On December 8, 2017, I had surgery on my right shoulder for a full thickness tear of my supraspinatus tendon as well as for a bone spur. The pain following surgery was worse than I had imagined it would be.
One day, early in my recovery process, my husband, who is an occupational therapist, was doing some passive range of motion exercises on my shoulder. As I sat on the stool with tears streaming down my face, he leaned over and gave me a kiss on the top of my head as if to say “I know. I love you.”
I occasionally think back to this moment and one day it dawned on me that this is a lot like God’s response to us. When we are going through life’s trials and pain, God leans over, gives us a kiss, and says “I know. I love you.”
How easy it is to forget when life gets us down that God is right there with us. It is sometimes difficult to feel His presence through the pain. Have you ever gone through a difficult time, praying and pleading with God to help you, only to still feel so alone? It is in these times that we must rely on faith. Hebrews 13:5 states “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Prior to my surgery, I listened to Dwight Nelson’s three-part series on the Holy Spirit. He mentioned a book called Steps to Personal Revival by Pastor Helmut Haubeil. You can download the book for free.
This must-read book for all Seventh-Day Adventists led me to another book, 40 Days: Prayers and Devotions to Prepare for the Second Coming by Dennis Smith. It was at this time that I received a mysterious (divine?) $10 gift card from Amazon which I used to purchase the book for $9.99, including shipping. I began reading this book just prior to my surgery, with my mom as my prayer partner, and completed reading it following my surgery, not missing a day during that 40-day time period.
It was at this time that I saw first-hand the importance of praying God’s promises. Dennis Smith mentions in his 40 Days book that he learned about the ABC’s of prayer through Glenn Coon’s book, ABC’s of Bible Prayer, which encompasses a simple formula - Ask, Believe, Claim.
Of course the asking step for us is the easy part. How often our prayers are filled with a wish list of wants, desires, and also needs. We often treat God like some kind of year-round Santa Claus where we throw up our list into heaven of all the things we want, and just hope that God grants us at least some of them. We sometimes treat our relationship to our heavenly Father with a one-sided “what’s in it for me” kind of attitude. But is that the kind of relationship God wants with you? Is that the kind of relationship you want with God?
Don’t get me wrong. It is okay to ask for things in prayer. We are given so many Bible examples of this happening that I do not need to expound on this. The Bible even goes on to say in Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” So go ahead - ask! However, don’t forget B and C.
Mark 11:24 states
“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
At first glance, this sounds like God will give us whatever we want - like a genie released from a bottle. However, don’t forget that when we pray, we should ask according to God’s will. 1 John 5:14 states:
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:”
Will we always get what we want? No. And thank God for that! How I would much rather have God work out His good and perfect will rather than rely on my feeble understanding of what is best for me. But if we pray according to God’s will, we can believe and know for certain that He will hear and answer our prayers.
There are certain things I can pray for that I already know is God’s will, such as the salvation for family and friends, however most other things I pray for should always be accompanied with, according to Jesus’s example, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10). God always knows what is best and I can rest assured that in praying for God’s will to be done in my life and my loved one’s lives, the outcome is one that will be best for all, as long as we cooperate with His will. What a comfort and peace those prayers can be!
Right before my shoulder surgery, I was able to pray for God to be with me and for the surgery to go well if it was according to His will. I was then able to let go and let His will be done with whatever happened. I rested in His arms and had a sense of peace that was very comforting and reassuring. Although it is hard to let go of this control, reminding ourselves that God knows what is best will always help. Keep in mind Romans 8:28:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
This leads us to the C of the ABC’s of prayer - Claim. This is the part of praying for me that gives me the most comfort. We can claim God’s promises in the Bible, even before we see any answer to our prayer. We can have complete confidence that God will do what He says He will do. God does not lie (Numbers 23:19).
Are you going through trials? Claim Isaiah 43:2:
“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:…”
Are you being afflicted? Claim 2 Corinthians 4:17:
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
Are you struggling with knowing God’s will in decisions to be made? Claim Psalm 32:8:
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”
Are you feeling weak? Claim Joshua 1:9:
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Are you feeling weary? Claim Matthew 11:28:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Are you in need of comfort? Claim 1 Corinthians 1:3,4:
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
Are you afraid? Claim Isaiah 41:10:
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Are you in need of peace? Claim John 14:27:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Are you in trouble? Claim Psalm 46:1-3:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”
Are you feeling overwhelmed with the cares of life? Claim 1 Peter 5:7:
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
And, if all else fails, remember Jesus’s ultimate promise that He will come again to take us home to that glorious heavenly kingdom. Claim John 14:1-3:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Ellen White also writes in Christ’s Object Lessons about God’s promises in His Word stating:
“In every command and in every promise of the Word of God is the power, the very life of God, by which the command may be fulfilled and the promise realized” (38.1).
So the next time you are going through trials, are afflicted, don’t know what to do, are feeling weak and weary, are in need of comfort, are afraid and in need of peace, are in trouble, or are feeling overwhelmed — remember to Ask, Believe, and Claim God’s promises. And remember too, God is leaning over and giving you a kiss saying “I know. I love you.”
Stacey Johlman is a Speech-Language Pathologist residing with her husband in Ocala, Florida.