A Prayer for When We Need Encouragement in Faith - Your Daily Prayer - March 3

your daily prayer devotional art

apple podcast button spotify podcast button youtube button

A Prayer for When We Need Encouragement in the Faith
By Kyle Norman

“Be strong, O people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit remains with you. Fear not.” (Haggai 2:4-5)

There is an ancient story involving a child and a famous artist. The artist is sculpting a large lion from pure marble. The child asks, “How did you do that?” to which the artist responds, “I look at the marble until the lion reveals itself, and then I chip away everything that is not the lion.” This is a lovely poetic answer – and it’s a great image of what it means to work in pristine environments. Sure, when you have a perfectly hewn marble slab – and all the tools necessary at your disposal, you can chisel a fine lion.

But what if that isn’t the case? What if, instead of a hewn marble slab, you are left with rubble? What if you don’t have all the pristine tools before you? Could you chisel out the same lion; could you chisel out a better lion? 

That was what Israel faced. Haggai prophesies to a group of people who have returned to Israel from the Exile to rebuild the temple. Solomon’s Temple, in all its grand opulence, had been destroyed over 60 years prior – and now they faced the task, amid opposition and hardship, of chiseling out a new temple from the rubble underneath. But they didn’t have the fine materials as before. They didn’t have the pristine tools and the endless supply of gold and silver that adorned Solomon’s temple. And so, the people looked at the task before them and got discouraged. How could they ever do the task that God was calling them to do?

Have you ever felt that? Have you ever felt discouraged in your faith, as if you were lacking all the resources necessary to live your faith in the way that God is calling you?

Haggai reminds the people that the Spirit of God was with them; that God was empowering their efforts, and that the glory of the new temple would outweigh the glory of the old temple. So be strong, the Lord says, and work. How might this be a word for us today?

To Israel and to us, Haggai’s words ring out. Be strong, all you people of the land, and work, for I am with you. Haggai’s words are rooted in an audacious belief that renewal will take place. His words resounded with encouragement and a good hope. But this hope isn’t about the ease of the task, not the task before them was still large. But the people could move forward in hope because of the reality of God’s presence. Even though they felt like the task before them was insurmountable, the fact is, God was with them. "I am with you, declares the Lord – This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my spirit remains with you. So do not fear.” 

And it is because we root ourselves in the presence of God we hear the call “to work” to act in the resolve that the strength of God’s arm will be evident in our lives. Of course, this isn’t about working for our own salvation; this isn’t about earning our place before God. When God calls Israel to work, God is asking them to live out their hopefulness. They were to incarnate the very renewal that they believed would be revealed. 

If we fully believe that we are not done and that God will bring new life to us, then we aren’t just to talk about this. We aren’t just to make this a slogan to slap on advertisements; we are to live out this reality. We are to live out the very renewal that we believe is being brought about by the Holy Spirit. This is the reality that lies behind all our lives. We are not alone. The power of God is alive and moving all around us. And so, to us, to you, today God says, “My Spirit remains with you. Do not fear.” 

Let's pray:

Gracious and loving Father,
Sometimes the call of faith seems to loom large before me, and I fear that I lack the ability or the strength to move forward. There are times when my own failings are all I can see, my sins stare at me, and I fear that I am not good enough to do what you ask me to do. But I hear your gentle call that my life of faith is more about your strength than it is mine. You call me to work, not to find you, but to live with you. Gracious Lord, help me to open my heart to your presence. Help me to rely on you.

May you make the places of my weakness the places where your glory is revealed and your love is made known. In your spirit may you dampen my fears and insecurities, may you embolden me to step forward into the places you call me to go. This I pray in the name of Jesus my Lord, amen.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/pcess609

SWN authorThe Reverend Dr. Kyle Norman is the Rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral, located in Kamloops BC, Canada.  He holds a doctorate in Spiritual formation and is a sought-after writer, speaker, and retreat leader. His writing can be found at Christianity.com, crosswalk.comibelieve.com, Renovare Canada, and many others.  He also maintains his own blog revkylenorman.ca.  He has 20 years of pastoral experience, and his ministry focuses on helping people overcome times of spiritual discouragement.

Teach Us to Pray is a FREE prayer podcast hosted by iBelieve writer Christina Patterson. Each week, she gives you practical, real-life tips on how to grow your faith and relationship with God through the power of prayer. To listen to her episode on What to Pray in the Morning for a Worry-Free Day, click below!

Banner ad for Teach Us to Pray Podcast

Now that you've prayed, are you in need of someone to pray for YOU? Click the button below!

Visit iBelieve.com for more inspiring prayer content.

Originally published Sunday, 03 March 2024.