A wise friend listened to me recently as I poured out my heart about a situation that seemed - despite all the promises of God - to remain stubbornly and decisively unchanged.
You know the kind of situation I’m talking about: no amount of praying, prophesying, persisting or proclaiming makes even a dent; in fact, it sometimes makes things worse!
I was fed up, confused, worn out and honestly annoyed at what seemed to be a brick wall I would never surmount.
Sure, God had given me some terrific and specific promises, but it had been years - decades, even - and nothing had changed! What was I to do?
I am the first to admit that prayer is simply amazing. To pray and see God answer - well, there’s just nothing like it!
To know that we have such an incredibly intimate God who cares about the smallest details of our lives is a blessing I can’t keep quiet about! It’s why I write to you as often as I can, to stir up your faith and share the “gems” God gives me which I hope will enrich your lives also.
I have pages upon pages of testimonies of answered prayer, too (ask me to show you sometime), but for some crazy reason, this particular situation wouldn’t budge. I was stuck. Stumped. Done.
As I shared this problem with my wise friend, she said something that surprised me. “Stop praying so hard!”
I’m pretty sure I looked at her cross-eyed since her advice seemed so counter-intuitive to me. Stop praying?!
She explained further: if what you are praying for is not built on a solid foundation, then no amount of praying is going to make it work. Like a house built on sand, you could pray for the most wonderful features: decorative doors, expensive windows, or state-of-the-art systems, but in the end, it will all crumble. Why? Because the foundation MUST be Christ.
It would be better, she continued, to let the old “wreck” crumble and start over with something new and devoted to God.
In other words, your old, dysfunctional situation has to die in order for resurrection to take place.
As we prayed about this, I felt a new lightness come into my spirit. All this time, God had been trying to show me that I’d been trying too hard. He wasn’t blessing the old because He wanted something better - the new! And all my praying to “prop up” old stuff was failing miserably. God had something better in mind!
I have taken this wisdom to heart, and I hope you will, too. There are things in my life that I have repeatedly tried to change or “sanctify” through prayer, which God is simply not in. Things that I need to let die so that He can resurrect them.
This is not an easy process, but it is beneficial. It takes me out of the picture so that God can work on situations as He sees fit. Honestly, I wonder if God sometimes thinks to Himself, “When are you going to get out of the way with all your ideas about what should happen here and simply let Me be God?!”
When I completely surrender difficult situations to Him, relinquishing any expectations or efforts on my part to make things happen the way I think they should, God takes over (and does a much better job)!
Not only that, but total surrender also releases me from the man-made, religious burden I am carrying to “pray it through” or “pray unceasingly” until a change occurs. Guess what? That’s not what the Bible means when it talks about prayer.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6 )
True prayer is Spirit-led. To “pray something through” is to pray until the Holy Spirit is done, not until we keel over from exhaustion trying to change things!
Most of us don’t follow the leading of the Spirit as often as we could. We pray selfishly, running through our list of things we’d like to see God do - and sometimes never seeing them come to pass. Why? Because God wasn’t in it to begin with!
A FRESH START
I needed a fresh start in my prayer life that day, and I am so grateful for a friend who could see what I couldn’t.
What did I do about my troubling situation? I asked God to show me how HE sees it and what HE wants to do. In other words, not MY will, but His.
I didn’t assume anything, even based on what I know of His Word. Instead, I asked: “How should I be praying, Lord?”
God surprised me again by giving me a completely different prayer to pray. It was a fresh word that came straight from HIS heart, not from mine. It wasn’t what I expected. It isn’t something I can do. And I am praying confidently now, knowing that when this word comes to pass, ONLY GOD will get the glory because there’s simply no “Deborah” in it!
Dying isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. If we don’t let go of the old stuff, we’ll never receive the fullness of the new. I pray that like me, you will take this powerful truth to heart so that all your weeds are replaced with flowers. Your weariness turns to strength. And your most hopeless situation becomes a place of life-giving joy and peace because you trusted in God who brings life out of death. Amen.
© Deborah Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.