“Persistence”, “perseverance”, “giving it to God”, “peace” – what does it mean to cast all your cares upon the Lord? Does giving it up to God mean we just leave it and don’t think about it anymore? Can we have peace while still persevering in intercession? I felt the Lord highlight that the issue is not usually that we are praying too much, but rather that we are not praying enough. Thinking about something constantly, is not the same as bringing that issue to God in persistent prayer. Ephesians 5 includes prayer as an important part of God’s battle armour – “…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” [Ephesians 6:18] Speaking to my husband about these things, he offered even more insight. The question is not when we pray or stop praying, or whether we face or avoid an issue – it is about what we do with our anxieties. Will we cast them on the Lord and let Him carry us? Will we trust Him with all things? Will we open up to Him, communicate with our Lord, and let Him speak with us? Is it faith to stop imploring God about an issue, or faith to persevere in asking Him about it?
As I reflected on all this, I felt the following points were important to understand:
- Communication with God – He knows all our anxieties and all our desires, but He still wants us to speak to Him about them.
- God values perseverance in faith
- Peace in submission – There is peace in letting God direct our paths
- We live life, and make decisions with God – we have a role to play as intercessors and sons of God
Communication with God
There is no doubt that God is relational, personal and desires intimacy. Yes, He is omnipotent and He knows all our anxieties, all our desires, and all the days written out for our lives. However, He desires that we speak to Him, and come to Him. We do not have a silent relationship with God, but one which is relational and personal. Part of this involves communication – God wants to be involved in our lives! It moves God when we come to Him with prayer and petition. The Bible is a record of God telling us His own desire that we would come to Him, speak to Him, and hear His voice. Here are just some instances where God reveals this desire. He speaks to us of His character, and persists in telling us how much He wants us to be with Him.
- [Hebrews 4:15-16] – “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
- [1 Peter 5:6-7] – “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
- [Jeremiah 33:3] – “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
- [Hosea 14:1-2] – “O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for You have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you and return to the Lord, say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips…’”
- [Hebrews 13:15] –“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
From the passages above, we already get a picture of the God we have, one who is approachable, and one who wants to hear from us. He:
- Is compassionate
- Is mighty
- Cares for us
- Answers us
- Shows us things we do not know
- Desires repentance
- Loves praise
The Bible records conversation after conversation, prayer after prayer. Moses, Hannah, David, Paul, even Jesus Himself spoke with God. People spoke to God of their trouble, their despair, their joy and their thanksgiving. The Bible is a giant record of God being in constant communication with His people through years and centuries, battles and victories, uncertainty and prophecy, sorrow and joy. God responded to the voice of His people, regardless of their complaint. He heard the cry of Israel and the despair of Job. When He gave a rebuke, He rebuked the attitude in which people complained to Him – taking God for granted, or refusing to turn from their ways. God desires that we choose Him, turn to Him, speak to Him and listen to His voice.
When we speak to God, we also show our submission to Him. We allow Him to work in us. In Psalm 139:23-24, David gives God an invitation to see into His heart and reveal its anxieties. He says:
“Search me, O God and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”
In Isaiah 55, God gives us an invitation to come to Him and share in the goodness of His life. Part of this involves us recognising a need or desire to come to Him. It is a decision we have to make, to say “yes” to this invitation.
[Isaiah 55, snippets from verse 1-3] “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters… …Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your heart delight in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul will live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you….”
Will we let God in to show us the anxieties of our heart? Will we say “yes” to His invitation that we can come to Him and share in the abundance of His life?