In the last few weeks, I’ve been meditating on some things concerning prayer. In Ephesians 6, after Paul instructs us to “be strong” and then explains to us how important our warfare is, he immediately exhorts us along the lines of prayer.
There have been several times when I have heard people and even ministers say, “be strong.” We have this concept that being strong is something that can be turned on and off. But that is not how it works. Think about someone who is physically strong. They didn’t become strong overnight because they suddenly decided to be strong. It took time and effort to develop that strength. In the same way, spiritual strength is something that is developed over time, and contrary to what it feels like, strength is actually obtained in times of pain and resistance.
I once heard someone say that pain is weakness working its way out. There is a lot of truth to that even in the spiritual sense, but it has everything to do with how you handle the pain when it comes. Let me ask you this…who do you talk to when you come upon a challenge? Do you know that God hears every word you speak, even when you’re not talking to Him? I’ll prove it to you.
In Second Kings 6, we see the story of Elisha and the Syrian army. The Syrian army kept setting traps for Israel, but every time the trap was set and destined to take out Israel, it was avoided. Finally, the king of Syria came to the conclusion that there must be a spy among them because someone kept reporting to them every time they planned a trap. His advisors told him it was not a spy but a prophet in Israel, and God tells the prophet those things you say in your bedchamber.
Then in Numbers 14, we see the story of the 12 spies who went to spy out the land. You know the story…Caleb and Joshua came back with a positive report but the other 10 came back talking doubt and doom. So, the crowd decided to believe the report of the majority, which led to murmuring and complaining to each other about how good they had it in Egypt and how they wished they were back in Egypt. Though they were not talking to God, He still heard what they said to each other, and in verse 28 it says, “As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you.” You know the rest of that story—that generation never entered the Promise Land that was available to them.
Finally, in John 20 we read about Jesus appearing to His disciples after His resurrection. At this particular appearance Thomas was not with the disciples and they told him what had happened, but Thomas did not believe them. He said, “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Eight days later, Jesus came back to His disciples, and this time Thomas was with them, and Jesus, speaking to Thomas said, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.” Here we see that Jesus repeated exactly the words of Thomas from eight days before. God heard exactly what Thomas said to his closest friends and confidants.
In all three of these instances, even though these people weren’t talking to the Lord, He heard what they said. They voiced their pain, fear and frustration, and all three of these are real forces that each of us have to deal with. Sometimes as “faith” people we think we can suppress pain and fear, but actually these things must be dealt with. So how do you deal with them?
First of all, we must remember that the Lord hears what we say no matter who we are talking to. Venting is not always a bad thing, but it matters who you vent to. As a father, I have never shut my children down when they needed to talk to me. If I did, they would quit coming to me. In the same way, our Father God wants us to talk to Him and express what we are dealing with.
David was skilled at this. Through the book of Psalms, we see that he was a man of prayer. The Bible calls him a man after God’s own heart, and he always “vented” to God. I think I would be safe in calling David strong in the Lord.
Recognize this—God doesn’t care nearly as much about what you say to Him as He does what you say about Him. If you will vent to God, He will work you through it, and you will grow stronger. That is why he puts prayer in context with Ephesians 6 in regards to being strong. Go in with whatever you want, just be sure to come out with what God has said.
I want to encourage you today to talk to the Lord in times of weakness, pain, fear and frustration. Then after you talk to Him, say what He says about it. When you go to people and talk instead of your Heavenly Father, you are missing opportunities to grow stronger. Prayer is a powerful force, but it’s up to you to take advantage of it. God has everything you will ever need, so go to Him, and remember that He loves you more than anyone else.