“Please pray for me.” The Bible teaches us to pray for one another, that we should bear each others’ burdens, and that we should care for one another. We all need prayer at some time in our walk, and we all had someone ask us to pray for them. We believe God answers our prayers.
Sharing our burdens with one another binds us together and strengthens us against our enemy who lives to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) He works to destroy our lives on so many levels that it cannot be named in in the space that we have here. His main objective is to destroy our faith in our loving, caring Father so that we will turn our backs on Him, and he will use whatever it takes to accomplish his goal.
The attacks that we experience are often in our circumstances, and in things that are beyond our control. Because we live in a broken world, we have no guarantee that we will live problem-free lives, even if we live uprightly. As a matter of fact, we may actually attract the devil’s attention when we live lives that please God, as it also happened to Job. The attacks that you endure do not point to a lack of faith or ungodliness on your part, they simply remind us that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) The good news is that we can always overcome and keep our faith til we breathe our last breath.
Having said that, caring for one another goes deeper than prayer. While the devil is working hard to make us stumble, it is also true that many of the problems that we face are just consequences of earlier poor decisions or missteps that we made. ”There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) This is often hard to detect on your own, but a caring friend might be able to point to areas in your life where adjustments need to be made.
While prayer is one of the weapons that we reach for when under attack, it is not the only way to defeat the enemy. Actually, even if God does answer our prayer, but we continue to walk in the error that brought the trouble upon us, we will walk right back into it.
King David had it in his heart to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem after it had been neglected for a long time. Everybody agreed with him that it was a good thing to do. There can be no doubt that David’s heart was pure before the Lord in this matter. What he did not know was that the ark had to be carried by the Levites, and not on a cart drawn by oxen, as he did. All went well for a while until the oxen stumbled and Uzza reached out his hand to steady it – a well-meaning and innocent gesture – but the Lord struck him in His anger, and he died on the spot.
It was a hard lesson to learn, but David discovered what went wrong, and he learned how to do it the right way.
For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” 1 Chronicles 15:13
An innocent mistake – a matter of ignorance – yet followed by deadly consequences. When they did it God’s way shortly after, the ark was brought into the city with great joy and blessing to all. There is always a way that seems right, but the end of it is death. (See Proverbs 14:12)
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. Acts 18:24-26
Doing things the right way matters. In everything that we do or say, we create consequences that can be either good or bad for us, and ignorance about the right way doesn’t minimize the consequences. God gives us the right way in the Word, and it is there for all to learn from. He even makes it easy for us by equipping teachers to teach His ways. Something that always amazed me, even in my days of secular employment, is that people with problems always seek advice from others who struggle with the same problem. How foolish is that!
The first step toward victory is to acknowledge that you have a problem. Denial never solves anything, even if you do it in faith. The second step is to look for help, and it may include more than prayer. Look for someone who is doing well in the area that you struggle in, and see what you can learn from them. Accept only Godly advice, something that comes straight from the Word of God. Good ideas are not always God ideas.
Find a teacher, someone that the Lord called and equipped to teach His Word. The only ministry that appears in all three lists of ministry gifts in the Bible, is that of the teacher. (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11) There is good reason for that! Teaching from the Word is the spiritual food of every Christian; it makes us wise and strong so that we can live victoriously in this fallen world where the enemy goes around like a roaring lion looking for prey. Jesus spent most of His time on earth teaching, more than anything else that He did.
There is not always a quick fix to deal with troubles. Renewing the mind, followed up by changing your ways takes time. Don’t let pride and spiritual laziness keep you down. Jesus came to give you life, and that more abundantly. (John 10:10) God has a way out of every temptation, whether it be sin, to doubt His love for you, or His power to save you.
Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day. Psalm 25:4,5
My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word. I have declared my ways, and You answered me; teach me Your statutes. Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on Your wondrous works. Psalm 119:25-27
Teaching is basically the sharing of information, but it may include correction or warning. The most dangerous enemy of the church is not the devil, but ignorance of the truth. Not to defend the devil, but he is often blamed for consequences that we crated ourselves. Ignorance about the truth also leaves you vulnerable as it attracts attacks from the enemy.
We are in this together to win; let us therefore add to our prayers a teachable spirit and a longing for the Word; Jesus said the truth sets us free! (John 8:31,32) Our faith is not in prayer itself, but in God who answers prayer made according to His will! (1 John 5:14,15)