God has given us the privilege of coming to Him with all our requests and concerns. And His Word tells us the prayers of a righteous person can accomplish much (James 5:16). Isn’t that what we all desire?
Elijah is a good example of someone who prayed effectively. He entered into a spiritual conflict with Baal worshippers to prove to Israel that the Lord is the one true God. Elijah’s petition was based on his knowledge of the Lord’s supremacy and an understanding of His will. When the prophet prayed, God responded by powerfully answering the request.
To have an effective prayer life, we must first be righteous through saving faith in Jesus Christ. Before redemption, we were sinners under God’s condemnation (Eph. 2:1-3). But in Christ, we are made new and declared righteous in His sight (Eph. 2:4-6).
For our petitions to be effectual, they must be in agreement with God’s will (1 John 5:14-15). Getting to know our heavenly Father’s character and priorities is the key to a powerful prayer life. As we grow in our knowledge of Him, our requests will increasingly align with His plans.
First, the man selected a tackle box. Standing in his town’s small bait shop, he then filled a shopping cart with hooks, lures, bobbers, line, and weights. Finally, he added live bait and selected a new rod and reel. “Ever fished before?” the shop owner asked. The man said no. “Better add this,” said the owner. It was a first-aid kit. The man agreed and paid, then headed off to a day of not catching a thing—except snags on his fingers from his hooks and gear.
That wasn’t Simon Peter’s problem. An experienced fisherman, he was surprised one dawn when Jesus told him to push his boat into deep water and “let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Despite a long night of catching nothing, Simon and his crew let down their nets and “caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” In fact, his two boats started to sink from the haul (v. 6).
Seeing this, Simon Peter “fell at Jesus’ knees,” urging Him to “go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (v. 8). Jesus, however, knew Simon’s true identity. He told His disciple, “From now on you will fish for people.” Hearing that, Simon “left everything and followed” Christ (vv. 10–11). When we follow Him, He helps us learn who we are and what we’re called to do as His own.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8).
The life of faith begins with a willingness to forsake everything that displeases God.
Abraham is the classic example of the life of faith. As the father of the Jewish nation, he was the most strategic example of faith available to the writer of Hebrews. But the people to whom Hebrews was written needed to understand that Abraham was more than the father of their race; he also was, by example, the father of everyone who lives by faith in God (Rom. 4:11).
Contrary to popular first-century Jewish thought, God didn’t choose Abraham because he was righteous in himself. When called by God, Abraham was a sinful man living in an idolatrous society. His home was in the Chaldean city of Ur, which was located in ancient Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
God’s call to Abraham is recorded in Genesis 12:1-3: “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Note Abraham’s response: “So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him” (v. 4). He listened, trusted, and obeyed. His pilgrimage of faith began when he separated himself from the pleasures of a pagan land to pursue God’s plan for his life.
So it is with you if you’re a man or woman of true faith. You’ve forsaken sinful pleasures to follow Christ. And as your love for Christ increases, there’s a corresponding decrease in worldly desires.
I pray your focus will continually be on fulfilling God’s will for your life, and that you’ll always know the joy and assurance that comes from following Him.
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God for the grace and spiritual fortitude to walk by faith today.
For Further Study
Memorize 1 John 2:15 as a reminder to remain separate from the world.
Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
— James 1:3 (AMPC)
Trials “try” us, and tests “test” us. Most of the time, the purpose of them is to show us who we really are, to reveal character in us.
We can think all kinds of good thoughts about ourselves, but until we are put to the test, we don’t know whether those things have become realities in us or not. We may consider ourselves generous, honest, or deeply committed to a particular truth or ideal, but the depth of these dynamics only reveals itself when we’re under pressure. When we go through trials, we learn whether or not we really have the character and commitment we think we have.
I believe it’s very important for us to really know ourselves; tests are good for us because they affirm strengths and reveal weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to face your weaknesses. God’s strength is available to you specifically for them.
I must say that before my trials worked steadfastness and patience into my life, they brought out many other negative qualities, mind-sets, and attitudes I didn’t know I had. One reason God allows us to go through tests and trials is so the hidden things in our hearts can be exposed. Until they are exposed, we cannot do anything about them. But once we see them, we can begin to face them and ask God to help us.
God does not allow us to go through difficult times because He likes to see us suffer; He uses them for us to recognize our need for Him. Everything you go through ultimately does work out for your good because it makes you stronger and builds your endurance; it develops Godly character; it helps you to know yourself and to be able to deal with things at an honest level with God and take care of those things so you can reach spiritual maturity.
How do you behave under pressure? The next time you encounter some sort of trial or test, decide to believe it is for your good. Placing your trust in God opens the door for Him to work miracles out of messes—transforming your weaknesses into Godly character.
Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, I know that trials and test are meant for good. I trust you to open the doors of my heart to do a mighty work. In Jesus’ name, amen.
It does not say, “The Lord is partly my portion,” nor “The Lord is in my portion”; but He Himself makes up the sum total of my soul’s inheritance. Within the circumference of that circle lies all that we possess or desire.
The Lord is my portion. Not His grace merely, nor His love, nor His covenant, but Jehovah Himself. He has chosen us for His portion, and we have chosen Him for ours.
It is true that the Lord must first choose our inheritance for us, or else we will never choose it for ourselves; but if we are really called according to the purpose of electing love, we can sing—
Lov’d of my God for Him again With love intense I burn; Chosen of Him ere time began, I choose Him in return.
The Lord is our all-sufficient portion. God fills Himself; and if God is all-sufficient in Himself, He must be all-sufficient for us. It is not easy to satisfy man’s desires. When he dreams that he is satisfied, instantly he wakes to the perception that there is still something more, and his longings remain unfulfilled.
But for the believer all that we can wish for is to be found in our divine portion, so that we ask, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”1 We can then delight ourselves in the Lord who allows us to drink of the river of His pleasures.
Our faith stretches her wings and soars like an eagle into the heaven of divine love, her proper dwelling-place. “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”2 Let us rejoice in the Lord always; let us show the world that we are a happy and a blessed people and cause them to exclaim, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
1) Psalm 73:25 2) Psalm 16:6
Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.
“When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 20:1)
The flight attendant asked Maggie what she would like to drink, and she said, “Apple juice, please.” Everyone else was unbuckling their seatbelts and digging in their bags for books or iPods, but Maggie just kept her belt buckled and sat straight up with her hands tightly clutching the loop of her backpack. Her seat was right next to the aisle, and she was trying to keep at least one flight attendant in sight at all times. You see, Maggie hated to fly, especially by herself. Oh sure, there were a hundred or so more people on the plane with her, but none of them were her dad.
No, her dad was probably just getting home now after dropping her off at the airport. They had spent a fun weekend together, even visiting an amusement park. She was never afraid to ride the roller coasters when her dad rode next to her. Now, she was stuck on this plane, thousands of feet above the highest of any of those roller coasters, and no dad sitting next to her. Not a good feeling. And this was how it was going to be, every other weekend – for years, probably – home with Mom in St. Louis one day, flying off to Kansas City the next day to be with Dad.
Do you have someone or something that takes away your fear? Some people are afraid of the dark, and they like to sleep with a nightlight turned on. Maggie is afraid of flying, and of going on roller coasters – but it’s ok for her when her dad is along. There are kids who like to carry a certain blanket or stuffed animal with them because it helps them to feel brave. Some grown-ups feel brave only if they have a lot of money in the bank or if they have good medical insurance. Human beings are fearful. We fear monsters or bad dreams. We are afraid of pain. We are afraid to fail. We are afraid to try new things because we are afraid to fail!
God is not afraid of anything! He does not need to be! Think about it: God is perfect; so He can never sin or make a mistake or let someone down. God is all-powerful; so there is nothing bigger or greater or stronger than He is. God is all-knowing; so nothing is ever a surprise to Him, and He never has to guess how a hard situation is going to turn out. God is sovereign, which means He is always in control of everything that happens. No roller coaster could scare God. Problems that our families have are not a surprise to God, and nothing in the whole world is too hard for God.
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, God promises His people that He is their God and that He will not leave or forsake them. He tells them “be not afraid” because He knows He is stronger than all of their enemies. He is greater than all the things they were afraid of. What do you fear? What “enemies” do you face that might cause you pain or worry? Is there something you are afraid to try because you know you might mess up? If you are trying to love and trust and obey God, you are putting your faith in a God Who is not afraid of anything.
Maggie does not have to be afraid. If she is trusting in God, it is ok that her dad and mom are in two separate cities, and it is ok that neither of them are on that plane with her. Psalm 56:3 has a message for us humans when we are afraid: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Like God has promised all throughout the Bible, He will never leave His people or forsake them. Maggie is not alone on that plane, if she is placing her trust in God. The God of the Bible has no fear, because there truly is nothing for Him to be afraid of. If you are trusting in the God of the Bible, you can be “casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you” (I Peter 5:7).
The God of the Bible has no reason to be fearful, and those of us who trust Him do not need to be afraid, either.
My Response: » What things make me really afraid? Should they? » How can remembering Who God is and what He has done help me to trust Him when I am fearful?
Russia made news over the weekend when they launched a missile into space and blew up one of their now-defunct Soviet-era satellites. The debris from the downed satellite is expected to remain floating in space for at least the next few years, complicating missions for astronauts at the International Space Station and anyone else who journeys beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
As General James Dickenson, leader of the U.S. Space Command, described it, “Space activities underpin our way of life, and this kind of behavior is simply irresponsible.” He then added, “Russia is developing and deploying capabilities to actively deny access to and use of space by the United States and its allies and partners . . . . Russia continues to pursue counter space weapon systems that undermine strategic stability and pose a threat to all nations.”
Irresponsible seems like the operative word in that assessment.
You see, we can’t fully know what motivated Russia to launch that missile but, even if we could, it wouldn’t change the practical consequences of their decision. The debris would still be there, and every other country with aspirations of working in space will now have to deal with that new reality.
The same is often true in our lives.
Consequences beyond ourselves
It’s been said that we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. Most of the time, that statement seems to be made in an effort to encourage people to have more grace for the mistakes of others and to try to see things from their perspective. And that’s a valid application.
It’s also true, however, that it should help us remember that our intentions don’t change the consequences others must face when we make a mistake. It should motivate us to be a bit more introspective and a bit more aware of the fact that every choice we make has consequences beyond ourselves, and we need to be mindful of those consequences when deciding how to act in a given situation.
As Christians, we are called to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3—4).
That “selfish ambition” is not always the result of simply not caring about the needs of others. More often, it comes from an ignorance of the needs of others and how our actions will impact them.
So as you go through your day, ask God to help you be aware of how your decisions will affect those around you. Be intentional about considering the needs of others when assessing how you will act in a given situation.
While I doubt any of us are planning to launch a missile into space anytime soon, the way that you approach your family at home, the coworker next to you, or the person driving next to you can still have practical implications that extend well beyond whatever your intentions might be.