Have you ever examined your life and realized that you are not the person you want to be? One thing leads to another and all of the sudden you become a person you don’t like. For me, the circumstances of my life lead me to becoming very cynical towards the things of the Lord. I found myself questioning the importance of prayer, questioning the Lord’s desire to be involved in my life, and more.
Almost a year of doubting the Lord sent me to a very dark and lonely place, and I knew that something needed to change. I knew the answer was confessing my frustrations to the Lord, prayer, and reading scripture, but I found that every time I went to read scripture it just didn’t mean anything to me. The words didn’t speak to me like they used to and that was incredibly discouraging. For me, that just seemed like more proof that the Lord didn’t really want anything to do with me anymore. However, a couple of weeks ago, after months of slowly realizing some changes needed to be made in my life (and after a long talk with my awesome mom), I was finally honest with myself about where my relationship with the Lord had ended up, and I was finally able to give up some burdens and begin praying and reading scripture again.
Today I’m thankful for a God who doesn’t give up on us. I’m reminded of when Jesus says to Simon Peter in Luke 22:32, “I’ve prayed for you; that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” I’m thankful that I have been prayed for, that my faith has been strengthened, and that my God has patiently awaited my return.
Today I read Psalm 32, and its truth hit me like a ton of bricks.
1 Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?
-Corrie Ten Boom
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was dried up
as by the heat of summer.
When we keep silent, when we push the Lord away and when we ignore the Lord His hand seems heavy upon us because our guilt troubles us. We refuse to give things up to the Lord, and instead we cling tightly to our problems which become burdens that are too heavy for us to bear. God brings these things to our mind; He keeps them on our heart and conscience so that we can’t throw it off. He doesn’t leave us in the midst of our problems, in fact it is quite the opposite… His hand becomes heavy upon us so that we don’t forget to offer up our burdens to Him.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me.
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
If we pray “while [the Lord] may be found,” let’s remember that the throne of grace is always open and the Lord can be found at all times when we call out to him. And when we are constantly in conversation with the Lord we find that we are strengthened by Him, so that when the mighty waters rise around us we won’t be overtaken by them. When I think back on the last year, I know that I wasn’t prepared for the flood that was coming my way.
It’s a bad idea to wait until you are in the middle of the storm to start looking for your life preserver.
7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
The Lord is our shelter, and he protects us when trouble is near, but he also surrounds us with songs (some versions say shouts) of deliverance! This is exciting to me because the world surrounds us with despair and hopelessness, but the Lord brings JOY, HOPE and DELIVERANCE! He provides a way out of the desolate life the world offers.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or it will not stay near you.
I think these verses are amazing for a couple of reasons. First, I love that the speaker changes to the Lord, speaking to us in first person. Saying that He will instruct us and teach us and lead us in the way we should go. That He will counsel us with His loving eyes always on us. You see, friend, it is not in His character to leave us in the dark… He wants to lead us, and he wants to do it the easy way! But so often we are stubborn mules who won’t stay near the Lord unless we are bridled. If he must use the bit and bridle, He will. But he instructs us to not be like the horse or the mule, but to stay near him and listen to his teaching, and he will lovingly counsel us.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love
surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!”
These verses give us a reason to have joy. The wicked do have many reasons to be sorrowful, but the Lord’s steadfast love SURROUNDS the one who TRUSTS in Him. He calls us to REJOICE, to be GLAD in Him, and he prompts us to SING for joy.
Thank you Lord for speaking to us through scripture. Thank you for surrounding us with songs of deliverance, and for surrounding us with your unfailing love.
*The quotes I included aren’t just random quotes about prayer, they are all quotes that I heard at one time or another during my time of ignoring the Lord that used to be convicting, but are now encouraging 🙂