When it is difficult to pray remember that it is a means of divine grace

 

 

 

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The Israelites story of having to turn back to the wilderness after rebelling against God teaches me to also understand that even though those times were difficult, God was still with them.

I think we have all gone through those times when we find it tough to continue walking the walk that Jesus has called us to. Do we not call it “walking through the wilderness” as we feel God so far away? I find these are the times where I will find it most difficult to pray or read my Bible. Definitely will not engage in worship. Joy cannot be found anywhere and it is so hard to hang in there. That is why I find my strength in the simple discipline of reading a prayer or reading a chapter in my Bible every morning.

Here is one that gets me going.

Do to them what you did to the Midianites,
    and to Sisera and Jabin at the Kishon River.
You defeated them at Endor,
    and their bodies rotted on the ground.
Do to their leaders what you did to Oreb and Zeeb;
    defeat all their rulers as you did Zebah and Zalmunna,
who said, “We will take for our own
    the land that belongs to God.”

Scatter them like dust, O God,
    like straw blown away by the wind.
As fire burns the forest,
    as flames set the hills on fire,
chase them away with your storm
    and terrify them with your fierce winds.
Cover their faces with shame, O Lord,
    and make them acknowledge your power.
May they be defeated and terrified forever;
    may they die in complete disgrace.
May they know that you alone are the Lord,
    supreme ruler over all the earth. – Psalm 83:9-18 GNT

Talk about calling on God’s justice and jealousy for me and for His own honour. The key is that I may be preserved, my enemies humbled and God glorified.

 

I am faced with the grand fact of the prevalence of prayer.

The Lord is compassionate, and when you cry to him for help, he will answer you. – Isaiah 30:19b

Let’s face it – is it not the most wonderful gift that God has given – to be able to pray? I know I can present my prayers to Him because all along He intended to hear them. How do I know? He gave His only Son, that through that atonement I might be able to approach Him. He did not stop there. He gave me His Holy Spirit to assist me in prayer because let’s face, I really do not know how to pray.

Is the key not in the prayer itself but when God actually answers it? When the prayer is true, the heart of the prayer is heard even before it is even offered. Grace makes me pray. God is graciously waiting for me to pray and has given me prayer as a privilege to enter into His presence – why would I not turn to Him now, with all my heart and cry to Him?

I mentioned earlier about the Holy Spirit – why pray in the Spirit?

It is the place to keep me in the love of God.

But you, my friends, keep on building yourselves up on your most sacred faith. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit. – Jude 1:20  GNT

“The means of divine grace” is keeping ourselves in the love of God and it is something I cannot do on my own. God is the decisive keeper of my soul. If not for Him, I will not persevere in faith.

“If we settle for mere speculations and mental notions about Christ as doctrine, we shall find no transforming power or efficacy communicated unto us thereby. But when, under the conduct of spiritual light, our affections do cleave unto Him with full purpose of heart, our minds fill up with thoughts and delight in Him–then virtue [change in character] will proceed from Him to purify us, increase our holiness, and sometimes fill us with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Owen

Even with a model prayer, it could take years for an answer

even with a model prayer it could take years for an answer

Another great prayer for me to engage in this morning came via Psalm 74. It has been my reality at times and describes my need to pray. I will not argue right now whether it was the consequence of sin or simply the effects of living in a fallen world, but there were times when it really felt like the world had turned upside down. I have even felt, during those times, that God had “put me on the shelf.”

Why have you abandoned us like this, O God?
    Will you be angry with your own people forever?
Remember your people, whom you chose for yourself long ago,
    whom you brought out of slavery to be your own tribe.
    Remember Mount Zion, where once you lived. – Psalm 74:1-2 GNT

Even so, I have still responded to God in prayer. I go to God with all of my frustrations and my requests.

Why?

But do not forget one thing, my dear friends! There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to him the two are the same. – 2 Peter 3:8 GNT

I gain perspective on prayer when I remember that God’s relation to time is different than my own.

“The big idea of the Christian life is coram Deo. Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life.” – R.C. Sproul

I know that the easy route is to become impatient when God seems to take His time answering my prayer. That might even turn to frustration and there I might find myself in trouble. It is in knowing that God’s timetable matters more and it is one I can trust that helps me remember that He moves at the proper time. So I pray knowing this.

If we pray without meditation our own communion with God becomes poor and distant – Edmund Clowney, Christian Meditation