We are praying from the distance of several hundred miles, that God will touch this young man’s body and get him through upcoming surgeries. May God give wisdom to all involved, and may He be revealed in every detail.

And we are praying that God will break through Satan’s hold on this young man, and heal his soul, for Jesus’ sake. He may be at a distance, but he is only a prayer away from the God who loves him and gave Himself for him. When you think of it that way, he’s really not all that far away.

Thank you for your prayers. And as I pray this morning, I will be praying for your loved ones, too, who seem to be at too great a distance to come to Jesus at the moment. I’m putting my faith in God, and trusting Him to handle the distance.

Daniel 7-12; Daniel’s Prayer

Daniel’s heart-felt prayer reveals his agony over his sin, and the sin of God’s people. They were in captivity, prisoners of the Babylonians, and God had made it clear that captivity was a just judgment for their sin. They didn’t like it. But they deserved it.

It probably wouldn’t hurt us to be praying like Daniel prayed, too. We could use a bit of repentance these days, couldn’t we? Ann Graham Lotz wrote a study on Daniel’s prayer, and it’s a good one for today. If you’re inclined, I recommend it.

Why pray, though? Really. Doesn’t a Sovereign God already have things worked out the way He wants? Matthew Henry says this:

“God gives us leave not only to pray, but to plead, not to move him (he himself knows what he will do), but to move ourselves and encourage our faith.” (Commentary in One Volume, Zondervan Publishing House, 1961; page 1098)

God wants us to pray, to plead with Him, to boldly enter His throne room and lay our requests for ourselves and others, at His feet. But I respectfully disagree with Henry about one thing. Scripture gives many examples of God being moved by our prayers.

Hezekiah’s prayer in 2 Kings 20 bought him 15 more years of life, after Isaiah told him God said for him to get his affairs in order. Hezekiah’s prayer moved God.

God was moved when Manasseh prayed in 2 Chronicles 33, and God returned him to Jerusalem.

Jesus said he wasn’t going to heal the Gentile woman, until she pled with Him. He healed her. (Matthew 15)

However, our Sovereign God sees today as the past. So He knows whether or not we prayed for someone.

Do you remember the comic books that had alternate story-lines? You’d get to a certain place in the story and the character would have a decision to make. If you wanted the character to make one choice, the book would direct you to a certain page. If you wanted another choice, you’d be directed to a different page. Same character, different outcome.

I think prayer is a little like that. Someone has a need. And God knows what happens if we pray. He sees the end result of our pleading with Him to answer our prayer on that person’s behalf, to move Him to action. But He also knows what happens if we don’t pray, if we never ask Him to move in the life of that person. Same person, different outcomes.

The difference is prayer.

Two weeks ago, our much-loved pastor announced his resignation, to the shock and dismay of us all. God is undoubtedly leading him to pastor a church in another state. Now we are faced with the responsibility of filling the pulpit left vacant by this dear man.

We all, as members of this body of believers, want God’s will in this matter. Should we assume that will happen because God is Sovereign, and will bring His man right to us? Or should we pray?

We’re praying!

The Bible teaches us God hears and answers prayer. So we’re praying. The Bible teaches us God is moved by our prayers, that He is free to work in us when we pray. Pray on!

I know God does have a will as to who our next pastor should be. And He’s not going to play games with us to see if we can figure it out, and call the right man. But God isn’t going to force anyone on us, either.

So our prayer is for wisdom to recognize God’s leading. We are pleading with God to make His way known, that we will move only when He moves us. We want God’s first and best choice for our fellowship. So we’re praying that we will know God’s mind and heart in this matter, and that our next pastor will know it, too.

You can bet I’m praying.

I do like what Henry said in the quote above about praying moving us. About prayer encouraging our faith. When I spend time talking to God, pouring my heart out to Him, loving on Him, I am changed. I am encouraged.

So today, I can honestly tell you I’m excited about what’s ahead for our church, because I am praying.