Prayer and Praise

November 16, 2020 at 11:55 AM 5 comments

In my last article in this series, I spoke of a number of things related to prayer; what it is and how it works. Certainly, it was not an exhaustive article and looking back at it, it’s probably a good idea to clarify at least one point before moving on to others.

I said in my last article, “The fact that he will be saved I believe, is a done deal” with reference to the family member I spoke about who is an alcoholic and has other addictions and to our knowledge, is not saved. Since that article, I’ve studied much more, not only God’s Word of course, but have read through a number of commentators whom I respect to gain understanding from their views about what God has to say. At this point, I am convinced of the following: God will provide every opportunity for this family member to come to Him for salvation. I believe God will open his eyes to the truth of salvation. I also believe God, who has far more love and compassion for this family member than I do, will do whatever is necessary to provide a measure of understanding that will help him to be drawn toward God for salvation.

Does this mean that this family member will become saved? In the end, he may not become saved, but it will not be due to God not trying. Consider that Jesus could not save Judas. He could not save Caiphas or others who were seriously opposed to Him. Yet, He was able to save Saul who became Paul (Acts 9), by doing the same thing He did for the religious leaders when He showed them the Truth.

In essence, no one comes to God for salvation unless they are drawn by Him. No one sees the truth unless God reveals it to them. No one can embrace salvation in Christ Jesus unless their understanding is first opened up and that awareness pushes them toward God for salvation.

It is by God’s grace completely that anyone is saved. No one can claim credit for their salvation in any way. Those of us who are saved are saved because God first allows us to understand our need for Him and then we act on that need.

I can vividly recall when I was in Kindergarten. There was a Christmas party for us kids at the church we were attending. While my friends there were running around playing games and enjoying the atmosphere, I recall my attention that was on the baby Jesus in the manger in the corner of the room surrounded by the wise men, Mary, Joseph and the animals. Something really struck me about Jesus. Did that come from me? Hardly. I firmly believe it was God directing my life even at that age though it was not until the age of 13 that I took seriously my need for Jesus and received Him as Savior.

Had not God begun directing my gaze to Him, would I have become a Christian at all? I don’t believe so. Yet, isn’t it funny that you can witness to people and they react from either a viewpoint filled with frustration and/or anger or they will use their intellect to negate what is being said to them. When that happens, we tend to think we didn’t do a well enough job “convincing” them of their need, but in reality, that is not our job. It’s God’s and God’s alone. We did not waste our time because we either planted a seed or watered one that had been previously planted but the Bible says God brings to harvest.

Regarding my family member when we spoke with him about his drinking, he assured us he is not addicted. He was on “vacation,” and therefore drank more. When he’s home he says he only drinks one or two beers a week or less.

After he left our home he flew to another family member’s house where, according to the person there where he stayed, he essentially drank another very large bottle of Jameson’s whisky and a ton of beer and did so in a shorter amount of days than the 12 days he spent with us. At one point, we were told he drank so much, that he spent the next day nodding off on the couch during a birthday party for the hosts’ wife and then simply disappeared to go to bed.

Now, if I approach this family member by telling him he’s an alcoholic, he’ll simply deny it and shut down. If I avoid that and simply note that he is destroying his brain and his liver, without mentioning alcoholism, he cannot deny that but he might try. In other words, by presenting provable facts to him, he’s in a bit of a quandary but he can still reject these facts or say, “Well, it’s my brain and my liver.”

It’s like this isn’t it, when we witness to people? We present reality, truth that people either reject or deny and given the chance, most will deny the truth of the Gospel. We are born into this world opposed to God, objects of wrath. It takes truth and a willingness to embrace that truth that changes our status from objects of wrath to sons of glory.

So, what is my point? I believe that constantly asking God to do the same thing over and over is a sign of doubt. It is difficult to exercise faith in God when we are constantly asking Him to do the same thing as if this is the first time we have asked Him. What is the remedy for this? I believe it is to praise Him for how He will choose to work!

I’ve asked God to save this family member in real salvation. Even if/when that might happen, he will have a long recovery road ahead of him unless God chooses to heal him of his alcoholism. There are no apostles or prophets alive today so the chances of one of them coming along and laying hands on for healing is non-existent. That doesn’t mean we cannot pray for that, but I’ve found that often God “heals” in other ways and that His grace is sufficient.

So, bottom line, will God save this family member? I’ll have to say now that I do not know for certain. That said, I will continue to praise God for the fact that I firmly believe He will do everything He can to make this family member aware of his need for God and the only salvation that is available. If this man dies in sin, it will not be due to the fact that he had no opportunity to come to the Lord for salvation.

So, I’ve asked God to save this man. I now move from asking God to praising God for providing every opportunity for this man to come to repentance and to receive salvation. I have noted that in understanding this difference, I am now expectant. I can see the times when I have simply repeated the same prayer, I’ve not only not been expectant but often doubtful that God will do something. If I’m continuing to ask God the same exact request, how can my faith grow? Wouldn’t it grow much better if I ask once and then every time I think about this man in our family, I praise God for all the things that God will do to bring him to the end of himself? I truly think so and over the next few articles, I really want to dig into the subject of praise, which I believe is certainly a form of prayer.

When I think of this man in our family now, I immediately begin to praise God for His involvement in his life, for the opportunities He will provide to give this man understanding of his situation and what he needs. I firmly believe that this will happen repeatedly because God is that loving, kind and compassionate. Remember, as much as we might love our family and friends and want to see them in God’s Kingdom, God loves them infinitely more. Because of this, He will endeavor to bring them to a point of salvation.

Looking at the entire issue here, it is possible that this man in our family will have to undergo much more difficulty before he finally comes to grips with his problem and begin to understand that only God can help. But consider something. If I am constantly praying that God will “save” that man, when/if I see him slipping even further down into a terrible spiral of self-destructive behavior, I might be tempted to believe that God has not heard or answered my prayers for him, right?

However, if I am praising God for what He chooses to bring to pass for this young man in order to prepare him for ultimately opening his heart to receive Jesus, then this man’s continual failures and downfalls will be subjects of praise for what God is doing! Understanding this takes the pressure off ME and places the responsibility on God and Him alone.

I really do not know what this man’s life will become, though I have a sneaking suspicion. I do not know what God may have to allow or lead this man through before he is willing and ready to submit to God’s sovereignty. I have no clue. J. Vernon McGee has said that sometimes, “God has to grease the rope” for people so that they fall and fall hard before they are able to look up.

Consider the Prodigal Son. He had everything, squandered it and ended up so low that he had no food though he was feeding pigs and actually wanted what he was giving them. He finally “came to his senses” and understood how far he had sunk. This allowed him to start looking up. You can read about it in Luke 15. Some people need to fall and fall hard before they are willing to see and embrace truth. Others come much easier. In the end, it’s all God.

I believe we should spend a great deal of time praising God after we have presented our requests to Him. I’m actually suggesting that if you are not doing this, you should start. Praising Him even when we do not know what the exact answer will be to our prayers, is a sign of affectionate trust in His ability to provide.

If we are stuck in the cycle of continuing to ask Him the same thing over and over, then I’m wondering how our faith is growing at all. Isn’t it better to ask then praise Him for what we have just asked Him about?

Do you have things in your life that you aren’t sure how God will handle so you keep asking Him for the same thing every time you pray about it? Might I suggest that you instead praise Him for His response to your request(s), however He chooses to respond to it? Praise Him for the fact that He heard you and for the fact that He will provide an answer. Praising Him even though not knowing how He will respond confirms His sovereignty and gives Him the room to answer as He sees fit, not as we necessarily imagine.

I also believe as we grow in Christ, our requests will grow out of our desires to align ourselves with His will in all things. We will never know His Word perfectly in this life. It is a growing process that helps us evolve spiritually. We start out with baby steps and then over time, become faithful “adults” in our faith. We learn to allow God to be God in all things, especially in His responses to our requests (prayers).

I am going to continue discussing the subject of praising Him in all things in upcoming articles in this series.

 

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Demonic, eternity, salvation. Tags: , , , .

What is Prayer and How Does it Work? VMAT2, Vesicular Monoamine and the God Gene

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jen B  |  November 16, 2020 at 7:15 PM

    Hi Modres, thanks for sharing this, it really is an encouragement to know that you experience the same difficulties with families that many of us do. It is disheartening to see a family member in bondage and oppression of sin, and yet not seem to be open to the cure, Whom the Son sets free will be free indeed, and that is a verse I have stood on for many years and have watched it play out in others.

    I have a praise report to share with you, and I think you of all people might appreciate it given your heart for church and especially in matters of false doctrine. My oldest and closest friend is a christian, but when we met over 30 years ago I was unsaved, nor did I know she was a christian for that matter. If I had I probably would have cut her off! We worked together and were roomates, so we spent quite a bit of time together for years. Thinking back to my character at that time, I am reminded of Ephesians where Paul confirmed “For you were once darkness…” and I was indeed walking darkness and not someone I could imagine anyone wanting to befriend. yet, this dear girl did until one day she could take no more of my darkness and wisely separated from me. years later I was saved, thank God, wonderfully saved and we connected. She was astonished at the change in me and shared with me that she had always believed but had grown far from the LORD. She explained that God used my salvation to wake her up and draw her back to Him. She began studying and walking in the Word as I did. She has homeschooled her children and has raised them up with Bible teaching. Sadly, however, she became entrenched in the heart of the emergent seeker friendly movement. In fact, the church she attends is where it was started. My husband and I escaped out of the emergent mega church system, and I tried to warn her about it, but she was deeply entrenched and began working at the church. I know how these organizations work, there is never a “back door” because once they have you under economic control and your kids attached it is VERY hard for people to leave…almost cult like. The more she was influenced by her church the more disagreements and distance between us. I was grieved and admittedly angry, I thought, How can she not see this? So, after her distancing over our last scriptural disagreement I purposed to quite trying to talk to her about it and started praying fervently. You know, the more I prayed to God about her doctrinal issues, the more He showed me my heart attitude issues. I have found God completely unwilling to discuss other saints sins. ;). I began to see how unloving and without gentleness I was treating her. When she would share difficulties, which I could see were a result in part to the very practices she was being taught, I responded with condemnation instead of gently pointing her to the Word. All of this to say, we had a scheduled meet up after many months of distance. In advance of this meeting I prayed earnestly for the LORD directly out of Ephesians 4 and 5, how we should treat each other and really had a new heart towards her. Well, I didn’t need to say a word to her, she opened up and shared that the LORD had impressed upon her heart that she needs to consider leaving the church, and that she could see they were not preaching the Gospel. She went on to confess that she could sense she had a lot of works, but wasn’t growing in true spiritual knowledge of Jesus as she should. She was so humble and open about wanting to live obediently and according to the Word. It was such a blessing of answered prayer, after worrying I had lost this friend completely, feel as if I have gotten my sister back. I cannot thank the LORD enough for I know it was Him Who is keeping his sheep.

    Sorry to babble on, but that is one of the most important prayer answers I have gotten from the LORD.

    Finally, regarding family members, is there some point where you agree we can lovingly and respectfully separate from family members who have no interest in the LORD? Unlike your tragic situation, after years of Bibles and tracts and every other invitation imaginable, my family has no interest and believe themselves to be ok….they are “liberal christians” and I don’t even know if they profess to be christians at all anymore. Given the hour we are in, I am just to the point where time is too precious to spend with people who I have to censor myself around, and short of screaming at them to “REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!” ….this is where we are at. It seems to me that over the years this idea has caught on in Christendom that we must spend holidays and birthdays with unsaved family, we we can show them how nice we are, hoping they will see how nice we are and eventually get saved is counterproductive. I have a notion prayer would be better. What do you think? What about the part where Jesus says He came to bring a sword? That’s where I am, haha.

    Reply
    • 2. modres  |  November 16, 2020 at 8:03 PM

      Hi Jen, thanks TONS for sharing what you shared. Greatly appreciated. I think you have a great point about loving people and that should come through. I think sometimes our frustration at their situation can often be seen by them as us being judgmental and that’s not good. Of course, let’s not forget that they may take things as judgmental that are actually not judgmental simply because of the way they feel about themselves but can’t and won’t admit that.

      While the family member was here with us, it was quite a struggle for me to treat him lovingly. What I mean by that is that the temptation was to talk turkey to him. I managed, through concerted prayer (and praise) to give that to God and just treat him as I would like to be treated by others. In truth, he’s probably his worst critic based on his proclivities.

      I have gotten to the point with certain family members and friends where I’ve had to distance from them. I have family members that I grew up around and because they are diehard Leftists, while at the same time consider themselves to be Christians, there is really nothing in common anymore. When we were kids, we could hang out, play together and whatnot. Today, it is a different situation entirely. I’ve found when we have been together, I’ve had to self-censor myself because I know if I talk about things that are important to me, I’d possibly be treated like a leper.

      I think there is a time when we must remove ourselves from the situation. Many in my family circle enjoy parties, drinking, smoking and the like. Their discussions involve the cares of this world and are often filtered with foul language. It’s just a bit weird to think that the people I used to hang out with are so far removed from the way I think and me from their way of thinking that to get together with them seems strange. In fact, it would be like getting together with complete strangers who turned out to be Leftists (politically and religiously), and trying to be friends with them.

      Certainly, we should always continue praying for them and even praising God for the fact that He will provide every opportunity for salvation they need. I think of relatives who have died and without Christ. One aunt was raised in the same household as my mother. Years later, this aunt became a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Her children became Jehovah’s Witnesses as well, while her husband remained Roman Catholic. The son died some time ago from cancer. The daughter married a devout Jehovah’s Witness. My aunt also died of cancer as did her husband, my uncle.

      The whole thing is rather bizarre to me and I recall my mother having numerous conversations with her sister about salvation and Christ but to no avail. Salvation is very much like politics, having the ability to separate people into separate groups. I think family members are some of the most difficult people to evangelize (for another family member) because they see us and know much about us. That’s the filter they look through in any discussion. Jesus went through that with his own step-brothers.

      Reply
      • 3. Jen b  |  November 16, 2020 at 8:39 PM

        Very sad about the Jehovah witness influence. I am comforted by your counsel and the reminder about our families. My aunt is a die hard leftist who thought I would be her protege but God had other plans. Now I represent everything she rabidly hates. I have tried to dispel her pre conceived notions and speak to her about the Lord. I wrote her a letter And asked her to read it (she had asked me how it was I came to faith)

        My brother divorced his second wife of 15 years for a Much younger Woman, causing destruction and enmity splitting his two children between households. His daughter is very high risk, in my view, I’ve tried to reach them all. His new wife had a baby this year and I have had a good friendly relationship with her, but the reality is I just don’t want become entrenched anymore in his life or his new family and extended family. He typically insists on having holidays which my husband and I have attended in years past however we are staying home this year. It will be received with offense regardless of how lovingly we decline. The funny part is they really have no desire for our company any other time, it just this “thing” about holidays. We are of the mindset of just giving the pagans back all of their holidays and quit trying to christianize them.
        Good point about family. I fear that in my early overzealous years of trying to evangelize I did more harm than good. All I can do now is pray.

      • 4. modres  |  November 17, 2020 at 7:48 AM

        Isn’t it interesting how some folks turn out? Almost weird. In Luke 8:21 Jesus responds to someone telling Him His family is outside. He says, “But he answered them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it’.” The implication is that our real family are those who are in the Body of Christ.

  • 5. What is Prayer and How Does it Work? | Study - Grow - Know  |  November 16, 2020 at 11:55 AM

    […] *for clarification on this, please read the next article in this series found here: https://studygrowknowblog.com/2020/11/16/prayer-and-praise/ […]

    Reply

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