Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

They forgot what he had done—
the great wonders he had shown them,
the miracles he did for their ancestors…
When the Lord heard them, he was furious.
The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob.
Yes, his anger rose against Israel,
for they did not believe God
or trust him to care for them.
(Psalm 78:11,12a,21,22)

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Some people see God as irked, ticked, and ready to strike. Others see Him as gentle, tender as a prima dona moving about carefully while her fingernail polish dries.

Well…is He mad or not?

Scripture shows us what ticks God off; we get a glimpse of this in Jesus’ life, who is the picture-perfect representation of our Heavenly Father. Let’s start with a look at a Psalmist’s historical account of something that happened after the Lord miraculously delivered the nation of Israel from bondage in Egypt.

God had done one marvel after another: He parted the Red Sea and made a way of escape that no one could have believed in their wildest imagination. When they were thirsty in the desert, He mysteriously provided water out of – of all things – a rock. Water doesn’t come from any rocks I’ve ever met. Time after time, even daily, He miraculously supplied sustenance so that they never went either hungry or thirsty living in a desert.

And how did they respond?

They complained. They acknowledged what God had done, yes, but assumed and declared that His power was limited to what they had theretofore experienced. They bound His hands, in a sense. They said, “Yes, I’ll admit He can do A, B, and C. But He is unable to do D. And D is what we really want and need.”

Can you imagine how frustrating that must have been to God?

When believers don’t believe Him, when they don’t expect Him to pull through for Him, when they limit His power to their own subjective experience, that’s when His anger flares.

Jesus was angry following Lazarus’s death. John’s gospel tells us that when He arrived at Lazarus’s house and saw the weeping and wailing, “A deep anger welled up within him.” Later He gently chastised Martha saying, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” It would appear perhaps that Jesus had rehearsed this scene with them before it happened, telling them to hang in there and that all would be made right and beautiful if they stood steadfast in their faith.

Jesus expects us to believe Him, but how many times do we miss a miracle because we give up believing?

God doesn’t get angry at unbelievers who don’t believe; they don’t pretend to! They are at the very least honest. But if you’re a believer, then believe in His love! Believe in His justice! Believe in His ability! Believe in His willingness to help you! Believe in His unlimited power! By doing so, you can avoid His disappointment and, yes, His anger.

Believe, oh believer!

Or else, let’s think of something else to define our faith-identity: instead of a Firm Believer, perhaps we need label ourselves Fickle or Fake or Flimsy Believers!

Believers believe!

Still, sometimes they pray this plain and simple prayer:

Father,

Help me in my unbelief!

Amen

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He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” (Hebrews 13:5)

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It’s wedding season; a time for great joy, fancy receptions, high-end attire, and champagne toasts to happy couples. But for some, as anniversary dates roll by, sweet dreams of tropical honeymoons turn to hellish nightmares of rejection and loneliness. Not every couple makes it through the enemy’s strategic land mines. Sometimes one finds oneself single. Again. Against one’s will. 

Personally, someone dearest to our hearts is no exception. Yesterday was her wedding anniversary. Last year she was blissfully celebrating. This year, mourning. 

We have seen firsthand that there is hardly anything in the world more devastating than being rejected by a spouse, especially if another person has usurped their own sacred place, through an adulterous relationship.

The devil is such a liar. He lures us into his trap with bait that looks enticing, but in the end it is deadly poison. Still, so many succumb and find themselves in his ruthless grip.

The temptation to seek out greener pastures in our marriages is real.  Mark and I experienced the enemy’s strategic allurement in the early years of our marriage, as have many others we have talked with. Thank God He gave us a way of escape – as He promises to do, sparing us from sin and our family from much sorrow and enduring agony.

If you are married, it’s safe to say you can most likely expect that you will encounter this type of attack and temptation at some point in your marital journey. Prepare for battle. Stay open, transparent, real, humble, and honest with your spouse. Talk about it, bringing it out into the light where what is dark can be quickly extinguished.

Wear your armor everyday, my friend…

The end of a marriage is truly like a death, only perhaps worse. Instead of one funeral, divorce is one funeral after another, with many memories to redeem.

If someone you love has suffered the trauma of rejection by their spouse, they need our prayer support. Join us in prayer as we lift up a loved one who has undergone spousal rejection.

Father,

I thank You that You have promised to be close to the broken-hearted. That promise holds secure today. I lift up my loved one to Your throne. She/He has been through shock, horror, grief, sorrow, and trauma in this rejection.

Lord, comfort our loved one like only You can. Help her/him to see that You are not the author of pain and disaster, yet through it – in spite of it – You weave a new story that will bring even more joy and more purpose than before.

Help her/him to trust in You alone in this process of grief and sorrow. Help her/him to wring every ounce of Your love through this insufferable journey.

Give us grace to walk with her/him through this tragedy, seeing her/him safely to the other side. Return her/him hope. Help her/him to despise the shame associated with rejection and divorce and to embrace the joy that comes even in the midst of pain and the rugged trail of trial.

We love You so much for being this kind of God! You are Good! Your love endures, helping us to endure as well!

In Jesus’ Name

Amen!

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you” (John 14:16).

Photo credit: marchatot via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure— you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts. Psalm 7:9

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The escalating political tension and violence in the United States is disturbing to say the least. Yesterday Rep. Steve Scalise was shot in the left hip during a congressional baseball practice, causing fractured bones, injuring internal organs, and causing severe bleeding. Scalise was one of several people hit by gunfire yesterday in Alexandria, Virginia. The attacker, disgruntled over the Presidential election, was shot and later died.

Violence always backfires.

As in the days of Noah, violence is on the rise. Rather than working and praying for change in our country, people resort to bloodshed to make their point. Violence isn’t the answer. Prayer is!

Let’s pray for strategies to end the hostility and bloodshed.

Father,

We bring our nation to You, asking for wisdom to know how to pray. We have observed an increase in political polarization which has led to schisms and serious circumstances.

Lord, show us how to embrace the fact that we have opposing views; give us open minds to see things from others’ perspectives, and help us, while staying true to our convictions, to work to find solutions that are win/win-based.

We lift up Representative Scalise to You today. Please heal Him of the multiple wounds this attack has caused. Lord, we pray that You would touch His body and make him whole again. Restore him to his post soon, and give him new resolve to find ways to mend our country’s gaping wounds, so like his own.

Be with his family, no doubt stunned by this tragic attack. May they sense Your overwhelming peace and protection.

Give our leaders of both political parties fresh determination to quell the violence through acts of peace, through united prayer, and gestures of love.

Start with me, Lord. Give me a love for those with whom I disagree. Help me to agree to disagree peacably and to genuinely enjoy others with whom my personal political philosophy differs.

Help me to value life as a gift from You and never seek to detract from the life of another through thoughts, words, or actions that are hateful. Rid me of any hint of hate.

Teach me to love, as You love. Teach us all.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Psalm 122
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.

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You might love the guy; you might not. Either way, we as believers are encouraged – rather commanded – to pray for our political leaders, irregardless of their political persuasion or ours.

Psalm 72 is a wonderful prayer for a governmental leader. We will use it as a prayer template for President Donald J. Trump on this his 71st birthday.

Join us…

Psalm 72

Father,

Today we especially want to heed Your call to pray for our president. 

Endow the king with your justice, O God…
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.

Give President Trump a keen sense of justice. Grant Him divine wisdom to make choices based on wisdom, dealing equitably with people, especially those who are weak.

May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.

Through this term as President, may he find ways to bring prosperity to our nation, especially to those afflicted with poverty. Help him find ways to help meet the needs of the poorest of the poor and their children.

May the kings…of distant shores
bring tribute to him.

Enhance his relationship with foreign leaders and nations, Lord, giving him both favor and wisdom as he navigates rugged political terrain around the globe.

May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.

May his kindness toward the afflicted spread from our shores to other nations around the world, through example as well as through sharing our resources, for we know that when we are called upon to share, there is always enough.

For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.

Decrease violence in our land, Lord, and save from death the unborn and others who are vulnerable.

May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.

We ask for abundant provision for every person in our land, an ample supply of food and basic necessities. Bless each farmer in our land who grows our food, and please give them adequate rain for their crops.

May grain abound throughout the land;
on the tops of the hills may it sway.
May the crops flourish like Lebanon
and thrive like the grass of the field.
Then all nations will be blessed through him,
and they will call him blessed.

We ask that other nations would benefit from our prosperity. May the earth prosper and may each person be well-fed and cared for and loved.

May people ever pray for him
and bless him all day long.

May You stir the hearts of all praying Americans to lift up President Donald Trump and his family in prayer every day for protection, wisdom, and divine guidance.

Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.
Praise be to his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and Amen.

You alone do marvelous things, Lord! The government is ultimately on Your shoulders, and we give You praise and thanks, believing that as we pray in humility, You will hear us.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.