Intro: concerning the following
What follows is my best attempt at an expository explanation of what He showed me, discussing events of the weekend, some past experiences that set this up and various Scripture passages that are full of relevant and wonderful examples of the related topics.
Some of these things, I’ve been attempting for years and only now really understanding it, so if you can’t understand what I’m saying immediately my advice is to keep trying, keep seeking and keep allowing the Lord to show you things and connect the dots - because He will. We don't all receive things the same way and He's teaching us all at different speeds and we're all at different places in our lives - so keep that in mind. It's certainly taken me a long time to connect these things – this is the work and compilation of years worth of thought, study and notes taken that He's been doing with me - but just because it took years for me doesn't mean it has to with you. What takes years for some people to learn He can do in seconds with others. I firmly believe that. And He gives each of us as much as we can understand and grows seeds for later - nothing is ever wasted.
All I can do is describe my walk with the Lord as best as I can. I trust the Lord will do whatever He wants though that and I pray He somehow expands what I say with Himself and says more than I possibly could, makes sense out of it to people, because otherwise, I'm not sure how any of it would make sense. It's ok - that's His business - and I leave Him to that. That's His job - not mine.
Please keep in mind this note may be flawed. I have just finished it at ~11:05 pm (writing from about 2 - 4:30 pm and 7:30 - 11:05 pm) and haven't had time to do a lot of editing. There maybe spelling errors and the like - I will try to keep that to a minimum. Bear with me - it's quite long (more so than usual, which is saying something) and is a somewhat meandering story - I apologize - I promise it mostly has a coherent point.
Part I: Understanding what I was doing wrong – fighting doubt myself, rather than letting the Lord handle it –and how to fix that
Beginnings: Saturday Morning
The problem: in pain but not able to explain precisely why
And each time it has come close to calling curtains on one of the “Acts” and for me to receive the Lord’s answer, I’ve been able to see the Lord pointing things out to me, His working, and see things shifting and know the time was soon – or suspected it – and each time would get in exponentially more and more pain, as a result.
I couldn’t put into words exactly why I hurt so much – spiritual warfare is part of it – but it just hurt so, so much and was killing me. Sometimes, that just happens to me anyway, with prayer burdens the Lord gives me. They hurt. So. Incredibly. Much. This is a second type of pain that is similar.
Both tend to wax and wane, like a pregnant woman having contractions or something – I don’t know – I’ve never been pregnant – but that’s what I imagine it to feel like. Sometimes, I feel as if I just cannot stand anymore and I’ll be crushed. I want the answer I’m asking the Lord for so, so incredibly much and I tend to get so, so scared, the more it seems that it will happen, that it won’t happen and He won’t really come and it can’t possibly be real.
Thus, the closer I feel the time is that the Lord is going to answer my prayer, the worse the “contractions” of pain get, and sometimes, I’ve felt as if the Lord was squeezing my hand and saying, “Hold on a little longer!” “Release your pain to me!” But I didn’t know how. I just kept being in pain. When I’m in so much pain, I can’t hear Him very well. His voice tends to get drowned out by my agony. Even so, in my weakness, He has always given me just enough strength to stand it.
This has been the case lately. I feel as if He’s doing something I’ve asked of Him a long time ago sometime soon - but I don't know precisely when. And I’m in agony until it gets here – at different times – not continuously – but fortunately, I now understand why I was in pain in the first place, which I couldn’t before understand clearly, and it doesn’t have to be that way.
Finally understanding where the pain is coming from – I’m fighting myself, in a civil war
Essentially, it goes like this:
I’m a logical personality. That means I try to interpret and understand the world through logic, reason, proofs, evidence – things that make sense – that’s my paradigm. Other personalities, I’m told, interpret the world through emotion, the five senses, intuition or other things like that. I find that extremely … illogical. Nothing wrong with it. I just don’t like it and don’t do that.
However, I also have the Lord’s Spirit inside me and He’s given me a different perspective. He points things out to me. He helps me to see and understand things I could never see through logic or even through emotion or intuition. It’s like a sixth sense, almost – a different kind of intuition. And, unfortunately or not, the Lord isn’t “logical” always. He doesn’t always “make sense.” He wants me to trust Him, even when I don’t understand how He is working or how He will do something. I hate that. Most people do. But me perhaps more so.
If something is logical, that means I can understand it, wrap my mind around it, dissect it and in some measure, control it. If I don’t understand it, I’m not in control, almost. I don’t like that either. But the Lord is all about trust, surrender – He’s in control – it’s a good kind of surrender, because I’m surrendering to Someone who loves me infinitely – but it’s still scary, because, then I’m not in control any more. The only problem is, I never was – it’s an illusion – but I still like to make myself feel like I am. We all do this to some degree, I’m pretty sure.
Crux of the issue: the war
But my logical side defies this intuition and asks, how can you really know the Lord will answer your prayer? You cannot really know. Where are the proofs? That brick wall you’ve asked to be moved is pretty solid looking. How is the Lord going to move it? What is He doing exactly? How does it work? I don’t see how it’s going to work. That’s impossible.
And I desperately want to see the Lord answer my prayer. And I believe Him and doubt Him at the same time, scared He won’t answer, because I simply don’t understand what He’s doing and can’t see the whole process, to watch over it, and make sure it’s happening, and want it so much. I can’t dissect it.
And the closer I get to His answer, the heavier and hotter this war becomes, until there are these waves of incredible pain. Spiritually, I believe and see signs of His moving. Logically, I can’t understand it and it doesn’t make sense, until the two are at each other’s throats – one side saying,
“I see it! It’s going to happen!”
“How? That’s impossible.”
“I see Him working! Did you see that?”
“It doesn’t makes sense. How can you really know??”
“It will happen!”
“No it won’t.”
“Yes!” “No.” “Yes!” “No.” *fightfightfight*
And the war rages, faster and faster, harder and harder, longer and longer, until I collapse in a bloody heap with the answer in my hand. *opens fingers* *there it is*
And my spirit nods, unsurprised, and says, “Of course.”
And my logical side gasps in shock, eyes widening as if a cold hand slapped it across the face and says, “I can’t believe it. How did that happen?” *looks around fervently* “What just happened??” *confused, helpless face* I don’t understand!
What I’m supposed to do: let the Lord fight my doubt for me and not try
A lot of times, believers I’ve known feel like they have to work up faith and if they don’t believe the Lord hard enough, He might not answer. That simply isn’t true. He meets us where we are. He gives us even the faith we need to believe in Him in the first place. He gives us faith for everything – it’s a seed in us that He is growing – and there is doubt too. He knows we doubt. We just need to cry out to Him to fight it for us and give the battle to Him and He will uproot it. He’s the only one who really can.
Surrendering doubt involves merely deciding not to fight it anymore and tell the Lord, “Lord, I can’t dislodge this doubt on my own. It won’t budge. I know you’ve said you’re going to answer me. Please, take it away. Fight it for me – I give you that battle.”
I didn’t really realize before that I was attempting to fight my own doubt. Once I saw it like that, I was able to surrender it. It was incredibly freeing. I discovered that the same thing works for every other uncontrollable emotion – or any emotion whatsoever – that I can’t deal with, as well.
This is not a onetime thing. It might be necessary to repeat every five minutes – every time the doubt or whatever it is surfaces – tell the Lord the same thing and surrender it. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember to do that. I’ve *tried* to do that in some form with various things for years. But the more one does it, the easier and more natural it becomes. And the more one tries to do it, the more it becomes natural and starts making sense.
Part II: The Other Pieces That Helped Me Surrender to the Lord Better
2) The Lord also feeds and satisfies us through His Word. He describes Himself as living water – thirst quenching.
3) It’s important that we praise the Lord continually, even when we don’t feel like it – especially then – for the answers and the victory that He’s given us, as if we have it, even if we feel as if we don’t. Because – actually, we do. We just don’t see it yet. This is praying in faith and helps us claim the promises He gives to us in His Word and personally.
John 7:37-39, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
John 4:5-15, “So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’
11 The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?’
13 Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’
15 The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.’”
Part III: The Rest of the Story
Intro: going to Tower Games and asking the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do
When I got there, I realized I needed to spend time with the Lord in silence before Him, as I did some previously. I was kind of going off “instinct” asking Him to lead me in the Spirit to do what He wanted. I just felt such a tremendous ache and need for the Lord that was sucking me dry. I couldn’t stop thinking about Him and how much I needed Him. I’ve prayed for some time for Him to give me this thirst for Him, and that He would satisfy it. It seems He’s doing that.
Tower Games “happened” to have their back room unlocked – it’s out of the way, dark, quiet, with several comfy chairs and an X-box and TV, for Andrew (store owner) to play games sometimes. It was perfect. I like that room. No one minds if I use it if no one else is.
Firstly, spending time with the Lord in praise
Praise always goes with faith – it really glorifies the Lord and releases His power in our lives.
Related Scripture discussing the importance of praise
Philippians 4:4-8, “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.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."
Acts 16:19-34, “[After Paul through the Lord cast out a demon from a slave girl that her masters used for fortune telling, selling fortunes…] And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”
Comments on Acts passage
2 Chronicles 20:2-24
2 Chronicles 20:2-24, “2 Then some came and told [King] Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria;[b] and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi).
3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from theLord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? 7 Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? 8 And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’
10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— 11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” [Look at Jehoshaphat’s amazing surrender to the Lord. This is the kind of surrender for which the Lord is looking.]
13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.
14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.
20 So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:
“Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever.”
22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.” [Notice that as the people praised the Lord for the victory that they had not yet seen, but believed it as if they had it, the Lord released His victory for them. I don’t believe that is a coincidence. The first people to go out to battle were those who praised the Lord, not the soldiers who fought.]
The passage in Day 30 of the praise book that I read
*This passage is meant to be prayed to Him and also used as a template for one’s own praises, as the Spirit leads.
“I worship You, Lord of heaven and earth, the God who made the world and all things in it! I extol You for the immensity of Your love in sending Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior who died for us, and for all people everywhere. I exalt You because Your plan embraces the whole world and all of time … not just the Middle East, which cradled the gospel, but also Europe and North America, Asia and Africa, the entire southern hemisphere, and every tiny island on the glove. Thank You that Jesus, with His blood, purchased sons and daughters for You from every tribe and language and people and nation … and that You yearn for all people everywhere to repent; You have no desire that any person should spend eternity without You!
Thank You that You made Your light shine in my heart to give the light of the knowledge of Your glory in the face of Your Son… that You drew me to Yourself, and honored me, making me a member of Your royal family and a citizen of Your Kingdom … and that You have enlisted me in Your worldwide task force, to be Your witness. What a high privilege, that You have destined me to have a share not only in Your love but also in Your glorious purposes, both near and far… that You have gifted me for a unique part in Your global search for people who will repent and believe and learn to live for your glory. I celebrate my high calling of knowing You and making You known! And I praise You for giving me Your Holy Spirit to fill and empower me, and for promising to be with me always.
“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.”
Related Scripture by paragraph:
1) Acts 17:24; John 3:16; Galatians 4:5-6; 1 John 2:2; Acts 13:47; Revelation 5:8; 2 Peter3:9
2) 2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 2:19; Romans 12:4-6; Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20
3) Psalm 57:11, NIV
Continuing to Psalm 57
I began “pray/reading” Psalm 57, something Gloria and Amanda at UGA taught me – praying Scripture back to the Lord. They also call it “eating the Word.” They were spiritual leaders / mentors at the house church ministry related to Watchman Nee (the Chinese believer, I mentioned who wrote The Normal Christian Life. The ministry that he started spread to the U.S. and is still flourishing - I found some of them at UGA. They taught me a lot of things I needed to see and had never heard before.)
What is pray/reading and how does one go about it?
Therefore, in doing this, they would pray a sentence – think about it – pray it again – repeatedly – until they felt lead to move on to the next sentence – and pray that one repeatedly, as they did the previous one. Then, they might pray them both together – pray and think about one particular word or phrase that sticks out to them, as they feel led, or pray the next sentence and pray several sentences together, over and over, in different combinations.
If you’ve never heard of this or seen this or done this – I admit – it’s a bit strange and it feels completely strange. But, it kind of makes sense, after a while, the more one does it.
It’s a way of pray/meditating upon the Lord’s truth, really thinking about it – eating and digesting it – in a sense, and letting it soak in. When done in the Spirit, I think He uses it to help transform one’s mind with the Word, to help draw a person closer to Himself.
I’ll have to think about it some more – I’m not really sure what it does, exactly. I haven’t typically done this every day – but – I think the Lord might be bringing me there. Starting out trying to do it at UGA every so often, it felt like a silly exercise that was pointless. But more and more, as my fervent need for the Lord has grown deeper, and especially yesterday, when I was yearning and aching for Him so much, it felt really necessary. I’m not sure how to explain it.
Verses concerning this kind of topic – “eating the Word”
47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me[g] has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”
53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed,[h] and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”
61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
John 1:1-14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend[a] it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.[b]
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own,[c] and His own[d] did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Other related verses
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV), “16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Hebrews 4:12, “12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
2 Peter 1:16-21, “16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed,[a] which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,[b] 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God[c] spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Writing down prayers to the Lord and what came to me – a look at Psalm 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
2 I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
3 He shall send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah
God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.
4 My soul is among lions;
I lie among the sons of men
Who are set on fire,
Whose teeth are spears and arrows,
And their tongue a sharp sword.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
6 They have prepared a net for my steps;
My soul is bowed down;
They have dug a pit before me;
Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah
7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and give praise.
8 Awake, my glory!
Awake, lute and harp!
I will awaken the dawn.
9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing to You among the nations.
10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens,
And Your truth unto the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
Afterward, continuing to the next thing
Streams in the Desert, January 4
“Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe.” Mark 11:24
When you are confronted with a matter that requires immediate prayer, pray until you believe God – until with whole-hearted sincerity you can thank Him for the answer. If you do not see the external answer immediately, do not pray for it in such a way that it is evident you are not definitely believing God for it. This type of prayer will be a hindrance instead of a help to you. And when you are finished praying, you will find that your faith has been weakened or has entirely gone. The urgency you felt to offer this kind of prayer is clearly from self and Satan. It may not be wrong to mention the matter to the Lord again, if He is keeping you waiting for His answer, but be sure to do so in a way that shows your faith.
Never pray in a way that diminishes your faith. You may tell Him you are waiting, still believing and therefore praising Him for the answer. There is nothing that so fully solidifies faith as being so sure of the answer that you can thank God for it. Prayers that empty us of faith deny both God’s promises from His Word and the “Yes” that He whispered to our hearts. Such prayers are only the expression of the unrest of our hearts, and unrest implies unbelief that our prayers will be answered. “Now we who have believed enter that rest.” Hebrews 4:3
That type of prayer that empties us of faith frequently arises from focusing our thoughts on the difficulty rather than on God’s promise. Abraham, “without weakening in his faith, … faced the fact that his body was as good as dead … Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” (Romans 4:19-20). May we “watch and pray so that [we] will not fall into [the] temptation” (Matt. 26:41) of praying faith-diminishing prayers. C.H.P.
Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but simply taking God as His word. Christmas Evans
The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. George Mueller
You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings. God gives us His promises in a quiet hour, seals our covenants with great and gracious words, and then steps back, waiting to see how much we believe. He then allows the Tempter to come, and the ensuing test seems to contradict all that He has spoken. This is when faith wins its crown. This is the time to look up through the storm, and among the trembling frightened sailors, declare, “I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” (Acts 27:25)
Believe and trust; through stars and suns,
Through life and death, through soul and sense,
His wise, paternal purpose runs;
The darkness of His Providence
Is starlit with Divine intents.
Digesting this devotion – comments and a look at some of the highlighted Scriptures
Context of first Scripture: John 4:49-53
“The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
50 Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your son lives.’ So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, ‘Your son lives!’
52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.’ 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son lives.’ And he himself believed, and his whole household.”
Context of second Scripture: Mark 11:11-14, 20-24
11 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.
12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”
And His disciples heard it.[…]
20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.’
22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Related Scripture: James 4:1-3
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet[a] you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
It does bring the Lord glory to satisfy our needs in a godly way. But we don’t ‘need’ a Ferrari – if we do – then we *can* expect it. I can’t imagine such a situation though. The Lord satisfies our needs. He doesn’t give us our every whim, because we want it. That’s what James, I think, is saying here.
This lends clarity to what the Lord says in Mark.
The more we pray, the more the Lord molds our desires to His and gives us His desires and dreams. And when we pray with the heart of God, for those desires He has birthed in us, and He tells us that we have them – as the Streams devotional says – gives us a “yes” in our spirits – then we can trust Him that we do in fact have them. I think that is what Jesus is talking about here. I think I am *finally* understanding it better. As it says here below:
1 John 5:14-15, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
Related Scripture: Mark 9:14-29, Lord helps us w/ our doubt
17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit [i.e. a demon].18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”
19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” 20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.
21 So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”
And he said, “From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,[a] all things are possible to him who believes.”
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”[b]”
Another Scripture: Acts 27, Paul believes the Lord’s promise to him in spite of every evidence that he sees around him to the contrary and receives exactly what the Lord told him, strengthening those with him to believe
And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. 2 So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us. 3 And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care. 4 When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5 And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.
7 When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. 8 Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.
Paul’s Warning Ignored
9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” 11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.
In the Tempest
13 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon.[a] 15 So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive.16 And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda,[b] we secured the skiff with difficulty.17 When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis[c] Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. 18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. 19 On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. 20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.
21 But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. 22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. 26 However, we must run aground on a certain island.”
27 Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea,about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. 28 And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29 Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come. 30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.
33 And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. 36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. 37 And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. 38 So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.
Shipwrecked on Malta
39 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. 40 And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. 41 But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.
42 And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape.43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, 44 and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.
The situation became untenable. They lost all hope. They did not see any and from all appearances that they saw – there was none.
But the Lord appeared to Paul and gave him a promise of safety. Paul realized then, that despite all evidence to the contrary and his original reservations that there could be loss of life, there would in fact be none. Only the ship would be lost.
Paul believed the Lord and praised and thanked Him for this deliverance, in spite of the fact that their ship was in a violent, horrifying storm, and every evidence that they *saw* told them they were surely dead – so much so, that experienced sailors were looking for ways to sneak off the ship and were thoroughly terrified.
And yet, the Lord delivered on His promise to Paul. He provided a way for all of them to survive, even keeping the guards from their purpose of killing the prisoners.
Thus, we can trust the Lord when He tells us in our spirits that He will do something, even if nothing around us seems to give us any hope of that. We can and should praise Him anyway for the victory that is coming – because if He said it – then it will happen – come what may.
Finishing: The Rest of My Prayer Time with the Lord on Saturday – Resting in His love and His releasing me from stress
I’ll try to describe what I felt from Him, but it’s hard, because what I feel in my spirit isn’t always words – it’s images too – and feelings – I just move to what I feel from Him and trust Him to help me to understand what to do. I’ll do my best.
I just told the Lord, “I’m tired.” It was a weary exhaustion of soul, mind and body. I had taken in all I could take. And I felt as if He just told me that He knew I was tired and to put down all my notes, curl up in my comfy chair and release myself to Him in rest, holding an image of Him in my mind, until He told me that it was enough.
Matthew 11:27-29, "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
So I did and fell into a kind of semi-conscious “sleep/rest,” thinking of Him. I imagined Him holding me and as I did, He took over somehow – I don’t know how – and I felt His love welling up in me – all over me, in me, surrounding me and circling me – saturating me, as if He were holding me and rocking me gently.
As I sat there, in stillness before Him, my doubt surfaced and I surrendered that – telling Him I couldn’t fight it and to fight it for me and take it from me – and it subsided into peace, as if He whisked it away. As I continued resting – other things surfaced – fears, worries, stresses, aching, longings – several of those – and each one, I also told Him I couldn’t get rid of and asked Him to take – and He whisked *those* away.
It was amazing. As He took more and more successive stresses that surfaced away, I felt myself relaxing, more and more deeply, until I had oozed into a puddle and there was so much peace, and always His love swirling around me. All the tension and stresses left. Everything left. I cannot recall being that relaxed really ever. It felt so deeply refreshing, I cannot even describe it.
The whole time I felt His voice whispering love over me, constantly speaking – it reminded me of the time during the summer, after my mom’s birthday, when I had the crap scared out of me – during that day also, He was constantly speaking over me. It’s not a voice really – it’s a flow of spontaneous thoughts that come from Him and can be interpreted into words and one can learn to recognize (one has to learn to recognize it and it *does* take time to learn to distinguish one’s own thoughts from those of the Lord – but it can be done – that’s not the subject of this note, however – see Mark Virkler’s Dialogue with God, who goes into far more detail).
I felt Him telling me of His love and that this was what He had been leading me to do for a long time – to release myself to Him in complete surrender, so that He could comfort me and take away all the burdens, doubt, pain and aches that I carried around with me.
I didn’t feel pressed for time. I just rested in Him in utter peace and complete stillness and total trust and surrender and let Him fill me. I deeply, seriously needed it. I cannot remember ever being satisfied with the Lord so deeply – that was one of the first times I’ve ever felt that so perfectly. The closest thing was this past Christmas, when He cloaked me in love, and a few other brief moments, throughout my life.
He told me that being filled with His love and resting in Him like this didn’t have to be a “rare occasion” as I had spoken of it before. It could be all the time, every evening and once a week especially, when I gave myself over to a day of stillness.
He showed me that He’d been telling me to read a chapter of His word in the evenings for this purpose. I had been having difficulty doing so. I thought He had just meant “read and learn more about Me and meditate on it.” He did, in a way. He told me back then, He wanted me to go deeper. I didn’t know what that meant. Now I do.
Let me just say that – someone telling me to “just read Scripture” by itself is somewhat but not very interesting to me. Oh – ho hum – another thing to do. But someone telling me to read Scripture, so that I can sit, rest and soak in His amazing love and peace and let Him take away my stress – is intensely interesting and desirable to me! It gave me a *completely* different perspective on evening Scripture readings and I suddenly had such a greater desire to do what He said, when I understood what it meant.
I asked Him why He would be so good to me and bless me. I just don’t understand this and it upsets me many days, because I don’t deserve it and cannot understand why it should be so – more logic problems – it doesn’t make sense.
He told me, in that moment, He did it simply because He loved me. It wasn’t because I was “oh so great” or better than anyone else or because of anything I did or who I was – it was because He loved me and He loved filling me with joy – just the same as when I did things for people, simply because I love seeing their eyes light up – like making the cookies. I didn’t want people to feel badly about things I gave them – I just wanted them to be really happy and enjoy them, because I loved them. This is how He feels toward me – and I didn’t have to feel badly about His goodness – just accept it, thank Him for it and enjoy it. This is why He’s good to everyone – and what He wants to show everyone – His overabundant, amazing goodness in how much He loves them. That’s what He said.
I’ve also wondered in my life before why the Lord’s love should be anything special, unique or meaningful to me – since He loves everybody infinitely.
He’s told me in answer that though He loves everyone – He made each person completely unique, hand-crafted, hand-made, that reflects His glory specifically in a special way that no one else does and He makes each person for a special purpose. No one is like anyone else. Each person is a work of art of His own design. Therefore, His love is unique and special, for each person. Does one admire a beautiful vase the same as one does a finely crafted crystal bowl? He loves each of us just as much, but differently – if that makes any sense – not differently – but He loves us uniquely for who we are – loves who we are and who He made us to be and everything about us. He doesn’t just have some blanket, non-descript love “for everyone.” That’s what I couldn’t see. That made more sense to me, when He explained it that way last year.
Related Scripture: Ephesians 2:1-10
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ending the day
After I reviewed my notes, feeling thoroughly refreshed and a little dazed, I found John, playing his superhero card game with the Warmachine crew and sat with him until they were done.
It was 9 p.m. when I was done. I had started sometime around 3 p.m. That’s six hours, but I’m pretty sure it must have been more like five. Maybe I started at 3:30 p.m. Either way, it felt more like just one hour. I couldn’t believe it had been that long.
FIN: Final thoughts and comments
Yesterday, He’s showed me that each time I come to Him in this way, in stillness, to meditate upon Him, He’s stretching me a little more, giving me a little more of Him, as I can receive it, stretching me to take in more and go deeper.
So don’t be discouraged if you’re trying to spend time with the Lord and it doesn’t seem to bear any fruit and you don’t even want to do it. Ask Him to give you desire for Him and He will – pray that – as long as it takes to happen – and even then – pray more continually – that He will continuously increase it and satisfy that desire at the same time. He’ll show you that He is what you need – and just how He can satisfy you. But it won’t happen all at once – He prepares us, little by little, to know more of Him and take Him in. If we’re seeking Him and we do what He asks – He will honor that and will get us there. That much – I can say with certainty.
There’s so much more I could write about this weekend, but I feel as if that’s all I’m supposed to say for now. I don’t have much time left to write more anyway, as it is, alas.
I’m so incredibly grateful that the Lord never gave up on me. In fact, now I can see better, with a little more understanding, that all the years I was praying so hard to know Him and I thought He was ignoring me, He *was* actually teaching me – giving me pieces of Him bit by bit, as I could understand them and take them in – and it took a really long time to convince me that He even spoke – but He knew how to convince me – and He knows how to teach each of us – He knows what we need to see and when we need to see it. I didn’t used to believe that. But I’m just starting to see, finally, what He was working toward in my life all this time – and now I know – it’s true – He can teach – and He can take us to really know more of Him – and He can satisfy us – and He can and will answer our prayers – and in doing so – He’s constantly hardening, strengthening our faith, teaching us more of Him, taking us deeper, helping us climb higher, to where He is. I’m just starting to understand – and I’m so incredibly grateful that somehow – somehow and I don’t know how – He gave me enough strength not to give up, so that I could start seeing all these beautiful things I never thought I’d ever, in my wildest hopes to see.
He can bring you there too! If you want it and you ask Him for it – and you keep praying for it – you can count on it – it is a certainty. The Lord’s very purpose is for us to know Him deeply. Why on earth wouldn’t He answer that prayer? It’s just a very organic response that takes time – don’t worry – He’ll take us to Himself as quickly as we are able to bear it. We’re all different and He teaches us all differently because we all need to be taught differently and He has different purposes for each of us – I don’t know what yours will look like – but I can tell you that it’s there and you can trust Him. He really does know what He’s doing, after all.
Final Scripture: Persistence in prayer
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying:“There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”
6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”