Overcoming Fear Through Powerful and Practical Prayer
When I am afraid, I fear that God will withhold what I desperately want (and what I am convinced I need). Of course, I can ask God for what I want, and no doubt I should ask, but fear often remains. Perhaps you can relate?
When Rob Hoskins, president of OneHope, spoke here at Riverside, the Lord met me in a wonderful way concerning my fears. In a specific moment in the sermon, Rob told of explosive growth that OneHope experienced early in its history. As opportunities mushroomed, the ministry suddenly faced the need for a dramatic increase in funds to keep pace. Where would the money come from to pay for the printing of the needed Bibles? His father and the founder of the ministry, Bob Hoskins, on his knees in prayer asked God for provision when God impressed this upon his heart: “Nothing is impossible for Me. The door is open before you and I will provide everything you need, but this one thing I require – you must have a pure heart, pure motives.”
God, in His mercy, used the Hoskins’ experience to speak to me that morning: “The doors are already open! God our Father desires to do great things far beyond your capacity and vision. He stands ready to release His provision.” And yet there was this one caveat: this one thing God requires – a pure heart, pure motives.
I knew God wanted my heart to be pure, but I also knew that a pure heart was out of reach. To say that one’s heart must be pure is similar to saying one’s heart must be perfect, and that simply is not realistic. I understood that our growth in God progresses gradually in this life, remaining incomplete until this life is over, but I failed to make proper application of this truth to my prayer life. The purifying of our hearts in prayer advances incrementally, running parallel all the while to our requests for God’s provision in other areas. Progress in one of these areas provokes and supplements growth in the others.
It broke before me, not as a burden too heavy to bear, but as the practical key to a supernatural prayer life. God wants our hearts, and He will withhold nothing once He gets them. Yes, our hearts are impure, but this is the beauty of grace. When we come to God and repent of an impure heart, God answers. When we invite God to cleanse the inner me, God answers. When we purpose to live for God’s glory and for the fame of God and not ourselves, God answers! He moves; He forgives; He cleanses; He empowers, not because we now instantly deserve it, but because His Son and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, secured our forgiveness now and forever. Where sin overwhelms, grace overwhelms all the more!
It is a little bit like pointing our sails in the right direction and letting the wind of God’s Spirit do the rest. And even more so, it is like asking God to help us direct and position the helm so that the sails are properly aligned. It is grace, but this grace does not render me inactive; rather, it directs me toward practical and powerful action. It is grace that asks and presents. Presents? Yes, we present ourselves to God – seeking Him and not just His provision.
The movement on my part is practical – I seek God and the cleansing of my heart. The result is powerful – God fills my heart with not only His presence but also with the overwhelming assurance of His goodness toward me. His promises take hold and create faith within the inner person. Godly vision now displaces fear as we progressively give our souls over to God.
The next time I am afraid, instead of fearing, let me ask God, but let me also seek God. I will lay my heart before God and ask Him to examine and to wash my desires and motivations. I will commit myself afresh to Him. There is a door and it is already open. God will now orient my heart and then unleash the glories of His abundance as I walk through His open door.
This, of course, is not to imply that God always gives us exactly what we want. The truth is that if we did get exactly what we want, we would still live in fear, the fear of losing what we now possess. We need more than external change; we need God to come in and renovate our hearts with his fear-defeating presence.
So join me in a practice that renders us ready for the power of God. Seek God’s specific provision and seek the purification of your own heart in the fullness of His Spirit.
Riverside Church’s Special Messages include a collection of topical or seasonal messages from our pastors and guest speakers.Listen to this sermon entitled The Power to Overcome Fear by Brian Brookins: