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.


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


Faith: Testing and Trusting

November 20, 2014

“…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.”   James 1:2-6

When you encounter a storm in your life, that trial will often bring you to the place where you just don’t know what to do.  You realize you need more wisdom than you have.  James writes that we must let the test of faith lead us to the trust of faith.  When we lack wisdom, we must ask God, Who will be delighted to share His wisdom with us.  It the Old Testament when the people of God were fighting against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was, “nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2Chronicles 20:12) … Ask God for the wisdom we do not have, and believe our loving Heavenly Father wants to give us that wisdom.

The JB Phillips translation writes that we should not treat our trials as intruders but welcome them as friends. The process of working through our trials will teach us the test of faith, which leads to the trust of faith and brings us to the triumph of faith.  I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990’s.  I have, therefore, thought much about the suffering of disciples.  God is not in denial about the hard reality His people suffer.

In the Bible we are warned that God does not think as we think, nor does He do as we do.  (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the will and ways of God, wouldn’t it logically follow that I should not always expect to understand the way I’m going?  Obviously, that includes our suffering.

…Where did we ever get the idea we should expect to understand everything that happens to us? If God gave us an explanation for everything and the answers to all of our why questions, the very essence of faith, the need for faith, would be eliminated.

Almighty God has willed that without faith, we cannot please Him or come to Him (Hebrews 1:6.)  God is pleased when we come to Him in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “if you heal me, that’s all right.  But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p.278-281)


In Sickness & in Death

August 12, 2014

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live…”  (John 11:25)

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, we read that Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha.  As Jesus ministered in the area of Jordan, He received word that Lazarus was sick. Jesus deliberately stayed where He was for two days. When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, what He really wanted from these two sisters was their response to life’s two most unsolvable problems – sickness and death.

The two sisters are very different. Martha runs out to meet Jesus and says, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died!” We don’t know the inflection in Martha’s voice, but it seems like she was saying, “Where were You?”

Mary is not like Martha. She waits until Jesus sends for her. When she has her personal time with Jesus, she says the exact same words. However, we read that she ‘fell at His feet.’  Mary is mentioned several times in the Gospels and she is always at the feet of Jesus. The first time is when she and Martha were entertaining Jesus. Mary was at His feet, hearing His Word… In this story Mary is at the feet of Jesus accepting His will.  In the next chapter (John 12) she is at His feet worshiping Him.

When sickness and death enter our lives, as they surely will, what God wants from you and me is the right response, which is an intimate relationship to the risen Christ Who lives in our hearts.  If we are at His feet hearing His Word and accepting His will, then, like Mary, we will also respond to these two unavoidable and inescapable problems by by showing our acceptance of them, at His feet, worshiping our Lord.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


Caution: Divine Providence at Work

July 18, 2014

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

Greek is a very precise language.  Hebrew is not.  That’s why we frequently find footnotes that suggest alternate readings in the margins of our Bible when we are reading Old Testament Scripture passages.  The NIV translation of Psalm 11:3 has such a footnote.   The alternate reading suggested for this verse is: When the foundations of your life are breaking up, “What is the righteous One doing?”

In a long life I have experienced several periods when it seemed that the foundations of my life were breaking up.  I have found the suggested alternate reading of this verse to be a reliable response that turned many of those crises into very significant spiritual datelines in my journey of faith.

My faith walk began in 1949, and along the way I dropped two words out of my vocabulary: “fortunately” and “coincidentally.”  Because I believe in Divine Providence, I no longer believe in luck.  And I agree with the spiritual “heavyweight” who stated that when a devout believer thinks they have experienced a coincidence that just means God prefers to remain anonymous.

The Chinese characters for “crisis” are the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.”  I believe we should factor into all our crises this knee jerk response: “What is the righteous One doing in my life now?” I find that He is always up to something and ultimately it is always something very good.  It is not primarily for our good but it is what accomplishes His good for His glory.

Dick Woodward, 02 July 2010