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

When we need to pray

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I like the acronym “A. C. T. S.” we use as a guideline for prayer. While “adoration” is a great place to start, I find that “confession” is usually where I start and out of that time comes a flow of worship.

Then I confessed my sins to you;
    I did not conceal my wrongdoings.
I decided to confess them to you,
    and you forgave all my sins. – Psalm 32:5 GNT

It is a prayer that we all need to pray.

I notice that one of the first things I lose when I find myself stepping away from God is the absence of confession and quickly it becomes the absence of prayer itself. Losing time reading/meditating on the Bible, hearing the voice of God and ultimately when I stop seeing/pondering the beauty of creation come closely after that. I start each day with this thought in mind —

I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, and I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7 GNT

“Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah VI, 3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.” – Lewis