Have you ever been at the end of your rope? Yeah, me too! Sometimes life hurts, and at other times it doesn’t play fair. Here’s what to do when that happens.
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Life is hard. In fact, at times is is all but overwhelming. Anyone who tells you they’ve never been at the end of their rope with no discernable path forward will lie to you about other things, too. We ALL face this. So the question becomes HOW to face it. Here are three insights on how.
First, recognize that NOT facing it is not an option. Like a person who suddenly find themselves inside a burning building, the choice is either determined and deliberate action or painful death. No, that’s not an overly dramatic statement.
Just look at the lives of those who’ve seen everything they have ever valued – family, home, faith, wealth and health – utterly destroyed by the unchecked impact of life’s toughest challenges. Left to run amuck, the pressures of life have historically driven people to battles with alcohol, drug abuse, depression, pornography, violent outbursts both physical and emotional and much, much more. The carnage is measured in destroyed individuals and families. But it need not be so.
The answer is found in the wisdom and grace of God. (Yes, i deliberately chose “THE” as opposed to another article like “an” or a phrase like “one approach might be.”) Finding your way to the wisdom and grace of God necessarily requires seeking Him. Finding Him requires learning how to speak to Him and, perhaps more importantly, learning how to hear His voice. The term for speaking to God and listening for His reply is called PRAYER.
Second, begin with a recognition that learning to pray is a process. Learning to pray is much like learning to read or swim. It will involve effort. It is best learned with the assistance of someone who is already accomplished in the skill. Stories about people who do it well may be encouraging, but will not affect your own skill; if you wish to get better at prayer then you must actually pray. Thankfully, practice develops skill — both in praying well and hearing well.
Like any communication, having a willing partner is a critical element. God is always willing to hear us. When we approach Him in prayer with a humble heart and a desire to hear Him, He is pleased. This is a worthwhile effort, because God desires it; He will therefore reward it. A great and precious promise of Jesus is recorded in today’s verse – “Whoever comes to Me I will never reject.” What a promise.
WHOEVER — that’s you. That’s me. Everyone is included in “whoever.”
NEVER — that’s an all-inclusive condition.
Third, we need a simple process. Like the “crawl stroke” in swimming, this process is simple enough for beginners and capable enough for those with advanced skills. I heard it yesterday when a group of men were talking about different tools they used to learn how to pray, and to teach others who wanted to learn for themselves.
So, if you’re just learning how to pray, here is one way to approach it:
P – PRAISE
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and come into His courts with praise. Praise is the key to the door, as it were. God has done many wonderful things, and reminding ourselves of them and praising Him for doing them places OUR HEARTS in the proper position. Recognizing His greatness and majesty clarifies both our need and His ability to meet our need.
R – REPENT
Confess your sin, reject it and lay it at the feet of Jesus. Leave it there, and ask Him to cleanse you from your sin. He has the power to deliver us. I’ve known of addicts who have been miraculously, totally and instantaneously delivered. I’ve also known of addicts who walked through rehab and recovery programs with great effort. In both cases, they saw God’s guiding hand breaking the chains off their lives. Sin is a cancer. Get rid of it quickly and totally.
A – ASK
Present your requests to God. Ask, seek, and knock. KEEP asking, seeking, and knocking. As you do you’ll find your desires being conformed to His. You’ll begin to love what He loves, and to hate what He hates. Like any good parent, His answer to our prayers will not always be “Yes;” but it will always be best. (Like any child, we may not always see the issues clearly enough to understand why He says “no;” nut that is an issue of trust and maturity.) Keep asking and you will keep receiving … and you will also keep learning to listen better.
Y – YIELD
Let God give you the desires of your heart. Again, this is not Him granting your every whim. It is Him leading, guiding and directing you by molding your desires into conformity with His. Placing your goals into His hands, and see what He does with them.
There you have it. To PRAY well, you just need to Praise – Repent – Ask – Yield.
Life is HARD. So PRAY HARD!