Paul’s 2nd Condition (for peace): Pray About Everything!

May 9, 2017

“…tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer…” (Philippians 4:6)

It’s easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them? Paul doesn’t leave us in a vacuum when he prescribed: “Pray about everything!”

The Word of God exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 has an alternate reading in the New Standard version, “God is our refuge and strength, abundantly available for help in tight places.” God delivered Paul from many tight places. We should therefore always pray in a crisis: “When it’s hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”

However, from personal experience Paul knew that God doesn’t always take our problems away. He had a physical condition that he described as a “thorn in the flesh.” Three times he asked God to take it away. Paul saw many people miraculously healed as he ministered the healing power of the Holy Spirit to them. Yet, when he asked God to solve his own health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.”

But God also responded, “My grace is sufficient for you and that is all you need. My strength looks good on weak people.” (2 Corinthians 12 LB) His weakness drove Paul to discover the strength of God. When he did, he not only accepted his condition but eventually thanked God in it so the power of God might be showcased in him.

As Paul accepted the will of God regarding his thorn, he learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul exhorts us from his personal experience that prayer may deliver us from our problems, or prayer may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.

Always pray about everything!

 Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Asking ‘Why?’ vs. Saying ‘Oh!’

March 18, 2016

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

A word we use often in this life is, “Why?” And the word I think we will use most in the next is, “Oh!”  The Providence of God is like a Hebrew word: we have to read it backwards.  By the Providence of God I mean that God is in charge and the events of our lives have meaning.  Sometimes it is as if we are on the inside of a woven basket.  All the threads that come up on the inside of the basket represent the way we see the things that happen to us, which seem to have no meaning and pattern at all.  If we could just get out of that basket, on the outside we would see beautifully woven patterns.

Job is the biblical example of a man who tried to sort out, by looking inside the basket, what appeared to be the tragic meaninglessness of his life.  It was not until he looked up and saw all his tragic circumstances from God’s perspective that he was moved from asking, “Why?” to exclaiming, “Oh!” (Job 35: 1-7; 40-42)

In Psalm 11:3 the Psalmist asked a question: “If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” The NIV version of the Bible has a footnote that suggests this alternate reading: “When the foundations of your life are breaking up, what is the Righteous One doing?”

My wife and I have made that question a knee jerk reaction to the events of our lives as they happen.  As a result, although we’re not on the other side yet we are already saying, “Oh!”

Will you confront the challenges you encounter daily with that same question?

Dick Woodward, 25 August 2012


When We don’t know What to Do??

October 17, 2015

We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.”  (2Chronicles 20:12 NLT)

Have you ever faced problems that confronted you with the intolerable, the undeniable, the unthinkable and the impossible?  Throughout Hebrew and church history the people of God have often been confronted with these overwhelming realities.  Scripture supports the thought that God sometimes not only permits but creates these circumstances (Isaiah 45: 7).  According to Isaiah He does this because He wants us to learn that He is our only hope and our only help as we live for Him in this world.

The Word of God teaches that God is our Mentor and He does His most effective mentoring when we are coping with calamities and trials of every possible description.  The confession quoted above is proclaiming that the people of God have two problems.  They do not know what to do and they do not have the power to do it when they know it.

Scripture tells us God will give us all the wisdom we need when we confess that we do not know what to do (James 1:5).  And Scripture teaches that God will give us the power to do what He wants us to do because He is God and He always completes what He begins in us (Philippians 1:6; 2:13).

There are times when it is wrong for us to put God to the test.  Then there are times when God invites us to prove Him.  God wants to give us the gift of faith.  He also wants to give us immeasurable degrees of the grace to overcome the greatest possible obstacles.  That’s why He sometimes permits calamities or trials that force us to access His all sufficient grace.

Dick Woodward, 18 September 2013


Too Weak To Pray…

June 16, 2015

“Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.  Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’”  (Mark 2: 4, 5)

When my wife was critically ill after the birth of our first child she reached a crisis on a Friday morning at ten o’clock.  Her eyes were moving back into her head and we thought we were losing her.  While several doctors did a spinal tap to relieve pressure on her brain, two precious sisters in the Lord were burdened to pray for her that morning at ten o’clock – not knowing anything about her crisis.  She pulled through that crisis and her life was saved.

While having her quiet time after returning from the hospital, she read the verses quoted above. She was moved to tears to realize that when she was too weak to pray for herself her sisters in the Lord were praying for her, and when the Lord saw their faith He ministered healing to her.

In our life span there are sure to be times when we will be too weak to pray for ourselves.  That’s one reason it is wise to be in spiritual community with other believers who know the Lord and love Him and who know you and love you.  If you had an accident or a sudden illness do you have anyone who would pray for you when you are too weak to pray for yourself?

The wisest man who ever lived wrote: “Two are better than one, because… if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4: 10, 11 NIV)

Dick Woodward, 18 September 2011

Editor’s Note: After Hospice care started here in our home last week, Dick’s precious Ginny is now too weak to pray for herself. We (the extended Woodward family) are so grateful for the faithful prayers of the spiritual community lifting her (and us) up at this time.


Prayer Sighs, Prayer Tears

March 24, 2015

“I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.” (Isaiah 38:5)

In the mid 1950s, I made a discovery about prayer. When two or three of us were concerned about Joe, who was not doing well spiritually, I observed God working in Joe’s life in dynamic ways.  I concluded that we are praying even when we do not close our eyes, fold our hands and bow our heads.  I discovered that prayer is the sincere desire of our soul no matter how we express it.

Martin Luther told us that the sigh of a believer is a prayer.  He meant that when we come to the end of our hoarded resources and throw ourselves across a bed and sigh, or cry – that is a prayer.

God sent the Prophet Isaiah to tell a sick King Hezekiah that he was going to die.  Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and cried.  When God saw the tears of King Hezekiah, God sent Isaiah back to him with the message, “I have heard your prayer.  I have seen your tears.” And God added 15 years to his life.

When we express the sincere desire of our soul, which is often too deep for words, in tears or a sigh of despair – that is a prayer God hears and answers.  God has as much interaction with people in the waiting rooms of operating theaters in our hospitals as He has in the sanctuaries of our churches.

Realizing your tears and sighs of despair are one of God’s prescriptions for authentic prayer, will you offer them to God as the prayers of your heart?

Dick Woodward, 18 January 2011


Grace & Perseverance …

March 6, 2015

“…rejoice in your sufferings knowing…” (Romans 5:3 NIV)

Rejoice in your sufferings, knowing what? In the fifth chapter of his letter to the Romans the Apostle Paul begins by writing that God has given us access, by faith, into grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ in this world and live a life that glorifies God.

Imagine how it must make God feel when He has given us access to all the grace we need to live for Christ in this world and we never access that grace. According to Paul, because God loves us He permits suffering to enter our lives that we cannot bear without drawing on the grace we have access to by faith.

Paul writes that as we receive the grace to endure our suffering God produces mature Christ-like character in our lives such as perseverance. When you ask the question, “How does an orange get to be an orange?” The answer is “By hanging in there.”  That is the essence of the meaning of this character trait called perseverance.

When some followers of Christ find themselves suffering, their immediate response is: “Lord, deliver me from this, immediately!” He can, and sometimes He does, deliver us. But He often does not. When He does not it may be because it is His will to grow spiritual character in the life of His follower. When that is what God is doing Paul is telling us we should rejoice in our sufferings, access grace by faith, and then grow spiritually.

Dick Woodward, 19 March 2009


Enduring Grace

September 12, 2014

“…we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand..” (Romans 5:2)

Paul writes that God has given us access, by faith, to a quality of grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ in this world, and live lives that glorify God. Then he writes that we should rejoice in our suffering, because God sometimes uses our suffering to force us to access that grace.

How must God feel when He sees us struggling in our own strength to live as we should, knowing He has provided us with a way to access all the grace we need? We are to rejoice when God uses suffering to make us an offer we cannot refuse that drives us into His grace.

There are levels and degrees of suffering we simply cannot endure without the grace of God. When our suffering drives us beyond the limits of any human resources we have within ourselves, these times of severe testing become God’s opportunity to provide and prove His grace to us.  A devout hymn writer expressed that truth this way:

“When we come to the end of our store of endurance.
When our strength has failed and the day is half done.
When we have exhausted our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving has only begun.

“His love has no limit. His grace has no measure.
His power has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite wisdom and mercy
He gives and He gives and He gives yet again.”

According to Paul, it is the love of God that sometimes uses our suffering to force us to access the grace he prescribed in Romans 5:2 and in the great verse about grace in 2 Corinthians 9:8.

Are you willing to let the problems you cannot solve and suffering you cannot endure drive you to access the amazing grace of God today?

Dick Woodward, 23 October 2009

Editor’s Note:  If you would like to learn more about the hymn, “He Giveth More Grace,” by Annie Johnson Flint, click here to read her inspiring story.