They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…. (Isaiah 40:31)
I waited on the Lord and He inclined to me and heard my cry…. (Psalm 40:1)
So, wait on the Lord. Be strong. Let your heart take courage. Yes, wait on the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)
Are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? (Mark 14:37).
It takes time.
God has all the time in the universe.
Throw away your watch and your calendar, follower of Jesus. You’re on heavenly time now and nothing happens on your schedule.
I suspect most of us are like the fellow who prayed, “Lord, give me patience–and give it to me right now!”
You’ve been praying for a loved one. And you don’t see an answer. You keep praying. For years, you pray and wait and hope. Then the one you were praying for is in a traffic accident and killed. Clearly, God never answered your prayer. You are devastated. So disappointed. Your faith in God wavers. You’re so unsure any more. What is the point in praying and in trusting?
And then one day, years later, something happens.
“You shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things, for this is not my doing” (Numbers 16:28).
“Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and I have done all these things at Your word” (I Kings 18:36).
What Moses and Elijah prayed, I pray.
It is entirely in order for the Lord’s messenger to pray that the people to whom he was sent will recognize that God is God and fully in charge, and that he himself is the Lord’s servant, on mission from Him.
During what was possibly the worst time of my life when a little group of self-righteous members clamored for my resignation and criticized every thing I did, that was my prayer. I was going through the fire, being tried as I rarely had.
The prayer felt like the dying gasp of the weakest child in God’s family. “Lord, let these people know there is a God in this place. And that I’m your servant, just doing your will.”
Did God hear the prayer? Did He answer?
“So, you were the one praying for me!
Tara Edelschick was brought up the daughter of a secular Jew and a lapsed Lutheran. She learned to be fairly self-sufficient, went to a great college and married a super guy. “Weaker souls might need a god,” she thought at the time, “but I needed no such crutch.”
That belief was obliterated when my husband of five years, Scott, died from complications during a routine surgery. Ten days later, I delivered our first child, Sarah, stillborn.
Oh, my. Talk about a double whammy. Life suddenly took a tragic turn, blindsiding the unsuspecting young woman.
Many would never have recovered from such a blow.
They invite you to bring a talk, a lesson, or a sermon on prayer. Your first thought, if you are normal, is, “Who me? What little I know about prayer you could put in a thimble.”
We all believe in prayer. We try to do it. We do not look upon ourselves as role models.
Truly godly men and women who are known as prayer warriors will tell you they feel they have just enrolled in kindergarten.
I doubt if our Heavenly Father is happy with any of His children claiming to have the inside track on how to approach Him, how to “get things from God,” “how to make prayer work for your benefit,” and how to get on His good side.
–Jesus Christ has done everything necessary for us to enter the Throne Room of Heaven. See Hebrews 4:16.
–Jesus Christ has opened the divider between man and God and we have an open invitation to “come on in.” See Hebrews 10:19-22.
If you and I are not entering God’s presence and lifting up our needs and petitions and interceding for those on our hearts, it’s not God’s fault. It’s not the fault of Jesus, who did everything necessary to make it possible for us to pray effectively.
When our church was about to welcome a new pastor, I contacted him to ask what we could do for him. “Tell me the top three things you want from this church.” He had an immediate answer, as though he’d been expecting the call.
“I would love to come to a unified, loving, praying church,” he said. As a retired pastor of six churches, I knew exactly how he felt. So, let’s look at those three gifts the new pastor would love to receive.
In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)
Recently, our country had a National Day of Prayer. That’s a good thing. It keeps us focused on the importance of prayer, and probably dumps a load of guilt on all of us for not praying more or better.
Three aspects of prayer make it difficult, and probably even unreasonable. And then, one overwhelming reality keeps us at it with the strong confidence that praying is the best thing we can ever do.
The three impossible aspects of prayer that befuddle us…
–One. The Object of our prayers is unseen.
In prayer, we are addressing One we’ve never seen and can’t even prove exists. And yet, we keep at it, drawing aside day after day, year after year, speaking to the Invisible, Unprovable Lord in the firm belief that He is there, that He hears, and cares and will answer.
Is this bizarre or not?! Smile, please.
You have not because you ask not. –James 4:2
The enemy does not want you praying.
He knows something you do not. He knows the power of your praying.
He will do anything he can to stop your praying, to sabotage your prayers, to throw a monkey wrench in the works of your prayers.
And some of us are cooperating with him, so that his work is done before he gets star
Think of what we do…
One. “My prayers don’t amount to much.”
Ever say that? I’ll bet you have. And I am here to tell you that is rank unbelief. Because you have mistakenly thought your praying was all about yourself–your faith, your maturity, your understanding, your something. But it’s not. Our praying is about our obedience.
I had led a family to Christ. They soon joined our church and were baptized the following Sunday. My notes remind me of something the grandfather said. He was chairman of deacons in a church 3 hours away, and of course, they were excited about what had happened. He said to me, “We’ve been praying for this family, but one by one. We had no idea they’d all get saved at the same time!”
Dale Caston, deacon in my last pastorate, told me something that took place in a high school class when he was a teen. The teacher asked the students, “What do you expect to get out of this class?” She looked at one student: “Eddie, what do you expect?” Eddie said, “Well, I’ve had you before–and I don’t expect nothing!” Dale tells it with a laugh because he knows the part expectations play in a thousand aspects of life.
What do you expect when you pray? The curse of modern Christianity is that we expect little from the Lord, too much from the pastor, and nothing from ourselves.
“…you were unwilling.” (Matthew 23:37)
Let’s start by posting the answers up front. We pray for revival and it does not come because:
–1) We do not want revival. Not really.
–2) God does not trust us with a revival, and for good reason. He refuses to bless a prodigal, to arm an enemy, to endow a rebel.
There! Those are the answers as to why there is no revival in response to our prayers. .
Now, pull up a chair and let’s talk about it.
It’s that plain and simple: we really do not want a Heaven-sent, life-rearranging revival.
We want the results, the good part, but not the upheaval in our personal lives, priorities, and schedules which a Heaven-sent revival would demand.
We want our churches filled, the community changed, and the believers encouraged. What we do not want is to be caught up in a spiritual fervor that drives us to resign certain affiliations, stop unworthy activities, and devote ourselves to lengthy prayer meetings and Bible studies and ministry.
We want the harvest without the work. We want the blessing without paying the cost. We want certain aspects of the harvest, but not all.
A friend and I were having a discussion about preachers. We both love our preachers, and years ago, I was her pastor, so we have a mutual understanding about a lot of things.
The conversation went like this.
She: “One of the things I’ve enjoyed in our church lately is an enhanced understanding of every phrase of the Lord’s prayer. So much so that I was offended recently at a funeral when the minister asked us to stand and ‘recite’ the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t think it’s something to be recited; it’s something to be prayed diligently!”
She added: “Now don’t go getting the wrong idea. I think that preacher is a delightful person, and I like him very much.”
I said, “Asking someone to ‘recite’ the Lord’s Prayer reminds me of something similar that drives me up the wall. You’ll be in a moving worship service, and the leader will say, ‘Now, let us have a word of prayer,’ or ‘I’m going to ask Bill to lead us in a word of prayer.’ I don’t know why that bothers me so much. I feel like calling out, ‘Hey friend, pray! Don’t just have a ‘word’ of prayer. Go to the Heavenly Father and pray!’ Somehow, it minimizes the importance of prayer, as though we’re all tipping our hats to the Almighty, then going on with the important stuff.”
We branched out to discussing how we preachers sometimes say foolish things without a clue as to how it’s being received. I told her about a recent internet conversation with a friend in North Carolina.