a way of escape, denying the Lord, entering into temptation, exiting God's process, Garden of Gethsemane, I Corinthians 10:13, leaving our process, losing our words from God, Mark 14:31 & 50, Mark 16, martyr, Matthew 26, Matthew 26:31-35, Oswald Chambers quote, overcoming failure, prayer, spiritual abortions, spiritual suicide, temptation
Do you remember Jesus’ three-fold warning to His disciples as they entered the Garden of Gethsemane? “Pray that you enter not into temptation.” Jesus didn’t say temptation could be avoided. He said they should pray to not enter into the temptation which was coming. What temptation? Luke doesn’t record the disciple’s failure. Everybody knows what it is… it was prophesied in the O.T. and recorded in Matthew 26 and Mark 16.
The disciples all scattered and fled the Lord when He was arrested. It was sin to them because they each, to a man, pledged to go to death for Jesus. For the first time in over three years, they were no longer following Jesus, the Lord of their life. Each man exited his process with God and lost hope.
This story is not just about denying the Lord. Yes, denying the Lord is big, but the larger problem is what exiting our process does to our inner man.
- When we exit God’s process we lose hope.
- When we exit God’s process all our words from the Lord come crashing to the ground —- all dreams, visions, hopes, and promises.
- Everything abruptly ends.
It is like committing spiritual suicide. This is Satan’s ultimate goal when he tempts us. He desires to crush us and to snatch away our hope right before our words are birthed. Satan loves performing spiritual abortions.
I believe this is why all except one disciple died a martyr’s death. Look at Matthew 26:31-35 and Mark 14:31 & 50. All the disciples vowed the previous evening to die for the Lord. They all failed to fulfill that promise. Their boasting wasn’t just empty platitudes. They meant what they proudly stated. Later in life when the same temptation came to deny the Lord and run, they each fulfilled their promise. Early church history confirms it. Jesus had other plans for John. (John 21:18-23)
According to scripture the Lord always provides for us a way of escape and to bear temptation’s grasp.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13
Jesus made it out of the garden of Gethsemane with His process intact. From a fleshly perspective, it appeared as though Jesus was trapped and the disciples escaped. In reality, the disciples were ensnared and Jesus alone escaped temptation. Outward circumstances are not a reliable indicator of spiritual realities. Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane was not a prayer of hopelessness and defeat. It was a prayer of surrender to His Father’s will. In surrender, Jesus found the strength to continue in His process and overcome.
The truth is the Lord always wants His children to walk in victory. Three times the Lord warned His disciples about being in caught in temptation’s snare. This warning went unheeded. Most of us operate just like the disciples… we believe we can handle it…only to find we can’t. The good news is the Lord provides a way of escape. This doesn’t mean the road automatically turns into Easy Street. It does mean we will be able to bear what is about to transpire…with God’s help. The key is being able to discern God’s path. This is why Jesus exhorted His disciple’s to pray.
God is not trying to keep His will from you today. He is trying to get you to understand and walk in truth. Take the time to get to know His best for you this week. Temptations are coming… wouldn’t it be great if you avoided those old pitfalls instead of falling head forward into Satan’s snares?
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
Billy Graham quote, E.M. Bounds quote, failure to pray, Garden of Gethsemane, Gethsemane means oil press, honest sincere prayer, Luke 22:41, moving God to our will, moving God to us, New York Harbor, prayer, prayer pull us to God's will, storms within, when circumstance do not change, withdrawn
Sometimes we pray because the internal storm is far larger than the storm raging on the outside. Prayer during these intense moments takes on a different purpose. God calls us to stand strong in the face of circumstances which will not change. Have you ever heard this? “Sometimes God stills the storms of the sea – At other times, He stills the storms within me.” The night before Jesus was crucified He had need for the storm inside to be quieted.
Luke 22:41 said Jesus “withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed.” The word for “withdrew” literally translates that Jesus “was Himself withdrawn”. It was as if Jesus were drawn… physically pulled down on His knees to pray. He HAD to talk to His Father. He HAD to share or release the anxiety of what was being laid upon Him. Jesus would later be just as calm and at ease when He stood before Pilate, Herod, the Sanhedrin, and the people. How could Jesus stand and be rejected, humiliated, and crucified with such resolve? On the night previous, Jesus prayed it through in the garden. Someone said, “The battle of the cross was won in the prayer Garden of Gethsemane.”
Jesus’ type of praying is the kind we need to learn. It’s a type of prayer which can give us the ability to face the hard tests of life… because sometimes things are not going to change. When Jesus prayed in the Garden He was brutally honest. There were no religious platitudes, no sugar coating. He knew what was about to occur.
Can we ever be too honest with God? There are people who believe that somehow they’ll offend God by being too honest. From Jesus we learn that sincerity is essential. It brings quick resolution because the Father answers.
Gethsemane means “olive or oil press.” It was a place where olives were crushed and pressed into oil. Jesus’ prayer was a prayer which “pressed into” the Father. The prayer had power to give Him strength because it hinged on accepting the Father’s Will. This is the type of prayer that can transform our times of weakness into times of strength. Why? Because these prayers are the ones which are less concerned with moving God to our will…as they are in moving us toward God.
Billy Graham once wrote: “I watched the deck hands on the great liner United States as they docked that ship in New York Harbor. First they threw out a rope to the men on the dock. Inside the boat the great motors went to work and pulled on the great cable. But, oddly enough, the pier wasn’t pulled out to the ship; the ship was pulled snugly up to the pier. Prayer is the rope that pulls God and us together. But it doesn’t pull God down to us; it pulls us to God. We must learn to say with Christ, the master of the art of praying: ‘Not my will; but Thine be done.’”
The next time you pray make it the type of prayer Jesus prayed. Allow yourself to enter into the press. Instead of dreaming and fantasizing about all the different ways God could answer your prayer, allow the Lord to give you His plans. Your circumstances might not change, but I guarantee you will.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
choosing to be obedient, circumstances which do not change, confirmation of the known will of God, drink from the cup, geography test, God's Incubator, I Corinthians 10:13, intimate with God, Leonard Ravenhill quote, Luke 22:39-46, prayer, prayer is laying hold of God, praying against the circumstance change us, temptation, understanding God's language
Lets face it… there are going to be times when prayer will NOT change what’s going to happen. God is still God and we are still His servants. No matter how much we pray, the outcome will still be the same. So, why pray?
The reason for keeping our prayer life current despite the circumstances was exemplified by Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Three times Jesus asked His Father to change His circumstances…. three times He was denied a more favorable outcome. (Luke 22:39-46) It was far better for you and me that God denied His request. So why pray then… because we still need something from God. Our prayer then becomes more of a confirmation of the known will of God.
A minister noticed a young boy kneeling off to the side of the room after youth group and praying very fervently. As the preacher came within earshot of the boy, he was surprised to hear the boy saying: “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.”
After the boy finished his praying the preacher approached him and said, “Son, I was very pleased to see you praying so devoutly, but I couldn’t help but overhear you saying something like ’Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.’ What was that all about?”
The boy replied, “Well, I just finished taking my geography test in school, and I have been praying as hard as I can that God would make Tokyo the Capital of France.”
Maybe you too have been in a place like this. Is God really going to change the capital of France to Tokyo? I don’t think so. Prayer is a powerful tool, but the outcome will still be the same. So do we continue in prayer when we know the outcome will not change?
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46
I don’t think Jesus was praying so much for His circumstances to change as much as He was praying against the circumstances changing Him. We know from the Gospel narratives that Jesus warned and instructed His disciples to “Pray that you enter not into temptation.” This warning was given three times. The disciples fell quickly into temptation’s snare… Jesus walked away from the temptation to exit God’s process.
When did this “cup” become so important to the Lord. Jesus had never mentioned having to “drink from a cup.” Let me abbreviate here… Drinking from the cup meant Jesus was choosing for Himself to stay in God’s process every step of the way. No deviation. The “cup” was shorthand describing Jesus’ process. I believe also this “cup” was the Father’s language to His Son. Yes, it can be found it scripture. But in Jesus’ mind it described everything He would be going through in the next few hours. I am sure Jesus had prayed about it numerous times. The cup might not speak to you, it might not speak to anyone…. but it sure spoke to Jesus and described precisely what He would be enduring.
Have you ever noticed how I sign the end of my blogs? For the past few months I say…”From God’s Incubator.” Now, this means absolutely nothing to anybody else…but to me, it means a lot. It describes what I am going through. One word reveals everything. Where did I get it? From my wife… no, but she heard it from the Lord. We have prayed about our incubator on numerous occasions. It is interesting. When God speaks, you start talking like Him!
Why is all this important? Because when you grow in the Lord, it is not about you simply following orders. There is a greater level of obedience. Eventually we each need to grow to a level of choosing for ourselves to be obedient. We stop talking about “God making us do things.” Instead, we are obedient to His word because we want to obey. The Father wants more from us than blind obedience. He wants us to choose His will for ourselves. Every parent longs for the day when their children want to brush their teeth, take a bath, and clean their room on their own. Jesus wasn’t simply going to the cross because God wanted Him to go… He was choosing the path of the cross… Himself.
Listen, all Jesus had to do was slip off about 30-40 feet, or even less, and crouch down to pray. No one would have even found Him there. He could have said, “Well, Father, I was there but Judas and his gang didn’t see Me… so I was going to do Your will, but they missed me.” You say they could have caught Him later, but then Jesus wouldn’t have been crucified directly before the Passover. Jesus made sure that Judas’ crew found Him. He basically delivered Himself into their hands. Why? Jesus drank for Himself the cup His Father placed before Him.
In closing, there is a verse of scripture that has always troubled me.
13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13
This verse proves once again that prayer isn’t ALWAYS about changing our circumstances and fixing our problems. Sometimes God’s escape plan is being able to endure what is coming our way. Prayer then, is about laying hold of God…
- laying hold of His strength,
- laying hold of His comfort, and
- laying hold of His Will in our lives.
Prayer is just an affirmation of what we know is already true. Jesus prayed three times for His circumstances to change… all to no avail. In the end, when all of His close friends abandoned Him, He had the comfort of knowing He was in the center of God’s will. Jesus’ prayer life confirmed it.
More next time…
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
being able to process good, belief system, Charles West quote, discerning good and bad, experiences and circumstances, foundations are shaking, James 1:17, Jesus, knowing our source, Luke 18:18, Matthew 19:16-17, only good comes from God, prayer, rich young ruler, spinach and chocolate, the good life
Did Jesus really mean that no one is good but God alone? I think He did. This means that no one, absolutely no one knows what is good, and conversely no one knows what is bad… outside the Lord telling them. Yet we hear people inform us of what is good and bad all the time. People say, “So-in-so is bad and so-in-so is good. Why doesn’t God do something about ______ bad things and why doesn’t He do more _____ good things.”
If believers are not careful they will even fall prey to thinking and speaking like this. Eventually, not discerning good from bad will affect your belief system.
What if I told you that you personally don’t know good from bad, would you believe me?
What Is Actually Good?
How then do we determine what is “good” … and what isn’t “good”? You probably already have a belief system in place to process goodness. The best way to know goodness is to use Jesus’ system.
And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17 And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17
Jesus wanted this rich young ruler to teach Him the standard of good. The young seeker was like most people. He thought the good life consisted of good things, good circumstances, and good feelings. In other words… if it was good to him personally, then it was good. He had been earnestly keeping most of the Ten Commandments from his youth. Like most people I know, he thought by keeping these good commandments he was good enough for heaven.
According to Jesus – Good is defined by source (God) not by experience. Follow my logic here. Anything that is good, comes from God because God is good. If it is not from God, then it isn’t good. If something isn’t good, then it didn’t come from God. It doesn’t matter how good it looks… how good it feels… how good it tastes …. if it doesn’t come from God, then it isn’t good. Also, if it isn’t good, then it didn’t come from God. Can you agree?
Most of us can look at these last statements and understand that this is how it ought to work. The Bible says, “God is good.” Jesus confirms God is good… Therefore, only good can come from Him. But, our experience and circumstances betray how we really process goodness. This is how we really process goodness.
Spinach didn’t come from God but chocolate did. There will be no spinach in heaven. Spinach is a result of the fall of man. It is a part of the curse God placed upon the ground. As a result, people in hell will eat spinach and people in heaven will consume boat loads of chocolate. How did I come to this conclusion? I am being facetious of course, because I don’t like spinach. In fact, I might even be allergic to it. Conversely, I love chocolate… all chocolate. It is good. It tastes good and it feels good in my mouth. In fact, I love just about all things dipped in the stuff. The truth is (as much as I hate to admit it) spinach is good for you. It even provides a spiritual lesson for us today.
Here is the point: Good is not determined by experience, it is only discerned by discovering it’s source. I may have had a bad experience with spinach, turnips, and cauliflower but that doesn’t determine whether they are good or bad. Goodness is determined by its Creator, not by any experience. In reality, chocolate tastes good all the time. Chocolate makes me feel good in limited quantities. In fact, chocolate has a soothing attribute about it which makes many people happy, happy, happy. But a steady diet of only chocolate wouldn’t be good for me. Why? Experience is not the gold standard for goodness.
Likewise, you can never determine whether what you are going through is either good or bad by how you feel or by what you are experiencing…. never! If feelings, experience, and circumstances are your guides you will miss goodness every time. The only way to know whether something is good or bad is by knowing who authored it.
Paul and Silas were in jail. Peter and John found themselves in jail too. By all objective assessments, jail was bad. But no… they considered it good and rejoiced. This explains why most believers simply collapse in trying circumstances… they are only looking for a chocolate experience.
This is why most believers do not know how, why, and what to pray for in difficult circumstances. They pray for “bad” things (chocolate) and neglect praying for God’s “good things” (spinach). They never take time to discern something’s source.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17
Every good thing has God as its source. God only produces that which is good. We might use it for a bad purpose (marijuana, cocaine, alcohol) … but goodness is determined by its source, not by experience.
Today, ask God if what you are going through is from Him. Stop attempting to discern your circumstances and problems. Our call as believers is to discern the Lord and the Lord’s will. Psychics and mediums strive to interpret circumstances. Believers seek the Lord. Only the Lord can teach us whether something is good or bad. He also knows how to take the bad in life and make something good out of it. More on this next time.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
alone time, anything you bring to God is small, F B Meyer quote, G Campbell Morgan quote, Jesus, prayer, prayer is about our relationship to God, the importance of prayer, unoffered prayer, we need time alone with God
There was a time in Jesus’ life when He went up a mountain to pray. What makes this experience different was that He chose to take Peter, James, and John along with Him. I am sure Jesus needed this “alone time” to pray. The disciples needed it. I am sure you and I need these times as well. Sometimes we are called away to pray and other times we choose to get away to pray. In either case, we can expect God to meet us in these places.
My point is this… If Jesus felt the need to get alone with the Father to pray, how much more should we set aside time to pray. Jesus knew that it was important to give His problems to the Heavenly Father, because anytime He faced a major decision, He was found praying. A lady once came to G. Campbell Morgan and told him, “I only take small things to God, because I don’t want to worry him with the big things.” Dr. Morgan replied, “Lady, anything you bring to God is small.”
You and I are never going to face a problem which God has not handled numerous times. Nothing we face is either too small or too big for God to answer. Prayer is always about our relationship to God, not our requests. Yes, it is our needs which drive us to pray more fervently .. but God answers because of our relationship. This is why Jesus was transfigured on the mountain.
Do you still view prayer as a vehicle to change God and your circumstances? Or, do you view prayer as God’s opportunity to change you? There is a difference and I will address this next time.
Bible reading, castle, christianity, Christianstein, church attendance, courage of Stephen, creating spiritual life, doctor, evangelical, I Corinthians 13, Igor, Love, orthodoxy, patience of Job, prayer, Ray Navarro, thunder, voice of an evangelist
It was a dark and stormy night.
You could hear thunder in the distance. Bats flapped their wings in the darkness of the night as they exited a castle. If things weren’t creepy enough, the wolves were howling and the trees were swaying in the wind.
Inside the castle a faint light shown from the laboratory. This was the inner sanctum of one of the maddest scientist of time….the infamous Dr. E. Van-Gelical!
A lone rat ran across the granite floor as the Dr’s daunting figure appeared in the light. Dr. Van Gelical’s lab coat was stained with the evidence of his notorious experiments. His eyes were glowing with delight as he gazed upon the table in the middle of the room which was covered with a white sheet.
Under the sheet lay a human-like form.
Suddenly, Dr. E Van Gelical shouted, “Igor, come quickly! We have much to do!”
Irregular footsteps were heard coming down from the stairs. As if appearing from thin air, Igor was in the room. He was hunchback with tattered clothes. In his possession was a candelabra and a big cardboard box.
“Yes master. Here is everything you ordered. All is ready!”
“Very good. Bring all the materials to the table Igor. Now at last, we begin the experiment!”
Thunder was heard in the distance while Igor dragged the box toward the table.
“Tonight I will conduct the greatest experiment of my long, illustrious career. Tonight shall be my greatest triumph ever!”
Doctor E Van Gelical raised his fist towards the sky and with great gusto cried, “I shall achieve what no man has achieved before. Tonight I create spiritual life! This shall be my greatest hour for I shall create… Christianstein!”
More thunder and lightning poured through the halls of the laboratory.
“They say that I am mad Igor. But Christianstein shall be the greatest specimen of spiritual life the world has ever seen! He shall be everything Igor, EVERYTHING!”
“The moment has arrived. Igor, my gloves!”
“Give me the voice of a great evangelist Igor!”
“Yes master.” He handed him a jar from the box.
“The courage of Stephen!” Igor produced a dusty vial.
“The patience of Job!” the doctor commanded and he was rewarded with an ancient-looking flask.
“Now the hypodermic and all the serum I distilled!”
Igor’s hands trembled as he presented a long, steel syringe and bottles filled with different colored fluids.
“Double doses of daily prayer and Bible reading,” murmured Dr. E Van Gelical while he withdrew liquid from one of the bottles and injected it into the lifeless figure.
“Then faithful church attendance…generous giving…temperance…volunteer work…ability to resist temptation…witnessing…”
The doctor paused for a moment, then filled the syringe with fluid from the final container. “And last-but not least-a triple injection of orthodoxy!
The mad doctor consulted his list once more.
“Examine the box Igor. Have we forgotten anything?”
“Oh no master…Everything must be in place!”
“Excellent! This is the moment the world has waited for. This is the moment for….Christianstein!”
The doctor dashed to the nearest wall where the electrical control panel waited for his arrival.
“A million volts of lightning will bring my creation to life. Now stand back Igor while I throw the power switch. Prepare to meet the perfect Christian…CHRISTIANSTEIN!”
Doctor E Van Gelical threw the massive switch as an avalanche of thunder shook the castle.
The figure began to tremble.
“Doctor,” shouted Igor. “It is moving! It is moving!”
“Yes, yes, my creation lives!”
The thing called “CHRISTIANSTEIN” sat up slowly. After a few more tremors and shakes.. stiffly it climbed from the table and stood to its full height.
“Oh, my creation…..Speak to me, speak to me!”
The figure looked down at the doctor and frowned. Finally it began to speak in a low and hostile growl: “If I speak in the language of angels but have not love…”
“LOVE?” asked the doctor, examining in his list once again. “Whats love got to do with it?”
Slowly the creature lifted his hands towards the doctor who was still consulting his list.
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have faith that can move mountains and have not love….”
“LOVE? Igor, what is he talking about?”
“I, I don’t know master!” Igor hid himself under the table.
“If I give all my possessions to the poor and give my body to the flames to be burned and have not love…” Suddenly the figure, growling, picked up the doctor by his coat. “I gain nothing!”
“Nothing?” said the doctor.
“Aaarrggghhh!” the creature bellowed, throwing the doctor to the ground and reaching for his throat.
“Igor you fool! I knew that we forgot something! And such a small thing!” The doctor fled for his life with the creature CHRISTIANSTEIN in hot pursuit.
A few minutes passed before Igor finally had enough courage to come out from under the table. Finally, looking one direction then another, he whispered: “I, I think we have created a monster!”
by Ray Navarro
Have you ever tried to help God out while waiting for the answers to your prayers? I’ve been there … got a few t-shirts and learned some hard lessons.
The classic Biblical example of a couple trying to help God is Abraham and Sarah. God promised a great nation would come from their loins. Years passed without a son being born. When it appeared God needed their assistance, they took matters into their own hands and had a son (Ishmael) through their servant Hagar. This was not God’s plan, or His promise.
I also think of young couples who get married too soon and live to regret it. Our quick/help solutions are almost always the wrong solutions. We need to wait for God’s solutions, even if they require a miracle, as it did for Abraham and Sarah!
Why does God wait until the last possible moment, when the answer requires a miracle? Why do our circumstances often get worse before He answers?
It is because we tend not to give the Lord credit for answering our prayers until all of our capabilities have been exhausted. When God answers our prayers after all avenues have been exhausted, things can only be explained by God acting on our behalf. Everyone, believers and non-believers alike, realize it was God who moved and answered by His power. The glory is all His and His alone. Sometimes the glory comes from the answer and sometimes it comes from how it was answered. Ultimately, people will say, “The Lord did it.”
We see this clearly when Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead. Jesus wanted an occasion to reveal His power to everyone. Jesus knew He could count on Mary and Martha because they would not deny Him, even though their “personal prayers” appeared to be going unanswered. Jesus delayed and let Lazarus die to show everyone He had the power over the grave! But those four to five days before Jesus arrived were rough on the sisters. All this reveals that the closer we are to the Lord, the more our faith gets tested. If you consider yourself to be a friend of God, then rest assured… you will be tried.
If your prayer has not been answered, don’t give up or act too soon to solve it yourself. Instead, trust God and wait on Him! God wants to reveal His power through your situation…. to you and to someone close to you who needs to know that your God is for real!
A little old lady came out every morning on the steps of her front porch, raised her arms to the sky and shouted, “Praise the Lord!” One day an atheist moved into the house next door. Over time, he became irritated with the little old lady. So every morning he would step out onto his front porch and yell after her, “There is no Lord!”
Time passed with the two of them carrying on this way every day.
Then one morning in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto her front porch and shouted, “Praise the Lord! Lord, I have no food and I am starving. Please provide for me, oh Lord!” The next morning, she stepped onto her porch and there were two huge bags of groceries sitting there.
“Praise the Lord!” she cried out. “He has provided groceries for me!” The atheist jumped out of the hedges and shouted, “There is no Lord. I bought those groceries!”
The old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted, “Praise the Lord! He has provided me with groceries and He made the devil pay for them!”
2 Chronicles 32:20-22, crisis, getting naked before God, guard, helping God, Isaiah, King Hezekiah, Martin Luther quote, motives, not my will but Your will be done, peace of god, petition, Philippians 4:6-7, prayer, praying wrong, Present, reveal, stand watch over, the answer is God, the answer to your prayer is not the solution, the peace of God, wrestling in prayer
Hezekiah did just about everything he could to prepare his nation for conflict both physically and spiritually. After this, he turned to his old friend and counselor, Isaiah. Together they committed themselves to God in prayer and God answered.
20 But King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amos, prayed about this and cried out to heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed every mighty warrior, commander and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned in shame to his own land. And when he had entered the temple of his god, some of his own children killed him there with the sword. 22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side. 2 Chronicles 32:20-22
I like reading and studying prayers of the Bible. In this case, we are not given the particulars… I wish we were. The King did what he could, then he trusted God to do what only God could do. When this happens, all you can do is wait for the peace of God to fill your heart. How we pray and what we can expect in a crisis is really important. The word reminds us:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
This is God’s promise to us. So if it is not happening, then we are praying wrong. “Present” in this verse means we are to reveal not simply our request, but what is driving our prayers. When we seek the Lord, we must pray honestly and openly. God already knows what is on our hearts, so therefore, we must reveal everything, even our motives. The saints of old called this “wrestling in prayer.” Wrestling should accompany our petitions, especially when there is uncertainty. This type of travail takes us beyond our simple requests to understanding the motives behind our petitions. We come to understand why we desire what we want from heaven. Sometimes I call this “getting naked” before the Lord.
In times of crisis I have found myself trusting in the answer, in the increased finances, in the mended relationship, in the opportunity, rather than trusting God, to whom I am praying. I know this sounds strange, but the answer to your prayer is not the solution. The answer is God.
I have had God tell me He will answer my request. I thought to myself, “well that was easy.” As I went on my way the Lord did answer my request. On some of these occasions, I thought the answer was going to kill me. I have had to learn the hard way if I would look to the Lord and only the Lord, I will find the peace I need in Him. The answer arrives in due season. My focus should remain on the Lord…not the “answers” to my prayers.
In addition, this passage tells us to allow the peace of God to “guard or stand watch/ watch over” our hearts and minds. I find myself wanting God to guard my request, not my heart. I want Him to make sure my request gets answered. I mistakenly believe I can take care of myself. We are anxiety ridden people because we have God standing over our request and not over our hearts.
I have had to wrestle with those requests until I arrived at the place where I said, “This is what I want, but not my will, but Your will be done.” All prayer must get into those places where we are trusting and believing God. Have you gotten to that point in your prayers? This means we trust God’s “peace process.” Prayer works the “meddling” out of you. Peace replaces our tendency to meddle and be a part of God’s solution.
So I must choose to pray, not until the answer comes, not until the circumstances change, not until things go my way. But I must pray until my faith is in God and not my request. I should pray until my trust changes. This is when real peace comes and guards my heart. If peace cannot be found, I usually discover I have “peace” issues. You will find that you are not okay because the world has changed, you are okay because you have changed. In these places our personal view of God becomes much bigger. Our peace comes not from the absence of problems, but the presence of God.
Do you remember that prayer issue you wrote down two blogs ago? Have you found God’s peace yet? We must learn to operate like King Hezekiah. You can only do what you can do and trust God to do what only He can do. Even if things do not turn out the way you want…you can still have peace… the Lord’s peace.
There is an old saying that goes… “If we keep doing the same old things, we will keep getting the same old results.” If you want to change the outcome, you have to change the income. This is what we put into the prayer process.
A man, after 25 years with one company, was still doing the same old job and drawing the same salary. Finally he went to his boss and told him he felt he had been neglected. “After all,” he said, “I’ve had a quarter of a century of experience.”
“My dear fellow,” sighed the boss, “you haven’t had a quarter of a century of experience; you’ve had one experience for a quarter of a century.”
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