My week began with spiritual depression in my soul. I was struggling with believing that God does hear, does see my needs, does answer prayer. Circumstances in life were bogging me down and satan was very active in making sure I was depressed. I asked God, weak in faith, but hopeful, that He would show Himself to me, and help me to know that I can trust Him. And God heard, He saw, and He answered!! And that, in many, many ways. However, in this post, I will just talk about what He taught me about prayer; otherwise, it would be a very, very long post. :-)
God prompted me to pick up a book that has been sitting on our shelf since a couple Christmases ago, that I had never read. It is a biography about James O. Fraser, entitled Mountain Rain. That was actually the week prior, but it was this last week that I read about James' spiritual depression and how the Lord taught him how to have spiritual victory, and also how he learned about faith and true prayer. So much of it pinpointed very specific things in my life that I had been struggling in. For instance, why weren't my prayers being answered? Reading Mountain Rain showed me that much of it was because I wasn't praying in faith, believing that God would and could answer it; also, many of my prayers did not have much heart in them, as I would go from one prayer request to another almost robotically; or I would not take the time to pray for them as I ought, suggesting that I did not really feel like they were so important. I was blaming God for not answering my prayers, when the problem was really me-- I was not truly asking Him in such a way that He could answer me-- until last Sunday evening when I asked Him to help me out of my depression and show me Himself. Here are some words of wisdom in Mountain Rain that directly ministered to me:
"I feel even when praying alone that there are two concerned in prayer, God and myself... I do not think that a petition which misses the mind of God will ever be answered (1 John 5:14)."
"Unanswered prayers have taught me to seek the Lord's will instead of my own."
"Praying without faith [is] like trying to cut with a blunt knife-- much labor is expended to little purpose... 'According to your faith,' not labor, 'be it unto you.' "
“The aim of Satanic power is to cut off communication with God. To accomplish this aim he deludes the soul with a sense of defeat, covers him with a thick cloud of darkness, depresses and oppresses the spirit, which in turn hinders prayer and leads to unbelief – thus destroying all power.”
I'm afraid I would bore you if I was to record all that James wrote that encouraged my heart in that matter, and I would also have to write out almost a whole chapter, so I will refrain. :-) Besides, I overload you on quotes as it is. :-)
Another way God encouraged me in the matter of prayer was by leading me to the verse which I posted about on March 11. I was writing out the verse on a pretty sheet of paper to put up on my wall by my bed, and, like I usually like to do, writing it in poetry form, capitalizing in large, fancy letters the words I wished to emphasize, and that is how I discovered the acrostic: ASK. God wants me to ask Him, believing He will answer and give His blessings; seek Him, believing He will be found; and knock, believing that He will open up His ways and His will to me. I encourage you to read Wednesday's post, if you haven't yet, to see more of what God specifically showed me in that verse.
Something else that God taught me about prayer was in Luke 6:27-- love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. One of my discouragements lately has been hurt from a family who had been saying things about us that weren't true and breaking confidence that we felt we had in them. In this verse, Jesus taught me, so very specifically, to pray for that family, and to pray for grace and strength to love them as God does. I prayed this in faith and with the knowledge that it was definitely God's will to answer this prayer (practicing what I'd been learning in Scripture and in Mountain Rain ;-) )... and as soon as I prayed, I knew God was answering my prayer-- I do not know about the other family, but I knew He was filling my heart with a spirit of genuine, Chirst-like love and compassion for that family. It boosted my spirits and encouraged me greatly!
On Thursday afternoon, I decided to pull out Nave's Topical Bible and do a little study on prayer-- looking up the references and asking God to teach me through the verses. I am not done with it yet-- not nearly!-- but have already been greatly encouraged by it. Here are some things I discovered and wrote out in my notebook:
"Hebrews 4:16. Boldly has also been translated with confidence. We do not need to come trembling to god in prayer, fearing that He won't listen, hear, understand, or answer. jesus can empathize with our weakness and wants us to come with confidence to Him and know that He does care and will answer.
"Genesis 18:23-32. Never until now did I consider a connection between this account and Hebrews 4:16..... Two things Abraham remembered and prayed according to were
- God's character ("just", "righteous") and
- God's heart ("[He] is not willing that any should perish", "will not punish the righteous with the wicked")"
On Thursday (which was probably the most encouraging day) I wrote in my journal:
"Mountain Rain" is an overwhelming book and I feel almost overloaded with all he says about what God taught him about prayer. I am realizing how very shallow my prayer life is, and how active the devil has been in trying to discourage me... and quench the relationship and prayer life I can have with God. Read Mountain Rain, chapter 4. That's what's on my mind right now. I am determined to climb out of short, hurried, muttered prayers with no faith or relationship behind them. I want a deep, intimate, strong, personal prayer relationship with my God. O Lord, 'teach me to pray.' Grant me victory over the very real and active forces of satan. Glorify Yourself in me!"
- "A firm standing on God-given ground, and a constant assertion of faith and claiming of victory. It is helpful, I find, to repeat passages of Scripture applicable to the subject. Let faith be continually strengthened and fed from its proper source-- the Word of God.
- "A definite fighting and resisting of satan's host in the Name of Christ. I like to read passages of Scripture, such as 1 John 3:8 or Revelation 12:11 in prayer, as direct weapons against satan. I often find it a means of much added strength and liberty in prayer to fight this way. Nothing cuts like the word of the Living God. (Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12)
- "Praying through every aspect of the matter in detail."
I hope and pray that today you all will be encouraged as I have been! :-)