October 26, 2011

laughing the laugh of unbelief or peace?

[By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.] Hebrews 11:11

[Heavenly Father, I’ve always loved Sarah’s story, for I’ve laughed the laugh of unbelief many times myself (Genesis 18:10-15). I understand her incredulity. How could her barren womb possibly bring forth Israel’s next patriarch? She doubted you and then she lied about her doubts—and you loved her. And here she is, showing up in the “fall of fame of faith” in Hebrews 11—chronicled as a woman who considered you faithful to do what you had promised you would do. And thus, Isaac was born. There is no other God like you.

It’s always been about your great faithfulness, not our great faith. The only real hero in your story is Jesus—in whom all your promises find their “Yes!” (2 Cor. 1:20) And so we come to you today asking you to do things well beyond our power—looking to Jesus, not to ourselves.

There are things many of us are facing which, on the surface, seem just as unlikely, just as daunting, just as impossible as Sarah giving birth to Isaac. Bring much glory to yourself as you hear and answer the cries of our hearts, Father.

For friends whose hearts have grown indifferent, even cold towards you, we ask you to bring new life into the barrenness of their souls.  It’s hard to watch some of your previously faithful servants become disillusioned and disconnected. How does a cynical saint become childlike again? How can vain regrets be trumped by renewed affections? with Pour out your Spirit, Father, in the name of Jesus.

In church families under assault of the enemy, in the entanglements of pettiness, over their heads in messes—do exceedingly beyond all we can ask or imagine. Replace rancor with revival; gossiping with gospeling; armchair quarterbacking with bent-knee praying; a spirit of retaliation with the spirit of reconciliation. Pour out your Spirit, Father, in the name of Jesus.

On those of us facing ill-timed crises; anxious about rebellious children; wanting to flee dead marriages; fearful of acknowledging not-so-hidden addictions; mired in toxic self-righteousness; paralyzed by guilt and shame; entering major transitions; weak in the face of strong temptations… running out of money, time and hope… on us, pour out your Spirit, Father, in the name of Jesus.

“Great is your faithfulness, oh God our Father. There is no shadow of turning with you. You do not change and your compassion does not fail. As you have been, you will ever be. Great is your faithfulness! Great is your faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies we see. All we have needed your hand has provided, great is your faithfulness, Lord, unto us!” So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name.] Scotty Smith

Father, I found myself in this very spot this morning. I don't know how to pray. Or even what details to pray about becase there are to many variables. Too many opportunities for my flesh to sneak in lies. Too many ways that I can doubt. Too many ways I can try to force my own will. Forgive me. Help me to rest in the peace of God that passes all understanding. Take away my laugh of unbelief. Give me faith to pray that your will be done. With a heart that knows that it will be done. May you change hearts, may you move obstacles, may You do what You need to do so that You can get the Glory.

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