HOW TO HAVE POWERFUL PRAYERS Did you know that there was a disciple named…
12. Nothing Wasted
16. Don’t. Don’t. Never. Stop.
29. Know Your Enemy
Are you in the middle of waiting on God for something? Everyone can relate to needing God to come through and deliver us. Maybe we don’t understand what’s going on right now and need some clarity. There could be a big decision you’re trying to making and waiting for God to open the door. Often we wish Jesus would just tell us the plan. It would be so much easier if we knew the plan so that we could just go along with it. The thing is God doesn’t tell us the plan, because he cares more about who you are becoming than where you are going.
Genesis 40:14-15, 23
“When all goes well with you, remember me and how me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”
The chief cupbearer, however did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.
Joseph had a plan. The plan was for the chief cupbearer to remember Joseph and to get him out of prison. That plan didn’t work. Two full years passed and Joseph was still sitting in prison. He must’ve been wondering if the cupbearer was going to come through on his promise. The cupbearer probably said, “Yeah, Joseph, I got your back! I’m gonna get out, then tell the Pharaoh that you were wrongfully imprisoned. I’ll tell him you shouldn’t be here and how you interpret dreams. I got you!” And yet, here’s Joseph just waiting for him to come through. He’s depending on somebody else and that person has let him down. Joseph found himself in a waiting season. Like us, he wasn’t able to speed up the situation because it was out of his control. What do you do as a follower of Jesus when you can’t control your waiting season? How do you trust God even when you don’t understand?
4 Things to do in your waiting season:
1. DON’T forget to repent.
Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)
Whoever conceals their sin does not prosper,
But the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Scripture tells us the secret to a new beginning, starts with confession. If we confess and turn from sin, we will receive mercy. You know what that means? Maybe you’re in a situation that you’re not supposed to be in. Or maybe you’re in a situation that you deserve to be in. At times we need to recognize that most if our mistakes are because we made a mess. There are consequences to our actions and we have to take responsibility for what we have done. “God, I’m in this financial mess, because I was a bad steward.” “I’m in this health crisis, because I didn’t take care of the body He gave me. “I have this broken heart, because I shouldn’t have slept with that guy/girl. I recognize that I got to close, and jumped the gun.” Whatever you situation is, it could be because of sin or just poor decisions. If you find yourself in a mess, it’s never too late to go to God and repent. Repenting looks like having a change of mind and owning it. Having that change of heart is important to God because He doesn’t want to see you in the same situation again. He wants you to mature and to grow up. All of that starts with repentance.
Then ask boldly for help.
Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)
Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
You can ask boldly for help after God forgives you. He loves to deliver and rescue you. Our natural reaction would be to make the mistake of crawling or groveling to the throne. “Oh, I’m so unworthy.” It’s true, we are unworthy. But Jesus is worthy and that completely overshadows how unworthy we are. Our sin is a big deal, so much so that Jesus had to die for our sin. But Jesus wants you to live boldly in your forgiveness. He wants you to approach God’s throne with boldness. Ask for help, after you’ve repented.
2. DON’T be afraid to ask God to change His mind.
We know that God has a plan and that we don’t always know what that plan is. The idea that we could boldly ask God to change His mind is not an idea we often remember. Here are some examples of people that boldly went for the ask:
In Genesis 18 we hear about God’s plan to completely destroy Sodom and Gamora. Abraham’s nephew lived there and asked if God would save the city for 50 righteous people? 45? 40? 30? 20?
Finally, Abraham asked God to save the city for 10 righteous people. God changed his mind and said he would save it for 10.
Isaiah 38 tells us about the story of King Hezekiah who had a terminal illness. God changed his mind and added 15 years to his life, because he had heard his cries and seen his tears.
In Luke 26 we read the story of Jesus in the garden just before he was arrested. He cries out to God the Father and asks if it is possible for God to change his mind. He asked if there was any other option or plan. Jesus also asked that not His will be done, but the Father’s.
Remember that when you are born again, God has adopted you as his son or daughter. He becomes our Heavenly Father. That dynamic is the only healthy way to truly see the fullness of your relationship with God. God’s a lot of things in your life. He’s a King. He’s our Master. He’s our Lord. He’s our Teacher. He’s our Helper. He’s our Great Physician. But the primary way God reveals Himself is as a Father.
As a father to my three kids, they often come to me with requests. My default answer is, “I’ll think about it.” Honestly, I don’t want to give them an answer right away and then change my mind or go back on my word. I also need to ask Maria first to make sure we are on the same page about what they are asking. So a lot of times I’ll say, “I’ll think about it.” or “Maybe, later.” God the Father does the same with us, too. When we come to Him with our prayer requests, sometimes the answer is “Yes.” Other times the answer is “No.” Or sometimes He says, “Later.” As a Father, He is looking out for you and might be saying, “You know what, let’s just see how things go with what I have given you first. How did you respond when I answered you last time?” Sometimes it’s not as simple as God changing his mind. It’s more of maybe God hasn’t made up his mind yet.
Luke 11:5-8 (NLT)
Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story:
“Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.”
God loves it, when you don’t give up on prayer. He loves it when you don’t give up on Him. It puts a smile on God’s face when you keep asking and seeking Him. When you have shameless persistence and are trusting in God, He notices. Don’t forget to repent. Don’t be afraid to ask God to change His mind.
3. NEVER make a permanent decision during a storm.
Hands down. Best advice I’ve ever received in my life, “Don’t make a permanent decision during a storm.” Some of us had the tendency to be impulsive and to react when things happen in our life, and it makes more of a mess. We forget that there’s a God who is over the storm, we need to be reminded that this too, shall pass. You know, we’ll get through this storm, but don’t make a permanent decision in the middle of a crisis. When the crisis is over, you’re left there, thinking, “I shouldn’t have said that.” Or “I shouldn’t have reacted that way.” Be someone who response is to ask God how to respond. Don’t just react impulsively.
Never make a permanent decision during a storm. But don’t be afraid to make a plan either.
Sometimes we’re just sitting around waiting for God to deliver us. You could be waiting for God to open a door for you, but God is asking you to start with knocking. I heard the saying one time, “When God doesn’t open the door, he opens a window.” I guess the idea is that if the door doesn’t work, maybe look around and find another way in. I’m okay with that saying because I think that sitting around and waiting without actually prayerfully considering a plan, is a lack of faith.
I don’t know about you, but I like to make plans. It’s probably because I’m a control freak by nature. When I’m in a situation where I can’t control things, I tend to grab the things that I can’t control. One kind of life hack for me is to create a plan. Before I actually start the plan, I’ll say, “Hey, God, how do you feel about this plan?”
Proverbs 16:3 (NLT)
Commit your actions to the Lord,
And your plans will succeed.
Dedicate the situation or waiting season that you’re in to God, come up with a plan and then give God your plan. I think God responds to that more than us just waiting for God to do something. I think oftentimes, we’re waiting on God, when God is waiting on us. He’s like, “Man, I’ve given you the Holy Spirit. I’ve given you, the body of Christ to help you make plans. I’ve given you creativity. I’ve given you the forgiveness of sins and the opportunity to be close to Me.” God’s given us the tools to make a good plan.
There could be a million different things going on in your life. Some of them could be a big opportunity or a small change that you aren’t sure if you should make. Maybe you’re thinking about starting a side business or wondering if this is the right time to ask the girl out that you like. Or maybe, some things haven’t been going so well with the way you’re parenting your kids, and you’re trying to figure out a new way to discipline them. Or maybe you’re trying to make a decision in faith about your finances. Can I tell you God cares about all those things? But, if you’re waiting for God to make the plan for you, in my experience, it’s the plan made in faith that honors Him even more. So give it a shot. Don’t be afraid to make a plan. Don’t. Don’t. Never. Stop.
4. STOP complaining.
Stop blaming. God wants to deliver some people, but they’re complaining too much. He’s like, “I’m just gonna leave them there until they knock that off.” The blaming is showing a lack of responsibility and God’s like, “I’m trying to not waste their pain. If they think this is somebody else’s fault, I’m gonna see them go through this whole thing again.” Let’s all stop assuming we know God’s plan. We don’t know for sure what God is doing. We do know that God loves us, will never forsake us and is always with us. The Bible tells us that the angels don’t even know the full plan. While Jesus was on earth, he tells us that he didn’t know when the return would be. The challenging thing is that it leaves us a no other choice than surrender and trust God.
If you think about it, faith and trust are not the same thing. Faith is a noun. Faith is something that you have, right? You can put your faith in something like your job, spouse, bank account. If you put your faith in those things then you do not need God. You can choose where to put your faith. But when you put your faith in God, you can’t do that without trust. Faith is a noun, trust is a verb. God’s looking for both. God’s looking for you to trust Him even when you don’t understand. So, don’t complain. Don’t blame. Don’t assume you know, the plan. At the end of the day, you don’t need to know as much of this plan as you think. You just need to trust.