Tag Archives: prayer

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.

 

December 9; I Give Up

Acts 21:1-23:11

I had to chuckle as I read these chapters today. Not so much because what I read was funny, but because what I read was so me. (Sadly).

Paul was heading to Jerusalem. Along the way, all kinds of people told him not to go, that only trouble waited for him there. Agabus, a prophet, specifically told Paul that he would be arrested if he went to Jerusalem.

Well, that did it. When the people heard what the prophet said they pleaded with Paul to change his plans. They begged and wept trying to get him to give up this crazy idea of going to Jerusalem. But Paul was adamant. He was going to Jerusalem in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ whether they liked it or not.

Then this:

When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” (21:14)

Maybe it’s the wording in the NIV, but that is where I chuckled at the foolishness. They did everything they could to convince Paul to do what they wanted him to do. Then, when they finally realized he was having none of it, THEY GAVE UP.

That is totally understandable. Eventually you quit beating a dead horse. But the sad thing is,  it was only when they had given up their own efforts did they say, “The Lord’s will be done.”

To me it sounds the equivalent of an adolescent trying to get his friends to do something he wants to do, then when the friends aren’t interested in giving in saying, “Fine. Have it your way.”

“Fine. Have it God’s way.”

I wish I could tell you I have never said that myself. After praying for something, trying to manipulate circumstances in my favor, thinking positive thoughts, and realizing I’m not any closer to getting my way than I was at the start, I then take a deep breath and pray, “Not my will but Thine be done.”

So foolish. God is reminding me today that having His will accomplished in my life needs to be my first thought, my first wish, my first prayer. Paul’s friends were right. Paul was arrested and beaten in Jerusalem just like they’d feared. But Paul had said he was willing to be bound, even killed for Jesus’ sake there in Jerusalem. He trusted God that much.

Friend, wanting God’s will in our lives should never be a last resort. I’m pretty sure those of us who know Him would say without hesitation we want God’s will in our lives. Then, from the start we need to learn to say:

I give up.

October 20; Worry

Luke 12:22-13:17, 13:22-14:24

Why do Christians worry? I mean, I think most of us do at some time or another. We worry about our children, our health, the state of the world. We might worry about tomorrow, or today.

Jesus reminds us that worry is a waste of time. Someone once said worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.

But I think worry is a bit more serious than that. Worry tells God I just don’t trust Him enough. That’s serious.

Look around. God takes care of His creation. And we who were created in His image are the apple of His eye. Why would we even consider that God can’t handle whatever we are facing?

Jesus tells us to seek first His kingdom. Everything else will fall into place. Are my eyes on God? Is my focus on my Savior? Am I praying God’s will be done, and meaning it?

Then there is no reason to worry. Verse 32 tells us, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Let that sink in.

Back in the day we used to sing a chorus, “Why worry when you can pray? Trust Jesus, He’ll lead the way…Why worry, worry, worry, worry, when you can pray?”

The answer to that musical question is, “I don’t know.” There is no good reason to worry when you can pray. Let’s pray.

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.

September 14; The Gold Scepter

Esther 5:1-9:17

Esther went uninvited to the king. People didn’t just do that. It could cost you your life if you went barging into the throne room without the king’s permission. But Esther had a problem, and went to the only one who could help her. Instead of receiving a death sentence, Esther received the King’s acceptance when he pointed the gold scepter toward her.

Our King on the throne of heaven is to be feared much more than anyone feared King Xerxes. Yet it’s nothing for some to go barging into His throne room with complaints and demands as though the King were subject to them. I think the Bible tells us God takes a dim view of that audacity.

Do you pray? I hope so. But have you first accepted the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus’ blood? If you have not, I think you might need to consider who it is you are approaching. Barging into God’s presence is serious business.

As a child of God, I can go into that throne room any time I want to or need to. You see, I am wearing the royal robes of Jesus’ righteousness. My King is my Father my Savior who holds out the gold scepter to me, then gathers me in His arms. He knows me. He loves me.  He wants me to talk with Him.

And when I, as his beloved, have a problem, I can go to Him without fear, without hesitation, fully trusting that the answer I seek is right there in the throne room. In fact Scripture tells me I can go boldly.

And I do.

 

May 6; Rizpah

Psalms 8, 138, 139, 145; 2 Samuel 21:1-14, 9:1-13

Do you know who Rizpah is? She was the mother of two of Saul’s sons. Her story takes a whopping three verses of Scripture. But this woman has touched me deeply. I’ve read her story many times, but for some reason reading it today has broken my heart.

I’ve sat here and wept for her, and for all mothers, and for us who love children not our own. I put myself in Rizpah’s shoes as she stood helplessly by and watched her sons be executed for crimes their father had committed. It’s excruciating.

I don’t know how old her boys were. Were they babies? Teenagers? Adults? Did they have children of their own? I’m glad the Bible doesn’t tell us. Would the story be less tragic if her sons were grown?

I think the woman was out of her mind with grief. She parked herself next to the dead bodies of her children and for days she swatted flies and chased away the vultures. For days, maybe weeks, she protected those hands she had once held, the feet she had once washed, the cheeks she had covered in kisses, and those arms that had clung to her when her boys were afraid. She was their mother.

I’ve sat here trying to get a handle on why I’m still crying about this woman, when a picture of my own mother comes to mind. How often did I get a glimpse of her, kneeling at her bedside, praying for me and my sisters, swatting flies and chasing vultures? How many times did my mother go to God and plead with Him to hold on to me when she saw me drifting away, to guide me, to accomplish His will in my life? I think my mom was as determined to protect me from Satan as Rizpah was about protecting her own sons from the vultures.

Let’s get on our knees and pray for our children no matter their ages. Let’s storm heaven’s gates and plead with God to protect them from the enemy. Rizpah didn’t just swat a vulture or two first thing in the morning, then go about her day with no thought for her sons. She stayed there day and night, losing sleep, maybe not eating. Nothing was more important than keeping those vultures away.

And nothing is more important than the eternal souls of our children.

May 5; Answers Worthy of Praise

2 Samuel 23:20b-39, 8:15-18, 7:1-29; I Chronicles 11:22-47, 18:14-17, 17:1-27

Like many of us I think, the first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to reach for my phone. I did a quick scroll through FB, checked the weather, and opened my email. I was pleasantly surprised to see a notice that a blogger I follow, posted something today. She has not done that for a while, so I took time to read what she wrote. It’s a thoughtful, honest look at prayer, especially those prayers that are answered with a “No.” If you get a chance, check it out at karinasussanto.wordpress.com. It’s entitled, “When The Answer Is “No.”

Anyway, I was already thinking about prayer when I read today’s Scripture and was once again challenged by David’s. The king wanted to build a home for the Ark of God. David wanted to give God a dwelling place He deserved. But when God clearly said, “No,” David prayed, “Ok. Thank you for blessing me in other ways.”

We Christians pray. God wants us to bring our requests to Him. Our prayers are a sweet perfume to Him. However, prayer is not something we do to get what we want. Prayer is something we do to get what God wants for us.

As a parent, did you always give your children everything they asked for? If you say you did, shame on you! Sometimes a parent just knows giving in to every whim is not what’s best for a child. Like a four year old wanting a 22 shotgun. A parent probably knows that isn’t the best gift for the child. A child who loves alligators, and wants a pet alligator, should probably hear Mommy and Daddy say, “No.” Even if a tantrum follows.

It’s hard to accept when we lay out our requests and hear God say, “No.” I can’t think David liked hearing that he would not build that temple. It had been his heart’s desire. But David thanked God anyway.

And so should we. God really does know what’s best. And He really wants to give us His best. We just need to trust Him, and praise Him when He blesses us in other ways.

And He always blesses us in other ways.

I am reminded that God doesn’t deny our requests because He doesn’t want us to be happy. If He denies our requests, it’s because He has something better in mind for us, something more wonderful than we can know at the time. We can thank Him for the “No” because we can trust Him.

So pray. Ask God for you heart’s desire. He might give it to you, or He might say, “No.  But know this: His answer will always be worthy of your praise.