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Tag Archives: wrestling with God in prayer

Fighting for Your Life

An average, 56 million individuals will lose their life in 2021. Worldwide, 150,000 people will pass away today. While 100,000 will die from age related causes, the remaining 50,000 have no warning signs of their last day on earth. Although no one wants to be diagnosed with a life threatened illness, at least these unfortunate souls have the opportunity to fight for their lives.

In those days Hezekiah became deadly ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover, 2 Kings 20:1.

During a visit from an Old Testament prophet, King Hezekiah was informed that the end was near. Isaiah is the first to use the expression “set your house in order.” Like a business executive about to retire, Hezekiah was told to begin preparing for his own death by saying goodbye to family and friends. Instead of surrendering to this illness, Hezekiah poured out his heart to God in prayer.

Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, I beseech You, O Lord, [earnestly] remember now how I have walked before You in faithfulness and truth and with a whole heart [entirely devoted to You] and have done what is good in Your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly, 2 Kings 20:2-3.

As a former high school Bible teacher, two of my former students succumb to cancer before having a chance to enter the prime of their lives. After wrestling with God in prayer, Hezekiah was one of the lucky ones as the Lord extended his life by another 15 years. However, Hezekiah’s healing was not assured until witnessing his shadow go ten steps backwards. As you read this today, may you follow in the footsteps of the apostle Paul by fighting the good fight, 1 Timothy 6:12, until the Lord takes you home.

by Jay Mankus

Is It Really That Simple?

In the past year, a couple of comedians from Hollywood have referred to individuals who pray to God as being mentally ill.  While children have a tendency to have make believe friends, adults who talk out loud to an invisible God seems strange.  Although non-believers may refer to this sight as a sign of mental illness, this spiritual practice is an act of faith.  One day Jesus’ disciples were floundering as novice prayers, asking the son of God for help, to teach them how to pray effectively.

“So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you,” Luke 11:9.

In the beginning of Luke chapter 11, Jesus gives his disciples an outline for praying known as the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father.  This is similar to modern day acronyms like ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication or PRAY: petition God, repent, adoration for God and your own needs.  After receiving this basic format, perhaps one of the disciples pondered, is it really that simple?  In the passage above and below Jesus responds with the attitude, desire and will necessary to develop a powerful prayer life.

For everyone who keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened, Luke 11:10.

First, don’t be afraid to ask God.  Since the Lord is all knowing, just verbalize any desire on your heart and thought on your mind.  However, when you do pray, be diligent, eager to hear and see the power of prayer at work in your life.  If any prayer is denied, in limbo or unclear, demonstrate persistence like the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8.  Jesus doesn’t want passive prayers.  Rather, keep on knocking, wrestling with God in prayer as you seek answers to prayer in the context of God’s will.  For those who seek a deeper relationship with God, may you come to a point when you can honestly say, prayer really is this simple.

by Jay Mankus

Pray Now or Pay Later

The words pray now or pay later popped into my head nearly five years ago.  Looking back, I don’t remember if a Bible verse, lyrics of a song or a sermon conceived this concept.  Nonetheless, this phrase inspired me to write a book which turned into a screen play.  In a sense pray now or pay later is a mission statement to avoid subtle compromises that eventually leads individuals to give into temptation.  This process doesn’t happen over night.  Rather, carelessness, poor choices and self trust often results in painful consequences in the future.

After going a little farther, He fell to the ground [distressed by the weight of His spiritual burden] and began to pray that if it were possible [in the Father’s will], the hour [of suffering and death for the sins of mankind] might pass from Him. 36 He was saying, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You; take this cup [of judgment] away from Me; but not what I will, but what You will,” Mark 14:35-36.

The night before his final day on earth in human form, Jesus felt compelled to pray.  While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus began to confide in his inner circle, James, John and Peter.  Overwhelmed by the weight of a heavy soul, Jesus wrestled with God in prayer, wondering if there was another way.  Yet, knowing his purpose for being born, Jesus yielded with the words, “not what I will but your will be done.”  Jesus understood that praying now would give him the strength to submit to and fulfill God’s will, dying on a cross as the perfect Lamb of God.

And He came back and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Were you unable to keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep [actively] watching and praying so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” 39 He went away again and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again He came back and found them sleeping, because their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know how to answer Him. 41 He came back a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough [of that]! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is near!” – Mark 14:37-42

When the disciples were unable to stay awake the first time he asked them to pray, Jesus reveals the key to pray now or pay later.  To avoid temptation, you must keep actively watching over your life in prayer.  This reason for this necessity is that God’s Spirit within you is willing, but your body is weak, vulnerable to giving into temptation.  Proactive prayer such as asking God to place a hedge of protection around you and your loved ones is a great place to start.  However, when a sense of urgency to pray disappears, you might find yourself like the disciples falling away or betraying Jesus at the first sight of adversity.  May this passage above and the words pray now or pay later awaken your soul to commit your life to a concert of prayer.

by Jay Mankus

 

Its Sad What Most People Accept as Normal

Depending upon the hand you are dealt in life, unforeseen events can ruin any hopes that you have to live a normal life.  One woman in the Bible suffered from a rare bleeding disorder for 12 years.  During this ordeal, this woman spent her life savings on a potential cure.  Whatever good intentions these doctors possessed, each diagnosis, medicine and treatment failed.  Prior to hearing about Jesus, any thoughts of resuming a normal life were gone.  With nothing to lose, this woman fought her way through the crowds, reaching for one of the tassels on Jesus’rabbinical robe.  The moment her hand touched Jesus, she was immediately healing.  Sensing this release of power, Jesus sought out this woman.  The purpose of this conversation was to clarify the true reason for this miracle.  When science tells you, “that’s impossible,” faith is the vessel God uses to defy logic.

A woman [in the crowd] had [suffered from] a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much [suffering] at the hands of many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but instead had become worse, Mark 5:25-26.

In the days that followed, Jesus encounters a man who spent most of his days at a healing pool.  An invalid for nearly 4 decades, the idea of walking seemed to be a long shot.  This body of water in Bethesda was known for healing various illnesses through the years.  According to local reports, angels of the Lord stirred these waters at appointed seasons, with the first person to enter being healed.  Unfortunately, the slow reflexes of this paralyzed man prevented him from being the first one in the water.  Looking depressed, Jesus wasn’t sure if this man wanted to be healed.  This dialogue was necessary as doubt prevents miracles from occurring.  Thus, after this exploratory phase is complete, Jesus had another obstacle to overcome, the legalism of the Jewish Sabbath.  Religious leaders added man made regulations which prevented any type of physical exertion that included healing.  Subsequently, Jesus uses common sense as a way to ask permission to restore this man.  Remaining silent, Jesus goes ahead anyway, choosing good over doing nothing.  Against all odds, this man got up and began walking for the first time in 38 years.

There was a certain man there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?” – John 5:5-6

In the past 20 years, I have battled iritis, arthritis of the eye.  Until the last 2 years, I endured periods of pain and discomfort.  Yet, today my vision is fading in my right eye.  Its sad to say, but I’ve accepted poor vision as a normal way of life.  Deep down, I want to believe that a miracle is possible based upon the 2 passages above.  However, maintaining the resolve of the woman with a bleeding disorder is tough to do.  Perhaps, some of you have a similar issue, crippled by an emotional, physical or spiritual ailment.  Instead of accepting your condition as the new normal, faith can help you rise above the mountains in front of you.  Therefore, don’t go down without a fight, wrestling with God in prayer.  You may have to wait 12 or 38 years to receive answers, but if you battle like the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8, there is a chance for a miracle to touch your life.

by Jay Mankus

I Don’t Care How Long It Takes

In life, there are some battles worth fighting for and others you simply have to let go to walk away.  People will experience periods when you think, “what did I do to deserve us?”  Followed by moments that leave individuals pondering, “I can’t believe I got out of that unscathed.”  How you respond to these ordeals often shapes your character.  In the case of a king, punished by God for taking a census, David didn’t care what it took as long as God had mercy on the nation of Israel.

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands,” 2 Samuel 24:14.

To survive for the long haul, you must develop a specific mindset.  If you celebrate victories only to wilt under defeat, you’ll never get very far in this life.  Thus, its essential to look at the big picture, set goals accordingly and persevere until you reach your desired destination.  As for the apostle Paul, he began to adopt a motto for his earthly ministry.  I don’t care how long it takes as long as you enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ before I die.

Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains,” Acts 26:29.

After reading this portion of the Bible, I came to an obvious conclusion, why don’t I apply this mentality to my own life.  Whether its clinging to a desired outcome, seeing a dream fulfilled or wrestling with God in prayer, it doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you taste success at some point.  Therefore, don’t let one, two or several setbacks cause you to give up hope.  Rather, arm yourself with a warrior’s mindset, resolving to maintain steadfast in battle until the Lord allows you to experience the fruits of your labor.

by Jay Mankus

 

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