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Friday, June 28, 2013

When Do You Stop Praying?

Most of us have, at some time, heard the tragedy of a family member, friend or church member who is facing an impossible situation. Many of us have faced such impossible situations ourselves. The doctor looks over the tests and declares that the disease you have has less than a ten percent chance of being healed. The bank sends the notice that says that the house will be foreclosed upon. The husband calls to say that he has found someone new. The child is missing and no one can find her.

The question is: "When do you accept the bad news and stop praying?" When do you say that you will never walk again or see your marriage healed or see another Christmas?

Well, it isn't when things get difficult. God asked Abram, "Is there anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14) Even if your own personal wisdom says that God can't; He still can.

It isn't because God is surprised by the circumstance. He has a plan from the beginning. Even those who have hurt you will become a part of that plan. Joseph told his brothers that he knew that they intended evil for him but God had another plan: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20)

It isn't because the bad things cannot result in good either. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

We know that it won't be because God has stopped loving us.  "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." ( Romans 8:38-39)

No, the time to stop praying and accept what God has for us is when He gives us His revelation that He isn't going to change your circumstances. He is, instead, going to use them.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So, if you or I haven't heard from God, if we haven't heard His revelation of what He will do with these impossible circumstances, if we haven't seen Him terminate the prayer with a death, then, we are to keep praying. We are to keep listening. We are to keep humbling ourselves before Him in these prayers.

But please don't be mistaken. God doesn't always tell us that He is going to let things take their natural course. Sometimes His word is that He will make all the circumstances disappear. He will tell you that the battle doesn't belong to you but to the Lord. He will say that you should sit still while He fights for you.

So, keep believing,  praying and listening. He always answers. One way or the other. Just know it is always best even when you can't see how.  



2 comments:

high-expressions.blogspot.com said...

If you are distressed, and feel that no one can help you, I suggest reading Psalm 143 which I, in a blog entry, has entitled it as "David's refusal to despair".  If you want to read my full exposition of the psalm,  you can go here - http://high-expressions.blogspot.sg/2011/03/psalm-143-davids-refusal-to-despair.html

Here, I will cut and paste the points, we can learn from the psalm, from the blog entry: 

"This psalm spoke about David’s refusal to be abandoned to despair. Clearly, Scripture did not promise a “smooth and swell” life for a believer. Instead, we read of, believers being still in the world, although not of the world, and the need for us to persevere (Jesus, when praying, said that He was NOT asking the Father to take His disciples out of the world (John 17:15)) 

The Apostle Paul even wrote like this: 

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Cor 4:8-9).

The sooner we realize this, the better; and we have better get to know how we are to deal with challenges, the fallen world throws at us, saints. King David of the OT, had his fair share of challenges, and here, in this psalm, I believe, David was quite desperate, yet he refused to despair, and had sought the LORD for help. Psalm 143 was David’s petitioning for God’s help in his dire straits (great distress). Some believed that this psalm spoke of the time King David had to run from his own son, Absalom, who usurped his throne, but whether it was precisely that occasion or not, is not crucial. These are some of the things we can learn from David’s petition:

1. The most basic way to petition to God is to pray (v1). We must pray, we cannot say, “God can see, and God knows, if He wants, He will do something; if nothing is already happening, it is because He does not want to do anything!” Scripture exhorts us to ask, so we ask; to pray, so we pray; and we are not to be a smart aleck, and refuse to do so. King Ahaz of Judah, for example, was stubborn and refused to ask when the LORD told him to ask {for a sign} (Isaiah 7:10-13). It is not that we get everything we ask for, but indeed, we have to ask; the Apostle James said in James 4:2 that we do not have, because we do not ask.

2. Ask according to who God is, and according to His ways (v1). For example, one cannot ask God to do an unrighteous thing; for example, to help you to win the heart of someone’s wife. Ps 89:14 is a scripture I meditate often, and it says, “Justice and righteousness are the foundation of your {His} throne; love and faithfulness go before you {Him}”. So, we can ask God to come to our relief, in His justice, righteousness, unfailing love and faithfulness, and of course, in His mercy. We cannot ask God to act opposite to who He is and His ways, He will NOT do it. When you are sincerely serving the Lord, you can even ask on the ground of being His servant (v12) {We are all servants of the Lord, but do you serve the Lord?}.

3. Come in humility before God (v2). We, ourselves, need to live a righteous life (active righteousness), and not just rely on the imputed righteousness of Jesus. If we live UNrighteous lives while insisting we are righteous, relying solely on the imputed righteousness of Christ, we are really profaning the righteousness of God. Apart from some blunders he did (like his affair with Bathsheba), David endeavored to live honorably and righteously, especially with regard to his dealings with King Saul who plotted repeatedly to kill him. Of course, we must always repent of our sinful ways. 

Cont...

high-expressions.blogspot.com said...

Cont. From above


4. All children of God ought to know they have a Father God whom they can call out to, when they are in distress (v3-4). Call out to God, instead of falling into despair. David, in this psalm, was doing precisely that.

5. To avoid sinking into despair, remember the former days, recount the past faithfulness of God (v5). For those, whose walk with the Lord is still short and without much personal testimonies to fall back on, fellowship with other believers would be beneficial, as testimonies of others, too, can encourage us.

6. Express frankly your dire straits, your distress (v6-7). David said his soul thirsted for God (one can die of thirst! – need God badly), and his spirit was failing; and he asked God to answer him quickly.

7. Express your trust in the Lord, that He is your refuge and your shield (v8-9). I say “express”, for you can only honestly say something {express} when it is truly so, in your heart and beliefs. Our trust, hope and faith in God, of course, do take time to grow; and trials and grief do come so that our faith may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Pet 1:6-7).

8. Express your love for God’s will and His ways, and that you want to walk and DO WALK in His righteousness {we, at least must try; do not listen to people who say that we should effort NOT} (v10-11). Only when you do walk in His righteousness, can you say, “For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life”. 

9. Of course, do not forget to tell God what you want Him to do for you (v12). In David’s context, he needed his enemies silenced, he needed his foes destroyed; and David asked God for that. It is not that God must do what you want, but again, do not listen to people who tell you that you cannot tell God what He can do for you; God is not that insecure or think that you could influence his righteousness or judgment. Jesus, Himself, in His earthly ministry, on several occasions (Matt 20:32, Mark 10:36, Mark 10:51, Luke 18:41) asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Indeed, no children of God should need to despair. As we continue to pray, listen and wait on the Lord, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he {God} who promised is faithful" (Heb 10:23)"

Anthony Chia, high.expressions