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Prayer Becomes Hope, Hope Becomes Prayer (Romans 4-5)



“...who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations…”

-Romans 5:18


We would be wise to believe God that He will do something in our lives, our families, and our generation, that is greater than we have seen before or could practically think to be possible. The natural mind is strongly pulled by concrete facts and probability. It tends toward the safety and security of expecting nothing much more than what has happened in the past, sometimes simply as a self-protection against disappointment.

 

And if our expectation is founded on some wild imagination of our own hearts, or on a self-proclaimed prophet who forecasts life-altering events to occur on this date or that date, then our minds serve us well to bring a healthy dose of skepticism and grounded reasoning. But if our expectation is founded on the unchanging Word of God, His promises revealed to our hearts by His Spirit, then we must acknowledge the authority and Reality that is greater than facts or probability. If God has said it in His Word, neither the forces of hell, nor the laws of gravity or physics, nor the armies of mighty nations can stop it from coming to pass, or cause it to cease from being true.


At a time when Abraham looked at the old age of his wife and the frailty of his own body, finding every natural reason to expect no children, God told him, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. So shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5). This is, at its very root, a call to pray.


I heard a man of God once say that prayer can simply be a glance toward heaven. In the midst of contrary circumstances that seem to make the promises of God seem unlikely, prayer may be wordless, a simple glance upward to “where my help comes from.” God called Abraham to look away from physical realities to the infinitely greater Reality of God’s power. This is where prayer begins. Only when he looked up, instead of looking down at his circumstances, does it say that Abraham “believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (15:6).


Abraham was in conversation with God. God spoke to reveal His thought. Abraham looked up and received God’s thought by faith. Then, Abraham continued talking with God regarding his questions about the promise: “Lord God, how shall I know that I will inherit it?” (15:8). Sometimes, we misunderstand prayer and think that it is a formal presentation of a list of requests. This is prayer. We have a heart-to-heart with God; it may involve requests, but it is ultimately communion, between a human being and God. In the end, we come away with a deeper personal understanding of His heart and His ways, and we feel known and understood by Him. He remains the ever-faithful Fountain of living waters, and we are changed, time and time again, by His mighty power.


I have found that people of prayer are full of hope. People with a rich communion with the Holy Spirit are less and less influenced by discouragement and circumstances. Likewise, people who have put their hope and faith in Christ are more and more prayerful, not as an obligation but because He is the joy of their lives.


Paul says this can go so far that, “we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). We can still have joy in the fire of trial, because we look up to heaven, persevere by going to God, our character is built, and we have greater hope for the next time we are tested.

If you feel a lack of hope, pray! Trust that as you look heavenward, hope is promised to come. If you feel the hope of God, pray in gratitude and continue in communion.


-Pastor Alex

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