A Bold Prayer

Lord, I have heard of your fame;bold prayer little girl and mom
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
   in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2; NIV)

The church we recently started attending adopted the above verse as its mission statement. My husband and I participated in an introductory class offered by the church that explains its history and values, and our small table group was asked to discuss our reactions to the Habakkuk verse. The boldness of the prophet prayer, which, in my opinion, borders on audacity, impresses me tremendously. Habakkuk had the nerve to ask God to perform the same types of miracles he performed during the Jews’ captivity in Egypt — bringing pestilence and plagues upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, freeing the Hebrew slaves from Egypt, parting the sea, and destroying Pharaoh and his army.

I love Habakkuk’s heart! He prayed boldly and confidently to the Lord. The prophet knew what God was capable of, and he wasn’t afraid to ask the Lord to repeat his awesome deeds in the prophet’s day. Habakkuk also knew that all of the glory would be God’s as no human power could possibly take credit for these wonders. And now my church prays for God to again renew his deeds in our time. Sure, maybe thousands of years ago God performed miracles on a monumental scale quite regularly, but in today’s day and age?

The Bible gives us another example of a bold prayer. This popular prayer is often referred to as the Prayer of Jabez:

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. (1 Chronicles 4:10)

“Bless me and enlarge my territory!” Who among us would dare to make such a grand request in the modern day? Jabez could make this bold prayer because he recognized that God wanted to bless him. In addition, Jabez wanted to increase his sphere of influence not only for himself but for God, and he wanted God to be on his side. What about us? Do we recognize that God wants to bless us? Do we pray because we want God to be on our side, and because we want to grow his kingdom?

Scripture clearly demonstrates that God is ready and waiting to hear our prayers and grant our bold requests. As Jesus explained:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:12-14; emphasis mine)

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:21-22: emphasis mine)

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:7-8; emphasis mine)

The Lord encourages us to pray boldly. God wants to be glorified, and it honors God and bears witness to him when our lives produce fruit. Why, then, “since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19) shouldn’t we “come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16; KJV)? We need only to pray in faith, according to God’s will, and in Jesus’s name.

Warrior, if you’re like me, perhaps you haven’t given God the credit he deserves. Maybe you’ve underestimated him, or you haven’t felt worthy of asking for a demonstration of his power. No more! Let’s begin right now to pray boldly and fearlessly! For example, I am going to change my wimpy prayer of “Lord, I’m so tired. Please give me strength to get through this day” to “Lord, I pray for a complete and total healing from Fibromyalgia”. And instead of saying “God, if you see any use for me, please let me help just one person”, I might pray “Lord, use me in a powerful way to serve others and to draw them closer to you”. And rather than simply asking God to protect my family, I will pray that the Lord “rebuke Satan and his minions, and allow nothing but the Spirit of God and the love of God upon them”. See the difference?

My bold prayer for you is that the Lord’s power will be evident in your life, that his answers to your prayers would richly bless you but also give him glory and further his kingdom.

The Lord is proving to me daily that he is more than I could ever dream or understand. Enjoy More Than You Think I Am by Danny Gokey!

Finally, Be Strong in the Lord

My climb out of the valley of depression and chronic illness has been a journey requiring stamina. Many times I’ve been ready to quit and succumb to the darkness. During those times I felt I could not possibly endure the suffering one minute longer, I would sense God’s voice saying “Don’t give up!”

The unfortunate truth is that we do have an enemy who wants to destroy us. Satan will especially attack with force those who threaten him and his desire to replace God in the world in general and in our lives specifically. God was probably telling me not to give up because He had a mission for me and a plan and a purpose for my life that remains to be fulfilled. Satan certainly wants to thwart any plan for good that God may have.

Satan even tried to tempt Jesus away from God’s plan for our redemption and salvation. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Spirit of God descended on Jesus and a voice from heaven declared, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Immediately after this event took place, Jesus went into the wilderness. After He had fasted for forty days and forty nights, i.e. when Jesus was alone and hungry and particularly vulnerable, Satan came to tempt Him. The devil tempted Jesus in ways in which we are all susceptible: with power, pride, possessions and physical needs/pleasures. But Jesus did not give in, and the devil left Him (Matthew 4:11).

I am convinced that, like Jesus in the wilderness, you, too, will survive your times of trial by picking up the spiritual tools the Lord has supplied for us. In the day of evil, you will be able to stand your ground by putting on the full armor of God:

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:14-18a)

The full armor of God emphasizes truth, righteousness, readiness to spread the Good News, faith, salvation, the Word of God and prayer as the keys to victory over Satan’s attacks.

Despite all of the spiritual weapons in our arsenal, we may still at times feel that we’re losing the battle. When we sense impending defeat, it may help to remember how Jesus’ disciples must have felt after they had given up everything to follow Jesus only to see Him arrested, tortured, crucified and buried in a tomb. The feeling of utter defeat must have been overwhelming! But then the resurrected Christ appeared to them, explaining how He was the fulfillment of the Scriptures and suddenly standing among them and greeting them by saying, “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36).

How heart-wrenching it must have been for the disciples when it came time for Jesus to again leave them to ascend into heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand! But Jesus wasn’t abandoning them. Before His suffering and death, He had promised that He would soon send his faithful disciples the Holy Spirit to be with them to guide them and teach them:

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

 “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:15-21, 25-27; emphasis mine)

Before Jesus departed and ascended into heaven, He gave His disciples the great commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). Then he left the disciples with these comforting words, ensuring us that He is always with us:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b).

Like the disciples, we are never on our own if we’re in Christ. We may not be able to physically see or touch God, but if we pray for spiritual vision we will be able to see the works of His hand in our lives. And Scripture assures us that the ultimate victory belongs to those who are in Christ:

Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5)

Beloved Warrior, keep fighting the good fight! If you are in Christ, the ultimate victory is yours.

Enjoy some encouragement with this song from Mandisa!