Tag Archive for 'Prayer'

Prayer for God’s Strength

I confess that I often worry about not having enough money someday for whatever reason. God doesn’t promise that we’ll be prosperous financially or materially, contrary to what some Christians believe. But God promises grace and that he’ll be enough for us, however much he decides to provide for us and in what forms. I can imagine that some people are in this situation and wonder what God is up to.

The NLT Study Bible notes have this about Habakkuk 1:2-4:

“To Habakkuk, God seemed indifferent to the evil permeating society in Judah (Habakkuk 1:3-4) and unresponsive to his complaints about it (Habakkuk 1:2).”

“Habakkuk’s prophecy concludes with a psalm-like prayer.” The last part is below. I don’t normally post notes from study Bibles, but I think these are very helpful.

Habakkuk 3:16

“Although the full realization of God’s mighty power sapped Habakkuk’s strength to the point that he trembled, he would wait quietly (see Habakkuk 2:3) for God’s judgment to descend. • My legs gave way beneath me: Literally Decay entered my bones.

Habakkuk 3:16-19 NLT
I trembled inside when I heard this;
my lips quivered with fear.
My legs gave way beneath me,
and I shook in terror.
I will wait quietly for the coming day
when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
17Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

“After recounting God’s mighty acts of redemption (Habakkuk 3:2-15), and pausing to consider them (Habakkuk 3:16), Habakkuk now reaffirms his trust in God as he closes his prayer. • Even though . . . yet I will rejoice: Even if God never pours out material blessing on his people again, he is still worthy of all the trust and praise they can give. Come what may, the prophet could rejoice, knowing that the LORD is not only Israel’s Redeemer, but also the source of his own salvation.”

Philippians 4:11-13 TNIV
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

What Does “Praying in the Holy Spirit” Mean?

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
Jude 1:20 NIV

Dear friends, use your most holy faith to grow. Pray with the Holy Spirit’s help.
Jude 1:20 GW

Almost all translations render it, “in the [power of the–GNT, NLT] Holy Spirit”.

Praying in the Holy Ghost. Observe, [1.] Prayer is the nurse of faith; the way to build up ourselves in our most holy faith is to continue instant in prayer, Rom 12:12. [2.] Our prayers are then most likely to prevail when we pray in the Holy Ghost, that is, under his guidance and influence, according to the rule of his word, with faith, fervency, and constant persevering [Luke 11:5-10, Luke 18:1-8]; this is praying in the Holy Ghost, whether it be done by or without a set prescribed form.

–Matthew Henry

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:5-6 ESV

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Matthew 21:22 NIV

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 12:12 GW

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
1 John 5:14 NIV

Also see:
God’s Will For You | Scripture Zealot blog

persistence

You Can’t Out-Think God

You know how when you have a staring contest with a cat? Or maybe you did that with a sibling or friend when you were a kid, or maybe an adult. (This doesn’t include the aspect of who can keep their eyes open the longest.)

Imagine having a thinking contest. With God. Imagine the whole world vs. God. God would win. And he would like it. He would know everyone’s thoughts. It would be easy.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
Psalm 147:5

I want to encourage those who may be under the impression that God doesn’t care about the little things in your life, or has bigger things to deal with. God created us to be in relationship with him, and he wants to constantly hear those who are his children talk to him, think about him, ask him things, and even complain. God never says, “Not now; I’m busy.” Or, “Quit your whining!” I suppose this is a good reminder for everyone.

So after writing all of that, I’ll let Scripture speak for itself. The idea for this post first came when I read the first verse on the list below. These are purposely pulled out of context (except the last one) to get the message across, but I would encourage anyone to look at the context of any of the verses you may not be familiar with. I’m using God’s Word translation, except where noted.

If you have any to add, please post them in a comment, or anything else you’d like to write.

Morning, noon, and night I complain and groan,
and He listens to my voice.
Psalm 55:17

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:18 NIV

Continue in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2 ESV

Never stop praying.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

We always pray that our God will make you worthy of his call. We also pray that through his power he will help you accomplish every good desire and help you do everything your faith produces.
2 Thessalonians 1:11

I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day when I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my ancestors did.
2 Timothy 1:3

Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Jesus used this illustration with his disciples to show them that they need to pray all the time and never give up. He said, “In a city there was a judge who didn’t fear God or respect people. In that city there was also a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice.’ “For a while the judge refused to do anything. But then he thought, ‘This widow really annoys me. Although I don’t fear God or respect people, I’ll have to give her justice. Otherwise, she’ll keep coming to me until she wears me out.'” The Lord added, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge thought. Won’t God give his chosen people justice when they cry out to him?
Luke 18:1-7

to persist obstinately in–Liddell-Scott

God Speaking in Prayer – Part 2 of 2

The original post is here: God Speaking To Me In Prayer – Part 1

I almost forgot about posting the other part. I wrote, “Often when I’m in the praise phase of my praying, God brings to light something new to praise him for. He’s been doing this almost once a week for a very long time now.” What I’m realizing is that when I’m praying, especially praising, I’m also meditating at the same time. I’m “talking to myself” about who God is and dwelling on what I’m praising him for. I’m also seeking new (although nothing is really new) things to praise God for. They are often things I’ve already though of in the past that God is bringing up again, or things in Scripture that are brought to mind (John 14:26). When God speaks, it’s usually about himself, and it’s always found in Scripture. (Future post material) If it’s sketchy, I will look it up to make sure. I’m a little unsure about the title of this post, but I’m stuck with it. It could be “Meditating With God”. I don’t want to make it sound like inspired revelations that could stand on their own. I didn’t take the time to put Scripture with them.

These are quick, unedited things I’ve tried to write in Evernote. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten to write down as many as have been written. Some of it can’t be expressed well in words, and some don’t make complete sense now.

  • Having to listen to a psychologist [I don’t remember what this means, but ‘listening to “advice”‘ could be substituted]–Jesus had to put up with much worse than this, being God and having to listen to people who think they know what they don’t.
  • Meditated on God lavishing everything on us. The cross, material things, our inheritance, what the Holy Spirit does etc,
  • Reading in the OT about all the things that had to be done to atone for sins and all of the stipulations of the law regarding it, and God did all of that for us in Christ. Everything.
  • Me (who never got in trouble) getting in trouble in elementary school by “giving a girl a bloody nose”, or so it seemed to others. I was sent to the disciplinarian, thinking this would never happen to me. My teacher gave me the dirtiest look I have ever seen. She looked like she wanted to torture me to death.

    That’s just one incident of one “sin”. Jesus took on the sin of all who would be saved and the wrath of God for those sins. I can’t begin to imagine that.

    And just from my own perspective–I’m not a good person and I’m bad enough that Jesus needed to suffer for me. That alone is a huge sacrifice.

  • 1 Timothy 6:19
    By doing this they store up a treasure for themselves => eternal
    that is a good foundation for the future, => future this life
    so that they can keep their hold on the life that is real. => now and ongoing
  • Instead of thinking about how another person feels about what I say, think about what God thinks about what I would say. [I forgot about this one!]
  • If you were a ‘respecter of persons’ and idolized an athlete or famous person or older person that you were completely in awe of, but didn’t know, imagine them wanting to hang out with you and listen to you, help you out, comfort you, give their life for you and give you all that they have. That’s God, and more.
  • Running a race is painful. Runners enjoy it. It’s long and arduous.
  • When we do good, we can’t claim it for ourselves (Acts 3:26). Everything good comes from God (James 1:17). God gets all of the glory (1 Peter 4:11), not some of it. When we do bad, or do nothing (James 4:17), we can claim that for ourselves. It’s our sinful nature working in us (James 1:14). When we do something good, or have an ability that we develop, it’s God who compels us to act (Phil 2:13) and gives us the ability (1 Corinthians 4:7). The only thing we can boast about is that we know the Lord, but even that is because He delighted in us first (Jeremiah 9:24).

Regarding that last one, in Calvin’s Institutes, he writes about how God will then also give us credit for the things that he originally did for us or enabled us to do. Grace upon grace?

Also listen to:
Mumblings from God
for a Reformed view of how God doesn’t speak to us, which I will hopefully delve into at some point on this blog.

Not Everyone Recovers From Suffering

Sometimes there is no visible silver lining, no redeeming value in sight. Sometimes those who endure difficulty feel that nothing is left but an empty shell. Some people never recover physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It is not guaranteed that we will emerge on the other side of pain strengthened by the experience. It would be naive to suggest that suffering universally results in growth. S. Cairns suggests a more nuanced perspective as he elaborates on Simone Weil’s observation that “affliction compels us to recognize as real what we do not think possible.” He observes:

The occasions of our suffering are capable of revealing what our habitual illusions often obscure, keeping us from knowing. Our afflictions drag us — more or less kicking — into a fresh and vivid awareness that we are not in control of our circumstances, that we are not quite whole, that our days are salted with affliction.

I dare to suggest, however, that when we undergo trials, the biblical way to pray is for strength to carry on and acquit ourselves well. We should seek to honor God when life is at its lowest. We should strive to trust him even when hope is gone.

–John Walton, Job (The NIV Application Commentary)

These are things we need to pray for people who are suffering. I’ve said it before–if we only pray for healing, we are probably doing the sufferer a great disservice. Which is more important, temporal healing, which may or may not happen, or, if they are a believer, things that are Scripturally in God’s will and are a part of eternal things? (Both would be great.)

Many times in the Western world, we don’t see those suffering. Usually, the worse the suffering, the less likely we are to see them. So we go on thinking that as life goes on we make more money, really bad things shouldn’t happen to believers, otherwise they don’t have enough faith or somebody hasn’t laid hands on them yet, and it’s always darkest before the dawn. Not to sound morbid, but it can always get darker.

Some insist on going out in “faith”, testing God, and guessing His will, without praying for anything else. Praying is not gambling with God’s will. Certainly pray for the temporal situation and people’s physical needs. Pray for whatever bad is happening to stop. But pray for things that are definitely God’s will as what’s found in Scripture, and you will be participating as a slave of Christ in shaping that person’s or people’s lives. Use Paul’s prayers if you would like help in that regard.

Prayer: What do you want, do you really, really, really want?

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Matthew 21:22

However:

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:3

(Although:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
1 Timothy 6:17 emphasis added)

Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

We are confident that God listens to us if we ask for anything that has his approval.
1 John 5:14 GW

Also see:

A Rambling Prayer

your will be done
Matthew 6:10

According to the risen Lord Jesus Christ,
Help us to do your will and be obedient to you.
Guide us in praying according to your will more and more.
Help us to gain spiritual knowledge and wisdom.
Compel us to highly value it.
Remind us to pray for it.
Energize us to enjoy seeking it.
Convey it to us, realizing that it comes from you.

Help us to meditate on your words in Spirit and in truth.
I confess that I sometimes go the way of my own earthly theories and introspection.
We know you long to bring us back when we go off your path.
Help our thoughts and ideas, private and verbal,
to be confined to those of Christ, the Word of truth.

Then let us continually go back to Scripture,
so that our rambling musings on things of You are always enlightened and corrected by Scripture.

We praise you for your word–for being living and active through it.
Remind us that we can hear you speak to us by just reading our Bible.
What an indescribably great thing!

Around the Web

The Really Big List of Kindle Deals | Challies Dot Com – the commentary on Deuteronomy looks interesting and I read Michael Horton’s A Place for Weakness which is excellent

Gospel Grace blog is owned by Luma, who writes about all kinds of interesting things in a very intelligent way, much of it from a Reformed perspective (just as a warning to those who are sensitive to R rated content)

I may as well mention Housewife Theologian again, which is where I found Luma from Gospel Grace (noted above) commenting. If I had a twin sister, it may be her.

One of Justin Taylor’s Favorite Prayers in the Whole Bible:

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20:12

Related Scripture:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7

A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.
How then can anyone understand their own way?
Proverbs 20:24

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3

I may be blogging a little less for a while. I’m working on a big series on the silly sayings that evangelical Christians say. But it won’t just be poking fun at others, or each other, but will be writing about the problems and possible alternatives. I will also be thinking and praying about what I write here. Pray with me if you’d like.

On the subject of prayer, my back pain has been worse this week than ever outside of surgery recovery. I don’t know what’s going on. I hope that if there’s something wrong with the various hardware in there that it could be figured out. I’m trying my best to trust and not worry. It’s hard not to be thinking of various scenarios.

~Jeff

Quote of the Day: Prayer by R.A. Torrey

prayer is almost an impossibility where there is neglect of the study of the Word of God.

–R.A. Torrey

I like the CrossCards.com site.

I was looking around, hopefully not wasting time, and came across this wallpaper. I like the quote a lot and it really got me thinking. If we don’t know Scripture, we don’t know God’s will and our prayers may not be as effective. New Christians needn’t worry. God wants to hear all of our prayers and will help us learn what His will is according to Scripture.

1 John 5:14
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

I just like this photo and quote. It’s limited in the number of sizes if you want to use it, but I’m sure anyone with a graphics program could make it fit their computing device of choice.

This also reminds me that I have his book called How To Pray. My edition is over 100 years old that I found at a used bookstore. So I looked on Amazon and found that the Kindle edition is only 99 cents and also a low cost paperback and what I would hope is a nice hardcover. It has been reprinted many times so you can also find hardcover and paperback editions. It’s an excellent, basic book on prayer. Great for new believers and very good for anyone. He also has a section on what real revival is. One thing I like about the edition I have is that there is no Introduction, Preface, etc. etc. He just starts right off, wasting no time. A very efficient yet complete book on prayer. I won’t post a cover because there are so many of them I wouldn’t know what to choose.

~Jeff

 

to be or become effective or effectual

Mystery of Providence and Prayer

Mystery of Providence by John Flavel is comprised of three parts:

  1. The Evidence of Providence
  2. Meditation on the Providence of God
  3. Application of the Doctrine of Providence

I had a hard time with the first two sections of this book. Not because it was hard to understand, but just because he listed a bunch of stuff as to what various ‘providences’ are, and how important it is to meditate on them, and again listing a bunch of them and reasons why we should. Since this is my first whole Puritan book, I was disappointed at this point to say the least. Has anyone else felt this way?

But then came section 3. What’s quoted below is a brilliant treatise on asking for things in prayer and waiting for them. What things to ask for; what things to wait for. What things are in God’s will and what things aren’t. It’s not that it was all new–I will write about waiting on God in another post using Proverbs 2 as an example and providence has been a favorite subject of mine for quite some time, it’s just that it’s such a complete and cogent treatment of this subject, so encouraging and so educational that I want to quote part of it. The problem I have is when to end it! So I just picked a place and stopped it where I did. If this subject matter is of interest to you, I’d highly recommend it. I don’t agree with everything he says later on, but what do I know.

You can find it free online or the paperback is $10, a $5 edition (I’m not sure if they’re different) or Kindle is $0.99.

I especially like how he says that we promise things for ourselves and then blame God when we don’t get them.

I have included some information about the book and author below. I’m not sure who wrote the description.

I look forward to reading more Puritan books in the near future.

Though Providence does not yet perform the mercies you wait for, yet you have no ground to entertain hard thoughts of God, for it is possible God never gave you any ground for your expectation of these things from Him.

It may be you have no promise to build your hope upon, and if so, why shall God be suspected and dishonored by you in a case in which His truth and faithfulness was never engaged to you? If we are thwarted in our outward concerns, and see our expectations of prosperity dashed, if we see such and such an outward comfort removed, from which we promised ourselves much, why must God be blamed for this? These things you promised yourselves, but where did God promise you prosperity and the continuance of those comfortable things to you? Produce His promise, and show where He has broken it. It is not enough for you to say there are general promises in the Scripture, that God will withhold no good thing, and these are good things which Providence withholds from you; for that promise (Psalm 84:11) has its limitations, it is expressly limited to such as ‘walk uprightly.’ It concerns you to examine whether you have done so, before you quarrel with Providence for non-performance of it. Ah, friend, search your own heart, reflect upon your own ways. Do you not see so many flaws in your integrity, so many turnings aside from God, both in heart and life, that may justify God, not only in withholding what you look for, but in removing all that you enjoy? And besides this limitation as to the object, it is limited (as all other promises relating to externals are) in the matter or things premised by the wisdom and will of God, which is the only rule by which they are measured out to men in this world, that is, such mercies in such proportions as He sees needful and most conducive to your good; and these given out in such times and seasons as are of His own appointment, not yours.

God never came under an absolute unlimited tie for outward comforts to any of us, and if we are disappointed, we can blame none but ourselves. Who bid us expect rest, ease, delight, and things of that kind in this world? He has never told us we shall be rich, healthy, and at ease in our habitations, but on the contrary, He has often told us we must expect troubles in the world (John 16:33), and that we must ‘through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God’ (Acts 14:22). All that He stands bound to us by promise for is to be with us in trouble (Psalm 91:15), to supply our real and absolute needs. ‘When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them’ (Isaiah 41:17); and to sanctify all these providences to our good at last. ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). And as to all these things, not one tittle ever did or shall fail.

If you say you have long waited upon God for spiritual mercies to your souls according to the promise, and still those mercies are deferred, and your eyes fail while you look for them, I would desire you seriously to consider of what kind those spiritual mercies are for which you have so long waited upon God.

Spiritual mercies are of two sorts: such as belong to the essence, the very being of the new creature, without which it must fail, or to its well-being and the comfort of the inner man, without which you cannot live so cheerfully as you would. The mercies of the former kind are absolutely necessary, and therefore put into absolute promises, as you see, ‘And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me’ (Jeremiah 32:40). But for the rest they are dispensed to us in such measures and at such seasons as the Lord sees fit, and many of His own people live for a long time without them. The donation and continuation of the Spirit, to quicken, sanctify, and unite us with Christ, is necessary, but His joys and comforts are not so. A child of light may walk ‘in darkness’ (Isaiah 50:10). He lives by faith, and not by feeling.

You complain that Providence delays to perform to you the mercies you have prayed and waited for, but have you right ends in your desires after these mercies?

It may be that this is the cause you ask and receive not (James 4:3). The lack of a good aim is the reason why we lack good success in our prayers. It may be we pray for prosperity, and our aim is to please the flesh. We look no higher than the pleasure and accommodation of the flesh. We beg and wait for deliverance from such a trouble and affliction, not that we might be the more ready and prepared for obedience, but freed of what is grievous to us and destroys our pleasure in the world. Certainly, if it is so, you have more need to judge and condemn yourselves, than to censure and suspect the care of God.

You wait for good, and it does not come; but is your will brought to a due submission to the will of God about it?

Certainly, God will have you come to this before you enjoy your desires. Enjoyment of your desires is the thing that will please you, but resignation of your wills is that which is pleasing to God. If your hearts cannot come to this, mercies cannot come to you. David was made to wait long for the mercy promised him, yea, and to be content without it before he enjoyed it. He was brought to he ‘as a weaned child’ (Psalm 131:2), and so must you.

Your betters have waited long upon God for mercy, and why should not you?

David waited till his ‘eyes failed’ (Psalm 69:3). The Church waited for Him in the way of His judgments (Isaiah 26:8). Are you better than all the saints that are gone before you? Is God more obliged to you than to all His people? They have quietly waited, and why should not you?

Will you lose anything by patient waiting upon God for mercies?

Certainly not!

The “Mystery of Providence” by John Flavel presents the Puritan perspective on the providence of God in practical terms. The book is really a lengthy meditation and application of Psalm 52:7, which says “I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.” From this text, Flavel derives his “doctrine” (falling in line with typical Puritan sermon-structure): “It is the duty of the saints, especially in times of straits, to reflect upon the performances of Providence for them in all the states and through all the stages of their lives.” This theme is then unfolded in in a three-part treatise, covering 1. The Evidence of Providence, in which Flavel seeks to prove and demonstrate the reality of God’s Providential care over the lives of believers by looking at such things as birth, upbringing, conversion, employment, family affairs, preservation from evil, and sanctification; 2. Meditation on the Providence of God, where the author shows that it is our duty to meditate on Providence, directs in how to do this, and then covers ten advantage to gained from this practice; and 3. Application of the Doctrine of Providence, in which the practical implications of the doctrine are considered and the problems and questions arising in peoples minds are answered. Though not as witty or colorful as Thomas Brooks, as astute as Stephen Charnock, or as experiential as John Owen, Flavel does have merits to commend him. Having lived a difficult life, he knew firsthand how to rely on God’s sovereignty in his life. Flavel’s work cultivates a greater awareness of God’s mercy, trust in God’s wisdom, and resignation to God’s will in one’s life. Highly recommended.

About the Author

John Flavel (1627–1691) was an English Presbyterian clergyman. Flavel was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire and studied at Oxford. A Presbyterian, he held livings at Diptford (in Devon) and Dartmouth. He was ejected from the latter as a result of the Great Ejection of 1662; however, he continued to preach there secretly. After the Declaration of Indulgence 1687, became a minister of a Nonconformist Church there. He was a prolific and popular author. Among his works are The Mystery of Providence (1678), Husbandry Spiritualised (1669) and Navigation Spiritualised (1671), The Seamon’s Companion (1676), titles which suggest some of his characteristics as a writer. He died at Exeter, Devonshire, on 26 June 1691. Flavel is commemorated in the name of Flavel Road on Bromsgrove’s Charford Estate.

Prayer for the Day/Week/Year

I love this one, along with the other Puritan Prayers.

Openness

Lord of immortality, before whom angels bow and archangels veil their faces, enable me to serve Thee with reverence and godly fear. Thou who art Spirit and requirest truth in the inward parts, help me to worship Thee in spirit and in truth. Thou who art righteous, let me not harbour sin in my heart, or indulge a worldly temper, or seek satisfaction in things that perish.

I hasten towards an hour when earthly pursuits and possessions will appear vain, when it will be indifferent whether I have been rich or poor, successful or disappointed, admired or despised. But it will be of eternal moment that I have mourned for sin, hungered and thirsted after righteousness, loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity, gloried in His cross. May these objects engross my chief solicitude! Produce in me those principles and dispositions that make Thy service perfect freedom.

Expel from my mind all sinful fear and shame, so that with firmness and courage I may confess the Redeemer before men, go forth with Him hearing His reproach, be zealous with His knowledge, be filled with His wisdom, walk with His circumspection, ask counsel of Him in all things, repair to the Scriptures for His orders, stay my mind on His peace, knowing that nothing can befall me without His permission, appointment and administration.

Repost: When You’re Too Tired To Pray

Every once in a while I write something of my own instead of just collecting quotes from Scripture and other people. Since I’ve had a little dry spell with blogging I thought I’d point to this post again. I pray it will help somebody out there.

When You're Too Tired To Pray

Does God hear the prayers of unbelievers?

If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction,
even their prayers are detestable.
Proverbs 28:9

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
Romans 3:10

The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him [Abraham] alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Romans 4:23-25

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16b TNIV

Prov 28:9 –
Note, 1. It is by the word and prayer that our communion with God is kept up. God speaks to us by his law, and expects we should hear him and heed him; we speak to him by prayer, to which we wait for an answer of peace. How reverent and serious should we be, whenever we are hearing from and speaking to the Lord of glory! 2. If God’s word be not regarded by us, our prayers shall not only not be accepted of God, but they shall be an abomination to him, not only our sacrifices, which were ceremonial appointments, but even our prayers, which are moral duties, and which, when they are put up by the upright, are so much his delight. See Isa 1:11, Isa 1:15. The sinner whose prayers God is thus angry at is one who wilfully and obstinately refuses to obey God’s commandments, who will not so much as give them the hearing, but causes his ear to decline the law, and refuses when God calls; God will therefore justly refuse him when he calls. See Pro 1:24, Pro 1:28.
–Matthew Henry

Praying for More Than Our Preferred Outcomes

Mary was dying, but for the purposes of this post, let’s say suffering. Her wonderful friends from church were helping her out in meaningful, practical ways and reminding her and her husband, “We’re praying for you . . . the Lord is faithful.” But Mary couldn’t focus or talk about other spiritual things because there were so many Christian friends around her telling her that she would be healed.

Well-intentioned, but poorly informed brothers and sisters who try to deflect people from thinking about death [or the possibility of not being healed and having to live with infirmity], or who hold out the constant hope of healing, keep them so occupied with matters in this world that they have neither the time nor the energy to think about the next world. They succeed only in robbing their loved ones of the enormous comforts of the gospel as they step into eternity.

–D.A. Carson, Be Still, My Soul (25 Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Problem of Pain): Embracing God’s Purpose and Provision in Suffering, chapter titled Dying Well, pg 115, previous text based on that

I have always said, and will continue to say, that if someone is suffering or ill, if we only pray for healing, we are doing them a great disservice, whether they are healed or not. If they are healed, that’s fantastic and God will be glorified, praised and thanked. But will the sufferer have gained anything of lasting value? If they’re not healed, have they gained anything at all? If it’s God’s will not to heal them, why didn’t we pray for what we know is in God’s will? How do we know what God’s will is for that person? It’s all over our favorite book. (See the blog post below to see those things.) Then they will have been helped, and hopefully will continue to be cared for in prayer.

To be extremely cynical, I wonder if people just pray for healing so that if they’re healed, they don’t have to pray for them anymore. I think it has to do more with being “poorly informed”.

If we really believe that God is purposeful in suffering, that our suffering is not meaningless or random, shouldn’t that affect how we pray about the suffering in our lives and in the lives of others? As it is, we pretty much only know how to pray for suffering to be removed—for there to be healing, relief, restoration. Praying for anything less seems less than compassionate. But shouldn’t the purposes for suffering we find in Scripture guide our prayers more than our predetermined positive outcomes? We could make a very long list of purposes for which God intends to use suffering according to the Scripture.

–Nancy Guthrie, read the rest, including what those Scriptural things are – Praying Past Our Preferred Outcomes

Nancy Guthrie also happens to be the editor of the book from which D.A. Carson is quoted and shown below. Click on it to see it at Amazon, or read my Mini-Review of it.

Also listen to:
Is Your Church a Safe Place for Sad People? Learning to Walk with Each Other Through Loss

HT: Dave–commenter below

Pray Continually?

Col. 1:9 TNIV
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,

1 Thessalonians 1:2 TNIV
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 TNIV
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 TNIV
pray continually,

Hebrews 13:15 TNIV
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

I’m using the TNIV because that’s what I have in Bibleworks 8 and it uses the word continually. You’ll see below why I’m using it to demonstrate a point.

From 20 Common Grammar Mistakes That (Almost) Everyone Makes

Continual and Continuous

They’re similar, but there’s a difference. “Continual” means something that’s always occurring, with obvious lapses in time. “Continuous” means something continues without any stops or gaps in between. e.g., The continual music next door made it the worst night of studying ever. e.g., Her continuous talking prevented him from concentrating.

I don’t assume this page is authoritative and some of the other items don’t line up with the use of English in many Bible translations, but it shows that praying continually doesn’t mean every minute that we’re conscious as the word continuous would according to the quote above. I always wondered about this. It’s just a matter of understanding English apparently.

In any case, I’ve always tried to think about and pray to God more and more as time goes on. I also try to go to God as quickly as I can when something distressing happens. And thank Him for when something good happens. I can strive for this but most of all we need to pray to Him to have this disposition–which is a word Oswald Chambers uses a lot in having read his devotionals–to even have a chance at improving in this area. Our sinfulness tends to ignore God and just pay attention during times of organized worship. After decades of praying for this, I’ve been improving. The tension will always be there, but the disposition can move closer and closer to being godly. Everything in life is better with a godly disposition.