Casting Prayers!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

We talked yesterday about coming boldly to the throne of God but even though we come boldly we must come with a humble spirit. The verse just before this one quotes a Proverb. 

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 

What does It even mean that God opposes the proud. Some translations say resists the proud. When I picture someone who is proud, I picture someone who has it all together. Someone who has everything the world would have to offer them. They would be someone who is independent, self reliant, maybe successful in the business world, has material things, and generally someone who does not see their need for God. This is not to say that owning things and having success is a bad thing, it is our attitude toward these things that show whether we are proud or humble. I have known people who had “things” and yet they knew the place of those things and I have known people who wrapped up their whole identity in their success and things. When this says God opposes the proud, I also do not believe that it means God opposes the person, but that God opposes the attitude of the person. We know that everyone can approach the throne of Grace. But the blessings that we receive from God are based upon our attitude when we approach the throne. Let’s face it, someone who is putting all of their hopes and dreams on their own material wealth and gain and their own abilities does not come to God wanting His direction in their life, they just want His blessings. 

But! When we humble ourselves, when we realize that we want to live in the grace that only God can provide to us and we come to Him and submit to His will and His way in our lives then God really will bless us. The blessings may or may not be material but the blessing of it all is living in His grace and letting Him be our daily guide as we walk out our faith. 

My favorite part of this passage is verse 7, “casting all your anxieties on him”. I have mentioned before that at times I picture myself dragging this heavy bag of burdens to the cross and laying them down one by one. But this verse gives the picture of “casting”. When you cast something you are not gently laying it down, you are throwing it down. Maybe even hurling it down. What are the things that make you anxious right now? Is it a diagnosis? Is it someone in your family who has died too young? Is it someone who is sick and there is no recovery in sight, or the recovery is long and uncertain? Is it a child that has gone a different path, maybe a destructive path than what you ever dreamed they would go? Is it a divorce? Or a broken friendship? These are the things that we don’t just lay at the foot of the cross, we throw them down at the cross. Have you ever been so angry or emotional over something that you wanted to just throw things? Oh I have. And sometimes it can be satisfying to hear things shatter when you throw them down. I think sometimes there are worries and anxieties that we are dealing with that the only real response is to take them and throw them at the foot of the cross and maybe if you listen real good, you will hear those things shatter when you do. When your heart is breaking over the unfairness that this world has to offer at times, those are the times you come boldly to Him, you come with a humble heart knowing that He is the only one who can fix your heart and your situation and just throw those things at His feet. In your mind take them out and hurl them and watch them shatter into a million pieces and then let Him comfort you and let Him decide the best way to put those pieces back together. Because He cares for you! And because ~~

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Cast them down my friend, whatever is hurting your heart today, CAST those worries down at the feet of Jesus! 

Come Boldly!

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

This is one of my all time very favorite verses!!! Every time I read this verse it fills me with wonder and awe and joy and humility! Jesus is our high priest! When he died on the cross the veil tore between the Holy of Holies and humanity and gave us access to the throne of God. We don’t have to go to another person, not a priest or a pastor or anyone to act as a mediator between us and God! But even more awe inspiring is that Jesus had taken on humanity and he had walked the earth and he felt pain and he felt joy and he knows what it’s like to walk this crazy earth with crazy people and yet, he kept His perfection by not sinning! 

It’s like this, when you are going through something and you feel you really need to talk to someone wouldn’t you rather talk with someone who has been there. I know when I lost my parents, I realized that I had never fully understood what it was like to lose parents until I lost mine. I could sympathize with people who had walked that path but I couldn’t empathize with them. Same thing when I lost my sister, the people who really touched the pain deep in my heart were the people who had been there, the people who had experienced the same pain that I was experiencing. Jesus took on flesh and blood and he walked this earth. He got dirty and had to bathe, he ate food, he experienced pain and he experienced happy times and sad times, yet he handled everything that came His way when he was walking this earth rightly, without sin. Jesus knew weakness but he did not know sin. When we think of that it may make you think Jesus can’t possibly know what we are going through because of His perfection, because He did not sin. In my study I found a quote by Spurgeon (I love Spurgeon, he has some of the best statements!). 

“But listen to me; do not imagine that if the Lord Jesus had sinned he would have been any more tender toward you; for sin is always of a hardening nature. If the Christ of God could have sinned, he would have lost the perfection of his sympathetic nature.”

I had never thought of this in that way but it’s true when I think of people who fall into a lifestyle of sin, they become hard and bitter. Whether your lifestyle of sin is outward (sins like abuse of alcohol or drugs, or sins against the body, pornography or lust) or inward (harboring unforgiveness, pride, greed), sin will make you hard and bitter. Jesus never became hard and bitter because he did not sin! He experienced earth in the most perfect way! Which brings us to the most awesome thought that we can approach His throne of Grace! 

I love how some translations say “come boldly”! Jesus in all His perfection and in all His humanity has a throne of grace that we can come boldly and walk right up to Him and lay all of our troubles, our worries, our doubts, our fears, our anger, our sin, and yes even our hopes and our dreams down in front of Him. And when we bring all of our imperfect selves to the perfect Jesus, we don’t receive condemnation and/or even ridicule from Him. We receive mercy and grace. Mercy is we are not getting what we deserve. We truly deserve condemnation and judgement but we aren’t getting that from Him. And we don’t deserve the grace (the love, the forgiveness, the peace) but that is what we gain. 

Bring it all to Him, bring all the ugly that may have crept in your heart because of living in this old world! And bring your hopes and your dreams and lay them all down at the throne of grace and you will receive mercy and grace from Him.  Come boldly! 

Persistent Prayer!

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1

Jesus is about to tell them a story about persistent prayer, and the key here is the last phrase “and not lose heart”. Sometimes it’s hard not to lose heart when we are praying for something and we feel that our prayers are ‘not reaching the ceiling’! At times we feel like we have prayed for something for so long we doubt if God is listening or if He will ever give us an answer to our prayers. Jesus acknowledges that right here when he is instructing us to pray and not lose heart. 

“He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’’ And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

In this parable, Jesus is explaining to them that this woman, who is requesting justice from this judge, who was an ungodly man who didn’t have any respect for God nor for man, basically wore him out. She requested justice to the point that he gave it to her just to shut her up. I wonder sometimes if I have simply worn God out with my requests. And He gets to the point He will answer me just to shut me up.  But that is not what Jesus is saying at all.  What He is saying is if this woman can get her requests answered because she wore the ungodly judge out, how much more will our heavenly Father give us an answer because He loves us. When we cry out to Him day and night, it is not that we are wearing Him out and that His patience wears thin. What it is is that we will move the heart of God when we cry out to Him day and night. God desires to answer our prayers when we have come to Him over the same thing day in and day out because He loves us not because He is tired of us. While this woman’s persistence wore on the judges nerves, our persistence in prayer moves God! You see this woman came to an ungodly judge who was unjust, but we come to our God who is perfect and He loves us, He is kind, He knows us and He wants good for us! We can know that God has started working on our behalf with the first prayer, but we can build our relationship, and our faith and our hope by coming to Him in prayer persistently over the things that trouble us. 

I can also attest to this, that at times my persistence in prayer will end up changing what I am praying for. I may start out praying for a certain thing and by the time I feel the answer comes I find that my requests have transformed into something different. I have said it here before, prayer ends up changing me way more than I get what I am praying for. That is why I also try to always pray that if I am praying the wrong thing that God will show me and will change my heart. And He has many times done that for me. Sometimes my requests may be answered closely to what I have prayed but at other times God changes my heart. And when this happens I can look back and marvel over the way He answers. It is usually better than I could have ever thought to pray for! 

I hope that when Jesus returns or He takes me home that he will look at me and say that He found me faithful on earth because of my persistence in bringing my requests to Him.