Friday, October 21, 2011

Watch and Pray… pressing on when God is silent.

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my
rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my
salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
 -- Psalms 62:5-7

Recently I have walked through a pretty intense time of testing. God was testing and proving my faith in prayer and as a result there was very little sleep for about 5 days. When the time ended, the outcome was not quite what we had desired. God answered our prayer to an extent, but yet there was no YES. There was a WAIT. In other words, the answer you desire is not to be right now, but keep it in prayer until it comes. There was also a refining of my prayers because am still very much influenced by the flesh and thus my prayers are not always of the Spirit of God and in alignment with His Word and will. The Lord is very gracious to train us how to pray and so very patient.
As I was meditating on these days/nights of prayer and the testing of my faith and I was reminded of Hebrews 11:13 that says, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”  They all had faith, but yet they did not receive all the promises that God gave them. They died. They died in faith; they died trusting that God would bring the promises to fulfillment. Sometimes people pray for things but often their faith is in their own faith, or their hope is in the desired outcome. Thus when it does not come they give up in defeat. But true faith is focused on one thing: Christ, not the outcome. It does not look to itself, but to God. Thus I can say that despite the outcome my faith this week was actually strengthened in the Lord. It was not centered on the outcome that I desired and as a result when the outcome was not what I would have liked, my faith did not fail me, but was still steadfast. I was still resting in the Lord, and trusting HIM, believing that He does all things well and according to the counsel of His will. My faith is built upon a rock on which is written the promises of God, and when He leads His people to fight, He is always victorious!
In Matthew 26:41, Jesus and His disciples are in the garden of Gethsemane and Jesus says to them, “Watch and pray.” It is interesting that Jesus doesn’t tell them what to pray for, just to “Watch and pray”. And the purpose of this prayer watch? One purpose was to guard and strengthen them spiritual to resist temptation, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” Jesus said. The flesh and great Enemy is always tempting us to doubt, but this must be resisted. The second purpose is at the end of this verse where Jesus adds, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."  Often when God calls us to prayer it is not a convenient time. For the disciples, it was late at night and it had been a long day. Sure their spirits desired fellowship with the Father in prayer, but their bodies were weak and tired and the flesh demanded full attention. It is in those times that it is the most crucial to stand against the flesh, resist the temptation to serve self and instead die to it and spend your time praying instead of sleeping, eating, being with friends, or whatever it may be. Prayer is a discipline of dying to ourselves and giving our all for Christ in that moment.
When God’s answer to our prayers is WAIT it is a call to press on despite the fact that nothing is happening in the natural realm. To wait is to be quiet, silent. To rest in full dependence on another. For us, it’s waiting on and depending on Christ. Do we truly rest on Christ? Abide in Him so that everything we do, say, write is an overflow of the life of Christ? That is true faith. It is that which waits on God no matter what. It is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” and it believes that He is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:1 & 6). Do you really believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him?
Oh, brother, sister, let me ask you: what is it that you are waiting for?  Are you waiting for your desired outcome? For your dreams to come true, for your prince or princess to show up, for the desires of your heart to be fulfilled? Then, my dear friend, you are waiting for the wrong thing. If you are longing for or leaning on anything more than Jesus Christ, that is idolatry. We should not desire our own dreams, but His will. We should not long for our story to unfold, but for His perfect plan to be made known. We should not wait for our desires to be fulfilled, but wait on Him. He is our expectation and our reward. If our faith is built on Christ than our faith shall never fail, for it is placed in a God who never fails. Since our faith is in Him we can say with Job, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). We accept no defeat, no loss. Our God is faithful, He cannot lie, and He always wins.

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