Are we praying wrong?

Let’s start out with some typical prayer requests.

Pray for:

  • A sick child.
  • An uncle who doesn’t know the Lord.
  • Mrs. Smith, who suffers pain every day, that she could have the operation she needs to take away the pain.
  • Mr. Jones, who lost his wallet in Walmart, that some honest soul would turn it in.
  • Fred’s testimony at work.
  • George, who’s an alcoholic and drug addict.

We’ve all heard these kinds of requests, and we know that God will answer prayer. He promises to answer all prayers that are according to His will—what God wants. Sometimes, it’s easy to pray according to God’s will, since He tells us what it is in the Bible. Look at the prayer requests above. Which do we know are God’s will?

The sick child and Mrs. Smith’s pain issue— Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5:14-15).

The uncle’s salvation—The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Mr. Jones’ wallet—Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Fred’s testimony—But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (1 Peter 1:15).

George’s addictions—Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).

It’s absolutely right to pray for all of these situations. We’re supposed to pray for God to work in everything.

But, we don’t necessarily know His will.

We don’t know if God will heal the child or Mrs. Smith. He may heal them by making them perfectly well, in heaven. Or, He may choose to use suffering in their lives and/or the lives of others.

We don’t know whether or not He will prompt someone to be honest and turn in Mr. Jones’ wallet. Maybe, a dishonest person will keep the money and use the credit cards for himself. The wallet might have been stolen.

We don’t know if George will put in his part and become accountable to the Lord and others about his addictions.

We can be certain God wants to save the uncle, and for Fred to have a pure testimony at work. We can confidently pray for these.

So, how do we pray for the sick child, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Jones, and George? We ask God to do His will in each case. Since His will for each of these cases isn’t spelled out in the Bible, we don’t know. But, we can be sure that God will use any situation for His glory.

Do you remember Esther? She was taken into the harem of the king, then chosen to be his wife. She had no say or choice. Later, she found out about a plot to kill all the Jewish people, and she, being Jewish, risked her life to go, unbidden, before her husband. After her wise actions on behalf of her people, the Jews were saved from annihilation. Before she went to the king, her cousin Mordecai (her guardian) advised her, For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14) Esther’s reply requested prayer and fasting, but she understood the possible consequences. Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16).

Hebrew 11 tells us about people of great faith who subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:33-40).

People suffered in the will of God. The Bible commends them, giving them a good report, saying the world wasn’t worthy of them.

Jesus always did right and always followed His Father’s will, yet He suffered the sins of all the world, the cruelest death, and God forsaking Him.

The Bible says, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

So, what does this have to do with how we pray? Maybe we need to pray like Jesus did in His model prayer and in Gethsemane, Thy will be done (Matthew 6:10; 26:42).

We can confidently pray for God’s will to be done. Lord, accomplish Your will in this life, or this situation. And then, we joyfully accept what He does.

If God wants to take the little one or Mrs. Smith to heaven, they’ll be completely healed—forever.

God might help someone be honest with Mr. Jones’ wallet—or not. God might show Mr. Jones His faithfulness in a different way, maybe by letting him replace those things in record time. Or, maybe God wants to show Mr. Jones how He can take care of all his needs.

We can pray for everyone, knowing that God wants to meet everyone’s needs.

Prayer gives us the opportunity to intercede for others. Prayer makes a difference. But, God has infinite wisdom, and His answer might be different from what we imagine—and it’s all good.

Be careful (anxious, full of care) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7)

A Thinking Marriage

Many years ago, I discovered a few secrets that transformed my marriage. Don’t get the wrong idea. We didn’t fight. We didn’t have major issues—well, that’s not exactly true. My major issue in marriage was between my ears. It was an attitude issue. It was wrong thinking.

For example, I’ll share some of the problems I had, along with others that are typical.

  • He didn’t …
  • I hate it when he …
  • Why can’t he …?
  • I wish he would …
  • I know he could have …
  • I feel lonely.
  • I do all of this (accompanied with a list). Doesn’t he see?
  • I need a hug / kiss / whatever.
  • “Mr. Smith” gives his wife roses. Why doesn’t my husband?
  • “Mr. Smith” takes his wife to beautiful restaurants and on cruises—unlike my husband.
  • My husband never tells me he thinks I’m beautiful. (“Mr. Smith” compliments me at work.)
  • My husband spends too much.
  • My husband is cheap.
  • My husband is great with the kids and others. Why isn’t he sweet with me?
  • My husband is grouchy.
  • My husband is (anything negative and judgmental).
  • My husband doesn’t lead the family spiritually.
  • I don’t see my husband praying, reading his Bible, etc.
  • My husband doesn’t pray with me.
  • My husband is not Spirit-filled.
  • He leaves his clothing on the floor.
  • He forgets to clean up after himself.
  • He doesn’t even notice he (something else that bugs you).

We could go on and on.

Looking back over my list, I can make a few observations:

  • I am thinking only about what pleases me.
  • I am thinking about his shortcomings.
  • I am comparing him to another man/men.
  • I am judging his spirituality, motives, actions, etc.
  • I am actually thinking I know better than he does.

Let’s turn this around. Would you like your husband to think these same ways about you? Of course not.

The Bible gives us the perfect outline for marriage. Of course, there are instructions for husbands, but we’ll limit this blog post to our side of the issue and see what we can learn—specifically what kinds of thinking we’re supposed to use. The Bible is the most amazing Book. It’s God’s Word. And, one thing that surprises me is there aren’t a lot of key passages written for wives. So, God makes it easy for us. Let’s explore them.

Read these passages looking for how a wife is to think about her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:2-5 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

Obviously, this is mostly about the physical relationship in marriage, but we can learn something about communication, here. It’s obvious that the husband and wife both have a say in their relationship—a mutual understanding—even when it comes to prayer and fasting.

1 Corinthians 7:34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

A married woman cares about pleasing her husband.* It’s the major difference between her and a single woman.

Ephesians 5:22-24, 33   Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing…. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Submission has gotten a bad rap. Submission is actually accepting that one’s husband is the head of the family, just as Jesus is the head of the church. It is the position of leadership in the family—a reflection of the way He ordered the Godhead. Wives are not less than their husbands, but they yield to their husband’s leadership. (You can’t have two leaders.) This passage says in everything, and uses the term reverence, which means respect. This is talking about voluntarily yielding to your husband’s leadership.

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

This is the same concept of submission we saw in the Ephesians passage, above.

Titus 2:3-5  The aged (mature) women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Mature Christian women are to be examples and teachers of a godly lifestyle, which includes loving their husbands and being obedient to their own husbands.

1 Peter 3:1-6   Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

This passage begins with the believing woman who’s married to a man who isn’t born again. The word fear is a biblical word which means respect. Then, the passage talks about the adorning of women. It says the outside fancy stuff isn’t what a Christian woman should be known for. She should be known for a meek (strength under control) and quiet spirit—which God values. It goes on to say that women should recognize their husbands as heads of their households and gives the example of Sara.

So, if we put all of this together, what kind of thinking should we have towards our husbands?

  1. Respect. It doesn’t say he has to earn it, deserve it, or even that he has to be a believer. A Christian wife is to show respect to her husband.
  2. Submission. Submission is yielding. It means the husband has the last word. The couple can discuss anything together openly, but the decision—and its consequences—are the responsibility of the husband.
  3. Love. Our thinking should be motivated by love.

Many years ago, I turned around my negative thoughts about my husband. I started respecting him, loving him, and dwelling on what is good about him. I recognized his position of leadership in our family. I turned my marriage around.

Because, when you obey the Bible, wonderful things can happen.

*Note: Pleasing one’s husband, obedience, and submission are not talking about accepting abuse. If your husband mistreats you, please reach out to someone and get help. You might want to read my posts about spousal abuse: https://intheway-lk.blogspot.com/2017/09/i-will-make-you-submit-domestic-abuse.html and https://intheway-lk.blogspot.com/2017/06/ten-red-flags-in-relationships-how-to_3.html.

Trans Formed

Today, people are transforming themselves from what they are to what they think they should be. It’s happened all through history, though now, transitioning is more accepted in mainstream societies.

As children, we used to do this through make-believe play. I’ve been a princess, a pirate, a gypsy, and more—with the help of a few costume pieces and lots of imagination.

The transitions happening today aren’t child’s play. They include, but aren’t limited to, gender dysforia. A person thinks he should be in a different body, so the medical community helps him transform his body. They use drugs, surgery, and hair removal to achieve this. It changes the person’s outside, but it will never change his DNA.

It’s a lot like me “being” a pirate when I was a child. I could act the part, look (more or less) like a mini-pirate, but the truth was I was still a small girl dressing up.

Some time ago, I watched a video of a young woman who’s convinced she’s a cat. She talks in purrs, dresses in a costume complete with tail and ears, and she scratches and meows. I’m not sure if she’s seriously delusional or if she has a deep need for attention, but she’s obviously a person in a cat costume, acting out cat behavior. She isn’t and never will be a real cat. She won’t land on her feet if dropped from a high place. Sad, indeed.

Did you know the Bible says that people should be transformed?

  • But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).
  • But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Romans 6:22).
  • And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).
  • But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).

There’s a lot of confusion in this world. Did you know that Satan and demons can morph themselves into looking good? And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Leaders can make wrong acts seem right.

This is what God says about them. Read carefully; it’s strong talk about topics that affect us today. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Romans 1:22-32).

Wow! Let’s take this passage apart, so that we’re understanding what God wants us to know.

  • People who say they know it all are actually displaying their foolishness.
  • The people described in this passage represented God as an image that wasn’t God—idolatry.
  • When they worshipped other things, God gave them free reign to exercise their own lusts. These desires include all kinds of deviant sexual activities as well as the list of wicked acts, which includes boasting, disobedience to parents, envy, and breaking promises.
  • The people who sin in these ways, deserve death. (Keep in mind, they have already rejected God.) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).)
  • It’s also a sin for others to derive vicarious pleasure from those who do these things (Hollywood films, TV, reality shows, etc.).

It shouldn’t surprise us that the world is getting worse. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13).

Thankfully, there’s hope!

God can transform hearts. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

God can heal hurts, and He forgets our sins. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7). For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 8:12).

God can give us joy. Jesus said, These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (John 15:11).

Do you need God to transform your life?

Let the Lord take it and make it beautiful. Go to Him. Jesus said, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

If you are a born again Christian, do you have sin problems?

God can transform you, too. This verse was written to Christians: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

A Pessimist’s Secret to Joy

You know the people who see the glass half empty instead of half full? Most of my pessimist friends call themselves realists, and perhaps that’s an acurate characterization. Let’s face it; the world’s a mess. Looking around or just turning on the news is enough to bring a tear to any eye. So, how can we have joy in the middle of a world that’s clearly the pits?

It’s an age-old question. When the children of Israel were carried away to Babylon, they asked, How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land? (Psalm 137:4) The Lord’s people have been asking that question ever since. How can a Christian have joy in the middle of sorrow? How can he rejoice always, as commanded in Philippians 4:4? Isn’t that being unrealistic? Even a little bit goofy? Can a person really have deep, abiding joy? I mean, live in joy?

Yes.

Everyone has emotions. And, everyone passes through unspeakable sorrows. No one is immune from extreme situations that crop up all through his life. Since Adam, there have been pains, sicknesses … and weeds in the garden.

So, what about joy? How does a person get it?

Let’s do a short Bible study together, okay? First, we find references to joy. (There are a lot of them!) Then, we’ll group them together by themes. What are the motivations for joy? What’s the Bible saying? How do we get it and what is its source?

Throughout the Bible, joy is found in:

  • victory over enemies
  • worship
  • the dedication of the Temple
  • offerings, sacrifices, feast days
  • God’s defense, strength, presence, leadership, glory, excellence, might
  • God Himself
  • righteousness, one’s forgiveness, salvation
  • the city of Jerusalem
  • wise discernment
  • parenting a wise child
  • when the magi saw the star of Bethlehem
  • Jesus’ birth and resurrection
  • Jesus’ teaching of the “Kingdom Parables”
  • disciples’ power given them by the Lord
  • Angels have joy over each sinner who repents
  • the Word of God itself
  • serving the Lord
  • prayer
  • faith
  • encouragement from other Christians
  • looking forward to everlasting joy

What’s the source of joy? All through Scripture, it is God Himself. He is the Source. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23). When a person is in Christ, he has joy, because he has the Holy Spirit abiding in him. He doesn’t have to manufacture joy. He doesn’t have to make himself walk around with a silly grin on his face, like everything is just wonderful. He doesn’t have to fake it. He already has joy.

Joy begins with trusting Christ in salvation. The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! (Psalm 21:1) Do you know the Lord?

When you trust Christ, the Holy Spirit abides in you and gives you joy. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17). Even the angels in heaven rejoice when someone is saved. Jesus said, Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:10).

How does a person get saved? It’s only by placing one’s whole trust in Jesus’ payment for his sins on the cross. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:9, 13). Have you called out to Jesus to save you?

You might say, “I’m a Christian and a pessimist. I see the negative side of every situation and every person, too. I’m distrustful of happy people.”

I understand you. And, I fully believe the secret to joy is a matter of focus and trust—in God. In the Scriptures, joy is often accompanied by words like peace and faith and hope and love.

Even when his circumstances are horrible, a Christian can have deep joy. This doesn’t mean he is always laughing ha ha and never feels hurt. It means he knows that the Lord is there with him through the pain. It means he can rely on the biblical fact that God is always good and He cares. It means trust. I love this passage from Habakkuk. Things were going wrong—very wrong—yet the prophet shows his trust and joy in the Lord. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

Another source of joy is the Bible. Jesus said, These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (John 15:11). His Word, abiding in us, gives total joy. What a concept! Indeed, biblical thinking, as outlined in Philippians 4:8, shows us how to discipline ourselves into a more positive outlook.

Let’s look at a few more verses about joy. Let them speak to your heart.

  • Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).
  • For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
  • Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart (Psalm 32:11).
  • Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit (Psalm 51:12).

And, one more passage. It’s a doxology, a blessing near the end of the Bible:

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,

and to present you faultless before the presence

of his glory with exceeding joy,

To the only wise God our Saviour,

be glory and majesty, dominion and power,

both now and ever. Amen.

(Jude 1:24-25)