NOVEMBER 17, 2014
Stop and Pray
"Then I prayed to the God of heaven ..." Nehemiah 2:4b (NIV)
We were always in the car going to this counselor or that doctor. Regardless of the interventions, my son's grades continued to slip. Every weekly report said the same thing: disorganized, unfocused and unable to follow class rules.
What had I done wrong? I should have read to him more. I should have waited one more year to start him in school. Too many questions and not enough answers. Mentally and physically, I was exhausted.
One day faded into the next. I was tired of moving forward only to run into another obstacle impeding my progress. I was tired of expelling my energies trying to make a difference.
During these difficult days, my friends directed me to Scripture. They prayed for me. They reminded me to pray. However, when I bowed my head to pray, the weight of my circumstances was heavy. I was just too tired. Maybe you can relate.
I remembered a man in the Bible who faced challenging circumstances. His name was Nehemiah and he ran into one obstacle after another. He expelled all his energy each day trying to make a difference, but regardless of his efforts, he still faced opposition. Unlike me, this man was not too tired to pray.
Nehemiah accompanied God's people, the Israelites, back to Jerusalem after they'd been held captivity in Babylon. He was motivated to help his people rebuild the ancient Jewish capital that had been destroyed (2 Chronicles 36:15-21).
Having the favor of the king and God's presence on his side, one would assume the assignment would have been easier. However, two government officials made it their personal business to undermine the rebuilding progress. Nehemiah responded to each insult and obstacle the same way: He prayed.
In order to revive their spirits, restore their energy and continue building, Nehemiah and the Israelites found they needed to stop and pray often! When the insults began, they prayed. When their enemies placed an obstacle in front of them, they prayed. Yes, through powerful and persistent prayer, Nehemiah and company defeated their enemies by rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem in record time.
Let's sum up Nehemiah's prayer with a simple, easy to remember acronym: SAP (Stop And Pray). Interestingly enough, this acronym is found in the dictionary and when used as a noun can be defined as energy and vitality. For greater impact, we can unpack the word further. Just as the sap of a tree brings health, sap means the power to live and grow.
Nehemiah had the right idea. By making prayer his priority, he discovered it was enough to revive his spirit and restore the mental and physical energy needed to overcome every challenge he faced.
Are you facing a challenge? Do you feel too tired to pray? Let's allow the power of prayer to revive our spirits, and restore our physical and mental vigor. No matter what the obstacle, SAP. Each time an insult comes your way, SAP. You will have the energy needed to defeat your enemy and persevere with greater strength than you ever thought possible.
Dear Lord, through the power of prayer, today's challenge can be tomorrow's victory. Help me SAP when adversity comes my way. Thank You for prayer and the power I receive when I turn to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." (NIV)
Romans 8:26-27, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God." (NIV)
Ever feel like your prayers aren't being heard? Wonder if you could pray more powerfully and effectively? If so, consider signing up for our free, 4-week Online Bible Study ofBefore Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado. It launches today (November 17) and there's still time to join us.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Write the acronym SAP and its meaning (energy and vitality) on several note cards. Place them in your home, car, work and Bible.
© 2014 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Monday, 17 November 2014.