Anxiety is a terrible thing. It is a state of uneasiness and worry, of fearfulness and dread. But prayer can make it all go away; when you pray God will help you to see that He is in control and that He loves you and cares for you.
When we are anxious, we think only of ourselves and of all the things we think we need. Prayer, however, will take us to God and draw us away from ourselves so that we are more concerned for His kingdom and His righteousness. The practice of prayer will help us to see that life is more than food and clothing, and that we have no need to worry about those things—since God cares for us just as he cares for little birds and flowers (Matt. 6:25-29).
If you are prone to anxiety, try to develop the habit of praying about everything. And when you pray, instead of lingering in your anxiety, focus instead on God, honoring Him with thanksgiving and praise (Rom. 1:21). As you pray with thanksgiving, taking all of your concerns to God, He will fill you with an incredible peace. Here is the promise from Philippians 4:6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, is fully human and fully God. The human side of Him makes Him able to be sympathetic and merciful toward us, and the God side of Him makes Him able to help us at any time with any of our needs. What this means to us of course is that when we pray to Him we are assured of His sympathy for our needs and also of His ability to help us. Thus we can pray with great confidence, even boldness. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
This mercy and grace is God’s gift to us—it is free for our taking! But unless we choose to go to Him in prayer, and unless we confidently pray and ask for help, His mercy will not be obtained and His grace will not be found.
We all are aware of countless individuals (perhaps you) who are badly in need of help. Some are in spiritual, mental, and sometimes physical misery. Some grope around not knowing what to do or who to turn to. Many go from doctor to doctor seeking help, all to no avail. If they only knew Jesus and knew how to approach Him in prayer they would no longer be without peace.
He is the Great Physician, the greatest one of all. All we need to do is call out to Him in prayer and He will quickly come to our aid. But if we fail to pray in our desperate hour of need then His mercy and His grace will remain on the shelves of heaven. Pray, my friend, and God will hear you. Yes, you who are in desperate need, need to pray. It is the only way, God’s appointed way, that you will receive mercy and find grace.
Jesus said in John 16:24, “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.”
The teaching here is that when we ask in His name and receive the things we ask for, the result, after receiving those things, will be a fullness of joy. And I suppose you could say that our joy will come in degrees. To the degree that we recognize that God has answered our prayers, to that degree we will receive joy. The person who doesn’t realize that God has answered his prayer may have a certain amount of joy just because he has received what he wanted. But the real and full joy is a joy that comes from knowing absolutely that God has answered our prayers.
R. A. Torrey has said, “When we ask something definite of God, and He gives it, how real God becomes! He is right there! It is blessed to have a God who is real, and not merely an idea.”3 Yes, it is a joyful and real experience when God reaches down in love, and gives us what we ask for. It is the joy of experiencing His presence.
In Psalm 16:11 David wrote, “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; in thy right hand there are pleasures forever.” Though David here is mainly speaking of the joy that comes after this life, we can know that same joy now whenever we experience His presence—which will surely come to us with the realization that He has answered our prayers.
This I think is the whole point of prayer—to have the joyful realization of His presence. It is what God intended for us. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10b). He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). It is God’s purpose for us to have this abundant life, which is found in Jesus, and can only be gained when we call out to Him in prayer. Prayer then is the key to obtain this life—life that produces for us a fullness of joy.
3 R. A. Torrey, How to Pray (Chicago: Moody Press, n. d.), p. 16.
The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. (1 Samuel 2:4) Unless you have completely isolated and insulated yourself from the outside world (and I would not blame you if you have; sometimes I wish I could completely detach from the constant flow of bad news), you […]
God really wants us to have things—many things. But He wants us to have only those things that are good for us.
Sometimes we will desire something, and it really does seems to be a good thing; but then later, after we have prayed about it and sought God’s Word about it, He shows us that He isn’t pleased with what we desire.
Whatever we pray for we should ask ourselves these two questions:
1. Are these things going to bring me closer to the Lord or further away?
2. Will these things I desire help me to be a friend of the world, or a friend of God (James 4:3-4)?
There are many good things that God wants us to have, but if we don’t ask for them we will not receive them (James 4:2). And when we do ask, perhaps we don’t ask correctly—with the right motives (v. 3).
It may be that when we do ask for things we don’t really believe that God will give them to us, so that’s why we aren’t persistent in our asking. In other words, we may treat prayer as sort of a religious duty, or a ritualistic thing—something that we just do but we don’t really expect an answer.
My friend, God is real and personal. He is your Father. How do you ask your earthly father for things? You ask and keep asking until you get it, don’t you? And you ask that way because you know that sooner or later He will give it to you, because you know He loves you. Will not God who loves you far more give to you as much?
Sometimes, instead of believing and asking God for the things we want, we sit and worry, and we lust and envy and fight and even wage war over those things (Ja. 4:2). But if you want certain things, and if you know you need them, why not just ask God for them. He will give them to you as a gift. Everything you desire in life, if it pleases God for you to have it, He will give it to you if you just ask.
Do you need a job? Then ask. Yes, make your rounds to employment agencies and apply at various places, but you must also ask God. He will give you the job you really need, in quick time.
Are you worried about your friend who is lost? Then ask God for his or her soul. Who else will save your friend?
In all the things we desire but aren’t receiving, take these words to heart: “You do not have because you do not ask” (Ja. 4:2). Prayer is indeed necessary for obtaining things.
Jesus said, “Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation; the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Jesus knew that prayer was absolutely necessary to resist temptation, that without it we are weak and vulnerable to the attacks of Satan.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that we are in a struggle, not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in heavenly places. He therefore suggests that we put on the full armor of God so that we may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
As we see in Ephesians 6:18, prayer is part of this full armor. But we should not look at prayer as just one piece of the full armor, as if to have a little significance. Prayer, in fact, is significant for the correct use of each piece of armor. Moreover it energizes the armor and holds each piece of armor in place. In the final analysis, it is our power for victory.1
Prayer, as it is used in verse 18, is not just of one kind; it is “all prayer.” All kinds of prayer, therefore, are to be used against the enemy. And with “all prayer” we are to pray “at all times.” That is, we must pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). What is meant here, according to Warren Wiersbe, is that we must “always be in communion with the Lord.”2 And this infers that we must always be drawing on His strength. Yes, we must be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph. 6:10), which cannot be accomplished without unceasing prayer in the Spirit.
Also, when we pray, we must “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all saints” (v.18), knowing that the devil is on the prowl, seeking to destroy God’s people. We must therefore, be watchful and pray, not just for ourselves, but also for all other believers who are subject to the same temptations as we are. And when we are faithful to pray for others, God will be faithful to bless us and give us His strength.
1 Warren Wiersbe, Be Rich (Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books. A division of SP Publications, Inc., 1976), p. 172.
Though we are a long way from troubles in Afghanistan, Christians should take time to pray for them. Though prayer may at times seem to be a little thing, we are called to do it, and we must believe that God will hear and answer.
Pray for those who are waiting to get out. Pray for them to be patient and to cry out to God for His help. As they fear the Taliban, pray that they would cling to God for His deliverance. Pray especially for the young women who are in grave danger of being taken by the Taliban as wives—but they will be abused and raped. May God not allow it!
I pray that God will use this hard situation to turn people to Him for help and for their salvation. I pray that America will see how this administration and the President has really bungled it and that we will demand a new president. Biden is proving his poor leadership and mental deficiency.
Pray also for all Americans that in this time of trouble and chaos many will turn to God and trust Him. Pray that they will see that their only hope is a new life in Christ. That they will see the hopelessness in the old life.
Prayer helps in these four areas of spiritual growth:
1. Growth in understanding God’s ways.In James 1:5 it says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally…” It seems from this verse (and the previous verses), that wisdom, which is really an understanding of God’s ways, is gained through prayer as well as through experience; for as we encounter various trials (verse 2), we pray and ask God for an understanding of what to do (verse 5). Therefore, both experience and prayer are needed.
Experience (including all the trials we go through) keeps us in touch with reality, and prayer keeps us in touch with God, who in turn helps us understand all that we experience—which is wisdom.
Experience allows us to grow in endurance as we encounter various trials, and prayer keeps us trusting and in touch with God—who is really the source of all our help. As we encounter various trials through our experience, they will serve to move us toward prayer. But unless we pray, all the experience and all the trials will do us no good; that is, they will not produce in us true wisdom. The old person, who says, “I am wise because of my many years of experience,” is nothing but an old fool if he has rejected God. True wisdom, no matter how much experience one has, comes only to those who pray and ask for it.
2. Growth in understanding God’s Word.In Psalms 119:18 we read, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” Here the Psalmist prays to God that He would open his eyes and cause him to understand wonderful things from His Word. As we may observe in this verse, there is nothing said about any personal effort of study to gain understanding. The Psalmist expects all his understanding of the Word to come directly from God through prayer.
Now we know that the Bible tells us to study and meditate on the scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15, Ps. 1); therefore, our effort should not be disregarded. All our effort in study, however, will prove vain and worthless without prayer. But by prayer all that we have studied and pondered will make sense.
3. Growth in developing a hatred for sin and a love for righteousness. This time we will turn to Psalms 51. Here we see that David was intensely grieved over his sin. In verse four he prays, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight…” Then in verse 10, he prays, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
As we see in this chapter, David believed in prayer; he counted on God in prayer to clean up his heart and restore his relationship with Him.
We can count on God in prayer just as David did. And the more we pray for purity in our life, the more God will give it to us, and thus the more we will grow to hate sin and love righteousness.
4. Growth in becoming more like God’s Son. In Romans 8:29 it says, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” At first glance we may think that we don’t need do anything to bring about our transformation, that since it is already predestined to happen, God will make it happen without our effort. Well, ultimately, I suppose that is true. But, along the way, God chooses to involve us in the process.
No, we cannot idly stand by and think that God will handle it all. Transformation comes with the hard work of renewing our mind (Rom. 12:2)—which includes Bible study, meditation, and prayer.
And the more we give ourselves to the work of study and prayer, the more we will behold Him as He really is. Hence, in our beholding Him we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).
The Old Testament Tabernacle, with its various articles and the offering up of animal sacrifices, were insufficient in their attempt to commune with God and forgive sins. But these things now speak of Christ and helps us to commune with Him.
In my last post on this subject we journeyed through the tabernacle and discussed the symbolic meaning of the gate, the bronze altar, and the laver. Now, in this post, we will go in our mind into the sanctuary—the Holy Place. To the left of us we see a shining golden lampstand with seven golden lamps, burning brightly and giving light to the whole room. To the right we see a dazzling golden table with twelve small loaves of bread on top. Directly ahead of us, in front of a beautiful veil is a small smoldering golden altar—about 3 ½ feet high and 20 inches square.
Just a few minutes ago I wrote a blog entitled No thoughts. But on my way home from Perkins, where I was having breakfast, I drove through a yellow arrow. I was supposed to yield to the cars coming from the other direction, but I wasn’t thinking. I was still in my no thoughts mode.
So, even though I was content on having a no thoughts day, I am now resolved in my mind that there are times when thinking is necessary. I must be prepared to think when I am driving—so I will abide by the traffic rules and be safe. Oh, and now, on my way home I will do some grocery shopping, so I will also have to think on what I need to buy. And then later I will do some reading, so I will have to think on my reading. And everything I do in a day will involve thinking.
On a related subject, I remember when I was composing my book Prayer A to Z, that I was a little down on myself because I didn’t have many, if any, original thoughts on prayer. My ideas mainly came from the bible and from other authors. And I relayed my frustrations to this visiting pastor—who was a retired professor. And to my surprise, he told me that no one really has any original thoughts. He said that we either get our ideas from others or from God. Ultimately, I suppose every idea we have is from God. Even the evil twisted ideas were originally from God, but twisted and turned around.
In my previous post when I said I had no thoughts, I know that is impossible, but what I meant was that I was in a mode where I didn’t want to make any or few decisions. I was trying to rest my mind. But we can’t continue to do that or we will get in trouble. Satan or the flesh will take advantage of us and feed our mind with evil ideas to think on. So, I think it is best to, every once in a while, pull out a Scripture verse card, or maybe you have a few verses memorized and you can pull them out from the back of your mind.
And another thing we can do when we are in that no thought mode is to thank our Lord and praise Him, and then let the Holy Spirit move you into some praise-filled prayer.