From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Nine, Day Four
Ancient armies carried standards or banners that served as marks of identification and as symbols that embodied the ideals of a people. A banner, like a flag, was something that could be seen from afar, serving as a rallying point for troops before a battle. Though banners were first used in Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, and Persia, the Israelites carried them on their march through the desert. When you pray to Yahweh Nissi, you are praying to the God who is powerful enough to overcome any foe.
Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation." (Exodus 17:15-16)
PRAYING THE NAME
"See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders... Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed." Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives rescued from the fierce? But this is what the LORD says: "Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save." (Isaiah 49:22-25)
Reflect On: Isaiah 49:22-25
Praise God: For his power to save the children in your life.
Offer Thanks: For God's promise of help.
Confess: Any lack of faith, fueled by disappointment.
Ask God: To arouse your fighting spirit on behalf of your children.
Though you may be living for Christ, your children or children you care about may not be. You may have done your best to share your faith when they were young—reading the Bible, teaching them to pray, bringing them to church, and modeling the love of Christ. Yet they strayed, pulled away by a thousand enticements.
Year after year you pray, but little seems to happen. Things may have even gotten worse. Sex, money, drugs, partying, illness, apathy—whatever it is, you know your loved ones will self-destruct if they do not find their way back to God. Perhaps you have become so discouraged by what you see that you have stopped praying.
Yet Scripture tells us that those who hope in God will not be disappointed. Notice that it doesn't say those who hope in God usually won't be disappointed. It flat out says they will not be disappointed. That means that ultimately you won't be disappointed in God's faithfulness even if your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or neighbors are failing in school or living on the streets or engaged in illicit relationships or drinking themselves to death or working so hard that they have no time for God. You may agonize over their choices and their circumstances, but you can't afford to let that agony push you into premature conclusions about where they will end up. The whole story has yet to be written, and it can still be influenced by your hope and by your prayers. Disappointment is nothing but a premature conclusion, causing you to stop reading before the story's end, making you abandon your hope in God, and enfeebling your ability to pray. While it is true that human beings are ultimately free to accept or reject God, your prayers may help to create a greater opening for grace to work.
Instead of giving up, pray that Yahweh Nissi will unfurl his banner for all to see, rescuing these children from whatever captivates them. Join with other prayerful people—parents, teachers, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and neighbors—to remind God of his promise to contend with those who contend with you—to save the children you love and to bring them home again.
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.