How can I pray when life is surprising?
Congratulations. You are a follower of Jesus. Life feels full, the trees are greener and the future is full of endless possibilities. Life is just peach colored until the unexpected happens: cancer, COVID-19, job loss, divorce, a wayward child.
You wonder what God is doing. You wonder if he cares or if he's really in control. They understand or don't even know how to pray through the unexpected. Friend, we were all there. I want to remind you what Jesus said. He said in this life you will have problems. He didn't say if he said when. He didn't say he would put your life in a protective bubble. He didn't say the unfair things wouldn't touch you. He said you will have problems.
The earth is not our last home; We are meant for something better. Hebrews 13:14 says, “For this world is not our permanent home; We look forward to a home that is yet to come. “And just to make sure you understand that this world, our plans, and our lives are temporary, God makes it very clear what to expect at Proverbs 19:21. "You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail." There it is. Sure as a day. God's plans will always prevail over our plans. We should always expect the unexpected with God!
In life we have no way of knowing what the future will bring; only God knows. It can make us drained, disappointed, depressed, or worse. No matter how strong we feel spiritually, the unexpected can and will come to visit. The key to fighting the unexpected, however, is not asking God why, but rather, "Well, which God? I trust you."
When we whisper now, we are submitting to God's authority. This reminds us that we are not in control. We are reminded that God can turn the worst situations into good ones. We are reminded that he is the Almighty! This in turn protects us from the enemy because he would love nothing more than to leave you alone with your negative thoughts.
Lysa TerKeurst says it best: “In silence, unspoken, unmoved – through disappointment, Satan crafts his worst weapons against us and those we love. His subtle seduction is to leave us alone with our thoughts so that he can whisper what turns our disappointments into destructive decisions. "
The power of prayer
Another well-known author, Mark Patterson, says, “Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future. Who you become depends on how you pray. Ultimately, the record of your prayers becomes the script of your life. "
What exactly is the power of prayer? The power of prayer does not lie in the words you say. It is not about what you pray or how you pray. Prayer can be defined as speaking to God, but it is much more than that.
The answer is found in a central scripture passage. In Matthew 18: 18-20, Jesus tells us about the power of prayer when he said:
Verily I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth will be released in heaven. I tell you again, if two of you agree on anything that you ask on earth, it will be done for you by my Heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am among them. "
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus, this reality was in his mind. He wrote to a group of people he so dearly wished that they could walk well in this world amid the battles and unexpected moments in life. He said it like that.
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on all of God's armor so that you can stand against the devil's plans. Because we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the forces of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on all of God's armor so that you can assert yourself when the day of evil comes and after you've done everything to stand. So stand firm, with the belt of truth strapped around your waist and the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet endowed with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Take the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the arrows of evil that burn. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6: 10-18).
Priscilla Shirer, author of Fervent: A Woman's Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer, says, “Prayer is the portal that brings the power of Heaven to earth. It is kryptonite for the enemy and for all of his tricks against you. "
In other words, we pray through the unexpected by equipping ourselves. When life becomes unexpected, God has given us the tools to go through it. He gave us his word and the Holy Spirit. We have his wisdom and his protection.
Whenever something unexpected happens in my life or in the life of my friends, we text each other on Armor Up because we all know the fight is just beginning and there is no way we can get through without his armor. It means we need to refocus our thoughts and change our perspective.
It reminds us to filter through God's Word everything expected and unexpected. Psalm 25:15 reminds us, “My eyes are always on the Lord, for only He will free my feet from the snare.” As we shift our focus, we begin to replace fear with faith.
The armor also reminds us of the role we play on this earth. You don't wear high heels to a marathon, do you? No, you are wearing the best pair of running shoes you can find. The same is true for us – when we actively put on the full armor of God, it prepares us for the unexpected, to control the unexpected and to fight the unexpected.
By armoring you are on your guard. At 1 Peter 5: 8 it says: “Stay vigilant! Take care of your great enemy, the devil. He wanders around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour him. "
The enemy does not cause everything unexpected in our life. We'd do him far too much credit to believe that. But he can hit us when we're down. If he can make us take our focus and thoughts away from Christ, he can devour us. That is why it is imperative to be on your guard when the unexpected occurs.
In other words, a strong root of faith nurtured through the hard work of your personal relationship with Jesus, reading God's Word and standing on His Word as we prepare. This is how we pray and activate our faith when life becomes unexpected.
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