Sunday, March 23, 2014

Answers to prayer beyond my expectations


Yesterday I woke up tired and was glad to read again the verses from Isaiah about waiting on the Lord to have my strength renewed. While sleep cannot be neglected, spiritual strength comes from the Lord as do the resources needed to serve Him. Jesus is my example . . .

But now even more the report about (Jesus) went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray . . . . And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. (Luke 5:15–17)

Hughes says we are like watches that need rewinding. Otherwise we run down and become unable to serve the Lord. In that state, we become detached from God like branch lopped off from the vine. Instead, Jesus tells us to abide in Him for without Him, we can do nothing (John 15). Prayer is the way to abide, to stay close.

With this in mind, Paul prayed for the Christians at Ephesus. He wanted God to answer his prayer they would be “strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” He also knew that God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:14–21). Through prayer, we discover that what seems impossible can be had. We just need to pray.

I suppose in my life the greatest needs are freedom from anxiety and worry, and the wisdom to know how to tackle my responsibilities. For this, the Lord makes specific promises . . .

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)

Nothing could be plainer, but both needs require prayer. These are not gifts that fall from the sky without my heart turning toward God and asking for them, even making them a priority over whatever else I might think I need or that I hope God will give me.

Solomon became king of Israel at a fairly young age. He was uncertain of how to rule and did not try to bluff his way through the challenges of this task, nor did he assume he could figure it out. Instead, he had his priorities right; he went to God with a humble request for wisdom.

God answered Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.” (2 Chronicles 1:11–12)

Compared to the challenges of being a king, my challenges are much smaller. However, my assignments this week seem large to me. I’ve some butterflies in my tummy just thinking about them, never mind anything else that might pop up.

God knows I need these reminders . . . I don’t need to be anxious and fretting about thesis statements and exams. I don’t need to worry about anything else either. He tells me to pray (with thanksgiving) and He will give me an outlandish peace. He also tells me to ask for wisdom and He will generously provide it so that I know what to do and how to do it.

As Hughes says regarding these specific requests, “Prayer is a lift up with no let down” because for peace and wisdom, God promises specific answers, and with those answers, He will go beyond anything I can ask or imagine.


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