Dr Martin's Rule #5 (I'm up to ten of them) reminds us that anytime we have what we might consider a "mountaintop experience"- You know, a great victory a la Elijah against the priests of Baal, or Joe Everyday doing that really blessed thing- prepare afterwards, for the fall is coming next. Very few of us prepare to "come back down"- Elijah obviously didn't, and look how much HE prayed! So this week, I had what I would term a "mountaintop moment" in prayer. And today's story is about the aftermath.
You see, I DID remember Rule #5, and prayed accordingly. But just being prepared doesn't mean you'll get smooth sailing, and it is foolish to think so. I learned this long ago, from a verse that I mentioned before:
Psa 107 23They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
25For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
26They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
27They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
28Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
29He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
30Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Notice the progression here- first comes the storm; then they cry out; He hears and calms the storm; then they are gladdened and praise Him; and THEN He brings them to their desired location. Even so, praying to be prepared for the "off the mountain" experience may calm YOU- but it doesn't necessarily leave you where you want to be, just yet.
Now, I'm not going to take you to my mountain top- just like Mary "treasured these things in her heart" but didn't write a "Gospel of Mary" to share them, some things are meant to be just you and He. However, I will share the lesson learned from the aftermath.
A very minor part of the "mountaintop experience" or MTE was a discussion on WHO does the praying. Often, I feel when I pray, the Spirit guiding me where to go in it; this is what Paul tries to explain to us in Romans 8:
Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Rom 8:27 And He searching the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
But sometimes, for me, the Spirit "takes the wheel" and the people and things He is praying about flash through my mind like He's flipping through a rolodex. And while that is very helpful in times of stress, I offhandedly thought that that was a "lazy man's prayer" and would rather be connected more fully to MY prayers.
Note the stressed word there.
So the new day dawns, and the expected morning disasters at work occurred. Didn't get through them QUITE unscathed, but certainly better than usual. And I moved on to go through my morning prayer list as I always do, but the stresses caused me distractions- people, stupid things my mind wouldn't stop chewing on, etc.- and many times I would get to a point of "reading the list" rather than praying, and I would stop myself and say, "No, I can DO this." I was so busy with the "DO", I wasn't noticing the "I". And I was getting nowhere- and neither were the prayers I was managing to beat out from my mind. Finally, I got to a point where I said, "I don't care WHAT you through at me, Satan, I WILL..."
And I saw the problem.
An article I found this morning on Cruciform Press Tells us wisely that there are three reasons the Spirit prays for us. And their list is most effective in our narrative in reverse. Their third reason: Because God has perfect knowledge- the Spirit knows not only the issue, but the cause, and God's perfect will in a matter. Second, because we are ignorant- and before you say, "Well, we know which one Chris is", this is talking about like Paul said, we don't always know what direction TO pray in. For an example, how many of you pray for the Persecuted Church to be delivered from their persecutions? I used to more, until I thought, "That prayer being answered would REMOVE form them the Crown they are earning in heaven! " So now, I first pray that God will sustain and strengthen them IN their trials. But the one I was dealing with, their first reason in the article?
Because we are WEAK.
The Spirit who resides within “helps” us. He comes to our aid, rescues us, makes our prayers acceptable to God the Father, and helps shoulder our heavy burden. This is the ongoing ministry of the Spirit in our “weakness,” our human frailties.
It is important for us to recognize that physical, emotional, and spiritual weaknesses reveal human frailty, yet are not necessarily the result of sin.
I had gone from the one extreme- the Spirit's "rolodex" prayers- to the other, the "Me Alone" method. And I sucked.
So I gave the job back to the Spirit. Slowly, starting with merely reading the name on my list, I let the Spirit guide me, showing me where to add thoughts, which direction to go, and soon the prayer list was done and I was thanking God for His answers once again.
Last night, Tony Evans was talking about how God uses seeming contradictions to test us before something big. He gave the example of Abraham. He had four contradictions to face when he was told to sacrifice Isaac. One, he was supposed to kill the son from whom the promise of descendents was given, and Isaac hadn't contributed any descendants yet; two, he was going to have to go against God's law and moral law by murdering another human being; third, he loved his son; and fourth, he was expecting to WORSHIP God afterwards, and as Evans said, "It's hard to want to go to Church after THAT"...
For me, the contradiction was, "Who's doing the praying here?" But just as God solved Abraham's contradictions because Abraham had faith...
Hebrews 11 17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” 19He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
Once I showed the faith that God knew what HE was doing, it all worked out right.