When you have to wait, by Dr. Charles Stanley

A Focus on Prayer

My reflections this week during COVID-19 include a focus on devoting more time to prayer, repenting of our sins, and re-evaluating who we are as Christ’s Body.

As the days of our confinement continue, it is easy to become restless, discouraged, and confused. A great deal of what we had unwittingly come to rely upon for our security and worth in the Christian life has been taken from us. We can no longer attend church or visit with our friends and loved ones to feel like we belong. We can no longer serve in the traditional manner to feel like we are obeying God and being part of His Body on earth. As we see the people we care about get sick and even pass away, we cannot reach out and help. We can only pray.

We can only pray. Think about those words.

You may know that one of the main principles I live by is, “Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time.” I believe in the power of intercession—not on the basis of prayer itself—but because I believe in the One to whom I am praying. I trust the One who formed the heavens and the earth, who raises up the nations and brings them down again, and who is able to influence every cell in every human body of the more than seven billion souls that exist on earth.

Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time.

So when I write, “We can only pray,” what I am attempting to do is reveal that, at times, we really don’t believe God is who He says He is. And that is the true reason I write to you today.

My heart is burdened because it often seems that in many ways the Church has become a very dim reflection of the Savior who redeemed us. Yes, we could talk about all the moral failings, and there are too many to count. But the temptation for us will always be to look for fault in others and avoid confronting what God wants to purge from our own hearts. This is why, during a time of terrible persecution, the apostle Peter wrote, “It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God” (1 Pet. 4:17).

Peter was not saying this to imply that the believers of his day had brought the adversity on themselves. Rather, he was imploring believers to remember that whatever the earthly suffering we face, it will not be anywhere near as bad as what unbelievers will face in the last judgment. He wrote, “If it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (vv. 18–19).

In other words, regardless of our distress, we need to do what will reflect and glorify God in words, actions, attitudes, and character. We need to recognize who He truly is and represent Him well.

Friends, we cannot allow sin to run rampant in the church and expect others to respond to Jesus in faith. I am not just talking about the overt sins like adultery, thievery, or murder. No, we are to reflect the character of Christ in all things, which means that the fruit of the Spirit should be flowing from us—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). I have seen far too many believers who will slay others on social media with their words rather than do as Paul admonished: “Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:23-25).

The hardships we experience are not an excuse. We must reflect Jesus in all ways regardless of the pressures we experience, remembering that the lost will see who we are and what we truly believe through what we say and do.

With this in mind, I ask you to spend some time in reflection and repentance today. The most significant impediments to the life of Christ flowing through you are the areas that you refuse to honor God, whether consciously or unintentionally. Therefore, please take a few minutes to pray as David did: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24). As you wait quietly before Him, deliberately submit your heart to Him. Don’t ignore any of it—deal with it.

  • Is there some issue or activity in your life that God is bringing to mind?
  • Is there any sin that you need to confess?
  • Is there someone you need to forgive?
  • Do you rely on your own works or other earthly resources for your security?
  • Do you have any strongholds in your life? Are you refusing to turn over your need for money, sex, political power, control, your reputation, or the need for people to respect you or love you?
  • Are you putting anything before God Himself?
  • Consider each of the fruit of the Spirit carefully. Do you overflow with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Are any of these a struggle? Do you feel a significant lack in any of these areas?
  • Do you feel angry, fearful, depressed, guilty, bitter, or hopeless? Are any of these emotions giving evidence of areas of bondage from which Jesus desires to liberate you?

Again, ask God what is impeding Him from having free reign in you. Do not deny anything He brings to mind. Even the seemingly trivial thoughts that arise may very well be something the Lord wants to deal with. Trust Him to give you wisdom and understanding about what is thwarting you from being His representative to a lost and dying world.

Recognize who God is so others can see Him in you and know He is truly the Savior they need. Because the Christian life is not merely about going to the church building or serving on a ministry committee. No, being the church means letting “your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

ABOUT DR.CHARLESSTANLEY Dr. Charles F. Stanley joined the staff of First Baptist Church of Atlanta in 1969 and became senior pastor in 1971. In 1982, Stanley...

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