1 Chronicles 5:20 He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.
This is a very simple, very fundamental principle of prayer: you need to trust the One to whom you pray. The Japanese translates this verse as “depend on,” which is the same thing in this context. James puts it this way: “He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7) Faith can be a tricky thing. There is great power in faith, but if we have faith in faith, rather than in God Himself, everything goes wrong. That’s the problem with the “name it and claim it” people: their focus is on faith itself, rather than on God. That said, a great deal of prayer tends to be just wishful thinking, without any real faith associated with it. We are back to the cry of the father of the epileptic boy: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) Faith itself is a gift from God, (Ephesians 2:8) but it is a gift we must choose to accept. There are countless testimonies down through history of the remarkable things that have happened when people have simply chosen to trust God, and I think this verse is one of those.
I have seen God’s hand work so many times that I ought to have completely rock-solid faith, but it is still a choice I must make. It does get easier with practice! This morning as I rode around to the different churches in town to pray blessing on each one, as I do every Sunday morning, God spoke to me through the two churches that display their sermon titles were they can be read from the road. At the first church I went to the title was, “Feed my sheep.” (The Japanese for that verse says, “Shepherd my sheep.) The second was, “I won’t give up.” (Conversely, that could be rendered, “Don’t give up.”) I’ve been pastoring this flock for 32 years now. We have none of the original members, and have an average stay of only a few years, with Cathy and me being the only constants. At past 65, the temptation to say “That’s it. I’m retiring,” is real. We do have real potential for a successor at this point, but dumping everything on him and walking off is not an option. That’s why those sermon titles were a Word to me. I’ve got to keep my eyes on Jesus, trusting and obeying Him, just as I’ve told others to do for all these years. God isn’t through with me here, and I’ve got to choose to trust Him in that.
Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. Help me look to You consistently enough that Your faithfulness will be manifested in and through me. May I indeed shepherd Your sheep as You desire, not as though they were my property but as a good steward of what is Yours, so that they may be nurtured and grown and matured to be all that You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!