The Enemy in Me

For the past few weeks my bible readings have been focused in the Psalms and if you have read the Psalms, you will notice that in a lot of the verses, David expresses his anguish and laments about his enemies. He calls out to God many times to decimate his enemies and to give him relieve from their evil ploys and accusations. Every time I read such verses, I subconsciously try to connect to the psalm by reflecting on the people in my life who might fit the criteria of an “enemy.” I start to think about the oppositions I face in my life from people and situations and consciously or subconsciously, position those as the enemies as I convert these Psalms to personal and sometimes fervent prayers.

In the last little while, my pastor has been teaching us to try a reflective prayer where we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us areas in our life where God wants to breathe new life. He simplifies the process as giving God the remote control to your day and asking God to replay your day to you and pin point those areas in your day. I decided to try this while reading Psalm 68 and the result was really enlightening.

I had just come off a very trying day at work and I was reading Psalm 68 where David is jubilant about the victories God brings over his enemies. As I was connecting with that scripture and silently praying with David “Summon your power , God and show us your strength our God as you have done before (verse 28)”, I started to ask myself if perhaps there are other people out there who are reading the same Psalm with me in mind as they pray to God to show his power? Are there people out there who are also reading some of these Psalms and subconsciously thinking of me as the enemy? I believe this was the Holy Spirit telling me in His own way that sometimes I am not the wronged in those “oppressive situations”. This is why this verse had so much meaning for me:

Rebuke the beast in the reeds, the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations, until it submits, bringing bars of silver. Scatter the nations who delight in war.

Psalm 68:30 BSB

Sometimes, I have to rebuke or ask God to rebuke the beast in me. The behaviours that are not usually characteristics of me but show up on occasion and are offensive to others- “the herd of bulls among the calves” need to come under the authority of Christ. This “beast” must be humbled to the point where it is submitted to God’s will- where I am submitted to God’s will.

So folks, next time you read the Psalm and come across scriptures like “Let God arise and his enemies be scattered (Psalm 68:1)”, before you think about that person or situation as the enemy you are at war with, look inward. Is there anything in your life that is characteristic of the enemy you are fighting? If so, ask God to rebuke that beast so that you do not become collateral damage when God arises.

Yours Truly.

Prayer is not a grocery list

So a few days ago I interviewed for an opportunity and prior to the interview, I had spent days praying about it and preparing for it. So many people also prayed with me and by  the day of the interview I knew I could not have been any more prepared than I was. After waiting for days after the interview, I finally received the dreaded rejection email… “you did great but we decided to go another way”… and boy was I disappointed (and honestly maybe I still am just a little bit)!

For the rest of the day and week, I did not know how to react. I had asked that God’s will be done and now that His will had not gone my way, I was upset. I started searching for some encouragement from the bible, from songs and from social media and a few days ago my encouragement came. A friend sent me a video featuring the late Ravi Zacharias and he said:

In the Christian worldview prayer is not a grocery list of requests before God… prayer is not seeking to change the will of God. It is communion with the living God such that he will change you to have the ability to receive what it is that He has for you. Ravi Zacharias

I felt chastised. To have thought that because I have prayed and others had prayed that automatically meant that I would be selected for that opportunity was very presumptous. Up until now, I have been of the mindset that prayer changes the mind and will of God to be favourable towards us. And while I am still learning more about prayer, I ask myself, “If I am praying to change the will of the all-knowing and all-powerful God, whose will is nothing short of perfection, then whose will am I seeking for in my life?”

I realized that I prayed that God’s will be done for me regarding that opportunity but I was disappointed with the outcome because in reality what I was saying was “God I want you to give it to me regardless of what your plans are for me.” This month, I am learning what it means to surrender your will to God and I now know it is easier to blog about it than to actually live it.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12: 2 NIV

I need a transformation in my mindset to be able to live a fully surrended life – I am strong-willed! I need a transformation in how I pray and what I use the privilege of prayer for. Prayer is not to impose my will on God but as Ravi rightly said, to ask that God will renew my mind to be able to accept His will as the ultimate in my life. I am humbled by these thoughts and I pray God helps me.

What about you? What does prayer mean to you? Share your comments below.

Yours Truly

 

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

Have you ever prayed for something that you really really want or need and ended that prayer by asking that God’s will be done? Once I was praying for a miracle for a loved one who was dying and my only request was that God heals them so they live. I finished that prayer with “but let your will be done” because I thought it was the Christian and humble thing to do when asking for such requests. In that moment all my hope was that God’s will was also that this person lives otherwise that would defeat my whole prayer! In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed a similar prayer asking that God’s will be done and we all know how that turned out for Him! (we will come back to this point shortly)

In short, I have never liked adding that caveat to any prayer. This week I dug deep into why I do not like to pray “Your will be done” and I realized it is because of two reasons: Many times I do not know what God’s will is and the second reason is a fear that even if I found out what God’s will was, it will be in conflict with what I want or think I need. This week, God taught me a few things to get me unstuck from this mindset.  So let’s delve in.

What is God’s will for me in any situation?

That is a difficult question for this very reason: For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?  (Romans 11:34 NLT). No one knows the mind and heart of God except God’s Spirit.

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11 NIV

But thank God that through the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross, we have been redeemed. And through this work of sanctification and justification and now have God’s spirit; the spirit of reconciliation (1 Cor 2:12). It is by this Spirit that we have the mind of Christ. As our minds are being renewed to become more and more like Christ’s, we are able to know the will of God.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12: 2 NLT

In every circumstance we face, God’s will for us is good, pleasing, and perfect. So back to my initial comment about how it ended for Jesus when he prayed that God’s will be done in the Garden of Gethsemane… well we know that He ended up dying a distasteful and painful death. However, we on this side of history, can look back and say that God’s will was good, pleasing, and perfect because that death brought us back into relationship with God (this is why Good Friday is really good!). Take solace in this promise of God:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) 

What do I do if what I want/need and God’s will are not in agreement?

This question is easy. Remember that in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us to pray “your kingdom come” before “your will be done”? If we come to the place of understanding that Jesus Christ is king over our lives and over the earth, then the choice becomes easy.

For the king’s word is supreme, and who can say to him, “What are you doing?” Ecclesiastes 8:4 BSB

Frances Havergal captured the response of every Christian who has surrendered to the Lordship and Kingship of Christ in her famous hymn as thus:

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Jesus conquered the world in an epic battle and now the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelations 11:15 CEV). He reigns supreme and sovereign over all the heavens and the earth. So as sons and daughters of the King of the heavens and the earth, not only should our prayer be “your will be done” but we can confidently add “…on earth as it is in heaven

Yours Truly.