The psalms are full of prayers of supplication, cries in distress, and instruction on how to approach God in prayer. I go to them often to remind myself of the lessons in them. (Read Psalm 28)
Scripture Lesson on Prayerlessness
Text verses: Genesis 25:21-23, 27:6-8, 11-14, 41-45, ch. 32:24-31,
In the story of Jacob and Esau we see a sad series of events, many of them needless, because those involved did not pray, and decided to take matters into their own hands. There are lessons for us to learn in this story.
If Jacob had not obeyed his mother's treachery, God would have fullfilled his word concerning Jacob in an honorable way. Taking matter's into our own hands bring us nothing but needless trouble, and heartache.There is no recording in the bible of Rebekah praying and asking the Lord what to do about this, she would have saved herself and Jacob a lot of misery if she had.
This plagued Jacob all of his life, thru his dealings with Laban over Rachel and Leah. And, again with the treachery of his sons because of their jealousy and hatred toward Joseph when they sold him into slavery, leaving Jacob to think he was dead for 20 years.
In ch. 32 we see the ultimate outcome of the meeting with Jacob and Esau years later.
Jacob cries to the Lord, bowing low with His words, speaking with humility to the Lord, but also reminding Him of the promises made to him when he appeared to him in the past.
Jacob humbles himself, sending messengers before him, with gifts for Esau, hoping for forgiveness and mercy for his family first, and himself.
Here we see Jacob finally stops trying to scheme his way out of a situation, he is facing the consequences, and is dealing with the situation openly and with integrity.
This repentant attitude consummates with the angel, who is really the Lord himself, coming to him in the night alone-where they wrestle together until day break. God deals with us this way many times....alone, in the darkness of trials and adversity.
Jacob's statement "I will not let you go, except you bless me" is an example to us in our walk and attitude in prayer to God.
We have to make up our minds whether we really mean business with God in prayer. A double minded man is unstable in all of his ways, and will not receive anything from the Lord. (Jas 1:8, 4:8)
When we are faced with the adversities of life, despair, hopelessness, anger and fear come on us in waves, it can silence us, and ultimately destroy us. When we willfully manipulate, and scheme it is sin, and separates us from God, and becomes a barrier from Him in prayer.
This is the strategy of the devil; to silence us, and isolate us in our pain, kill our faith, so that we will not go to the Lord with the things that are crippling us. Satan is a creature of extremes, because he knows if he keeps us out of balance, and reeling in one direction or another. We will never experience the true presence of God in our lives if we don't allow God to correct us in this. For those of us who have come out of very sinfull lives, our souls are programmed for evil, but we are numb to this, and do not discern it. The word of God, exposes darkness in us, and re-programs our spirits for the kingdom of God, as we heed it, and allow it to correct us. Our discernment for the things of God, and His very presence, become keener. The more we experience His presence in our lives, the less we will want to sin. But this doesn't happen over night, and the devil uses every thing he can to derail us in our walk with Christ.
Jacob was taught from a young age, by his mother of all people, to use trickery, and manipulation to get his own way. He spent his life living the consequences of his actions. But in Gen. 32, he comes to terms with his behavior, and God himself deals with him, making a lasting change. These are the principles learned by Jacob, and for our lives:
God will break you, to remake you into the image of His Son: Our wills must be dealt with. If we refuse to allow God to break us, we will have no fellowship with Him.
Principles: God has created us for eternity, but we see things in a temporal setting in this world. Our spirits must be taught to see things as God sees them.
God allows tests in our lives not because he needs to see what is in us, or if we will pass them: He already knows. He allows them so that we see what is in us.
Pride feeds our egos, puts us in a prison of isolation, despair, and fear, because we refuse to acknowledge we do not have the answers to our delemna, and cannot solve our problems ourselves. We live in a circle of making the same wrong decisions. The devil loves to use our pride and egos to keep us from the Lord, and living in darkness.
If we do not go to God honestly; and be real with him about what is really going on in us, and the problems we are in, including with people, He cannot help us. We must take our masks off when we come before Him. He knows our thoughts, and what is happening to us, but he wants us to come to Him because he loves us, He is our father. Ps. 139, Ps. 27
Fear is our greatest enemy; especially the fear of what people think and do to us, and death. There are many other kinds of fear, all of them are used by the enemy to keep us from coming close the the Lord. He knows that Love is much greater than fear, and will destroy all fear in us if we fully surrender ourselves to the Lord.
Evaluate: What Is Really In Us
Comment: It has been said that anyone working for God, really doesn't become his best at it, until He gets to the place where he doesn't care if he lives or dies....and is willing to do or say anything God wants to get the job done. I agree with this.
God's favor, His presence is worth anything we may have to correct, or change. Here are some things I look for in myself.
Am I trying to manipulate and maneuver my way into the presence of God, or other people to do what I want-This is evil, and the Lord will not allow it in us. In order to have a face to face relationship with Him, it must be open, and completely honest. We cannot manipulate Him. He views doing this to other people just as bad. He demands sincerity and honesty with other's in order to know his full love, and guidance, and most important to be able to pray in faith. If we harbor any deceit, it is a wall between us and God.
Am I a liar, do I lie on a regular basis, and not realize the seriousness of this in my walk with the Lord-Unfortunately Christians lie all the time. But, God knows our hearts, and we cannot lie to Him, and get away with it. You may not experience His judgment right at the moment, or even for years, but judgment will come eventually. The worst of this is, it causes us to inwardly carry around a seared conscience, a guilty one, and we won't want to be in the presence of God. If you feel repelled by the thought of being in His presence, check out your behavior.....you need to go to Him, and get some things taken care of.
Are the motives of my heart pure, or corrupt, do I always look out for what I can get out this in whatever I'm asked to do, or am I looking for recognition and praise of people-This is another well hidden sin that is rampant in the church, people looking spiritual, and holy in their work, but having deceitful motives for what they do. If you were to ask most Christians if they are guilty of this, they would say "oh no, not me", but it is there. God has corrected me more than once for this, He hates this. It is called hypocrisy.
Am I angry with God for not answering our prayers the way we think He should, or are we harboring unforgiveness toward God, or anyone else in our lives.
We all fail, we all make mistakes, we've all come short of the glory of God. But, there's a vast difference between living a pattern of sin, or a pattern of righteousness. Thank God for His infinite mercy and forgiveness to us all. Honest repentance and turning around in our walk brings restoration and an open door for our prayer's. Once we've had our hearts established in righteousness, once again God's ears are open to our hearts cry in prayer.
We touched on holding a grudge against the Lord in the last several teachings, but is is worth going over again briefly. If we are angry at God for not answering a prayer as we think He should, it holds us hostage to the devil. Early in my walk with the Lord I came to a place where I settled it in my heart, that if I didn't receive something I was asking for, there was a very good reason for it, and God was able to see with much greater wisdom than I, and knew what was best. This isn't always easy, but we must surrender our wills to His, and accept "NO" at times. He is our maker, and we must acknowledge this. As Job I've come to reply in hard times "tho He slay me, yet will I trust Him."
Does the thought of death, and going to heaven trouble me- If the thought of leaving this world and going to heaven disturbs you, causes you fear, is something you dread, something needs to be dealt with. Everything we do down here as a christian is ultimately for this very reason, to be in heaven where God is when our life here is done. I am not suicidal, and intend to finish the work God has given me. But, I am ready to leave here today, if He should decide this is the last day for me here. I want to be in his presence fully, to see Him face to face. I'm looking forward to standing in His courts forever, and beholding Him in His glory, serving him forever.
For many years, I took care of seniors, many of them right to the time of their death. I've seen them die in faith, with peace. And I've seen some die without God, full of fear and dread, but unwilling to surrender to the Lord. My advice to you is, "don't waste any more time if you don't know the Lord. Jesus says "come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." I strongly advise, heed Him. Don't waste any more of your time living for the devil, until he destroys you.
Taking the time once in a while to look into our hearts, and allow the Holy Spirit to show us if there is any of this in us will help us clean out our hearts, and be able to come openly to God's throne with our needs, desires, and things that are troubling us, and know we are being heard.
Once we have repented of things that may come to us as we search our hearts, trust and believe you are forgiven. Don't let the enemy condemn you, or torment you with the same sin. Once it is confessed, it is forgiven by God, and the scripture tells us, he remembers them no more. If He forgets it, we must also. There is no sin so great that His love can't forgive it. There is no bottom to His mercy.
Though he spent much time in prison, Paul wrote this, and amazing testimony to his faith, and the presence of God in his life. Phill. 4:6,7 "Be carefull for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Help us Lord to take these words of Paul and use them in our lives, to help us to always look to you in every situation, because only You have the answers to our needs, and can keep us in lifes adversity. Amen.
(2009 teaching for Teen Challenge)