Waiting Beyond Prayer

I told a friend I would pick her up at work, bring her to my home, and after lunch, take her back to work. She was not a believer, and I prayed and waited before the Lord before going to get her until I knew He would bring good from our visit.

But there seemed to be no appropriate moment to mention Jesus. It was not until we were on the way back to her office that the conversation turned to her spiritual needs and I knew God was answering.

When we leave the place of prayer, it is easy to then also leave our dependence upon Him. In His time, He will work; He will do all we trust Him to do. But our waiting must continue beyond our prayer time.

An evangelist was coming to our home for Sunday dinner, and as I prayed for the Lord to make our visit a profitable one, I knew He had heard my request.

Dinner time was almost finished, though, and the conversation had just been usual chit-chat. As I carried in the dessert, I cried with what John Wesley referred to as his "inner voice," "But, God, I know You heard me. Please help us."

Then over dessert, we began discussing prayer and revivals of the past. It was after 4:00 o'clock before we stirred from the table. I doubt any of us will forget that afternoon as we shared past answers to prayer.

God asks us to patiently wait-to wait on Him in prayer and then maintain a focused belief even beyond prayer.

Thank You, Jesus, that after I've trusted You, eventually I'll be able to look back and say, "Jesus led me all the way."

"None that wait on thee shall be ashamed" (Psalm 25:3 KJV).

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Night-Time Awakenings

I recall that the days of caring for my mother during her terminal illness were too full to allow for those blocks of time I needed to be alone with the Lord. Before going to sleep at night, I would often say, "Please, Jesus, wake me up tonight to spend time with You." And He would awaken me so that I was surprisingly wide-awake.

He continues to do that. The phone doesn't ring between 2 and 4 a.m. and distractions are minimal. The time is God's, and I have found myself looking forward to going to bed in anticipation of those nighttime awakenings.

The time we meet with God will not be set in concrete for our entire lives. A disciplined life allows flexibility, and God will give us grace to find the time that is right.

Our efforts to find a time and place where we can listen to God without distractions will tell something of the intensity of our desire to hear Him. Many experienced Christians advise us to give God the best time of our day, not the dregs. Although some of us are "morning persons" and some are "night owls," most of us do better if we start our day with at least some nourishment. Similarly, feeding on a Word from God will provide strength for the day ahead.

God's perfect ways are as varied as His people. He will give us the time He wants to meet us that best fits us and our schedules.

Thank You, Jesus, for showing me the right time to meet with You.

"The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed." (Isaiah 50:4).

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How Watson Loved His Enemies

G. D. Watson says he has been blessed all his life with a few enemies. He believed that God's command to pray for our enemies means we are to perseveringly pray for them out of a loving heart, and he recalls many times when God has led him to do just that.

One man had done great damage both to him and his family. Watson had often prayed for him in his private devotions, but one day he felt he should spend some special time in prayer for this man. At the beginning of his prayer, he tried to look at himself from the other man's standpoint.

But the Spirit soon showed him that was the human way and not the Divine. It came to him that what he needed was to love that man with the identical love Jesus had for him, and as much as he was able, he was to sympathize with and feel toward him exactly as God did. He had to abandon himself to the Holy Spirit to become a channel of the tender compassion of God.

Soon his tears flowed like rain, and he felt a warm love for his enemy. All this man's concerns became very precious to him.

Suddenly the Spirit revealed to him what a wonderful Christian that man would make if he were washed in Jesus' blood and filled with the Holy Spirit. He then prayed that he might feel a Christ-like grief for any trouble that might come to the man. From that moment, it was easy to pray for his enemy and think of him with a tender love. A few months later, when that man had a tragedy, Watson said it brought great sadness to his heart.

Jesus, please make me a channel of Your compassion and intercession.

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble" (1 Peter 3:8).

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God Is Eager to Avoid Punishing Us

In her book The Ten Commandments, Dr. Laura Schlessinger writes, "According to one Jewish tradition, after the Israelites had passed safely through the Red Sea and water crashed down killing the entire Egyptian army, angels began to sing the praises of God. But God silenced them, saying, 'My creatures are drowning and you are praising me?!?'"

God longs for His people to repent and is slow to punish.

In 1 Kings 21 Ahab tore his clothes in repentance. I think there was a tone of excitement and joy in God's voice when He said to Elijah, "Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me?" (vs. 29) He was sharing exciting news much as we'd eagerly share with our spouse, "Did you notice how our child's attitude is totally changed. He's so much more obedient!"

God wishes He did not have to use severity. The Bible calls His wrath His "strange work, his strange act" (Isaiah 28:21).

Because God is good, He placed consequences in His law to prevent sin. But punishment is not His main intention. When his people disobey, He seems to want someone to appease His anger so that He does not need to punish.

Dear Lord, I want to be one who will stand in the gap for others so You will not need to punish.

"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none" (Ezekiel 22:30).

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The Power of a Woman's Prayer

"Women received their dead raised to life" (Hebrews 11:35 KJV). For millennia it has often been women who have had the perseverance, love, and faith to overcome life's most desperate circumstances.

Consider, for instance, the Shunammite woman, whose son died. The account of her journey to Elisha in 2 Kings 4, her refusal to brief those on the way (she knew they could not provide the solution), her falling at Elisha's feet and pleading until he agreed to personally attend to her son-all tell the story of her perseverance. That kind of determined faith still turns hopeless situations into causes for celebration.

The Canaanite woman who came to Jesus begging Him to heal her daughter vexed with a devil cried, "Lord, help me" (Matthew 15:25). Her daughter's need had become her own. The simple test we should put to our prayers is, "Do I want my prayer answered so much that for God to help that person, it is as though He is helping me?" If so, we can give God thanks for the heartfelt longing He has given us.

Such faith brings supernatural results. Determined, believing prayer still results in new life.

Dear Lord, help us to earnestly pray until we see Your supernatural deliverance.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know...his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 1:18-20).

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