Thursday, June 9, 2005

2005 - 05 - A Team in Prayer

“Hard work always pays off…” Proverbs 14:23
“Put God in charge of your work, and what you’ve planned will take place.” Proverbs 16:3

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:11

When I was little, all we ever used to sing in our church during Sunday service were hymns. I remember standing with my parents and singing boring, long, confusing hymns that I didn’t understand. As a middle schooler I began to sit with my friends during Sunday service, and we would rap the hymns, which made it more fun. During high school I learned to start appreciating what the hymns said, and one particular hymn has stuck with me.

It’s called “Standing on the Promises.” Maybe you’ve heard of it before, maybe you’ve sung it. It a real simple little tune, with a nice repetitive chorus. But the second verse was my favorite, because it meant something. It says: “Standing on the promises that cannot fail / When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail / By the living Word of God I shall prevail / Standing on the promises of God.” To me, the Word of God promises us things, and this song always reminds me that God’s Word is true, and I can stand firm and totally believe whatever the Word tells me. I can absolutely believe all of God’s promises, even when fear and doubt come at me.

So today we have a promise in our verse. Oh yeah, it’s one of my favorite promises too. It’s the one that says it is Christmas everyday. Wait, didn’t you see that in the verse. Look again, “how much more will your Father in heaven GIVE GOOD GIFTS…” Yippee!! Christmas everyday!! God’s gonna give me good gifts!!

Of course, there’s more to the promise than that. God likes to do this, he adds a condition. Why? Well, because he’s willing to do anything for us, but he wants to be sure we love him. The way he sees our love is through our obedience to his conditions. Check out 1 John 5:3, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” See those commands are the conditions.

But see the last part of the verse from 1 John? His conditions are NOT burdensome, they are NOT hard. I mean, look at the verse at the top, what is the condition to have Christmas everyday (or in other words to receive good gifts)? Well, we have to ask him. Heavy? I think not. Burdensome? Well, no. Just ask and you’ll receive good gifts. Take that promise and stand on it!

So why don’t we? What are we afraid of in prayer? Are we afraid that God may not answer us, that he may not give us good gifts? Well, that’s not really standing on the promises. Just like in our tennis game, to win you’ve got to have confidence in your game. To get good gifts from God, there must be some confidence shown in your God.

What else are we afraid of? That he might not answer us in the way we want him too? Ahh, there’s the rub. For example, what if I pray all season that we win the Sectional and we don’t? Or, what if I pray for an A and I don’t get it? Or worse things than that.

Okay, so the real fear is what if God fails? It is a hard one to work through. I mean, why wouldn’t God want us to win Sectional, or get an A, or to even more dramatically, to keep our friends from dying? Here’s an honest answer from one man trying to figure all this out: I don’t know.

But here’s the more important answer, one thing I know for sure: IF I DON’T PRAY, MY PLANS WILL FAIL. If I don’t ask God, if I don’t seek my Savior, then I am costing myself the good gifts. I’m not even giving God the chance to come through on his promise. This is back to the same issue as in the first devotional. If we don’t try we fail.

You see, God’s “good” gifts are different than our good gifts. What do you think God sees as a better gift: a Sectional championship or a humble heart? Well, I can tell you with relative certainty that it is a humble heart. And God has his priorities straight. If God has something he wants to give you, and receiving his gift means that you are going to have to lose something lower on his list, well, then kiss the lower thing goodbye. If God thinks that our team needs something other than the will to work this year, well, then I imagine we will be getting something else. But whatever it is, it will be a good gift!

But we don’t get anything if we don’t ask. Prayer is a hard thing. It makes people feel awkward, self-conscious, and many other uncomfortable things. It is very comparable to hard work. You often can’t get yourself motivated to do it, it seems boring, it seems pointless, and is just plain undesirable. That’s why it is often called a spiritual discipline. But our goal this year is to tackle this issue of discipline, of hard work, and defeat the attitude of laziness and apathy. So let us take up prayer as one of our areas to work on this season.

I am committed to praying daily for this team, and I’d like you guys to join me in this commitment. I’d like us to be united in what “good gifts” we are asking God for, so I’ve written my prayer below. You can use it as your pray, or pray whatever is in your heart. But let’s commit ourselves to asking God to bless this season, with his priorities.

My Prayer for Team

Dear Heavenly Father, I bring this team and season before You today, seeking the good that you have promised us in Your Word. Lord, bring above all things Your Will and Holy Presence to lives of every individual on this team this year. Work in each person’s heart, and use this team and tennis as Your instrument to inspire glorious men, made to bring glory back to You.

I pray that You will also bring success to the work of our hands, Lord. Lord, we strive to work hard and I pray that You will bless this work. I pray that our team will find winning more than losing this year, and that we can also experience the joy of taking a win in a Sectional match. Lord, bring good gifts to the team this year and prove Yourself faithful to Your promises.

Above all, Lord, I commit this season and my daily life to You. Lord, inspire in me the deep love of Your Word and of coming before You in prayer. You, Lord Almighty, are in charge of this team and I give control to You. Teach us of Your goodness in all ways, correct us where we are wrong-thinking, challenge us to be more Godly, and encourage us where we are weak. All is in Your mighty hands, under Your authority, and I look with confidence ahead.

In Christ Jesus powerful name I pray, Amen.

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