Because of God’s greater and more perfect wisdom, I try hard to trust Him to determine what is much better and best, for me, along with His perfect timing.
Sometimes I realize the mere timing of the answer is a miracle in itself to show that it truly came from my God and not something of my own Power or Volition.
I have been ‘living’ these long years of my existence with this living thing called “my place and my station in my life” and when stuff happens, that’s where it all happens, exactly where I am at that very exact and exacting station of my life.
I was on my Shabbat with my wife on that cruise ship when we caught Covid 19.
All the precautions we all took, all of the negative pretest requirements we and everyone else did to even get ourselves board the cruise ship -the handwashing and hand sanitizing required before we sat down to our meals – and the masks.
Still, somewhere and somehow, in those moments – we brought Covid19 home.
Life – is a many splendored and joyous thing, an indescribably mysterious thing but it is also an impossibly fragile thing, changing every single ‘living’ moment.
Why are we not all fervently praying for every single living, changing, moment?
James 5:13-16Common English Bible
13 If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. 14 If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen
In today’s modern techno everything the eye can see, the hand can touch world sometimes it is too hard for us to start to imagine, realize the power of Prayer.
After all, man has accomplished so much that often we look for solutions to life’s problems in the natural world before even seeking God. It is often said that “Prayer Changes Things!” We should also add, “Prayer Changes Us!”
• It is true that our prayers will change things around us but sometimes our prayers are just meant to change us
• To make it more personal, “God always meant My Prayer was to Change Me!”
• At times, after prayer, our living situation even remains the ever same – but, by God’s grace, we come through it thinking and acting and behaving different.
To be brutally honest this moment of this day in an effort to help us all, I must admit there have definitely been times I have often wished that every prayer that I prayed would be directly and definitively and most decisively answered.
And I have wished that my prayers would be answered instantly, instead of the often “Wait” signal that comes from Heaven. But if I truly were to have those wishes answered, I would need to have God’s wisdom to go along with it, for sometimes we pray for things that are less than what God has in store for us.
So, I can definitely say it’s a good thing that God says “No” to some things, and “Wait” for others because He knows what is best for us. As I oftentimes say –
• We want what’s Good for us and God wants what’s Best for us.
• Once too many “Oftentimes” they are at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
“If that’s the case, then why pray at all?”
Though there are times when God says “no/wait,” I do know this – when I don’t pray, I’m left to handle things on my own power without Divine intervention!
Because of His perfect wisdom, I trust Him to determine what is best for me, along with His perfect timing.
Sometimes the mere timing of the answer is a miracle in itself to show that it truly came from God and not something of our own Power or Volition.
God loves to delight His children.
God loves to surprise His children and He loves to do things in such a way that it displays His glory to the absolute utmost and 100% maximizes our dependence.
I have tried to be a praying person for the majority of my Christian life.
Has it worked? – I have no earthly or heavenly way of knowing.
Has it fixed me entirely? Apparently not, because i still have a long way to grow.
We have no doubt prayed about some things, hoping for prayer to fix it, right?
• When we are Sick – we pray for God to Heal us
• When we are Poor – we pray for God to Provide
• When we have been Wronged – we pray for the Justice of God to make it Right.
• When we’re Confused – we pray to God for Clarity
• All of those prayers are good prayers
• God calls on us to trust Him in such moments to Move- to Work – and to Act on our behalf
• But still, prayer doesn’t “fix” all of the situations we encounter in this life.
In the Book of Acts, Chapter Four, we read the event of Peter and John being arrested for preaching about Jesus. Later, they are released after a strong lecture from the temple police about not continuing to spread the gospel. the church, in response, begins to pray. And here’s the spoiler alert —
• The persecution issue actually gets worse after the church prayed
• Prayer did not fix it
• The problem remained
• But prayer did change the situation or to say, it changed the variables.
Acts 4:23-30Common English Bible
The believers pray
23 After their release, Peter and John returned to the brothers and sisters and reported everything the chief priests and elders had said. 24 They listened, then lifted their voices in unison to God, “Master, you are the one who created the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. 25 You are the one who spoke by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:
Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand
and the rulers gathered together as one
against the Lord and against his Christ.[a]
27 Indeed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with Gentiles and Israelites, did gather in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and plan had already determined would happen. 29 Now, Lord, take note of their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with complete confidence. 30 Stretch out your hand to bring healing and enable signs and wonders to be performed through the name of Jesus, your holy servant.”
The fervent Prayer changed the Variables – the ones who were praying to God:
Acts 4:31Common English Bible
31 After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking God’s word with confidence.
What did the church pray for in the face of persecution?
greater boldness – greater power – a greater witness. And God answered that prayer, not by fixing the persecution problem, but by changing the variables.
• After this prayer, the meeting place shook
• They were all filled with the Holy Spirit
• Then they preached the Word of God with boldness
• All the believers were united in Heart and Mind
• And they felt what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.
We sometimes place a burden on prayer that prayer was never meant to handle.
• We treat prayer like a magic formula
• We treat prayer like there is a genie in a bottle waiting to be rubbed, released.
• We treat prayer like we have just been granted three “blank check” wishes.
What we essentially say to God is, “God, I have this issue, and I’m asking you to fix it for me.” And when the problem doesn’t resolve or go away quickly, we feel –
• Disappointed with God
• Discouraged about our circumstances
• Disgusted with our own lack of faith
What if, instead of expecting prayer to “fix” all of our negative circumstances, we actually trusted instead that God designed prayer to change the variables.
• Could it be that when I’m asking for God to fix my broken finances, His real desire is to for me to change, for me to grow my ability to manage my finances?
• Perhaps, instead of miraculously fixing areas of conflict in my marriage, God’s real aim is to change me and my spouse to be more like Jesus toward each other
God often heals, provides in response to prayer in dramatic, miraculous ways.
• I’ve seen it and, actually, genuinely, so have each of you!
• I believe in it and, actually, genuinely, so do each of you!
But more often my Brothers and Sisters,
God goes to work changing us and the people around us from the inside out – sometimes slowly and progressively – to be able to handle our challenges in different ways which we already had revealed to us but were too scared to try.
Here’s what I believe prayer does –
• Prayer changes all of the variables at work in any given situation, making possible either a miraculous and instantaneous deliverance or the slow, progressive change and growth necessary for overcoming adversity
• Let me try to frame it like this ….
o How many times did you pray not to have that surgery – Had surgery anyway
o How many times did you pray to meet that financial need – but lost money anyway or fell “just a wee bit” short of paying essential monthly bills anyway
o How many times did you pray judge would be lenient – but were sentenced to paying some monetary fine, received “points” on your drivers’ license anyway
o How many times did you pray for that new job – Did not get the job anyway
• PRAYER DOESN’T FIX EVERYTHING BUT IT CHANGES EVERYTHING
• Oftentimes we need to understand that Prayer changes us not necessarily the circumstance always
• God is always challenging us to work on ourselves in an effort to become more like Him
Handling life without prayer is like playing basketball with a flat ball.
• It just doesn’t work
• And we expect prayer to make us pro players who never miss a shot and we expect to happen overnight
• But prayer really gives us an inflated ball
– BETTER EQUIPMENT
– BETTER SKILLS
– BETTER OPPORTUNITIES
– MORE STRENGTH
– MORE SPEED AND STAMINA
– so, the game becomes winnable
• Prayer isn’t a magic formula that instantly and easily fixes everything
• But prayer is definitely powerful enough to change the variables of any situation to which we apply its power
Yes, my brothers and sisters,
– PRAYER DOESN’T FIX EVERYTING BUT IT CHANGES EVERYTHING.
• Our prayers do not ever alter God’s sovereign plan
• It’s not like we pray and God says, “Woah, hey now! Didn’t expect that one. Okay, gotta change things quickly. Time to shift things around. Let’s see, I’ll put this here and this here and…”
• God is not the penultimate Project Manager, trying to juggle the lives of who knows how many millions and billions of people as they each make their own preferred choices apart from His unchangeable, unknowable sovereign plan.
• He has planned and ordained history, and He knows precisely what will happen
• My prayers don’t change the wise, good, sovereign plan of the Almighty God
• Phew. Thank God they don’t because some of my prayers throughout the years….never mind
But in another sense, prayer really does make things happen.
Scripture is clear that God wants us to pray and that He really and truly does respond to our prayers.
Scripture makes it beyond “Crystal Sea” clear that prayer does change things.
James 5:13-15Easy-to-Read Version
The Power of Prayer
13 Are you having troubles? You should pray. Are you happy? You should sing. 14 Are you sick? Ask the elders of the church to come and rub oil on you[a] in the name of the Lord and pray for you. 15 If such a prayer is offered in faith, it will heal anyone who is sick. The Lord will heal them. And if they have sinned, he will forgive them.
The logic here is pretty simple.
• If you’re sick, call the elders to pray for you and God will hear and answer that prayer
• On the flip side, if you don’t pray the prayer will not be answered
Okay, so you are probably asking yourself at this point – well, what does prayer change then?
• Prayer changes Us
• Prayer changes the world around us
• God sovereignly uses our prayers to fulfill His perfect plan
• Yes, prayer does change things – therefore, we should pray
Prayer is, for the most part, an untapped resource, it is an –
• Unexplored continent where untold treasure remains to be unearthed
• It is talked about more than anything else and practiced less than anything else
• And yet, for the believer it remains one of the greatest gifts our Lord has given us outside of salvation through our ONE Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ALONE!
I wonder how we would respond if someone were to ask us in this moment – “why are you praying?” and we say, “I don’t know, I just felt this impulse,” –
• God would not get the glory He would get if we answered, I’m praying because Jesus is my Lord and has the right to overrule human plans in answer to prayer.
• I’m praying because the Spirit of God is a Spirit of love and compassion and forgiveness and will hear my prayer, even my many unspoken ones, for mercy.
Prayer and faith go hand in hand.
Genuine faith is grounded in God’s promises, a true understanding of God’s will.
Because of God’s perfect wisdom, I trust Him to determine what is best for me, along with His perfect timing.
Sometimes the mere timing of the answer is a miracle in itself to show that it truly came from my God and not something of our own Power or our Volition.
I close this devotional offering with a Poem:
Exhortation To Prayer Poem
What various hindrances we meet
In coming to a mercy seat!
Yet who that knows the worth of prayer,
But wishes to be often there?
Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw,
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw,
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above.
Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian’s armour bright;
And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.
While Moses stood with arms spread wide,
Success was found on Israel’s side;
But when through weariness they fail’d,
That moment Amalek prevail’d.
Have you no words? Ah, think again,
Words flow apace when you complain,
And fill your fellow-creature’s ear
With the sad tale of all your care.
Were half the breath thus vainly spent
To heaven in supplication sent,
Your cheerful song would oftener be,
“Hear what the Lord has done for me.”
by William Cowper (November 26, 1731-April 25, 1800)
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
God, my Sovereign, Builder of all things, I know that when I acknowledge your authority and your power that you will make my paths straight in front of me. Please empower me to live a greater life in Christ. May your Holy Spirit who lives in me draw me closer to you. Give me a mind of understanding. Let me see as you see, and not as the world sees. I trust your judgment fully and know that my own judgment is limited. I believe you have everything in control, and you will guide me exactly where you want me to go. Gloria! Alleluia! Amen.