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Prayer

How do you pray in the midst of bad times?  How do you approach God when everything seems to you to be going from bad to worse?  What is your attitude when God answers, but not in the manner in which you asked?  What is your response when to your perspective God contradicts His own righteousness?

Welcome to Habakkuk, the Hebrew prophet in the seventh century B.C.  God taught him how to trust Him when everything is filled with confusion and perplexities. Where is God?  What is He doing?  Why doesn’t He do something now?  Habakkuk sounds like us when life begins to unravel and fall apart.

Habakkuk teaches us how to pray and trust the LORD God when we don’t have the answers.  Let’s center our thoughts around an acrostic P R A Y E R.

P – pursue God.  That is what prayer is all about.  Habakkuk asked, “How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not answer?” (1:1).

Yes, it is a complaint.  His heart is full of anguish.  But He is pursuing God.  He knows that He has the freedom to go into the presence of the LORD God and open his heart to Him.  Are our times bad?  Are we experiencing a spiritual desert?  Are we in the need of revival?  That is when God invites us to come into His holy presence.  That is when we realize that we need Him.  Those are also the times when He comes in His mighty power to help us.  "I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved" (Habakkuk 2:1, NASB 1995).  The LORD is in His holy temple.  Let all the earth be silent before Him” (v.20).

R – examine self and confess sin. “LORD, I have heard the report about Thee and I fear.  O LORD, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy” (3:1).  The prophet confessed his fears and asked God to revive His work.  He prays that God’s work, not his own plans, will be renewed.  “Renew your deeds; receive your work,” is the prophet’s confession.  He was praying for revival.

The only way we dare approach God is in humility and a plea that He be merciful to us.  We need to ask God to do a new work in us. In Your wrath please remember us with mercy.

A – ffirmation of what God is doing. The prophet asked God why He wasn’t doing something about the iniquity, wickedness, destruction, and violence in the land.  The LORD told Habakkuk that He was busy doing something.  “I am doing something in your days – You would not believe if you were told” (1:5).

The God of history was busy at work.  “For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans” (v. 6).  Babylonians!  Yes.  Things are not always as they appear to us.  There is no power in the world that is not ultimately controlled by Him.  Every nation of the earth is under the hand of a sovereign God.  God is over all – even the evil Babylonians!  The events of history are not random accidents; they follow God’s eternal plan (cf. 3:3-15).  The LORD God is the Lord of history.  He is in control of history, and He will continue to accomplish His eternal purpose of redemption for His people.

Y – ield yourself to the LORD God.  Habakkuk did not like what he heard God reveal.  "Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?" (Habakkuk 1:13, NASB 1995).

This is where the prophet grew in His knowledge of God and understanding of His ways with men.  What is God teaching me that needs to be corrected?  Let us learn to judge everything in the light of His eternal purpose.  “The righteous will live by his faith” (2:4).  God is still the eternal God, and nothing catches Him by surprise.  Nothing can separate us from His love.  It is in those moments we must reaffirm that conviction and yield to His sovereignty.

E – xpect God to answer according to His will.  “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14, NASB 1995).

In time God will answer according to His eternal purposes.  God controls history.  The Babylonians did not rise up on their own.  God raised them up to accomplish His purposes in the history of Israel.  They were the tool in God’s hand for correction and purification of His people.  Look for God’s answer in His Word.  God will answer your prayers, and you will be able to stand back in awe and say, “I saw God do it.”  

    R – ejoice and give thanks to God.  Habakkuk closes with a doxology.  “Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:18-19, NASB 1995).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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