Mt. Zion Bus Crash, Thursday,
WHAT SHOULD I PRAY NOW?
Monday we committed to addressing a number of issues in these five posts. Each day we will link to the previous posts:
• The Big Picture
• Why Did This Happen?
• When Can This Be Prevented?
• What Should I Pray Now?
• How Can I Trust God Again?
A friend of mine shared something that hadn’t occurred to me. He said, “Mark, I’d take the posts down. You sound like you are being critical of the good people at Mt. Zion.” Friends, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Far from being critical of them I am empathizing with them and asking OURSELVES questions that naturally result from a tragedy like this. My goal is to discuss the difficult questions that we normally react to by “salving-over” our heart, instead of searching Scripture to allow the Word of Christ to comfort our heart.
Here are today’s issues we left you with on Monday. . .
What Should I Pray Now:
I guess the next question, related to this bus crash is, how will it impact my prayer-life? And not just for protection, for myself or others, but about EVERY subject! I mean really, what works? Is prayer just “blind-luck?” What words should I use when I pray? Is there any confidence that God gives us about prayer, because “I’m not feelin’ it” if there is? Are there parameters that I can follow (and still get what I want)? Again, what will work?
If you do not want to read the rest of this post, here is the simple answer, “Yes, to get what you want, pray God’s will.”
But in the next few paragraphs I will share a sobering thought, namely that “your-will” may not be “His-will.”
The Open Door Test:
Revelation 3:8 is where people get the quote that they use when they say, “God opens doors that no one can shut. . .” I’m not going to discuss the relevancy of this verse to our subject, merely to acknowledge that the Word says that phrase. I would rather go a different direction with the idea of “open-doors.” Have you ever considered that God often TESTS us, by the doors He opens?
Yes! I think that God often opens doors, NOT so that we can jump thru them, but so that He can test us to see if we will jump through the door because we want to, rather than waiting for the door that He wants us to go through.
Here’s my point, and it fits perfectly with our dilemma of what to pray now. You do NOT go through a door just because it is open, you go through a door because it is His will, and if you do not know what His will is yet, you don’t go through the door!
God Gives WHATEVER You Ask:
A lot of my friends like the part of John 15:7 which says, “then you will ask what you will and it WILL BE GIVEN UNTO YOU. But folks, that is the SECOND HALF of the verse. Do you remember the first half? The first half says, “Abide in me and I in you. . . ” What is the point? The point is simple, if you are abiding in Him, He will abide in you AND THEN you will ask WHATEVER you want and it will be given unto you. Why? Because you will be asking what He wants you to ask, You will be asking His will NOT YOURS!
Are you interested in knowing God’s will? Then get into His Word when you pray. Men and women of old used to pray with their Bibles open. Why? Because they wanted Scripture to direct their praying.
Do you remember the passage I brought up yesterday, 1 John 5:14-15? The idea behind confidence in asking for something, NO MATTER WHAT and having confidence that you will receive it is based on one thing. What’s the one thing? Answer: Praying His will!
That’s the issue my friends!
Healing The Sick Prayer:
Before I talk “traveling-mercies” and God’s will to the Mt Zion bus crash let me broach another difficult subject that potentially has the same root problem. The issue of God healing the sick, because we pray the right formula. Before I say anything, ANYTHING, let me assure you that I believe in miraculous healing even today! I have prayed for people’s healing and then watch them be healed, immediately.
But friends, when I pray for healing, physical healing, I NEVER pray from Isaiah 53 or 1 Peter 2 which both say, “By His stripes you were healed.” Do you know why I NEVER use that passage when praying for physical healing? Have you read the verses before and after the two passages? They are talking about SPIRITUAL healing, NOT physical healing!
Here’s how I pray for someone’s physical healing. I simply let the Holy Spirit lay on my heart what to pray and if I do not get a CLEAR sense to pray for their physical healing, I do not! And if I do get a clear sense, then I confidently pray trusting God to heal them.
The issue is the same as our dilemma, namely, am I praying my will or God’s will? There is lots to say about healing but this isn’t the forum. My question is simple. Am I sure of God’s will when I pray?
Let me tell you why people like to pray for someone’s physical healing from the two passages above. For the SAME reason they like to pray for protection. To coerce God into doing what we want! In the Isaiah 53 and the 1 Peter 2 passage there is a 4-letter word, “WERE” so we tell God that since physical healing was ALREADY given to us we expect Him to heal the person we are praying for. My friends, that is the way we pray for protection!
We see that God talks about being our protector so we plead with Him what we want without seeking His will for what He may want.
Have you ever looked at how many times people pray for protection in Scripture? Answer: About 1 1/2 times! Now there’s a lot of talk about protection, but God is the One doing it! He is telling us that HE IS ALREADY our protector! The way I hear people pray for protection, I feel like I am hearing people call God a liar as they plead with Him and plead with Him, rather than merely trust Him.
So this brings up our problem, namely that not every plane makes it all the way across the ocean, not every car makes it all the way to its destination. And the same goes for buses, obviously.
Is the answer to this that we should pray for traveling mercies? It would be if I found that in Scripture, but I do NOT see traveling mercies in Scripture! Where is it!
Let me tell you what I have found, Exodus 23:20, although written to and for the Israelites, I believe it has great application to us. It says that the Angel of the Lord (which in this context is God) is alongside you, guarding you along the way so that you arrive at the place that He has prepared for you.
When you travel, you can trust that the Lord is alongside, and He is making sure you make it to where He says you will go. And then when you arrive there, He has ALREADY prepared that place for you. Think about that! Instead of getting off the plane, or out of the car saying, “WHEW! We made it!” You are ending your travel saying, “Cool Lord, what do You have prepared for us/me here?”
But You have to be willing to do something.
Do you know what the problem is with the view in the previous paragraphs? We are not interested in God’s will if it contradicts our will! Do think that is “crazy-talk” from this prayer pastor?
I’m reminded of the church that called me to teach them to pray God’s will, until God’s will contradicted their will. Or the woman who prayed for her son who just joined the military, but was unwilling to say, “Lord, you can do whatever You want to my son.”
So how does this apply to our Mt Zion bus crash, simple (notice I didn’t say “easy,” I merely said “simple”). Imagine that your pastor gave you a blank piece of paper and at the top of it was written, “God’s Will For My Life” and your pastor wanted you to sign it, BLANK. In other words, let God put in WHATEVER He wants into your life.
This is what I think the issue is, God wants us to pray His will, not our will. And sometimes His will contradicts our will, or, more often, we don’t even seek His will because the truth is, we’re not interested in giving Him a free hand with His will in our lives. You see, we’re okay praying His will, if it doesn’t contradict our will, too much.
Summing Up What We Know:
1. God WILL hear and answer our prayer IF we’re asking His will
2. He gives us His will in His Word, so abide in Him
3. And what happens when You abide in Him? He abides in you so that you are now asking His will, and the result is you can ask WHATEVER you will and it will be given unto you
Do you want confidence when you pray? Then pray, accepting His will.
Tomorrow we will explore “trusting Him” even though prayer doesn’t work the way we want it to.