Thursday, December 10, 2015

Of Prayer's Down Times

I want to encourage you with a personal observation. Prayer is like being in the sun: you don't know how much it has affected you until the experience is over!

Often times, I have felt little to nothing during vocal let alone silent prayer, but afterwards I either received a powerful witness in my spirit that something great or significant had just happened, or (when the answer finally came) God let me know that it was in the "nothing hour" when the breakthrough came.

Let me also encourage you with something else I have come to realize: occurences such as keeping the mind from wondering or pushing through the distraction of boredom ARE NOT AUTOMATIC PROOFS of immaturity, rejection, or lack of effectiveness.

Prayer is work; and as with any duty or project, there are moments that are less desirable, less speedy than others yet are, nevertheless, part of the whole and must be undertaken. To endure through these, even if it means exerting more and strained efforts, is necessary; and you need to know that such times are just as acceptable to God as the ones in which you find personally enjoyable.

So keep praying. Keep working through. Keep trusting. Because like drilling for an artesian well, every hit, every exertion brings you closer to the resource God has hidden and preserved for you in Christ Jesus.

Monday, December 7, 2015

You Worry Too Much

Yes, we need to bring all our worries,  all our cares to Christ; and it is true that we need to be honest and transparent about our fears and doubts. But I have found that the Lord is pretty quick at bringing us the comfort and assurance necessary to getting us on track with where He is coming from, which means we need to respond to His holy optimism with a cooperative spirit.

In short, staying in negative mode, simply because our adverse or troublesome situations are still before us, is wrong; and in this regard we need to "die to ourselves."

We need to cut off, kick out, refuse with unrepentant determination all the fears, anxieties, and mental meddling that is so comfortable and familiar to you and me. This is what is meant by dying to self, and it is requiem for effectiveness. The greater realms of prayer are entered when we bypass the ruckus of earhly brainstorming and seek for the energy-giving momentum and the guaranteed pathways of Heaven.

It's all about trust when you don't feel settled and optimism when you can't see the destination. God's Word and Jesus' hand are all we need. We can freely move forward with those!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Waiting on the Lord

Don't get me wrong! By patience, I have not in the past several posts meant to communicate non-prayer, that is, resorting to prayerlessness in the name of being accomodating to God's timetable. There is always prayer motions to be had, even in this next aspect of prayer: waiting on the Lord.

There are times when the most appropriate thing to do in prayer is literally to get quiet. For me, this has been one of the hardest disciplines, and I still don't think I am an expert. However, I have learned that the goal of this frequent (but not necessarily systematic) exercise is settling your spirit.

You have to learn how to shut down your many internal questions: the what's, the why's, the how's, and maybe most important the when's. Learn how to be at rest while His is working to answer you in His most excellent way. Remind yourself that He is in control, and savor that truth.

You might have to write down things you can't stop thinking about (like appointments you just remembered or ideas that come to your mind); but as the Lord leads you into these non-verbal, waiting seasons of prayer, do whatever it takes to open your spirit and heart because at the end Jesus bestows invaluable rewards.

Testing Your Prayers

As I wrote earlier, we need patience in prayer because God's answers often require time. However, there are situations (such as if your prayers seem long overdue) when it is a good idea to double check the integrity of what your have been seeking. Here are a few questions worth considering.

• Does my request line up with Bible principles?

• Does it line up with my assignment, with what God has told me to do?

• Is my request premature? Am I getting ahead of God's time table?

• Am I allowing God to grant my prayer in His perfect way or am I setting hard, fast, and self-determined stipulations?

• Am I ignoring the "still small voice" of the Holy Spirit? Has God already given me an answer that I haven't wanted to accept?

• Have I neglected to carry out previous instructions or contingencies from the Lord?

God is never opposed to us verifying what is true and good, prayers included.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Patience in Prayer (3)

There's one more reason you need to know about exercising patience in prayer. It's going to sound a little strange perhaps, but I know for me this is very useful and very pragmatic.

We often pray for things we don't need, things we are not ready for, or things that are not part of God's better agenda. Sometimes we pray for the right things but with backward, shallow expectations.

In these cases, God's silence is often an indirect answer, the grace that saves us from misdirection! Patience, then, is necessary for testing the integrity of what we are seeking. So the next time you are tempted to be frustrated with His timing, keep in mind there are factors

(More on testing your prayers in next post)