Prayer Must Not be Our Chance Work

Prayer must not be our chance work, but our daily business, our habit and vocation. As artists give themselves to their models, and poets to their classical pursuits, so must we addict ourselves to prayer.   Spurgeon

In his book entitled Prayer, Timothy Keller describes a conversation he had with his wife during a particularly challenging time in their lives. His wife Kathy urged him to pray with her every night and she used the following illustration to convince Him:

Imagine you were diagnosed with such a lethal condition that the doctor told you that you would die within hours unless you took a particular medicine – a pill every night before going to sleep. Imagine that you were told that you could never miss or you would die. Would you forget? Would you not get around to it for some nights? No – it would be so crucial that you wouldn’t forget, you would never miss. Well, if we don’t pray together to God, we’re not going to make it because of all we are facing. I’m certainly not. We have to pray, we can’t let it just slip our minds.*

Kathy recognized her desperate need to go to the Father for everything in her life. Last week I read through the book of Daniel and was inspired by his courage and faith, but more than that, I was moved by his commitment to prayer. Think about it, Daniel prayed even when the public policy was against him, and he could be thrown in the lion’s den.

If Daniel took life-risking measures to pray three times a day, then why am I not willing to get up a little earlier and spend time with the Father. Great work happens on our knees. God gives us insight on our knees. We grow more in love with Him, on our knees. We find comfort and peace on our knees. May we be determined not to make prayer a chance thing in our lives, but an essential part of each day.

Here’s one of Daniel’s prayers of praise after God:

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.

Daniel 2:20-23

Why wouldn’t we want to pray to a God like that?

* Tim Keller: Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

Completely Understood

Have you ever felt misunderstood? Perhaps you have found yourself saying to a close friend, “You just don’t understand what I am going through?” Or maybe someone has made assumptions about your actions or your words or your motives. Could it be that you are experiencing loneliness and that no one else could possibly “get you?”

Feeling misunderstood is a hard place to be, and honestly no one can know exactly what is going on in your heart…except the Lord. I find it very reassuring that the Bible tells us that God is the God who sees. He is the One who searches our hearts. Jesus Himself was misunderstood.

The good news is that God meets us where we are. He sees our pain, He knows our hearts better than we know them. This same God who met Hagar when she was crying in the wilderness, and Elisha when he was depressed in the cave, and Jonah under the plant, and Jeremiah in the pit, and David on the run – this same God meets us where we are at.

He sees. He cares. He understands.

In our darkest hours, we can call to Him. When life seems unfair, we can cry to Him. When no one seems to get us, we can go to Him. God’s invitation is clear, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

The deepest need of our heart is to be understood and fully loved, but no human can fulfil that void. To be sure, God brings people into our lives to counsel and encourage, but only God completely understands us and loves us with an unfailing love. He is not far – He is near. May you find hope, comfort and strength in Him today.

He Provides

 “God himself will provide the lamb

for the burnt offering, my son.”

Genesis 22:8

            It was a tense moment. In the book of Genesis, we read the story of Isaac and Abraham headed up the mountain to present a burnt offering to God, but there was no lamb. God was testing Abraham’s heart to see if he would be willing to offer even his only son. Abraham prophetically stated a truth that would be fulfilled several thousand years later in Christ, as God provided the Lamb who died on our behalf.

            The angel of the Lord stopped Abraham from offering Isaac. The Bible then tells us, Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. God provided a lamb that day on the mountain, and God has provided a lamb for all who will believe. Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

            As we celebrate Easter this month, may our hearts be drawn to the great sacrifice God made for us in sending His only Son to offer His life on our behalf. But the story doesn’t stop at the cross! In three days, He rose from the grave demonstrating victory over sin and death! What joy and victory for those who place their faith in Him! 

Photo by Danny Lines on Unsplash

Close Beside Us

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid,

For you are close beside me.

Psalm 23:4

            You are not alone. Your Shepherd is close beside you. He protects and comforts you in the midst of your darkest valleys. Do not be afraid for you do not walk your path by yourself. It is a great comfort to know that when we face the scariest times in our lives, He is there with us. The Bible doesn’t say that we will never walk through dark times, but it does reassure us that we won’t walk through them alone.

            What great assurance we have in knowing that the Lord our God will not leave us. Do not fear about things that may happen or the possibility of valleys in your life. The “what ifs” need not linger as long as we remember that our good Shepherd will protect and comfort us in the midst. Let us walk in confidence and not fear for the road ahead.

Blessings with a Purpose

I will make you into a great nation,
   and I will bless you.
Genesis 12:2

God not only blesses us, but he blesses us for a purpose.  He blesses us so we will be a blessing.  The word bless means, “to benefit.”  It implies abundantly or greatly. In the Bible we are reminded that God blessed Abraham abundantly by building a great nation through his seed.  He made Abraham’s name great.

God’s blessings are different toward each one of us. Sometimes our blessings may come through the most difficult of trials. The purest gold comes through the most intense heat, and the most beautiful gems are formed through immense pressure. Other blessings may be in the rich joy of family members or friends in our lives.

Everyone can look at unique ways God has blessed their lives. The question is, “Are we focusing on the blessings God has given us or on the frustrations?” Let’s thank God each day for the wonderful ways He blesses us, and then let’s be diligent to use our blessings to bless the world around us.

How does God want to use your gifts and talents to benefit others today?