Although, I was raised in a Christian family growing up, I cannot say I fully understood the meaning of hope and prayer. In those amateur stages of my life, my mother and the church family constantly prayed for my sister and I, even when we first left for the military. Many Christians may refer to consistent prayer people as prayer warriors. I know truly if it had not been for the power of prayer and those steadfast prayer warriors, I would have lost all hope in surviving to be a better, Christ-like person each day. It is not until recently that I have fully understood what it is to remain hopeful and consistently pray.
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines hope as “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.” This would appear to be a basic and earthly definition of hope.” My definition of “hope” is a deep yearning desire for positive change, whether in health, finances, spirituality, welfare of others, etc. I believe that a person cannot “hope for something” without exhibiting faith. Merriam Webster’s dictionary utilizes a weak diction for the definition of hope in saying “to want something to” or “think that it could” be true! Faith on the other hand is the “conviction that something is true” (Towns, 2007).
As a young Sailor, I use to long and desire for better days while being underway. Things could not have been any worse in my life. I thought I made all the wrong decisions. I felt like I was drowning in a world of sin. When I finally pulled back into port from this arduous underway, I went to church the following Sunday. I remember the preacher discussing the topic of “hope” and he stated something like this, ”you can hope all day, but where is your faith?” That’s when I realized the problem was me, my hope had no matter, most importantly it had no faith. I began to go to church more and listen to the word of God from my pastor and church family, surprisingly it made me feel great on the inside.
According to Elmer Towns, “The Christian’s hope does not arise from his desire or wishes; rather it comes from God Himself, who gives the believer the gift of hope” (Towns, 2007). I believe this statement to be true. The hope I had while on the ship was a human hope, but the hope that is instilled in me now is an affirmed hope. It is a hope that I know everything will be alright and I know God will protect, lead, and guide me the way that I should go. Romans 5:1-2 assures Christians that we are “justified through faith,” “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” The true testament that I can attest to is continued in Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (NIV).
Not only did I take it upon myself to start going to church without my mother telling me to get ready for church, I also began to pray. According to Elmer Towns, prayer is defined as a “face-to-face relationship with God.” Reading God’s Word and personal prayer is the only way to get closer to the Holy Spirit, so that He may be able to lead and guide us in our daily lives. Prayer is what continues our hope for the various issues we may discuss with God, such as “intercession for others, request for needs, praise and adoration to God, meditative prayer (thinking of God), warfare prayer against spiritual enemies, repentance after sinning, prayer of blessing others, and the prayer of faith for physical healing” (Towns, 2007).
As stated before the power of prayer brings us closer to the Holy spirit so that God can guide and direct our paths. This intellectual journey can be referred to as a special encounter. Special encounters with God cannot be predicted. They are proven through faithful prayer and worship to God almighty. There are various situations that biblical authors were in that were blessed to have an encounter with God such as, Moses freeing God’s people (intentional encounter with God) or Job’s heartache and suffering (a specific task). Many times as Christians, we get caught up and forget to praise the Lord, for all the good and bad that happens in our life.
Continuing on with my spiritual journey through prayer, I was able to better handle my work issues and feelings and emotions towards others. When I started to feel like things were getting out of control, I knew my safe haven was God Almighty and that he would take care of all my troubles and cares. I am a living testimony to Psalm 91:2, “I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (NIV). I do believe that God works in mysterious ways, there were times when he completely removed me from situations and then there were time where I had to endure situations much like Job. I can only presume that it was the Lord’s way of testing my faith. Instead of panicking and get all upset like I used to I apply Philippians 4:6-7 to my life. It instructs me to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV).
In conclusion, hope and prayer collectively are what we need to build our relationship with the Lord and to become spiritually inclined in our faith and understanding of Christ and how He wants us to live our lives. Instead of living with human hope, I now live with Christian hope. A hope that does not put me to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into my heart through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to me (Romans 5:5, NIV). When I now think about hope I do not think of it as despair, something that will never change. Instead, I pray to God in hope of a brighter future, in hope of Him to heal the sick, in hope to touch an unbeliever, in hope to fix whatever I need, because I have the conviction in knowing He is able and He will! Romans 12:12 tells us to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (NIV).
***This is dedicated to my Mother. She has instilled in me, key morals and values to leading a successful and prosperous life and they all begin with God and end with God, through hope, prayer, and faith!
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