Hugh Lattimer once preached before King Henry VIII. Henry was greatly displeased by the boldness in the sermon and ordered Lattimer to preach again on the following Sunday and apologize for the offense he had given. The next Sunday, after reading his text, he thus began his sermon: “Hugh Lattimer, dost thou know before whom thou are this day to speak? To the high and mighty monarch, the king’s most excellent majesty, who can take away thy life, if thou offendest. Therefore, take heed that thou speakest not a word that may displease. But then consider well Hugh, dost thou does not know from whence thou comest–upon Whose message thou are sent? Even by the great and mighty God, Who is all-present and Who beholdeth all thy ways and Who can cast thy soul into hell! Therefore, take care that thou deliverest thy message faithfully.” He then preached the same sermon he had preached the preceding Sunday–and with considerably more energy. – M. Cocoris, Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, Moody, 1984, p. 126.
The final article on praying through persecution will focus on learning to pray with holy boldness. In the above illustration, we are often confronted when our faith comes face to face with a society that wants nothing to do with God or anything godly. God gets in the way of living a life without accountability. It is very appealing to live our life focused only on what is pleasing and pleasurable, however, to accomplish such a monumental feat with a clear conscience we must push all things holy out of our way.
Praying with Spiritual Boldness Requires Giving up Control.
We like to live under the distorted view that we can live our lives just the way we want believing that we control our future. If we work hard, carefully plan, and adjust for the minor interruptions that occur naturally we can navigate through this journey placed before us. But life has a way of shattering that illusion. Let me share this story to illustrate that point.
One of the most tragic events during the Reagan presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.
A few days after the tragedy, I remember coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul X. Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man, yet he survived.
As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words — “Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.” With those two simple words, Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country — those who have remained faithful. -J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.
In the story above no one could have prepared for what would happen that day. And it doesn’t take us long to discover that life and circumstances are bigger than we are. No matter how strong our resolve is to resist and desire to control the things that happen around us, we soon discover it isn’t possible. The young Marine gives us the proper approach we must take to live, “forever faithful.” The call from God is for us to remain faithful. We need to learn to trust in God. Finding strength in the eternal truth that GOD IS GOD, and He will control the outcome of our lives. Everything in all creation is subject to his will.
In Luke’s account of the works of the apostles in the book of Acts he shares this thought with the church. “Sovereign Lord…Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.” Acts 4:24
God has a plan you can trust in Him!
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
We can attempt to layout elaborate and detailed plans that clearly chart the direction our life will take, but none of that will matter unless God makes us able to accomplish those plans.
Planning aside, we cannot control the outcome of our lives. Our plans fail us. Circumstances beyond our control thwart those plans. Only God makes our dreams possible. Because the reality is that those are God’s ideas, we are a part of a bigger scheme that God is orchestrating in the world. God is Almighty! God is in control. And He will bring good into our lives even when everything is out of control!
Jeremiah 29:11, “11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
When the uncertainty of life begins to overwhelm, you find strength in the fact that God is almighty and is still sitting on the throne. The lesson for the believers today is that our ability to pray with holy boldness is grounded in the Church’s dependence on God’s strength. As we are praying, in the midst of our persecution we are asking God for those prayers to lift high the name of Jesus.
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