As We Pray

On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer.

It is wonderful to have such a day on our national calendar. If there was ever a time that we needed to pray, it is now. However, many will pray and I fear that we will pray with a wrong motive. Let’s consider it for a moment so we can pray properly.

Do we pray today because we desire to hold onto America as we know it or want it to be? Do we pray because we want prosperity? Do we pray because we are afraid? Do we pray because we want the coronavirus to go away? Do we pray because we want convenience? Is prayer just a way for us to get what we want? Is prayer about us maintaining a level of comfort? 

Throughout the Bible, men like Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Habakkuk along many others prayed to God for their nations to return to God from their sin. They prayed for revival, for a great awakening to who God was and what He expected of them. 

Solomon sought God in prayer on behalf of a sinful nation. He asked God to forgive them at the time they would humbly return to Him. God answered Him with the words, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)  

Isaiah humbly admitted His own sin along with the sin of His nation when he realized the holiness of God. When confession was made, God cleansed and commissioned him. The account of this is stirring! “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Jeremiah wept over the sin and waywardness of his nation. His broken and humble heart is revealed in Jeremiah 13:15–17. “Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken. 16 Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive.”

Habakkuk prayed earnestly and humbly in the midst of injustice and pending chastening from the hand of the Lord,  O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make known; In wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2)

Friends, today is a national day of prayer and how we need to pray. Presently, our nation desires deliverance, but not the Deliverer. We need Him so desperately! If you are a child of God, would you pray? Would you set aside desire for ease and comfort and pray humbly and fervently? Would you confess your sin and the sin of our nation like Isaiah? Would you pray for our nation to return to our holy God?

He Already Sees!

Several years ago, I heard the song “He Already Sees.” The words are a striking reminder that during the storms of life, God has a different perspective. He sees the totality of the storm from the beginning to the end. He sees what the storm is accomplishing in your life. May God encourage you with the message of this song. Take heart, God already sees the other side of your storm!

When the storm raged about them
The disciples were afraid
For the waves were high and the ship was tossed
They could not find their way
Then they awoke the Master
Saying Lord please save us now
He rebuked the winds and the sea grew calm
And they all wondered how

God sees the storm from the other side
He knows the lessons learned
And just beyond the clouds
He sees clear skies
He speaks peace to the raging storm
When peace cannot be found
He already sees the rainbow when we see only clouds

Like the man on the sea did
I have called on God in prayer
When it seemed to me all hope was gone
And in my deep despair
I remembered what the Lord said
When He calmed that troubled sea
And I know once more how
He sees the storm
And peace floods over me

God sees the storm from the other side
He knows the lessons learned
And just beyond the clouds
He sees clear skies
He speaks peace to the raging storm
When peace cannot be found
He already sees the rainbow when we see only clouds

And when the storms of life come crashing in and trouble me
I can feel God’s arms around me and He whispers
Let it be, Let it be

God sees the storm from the other side
He knows the lessons learned
And just beyond the clouds
He sees clear skies
He speaks peace to the raging storm
When peace cannot be found
He already sees the rainbow when we see only clouds

God’s “Bigness”

God often brings us to situations that are bigger than our faith, experience, resources and the human help available to us. Time after time in Scripture, God allowed men and women to come face to face with their own limitations in order that He might prove his “bigness.” Think about a few (of many) illustrations with me.

Abraham and Sarah

God had promised that He would make Abraham’s family to grow in the generations to come to be as numberless as the sand of the seashore. That’s a big family tree! Yet, Abraham and Sarah had no children. They were rapidly ageing and Sarah had long passed her children bearing days. Humanly, physically what God had promised was impossible. In Genesis 18:14 the question was asked of Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” The correct answer is “NOTHING!” Even though there were some moments of doubt, Abraham believed God and God gave them a son through Sarah.

The Unnamed Widow

In 2 Kings 4 we find a widow of a godly servant of the Lord in a crisis situation. Debt collectors were coming after her for the debts her husband had left behind. She did not have the resources necessary nor the physical strength to work to earn the money necessary to pay off the debt. She met the prophet Elisha to get some advice. He gave instruction as to how God would meet the need. The need would not be met by human strategy but simple obedience to a “God-plan.” This was a plan that would totally fail if God did not come through. She was to take a pot of oil, that she had, and fill as many borrowed pots that she could. She then was to sell the oil and use the proceeds to pay off her debt. As many pots as she borrowed, God gave oil to fill. God fully met her need!

Jehoshaphat

In 2 Chronicles 20 we find king Jehoshaphat in an impossible situation. The armies of Moab, Ammon and others were marching to invade Judah. As Jehoshaphat received the news, he and all of Judah began to fear and tremble. This enemy alliance would certainly crush them. By all human predictions, they were done. There was no hope. Jehoshaphat called the people of Judah to seek God by prayer and fasting. He prayed, “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2 Chronicles 20:12) Notice his complete reliance and dependence on God. Without God doing something God-sized, they were done! God told him that the battle would be the LORD’s. Long story short, they went out to battle and God fought for them. The end of the story is amazing! 2 Chronicles 20:27 “Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.

Here is the bottom line! God is bigger than every problem, enemy, fear, need, financial shortfall, circumstance, health issue, church need and all our own human limitations. God delights in proving his “bigness.” Trust Him to be as big in your situation as He has revealed Himself to be throughout the pages of the Bible.

Lessons from Ten Years

TEN

Sheila and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary, and it is amazing to us how fast the time has flown. It literally seems like yesterday that we were getting to know each other, planning our wedding and honeymoon. Now we are looking back on a decade of marriage!

Today, as I reflect, I am reminded of the sweetness of a life following Jesus. I remember back to when marriage was a dream. God had to teach me a lot about waiting on Him. He taught me that if I would trust Him, He would intersect my life with the woman He created just for me. God did just that! I will never forget the day I first realized Sheila was the one for me. I saw a real, genuine, godly and fun loving young lady.  That was about twelve years ago now.  I have learned many lessons over these years. Here are a few of them.

  1. God is good all the time.
  2. God knows exactly what we need and can be trusted completely.
  3. Following God will always lead to the greatest blessing.
  4. Marriage is a journey—it keeps getting better as long as Jesus is the center.
  5. Any problem can be overcome with God’s help.
  6. Marriage is one of the greatest gifts God gives.
  7. God’s provisions are always on time and just enough.
  8. The Bible’s instructions can be trusted no matter what.
  9. Communication is one of the most essential keys to a harmonious marriage.
  10. Chocolate is always appropriate.