Maybe this has happened to you. The Lord lays someone on your heart, and you’re like, where did they come from? But the Lord persists, so you call them up and they tell you they had just asked God to send someone to help them. Think about it…by being obedient, you have become an instrument in God’s hand to answer that person’s prayer. That’s because there’s nothing as sweet as hearing someone say, “I prayed for you today.” So when God brings someone to mind, pray with gratitude and gladness for them…but follow it up with a phone call in order that you may encourage and uplift their spirit with the simple words, “I remembered you in my prayers today.”
As Jesus was making His way near Jericho, He came upon a blind man sitting near the road. When the man heard that it was Jesus approaching he started yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stopped and very bluntly asked the blind man, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Now obviously, Jesus knew the man was blind, so why did He ask him a question like that? He was asking the man to verbalize his heart’s desire… and his fervent hopes. He was also asking him to be explicit not general. The Lord wants us to pray specific prayers…for He wants to hear our heart’s desires. I remember well when we were looking for a new home in Idaho…my prayers were very general, “Lord, help us find a new home.” But it was during one of my generalized prayers that the Holy Spirit stopped me and asked what I wanted in that home. I started listing my heart’s desires one by one…large kitchen, fireplace, walk-in closet, jetted tub, a large space for a garden, and East facing windows to watch the sunrise. And He gave them all to me in a perfect home!
I can still remember the little plaque in my Grandmother’s house that read, “Prayer Changes Things”. And I believe with every fiber within me that prayer does make a difference. But when my mind is overwhelmed and I struggle to even put together words…my prayers seem weak and ineffective. When this happens, the Scripture here in Psalms shines bright in my mind. God will never spurn my prayers, however clumsy they may seem…and He will never stop loving me because of my awkwardness of words. For if you think about it, the real power of prayer is found in the Listener of our prayers, not in the one uttering the words.
I’m writing today’s Devotional for me and no one else, but you get to read it! The new year looms ahead with endless possibilities…all good things I could be doing. And as with most of you, I have more than enough opportunities to do good works for the Lord… to the point I’d spread myself so thin I would be ineffective in them all. The verses here in Philippians tell me that I need to let God know what it is I want. For me it’s clarification, direction, and purpose of all the things I could be doing…for I don’t want to be running down a road that’s not of God, simply for the sake of running. I Timothy 2:1-2 tells me the purpose for prayer is that I may lead a peaceful and quiet life…and for me, that comes from calmly resting in the very center of God’s Will.
You may know them as Prayer Chains, or a Prayer Wall where requests and concerns are brought so that many can lift them to God…or maybe you’re part of a Prayer Warrior Group that regularly unite in focused prayer on behalf of others. Here Paul is thanking Believers for their continued prayers, telling them that he knows their prayers have rescued him from many dangers. He looks at these answered prayers of God’s grace in his life with hope and gratefulness…knowing those praying for him are praising God also. For the beauty of answered prayers is that they touch everyone….those who pray and those who were prayed for.
A few verses down in Chapter 30 Job complains again to the Lord when he says, “You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; You toss me about in the storm.” (Job 30:22) Have you ever felt that way? Disheartened, fearful, or left feeling that your prayers are being shut out by a God who just stares at you in response to them? This is not coming from the Lord. For Psalm 34:17 tells us, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.” Or Proverbs 2:3 goes on to say, “He is near us when we pray.” We can’t rely on raw feelings during stressful times, nor can we succumb to Satan’s taunts of, ” If God really loved you, He’d be helping you right now.” No, like Job, we must acknowledge God’s sovereignty, His control and perfect timing in all things. For no matter how abandoned or far away from God we may “feel”…God hasn’t gone anywhere…nor will He.