Friday, November 23, 2012

A Picture of Prayer as Preparation

This week in Wendy Blight's online Bible study our lesson is titled, "Pray so that." She has shared many good insights and powerful scriptures that remind us why prayer is powerful and necessary.

One thing that struck me was this paragraph that Wendy shared, "Our God is All-Knowing. He alone knows what our future holds. God has given us this gift of prayer. He intends to use it to prepare us. In prayer, God girds us up for the trials, battles and temptations that will come our way." Honestly I don't think I'd really thought about this before, but as I dug into the passage we were studying, Matthew 26:36-45, I knew it was true in my life.

These words about Jesus praying in Gethsemane brought to mind Luke's words about the same time in Jesus life, which were powerful in mine.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 - I can remember that day like it was yesterday...we'd found out we were expecting our 4th child a few weeks prior, but yet the pregnancy was different. And early that morning I woke up knowing something wasn't right. As a Mom, I knew we were losing our baby. The reality of that fact was hard to grasp and brought pain from depths I hadn't experienced before, but before heading to the hospital my husband led us thru family devotions.

We were following a daily Bible reading calendar and I opened to the New Testament passage that I was going to read aloud, Luke 22. I read about Judas and the Last Supper, but was simply saying the words not digesting them or really expecting to hear from God. Outwardly I was reading the Bible but internally I wrestled with what was happening to the baby I already loved, but wouldn't hold til heaven.

I continued in this fashion until I reached verse 42. It was then I paused - I knew what the words were, but everything in me fought saying them out loud. I didn't want to echo Jesus words, but I did. With tears. And His words became my words, "Father, if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

I believed God had the power to stop what seemed inevitable, He could take the cup from me, but more than that speaking these words reminded me God is in control. His plan is perfect. I must trust that He can use bad for His good.

Knowing all of this didn't make the situation easier...I cried a lot. I didn't understand. But God was there and through it all drew me closer to Himself. In the days that followed I returned to Luke 22 and found encouragement in verse 43, "An angel appeared from heaven and strengthened Him." In my darkest moments it seemed God did the same for me.

This all took place 4+ years ago, but just now I've realized God had even more in that passage. Verse 46b says, “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Wendy shares these words about this:
“Temptation” as used here is from the Greek word peirasmos and refers to “trials with a beneficial purpose and effect.” They are divinely permitted trials and temptations. As specifically used here, it refers to trials and temptations entered into by a person’s disobedience or carelessness. 

Matthew Henry in his commentary writes, “There was an hour of temptation drawing on, and very near; the troubles of Christ were temptations to his followers to disbelieve and distrust him, to deny and desert him, and renounce all relation to him. There was danger of their entering into the temptation, as into a snare or trap; of their entering into a parley with it, or a good opinion of it, of their being influenced by it, and inclining to comply with it; which is the first step toward being overcome by it.”

Jesus knew the danger and trouble that lie ahead for His disciples. Spending time praying with Jesus and for Him would have not only blessed them but also equipped and empowered them for all they were about to endure.

Looking back this makes so much sense...God brought me to that passage, so I could pray Jesus words. So He could prepare me to fight temptation. The temptation to doubt God, to question His ways, to turn from Him in times of trouble. Friend if you've experienced loss, plans that didn't go the way you expected or times of trial chances are you've asked or wondered, "Why God?" Perhaps you've been tempted to disbelieve, distrust, deny or desert Him.

God knows the why, but He doesn't always explain the answer to us. But He does know the future and He uses His Word and our prayers to prepare us for what lies ahead. Today may I encourage you to stay in His Word, pray, pray, pray and keep your eyes on Him - doing just that will help you walk in faith and thru situations you never imagined you could.

Question for you - How has God used prayer to prepare you?? 

1 comment:

  1. I love this. Prayer as preparation. When you wrote to me about it in the e-mail you sent me the other day, it encouraged me so much. Just to be reminded that there is work being done when I pray. That when I feel like I'm not doing anything, that no progress seems to be made, that just isn't true. Prayer accomplishes much. And, as you shared here from Wendy's study, prayer prepares us for what is ahead. Such great encouragement to be sure I spend time pressing in in prayer.

    Love you, friend! Bunches!