How often do we offer prayers to God not really expecting a response or an answer?
The early church prayed for Peter while he was in prison. We are told in Acts 12 that “many people had gathered and were praying” at the house of Mary, the mother of John the night before Peter was to stand trial before Herod. That night an “angel of the Lord” appeared to Peter in prison, released him from his shackles, and walked him out of the prison past the guards and city gates. When Peter realized that he wasn’t dreaming or having a vision he walked over to the house of Mary, where everyone was praying. They were so astonished to see him that they didn’t believe it was him!
“Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.” (Acts 12: 13-16)
If Peter’s friends and family really believed in their prayers would they have been so astonished to see Peter at the door?
Mark 9 relays the story of a man who comes to Jesus about his son who was possessed by an evil spirit. Jesus says to the man that “everything is possible to one who believes” and the man responds: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief”. (Mark 9:24).
Today…when you pray, try to “overcome your unbelief” and trust that Jesus is going to answer your prayers.
Many of us at some point have experienced feelings of rejection or abandonment.
Jesus is the ultimate example of someone who could identify with these feelings. Isaiah tells us “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom many hid their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not”. (Isaiah 53:2-4)
During his three years of ministry, Jesus experienced misunderstanding, rejection and even hatred by people. People in his own town had no belief in him and his miracles. The religious authorities of his day were threatened by him and sought at every occasion to undermine his ministry and have him destroyed.
The culmination of his ministry was at the cross, where Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world. Such an act meant he would receive not only the judgement of God, but also be forsaken by God. To come to this place of surrender was not easy. Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane where he agonized all night over the decision until his was able to say ‘not my will by yours be done’.
Today…take time to reflect upon times in your life when you have experienced rejection and abandonment. Read Psalm 22. Pray today for people who are abandoned: Refugees, street children, prisoners, the elderly or the poor. How might you offer a simple act of kindness towards one of these people?
It is difficult to glorify God in the midst of trials. Hardship and challenges in life cause us to complain to friends, family and God. Sometimes our feelings turn to bitterness and resentment, wondering why we have to go through such things.
King David is regarded by many as the greatest leader the nation of Israel ever had and was declared by God to be “a man after God’s own heart”. However, David was no stranger to tragedy and heartache in his own personal life. His son Amnon fell in love with his sister Tamar and raped her. Another of his son’s, Absalom, avenged his sister by killing his brother. This led to a rift between King David and his son Absalom, and Absalom eventually tried to usurp his father’s throne. The armies of these two men engaged in battle where twenty thousand troops were killed and led ultimately to the death of Absalom.
David was devastated by the news of his son’s death and cried out “If only I had died instead of you – O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33)
Family relationships can sometimes be the most painful and difficult in our lives because our feelings run deep. Hurts, intentional and unintentional, can cause great pain. However, it is when the relationship can no longer be repaired that bitterness and hurt may turn to regret.
God calls us to focus on Him in the midst of crisis and continue to glorify Him. Jesus made it clear that God should be glorified through our suffering. He prayed, “Father, the time has come, Glorify your son, that your son may glorify you.” (John 17:1)
Today…read Psalm 63. This psalm was written by David when he was fleeing Absalom. Do you think you could write these words in the midst of your personal trials?
Have you ever read through the accounts of some of the prophets? To say that God gave them a difficult assignment is an understatement.
At an early age, God called Jeremiah to be a prophet. Early in his ministry God warned him that life would not be easy. As Jeremiah began his ministry, the word of the Lord came true. The people did not respond to his message. His words bounced off deaf ears and hardened hearts. He experienced public shame and humiliation. People insulted him, beat him, threw him down a dry cistern and left him to die. (Jeremiah 38:6)
Hosea was a prophet who lived and prophesied just before the destruction of Israel. He was commanded to take a wife who would become a prostitute as an example of God’s relationship with Israel. Hosea was to manifest God’s patience and love to his wife, even though she had betrayed him. (Hosea 1:2)
Ezekiel was sent to the Israelites as well. His task was to make it clear to them that their city was about to be destroyed and the reasons why it would be overthrown. God called him to exemplify this through various symbolic acts. He lay on his left side for a period of time each day for 390 days, and then on his right side in a similar manner for 40 days. God told Ezekiel to expect torment as if from briars and thorns and as if living among scorpions, because the people would hate him so much. (Ezekiel 4:4)
Just after the final Passover with his disciples, Jesus told them that his servants should expect to be rejected by men (John 15:18-20). The lives of those who have proclaimed God’s message have never been easy.
Today… Don’t be disappointed when life is difficult. Read the stories of the prophets above and the 3rd Chapter of Lamentations.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)