James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”
Lord, as we navigate through this world of sin, thank You that You have promised to be with us, no matter what difficulties and dangers may cross our paths. Keep us, we pray, from all perils, problems and persecutions that we may encounter. May we remain firm to the end and enabled to persevere in the midst of all our trials. Thank You that there is no situation in life that is outside of Your jurisdiction. You have every circumstance covered by Your sufficient grace. Lord, as we steer our path through this sin-sick world of temptations, may we keep our confidence in You and place every need into Your hands, knowing that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.
Keep us, we pray, from all perils, problems and persecutions that we may encounter. Click To Tweet
Matthew 10:17-22 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved… “
Thank You, Father, that Your grace is sufficient for all Your children, including those that are facing severe persecutions and dangers in so many parts of this war-torn world. They are all our brothers and sisters in Christ and we are all one in You, and the pain that individual believers are suffering becomes a distress for all in the Body of Christ. Lord, we lift up all those that are having to contend with so many dangers and difficulties in foreign parts of the world.
Comfort and strengthen each precious person who is suffering for righteousness sake. Click To Tweet
Comfort and strengthen each precious person who is suffering for righteousness sake. We ask that You would draw very close to each and every one. In Your strength, may they persevere in these troublesome times and, in so doing, bring glory to Yourself and serve as a faithful witness to those that are lost in their sins, of Your grace and goodness. We pray and support all those that are grieving for righteousness sake, perhaps due to the loss of a loved one or severe deprivation. We pray that You comfort and succor each hurting and keep each one firm in the faith they have in Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank You, Lord, that there is not one of Your children who is lost to Your eyes of pity. We lift each and every one up to You in Jesus’ blessed name, Amen!
“Never, never, never give up.”
“The joy which answers to prayer give, cannot be described; and the impetus which they afford to the spiritual life is exceedingly great.”
“If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and therefore, through trial, be strengthened.”
To give a thing and take again
Is counted meanness among men;
To take away what once is given Cannot then be the way of heaven!
But human hearts are crumbly stuff,
And never, never love enough,
Therefore God takes and, with a smile,
Puts our best thing away a while.
Thereon some weep, some rave, some scorn,
Some wish they never had been born;
Some humble grow at last and still,
And then God gives them what they will.
Poetical Works, Vol. 2
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”
Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
Past summer and walking the long lonely corridors of Barrington High School.
Past the summer that he left, that every week I searched in vain for his family in the long, wooden church pew.
And they weren’t there. And he didn’t come back.
I was so sure — so sure — that he would come back.
So sure that I wore the same dress three weeks in a row — the one that I wanted him to see.
But there were greater lessons to learn and deeper things to surrender.
My heart at 18 was “yet unripe,” as Christina Rossetti would phrase it — yet unripe, and the Lord had many lessons to teach me about the patience of waiting, waiting upon Him.
And I thought that I could love him — that this was the one that the Lord had for me, though I had never let on to him that I felt this way.
I believed what the Lord said in the book of Job — that no purpose of His could be thwarted, if the plan and the purpose were truly of Him.
I believe in the sovereignty of God.
And yet, the Father took him away — and I was so sure–
So sure, so I didn’t understand why the Father took him away.
But now I understand that it was to teach me — to give me my first great lesson in surrender and the need for persevering prayer.
So I prayed. And I cried and I poured out my heart to the Lord in poetry and journal and prayer.
And I offered back to Him what I thought that He was giving to me — offered him back to the Father and surrendered my will.
My first real lesson in persevering prayer.
He left in June.
And then, 7 long months.
And I didn’t call him and I didn’t write him — I just left it in my Father’s hands — my personal conviction is that a man should pursue a woman and not vice-versa — and so I left it in my wise Father’s hands — and I prayed.
And I read Tennyson and wept–
And I read the Psalms and I wept–
And I went to school and I poured my heart into my work and prepared my college applications and I wrote and I prayed and I wept.
Until I surrendered.
Not my will, O Lord, but Yours—
I think that it was December 17th. Just before Christmas — as the hope of promise, of salvation born was drawing near. I see things symbolically, for better or for worse . . .
My will surrendered, not clinging anymore to what I wanted–
Seven months later–
And we talked — and he asked if we could “keep in touch” — the boy who would become a man and marry me–
Many lessons in surrender yet to be learned — but here, the first promise — the fruit of persevering prayer.
And he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.’ And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. Also you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall cut down every good tree, and stop up every spring of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones.” Now it happened in the morning, when the grain offering was offered, that suddenly water came by way of Edom, and the land was filled with water. (II Kings 3:16-20)
Persevering prayer — the intervention of the hand of God — the hand of God and not man — the arm and strength of God alone, that all the glory is His.
How easily do we, do I give up, despair of God’s help when we pray?
What we see as so overwhelming, so impossible, is a “simple matter in the sight of the Lord…”
He wants to teach us to pray. He wants our dependence to be upon Him . . .
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it . . .
And there are times when something that we desire may not be His will for us, but do we even begin to seek Him in prayer over things that we don’t know the outcome of?
Because He will teach us — as we submit our will to His, as we pour our hearts out in prayer, even as Jesus did in the Garden, He to the sweating of agony’s blood–
Take this cup away, and yet not my will . . .
How far will we go to pursue Him? And how easily do we give up when things don’t seem to be going well, when it doesn’t seem like the Lord is listening?
If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace,
In which you trusted, they wearied you,
Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?
There are times when something that we desire may be His will — if we will pray, in persevering prayer–
You have not because you ask not . . .
And often these are the situations that the Lord uses to teach us to rely upon Him, to surrender to Him–Until our will is one with His — when we have surrendered — and then He grants us “the petition we have asked of Him, the beloved thing that our heart desires — (see I Samuel 1).
Some humble grow at last and still,
And then God gives them what they will.
And we sometimes get this idea into our heads that it doesn’t matter — that it doesn’t matter if we pray or not, because “God’s will” will be done, regardless.
We forget the mystery of prayer — of persevering prayer–
And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and some arrows.” So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, “Open the east window;” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot;” and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.” Then he said, “Take the arrows;” so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground;” so he struck three times, and stopped. And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.” II Kings 13:15-19
Do we stop striking the ground of persevering prayer so easily, or do we continue to strike it in hope — all of our strength and mind and trust engaged in the God who hears?There is power in prayer, mysterious power in persevering, believing prayer, coupled with submission and trust in the Father’s wisdom and sovereignty.A mystery — to be embraced by faith. At the same time that we must accept the Father’s will and submit to His authority, we are also admonished to knock at the gate of faith’s door through prayer — that it may be opened to us. Persevering prayer . . . and the pleasure of the Father in “granting the petitions that we have asked of Him,” to the praise and glory of His grace. . . To encourage and fortify our hearts in Him and build a deep, trusting relationship–And bring glory to His name.
Sometimes the prayers we say are the same prayers over and over again. I think with a smile of what my mom said to a friend as she and Dad were walking to church not too many years ago, Dad at that point moving slowly behind her. “I pray and I pray for patience,” she said with a sigh. Seven paces behind, leaning on his walker, Dad was heard to mutter, “Well, that’s a prayer God hasn’t heard yet.”
Mom, don’t worry. I saw that prayer answered many times.
But truth to be told, I’m probably like her. I pray for the same things over and over again: patience, confidence, faith, openness, selflessness, understanding, gratitude. I have to trust that God doesn’t mind hearing the same things over and over again from me. Perhaps the inner challenges I face are there to keep me talking to God.
“If we can get Guideposts inspirational stories into the hands of people who may not have a devotional life, they can share the true-life stories of how God works in the world. The joy of Guideposts is their free, donated magazines to my hospital. –Rob C., Director of Pastoral Care.
I’m reminded of a story from my friend Joe Caldwell. For years he thought of his mother’s virtues as something she was just born with, her goodness, patience, endurance, all her expressions of faith and hope. It was only after her death, when he had a chance to see her prayer book, that he got a glimpse of her inner spiritual life. He found in the book’s pages cards, prayers for peace, prayers for missionaries, prayers for his father who had died 11 years earlier.
But leafing through the pages, he was most struck by one prayer in particular, the edges yellow and brown, the paper almost worn through. It was clearly the page she had turned to more often than any other. At the top of the page it said, “Prayer for Perseverance.” As he said, “The prayer, the words, the page had been worn away by nothing more, nothing less, than perseverance itself.”
Her prayer had indeed been answered.
P.S. One more prayer to add to this. Prayers for safe traveling. I’m heading to Africa tomorrow and probably won’t be blogging much the next two weeks. I’ll be in remote areas, visiting villages, camping in a tent, and seeing some animals. I look forward to telling you more about it when I’m back. Godspeed.