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Archive for the ‘Praying’ Category

It is Right to Ask

I love the story of Hezekiah. The intimidating Assyrian army is just outside their gates because Hezekiah had decided to no longer give in to their demands. I love what it says Hezekiah did. “He went into the temple of the Lord.” And the coolest thing . . . the Lord heard him and helped him.

This army had a history of obliterating those they went up against. And on that basis Hezekiah could have crumbled and given in to their demands. He could have reasoned that it would be better to muddle through life than to risk not having life. He could have wondered why the Lord would help him when He had not helped so many others.

I wonder sometimes when I pray, why I expect to be helped when there are so many who have it so much worse. Whether I am praying for myself, my family or someone else, I wonder. It is tempting to give in to the demands of life.

Instead, I make the same decision that Hezekiah made. I go into the temple of the Lord. I believe it is right to ask for what is right rather than to accept what is wrong. I believe the Lord gave us this story of Hezekiah to show us that He is in favor of us asking for what is right.

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Prayer

Your praying creates a vein through which the grace, help and love of God can flow.

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Back to Work

I stumbled across an analogy a few years ago that helped me in the area of faith. It all started with the question the disciples asked Jesus when they had been caught red handed at not being able to heal the boy who had seizures. Their question, “Why couldn’t we heal him”, struck me. It became my question.

It’s funny how if you just stay with something, instead of sweeping under the rug, as the disciples had tried to do, hoping Jesus wouldn’t find out; that Jesus must enjoy our searching. It really is like looking for jewels. They’re not just laying out in the open; you have to dig for them. And if you stay with it, every now and then you will find one.

So, this is the jewel I found. Jesus told them if they had faith even the size of a mustard seed, they could move mountains. And it hit me. Jesus’ faith is like a dozer. He can move a pile of dirt pretty quick. Mine on the other hand is like a shovel. I can move the same pile of dirt; it’s just that it will take me longer. Faith believes that if you stay with it, it will be moved. Not that it might be moved, but that it will be moved.

It was the perfect analogy for me. Being a builder, I have had plenty of opportunity to move dirt with both equipment and the old shovel and wheelbarrow method. Little by little, if you stay with it, the latter will get the job done.

It is important when we invest our time and energy in physical labor that we see progress—evidence that our labor is paying off. The same is true, it think, in the area of spiritual labor. We’re bad about praying for something a couple of times and then quitting if it doesn’t happen. But to see evidence of progress; that is enough to confirm you are on the right track.

A few years ago I took to task, praying for a girl who had seizures. After months of praying from time to time, and maybe even a couple of years now that I think about it, the only evidence I saw was when her mom said the seizures had become less frequent and less severe.

Two or three years have passed and the mom just mentioned in a comment, that the seizures were still, “less frequent and less severe”. Funny that pile of dirt is just where I left it. When I laid my shovel down, it quit getting smaller.

So this morning, I am picking it back up again. As with any pile of dirt, it is not a matter of trying to move it—hoping you can move it—hoping it will eventually be moved. It is a simple matter. Stay with it, shovel by shovel, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow, and eventually it will be moved.

I believe it.

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When the Lord told Abraham that He would take him to a new land and that he would have a son, was Abraham to pray for it to happen when it seemed like it wasn’t going to, or was it for him pray that his faith – his believing – would stay in tack when the fulfillment of that promise looked so bleak? When Sarah became impatient and tried to help God out, did it help?

When God told Moses that He was going to deliver Israel from Egypt and take them to the promised land, was it for Moses and the children of Israel to pray for it to happen, or was it for them to pray that their faith – their believing – would stay in tack when the fulfillment of that promise looked so bleak? When they were caught between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, was God after their praying or their believing?

When God told Joseph that he would rule over his family, was it for him to pray for when he was sitting alone in prison, or was it for him to pray that his faith – his believing – would stay in tack when the fulfillment of that promise looked so bleak? Did he help matters when he took things into his own hands by asking the two prisoners to put in a good word for him?

When God anointed David to be king, was it for him to pray that the Lord would make it happen, or was it for him to pray that his faith – his believing – would stay in tack when the fulfillment of that promise looked so bleak? David surpassed them all. He could have taken things into his own hands several times to help God move things along, but he didn’t. His trust was in God to do what He said He would do.

In all cases, God in His timing, in spite of what these men did to ‘help God along’ (which in no case actually helped), did what He said He would do. And so these thoughts have changed the way I pray. I no longer pray for the Lord to provide because He told me early on that before it was too late He would, and He has. My praying now is that my faith – my believing – would remain in tack when the fulfillment of that promise looks bleak.

It says of the Israelites when they were backed against the Red Sea, that they were ‘terrified’. Can you imagine if some of them would have nudged the one standing beside them and said, ‘Watch this; this is going to be cool.’; or when Jesus was standing in front of Lazarus’ tomb; none of the disciples believed. Can you imagine if just one would have nudged a few of the others and said; ‘Watch this, this is going to be cool’. Can we, when our situation looks so bleak, believe enough to say, ‘Watch this; this is going to be cool’? I believe it would please God if we could.

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Ex 17:8-11
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

This morning, Charles Stanley, at the close of his broadcasted message, issued a challenge for his congregation and his listening and viewing audience to join him in praying for our nation for 140 days. Like the nation of Israel, our nation is under attack. Are we as clear as they were on who our enemy is? On what the secret to our success is?

Joshua most likely chose men who knew how to fight, but their success was not based their ability alone. “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.”

Moses praying alone would not have won the battle. Joshua’s fighting alone would not have won the battle. It took both fighting and praying. When both were being done they could physically see they were winning. When not, they could just as clearly see they were losing.

We need people in our government who will physically fight against the nonsense that is coming out of our current leaders. We need those who will pray that they might have good success.

But I believe there is a third element. In addition to the physical fighting and the spiritual praying is the spiritual fighting. It is different than the physical things we can do in our government. It is different than the praying we can do to God.

It is a spiritual fighting against our enemy. In our case, he is our real enemy. He is the one driving all the things that are trying to destroy us. The people are just the one’s he is using to accomplish it.

This happens to be true in our personal lives as well. We are frustrated that we do not see more answered prayers. We pray and pray and pray. I believe we must learn equally to fight and fight and fight. Whether for ourselves, others, or our nation, I believe this is true.

This is how Paul put it: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

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