Learn, Love, Lift in Prayer: Obstacles to Victory

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Learn, Love, Lift in Prayer: Obstacles to Victory - how personal holiness impacts human trafficking efforts (A Divine Encounter)

Today, the 27 million slaves in the world are on my mind.

Lately, they’re never far from it. And I’m thankful for that.

But it’s a little bit different right now…

This is a hard post to write. Thoughts and ponderings so fresh are often difficult to articulate. Nevertheless, God is urging me to press on just the same.

You see, He’s been laying His hand heavily on me recently.

He does that sometimes.

And I don’t really know why or what it all means. But I’m sensing change in the air.

Mostly change in me.

It started with a tremendous burden concerning all the evil in the world. Which suddenly seemed somewhat paradoxical.

Have you noticed that there just might be more people praying for the world than ever before? More people than ever are combatting social injustice, participating in human trafficking efforts. Information is spreading. Awareness is escalating. Compassion is exploding.

And while it encourages me to see Christ-followers developing a heart for the social issues close to God’s heart, I have to wonder…

is it doing any good? Is justice prevailing?

Or is evil continuing its advance?

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me like the latter is true. Sure, there are small pockets of  improvement. Tiny areas of victory.

But I’m not sure it’s what it should be. What it could be.

You see, I have a sneaking suspicion that our work is being obstructed. Our passion is burning on the wrong fuel. And our prayers aren’t getting very far.

The thing is, God Himself doesn’t want our prayers to be hindered. He invites them countless times in Scripture. And just like I enjoy giving my children good gifts, He delights to give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11).

Not to mention the fact that hindered prayers reveal that my relationship with Him isn’t quite what it should be. That same relationship He paid dearly to secure.

And so, gracious God that He is, He tells us why our prayers fall short of His ear. And it boils down to one thing: sin (Psalm 66:18).

Sins like erecting idols in our hearts, failing to put Him first in our affections and our devotion (Ezekiel 14:2-5).

Or disobedience (Proverbs 28:9), turning away from the principles in His Word.

Or simple selfishness (James 4:3), seeking the gifts more than the Giver, beckoning His favor for the wrong reasons.

Or even something as seemingly innocuous as family discord (I Peter 3:7), not living in harmony together, refusing God-given roles within marriage, and rejecting biblical principles of home and family.

Over the past couple of weeks, God has been giving me just the tiniest glimmer of a glimpse into His holiness.

And He’s been reminding me that this is the life to which He’s calling me. A holy one.

Not in a pull-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps kind of way.

But in a cast-myself-utterly-at-His-mercy kind of way.

And definitely in an obey-Him-unreservedly and follow-Him-unabashedly kind of way.

And He’s also been revealing that there’s so much at stake when it comes to this matter of holiness.

You see, He wants to use the time I offer Him in service to others.

He wants to answer my prayers poured out for the oppressed.

He wants to receive back the treasures I offer – those same treasures He first granted me.

He wants to make use of the talents I present to Him on behalf of those in need.

The long and short of it is, He wants to use me.

But every single bit of all that I do amounts to a great big waste if I’ve severed ties with the only One who can equip me to do what He calls me to do. Because though all things are possible with Him (Mark 10:27), apart from Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5).

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable,

he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy,

useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

2 Timothy 2:21 

Dear friends, if the plight of the poor, the orphan, the oppressed, and the enslaved has become a burden on your heart, don’t you want your prayers to matter? Don’t you want your time to make a difference? Don’t you want to watch God miraculously accomplish the impossible, and to have the joy of knowing you played just the smallest part in it?

If you and I want to be a “vessel for honorable use…useful to the Master…ready for every good work,” we must cleanse ourselves from what is dishonorable. We must be set apart as holy.

Lord God, we praise You for Your grace, which makes us desire holiness…

for Your forgiveness, which allows us to achieve it…

for Your Spirit, which prompts us to pursue it… 

and for Your sacrifice, which compels us to walk in it. 

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2 Replies to “Learn, Love, Lift in Prayer: Obstacles to Victory”

  1. Leah Adams

    What timely encouragement to make sure our hearts are right, before we ‘go to offer our gifts’ and prayers to the Lord. He esteems a repentant heart. I wrote an entire week of the Legacy Bible study about holiness. Holiness is hard, and we don’t speak of it much for that very reason. Thanks for the reminder to keep our hearts and hands clean before him, sweet friend.

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Holiness is hard, isn’t it? It’s one of those hard things to talk about, and even hard to write about. And yet, when we see how very precious it is, we’re gifted with the inspiration to press on. Thank you for your example in this!


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