Silhouettes of the Heavenly Father (Part 2)

What does God’s truthfulness mean for our prayer life?

Yesterday I started a mini-series of posts exploring the intersection of our views of God as our Heavenly Father and our practice of prayer. This material is based on breakout session I shared recently at a conference. This is important because the things we think about God (either good or bad, biblical or unbiblical, consistent or inconsistent) have a huge impact on how we approach Him in prayer.

The prophet Jeremiah warned the Israelites numerous times throughout the Old Testament book that bears his name, but one of the most colorful warnings is recorded in Jeremiah 10:1-10. The nations that surrounded Israel studied astronomical phenomena like eclipses and comets so they could worship the sun, moon, and stars as gods. In order to make their worship more tangible, they made idols out of wood and decorated them with precious metal.

Jeremiah described the deceptive nature of these worthless gods with a heavy dose of sarcasm. They looked impressive but they were fake. They were seen as powerful, but they had to be carried around like an infant. They were feared but the idols couldn’t do anything, good or evil, to enforce their will.

Jeremiah presents a sharp contrast in verse 6. Rather than being deceptive, God is trustworthy and lives up to His reputation. He stands above any other supposed god. He is great and mighty. He is real and alive, not fabricated. Jeremiah’s God was a real and truthful so He can be trusted.

Once again, Jesus brings out this aspect of the Heavenly Father’s character in his model prayer in Matthew 6:11. After acknowledging God’s holiness, Jesus asks the Father to “give us this day our daily bread.” This simple request is an expression of dependance and trust in the Heavenly Father.

Here are three tips for building your trust in God through prayer:

1. Focus on God, not just His blessings. Some folks only pray when they need or want something. God the Father loves to bless and provide for His children, but He also loves to spend time with them. Try to set aside time to pray even if you don’t need anything.

2. Be persistent, which is a sign of dependence. When you do make a request, repeat yourself often and be consistent. Not in a ritualistic way, but as a way to express your dependence on God.

3. Write out your prayer requests so that you can document His faithfulness. I tend to be forgetful. When I forget what I prayed for in the past, I miss an opportunity to praise God for His faithfulness in the present. Writing down you prayer petitions make it easier to trace out the trustworthiness of God.

God is real and truthful so He can be trusted. We can build our trust in God through prayer. Join me again tomorrow as I trace out another silhouette of the Heavenly Father. Feel free to add one of your own tips for expressing reverence in prayer in the comment section below.

What to Do When You Hit the Lowest Point in Your Life

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You and I can be brought low by many things in life. We can be humbled by our own actions or hurt by the actions of others. We can be broken by what seems like a random series of events, but nothing in life is random. C.S. Lewis once said, “God allows us to experience the low points in life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.

Jeremiah the Prophet spent his entire life and ministry moving from one low point to another. He proclaimed God’s Word in Judah for 40 years and no one ever listened to him. He was repeatedly rejected and plotted against. At one point, Jeremiah was even thrown in He was thrown into a muddy pit and left to die. No wonder Jeremiah is known as “The Weeping Prophet” (Jeremiah 9:1).

You may be able to identify with Jeremiah’s experience in the muddy pit. You feel like you are the lowest point in your life. You are confused, lonely, and afraid.

There’s hope! Jeremiah made it out his pit and you can too. If you read about Jeremiah’s life before and after the muddy pit, you can discover three ways of escape.

Jeremiah was thrown into a dried out well because he was encouraging the Jews to surrender to the Babylonians who had laid siege to the city of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 38). Some of the city officials were disturbed by Jeremiah’s messages and complained about him to the king. King Zedekiah was a weak leader and allowed the city officials to do whatever they wanted to Jeremiah. The officials were afraid to kill a prophet directly, so they lowered him into an unusable well and left him to die. When Ebed-Melech, another city official, heard about what happened to Jeremiah, he went to the king and pleaded for the prophet’s life. Ebed-Melech made a harness of worn-out rags and rescued Jeremiah from the well with the help of 30 other men. Jeremiah continued to deliver God’s Word even after he made it out of the lowest point in his life.

Jeremiah’s experience in the muddy pit reveals three ways of escaping your own low points in life. One way is obvious from the story itself and two more are implied from Jeremiah’s life.

1. Accept help from your friends.

If can feel pretty lonely struggling through a low point in your life, even if it’s not your fault. Even though you feel alone, you are probably not the only person who has ever dealt with your particular problem. Even if you are, you have people around you who care about you and want to help.

In my experience, those who really need help tend to resist it because of pride or privacy. Some people know how to give help others but don’t know how to receive it. Ecclesiastes  4:9-10 is helpful here: “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up” (NASB).

2. Remember your calling (Jeremiah 1:1-19)

The first chapter of Jeremiah records his calling from God. Jeremiah was marked out at an early age for what seemed like an impossible ministry. Jeremiah was used by God to call the nation of Israel to repentance. Even though the Jews never responded, God never left Jeremiah’s side.

No matter who you are, God has a calling on your life too. First and foremost, you have been called to salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9, 4:1). If you are a follower of Jesus, you have also been called to spiritual growth and Christian service (1 Peter. 1:15). You may also be called to ministry leadership or specific ministry assignment (Luke 5:1-11). Jeff Iorg’s book, Is God Calling Me, is a great resource for assessing your calling. Jeff Iorg’s book, Is God Calling Me? is a great resource for assessing your calling.

3. Trust God’s plan (Jeremiah 29:10-14)

Later, God gave Jeremiah a message for the Jews who experienced their own low points while in exile in Babylon. Jeremiah told them to make the most of their lives because God is still in control. He encouraged them to rest easy knowing God still had a plan for their future. The prophet also urged them to anticipate a time when you would have a personal relationship with God.

God has a plan for your life just like He had a plan for Jeremiah and the Children of Israel. Your challenges and struggles may be unique to you, but they aren’t a surprise to God. Trusting God and his plan is one of the surest ways of escaping the low points of life.

Like Jeremiah, you or someone you know may be stuck in a muddy pit. Not only has God provided a way of escape, but He also wants to use the experience to teach you some lessons that you cannot learn on solid ground.