I can still vividly remember one of my fellow students from my time at Baptist Theological College, who was not considered and intellectual giant by any stretch of the imagination, saying very clearly 'We need to preach the How to.' It is all very well those of us who have a calling for preaching and teaching Gods word too; lay out the principles, precepts and doctrines. I have found it is very easy to present ideals and goals with utter conviction, convinced that this is God's word; but showing people how to reach and achieve these precepts is so much harder.
I also remember another well respected elder in the denomination who was invited to give a layman's view point of preaching. I can recall his words; 'unless you have struggled with a truth and experienced Gods word to you concerning that precept, do not preach that topic!' This advice for a young 'gung ho' preacher did not leave many subjects/topics left.
This introduction is a roundabout way of introducing a verse from 1 Peter 4:7
The end of all things is near.Therefore be clear minded and self-controlledso that you can pray
To pray effectively we must be 'able to curb ones passions' and to be 'calm and collected.' But try telling this to a believer who is under stress. Think back to the times when you have been in pain, been confused, been beside yourself with worry or facing a major crisis in your life. Have you been able to think straight with a clear head focused on God? These last few weeks I have lain in bed in the still cold and lonely hours of the morning trying to focus on God when the thoughts in my mind are turning to the C word and I am panicking for this night is never ending. At times I have not sensed God's warmth for my mind is oppressed with my pain and discomfort wondering why God has abandoned me.
Is there a way out of this dark cesspool? I believe there is as I have found two truths that must not be forgotten in the midst of our suffering, so that we turn our tears of sorrow into tears of joy with laughter
1/ Turn to the Word. Ps 107:20
He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.
I have found that instead of trying and struggling to pray and turn my thoughts to God in my strength the best strategy is to stop and begin to read from the Psalms. In so doing you are opening your mind up to God's word so that he can minister to you with the breath of his love. Thus we surrender our minds to the living word that brings salvation, health, healing and deliverance ;and above all the glory of the Lord will flood the room as he did in the tabernacle's holy of holies. In effect we have allowed God to create a holy place in our mind where he can dwell in holiness and love.
2/ Remember that Jesus has called us his friends. John 15:15
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
To be known as a friend of Christ and in turn a friend of God is enough to fall down at His feet and worship Him who sits on the throne and lives forever and ever. For this truth acknowledges that we are in communion with God and He will speak to us with words that will bring life, for his words are like the deep waters that never run dry and bring nourishment to the trees planted in his temple. For it is true that the secrets of the Lord are revealed to those who fear Him with reverence and awe; knowing that we are knit together with God through the blood of Christ.
In this way I have found that I have been blessed abundantly with every spiritual blessing in Christ so much so that my cup overflows as the oil of gladness has been poured over my head which has saturated into my mind. Hence the spirit of heaviness has been replaced with a spirit of joy and a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Is 61:3n
In this manner I go forth as a witness unto him with a spirit of beauty to share with those who weep, with the oil of joy to nourish those who mourn, wrapped in a garment of praise that conquers those whose hearts are full of despair.
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