Fortitude in Our Personal Walk

God referred to King David of the Old Testament as someone who walked before Him “faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness” (1 Kings 9:4) and as a man after His own heart through whose lineage He would send Jesus (Acts 13:22-23). God said of Him, “he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22). David experienced many trials and hardships yet remained strong. When he sinned, he repented and accepted the consequences from God’s hand. Where did David find such fortitude? — From his view of, approach to, and obedience of God’s Word.

Fortitude in Our Personal Walk Requires an Adequate View of God’s Word

Psalm 19 - Fortitude from God's Word
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Look at David’s view of Scripture as written in Psalm 19:7-11. Pay particular attention to the emboldened words.

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

We find similar sentiments about God’s Word in Psalm 119, though it isn’t clear if David authored that Psalm. The longest chapter in the Bible, this Psalm focuses in on how we can find not only guidance but strength through His Word to overcome anything that may come against us.

  • I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Ps. 119:11)
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Ps. 119:105)
  • You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. (Ps. 119:114)
  • Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. (Ps. 119:133)
  • Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (Ps. 119:165)
  • Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. (Ps. 119:175)

The psalmist viewed Scripture as his standard for living but also his source of strength to live in alignment. If we don’t have an adequate view of God’s Word and the powerful benefit it brings (2 Tim. 3:16-17), we’re not going to approach it in ways that most profit us.

How We Approach God’s Word Can Determine how much Fortification we Derive from It

The Word isn’t going to benefit us if we don’t turn toward it, which often requires sacrificing other pursuits. And so, the psalmist prayed,

  • Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. (Ps. 119:36)
  • Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. (Ps. 119:37)

The Word isn’t going to help if we don’t remember it. We must keep it ever before us.

  • Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. (Ps. 119:97)
  • Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. (Ps. 119:98)

Fortitude Sustained by Obeying God’s Word

Yes, faith does come from hearing the Word (Rom. 10:17) but faith without works is dead (James 1:22-25; 2:17-20). We will quickly wane in our faith if we don’t apply what we learn to life. We might gain immediate comfort or encouragement from a mere reading of the Word but the real reward comes in obeying it. David acknowledged this reality when writing about the law of the Lord. He said, “By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Ps. 19:11). We read this same truth in the New Testament:

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:23-25)

And, what a difference it makes when obedience to the Word comes out of love for the Word, not mere duty. Notice what the author of Psalm 119 wrote:

  • May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees, that I may not be put to shame. (Ps. 119:80)
  • Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. (Ps. 119:129)
  • I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly. (Ps. 119:167)

Point to Remember: If you want a stronger walk with God, then you must spend time with Him in His Word.

The Word itself is that which fortifies us. We meditate on His Word. Nothing ever can, or should, be a substitute for God’s Word.

God does use other tools to strengthen us in our walk with Him. We can learn from others. But, nothing should ever supplant time spent in the Word. If using devotionals or study guides, let’s choose ones that center on the Word, that not only refer to the Bible, but actually get us reading or studying it.

(If you want devotionals that get you into the Word, check out the Walk the Walk Devotional Guides.)

Prayerlessness Because of What We Overestimate

Just as underestimating certain factors can lead to prayerlessness, so can overestimating certain perceptions about ourselves.

Overestimate the Following And Prayerlessness will be More Likely

  • If we overestimate our own ability to deal with life, we’ll be less likely to pray at every turn.

Overestimate Self Abilities Leads to PrayerlessnessThough we’re finite human beings, we sometimes act like we know it all and can do it all. Self-reliance leads to prayerlessness. When, however, we truly understand our own limitations and God’s great wisdom and power, that He’s the Infinite One, we’ll tend to pray more. When we understand how much we need Him, we’ll humble ourselves and turn to Him in prayer, yielding control and trusting Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.(Prov. 3:5-6)

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5)

  • If we overestimate our own goodness, we’ll tend to pray less.

We don’t like to admit that we are fallen, depraved people. Yet, the Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Rom. 3:10-12). We will often be motivated and guided by self-inflation which skews what we do. When we truly understand how much we need God’s grace and mercy in our lives, we’ll tend to pray more. When we truly grasp how our thoughts and ways are not as high as God’s (Isa. 55:9), we’ll realize we aren’t good enough to make proper decisions and we’ll seek God’s guidance and power.

Notice the emboldened words above. When we overestimate ourselves, we have less need for God. If we don’t need God, we won’t sense a need to pray. It’s only when we come to an end of ourselves that we turn to God in prayer. But after we regain our footing, if we aren’t careful and alert (1 Pet. 4:7), we’ll all too quickly return to our self-reliance and self-inflation, once again leading to prayerlessness.

Prayerlessness Because of What We Underestimate

In previous posts we’ve determined that for many prayerlessness probably isn’t due to ignorance or a perceived lack of benefits in praying. Why, then, don’t we pray more? Perhaps it’s because we fail to accurately or wholeheartedly grasp certain factors that will help us pray.

What We Might Underestimate that Leads to Prayerlessness

  • We might underestimate the work involved in praying.

Don't Underestimate Need to Stay Alert for Prayer

The following Bible verses show how we need to be actively engaged when it comes to praying — alert, clear-minded, self-controlled, persevering. We can’t merely coast. We can’t be passive or lazy about praying. It’s too easy to lose focus or even fall asleep.

With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Eph. 6:18)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Col. 4:2)

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. (1 Pet. 4:7)

  • We might underestimate the role of the Spirit in helping us pray.

We need to be consistently walking in the Spirit, depending on and yielding to His work in our lives. On our own we might lack the self-control we need to consistently pray but the fruit of the Spirit includes self-control and perseverance (Gal. 5:22-23). We might not know what to say or how to pray, but we have a Helper in the Holy Spirit.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Eph. 6:18)

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Rom. 8:26)

  • We might underestimate the enemy and consequently don’t pull on God’s mighty power as needed.

God has a formidable foe who doesn’t want us praying. Satan knows the power of prayer. We must be aware of the devil’s lies and schemes to get us to doubt God hears or cares, to believe we’re too busy to pray, or that it doesn’t really matter. We must be proactive, putting on the armor God provides, resisting the devil, replacing his lies with truth.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith … (1 Pet. 5:8-9)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. … (Eph. 6:10-18)

When we underestimate any of the above factors, we will tend to find it harder to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17) and to be devoted to prayer (Col. 4:2). But, prayerlessness can also result from what we overestimate — the topic of the next post.

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Prayerlessness Due to a Lack of Benefits?

In the previous post we considered how for many Christians prayerlessness isn’t due to ignorance. We know we should pray, that God commands it. Could it be because we don’t think it’s beneficial?

Can We Really Claim Prayerlessness is Due to a Lack of Benefits?

If we don’t pray because we fail to see its value, or benefit, then we have to reconcile the following:

Prayerlessness Not Due to Lack of Benefits in Praying
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1) God’s Word clearly promotes the benefits of praying.

Read the following verses for just a few of the many specific benefits of praying we find in Scripture:

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Ps. 34:4)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16 … even more in verses 13-18)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

Some of the benefits will be outward demonstrations of God’s power and grace. Others, equally if not more potent, may be internal results affecting our heart attitudes and perspective. There’s definitely something beneficial about prayer if we have a God who keeps His promises.

2) Many believers testify of answers to prayers, attesting to the benefits of praying.

Read through the Psalms for the psalmist’s testimony of God responding to his cries. Listen to fellow believers who have personally experienced God not only hearing but responding to their prayers (Jn. 14:13; 1 Jn. 5:14). There must be something beneficial about prayer or these people are either liars or the exception.

3) Even non-believers seem to value people praying for them.

If nothing else, many non-believers derive comfort and encouragement, a blessing, when a Christian says they will pray for them. There must be something beneficial about prayer for that to happen.

Perhaps rather than claiming a lack of benefits in praying, we must admit our failure to tap into those benefits due to prayerlessness. Surely, then, there must be other reasons why we don’t pray. We’ll look further in the next couple of posts.

GO TO: More on Prayer

Prayerlessness Due to Ignorance?

To be sure, we live in a Bible illiterate world. Even many Christians lack a good or thorough knowledge of God’s Word. Yet, for many believers, prayerlessness is not due to ignorance. Most of us concur with the importance of prayer and the need to make it a priority. Even unbelievers tend to appreciate prayer offered on their behalf, particularly when going through crisis.

Prayerlessss Due to Ignorance of God’s Commands to Pray?

Verses like the following, written as commands rather than suggestions, exhort us to make prayer a constant priority in our lives:

God Commands Us to Pray, Prayerlessness not an OptionDevote yourselves to prayer. (Col. 4:2)

Pray continually. (1 Thess. 5:17)

Always keep on praying for all the saints. (Eph. 6:18)

Prayerlessss Due to Ignorance of what to pray?

Many Christians at least know what has come to be known as the Lord’s prayer in Luke 11:1-5, a pattern Jesus provided in response to the disciples’ request for Him to teach them to pray.

But, prayer really isn’t complicated. Simply “pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Ps. 62:8). Jesus stressed how praying isn’t about to be about the quantity of our words or eloquence in how we speak but merely being real with God (Matt. 6:1-8).

We don’t need a degree in theology to pray. We don’t have to be “spiritual giants” to pray. Even new believers who know very little about God and His Word can pray.

So, if for many or most of us, prayerlessness isn’t due to ignorance, then why don’t we pray? In the next three posts we’ll continue to respond to that question. Subscribe to receive e-mail notice of new posts.

Check out this Resource: Prayer Bits: Small Bits But Big Truths on Prayer Devotional

Wisdom’s Outcomes Contrasted

We know we need wisdom to navigate today’s world. But, there’s a big difference at their very core between spiritual wisdom versus earthly wisdom. A faulty or weak foundation leads to unsatisfactory, even devastating, results. The bad outcome may not evidence itself immediately, perhaps not until far into the future, but ultimately a poor foundation fails to hold up.

The Immediate Outcome of Spiritual Wisdom Contrasted with Earthly Wisdom

When we try to live the Christian life using earthly wisdom, or when we try to operate the church on the basis on earthly wisdom, we usually end up with duty … regulations that “have the appearance of wisdom” but lack power and prudence to protect us from sin (Col. 2:20-23). We put undue burdens on ourselves that pull us down rather than lift us up.

But, when we look to the Lord for wisdom and walk in His ways personally and as a church, we end up with delight … for His wisdom is “like honey for you”, sweet to your soul, and “there is a future hope for you” (Prov. 10:23; 24:14) which results in an ability to thrive even in difficult circumstances.

Applying God’s wisdom in life may not always produce pleasant results right now because we live in a fallen world that opposes God and His ways. But, regardless of the immediate consequences that come from decisions based on spiritual wisdom, we have the peace, comfort, and hope needed to make it. We can face a lot of negativity and adversity when it is well with our souls.

Think about it: Which is better — internal or external results?

The Long Term Outcomes of Spiritual Wisdom Contrasted with Earthly Wisdom

We might struggle to apply spiritual wisdom rather than earthly wisdom because of the immediate outcome. Sometimes decisions born out of spiritual wisdom don’t always produce the immediate results we want whereas earthly wisdom might. We can regain perspective if we look at the long term outcomes.

The long-term outcome of spiritual wisdom? — deliverance (Prov. 2:12; 4:6; 28:26)

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Pet. 5:10)

The long-term outcome of earthly wisdom? — destruction (Prov. 10:14; 14:11-12)

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. (Prov. 14:12)

Think about it: Which is better — temporal or eternal results?

It just doesn’t make sense to trust in ourselves or to walk in the ways of the world (earthly wisdom) when God’s ways (spiritual wisdom) ultimately lead to the right outcome. Let’s not be deceived into missing out on God’s best because of shortsightedness. Remember God’s word in Isaiah 55:9 — “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”