“Did God actually say. . . .” With those four words, the antagonist enters the story. Only three chapters into Genesis, and the enemy’s first words are the same words he baits us with today, “Did God actually say?” Satan loves to niggle just a bit of doubt in our minds because he knows it will fester. That little seed of doubt will grow and multiply until we’re filled with fear, distrust, worry, and anxiety. That’s the pit he wants us living in.
When I read this, I thought of what I’ve learned by praying Scripture. I can doubt my words, and I often do. But I can always trust His Word. I thought of verses from my journal. “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (2 Thes 3:3). “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished” (Luke 1:45).
I love stories of people who never stopped believing. Look at Zechariah in Luke 1. In what can only be a God-moment, Zechariah gets his once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the temple and burn incense. (Remember, incense in the Bible often represents the prayers of God’s people.)
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” Luke 1:8-13
There are so many things I love about this story. First, God’s sovereign timing and His orchestrating Zechariah’s opportunity to enter the temple. Zechariah is old, and Elizabeth is old. (Actually, it says Elizabeth is “advanced.” I think that’s a nicer way of saying old.) We read that a few verses later. But something in Zechariah still believed God could do it because when his one chance came to burn incense–this was his prayer.
And this is the detail I noticed for the first time a couple weeks ago. The angel of Lord is standing on the right side of the altar of incense–the right side of where the priest would offer up prayers on behalf of the people. Look at Romans 8:34, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Remember our enemy asking, “Did God actually say?” Yeah, this verse gives him a swift kick to the head. “Who is to condemn?” That’s what Satan loves to do. To condemn us. To accuse us. To arrest us. To shackle us. But he doesn’t get to win. Because Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised!” And where does it say He is today? At the right hand of God interceding for us!
So, when the enemy tries to weasel doubt into your mind asking you if God actually said, maybe you could just say Romans 8:34 out loud. Because Jesus Himself is interceding for you now. The One who bought you and bled for you is continually going before God for you.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3
Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. Psalm 5:1-2
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20-21
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The things that are unseen are eternal. Our prayers are not seen, but they are eternal. Let’s pray for the things that matter, the things that impact eternity. Let’s pray God’s Word.
New prayer pages! My sweet and talented friend Gracie showed up at my house a couple months ago with a few more prayer pages for her journal and said I could share them with you. Download the pages for Praise, The World, Forgive, and Home. (If you would like to start a prayer journal, here are the blogs for getting started. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.)
Some possible verses for your pages…
Praise: Names of God, Names of Jesus, Hebrews 12:28-29, 1 Peter 1:24-25, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Philippians 2:9-11, Psalm 8:3-4, Psalm 3:3, Jeremiah 32:17, Luke 1:46
The World: Isaiah 61, Matthew 9:35-38, Isaiah 49:1-3, 2 Timothy 4:1-2, 5, 1 Peter 2:9
Forgive: Colossians 1:13-14, Psalm 103:12, Matthew 6:9-15, Luke 7:47
Home: Isaiah 4:6, Ephesians 3:20-21, Proverbs 2:3-5, Numbers 6:24-26, Leviticus 26:11-13, John 10:10, Psalm 4:8, Colossians 1:9-10, Ephesians 4:1-3, Psalm 90:17
I’ve been so encouraged by all the pictures you have sent me of your prayer journals. Just think of our prayers going forward days, weeks, months, years, and even generations to come. This is important work we are doing.