“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!””
–Matthew 21:8-9 (NIV)
To live as more than conquerors in prayer, we must cultivate a deep fellowship with the one who conquered all.
Think about someone who has hurt you in the past. They may have acted like your best friend, only to turn their back on you when the heat was on. I don’t have to tell you that a wound like that can be very painful, and knowing about the pain in advance doesn’t make it any easier.
I have also learned that an individual doesn’t have a corner on the market when it comes to being the bearer of pain. I say this because it turned out to be a company who was the agent of pain in my case.
I had been looking for a job for what seemed like forever, and I was getting desperate. If the chance would only come along, I would accept almost anything to pay the bills. So when I finally found an opening for an entry-level position, I grabbed my opportunity.
I admit I wasn’t too excited about shuffling papers, but I knew I had to bite the bullet. I told myself that although this was far from what I had been trained for, there were people out there who would give their eye teeth for this job, and I was lucky to find work of any kind. At least it wasn’t some kind of dump, I thought.
After a few weeks, I started to settle into a routine. But I have to tell you that I was quite glad when I was transferred into their packing department. It still wasn’t a dream job by any means, but at least I wasn’t stuck behind a desk all day. I had done factory work before I started colege, and this was very similar.
Aside from the work, I began to make new friends. One of the guys and I hit it off, and we went out to breakfast.
On the surface, my manager appeared to be a nice guy, and I have to admit that he had me fooled for a while. But the day came when my eyes were opened, and I had a rude awakening. The manager coldly dropped the nice-guy mask. He gruffly told me that I worked too slowly, and he made it clear in no uncertain terms that they didn’t need me anymore. I was then shown to the door without any warning.
One minute I was part of the team, and the next minute I had been tossed out on my ear. I felt like so much trash, and I wasn’t even able to say goodbye to my new friends. But in all fairness to the company, I reminded myself that nothing long-term had been promised, and this job had been marketed as a temporary position. I resolutely walked out the door with my tale between my legs, chastizing myself as I went.
I couldn’t really blame the manager for letting me go, as his quota was probably steep. But I couldn’t forget that rude, embarrasing, and painful dismissal either. As I was writing this blog, though, I realized that I needed to stop nursing my wounds, and this story took on new meaning.
While thinking about Palm Sunday, I began to reflect upon how the people welcomed Jesus as a king when He entered Jerusalem. It was passover season, and it’s been estimated there were about 2 million visitors in the city. In my mind, I hear them shouting praises to God, and watch them paving the road before Him with coats and the branches from surrounding trees. Imagine the confusion of big-city life, and you can picture those overcrowded streets as well. Now try to experience the smells, sights and sounds.
Now fast-forward 3 days. Instead of receiving praise, you will see the savior being nailed to a cross. Things have dramatically changed, because Jesus made it clear that His kingdom was not of this world. The Jews who hailed him earlier had expectedd an earthly deliverer who would conquer and crush the Roman people right away, so they were very disappointed in the king they had received.
Examining my own heart in light of this story, I was shocked. I found that when I didn’t get my way in prayer, I was prone to the same kind of changeability as the common people had been back then.
In contrast to this, I thought about the apostles and their radical transformation after the resurrection of Christ. I concluded that God was speaking to my heart about developing prayer goals, and I decided that the first one should be that of listening.
I also felt like He wanted me to extend this challenge to you. The failure to listen for His voice is one reason we miss out when it comes to hearing from God. So let’s explore this topic briefly, and look at two key elements that will help us do this.
Although the Bible speaks about confessing our sins to a loving God, many Christians carry a boatload of guilt around for a variety of reasons. Once we have come to His throne with our troubles and cares, He tells us that this guilt is unnecessary, and that our guilt separates us from Him. We need to ask Him to search our hearts. We must also agree that what He calls sin is indeed sin, and then we must ask His forgiveness. Then, and only then, can we go on our way with light hearts.
Now that we have broken down any walls and opened the channel to Him, let’s really listen to what He has to say. Take some time out of your busy schedule to spend some reflective moments alone with God.
At first, I encourage you to start small. Try sitting in complete silence for 5 minutes. Ask God to speak to your heart while meditating on His Word, and you will find yourself drawing closer to Him. Allow Him to form a deep hunger in you to have fellowship with Him. When you’re ready, extend this prayer and meditation time if you wish.
Personally, I find that early morning prayer sets the tone for my day, and makes life’s hurdles easier to face. The time of day you choose to pray is not important. The point is that you are becoming more than a conqueror through prayer. You will soon find that listening to God’s voice will open your heart in a new way.
I challenge you not to turn away from God, as the people of Jesus’ day once did. Instead, turn towards Him and run the race with a heart that is sanctified in prayer.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-775-7031, and our ID is 607518748. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.