In this post, I am going to open up and be a little bit more real and raw than normal about a moment last week where I experienced major doubt and discouragement. I pray that as you read this it encourages you and provokes you to keep the fire on the altar of your heart burning.
I have found in the life of the believer there are moments where you feel as if you are on the top of the mountain of faith and other times where you experience a moment of questioning and you begin to wonder if your prayers are even doing anything. I found myself in the latter category last weekend as I was walking into church.
This past Sunday, I was asked to pray during pre-service prayer at my Church, NewLife. The pre-service prayer is open to everyone, takes place in the main sanctuary, and incorporates worship and prayer in a rotation back and forth. Usually, there are 5 to 6 topics and almost every week one of the topics is asking God to send an outpouring of His Spirit. I was assigned this prayer topic last weekend.
I began to think about the fact that we have been praying these same prayers for the 4+ years that I have been a part of this church family. We have seen God show up, but we have yet to see the revival and outpouring we are asking for God to send. This made me almost wish that I had not been asked to pray that week because of the discouragement I was feeling of not yet seeing the corporate outpouring of His Spirit that we have been believing for Him to send to our region. For a moment, I bought into the lie that our prayers are meaningless. The Bible makes it clear that the devil’s native tongue is lies (John 8:44). I was allowing myself to believe his lie that our persistent corporate prayer is of no effect.
The problem was, for a moment I let my confidence in the Word of God and my knowledge of Jesus as Lord over all things falter. As I continued this train of thought I then began to turn my thoughts to the Word of God. This was happening as I walked into the main sanctuary at church and the musicians began to play. At that moment, the Holy Spirit began to bring key scriptures that have meant something to me in the past to my remembrance. The first place that He took me was to the parable of the widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18. In my first post, I wrote briefly on Luke 18:8.
This time, I was reminded of the widow’s persistent petition to the judge and that because of her persistence, he finally relented and gave her what she wanted. In the parable, Jesus reminds us of how much more attentive and caring our Father in Heaven is and how much more willing He is to give us an answer to our petition than an unjust judge when we choose to persist in the place of prayer. This began to lift my spirit as I was reminded of how faithful God is when we are persistent.
6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:6-8
The Holy Spirit then began to remind me of what is going on in Heaven where God is seated on the throne (Revelations 4 & 5). I was reminded of two things: 1) that in the throne room there are “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”(Rev 5:8) and 2) God is omnipotent.
Allow me to explain why these two truths are significant to me and why they triggered faith in my heart. First, I will speak of the significance of the golden bowls that are described as being the prayers of the saints. This gives me faith because it reminds me that our prayers are before God in His dwelling place. Why do I find it such a big deal that of all places He put them in the throne room? Because this means that He hears our prayers, He finds them to be of value, and they are always in His gaze.
Secondly, I was reminded of His omnipotence. In other words, the reality that God is all-powerful over everything in Heaven and on Earth. I see this so clearly when I read Revelation 4:2-6a:
2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was[a] like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns[b] of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.[c] Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the[d] seven Spirits of God. 6 Before the throne there was[e] a sea of glass, like crystal…
There are so many descriptions in scripture that point towards God’s omnipotence, however, regardless of length, I would not be able to do it justice so I will keep it brief. How many of you know another king or ruler that it can be said of them that from their throne “proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices”? I don’t know a single one. If just God’s Presence causes such a powerful display of “lightnings, thunderings, and voices” all around His throne then I can be confident that He is more than capable of answering anything that I would ask of Him.
Need further assurance of His omnipotence? I am not going to get into the details in this blog piece, however, there are a few places to start: Psalm 2, Psalm 110, Philippians 2, and the whole book of Exodus paints a clear picture. I mention the above passages because they are in the back of my mind as the foundation for how I perceive the Godhead’s authority and power. God’s authority over everything that He puts on displays through Jesus is shown in the passages mentioned and so many others.
Allow me to tie everything together with Luke 11:9-13 as this is the scripture the Holy Spirit used to tie everything together for me last Sunday:
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread[d] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
First, we established that persistence in prayer will bring a breakthrough. Secondly, we established that God hears our prayers and they are always within His gaze. Finally, we established He is all-powerful.
So then why Luke 11? Because it reinforces that whatever we put before the Father that is in agreement with His will (healing, salvation, & out-pourings of His Spirit are His will because the Word says so) shall be given, found, and opened. We know this is true because Jesus said this and “God is not a man that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19) and His word shall not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
Luke 11 is also of importance because we are reminded of the character and nature of our God. He is the best Father. Like an earthly father, God wants to give good gifts. What greater gift can God give to His sons and daughters than more and more of His Presence? The answer is there is not a greater gift after salvation that can be given.
Yet the beauty is, that for salvation to occur in the lives of many that are currently lost and broken, it is going to require an outpouring of His presence. So I can rest in confidence, and full of faith that as we persist in prayer that God is going to allow the golden bowls holding our prayers to overflow or tip over to send forth the answer to our petition for an outpouring of His Spirit. Why? Because our prayers are in His gaze, He is able to do it, and Fatherly love for His children means He will do it.
Why did I go from a moment of wavering faith to confidence in God last Sunday? I think Psalms 73:17 puts it perfectly:
“Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood their end.”
That morning I allowed myself to think from a natural mindset based off what I was seeing and I allowed myself to be fooled. But when I entered into God’s Presence, or as Psalms 73 says, “Sanctuary”, then “I understood” the truth and my perspective re-aligned with God’s word. The lies of the enemy and the gates of Hades shall not prevail on the earth or in my mind because I stepped into God’s presence.
By the time it was my turn to pray, I was ready to approach the throne of grace with complete confidence that God is going to send an answer to our prayers and send an outpouring of His Spirit. The prayers that are building up in Heaven that have been lifted up from the pre-service prayer meeting I have been apart of, and every other prayer meeting that has been going on in this region have been heard, and they will be thunderously answered by God.
From a personal perspective, I have found since last Sunday not only have I experienced renewed confidence in the place of prayer but also I have noticed that my confidence in God in the place of prayer has actually increased. It is amazing how in the moments where you are seemingly lacking faith and discouraged if you will allow God to speak into your life He will enable you to grow in faith and confidence in Him!.
If you have been struggling with believing God is hearing your prayers or struggling to have faith that your prayers will be answered, I encourage you to take time today to get into the Presence of God and allow Him to align your perspective with His. I also encourage you to memorize the scriptures that I have shared on this blog. I believe as you study, meditate, memorize, and pray these scriptures it will be as if they jump off the page. I am confident the Word of God will come alive to you and fill your heart with faith just as God has done for me.
*All references are taken from the New King James Version