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The Power of Prayer

The Power of Prayer

Sophie: During the Sneezing Days

The event I describe below occurred at the beginning of last year. This experience radically altered my perspective of my prayer life. Since then, my belief continues to increase in the power of prayer. Prayer is indeed one of the most powerful things we can do.

Malcolm and Sophie are two of my cherished treasures. God uses these Ragdoll felines to teach me many lessons, but . . . I have to seek those lessons. About a month and a half after they moved in, Sophie started sneezing. When it continued to progress to mucus flying out her nose, I took her to the vet and discovered it was an upper respiratory infection. On antibiotics, she immediately started getting better. After being off them for a couple of days, it came back and continued to get worse. We went through another around of antibiotics. Again, she got better, but after a couple of days it returned. Poor thing! I hated putting all these antibiotics in her because I was sure it would have long term affects on her little immune system. Once more, back to the vet. He took some cultures so in a couple of days we would know exactly what bacteria was the culprit. The next day she was sneezing up a storm, which was common because getting the cultures irritated her little nose. But at that point I had enough! I’d been praying for God to heal her, but it dawned on me I hadn’t sought for the lesson in all this. God, what are you trying to teach me? Obviously it wasn’t a lesson for Sophie, it must be for me.

Thankfully, God quickly replied. It had to do with the power of prayer for others. Here’s what I learned. I love Sophie more than you would think a human could love a cat. God loves me and all that concerns me is His concern. He cares for Sophie but also because of my love for her. When we care deeply about someone, God not only desires to help that person for her sake but also because of His care for us. His concern is heightened because of our concern – that is the nature of love. Heart-felt prayer spoken in faith shows we believe in God’s love for us. It’s critical that we believe God loves us because it affects our prayers. This is another reason we need to understand our value, last week’s blog. We need to have a sense of value of ourselves to be able to accept and believe God’s love for us so we can pray with the conviction that our prayers matter.

God needed me to understand this truth so I would pray for those He laid on my heart with the confidence that my prayers made an impact. I needed to believe that my prayers influenced Him because of His love for me, which then could affect the lives of others. Otherwise, my lack of belief drained the power of my prayers. See, my belief in the power of prayer had started to wane. I had started to think my prayers didn’t have THAT much impact. This mindset crept in as I was seeking to understand His sovereignty. He is in control and His will prevails so how much impact do my prayers really have? Not much was my thought until this situation. I didn’t realize how strongly I was holding this false belief until this lesson. I knew prayer was important, but I didn’t understand how much of an impact it had, especially mine. Now I know that my concern and love enhances His concern because that is love. This is the power of prayer of God’s children in numbers. If you had one child concerned about a pet – how much that would affect your heart. What if you had five children concerned – how much more would that affect your heart?

But it isn’t just about numbers, but about the state of the heart. There is power manifested when we intercede for another out of love. This is why our love needs to be with sincerity. Love is an extremely powerful force in our lives. It changes others. It moves the heart of God. This is why it is important to seek the love of God to replace our corrupted version of it so that we can truly love others because if affects our prayers for them. If we are just saying the words and our hearts are distant, then the power of prayer is sapped. That’s why vain repetitions are a waste of time. Matthew 6:7 But if we pray with conviction because we truly care it has a considerable impact. This is why sometimes God “lays” someone on our heart. We have a strong pull to pray for them, because the heart matters.

When I realized this insight about the power of prayer wrapped in love and sincerity, Sophie stopped sneezing that night. The cultures came back revealing a certain bacterium, but she was better. Isn’t God good? Glad I asked. She was going through what she did to teach me. I never would have stopped and sought if she wasn’t sick. And my seeking brought me to a very important lesson about the significance of heart-felt prayer.

God loves His children beyond what we can imagine. His heart for us is mighty and what concerns us concerns Him. Prayer is to teach us many things and one is how much He loves us. Even if He doesn’t seem to be healing a child or delivering them from an unhealthy lifestyle or friendship – know that He cares more so for that child because He cares for their life and that is amplified because of your care for them and His care for you. We can’t see the big picture. We don’t know what they may need to go through to learn what they need to learn. But God is listening if you are rightly related to Him through Christ. Proverbs 15:29 We have certain expectations about how things should play out, but God holds everything in His hands. If I hadn’t gone through the tough times I did as a kid, ones I’m sure my mom wished I avoided, then perhaps I wouldn’t have drawn near to God like I have. From those experiences, I learned my need for Him and the extent of His love for me. In the end, her prayers were answered, but it wasn’t a path she expected, but that path I needed to travel. We need to be careful of our expectations and make sure they are in God. If we are God’s and praying with the right heart and motive about a matter, we need to trust that God is working things out as they should be. We have expectations about what the best path or answer to that prayer would be, but we haven’t a clue. We need to trust in His divine wisdom to work it out to everyone’s best.

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

Needless to say, my prayer life totally changed. Our faith is everything. Our belief affects the power our prayer holds. John 14:12-13 I needed and am thankful for this lesson to increase my faith in the power of prayer. And I’m very glad Sophie is no longer sneezing!!

Sophie: Today

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Fear of God – the Beginning of Wisdom

Fear of God

Is

the Beginning of Wisdom

The last couple of weeks have been full of God’s instruction (discipline, conviction, correction, abundant mercy) in my life. There were several things that He told me to do at various times awhile ago, but I didn’t carry through on them. The past couple of weeks He not only reminded me of these items but also revealed to me the reason I didn’t do them – I put a fear of man over a fear of Him. (Fear of man meaning a fear of alienating others, having certain confrontations, and speaking particular things I hold as true) Each one was difficult to face and especially the overarching reason of misplaced fear. I desire to walk in God’s ways, and when I discovered I hadn’t been it was heart wrenching. But I was thankful for His instruction so I could turn back to Him.

The Bible tells us that the fear of God is to hate evil Proverbs 8:13 and the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 It is the beginning of wisdom because when we fear God we walk in His ways which consist of the only true good and wisdom there is. God told me to do certain things and those instructions were in accordance with His wisdom. Because I put a fear of man over my fear of God, I wasn’t walking in them and therefore not living in wisdom in those areas.

As believers we don’t have a fear of God in this sense that we fear judgment that is the unbelievers fear or should be. Our fear is one encapsulated in love. We fear Him because we love Him. And that fear is a fruit of the spirit that becomes ours as we draw near to Him in truth and grow in love with Him and His ways.

God illustrates this fear-love dynamic in the father-child relationship. Growing up I feared my Dad. Never once did I doubt his love for me, but I shook in my sneakers when I knew I acted against his will. My trepidation came from knowing what he could do and being totally dependent upon his mercy. If there had been no mercy I would have had another kind of fear. He was a big tall man. Yet, I knew he would never hurt me because he loved me. I had a fear that was a combination of his sovereignty in my life and love.

My dad and I shared a bond, which encompassed love, trust, honor, and respect. When I betrayed that bond by going against his will, I dreaded the disappointment I would face. My fear was grounded in how I would make him feel if I went against his will and my desire to show him my love in return for his. Now I didn’t fully realize the depth of this reason as a kid. I just felt the desire to not disappoint him, but this bond of love was the underlining factor.

As a good student, I remember when I brought home my first low grade in high school chemistry, a D. The terror of what my Dad would say but more the disappointment in his eyes made each step into the kitchen to hand him my report card near impossible to take. I went against his will by not trying my best and I knew that. He trusted me and I broke that trust. I knew what I deserved.

You know what he did? He hugged me. He said it was okay. He said he trusted me to do better next time. Wait a minute, no reprimand, no disappointing look? Unbelievable, his mercy washed over me. I depended on his compassion and it was always there. Instances like that made me love him more because he didn’t give me what I deserved and gave me what I didn’t. He showed me his love and my love for him grew. There was nothing I could do to break his bond of love with me, even when I did something against it. And the next semester I got an A.

Our relationship with God is very similar. When we come to know God as our Lord we develop a fear of Him but it is tied to love for Him because He is merciful toward us. His love doesn’t remove the trembling but just envelops it because we know what we deserve and what He could do but never would because He loves us. We fear Him because He loves us and we love Him.

Psalm 103:10-11 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

God’s immense mercy redeems us from the destruction we daily invite into our lives. If there was a single moment that His mercy retracted, we would perish. His perfect love for us drives out fear of His wrath and replaces it with a holy fear fashioned in love.

Psalm 130:4 But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared

As God showed me these past weeks how I had been blindly disobeying Him, a sensation of fear wrapped in love started to fill me. I remember the days I use to not have that sense of a loving fear – I’m thankful to feel this treasured fruit growing inside me. I am thankful for the passion and desire it creates to walk in His ways of goodness and wisdom. This is my prayer – Psalm 86:11 “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.”

Psalm 112:1 Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments.

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