Incense Rising Online Study 16

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 18% of all Americans suffer from anxiety or depression. Most of them are women, but it is safe to say that no U.S. citizen is immune from worry.

Worry happens when concern is exaggerated. It is normal to have concerns for our children, our safety, and our livelihood. Worry occurs, along with its drastic effect on our health, when concerns become our obsession.

Jesus told us not to worry. Read Matthew 6:25-34.

What two areas of life did the people in Jesus’ day worry about?

Are you concerned about food or clothing?

Do you worry about them?

Our worries today are much different than those of the Jews listening to Jesus that day. They worried about their existence. We still worry about that, but not about what we will eat or wear. We worry about our health, our families and especially our children.

We seem to wear our worry like a badge, as if we are proud of it. Mommas often share how their grown children must call them on a daily basis to keep from worrying. I lost that opportunity. When my daughter was only 18, she left home with some not-so-good people.

I did not know where she was, and she refused to talk to me. Prior to this day, she had to check in with me every time she arrived at her destination, just so I knew she was safe. You know – that Mommy-Worry-Syndrome. Now, I would never know. At that point, the only solution was to trust God to take care of her. Otherwise, I would go crazy with worry. I was already dealing with depression stemming from the situation itself. The truth is God was in control of her safety all along. I did not totally trust Him with it.

Much of what worries us is not what is happening today, but what might happen tomorrow, next month, or next year. We even worry about things which may never happen. If a sentence begins with “What if?”, it may be an indication that you are unnecessarily worried.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matt. 6:34)

This verse tells us we have ample things to be concerned about today. Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come, and the trouble you expect may never happen.

The point of this entire passage is that God loves us. Since God loves us, He will provide for us. Jesus uses the flowers and birds as examples. He says we are more valuable to God than the birds and flowers.

Meditate on that for a while. We are valuable to our heavenly Father. God cares for the birds and wildflowers that are of little value to Him. Think what He will provide for His children!

Why waste time in worry, when worry can be conquered with time in prayer.

Father, forgive us for not fully trusting You. Help us learn to rely on You and cast our worries upon You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Incense Rising Online Study 15

Welcome back to our study through Incense Rising: 60 Days to Powerful Prayer. Day 37 did not dig into the details of Daniel’s prayer, but we can spend more time there today.

Daniel begins by looking at God’s attributes. God’s greatness overshadows Daniel’s weakness. He remembers God is a promise keeper, and Daniel was claiming a particular promise in Scripture. As Daniel read Jeremiah’s prophecy, he rejoiced at the promise that their return to Israel was soon. Daniel knew the Israelites did not deserve God’s blessings. They had sinned. That was the reason they were in Babylon.

Daniel confessed the sins of Israel. Do we do that? Do we seek the forgiveness of a nation that slaughters the unborn? No, I have never had an abortion. No, I have never performed one, but I live in a nation with bloodstains on its hands. That was Daniels point. His beloved nation of Israel had sinned. They did not deserve God’s mercy, but God is gracious and forgiving.

Only God was, and is, righteous. Not Israel. Not us. We are like the people Daniel was praying for. We are as shameful as them. Anything God would do to them, to us, would be fair, because only He is righteous.

Daniel recalls God’s power. Sometimes, we talk about God’s power so much that we become complacent about it. We need a reminder about just how awesome God’s power really is. Daniel knew only God had the power to deliver them out of captivity. They could not deliver themselves. They could do nothing without God.

Sometimes, we trust in ourselves to do things. We fail when we believe we can do it in our own anemic strength. When there is no one, no one at all, but God, we are reminded just how powerless we really are. The incurable cancer. The accident which should have taken your life. The depression even the anti-depressants do not halt. The child who will not return. The door that refuses to budge.

Why would God want to use His mighty arm on behalf of sinful Israel? Why would He do it on our behalf?

Not for the sake of Daniel. Not for the sake of Israel, but for the sake of the Lord and His name. Save the people. Return them to their beloved Jerusalem. Though they did not deserve it, the good name of the Lord did.

Daniel knew it was God’s will to be merciful to Israel. He begged for His mercy.

We pray to the same merciful God. We cry out on behalf of our nation, our churches, and our families. Not for our benefit. Not for our pleasure, but for God’s glory. If our prayer requests do not bring glory to God, we should remain silent. If we do not make supplication for God’s glory, we should keep quiet. The glory of God must be our sole purpose in prayer.

Lord, we can be selfish asking for what we want at times. Help us think like Daniel. Help us keep Your glory front and center in our prayers. Amen.