I've been thinking a lot about prayer these past couple of months - about the mystery that it is and yet how wonderful that we can come boldly to His throne of grace to find help in our time of need. I've been thinking too about whether I pray enough, often enough, long enough or hard enough - do I really wait upon the Lord and rest until He answers or do I anxiously turn things over and over in my mind - wanting to move - to take action even before I have heard His answer. Should I indeed wait or should I do what seems right to me and trust that He will stop me if I start to go the wrong way?
I guess these are things that I will ponder all my life - there is no, one, right answer as prayer is of course simply conversation with my Father and no two conversations are, or should be, exactly alike. Can I come into that place of trust - trust that He hears everything, that He really does delight to hear my voice and that He will indeed lead and direct the conversation by His Spirit?
You will know that we are looking for new premises - that more and more people are attending our seminars and conferences and our regular weekly classes. What a joy that is and how amazing that the Lord would be calling people out by His Word and for His Word but nonetheless we are faced with a space issue and are trying to find a bigger place - one that we can afford.
I came across this account in Jeremiah as I was reading the other day- Jeremiah 42 and in particular verse 7.
Jeremiah has been prophesying for some time to the people of Israel, telling them of all that the Lord was about to do and mostly they had not listened. Here, after the word of God had indeed come to pass, a group come to Jeremiah and they ask which way they should go from here. The Babylonians have overrun Jerusalem - Israel is decimated, Daniel and Ezekiel are already in exile along with most of the people and here is a remnant - not sure what to do or how to continue and so they come to the one who has been speaking the word of God to them.
On the face of it this sounds good - but Johanan, their leader, has already decided that he will take them into Egypt because he is afraid of what will happen if they stay in the land of Judah - even though he knows that this is what the Lord has told them to do. Fear - which always comes when the people of God turn from His word, His revealed will, has taken hold and though he comes to Jeremiah too ask what he actually wants is God's blessing on what he has already decided to do!
Jeremiah says that he will ask the Lord on their behalf and he does - what strikes me is that it takes 10 days before he has his answer. Why so long?
Is it possible that God is allowing them time to search their hearts and to see what the reality of their faith is? is it possible that He is giving them time to remember what He has already commanded and to repent and turn back to Him?
As I read through this chapter that is what I saw - sadly they don't repent and will not obey and Jeremiah knows that they have come in deception and that all they wanted was God's approval of their own disobedience.
So I am left at the end with an understanding of the need to search my own heart - to really get before the Lord in sincerity and faith and to ask for Him to do what He wants - to show me the way forward - not to give me whatever I might desire but to give me only what is His will. I find myself praying Lord - Your will be done. We can stay where we are - I am happy here and so grateful for the place that You have already provided but I will still come before You - I will come boldly to Your throne of grace because I know that I can and that You will provide all that we need and more. I trust that You will do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that I can ask or imagine - when I come in sincerity and truth - when I come as child to her Father - because You have already promised that You will.
What have you been praying about lately? Are you asking the Lord to give approval to your plans or are you really and truly sitting at His feet and asking for Him to decide the way you should go? Are you trusting that He is sovereign over all the circumstances of your life and that even though the situation may look bleak right now, even though the way ahead looks dark and full of difficulty nonetheless He is with you and He will guide you through?
Prayer is a mystery - how does the Lord work and when and why are all questions that we perhaps will never fully get answers for but prayer is the way we access the throne of grace - prayer is the means through which we speak aloud our dependance upon Him and prayer is the channel He has provided for us to receive His life giving, life changing grace.
Search your heart right now, confess anything that you know is not pleasing to Him and then simply sit and chat with Him. Tell Him your thoughts, your plans, your ideas and then determine to say as our Saviour said - nevertheless not my will but Yours be done.