As I was praying this last week, I felt rather downcast and hopeless. I had finished praying for the salvation of people whom God has laid on my heart. It seems that the list continues to increase. Some of the people have been on the list for many years. Some people have moved on and I may never see them again, but I continue to pray for their salvation.
As I walked into Corner Bakery to pick-up my breakfast, I felt that the Lord rebuke me for my downcast attitude.
Here I am praying to the God of the universe…the Creator of all things, the One Who spoke the words and our world came into existence. God, Who from before the foundations of the world, knew me and chose to save me from my sin through the atoning death of His Son, my Savior Jesus Christ. God Who knows me intimately, knows the number of hairs on my head, knows my thoughts before the words come out of my mouth and puts my tears in a bottle. I’m praying to Almighty God and I’m feeling downcast? Are you kidding me?
I felt as if God challenged me that day. I pray many prayers, but am I on the lookout for God at work each day. Do I look expectantly and am I excited to see what God is doing each day?
To prove His point, later that day I had an encounter with someone for whom I’ve been praying. I got to hear what God is doing in their life, a definite God thing…a work that only He could be doing.
My downcast and hopeless feelings were nothing short of unbelief, which is sin. I didn’t have my eyes on God, nor trust Him and His perfect timing to answer my prayer.
Now I’m choosing to remind myself to Whom I’m praying to each day, and be on the lookout for the answers to those prayers and see God actively at work in all situations.
If I really believed that God hears my prayers would that change how I prayed? If I really believed that God cares and that He answers prayers…how would I pray? If I was confident that God is who the Bible says He is and can do what He says He can do…what would I pray for?
The first thing that comes to mind is that I would pray more often.
I would pray about everything.
I would pray with boldness and confidence.
I would be more faithful in prayer for family, friend, strangers and even my enemies.
I would pray with a sense of peace and assurance that my heavenly Father hears me.
I would pray more personally.
I could hardly wait to pray…to run to the throne of my Abba Father who cares for me.
I would pray with trust and know that no matter what, God is doing a good work in the situation and my character.
I would be certain that His “No” is because he is working out a greater good.
My prayers would have an eternal vision…not only looking for answers this side of heaven.
I would care less about what people thought about me and more about what my heavenly Father has to say.
I would desire to have more time with my Abba Father.
I would be excited to share with others the wonderful news about the Gospel message so that they too can be saved and have their sin debt paid in full by Jesus Christ.
I wouldn’t give a hoot or holler what unbeliever or doubters had to day…because I would believe God.
When attacked by the enemy…I would run to the throne of grace.
I would desire to be sanctified, set apart so that nothing would interfere with my prayer life and relationship with God.
I would pray more fervently.
Salvation, salvation, salvation would be my primary prayer because I know that God desires that no one would perish but all would come to repentance…and there is nothing more important in life.
I would have the joy of the Lord even during the hard times.
I wouldn’t try to get through life and difficult circumstances on my own strength.
Last week, after spending the afternoon in a spiritual battle, I was weary. During the drive home the Holy Spirit challenged me about what I really believe.
If there was a person in my life whom had a history and pattern of lies and deceit, of continually doing harm to me or friends and family, would I believe him when he came to me with a laundry list of lies? Would I give him the time of day? Or would I tell him, in no uncertain terms, to leave?
Knowing me…I would be swift, firm, loud and direct, “Get Out…and don’t come back!”
Yet when approached by the enemy I actually give him an ear. I listen and give credence to the one who is a lair and murdered from the beginning. I believe what the hater my soul has to say…as if he would ever utter anything beneficial to me.
Why? Why in the world would I do that?
I must confess its part laziness and part sin-nature.
Laziness…because for me to not listen to the lies of the enemy means I must take every thought captive. I must actively, purposely redirect my thoughts…and think on that which is good, lovely, pure and true by meditating on scripture. I need to praise God and believe that He is able to accomplish much more than I can ask or imagine. I must have an active faith and believe that God is able to bring about that which has not yet been made manifest. I must believe God is good…even when His answer is no, or wait, or when He gives me something much different than what I hoped and prayed for.
Sin nature…because when I have been wronged or sinned against it’s not in my nature to be quick to forgive. Instead I would rather justify why it’s okay to have hard feelings against a person who did me wrong. I’d rather run to God with a long list of what’s wrong with this person or that one. Instead…God calls me, as a Christian, to live supernaturally, to live by the power of the Holy Spirit within me.
I am a new creation in Christ. Daily I am to take off the old man and put on the new.
Lord…next time the enemy comes knocking…may I remember that he is a lair and that he comes to steal, kill and destroy. May I resist him and watch him flee. May I stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord. May I believe You God…and instead ask, “What does my Father have to say about this?”
One of the reasons I love to study the Bible is that each time I study a passage, whether it’s for the first time or the tenth…it’s fresh and new and applies to me right where I am.
Just recently I listened to Beth Moore’s “Believing God” study during my drive time. I think that this was the third time I’ve heard the study. The last time was back in the summer of 2006…a pivotal and transitional year for me. Both personally and professionally. God used that study to help me during a turbulent time.
But I must say that what I learned back then pales in comparison to what I learned this time. So much so that I listened to many of the CDs at least twice this go around. There was so much good material that it was hard to take it all in during one sitting.
As I was driving home tonight…listening to a different study, I marveled at what I was hearing. Then I got to thinking…what’s the difference between what I’m hearing now compared to three years ago?
- Back then did I have a hard, unbelieving heart?
- Was there a lack of spiritual maturity?
- Or do I have a hunger and thirst for God’s word today that was missing a few years ago?
- If so…how did it develop?
- More importantly…how do I continue to grow and not grow cold in my love for God and His word?
I see the power in God’s word and the necessity for prayer that I didn’t fully understand back then. I want to know Him more and I want to dwell in His presence. I want Jesus Christ to be my All in all.
Recently I’ve been experiencing some spiritual battles that left me feeling soundly defeated. Rather than believing God that I am more than a conqueror and acting on it…I believed the lies of the enemy. Much to my chagrin I’ve taken the bait one too many times.
That’s when I realized…I’m tired be living a defeated life. Tired of choosing fear and anxiety rather than trusting and believing God. Tired of looking at my circumstances and letting them be the measure of my faith. When my circumstances are good and everything is going my way…the faith meter is so high it’s off the charts. When troubles abound and the fiery darts of the enemy assail me…you can’t get a reading.
If my faith meter was instead a heart monitor…the doctors would pronounce me dead and pull the sheet over my head.
Isn’t my faith, to some degree, a measure of my heart towards God? Am I a person who loves God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength? If I don’t believe God is good…no matter what my circumstances…then how can I love Him when life turns ugly?
While meditating on my faith failures…God challenged me with the following thoughts:
- Will I choose to love God when I don’t understand what He’s doing?
- Will I choose to bless His holy Name when I don’t understand His purpose for allowing the enemy buffet me?
- Will I choose to thank Him in all things?
- Will I choose to obey Him when it’s the hard thing to do?
- Will I choose to trust Him when I’m hurting?
- Will I choose to look to Him, not my circumstances?
- Will I choose to listen to Him only, not give an ear to the enemy?
- Will I choose to pray rather than fret and imagine the worst?
- Will I choose to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?
- Will I choose to dwell upon that which is good, lovely, and pure and of good report?
- Will I choose to continue to bring my requests to God…trusting His timing and answer to my prayers?
- Will I trust that God is working out His good and perfect plan in the trials and tribulations of life?
- Will I bring my loved ones before the throne of God and seek His wisdom on how to respond?
- Will I choose to believe that God is doing a work in others, even when it’s not evidenced in the now?
- Will I choose to saturate my mind with God’s word?
- Will I seek to know God more?
- Will I choose to say “Blessed be the Name of the Lord” in good times and bad…and mean it with all my heart?
Fear and anxiety are doubt and unbelief being worked out in my daily life.
Today I choose to believe God, love Him, trust and obey Him. By His power, through Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling within me…I will be more than a conqueror today.
Tomorrow…I’ll be faced with that choice all over again. But for today…I choose to believe God.
In a place
Where I cry out for God’s deliverance
Yet for a season
God’s will is to keep me here
Right where I’m at
I put my hand over my mouth
Think a second time
Choose to look on the good that God is doing
In the midst of uncomfortable
It would be so easy
Harden my heart
When the reason for God’s delay or His “No”
Is unknown to this frail human soul
But instead God has given me His word
By the power of the Holy Spirit
I can learn from the examples of others
I can stand strong, purpose in my heart to believe God
Or go down the path of unbelief which surely leads to destruction
Oft times His will is inscrutable, unknowable, a mystery
That’s when God calls me to trust Him
Believe that He is good, holy, righteous and just
He is working all things together for good
For this one who loves Him
Susan Bunts Wachtel
March 12, 2009