According to Paul, the first thing we are to do is pray. The second thing is to supplicate. There is a difference.
Prayer is our petition to God, defining our need and should be in accordance with what God has said He will supply. Requesting things that are not part of our covenant are useless, and are not honored by God.
Let us consider some examples. Are we asking God to give us someone else’s job? Are we coveting someone else’s house? Are we envious of what others possess? It is a good thing to consider our prayers and analyze our motives and what we ask for.
Supplication is the word deesis. It is often translated as prayer, but the two are different. Paul told us In Everything... by Prayer... and Supplication—with Thanksgiving to let our requests be made known to God.
This means that in everything and not for everything as I just said, by prayer; both prayer, with thanksgiving; let your requests be made known to God.
How often do we pray and make our needs known, but do not give thanks for the results before we see it physically manifested? Faith believes that it receives before it is seen by the physical eye. This is how faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1-4.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
When Jesus stood at the door of Lazarus’ tomb, He prayed.
So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, "Remove the stone." Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, " Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. “I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me." When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." John 11:38-44.
Jesus thanked the Father before the miracle was manifested and witnessed by everyone there.
Jesus had no doubt as to what was about to take place. He knew the faithfulness of the Father. This was faith in action! Should we believe no less? When we became born again, we entered into a covenant relationship with God and under the terms of this covenant, God has promised to meet all our need according to His riches in Glory in Christ Jesus according to Philippians 4:19.
If God has promised, do we doubt that He will fulfill His commitment? Therefore, faith does not doubt, but believes it receives at the time of the request (prayer).
Jesus reinforces this truth-
"Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:21-22.
The word receive gives us the idea of someone seizing; taking hold of; or attaining, what is offered. We could therefore say, “whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you (lambano) take hold of it." It does not mean that we will receive or could receive something that is yet to come. It refers to taking hold of the things tht God has already provided.
For what are you believing? Is it something Jesus has provided through His New Covenant? If so, the provision is there. You just need to ask and take hold of what He has provided. Then offer true thanksgiving from a grateful heart—a heart that knows God has heard and has fulfilled His promise.
With such thoughts in us, that we must learn to put inside us and keep putting inside us in the way a musician keeps practicing to perfect his or her playing, we can then start seeing things as already completed. If it is completed, then we can rejoice. If there is a hope and a future, we can rejoice. If deliverance is promised we can rejoice. If provision is guaranteed, we can rejoice.
If opposition comes, we can rejoice. If the devil is working overtime on our case to discredit us, we can rejoice. If he is trying to put sickness on us we can rejoice.
We do not have to accept the things the devil is trying to do to us, but we do have a certain hope and future destiny and we can rejoice, and again I say rejoice...
Paul dictated such things to Epaphroditus when he was chained to a wall in a dungeon in Rome.
When men around him were dropping like flies and their bodies cast into the sewer to float away in the river, he came out and came out with money! He could start again and did. He opened a new office and wrote most of his epistles from there—having learned and practiced what he and I just said.
Now, we all go through adversity. None of us is immune to attacks, tests, and trials. It doesn’t matter how spiritual you are or how long you have been a Christian. I dislike hearing people say that the devil has been attacking them because they often give more credit to him than they do to Jesus when they say that. I feel like replying, “What makes you so important and what have you done that will cause the devil who can only be in one place at a time to single you out and attack you?” but I know full well that things can and do happen. We’re all subject to attacks from time to time.
Satan designs each attack to do one thing—get you to quit! He wants you to turn your back on God and come to the place that you say, “Why bother?” “It’s too hard.” “This faith thing isn’t working.”
As Paul found, there is a way to turn obstacles into opportunities, opposition into acceptance and setbacks into stepping stones.
After years of opposition, having been arrested, beaten, imprisoned and shipwrecked, then Paul started his letter to the Philippians. In Chapter 1, verse 12, by saying, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”
What he said was, “The things that I have gone through didn’t cause me to quit, didn’t cause me to say ‘it’s not worth it’, didn’t cause me to stop going to church, didn’t cause me to quit tithing and it didn’t cause me to quit praying.”
He said, “All it’s done is cause furtherance of the Gospel.”
He said that in the Mamertime Prison, but something had to happen in his life to be able to say that. Something might have to happen like that for you too and it will! Paul learned to adopt a positive stance and stop thinking wrong thoughts.
So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on! And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out.” Philippians 1:8.
When you’re under pressure, always ask yourself this question, “How will I respond?” Because how you respond will determine if you fall flat or you go forward, whether you will cave in or whether you will rise up.
Paul asked himself that question and immediately made a decision. Despite his circumstances, look at what he said-
...my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered.
All the soldiers here, and everyone else too, found out that I'm in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they've learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the Christians here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah. Philippians 1:12-14.
Even in that prison, he faced things that would cause you or me to react badly. Fellow Christians weren’t helping matters. I know what that is like. Sometimes the greatest opposition can come from those we expect to understand and support us.
It's true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they'll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I'm out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them. Philippians 1:15-17
Instead of having a pity party, Paul asked himself, “How will I respond?” That is the best thing anyone of us could do. I’ve been there too and it is not easy.
The next thing to do then is to do what he did. He made a decision.
So how am I to respond? I've decided that I really don't care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on! And I'm going to keep that celebration going because I know how it's going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don't expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn't shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I'm Christ's messenger; dead, I'm his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can't lose. As long as I'm alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I'd choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better . But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it's better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues. You can start looking forward to a great reunion when I come visit you again. We'll be praising Christ, enjoying each other.
Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance. Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people's trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition. Your courage and unity will show them what they're up against: defeat for them, victory for you—and both because of God. There's far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There's also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. You're involved in the same kind of struggle you saw me go through, on which you are now getting an updated report in this letter. Philippians 1:18-30.
The key that opened a treasure vault of revelation came out of his mouth- “I have decided.”
How are you going to respond to adversity? Ask yourself that question and then make a decision to stand and stick with that decision all the way through.
As for me, I have decided to follow Paul’s example and I’m declaring by faith, “I cannot be defeated.”
I have faced this decision many times. I wanted to quit many times. When no one believed in me; when I had lost everything in life, watched my precious son die; been abused and discarded by other preachers and fellow believers, the Lord ministered to me too and I made a good decision. As a result, my best years are just starting and some of you are part of it!
If you lay hold upon the powerful principles that this man has demonstrated for us, then when you’re facing your toughest battles, you too will see pressure turned into progress.
Don’t fall for the false idea that the reason you’re under attack is always because you’ve done something wrong.
So many believers automatically think, “What did I do wrong to cause this attack?” Sometimes that is the case, but not always. If there is sin in your life and you are suffering for it, get it out. Repent, apologize, receive forgiveness and get back on track and start playing again.
Often times, attacks come because you’re doing something right!
Did you see that?
You might be doing it right and this has caused the enemy to react, but that’s all he can do. You are the one who made an advancement!
You are the one making progress, so rejoice!
Paul was doing it right and said that because of the abundance of revelations he had received, a messenger of Satan was sent to buffet him.
He was advancing and the messenger of Satan was assigned to shut him up, but he couldn’t do it.
When the going gets tough, it is time for the tough to get going. People do not remember quitters, but they remember those who had a go, even if they didn’t win. Do you remember Roger Bannister?
He was the first man to break the four minute mile.
Do you remember the ones who quit? I don’t!
Thomas Edison invented many devices, including the phonograph, carbon microphones, the motion picture camera and the electric light bulb. He did all those things as a deaf man and after hundreds and hundreds of failed experiments. After a failure, instead of quitting, he merely decided that was not the way to do it and kept trying until success came.
In line with my theme, he kept practicing!
Your greatest day could be on the horizon. Your breakthrough could be around the corner.
You and I have to make a decision and we might have to make that decision every morning. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so determine certain things and say certain things—every day. To help you, prepare your own calendar or diary where you can write your own faith confessions and declarations of God's word. Make a quality decision to say adhere to a schedule just like the musicians in a symphony orchestra regularly gather for practice. Even the best of them started somewhere. When they started, they were beginners who had to learn the scales and practice, practice, practice until perfection comes and even then keep practicing.
You can do that.
Whatever you’ve been going through, whatever opposition you’ve experienced, you can turn pressure into progress.
The God of the breakthrough has broken through for others and He will do it for you.
Every advancement that you make in your walk with God could bring along with it new attacks from the adversary.
New levels means new devils.
Every time you experience an advancement in your walk with God, you can count on it, that adversity will come to try and stop that advancement.
Every time you experience a fresh anointing, right along with it, will come adversity to try and shut you up.
It gets the darkest just before the dawning.
Now listen up. When you feel like you can’t take it anymore, this could indicate that satan just fired his best shot.
If that one doesn’t get you, he’s done, he’s finished, and you win!”
All Satan did by throwing Paul in prison was push him to another level.
Determine right now that all Satan has done by attacking you is push you to another level!
Are you determined to stay in faith? Then let the Lord know that giving up is not an option.
You’ve come too far to give up, to turn back. Your breakthrough is on the horizon! God is going to cause you to flourish, abound, and increase!
May our lives be a symphony of praise...