Do you ever get stuck in prayer? Are your prayers always the same, about the same people and situations? Are your prayers hopeful or hopeless?
Pastor G and I have been God’s for a long time, and we are always (granted, eventually) learning better ways to be His. Lately, He has had us focus on prayer. Oh, it’s not that we don’t go before His throne daily as a couple and spend time with Him. It’s that circumstances many times don’t work out as we hoped despite our best efforts. We have gotten so very discouraged about an outreach to those who have been hurt or disappointed by church. We faithfully held meetings every Sunday using materials God helped us develop, and only one person showed up. In other cases, hearts are hard and there’s been a lot of assimilation by some parts of the body of Christ into the ways and direction of society. Fellowships have capitulated and adapted (actually rationalized) how God views sexuality and same sex relationships so that they could be socially acceptable and gain more members to sit in empty pews due to diminished attendance. Part of those changes actually include altering God’s inspired word to fit their narratives so members can follow sin and sexual perversion as it seems right to them. So, we sigh and cry and commiserate with Him about peoples’ spiritually wrong choices and how they not only hurt them but Him. I’m not saying that’s not true, but it’s limited, and that’s the point.
Sometimes Pastor G and I get so discouraged that we forget what we encourage you with: that just because things are a certain way, it doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. This dramatically changed our prayer focus and our attitude during times we talk to God throughout the day. Now, we look beyond current circumstances to times when life can and will be so much better for these people when they give up whatever is holding them back from truly following Jesus and living His way. Our prayers have turned into gratitude sessions for what God is doing in these lives so that, when the time is right, these people can and will change. That may very well be what scripture means when it exhorts us to give thanks in all things. That partners with the scripture that says that nothing is impossible with God.
Regarding the outreach, we know God is working and that hearts will be softened and emboldened enough to respond. We need to wait for God and His timing. Sometimes I forget my crazy ranting at a car radio whose programming of an idolized financial advisor was pre-empted by a faith-based one through which God finally got my attention when I stopped screaming and began to listen. Stubborn woman that I am, it took weeks. (And this had been after God had been working to get my attention for years!) I know God worked to give me spiritual ears to hear what the man was saying, and it was through that fellowship that I became His. So, now we thank God for His process and that, when the time is right, we can make a spiritual difference for Him. It’s a positive, beautiful, freeing thing.
Let’s pray: Father God, thanks for helping all who read these words to see beyond present circumstances to the blessing that will come when the time is right. We know You change hearts and minds from being hostile to You to those that actively burn to know You and Your way of life and love. So, too, many have been hurt or disillusioned by church and need to see and know You in a fresh, spiritually free way. We thank You for that miracle in their lives. Others have strayed from their first love and have compromised Your word and way of life. We look forward to their zealous return and look forward to welcoming them with open arms just like the prodigal son’s father. Still others are in deep despair and look for love in all the wrong places, perhaps it’s through sex, perhaps it’s through drugs or perhaps they think an abuser’s attention is love. Jesus, You said You came to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free. Thanks for touching all these lives and breaking their bonds. Thanks for blessing them all with peace and joy past understanding and words. Thanks for making what seems impossible to us a reality. In Jesus’ name, amen.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7(NKJV)
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
copyright 2015, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved