Do you have hopes, dreams, goals, or future expectations that are delayed? Have your answers to prayer been deferred? Many of us struggle to find answers to our hopes and dreams. The Co-Vid restrictions, business closures, and unknown factors may have delayed a lot of your plans and certainly has for the author of this Blog.[i]
Proverbs 13:12 describes our feelings: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy.” (The Living Bible)
There are three good ways to learn about prayer and hope–studying the Word that describes God’s promises, hearing testimonies of answers to prayer, and listening to encouraging worship music. So, let’s [ii]look at the Bible, some songs that will ignite our hope, and a real-life story of a long-term struggle for answers to prayer.
Hope and Prayer in the Bible
Zechariah 9:12 where the prophet reminded the Israelites in exile that they should “Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.”
The phrase “prisoners of hope” refers to the hope of the exiled people, but another interpretation is that it applies to anyone who feels “locked up” but still believes that there is hope. We remember being in a small group of parents who had worries over their children who had disabilities. The pastor leading the group gave us this Zechariah verse as encouragement that we can NOT GIVE UP our hopes that our children have a future (like prisoners who cannot stop hoping!).
Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
In Luke chapter 18, Jesus used the parable of the persistent widow to “show them that they should always pray and not give up.” The widow had been repeatedly asking a disbelieving judge to grant her justice against her adversary. The Judge turned her down several times. However, after the widow kept asking, the Judge finally gave her the justice she disserved. In other words, be persistent in prayer and keep believing in your cause.[iii]
Another important guideline for prayer comes again from Jesus. As part of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, chapters 5 through 7, Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer in chapter 6:9-13, a model of effective prayer. Included in the prayer are directions to ask that God’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Obviously, in heaven, all the saints know that God is always righteous, filled with grace, and wants His believers to be blessed. So, we should likewise believe! The strongest prayers in my life have been those that appealed to heaven, asking that a bad situation would be turned toward Kingdom purposes. For example, praying for a missionary’s illness might appeal to the fact that the missionary is needed to spread the Gospel to the nations.[iv]
In chapter 7, Jesus told us to “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” He goes on to say that the Father gives “good things to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:7 and 7:11).
Almost 50 years ago there was a young boy in our extended family that was born with disabilities. He had difficulties in school from the beginning of pre-school and had a genetic condition that affected his diet, requiring demanding restrictions on what he could eat. Other children and even teachers could not seem to understand these conditions, especially when he was required to enter special education classes. Sadly, many children seem to enjoy making fun of anyone who seems “different,” so they would call him names, bully him, and even throw away some of his food at lunch time. Even when the parents met with teachers or the Principal, little action was taken to help him.[v]
The parents were frustrated and prayed fervently to make things better for the boy as he got older. Even some churches had Sunday-school teachers that did not understand the boy’s disabilities and required him to read scriptures aloud only resulting in his embarrassment. Sadly, these experiences caused the boy to feel a negatively about church, refusing to attend church as he got older. At one point, the young man began to reject any attempt for family members to pray over him in person.
Doctors and some teachers finally came alongside of the family and helped to some degree. Also, they began to explore the areas that the young man might enjoy and excel in, such as different sports, hobbies, or skills.[vi] Pastors and friends joined into the prayers and expectations. Finally, after much prayer, some skills were identified, and the young man was able to graduate from high school and get training in a vocational program that led to helpful employment.
As the young man approached 50 years old, the parents began to see a transformation. The young man became a strong believer and began a successful business that included a ministry. So, the parents began to say to others, “Never give up—even if it takes more than 40 years.” And they would say the same to anyone reading this Blog!
Some Hope-Building Worship Music
- Two songs from Chris Tomlin’s “Holy Roar” CD collection include an Ed Cash song, “Nobody Loves me Like You” that includes declarations we all can repeat—“I worship You as long as I am breathing. God you are faithful to me!” I personally try to hear this song over and over! Also, “Praise is the Highway” (to the throne of God) by Brian Johnson, and others including Chris Tomlin reminds us that continued praise helps even when we can see no worldly progress. (This song is also on the “Victory” CD by Bethel Music).
- One of the songs that has stimulated numerous people to contact us, asking to receive Jesus as Savior—“Raise a Hallelujah” by Jonathan and Melissa Helser and others. The “long version” of the song, with Jonathan telling the story behind the song has had the biggest impact. The story of the young boy who was near death, causing Jonathan to raise hallelujahs that God was stronger than the spirit of death, has had a profound impact on many of us (the video version on YouTube shows the boy, his parents, and the explanation by Helser). Also, there are more impactful songs on that Victory CD, including the Goodness of God, Stand in Your Love, and Praise is the Highway.[vii]
- How can we not mention “Waymaker” by Michel W. Smith and friends? This song also brings new believers and boldly decrees that God is a “Promise keeper and Miracle worker.” The most intense and spiritual version of this song (and several others like “Miracles” are in the recording of the “Surrounded” event in 2019 in Nashville (much of this is on YouTube also).
- We also are blessed by Urban, Southern, and Black Gospel, with blockbusters like “Lost without You,” by Bebe and Cece Winans, “Never Give Up” by Yolanda Adams, and many more by Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, and others.
- Several amazing songs have recently come from Elevation Worship, such as “See a Victory” and “Surrounded” with Brandon Lake, especially the version from the Praise Party, 2019. Also, “Do It Again” that says, “you’ve never failed me.” We play these songs, and they can also be found online at the Elevation website or YouTube. One of the key phrases is “The Battle Belongs to the Lord” that reminds us to pray for your future by asking the Lord to fight against any enemies that are holding us back.
- Watch also for songs on iworship423 by Hillsong (“I Surrender” and “Mighty to Save,”) Passion (e.g., Crowder “I AM holding on to you,” Tomlin, “Great is our God,” “10,000 Reasons”), and many others you can catch on iworship423.
- Jesus Culture also has amazing worship songs. Our long-term favorite remains the “Live from New York” CD which includes several songs by Martin Smith such as “Waiting Here for You” and “Fire Never Sleeps.
- My apologies to the many singers and song writers not mentioned. We do not have enough space in this Blog to list all the great songs. See our “Links” page for more contacts to published music.
Pastor G. Harold
[i] Our delayed calling is writing and equipping the saints in live Bible teaching.
[ii] Scriptures quoted are from the New King James Verse (NKJV) unless otherwise noted.
[iii] Not only does this apply to God’s calling on your life and the life of others, but this also applies to the current delay in the Presidential election in the USA—keep believing!
[iv] Our current Appeal to Heaven, a phrase by Dutch Sheets and a George Washington flag, includes prayers for the USA to remain strong so that more missionaries can be supported to spread the Gospel. To join the national prayer movement, find “Give Him 15” online—a daily prayer movement that asks us to pray for 15-minutes a day.
[v] Compared to 40 years ago, today’s schools pay more attention to stopping bullying.
[vi] If parents of special-needs or difficult children can search and find ONE THING their child loves and excels in, they should put effort into building this into a future vocation. It may take a long time, but it is worth it!
[vii]The Victory CD is available for sale at our online Store (www.iworship423.com) or from Bethel Music, Redding, CA