Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

Let Your compassion quickly meet our needs. (Psalm 79:8b)

The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s armies will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:7b)

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What’s God like? What’s your idea of Him? Angry? Preferring judgment and revenge over mercy? Taking what we love away from us to teach us lessons? An angry, one-eyed  schoolmaster with the rod in one hand and a spoonful of nauseating medicine in the other? Is He poised to strike should you get out of line?

It seems like God gets the bum rap for everything bad that happens in the world. Natural disasters are deemed, “An act of God,” as though God goes around gleefully hurting creation like the scary next door neighbor kid in Toy Store.

What is the character of God?

One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard:

Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love. (Psalm 62:11,12)

If you believe God is good, is it possible to believe that He is all-powerful? How can He be both? Otherwise, why do bad things happen? He’s either bad or He’s weak. He can’t be Good and Supremely Powerful simultaneously.

Which is it? Aren’t those two traits incompatible?

God is both. He is Supremely Good and Supremely Powerful.

Bad things happen, in short, because He gave human beings charge of this planet, and we handed it over to the serpent. God lends us help when invited through prayer and our faith, but victory isn’t always achieved this side of Heaven. Whose fault is that?

Ours. We have messed things up for millennia, and it’s our responsibility to set it aright. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is the earth restored to the Garden of Eden in one fell swoop and with a handful of petitions!

But we’re working on it!

God has compassion on you, my friend! His passionate commitment to you is to help you, walk with you, give you wisdom, give you joy, forgive all that you have done that you’re not particularly proud of, and restore you to the person He thought up when He put all the pieces of who you are together in your mother’s womb.

All that isn’t good is not God’s fault! Quit blaming Him for people’s choices. Quit blaming Him for your own! Believe in His compassion. Believe in His passionate commitment towards you.

Just too good to be true? Pray this plain and simple prayer…

Father,

I haven’t altogether trusted in Your goodness. I’ve rationalized that distrust to believe that perhaps You’re just beyond my understanding. Well, You are beyond my understanding! Your goodness and kindness and justice and mercy are well beyond all I can comprehend.

“You are good, and Your love endures.” How many times have I read that, sung that, memorized that, declared that, and yet not fully embraced the truth of it?

Today I say it with all my heart: You are good!!!

If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing. (Isaiah 54:15)

 Not all that happens in my life is good, but those things and events are not Your doing. And you recycle all the refuse – all that is worthless – in my life, turning it into something beautiful.

If I need angelic protection today, which I do, I will pray for it.

If I need strength today, which I do, I will ask for it.

If I need healing today, which I do, I will request it and receive it in faith.

I’m asking and I’m believing in Your promises. You are both strong and perfectly loving!

Amen!

You do not have because you do not ask God. (James 4:2)

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“Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers” (Isaiah 7:4).

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What is keeping you up at night? What are you praying about, and are those prayers mixed with and motivated by worry?

Often our fears, real as they appear to be, are mere phantoms. The King of Judah trembled at the threat imposed upon him by two kings who had allied themselves against him. God sent Isaiah to encourage King Ahaz to stop worrying.

King Ahaz had the Lord on his side to help him against these threats, but if his faith wasn’t firmly established on the Lord’s power – if his fear caused him to seek help from someone other than God Himself – he was doomed, bound to the very circumstances that were frightening him.

“Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” Isaiah 7:9b

Ask yourself today, “Where is my faith?” Are God’s promises just lofty yet impotent sentiments? Are they hyperbole, exaggerated statements to make a point? Or are we meant to base our life on them, live by them, and respond to situations according to them?

If we serve and feed our fears where will that take us? On the other hand, if we choose to believe God’s Word as though it were true (because it is), where will He take us?

Is worrying your default? Worry is an occupation that yields no reward, no consolation, and certainly no victory. Ready to rid yourself of worry? Pray in faith this plain and simple prayer with us.

Father,

The worries I face are grounded in real-life circumstances that are daunting, but I choose to stop worrying as You have instructed me to do. I lay each worry I have owned at Your feet one by one…

You make roads through the Red Sea. There is no end to the grace You have for me in this circumstance I’m in today, so I will trust in You. I will not fear, fret, or worry any longer.

I will take charge of these rogue thoughts – they would make sense if I didn’t have You, but I do have You, my God who is my great Abba. You have promised to never leave me or forsake me. I will walk with You through this situation worry-free, for You are bigger than any challenge I am facing.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen!

 

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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. 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 He has every right to be angry.

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).

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