Six months ago the Lord challenged me to spend one hour in prayer every morning for a month. I was struggling with some things and I felt the Lord leading me to spend this time with Him each morning. Part of the challenge was to pray through Psalms and Proverbs as part of my prayer time. I started in Psalms one and Proverbs one and committed to this for one month. I had some challenges that I was struggling with so I assumed that after my one month commitment there would be some resolution to these. My prayer was much like the widow woman in Luke 18 who persisted in her request to the judge until he answered her plea “otherwise she will beat me down by her continual bothering me.” (Luke 18:5). My hour of prayer time was spent going through the next Psalm and Proverb for the day as a prayer, my repetitive plea to the Lord for an answer to my struggles, and some intercession for others. This went on for a month. On August 1, I cried out to the Lord in distress wondering why no change, no answer was seen in my eyes. I had prayed for an hour a day for a month without any change. My heart was broken, but God in His infinite wisdom silently prodded me to continue.
I have continued this now for six months. I have not seen the answers to my requests as I had prayed, but I saw a change in my heart that would never had taken place if it were not for this time with my Savior. I became broken over my sin. I began to see the challenges in life not as something I must “gut out” until it was over, but rather as a process of refinement in my life. Many verses I have memorized over the years came back to me in a new and refreshing way. Verses that I began to cherish in a whole new way.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1, 2).
Hebrews 11 reminds us of the Old Testament heroes who walked by faith, who lived by faith, not perfectly, but still characterized by God as people of faith. We as Christians are surrounded by these great witnesses and struggle with the same things they did. But what is this “sin which clings so closely?” Is it the same sin for everyone or is it unique to each of us? At the root it is the same for each of us: a lack of faith. Isn’t pride a lack of faith? When we harbor pride in our hearts, we are taking God off the throne of our lives and placing ourselves on the throne. When we do this we are exhibiting a lack of faith in God as the supreme ruler and authority of our lives. Isn’t pride what caused Satan to fall? What about selfishness? This questions God’s ability to meet our needs. Isn’t the root of this also a lack of faith? The way our sin looks may be different, but at the root of it is a lack of faith.
Hebrews 12:2 then reminds us that “Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Jesus provided for our salvation if we accept it by faith and he perfects our faith through the trials and various events that take place in our lives. As I began to look at my own life, I began to see that this time of prayer that God had challenged me to was more about the changes that needed to take place in my own heart than anything else. The sins that I struggled with became more evident as I spent more time with my Savior and much easier to confess and let go. The challenges in my life became “perfecters of my faith” not a situation I just needed to “gut out.” The struggles are real, but my perspective has changed.
The hour in prayer changed from a time of repetitive prayers and something to be endured, to a treasured hour of sweet communion. I still pray throughout my day, but that special time of focus with my Lord has become the most cherished part of my day.