In 2 Chronicles 14, the Ethiopians brought a million man army up against Israel. King Asa only had about half of that. He didn’t wait for the Battle to come to them either. He rallied his troops and went out to meet the Ethiopian army. After he got to the battlefield, he prayed, “O GOD, you aren’t impressed by numbers or intimidated by a show of force once you decide to help: Help us, O GOD; we have come out to meet this huge army because we trust in you and who you are. Don’t let mere mortals stand against you!” (MSG) The next verse says that the Lord defeated the Ethiopian army right in front of Asa.
As I read this story, I was reminded that many times when we look at the battles we face, we are outnumbered, outgunned, and often surrounded with seemingly no way out. I’m sure Asa’s scouts told him how big the Ethiopian army was, but he still showed up for battle. Half of any your victory is simply showing up for the battle. When everything inside screams run, we’ve got to show up or we’ll miss seeing what God can and will do. If we want to be victorious, we can’t run from our problems. We’ve got to face them head on.
The other thing I was reminded of is that our battles are not our own. Asa fully trusted God to bring the victory. He didn’t look at the battlefield through his eyes. He saw it through God’s eyes. When he prayed, he already saw the victory because he trusted in what God would do. You and I need to change the lenses that we look at things through. Victory isn’t brought about by our might or our power, but by God’s Spirit. You shouldn’t be intimidated by how big your problems are. They should be intimidated by how big our God is. Show up, pray and watch God fight for you.
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Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. If life is full of anything, it’s full of decisions we all have to make. Every decision we make has ma consequence for good or for bad. If you’ve made some bad decisions in your life and have suffered the consequences, it can make it hard to make future decisions. There are tough questions we have to answer in life. Which college to attend, what to become in life, who to marry, whether or not to apply for a promotion, which church to attend, should we move, and so many more. Each has its own consequence and we want to make the right decision, but how can we know?
There are two things I do each time. The first is to pray for wisdom to know what to do. James 1:5 says, “But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all” (GNT). Often, wisdom comes at the expense of failure and suffering consequences, but God can give it out when we ask for it. It may take some time in prayer, but in the right moment, God often speaks heavenly wisdom through someone or makes the best choice clear in our minds.
Another thing you can do is ask God to give you peace in helping to guide you into making the decision. Colossians 3:15 says, “The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make.” I often pray, “God, if this is what I’m to do, then give me peace. If not, bring unrest to my heart and mind.” God gives a peace that is beyond understanding especially when there are life altering decisions to be made. Praying for this and experiencing it will guide you through some of life’s toughest decisions. God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, and He’s given us tools to guide in our decisions us as we go. We just need to use them.
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Whenever I travel for work, it’s important to stay in contact with my wife. Sometimes when we end up talking I’m at the airport or I’m at dinner or while I’m with coworkers. It’s hard to have good conversations in those places. It’s often noisy, people are trying to get my attention or I’m trying to find where I’m going so I’m somewhat distracted. The best conversations are when I’m away from all the noise in the quiet of my hotel room. Only then can we truly have interruption free conversations where it doesn’t have to be quick snippets.
Luke 5:16 says, “As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer” (MSG). Having intimate conversations with His father while He was here was important to Him. People were constantly vying for His attention and needing a miracle. Often, He just wanted to have a quiet conversation. Many times He had those quick conversations in front of people, but very often we read where Jesus went to a desolate place to pray. If it was important for Him to do that, how much more important for us?
At one point, Jesus told us to go into our closet to pray. I don’t know that He meant that literally. I think what He was saying was that we need to find a quiet place where we can have some uninterrupted prayer time. We can’t always go to an out of the way place to pray, but we can find space to get alone with Him. It may be a closet or it could be before everyone wakes up or after they go to bed, but we each need to find time to get alone with God so we can have intimate conversations with Him. I believe the quality of our relationship with Him hinges on it.
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God does this thing with me where He will wake me up in the middle of the night and want me to pray for certain people. On one occasion, God kept waking me up to pray for this individual. Early the next morning, God said, “Send them a text.” He had a very specific message for me to send. I answered back, “Seriously? It’s weird to text that to a person I barely know.” God kept at it until finally I sent the text. A few minutes later, I got a long text back from that person that confirmed what God was speaking to me.
They had been fighting a hidden battle on the inside, but on the outside they were pretending that everything was fine. The enemy lies to us and tells us to fight our battles that way because he knows that when we agree in prayer with others, God multiplies our strength exponentially. You know the verse that says, “If one can out one thousand to flight, then two can put ten thousand to flight”? There’s power in agreement of prayer so the enemy often attacks us on the inside with the lie that we need to cover it up.
The apostle Paul understood that we often get attacked on the inside. In Ephesians 3:16 he wrote, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit” (NLT). Each of us need inner strength to withstand the attack from our enemy who tries to crush us. We need to remember that greater is He that is within us! You and I don’t have to fight our inner battles alone. God has unlimited resources to help us fight back. Tell a friend who will pray for you and with you until victory is won.
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If you have ever been a kid, or if you have a kid you know what it’s like to ask for something over and over to the point that it’s annoying. As a parent (maybe because I’m a guy), I’ve learned how to have selective hearing. I can tune that voice out, and my kid can ask for days without me hearing him. Selective hearing is about the only thing that keeps a parent sane because kids are always asking for something. The great news for you and I is that God doesn’t have or use selective hearing.
Psalm 116:1 says, “I love the LORD, because He hears [and continues to hear] My voice and my supplications (my pleas, my cries, my specific needs)” (AMP). God doesn’t tune you out when you’re struggling with something and are having to pray nonstop for your needs. Your voice doesn’t fall on deaf ears because He cares about you, your specific needs and your desires. Just like a parent though, God doesn’t always give us as His children everything we ask for. He knows more than we do and sees ahead in time the consequences of the answer we are asking for.
We still need to make our specific needs and requests known to Him, but we also need to pray like Jesus prayed – not my will, but yours be done. God’s “yes” is as good as His “no”. We, like children, don’t like to hear His “no”, but that’s why we pray for His will. He has something better in mind for us in those times. We don’t stop praying in the waiting though. Keep praying. Keep making your specific needs and requests known to Him. He will answer His way, in His time, with His answer because He never stops listening to our prayers. He’s a good Father who gives good things to His children.
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