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Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul, devotionals to help you in your busy life, written by NEWIM board members and staff. 

Filtering by Tag: prayer

Be Careful What You Ask For

Kim Johnson

Go and tell Hezekiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father:‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears;
surely I will add to your days fifteen years.’”
                                                                                                                       Isaiah 38:5 (NIV)

It is an essential principle of our Christian faith that God knows what is better for us than we do. When we pray, we verbalize that belief by asking God to bless according to His will. Yet there is no doubt we have a definite agenda in our hearts when we come to our Father. If we are praying about sickness, we ask for healing. If we are praying for a good outcome for an event, we pray for success. For any number of circumstances, when we take them to God in prayer, we pray specifically. And we should. However, holding on too tightly to our own desires can be costly.

In Chapter 38 of Isaiah, King Hezekiah was gravely ill. In mercy, God sent Isaiah to advise the king that he would not recover, giving Hezekiah an opportunity to “get his house in order.” This is news no one wants to hear and it was no different for Hezekiah. So he prayed, reminding God of his faithfulness and begged for more time. With compassion, God heard Hezekiah’s prayer, sending Isaiah to tell the king He would honor the request with an additional fifteen years of life.

What a gift! Yet as we now know, Hezekiah had no idea there would be extreme consequences for those extra fifteen years. Manasseh was born to Hezekiah and then succeeded his father as king. Manasseh reigned for fifty-five years, the most evil king ever to rule over Judah. He encouraged idol worship, using his own son in the practice. He shed much innocent blood, exhibiting an extreme wickedness that provoked God’s anger. God continued to warn him but Manasseh ignored God’s admonitions. The nation of Judah significantly suffered and was ultimately defeated by the Babylonians. This from a man who would never have been born if Hezekiah had accepted God’s will for his life.

Accepting God’s will in our lives is no problem when the journey is easy. It is where the going gets tough we might find ourselves questioning Him, getting angry with Him or begging Him for our will to be done no matter what. The issue isn’t about openly sharing our deepest desires with the Lord; it is about compelling our compassionate Father to answer according to our will, not His.  He alone knows the future and we can trust Him. It is never wrong to ask but always right to be ready to accept His answer, even when it is no.

In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times
 that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not.
                                                                                                           C. S. Lewis

Passionate Prayer

Kim Johnson

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
                                                                                    —James 5:16b (NIV)

Prayer is a normal part of a believer’s routine. We pray during worship services, for our food, before we fall asleep at night or when we wake up in the morning. We pray at Bible studies, in Sunday school and at prayer meetings. Yet when you look at these times spent “in prayer,” they are brief and short on content. Our busy lives make it easy to fall into the habit of grabbing a quick prayer time much like we grab a quick meal at a drive through. And those prayers can become like the dollar we put in a machine to buy a soft drink. Fast, easy and especially all about us. So what else is there? 

The Bible is replete with verses instructing us to pray, how to pray and what to pray for. A Google search will bring lots of formulas and quick instructions for framing the words to say. Yet for many the practice of prayer never goes beyond a few minutes. In Isaiah 59:16 however, we find that God is looking for someone to go deeper. He is looking for someone to stand in the gap, someone to fight for another through intercessory prayer.

Profound intercession is not just a quick request. It consists of time spent staying before God when everyone else is in bed or up going about their daily routine. It is engaging with and experiencing oneness with the Father, entering into spiritual warfare to fight against the dark forces that battle for our lives, the lives of our families and our friends. It isn’t superficial and it isn’t quick. And it is not something reserved only for super-spiritual believers. Each of us has what it takes—the willingness to give our time and commitment. Offering ourselves to the Holy Spirit and then casting our weakness before God’s strength as we plead for His consuming power can bring change. Change to the situation, change to another, but also change in us as we experience the intimacy resulting from complete submission to Him.

We have the freedom to come before the throne of God boldly but most of the time we do not take full advantage of that open door. Not knowing details about a situation is not a good excuse. All we have to do is go straight to God and be ready to stand in the gap for another. The Holy Spirit will prompt our hearts and guide us as we dive into deep waters to intercede.

We may never know the difference our interceding prayer makes for someone or a situation, yet we will have the knowledge of time spent following His lead.

Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to faultfinding.
                                                                                               —Corrie Ten Boom