Faith Needs Prayer (Matthew 26:35-41)

Have you ever made a decision of faith, but then never follow through with the action of it? Maybe you sat in church, listened to a sermon and made a prayerful decision that never came to fulfillment. Possibly in devotions, the Lord impressed upon your heart as you read the scriptures and spent quiet time with him and you never moved beyond that. Why? Was your decision insincere? Was it simply an emotional decision and not a truly faith one? If it was real, why didn’t it happen?

After eating the Passover meal, the Lord revealed to his disciples that he would be smitten and they would be scattered. Peter responded that he would not be offended in him and that he would rather die than deny Christ. You probably know the outcome that he denied Christ three times and then wept bitterly. He had faith and failed terribly.

Why did it happen? We know the type of relationship that Peter had with the Lord and we also know the greatness of his faith by walking on water with Jesus and also bring the first to proclaim that he believed Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. But with all that faith, why did he fail?

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus being full of heaviness in heart and mind, petitioned Peter, James and John to pray with him. When he returned to them sometime later, he found them asleep. He questioned them as to why they could not pray with him and then admonished them by saying, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Peter, whether he knew it or not, was in a battle. Events were going to transpire that would keep him from standing strong in his faith. Jesus provided to him exactly what he needed in order to be victorious and that was prayer. Peter, great in faith, had a spirit which was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, but in order to carry out the actions of his faith, he would need his body and its faculties to cooperate with him at standing strong and speaking out loud his faith to Jesus’ captors and those he would meet over the next 18 hours and beyond. For that to occur, he would need to pray. It wouldn’t be some short mumbling of words, but instead a battling place where he would petition God for his grace, strength and courage. Had he done that, the outcome would have been different and Jesus would have never made the statement about his denial.

Our lives are no different than Peter’s. We have faith and in our hearts we make determinations and proclamations concerning that faith. However, decisions are not enough. As we face the constant battle with the world, the flesh and the Devil with his aids, we need to spend time in prayer with God. The flesh never wants what is spiritual. As we pray, we are strengthened in the inner man. Our spirit and soul are in harmony with the leading of God’s Holy Spirit. The stronger the inner man becomes, the weaker the flesh is. Prayer or spending time communicating with God and fasting, which is a denial of the body and flesh of what it wants, will strengthen the inner man and weaken the flesh. Remember, it is prayer that enables you to fulfill your decisions of faith.

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41)

When you make a decision of faith, don’t just stop there. Create check points throughout the day for you to stop, seek God’s face and ask him to provide his strength to you. The greater the faith decision, the more prayer will be needed. You may need to petition others to pray with you just as Jesus petitioned Peter, James and John. The battle you face is important and you can be victorious because the Lord would not have impressed upon you to make that faith decision if you could not do it.

It is not terrible people who make faith decisions and then fail to follow through with them. It is people, who lack strength, who fail to live up to their faith. Prayer is what you need so that you can actualize your faith. Have faith and remember, you must pray.

Waiting on the Lord (Psalm 40:1)

It is important to wait patiently before the Lord. When you do, you are performing three important acts.

When you wait on the Lord, you knowledge him as your sovereign Lord. By that, you recognize that he is in complete control of all events that take place and regardless of how they appear, you believe he will use them for good and his glory.

When you wait on the Lord, you are exercising your faith and when I say exercise, I mean exercise. Each time that you place your faith in the Lord, you are strengthening it and also developing the closeness of your relationship with him. Your relationship with God is what gives your faith strength. This comes from his word (Romans 10:17) and also his joy (Nehemiah 8:10).

When you wait on the Lord, you are relying on his love. God is love and everything that he does for you or allows to happen is motivated by that love. When we cannot understand or see the workings of his love in his actions, it is then that our faith must moves us to wait on the Lord.

Waiting on the Lord will always bring his results. When we fail to wait on him, we act on our own independently of God. These actions are works of the flesh motivated by the emotions that we experienced in the trial.

So instead of allowing your emotions to drive you to disobedience, instead allow God’s working through your faith to lead you to rely on him who on countless times has guided, comforted, carried and loved you. He did not fail you then and he will not fail you now.

Upholding Others (Psalm 54:4)

Have you ever been so tired that you just couldn’t stand? If there wasn’t a chair available, you did the next best thing: you leaned against something to give you the support you needed. If by some chance you saw somebody in this type of a condition, you probably would have helped them along by holding them up.

Did you ever think of all the people who struggle so much with life that they just can’t stand any longer? All of life‘s hurts, struggles, disappointments—and for some trauma—continue to bear down upon a person‘s heart. Some choose to end their lives as a way of escape. Others successfully find the help and support they need.

Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. (Psalm 54:4)

The support and help these people need are other people. They need the strength that others have to be shared with them and when this happens, their inner being or soul gains strength. Your actions of love—whether they are words spoken or written—bring strength to those who cannot stand alone. Any act of kindness can help those who are crumbling under their life‘s condition. You may not be able to do a thing about their circumstances, but you can be an encourager.

As you go to work, social events and church, look for the people that God brings to you for encouragement and share your strength with them.

Brace Yourself!

Brace yourself! This is the phrase that we use to prepare ourselves for some impending negative event. It may be physically holding on to something in preparation for jolting or even a collision. It could even relate to preparing yourself for news that may move you emotionally.

As bracing yourself may seem to work in the physical world, it does not work in the spiritual. However, what will work is if the Lord braces you.

1 The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;

2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion; (Psalm 20:1-2)

In this time of distress for David, he is looking for the Lord to send him help and strength. The strength he is seeking is comfort and to be held up. Another meaning for the word strength would be to brace. David is not bracing himself for the trial that he faces, but he is asking the Lord to brace him.

When I think of the Lord bracing us for trials, I picture a parent with a child. Imagine a small child in the arms of a father as they face a frightening experience like a thunderstorm. With each flash and bang of the storm, the child buries their head in the father’s chest as the father tightly braces the child. The father’s embrace may not be able to stop the storm, but it does bring security and strength to the child.

As we face the storms of life, God wants to brace us for them. He may not choose to remove the storm, but with his tender embrace, he will provide us the comfort and strength that we need.

Thankfully his loving embrace in these times is based on his mercy and grace. Because of this, we can always count on the father to be there for us. As you face storms in life, bury your head into the chest of your heavenly father and experience his strong loving embrace.

Brace Yourself!

Brace yourself! This is the phrase that we use to prepare ourselves for some impending negative event. It may be physically holding on to something in preparation for jolting or even a collision. It could even relate to preparing yourself for news that may move you emotionally.

As bracing yourself may seem to work in the physical world, it does not work in the spiritual. However, what will work is if the Lord braces you.

1 The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;

2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion; (Psalm 20:1-2)

In this time of distress for David, he is looking for the Lord to send him help and strength. The strength he is seeking is comfort and to be held up. Another meaning for the word strength would be to brace. David is not bracing himself for the trial that he faces, but he is asking the Lord to brace him.

When I think of the Lord bracing us for trials, I picture a parent with a child. Imagine a small child in the arms of a father as they face a frightening experience like a thunderstorm. With each flash and bang of the storm, the child buries their head in the father’s chest as the father tightly braces the child. The father’s embrace may not be able to stop the storm, but it does bring security and strength to the child.

As we face the storms of life, God wants to brace us for them. He may not choose to remove the storm, but with his tender embrace, he will provide us the comfort and strength that we need.

Thankfully his loving embrace in these times is based on his mercy and grace. Because of this, we can always count on the father to be there for us. As you face storms in life, bury your head into the chest of your heavenly father and experience his strong loving embrace.

Did God Forget Me? (Psalm 9:12)

When people forget about you and your needs, it is a hurtful experience. It conveys the absence of love and concern. There are times in our lives when we face trials and difficulties and it appears as if God has forgotten us. We pray and ask for deliverance, but nothing happens. Has God forgotten us?

…he forgetteth not the cry of the humble. (Psalm 9:12)

God has not forgotten you. His love and concern has not been set aside and your life and its concerns have not been mislaid or lost. God has heard your cry, he knows the problems that you face and the heaviness in your heart that you carry because of it.

So, why doesn’t he answer? Why doesn’t he deliver? But he has and he will. God has heard your prayers and is providing the grace that you need. Many of learn the grace and truth go hand-in-hand. It seems that you cannot have the one without the other. God I want you exposed to truth concerning him and buy the truth he will be able to exercise grace in your life. Paul experienced this and wrote about it. God’s grace was sufficient for him because of his reliance on the truth of the power of Christ.

Until your actual deliverance comes, expose yourself to the word of God: read it, listen to the testimony of others, attend church services and listen to the preaching of God‘s word and God will begin working his grace in your life.

How long must you rely on this grace until the deliverance comes cannot be known. Remember as God works in the details of your life, he is also working in the lives of others. He wants to use grace in your life to shine as a light to the lost. He also may be working in the lives of others to bring them to repentance before he moves his hand in judgment or chastening. Until then, you must wait on him. Thankfully because of his grace, you will be able to endure.

…he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.

Not Good to Wrestle

It was a number of years ago when my beautiful and fruitful garden was being destroyed by an intruding groundhog. In an effort to rid myself of the varmint, I bought a muskrat trap and set it in the garden. It was not long until I received a distressful phone call from my wife informing me that a “kitty cat”was caught in the trap. I quickly drove home from the office to attempt springing the cat from the trap and setting it free. However as I tried to get close enough to open the trap, the cat fought vigorously and kept me from setting it free. I eventually removed its strength by covering it with a blanket and then released the trap. He eventually ran free. As I pondered what happened, I ask myself, “I wonder how many times I am like this cat: fighting God because I think he is trying to do some unwanted thing in my life when he is really only trying to help me?

Jacob, who later became Israel, was like that. (Gen. 32:25) He schemed and plotted all of his life-that was until he was all alone and ready to face Esau. God was not going to allow Jacob to continue in his way. He confronted him and physically wrestled him from progressing forward until he recognized his weakness and inability. Man’s pride never allows him to yield so God had to break Jacob. He did this by touching him in the thigh which was his greatest place of strength. He did not break him to make him a failure, he broke him in order to make him a victor.

Jacob went from wrestling against God to clinging to him and asking him for a blessing. By asking for a blessing, he revealed his dependence on God and no longer in himself. He gain the strength of a prince with God by being broken as a man.

We too can be like Jacob. Situations in life that we find ourselves fighting against may be the instruments God is using to break us of our own strength and self-reliance. It would be best that we go to God with these situations and then yield ourselves to him for the work that he wants to accomplish. Whether the problems go away or remain, we—like Jacob—will receive God‘s blessing.

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)