Pray BIG Prayers – Help

Many of us have grown up in a culture where being self-sufficient is prized. The idea that you need to ask anyone for help is anything from slightly frowned-upon to outright taboo. 

Where would you put yourself on that scale? Do you feel strange asking for help? Dare you even ask anyone for help with anything, ever?

So much of our Christian faith (which, at it’s most basic, is believing that Jesus rose from the grave) is about admitting that we need help. We admit that we cannot do anything in the here and now to influence where we spend our eternity. We admit that we cannot guarantee our eternal destination by anything we do from our current earthly station. 

When we do it’s liberating, it’s justifying, and it’s saving. 

When we move away from self-sufficiency to dependency we are freed from the pressure of advancing our own little kingdoms. We take the burden off ourselves, and give it to someone else. We realise that as a stream, we are fed by a spring.  

Asking for help from a God who created the world, from a God who raised Jesus from the grave, from a God who is still present and active in the world today is not weak. Giving Him the burdens you carry, the worries you feel, the outcomes of your life is not weak. Admitting that you need help is not weak, it is quite possibly the strongest decision you can ever make. 

Modelling this for us, Jesus prayed many times for help (see John 17 for example). Today’s BIG prayer is asking for help.

Father, I know that nothing I can do in my earthly station can influence at all my eternal destination. This, along with all my fears, worries, and anxieties I give to you as a declaration that I need help. I cannot change the things that truly matter in my life, and I need you to help. I give you my life, all of it, and ask you to help me to use it well and that you would guide me to a path that leads to life everlasting.

Ruth 3

What is going on in Ruth 3? Is there a moral lesson for us? How about this;

  1. Do what is asked of you.
  2. Be submissive, yielded, willing, and take direction.
  3. Put yourself into action and submit, do as Ruth did, and Naomi did, and as Boaz did.

Again though, that is putting you and me at the centre of this, making us the main character in this story, and essentially we’re then saying that the Bible is really about us. But, we know it’s not, don’t we?

So, where is Jesus in this?

Well, Ruth called out to be saved in v.9,

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”

Ruth 3.6-9

Ruth here then is living out the truth that redemption is found under the protection of the wings, being in the care of, submitting to, the redeemer. This brings safety, security, and salvation.

This has been a consistent message from Genesis to Revelation, maybe it is easier to see in some places than others, but that’s ok, more light is shone on this as we move along the bigger picture of the Bible. But, at the core, the truth has always been the same – call on the name of the Lord to be saved; call out, ask, seek, knock, trust.

One place that it is really clear and that helps us understand what Ruth has done here, and what you can do, is in the book of Joel, one of the Minor Prophets.

In Joel, we are reading a prophesy, a future prediction about the Day of the Lord. Joel writes on a couple of variations of it, ready?; 

  • The day is past, being experienced in a plague of locusts and in a natural drought and famine in 1.2-12
  • The day is current or imminent, the day was to be carried out by an enemy military force in 2.1-11
  • The day is future: immediately in the salvation of Jerusalem from current problems, long term, in the giving of the Spirit of God on all people and the deliverance of all who call on the name of the Lord, and ultimate in the eternal holiness of Jerusalem, protected from its enemies in 2.28-32 and 3.

In the future day of great judgement (end of the world type stuff) God says to His people Israel look, 

return to me with all your heart,

with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

and rend your hearts and not your garments.”

Return to the LORD your God,

for he is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;

and he relents over disaster.

Later in ch.2 we read that at this time of universal judgement, those Spirit-empowered, faith-filled, Redeemer-trusting people will be saved, will be redeemed. Now, Joel 2 is not a blanket truth; we don’t need to pretend we are the people of Joel 2, because we are not the people of Israel, are we, but, the principle within that pledge is so applicable and true; 

call on the name of the Lord to be saved, ask, seek, knock, 

as Ruth said, “Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 

See, no matter how much evil there is in the world, no matter how far from God we think we may be, no matter how desperate the situation may be in which we find ourselves, no matter if we are childless widows from a different country, no matter the current state of the world or your life, God has already provided the solution, God has already provided a way out.

This solution came, He lived, He died, He rose again, and He ascended, at which time He sent another solution, another solution of the same kind. The Holy Spirit comes alongside us, to abide in us, to walk with us.

Ruth called out and said

Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer. 

Joel says to God’s people of the OT

The sunlight will be turned to darkness

and the moon to the colour of blood,

before the day of the LORD comes–

that great and terrible day! 

It will so happen that

everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered.

Paul says to the believers in Rome

…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

… because…

“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I’m saying to you today, now, that the same God who redeemed Ruth from a desperate and dire situation through the person and work of Boaz, is the same God who Joel says promises to redeem His people who call out to Him on the future Day of the Lord, is the same God who Paul is saying will answer the prayer of salvation from the believers in Rome, and is the same God that stands ready to redeem you if you call on His Name and take refuge in Him through faith in the person and work of Jesus. 

For more on the Minor Prophets, check out this daily devotional walkthrough!

Pray BIG Prayers – Belief

We’ve talked about doubt a few times before, and, simply, not all doubt is bad. Some doubts will surely take us away from God, but some will actually take us closer to the Lord. 

The account of Jesus delivering a boy who was demon possessed in Mark 9 includes a Father who many think was faithless.

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9.24

When challenged to be a man of faith, the Father here cried out “believe; help my unbelief!“. Rather than being faith-less, the Father actually shows here that he was as faith-filled as he possibly could be but desired to be of even more faith. 

Is that you? 

Do you know that you are as faith-full as you can possibly be but yet still you desire more? 

Do you desire more faith or do you feel that you have arrived, maxed-out, peaked?

This kind of doubt is not of God, it not a doubt of Jesus, not a doubt of the power of the Spirit, rather, it’s a doubt of ‘Do I have enough faith, I’m not sure, please Lord, give me more faith!‘.

Charles Spurgeon said this,

“While men have no faith, they are unconscious of their unbelief; but, as soon as they get a little faith, then they begin to be conscious of the greatness of their unbelief.”

Today then, make this your BIG prayer – ‘Lord I believe, help my unbelief!‘.

Ruth 2

Yesterday at Saar Fellowship we looked at Ruth 2

As a moral lesson for us in the text we highlighted vv.15-16 and said that we are to practice what we preach.

When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.

Ruth 2.15-16

This is Boaz practicing what he preached back in vv.8-9. The lesson for us, then, is that if you claim certain things, if you make statements about what you will and won’t do it’s important to come through on them, isn’t it, otherwise it’s hollow and empty words and you lose all credibility in your character. When this becomes dangerous is that, whether intentionally or not, you are using your character to display the wonderful truth that you are saved, sealed, and are being sanctified as a believer in Jesus. Therefore, making empty claims and promises really hurts that example and witness, doesn’t it.

But, is Ruth 2 really about ‘practice what you preach’? 

Where is Jesus in this?

Let’s look at the person of Ruth in this chapter again and then apply this to you.

  • Ruth was not originally in the family of God’s people, not an Israelite, she described herself as a foreigner (2.10).

You and me, most of us, are the same. We are not part of God’s family of people by birth or descent and, like Ruth, through grace we have been accepted into the family and now we stand ready to be redeemed by faith alone.

  • Ruth was provided for here by Boaz for the duration of the harvest season.

You and me are so provided for in Christ. We have access to everything you ever need this side of eternity, until this season of our life ends.

  • Ruth has, in a way, already been redeemed. She has been redeemed from a bitter life of a widow to the life of one who is part of the family.

You and me have already been redeemed in our being justified by faith alone. We are being redeemed daily through the ongoing process of sanctification (the day by day becoming more like Jesus). We will be redeemed ultimately and eternally when we close our eyes in death and open them in the presence of our Saviour. 

Friends, you are not Boaz in this story; the wise, benevolent, grace-filled redeemer-type. 

Friends, in this story you are the Ruth character. You are the redeemed, you are the saved, you are the people given a fresh start and a new life through grace alone and faith alone. 

God put His great love for you into action and gives you the opportunity now to be taken under His wing in refuge (2.12). Like Ruth here, we need bring nothing but ourselves and a willing spirit.

In His great love for you He came, He lived, He died, and He rose to become your Redeemer. 

Like Ruth, we ought to say to this wonderful truth “I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” (2.13).

Pray BIG Prayers – Repentance

If you look up repentance in a dictionary you’ll find something like this for a definition, 

sincere regret or remorse.

This isn’t talking about trivial things like ‘I regret not buying any more milk, now we’re out‘,

or ‘I am remorseful that I honked my horn at that guy on the highway earlier‘.

Repentance is a serious thing, a sincere thing.

It’s more of a ‘I’ve committed adultery and had the former husband sent off to the frontlines and killed‘ kind-of feeling.

It’s a feeling of ‘At the core I know I’m a sinner and that my sin will have consequences‘. 

Psalm 51 carries a lot of repentance. You can read it in full here. In the middle of the lamenting prayer we read this,

 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51.10-12

Have you reached a point in life where you know that you will never, hard as you try, work yourself into becoming a better person? 

Have you arrived at the point where you know that in your own strength, you cannot control your eternal destiny and destination?

Have you accepted that, left to your own devices, sinful thoughts and actions just pour forth from your heart?

If you have, then today’s BIG prayer is absolutely for you. Although fair warning, be prepared for a radical life transformation. Be prepared to reevaluate and reconsider everything in your life. Be prepared to be shown a completely new way of thinking, speaking, acting, and reacting.

It starts with create in me a clean heart, O God. We cannot create this new heart, God must (Genesis 1, Ezekiel 36.36). 

We follow that by praying for a right spirit within me. Alone we are utterly powerless to resist the temptations, trials, and tribulations that the world, the flesh, and the devil can throw at us. We need the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to do so. 

Accepting that we cannot change ourselves and our life means that we need to trust and rely on another, so we pray cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. We know that being separated from the Lord and devoid of His Spirit is the consequence of our sin. 

Try as we might, we will never save our own souls. We can never work for our own salvation, so we pray restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. We will never feel more alive, live more abundantly, and experience more fulfilment than when we know the joy of [the Lord’s] salvation

Psalm 51.10-12 is a BIG prayer. Praying it sincerely will surely result in a change in your life. If, as Charles Spurgeon wrote, your own sin disturbs and disgusts you, I would challenge you today to take it to the Lord in prayer with these verses and this BIG prayer, and then watch what God can do with a life yielded to Him. Ready?

 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51.10-12