It was good to launch into the Gospel of Luke on Sunday! We took a look at several humble characters who were faithfully waiting for the intervention of God in some desperate circumstances.
One of our own Church of the Open Door members, Cheri Fortner, was willing to share with us her personal journey of waiting long on the Lord.
I hope her story encourages you, as it does me, to lean deeply on the Lord Jesus even as we’re waiting on Him to move in answer to our prayers.
Pastor David Anderson
Prayer is such an intimate time with God. We are vulnerable to the core with the ONLY ONE who is always there for us – God.
But what do we do when we feel unheard, unanswered, forgotten?
I am going to share with you how I survived (yup, that’s the word for it – gutting it out and surviving) a long time of silence from Him and the growth that I found while waiting.
As a young mom and wife, I was challenged with some difficult relationships in my life. I prayed for resolution, for relief, for peace. I had heard sermons every year telling me that if you pray like the persistent widow, God will hear you. He will answer your prayer.
So off I would go with the idea that my prayer had gone unanswered because I needed to “pray more.” So pray more I would. Or having the faith of a mustard seed – okay! I have that much faith. Or humbling myself by laying prostrate on the floor – God, I am here, face down on the floor.
I also had bought into a cheap form of Christianity. It taught that if you follow God and are faithful, you will have a good marriage, your children will grow up and be on the Norman Rockwell Christmas card, and your struggles will be real, but manageable.
Well, as life happened, kids grew up and made their own decisions, best friends died of cancer, marriage was tough, and jobs came and went. All of this wore me down. I was tired. I was hanging on to my faith by a thread (smaller than a mustard seed). I felt like God listened to everyone else, but was ignoring me for some reason.
One thing I did know and did not lose sight of was that I BELIEVED IN GOD and I prayed for God to help me in my unbelief.
I knew I was in trouble and that my family was in trouble. God led us to Church of the Open Door through a friend who had given me Ed Underwood’s book, When God Breaks Your Heart.
I sought out a discipleship partner and went through Beginning in Grace, and then went on to be discipled by another faithful woman. God was sending me His people to encourage me and walk with me.
But the biggest turn came from the book 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers.
This book transformed my prayers and my relationship with God. If you could see my tattered copy next to me now, you would see the good friend it has been to me.
I prayed each day of prayer and didn’t move on to the next day’s prayer until I could pray the day I was on with all my heart . . . without a tightness in my chest or a knot in my stomach. Sometimes it would take two weeks before I could move on to the next day’s prayer.
I learned a life-changing lesson. It was easy and natural to praise God when prayers were answered and when life went my way.
I learned the beauty of praising God when prayers, life, and situations were difficult and challenging.
These were my sacrificial prayers of praise: “God, I praise you for this challenging relationship as this is my sacrificial prayer of praise.” Psalm 50:23 says, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of the Lord.”
As I offered my sacrificial prayers of praise to God, a peace transformed me. I LET GOD BE GOD – not Cheri be god of her life.
My favorite verses are in Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
True peace from God comes when you praise him no matter what.
This is how Paul was able to praise God after being beaten and thrown in jail.
The last scripture that has pulled me through is 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
My only hope here on earth is in heaven. It’s not a cheap “Jesus will fix it.”; it’s Jesus fixed it for you in heaven, not here.
The song “Oceans” by Hillsong talks of how “God’s grace abounds in deepest waters . . . Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.” This is only possible when we embrace that God’s grace is sufficient, realigning our sight and keeping our eyes above the waves on Him.