Friday, March 30, 2012

The joy of answered prayer 2

"I love you, LORD, my strength,  LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!  Praised be the LORD, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies." (Psalm 18: 2-4)

David experienced the joy of answered prayer when the Lord delivered him from the hands of his enemies and from Saul who was in hot pursuit to take David's life. The joy of answered prayer is the most intense joy I have ever experienced.  It is the joy of having waited with longing and expectation to see the moment of fulfillment arrive.  The scripture says that answer to prayer delayed makes the soul sick.  The joy of answered prayer is not unlike the joy a woman experiences at the moment when the baby is handed to her in the delivery room and the doctor beaming with smile says, “This is your baby.”

This week, I experienced the joy of answered prayer twice.  I needed money to meet due bills at two different times this week.  Just before I woke up on Monday, I was inspired to call a certain client.  I called the client at 8.45 am.  We talked for some 15 minutes.  My pitch was inspired.  At the end of the conversation, the client asked me to see him at 6.30 pm the same day.  I saw him and walked away with an amount twice what I needed to pay my bills.  After dinner the same day, I paid the two bills online.  Their due date was the following day.  Yesterday Thursday, I needed money to pay for rent and utilities looming on the first of the month, a few days from then.  I besought the Lord in prayer.  “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.” (Psalm 18: 7)  At about 1 pm on Thursday, a client called and asked me to come at 4 pm.  I went and did a business that covered my bills for the beginning of the month.

I can sing honestly with David:  "I love you, LORD, my strength,  LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!  Praised be the LORD, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies." (Psalm 18: 2-4)  We know that God is able to do anything.  It is only when He does something that we prayed for, something that touches us critically that we know that He is also willing.   Faith is trusting that God is both able and willing to help us and then surrendering our desire to His loving and powerful providence.  Like Daniel in the Lion’s Den, we can say after prayer:  “If we live, we live; if we perish, we perish.”   (Daniel 3: 17 – 18)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Seek the Lord in His strength

“Look to the Lord in his strength; seek to serve him continually.  Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.”  (Psalm 105: 4-5)

O Lord, teach me to come to you in my weakness so that you can clothe me in your strength.  Help me not to be ashamed of all my areas of weakness whether in health, family, money, job, tools, food or insecurity about the future.  Help me to trust your promise:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)  Help me to boast and rejoice in all my weaknesses so that your power may rest fully on me. 

Psalm 105: 4-5 also urges us to “seek to serve him continually.”  This injunction to serve the Lord continually reminds me of the new Dismissal at Mass:  “Go and glorify God with your life.”  We glorify God with our life when we seek to serve Him continually with all our time, talent and treasure.  No more dichotomies between work in the office and work in the garden or service in the Church and service in our community. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The truth will set you free

"Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, 3 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8: 31 - 32)

To remain or abide in the word means to be faithful to the teachings of Christ always and everywhere.  When I fellowship with the word of Christ as I fellowship with Christ Himself, the great promise is that I get to know the truth.  The truth is not a philosophical concept but a person, the Person of Jesus Christ.

A true knowledge of Jesus Christ frees us from the worst possible fear – fear of death.  When we are freed from the fear of death, the big stronghold of Satan in the mind is broken.  Every other fear pales in comparison.  Freedom from fear of death gives perspective to the fear of ill health, no money, no job, no peace in the family and the fear of the future.  We come to appreciate what St. Paul means when he says, In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.”  (Hebrews 12:4)

The fear of death keeps many Christians in bondage and victory over this fear is assured through knowledge of the truth.

"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.   They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death." (Revelation 12: 10 - 11)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Take courage and be strong 2

“Put your hope in the Lord.  Take courage and be strong.”  (Psalm 27: 14)

I have always put my hope in the Lord.  What I need is to take courage and be strong.  Waiting for the Lord to answer what we consider a very urgent need can be a trying experience.  It is very easy to lose perspective and not see the big picture.  We allow our situation to become the center of gravity.

"From Mount Hor they set out by way of the Red Sea, to bypass the land of Edom, but the people’s patience was worn out by the journey; so the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” (Numbers 21: 4-5)

The Israelites on a long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land had their patience worn out by the hardship of the journey and unmet expectations and needs.  Instead of being steady in their hope in the Lord, they developed a negative attitude and complained.  This made matters worse.

How do we maintain our hope?  How do we take courage and be strong while waiting for God to answer our prayer?

These seven areas of struggle in the human condition:  health, family, money, job, tools, food, and future must be met head strong with the 7-Way Plan of: prayer, word of God, Eucharist, Penance, Examination of Conscience, Ministry and Spiritual Reading.  This is one way to put on the full armor of God in spiritual warfare.  By immersing ourselves deeply in seeking God at the lowest period in our lives, we strengthen our hope; we take courage and become strong.

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing* of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1: 2-4)

Monday, March 26, 2012

I waited patiently for the Lord

“I waited patiently for the Lord, he inclined to me and heard my cry.”  (Psalm 40:1)
David waited patiently for the Lord to answer his prayer, after what seemed like an interminable delay, the Lord answered his prayer.    Why did it take the Lord so long to respond?  Is the Lord hard of hearing?  Is the Lord simply insensitive to the cries of David?
The Lord makes the ear, therefore He hears everything.  The Lord hears the cry of the poor and delivers him from all his distress.  There is a deeper reason why David waited and waited for the Lord.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits and I hope for his word. My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak. More than sentinels for daybreak," (Psalm 130: 5 - 6)
How long can we wait for the Lord to answer our prayer?  The scriptures below say that we wait until the Lord answers.
a.   Wait for the Lord (Psalm 27: 14; 37:34)
b.   Wait patiently for him (Psalm 37: 7)
c.    I wait for you (Psalm 25: 21)
d.   For you I wait all day (Psalm 25: 5);
e.   I wait for the Lord more than a watchman wait for the morning (Psalm 130: 5-6);
f.     I wait for God my savior (Micah 7:7)
g.    I wait patiently for the Lord (Psalm 40: 1)
h.   I wait in silence for God (Psalm 62: 1, 5)
i.     We wait for you (Isaiah 26: 8, 33: 2)
j.    Those who wait for the Lord renew their strength (Isaiah 40: 31)
k.    Those who wait for the Lord will inherit the land (Psalm 37: 9)
l.     Blessed are those who wait for him (Isaiah 30: 18)
m.  May those who wait for you not be ashamed through me (Psalm 69:6)
n.   This is our God for whom we have waited (Isaiah 25:9)
o.   The Lord is good to those who wait for him (Lamentation 3: 25)
p.   Be like men waiting for their Master (Luke 12: 36)
q.   Saul was told to wait 7 days for Samuel (1 Samuel 10: 8; 13:8)
r.    David will wait until word came (2 Samuel 15; 28)