Tuesday, March 19, 2013

God's Clocks Keep Perfect Time


Dear Friends,

When you’re praying for your family, it’s so easy to grow impatient.  What if something happens to them before they find the Lord?  Maybe someone is sick, and it seems obvious to you that God has to intervene now.  But God’s clocks keep perfect time.  “God time” is not to be confused with “people time.”

Think about old Zechariah.  One day when he was very old, he was in the Temple praying for the people (Luke 1:8-9).  Suddenly an angel appeared and said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard” (Luke 1:13).  For a moment I can see the old man casting around in his mind, desperately trying to make sense out of it.  Which prayer?  The one he had just prayed for Israel?  Then the angel made it clear.  “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son” (v. 13).  Oh, that prayer!  I can imagine Zechariah secretly thinking, Your timing is awful, Lord.  But God’s clocks keep perfect time, and John was born in the fullness of time and for the purposes of God.

We need to realize that none of our prayers fall to the ground.  I believe that every prayer we ever pray hangs, as it were, in space, until God answers it according to His eternal purposes.  We may not see it answered, or like the old priest, we may be very old before we do, but we can have faith that one day our mountain will “go jump in the lake” (Mark 11:23, The Message).  I have been learning to watch for the answers to my “old” prayers, rather than demand answers to my “new” ones.

One day our eldest son walked in a deep valley of sorrow.  It was a bitter place to be.  He serves on the staff of our church, and there was much support for him and many prayers.  As parents of an adult child, all Stuart and I could do was watch and pray.  It’s a difficult thing to bear private grief publicly, but David bore his grief with dignity and grace.  One day as we were sharing our hearts together, I was reminded of a little boy kneeling by the side of his bed saying his prayers.  He was six years of age at the time, and I remember stopping as I passed his door and being struck with the picture.  I also remembered what I prayed in that moment of time.  I prayed, not realizing the significance of my words, “Lord, make this child a man of dignity and integrity.”  Then I had added, “whatever it takes.”

That day as we talked, I recognized the answer to my “old” prayer.  It had taken sorrow to answer my prayer, but it had been answered, and I murmured under my breath, “Oh, I see, Lord, this is that answer,” and I worshiped.

It’s hard to pray a prayer for one of your loved ones that starts with “Whatever it takes, Lord,” but if you can manage it, God will handle it tenderly for you and help you to handle it too.  So when God answers a past prayer in the present, praise Him for it however hard it is, and one day He will answer your present prayer in your future, you’ll see.

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine



Monday, March 11, 2013

Learn to Ask but Not Instruct


Dear Friends,

As you pray, learn to ask but not instruct.  Remember that God already knows what he will do to answer your prayers.  Hallesby says:

“We think we should help God answer our prayers.  We think we should suggest how he should go about giving us the answer.  Even though we do not give expression to it, we think like this.  ‘Dear God, this is what I am earnestly asking of thee.  I know that it is difficult, but if thou wilt do so and so, thou canst accomplish it.’”  (Prayer, 47)

We make use of prayer for the purpose of commanding God to do our bidding.  We need to stop asking for printouts or progress reports.

I think of Jesus’ testing His disciples in the Gospel accounts.  After teaching the multitudes and healing the sick, He told the disciples to feed the people.  “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked Philip (John 6:5).  Then the Scripture says, “He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do” (v.6).  Philip failed the test, for he didn’t relate the need to the Christ who could meet it.  He didn’t say, “Lord, feed the multitude and do it your way.  Show me how to be a part of the answer.”  Instead he left Christ out of the reckoning and set about forming a committee and working on a budget (v.7)!  Philip looked at a multitude of need and gave up.

In The Message, Eugene Peterson renders Jesus’ words in Mark 11:23:  “Embrace this God-life.  Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you.  This mountain, for instance:  Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’… and it’s as good as done.”  This “God-life,” as Peterson calls it, is the life of faith.  It works on the basis of trust and obedience, and its lifeblood is prayer.  Its basis is helplessness, and its chief word is ask.  “Ask.  Just ask me,” says Jesus, “and see what I will do for you.  Ask me, and don’t tell me how.”

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine