Sunday, May 6, 2012

Holding God to His Word

One thing I love about my relationship with my sister is our ability (and freedom) to have phone conversations that last 2 minutes or shorter.

This afternoon she called me with a quick recipe question, and I quickly answered her question.  But then I hit her with a "quick" here's-what's-been-happening-in-my-world because I knew she would understand very well.

I've been frustrated with a particular relationship, and it's a tricky one to navigate.  This afternoon after I got my kids down for naps, I sat down and prayed.  I basically told God all the reasons I'm frustrated and how I know I can't make this right on my own.  I held out my handfuls of yuck and asked God to please dispose of it.  

Then I asked Him to refill me with love, patience, and compassion.  

When I told my sister about my prayer time, she was supportive and knew God would be happy to make that trade.  She said she has a tendency to hold God to His promises.  

That reminded me of a chapter I read in my current book The Power of Simple Prayer by Joyce Meyer. 

I was waiting to blog about this book until I finished it and could write a Recommended Reading post about it.  I'm on page 334 out of 454, so can we call it close enough to mention a little something from the book?

There is a chapter in the book about praying God's Word.  Meyer says, "Our prayers are always effective when we 'remind' God of His Word and pray in faith that He is able to perform what He has spoken."

I know I've heard people do this before, but it's a method that is not all that familiar to me.  First, it requires that you are familiar with the Bible.  Spend time reading it.  Memorize verses that are particularly meaningful to you.  Then you'll be armed with the tools you need for this method of prayer {as well as handling daily life, I might add}.   

Second, you pray God's Word back to him by saying something like, "God, Your Word says (insert Scripture) and I believe it."

Joyce gives tons of fantastic examples for putting this method into practice.  Here's one straight from her book:
"If you were praying Jeremiah 31:3 for yourself, you would say something like this:  God, Your Word says that You have loved me with an everlasting love and that You have drawn me with loving-kindness.  I thank You for loving me so much and for continuing to draw me closer to You with such kindness.  Help me, Lord, to be conscious and aware of Your love for me.  If you were praying that same Scripture for your friend Susie, who had been struggling to believe God really loved her, you would say something like, 'God, Your Word says that You have loved Susie with an everlasting love and that You have drawn her with loving-kindness.  God, You know that Susie hasn't felt very secure in Your love lately, so I am asking You to override her emotions with the truth of this promise.'"
Did that help you understand this method?

Within this chapter, Meyer also discusses our bad habit of asking God to give us something we already have or to make us something we already are.  I'll be honest:  I didn't really know what she meant by this.  So I kept reading.

She says, "When we pray God's Word back to Him, or put Him in remembrance of it, we need to do so in the proper way, which is to declare what the Word says He has done, instead of asking Him to do something He has already done."

Here are her examples on this subject:
  • Instead of praying that we will hear God's voice, we need to thank Him that we do hear (see John 10:27).
  • Instead of praying that we will be set free, we need to thank God for already setting us free (see Galatians 5:1).
  • Instead of praying and asking God to have a good plan for our lives, we need to thank Him for already having a good plan (see Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Instead of praying that God will make us righteous, we need to thank Him that He already has (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • Instead of praying and asking God to bless us, we need to thank Him that we are already blessed with every blessing (see Ephesians 1:3).
  • Instead of praying that we will be accepted, we need to thank God for already accepting us in Christ (see Ephesians 1:6).
I'm still processing what I've learned and trying to put it into practice.  This book has been extremely helpful to me, and I'm sure I'll be sharing more insights from it.  Prayer can be intimidating, and a perfectionist like me can easily get caught up in trying to figure out how to do it "right." 

Joyce Meyer does a good job explaining several different aspects of prayer, as well as several very different methods of praying.  

I just have to add:  I find it a bit ironic that this book about why prayer is simple is one of the longest books I've read.


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