Finding God’s Purpose Forward!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 1 February 2022, Lesson 4, Chapter 2
Dr. David Jeremiah, Forward: Discovering God’s Presence and
Purpose For Tomorrow
Devotional Time: Chapter 2 (pp. 21-29)
Praying About Your Plans – The act of prayer was the first spiritual discipline Jesus modeled before His disciples (cf. Mark 1:35-39, NLT). The urgency of the disciples was to remain where they were, but Jesus charted a different course for the ministry they shared with Him. We see here an early instance of the inner resolve prayer can bring. The disciples focused on what they thought was immediate for them, but Jesus knew what was most important for the journey forward. Luke’s account emphasizes that Jesus also avoided the demands of the crowd, and prioritized His mission (cf. Luke 4:42-44, NLT). Prayer often is seen in the scriptures as the discipline that gives clarity to God’s servants. This is certain, when seeking discernment in how to proceed in accomplishing an endeavor (cf. Acts 4:30-31, NLT). The early apostles prayed for “boldness” in the face of opposition, and they received their request. They needed this internal strength to meet the demands of their new mission! In the insightful book, Forward, author Dr. David Jeremiah advises, “[We] must believe and step toward our goals in God’s presence through prayer.” The late Dr. Howard Thurman said, “Prayer is foremost response, then request.” Thurman’s point is that when we pray, we must first acknowledge the sovereignty and power of the One to whom we are praying. As we enter into deeper fellowship with God, we become more transparent in asking for the things we desire. Our closeness with God comes through personal space. We see evidence of this in the life of Jesus, who often went to a “solitary” place. It is in such a place, we come to discern God’s intent for us. John shares the benefits of intentional, personal prayer when he says: “And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him. And since we know that He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.” Dr. Jeremiah tells the story of Raymond Thomas, a foster child who wanted to attend college, but had neither the funds nor acceptance in a school. A prayer was offered which, in part, said: “Plant into [Raymond’s] mind and heart the specific pictures [and] dreams that reflect your plans [for him.]” Raymond graduated from college with honors; earned a Ph. D.; mastered multiple languages; and traveled to over 60 countries as an expert in his profession. He later said, “Stay with prayer, it helps.”
Prayerful Persistence – Often our most fervent and transparent prayers will be made during a time of challenge. This was evident in Nehemiah’s life. He was a trusted aide to the king of Persia, in the years immediately following the Babylonian exile. Nehemiah’s dream was to oversee the rebuilding of the holy city of Jerusalem. Shocking news had come to him from his brother and a team of surveyors, that the walls around Jerusalem and much of the city was in disrepair. Besides the ruined infrastructure, was the great pain in knowing that the Great Temple had been desecrated, pillaged, and left in ruins. It was both anguish and the search for renewed hope to go forward that directed Nehemiah to pray (cf. Nehemiah 1:3-4, NLT). Dr. Jeremiah describes the scene well: “The news hit Nehemiah like a blast. Slumping into his chair, he started sobbing. But out of his deep tears came earnest prayers, and out of his prayer came a fervent dream. With God’s help, he himself would return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls of the ancient city of God.” The core of Nehemiah’s prayer was his earnest desire and belief that God would hear his plea and cause the king to be favorable in his request to go to Jerusalem (cf. Nehemiah 1:10-11, NLT). Perhaps in reflecting on his prayer, Nehemiah wants is readers to know that when God has a way forward for us, it does not matter what your status in life is. He mentions his status before the king as a cupbearer; which was a servant role. He expected God to answer his prayer! Dr. Jeremiah says, “God’s desires flourish in prepared hearts, like seeds in furrowed ground.” This was true of the psalmist, when he sought to be led in the “right path” (cf. Psalm 25:4-6, NLT). The psalmist also desired to be “taught” by God; otherwise, he would be misinformed by both people and his circumstances. This is instructive, because every failure is not a fatality. We can learn much when we fall short of our aspirations. We can, like the psalmist, learn much from the compassionate God whose unfailing love has been demonstrated throughout generations. Much knowledge of God comes through intentional prayer. Whatever a person truly desires, God will inevitably make it plain. Dr. Jeremiah advises: “No matter the hour or the circumstances, pray! As God begins to give you impressions and thoughts about your future, commit them to Him in serious, ongoing prayer.” The psalmist also prayed this way (cf. Psalm 42:8;11, NLT).
What We Believe!
It is in prayer, that we become transparent before God.
1. Our circumstances often lead us toward intentional prayer.
2. Our prayers should be intentional and unceasing.
Mark 1:35-39, NLT
“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and some of the others went out to find Him. When they found Him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus replied, “We must go to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” So he traveled throughout
the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.”
Luke 4:42-44, NLT
“Early the next morning, Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched every-where for Him, and when they finally found Him, they begged him not to leave them. But He replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” So he continued to travel around,preaching in synagogues throughout Judea.”
Acts 4:30-31, NLT
“Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.”“
Nehemiah 1:3-4, NLT
“They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this I sat down and wept, in fact,for days I mourned, fasted,and prayed to the God of heaven.”
Nehemiah 1:10-11, NLT
“The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. O Lord, please hear my prayer!Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” “In those days I was the king’scupbearer.”
Psalm 25:4-6, NLT
“Show me the right path, O Lord, point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me,for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past.”
Psalm 42:8;11, NLT“
But each day the Lord pours His unfailing love upon me,and through each night I sing His songs, praying to God who gives me life… Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart sad? I will put my hope in