Praying Through the Pain

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Hope in the dead of Winter

I find it hard to pray without my mind wandering in the best of times. But, when I am hurting and in pain, then I find it difficult to put two words together in prayer. So what are we to do when our prayers are moans and groans… rasping laments beginning and ending with two feeble words—O God!

How does God expect us to pray in pain?

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  Romans 8:23-24

I have attended many deliveries in my career and for most anesthesia was not available. I would often hear screams during labor—“O God help me!” or “Lordy, Lordy!” Were these words of anguish really prayers? The one thing that kept these mothers praying through the pain was the thought of new life coming.

Pain, or grief, or a deep hurt from our point of view seems to interfere with our prayers to God. But like a woman in labor who cries out to God—keep praying for our groans are not lost upon God. There is new life coming.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Romans 8:26-27

Perseverance

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Icicle Creek persevering to the Pacific Ocean

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.  Luke 8:15 NIV

It takes perseverance to produce a crop. Why doesn’t God just click His fingers?

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus… Romans 15:4-5 NAS

God encourages us to persevere. But how does perseverance produce hope?

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5 NIV

Perseverance is a word I don’t want to hear because it means waiting and bearing up under difficult circumstances. I certainly prefer convenience, not perseverance. But God makes enduring hardship part of a believer’s life. I can either trust that He knows what I need and will help me, or go my own way.

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

On second thought, maybe it is God who perseveres with me.

Pouring Prayer

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The flow of life, some is smooth and some rough.

It was an epiphany of sorts. I saw my parents and grandparents praying for me and knew their prayers had played a vital role in the flow of my life. As if they had been pouring goodness into me.

Timothy in the New Testament benefited from such prayer—

Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again. I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.  2 Timothy 1:3-5 NIV

The prayers poured out for Timothy by Paul and Timothy’s Grandmother and Mother, helped him in his life.

That is one of the major reasons for being part of a local church so that we can pour prayer into each other.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 NLT

Paul states that prayer is one part of armor we should not neglect in our battle with the powers of this dark world.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Ephesians 6:13 NLT

So I encourage you to pour out prayer for your family and friends and not give up.

When You Need a Friend

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Flying home with friends

As I face this day, I am thankful that I do not face it alone.

“The Lord is with me; he is my helper.”  Psalm 118:7

I can let the anxiety of life go, knowing God will be with me. Oh, how good it is to know the name Jesus (God saves) and Immanuel (God is with us). I can truly rejoice in Him, for He has saved me and goes with me forever.

“This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

In the Midst of a Storm

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Facing tough times

Hasten, O God, to save me;
O Lord, come quickly to help me. Psalm 70:1

The circumstances for this psalm must have been very dire. The psalmist needs help quickly for he is under attack and will soon lose his life.

May those who seek my life
be put to shame and confusion; Psalm 70:2

Here the psalm takes a surprising turn.

But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
“Let God be exalted!” Psalm 70:4

Always say: “Let God be exalted!” These are not as some magical words that will force God to intervene miraculously. These are words of worship that knock our troubles and circumstances out of preeminence in our life… and put God on the throne. Worship changes us, reassures us, moves our focus from what we are praying about to God.

The psalm ends with the troubles still bearing down.

Yet I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay. Psalm 70:5

What is different is the psalmist—“Let God be exalted” in me.

The Path of Glory

I can see it just ahead

Advent is much more than looking forward to December 25th, the day we celebrate Christ’s birth. It is about realizing the hope of glory bestowed upon us in Jesus.

When the angel announced to Mary that she was highly favored and that the Lord is with you. It greatly troubled her because her life looked nothing like “highly favored.”

Going from “greatly troubled” to “highly favored” is what Advent is about. We do it by taking the words of Mary for our own:

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38

The promise of God for us is “Christ in me the hope of glory,” (Colossians 1:27). A hope that grows each day carrying us through sorrow, and troubles, and onto a glorious Christmas forever in Christ.

So we hesitantly count ourselves as highly favored and whisper with Mary—may it be as You have said…I think I am pregnant.

Insignificant Prayers

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The higher up I go the more insignificant I feel.

No prayer is too small and insignificant that God will overlook it.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

No request too huge that the infinite power of God will not make it look insignificant.

Therefore:

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Ephesians 6:18

Flowing Around the Rock

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Water flowing around rocks

“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14

This is actually very reassuring for it means God works in our lives to keep us following Him. He will not stand for our worship of anything else. It also means God is there when we get on our knees and pray.

When I am anxious and ask for help, He is there.
When I am sad and cry out, He is there.
When I feel the pull of temptation, He is there to give me strength.
When I am joyous, He is joyous with me and will guard me from falling into hedonism.
He is always leading me to Himself.
When the world is falling down around me He is my rock, my refuge, and my savior.
In all my ways God keeps me for Himself.
Knowing this brings forth thanksgiving and praise.
I can take a deep breath in His closeness and rest in worship of my God.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—
from violent men you save me.
I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.” 2 Samuel 22:2-4