We have all, at some time thought that our prayers weren’t even getting out of the room. It's like your prayers just hit the ceiling and fall back down. It’s as if God doesn’t hear, or care. It’s like talking to yourself, there’s nobody there listening. That’s what happens when we pray for something, especially something very important to us like health, shelter, resources for life and nothing changes. It doesn’t mean that we stop praying but we do start to think what difference does it make. God isn’t listening or if He is He’s not answering.
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To hear an audio of Session 8 click on the YouTube link below.
We get tongue-tied because of distractions. We get tongue-tied because we feel unworthy. We get tongue-tied because we are afraid that we’re not doing it right. When our tongues are tied we have help. Three general principles: Keep it honest, keep it simple, and keep it up.
If you want to get better at anything we have to practice over and over and over. We have to work at it. When they talk about singing a certain genre in music you have to work on your technique over and over and over. The same thing is true of prayer. Jesus encourages us to always pray and be persistent in our praying. Mother Teresa said “If you want to pray better, you must pray more.”
A Prayer For Hanging On
By Sharon Jaynes
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36 NIV).
Just because you don’t see God working does not mean that He isn’t. Jesus said, “My Father is always at work” (John 5:17). The writer of Hebrews notes: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35).
Today, you might be on lap number seven and not even know it. Joshua told them to march around Jericho, but he didn’t tell them how many times they were going to have to do it. He just said to “march forward” and “remain silent.”
Supposed they had stopped on day six saying, “This is ridiculous. I’m not feelin’ it. Not one stone has fallen to the ground. I don’t see any progress. Those folks are probably in there laughing their heads off. I’m going home.” They would have missed the blessing.
I wonder how many times I have missed the blessing because I stopped too soon. Perhaps you’ve wondered:
· How much longer will I have to wait until God brings my prodigal home?
· How much longer will I have to struggle with this unbelieving husband?
· How much longer will I have to endure this dead-end job?
· How much longer will I have to go without a job?
· How many more laps will I have to walk around Jericho before the walls come tumbling down and I can take hold of my Promised Land?
I don’t know the answer to the question of how much longer, but I do know this, tomorrow could be the final lap. Don’t give up too soon.
Can I tell you something? Sometimes I get tired of writing books, posting Devotions, and crafting blogs. But as I sit down to the keyboard, I realize that something I say might be just what someone needs to take that last lap around her walled up promise. So I write. And then someone has the courage and sustenance to take one more lap.
Keep going, my friend!
Lord, Sometimes I Just Get Tired Of Trying. Tired Of Hanging On. Tired Of Believing For A Miracle. Fill Me With Your Power To Persevere. I’ll Take The Next Step And Believe For The Next Day. I Will Not Give Up!
In Jesus’ Name,
The Sound Of Silence
In Martin Luther’s words,
When we try to dictate to God the time, place, and manner for him to act, we are testing him. At the same time, we’re trying to see if he is really there. Doing that is putting limits on God and trying to make him do what we want. It’s nothing less than trying to deprive God of his divinity. But we must realize that God is free — not subject to any limitations. He must dictate to us the place, manner, and time.
The Impact of Prayer
1 Thessalonians 5:15-17 (NKJV)15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,
Prayer is the lifeblood of an intimate relationship with the Father. But believers often have questions about its power and effectiveness. Don’t hesitate to take your queries to the Lord, dig into Scripture for answers, and seek the counsel of a trusted spiritual mentor. Prayer is too important to neglect.
Will God’s plans fail if I don’t pray?
God is not subservient to believers or dependent upon their prayers. The time we invest in speaking with Him involves us in the work that He is doing in our lives and in the world, but He will carry on without us.Laboring alongside the Lord is our privilege.
Does my prayer (or lack thereof) impact God’s work?
I believe that Scripture indicates the answer to this question is both yes and no, depending upon the situation. There are times when God’s purpose is set. He is in control and has determined the best course. In the Old Testament, the Lord often prophesied what He would do and then brought those events to pass.
In other cases, “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). There are some good things that He holds back until we put out prayerful hands to receive them. But because God is a loving Father, He also pours out blessings that we wouldn’t even think to request.
Believer’s prayers have tremendous impact, particularly on their own faith and life. Do you understand what an awesome privilege it is to kneel before the all-powerful Father and know that He listens and will respond? God loves to be good to His children and answer their prayers.
I’m sure that we have all, at some time thought that our prayers weren’t even getting out of the room. There is a saying that my prayers just hit the ceiling and fall back down. It’s as if God doesn’t hear, or care. It’s like talking to yourself, there’s nobody there listening. It’s like the times when you’ve done something that may have hurt somebody and they have vowed to not talk to you. You try talking to them even apologizing and all you get is silence. You keep trying and nothing. It’s frustrating to the point that you stop trying to talk to them. That’s what happens when we pray for something especially something very important to us like health, shelter, resources for life and nothing changes. It doesn’t mean that we stop praying but we do start to think what difference does it make God isn’t listening or if He is He’s not answering. There was even time Jesus felt that God had abandoned Him and fell silent.
Matthew 27:45-46 (NKJV)45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
He wasn’t the first one to say that. That comment is quote from Psalm 22:1
One comment in our book that I think says it all “I believe God is present in the midst of our brokenness. I just wish I could feel that presence”.
We are not alone in feeling like this. The books of Psalms, Job, Lamentations, talk a lot about people going through difficult circumstances wondering where God was.
Psalm 13:1-6 (NKJV)1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;4 Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him"; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.6 I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 22:1-4 (NKJV)1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.3 But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.4 Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them.
Job 23:8-9 (NKJV)8 "Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;9 When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.
Just like when a friend stops speaking to us we often blame ourselves. “Was it something that I did or said”? Again the feeling of unworthiness. But don’t stop praying.
Sometimes we are praying selfishly wanting to talk to God on our terms not His. Are we looking to further our relationship or just the results of that relationship? One guy said that in our approach to God we should seek Him first and not our own happiness because if we seek Him first we will find happiness.
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
That includes happiness. This is one of our favorite scriptures
Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Rather than dwelling on why God is silent, maybe we should think about what we can learn from His silence.
There is a comment in the book on page 204 by Henry Blackaby “You can respond to the silence of God in two ways. One response is for you to go into depression, a sense of guilt, and self-condemnation. The other response is for you to have an expectation that God is about to bring you to a deeper knowledge of Himself. These responses are as different as night and day.”
When we talk to somebody we always want a definitive answer, and that’s what we would like with God. When we ask God to show us His will, we don’t mean to show us where we can find, or learn Your will, we mean we want a specific sign, like go to this place at this time for this reason. That could happen but in most cases it won’t. An interesting observation from our book on page 205. In the Gospels people approached Jesus with a question 183 times whereas He replied with a direct answer only three times. Instead, He responded with a different question, a story, or some other indirection.
John 3:4-12 (NLT)4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony.12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
John 14:5-7 (NLT)5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
Luke 10:29-30 (NLT)29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
Evidently Jesus wants us to work out answers on our own using the principles that He taught and lived. Prayer, I find, often operates in the same way. In the difficult and sometimes frustrating act of pursuing God, changes occur in me that equip me to serve God. Maybe what I sense as abandonment is actually a form of empowerment.
What we really want, and the reason that we get frustrated and think that God is not listening is that we want things to happen the way that we want and when we want. I’ve been looking for a way to talk about this tendency in us and I found something that Martin Luther said. This starts on page 209:
“When we try to dictate to God the time, place, and manner for him to act, we are testing him. At the same time, we’re trying to see if he is really there. Doing that is putting limits on God and trying to make him do what we want. It’s nothing less than trying to deprive God of his divinity. But we must realize that God is free - not subject to any limitations. He must dictate to us the place, manner, and time.
When we are not hearing from God we can lean on the faith of others. I know that we always ask others to pray for and with us, and when we aren’t hearing from God it’s even more important that we lean on others. The Bible talks about the importance of fellowship with others.
Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT)19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
The early church was always together praying for each other.
Acts 2:42-47 (NLT)42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity--47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
James 5:16 (NLT)16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Galatians 6:2 (NLT)2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Forget about pride at these times.
When we feel that God is not listening we can always look at the Bible for others who may have gone through similar times where God appeared absent. We can lean on the fact that God is faithful, just and loving. The best example is Jesus.
On page 210 Phil says “Prayer invites us to rest in the fact that God is in control, and the world’s problems are ultimately God’s not ours. If I spend enough time with God I will inevitably begin to look at the world with a point of view that more resembles God’s own. What is faith, after all, but believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse?”
Next week we’ll start talking about Prayer Dilemmas - Who’s fault is it when prayers aren’t answered (16), then living with the mystery of unanswered prayer (17), the dilemma of prayer and physical healing (18) why are some healed as answer to prayer and others not?, then the dilemma of what should I really pray for? (19)