May 22, 2007

Rejoice in Him even when you don’t feel like it

We are called to pray to God.

"Arise, cry aloud in the night at the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord; lift up your hands to Him.” Lamentations 2:18-20

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thess 5:16-18)

Rejoice in Him even when you don’t feel like it.

Prayer is our response to God as He communicates to us in His Word and in our circumstances. Just as talking and sharing things with a close friend is key to deepening the friendship, so is talking to God in prayer. It is the divine vehicle for communing with the living God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:8)
Prayer is our opportunity to pour our hearts out to God. Go through yesterday’s conversations and occurrences. We know that God orchestrates every detail, event, conversation. Things don’t just accidentally happen to you. The Lord is always working on our behalf. And what He is working out? He is designing everything in our day to transform us to look more and more like Himself and to bring about His fame.

Prayer expresses a spirit of neediness for God. But in His wisdom, there are times when He sends humbling circumstances due to our spirit of independence. He knows what we need to be humbled and what we need to be made aware of our independent spirit. A spirit that acts independently of Him doesn’t see the need to pray and call out to God. This spirit of independence is something the Lord hates. We see this in Psalm 53:4, “Have the workers of wickedness no knowledge, who eat up My people as though they ate bread and have not called upon God?” These people who have “not called upon God” are called “workers of wickedness.” This is also seen in Psalm 52:7, “Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and was strong in his evil desire." This kind of independent spirit says, “I don’t need you God. I don’t need you to be my refuge. I can handle this on my own. I don’t want to need you. I want to be self sufficient. Praying about everything, though, is the opposite of an independent spirit. It says, “I need you God. I am not complete in myself. You have the power to change things.”

Lay it all before Him in prayer

We can rejoice that God has perfect knowledge of each of us already. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Even if try to pretend that something isn’t bothering us or avoid the discussion of a painful topic, our hearts are already laid bare before Him. Hebrews 4:12-13 says that, “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Since He already knows us, we ought to lay it all before Him in our prayers. Talk to Him about everything throughout your day. Did you think a terrible thought? Don’t stop at telling yourself, “don’t think that horrid thing!” Talk about it with the Lord. “Father, what are you showing me about what is in my heart? I feel awful that those kinds of thoughts are even in my heart. Thank you for showing me how wicked I really am. You only are my good. I am prone to wander from You. Please rescue me from my own ugliness and cleanse me.” You might think, why should I bother saying it to the Lord if He already knows what I’m thinking? Well it helps you as you verbalize it to the Lord. Just like He already knows if our hearts are praising Him but He commands us to declare His wonders, to tell and speak His praises. We see this in Psalm 9:1, “I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.”

Talk to the Lord about the circumstances that took place today or yesterday. “Lord what are you showing me about myself through the painful conversation. Or that disappointing scenario? I know You are sovereign over every detail. You wanted me to have to go through that. What do I need to see? In the book of Exodus, the Lord reveals His purpose for His people in allowing them to struggle--that they would know what is in their hearts. As you live your life talking to the Lord about everything and ask Him to communicate with you through the events that He orchestrates in your life, You will experience a real friendship with the Lord.

“Pouring out my heart to God in prayer is like taking the garbage out. I can pour all my disappointments and concerns and hopes into Him and leave no stone unturned, no opportunity for some unnoticed sin to fester. As we pour out our hearts to God, we need to stay there until we sincerely and genuinely make ourselves known to God. He already knows it all, but He calls us to come to Him with everything as a child.
This is what the psalmists did. Consider Psalm 88. There is no hope proclaimed at the close of the prayer. It is just an honest outpouring of the heart. God lets us do this. Though we shouldn’t stay angry and discontented, we need to keep praying prayers of surrender, begging Him to change our hearts, telling Him our honest responses. The Puritans said it this way: “Pray until you pray.” Stay there in prayer until you have really prayed.” (The Battle for Joy. Glenn, Gayle p 22)

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