June 29, 2007

 

Honest Prayer

By Rachel Olsen

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

         

Devotion:

Have you ever shaken your fist at God over His answer to your prayers, or lack of answers?

 

Have you grown angry with Him over the injustices in your life?

 

If so, you’ll be able to relate to the prophet Habakkuk, living roughly 600 years before Christ. His book of the Bible begins with this complaint: “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save me. Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?” (Hab.1:2-3, NIV). God answered Habakkuk by telling him to be patient and to watch, that He will do amazing things and usher in justice, but only in His timing.

 

Passionate, honest, gut-level, even angry prayers have been recorded through out the Bible. Habakkuk wasn’t the only one to complain. Moses, Gideon, and Elijah all questioned God. Job even cursed the day God made him and said, “I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands...?’” (Job 10:1-3, NIV).

 

In his anguish, Job accused God of afflicting people for no reason (Job 9:17), overwhelming them with misery (Job 9:18), not caring about injustice (Job 9:22, 24), and laughing at the pain of the innocent (Job 9:22). Of course these accusations are not accurate, but it is true that is how we often feel in times of severe suffering or testing. God knows our deepest thoughts and feelings, so it’s futile to think we can hide them from Him. Better to come clean with how we really feel, get it off our chest in prayer, and hopefully clear the way to hear and receive God’s reply or comfort.

 

I’ve complained to God in the past for allowing my loved ones to die or fall deep into sin, for allowing valuable things to be stolen from me, for allowing my reputation to be unfairly tarnished, for allowing physical suffering in my body, or for not allowing what I felt I deserved. I have found the best thing I can do is honestly take these feelings to God where they can be traded for His perspective and His comforting assurance. Though God may not always change my circumstances the way I want Him to, He can and does change my perspective on those circumstances and enables me to endure them.

 

God listens when we complain about injustice. He hates seeing the unrighteous prosper, particularly when it’s at the hands of the innocent, as much as we do. He understands when we feel shortchanged or opposed. Read through the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and you’ll be reminded of just how much Jesus can relate to undeserved opposition.

 

I urge you to be honest before God in prayer today. While maintaining a degree of holy respect for Him and thanksgiving for His saving grace, pour out the good, the bad and the ugly of your feelings. As Habakkuk, Job and others discovered, God can handle your intense emotions and questions. Though He rarely explains Himself fully to us – perhaps because we can’t fully understand this side of eternity – He does flood us with His power, love and peace when we come humbly and honestly before Him and pour out our heart.

 

Dear Lord, it’s hard for me to understand Your ways. It’s hard for me to overlook offenses. It’s hard for me to deal graciously with the difficult situations or people in my life, and sometimes I grow angry with You for allowing them into my life. But I don’t want to be a bitter or miserable person. Help me to see through Your eyes, and to endure all that You allow into my life, with Your grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Related Resources:

God Calling by A.J. Russell 

 

Your Scars are Beautiful to God by Sharon Jaynes

 

Do You Know Him?

 

Application Steps: 

Read through one of the books of the New Testament that records Jesus’ life, noticing all the times and ways that He was opposed, or let down by those around Him. Consider the suffering that He was allowed to endure on this earth, and what results it ultimately produced.

 

Reflections: 

Are you angry with God over what He’s allowed to happen to you, or a loved one?

 

Have you taken those feelings to Him honestly in prayer and asked for His perspective and comfort?

 

Are you willing to settle for the comfort of God in your situation, or are you only interested in having God change your situation to suit you?

 

Are you allowing this difficult situation to deepen and strengthen your character, and your relationship with Christ?

 

Power Verses:

Psalm 36:5, “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” (NIV) 

 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)

 

 

 

Proverbs 31 Ministries

616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road

Matthews, NC 28105

www.Proverbs31.org