Pastor's Blog

A Prayer for Overcoming Fear

main image

“Here I am, O God, humbly yours, lifting up my heart to you.

It is you, O hidden One, who has given me my heritage, and you determined the place of my birth.

It is you who have given me the power to do one kind of work and have withheld the skill to do another. 

It is you who hold in your hand the threads of this day’s life and you alone who know what lies before me to do or to suffer. 

But because you are my Father, I am not afraid. 

Because it is your Spirit that stirs within my heart’s most secret room, I know that all is well. 

What I desire for myself I cannot achieve; but whatever you desire in me you can help me to achieve. 

The good that I want to do, I fail to do, but you can give me the power to do good.

Make this day’s work a little part of the work of the kingdom of my Lord Jesus, in whose name these prayers are said.  Amen.” 

As this prayer affirms the constant presence of God in our lives and our circumstances, I am particularly drawn to the reminder that if God is our Father, we do not need to be afraid. 

And yet, don’t you find it is so easy for us to be consumed with fear? 

I am reminded of what Paul wrote from a prison cell in 2 Timothy 1:7. In spite of his pending death, he wrote, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”

What concern do you need to take to the Lord today? What fear is consuming your heart? What is making you anxious today?

What are we to do with these fears and anxious thoughts? We turn to God in prayer.

I find Paul’s words to Timothy to be helpful and hopeful. May God set us free from a spirit of fear. 

David writes in Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear. The LORD is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.” 

Truly, “Because God is our Father, I am not afraid.”

Hear Us from Heaven!

main image

In his book A Praying Life, Paul Miller asks us to stop and think about how odd prayer is. 

He observed, “When we have a phone conversation, we hear a voice and can respond. When we pray, we are talking to air.” He concludes, “Only crazy people talk to themselves.”

Are we “crazy” to think that God hears our prayers? Are we just “talking to air” when we pray?

Recently, I was reading 2 Chronicles 6. Having just finished constructing the Temple, Solomon gathered the people together for a dedication service. Kneeling in front of the entire congregation, he lifted his hands and offered his prayer on behalf of the people.

What was his prayer? His repeated request was that God would hear the cries and the prayers of his people. “Hear from heaven” is Solomon’s repeated request. (v. 21, 23, 25, 27, 30, 33, 35, 39)

In his prayer of dedication, Solomon imagines every possible thing that could happen. 

If someone sins against another...if we are defeated by our enemy...if there is no rain ...if there is pestilence...if there is a plague...if there is sickness...if a foreigner seeks God...if we are going out to battle...if we sin against God...if we are taken into exile...no matter what the case happens to be – “Hear from heaven!”

No matter what our situation happens to be, there is comfort in knowing that God hears our prayers.

There were two conditions to God hearing the prayers of his people.

First, they were to turn towards the Temple. This was the place where sacrifice for sin was made, and it was the place that represented the presence of God. 

Second, their prayer was to be marked with confession, humility, and dependence upon God.

After his prayer of dedication, God said to Solomon in 1 Chronicles 7:12.“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.”

It is at this point; we hear that familiar promise from God. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

How much more so is this the case for us? Something greater than the temple has come! A greater sacrifice than bulls and goats has been made for sin! Jesus!

Therefore, the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

In our prayer, we turn to Jesus. We pray in the name of Jesus. We come humbly, confessing our sin, and depending upon the mercy and grace of Jesus. 

The result? God hears our prayers! 

The promise? He gives us the grace and mercy we need for whatever we face.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace.”  God hears your prayers!

Russell Everett Whitley

main image

Our second grandson was born early on Sunday morning, August 1 to our daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Scott.

Russell’s entry into the world was not without some excitement. Scott and Sarah were about to get into their car to pick us up at the airport when she went into labor. They quickly dispatched their friend to bring us to their apartment while they went to the hospital. Naturally, we are grateful for God’s good timing.

While enjoying our new grandson, I have also had time to read. I just finished reading, I Came As A Shadow,  the biography of John Thompson, the legendary basketball coach for Georgetown University.

Growing up in the projects outside of Washington D.C., Thompson had a lot of obstacles to overcome in life. Basketball was his ticket to opportunity. Under the guidance of Red Auerbach, Thompson went to Providence College and then played two seasons for the Boston Celtics.

After his brief stint with the Celtics, he returned to Washington D.C. to get his master’s degree and he became a guidance counselor and basketball coach at St. Anthony’s High School. By the age of 31, he became the coach of Georgetown University.

And yet, he was more than a coach. He was a teacher, a mentor and an advocate. As one of the first black coaches at a major university, he effected real change to broken systems.

He was a man of principle and integrity. I found his life to be inspiring.

And so, over the past few days, in one arm rested my newly born grandson with his whole life ahead of him. While, at the same time, in my other arm was this biography that told the story of one life lived...from the beginning to the end.

As I reflected on John Thompson’s story, I thought of all the lives that impacted his life.  Just to name a few, I thought of the reading specialist who taught him how to read. I thought of his uneducated but hard-working father who imparted to him life-shaping words of wisdom.

And then, as his story unfolded, I was also inspired by the way his life impacted others for good.  He had a direct impact on many of the players he coached. At the same time, he had an indirect impact on those who benefit to this day from the causes he stood for and the principles he lived by.

Putting down the book and looking down at this sweet little boy, Russell, I couldn’t help but give thanks to God...in advance...for the people who will shape his life for the good. 

I also wondered about the pages of his story, yet to be written. My prayer is that God would use Russell for the good of others and for the glory of God. 

What about you? 

Who are the people who have impacted your life for the good? 

What are the opportunities God is giving you to be of good to others?

It is often the small things...the quiet things...the timely word spoken...the simple things we do that have some of the greatest impact. 

Thanks for letting me share some of my thoughts and reflections with you...now if you don’t mind, I am going to go and hold that precious boy again!

12345678910 ... 1213