By “persecution,” I am talking about someone beating you up for faith, throwing you in jail, torturing you, burning down your church, passing laws against the public worship of Jesus, passing laws against owning a Bible, or even coming out to kill you (https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/)
So, at what time in world history have Christians suffered the greatest persecution? It is not the Roman era, when emperors outlawed Christianity, locked Christians in the Coliseum with lions, crucified them, and beheaded them. It is not the Middle ages, when pastors like Jan Hus and John Wycliffe were burned alive at the stake because they stood on Scripture instead of conforming to manmade teachings in the Catholic church. It is not during the 1400s, when Muslim nations spread throughout the Middle East, pushing Christians out of their homeland, even killing Christians as “infidels.” Nor was persecution at its greatest during the Great Migrations of the 1800s, when hundreds of thousands of Europeans crossed the Atlantic to enter the New World— desiring not only economic wealth, but also religious freedom. The greatest time of Christian persecution is now.
It is estimated that 100,000 to 150,000 Christians are murdered each year because they confess Jesus as Savior. Each month about 214 Christian churches are targeted and destroyed by non-Christian enemies. Each month about 772 acts of violence are committed against Christians. In fact, more Christians have been killed in the past 100 years than the previous 2,000 years combined. Surprised? (https://listosaur.com/miscellaneous/10-shocking-facts-about-christian-persecution-today/)
From the moment angry Cain murdered his God-fearing brother Abel, believers have faced opposition because they cling to Jesus as Savior (Genesis 4:3-8). It means, the pressure to abandon your grip on God’s clear teachings will always be there. On some days, in some occasions, you may even feel those against you are more powerful than the One who is for you. Yet, remember this: You are Triumphant in Christ! Even when you suffer, Jesus is still in control.
Does it feel like that? That you are triumphant--now? Probably not. Usually it’s the opposite, right? You see almost on a daily basis this growing hostility to Christian teachings. Scientists declare: “We know beyond any doubt that God does not exist!” but in the same breath say: “But aliens might exist, we just haven’t found them yet.” You see more people staying outside of worship than coming to worship. Television shows, movies, and late night hosts use the name “Jesus” as more of a term of excitement instead of honor. Society appears to respect your God very little and wants you to be aware of that.
For Daniel, the nation in which he lives— Babylon— not only respects God very little, but even passes laws against worship. (read also Daniel, chapters 3-5) The law was simple: For the next thirty days, pray to the king of Babylon alone or be thrown into the lions’ den (Daniel 6:7). Yes, the law is unfair. Yes, the law singles out those who believe in the one true God of Israel. Yes, the law singles out a man like Daniel, someone rising through the ranks of the Babylonian government. And yes, the law is set as a trap. Daniel’s enemies knew he would break this command. If they catch Daniel, then he dies. If he dies, then they rise in power.
And Daniel? Well, when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel did not have to publicly demonstrate his faith. After all, the decree stands in effect for only thirty days! Daniel (1) could have not prayed. He (2) could have prayed at the king’s feet, but really addressed his prayer to God. He (3) could have shut his windows, turned off his lights, locked his doors, and prayed in secret.
Yet, he does not do any of that. He walks up the stairs to his room, flings open the window shutters, bends down on his knees, extends his arms, lifts his hands up, bows his head, and prays! To change his prayer habits would have been the same as giving in to the demands of the decree. He would allow a law to change the way he worships.
[But] these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.
So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
They’re right; the king did command every single person in the kingdom to pray to him and to him alone. And the king cannot take back his order. So the king had no other choice, but to give the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Do you know how Daniel could have stayed out of the lion’s den? Cover up your faith. Don’t mention what you believe. Change what you believe to fit what the majority considers appropriate.
I’m not too sure what is more surprising. Either the fact that 100,000 Christians are still murdered each year for their faith or that about 45% of Christians in America— a land in which you are free to worship wherever you please— actually worship every Sunday morning. That’s less than half of all Christians (not citizens, but Christians) in America make use of their freedom to worship publicly, without fear of any imprisonment, violence, or death. And yes, I know, some are out of town or must work Sundays or are homebound. Still, only 43% of Christians read their Bibles at least once every week (something that can be done at any time, in any place). Thirty percent attend Bible class. Even less have family devotions at home (http://www.pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/)
What about you? You get to worship without the threat of imprisonment. You get to pray without worrying that someone will throw you into a lion’s den. You get to own a Bible without fearing that someone will kill you. So, do you pray before dinner? Do you say “thank you” to God for the food set before you? Do you pray before taking a test, asking God to bless your memory, or do you fear what your friend might say if he catches you with eyes closed, mouthing words? Do you openly admit to your doctor that you will listen to both (1) the doctor and (2) take your condition to God in prayer? When same-sex marriage was passed, do you mope around like Jesus lost, or did you pray that God use you to share his Word? Abortion still remains legal. Do you only see victory by protesting, or do you also pray for the unborn and your leaders to change such a horrible law? You may be aware of the personal beliefs of your children, or your parents, spouse, friends, and co-workers. Are you praying that God use you to share your light of faith? Or, have you given up all hope that they will see the Light of life in Jesus?
My dear friends, the devil strives to throw opposition in your face as proof that you are on the losing side. That if your children reject Jesus, there is no more hope for them. That if your doctor scoffs at your beliefs, then you are the weird one. That if laws are passed, nothing can possibly change those orders. That if (1) you are a Christian and (2) life has not become perfect, then it never will. It will only get worse.
You are Triumphant in Christ even when you suffer. Even when you are called names, mocked, ridiculed, hurt, or killed, You are Triumphant in Christ! How? Because Christ also suffered. A law did not command Jesus to pray to a king. Rather, powerful men rejected that Jesus is the King of heaven and earth. They did not throw him into the lions’ den. They nailed him to the cross.
You and I should have suffered and died instead because of the occasions we hide trust in God. And yet it is Jesus who dies instead. Dying because you (and I) have hidden our belief in God. Suffering because you (and I) have denied knowing him. Paying our price so that you (and I) can stand forgiven!
Yes, Jesus suffers and dies—but then rises again! Bursts out of the ground. Stands on the earth. Rises off of the planet. And sits over the entire universe in power! You are Triumphant in Christ even when you suffer because your Christ reigns triumphant now!
Daniel knew his God stood in control over kings, governments, and nations. Yet, I’m not sure if Daniel expected to live through the night. Yet, it did not matter because Daniel was already Triumphant in Christ. If lived, he would still worship his saving God. If he died, he would still worship his saving God. Whether he lived or died, his trust for deliverance from eternal death would still rest in God.
[And] at the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. [… H]e called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”
The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. The wicked mob had plans, but God overruled their plan. He was not ready for Daniel to enter heaven. Instead, he sent his angel to keep Daniel safe. Even though humanity makes their plans, Jesus is still in control.
He still sends his angels to protect you. The Bible teaches that angels are created by God to serve you (Hebrews 1:14). Yes, angels serve you! (Psalm 91:11-12)
A missionary once shared his story of pastoring a group of Christians in a hostile, Muslim-backed region of Pakistan. This community of believers had built a church, even though their area was well-known for burning down churches. One day the missionary was tipped off by a local that a small mob was heading their way to destroy their church. The missionary and congregation could have fled, but decided to remain behind in the church. There, they prayed all night. They sang hymns. They read Scripture readings. Then the sun rose. The church still stood. More than that, they were still alive.
A few days later, a local met up with the missionary. He had overheard that the mob marched towards the church, but when they arrived, they saw heavily-armed soldiers guarding the perimeter. They fled, thinking they had fallen into an ambush. Yet, the missionary did not station armed guards on the perimeter. Instead, God had sent his angels.
So, does that mean no one will ever insult you, that no one will ever threaten you because of your faith? No. Nowhere does God promise to defend you with angels until the ripe old age of 100 years old. The Bible shares numerous accounts of men like Stephen, Zechariah, and Isaiah—men who are killed for not changing God’s message at the demands of kings. Only one of Jesus’ twelve disciples died of natural causes; the others died for their faith.
What God does promise is: (1) to hear your cries for help, (2) to send his angels to protect you, and (3) to declare you forever innocent. Daniel rejoices that he is found innocent before God. Not only did he obey God rather than man, but Daniel trusted in the coming Savior who would wipe away his guilt. The same Savior who also declares you “not guilty.” Sin will never devour your soul. Jesus’ death has shut the devilish lion’s mouth forever. And Jesus reigns to bring your through this earthly night, and he will deliver you into heaven’s eternal morning.
On this Reformation Day, dust off this prized jewel of Scripture. Make use of it in your home, your family, and worship life. God has seen fit to defend his Word over thousands of years so that you too may hear, come to faith, remain in faith, and enter eternal life. He raised up a servant like Martin Luther who stared death in the face because he would not take back his Bible-based convictions. Someone like that stood on Scripture to make sure that 500 years later you could still hear the only Way to heaven.
That’s the purpose of Scripture: to point you to Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the reason you hold firm in the face of opposition. You are Triumphant in Christ! Even when you suffer, Jesus is still in control.
A farmer planting two hundred acres spends about $10,000 on seed alone (and that’s a smaller farm!) Ten-thousand dollars! A single American makes on average $53,889 (before taxes). https://www.census.gov/search-results.html?q=average+income&search.x=0&search.y=0&page=1&stateGeo=none&searchtype=web&cssp=SERP). (So, imagine taking 20% of your annual income and using it on this one time purchase.)
Now, of course, the farmer carefully prepares his fields. He clears away trees and pulls out stumps and rocks. He drags his discs through the soil, turning over the fields. He watches the water content in each field. Then, when field conditions are just right, he sinks his tens-of-thousands of dollars worth of seed into the ground. Do you know what he does next? He waits.
That’s it! He waits! He puts tens-of-thousands of dollars into ground and can do nothing but wait. Yes, he can provide water by irrigating his fields. He can drain the fields and ensure nothing blocks out sunlight. He can spend $15,000 more to spray pesticide and herbicide. He can do everything in his power to make the seed grow and get his money back— but that’s just it: in his power. He may have the best soil conditions, but he does not possess the power to make seeds grow. He simply trusts that God will provide his income.
Could you do that? Can you patiently wait and trust that God will provide your livelihood at the right time— even when you see no answer in sight? The temptation is for you to rely on the little control you have in life instead of God’s unlimited control over everything.
Jesus gives you a reason to trust him most. Using a mighty miracle, he teaches you to Bring Every Need to Jesus because He deals with you in compassion. Since he deals with you in this way, Trust his power to provide.
Five thousand men swarm the shoreline— and this is just men! There may be an additional 10,000-15,000 women and children blanketing the hillside! And the disciples— well, all they see is a problem. [E]vening approache[s, and] the disciples c[o]me to [Jesus] and sa[y], “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away[!]”If the crowds leave now, then they won’t be hungry all night.
Yet, Jesus fires back: “They do not need to go away.” Is Jesus looking at the same thing they are? Doesn’t he see the same problem? “Jesus, there’s zero food and yet you’re telling us they can stay. Who’s going to feed them all?” The answer? “You! You give them something to eat.”
The truth is: they already tried that. Before they ever Bring Their Need To Jesus, they search for an answer. They scour the area for restaurants. They empty their pockets and see just how much money they have for dinner (Mark 6:37; John 6:7). All they could find is only five loaves of bread and two fish--which, in their estimation, amounts to nothing. “Jesus, we have exhausted all of our options; we have no other solutions. There is no one left to help us. We have tried everything.”
Sound familiar? It’s easy to read an account like this and wonder how the disciples could miss asking the Son of God for help. I mean, Jesus is literally right there, watching the disciples rush around in such needless panic. All they have to do is Bring Every Need to Jesus! But they do not because the disciples trust only themselves.
Do you think the disciples would shake their heads in disbelief if they saw how you deal with trouble? If your marriage is not going so well, are you Bringing Every Need to Jesus? Or, are you sifting through your feelings and taking advice from non-Christian sources in the hope of fixing things? If you want the best for your children, are you Bringing your wish to Jesus? Or, are you mapping the future and scrambling to save up for all the schooling and all the camps and all the programs; are you exhausted from acting that you must provide for your child? If your health bothers you, are you Bringing Every Need to Jesus? Or, are you trusting that you— and only you— hold the key to recovery?
If you experience fear in life, it is because you are trusting yourself. You feel that God is unreliable and will not provide you with the kind of life you want.
So, you turn to someone you consider even more trustworthy than God Almighty: You! You understand you! You recognize your problems and the necessary solution! You know how your challenge must be solved! You feel more reliable than God!
Does that make your fear go away? No. Why? Fear erupts because of the realization that you do not have the power to instantly bring about what you need for life. Fear teaches you: You are not God.
But Jesus is God and Jesus has the power God has. He uses that power for you. Just look at how Jesus deals with the crowds. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them[.]They are like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:34). Hordes of people have no idea what happens when they die. They do not know God as a kind Father who loves them. No one has pointed them to a Savior who removes guilt with his forgiveness. No one fills their heart with peace.
So, Jesus’ heart literally goes out to them. This “compassion” refers to deep emotions pouring out from deep down inside. Imagine hosting a house party. Guests grip their punch in one hand, hors d’oeuvres in the other, and chat away in little groups. Off in the background, an infant cries. Tears stream down her cheeks. Her little arms and legs are flailing. All this little baby wants is for someone to hold her, calm her, cradle and coddle her. Yet, no one runs off to comfort; everyone is consumed with satisfying their wants. If your heart hurts [right now] and all you want to do pick up this little baby and hug her, you are feeling “compassion.”
Jesus deals with you in compassion. Not only does his heart go out to you, but his blood pours out for you. It hurts him to see you and me run away from him and rely on our own problem-solving. It hurts him as he endures our death-sentence for such selfish self-reliance. On the cross Jesus deals with your only real need: peace between God and you.
Is Jesus trustworthy enough that you can Bring Every Need to Jesus? Look at the cross. Jesus cares about what you need. He deals with you in compassion. He dies to give you eternal life. And if he does the impossible by removing your consequences for sin, then will he not also tend to the matters of everyday life?
Bring Every Need to Jesus because He deals in compassion. When you Bring Every Need to Jesus, Trust his power to provide.
I can’t help but wonder what must have went through the disciple’s minds as they handed out food. Jesus could have chosen to have the crowds form a line and receive food from him. Instead, [Jesus] directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. Then the disciples returned to get more and then handed more out. And then they came back for more and handed even more out. And then they got more and distributed more. And they came back again and again and again until everyone was satisfied— completely full, filled up, loosening their belts.
Do you think the disciples learned the lesson? Jesus took the bread and fish they considered worthless and proved he had the power to provide.
You know that. Jesus has the power to provide for you. Yet, there’s more to this account than just that. What’s Jesus concerned about here? He’s concerned about what you eat. You could skip supper and still live. Jesus could have snapped his fingers and rained down manna and quail again (Exodus 16). He could have sent the crowds away. Yet, he takes the time to remind you: There is nothing too insignificant for him to handle— even if it is one single meal.
So, what’s on your mind? What’s gnawing at you that makes you afraid? Bring Every Need to Jesus and trust his power to provide.
Do you worry about money? Are you afraid to increase your offering because you might go without? Do you dread getting a letter in the mail announcing a slash to your pension or a reduction in your social security? Are you anxious that you will lose your job? Bring Every financial fear to Jesus and trust his power to provide. He fills your life with financial blessings; not you. Yes, God has not promised to miraculously put money into your bank account, but how do you get money? Through jobs. How does the company get money? Through an economy. How does the economy thrive? Through leaders God has given you and by God blessing the effort of those leaders. God gives you personal abilities and God provides leaders so that you are able to receive an income.
Do you wonder if God really cares about your anxiety? After all, God has so many other things in the universe to worry about (and probably bigger things than health). Does he really care about your aches and pains or what you will have for dinner or how your day at work or school will go? Bring Every anxiety—big or small— to Jesus and trust his power to provide.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus finds it necessary for you to ask: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus wants you to pray: “Ask God to satisfy your needs.” Yes, God has not promised to miraculously fill your cabinets, but that does not mean you must rely on yourself. Where does your food come from? The grocery store. Where does the store get it? The farmer. How does the farmer receive it? The field. Try as farmers might, they cannot control the weather, ground temperature, seasons, or the product. God makes the seed grow. God uses people and their talents to bless you. God uses the kind words of family, friends, and strangers to encourage you. Bring Every Need to Jesus and trust his power to provide.
Trust. It means that instead of relying on our own power, we trust that God will do what he says he will do. A farmer sinks $10,000-plus into the ground. There is no guarantee the seed will grow. The farmer does not have the power to make the seed grow. But God does—and the farmer trusts God to provide.
God provides for you. You will have trouble in this life. Your heart will try to direct you to trust your own decisions. Your heart will doubt God’s care for you and his power to help. So, Jesus says that he cares for you so that you may not doubt his compassion for you. So, Jesus demonstrates his miraculous power to show he cares so that you trust his power to provide.
Jesus does everything necessary for you to run to him first and only in every trouble. Live in peace. Be at rest. Jesus is for you. Bring Every Need to Jesus because He deals with you in compassion. Since he deals with you in this way, Trust his power to provide.
Sounds good, right? …that is, until you realize Happy Meals come with either a hamburger, cheeseburger, or chicken nuggets. You can select either (1) more French fries or (2) apple slices. Some toys are geared towards boys and others for girls. You understand Clara’s requesting dinner for a kid, but Clara is not sure (1) what the order-taker expects her to say or (2) how the order-taker needs to hear the order.
So, enter me: the helper. Clara knows I understand what she wants. She knows the request I make will result in receiving what she requested. So, I take Clara’s request and put it into words the order-taker needs. A chicken nugget happy meal with ranch dipping sauce, apple slices, and chocolate milk.
This morning God reminds you about the helper you have in life. No, not someone to help you order McDonald’s. Rather, a helper who brings your requests and petitions to the throne of God. Forgetting that you have such a helper can leave you frustrated that your prayers are not being heard. You may even grow discouraged in praying— and may stop praying altogether.
So, God reassures you: You Never Pray Alone! The Holy Spirit helps you and The Holy Spirit intercedes for you.
Romans, chapter 8, yanks your attention right to the work of God the Holy Spirit. Reading through the chapter, you’ll discover the word [Holy] “Spirit” appears nineteen times! And each reference describes how the Holy Spirit works in you. He kills the sinful impulses flaring up inside of you (v.13). So, you know your limits when you’re out with friends. Your sentences do not contain a minimum usage of four-letter words. You give up some of your personal time to help your [grand]kids with homework. The Holy Spirit is always changing your attitude from serving yourself to serving the needs of others.
Even when you fail to live as God expects, the Holy Spirit wraps his arm around you and testifies before God: “This one belongs to you! Forgive them! Remember, this is your child!” (v.16). That is who you are: God’s child— because by faith in Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit lives in you. You know that now, but when the world reaches its end, you will see it more clearly by the way you look and the way you act and where you live (v.23).
Our reading adds another responsibility of God the Holy Spirit. You read: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. Just think about that. God the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Triune God. This is the One who powerfully changed your unbelieving heart into a heart beating full of faith. This is the One who lives inside of you and strengthens your reliance on God. This is no mere angel; this is the God of the universe.
And who is he helping? You! He does not only help your Pastor who spent decades studying the Word of God. He does not pay special treatment only to Christians you consider stronger [in faith] than you. Out of the billions of people in the world, the Holy Spirit directs his full attention on you— regardless of your Bible knowledge or your weaknesses or your struggles. He cares about you because through faith, you are God’s child— and that is who he sees now.
Since you are God’s child, he does something. He helps you— always, now, in the next hour, later today, tomorrow, throughout the week. That is why the verb is present tense. He always holds your hand. He always stands beside you in prayer. He always brings your petitions to the throne of God— even when [you] do not know what [you] ought to pray for[.] This is his responsibility: The Holy Spirit helps you— meaning, You Never Pray Alone!
He was always there when you poured out your heart to God. Yes, even when you heard new reports about violence, drugs, and murder popping up in your city. You may have felt all alone—unsure of what your city will soon look like, not sure if your neighbor is going to bring something dangerous right next door. Yes, you may doubt God cares about your concerns and still, the Holy Spirit is right there, unloading your fears of danger and violence at the throne of God.
You see decreasing worship attendance in every church across America. You may even remember the days when everyone stopped what they were doing on Sunday and came to worship. Now, those days feel long gone— and you feel all alone— as though you are one of the last Christians remaining. You wonder if anyone cares about eternity in heaven or hell anymore. You wonder if God still remains to bless you in life, in your family, in your church. Even when you felt that it is not worthwhile to pray anymore, the Holy Spirit placed your every emotion into the hands of God.
The doctor called again. The cancer’s spreading. The medicine list is growing. The side-effects intensify. “Where is God?” you cry out— and God the Holy Spirit was there and is there—understanding your frustrations, your fears, and your sadness and notifying God of those concerns.
Sometimes you may feel that prayer is worthless because you feel no one is going to answer. No one cares. No one really knows what you are really enduring. Many times those calls to God stop simply because you believe the devil’s lie: God does not care.
The truth is: he does care. And he shows his care for you on the cross. There hung Jesus—shouting out: “God, where are you?!” (Psalm 22:1). This Jesus had done nothing to deserve this God-forsakenness. He never questioned God’s care and concern for his wellbeing. He never doubted God’s assurance that he listens. He never relied on himself to make life better. It was us that did that! And it is Jesus who suffers for it! And he suffers and he dies so that you will not live apart from God forever. This is how much God cares for you: He gives you Jesus, who lived a perfect life in your place and has laid his perfect life on you so that you can live as a dearly loved child of God.
God hears your prayers. He has filled you with The Holy Spirit who helps you. Your prayers are being delivered. Yet, it does not stop there. Be sure: You Never Pray Alone! because The Holy Spirit intercedes for you.
It cannot be said any clearer: the Spirit himself intercedes for [you]… This “interceding” is putting your petitions into the right, exact words. The Holy Spirit does not change your message. If you pray for healing, he is not asking God to give you patience. Rather, he presents your requests to God as they stand. (Just like I present Clara’s Happy-Meal-request to the order-taker in the right words.)
When the Holy Spirit approaches God the Father, he presents your petitions with groans that words cannot express. No, the Holy Spirit does not growl and groan and mumble. Neither is he speaking in fantastic tongues you can’t understand. Rather, the Holy Spirit stands before God the Father and shares your deepest inner feelings with unspoken words. God the Father knows exactly how you feel because he [… ]searches[y]our heart [and] knows the mind of the Spirit[.]
It means God never makes mistakes. It means God knows you (and me) better than we know ourselves! Even when we are unsure of the solution to ask for, God gives the perfect answer because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
Did you catch where you are in this verse? You are a saint! Understand what the Bible teaches about ‘saints.’ It does not teach that some people are holier and more moral than others and therefore there exists different levels of Christians (as though a saint is loved by God more than a Christian). The Greek word: “Saint” means “holy person.” Christians are “holy” because Jesus places his holiness on them. You are “holy” because Jesus has placed his holy life on you. God sees you as: ‘Saint Bob,’ ‘Saint Sue,’ ‘Saint Roger,’ ‘Saint Betty,’ ‘Saint (fill in your name).’ Since you are “holy” (and therefore a “saint”), it means God cares about you!
When you don’t know what to ask for, the Father’s reply will be what is best and perfect for you. Sometimes that involves God leading your heart to accept his will. Someone’s “will” is their desire. My “will” (or “desire”) might be that my spouse fully recovers from surgery, runs around like she is young again, and lives until the ripe age of 98[years old]. Yet, while she lies in the hospital bed, I may not be so sure my “will” is going to be fulfilled. Instead, God’s “will” (his “desire”) might be that my spouse leaves this earthly life so that she may live in her heavenly home. While I might not always understand God’s timing or reasoning, the Holy Spirit teaches me rely on God’s perfect decision.
My “will” might be that this congregation grows to be the largest in the area. I do truly desire that everyone comes to know (1) Jesus as their Savior, (2) learn that eternal life comes because of Jesus and not because of their self working, and (3) that many find joy in serving God by living according to his Word. This is a good desire; after all, God desires that all people be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Yet, God’s “will” may not be that we become the largest congregation around. He knows how tempting it would be for us to brag about our efforts. He may take his Word away from this area because so many rejected hearing it for so long. Most of all, God may be teaching us that success is not found in numbers; success is found in trusting Jesus as our Savior.
The Holy Spirit constantly intercedes for you. He brings our petitions right up to God—and God answers. Sometimes giving us exactly what we asked for because it lined up with his will. At other times, he teaches us to trust his will more than ours.
You Never Pray Alone! You know that because God says that. You trust this because God gives you the Holy Spirit as your helper. Forgetting that you have such a helper can leave you frustrated that your prayers are not being heard. You may even grow discouraged in praying— and may stop praying altogether. Knowing that God always stands beside you, is always serious about listening to you, is always present to answer means you can pray with confidence.