Until You Pray
After the invitation to prayer and the assurance that He will answer, God added an addendum to the policy He gave Jeremiah: “Call to Me, and I will answer you” (Jeremiah 33:3a). What’s the answer going to be like, God?
First all, “ . . . I will tell you great things you have not known” (v.33b). I will inspire you with greater understanding and knowledge than you could achieve on your own.
Let’s think about Jeremiah here for a minute. God instructed His prophet to remain unmarried as a sign of the harsh judgment that God was bringing to correct Israel in their rebellion. Jeremiah’s audience was heavily involved in idol worship. They were into deception and debauchery. God’s people were fully engaged in this blatant rejection of God. This is as clear as it gets: If something is going on in your life today and you’re wondering about God’s character, “If God really is X, then why is Y happening?” The answer to that dilemma is prayer. God says, “Call to Me, (in that moment) and I will tell you great things you don’t know.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re going through heartbreaks in ministry or family or in your career or whatever. These crises are prime times to go to God and say, “I’m not seeing it, Lord. I’m not feeling it. Why would You allow us to go through this?” Now the answer God provides is not necessarily coming directly from Scripture. But insight to help you understand what’s happening and why it’s happening will come through prayer! And you won’t know this until you pray!
Prayer: Almighty God, You know the things I’m afraid to bring up to You because they seem to cast doubt on Your goodness or sovereignty. Remind me that I don’t have to “cover” for You. Show me that I can trust You with things that look impossible to understand or to endure. Teach me that You will always be with me, even when I don’t understand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture Reference: Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
Psalms 91:14-16 KJV
Moses’ Vertical Call
When I hear the name Moses, I picture a giant in faith with a long grey beard and weary eyes as he stands on a mountain with arms outstretched. I revere that vision of Moses, but I resonate more deeply with the Moses of early Exodus. Rash and aggressive, younger Moses tried to accomplish his calling in the flesh, ending quickly with a corpse buried in the sand. Forty years later God gave Moses a second chance but he seemed stuck on lesson one: “I can’t.”
In Exodus 3, God appeared to Moses “in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush” (v.2) that burned but was not consumed. In response to God’s call, Moses refused to be God’s messenger of deliverance, wallowing in his own inadequacy. I’ve done that too; have you?
Have you struggled to embrace what God wanted you to do and for a time refused to do it? I spent the first two years of college refusing to be a pastor, in fear I would lack the patience and the perseverance with people. I also resisted God about starting a church from scratch, as I feared I would end up preaching to twelve people around a card table. I understand Moses’ initial refusal to do a big job. But God pressed in as He does with all of us. In the end God’s greatest provision for Moses’ or my or your sense of inadequacy is simply and profoundly His presence with us. The answer to Moses’ persistent pattern of “I can’t” was not “Yes, you can, Moses” but “I can, I will, I AM.”
Prayer: Father, I confess that my first instinct is to refuse Your call and even try to run away. I realize that I’m stuck sometimes in fearful, horizontal thinking and forget that You invite me to look at everything from Your vertical point of view. Help me remember that Your call always comes with whatever else I need to do and be what You ask of me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
Exodus 3:10-11 KJV
Stirred Up to Pray
Paul gives us a term that really helps us describe the kind of prayer we’re going after—unceasing. Unceasing prayer brings the glory of God down. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says we are to “Pray without ceasing.” That doesn’t mean you’re not doing anything else. It means that just as you are always physically breathing in and out as you go about your day, you should always be spiritually in a conversation with God. Always talking: “Yes, Lord;” and “See that, Father?” and “Help me, God,” and always, always in an attitude of prayer.
When it comes to prayer, God Himself is in the stirring-up business. He doesn’t do it for His own good but for our good. We need to pray unceasingly because it is immeasurably good for us! Let’s look closely at God’s move to stir up Jeremiah (and us) to prayer: “The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time while he was still shut in the court of the guard. Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it—the LORD is His name: ‘Call to Me, and I will answer and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known’” (Jeremiah 33:1-3). Within these verses are four distinct promises from God to Jeremiah related to prayer. Do you see them?
And when you do pray, ask God to bring the people and events into your life that will stir you up to pray even more. Stirring things are around us every moment, but we need the eyes and heart to see them.
Prayer: Father, continue to stir me toward a consistent attitude of prayer so that my sensitivity to immediate and momentary times for prayer is increased. Help me not only to pray without ceasing but to jump to special invitations to pray. Thank You for drawing near to me as I draw near to You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25 KJV
Jesus is traveling through Bethany when he’s invited to dine in the home of his friends Mary and Martha. While Martha does what hostesses are expected to do for their last-minute guests, scrambling to prepare food and refreshments, Mary ignores the clamor (and her responsibilities) so she can “sit at the feet” of Jesus. Martha, like you and I would do in her place, finally blows her top, pleading with Jesus to demand that her sister take her blinders off and help. Instead, Jesus gently rebukes his good friend. Mary has chosen “the one thing,” the only thing that’s really “necessary” in life. And what is she choosing against? Well, the important work of a good hostess, at the moment. And why does she make this choice? Certainly not because she is “shoulded” into it—quite the opposite, actually. Mary chooses the “only necessary” thing in life because she is fascinated by, hungry for, and gravitationally pulled toward Jesus.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Luke 10:38-42 KJV