Prayer and evangelism

I’m still slowly working through my study on prayer.  I really don’t do it often enough. Generally, I read the Word, but I don’t actually spend enough time studying it.  When I do, though, it’s sweet.

I did this particular study at the laundromat on Sunday.  (I recently moved and no longer have a washer and dryer.)  The study was on persevering in prayer.  How do we do this?  The author said it is by thanksgiving and praise. (Phil. 4:6-7, Col. 4:2, 1 Samuel 1-2, etc.)  Only when we thank God for His good, unchanging character and praise Him for His mighty deeds and His holiness, only then will we have the strength to persevere in praying for what we have longed for but have not yet received.  God wants to be praised and thanked just as much as I, in my sinful pride, desire those things. The difference is, He deserves the praise and thanks for He is good, while I am merely a sinner.

The other thing I learned is that when we receive what we have so earnestly prayed for, we are to look past the gift and praise the giver.  How often do I thank God for what He has given me and not thank Him for who He is that He delights in giving me the desires of my heart? Or what is more, how often do I praise the LORD to others for what He has done, yet I do not incline my heart to Him to thank Him.  LORD, may I turn my heart to you when you bless me!

Answer to Prayer

Just a quick note to say one of the things for which I am thankful this Thanksgiving. During the past summer, I began praying fervently for people–or even a person–with whom I could sit around and discuss theology. I was at a church where no one seemed to want to do that–or at least did not have time for it. Then I started attending a PCA church. I was so blessed tonight by some of the college students! I called one guy to tell him happy birthday, and he invited me to his birthday dinner. Imagine my joy when we sat around the table at Old Chicago talking about theology! Then, a few of us went back to my friends Sam and Nat’s house and talked about theology some more.

What an amazing answer to prayer! It was great to have (relatively) young people my age sit around for four of five hours and just discuss deep questions and talk about the Bible and God and Schaeffer and the worldview of architecture. It also was great to see some young men being courteous, chivalrous, and respectful. I’m blessed to be getting to know these guys and gals better!

I’m seeing even more God’s sovereignty tonight. I prayed that prayer close to five months ago now. At first, I thought that God was not answering my cry. But He was–He answered, “Wait!” God has been teaching me that not every answer to prayer is a granted request. Sometimes it is no (as much as that hurts), sometimes it is wait, sometimes it is trust, sometimes it is, “I’ve got something even better for you!” I’m so grateful now that I’ve found a group of godly friends with similar interests. Now I’ll just keep praying for God to let me continue to grow closer to these men and women!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! What are you thankful for?

Looking past the stops while reading the Bible

For the past month or so, I have been slowly doing a Bible study on prayer.  The study is called Becoming a Woman of Prayerby Cynthia Heald, published by NavPress.  Today’s study was on the roll of the Spirit in our prayers.

 The first question reads, “God knows our weakness in prayer, and He wants to help us.  How do the following Scriptures describe His support?” The first Scripture is Romans 8:26-34.  Now, for all of my undergrad, I used an NIV Zondervan Study Bible.  This particular Bible places a section heading at Romans 8:28.  Being a fairly new Christian with no knowledge of that point of the original Greek (and not knowing that in the Greek, there is no punctuation), I always started reading the last half of Romans 8 with the thought that “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” I had always taken that verse as the beginning of a new section and topic in Romans. Imagine my surprise today when my study asked me to start at verse 26

When I began at Romans 8:26, 8:28 took on a new light. (I’m still working this out in  my mind and plan to meditate on it some more, so bear with me as I ramble through it on here.)  8:26-27 say that the God searches our hearts, where the Spirit resides once God regenerates our hearts and we become followers of Christ.  This Spirit inside of us is so closely intertwined with God the Father that the Father knows intimately the mind of the Spirit.  Likewise, the Spirit also knows our hearts and our minds.  He knows God’s will, and He places God’s will on our hearts.  The greatest part, in my opinion, of these verses is that the Spirit intercedes on our behalf to God the father “with groanings too deep for words” (NASB).  How wonderful it is that God knows our hearts because the Spirit knows our hearts.  The Spirit is the means of communication between our hearts and God’s heart.  So often I will say, “I don’t know how to pray,” or “I don’t know what to pray.”  God’s Word promises that the Spirit will intercede on our behalf and make the prayers of our hearts known to God. 

 Now, moving into 8:28.  The word begins with the word “And.” I believe that we can also read this word as “In addition to what was just said.”  The verse reads, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (NASB).  In light of the previous discussion, I have come to think that God works all things together for good because of the Spirit interceding on our behalf. So often I pray for things selfishly that are not good for me in light of God’s sovereign plan for me and in light of eternity.  However, because of the Spirit’s power, God hears the perfect prayers of the Spirit on my behalf, not my imperfect, selfish human prayers.  The Spirit, being one in essence God, knows the will of the Father and knows fully God’s sovereign plan for my life.  Because of this, God’s sovereign plan is perfectly worked out in my life by means of the Spirit’s intercession. 

 God revealed to me today through the Spirit new insight in Romans 8:28, a verse I have had memorized for years and that I quote constantly.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Oswald Chambers:

“God searches your heart not to know what your conscious prayers are, but to find out what is the prayer of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God needs the nature of the believer as a shrine in which to offer His intercession.”

Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit for His sovereignty in our lives and for providing us wisdom!