If I ask you today, “How many of you pray?,” I am sure almost everyone here will raise up your hands. We all believe in the power of prayer. We want God to answer our prayers. However, when it comes down to our own individual lives and our own problems, most people don’t pray like we ought to. Our praying in difficult times become selfish. Our prayers often condemn our enemies and we often don’t have the faith to believe God will answer. So how to pray in difficult times? Is there any pattern in the Bible for us to follow for some guidance for praying in difficult times?
PRAYING IN DIFFICULT TIMES
Habakkuk 3 This chapter gives us some guidelines on how to pray in difficult times.
We have been looking at the prophetic book of Habakkuk for the past couple of weeks. Habakkuk starts off this book having a problem with God. Therefore Habakkuk’s questions were: Why was God allowing them to sin? Sin brought disaster in the land. So Habakkuk prayed for a change in their condition which never happened. When God finally answers, God told that he will use the Babylonians to defeat Judah and take them captive. Habakkuk could not come to terms with it.
Habakkuk found answers to his problem. He backed off from his problem and concentrated on God. He gave up on what he didn’t know and started remembering what he did know about God. God is eternal, God is self-existent, God is holy, God is almighty and God is faithful. Therefore he decided to wait until God answers him in chapter 2. Sure did God answer Habakkuk. God said, “What I am doing is for judgement on sin and through the judgement I will bring salvation.” Israel could repent, Babylonians could repent but salvation will cone only for those who are justified by faith.
In chapter 2, God has already given him the answer. In Chapter 3 we have the response of Habakkuk to the answer of God.
This is really a prayer. See the title: Habakkuk 3 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet.
This chapter is a classic example of a great prayer. This prayer gives us some guidelines on praying in difficult times.
FOUR ASPECTS OF HABAKKUK’S PRAYER
Habakkuk 3:2 Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
Habakkuk has come to the conclusion that God’s going to judge sin. He is saying, “God, I’m not praying that you change your plan. God I only care that You be able to work out what You want.”
He does not ask for deliverance. He is not praying against the Babylonians. What he does pray is that God will do His work. The best advice for praying in difficult time is to say, “God, whatever happens to me or anybody else that You be glorified, Your will be done.”
You see Habakkuk had made a fantastic transformation from fear to faith. He started out shaking like a leaf in Chapter 1, and he’s come to great faith in a God that he knows is doing right.
Let me ask you this morning: What’s your main worry? We ought to be praying daily for God to be glorified in our life. That should be the cry and the prayer on the heart of every believer.
But then at the end of verse 2, Habakkuk kind of adds a little note. Habakkuk 3:2b Repeat (your deeds) them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
In wrath remember mercy.
Now he knows that God’s judgment has to come on sin. He seems to be saying God we have not one thing to offer, we have not one thing to say on our behalf, we have nothing to commend ourselves except to ask You to act like Yourself and put a little mercy in with Your judgment.
The judgment finally did come and for a little insight into how God dealt with that prayer of Habakkuk for mercy look at Malachi Chapter 3.
And Malachi had been describing the terrible judgment that was going to come. There was a godly group of people around and they kept hearing the fact that God was going to judge. Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.
There is the mercy with the wrath. Even when God punishes, God remembers concerning those who fear the Lord and honored his name. Malachi 3:17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.”
Before ever God judged and condemned Israel God picked out a remnant that were faithful and This remnant went back to Israel 70 years after the Babylonians had taken Israel into captivity wandered back into that land, rebuilt the temple, and rebuilt the walls. God is always mercy with wrath.
In Chapter 3 verse 3 to 15 Habakkuk remembers God’s faithfulness in Israel’s history.
By the time you get to verse 15 Habakkuk has got so much faith now restored in God looking at what God has done for Israel in the past. Praise brings faith.
Habakkuk 3:15 You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters. He says nothing can stop God, not even the raging sea. If God wants to march right through the sea He can do it
Now we see the key how to praise the Lord in any circumstances. We just look back and we start remembering God’s continued faithfulness. If God was faithful in the past, he will be faithful in the future. Jesus said, “I will never, what, leave you or forsake you.”
Take time to remember God’s faithfulness during a crisis. Don’t worry about the problem. Step back from the problem and get concerned about the God who is and what He means to you.
The next step Habakkuk did is to pour out his fears. Habakkuk is making an open confession to God, “God I am scared.” Habakkuk 3:16 I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.
Habakkuk knew that he was going to stand and watch those that he knew die in front of him.
That’s so human. Sure he was scared. He was really facing some big problems. He was honest enough to say, “God I trust You, I love You, I believe in You. You never make a mistake. I know all that, but I’m scared.”
In his spirit he knows God will not let him die but in his flesh he says, “I am scared.” Don’t let your circumstances corrupt your concept of your relation to God. Habakkuk was perplexed by his problems. He wasn’t at all perplexed in his relation to God.
It doesn’t matter what happens in my world, it doesn’t matter what happens in my circumstances, it does not matter what happens in my life, nothing will ever affect my relationship to God. I don’t like my circumstances but I trust in God.
So we see the first three elements in his prayer: Petition, remembrance, and confession.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 17Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
He says I don’t care if things are not fine with me. I’m going to love You and rejoice in You. I am going to be joyful in my Savior.
See what he says: Habakkuk 3:19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. God’s going to give me speed to run away from anybody who would want to hurt me. God is going to give me Speed. God’s going to put me up in a high place. O what a picture of adoration.
There is a great lesion here on what we can do in times of human weakness. What can you do when you’re faced with all these horrible problems? Here is a key for praying in difficult times. Habakkuk says I’m going to stand here and love God and just keep on loving Him and praising Him no matter what happens. My God will give me speed and he will lift me up. Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”
What is the key for praying in difficult times? This is what we must do friends. When things go wrong, when you hit rock bottom, when you do not know what to do; step back from your problem and come to God with prayer.
In conclusion, come to God with your petition, everything that happens will be for the glory of God. Remembrance what God has done. Remember what God’s faithfulness in the past. Confess your fears to God. Adore God’s name. Be joyful in the Lord. Be joyful in the Lord. God will give you speed. When your circumstances shake, let your relationship to God be unshakeable.
Many times we do not know how to pray at difficult times. Do you know that you have a helper to help us pray? Romans 8:26 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.
Let’s bring our problems to God right now.