Prayer Hotline – Prayers for Danger, When God Seems Distant, Faith, Loneliness, and a Critical Spirit

Today we continue the series I’ve entitled “Prayer Hotline”, praying Scripture back to God on a variety of topics.  As I said in the first post in the series, praying God’s Word back to God gives me a peace and clarity over my particular situation, and when I use God’s own words by praying Scripture, I am aligning myself with His heart and praying according to His will.

Prayer Hotline

When you are in danger, pray Psalm 91.  “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.  You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.  If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.  “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

When God seems distant, pray Psalm 139:1-18.  “You have searched me, Lordand you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.  You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn,  if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.”

When your faith needs stirring, pray Hebrews 11:1-16.  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for.  By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.  By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.  By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.  And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.  All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

When you are lonely and fearful, pray Psalm 23.  “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk  through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

When you grow bitter and critical, pray 1 Corinthians 13.  “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

 

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Prayer Hotline – Prayers for Sorrow, Failure, Fruitfulness, Sin, and Worry

Many times I find myself confronted with a specific problem, challenge or an area in my life that I need to bathe in prayer.  However, it is not always easy to find the right words to pray.  It is then I pray Scripture.  Praying God’s Word back to God gives me a peace and clarity over my particular situation, and when I use God’s own words by praying Scripture, I am aligning myself with His heart and praying according to His will.  Over the next few days, I will post Scripture to pray on a variety of topics.  Here are the first five:

Prayer Hotline – Prayers for Sorrow, Failure, Fruitfulness, Sin and Worry

When in sorrow, pray John 14:1-4  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

When men fail you, pray Psalm 27:1-3 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.  Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.”

If you want to be fruitful, pray John 15:1-8.  ““I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. f you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

When you have sinned, pray Psalm 51:1-12.  “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.  Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.  Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

When you worry, pray Matthew 6:25-34.  ““Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

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Pride Goeth Before A Fall

My mother used to say, “Pride Goeth Before a Fall”, especially when my brother and I were acting out or doing something she thought particularly foolhardy for attention, but honestly, I had no idea what it meant then and I only recently learned that the expression is probably a misquote from the King James Version of the Bible of Proverbs 16:18.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

We recently had a thought-provoking discussion in our Sunday School class on “pride”.  We came up with a lot of definitions, but we still seemed a bit baffled by what it means in the theological sense of the word and whether or not pride is really as bad as they say it is.  For instance, several questions were posed whether it is so bad to take pride in your work, your children, your looks?  Is it bad to take pride in your nation?  So, the question remains: is pride a virtue or a vice?

“Pride derives from the French word “prud,” which is a late Old English word variously translated as “excellent, splendid, arrogant, haughty.” It is thought that “having a high opinion of oneself” might reflect the Anglo-Saxons opinion of Norman knights who called themselves “proud.”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers multiple definitions for “pride.” A positive one is “A feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by others.” This seems like a healthy aspect of pride. But then there’s: “A feeling that you are more important or better than other people” and “inordinate self-esteem.” This appears to be a common, not-so-healthy conceit, reflected in statements like, “He had too much pride to ask for help” or “her pride prevented her from admitting she was wrong.”

Since “pride” has conflicting definitions, it may be wise to use a different word to affirm our worth and value.”  Psychology Today

Obviously the Bible is very clear that PRIDE earns its first place amongst the Seven Deadly Sins.  (envy, gluttony, greed or avarice, lust, sloth, and wrath being the other six).

In Proverbs 8:13, Wisdom takes on a persona and says, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”  (NIV)

Look at other translations of this verse:

“The [reverent] fear and worshipful awe of the Lord includes the hatred of evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate.” (AMP)

“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.  Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” (ESV)

“To honor the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil ways and false words.” (GNT)

“The fear of the Lord is to hate what is sinful. I hate pride, self-love, the way of sin, and lies.” (NLV)

“All who fear the Lord will hate evil.  Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech.” (NLT)

“Pride” in this verse means to act in a way toward others that makes it seem that you are better than they are.  You are puffed up, “arrogant”, you have “self-love” and therefore you show no humility.  Since humbleness is a character trait God favours, we oppose God when we are prideful.  (James 4:6)  “Evil” in this passage means you are bent on going in a different way that is contrary to the Lord’s direction.  Lastly, you habitually say things that are the opposite of what is good and kind so as to create antagonism and division.

It is obvious that God despises someone who is proud because this leads to selfishness, self-love and a disregard for others.  Pride causes us to define ourselves by what we can achieve on our own rather than be fully reliant on God, and rather than giving Him the Glory whenever any of our plans succeed, we take full credit ourselves.

So, I come back to our Sunday School discussion on taking pride in work, children, nation etc. etc. I find it interesting that as I was researching this, Psychology Today, a predominantly secular magazine, seems to agree with the Biblical view on Pride:

“We might believe that healthy self-worth means taking pride in our achievements. But if value is tied to our accomplishments or self-image, it’s built upon on a fragile foundation.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling satisfaction when we achieve some goal, such as getting a promotion or buying a new car. But if we allow these things to define who we are, we set ourselves up for misery.”…

“Perhaps there’s good reason why pride has been considered one of the seven deadly sins. We’ve all been repelled by people who have an inflated view of themselves. They may talk about themselves excessively and rarely show interest in others. They pump themselves up and come across as snooty–exuding an attitude that makes others feel judged.

Such over-confidence and arrogance pushes us away. Instead of relating to us as equals, they display an obnoxious superiority that makes us feel small. They have the knack of making us feel the shame that they refuse to face within themselves.”  (Psychology Today)

 

“But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” 

2 Corinthians 10:17-18

 

 

 

 

 

 

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