“Are you still nearby? Because the president of the United States just walked past our shop.”
This was the message I received, several years ago, from a dear friend who managed a toy store where I loved to buy gifts.
No, I wasn’t there any longer. And by mere moments, I missed actually meeting the president of our nation.
Many years later, I have yet to meet a real live president. Still, I believe they exist. I respect their man selected, and God given, authority. And, I pray for them, whenever I remember to. Or, when we are in crisis and things are a disaster. (Just being honest)
Why do I tell you this story, as I began the sixth and final post in my series about learning to contend in prayer? Well, one day, I realized this story is a great example of my faith and prayer journey. You see, I have always believed in Jesus, and often called out to Him in prayer. But I have not always known the One to whom I prayed.
For instance, one of my first prayers, at age four or five, was when my mother and I clung to each other as we helplessly watched flames tear through and destroy our home. I squeezed her neck and proclaimed, “Don’t worry mommy, Jesus will take care of us!”
I believed in Jesus, as I grew up, and prayed each night, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
I believed in Jesus, as a fearful child, as I pleaded with Him, night after night, to keep me safe.
I believed in Jesus, as a struggling teen, when I begged him more than once, “please, don’t let me get in trouble.”
At seventeen, however, I met Jesus, in person! I cannot tell you how it happened, exactly. Yet, after attending a classmate’s youth group, I heard the gospel message, and I met Jesus!
I now understand it was a revelation from God. For that night, I knew with every fiber of my being, deep down in the depths of my soul, Jesus was not just a deity in heaven, He was the Son of God, who became a incarnate man. He came to live on the earth and to die on the cross for me, to save me and to forgive me of my sins.
That night, I met Jesus! It was as real to me as if I had met our president on the day he passed by my friend’s store.
As I explained in part 4, I wanted Jesus to be my Savior. But, I did not want Him to be my Lord. So, I ran away from God. Many times when I felt really bad or was in desperate trouble or was ashamed of my sins, I would call out to Him. But the Lord knew my heart. He knew my request was for a quick fix. So, He let my life spiral down, untilI I finally hit rock bottom.
A week later, after I wept every tear in me, I returned to the church where I first met Jesus. It was midnight on New Year’s Eve, and I heard the gospel message again. This time, however, I literally dropped down on my knees and sincerely and totally surrendered my entire life to Jesus. Not only to be my Savior, but this time to be my Lord.
As I left the church service, I stepped into a new year, and I started a new life! That night, I not only believed in Jesus, and had met Him in person, but I also began a journey of getting to know Him intimately, to love Him, and to live my life, wholly, for Him.
I know this is a long post. And, you may be asking, what the heck does this have to do with learning to contend in prayer? Well, I hope you will read the rest of the story.
After that night, I began to call my mom (the one who contended in prayer for me) to pray for and about everything. Until one morning, on my way to work, when I witnessed a horrible car accident where a child lay next to his mangled bike in the middle of the road. Devastated, as soon as I arrived at my office, I called my mom and begged her to pray.
To my horror, my mom told me I did not need to call her with every prayer request. Then she said, “The reason you call me to pray is because you don’t believe God wants to hear your prayers. Cathy, God will hear your prayers! He loves you and has forgiven you. He hears your prayers and will answer them.”
She was right. It was true. I felt ashamed and unworthy for the Lord to hear my prayers after I had run away from Him. So that day, I took my wise and loving mama’s words to heart, and I began to pray to the Lord in faith, trusting He would hear and answer the prayers of the one who had run away from Him, but who had returned with her whole heart.
Several weeks ago, as I woke up with the strong impression I needed to study about prayer with an emphasis on contending, I never imagined this was the direction it would take. I have been blessed and blown away by the lessons I have learned. And, as you can imagine, this series could go on forever. But it is time for it to conclude.
During this study, God has opened my eyes to look at prayer through new lenses, and it is my heartfelt prayer this series whet your appetite to look at and study about prayer in a new way too.
From the start, I knew this was the post I would end this series with, because this is what I consider the most essential and valuable key to contending in prayer.
You see, from the time I was a little girl and our home was destroyed by fire, I believed Jesus would take care of us. As I grew, I found great comfort in my bedtime prayer, “if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” And, when I was seventeen, I finally understood and believed that God sent Jesus into the world to be the Savior, for you and for me.
But it wasn’t until I wholly surrendered my life to Jesus and began to know Him personally and intimately, that I began to learn to contend in prayer by faith, with boldness and assurance, that He would hear and answer those prayers, for myself and for others.
I could share many more stories, truths, and promises which teach about praying to the Lord with great faith. But for now, I have listed a few of my very favorite verses. I pray they will speak to your heart, that you will mediate on them, plus discover more prayer passages for yourself, like these:
Ephesians 3:12 ESV says, “In Christ Jesus our Lord we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.”
Psalm 55:16-17, 22-23 As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice…Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you…I will trust in You.
Hebrew 4:14-16 NLT So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
As I end this series, may I encourage you that exceedingly better than knowing about, meeting in person, or even knowing personally the president or other great world leaders, is knowing and growing in the knowledge of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Then, in faith, we can approach with boldness and confidence the very One who created you and me. The One who loves us lavishly! For, God loves to hear and answer our requests and petitions as we contend in prayer!
Thank you for learning with me about contending in prayer. In boldness and confidence, Cathy