Its friday, which means I would normally be making a fun post. I think I'll get around to that in a few minutes, but first I just wanted to post something that I read the other day and have been thinking about since.
“One evening I left my office in New York, with a bitterly cold wind in my face. I had with me, (as I thought) my thick, warm muffler, but when I proceeded to button-up against the storm, I found that it was gone.
I turned back, looked along the streets, searched my office, but in vain. I realized, then, that I must have dropped it, and prayed God that I might find it; for such was the state of the weather, that it would be running a great risk to proceed without it. I looked, again, up and down the surrounding streets, but without success.
Suddenly, I saw a man on the opposite side of the road holding out something in his hand. I crossed over and asked him if that was my muffler? He handed it to me saying, ‘It was blown to me by the wind.’ He who rides upon the storm, had used the wind as a means of answering prayer.” — William Horst
I've been thinking over this a LOT. I've been praying over things a lot. A lot of my prayers have been answered. But with each answer comes something else to ask for. I got into grad school. Now time to pray about paying for it. School's payed for. Now time to pray about time for studying, passing tests, etc.
So what have I been learning lately? Prayer doesn't stand alone. Like in the little story above... God uses natural circumstances to supernaturally answer prayer. Prayer isn't an isolated duty or independent principle. It lives in association with other Christian duties, is wedded to other principles, is a partner with other graces. But to faith, prayer is indissolubly joined... to steal a line from Mr. Frank Sinatra, "They go together like a horse and carriage... can't have one without the other." Faith gives it color and tone, shapes its character, and secures its results.
So, my prayers don't seem to have the substance they normally do at times. The problem, I've come to realize... faith. Sometimes my faith feels flat, like its just not working... the problem there I'm beginning to see... prayer. For one to work, the other needs to be working too. This seems to be the biggest struggle in my walk with Christ at the moment.
Trust. It is faith become absolute, ratified, complete. There is, when all is said and done, a sort of risk in faith and its exercise. But trust is firm belief, its faith in full flower. And, to be honest, I (and I'm sure plenty of other believers) often times pray without really having that trust. Trust is a conscious act, a fact of which we are aware. It is a feeling of the soul that has to do with trust. How luminous, how distinct, how conscious, how powerful, and more than all, how Scriptural is such a trust!?! I'm beginning to think of this trust as an act of obedience to God. It really seems to be a way to worship him. Its one of the ways of worship that I struggle with most, but still... worship.
How different is this from many forms of modern belief that are so feeble, dry, and cold. So many beliefs bring no consciousness of their presence, no “Joy unspeakable and full of glory” results from their exercise. They are, for the most part, rules and regulations. There is no safe, sure trust in anything. The whole transaction takes place in the realm of maybe and perhaps and possibly. As Christians though, we don't HAVE to deal with that. And yet, sometimes we choose to anyway. So senseless.
Trust sees God doing things here and now. It rises to a lofty eminence, and looking into the invisible and the eternal, realizes that God has done things, and regards them as being already done... it recognizes that the battle has already been won. IT doesn't worry over things that God has already conquered. Trust brings eternity into the annals and happenings of time, changes the substance of hope into the reality of fruition, and changes promise into present possession. We know when we trust just as we know when we see, just as we are conscious of our sense of touch. Trust sees, receives, holds. Trust is its own witness.
Yet, quite often, our faith is too weak to obtain God’s greatest good, immediately; so it has to wait in loving, strong, prayerful, pressing obedience, until it grows in strength, and is able to bring down the eternal, into the realms of experience and time.
To this point, trust masses all its forces. Here it holds. And in the struggle, trust’s grasp becomes mightier, and grasps, for itself, all that God has done for it in His eternal wisdom and plenitude of grace.
In the matter of waiting in prayer, mightiest prayer, faith rises to its highest plane and becomes indeed the gift of God. It becomes the blessed disposition and expression of the soul which is secured by a constant intercourse with, and unwearied application to God. Jesus Christ clearly taught that faith was the condition on which prayer was answered. If I don't trust, then my prayer isn't going to be answered. When God had cursed the fig-tree, the disciples were much surprised that its withering had actually taken place. It was then that Jesus said to them, “Have faith in God.”
“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
Trust grows nowhere so readily and richly as in the presence of prayer. Its development is rapid and when a prayer life is well kept. When these engagements with God through prayer are hearty and full and free, trust flourishes exceedingly. The presence of God gives vigorous life to trust, just like presence of the sun make fruit and flower to grow... a cheesy, but nonetheless, true metaphor.
Ideas like “Have faith in God,” and “Trust in the Lord” form the keynote and foundation of prayer. Primarily, it is not trust in the Word of God, but trust in the Person of God. Trust in the Person of God, I've found, must precede trust in the Word of God. The trust which God points to as a condition of effective prayer, is not of the head but of the heart. It is trust which “doubteth not in his heart.” Such trust has the assurance that it shall be honored with large and satisfying answers. The strong promise of our Lord brings faith down to the present, and counts on a present answer.
Honestly, I'm still struggling to put all this into practice. I'm praying. I'm trusting. I'm exercising faith. I read a quote recently that I think is a great closing thought...
"When our wagon gets stuck in the mud,
God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push
than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer
—no matter how eloquent the oration."
I don't recall who said that... but In "Sun Stand Still" Pastor Steven shared the same sentiment, saying that we should push while we pray. Or, As one of my favorite authors Hunter S Thompson said... "Call on God, but row away from the rocks..." In addition to all that other stuff, we've got to act. (I discussed this in a previous post called Help... look back a few posts for that one.) And I'm finding that the acting... the stepping out in faith is what reinforces the trust. When I step out and push while I pray, God moves. Then I trust him a little more. Its an amazing (yet at times, terrifying) process.