Prayer For Strength (33)


Prayer Text for Today is 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

In your darkest days of suffering, you can fall prey to believing that God is far away or even that He has somehow forgotten about you. We probably think of the person who experiences victory over the difficult circumstances of life as the truly blessed. They are the ones who seem to be connected to God. And, truthfully, we want to be that person!

There’s something about suffering that makes us think God is otherwise occupied and doesn’t have time for our pain. We can find ourselves at a loss for a response to accusations about serving a God who allows us to experience pain, disease, death, divorce, and estrangement. The truth is that even for Christians that doesn’t seem right. Trying to find answers to why there is suffering on earth for Christian people who serve an eternal loving and powerful God … well, that’s one of the mysteries of the ages.

I think that’s why it’s important to hear what an Apostle of the Lord says about his suffering and the perspective he takes. I’d like to look at our prayer text today to help us find power in times of pain, and to use these as prayers to strengthen us in our neediest times.

Pain is not a sign that we lack Christian commitment. The Apostle Paul was devoted to the Lord and experienced unique visions so overwhelming that he could not speak of them. Yet he describes in this text the pain and weakness that were ongoing. If you think about it, even Jesus Christ was not exempt from pain. Struggles and troubles are usually a part of our Christian journey.

Pain can remind us to be submissive and reliant upon God. Paul has a ‘thorn in the flesh’ – a significant problem about which he repeatedly prayed. In the times when we are coasting along with few difficulties, we can tend to exalt ourselves rather than bless God. After seeing unspeakable revelations, Paul was deflected from self-exaltation by the pain he suffered. No matter what he saw and heard in that revelation, he still needed God every day. We cannot depend on our own works to present before God as evidence of our goodness. Instead we cast all that aside and simply appeal to God on the basis of his son Jesus Christ.

Pain can be a work of the enemy. Far from attributing his pain to God, Paul says an angel of Satan tormented him.  Anything that takes our attention away from God and causes us to consider giving up our faith is from the Enemy. Paul’s approach is not to look outside of God for answers, but to re-energize his commitment and focus on God.

Pain should be a matter of prayer. Paul prayed about the torment he lived with. He prayed three times. How many times have we given up in prayer when going through a hard circumstance? Paul prayed very specifically for what he desired. Never be afraid to repeatedly request healing from God.  Always be content with your answer. Not only that, but he received a very specific answer.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Pain can increase the power of Christ in us. I want to be careful here. We should not inflict pain on ourselves. Notice Paul’s list of the kind of pains he is talking about:

So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:10

The pain Paul experiences is because of his own commitment to Christ, not self-inflicted wounds. His pain magnifies his reliance upon Christ, ‘so that Christ’s power may reside in me’. His pain leads to strength because his own will fades and Christ’s presence grows stronger in him. That’s why he can say,  ‘For when I am weak, then I am strong.’

I don’t know where you hurt today. Most people do have a hurt. But I have a prayer for you based upon this text and these observations.

Dear God, thank you for being near, strong, powerful, and present. I can’t face the hurt inside without your help. I pray that while my body weakens my faith would strengthen. I pray for your power to defeat the work of Satan and destroy any strongholds he attempts to set up in my life. I pray for healing, God, believing that You have the all the power it takes to remove this burden from me. I pray for faith to trust you when the battle grows intense. I pray for your power to increase and for my weakness to yield to your strength. It is only by your power and presence that I find peace today. It is in the powerful name of Jesus that I pray, Amen.

As we enter into a new year let us remember to seek His strength above our own.

Prayerfully, JD.