Friday, July 17, 2020

Prayer & the Character of God

"I said in my alarm, 'I am cut off from Your sight!" But You heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to You for help." Psalm 31:22

"I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles."  Psalm 34:4-6

One thing this study of the Psalms has done for me is to highlight the strong assurance of Scripture that God hears and answers the prayers of His children. Has this been your experience in prayer? I am confident of God’s presence when we pray. It’s not because I “feel” or “sense” Him, but I trust His promise.

 Yet, it often “feels like” He quietly sits and waits and does not answer, or the answer is, “No.” I can be surprised when He answers affirmatively or grants something I didn’t think to ask for! While those times are so precious, they are too infrequent… And I know that’s my fault, not His.

 So, what is it about prayer that moves God’s heart? How do my prayers need to change? What does He hear from me when I come to Him? What cry from me does He long to hear and meet? God did not give the gift of prayer for me to negotiate a change of heart for Him. He gave this precious gift of communion with Him to conform my heart to His.

 Prayer is meant to be based on who God is. Too often I come to God based on who I am, what I’m doing, or what I need. Effective prayer is rooted in WORSHIP of who He is! In light of His Righteousness, Mercy, Salvation, Sovereignty, Generosity, Help, Strength, Protection, Beauty, Authority, Justice, Wisdom... I am unspeakably poor...

  • HE who is RIGHTEOUS has perfectly obeyed in my place.
  • HE is FAITHFUL though I am faithless.
  • HE GIVES HONOR in place of my shame.
  • HE RULES over all and I am forever safe in Him.
  • HE is full of MERCY and STEADFAST LOVE though I am sinful and selfish.
  • HE is STRONGEST of all though I am painfully weak.
  • HE DISCIPLINES me for His name’s sake and for my good.
  • HE is BEAUTIFUL beyond compare when the ugliness of the world dims my sight.
  • HE SATISFIES… oh that I would hunger more for HIM!

 Even just listing these few things about Him moves me to worship, adoration, and prayer. It changes the way I view my heart and circumstances. It schools my mind to think rightly and to love others. It teaches me to want what HE wants, bringing my need to Him in prayer with different motives. While I might temporarily enjoy relief in my circumstances, my true desire becomes to stand in the midst of the storm by His strength so that HE might be MAGNIFIED in the eyes of those who watch. That’s a request He will readily grant!

 This kind of prayer does not happen in an instant. It takes time, thought, focus, and quietness. Does God hear my “arrow prayers” – those offered quickly and on-the-fly? Oh yes, but they will be infinitely more effective if they are informed first by God’s desire.

 How do we cultivate that understanding? By knowing God through His Word!! By setting aside time, planning, and making space in our crazy lives to quietly focus on Him. How will you do that today?

 LADIES’ BIBLE STUDY will be starting again on Monday afternoons! Set aside time now to join your sisters for a time of study and prayer, 4:00 to 5:30 PM, beginning August 24th. Details will be in the bulletin soon!

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