Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6
“I have a delightful inheritance.” One guaranteed by God’s strength, not mine. In that assurance, I rejoice. Through His grace I know I’ll partake in it. By His grace I am brought close to Him. Jesus will never leave me. This knowledge is too wonderful for me. From His grace God fills my day with His goodness. The promise of His grace imbues my tomorrows, with His love and mercy. The joy of my salvation spreads out to eternity. I rest in His peace. What a delightful inheritance.
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
Ponderosa Pines lifting white-gloved hands in praise.
I can read Isaiah 12 over and over and it never loses its power, or joy, or wonder. I can dwell on each verse and my song of praise and thanksgiving keeps building with in me for I know it is just the beginning.
When I pray sometimes I catch myself going through a formula to determine how effective my prayer will be:
Have I been obedient for at least 48 hours?
Length of prayer is directly proportional to its effectiveness.
Fasting will really increase my chances for a favorable outcome to my petition.
It is funny how I think I can twist God’s arm by doing these things. Don’t get me wrong these spiritual disciplines are good to do, but they are not meant to leverage God––to get Him to do what we want. Instead they are disciplines that get us to a place of humility and dependence upon God.
I propose a different checklist to go through as you approach God with a request:
Does God’s love reach to the heaven’s and endure forever? Psalm 36:5 √
Is His compassion new this morning? Lamentations 3:22-23 √
Is God faithful in all that He does? 1 Corinthians 1:9 √
I must remember prayer is all about God, and not about me.
Hope gives us life today because it assures us of God’s goodness for our tomorrows.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, Hebrew 6:19
Our hope is this: Jesus Christ in us the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32
Sometimes at church I can’t see the forest (worship of God) for the trees (my mistakes). I feel and act like I am in the old covenant. In the Old Testament, worship had to be done perfect, or the sacrifice was worthless.
Sunday we gathered and the mistakes began to mount. A worship song was sung too high for me and I could not sing without squeaking. I had trouble handling the communion elements (I am clumsy with a little tremor). Someone’s cell phone buzzed. My mind frequently drifted, but Jesus, the New Covenant sacrifice, covered all the short comings, elevating all of us to perfection in worship allowing the Holy Spirit to move in a mighty way.
And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22
The worship was made perfect and acceptable to God, for in Jesus we are made holy and pleasing.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
With God there is no “bait and switch,” no hidden purpose or ulterior motive to make me worry about getting anything malicious. All His actions toward me are based on His love for me. A love I cannot diminish or earn. Even when evil twist me into a knot I know that nothing can come between me, and God’s love in Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). What a good and perfect gift.