I’m so thrilled and grateful to have a special guest with us today! I first met Christine Duncan of Precepts & Life Preservers back in the summer of 2015, and since that time I have been incredibly blessed by her friendship. Christine was a part of the Everyday Joy blog series last year (this was the springboard for the eventual launching of the Finding Joy podcast) and today, she returns to the Making Life Sweet blog to share what God has been teaching her about prayer. Grab your coffee mug and pull up a chair, because this is a word all of us need to hear.
God’s been teaching me about how I define an answer to prayer lately. Again.
Because as we so often do with life lessons, we forget quickly when a crisis is over the things He reveals in the midst of struggles and battles at the time. And I’d forgotten this simple truth: As believers, it’s so easy for us to make life about our circumstances.
And when that happens, we often make our faith about our circumstances.
“Lord, I have faith that my circumstance will change soon! Lord, I have faith that this situation will be removed. Lord, how soon before the hard things grow easier?”
Not that the Father can’t meet us in our need, because He certainly can. But often His plan to meet our need and our ideas of His plan to meet our need are two very different things.This is what I’ve been learning on my personal journey anyway. Something feels hard, or goes terribly wrong, or starts wearing us down and all we can think about or pray on is how badly we need the situation resolved. Meanwhile, He wants our undivided attention in a completely different capacity.
When we look at the Bible, we see the nation of Israel was being taught the same thing. Concerned about their status, concerned about their legacy, concerned about threats looming large over them for eons, and their delicate future, Isaiah steps into prophetic shoes and makes a declaration from God that needed special attention. Because it concerned their much needed salvation. And as God plunked me into the middle of the book of Isaiah last week in my devotions on the prayerful life, I realized there lays a declaration I had misinterpreted in regards to answered prayer for such a long time.
How many in Israel misinterpreted it at the time as well? Or misinterpret it still?
“They shall feed along the roads, and their pastures shall be on all desolate heights. They shall neither hunger nor thirst. Neither heat nor sun shall strike them; For He who has mercy on them will lead them, even by the springs of water He will guide them. I will make each of My mountains a road, and My highways will be elevated.” Isaiah 49:9(b)-11
At first glance, this part of Isaiah’s prophecy seems circumstance-based. I had always read it that way. My devotional was prompting me to read it that way. Out of context it certainly seems like a verse I could really pray out and expect new pastures, shade, refreshing waters, paths carved out…. answers to prayer. The hard things made right. Out of context, relief coming for Israel that they could really sing about.
But when the Spirit prompted me to back up and take in the whole scene, it changes and becomes oh so much more.
This is actually from a whole prophecy from Isaiah about The Answer. This is a prophecy about the Servant Messiah Christ, the Light of the World. They are words from God about the solution He has prepared to give soon in the form of Jesus.
It is not a sweet passage about fixing your circumstance. It’s a passage about Christ entering into our circumstance.
Read back through the passage, friend, and understand what God was saying then, and continues to say now: Desolate heights may remain, but He’s given us Christ who shows up to be our pasture we can thrive on regardless. Heat or harsh sun may beat down and surround us, but He gives us Christ who becomes our shade and protection.
He is the water in the desert. He is the road taking you out of the valley. He is the highway carrying you up and over.
Do you know what this means for us?
We don’t have to make our faith all about what level of hardship we’re facing yet again, and how long it might take for prayer to resolve it. This isn’t about wondering if we have enough faith, or whether we can endure much longer. This is about the Prince of Princes and Lord of Lords who stepped out of his perfect and heavenly realm, threw off His royal robes of glory and inserted Himself into every aspect of our lives, for His glory.
The One large enough to fashion galaxies and hold them in His hands now available to fit into our circumstances. In every capacity. So we would never be alone. So we would become victors. So we could have everything we need to carry on. So that one day we would meet the Answer face to face.
Pasture. Provision. Shade. Water. The Road through. Our Highway.
There’s a name for our answer to prayer — His name is Jesus.
*Quote background floral graphic designed by Devon Aragona.