Isaiah 40:31 NIV
When we’re physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained, we become vulnerable. Jesus knew the importance of staying in balance; of work and rest; of giving out and taking in. ‘Then Jesus said: “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone’ (Mark 6:31-32 NLT). Unless we learn to rest and take time off, we’re opening ourselves up to potential danger. That’s why setting aside time each day to read the Bible and be alone with God in prayer is so important. Sometimes the enemy tries to stop us working for God’s kingdom by persuading us to think that we need to do it all, until we’re exhausted and ineffective. But that’s not how God wants us to live. We can go to Him for rest. Jesus said: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28 NIV). It doesn’t matter how old we are, how much responsibility we have, or where we work, every one of us needs to take time off in order to maintain our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. The Bible says: ‘Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’ (Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV). If we’re feeling tired and worn out, let’s go to God for the rest we need, and ask Him to renew our strength.
Num 34-36; Mark 9:30-37; Ps 18:30-50; Prov 11:22
Psalm 16:7 NKJV
When you’re faced with a problem that overwhelms you, break it down into smaller, more manageable parts so you can focus on each of them more effectively. Don’t try to juggle the whole thing in your head; put it down in writing so you can get a clearer picture. One of those small parts may be the key that opens the door. And if you still can’t find a solution, take it to God in prayer. The psalmist said, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me” (Psalm 138:8 NKJV). If something is of concern to you, it’s of concern to the God who loves you. Pray: “Lord, I’m giving this problem to you and I’m going to sleep.” When you do that, you can awaken in the morning with an amazingly simple solution to the overwhelming problem you had the night before. The psalmist said, “I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.” God knows what you don’t know, and prayer gives you access to His knowledge. Five loaves and two fish in a boy’s hands won’t feed five thousand people. But when he put it into Christ’s hands, it multiplied and they had twelve basketsful left over. Strategic thinking works best when God is the foundation of your strategy, when you stand on His Word and claim His promise: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV). God will do it through you, as long as you remember you can’t do it without Him.
Soul food: Num 7; Mark 6:14-29; Ps 37:8-15; Prov 11:3
Matthew 6:5 MSG
God loves it when we come to Him in prayer. It’s an opportunity for us to share our concerns, listen to His voice, and connect with Him on a deeper level. But sometimes we pray for all the wrong reasons. Let’s take a look at some: 1) Misdirected prayers. If we’re annoyed at someone we can communicate our frustrations through our prayers. We might pray out loud about the person who has annoyed us, in the hope that they realise just how much they’ve hurt or upset us. 2) Performance prayers. We can find ourselves praying in order to show other people how holy we are. We reel off long, wordy prayers which make us look and feel superior to others. But the Bible says: ‘When you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production.’ 3) Judgmental prayers. In these prayers we judge others and think that we know better than God. Maybe someone’s prayer hasn’t be answered, and we ask God to change the person because we think they’re the problem. This is us judging others and trying to figure things out on God’s behalf. 4) Faithless prayers. Sometimes we can be tempted to think that we need to pray with a big group of people if we want God to answer us. But with God, what matters is the faith we have when we pray, not the number of people. So how can we pray the right way? Matthew 6 gives us some insights: ‘When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private’ (v.6 NLT). We need to be coming to God with humility and expectancy. And we need to make sure we’re coming to God with the right motive – to spend time with Him.
Dan 11-12; Mark 4:26-41; Ps 144:9-15; Prov 10:22-23
2 Chronicles 20:3 NKJV
Third, take your problems to the Lord. In the midst of his crisis, Jehoshaphat “set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast.” Prayer is often the last thing we think of. Why? Because we want to work our problems out on our own. A deacon approached the pastor one day and said, “Pastor, we’ve got a problem we can’t solve. We’ve tried everything and nothing works.” The pastor said, “Well, I guess all we can do is pray about it.” The deacon replied, “Pastor, has it really come to that?” When you’re facing life’s battles, prayer should be your first resort, not your last! And sometimes when the problem doesn’t yield to prayer alone, God leads you to add a second element: fasting. Ever tried it? Fasting isn’t something mystical and mysterious; it’s about focus! It’s saying: “Lord, I can do without food and other things, but I can’t solve this problem without You. So instead of eating, I’m going to spend time seeking Your face until I have an answer.” Cornelius, a Gentile, fasted and prayed for four days, asking God for direction. As a result, God sent Peter to his house to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, and in the process changed the course of history (See Acts 10). In order to know whom to appoint to leadership positions, the New Testament church fasted, prayed, and asked God for guidance. And as a result, one of the most dynamic evangelistic teams of all time, Paul and Barnabas, was born (See Acts 13:2-3). When you get serious enough to fast and pray about your problem, God will show you the solution.
Soul food: Rom 15-16; Matt 15:15-28; Ps 28; Prov 5:3-6
2 Chronicles 20:3 NKJV
When we’re facing a battle, one of the most important things we can do is to take our problems to God. In the midst of his crisis, Jehoshaphat ‘set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast.’ Prayer is often the last thing we think of. But when we’re facing a battle, prayer should be our first resort, not our last. When we’re praying, we also need to be listening to God. It can be easy to cry out to God about our situation, but sometimes we forget to take the time to listen to what He wants to say to us about it. Sometimes God can lead us to fast alongside our times of prayer. Fasting isn’t something mystical and mysterious; it’s about focus. It helps us to turn to God and be focused on Him. Maybe we need to give up social media for a while, and use that extra time to pray. Maybe we need to fast from TV or a certain type of food which we go to for comfort. Fasting is a way of acknowledging that we need God’s help to win our battle, rather than seeking help and comfort in other things. It’s a way of focusing on God until He shows us the answer to our problem. In the Bible, Cornelius fasted and prayed for four days, asking God for direction. As a result, God sent Peter to his house to preach the gospel and in the process changed the course of history (have a read of Acts 10). When we turn to God through prayer and fasting, He’ll show us the way we can win our battle.
Rom 15-16; Matt 15:15-28; Ps 28; Prov 5:3-6