*Prayer and God’s Promises.
For a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
1 Peter 1:6 NIV
More especially in time of sickness and pain does Satan press us with his might, “Does God not say, ‘Without holiness no one shall see the Lord? You know holiness is the full image of God, and how far is this out of your sight! You cannot attain unto it. All these things you have suffered in vain. You are yet in your sins, and you must perish in the last.”
If your eye is not steadily fixed on Him who has borne all your sins, Satan will again bring you under that fear of death in which you were once subject to bondage. By this means he impairs, if not wholly destroys, your peace as well as joy in the Lord. Now, the peace of God is a precious means of advancing the image of God in us. There is scarcely a greater help to holiness than this—a continual tranquility of spirit, the evenness of a mind fixed upon God, a calm repose in the blood of Jesus.
Without this, it is scarcely possible to grow in grace and in the vital knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. So, hold fast the beginning of your confidence steadfast to the end. You shall undoubtedly receive the promise of God, for time and for eternity. Be anxiously careful for nothing. Only make your requests known without doubt or fear but with thanksgiving to the One who has made these precious promises (see Philippians 4:6).
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
In this twenty-ninth lesson on prayer, Wesley aptly describes how Satan attacks us when we are down; specifically, when we find ourselves in sickness and pain. The enemy of our soul will even go so far as to place the reason of our sickness on our lack of faith or lack of holiness. When we are feeling the worst, the enemy will try to mire us in shame and despair.
In Hebrews 12:1-13 we are instructed:
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed” (NASB).
Wesley once wrote, “God only requires of his adult children that their hearts be truly purified, and that they offer him continually the wishes and vows that naturally spring from perfect love. For these desires, being the genuine fruits of love, are the most perfect prayers that can spring from it.”
Let us first believe that our sickness and pain are not the discipline of the Lord. It is our response to these ailments and the enemy’s accusations against us that the Lord wants to tutor us in. This is the discipline we can be glad for. Jesus has taken our sin; He has paid for our shame. Our discipline is simply to fix our eyes on Him and maintain “a calm repose in the blood of Jesus.”