Pray, Pray, Pray!!!

March 17, 2015

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

It is easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them?  Paul does not leave us in a vacuum here… he goes on to prescribe:“Pray about everything!”

God’s Word exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 states: “God is our refuge and strength.  A very present help in trouble.” If you check alternate readings, the first verse reads that God is “abundantly available for help in tight places.”  As a result of our prayers, God can deliver us from tight places.

Paul was delivered from many, many tight places. For example, he asked the Philippians to pray that he might be delivered from prison.  They prayed, and he was delivered from his imprisonment at that time.  We should therefore always pray in a crisis.  Someone said, “When it is hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”

Paul knew from personal experience, however, that God does not always take our problems away.  He had a physical “thorn in the flesh” condition that he asked God three times to take away.  Paul saw many people healed as he ministered the power of the Holy Spirit to them.  Yet, when he asked God to solve his health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.” God essentially said, “Tell you what I’m going to do, Paul. I’m going to give you the grace to cope with your problem.”  (IICorinthians 12.)

When God gave Paul the grace to cope with his problem, he discovered that the power of Christ was upon him in a mighty way… So Paul not only accepted the will of God regarding his thorn, he gloried in the whole experience of learning that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul explains that his weakness became a showcase in which the strength of God was exhibited.

Paul learned from personal experience that, while worry is not productive, prayer is always very productive.  Prayer may deliver us from our problems, or it may give us the grace to cope with them.  But, in any case, pray.  Always pray about everything.

Tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer.”  (J.B. Phillips.)  Always pray about everything!

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Peace

A Prescription for Inner Healing

January 9, 2013

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  (Matthew 6:12)

The greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness.  Those who work in ministries of healing claim that the lack of forgiveness on the part of a victim that has been terribly violated can retard their own inner healing.

Can you see why Jesus instructed His disciples to pray every day: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors?”  The original language has it, “As we have already forgiven our debtors.”  Do you think Jesus knew how important it is to our inner healing that we should forgive those who sin against us?

Some are bothered by the way Jesus offers commentary on this petition in the disciple’s Prayer.  He commented that if we do not forgive we are not forgiven.  It almost sounds as if we are forgiven because we forgive.  He defuses their confusion with a parable that is recorded in Chapter Eighteen of Matthew.  A man is forgiven a very large debt in the millions of dollars.  He does not have to go into debtor’s prison and see his wife and family sold into slavery.

But on the way home he meets a man who owes him twenty dollars.  He grabs him by the throat and orders him to pay him every cent or he will have him put into debtor’s prison.  Both events are observed and told to the one who forgave him the large debt.  He is recalled and his forgiveness is revoked.  Jesus comments on that story, that if we from our hearts do not forgive, we are not forgiven.

The point is that if we are a forgiven person we will be a forgiving person.  If we are not a forgiving person we are not really a forgiven person.

An Applied Formula for Living

October 12, 2012

“Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.”  (Matthew 7:26)

As we apply the previous formula for living blog, Jesus is clearly teaching that if we base our belief system on His teachings we will have a rational belief system that can weather the storms of this life. When a counselor is disputing the belief system of a depressed person, a favorite disputation question is: “What are you telling yourself about the fact they you lost your job that has you so depressed?” That is the question you should ask yourself when you are experiencing irrational emotional consequences like depression.

The medical director of a large mental hospital for the entire state of Virginia told me the purpose of psychiatry is to find the unconscious explanation for the conscious behavior of people.  He lamented the hard reality that so often today the psychiatrist is a pharmacologist who medicates the person’s depression without ever getting to the cause of the depression.

The word “psychiatry” means “the healing of the soul.” Was there ever a greater healer of the soul than Jesus?    I’m convinced that Jesus was the greatest Psychiatrist who ever lived.  I also believe that the values and the teachings of Jesus will give us the healthiest belief system for living we will ever discover as we pass through this world.

However, it is critically important that we implement that belief system as we respond to the storms we encounter.  In this era we have gone bonkers over knowledge.  According to Jesus, it is not the knowledge of His teaching but the application of that belief system that builds the house that survives the storms.