A Wisdom Retreat – December 16

Prayer Changes Nothing

Nehemiah 1:5-6

I said, “I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant . . . we have sinned against You.”

Prayer that gets past the living room ceiling is prayer that recognizes, first and foremost, that God is sovereign and man is nothing more than a servant. Proper praying places God on His throne and mankind at His feet.

Prayer is not having our way with God—it is God having His way with us. Prayer is not our manipulating and controlling God—it is God influencing and controlling us. It is not our putting pressure on God—it is God putting the pressure on us!

If you are not willing to change, to submit, to work, then whatever you do—do not pray!

The great preacher, Donald Grey Barnhouse, once shocked his congregation by beginning a sermon with these words, “Prayer changes nothing.” You could have heard a pin drop. His comment was designed to make Christians think about the sovereignty of God—that God is seated in the heavens and nothing ever surprises Him or falls outside His control.

We’re due a good reminder as well. Prayer isn’t our attempt to bribe, cajole, or convince God to change. In the scriptural accounts that seem to indicate that God changed His mind, the broader context reveals that it was actually part of His sovereign plan. He is unchangeable.

I think Barnhouse’s statement is correct but incomplete. When Nehemiah fell on his knees before God, begging God to show grace to His people, something did change. Was it God’s will? No!  It was Nehemiah’s heart. To Barnhouse’s statement, I would add that prayer changes nothing about God . . . but everything about us.

Powerful prayer does not change God’s heart . . . it radically changes ours.

Prayer Point: Pray and commit your plans to the authority and will of God, rather than asking Him to make certain things happen. Thank Him for His unchangeable character and faithfulness.

Extra Refreshment: Read Psalms 51 and Nehemiah 1.


The Advent Event

December is one of the busiest months of the year. As Christians, we approach the Christmas season with the intention of focusing on the incarnation and making it a significant time. But it’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season—the parties, the decorations, the presents and the special events at church. Before we know it, the month of December has flown by, and we wonder where the time went.

One of the most significant things a family can do in December is to be intentional about finding time every day to think about the true meaning of Christmas. The Advent Event is an easy, fun and enriching family project to help focus attention on the birth of Jesus while discovering the big picture of God’s plan throughout the entire Bible.

Each day in December, the family sets aside a few minutes together for this activity. There is a simple coloring craft, a story from God’s Word and a motion to learn that helps children remember the timeline of Scripture. Most importantly, these resources provides a special family time that Moms and Dads can use to reconnect their families to the spiritual significance of Christmas; the birth of Jesus, our Savior.