Last year the Bible Study Group that I lead did a study of the book Prayer Does It Make A Difference? by Philip Yancey. Session 11 of that study was Unanswered Prayer, Living With The Mystery.
We started the session by saying that we all go through seasons when we wonder if our prayers are getting through or just ricocheting off the ceiling.
It’s discouraging, isn’t it?
When we don’t see results in our lives or the lives of others, why should we keep praying?
We decided that we really can’t explain why some prayers are answered and others not. We know that some of them may not be answered, because they are frivolous, others are selfish, sometimes sin blocks the communication with God. Those unanswered prayers are on us.
Some unanswered prayers are because we live in a lost world where sickness, violence, evil, natural disasters, and the potential for tragic accidents are a fact of life. The reason for other unanswered prayer is quite frankly a mystery.
Lesli White, in her article on beliefnet.com gives us her thoughts on 6 reasons that God doesn’t answer prayers. Read the article to see if any of them apply to you.
6 Common Reasons God Doesn’t Answer Prayers
By Lesli White
God hasn’t forgotten about you or abandoned you.
Have you ever prayed and suggested to God all the ways He could reasonably answer your prayer? Perhaps you thought of the perfect solution and asked God to make it happen. Now you’re waiting on God, wondering why He hasn’t answered your prayer the way you asked Him to. If you have been in this place, or this is the place you’re in right now, know that you’re not alone. All of us have had experiences where our prayers seem to go unanswered and we wonder if God can even here us. In some cases, we may even feel distance from God. The important thing to remember is that God hasn’t forgotten about you or abandoned you. The Bible tells us, “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will not leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8). While you may be weary or beginning to lose your confidence, your attitude should be one of confidence that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His Will and timing. Here are six common reasons God may not being answering your prayer.
God is Making You Wait
As difficult as waiting can be, it builds spiritual muscles in a unique way. Isaiah makes this truth clear: “But they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). This is a glorious promise but our discontented hearts find it difficult to wait. One great thing about waiting is that it allows us to pray without ceasing. When our thoughts turn to worry, fear, discouragement and anger, we are to consciously and quickly turn every thought to prayer and every prayer to thanksgiving. Another great thing about waiting is that it increases our faith. We wait and God works!
You Are Only Focused on Receiving a Blessing
We often say, “I’m so blessed” when we’re sharing pictures from our most recent vacation, updating everyone on a recent promotion or sharing our new relationship status. Without even thinking, we’ll equate these happy moments or personal successes to God showering blessings on us. But these pleasures and successes are not God’s highest priority. God wants us to be happy but the truth is, our happiness and success aren’t God’s end goals. While it’s right and good to be thankful for the tangible blessings in your life, you shouldn’t fail to see that blessings from God don’t always make you want to shout “I’m so blessed.” When you pray, acknowledge God for your blessings and not just those that make you feel good.
God is Answering in His Timing
Our God is a merciful God. Sometimes we forget this when we get so caught up in the pain we’re experiencing, the people we’ve lost and the things we don’t have. We start focusing on all the ways that God hasn’t measured up to our standards and find ourselves disappointed time and time again. Instead of focusing on the blessings we’ve been given, we focus on what God hasn’t done for us. This is human, but it doesn’t mean it’s right. It also doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us. It means that what He wants for us is in His time. Not ours. And sometimes God’s plans are bigger than our own. You might pray for love to come into your life at a certain time, but if it had, God wouldn’t have been able to make you more strong and independent. If things had fallen into place at the college you prayed for, you may not have attended the school that shaped so many of your future friendships and dreams. Just because God isn’t granting the prayers in the way we want Him to doesn’t mean He doesn’t love us.
You’re Dwelling on Worry
One reason your prayer may not be answered is because you’re dwelling on worry. Worry, feeling uneasy or troubled seems to plague multitudes of people in our world today. It’s human nature to be concerned about the bad situations in our world and in our personal lives, but if we’re not careful, the devil will cause us to worry beyond what’s reasonable. While it’s human nature to worry about the things that are going on in our personal lives and in the world around us, it’s important that you don’t dwell in worry. John 15:7 says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
It isn’t God’s Will
John 15:7 says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” So that means if we tell God what we want, He will give it to us, right? Well, not exactly. If you’re wondering why things aren’t going according to your plans, here’s the short of it. We aren’t aware of God’s Will. It’s important that we pay attention to the word “abiding” in this verse which means “to live in, dwell in and remain in.” When you have an intimate relationship with God, you begin to know His heart and have a clearer sense of the things you should pray for and what His will truly is for you.
Your Prayer isn’t to the Glory of God
Is your prayer to the glory of God? One of the most important questions we face in prayer is whether our petition is for our own selfish interest, pride or attainment, or whether it is really to the glory of God? Answers to prayer are supposed to honor God and bring glory to Him. This is one of the main reasons we offer prayer in the name of Christ. Jesus assured His disciples that if they remained in Him and His words remained in them, whatever they wished would be given to them. Prayer that is offered in the name of Christ and to the glory of Christ is prayer that God can answer.
All of us have had experiences when our prayers seemed to go unanswered. Sometimes days, weeks, or even years will go by at a time and we still find ourselves wondering, when is God going to answer this prayer? The important thing to remember is that God hasn’t forgotten about you or abandoned you.If you’re confused and hurting, the Lord doesn’t expect you to cover it up with a smile. Tell Him what you’re really thinking and feeling.
Also, don’t worry if you feel like your prayers are going unanswered. If we pray in the Will of God, we can be sure that God will answer. As we praise Him for His faithfulness, seek His Will and glory, pray faithfully and wait patiently until God’s time, He will come.
Why Are Some Prayers Answered Miraculously and Others Not At All?
Whether our prayers are answered the way we want them answered or answered at all we can always count on the fact that God can make use of whatever happens. Here’s something written by British author John Baille:
Let me use disappointment as material for patience.
Let me use success as material for thankfulness.
Let me use trouble as material for perseverance.
Let me use danger as material for courage.
Let me use reproach as material for long suffering.
Let me use praise as material for humility.
Let me use pleasures as material for temperance.
Let me use pain as material for endurance.
Romans 11:33-36 (NLT)33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!34 For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?35 And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
The fact that God wants a relationship with us and listens to our prayers at all is a gift of grace,.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Mission Impossible is an American television series, now in syndication, that originally aired from 1966 to 1973. The series chronicled the exploits of a team of secret government agents known as the Impossible Missions Force (IMF). Each episode opens with a fast-paced montage after which in we see the agent receive his instructions from a voice delivered on a recording which then self-destructs.
Here is a brief description of the series;
A group of extraordinary spies, each experts in their own fields, belong to the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) -- first headed up by Daniel Briggs and later overseen by Jim Phelps. The IMF is a government agency that undertakes only the most hazardous of espionage missions. The beginning of each episode featured the now-famous tape-recorded message outlining the latest task for the group to tackle. Popular during the Cold War, the group's missions usually centered on overthrowing the government of some small communist country causing problems for the free world. The IMF crew included disguise expert Rollin Hand, charmer Cinnamon Carter, electronics technician Barney Collier, strong man Willy Armitage and, in later episodes, disguise-master Paris.
The television series ended in 1973 but since then, starting in 1996, there have been six full length feature films based on the television series.
In the television series and films the IMF team takes on tasks that would be considered impossible for the average, even superior espionage or counter-espionage teams or agencies. Because of superior intellect, technologies, and luck they are able to accomplish their mission
We Serve God Of The Impossible
Whenever our backs are against the wall and we in a situations or circumstances where there is no way out we can call on our Father and He will do the impossible because with God nothing is impossible.
God of the Impossible
by Dr. David Jeremiah, excerpted from his new 365 day devotional Ever Faithful
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”— Mark 9:23
The word impossible occurs nine times in the New King James Version of the Bible, and most of the references tell us that this word doesn’t appear in God’s regular vocabulary.
Matthew 17:20: “Nothing will be impossible.”
Matthew 19:26: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Mark 10:27: “With men it is impossible, but not with God.”
Luke 1:37: “With God nothing will be impossible.”
Luke 18:27: “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
Hebrews 6:18 tells us it is impossible for God to lie, and Hebrews 11:6 adds that without faith it is impossible for us to please Him. It demonstrates how important it is to cast our impossibilities in God’s hands. Just as He parted the sea for Israel, reversed the events in Esther, raised Jesus from the dead, and converted Saul of Tarsus, God is capable of reversing our irreversible problems.
What Is Possible?
There is a part of the body of Christ that has adopted a slogan from the secular self-help movement: “If you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it!” If you can conceive of yourself as an astronaut or a star player in the NBA, and believe it with all your heart, are you likely to achieve such a goal? The answer for most adults is no.
What’s good about the “name it and claim it” school is that it encourages us not to limit ourselves or God. What’s wrong with this approach is that it misapplies the words of Jesus. For example, a corollary of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:23 is that “all things are possible for [God]” — words Jesus spoke on the night of His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36). Jesus believed it was possible for Him not to go to the Cross, and He also believed it was possible for God to keep Him from that suffering. Yet He went to the Cross anyway.
Our beliefs and possibilities have to be in line with the will of God. That’s how Jesus lived His life and how He taught His disciples to live (John 5:30). When our lives are lived in obedience to God’s will, nothing is impossible. Dream big — but dream biblically!
Excerpted with permission from Ever Faithful by Dr. David Jeremiah, copyright David Jeremiah.
With Dr. David Jeremiah, experience how a clearer understanding of God’s nature and love for you can impact your faith. Ever Faithful, a 365-day devotional, invites you into an intimate, daily relationship with the God who knows you, loves you, and has a plan for your life. Ever Faithful A 365-Day Devotional By David Jeremiah Be the first to review this product Regular Price: $19.99 SPECIAL PRICE $13.99
John 14:13-14 (NLT) You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
Last November I published “Why Do We Pray In Jesus’ Name?” In it I wrote that praying in Jesus’ name literally means praying with in the authority He has given us. He has given us the authority to ask the Father to act on our prayers because we come in His name.
Think of it this way. Jesus’ name is a key, and if you have the key I doesn’t matter if the key belongs to you or not as long as you have it you can open the lock. The power belongs to Jesus but he has given you His key.
Just as an Ambassador has the authority to speak for the leader of a nation we can speak with the authority of Jesus. It is just as if Jesus Himself was talking.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NLT)20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Praying in Jesus’ name is praying for things that will honor and glorify Him. Praying in Jesus' name means the same thing as praying according to the will of God,
1 John 5:14-15 (NLT)14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
What’s so special about Jesus’ name? Honestly, for a long time, I had no idea. I’d hear everybody end prayers with, “In Jesus’ name. Amen.” I thought maybe it was a signal that the prayer was about to end, like a spiritual sign-off — “10-4, good buddy” — or the way the great 20th Century news anchor Walter Cronkite would end all his broadcasts by saying, “And that’s the way it is.”
I ended that post with this;
“Here’s the point: I don’t have any right to get answered prayers from God. I owe him a lot, but he doesn’t owe me anything. But when I come and ask God for requests, I don’t ask on my own merit. I come on the merit of Christ. I just say, “Father, I’m coming to you because your Son said so. I’m coming because of what Jesus Christ has already done for me on the cross. He’s promised that I can ask in his name, so that’s what I’m doing right now.””
Max Lucado, in his book Before Amen, writes about the power of praying in Jesus’ name. Here are excerpts from that book.
The Power of Praying In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Excerpts from Before Amen by Max Lucado
Jesus has unimpeachable authority.
He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. — Hebrews 1:3
God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name. — Philippians 2:9
The Roman government tried to intimidate Him. False religion tried to silence Him. The devil tried to kill Him. All failed. Even “death was no match for Him” (Acts 2:24 MSG).
Jesus “disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross” (Colossians 2:15 NLT). He was not kidding when He declared,
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. — Matthew 28:18
Jesus is the command center of the galaxies.
Two sparrows cost only a penny, but not even one of them can die without your Father’s knowing it. — Matthew 10:29 NCV
He occupies the Oval Office. He called a coin out of the mouth of a fish. He stopped the waves with a word. He spoke, and a tree withered. He spoke again, and a basket became a banquet. Economy. Meteorology. Botany. Food supply.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father. — Matthew 11:27
That includes Satan. The devil was soundly defeated by Christ on the cross. Jesus outranks him in every situation. He must obey Jesus, and he knows it.
Prayers offered in the name of Jesus have “divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV). Demolish! Not damage or hamper but demolish. Prayer falls on strongholds like lit matches on a grass hut.
The devil fears prayer. Imagine this scene. He sat in the back of the room during a strategy session. A dozen demons had gathered to hear a report on the life of a particularly stalwart saint.
“He won’t stumble,” groused the imp responsible for his demise. “No matter what I do, he won’t turn his back on God.”
The council began to offer suggestions.
“Take his purity,” one said.
“I tried,” replied the fiend, “but he is too moral.” “Take his health,” urged another.
“I did, but he refused to grumble or complain.” “Take his belongings.”
“Are you kidding? I’ve stripped the man of every penny and possession. Yet he still rejoices.”
For a few moments no one spoke. Finally, from the back of the room, came the low, measured voice of Satan himself. The entire council turned as the fallen angel rose to his feet. His pale face was all but hidden by the hood. A long cape covered his body. He raised his bony hand and made his point. “It’s not enough to take his purity. It’s not enough to take his health. It’s not enough to take his belongings. You must take what matters most.” “What is that?” asked the subordinate.
“You must take his prayer.”
Prayer slaps handcuffs on Satan. Prayer takes problems out of the domain of the devil and into the presence of God. Prayer confesses, “God can handle IT. Since He can, I have hope!”
When we pray in the name of Jesus, we come to God on the basis of Jesus’ accomplishment.
Since we have a great high priest [Jesus] over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. — Hebrews 10:21–22
As our high priest, Jesus offers our prayers to God. His prayers are always heard.
Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. — John 16:23
There are those who say, “Prayer changes things because it changes us.” I agree but only in part. Prayer changes things because prayer appeals to the top power in the universe. Prayer is not a magical formula or a mystical chant. It is the yes to God’s invitation to invoke His name.
Mark it down: IT won’t have the last word. Jesus will.
God raised [Christ] from death and set Him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from His rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. — Ephesians 1:20–22 MSG
The phrase “In Jesus’ name” is not an empty motto or talisman. It is a declaration of truth: My cancer is not in charge; Jesus is. The economy is not in charge; Jesus is. The grumpy neighbor doesn’t run the world; Jesus, You do! You, Jesus, are the Head Coach, CEO, President, King, Supreme Ruler, Absolute Monarch, High and Holy Baron, Czar, Overlord, and Rajah of all history.
Just speak the word, Jesus . . .
Pray! Since God works, prayer works.
Since God is good, prayer is good.
Since you matter to God, your prayers matter in heaven. You’re never without hope, because you’re never without prayer. And on the occasions you can’t find the words to say, pull these out of your pocket:
You are good.
I need help. Heal me and forgive me.
They need help.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Excerpted with permission from Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado, copyright Thomas Nelson.
Before Amen, Max Lucado’s most personal and candid humble book to date, is written for everyone who wants to pray more, better and stronger, with more fire, faith and fervency. Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts and confidence even for prayer wimps.
Nehemiah 8:10 (KJV)10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
After all the activity of Mother's Day I finally got a chance to slow down and do the reading that I usually do in my quiet time in the morning. I didn't do it this morning because I woke up late and had to hurry to get to church in time to start the Bible study that I lead every Sunday. When the light turned green at the traffic signal and I pressed the gas pedal I heard a strange sound and as I continued to press the pedal I noticed that I wasn’t moving. I had just enough momentum to coast to a stop at the curb. Mind you I had just had a rebuilt transmission installed three weeks ago. To make a long story short I had the car towed home and I took Uber to church. My pastor and his wife gave me a ride home. I’ll have the car towed to my mechanic tomorrow. Thank God the transmission is still under warranty.
Because I know that God provides no matter what, and I’ve been writing about praising God in all circumstances and situations, I’ve been able to keep from becoming frustrated although I’ve been tempted by the enemy to start feeling sorry for myself more than a few times. I had one of those times when the Holy Spirit had me read a devotion that consisted of nothing but scriptures on joy.
The devotional reminded me of the things that I had written about joy (see Joy Unspeakable And Full Of Glory);
The dictionary defines joy as "the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation."
With this definition, we could say that "happiness" and "joy" are interchangeable. But that’s not biblical joy.
Happiness depends on circumstances, joy depends on God and we have joy because of our faith in Jesus and His sacrifice for us.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit biologist and philosopher, once wrote, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
One reason that we don’t always experience the kind of joy Peter talked about is that we confuse happiness and joy. We think that both happiness and joy are found in pleasure, security and prosperity. Joy is not the same as happiness — although they may. Happiness vanishes when things get tough; joy continues and may even grow when things get tough. When we focus on the love of Jesus and not the circumstance we realize that the joy of the Lord is our strength. While we may not be, happy as the world defines happiness, we still have joy.
Our joy should rise above circumstances. This joy is not produced by something external that makes us feel happy. It is supernatural result of a life filled with the Holy Spirit of the living God.
“Joy is more than happiness. The word happiness comes from the root hap, which means “chance.” Where happiness is circumstantial, joy is not. Joy is an unshakeable confidence in the truths of God despite circumstances.” - From God’s Word for Life for Mothers
Here are the scriptures that I read that stopped the enemy’s thoughts in their tracks. As the Bible says.
James 4:7 (NLT2) So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
2 Corinthians 10:4 (NLT2)4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.
The weapon that we resist with is the word of God;
Ephesians 6:17 (NLT2) Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (emphasis mine)
God’s Words of Life on Joy
Romans 15:13 (NLT2)13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 97:11 (NLT2) Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right.
Job 8:21 (NLT2) He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.
Psalm 30:5 (NLT2) For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 32:11 (NLT2) So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!
Psalm 119:14 (NLT2) I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches.
Isaiah 51:11 (NLT2) Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
Psalm 5:11 (NLT2) But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
Psalm 100:1-2 (NLT2)1 Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!2 Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.
Proverbs 10:28 (HCSB) The hope of the righteous is joy, but the expectation of the wicked comes to nothing.
Psalm 70:4 (NLT2) But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
Psalm 126:5 (NLT2)5 Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.
Isaiah 55:12 (NLT2) You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
Joel 2:23 (NLT2) Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring.
John 16:24 (NLT2)24 You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
James 1:2-3 (NLT2)2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (I’ve seen this verse almost everyday for the last month)
Romans 14:17 (NLT2) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 4:4 (NLT2) Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice!
Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT2)10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”
Psalm 126:3 (NLT2) Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!
Psalm 119:111 (HCSB) I have Your decrees as a heritage forever; indeed, they are the joy of my heart.
Luke 6:22-23 (NLT2)22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.
Psalm 16:11 (NLT2) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
Psalm 19:8 (NLT2)8 The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.
Psalm 33:20-21 (NLT2)20 We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield.21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
Isaiah 61:10 (NLT2) I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.
1 Samuel 2:1 (NLT2) Then Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoices in the LORD! The LORD has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me.
Luke 1:46-47 (NLT2)46 Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
1 Peter 1:8 (NLT2) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
Revelation 19:7 (NLT2) Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.
1 Peter 4:13 (HCSB) Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory.
Jude 1:24-25 (NLT2)24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.25 All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.
(emphasis mine on all scriptures)
For the past several weeks the Holy Spirit has reminded me of James 1:2-4 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18 too many times for it to be coincidence.
James 1:2-4 (NLT2)2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT2)18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
The Holy Spirit keep prompting me to share that it’s God’s will for us that that we pray and give thanks (praise) in all situations and under all circumstances. I am creating a new “Prayer and Praise” category of posts in this blog,where I’ill share the things that the Holy Spirit shares with me through posts He has me write and the things that He brings to me that are written by others.
In this post I am sharing an article written by Megan Bailey on Beliefnet, “God Can Turn Your Hurt into Hope: The Lord has a plan for what you’re going through”. The article ends with the scripture that the Holy Spirit keeps showing me over and over.
James 1:2-4 (NLT2)2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
God Can Turn Your Hurt Into Hope
By Megan Bailey
Do you feel like you have hit a wall and there is no hope moving forward? You might be battling a difficult spell of depression, going through a rough divorce, or have just lost your job. When these things happen it can feel like your entire world is crumbling around you.
When you're hurting and crying out for help, God hears you. When you are struggling, God is walking next to you. When you feel the most alone, God is working to turn your life around.
If you feel you have no hope in your life, turn to God. He is so powerful that He can transform even the worst of situations into something beautiful. God is working behind the scenes for you to turn your pain into hope, here’s how.
God is Always in Control
It can be difficult to imagine why God would ever let someone suffer, but the truth is that God is always in control. Nothing happens in your life that He is not aware of. God has a great plan for your life! He knows that you will struggle through painful situations, but He can sustain you during the worst of times. We can rely on God when we are struggling, because we know He is in control. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 it says “We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.”
God Won’t Fail You
The verse 1 Peter 4:19 says “If you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.” Straight from the Bible, God promises that He will never let you know or let you fall. Even when terrible things happen in your life, Jesus is by your side. There is absolutely nothing that He can’t take on and win. Even the enemy trembles when you say His name!
You Will Have Eternal Life
While things may seem dark and bleak now, we can find hope that one day we will be with our Father in heaven. Romans 8:18 says “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later.” Think of how great our lives will be when we leave this earth and enter our eternal home! That sliver of hope, knowing that this is not how things will be forever, is sometimes all we need to get through to the next day. Pray to God and let Him know how you look forward to meeting Him one day.
Purpose For Your Pain
You might not see this now, but God has a purpose for the pain that you are going through. Everything you go through in life is leading you to something greater. It’s okay to ask God what His plan is, and to reveal His purpose for it. He might not answer right away, but through dealing with your circumstances you will begin to see lig
You Aren’t Alone
Even when you feel like God isn’t there, He’s really standing next to you planning the next steps of your life. He is not letting you go through the pain alone! You can find hope that you have an advocate and teacher walking with you each step of the way. Hebrews 13:5-6 says “For God has said, I will never fail you. I will never forsake you. That is why we can say with confidence, The Lord is my helper, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
James 1:2-4 says "Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." Instead of letting the pain push you down, you should use it as a way to increase your faith in God. God has a purpose for the pain you are going through and will turn those struggles into something beautiful. Speak to God and ask for Him to help you cultivate hope through Him.
The Holy Spirit is amazing! At the beginning of the year, the Pastor of my church, declared 2018 as the Year of Prayer and Praise for our congregation. We have been talking about praise all year and especially about how to praise God in all situations whether good or bad. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and James 1:2. Praising in all circumstances was the been the topic of the Sunday sermon and the weekly Bible Study two weeks ago. Then, lo-and behold, in my quiet time reading there is a devotional with the lead sentence “Use your trials and troubles to draw closer to Me.”. As I read it I was amazed because it confirmed the Bible Study that I led just two days ago on how to Praise In Tragedy. The devotion is from Jesus Today Devotional Journal by Sarah Young.
Bestselling devotional Jesus Today® is now available in devotional journal format! Jesus Today® was written during a very difficult time in beloved and bestselling author Sarah Young’s life. Yet the words of Scripture and Jesus’ own Presence were ever near, bringing her hope and comfort for each new day. Whether you are in need of a lifeline in your discouragement or are simply longing for a boost in your day, this devotional journal will speak hope into your life. It is written as if Jesus Himself is assuring you that He is in control, that He is good, and that a glorious future awaits all who anchor their hope in Him. With journaling prompts and space to write thoughts and prayers, you will be encouraged and renewed with a deeper sense of hope as you grow in grace, learn from God’s Word, and walk ever more closely with Jesus. Reaching out with peace-filled reminders from the Word of God, these devotions will intimately and quietly connect you with Jesus—the One who meets you where you are. Hope shines brightest when your world is darkest! Jesus Today Devotional Journal Experience Hope Through His Presence By Sarah Young Be the first to review this product Regular Price: $19.99 SPECIAL PRICE $9.99
by Sarah Young, excerpted fromJesus Today Devotional Journal
Do not be anxious...
Use your trials and troubles to draw closer to Me.
Whenever you start to feel distressed, turn that around by talking with Me. Let pain and problems remind you of your constant need for Me. Create a collection of brief prayers, such as: “Help me, Jesus. Fill me with Your Peace. Show me Your way.” These requests are spiritual nutrients — soul vitamins. The more you use them, the healthier and happier you will be.
When you view troubles in this way — as reminders to draw near Me — you can actually rejoice in your trials.
Of course, this requires training your mind to move quickly from problem mode to prayer mode. It is crucial to have your arsenal of prayers ready to use.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your preparations, helping you form prayers that will flow readily out of your heart. Then practice saying them to Me until you’re intimately familiar with them. When you encounter trouble of any kind, reach into your arsenal of prayers and speak one or more of them boldly. The enemy will retreat, and I will draw near.
Which prayers should go into your prayer arsenal? Let them be health and life to you. The Spirit will show you how.
Teach me Your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. — Psalm 27:11
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. — James 1:2 NASB
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. — James 4:7–8 NKJV
Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. — Psalm 143:8
Come to Me when you are hurting. Voice your trust in Me, and seek to become aware of My Love all around you. Breathe in the Peace of My Presence: Peace that transcends understanding.
Take time, take time with Me.
To experience the Joy of My Presence, you need to sit quietly, focusing your thoughts on Me. Say no to plans and problems as they try to creep into your mind. Say yes to Me — to My Joy and Peace, My unfailing Love.
Living close to Me is all about transcendence. The world is full of trouble, but I have overcome the world! I call you to transcend your troubles by looking up to Me. Assert your confidence in Me, saying, “I trust You, Jesus. You are my Hope.” Short prayers such as these — voiced almost continuously — will help you live transcendently: seated with Me in heavenly realms. I am training you to be an overcomer — unfettered by circumstances.
Take some time with Me so you can explore new ways to say yes to Me. This is how I train overcomers.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:6-7
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33 NKJV
God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. — Ephesians 2:6
Excerpted with permission from Jesus Today Devotional Journal by Sarah Young, copyright Sarah Young.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
The Lord, through the Apostle Paul, tells us here that we are to have an attitude of joy, thanksgiving and prayer at all times, no matter the conditions or circumstances that surround us.
How is it possible to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in the wake of the horrors of Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris, Chattanooga, New York and many others? Yet scripture, which we say is the word of God, tells us that it’s God’s will that we do these things at all times even in and during tragedy. All tragedy, no matter if it is national in scope like terrorist attacks aimed at a nation, it’s personal because individuals are the ones affected. Individuals die, individuals are wounded, individuals are affected physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Families, made up of individuals, are impacted forever.
It’s easy to say, rejoice, pray and give thanks we’re in church, surrounded by other Christians, or talking to our Christian friends. It’s easy for us, who are not going through tragic events, to say these things to those who are experiencing tragedy. But when we are the ones….how is this possible?
This doesn’t mean that we are to thank God for bad things and tragedies. We don’t thank Him for accidents, sickness, tragedy, etc. because He didn’t do or send them. God is not the author of evil that author is the devil, Satan. It’s an insult to God to thank Him for things He didn’t do.
John 8:44 (NKJV) You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
1 John 3:8 (NKJV) He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Satan is good taking tragedy, which he causes by the way, and blaming it on God. If he can get people to believe the tragedy is from God he has an easy time in convincing them that God has failed and deserted them That’s when we hear things like “Why do you serve a God who does or allows these kinds of things”. Satan’s target is your mind and in destroying our faith in God.
What the scripture does mean is that we are to stay joyful no matter what’s happening because we have the Lord, and in Him we overcome no matter what.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV) Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
John 16:33 (NKJV) These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
We are to rejoice in the Lord in spite of what Satan or this world system throws at us.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit biologist and philosopher, once wrote, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
Dictionary.com defines joy as "the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation."
Our joy should rise above circumstances. This joy is not produced by something external. It is supernatural result of a life filled with the Holy Spirit.
James 1:2-3 (NKJV)2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.Remember what the angel told the shepherds when he announced Jesus’ birth?
Luke 2:10 (NKJV) Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
We have a choice. We can choose to live in an attitude of resentment, anger and fear or we can choose to pursue the joy of Christ. This is a joy that is impossible to describe.
Philippians 4:4-7 (NKJV)4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Joy which is better experienced than expressed because there are no words to describe it. It is a joy on account of the glory of God, which the believer lives in the hope and faith of; and by it saints may know a little what heaven itself will be. - Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
1 Peter 1:3-9 (NKJV)3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,9 receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.
Christian joy is not dampened by affliction or other harsh circumstances, because it is rooted in one's unassailable relationship to God.
Philippians 2:18 (NKJV) For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.,
Philippians 3:1 (NKJV) Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
Philippians 4:4 (NKJV) Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!)
In fact, joy may thrive in tribulation when a believer discerns the glorious purposes of God.
Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV)3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
James 1:2 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.
Such joy is not self-generated but is the Spirit's fruit.
Galatians 5:22 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
Prayer is attitude as well as activity. The attitude of devotion to God can be without ceasing, if the activity cannot. Paul illustrates his own command, for his letters are scented with the fragrance of prayer. Everything. All circumstances, even hardships and affliction. This, though singular, seems to embrace the three commands of 5:16, 17, 18, (rejoice, pray, give thanks). God's will includes constant joy, ceaseless prayer, and boundless thanks, attitudes made both necessary and possible in Christ Jesus. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
The following are Excerpts from “Keys to the Kingdom” by Betty Miller)
“Our prayers should be in an attitude of praise even in the midst of our trials. We should lift our voices and praise the Lord like this, "Father, I praise You and love You, and no matter what the devil is doing to me I know that You shall bring me through victoriously! Show me what I need to do, Lord. Show me the door that I have opened to the enemy. I resist him in the name of Jesus, and I command him to leave with all of his oppression and attacks. Jesus, You are the Lord of my life, and I submit to You and will never deny You no matter what happens. Praise God!"
Psalm 34:1-4 (NKJV)1 I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.2 My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.4 I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.
We are to bless God at all times, not just when things go smoothly. We are to bless Him when things go wrong, too. We are to boast in the Lord even when all looks bleak. Our prayer should be similar to David's or one like this, "Father, I love and appreciate You. I know You are going to bring the answer I need because You are a good God, and You care for me. I trust You, Lord, no matter what I see with my natural eyes. I am looking through the eyes of faith, and I believe You are sending my answer. I love You, Lord, no matter what happens." When we keep this attitude of praise in the midst of our trials, we come through victoriously.”
None of these things are possible if you are trying to do it on your own. The only way to rejoice, pray, and give thanks amidst tragedy is with the help of God’s Spirit, The Holy Spirit.
John 14:15-18 (NKJV)15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:25-27 (NKJV)25 "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Being thankful at all times helps us to focus on the fact that God is in control and working all things together for good regardless of how they may seem to us. Our perspective is limited by time and space and God’s perspective has no limits. Because we are thankful and know that God is in control of everything and that He has no limitations we can say with conviction;
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
I don't mean that all your problems go away when you give thanks, but they stop being such a problem. What goes on around you no longer controls what’s going on within you. You start to live from the inside out.
Thanksgiving changes our mindset from that of a victim to that of a victor. You can't control the problems that come into your life but you can control how you respond.
Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here’s an example of somebody being thankful in really tough times.
In 1636, amid the darkness of the Thirty Years’ War, German pastor Martin Rinkart is said to have buried 5,000 of his parishioners in one year, an average of 15 people a day. His parish was ravaged by war, death, and economic disaster. In the heart of that darkness, with the cries of fear outside his window, he sat down and wrote this Thanksgiving table grace prayer for his children: “Now thank we all our God With heart and hands and voices Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices. Who, from our mother’s arms, Hath led us on our way With countless gifts of love That still are ours today.”
Last year I battled feelings of confusion, anger, disillusionment, and a sadness that can suck the life out of you. There were certainly times that I didn’t feel very grateful. I told the folk in my Sunday morning Bible Study group that there were times that I doubted that God was willing to work on my behalf or the benefit of my wife, who went to be with the Lord because of cancer. My guess is that most if not all of you reading this post have been there. However we are told to be thankful even at those times.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NKJV)14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
A friend sent me this a few months ago.
Imagine the God of the universe speaking these words to you… ;
Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience—at times, blind obedience. To people who don’t know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.
Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.
Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV) giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Yes, with the Holy Spirit who lives within us we can praise God even in tragedy.
This post is dedicated to the memory of the 49 people murdered in the terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, FL on Sunday morning June 12, 2016. I continue to pray for the comfort and peace of God for their friends and families.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.