“The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7
Sometimes, our prayers are a heartfelt conversation with God as we seek wisdom and discernment. Sometimes, our prayers are a time spent sharing with God the burdens and desires of our hearts.
But sometimes…in those seasons of profound heartache, unimaginable misery, and complete helplessness, our prayers are brought before God bathed in the tears of sorrow and desparation.
I was recently with an incredible group of people that truly love and care for each other. As the very real burdens and trials of life were shared, and the weight of those trials was seen and heard in the voices and tears of those who were suffering, the eyes of many in the room were also filled with tears.
In Romans 12:15 it say that we are to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” It was a precious and vivid demonstration of the love of Christ being lived out in the lives of folks that not only wanted to come alongside others in their time of need, but they also knew the only One to turn to with these heavy burdens.
In John 11 we see that when Jesus came to the place where Lazarus was being kept after he died, He came upon Mary, Martha and the others weeping. Jesus did not simply raise Lazarus from the dead and move on, but rather Scripture tells us that Jesus wept alongside them. He was not weeping for the death of Lazarus, rather He was expressing one of the deepest levels of compassion by weeping alongside those He loved.
As we live our lives as believers with other believers, may we be Christ-like and weep with those who weep. In those most difficult of times, let our prayers be bathed in the tears of love and compassion as we call out to the One that knows us, the One we trust, the One who is our stronghold in the day of trouble.
The nine armed sea star is a crazy looking critter. I recently had the delight of finding one while searching for sea shells with my son. I had never seen anything quite like it before. Unlike five armed sea stars (or star fish as I used to call them), it has nine arms that are used for feeding, digging, and moving around. Why nine arms and not five is beyond me. What I do know is that God, in his perfect design, chose to create them that way. This little critter obviously does not sit there and ask “Why do I have 9 arms?” It just lives and does what it was designed and intended to do and be.
As humans we are all created in God’s image and God has made us each as unique individuals. As believers we also know that we each have a unique role and purpose in this world and we need to be doing what He has called and purposed us to do. The way we understand His will and purpose for our life is to draw close to him, to dig in and study His word and pray.
Romans 12:1-2 gives us a crystal clear insight into how we go about knowing His will for our lives.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
As we determine to be transformed by God, and not be conformed to this world, we are able to “prove” or know what God’s perfect will is. Let’s start asking God what he wants us to know about himself and get busy living our lives for Him!
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12 NKJV
One of the amazing blessings and privileges we have as bondservants of Christ is to pray for one another. As Paul is wrapping up his letter to the believers at the church in Colosse, he includes remarks pertaining to the active work of the believers in the church to support and encourage each other.
Epaphras is only mentioned twice in Scripture, once here in the letter to the Colossians and also in Paul’s letter to Philemon. In this passage Paul specifically speaks of Epaphras as “…always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” What an incredible statement of the Christ-like character and behavior of Epaphras. His steadfast commitment to prayer for other believers is commendable all on its own. But Paul states the specific nature of Epaphras’ prayer stating that he was burdened to pray for more than just the day-to-day things that fill another believers days, but that these fellow bondservants would “stand“, or be completely confident, unwavering in their faith, and in the knowledge and purpose of living a life completely yielded to the will of God.
What an incredible blessing that must have been to be a part of the church in Colosse and to know that there is a fellow believer praying fervently for them that they might be living a confident, faith-filled life in the perfect will of God.
Perhaps this is something each of us can consider and commit to making a part of our personal prayer lives in the days ahead. Perhaps we can commit to pray for our own churches, for the fellow believers in our life, and perhaps even for a church that we used to attend. Perhaps we can pray specifically that they “…may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”