Weighted questions change our angle of approach
He who sacrifices
thank-offerings honours Me, and prepares the way so
that I may show him the salvation of God. (Psalm
When I look through the viewfinder of my camera, I
sometimes sense that the balance of a picture does
not look quite right. If I move a short distance and
try another angle, it often lines up better.
It is rather like this in prayer. If we are not
getting through on one track, it may be time to
change the angle of our praying. Suppose that you
have been praying for a long time for someone (or
something) that is very dear to your heart. With the
passing of time, such prayer can easily become less
a matter of dynamic faith than of merely expressing
our wishes – vocalizing our unbelief even.
Instead of coming in from ‘underneath’ what is
clearly a protracted problem, try praying something
like this: ‘Lord, thank You that You are far more
concerned than I could ever be for . . . Even now
You are looking for the best way to answer all these
years of prayer. Thank You!’
Such an injection of gratitude refreshes our spirit,
and restores us to an attitude of faith. What
happens, though, when we feel as though we are
getting no answer to questions that need answers,
such as, ‘Lord should I do such and such today?’ The
obvious thing to do then is to take the most
sensible way forward and pray something like, ‘Ok,
Lord, I’m planning to do this – is there any reason
why I should not go ahead and do it?’
Take a simple example. You want to go to a meeting
in a town and you don’t seem to be getting any
answer to the question, ‘Should I go to it Lord?’
Well, you want to go, you have the time and money to
go, (or, at least, you can make yourself free if you
push!) so why not ‘frontload’ the question? ‘Lord,
unless You show me differently, I’m going!’
Of course some might use this approach to make sure
they always end up getting what they want. If we
approach it in the right spirit, however, and with a
willingness to accept any checks the Lord gives,
‘weighting’ questions in this way will often break
the logjam and gets us moving again. After all, the
Lord has promised that it is if we are in danger of
going off course that we will hear a voice behind us
saying, ‘This is the way walk in it.’ (Is. 30:21)
We may also fare much better if we approach God by
looking up at Him in praise and worship,
rather than down at our faults and difficulties.
Otherwise we may find ourselves getting stuck at
confessing our failings and bewailing our
predicaments – whether they be real or imaginary
That is what looking away unto Jesus is all about.
The other day, as I was confessing for the umpteenth
time, the particular way in which I felt I had
failed someone, the Lord cut across my muttering and
told me to stop repenting. ‘Stop repenting, Lord?
But surely repentance is the key to going deeper
‘It is, but there is a fine line between repentance
and remorse – and you are in danger of stepping over
it. Don’t you believe 1 John 1:9? If you keep on
asking for forgiveness, instead of receiving it, all
you are doing is expressing your unbelief. That just
does the devil’s work for him. By the way, it is all
but impossible to resent people you are praying
For Reflection and Prayer
does nothing to lift our spirits, let alone to bless
anyone else. In the example I quoted above, the Lord
went on to say, ‘Step out and bless the people you
feel you have failed.’ Does that ring bells for you?
Go ahead and try it.
I have noticed that
many with an undoubted ability to hear the Still
Small Voice never seem to develop the gift very far.
Many become discouraged by the setbacks and
crushings that that come their way.
A well-known leader challenged a friend of ours, who
has a distinct prophetic edge, ‘How do you know the
Lord speaks to you?’ Whatever the motive for asking
the question, its effect was devastation, causing
overwhelming doubts about my friend’s relationship
with the Lord to set in – even to the point where
she all but lost the desire just to sit and ask Him
what He was doing.
Sensing that there was more to this than one
isolated challenge, I dug deeper, and discovered a
recurring pattern. When she was a teenager, she had
begun to exercise a powerful healing ministry. Her
best friend pleaded with her to stop doing something
so intensely embarrassing. As happens all too often,
fear of man won the day, and this precious ministry
ground to an immediate halt.
The Lord prompted me next to ask about her birth. It
turned out to have been traumatic and
life-threatening. The physical squeezing mirrored
the spiritual clampdown, and gave us a key to pray
for fresh release.
If the enemy can succeed in denting our trust, it
follows that we will hold back from using the
authority the Lord has invested in us. Effectively,
this relegates us to the spiritual sidelines. Trust
and confidence are therefore central battlegrounds.
Once disappointment finds a lodging in our heart, it
plays a persistent refrain: ‘I’ve been here before;
it didn’t work then, so what’s the point of trying
Disappointment is like a leak dripping through the
roof. It seeps into our attic, where it strengthens
into full-blown discouragement. Now decidedly
polluted, the water seeps through the ceiling, and
drips into the living spaces of our heart in various
noxious and malodorous forms, promoting festering
conditions such as self-pity, envy, bitterness, fear
– and touchiness.
Every one of these
deadly foes is a leak that needs attention. Fail to
take action, and these foul waters will pass through
yet another floor until they become a stinking
stagnant pool that floods the basement of our lives
with their monstrous effluent: despair and cynicism.
This graphic image shows us just how important it is
to give the Lord our hurts and disappointments at an
earlier stage, before these mega foes of faith set
in. once they have established a base in our hearts,
we need a major operation to get living water
flowing again, and to remove the polluted water.
What will it take to restore our cutting edge?
Usually the ministry of others, combined with
proactive faith on our part, and a willingness to
forgive those who have dented our confidence.
For Reflection and Prayer
when we, like the disciples, come down
from mountain top experiences, and are unable
to move mountains into the sea or set the epileptic
may we yield no foothold to discouragement.
God of the breakthrough,
we keep pursuing You;
turn these present disappointments . . .
into Your holy appointments,
In Jesus’ name. Amen.