Waiting for God to Answer?

Though it would be sort of nice if the “name it, claim it,” “blab it, grab it” theology (using the term losely) was correct; we know from reading Scripture and from experience that God answers prayer in His way (which, of course, is the best way) and in His time.

Perhaps you have been praying for something or someone specific for many, many days…or longer…and heaven is silent…May these words from Charles Spurgeon encourage:

“God often delays in answering prayer. We have several instances of this in sacred Scripture. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day—he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophenicia was answered not a word for a long while. Paul besought the Lord thrice that “the thorn in the flesh” might be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it should be taken away, but instead thereof a promise that God’s grace should be sufficient for him.

If thou hast been knocking at the gate of mercy, and hast received no answer, shall I tell thee why the mighty Maker hath not opened the door and let thee in? Our Father has reasons peculiar to Himself for thus keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show His power and His sovereignty, that men may know that Jehovah has a right to give or to withhold. More frequently the delay is for our profit. Thou art perhaps kept waiting in order that thy desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if He keeps thee waiting thou wilt see thy necessity more clearly, and wilt seek more earnestly; and that thou wilt prize the mercy all the more for its long tarrying. There may also be something wrong in thee which has need to be removed, before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps thy views of the Gospel plan are confused, or thou mayest be placing some little reliance on thyself, instead of trusting simply and entirely to the Lord Jesus. Or, God makes thee tarry awhile that He may the more fully display the riches of His grace to thee at last.

Thy prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while shall be fulfilled to thy delight and satisfaction. Let not despair make thee silent, but continue instant in earnest supplication.”

>Pray Thirsty!

>Another gem from SCOTTY SMITH

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2

Loving Jesus, there’s no craving more demanding than thirst. It’s neither patient nor polite. When we get thirsty, we’re usually quick to slake its unrelenting demand, one way or another. Thirst will not be denied. We’ll do almost anything to satisfy our thirst.

Because this is true, we join the Psalmist in crying out, “Jesus, intensify our thirst for you. Keep us panting like the deer which pants after streams of water—the unpolluted, undistilled, never-ending brooks of your bounty.
Quickly drain the broken-cisterns of our own making. Don’t let us be even momentarily satisfied with any other beverage than the draft you draw, the potion you pour, the life-giving libation you alone can give. 

If we take up King David’s lament, “When can I go and meet with God?”,  you answer back, without delay, “Right now, my beloved, do not wait. If you’re thirsty, come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:38)

If we should say, “But Jesus, where can we find you?” You answer back even quicker, “Not in the Law; not in your strivings; not in your labors; not in your earnestness; not in your self-loathing’s; not in your vain promises, but only in the gospel. Come and fall into the rivers of my love. Stand under the cascading waterfalls of my grace. Open your heart wide to my supply and I will over-fill you with everything you need and more than you want.”

Even so and evermore, Jesus, school us well in pant-theology. Fill us afresh than we might be a people to the praise of your glory and grace. So very Amen, we pray, in your all glorious and all generous name.

>Way Too Convicting

>I really, really, really like , SCOTTY SMITH but sometimes his stuff is just a whipping that I really need. I dare you to read this…and then pray it…without thinking of others to whom it may apply…and just read it/pray it for yourself:

     And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:5-8

      Dear Jesus, we tremble at the thought of you speaking these words to us. What could be more sobering and tragic than to hear you say, “You talk about me a whole lot, using plenty of spiritual language and Bible quotes. You’re very quick to recognize and correct false teaching. You’re even quite zealous to apply what you know to others. But your heart is very far from me.”

     It would be one thing if such a rebuke came to us because we were acting like Mosaic Pharisees and scribes—distorting and misapplying Old Testament law; putting people under the yoke of performance-based spirituality; replacing your commandments with our traditions. But it’s an altogether different thing to be a Gospel Pharisee and scribe.

     Forgive us Jesus, when we love exposing and damning legalistic, pragmatic and moralistic teaching, more than we love spending time with you in prayer and fellowship.

     Forgive us for loving the theology of the gospel and the doctrines of grace, more than we actually know and adore you.
     Forgive us when we invest great energy in defending the imputation of your righteousness but have very little concern for the impartation of your transforming grace in our lives.

     Forgive us when we are quick to tell people what obedience is not, but fail to demonstrate what the obedience of faith and love actually is.

     Forgive us when we call ourselves “recovering Pharisees” or “recovering legalists,” but in actuality, we’re not really recovering from anything.
     Forgive us when talk more about “getting the gospel” than we’re actually “gotten” by the gospel.

     Forgive us for being just as arrogant about grace theology as we were obnoxious about legalistic theology.

     Forgive us when we don’t use our freedom to serve one another in love, but rather use it to put our consciences to sleep.

     Forgive us when our love for the gospel does not translate into a love for holiness, world evangelism and caring for widows and orphans.

     Forgive us for having a PhD in the indicatives of the gospel yet fail so miserably when it comes to the imperatives of the gospel.

     Forgive us when we love “the gospel” more than we actually love you, Jesus, as impossible as that may seen.

     So very Amen, we pray, Jesus, with convicted and humbled hearts. Change us by your grace and for your glory.

>A Prayer About Holy Spirit

>When I attended Christ Unlimited Bible Institute a million years ago, Dr. Al Metsker and Dean Potratz would often thunder, “The Holy Spirit is not an ‘it,’ He is a He!  He is just as much a person as the Son!” Of course that is true…

Here is yet another great prayer from SCOTTY SMITH

    Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. Romans 8:5-9
 
     Heavenly Father, I’m particularly grateful today for the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Through I don’t understand everything he’s up to, these things I gladly affirm today.

     Just as assuredly as Jesus stood outside of Lazarus’ tomb and said, “Come forth”, you sent the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to my heart, and I came out of the tomb of my sin and death. How I praise you for your sovereign goodness and power. Unless you had breathed new life into my spirit, I would never, could never have believed the gospel. Thank you!

     When you raised me up in Jesus, you baptized me with the Holy Spirit, making me a member of your family and Christ’s Bride. You sealed me for eternity by the Spirit, marking me as your very own possession. You sent the Spirit to live as a permanent resident in my heart—to constantly preach the gospel to my heart… convict me of sin… make me like Jesus… and constantly tell me that I’m your beloved child. I no longer just cry, I cry “Abba, Father.”

     According to your Word… according the truth of the gospel, I’m already controlled by the Holy Spirit. I am no longer controlled by my sinful nature. O, the joy this brings.

     You’ve given me all the gifts of the Spirit I need to live as a functioning member in the church and a caring servant in your kingdom. Life is no longer about me.  It never was.

     You gave the Spirit as the firstfruits and guarantee of the full inheritance Jesus earned for all your children. What a generous and loving God you are. Forgive me when I look for treasure anywhere else.

     Blessed Abba, I want to be more consistently filled with the Holy Spirit… walk according to the Spirit… keep in step with the Spirit… set my mind on what the Spirit desires. I want the freedom the Spirit alone gives. I want to be more like Jesus.

     “Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh of me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh of me.” So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ faithful name.

>Impudent Prayer!

>This is a good reminder from RAY ORTLUND

“I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” Luke 11:8

“Impudence” is the key word.  Other versions show “importunity,” “persistence,” “boldness,” “shamelessness,” and “brazen insistence.”  All good translations.

The word is anaideia.  That’s the negative prefix an + aideia (“shame, respect, modesty”).  Souter glosses it as “shameless persistence (e.g. in greed).”  The ESV translates it “impudence.”  More casually, we might call it “nerve.”

Jesus is teaching us to pray impudent, nervy prayers, because that’s when we get serious with God.  He likes that, and doors start opening up.  Matthew Henry: “We prevail with men by impudence because they are displeased with it, but with God because he is pleased with it.”

As we enter 2011, how are we praying?  Do we have the nerve to ask God for what we really long for and what would really display his glory?  Let’s not settle for polite prayers that bore us and change nothing.

>I Need The Gospel – Today!

>As 2010 evaporates and I anticipate 2011…as I reflect back, not only over the year, but the years; I am clobbered with the reality that is so wondrously expressed in the following prayer by SCOTTY SMITH. I want to live moment-by-moment in the awareness of the truth contained in this:

Dear Lord Jesus,

While I still believe, with all my heart, you are the only Savior, I now see how more of my heart needs more of you and more of the gospel.

There is nobody on the face of the earth that needs the gospel today, and its transforming resources, more than me, and I am SO glad to be able to acknowledge this reality. I need you today, Jesus, as much as I did in March of 1968 when you washed away all my sins and covered me with the robe of your righteousness.

You have saved me in the past, when I was justified by grace alone through faith alone; you are saving me in the present, as the Holy Spirit applies more and more of your finished work to my whole being; and you will save me in the future, when you return to finish making all things new, including ME!

Lord Jesus, though I’m never tempted to look to any other name for my justification, I am very tempted to look to other names and means for my transformation—worse of all, is when I look to me to be my own savior. But only you, Jesus, are able to save completely those who come to God through you, for you are always living to pray for us and to advocate for us (Heb 7:25). You are my righteousness, holiness and redemption, and that’s why I only boast in you today! (1 Cor. 1:30-31)

So I come to you today, Jesus, right now! Save me more fully from my fear of man, my need to be in control, my ticky-tacky pettiness. Save me from trying to be anybody’s savior. I want to get irritated far less often and to be spontaneous much more often. I want to “light up” more quickly when I hear your name, Jesus, and not be downcast, when I don’t hear my name.

That’s more than enough confession for one day… Indeed, Jesus, I must be saved, I am being saved, through your name alone. Hallelujah!

>History Applied

>“At Waterloo, the English troops obeying orders fell on their faces for a time and let the hot fire of the French artillery pass over them. Then they sprang to their feet and rushed to the thickest of the fight and beat back their foes. The Lord wants His people flat on their faces, before they attempt to meet the great crises of life.”

Arthur Tappan (A. T.) Pierso n

>A Long-Time Favorite

>

From At the Corner of Mundane and Grace, (Waterbrook Press) by Chris Fabry
A PRAYER FOR EVERY DAY
     Lord, lift my eyes today from the stuff of earth. Help me see the sun, and if there are clouds, help me see them, too.
     Take away my unending desire to know exactly what your will is for my entire life, and give me an unquenchable thirst to know only You today.
     When I’m in an argument with friend or foe, deliver me from the need to always be right. Give me instead a desire to love.
     Deliver me from the need of things to make me happy.
     Except for that new printer.
     Okay, deliver me from the printer, too.
     When I’m looking for my keys or a parking place today, Lord, I pray you will give me patience instead.
     And then I pray You will reward my patience with a really close parking space.
     Make me a servant. Deepen my understanding of your love and let my service respond sincerely, not from a sense of duty.
     Give me willingness to at least attempt being content with my circumstances.
     Lord, deliver me from the need to keep score.
     Show me someone who needs a smile today. Help me give it without reserve.
     When someone cuts me off in traffic, give me the grace to remember when I did the same, stupid thing.
     Open my eyes to see what You see.
     Open my ears to hear what You hear.
     Deliver me from the island of me.
     You who spoke the universe into being, who set the stars in their courses, who formed my DNA, don’t just give me a spiritual bypass. Create in me a new heart, a clean heart, a willing heart.
     Open my nasal passages and help me smell the newly cut grass and the fresh, clean scent of my little girl’s hair.
     You, who touched the tongue of the dumb, loosen my tongue to speak Your praises.
     Give me a heart of thanks for fallen leaves, flat tires, wet sneezes, phlegm, and tooth decay, for these things make me long for heaven.
     Show me souls today, not just faces.
     Show me hurts today, not just anger.
     Give tears for dry eyes.
     Change the drudgery into work fit for a King’s son.
     Strip me of pride, sloth, and envy.
     Clothe me with humility and vigor, and help me find a good antonym for “envy.”
     Lord, I look at my child opening a bag of candy. I see the anticipation and expectancy and want this same spirit when I think about You.
     Give me a renewed desire for your Word.
     If a storm should come, give peace.
     If doubt should come, give hope.
     If a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses should come, help me not to hide inside the house until they leave. Help me show them a kindness and love they have never experienced.
     Most of all, Lord, in every moment of this day, help me see Jesus.     Amen.
Can’t recommend this book higher…just good stuff:

>Pray for Healing? Or for a Miracle?

>Interesting stuff from TIM CHALLIES

Daniel Doriani’s commentary on James is one of the relatively few commentaries I’ve read cover-to-cover. It’s one I enjoyed a lot. In his discussion of the final portion of James 5, I found an interesting story that I thought I’d share with you. As I read it, I though of my continuationist (charismatic) friends. It is my experience that these people often typify cessationists like myself as those who do not believe in supernatural or miraculous healings. But this just isn’t the case. The disagreement really arises over whether or not the spiritual gift of healing is operative in the church today. I believe in heailngs, not in healers, so to speak.
This quote describes something that happened in a conservative, Reformed, Presbyterian context and something that I think is consistent with cessationist theology (even though cessationists may have some disagreement about what James refers to by anointing a person with oil). Doriani is not the only Reformed Presbyterian who has experienced this kind of blessing.

During the autumn when I first studied James in earnest, a friend suffered a viral infection of the heart. While it was not a heart attack, it mimicked many of the symptoms of one. My friend felt listless; he looked gray and lifeless. One day at church, I told him that James 5 instructs elders to lay hands on the sick and to pray for their healing; I suggested that he call the elders for that very purpose. Two weeks later, he told me he wanted to proceed. No one in our church had done this before, so we did something very Presbyterian: we studied the matter another six weeks and hoped he didn’t die in the meantime.At last, we appointed a night for prayer and the elders gathered. Our church’s pastor (I was a college professor at the time) summoned the elders. Before we prayed, he told us not to expect a dramatic physical healing, since God heals in many ways. I appreciated his motive, but there was no need to restrain my enthusiasm; my doubting heart was already skeptical enough…
…My friend knelt down in the middle of a circle of elders. We anointed him with oil, laid lands on him, and began to pray. Since I had started the process, I was appointed to offer the closing prayer.
As soon as we began to pray, I had an overwhelming sense that God was, at the moment, healing my friend. My arms felt what I can only describe as bolts of fire pushing through them. As I grasped my friend’s shoulder, heat and energy burned my hand. I felt that my one hand could lift all of his 230 pounds to the ceiling or push him through the floor if I wished.
I knew God was healing him. I wanted to shout, “We must stop praying that God will heal John and start praising God that he has healed him.” But I was too astonished, too ensure of my sensations, to say a word to anyone that night. For four days, I kept my experience to myself.
Four days later, after church, my friend beckoned me with a wild grin, “Dan, watch this.” At once, he dashed up a flight of steps. I dashed after him and met him at the top. He smiled, “And I’m not even breathing hard.”
I knew it,” I exclaimed, and told him what I had felt a few nights earlier. And he told me, “I knew it too.”
Since that day, I have joined elders to lay hands on the sick and pray for them. I have never again felt the fire. And while I occasionally feel a flood of warmth and emotion, I have learned that my feelings and God’s healings have no connections. A small number have experienced immediately healing from serious illness. More have recovered gradually and under the care of physicians. Many have found spiritual healing—great peace and spiritual renewal in times of crisis and suffering, whether they recovered physically or not. And some have apparently gained no physical or spiritual benefit at all.

A page later he provides an interesting and important clarification about what James says about healing and something that is consistent with cessationist beliefs.

Sick men and women call the elders as a group. They do not call those with a gift for healing; rather they call all to pray for healing. James says the prayers of a righteous man are effective. Since the first qualification for an elder is holiness—not social standing or theological acumen—the prayers of elders are effective. The elders pray for healing, not for miracles. It doesn’t matter if a healing is quiet or splashy, True healings garner all the attention they need.