“Well, all we can do now is pray.”
We’ve all heard this phrase. Perhaps it’s escaped from your own lips; most likely when you’ve exhausted your own resources and strength in whatever battle you are fighting. If you are willing, read on…I’d like to shed some perspective, then add a twist onto that statement if I could.
Ponder with me for a moment… Is prayer some sort of desperate last resort that we pull from the bottom of our emergency kit when nothing else in our power can be done? Certainly not. That being said, when I hear the words, “All we can do now is pray,” I feel compelled to translate that statement: (brace yourself)
All we can do now is take our hands off this beyond-our-control situation, and place our hope in the One who is both able and eager to do exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine – the Creator of the universe; the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to this cruel world to bear the weight and punishment for all the collective sin of humanity in our place, conquering sin and death. This same God is the One we are turning to for help when all finite human effort has failed, and we preface that with “all we can do”?
In reality, grasping the realization that our battle is in God’s hands, not our own limited ones, is key. Now we are free to step back and witness a miracle. Perhaps it won’t be packaged the way we envisioned, but even if it isn’t clear to us right away, the place we stand (or kneel) has a beautiful vantage point. This place of surrender is one of honor, for it is there that we are privileged to watch God unfold His creative beauty out of our pain.
That said, for those of us who struggle with leaving the battle to the Lord, and feel the need to wield a sword, I have discovered that there is indeed something else we can do beyond prayer…
David, flawed as he was, was a man after God’s heart who understood the power of worship. He wisely appointed a group of men as chief musicians at the temple. Among them was a man named Asaph who founded a school for poets and musical composers. Specifically, Asaph composed lyrics for worship (authoring some of the Psalms) and played percussion on the cymbals. (That’s right, he was a drummer.) He wrote a song in which he prophesied these words, teaching us that thanking God in the midst of our battle prepares the way for Him to act.
“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”
~Psalm 50:23 (NIV)
Notice the word sacrifice.
I understand what it is like to be so burdened by a situation that it is hard to function. I embellish nothing when I tell you that I have been in that desolate place where my own deep well of tears went dry. I know the kind of heaviness that depletes your strength to the point that whispering is work. I am convinced that when we are in those deep valleys, in the midst of circumstances that don’t call for thanksgiving, when we choose to offer thanks, even if it’s only a whisper of praise to the One who is always worthy of it, that He receives it as a pleasing sacrifice, motivating Him to action.
When we worship God in the midst of our trials, we are thanking Him ahead of time for whatever it is that He is about to do. It’s a release of faith. We are saying, “God, I don’t see it yet, but I trust you. I am thanking You in advance based on the the unfailing promises in your Word.” We see this beautifully demonstrated by one of the unknown authors in the book of Psalms who clearly loved the precepts of Scripture:
I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.
~Psalm 119:162 (NIV)
Notice the writer didn’t say, “I rejoice in what you already did for me, because the battle is over. The threat is gone, I’ve plundered the enemy camp, and (whoo-hoo!) I now have all this crazy loot (spoil) to play with.” On the contrary, he was rejoicing beforehand. He knew, based on God’s character and His Word that victory was a done deal, though it hadn’t yet come into fruition. Also take note of where the passage is found in scripture. In a song! He was offering a sacrifice of praise in the midst of his trial. Faith like this prepares the way for God to move the mountains that we could never scale, circumvent, or tunnel through.
Do you have a situation that you are desperate for God to intervene in? I encourage you to loosen your grip, drop your burden at the foot of His throne, and leave it there. His Word tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groaning that there are no words for, and that Christ, who has the empathetic perspective of having walked not only a mile in our shoes, but crawled His way to Calvary, now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us as well. Sometimes we need to give our situation to God in prayer, laying our burden down at his feet, then lift up our empty hands, now free, and worship Him!
Understand the difference here. God is omnipresent; He is everywhere. His name is Emmanuel, translated, “God with us”. But His Word tells us that He sits enthroned on our praises. The throne is where a king rules from. It’s where business gets done. Because God inhabits our praises, when we begin to worship He manifests Himself in a way that we become aware of His presence, and we can be sure of this: something is about to change. It may be our situation, or it may be us. (Just saying.) But something happens as we offer a sacrifice of praise to God in the midst of tribulation, releasing faith into our circumstance. It only takes a mustard seed friends.
(Disclaimer: A mustard seed is much smaller than the picture above.)
This beginner-blogger is well beyond the ideal blog word-count already, and it’s all I can do to will myself off this soap-box and resist peppering you with examples from Scripture on the power of worship through pain, let alone my own experience. Perhaps I’ll do a series on that very subject in the future, but for now: If this post spoke to you; If you find yourself in a situation that leaves you desperate for God’s intervention, may I encourage you today to move beyond “Well, all I can do now is pray…”
Oh yes, pray. Like thunder, pray indeed! Fervently hound the gates of Heaven friends. But once you’ve placed that burden before the Lord, may I encourage you to step out in faith, and flood Heaven with a sacrifice of praise? In doing this, though the storm may still rage around you, you’ll find yourself at peace in His presence, as you trust the One who is always faithful to act on your behalf.
“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him,
~Exodus 15:2a (NIV)
p.s. I’m eager to hear from you…your experience, thoughts, and feedback are welcome in the comment section. Also, please feel free to forward this post to your friends in general or someone whom you specifically feel it would bless. If you want to follow my posts, you can sign up on my website, www.shelleenweaver.com. I’m honored you took the time to read, and now to listen…