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PRAY... AND LET GOD FIGHT YOUR BATTLES And Other Devotional Addresses to Encourage and Motivate You to Pray to the God of the Bible



Pray... And Let God Fight Your Battles: And Other Devotional Addresses to Encourage and Motivate You to Pray to the God of the Bible (The Praying Through the Bible Series: Volume 5) by Daniel Whyte III Cover Design by Atinad Designs. Š Copyright 2016 TORCH LEGACY PUBLICATIONS First Printing, 2016 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner, except for brief quotations included in a review of the book. ________________________________________________________________________ All Bible quotations in this volume are from the King James Version of the Bible. The name TORCH LEGACY PUBLICATIONS and its logo are registered as a trademark in the U.S. patent office. Printed in the U.S.A.

Acknowledgements For the Glory of God, and to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us how to pray; And to the memory of E.M. Bounds who God used to motivate me to pray. To my favorite prayer partners: my wife, Meriqua, and my children: Danni, Daniel IV, Danita, Danae, Daniqua, Danyel Ezekiel, and Danyelle Elizabeth; And especially to my oldest son, Daniel Whyte IV, whom I have had the privilege of training in the ministry ever since he was a little boy when he said he wanted to be a preacher. He assisted me by doing most of the research for the messages included in this book. And to all people around the world who want to be encouraged to pray more effectively and see God answer their prayers and bless their lives for His glory. —Daniel Whyte III

Contents Introduction 1. How to Pray When You’ve Fallen Flat On Your Face 2. Pray and Let God Fight Your Battles 3. How to React to the Afflictions, Problems, and Troubles of Life 4. The Dream, the Despair, and the Deliverance 5. How to Rise From Trouble to Triumph 6. How to Cast Your Burdens on the Lord Through Prayer (Part 1) 7. How to Cast Your Burdens on the Lord Through Prayer (Part 2) 8. How to Get to Higher Ground Through Prayer 9. Answered Prayer: It’s Not Always About You 10. Looking at Prayer from God’s Perspective 11. The Testimony of an Anonymous Psalmist 12. When Prayer Gets Personal

Introduction “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” —Luke 18:1 “All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired.” —Martin Luther I am convinced that most people do not need to learn how to pray; they need to Just Pray! Prayer is like any other important discipline in the Christian life. If you don’t do it, you won’t reap the benefits and blessings that God wants you to have. If you want to reap the benefits and blessings of prayer, then you need to simply Just Pray! This is what The Praying Through the Bible Series of devotional messages is all about: exploring each of the over 500 verses and passages in Scripture concerning prayer, from Genesis to Revelation, so that you can be encouraged and motivated to pray to the God of the Bible.


The Praying Through the Bible Series began after the Lord led me to put together a little devotional book titled, The Prayer Motivator, which was followed later by the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. The Lord leading me to do The Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible was a complete surprise because I had never dreamed of doing a themed Bible in my life. In this Bible, we highlighted each of the over 500 verses and passages on prayer in the Bible. Following the publication of that project, the Lord led me to begin preaching a series of messages on each of those passages on prayer. To my knowledge, preaching solely on every passage concerning prayer in the Bible had not been done before. By the grace of God, this series of messages— each of which was preached on a Wednesday night to a live audience—has been a blessing to thousands as I have shared brief, devotional principles from God’s Word concerning the matter of prayer. (In most cases, the preached version of each of these messages is quite different from what is given in this series of books — and probably better. If you want to listen to any of the messages in this series, you can do so online at This is a series that every Christian can read and benefit from. This series will inspire, encourage, and motivate you to pray daily and throughout the day so that you can receive the benefits and blessings of a prayerful life. Prayer to God has been the center and highlight of my life ever since God used a series of books by E.M. Bounds to open my eyes to the importance and power of prayer. In spite of myself, God has been very good to me and to my family in many ways, but the


thing that stands out the most to me are the thousands of answers to prayer over the past thirty years of full-time ministry and twenty-seven years of marriage with a family of nine. I want you to experience the same benefits and blessings of a prayerful life. If you are a pastor, please feel free to use these short, devotional messages in your mid-week prayer services. You do not need to contact us to ask for permission; that is what these messages are for. We know of pastors who have taken these messages and adapted them for their congregation, so please feel free to add to and take away from them as God leads you for the needs of your people, and I am sure that you will do a better job than I have done. These messages are not deep, theological expositions; other men of God who are scholars of the Word have already done that. These are simple, devotional messages that are designed to actually get people to just pray to the God of the Bible in faith believing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord led me to put them together with the assistance of my son who is an undergraduate student and still in training. Most pastors can take the little effort that we have put forth here and make these messages far better. Additionally, if you are a pastor, I want to encourage you to consider the following things: 1. If you have a weekly prayer meeting at your church, actually make it about prayer—pray and preach a short message on prayer to encourage the people to pray for


you, for the church, for themselves, and for souls to be saved. This series can provide the basis for those short messages. 2. If you do not have a mid-week prayer meeting at your church, I encourage you to start one. In my humble opinion, it is a shame that most churches do not take the mid-week prayer meeting seriously anymore. Some churches have abandoned the prayer meeting altogether. Christianity Today told the story of East Indian evangelist K. P. Yohannan who visited America and attended a well-known megachurch one Sunday morning. Over 3,000 people were at the church services that morning, where it was announced that the mid-week prayer meeting would be held in a chapel on the church campus. Yohannan was fired up by what he had experienced, and determined to attend the prayer meeting as well. However, when he arrived for the prayer meeting a few days later, he was shocked to find that the chapel—which had a capacity of 500—was entirely empty. He sat down and waited for a few minutes and eventually seven people arrived. They sat down and made small talk. About forty-five minutes later, one of the leaders of the church walked in, prayed, and gave a brief Bible study. The article goes on to say: "In all his travels here, Yohannan saw the same pattern repeated over and over again in hundreds of midweek prayer meetings. Almost


anything happens but prayer. There are announcements, singing, homilies, and a few prayers offered, but usually only by the leader—and that's in the churches that actually have prayer meetings in their schedules. Many more make no pretense even to have a church prayer meeting. There seems to be time for everything else— to study, to fellowship, to preach, but not to pray." It appears that many pastors and churches have forgotten that the church was born at a prayer meeting in an “upper room.” Pastor, make sure that your church makes time to pray. 3. Consider establishing daily prayer meeting times at your church and throughout your congregation around the city. For example, put someone in charge of holding a prayer meeting at five or six in the morning, twelve o' clock noon, and seven in the evening. Encourage your people to come to the church to pray together as much as possible. I know of a church that has a beautiful prayer room where the door faces a side street. The church members have a key so they can go in to pray at any time. You might recall that Jesus Christ said, "My house shall be called a house of prayer." 4. Encourage your church members to pray without ceasing whether they feel like it or not. One way they can do this is by whispering a prayer for themselves, praying for someone else, and quoting a verse from Scripture at the top of every hour. If you pray a short prayer (based on the model prayer of our Lord in


Scripture), this will only take about one minute every hour. Down through the years, as I have preached in prayer meetings and revival meetings across the U.S. and around the world, I have had pastors to admit to me privately that they are not as strong in prayer as they would like to be and as they should be. The truth of the matter is, we all have our different gifts and callings, and just because a pastor does not emphasize prayer does not mean that he is not spiritual. Pastors are the general practitioners of the church. They are multi-gifted individuals and have the ability to manage and oversee many different ministries and outreaches at the same time, whereas an evangelist is focused on two to three things: evangelism, prayer, and revival. His job is to encourage pastors and the saints to do the work of an evangelist and to evangelize, to pray, to confess and repent of sins so that they can be used by God to see souls saved and brought into the Kingdom. The pastor is not more spiritual than the evangelist; the evangelist is not more spiritual than the pastor. We just have different callings, gifts, and purposes as it pertains to the church. The evangelist needs the pastor and the pastor needs the evangelist. Even though my calling is to be an evangelist, the truth of the matter is, without my pastor and my pastor friends counseling, advising, and fellowshipping with me on a regular basis, there is no way I would be where I am in my ministry. I thank God for my pastor friends. When there is a family crisis, nobody can outdo a great pastor as far as ministering to that situation. On the other hand, when it comes to taking more territory for God's kingdom through evangelism, and the spiritual warfare involved in doing that,


no one can do it better than a godly evangelist. So, we need one another in the body of Christ, and we need to get back to recognizing that. We are not enemies, we are brothers serving the same Lord and King. It is my prayer that this series will inspire all of God's people to pray daily and throughout each day so that you can receive the benefits and blessings of a prayerful life. This series was put together to inspire action on your part. It is designed to motivate you to pray based upon the Word of God by faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. If I can just encourage you to pray in faith believing, I believe all sorts of wonderful things will begin to happen to you, in you, and for you, your family, and whatever God has called you to do. The simple purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to get off the ball regarding prayer, and take the little faith you may have and Just Pray to the God of the Bible in the name of Jesus Christ! The Praying Through the Bible Series is designed to help you get over spiritual inertia, your sinful flesh, the devil and his demons, doubt and unbelief, your busy life and the world, so that you can hit “pray dirt” and God will do the rest. Just open your mouth and start praying to the God of the Bible. JUST PRAY! and watch God do things beyond your wildest imaginations. —Daniel Whyte III Dallas, Texas


1 How to Pray When You’ve Fallen Flat On Your Face TEXT: Psalm 32:1-7 1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. 3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 5 I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. 6 For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. 7 Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. Examples in the Bible show us that good people are not


exempt from falling into sin. Examples in history and in modern times also have shown us that people whom many hold in high esteem are just as capable of falling into sin as everyone else. Even the best of Christians have struggled with temptation and many have given into it. I want to share with you from this passage, what to do when Godly people sin — what to do when you, as a follower of Christ, do something that is contrary to our lifestyle as children of God. Psalm 32 is the first of the “Mas-chil” psalms. The Hebrew word “Mas-chil” means “instruction or teaching.” David — the man after God’s own heart — wrote this psalm after he committed adultery with Bathsheba, killed her husband, and refused to own up to it until the prophet Nathan came to him and said, “thou art the man.” We are going to look at this “instructional psalm” to understand what we ought to do when we sin, when we fall down, when we mess up. Our passage reads, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” The man who is forgiven by God is blessed of the Lord. We all ought to want to be forgiven by God if we have sinned. Yet sometimes, our own actions prevent us from receiving that forgiveness. For a while, David did not receive the forgiveness of God in his situation, and the first point we will look at will show us the mistake he made that we need to avoid.

Be realistic. Notice verses 3 and 4 of this passage: David writes, 20

“When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.” David says that for a period of time after his sin, he “kept silence.” He didn’t say anything about it to God or to anyone else. Matthew Barnes writes that by this expression, David knew “he had committed sin, but he endeavored to hide it in his own mind; he was unwilling to make confession of it, and to implore pardon. He hoped, probably, that the conviction of sin would die away; or that his trouble would cease of itself; or that time would relieve him; or that employment would soothe the anguish of his spirit, and render it unnecessary for him to make a humiliating confession of his guilt.” Sometimes as Christians we let things that shouldn’t be in our life linger in our hearts because we’re embarrassed at the thought of talking to God about that problem. We would rather just not talk to God at all than have to talk about that particular issue — especially if it is sin. One of the reasons why some Christians don’t pray is because prayer is exposing. Prayer is an invitation for God to look into our life. And when God shines a light on the closet of our hearts, it is very likely that he will uncover some skeletons that we would not like to be reminded of. The truth of the matter is, we cannot hide from our sins. Our conscience will constantly be reminding us to get it right. David says that his “bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me...” Even though he had not confessed his


sin, God still knew about it, and that knowledge caused the weight of guilt to be laid on his heart and life which would not be removed until he confessed his sin. David was torn up inside because of his sin. He was unsettled in his spirit. He could not be happy. When we have sinned, we need to be realistic. We do not need to put our head in the sand and try to run from our sin or run from God. If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, sin and the knowledge of sin in your own life will haunt you until it is made right. Running away is not the answer. “Keeping silence” is not the answer. We must deal with reality and face what we have done so that God can resolve it.

Be reasonable. One of the mistakes that David could have made in dealing with his sin is that he could have allowed himself to believe that his sin was so great, so awful, that God would never forgive him and that God would never return his favor to him again. But, David does not do that. When he is finally confronted about his sin, he writes, “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” So many Christians allow the devil to beat up on them about sins that they have committed in the past — even sins that they have confessed and gotten right. The devil will whisper in their ear, ‘You’re not a good enough Christian. Look at what you did. So-and-so may have forgiven you, but God will never forgive you.’ Charles Stanley said, “Satan encourages guilt-trips. He may inject 22

these ideas in our thoughts: ‘Why should God answer my prayer? He is not going to hear what I am saying. Look what I have done.’ Satan keeps getting us to replay in our minds what God says He has forgotten — and we guiltily oblige. And each time we replay the past sin by not forgiving ourselves, we feel unworthy.” Instead of allowing these negative feelings to take root in our lives, we must choose to be reasonable. God’s Word says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Either we are going to believe that truth or we are going to live in constant misery because of the devil’s lies. David could have chosen the latter route, but he didn’t. Once he confessed his sin, he affirmed, “thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” He made the choice to accept and believe that God had forgiven him. So, when we have messed up, we need to be Realistic — we need to face up to what we have done; and we need to be Reasonable — we need to confess our sins and refuse to believe the devil’s lies that God will not forgive us.

Be ready. David writes, “For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found...” Notice those words, “in a time when thou mayest be found...” This does not imply that there are special times in which we should seek God for forgiveness. Rather, David is stressing to his people how they should pray when they come to seek God. John Gill said, “the throne of grace is 23

always open, and God is to be found, and grace and mercy with him at all times.” However, we are the ones who must be ready. There is no special time to go to God. That is why the Bible says, “Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.” As long as we are alive, we have the opportunity to go to God and make things right regarding the sin that we have committed. Those who delay the moment of confession will find it harder and harder to forgive. Some people will tell you that there are secrets you should take to the grave. But, I think that is foolish. The Bible says in Luke 12:2: “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” You cannot hide from God thinking that the sin and guilt will somehow go away. God is always ready to forgive. We must be ready to go to him in prayer for confession and repentance. Yes, Godly people will sin sometimes. David sinned. Peter sinned. Samson sinned. Abraham sinned. Great men and women have been sucked in by temptation all throughout history. But the difference between them and some of us is how they handled their failure. The best way to handle the failure is — (1) to be Realistic: to own up to the sin that we have committed; (2) to be Reasonable: to not allow the devil to cause us to believe the lie that God will not forgive us; and, (3) to be Ready: to go to God in prayer and confess our sin, asking him for forgiveness. You may have fallen down, but you don’t have to stay down if you are as child of God. As the Bible says,


“A righteous man may fall seven times, yet he will rise up again.�


2 Pray and Let God Fight Your Battles TEXT: Psalm 35:1-18 1 Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me. 2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help. 3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation. 4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt. 5 Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord chase them. 6 Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the Lord persecute them. 7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul. 8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall. 9 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall


rejoice in his salvation. 10 All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him? 11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not. 12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul. 13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. 14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother. 15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not: 16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth. 17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions. 18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

The main reason why our country remains safe is because the government has trained soldiers who know how to fight and defend the country against attacks from the outside. It would be foolish for the government to round up a bunch of civilians and send them into a war zone. No matter how passionate and excited you may be, you cannot do the job like a trained soldier. And, to that end, we allow the


professionals to fight that battle for us. We enjoy the freedoms that we have in this country because others have fought and died for them. Just as we do not fight battles as citizens of this country, God does not want us to fight our battles alone either. When the children of Israel were trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, God told Moses, “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” In other words, he was saying, ‘You just be still and let me do the work.” God is telling us the very same thing from the life of David. We do not know specifically when this psalm was written. But, based on the situation described in this psalm, we can safely assume that this prayer was written around the time when Absalom rebelled. Not only did David’s son turn against him, but friends and advisors who had been loyal to David turned against him as well. Let’s look at David’s prayer and see how he commits to letting God fight this battle for him.

David gives God an open door. The first thing David prays is, “Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.” The Hebrew word for “plead” is a legal term meaning “to conduct a case or lawsuit against someone, to sue someone, or to make a complaint.” It can also mean to strive physically or with words against an opponent.


David is saying, ‘God, I want you to argue on my behalf. Be my lawyer. I’m putting this case in your hands.’ Part of the reason why David was willing to let God handle this situation is because he knew that Absalom’s rebellion was a part of God’s punishment on him because of his sin with Bathsheba. In fact, when Absalom rebelled, David gathered up those who were loyal to him and left Jerusalem. They went to a camp on the other side of the Jordan River. Not only in his words, but in his actions, David got out of the way and left the entire situation in God’s hands. Sometimes, when we face these types of situations in our lives, we will ask God to fight our battles, but the whole time, we are standing on the front lines with our sword drawn ready to fight ourselves. God wants us to get out of the way. David gives God an open door to step in and accomplish his will in the situation. Albert Barnes said that this Psalm represents “the rolling of the sorrows of David’s pained and oppressed heart upon the arm of his unchanging Friend, the mighty and merciful God.” Does all of this mean that David was sitting on his hands doing nothing? No, Look down at verse 13 and we will see what David was doing. It says, “I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.” David kept on fasting and praying during this time. Andrew Bonar said, “Fasting is abstaining from anything that hinders prayer.” David gave up food in order to spend more time in prayer to God. The phrase, ‘my prayer returned into mine own bosom’, describes David’s posture when he prayed. He was so weighed down with sorrow and grief that as he sat, his head drooped, and it seemed


as though the words would leave his mouth and go directly into his own heart. I can personally testify that one of the best ways to handle your problems in this life is by putting them all in God’s hands and letting him fight your battles. You just sit and pray, and watch God make a way.

David asks for divine action. As we move on to verse four, we see that David begins to pray specifically about his enemies. He says, “Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt. Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord chase them. Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the Lord persecute them.” This type of praying is sometimes referred to as “imprecatory” praying. David engaged in it quite often. In fact, there are a number of psalms labelled as “imprecatory psalms.” In these prayers, David asks for specific judgments against his enemies. Now, imprecatory praying has gotten a bit of a bad rap in recent years. In fact, back in 2009, when President Obama had just been elected, a group of Christians who were displeased with the 2008 election results got together and began to sell tshirts with an imprecatory prayer from Psalm 109:8-9 which reads: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.” That caused a big controversy not only in the media but in theological circles as well. 31

While some of those who promoted that campaign may have had more malice in their hearts than not, we see here that imprecatory praying is indeed Biblical, as long as it is done in the right spirit. Adam Clarke notes the following about David’s prayer: “The imprecations in these verses against enemies are all legitimate. They are not against the souls or eternal welfare of those sinners, but against their schemes and plans for destroying the life of an innocent man; and the holiest Christian may offer up such prayers against his adversaries.” Again, we see here that David does not take any action himself. He asks God to act on his behalf. If we look over at Second Samuel, we will find that when Absalom took control of Jerusalem, David did not even want to go to war against his own son as his advisors were telling him they had to do. And, when he reluctantly agreed to their suggestion, David did not go to battle himself, and he pleaded with his troops not to kill Absalom. When he found out later that one of them had disobeyed him and killed Absalom anyway, the Bible says in Second Samuel 18:33, “the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” David’s prayer for divine action did not come from a bitter or malicious heart. He would have much rather wanted things to be resolved another way. He once said, “I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” When you are praying for God’s judgment to fall on someone else, make sure you are doing so with the right heart, spirit, and mentality.


David determines to rejoice in his situation. In verse 9, David prays, “my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.” He also says in verse 18, “I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.” Even in the midst of one of the most terrible experiences for David as a king and as a parent, he is using words such as “joyful” and “rejoice” in his prayers to God. This obviously does not come from David’s feelings at the time. This comes from a mental decision that David has made. Perhaps you have heard someone say that if you force yourself to smile, you’ll feel happier, or if you do the hard work first, the good feelings will come. Well, the same can likely be said about being joyful. If you determine to rejoice in God, then you will have joy. David anticipates that God will work on his behalf, and he predetermines that he will be joyful because of it. This is not joy at the destruction of others, rather it is joy that he himself would be delivered. God’s deliverance of us may involve the cutting off of our enemies. What we rejoice in, in this case, is not their ruin, but our own deliverance. Again, it all goes back to where your heart is at. Additionally, David says that he will rejoice “in the Lord” — not in his own ability or strength, but he will give all of the glory to God who fought his battle for him. David was getting older. He was tired and weary, not only physically, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. The last thing he wanted to do was fight his friends who had turned against him, much less his own son. So, he let God fight that battle 33

for him. You can do the same thing. I am reminded of the hymn, “Little is Much When God Is in It.� The fourth stanza has the following lines: Are you laid aside from service, Body worn from toil and care? You can still be in the battle, In the sacred place of prayer. You do not have to fight every battle that you face. You can let God fight your battles while you remain in the place of prayer.


3 How to React to the Afflictions, Problems, and Troubles of Life TEXT: Psalm 39:12-13 12 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. 13 O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more. I have shared with you before how that when I was a young Christian, I didn’t think too highly of the Psalms. Frankly, I thought David was doing a lot of whining in the Psalms. It always seemed as though David was going through some difficulty or experiencing a problem. I didn’t spend much time in the Psalms then. But, as I got older, and as I experienced trouble in life, I found that I could identify with the Psalms. I could understand what David was going through and how his circumstances caused him to react. Just as David faced difficult, unpleasant situations, we will face difficult, unpleasant situations. How we choose


to react will often determine the outcome of those situations and how God chooses to act in those situations in our lives. So, how should we react when we are afflicted with physical pain, financial trouble, emotional distress, and any number of other things that we have to face throughout our lives in this fallen world. This passage tells us how David, a man after God’s own heart, reacted when he faced the problems of life.

David was not afraid to allow the problems of life to impact him. At the beginning of this prayer, David asks God, to “hold not thy peace at my tears...” Whatever trouble David was facing had caused him to shed some tears. Many of us would do our best not to shed tears over our troubles. We try to act as though we are unaffected by it. We try to act tough. We try to run and hide from it. Psychologists state that many people practice what is called “denial.” Denial is an outright refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. But David does not do this. Psychologists also tell us of what they call the “five stages of grief.” The first stage is denial — refusing to accept the problem. The second stage is anger — anger towards the situation or the person we perceive caused the situation to happen. The third stage is bargaining — this is when we start saying to ourselves, “if only I had done this or that…” The fourth stage is depression — feelings of sadness or regret over what happened or what didn’t happen. The fifth and final stage is acceptance — this 36

stage is marked by a level of calm regarding the situation. The goal of getting through trouble is to reach the stage of acceptance and calm. David had gotten to the point in his life where he was able to accept the problems that came his way. I have told my family and others that we need to meet Mr. Trouble with the same enthusiasm and good attitude with which we meet Mr. Pleasure. Why? Because problems are a part of life. Trouble is a part of life. We can act as though it does not exist, but that does not change the fact. Our lives will be affected by the problems we face. Billy Graham said, “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’” This is exactly what David was doing. We may be on the mountain-top right now, but if we just keep on walking down the path of life, we will soon find ourselves in a valley. We can’t deny that we are in the valley; we can’t live as though we are still on the mountaintop. Jesus assured us that we would have problems in life. He said, “In this world, ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The Nobel-prize winning writer, Ra-bin-dra-nath Tagore said, “Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.” The problems in life will come, but we should not be afraid to be affected by them.


David used the problems of life as an opportunity to pray. In verse 12 he says, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry...” Maybe you have the first point down pat. Maybe you are not afraid to be affected by the problems of life. However, you might be making a wrong turn when it comes to taking the next step — you may choose to wallow in the misery of those problems or you may decide to try to resolve those problems entirely on your own. Neither of those steps are correct. After we have acknowledged the reality of our problems, the next thing to do is to pray about them. Like the hymn says: Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer. David’s psalms are a record of his prayers and his praises. In between those prayers and praises came his problems. When there was a problem, David prayed. When God delivered him from that problem, David praised. Matthew Henry said, “Afflictions are sent to stir up prayer. When we are afflicted we pray more, and pray better, than before.”


When the problems of life come your way, see it as an opportunity to get closer to God. Have you lost many of your material possessions? See that hardship as an opportunity to put your trust in God, not in things. Don’t let the problems of life discourage you. Yes, let them affect you. But, also let them drive you to your knees in prayer.

David used the problems of life to break him from his attachment to this world. As David is praying, he says, “for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.” The Hebrew word for “stranger” means, “a man living out of his own country. It refers to a man who has no permanent home in the place or country where he now is.” David allowed the problems of life to break his attachment to this world. You see, sometimes, when we have success, money, a good job, and no worries, it is easy to fall in love with this world. It is easy to put down roots and pretend this is paradise. Sometimes, it takes the problems of life to wake us up and make us realize that this world is not what it seems to be. One day, Australian college student, Christopher Lane, who was in the U.S. studying on a baseball scholarship was out jogging in Duncan, Oklahoma. According to the police, three young men who were “bored and wanted to see someone die” saw him pass by their house, and they randomly chose him as a target. They got in a car, followed him, shot him in the back, and drove off. These kinds of tragic events happen so often now that 39

our world is becoming numb to them. But, when we really open our eyes and take a look at what is happening around us, it should jolt us from our sleep. Nobody should want to remain in this world; Heaven is far better. Like the song says: This world is not my home I’m just a passing through My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore Let the problems of life cause you to open your eyes to the fact that we are just “strangers and pilgrims” in this world, as the Bible says in First Peter 2:11. “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” While you are traveling in this world and facing the problems of life, the best thing you can do is keep your eyes on God who will one day call you home — to your real home — the place where you belong. Our problems will not last forever, but they ought to bring about changes in our lives that will last long after the problems we experience are gone. Do not try to avoid your problems. Embrace them. Let them affect your outlook on life. Let them drive you to your knees in prayer. And let them help you to see that this world is not your home.


4 The Dream, the Despair, and the Deliverance TEXT: Psalm 42:1-8 1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? 4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. 5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. 6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. 7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. 8 Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in


the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

Not too long ago, our nation is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington — led by Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders to call for freedom, equality, and jobs for African-Americans in 1963. Even though slavery had ended, blacks still faced discrimination and economic and political repression. In the South, Jim Crow laws ensured that blacks remained second-class citizens. At the March on Washington, Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Even though the ideals King talked about in his speech were not a reality at the time, they were something that many good-hearted people in our nation were committed to striving for. Their striving was not only informed by a sense of the need for justice and equality, but they were striving to move our nation in a direction closer to what God wanted it to be. Dr. Lewis Baldwin, who wrote the book, Never to Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King, Jr., said that “prayer was King’s secret weapon in the civil rights movement”, a key to its success as people found the strength to continue despite arrests and killings. In Psalm 42, we find that David is striving for something as well. He is striving to get to the place where he knows God wants him to be. David’s dream was to be in that place where he was with God and felt God’s presence with him at all times. Each of us, today, have dreams or visions of where we want to be. I hope that one of those


dreams is to get closer to where God wants you to be in your walk with Him. But, as we see in our passage, sometimes it takes a little bit of trouble to get us to that place. Let’s talk about dreams, despair, and deliverance and how we find David at each of these places in this Psalm.

We find the Psalmist in pursuit of his dream. David states in verse 1, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God...” The word “hart” is the Old English word for “stag” or “deer”. This verse puts us in the mind of an animal that is desperately thirsty. His thirst is unbearable. If he does not find water, he will not last much longer. When a deer is hunted by a pack of dogs, he will try his best to outrun the dogs. He will run as far as he can as fast as he can. However, at some point he grows tired and thirsty. And, then, we are told, the deer will start looking for a stream of water. The water is the deer’s last resort. If he does not find a river quickly, he will be caught by the dogs. In those desperate moments, when a deer finds water, he will not only drink it, but jump into it, immersing itself in it so that only part of his head can be seen above the surface. Not only does this cool the deer and hydrate it, but it cuts off its scent so that the dogs can chase it no longer. Like the deer, David often finds himself persecuted and hunted by his enemies. Perhaps this psalm was written 43

during the time when Saul was hunting David and trying to kill him. If so, then we can get a better understanding of how David felt and was able to compare himself to a deer being chased by hunting dogs. At this point in his life, David’s dream was to find that place in God where he could rest and be restored. He was tired of running and trying to get out of his predicament his own way. He realized that he did not need to keep running, he just needed to run to God and everything would turn out alright. In our lives, we sometimes think that we have no place to turn to, and so we keep on running — we keep on trying to handle things our way. And, it is only when we reach the end of our rope, that we choose to turn to God. We can learn a lesson from many of those who lived during the difficult days of the Civil Rights struggle. They repeatedly turned to God, the church, and prayer for refuge from the evils of society. Coretta Scott King, wrote in the book, “Standing in the Need of Prayer”: “Prayer is how we open our hearts to God, how we make that vital connection that empowers us to overcome overwhelming obstacles and become instruments of God’s will. And despite the pain and suffering that I have experienced and that comes to all of our lives, I am more convinced than ever before that prayer gives us strength and hope, a sense of divine companionship, as we struggle for justice and righteousness.” She went to to say, “For my husband, Martin Luther King,


Jr. prayer was a daily source of courage and strength that gave him the ability to carry on in even the darkest hours of our struggle.” Prayer is what gave Dr. King the strength to cling to and strive for the fulfillment of his dream to push American closer to a place of brotherhood and equality as God intended it to be.

We find the Psalmist in the depths of despair. As we turn back to our passage, we find that even though David is pursuing his dream of finding safety and refuge in the Lord, a question of despair hangs over his head. In verses 2 and 3 we find David asking this question: “When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” David wanted to know when he would feel God’s presence again in his life. It seemed as though God was not hearing his prayers. It seemed as though God was silent. It seemed as though his dream was about to die. On top of that, his enemies were mocking him. They were repeatedly saying, “Where is thy God? He’s not showing up for you like he promised you? Where is He? Why do you keep on trusting Him?” Haven’t we all faced these moments of despair in our lives? When the bills are stacked high and the stack of cash is very low; when the refrigerator is empty and you have mouths to feed; when you are trying to get back on track spiritually and mentally, yet you feel like God is 45

nowhere to be found? Those who led the struggle for Civil Rights in this country faced moments of despair — when four innocent little girls were killed, when young black men were dragged off and lynched, when protesters were wounded and maimed by dogs and hoses. These were moments of despair. But those moments of despair did not cause them to give up. They pressed on. David pressed on. Dr. King pressed on. And we can press on. One of my favorite statements from the Old Testament is in I Samuel when it says “David encouraged himself in the Lord.” How else did David encourage himself? We see here in verse 4 that he says, I went “with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.” In the midst of his despair, David found solace in fellowshipping and worshiping God with other believers. Some have said that there is strength in numbers. We can certainly draw encouragement from being around other believers. That is why the Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:25 to “forsake not the assembling of ourselves together.” When we look back at those old black and white pictures of Civil Rights marches and protests one thing we notice is that those people stuck together. They marched together. They prayed together. They planned together. And they overcame together. We celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. But he would not have been able to do what he


did without Rosa Parks and Ralph Abernathy and hundreds and thousands, of others who supported them. In your moments of despair, you can join with other believers and say with David, “hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

We find the Psalmist accepting God’s promise of deliverance. Finally, as we come to a close in this passage, David moves from the pursuit of his dream and the depths of despair to the promise of deliverance. He says’ “Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” Despite his feelings, David affirms a promise of God. He says, “yet will the Lord command...” “Yet” signifies that God will work in spite of what David’s enemies have plotted. God will work in spite of David’s circumstances. God will work in spite of David’s despair. No matter how dark the situation may look, God remains the same. The Bible tells us that he is the same today, yesterday, and forever. That is a promise. He does not change. He is the great deliverer that David sought. He is the great deliverer that the children of Israel sought while they were in Egypt. He is the deliverer that first century Christians looked for as they were being killed and persecuted. He


is the deliverer that Dr. King and thousands of others sought while they lived during the dark days of discrimination. And he is the deliverer that you and I ought to seek. He will fulfill our dreams. He will pull us from despair. And he will deliver us as he promised


5 How to Rise From Trouble to Triumph TEXT: Psalm 54:1-7 1 Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength. 2 Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. 3 For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah. 4 Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. 5 He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth. 6 I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good. 7 For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the title of this Psalm. It reads: “To the chief Musician upon Neginoth, a Maschil (or instructive Psalm) of David, when the Ziphites came


to Saul, and said, Doth not David conceal himself among us?” This title refers to the events of David’s life recorded in First Samuel 23 when the inhabitants of the city of Ziph, from the tribe of Judah, betrayed David to Saul. David was on the run from Saul at the time, and he decided to hide out in the mountainous wilderness of Ziphim. Ziph was a small town, and the men of Ziph were very treacherous. The Bible tells us that, on at least two occasions, they tried to set David up to be captured by Saul. This Psalm refers to the first of these occasions. While David and his men were holed up on one side of the mountain, the Ziphites went to Saul and said, “We know where he is. Come and get him.” They probably did this for a reward that they expected Saul to give them for helping him capture his enemy. So, now we have a sense of David’s mindset as the words of this psalm began to form in his head. He is cornered. Saul comes down with his army that greatly outnumbers David’s. The Bible tells us that David and his men are on one side of the mountain while Saul and his men are on the other side of the very same mountain. That’s like you and your worst enemy being in the same house — you are in the bedroom and they are in the kitchen. It’s not easy to sleep when your enemy is that close. No doubt, David was worried. David was afraid. David was fearful. As I mentioned, this Psalm is a Maschil — that is, it is a Psalm written for instruction. It is not just a praise psalm; it is not just a feel-good psalm. It is a psalm that was written with the intention of showing others how they should react


when they are afraid. David intends to show us what to do in times of fear. And we will learn from his example.

David calls out to God in his trouble. David prays, “Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength. Hear my prayer, O God...” In the Psalms, we find that David had no problem pouring out his troubles to God. As Francois Fenelon said, “If you pour out all your weaknesses, needs, and troubles, there will be no lack of what to say when you pray.” So, David calls out to God in his trouble. David’s trouble was unnatural. It was not normal. He was being betrayed by his own countrymen. The people who were supposed to be his friends were now acting like his enemies. David said, “strangers are risen up against me.” The king he had once fought for was now fighting him. Like the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:26, David found himself “in perils among false brethren.” Paul also talked about the Galatians who once would have plucked out their own eyes for him, but then had to ask, “Am I therefore become your enemy?” Jesus Christ had the same experience. Some of the people he loved the most were the people who betrayed him and denied him. David’s trouble was unmerciful. David’s trouble was relentless. He says, “oppressors seek after my soul.” Nothing less than David’s death would satisfy Saul. Saul tried to kill David himself. He tried to use his daughter to have David killed. He tried to use his son, Jonathan, to have David killed. He tried to get David killed by the Philistines. Saul could not rest until David was dead. 51

David’s trouble was of an ungodly nature. He says that those who are pursuing him, “have not set God before them.” Saul acted without the fear of God. We see on two occasions that David refused to harm Saul because he was “God’s anointed.” However, even though David was also God’s anointed, Saul did not have any misgivings about trying to harm David. He acted without regard to what God’s will was in the situation. In the midst of this unnatural, unmerciful, and ungodly trouble, David calls out to God.

David comforts himself. David has a habit of comforting himself. Sometimes, when no one else will comfort you, you have to comfort yourself. David comforts himself in this situation by remembering two promises of God. In verses 4 and 5 he says, “Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth.” David was holed up on the side of a mountain. Saul’s forces were spread out on the other side of the mountain, closing in on him. It was easy to get discouraged. But, David was able to comfort himself and the men who were with him by remembering the promises of God. Not only did he call upon God in prayer verbally, but he set his heart, his mind, and his emotions on God. As the popular saying goes — To look within only brings discouragement. 52

To look without only brings disappointment. But to look up will bring delight. In another psalm, David wrote, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” David learned to live above his circumstances by reminding himself of the promises of God. This is why Bible study and Bible memorization are very important for the believer. Chuck Swindoll said, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding than memorizing Scripture... No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.” Let me encourage you to make the memorization of Scripture a part of your daily time with the Lord. You ought to have some standby verses stored up in your heart and mind that you can pull out in your times of trouble that will remind you of the promises of God and comfort you in your difficulty. In the midst of unnatural, unmerciful, and ungodly trouble, David comforts himself by remembering God’s promises.

David celebrates his deliverance. In verses 6 and 7 of this psalm, David says, “I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good. For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.” In just five 53

verses, David moves from trouble to triumph, from problems to praise, from praying to praising, from worrying to worship, from death to deliverance. How did God deliver David from his predicament when it seemed like his back was against the wall and there was no way out? Well, have you ever heard the phrase, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”? This phrase appropriately describes how God delivered David. Just as Saul was about to catch David, a messenger came to let Saul know that the Philistines were invading the land. Saul immediately reversed course to deal with this serious threat and left David alone. When the people who were supposed to be David’s friends had become his enemies, God used the real enemies of Israel to be the means of David’s deliverance. Because of this marvelous deliverance, David broke out in praise to God. Only faith can let a man rejoice in times of trouble, because where there is no trouble there is no triumph. If there is no race, a runner cannot win. If there is no mountain, a climber cannot reach the top. If there is no planting, a farmer cannot reap the crops. If there is no fight, a boxer cannot win. If there is no battle, a Christian cannot have victory. Sometimes, God allows troubles in our lives to let us know that He is able to handle them. You see, sometimes, when we have everything under control, we begin to think and act as though we do not need God’s help. After I got saved, the Lord called me to go full-time in the ministry which meant that he did not want me to work a


secular job. I had to trust God alone for provisions. At first, I wanted to help God out. I wanted to work a job so that I could be assured of steady income. But, every time I tried something like that, God never would let it work out. In fact, I had more problems trying to provide for myself than I did when I depended on God alone for provisions. You say, well, how did that work out? The answer is: I have been serving God full-time for over 30 years now, and God has taken care of me and my family each and every day of our lives. I have learned to trust in Him. No one can praise the Lord like those who have been in trouble, those who have trusted the Lord, and those who have found that the Lord is true to His Word. He will deliver! In Psalm 50:15, God says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me.” This is exactly what David did. He found himself in unnatural, unmerciful, and ungodly trouble. So, he called upon the Lord. He comforted himself by believing the Lord’s promises. And then he glorified the Lord and celebrated his deliverance. In times of trouble, we can do as David did and face our fears by calling upon the God whom we know is able to deliver us, by comforting ourselves as we meditate on His promises, and by celebrating our deliverance from our enemies.


6 How to Cast Your Burdens and Worries on God Through Prayer (Part 1) TEXT: Psalm 55 1 Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. 2 Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; 3 Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me. 4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. 6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. 7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. 8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest. 9 Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city. 57

10 Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it. 11 Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets. 12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. 15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them. 16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. 17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. 18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me. 19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God. 20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant. 21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords. 22 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. 23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live


out half their days; but I will trust in thee.

All of us know that one of the best ways to learn how to do something is to watch an expert do it repeatedly. Better than reading a set of instructions telling us how to do something is seeing it actually being done. We see David actually doing what many of us wish we could do, or wish we could do better — casting all of our cares, burdens, and worries upon the Lord. We worry. We fret. We are anxious over many things. According to Psychology Today Magazine, “For millions of people, worry disrupts everyday life, restricting it or even overshadowing it entirely. An estimated 15 percent of Americans suffer from one anxiety disorder or another. These include generalized anxiety, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder or flat-out panic attacks. As a group, anxiety disorders constitute the most common disorder.” From this psalm, let’s see what David did when he faced situations that he was worried or anxious. David does not just tell us what to do when we face worry, but he walks us through the different aspects of worry, all of which he experienced in his life. Can you imagine being on the run for four years from someone who is trying to kill you? That is what David had to deal with. And even though we may not face such a situation, we have plenty to worry about as well — financial problems, family problems, problems on the job, and problems in the church. How do we react to these high-pressure situations? How do we cast all of our burdens and worries on the Lord?

We must realize that times of worry are times to 59

pray. We see, from David’s example, that he always turns to God when he is in trouble. He says in verses 1 and 2 of this passage: “Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise...” We need to realize that the times when we are prone to worry are the very times we need to pray more. Sometimes we go through the motions of prayer because we know it is the right thing to do, but we don’t really expect God to answer. We aren’t really praying to the God of the universe. Often, we are vague in our requests — we pray blanket prayers — do not ask God specifically for what we need. We do not see these patterns in David’s prayer life. When he had burdens, problems, and difficulties, he knew exactly where to take them, and he frequently took them there. The worries and problems around us will distract us and make us restless. At these times, the devil wants us to take our eyes off God and look at our circumstances. He wants us to do like Peter and look at the wind and waves crashing around us, instead of keeping our eyes focused on the One who is walking on the water. Prayer is the one thing we can do that helps us place our attention on the right place and the right Person. David asks God, “attend unto me, hear me...” He is saying, “Lord, pay attention to me. Do not ignore me.” We can do the very same thing when we turn our eyes and our prayers to Him. Like the old hymn says — 60

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. Yes, my friend, when you turn to the Lord in prayer, your worries will fade, your concerns will grow dim, and the things you are afraid of and fretting over will begin to melt away. They will not seem as big to you as they once did because you are placing your trust in Someone who is bigger than all of your problems.

We must realize that there is no easy escape from worry. My friend, God promised us, deliverance, but he did not promise us easy deliverance. David recognizes this. He says in verses 4 and 5, “My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.” David literally is saying, “Lord, I am expecting to die any moment now.” That is how David felt as he was on the run from Saul for four years. When he was closed in on all sides, he felt as though an arrow from one of Saul’s troops would find its mark at any moment. We may not face the fear of death as often as David did, but we do face this kind of terror in our lives. Many of us have said, “I feel like I am about to go under financially.” “I feel like I’m about to lose that child; I’m just not getting through to him or her; they don’t listen to me anymore.” “I 61

feel like my husband or my wife doesn’t love me anymore.” “I feel like just giving up on my fight against cancer or my fight against diabetes.” Why do we feel this way? Because there is no easy escape. It is at these times that we succumb to worry. Because we do not see a way out, we do not think there is a way out. So, we worry and fret about what we can see. Padre Pio said, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.” Notice what David says. He cries out, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.” That is what he longs for. He says, “Lord, if only I could get away from it all, I would do it!” Sadly, many people allow their worry and despair — their desire to escape their troubled life and just be at rest — to drive them to the point of suicide. Statistics show that there are at least 30,000 suicides each year. That is the kind of world we live in. Those are the kind of pressures and worries we face. But, we must not allow the devil to get us down simply because we do not see a way out. God is the one who closes and opens doors. He may not provide an easy escape. But, He can and will provide an escape.

We must realize that the only way out of worry is to look up. Notice how David says he is surrounded by trouble: “I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go


about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it. Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.” In these verses, David gives personification to the violence and strife that he faces. He says, ‘all day and all night, they are walking around the walls of the city enclosing me. Not only are violence and strife walking around the walls of the city, but mischief, sorrow, and wickedness are in the midst of the city.’ He says, ‘while I’m trying to survive, I’m on the lookout for mischief, sorrow, and wickedness because they are in the city with me. Not only that, deceit and guile do not depart from her streets.’ This is very striking imagery because deceit and guile are usually personified as being dark and shadowy. Deceit and guile stay behind closed doors and whisper in dark alleys. But, David’s enemies have become so bold, that they are now walking about openly in the street. David is hemmed in. He is besieged. He is set about on every side — but one side — up. No matter how many enemies he faces, no matter how many people who mean him harm get close to him, no matter how tightly Saul draws his noose around David, David always knows that he can look up for deliverance. That is why in verse 16, he is able to say: “As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” Your enemies cannot drown out your cries to God. The worries that have filled your mind cannot block the divine pathway of prayer from your mouth to God’s ear. When you are surrounded by debt, unemployment, an unfaithful


spouse, disobedient children, neighbors who hate you, family members who don’t want to have anything to do with you — when, no matter what direction you look in, you see strife, anger, violence, wickedness, and deceit surrounding you — just remember, you can always look up. When David was being pursued by Saul, he looked up repeatedly for deliverance. In Psalm 121:1-2, he says, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” Whatever worries you are facing, remember that your help does not come from around you. Your help comes from above you. So, look up to the Lord who can and will deliver you.


7 How to Cast Your Burdens on the Lord Through Prayer (Part 2) TEXT: Psalm 55 We have a lot to worry about. The terrible shootings that happen seemingly every week in our nation remind us of the fragility of our world. Just when it seems like we have everything under control, when everything is going well, when we tell ourselves we have nothing to worry about — all of that can be shattered in an instant, and worry sets in again. We worry about our families. We worry about our circumstances. We worry about our children. We worry about the future. What will happen tomorrow? What will happen 5, 10, or 15 years from now? We often wish that we could roll all our burdens, troubles, cares, and worries on someone else, and let them handle it — let them fix it. Well, the Bible tells us to “cast all our cares upon God, for he careth for us.” And Jesus Christ said, “come unto me all ye that are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” So, we are invited to cast all our burdens on the Lord, and we can 65

do that through prayer.

We must realize that some people are not our friends. In verse 12, David writes: “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.” David is saying that someone whom he trusted has suddenly turned against him. Because he calls this person his “equal”, it is quite likely that it was someone of royal blood or in a leadership position like he was. It is much easier to take an insult from a person whom you already know is your enemy. But, it is painful when that insult, when that betrayal, when that cutting remark comes from someone in your family, in your circle of trusted friends, or in the body of Christ. David says that he and this friend who became his enemy “took sweet counsel together.” They “walked into the house of God” with each other. They were companions in life and in worship of God. One of Satan’s most devastating weapons is sowing division among brethren. You see, when we are fighting each other, we make Satan’s job easy. He just sits back in a corner and watches us tear one another down, gossip behind each other’s backs, and spread negativity about God-ordained leadership. And while, we have our backs to the devil in the corner, he is leading souls away from the church doors and away from eternal life. Dr. W.A. Criswell, in speaking on Paul’s epistle to the 66

church at Thessalonica said, “Satan tried hindering it and fighting it and warring against it by fire and flame and persecution but couldn’t defeat them. But when that failed, he fought them by heresy and false doctrine and false teachers and divisions — and then finally overcame it and vanquished it — the church of Jesus Christ; he overwhelmed it and drowned it.” When a family is divided, when a church is divided, when friends are turned against each other, worry sets in. You don’t know who is for you and who is against you. You say to yourself, “If so-and-so, whom I have trusted for 15 years, stabbed me in the back, then what about that person or this person? Are they really who I have thought them to be for the past 20 years?” David faces this reality. Everybody who you think is your friend, is not really your friend. We have to accept this fact. Now, let’s move on to our second point to see what to do with these friends who turn out to be enemies...

We must step back and let God save the day. In verse 15, David says of these friends who become his enemies, “Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.” You might be shocked because it seems as though David is wishing for his enemies’ deaths. But, I want you to notice the word, “let.” It is not in David’s power — nor is it David’s place — to punish those who have turned against him. “Let” is a verb signifying acquiescence on David’s part. I believe that David would have given anything for his 67

enemies to return to his side. David did not hate his enemies. You might recall that in that tragic battle with the Philistines when Saul killed himself, and all of Saul’s sons who were fighting with him were killed, David did not rejoice when he heard the news that his “enemies” were dead. Rather, he wept for them, and he proclaimed a period of mourning for Saul and his sons. Later, after David was crowned king, he deliberately sought out one of the few remaining descendants of Saul, and brought him to the palace, blessed him, and gave him everything he needed to live a comfortable life. When Absalom, his son who turned against him was killed against his wishes, David was not secretly relieved. He did not rejoice in his heart. He wept openly, as is recorded in what is one of the most touching scenes in the Old Testament. David’s use of the verb “let” is his way of resigning himself to the fact that God will deal with them as He saw fit. If it meant their death, then that is what it meant. If it meant their punishment in some other way, then that is what it meant. In this particular passage, David does not ask God to punish his enemies, rather, he basically says, “God, whatever You want to happen to them is fine with me.” Sometimes, we try to cling to people and things that we have no reason to cling to. We try to hold on to relationships that God is trying to separate us from because they are doing nothing but hurting us. We have to say with David, ‘God, “let” your will be done.’ Instead of clinging to something that is not good for us, we should cling to God as David does in verse 16 and 17: He says, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord


shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” These two verses are in the future tense — these are things David will do. He has made up his mind to do them. However, when we move to the next verse, verse 18, we find that the tense has shifted. This verse is in the past tense. “He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me...” Notice the word “peace”. Isn’t that what we all desire in the midst of our worries, anxieties, cares, and burdens? Peace. How did David get to the place of peace after his friends had turned against him? He got there by calling upon God, by clinging to God, by crying aloud and letting God hear his voice.

We must cast all of our burdens on him. As we move on in this passage, we find that David once again shifts tenses. In the previous verses, he was speaking for himself. He used personal pronouns such as “I”, “mine,” and “me.” However, here he begins speaking to the reader or listener. He begins speaking directly to us. Verse 22 reads, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” In the Hebrew, the word “cast” is a very strong term. It is the word “hi-phil” and it means: to throw, to cast, to hurl, or to fling. This is not a gentle placing of your burdens on the Lord with you keeping the string tied to your wrist. This is a complete and utter giving up of your worries and burdens. You are saying, “Here, Lord, you can have it. I’m giving it 69

all to you.” Elisabeth Elliot said, “Worry is the antithesis of trust. You simply cannot do both. They are mutually exclusive.” You cannot give the Lord some of your burden and keep a little to yourself. You must give it all to him, or you will continue to be robbed of inner peace. When you give your burden to the Lord, David says, “he will sustain you.” The word “sustain” means: “to support, to nourish, to endure, and to supply.” When God sustains you, this means that he holds you up when you cannot stand on your own anymore. He will carry you through tough situations, when you cannot get yourself through them anymore. He will provide for your needs when you do not know where you will get your provisions. I’ve told you the story of Horatio Spafford before. Spafford was a Christian businessman from Chicago who supported the work of D.L. Moody. During the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, he lost nearly all of the property that he had invested in. Two years later, he planned a vacation to England with his family. Because he was delayed by business, he sent his wife and four daughters ahead on the ship. While crossing the Atlantic, the steamship that they were traveling on was struck by another ship from England, and 226 people died, including Spafford’s four daughters. Only his wife was saved. Spafford sailed to England to join his wife, and as he was crossing the Atlantic, he wrote the words to the nowfamous hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”. Spafford is a great example for us today. Most of us cannot imagine losing one child. He saw six of his children die. In the midst of all


of his burdens, cares, and worries, he was able to say: When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. How many of us desire for things to be well with our souls today? Things may not be well with us physically. Things may not be well with us financially. Things may not be well with us in our relationships with others. Things may not be well with us on the job. Things may not be well in any other area of our life. But, if we cast all of our burdens on the Lord through prayer, we can say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul!�


8 How to Get to Higher Ground Through Prayer TEXT: Psalm 61:1-4 1 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. 3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. 4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

A woman was sitting by her husband’s hospital bed one stormy night. The doctors had told her that her husband would die in a matter of hours. She was worried and afraid of losing the man she had been married to for over 30 years. She was afraid of being alone and being stuck with hospital bills she had no way of paying. As she sat there, she started to cry. Later, when she went out into the waiting room, she noticed a little book that another visitor had left behind. It was a copy of Our Daily Bread. She picked it up and started to flip through it. As she read, her eyes fell on 73

the words from Psalm 61: “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” A voice seemed to speak to her heart: telling her to give all her troubles to God. And she did. God lifted the worries from her shoulders and gave her the confidence she needed to face the future. Have you ever asked somebody how they were doing, and they said they were under the weather? Have you ever asked somebody how things were going in their life, and they said, they were doing fine under the circumstances? Perhaps, you have even given those answers in response to similar questions in your own life. But, did you know, beloved, that God does not want us to live under the circumstances? He does not want us to get under the weather. God wants us to live above our circumstances. He wants us to ride above the dangerous storm clouds that rage in our lives. David was no stranger to bad situations, but He was also no stranger to God’s presence. He knew that when the circumstances got too big and too complicated for him to handle, all he had to do was run to the Lord. He says in our passage, “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” David’s heart was overwhelmed, but he did not despair. He said simply, “I need to get to the Lord. I need to get to the Rock of my salvation.” And, that is what we need to


do. We need to get to the Rock if we are going to stay above our circumstances. There are three things I want us to notice from this passage.

The Place of Protection. David asks God to lead him to “the Rock.” Why did David want to get to the Rock? Because the Rock is the place of protection. Why is the Rock so important? What are the characteristics of the Rock that make it the perfect place to go to when we are being dragged down by angry waves in the sea of our circumstances? The main characteristic of the Rock is its position. David says, “the Rock is higher than I.” The Rock is high. What are people told to do when there is flooding? They are told to get to higher ground. Why? Because the water can’t keep rising forever. There is a level at which the water will stop rising. Not too long ago, the Associated Press published a story about the devastation caused by the flooding in Colorado. It described how some people in the town of Lyons, Colorado, would be able to recover quickly while others would not. Listen to this: ‘Newcomers (to the town of Lyons) moved into the hills above Main Street, while the lower income residents lived in the flood plain below. When the storm came, it swept away the homes in the flood plain, but left the new buildings intact.’ The story goes on to say, ‘Up the hill from the mobile home parks, beautiful homes sit essentially untouched...” What was the difference that caused some homes to be 75

saved, while others were destroyed? Well, some houses were built on the hills, while others were built in the valley. When the rain poured down, when the river overflowed its banks, all the water swept through the valley and destroyed those homes. But the homes built on the hills were untouched. That is the benefit of the Rock. The Rock is high. Not only is the Rock high, but David says the Rock is “higher than I.” The Rock is not something that David has control over or something that David can understand. The “Rock” is higher than him. This Rock is something beyond David’s control. The Rock represents God himself. David says, ‘I cannot manage this situation with my own brain power and my own resources, so, Lord, I’m crying out to You. Let me take refuge in You. I want to let You handle this situation.’ When you were in school, and you couldn’t understand a math problem, what did you do? You raised your hand and asked the teacher for help. Why? Because you knew the teacher had a higher education than you did. The teacher could figure it out when you couldn’t. And if the problem was especially difficult, the teacher could pull out something called an “answer book” and find the answer. When we face difficult problems in life, we ought to turn to God for the answers. In Isaiah 55:8-9 God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God can help us understand things that are far higher than our ability to grasp. When


we are confused by the circumstances, God gives us clarity. When we are fearful, God gives us faith. When we are on the verge of depression and despair, God gives us determination. Samuel Rutherford said, “Believe God’s love and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock that ebbs and flows but the sea.” God is the Rock and He is higher than you or I. He is unmoved by our circumstances. When you are overwhelmed by life, you need to turn to the Rock. You need to get with God and let him take control of your problems. Our main problem is that we try to fix our problems ourselves when we ought to go to the Rock for protection, for power, and for peace of mind.

The Personal Perspective. As we continue looking at this passage, we see that David says, “lead me to the Rock.” Focus on the word “lead” and the word “me.” This is a personal issue for David. There is a path to the Rock, but it is a personal path, and we will only get on that path if we have the right perspective. Many things in the Christian life are personal — meaning that they only depend on you and your will. Salvation is a personal matter. No one can make the decision for you to get saved, but you. Separation from bad influences is a personal matter. No one can do that but you. Soul-winning is a personal matter between you and the Lord. You can’t 77

delegate your soul-winning responsibilities. Prayer is also a personal matter. No one can take your place in prayer to God. It’s personal. Many people pray, “Lord, lead my pastor. Lead my church. Lead Bro. Jones to the church. Lead Sis. Jones to You.” What we really need to be praying is, “Lord, lead me. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” We need to be praying — It’s me, it’s me, oh, Lord standing in the need of prayer. Not my brother or my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, Standin’ in the need of prayer. Not my stranger or my neighbour, but it’s me, O Lord, Standin’ in the need of prayer. We have to have a personal perspective if we are ever going to get to the Rock and rise above our circumstances. We have to say, “Lord, it’s me.” Notice one other thing here. David asks the Lord to “lead” him to the Rock. He does not say, “direct me to the Rock” or “show me the way to the Rock,” but “lead me to the Rock.” This shows us two things about David. First, David’s confidence in himself was very low. His strength was depleted. As he said, his heart was being overwhelmed. He could not carry on in his own strength. He was discouraged. Second, we also see that David was a true sheep of the Good Shepherd’s fold. He knew he was not going to get anywhere higher on his own. Like a little child who needs to hold her parent’s hand as she walks across a busy intersection, David needed to place his hand in the hand of the Almighty, and just let God take


him higher. Do you have a personal perspective, dear friend? Are you ready to commit yourself to the Lord and let Him lead you and guide you to the Rock?

The Position of Peace. What happens when you get to the Rock? At the Rock, you find yourself in a position of peace. David says, the Rock is a “shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” He says to the Lord, “I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.” David says, ‘I’ve found the place where I belong. I’m not going back down below to the raging sea of my circumstances. I’m going to let God handle that. I’m going to stay on the Rock.” When you are in the position of peace, you can go higher than you’ve ever gone before — not because of you, but because of God. As long as you are fearful and fretful, you will never get to where God wants you to be. You have to learn to cry out to God like David did. God will hear your prayer. You have to learn to run to the Rock like David did. God will lead you there. Once you are there, you will be able to get a clearer perspective of your circumstances. Because God is the Rock, you will begin to see things from God’s perspective. Perhaps, you will see that things are not as bad as you thought they were. Perhaps, you will see the perfect exit plan out of your situation. Or, perhaps, you will see the 79

lesson that God is trying to teach you in your situation. But, one thing I can tell you for sure, and one thing I am sure David will tell you is that being on the Rock is better, far better, than being down in the valley. Letting God be in control is far better than trying to handle it yourself. Michael Youssef said, ‘Unless we are firmly anchored in the Rock of Ages, unless we trust in the living God, unless we are vigilant in prayer and fellowship with God, the enemy will be able to vanquish us.’ Are you anchored in the Rock, dear friend? Jesus told a parable about two men who built their houses. One man built his house on sand. And Jesus said, “the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” But the other man built his house upon a Rock. And Jesus said, “the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a Rock.” My friend, you can try to live your life based on the shifting sands of time, of circumstances, of uncertainty. You can try to handle things on your own. You can do that. But, when the storms of life come your way, everything you’ve built will come crashing down. Or, you can put your faith in Jesus Christ, the Rock of our salvation. You can put your problems in God’s hands. You can stop trying to navigate the sea of circumstances on your own and get to the position of peace. And when the storms of life come your way, you’ll still be standing because you’re founded upon a Rock.


9 Answered Prayer: It’s Not Always About You TEXT: Psalm 64 1 Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy. 2 Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: 3 Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: 4 That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. 5 They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? 6 They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep. 7 But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded. 8 So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away. 9 And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing.


10 The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.

Have you ever wondered why it seems like God takes a long time to answer your prayers? Have you ever wondered why He chooses to answer them the way He does? When things like this happen, we often simply say, “God is in control” or “God knows what’s best.” However, this passage shows us three reasons why God answers prayer in the way and at the times He does. It also shows us that answered prayer is not always about us. Psalm 64 is another psalm of David dating from the time when he was being pursued and persecuted by Saul. We see in the first verses that David asks God to preserve his life from his enemies — not only those who are seeking to kill him physically but those who are slandering him and lying on him. David says their “bitter words” are like “arrows” and that they sharpen their tongues like swords. No doubt, Saul probably ran a smear campaign against David to get the people of Israel on his side. So, while David’s enemies are secretly plotting against him, he takes the matter to the Lord as he often does. God, of course, delivers David, but in this passage, we catch a glimpse of three reasons why God answers our prayers the way He does.

God answers our prayers the way He does in


order to draw us closer to Him. David prays in verse 1, “Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer...” Sometimes, God allows problems in our lives so that we will begin to pray to Him. Frankly, when things are going well, most of us do not pray as we should. We see God as a cosmic fireman whom we call on to put out the fires in our lives. But, God does not want that kind of relationship with us. God made us to fellowship with Him. Being in fellowship means to have a consistent, friendly relationship with someone. We ought to always desire to be in God’s presence. Psalm 23 likens us to sheep in the care of the Good Shepherd. In ancient times, the shepherd was never far from the sheep. The shepherd led the sheep to where the best grass was. The shepherd guided the sheep to where the water was cool and clear. The shepherd guarded the sheep at night. The shepherd had a staff to draw wayward sheep back to the fold and to defend the sheep against an attack from wolves or bears. The shepherd had everything the sheep needed. And God has everything we need. But, we have to choose to stay close to Him. Speaker, author, and humorist, Phil Callaway, didn’t know what to do when his wife, Ramona, began to suffer from horrible seizures. Ramona’s weight eventually slipped to ninety pounds. Medical specialists tried everything, but soon, the seizures were occurring daily, sometimes hourly. Phil rarely left Ramona’s side. He wondered if she would 83

even make it to her thirtieth birthday. One evening, when things looked utterly hopeless, Phil paced their dark backyard, then fell to his knees. “God!” he cried out. “I can’t take it anymore. Please do something!” As he stood up, the name of a doctor came into his head seemingly out of nowhere. Phil called the doctor, who saw Ramona the next morning and diagnosed a rare chemical deficiency. Within a week, Ramona was a different person. The seizures ended. The miracle was so incredible that Phil says, “God gave me back my wife.” You see, God already had the doctor prepared who could heal Ramona. But, Phil didn’t know who that doctor was until he got close to God. As soon as he prayed, God gave him the answer. Sometimes, God allows us to go through hard times to draw us closer to himself in prayer.

Sometimes, God answers our prayers in a certain way in order to reveal something to others. Referring to David’s enemies, our passage states, “ But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded. So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away.” In the historical context of this psalm, we see that others are watching as God repeatedly delivers David from the hand of Saul. The people of Israel are seeing that God is evidently on David’s side. Despite what Saul says, many will not believe that David is the bad person Saul is trying 84

to make people believe he is. The Bible tells us in First Samuel 22 that when David fled from Saul, he went to the cave of Adullam. While he was there, “his brethren and all his father’s house went down to him. And everyone that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” These were men who had seen David’s great exploits against Goliath and the Philistines. They had seen Saul turn his back on David and try to kill him and slander his name. But, they had also seen God answer David’s prayers for deliverance and thwart Saul’s attempts to kill or capture him every time. So, they knew that God was with David and they transferred their loyalty to him. Verse nine says, “All men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing.” David’s circumstances caused others to learn about God. Other people began to fear Him, to praise Him, and to meditate on His works. Seattle Seahawks running back Sherman Smith was known as the “Sherman Tank.” He stood six feet four inches tall and weighed 225 pounds. He was so good at getting past defensive linemen he was treated like royalty by Seahawks fans. Sherman Smith was also a Christian. One day, without warning, the Seahawks traded their most popular player to the San Diego Chargers. Everything


changed overnight for Sherman Smith. After just a few weeks with the Chargers, he blew out his knee. While in rehab, he kept praying, Lord, why did you send me to San Diego? While his knee mended, Sherman had the opportunity to lead one of his teammates, Miles McPherson, to the Lord. Today, Miles McPherson is one of the most outstanding pastors and youth evangelists in America who reaches thousands each week with the Gospel. Why was Sherman traded to San Diego? Why did he blow out his knee? God wanted to use him to show Miles McPherson how to be saved. God may be using your problem or difficulty to warn others, to teach others, or to reveal something to others. Your trouble may be the reason why someone else trusts Jesus Christ as Savior. All we can do is be patient and keep praying while God is answering our prayers the way He sees fit.

God answers our prayer in a certain way to encourage others. Verse 10 says that when God delivers David from Saul, “The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.” Sometimes, the answer to your prayer is not for your benefit only, but for the benefit of others in the body of Christ. God will answer your prayer, and you and others will have a reason to praise the Lord. The verse says, “the righteous 86

shall be glad.” The Bible also says that God inhabits the praise of his people. The Hebrew word for “inhabits” means to sitp down, to remain, to stay, to abide, or to dwell. This means that where God’s people are praising Him, God is there with them. Where God’s people are praying to Him, God is there with Him. Your answer to prayer may be the cause for a celebration among God’s people. Not only can God’s answer to your prayer be a cause for praise, but it can cause others to increase their faith in God. The Bible says God’s answer to David’s prayer caused others to “trust in him.” One of the ways in which we build up confidence in God is by reading the Bible and seeing how He came through for the children of Israel and for the early church. Our faith is also strengthened when we hear of God answering prayer and delivering people from difficult situations today. One day, a man walked into a McDonald’s in Texas. He pulled out a gun and demanded that everyone give him what they had. Then he started shooting. However, everytime he pulled the trigger, nothing happened. He went outside and pulled the trigger again, and the gun fired. He came back inside, pulled the trigger and the gun wouldn’t fire. This happened two or three times and it was caught on security cameras. When the man went outside and pulled the trigger, the gun fired. But, when he went inside and pulled the trigger, nothing happened. The man’s mother said she believes it was her prayers and the prayers of others that kept another mass shooting from happening in this country. What a testimony. God’s answer to our prayer may be used by God to inspire 87

others to trust in Him, to follow Him, and to be obedient to Him. The men who came to David while he was in the cave of Adullam were inspired by David’s habit of going to God in prayer about the troubles he faced. The confidence that others have in God should be increased as they see us walking with Him. You see, answered prayer is not just about us. God has His reasons why He answers our prayers a certain way and at a certain time. Yes, He wants us to love Him, to trust Him, to obey Him, and to draw closer to Him. But, God may also be using our time of trouble and His answer to our prayers as a means of showing others more about Himself so that they too can learn to love Him, trust Him, obey Him, and draw closer to Him.


10 Looking at Prayer from God’s Perspective Psalm 65:1-2 1 Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed. 2 O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.

During the Korean War, certain soldiers had the job of stretching telephone wires across battlefields from forward positions back to the commander. The army used those lines of communication to direct the troops. In this way, the commander could communicate with the troops from all parts of the battlefield and tell them what to do and where to go next. The troops could also call back to the commander to inform him of what was going on on the front lines. If there were no lines of communication between the commander and his troops, the battle would be lost because the troops would be blind as to the overall strategy they were supposed to employ to defeat their enemy. 89

In the Christian life, the same communications are absolutely essential for you and I to win the battles we face. Prayer is the way we communicate with God. Without communication with our Commander, we will constantly stumble and make mistakes. Corrie ten Boom asked the question, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” For too many of us, prayer is seen as our spare tire. It is our last resort — something to use only in emergencies. Something to be used only when we cannot handle things ourselves anymore. However, when we really think about it, we will realize that if God is the great deliverer whom we believe that He is in times of trouble, He is a great deliverer at all times, because God does not change — He is the same today, yesterday, and forever. Prayer should not be an occasional happening in our life; it should be a way of life. As we consider this passage, I want us to look at prayer from God’s point of view. This psalm was written as a praise song for the children of Israel. It begins by giving us a sense of expectation. Why are the people praising God? Why are they gathered together? Verse 2 tells us that it is because of the “One who answers prayer” — the One to whom all flesh shall come.” Let’s look at the implications of this simple verse today.

God is a prayer-hearing God. God’s character, God’s nature, is that he is a prayerhearing God. Verse 2 states, “O thou that hearest prayer...” 90

Just as it is the nature of a tree to produce leaves in the spring and lose its leaves in the fall, it is God’s nature to hear the prayers of His children. Isn’t wonderful to know that God wants to hear our prayers. In Jeremiah, He says, “Call unto me and I will answer thee, and shew the great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” He is eager to hear our prayers. Proverbs 15:8 says that He finds pleasure in it — “the prayer of the upright is His delight.” God paid a great price so that nothing — not even sin — could stand between Him and the people he had created. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, the Bible tells us that “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” The veil in the Temple represented the dividing wall between God and man. God was holy, and man was unholy. Man could not approach God on his own. But through the death of Christ, the veil was removed, and now all men can approach God through Jesus Christ. And God will hear us when we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4 says, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God... Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” We can obtain mercy, grace, and the help we need at the throne of God. And because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we have access to the Father 24/ 7, day and night. At all times we have the privilege of praying to God who is eager to hear our prayers.


God is a prayer-answering God. Just as it is part of God’s nature to hear our prayers, it is a part of God’s nature to answer our prayers. David knows this well. Many of his psalms are praise songs for God’s answering of his prayers. Verse 5 of Psalm 65 reads, “By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation...” Just like a father who finds pleasure in giving gifts to his children and answering their desires, God is our Heavenly Father who does the same. In Luke 11:11-13, Jesus Christ says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” God is not trying to make it difficult for you to get your prayers answered. He wants to answer your prayers. He is eager to answer your prayers, and He has many ways of doing so. God can answer your prayer in a powerful way. Exodus tells us that God heard the children of Israel cying out to Him as they were slaves in Egypt, and He sent Moses to call down ten plagues on the Egyptians. That is a powerful answer to prayer. When Joshua and the Israelites were fighting their enemies, Joshua desired the moon and the sun to stand still, and God did it for him. Elijah prayed for rain after a three-and-a-half year drought and God sent a powerful storm. God will sometimes answer your prayer in a dramatic, powerful way. Sometimes God will answer your prayer in a peaceful way. Sometimes, you will be praying about something, and you 92

may not get what you want immediately, but God will give you peace. No plagues, no thunder and lightning, no suns standing still — He will just give you a peace and comfort in your soul that you know did not come from anywhere else but God.

God is a God who wants us to pray. You might have wondered why does God want us to pray, anyway? Why did God set up this system of asking and receiving. First, God wants us to realize that we are totally dependent on Him. When David was on the run from Saul, hiding out in the wilderness, He could depend on no one but God for his survival. Prayer says that we need God and God wants us to know that we need Him. Prayer prepares our heart for God’s answer to our desires. When we acknowledge our dependence on God, we will better anticipate, discern, and accept God’s answer — whatever it is. Sometimes, God gives us what we ask for; sometimes, He gives us more than we asked for; and sometimes, He gives us something totally different. Our selfish human mindset says, “How little can I give, offer, do, or donate?” But James 1:5 tells us that when we ask of God, he “giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” God wants to hear from His children. He wants us to pray. There was an elderly Christian lady who was on a fixed income. Often, she wouldn’t have the resources to eat for 93

the entire month. Regardless of her plight, she would pray and thank the Lord for His mercy and grace. Her neighbor, who was a non-believer, found no use for God, His church, or God’s Word. One day, this woman prayed by her open window, “God, I have no food and no money, but I have You, God, and You have me. Thank you, Lord.” The neighbor, sitting on his porch, overheard her prayer. He went to the store and bought a car load of groceries, put them on the lady’s porch, knocked on her front door, and then went to hide in the bushes. When the woman came out and saw the groceries, she rejoiced in the Lord! The neighbor jumped out from behind the bushes. He exclaimed, “God is not real, I bought those groceries.” The old woman looked at him and said, “I knew my God would supply my needs, but I didn’t know He would make the devil pay for them!” God delights in answering the prayers of His children. We can be certain that our sincere prayers of faith are heard by God. God is listening. God is eager to answer. He is just waiting to hear your voice.


11 The Testimony of an Anonymous Psalmist Psalm 66:16-20 16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. 17 I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. 18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: 19 But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. 20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

The author of Psalm 66 is unknown. His name is not given. This psalm was made for the purposes of praise and worship. It was given to the “chief musician”, so it was used in a corporate worship setting. One thing we notice about this psalm as a whole, is that it is a psalm of remembrance. The writer begins by calling on the entire world to remember God’s blessings and give 95

thanks to Him by “making a joyful noise.” Then, he brings his focus to the nation of Israel and says, “O bless our God, ye people...” He recounts the times of deliverance that God had given to them. And, finally, he moves the focus to himself. He says, “I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows...” It is in the last five verses of this psalm, where this anonymous psalmist gives us his personal testimony, that we find three encouragements that are relevant to our lives today.

We are encouraged to come and hear. Verse 16 says, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” F.B. Meyer said that this psalm was written for use at annual festivals. When the nation of Israel was settled in the Promised Land, they frequently gathered in Jerusalem to mark national “feast days.” These gatherings were a time for the whole nation to be together in order to hear the reading of the Law, but also to hear the retelling of God’s great deliverances of Israel in the past. Together, the people would praise and worship God for what He had done for them. Many of the psalms were sung at gatherings such as these. These gatherings served to remind the people of the greatness of the God who brought them out of Egypt, and it instilled in their children the history of the nation and what God’s expectations were of them. The people who feared God came together to hear what God had done.


Isaac Watts wrote a hymn that begins like this: Come, ye that love the Lord, And let your joys be known; Join in a song with sweet accord, And thus approach the throne. When Jesus healed the man who was possessed by many demons, the Bible says, “he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well about her need for salvation, she ran into the city and said, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did.” When the angel rolled the stone away from the tomb where Jesus was laid, what did he say? He said, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Why did he tell the women to come and look at an empty tomb? Because the empty tomb was good news. You can be a blessing to somebody else by simply telling them how God has delivered you in the past. Nothing will uplift your soul more than hearing of the good news that others have from walking with God. So, make it your business to “come and hear.”

We are encouraged to cry out. This anonymous psalmist tells us, “I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.” It seems as though he is answering the unasked question, “Why 97

did the Lord work on my behalf? Why do I even have a reason to tell you how the Lord worked for me?” Well, the psalmist says, it is because I “cried unto him with my mouth.” I lifted up my voice and told him what I was in need of. Too many people do not tell God what they need because they think they do not know how to pray, because they are too proud to pray, or because, sadly, they do not even think to pray about the matter. However, prayer is not difficult. It is simply crying out to God. Not only does the psalmist encourage us to cry out in prayer, but he encourages us to cry out in praise. He says, “he was extolled with my tongue.” The word “extol” means to lift up or glorify. The construction of the Hebrew text lets us know that the psalmist did not wait on God to answer his prayer before he praised Him. Rather, it literally means that the song of praise was “under my tongue.” In other words, the psalmist says, “I was so sure that God would hear me that I had a song of praise already prepared.” Peter Pett writes, “Note the combination of prayer and praise. The idea is not that we somehow persuade Him to act by praising Him, but that we not only look to Him to answer our prayers, but also give Him the worship and gratitude due to Him for His goodness.” You see, it is one thing to praise God after He has answered your prayer, but it is another thing to praise God while you are still waiting on your prayer to be answered. If you truly believe that God will answer your prayer, you can begin to praise Him even when you cannot see the


answer. As Walter Hawkins sang, “Don’t wait till the battle’s over; shout now!” We have been encouraged to come and hear; we have been encouraged to cry out; now, finally...

We are encouraged to be cleansed. In the next verse, the psalmist writes, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Yes, indeed, there are things that can hinder your prayer life. The anonymous psalmist tells us this. “Iniquity” is sin or wrong-doing, and he says, he made sure he had none of it in his heart before he prayed to the Lord. Why? Because he knows that if he has his heart set on evil, the Lord will not hear his prayers. Proverbs 15:8 says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.” Verse 29 of the same chapter also reads, “The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.” The Psalmist lets us know the importance of approaching God with a pure heart. He encourages us to be cleansed of all wickedness and sin in our lives before approaching God. We waste our time if we try to pray with hidden sin in our lives. Sin will operate as an obstacle to our prayers getting to God and God’s blessings getting to us. J.C. Ryle said, “Praying and sin will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer.” The psalmist also testifies of what happens when we come 99

to God with clean hands and a pure heart. He says, “But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.” God hears and pays attention to the prayers of those who have their hearts right with Him. Let’s do as the Psalmist encourages us to do: Let’s come together and hear of the good things that the Lord has done. Let’s cry out to Him in prayer and praise. And, let’s cleanse our hearts of all sin and wrongdoing so that we can say with the writer of this Psalm, “Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.”


12 When Prayer Gets Personal Psalm 69:13 But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.

Some of us who have been saved for a while have come across the type of Christians who treat spiritual things as if they are subjects in textbooks. They love to teach about evangelism, they love to study about evangelism, they love to even strategize about how to do evangelism, but they rarely ever go out and evangelize the lost. They love to teach about prayer, they love to study about prayer, they love to talk about prayer, but they rarely pray. In other words, prayer has not become personal for them. The Psalmist says, “But as for me, my prayer...” Notice how he says “my prayer.” He is not concerned about what every body else is praying. He is concerned that God hears his prayer. I am reminded of Matthew 6:6 where Jesus commanded us, “Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father


which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” This verse puts us in the mind of shutting out the world in order to focus on prayer — our prayer. The Psalmist goes on to say, “My prayer is unto thee.” It was his prayer, and now we see him giving it to God. Whatever is on his heart and mind, he is turning it over to God. He gets his message across and then leaves it in God’s hands. What are we to do with our personal prayers?

Wait for them to be answered at the acceptable time. Our text reads, “In an acceptable time...” The psalmist is saying, ‘Lord, when You say the time is right, then answer my prayer. Not in my time. Answer it the way you want and not the way I want. I’m giving it to you.’ The word “acceptable” means adequate enough to satisfy a need. God’s time is not our time. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He does things according to His will and not ours. We may find ourselves getting upset when God does not answer our prayers according to our timetable, but the Bible lets us know that He will answer them at the “acceptable” time. Do you remember when Lazarus died and was laid in his tomb? Mary was distraught. She told Jesus that if He had just been there, her brother would not have died. But Jesus went to the tomb, three days after Lazarus’ death, and 102

cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” And Lazarus walked out of his grave. God answers prayer according to His time. Martin Luther said, “None can believe how powerful prayer is, and what it is able to effect, but those who have learned it by experience. It is a great matter when in extreme need to take hold on prayer. I know whenever I have prayed earnestly that I have been amply heard, and have obtained more than I prayed for. God indeed sometimes delayed, but at last He came.” Oftentimes, we are just like Mary. When God doesn’t answer our prayers when we want Him to, we grumble and complain. We say, ‘God if You had just been listening to me — if You had answered my prayer when I wanted it to be answered — I wouldn’t be going through all of this trouble right now.’ But the Bible says we serve a good, loving, merciful, kind God. There is an “acceptable time” for our prayers to be answered, and He knows that time.

Wait for them to be answered in the multitude of God’s mercy. The Psalmist prays, “O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me.” The word “multitude” means the condition or quality of being numerous or plenteous. God operates according to the “multitude of His mercy towards us.” God did not have to save us, but because of His mercy and grace, He did. He does not have to answer our prayers, but because of His love for us, He does. It is because of His abundant mercy and grace that the Bible 103

tells us that we have “all the riches of Christ.” Because of the multitude of mercy that God shows toward us, He can look down at us and say, ‘Despite your faults, despite your imperfections, despite your sins, I am going to answer your prayer and bless you anyway.’ Even though David sinned greatly, God still called him, ‘a man after my own heart.’ Even though Samson sinned greatly, God allowed him to triumph over his enemies at the end of his life. Even though Peter denied Christ three times, Jesus never retracted His promise to build His church upon ‘this rock.’ Even though Paul was a murderer and hater of Christians, God used him to be the greatest evangelist and Biblical writer of the first century church. Charles G. Finney said, “Persons never need hesitate, because of their past sins, to approach God with the fullest confidence. If they now repent, and are conscious of fully and honestly returning to God with all their heart, they have no reason to fear being repulsed from the footstool of mercy.” That is what it means to have the multitude of God’s mercy on your life: where God looks past your failures and decides to use you and bless you anyway. You may not think that you deserve to have that prayer answered. Let me encourage you to keep on praying and asking for it anyway, because God can answer it according to the multitude of his mercy.

We ought to wait for them to be answered in the truth of God’s salvation.


That is what the Psalmist prays; he says, “hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.” Some scholars believe that this psalm was actually composed during the time of the Exile. Thus, the ‘salvation’ referred to here is the end of the 70 year period in which the Jews were captive in the land of their enemies. Their ‘salvation’ or deliverance was to leave the land of the foreigners and go back to the Promised Land. Are you in an ‘exile’ situation right now? Are you being held captive by a ‘besetting sin’ that you seem to be unable to shake off? Are you being held hostage by the devil’s lies? The devil wants to keep you in bondage to him. He wants to keep you believing his lies. He wants you to think that, ‘No, you can’t be delivered; you can’t be saved; you can’t be blessed; you can’t have your prayers answered.’ It is at these times that you need to call out to God for salvation. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you need to get that issue settled first. If you are already a believer, then you need to ask God for deliverance regarding your specific situation. You may have to pray for deliverance for a long time before it comes. There is nothing wrong with asking for the same thing over and over again. Remember the widow who kept coming to the unjust judge? Unlike that judge, God wants to hear our prayers. He loves to see us consistently coming to Him asking for deliverance and salvation. We need to learn to give it all to God in prayer. Giving our cares and worries to God will lift a burden off of our souls. That is why this psalmist tells us that he gave his prayer to God. When we don’t turn our burdens and cares over to


God, we do ourselves a tremendous disservice because we are clinging to problems which only God can solve. This causes us to worry, to fret, and to become dissapointed when things do not turn out the way we think they should. I once saw a sign hanging in an insurance office which read: Good morning, I am God. I will be handling all of your problems today and I won’t be needing your help. So, relax and enjoy your day. The Bible tells us to cast all our burdens on Him because He cares for us. Why don’t we commit to doing that today? Let’s pray and let God handle our problems. He will answer our prayers at the acceptable time. He will answer our prayers in the multitude and abundance of his mercy. And He will be our true salvation from the difficult situations that we face.


The Sinner’s Prayer If you are reading this book and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. Please understand that you are a sinner and that you have broken God’s laws just as I have. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of our sins, we deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death...” This includes both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news. The good news is found in John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray this simple prayer and mean it from your heart:


Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen. If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” May God bless you as you begin your new life with Him.


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Praying Through the Bible - Volume 5  
Praying Through the Bible - Volume 5