Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Cloud of Hope

What are you waiting for God to do in your life?  Are there prayers that seem unanswered or ignored by God?  Is He offering you small glimpses of hope that you’ve overlooked, misunderstood, or taken for granted?

We live in a fast-paced society where we expect everything to happen right away.  Fast food delivered right to your door, instant communication without waiting for the mail to run, elevators that move more quickly than taking the stairs, overnight shipping…the list just goes on and on.  So much of what we do, or want, or even need can be done almost instantaneously, and we often forget the satisfaction of receiving a long awaited response.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah is on top of the mountain after God had immediately answered his prayer for fire.  The Israelites had allowed the worship of other gods to separate them from the One true God. Elijah called a test between his God and Baal, the god of the sky. After hours of prayers, Baal failed to burn the offering.  Then Elijah said a short prayer, and God immediately caused a fire to consume the bull, the altar, and even the stones, which were all drenched in water.  After that instantaneous response, Elijah prayed for rain to end a three and a half year drought, but this prayer was not answered immediately.

Sometimes God answers “Yes” right away, and we are able to experience an undeniable miracle right before our eyes.  Other times His answer is “No”.  Maybe we’ve asked for something that is not in our best interest, or our desire does not match with His plan.  Then there are times when the answer is “Wait”.  Wait for rain, wait for healing, wait for answers.  God’s timing doesn’t always meet the instant satisfaction that We prefer, so we tend to grow discouraged when He doesn’t answer our prayers instantly. 

Notice what Elijah did when he didn’t receive an answer right away.  In verse 43, he sent a servant to look toward the sea for a sign of rain.  When there was no sign, he prayed again then sent the servant to look again.  It must have been frustrating after the miracle he had just witnessed when he prayed for fire, but Elijah did not give up.  He continued to pray, wait, and watch for God’s answer.  Seven times he prayed and sent the servant to look for a sign that rain was coming.

Finally, the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea” (1 Kings 18:44).  It wasn’t a sudden outpouring of rain, but it was the glimmer of hope that Elijah needed.  He knew that the rain was coming.  He knew God was answering his prayer!  It wasn’t immediate.  He still had to wait for it, but it was coming.  A cloud no bigger than a man’s hand was all the evidence Elijah needed to know that rain WAS coming.

Like you, I want instant satisfaction. I want immediate answers. More often than not, I’ve had to wait to God’s answer. But many times He has given me glimmers of hope.  Small hints of healing. A small cloud that is  God’s way of reminding us that He is still in control.  His answer may not be immediate, but He’s still at work in our lives.

When answers don’t come right away, don’t give up.  Continue to pray and keep watching.  Keep expecting to see His answer coming in the distance.  Keep watching for that small cloud of hope in the distance that indicates rain is coming!

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Are You Listening 

Why can’t I hear God’s voice? This is a question that most of us have probably asked at some point.  When we are struggling, there are many conclusions that we may draw about why we can’t hear His voice. Is it because He isn’t actually speaking to me? Is He disappointed and has given up on me? Or maybe He just doesn’t love me at all.  

Luke 8:8 says, “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.” This scripture is puzzling. I have ears, so why can’t I hear the voice of God? Think about the reasons you don’t hear those around you. Those may be the same reasons you can’t hear God’s voice. 

  • Too Busy – Several years ago some of my students enjoyed Pig Latin. If I listened closely, I could decipher their message, but most of the time I was simply too busy. Our lives are so busy! We are constantly busy going and doing. Busy working. Busy worrying. Busy raising kids. Busy with technology. The list just goes on and on with things we must do. Is it possible that you don’t hear God because you are too busy?
  • Tuned out – I’ve had conversations with my husband while grading papers, cooking, or anything. I heard his voice, but I may not have really heard him because my focus was on something else. Sometimes we don’t hear people because we’ve already made up our mind, and theres no changing it regardless what is said. So we simply tune them out. Then there are times that we honestly don’t want to hear what someone says. We know they may be right, but we don’t want to admit it. So we tune them out. Could you be tuning God out because you aren’t focused on Him, you’ve already made up your mind, or you just really don’t want to hear what He has to say? 

Luke 8:18 says, “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” Its important that we are careful to listen so that we can grow in understanding His will for our lives. 

So maybe God really is speaking to me (and you), but we just aren’t listening. If I really wanted to understand the Pig Latin, I could. If I really want to hear those around me, I will focus rather than tune them out. If I really want to hear God’s voice, then I will make time to listen and focus on Him. I can’t hear him by just reading the bible. I must slow down, meditate on the Word, search for how God wants me to apply it to my life, and allow Him the opportunity to speak.  That’s when I’ll hear the voice of God!

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I Miss You

My husband recently suffered a traumatic brain injury. I am  writing this as I sit in a hospital bed beside his and will probably share more of our journey as we go through it.

Soon after his accident, he knew me, which was a huge blessing. During the first two weeks, his conversation was very limited, and most of it made very little sense.

I can remember thinking how much I missed him (and still do at times) even though I was right there with him. I’ve missed deep conversations which include more than short discussions regarding his comfort and care.  I’ve missed sharing old memories and laughing about new ones. I’ve missed that twinkle in his eye as he gives me a hard time.

But I also remember thinking about how our Heavenly Father must feel that way about me at times.  Is He saying, “I miss you”? I talk to him daily. Often as I go through my day, I pray about things that I need and about the needs of others. But does He long for more?

Unfortunately, I have to admit that I get busy with the distractions of life and a lot of my conversations with God are possibly nothing more than babbling to His ears. He has used these moments with my husband to help me realize that God is saying, “I miss you.  Slow down and really talk to me.”  I need to spend more time in meaningful conversations praising Him for all that He has done, reading my Bible, and actually listening to what He has to say. How about you?  Is God saying, “I miss you”?

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Power of Prayer

Two weeks to live.  This is what doctors told a longtime, christian friend four weeks ago.  During those four weeks, I have found myself questioning how to even pray.  Since he is in a lot of pain, I have prayed for comfort.  But I have also found myself thinking God has a plan and obviously our days are numbered. So is there any point in praying for the healing of a man who is suffering and doctors say has very little time left to live?

Satan had planted the seed in my heart and mind that there was no reason to pray for anything more than comfort in his last days.  Today, God showed me that He is still in control, and, yes, He does have a plan. But just because doctors have numbered a man’s days does not mean that God is finished with him.  I also realized that my attitude has been one of little faith.

In Isaiah 38, King Hezekiah became ill and was near death when God told him in verse one that he would not recover.  As most of us would in his situation, Hezekiah cried out reminding God of his faithfulness.  Then in verse five God said, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.”

God is in control

Did Hezekiah’s prayer change God’s mind or was this part of His plan all along?   I don’t know, but I do know that God wants to hear our prayer and he wants us to be persistent in seeking His will.    1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence that we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”  There are other examples in the Bible similar to Hezekiah’s where God changes His plans as a result of someone’s prayer. Ultimately God is in control, but our prayer can effectively bring about results when our true desire is for God’s will rather than our own.

Satan wants us to lose heart in the power of prayer.  He wants us to be discouraged so that we don’t recognize and utilize the power of our prayers.  James 5:16 says, “The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”  Hezekiah’s prayer was urgent and God’s answer to extend his life was just what Hezekiah had requested.  What if Hezekiah had given up and hadn’t prayed as he did?  I’m sure the outcome would have been different.

Just because the circumstances seem hopeless doesn’t mean we should give up.  Lack of prayer demonstrates a lack of faith, but persistent prayer shows an absolute trust in God.  Pour out your heart to God.  Make your requests known to Him and seek His will.  Don’t believe Satan’s lie that your prayers don’t matter.  When things are out of your control, pray as if every aspect of the situation hinges solely on your prayer.  It may be just the one God is waiting to hear!

Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.~ Corrie Ten Boom

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Wait for the Lord

With my own children and even the students in my classroom, I’ve realized that children often interpret the answer “maybe” to mean “yes”.  They don’t consider the possibility that “maybe” could result in a negative answer. They often start anticipating the event or object for which they have asked even though they haven’t actually had that request confirmed.

Unlike children who assume “maybe” means “yes”, Christians usually interpret God’s “wait” answer to mean “no”. When things don’t happen as quickly as we would like, we get antsy and decide to take matters into our own hands. Such is the case with Sarah, the wife of Abraham. She had waited many years for a child, and finally assumed that God’s answer was “no”.  Afterall, she was well beyond child-bearing years. Like so many of us, Sarah devised a plan to create the family she wanted so badly. She convinced Abraham that they could have children through her maidservant, Hagar.  Things did not go as smoothly as she hoped, and Hagar began to despise Sarah.  The family she desired did not happen as Sarah had planned, and the situation actually lead to much turmoil for all.

Like Sarah, we have a tendency to take matters into our own hands when we don’t get answers as quickly as we would like.  What Sarah perceived as a “no” from God was actually a “wait” answer.  Later, God announced to Abraham that he would finally have a son by Sarah.  Genesis 17:17 says, “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?'” They were old and had waited so long that it was difficult to believe. Sarah also laughed when she heard the news and questioned how this could happen when her body was old and worn out.  God responded in Genesis 18:14 with, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”  God doesn’t need our help! Regardless of how complicated things may seem, nothing is impossible for Him!

Genesis 21:2 says, “Sarah became pregnant, and she gave a son to Abraham in his old age.  It all happened at the time God said it would”.  Regardless of their age, Sarah gave birth to Isaac at the age of ninety. She had waited a long time, but what she perceived as impossible happened just as God had promised. It’s hard to be patient and understand when we aren’t getting the answers we want, but we must remember that God loves us and wants the best for us.  What we think we need or want isn’t always the best thing for us, and we may get a definite “no” answer.  But in some cases we just have to wait for the right time.  God has his own timeline, and He knows the perfect answer to every prayer as well as the perfect timing for those answers to be granted.

Are you waiting for God to answer your prayers?  Don’t give up, start to doubt, or take matters into your own hands.  Remember Sarah and the blessing she received at the exact  time God intended.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalms 27:14

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