NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
September 4, 2010
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.
THE GIFT OF PRAYER - PART 2
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt . . . you can say to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
In Part 1 of this edition, I talked to you about how God desires for an intimate and continuous prayer relationship with us. He gave us prayer as an open line of communications to Him. He made it available to us anytime and anywhere and that's exactly how He wants us to use it. In any situation, He's there for us and ready to respond. This week, I'd like to focus on God's responses to our prayers.
As I mentioned in Part 1, I used to think prayer was a solitary activity? I can't begin to tell you the thrill that shot through me the instant the Holy Spirit revealed just how wrong I was about that. The truth is, things get very crowded when any child of God begins to pray. For no matter where we are or what our reason for seeking Him, at the very first utterance of God's name:
- the Holy Spirit comes to guide our prayers,
- Jesus rises at the right hand of the Father to receive and intercede for our prayers, and
- God our Father silences all of heaven to hear us; to focus His love and attention on us.
And I'm utterly convinced one more thing happens. At the very first utterance of God's name by one of His children, as the trinity that is God mobilizes for His response, the foundations of the earth quiver in anticipation of His movement and the devil and all his cohorts scurry for the darkness and cringe in fear. All within the moment of time that it takes for us to turn our hearts towards God and call out His name, "Abba - Father."
God has provided everything for us. He wants to be everything to us:
- Our shelter from the most violent storm;
- Our strength in our greatest moment of weakness;
- Our provider in our greatest moment of need;
- The one who helps us find understanding in the midst of our confusion; and
- The one who gives us confidence in the midst of a doubt-filled world.
For all my efforts here and in Part 1 of this edition, I don't think there are any words that can really describe all that happens between God the Father and one of His children when they enter into the earnest communion of prayer. If you've been there, you know what I mean. If you haven't, then I pray you will be one day soon. I know that I could not face the things we go through in this life without Him; without the precious moments shared with Him in prayer. I'm so grateful, so blessed, just knowing He's always waiting there for me. And I promise you - He promises you - He's waiting there for you too.
Sheltered under His wings and overwhelmed by His love,
Leslie Weatherhead tells the story of an old Scot who was quite ill, and the family called for their minister. As he entered the sick room and sat down, he noticed another chair on the opposite side of the bed, a chair which had also been drawn close. The pastor said, "Well, Donald, I see I'm not your first visitor for the day."
The old man looked up, was puzzled for a moment, then recognized from the nod of the head that the pastor had noticed the empty chair. "Well, Pastor, I'll tell you about that chair. Many years ago I found it quite difficult to pray, so one day I shared this problem with my pastor. He told me not to worry about kneeling or about placing myself in some pious posture. Instead, he said, 'Just sit down, put a chair opposite you, and imagine Jesus sitting in it, then talk with Him as you would a friend."' The aged Scot then added, "I've been doing that ever since."
A short time later the daughter of the Scot called the pastor. When he answered, she informed him that her father had died very suddenly and she was quite shaken for she had no idea death was so near. Then she continued, "I had just gone to lie down for an hour or two, for he seemed to be sleeping so comfortably. When I went back he was dead." Then she added thoughtfully, "Except now his hand was on the empty chair at the side of the bed. Isn't that strange?"
The minister said, "No, it's not so strange. I understand."
SOME THOUGHTS ON PRAYER
How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only his regular habit, but his resort in every emergency.
When perplexed he prayed.
When hard pressed by work he prayed.
When hungry for fellowship he found it in prayer.
He chose his associates and received his messages upon his knees.
If tempted, he prayed.
If criticized, he prayed.
If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, he had recourse to his one unfailing habit of prayer.
There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield to prayer.
- S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer.
Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together. But it doesn't pull God down to us: it pulls us up to him.
- Billy Graham
Prayer is simple, as simple as a child making known its wants to its parents. The armour is not to fight in, but to shield us while we pray. Prayer is the battle. The prayer of the feeblest saint on earth who lives in the Spirit and keeps right with God is a terror to Satan. The very powers of darkness are paralyzed by prayer.
- Oswald Chambers
AND CHILDREN ON PRAYER
One night I went into my 8-year-old daughter's bedroom to pray with her before she went to sleep. In the course of her prayer she said, "Jesus, please lock the doors if they haven't been locked." I held back a chuckle at her unexpected request and thought nothing more about it. The next morning I opened the front door to find the keys outside in the lock. I stood amazed at how the Lord led my little girl to pray--and thanked him for his protection.
- Susan Starnes, Louisville, KY
I was tucking our preschooler in for the night when she asked if she could pray. Delighted, I told her it was a great idea to talk to Jesus. As she began praying, her words kept getting softer and softer until only her lips were moving. Then she said "Amen."
"Honey," I said, giving her a hug, "I didn't hear a word you said."
"That's okay, Mama," she responded. "I wasn't talking to you."
- Helen B. Poole, Canon City, Colorado
An elderly gentleman passed his granddaughter's room one night and overheard her repeating the alphabet in an oddly reverent way. He asked her, "What on earth are you up to?"
She explained, "I'm saying my prayers, but I can't think of exactly the right words tonight, so I'm just saying all the letters. God will put them together for me, because he knows what I'm thinking."
- Author Unknown.
Copyright © 1998 - 2010 by Stephen J. Hall - Letters of encouragement to Christians written by Stephen J. Hall unless otherwise indicated. Notes from the Valley and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have something you'd like to contribute to a future edition or would like to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at: sossteve@...
Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-3 The Message)