Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The final five hindrances to prayer
I can't imagine how difficult it was for John Wycliffe, and those like him who in the 1380's translated God's Word under great persecution, into English. The Pope was so angry that Wycliffe had translated the bible into a common language, that long after Wycliffe had died, the Pope had his bones dug up, crushed and scattered in the river! In 1517, despite great opposition from the Church, Martin Luther was the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people. Imagine living in a time in which reading the Bible was illegal!
According to Greatsite.com "Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that in that same year, 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English rather than Latin!" I am so thankful that our Catholic brothers and sisters can now read their bibles without fear!
We really do not appreciate the freedom we have in this country to read the Word of God in our every day language, to teach our children to pray as God leads us, and to attend the churches of our choosing. I wonder if we will still be so free in another 10 years? Let's pray:
Dear Lord, you say in your Word that the devil is like a lion, constantly prowling around seeking someone to devour. Lead us to value your Word, and to protect our rights to openly read our bibles, in our home language and without fear of prosecution. Others have died for so that we can benefit from their sacrifice. Open our hearts now, as we read our precious bibles in your presence, that we will grow in wisdom and in love, amen.
Now, you have been very patient, and I promise today I will complete the final five hindrances to prayer, as discussed in the Joyce Meyer conference. So, let's get started.
Doubt - doubts are initially just thoughts that come up in our minds. They can be accepted and incorporated, or dismissed and rejected. Doubt, like belief, is a choice. God is who He is, or not; God can do what He promises, or not; He is working in our lives, or He is not. What do you believe? Be honest and if you are allowing doubt to rule your heart, ask God to give you the will to believe. Turn with me to Mark 11:23 and record what Jesus said you could do if you believed it with all of your heart: ____________________________________________________________________.
Joyce encourages us to talk back to the devil and tell him to step off! He is your enemy and will use any ploy to get you to doubt God's love as well as the power at your disposal to resist the devil, and win! Don't be a slave to random thoughts. Your thought life is the key to your emotional response, so take charge of your thoughts and tell fear, doubt, anxiety or any other negative spirits they will not define who you are for one more day.Try it now, use authority and righteous anger! Be sure and comment to me your results - I can't wait to hear!
Selfishness - do you ask God what His plan is for your life, then ask Him to give you the strength to fulfill it . . . or do you plan what you want to happen, and ask God to bless it? Be honest. I know for much of my Christian life, I bought into the whole prosperity message that can too heavily focus on material gain. I believed if I was tithing and doing all the things that are pleasing to God, then He would bless me financially. I was speaking my good fortune into being, sisters!
Doing good things is, well, good, but God looks to our heart, to our motives, not to our actions. What about when we do all the right things so everyone around us can see what a good Christian we are? Do you ever catch yourself looking around when you are doing a well-intentioned service for someone else, to see if anyone has noticed? Be honest. I'm ashamed to say I've been guilty more than a few times. Joyce says the best way you can keep yourself straight in this area of approval-seeking, is to check your motives. Are you doing it for people, or are you doing it for God?
Matthew 6:2 says if we are doing things to make ourselves look good to other people, God has no need to bless us, because we are getting what we really want, the approval of people. If we want God's blessing, He wants our hearts. He wants us giving to our churches and to hungry children because we want to make sure we have a place to worship and to praise God, and it breaks our hearts to see children starving and going without. When you are giving because it would offend your heart not to, that's when God is blessing you. Blessings are about far more than money. Too often we see God as a genie who should give us the desires of our selfish, self-centered, greedy hearts, or else we're just not going to believe in Him anymore (now stomp your foot and pout!) Let's be clear: He created us for His plan, we did not create Him for ours.
Read James 4:3 and record here what you learn about why we do not receive answers to prayers that are selfish:________________________________________________ Now read Psalm 37:4.
Does that tell you that God wants you to suffer, or have the desires of your heart? If you are delighting in the Lord, truly loving Him and taking joy in your relationship with Him, what desires are you likely to have in your heart? That's right, the kind He wastes no time in granting!
Lack of love - Have you read the Five Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman? Part of the premise is that we have a love bank, and it needs to be filled up on a regular basis or we won't have enough positive feelings inside to enable us to give to others. The ultimate love bank is God. Unlike people, God never runs out of love. We can take, and take, and take all the live long day and He will always give more.
If we don't have enough of something, how can we give some to anyone else? That doesn't make sense. Personally, I agree with Joyce Meyer that love is a verb, not a noun. How many times has someone who claims they love you, done something despicable to you?
We want to love, not to feel love. Feelings are changeable creatures, and respond primarily to our thoughts. You want to stop that lovin' feelin' real quick? Start thinking about all the ways your spouse has irritated or hurt you? That's right. Still feelin' it?
Christians are called to be known by the way we treat other people. 1 John 3:18 says, "My little children (speaking to all of us) let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." This means by the way we show love to each other in actions, not just inprayer, and not just while the hallelujah chorus is singing at church. You know what I mean.
I challenge you, the way I was challenged during the conference, to get up each day and ask God, who can I help today? When you see your spouse, ask "What can I do to help you today?" I'll admit, I did that today and I was glad my hubby was on the phone and couldn't see me scowl when he took me up on my offer. Hey, I'm on this journey with you, not because I've got it all figured out!
Despite my sometimes reluctance, I have been putting this into practice, and it amazes me that even though I don't want to inconvenience myself a lot of the time, every time I submit my own selfish desires to God, and go out of my way to help, and I mean without allowing myself one thought of how it could end up helping me later, but just step up and be a help, I get this really cool feeling of joy afterwards. It's like God Himself is saying, "I'm proud of you daughter and I love you." Oh yes, it's good.
Refusal to do our part - We can pray all day for the Lord to help us out, then go right out the door and start complaining to everyone we meet about how bad things are, gossip about our next door neighbor, blow off bible study, again, and get into a screaming match with the brother-in-law over whose house we'll be holding Thanksgiving at this year, thank you very much, and yet we are surprised when our prayers don't seem to be getting answered.
I'll ask you, at what point is it our responsibility to put on the armor of God and start walking what we are talking? May be we wouldn't have so many problems to pray about if we did more acts of service for our friends and family than acts of instigation. Ouch. What in the world is the armor of God? Let's read Ephesians 6:11 and 6:13, then continue with verse 14 which tells us the armor consists of t_ _ _ _, r_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, the g_ _ _ _ _ of p _ _ _ _, f_ _ _ _, s_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, the sword of the S_ _ _ _ _or the W_ _ _ of G_ _, and always p_ _ _ ing in the Spirit!
Based on this scripture, what is our part of the bargain, where does our power lie?
The last hindrance to prayer, in this study at least, is a lack of thankfulness and praise. I thought the following was funny when I heard it, but how true it is: "Don't ask for something new if you are still griping about what you've already got." (Joyce Meyer) The best way to get into a spirit of thankfulness and praise, is to start listing, out loud or in writing, all the things that are going well in your life. Recite the prayers that have been answered; list the blessings you've already got.
If you hate your house, declare your thankfulness that you have a roof over your head, and how about that food in the nice cool refrigerator, and that car that gets you from here to there despite the rust on the side panel? Are your kids healthy? I don't know about you, but I've lost a child and I am even more aware of how fragile life is. I thank God every day for my kids and for every moment I have with them, because there are no guarantees in this life, except one day it will end as we know it.
Number two, forgive everyone and anyone who has hurt you. Ick! Now, I didn't say let them hurt you again. I didn't say tell that it is alright that they hurt you. I didn't say have one more thing to do with people that make a career out of hurting others. I said in your heart, let it go and be thankful God will do what needs to be done about them, and hallelujah, they are not your problem anymore. God gave you the gift of forgiveness for you, not for them. You cannot experience joy if your heart is tied up in bitterness. They may have hurt you that time, but if you keep replaying the woe-is-me tape then you are letting them hurt you every day since! Look, I've got some hurtful people in my past, sometimes they try to be part of my present, but when I start getting bitter, I start praising God, saying,
"Lord, I am so thankful I do not have to be a part of that situation any more. I am so glad you are working that person's heart because when they face You and see what they have done, oh, their hearts will break from shame. Lord, I thank you for setting me free from that situation. Lord I am so glad I am not alone, and I don't have to be afraid, because at the end of the day, the sun is gonna shine, my family and I are going to enjoy the grass and the garden, my dogs are gonna love me and most importantly, God, you love me."
Do you see what I mean? Let God deal with those folks who just don't get it. That's the blessing of choosing who you spend time with and who you just let step. Forgive yourself, too. We don't go through this life without making mistakes, it's in our genetic code. You and everyone else on the planet, darling. Is it going to turn back time to keep on hitting yourself on the head about it? Apologize to whom you need to apologize, make any amends you can make, then learn your lesson and praise Jesus that you don't have to make that mistake again!
Last of all, put the Holy Spirit in charge of your case. Joyce says when we keep on putting our case before God, telling Him what this person did to us, and how they hurt us, and how we can't get over it, it is like we are in a court of law. She says, put the Holy Spirit in charge of your case, and let Him do His job. Get out of His way and trust that He has got it handled, in the best way. It might not be your way.
Boy, can I get out my book of suggestions as to how God could handle a person or two in my life, let me tell you. Fortunately, God has plans that are much better than anything I can come up with. As much as it might upset our apple cart, God might actually plan to bring those enemies to Christ! Personally, I hope he sets them down a notch or two on the way to the cross, but that's just me. That's what I mean about getting filled up with the Holy Spirit, left to our devices it's just too hard to show love, otherwise. We need to get it, to give it. Read 1Chronicles 16:34 and Psalm 107:1 and finally, Ephesians 5:17-20.
I thank God for you and ask God to bless you each day as you obey Him and seek Him, and rejoice with you as you find Him! Let's pray in closing:
"Father, thank you for this time we have spent together in your Word. Thank you for making sure we have time each day, distractions are dealt with, frustrations diminished, and inner voices calmed, whenever we seek time with You. Please bless the families of each reader, protect them and lead their decisions as they go about their day. Give us the desires of your heart, Father. In Jesus' name, amen.
See you tomorrow, love, Karen
Photo by Jaimie Duplass, courtesy of photoxpress.com