Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Many people pray for things that God will not do, and He will not do them because He knows, as they know in their hearts, that they can answer those prayers for themselves. This thought reminds me of the farmer’s wife in eastern North Carolina who refused to go pick the beans out of her garden until she prayed about it. She didn’t need to pray about it. She had the power to solve the “problem” of her ripe beans herself.
The “Pearl” for January 21, “You answer every prayer you can, and leave the rest to God,” reminds us that we can answer some of our own prayers if we will just do what we are supposed to do. The point that Preacher Clark was making in that Pearl from his long-ago sermon is that our prayers should always be for the miraculous, not for things that we can fix on our own.
After reading that Pearl, I heard my daughter Rebekah say something yesterday that struck me as being beyond true; it was more like revelation knowledge than just a wise observation. It went along with the January 21 Pearl, and I wanted to pass it on.
There are people who have vexing, life-impacting problems that they themselves could fix if they would just do the will of God. Righteousness is their answer, and by it, they could fix their problems if they would just do it.
On the other hand, there are people who have vexing, life-impacting problems that they cannot fix, no matter how righteous they are. Many times, in fact, those problems burden their lives because of their righteousness, not because of the lack of it. These are the kind of problems that only God can fix, and they are the only kind of problems that we should pray for deliverance from. The rest, we can fix by just doing right.
Through the years, I have seen but had not thought about it until I heard what Rebekah said, that the people who have the problems they could fix by doing right are also the people who usually receive the most attention and sympathy. In hindsight now, I can see that those who suffer because of righteousness instead of because of their lack of it, suffer without burdening the body with their sorrow or vain prayer requests. Their prayers are for what God alone can do because they are not bogged down with problems that are caused by unrighteousness.
What have you been praying about? Is your problem something that would go away if you just did what is right in the sight of God? If so, stop praying about it and do something; you are wasting your breath. Pray instead for spiritual strength to face up to the real issue and deal with it. Jesus will gladly give you that strength! Then, when you have fixed your problem, you will find that you have the time to think on the hurts and needs of others, and you can pray then for those whose problems require the intervention of God. That way, you will fulfill the desire for God’s children expressed by Paul:
4. Let each of you look not to his own interests, but each one also to the interests of others.
5. Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.
Paul found few who were righteous enough to be free enough to feel as he did toward God’s children. That is why he loved Timothy as he did, even calling him his “son in the faith”. Timothy had no problems caused by unrighteousness, and he was free, therefore, to be used by God, as this from Paul’s letter to the saints in Philippi indicates:
19. Now, I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your state.
20. For I have no such kindred soul who will genuinely care about your welfare.
21. They all seek their own interests, not the things of Christ Jesus.
Don’t you want to be useful for God’s people? Don’t you want to be free from “the weights that so easily beset us”? Don’t you want no problems except the ones that only God can fix? Aren’t you tired of the dismal swamp of self? Aren’t you tired of trudging through the muddy ditches of self-pity and self-will? Let’s go! Let’s lay hold of eternal life and rid ourselves forever of self-inflicted wounds! If we are wounded, if we are faced with suffering, let’s let it be, from this moment on, because we have done what is right.