How God’s Response to Prayers is Like a Traffic Light

like a traffic light

prayer like traffic light

God always answers.

God’s answers to our prayers are like a traffic light. Sometimes we think that God is simply not answering our prayers. We forget that He always answers. The struggle in understanding this is that if God does not say “Yes,” we think He is not answering.

God always answers.  Every single time.

The problem is that sometimes we don’t recognize the answer because we don’t like the answer, or we don’t want to do what He tells us to do.

Indeed, God’s answers are like a Traffic Light.

When He says Go – like a traffic light.

Green means GO. That is when God says YES. This is when we know without a doubt the direction God wants us to go. We can look back on that moment and remember this is when we knew.

Who do you know who was told to Go?

  • Abraham was told to get out of the land and Go to a place God would show him. He was to go without knowing where!
  • Noah was told to Go build an Ark. He was to build, even though he had never seen rain.
  • Joseph was told to Go take Mary as his wife. He was to marry a woman considered impure.

When He says Stop – just like a traffic light.

Red means Stop. That is when God says NO. Many times we do not want to hear this “No.” We want to just speed through the light before it is a sure red and then feign innocence.

Who do you know who was told to Stop?

  • David was told to STOP when he wanted to build the temple. God wanted someone else to build that temple.
  • Matthew was told to STOP being a tax collector, and to GO follow Jesus. He was to give up what was comfortable and familiar.
  • God told Saul to STOP where he was going, to WAIT in Damascus, and then to GO preach to the Gentiles. Saul was educated and thought he was doing right. God had him do a 360.

When He says Wait – like “yield” in a traffic light.

Yellow means Wait. That is when God says “Slow Down”, or “Not so fast, buddy.” Sometimes He is not saying, “No, never, ever, ever, ever; just NO.” Sometimes He is merely saying, “Not now,” or “Not this time,” or “Not with this person.”

Who do you know that had to wait?

  • Joseph waited in prison for three years until the cupbearer remembered his dream interpretation. He waited at least 17 years for his dreams from God to come true. Yet, the dreams came true!
  • Noah waited 120 years for rain while he built the Ark. Additionally, he waited 7 days inside the Ark once the doors were shut for the rain to come. Yet, the rain came!
  • Zechariah, Simeon and Anna waited for years to see the Messiah. He came!

God’s time table and timeline are different from ours.

God is never in a hurry, but He is always on time. His plan is not to harm us, but to bless us. This is why it is important that we pay attention when we pray. We must not become weary and tired of waiting. Instead, we need to recognize that His answers, just like a traffic light, are for our protection and for our eternal good.

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When Praying Doesn’t Change Things

praying doesn't change things
praying doesn't help
photo by Miriams-Fotus at Pixabay.com

Is there any point in praying?

“What is the point in praying when it doesn’t change things?” she asked. “It’s hard to even go to God to ask Him because it feels like He’s not doing anything, anyhow.”

We have all been there when it comes to prayers unanswered. Instead of going to God’s Word, we commiserate with others. I’ve been there.

I have also learned to go to the Word and see what God says about my quandaries, whatever they are. Every time I ask God for wisdom and direction, He gives it. This Word is packed full of promises and ways to do things. All we need to do is obey.

When it seems like praying doesn’t change things, it does

The evening was a fun one, and I’d laughed and enjoyed the company of our youth group. Just before we were asked to bow our heads for a closing prayer, our leader asked us to sing When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. We sang it with gusto. And I prayed – during that song – for my friend who was not ready for that roll to be called up Yonder. I knew this for a fact, so I prayed that God would speak to her during this song.

We finished singing and went on our merry way, visiting and chatting together. My friend joined in the mix with nary a look of consternation. I knew my prayer made no difference, and for a few moments, I felt betrayed by God. I prayed so hard for her, and she never batted an eye.  How could His spirit not bring conviction to her, making her want to become right with God?! I was positive and told myself that praying doesn’t change things.

It was

Years later, I happened in a conversation with my friend. She explained her conversion experience and the patience of God as He gently wooed her to come to Jesus.

“I remember that one night when we sang When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, I knew God was talking to me. It was impossible to get away from His voice, but I said  ‘No’ that night. I never forgot that feeling, and that is one of the things that made me finally give in.”

And to think that I told myself that night, “Praying doesn’t change things.”

I smiled, nodded, and expressed joy in her newfound love of Jesus. Now we belonged to the same family.

praying doesn't change things
Photo credit: Pixabay

And God said

God said, “And you thought nothing was happening that night. See?!”

Yep. I saw.

I remember that moment and that conversation when I think nothing is happening. I’m back there in that room, among my friends, and I remember the feeling of helplessness because I prayed so hard, and I thought God was going to answer then. He didn’t, but He was working. Even when it seemed nothing was happening in her heart, it was. He was there all that time.

How to keep praying even when it seems praying doesn’t change things

So what do we do when we think it’s no use? Here is what I do. I go to the Word.

  • Keep praying. Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Read scripture. When you think your problems are big and God is small, go to Job, Habakkuk, or Elijah and read what God said to them. To read about Job, go here. To read the story of Habakkuk, go here. Especially profound is this verse and these verses. If you want to read about Elijah’s depression after the Mt. Carmel miracle, read this. Every one of these men were discouraged and felt like they were the only ones left serving God. How wrong they were! You are not the only one, and God is still working!
  • Claim Truth. Recognize Who God really is. When we do this, we cannot help but praise God for His character. Isaiah says: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  Click here to learn about the character qualities of God, then praise Him for these qualities. It’s not about our feelings or emotions; it is about Truth. Repeat those claims back to God. He loves to hear us talk about Him!

Our faith must be based on fact. The more experiences we have, the more we claim the power of His Word. Worship the God you serve and keep praying. Reclaim the truth of Who He is every single day. It will change your view. It will change your prayers, and it will change you. Then you will never want to stop praying for those you love.

praying doesn't change things

Winning Battles – the Strategy

winning battles

winning battlesWinning battles wins the war

Our goal should be to win the war. We might lose some battles, but it does not mean we cannot win the war. Yet a war is never won when every battle is lost.  We need to focus on winning the battles, but not become discouraged and give up if we fail in a skirmish.

A Chinese man Sun Tzu said,

Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.

Sun Tzu was a military strategist and general who wrote the book The Art of War. There is a greater Strategist that we can go to when we need to to face our personal wars.

What war are you facing today? Are you fighting doubt, fear, anger, bitterness, faithlessness, or worry?  We face battles every day, and winning battles guarantees that we can win the war. Success builds success, and victory builds on victory.

Was what Sun  Tzu said correct? Does winning a battle begin before the fight even starts?

Warrior examples

For Daniel, who knew that a den of lions awaited if he continued praying to his God, the battle was won before it took place. He had the choice of praying in secret, not praying at all, or continuing to do what he had always done. Daniel chose the latter and ended up spending the night with lions. He did not know what would take place in that den, but he knew what he had to do: be faithful. The mouths of the lions were sealed, and Daniel was unharmed. Just remember that when Daniel opened his window toward the east and prayed, he didn’t know the lions mouths’ would be sealed.

For the shepherd boy David, the battle against Goliath was won before he chose those five smooth stones. He knew that God was on his side but he still had to swing that sling and let the stone fly through the air. David was a boy who faced the challenge of winning battles as he protected the sheep from harm by acting as protector and warrior. He used the same tactic with the giant, and he won.

Queen Esther knew that going before the king could cost her her life. Her uncle Mordecai helped her understand the importance of remaining faithful. Her presence in the castle was specifically for “such a time as this”. Esther was called to help save her people, not to be the queen. Her presence in the castle might have been because of how the king viewed her beauty, but God used that beauty and her abilities to get her there. Her presence was really about winning battles for her people.

The stories of these people chronicle well that the battle cry is the Lord’s. He wants us to participate like these people did.

winning battlesThe call for us

It’s easy to look at these people and be impressed at their fortitude because we know the end of the story. Yet these people did not know the end of the story when they were at the beginning of theirs. These people did not know how the battles would play out or if they would survive physically. They only knew they were in the battle. No matter the cost, God asked them to be faithful. They survived spiritually and won because of their faithfulness, not the end result. They won the day before the battle really started. We can do the same.

Prayer is the battle cry for winning battles

To do battle, we must do three things.

  1. Understand the battle. David knew the battle was about the Almighty God and not about the Israelites. The battle belongs to God. Remember that. Ask God for wisdom. Then listen. He gives wisdom when we ask.
  2. Understand the enemy. Our enemy is not the people who have betrayed or hurt us. It is not the folks who encourage us to give up or give in to worry and doubt. Our enemy is Satan. He wants nothing more than to watch us sink in defeat. We are fighting against him, and  it’s not a battle against flesh and blood.
  3. Commit to Victory. Sound the battle cry by praying! Keep praying. Do not stop praying. We will one day share in the Glory of Christ if we stay faithful.

In His High Priestly prayer, Jesus talks to His Father while the disciples listen. In this prayer, He prays for each one of us. He did not pray that the disciples would have an easy life. Jesus did not pray for financial success or prestige for His followers. He prayed that we will be in the world and not of it. That’s where the battle lies!

Action is the battle line 

We can cower and hide, praying for deliverance and help. We must also get in line for the fight. Sometimes this means praying specifically for someone; sometimes we have to return good for evil. There are times we should pray for wisdom; other times we don’t need to ask for wisdom because we already know what we must do.

David gathered five smooth stones and went to meet Goliath. Daniel went to his room and opened the windows like before. Esther asked the Jewish people to fast and pray for three days; then she donned her best robes and went to meet the king, risking death because she went uninvited.

What does God want you to do? If you don’t know for certain, then ask. If you know, then get busy. Gather stones, open a window, or meet the king. The battle is not yours. The battle is the Lord’s.

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How to Pray The Heart of God For Your Kids

pray the heart of God

Praying by the Word.

You want to know the best way to learn about somebody you’ve never met?  Read about the things that were important to them. Familiarize yourself with the things  they themselves said or wrote. Talk to people who rubbed shoulders with them. It’s a perfect blueprint for finding accurate information.

You want to know the best way to pray for your kids and people who are important to you? Read about the things that are important to God, read the prayers of His Son, and talk to others who have spent time talking to God. Praying the heart of God back to Him is the best blueprint I’ve found.

An artist likes to look at his own paintings. A seamstress likes to look at her own quilts. A writer enjoys re-reading her own words. A singer likes to listen to himself sing. A carpenter enjoys looking at things he has made. This is because these talents scream, “This is ME.  This is who I am.”pray the heart of God

Scripture is full of God saying to us, “This is Me. This is My desire for you.  This is Who I am, and it is who I want you to become.”

It’s true that God will hear us no matter our language, our grammar, or our scrambled thoughts. He can decipher any jumble of words because He knows our hearts. Yet, I think is nothing that pleases Him more in our prayer life than hearing His own words come back to Him in our prayer petition. That is praying the heart of God back to Him.

Praying the Word

I can think of no better way to pray for our kids (or anyone else, for that matter) than to pray the words of scripture back into the heart of God – for that is the place from which it came. The words are original with Him. The design, the pattern, the texture, the paint, the notes, and the words are His masterpiece.

When you don’t know where to begin or how to pray for your spouse, your kids, your  nieces and nephews, your grandkids, your family, or your enemy, open your Bible and begin praying God’s thoughts and desires back to Him. Pray His heart back to Him. You simply can’t go wrong on this one (provided your heart attitude is right, of course.)

pray open bible

Your prayers won’t be wrong if you pray His words. They won’t be selfish if you pray His words, either. His Words are the best blueprint I know for prayer.

There are so many scriptures with specific prayers. In John 17,  we have the very words of Jesus that He used when He prayed for His disciples – and for us.

He prayed, “My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but hat You protect them from the evil one.  . . . Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” 

The Word is Truth

From Jesus’ prayer, we know the only way we can become cleansed, or sanctified is through Truth. The Word is truth.  By using His Word, we become aware of His desires and His truth. We ourselves can become cleansed as we pray for others.

What better prayer could we pray for our families and friends? Scripture says that the prayers of His saints are like incense.

Revelation 5:8 says,  “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” [NKJV]pray ocean

Do the benefits of our prayers continue after we are gone?!

Scriptures to use

There are many scriptures I use to pray the heart of God back to Him.  I simply insert the name(s) of my loved ones in the appropriate spot.

For example, in Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus and told them how he was praying for them. Here is one that I’ve prayed a lot, and I’ll insert the name Eric; you can substitute the names of your loved one(s).

And I pray that Eric’s love will abound more and more in knowledge and in all doctrine. . . . that he will prove what is good and acceptable . . . that Eric will put off the old man, and . . . will be renewed in the spirit of his mind; that he will put on the new man – and continually put on that new man.  I pray that no corrupt communication will come from Eric’s mouth . . . that all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking will be put away . . .   I pray that Eric will be kind to others, tender-hearted, forgiving others, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven him . . . that Eric will be a follower of God; that he will walk in love, just like Christ gave Himself for us.  . . . . . 

 For more ideas of scriptures to use, here are some  suggestions:

The cries of God’s heart

Find your way into the heart of God by listening to the cries of His heart.  Learn what is important to Him, and  pray His heart back to Him.

Your prayers, like incense, will rise to the Father. Like incense, your prayers will be sweet to Him because He first formed those words.

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I first posted this blog over six years ago. I still use these scriptures at times to pray for our six, their spouses, and our grandsons.

How Doubt is a Part of Walking with Jesus

God restores

doubtFaith or Doubt

Mankind is about truth and clarity. God is about Faith. Hebrews 11 gives us people God considers heroes of faith. The annals of scripture portray people of faith and people of doubt.

Job’s trial brought him to his knees before God. You know what? God chastised his friends – but not Job. He said to the friends, “You have not spoken to me what is right, but Job has.”

When an automobile begins pinging and knocking, we know something is wrong. Just so, the pinging at our hearts and knocking at our conscience lets us know something is wrong. We need to pay attention. Ignoring the pinging will cause trouble down the road!

Doubting Thomas

After the resurrection of Jesus, the excitement of the disciples was unparalleled. Thomas missed the party because He showed up after Jesus left. It was this moment that gave Thomas the nickname doubting Thomas. Thomas wasn’t there. He missed seeing Jesus and he missed the excitement.

Thomas told his friends, “Unless I see the nail prints in His hands and touch the scar in His side, I will not believe.”

Yet in the middle of his doubts, he did some things right. He stayed. Thomas did not leave his friends, the other disciples. He kept seeking truth. Even though he said he did not believe, he keep searching for truth.

doubtWinning the war on doubt

So what are we to do when we have doubts? 

  1. Pray. There is a prayer for doubters. It comes from the heart of a father who asked for healing for his son. Jesus told him that his son could be healed “if you believe”. The father replied, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” This is how we should pray.
  2. Pursue. We begin pursuit by identifying the doubt. Admit the doubt; acknowledge that is it there. That’s what the father did. He recognized his doubt and then pursued truth. He knew Jesus could help his doubt, so he pursued Jesus. Uncovering the doubt, we move toward finding a resolution.  We keep searching for Truth. 
  3. PersistWhen it is hard to take the next step, keep moving forward. Remember that Jesus does not call us to a faith without doubts. Scripture tells us that, just before the Great Commission was given, the eleven disciples went to a mountain in Galilee and met Jesus. They worshiped Jesus, but some doubted.  In spite of their doubts, Jesus gave the Great Commission to them.  Do you see what Jesus did there?! He knew they had doubts, yet He sent them out with their doubts!

Their doubts became faith. We know this because all of them, except John, died a martyr’s death. A person who lives in doubt does not die for a cause. This is how we know that their doubts became faith. 

These disciples prayed. Though doubtful, they pursued their relationship with Jesus. They persisted, and they persevered. 

pinterest doubt

 

This blog is written from notes taken from a sermon Dave preached at our church. He kindly allowed me to share it here.