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Jeremiah’s Prayer

OT prayer seriesToday’s culture mocks devotion to the Christian lifestyle and obedience to God’s Word. Declaring the Good News of Jesus Christ is unpopular.  Even sharing the truth of God’s Word and reminding Christians of the consequences of disobedience to God is unwelcome.  When the truth falls on deaf ears it can be heartbreaking, we can feel ineffective, become discouraged, angry, disappointed and selfish in our prayers.

Can you imagine how Jeremiah felt after proclaiming God’s messagesJeremiah'sPrayer and warnings to the Israelites, God’s chosen people?  From his prayers we can imagine his disappointment, frustration, discouragement, and yes, even anger.  Consider Jeremiah’s prayer:

Jeremiah 17:14-18 New Living Translation (NLT)
14 O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed;
if you save me, I will be truly saved.
My praises are for you alone!
15 People scoff at me and say,
“What is this ‘message from the Lord’ you talk about?
Why don’t your predictions come true?”

16 Lord, I have not abandoned my job
as a shepherd for your people.
I have not urged you to send disaster.
You have heard everything I’ve said.
17 Lord, don’t terrorize me!
You alone are my hope in the day of disaster.
18 Bring shame and dismay on all who persecute me,
but don’t let me experience shame and dismay.
Bring a day of terror on them.
Yes, bring double destruction upon them!                                                                
Yes, bring double destruction upon them!

What is evident when you read this prayer?

I saw and heard three (3) things in Jeremiah’s prayer when I read it ALOUD:

  •  Personal relationship. Jeremiah’s attention is on his personal relationship with Jehovah God. It’s personal; it’s all about him (Jeremiah).
  • Emotionalism mingled with faith. He acknowledges his faith in God to heal him because he is distressed, hurt (broken in spirit). He also acknowledges his faith in God to save (rescue and protect) him from the attacks of those who scoffs and mocks him because of his messages and warnings of disastrous judgment from God.
  • Personal defense. He continues by expressing his faithfulness, consistency and persistence in his assignment. In essence, Jeremiah defends himself by saying, “I’ve done my job—I have done what You chose me to do, and I’ve said what You told me to say. Lord, this is Your plan; not mine.”
  • Personal vindication/retaliation. After presenting his defense by reminding God of his obedience in carrying out his assignment, he then ask God to not let him be the object of terror or let him be destroyed. He acknowledges his hope (expectation) is in God alone when the time of disaster comes.  However, he closes his prayer by expressing his desire for retaliation (vengeance) against those who persecuted him for doing his job.   Basically, he unashamedly ask God to follow through with His plan to destroy those who persecuted him.

Important to note:  God does not acknowledge Jeremiah’s prayer!  In verse 19, God gives him another assignment with the command: “GO and stand in the gates of Jerusalem…”

 Can you relate to Jeremiah’s personal conversation with God? Jeremiah’s prayer is really no different than ours when we are feeling overwhelmed in life and ministry, frustrated by challenges, and disappointed by people who hurt us, particularly those we are trying to help. Sometimes we may feel ineffective, yet we must be careful not to let our feelings of rejection and discouragement sabotage our faith and trust in the sovereignty of our God to the point that we are praying out of emotions instead of our spirit, which should be aligned with God’s will.

The next time you are frustrated, feeling overwhelmed, disappointed and discouraged, how will you pray?

 

Prayers in the Old Testament

I enjoy reading and studying the prayers of patriarchs, prophets and other people in the Old Testament.  There’s a lot we can learn if we spend some quality time studying their prayers.

We’ll start sharing some insights that can help us and enhance our prayer life.  If you would like to get a jump start, read Jeremiah’s prayers (17:14-18; 32:16-25). Read King Jehoshaphat’s prayer (2 Chronicles 20:1-12). Read Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 9:1-19).

This will be a long series, so get ready; you will be blessed.

As always, thanks for visiting!

thePrayerCoach

#5 – Lack of Faith

Lack of faith – Praying without believing makes no sense.  It is because you believe and trust the God you are in relationship with that you pray to Him. “But let him ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).  When you talk to your heavenly Father, you should have an attitude of expectancy like a child that asks his/her loving earthly father for something.  A child expects daddy to provide and protect. “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you HAVE received them, and they shall be granted you” (Mark 11:24).

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Prayer of Petition

Prayer of petition is also referred to as supplication.  These are requests that include our personal needs and the needs of others (intercession, which we’ll discuss in another post).  In our petitions, we ask God for whatever needs that concern us; e.g., physical (natural), psychological, spiritual, emotional.  Some scriptures that support this element of prayer are: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Samuel 1:27.  (There are more; feel free to research yourself).

Also, in Jesus’ model prayer recorded in Luke 11:1-4; Matthew 6:9-13 is this element of prayer—petition (supplication, requests)… “Give us day by day our daily bread… forgive us our sins…do not lead us into temptation…”

These are petitions (requests) made to Father God.  Prayer of petition should be intentional on our part for the purpose of appropriating God’s gifts and resources in order for us to fulfill His purposes by working in and through us.  If our motives for asking are wrong, we won’t receive. This is essence what James meant when he said (paraphrasing) we ask and don’t receive because we ask “amiss” (improperly, wrongly), namely for selfish reasons (James 4:2-3).   

Petition is a privileged element of prayer; therefore, we must be mindful that what we’re requesting (asking) God for is in accordance with His will and purpose.  One important note to remember is that He knows what we need of even before we ask (Matthew 6:8).  Ultimately, the prayer of petition is a privilege that comes with being in relationship with a loving and caring Father.

Below is a sample Prayer of Petition:

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the privilege of coming boldly to Your throne of grace in the Name of Jesus, my Savior and Lord. According to Your Word I am making my requests known to You knowing that You already know what I need.

Father, I ask that You renew my strength so that I can wait patiently upon You. I ask that my ears and eyes are opened  that I might see,  hear, know and understand Your Word so that I can walk in obedience to Your commands, and share with others.  I ask You to make me alert, awake and attentive in Your thoughts and ways, so that I’m not easily deceived by the enemy. I ask that you help me to be disciplined and a good steward over all that You’ve entrusted to me for my consumption, to bless others and  Kingdom purpose. Above all, Father, I ask that my family (name them) would receive Your Son, Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord; that they completely surrender their lives to Him in full assurance of the atoning blood that He shed on the cross. Thank you, Father, for the privilege of prayer.  I pray with thanksgiving, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 NOTES

  • Even in prayers of petition, you should spend time repenting, thanking, praising and worshiping Father before you start asking for anything.  This is important to gain access into His Presence (Holy of Holies)  and enter into His courts; it positions you in the spiritual realm and gives you clarity in hearing the Holy Spirit give you what to pray for; yes, even your needs.  This way, what you ask for will be aligned with His will.
  •  We have the privilege of asking; however, God’s sovereignty gives Him the right to grant or deny our petition based solely on His will, His plan…His purpose (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

Learning from Habakkuk, Part 3 (Conclusion)

Objectives:

1) To provide prayer coaching insights to inspire and encourage you to keep praying in spite of external circumstances and even though present conditions seems to worsen;

2) Enhance your knowledge about your position, perspective and perception of prayer;

3) Provide wisdom and understanding to new converts struggling to develop and maintain a consistent prayer life;

In part two we learned that after God shared His plan with the prophet, he repented for being rash in his approach and dialogue with God. Although he didn’t understand God’s plan to use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to chastise the nation of Judah, he accepted God’s decision and would have to TRUST God.

We learned that we should get in position , watch and pray to see and hear from God. Now, here we are at the conclusion of the lessons to be learned from Habakkuk. 

After God shared with Habakkuk what was ahead for Babylon—destruction even for the wicked nation He used to chastise Judah, the prophet understood that no one is exempt from God’s judgment.  In chapter three, we find the prophet praying in sung.  Yes. His prayer was sung. It was a plea for mercy!  At the core of intercessory prayer is the cry for God’s mercy. After his plea for mercy the prophet concluded with praise for the Mighty God (3:1-2).

So often, we don’t understand or like how God brings about justice, or works to bring His plans and purposes to pass. Yet when we see the outcome, or even grab hold to the promise of a victorious outcome, we can only marvel at His wonderous works and give Him praise.  This was the case with Habakkuk. Again, this is why prayer is so important.  Having a relationship with Him where you can approach Him and have dialogue. Communicating with the Almighty God positions you; more important, it conditions you to agree with His plan and trust Him to always do what is just and right for everyone concerned.  And the one thing that helps condition you to say, “Yes” to His will and way of doing things is PRAISE!

In all your prayers always praise!  In essence, Habakkuk concluded by saying, all that I’ve heard that’s going to happen is fearful, but I’m going to wait in expectation of what God has said. Although disaster and destruction is coming, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength!  He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights (Habakkuk 3:16-19).

What can we learn from this? Align and agree with God’s will and the plan He uses to fulfill His purposes. Posture yourself in prayer to be conditioned for whatever He allows. Even if disaster and destruction comes upon us, know that God is just.  Because of your relationship with Him, you can trust His plan even if what He has shared has terror shaking consequences.  Nevertheless, give God praise for He is Sovereign and He is your strength.

Remember when praying always praise!

 

 

Learning from Habakkuk, Part 2

Objectives:

1) To provide prayer coaching insights to inspire and encourage you to keep praying in spite of external circumstances and even though present conditions seems to worsen;

2) Enhance your knowledge about your position, perspective and perception of prayer;

3) Provide wisdom and understanding to new converts struggling to develop and maintain a consistent prayer life;

In part one we know that the prophet Habakkuk poured out his complaint to God concerning the conditions in Judah…the sin, idolatry, violence and wickedness that had become the “norm” for God’s people.  His major complaint was God was doing nothing about the sin and lawlessness that was going on (so he thought).  However, God did answer in a vision and told Habakkuk His plan to use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to chastise the nation of Judah.  In Habakkuk’s dialogue with God, a vivid descriptions of the Babylonian’s characteristics were given—bitter and impetuous (hasty), scoffers, proud, takers, dreadful and violent.  God told Habakkuk what the Babylonians would do—they would march through the breadth of the land to take possession of dwelling places that didn’t belong to them…they would take prisoners and destroy.  They would be no match for Judah nor the surrounding nations. Of course, this plan of God bothered Habakkuk even more.

Isn’t it just like us to inquire of the Lord, seek Him for directions, asking to know His plan? Then when He shares the details, or give us a mere glimpse, we don’t like it; we don’t understand it.  So it was with Habakkuk.  This made no sense. Why would a just God use such a wicked nation as Babylon to bring judgment upon wicked Judah?  Probably right here is where I should remind you of what God told the prophet Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). God has a way of doing things that are beyond our finite comprehension.  If His ways and thoughts were equal to ours, He could not be God!  So, yes His plan to use a cruel and wicked nation to bring judgment against Judah was baffling.  It’s baffling today to see how God chooses to work in the affairs of men.  Too often, we “think” we have the answer; got it all figured out, and He has to show us our limitations without Him as the all-knowing and all-powerful God.

After He shares His plan with Habakkuk, the prophet has a list of “why’s” for a God who is the Holy One from everlasting.  Then he comes to his senses and admits he has been rash in his approach and dialogue with God.  But the lesson we can learn from Habakkuk is to get in position …stand upon your watch…get in place…be a watchman to see and hear from God.  Always be in position for dialogue with the only One who has all the answers, knows everything and is always working out His plan and purpose.  Like Habakkuk, expect God to answer, even if His answer is to reprove you.

Stay tuned for the conclusion….Part 3.

APPLICATION:

What have you been praying about , and when God answered, it was unfavorable, not what you expected or wanted to hear? How did you handle it?

How will you use this lesson from Habakkuk to enhance your prayer life?

Do you consider yourself a “watchman” or do you think it’s a term just for prophets?

What does “get in position” mean to you?

Learning from Habakkuk, Part 1

Objectives:

1) To provide prayer coaching insights to inspire and encourage you to keep praying in spite of external circumstances and even though present conditions seems to worsen;

2) Enhance your knowledge about your position, perspective and perception of prayer; 3) Provide wisdom and understanding to new converts struggling to develop and maintain a consistent prayer life; 4) Give you a Rhema Word from the Lord about prayer.

Hear the Word of the Lord, “Tell my people do not be dismayed by what they see.  My plan is in motion to bring about My purpose. You keep praying, keep asking, keep believing, and keep trusting (resting) in Me.  The Word I have spoken shall stand forever!”

The question many are asking is the same concern the prophet Habakkuk asked God…basically, how long will I have to pray and you don’t answer and do something about all the evil and injustice that’s going on… Read it for yourself, Habakkuk 1:2-4:

How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
3 Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
4 The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
so that justice has become perverted.

The first thing I noticed is that God did not rebuke the prophet for his inquiry.  This helps to understand that God does not despise questions when they are brought to him from an honest heart in prayer. The truth is it is the responsibility of the prophet (five-fold ministry leaders), men and women of God to inquire of the Lord.  Address your concerns to Him, and express your innermost thoughts so that you can get “first-hand” knowledge, insight and revelation from the mind of God.  This is what Habakkuk did —went to Adonai, expressed his concerns, presented his case to God from his perspective, based on his perception of present circumstances and waited in confidence for an answer.

NOTICE I said Habakkuk presented his case from his perspective based on his perception of things.  Whenever you go to God with complaints, or concerns that suggest His inactivity, it is usually from your viewpoint because you’re looking at present situations and circumstances that cause you to question God’s control and sovereignty.

Nevertheless, God will answer us.  Although His answer may be perplexing, and His way may not be comprehensible to us, we can rest assured that His purposes will prevail (Proverbs 16:4, 19:21).

I encourage you to study the setting in the Book of Habakkuk to get a better understanding of the conditions.  Basically, Judah had sunken deeper into sin and idolatry. All Habakkuk saw was wickedness and injustice; and it appeared as though God was doing nothing about it.  Not only that, but when God showed Habakkuk his plan, it didn’t make sense to him—using the cruel and wicked, idolatrous Neo-Babylonians to judge His people—using the wicked to punish the wicked.  Although it may seem as though nothing is changing for the better, always know God is working. And His plan is always laid out to bring about redemption, restoration, reconciliation, and relationship.  (Read God’s reply to Habakkuk (1:5-11).

Application:

How can you relate to Habakkuk’s complaints to God ?

What have you been praying about for a long time but have seen no change?

Gleaning from this insight, how will you approach God differently in prayer?

Was this helpful?  Leave a Comment; your feedback is welcome.

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