"We ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled..." ~ II Thes. 2:2 *** "But stir up the gift of God that is within you by the laying on of hands..." ~ II Tim. 1:6

Category: Verse Studies Page 1 of 2

The Meaning of Ps. 37:7 “Rest in the Lord, & wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37 Study – Part 6)

“It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam. 3:26)

This is the last part in a study on how the first few verses of Psalm 37 give us a five-part prescription for resisting the envy and anxiety that come from comparing ourselves to other people or struggling with, “why do good things happen to bad people?”  For ease of reading we’ve split this long study into 6 individual parts, so I recommend starting with the intro to Psalm 37 (which lays the groundwork), then reading the other sections and this one (linked at the end). 

What does it mean to rest in the Lord?

Finally we examine Psalm 37 verse 7:

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him”

Perhaps the most difficult part in Psalm 37, the hardest thing asked of us, is to rest and wait patiently for God…particularly when we’re “fretting” (worked up) about something.

Or maybe that’s just me??  And I think to some extent, the order of these commands in this passage of Psalm 37 is important because they help us build up to this.

You’re working on trusting God and doing good, abiding in Him and consuming His word, finding delight in His commands, entrusting your whole self, life, and worries to Him…and now He says to rest and wait.

The word for “rest” here means to stop, be still, and be silent.  God is telling us that in order to succeed, we must turn down both the speed and volume of our lives.  That, in order to be attuned to His will and the way He’s working in our lives, we must be better at tuning *out* the world.

Do you sometimes lie in bed with your mind racing, maybe stewing over a co-worker getting credit for something you did, or thinking of something you should have said in response to a criticism?  You toss and turn, running over it in your mind, unable to sleep.  King David sure seemed to struggle with this, and his advice was to “meditate [on God’s word] within your heart on your bed and be still” (Ps. 4:4).  In other words, we must re-orient our focus toward God.

God’s sabbath plays an important role in this idea of resting in the Lord.  On the seventh day of every week, He commands us to stop what we’re doing, step back from the frenetic pace of our lives, and place our attention on Him.  Our core spiritual tools of prayer, bible study, meditation, and fasting are also geared toward helping us shift our focus away from the noise of the world, and toward God’s voice.

After accomplishing some astounding things in God’s name, the prophet Elijah was having a self-pity party out in the wilderness.  He railed at God, as he experienced perhaps his lowest moment physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  And God made a point.  He battered and wowed Elijah through a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire.  But none of those gave Elijah what he was looking for (I Kings 19:12).

Finally He came to Elijah with a “still, small voice” (NIV says “delicate whisper”).  God explained that things weren’t as bad as Elijah feared, and encouraged him with the news that God had been working behind the scenes with thousands of faithful followers (which Elijah had no clue about), preparing them for what was to come.

Despite all God’s miracles and Elijah’s role in accomplishing them, he had temporarily lost his focus on God, taken his “eyes off the prize”…and as a result, he got caught up in the discouragement, isolation, and hopelessness he felt in the world around him.

How often are we like Elijah, fixing our eyes and ears (and our minds and our time) on the circumstances around us, anywhere but on God??

Can you hear God when He whispers to you?  Do you know how to “turn down” the speed and noise—in the world, and in your own mind?  Or do you lean into the distractions, filling every spare moment with anything *but* spending time with God?

We should be able to identify when we’re worked up (“fretting”), and consciously work on calming our minds.  This requires focus and discipline, yanking on the ”leash” of our thoughts when they run down a well-worn path, refusing to allow ourselves to dwell constantly on whatever is upsetting us.

What’s your first instinct when you’re worked up about something?  Is it to go to God and place it in His hands (“roll your burden upon Him”, as we saw in the previous study)?  And if so, what comes next?

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10)

What does it look like to “wait on the Lord”?

So, hopefully we’re working on “turning down” the noise of the world around us and being more attuned when God whispers.  How should we then apply the idea of waiting patiently for God?

The word used here for “wait patiently” (chul, H2342), gives us a richer understanding of what’s being asked of us.  It can imply many things, but in this case we should think of it as being firm and strong, enduring and prospering.

The Meaning of Ps. 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord & He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37 Study – Part 5)

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be shaken” (Ps. 55:22)

This is the fifth part in a study on how the first few verses of Psalm 37 give us a five-part prescription for combatting the envy and anxiety that results from comparing ourselves to other people or asking, “why do good things happen to bad people?”  For ease of reading we’ve split this long study into individual parts, so I recommend starting with the intro to Psalm 37 (which lays the groundwork), then reading this and the other sections (linked at the end). 

Next we look at Psalm 37 verse 5:

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass”

The word for “commit” is interesting, a root word where the literal translation is very broad and figurative, and the word translated “your way” is basically your road, path, mode of action, or course of life.

The way we can understand “commit” in this case is “to roll yourself upon,” like a burden is rolled onto a kneeling camel to be carried away—completely relieving you of that burden and carrying it for you.

We can think about this “burden” we roll onto the God in a couple different ways, one more outward and one more inward:

  • Your “road” – your choices, actions, plans, what happens to you, the direction your life takes
  • Yourself – your health, needs and wishes, thoughts, emotions, heart, spirit

What it means to commit yourself to God

It’s worth asking, have you committed your “course of life” to God, placed yourself body, mind, and heart FULLY into His hands?

Committing yourself that completely takes an immense amount of trust!  And let’s be honest, no one gets it right all the time because we’re all human (I mean, look at how King David handled the Bathsheba/Uriah mess…and he was a “man after God’s own heart!”).  But it should be something we consciously think about and strive for.

It’s interesting to note that the main other way that “commit” is used heavily throughout the bible is to commit adultery, fornication, or (more broadly) sin or iniquity.  It’s the same idea of giving your whole self to something—body, heart, and mind.  We commit or give ourselves to God or to the world, but it can’t be both (Matt. 6:24).

James continues this idea of “rolling our burden upon” God and entrusting our path to Him:

“Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the right time He may lift you up. Throw all your anxieties [NKJV “cast your cares”] upon Him, because He cares for you” (I Pet. 5:6-7; CJB).

The Adam Clarke commentary notes that when it says “He cares for you”, what we’re really being told is that “He meddles or concerns Himself with the things that interest you”.  To me, this idea helps it feel even more active and tangible, more real.

And if we believe that what God says there is true—that He concerns Himself with the things that we care about—then that is an incredibly comforting statement!

So the question is, do you believe that?  And if so, how does that change your perspective on the things you’re struggling with?  Have you handed over your worries, fears, struggles, and desperate hopes to your Almighty Father?

This segues nicely into how we can think about the second part of Psalm 37:5, where it tells us that if we commit our way to the Lord, “He shall bring it to pass”, or as the CJB says, “He will act”.

“I will act”:  Do you trust that God will make the right choices?

That seems like a ridiculous question, and it kind of is.  But it starts to get at the heart of our anxieties, and whether we truly trust God (as we explored in part 2).

God tells us that His word “shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please” (Is. 55:1).  He takes an active role in the lives of His people.  God doesn’t have “oopsies”, and nothing happens without His knowledge and permission.

Here are just a few of the many scriptures we can read to remind us of how God views His role in our lives:

  • “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11)
  • “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose…if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:28, 31)
  • “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Do not fear therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29-31)

Where we struggle, though, is that our expectations and timing don’t align with His, because we can’t see the “long game” the way He can.  When it says “He will act”, that is not a promise that we will get everything we want, when we want it.

It IS a promise that He is in control, that He knows what we hope for, that He wants amazing things for us, and that “He will act”.  That’s pretty awesome.

So it’s worth coming back to as we wrap up this section…have you committed your “way” to God?  What do you dedicate your time, energy, and thoughts towards?  What burdens are you trying to lug around yourself?  Do you trust God to act on your behalf and direct the course of your life?

“Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed” (Prov. 16:3, AMP)

Finally we’ll look at Ps. 37:7…”Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.”

Here are the other studies in this series (this is the fifth):

The meaning of Ps. 37:5 "Commit your way to the Lord, & He shall act" | Placing the course of your life & the burdens you carry into God’s hands., what that trust really looks like. Have you TRULY handed over your hopes, fears, struggles, & desires to Him? Psalm 37 study part 5

Ps. 55:22 cast your burdens on the Lord & He will sustain you | Examining the meaning of Ps. 37:5 "Commit your way to the Lord, & He shall act" | Placing the course of your life & the burdens you carry into God’s hands., what that trust really looks like.

What Ps. 37:4 Means: “Delight in the Lord, & He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37 Study – Part 4)

This is the fourth part in a study on how the first few verses of Psalm 37 give us a five-part prescription for combatting the envy & anxiety that come from comparing ourselves to other people or asking, “why do good things happen to bad people?”  For ease of reading we’ve split this long study into individual parts, so I recommend starting with the intro to Psalm 37 (which lays the groundwork), then reading this & the other sections (linked at the end). 

Continuing on to Psalm 37 verse 4, we’re told:

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart”

What does it mean to delight yourself in the Lord? 

That question is a logical place to start.  And for that matter, what does it mean to “delight in” anything??

“Delight” is not a word we use quite as much today, though honestly it’s one that I love.  Some other ways of thinking about this…what do you take great pleasure in, what brings you joy?

What brings contentment to your heart and satisfies your soul?  Can you honestly say that you find enjoyment in God’s commands?  This contentment and satisfaction also builds upon the previous verse’s idea of feeding on faithfulness.

Part of why I love the word “delight” rather than the tamer “happiness” is that it evokes a sense of joy and even childlike or innocent wonder.  It’s also a verb, indicating an active choice to take delight, rather than a passive feeling or reaction.  (There’s that theme of taking action again…)

According to Rhonda Stoppe from Bible Study Tools, “True delight in Him causes us to take our sights off of what we want in order to long for what He desires.”  Now, this doesn’t mean that God will automatically give you that new car you’ve been wanting—this isn’t about a prosperity gospel.

Instead, “The idea behind this verse and others like it is that, when we truly rejoice or ‘delight’ in the eternal things of God, our desires will begin to parallel His and we will never go unfulfilled.”  (link to study on Ps. 20:4 about God fulfilling all your heart’s desires)

What It Means to “Dwell in the land & feed on His faithfulness” (Psalm 37 Study – Part 3)

“You have been a shelter…I will abide in Your tabernacle forever” (Ps. 61:3-4)

This is the third part in a study on how the first few verses of Psalm 37 give us a five-part prescription for combatting the envy and anxiety that come from comparing ourselves to other people or asking, “why do good things happen to bad people?”  For ease of reading we’ve split this long study into individual parts, so I recommend starting with the intro to Psalm 37 (which lays the groundwork), then reading this and the other sections (linked at the end). 

Putting down roots in the land God provides

Let’s pick up where we left off in part 2, with the second half of Ps. 37:3:

Trust in the Lord, and do good…Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness

The second part of verse 3 tells us that if we put our trust in God, He will provide for us both physically and spiritually.  Shelter and food are two of the most fundamental needs of human life.

We’re told to “dwell” in the land He provides.  This word means to settle, permanently live, abide, inhabit, or rest.  Basically, to live and put down roots.  What is the land God has given us?  It’s being in relationship with Him, extended an offer of grace and forgiveness from our sins.

On the night before He was crucified, Jesus spent a long time talking with His disciples.  One of the teachings He gave was that He was the true vine and God the vinedresser, and that we were branches connected to the vine that needed to bear fruit.  He told His disciples:

“Abide [dwell, live] in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you” (John 15:2-6).

Can you truthfully say you abide in, or live with, God and Jesus Christ?  I don’t mean in some weird mystical way.  One way to think about this is being fully present, spending time with.  If you go back to that branch and vine metaphor earlier, the branches literally cannot survive without the vine’s nourishment.  If they get disconnected, they perish.

When we dwell in the land God has given us, we consider God and His way of life our home, and we’re not always looking around at society to see if the grass is greener.  The Israelites always displayed this attitude…*kiiiiind of* dwelling with God in the land He’d provided, but always casting an eye around at their pagan neighbors to see what they were missing out on.

You might also like:  FOMO: How to Derail Your Relationship with God

Taking a “cultivate faithfulness” mentality

The next part of the verse tells us to “feed on His faithfulness”.  While I love the NKJV translation of “feed on His faithfulness”, the Berean Study Bible’s translation also adds some nuance.  It says, “Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness”.

This is interesting because it positions us not only as consumers of what God provides, but also as being accountable for actively planting, tending, and producing ourselves (with His help, of course). 

Meaning of Ps. 37:3 “Trust in the Lord and do good” (Psalm 37 Study – Part 2)

“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Ps. 56:3)

This is the second part in a study on how the first few verses of Psalm 37 give us a five-part prescription for combatting the envy and anxiety that come from comparing ourselves to other people or asking, “why do good things happen to bad people?”  For ease of reading we’ve split this long study into individual parts, so I recommend starting with the intro to Psalm 37 (which lays the groundwork), then reading this and the subsequent sections (linked at the end). 

What does Ps. 37:3 mean?

After David tells us not to get worked up when we see bad people get what we feel we deserve, his first instruction is to “trust in the Lord and do good” (Ps. 37:3).

What does it mean to trust God?

The word used here for “trust” means to be confident, secure, or “to hie for refuge” (which makes me laugh).

Ye Olde English aside, that last bit really helps flesh out something we can take away from this…like in Psalm 91 where it speaks of God as “my refuge and fortress”.  He should be what I look to for protection, and who I run to in times of trouble (like peasants running toward the castle walls when the barbarians attacked).

In other words, with my trust placed in God, I am certain of my protection and deliverance.  The word is used many times in the Old Testament, including dozens in the Psalms alone.  And so I have to ask myself, what makes me feel safe and secure?  How certain do you feel about things in your life right now?

Where is your center of gravity, the thing your world revolves around?  Is it in your 401k, or your ability to defend yourself (Ps. 49:6, 44:6)?  Is it in your own judgment, your career, the government, or even your family and friends (Prov. 28:26, Ps. 146:3, Ps. 41:9)?

What is your confidence in?  What is the one thing that, if it became shaky, would rock the foundations of your world?  If you don’t know the answer to that, it might be wise to take some time to reflect on it *before* you’re in a situation where you find out in real time and regret the answer.

“And do good”: The need for action

But we shouldn’t forget the rest of the phrase in Ps. 37:3.  We’re told to trust in the Lord and do good.  As with many of God’s commands, this isn’t only a mind exercise, but rather mind AND body.  Heart and action.

Psalm 37’s Message: A Prescription for the Diseases of Envy & Anxiety (Psalm 37 Study – Part 1)

The meaning of Psalm 37’s command to “Trust, Dwell, Delight, Commit, and Rest”

This is Part 1 (& a high-level summary) in a study on how the first few verses of Psalm 37 give us a five-part prescription to combatting the envy and anxiety that come from comparing ourselves to others, & helping process the question, “why do good things happen to bad people?”  For ease of reading we’ve split this very long study into individual parts, beginning with this and then linking to the subsequent sections at the end.

Do you fret often?  It feels strange even typing that, so let me rephrase:  do you get “worked up” when you see certain people thriving more than you are?  Especially if you think they’re not a good person, or they don’t work as hard as you, or they don’t follow God, or…fill in the blank?

The psalms are a fascinating book, written in poetic verse and covering topics ranging from praising God to Messianic prophecies to lamenting personal trials.  And because Proverbs tends to get the attention for practical life advice, we often forget that the Psalms have a ton of it as well.

Psalm 37 is a psalm of David, and he begins by telling us, “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity” (Ps. 37:1).  Fret is a weird word to us in the modern world, and because of that I think we tend to miss what David is really trying to tell us here.

The word translated “fret” (charah, H2734) really means to grow warm, blaze up, be angry, or be incensed.  You know that sudden rush of heat and adrenaline you get when something happens to make you upset?  Your heart starts pounding, you get a kind of hot flash in your head.  That’s part of charah.

So in other words, what David is telling us here is not to get super upset or react intensely when we see people who don’t appear to deserve it get rewarded.  Throughout the psalm it really harps on these “evildoers” and “workers of iniquity” and how God’s people shouldn’t get fixated on what they do or don’t get in this physical life.

This isn’t just about “evildoers” in the truly evil sense (murderers and such), but the way we think about our neighbors, our coworkers, and more—whoever you look at and think “Why do things go right for them and not for me?” (or “Why don’t they get what they deserve?”).

The F.B. Meyer commentary summarizes this idea, noting that David is “grappling with the problem of the inequality of human life and the apparent failure of God to reward His servants and punish His enemies as they deserve”.

And honestly this idea is just so relatable.  It is a core part of human nature to look around and compare our lives to other people, which is a “wide, easy path to both envy and self-righteousness” (see our study on Comparison & Envy: The Key to Unhappiness).

And it leads to anxiety—focusing on other people instead of fixing our eyes on God.

You might also like:  A Practical Approach to Worry & Anxiety in the Bible

What does Psalm 37 tell us to do instead?

Right after warning us not to fret about those people (sure, easy to say!), David lays out his recommended approach:

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37:3-7)

When you skim through those verses, they sound really pretty but also a bit…vague.  Like, “Cool, David, love the vibe, but what do I DO with this???  On the surface for a modern reader, these platitudes and abstract commands mirror many other passages in Psalms and don’t seem to offer much practical help.

But once we dig into each command a little deeper, we see that these verses actually give us a clear five-part prescription for the diseases of anxiety and envy brought on by comparison, all having to do with how we relate to God: trust, dwell, delight, commit, and rest.

Studying Psalm 20:4 – Our Heart’s Desire and Accomplishing Our Plans

I ran across a verse in my daily bible reading that, while familiar, I’d never really considered carefully.  It’s short and lyrical, something you’d see printed on someone’s wall or in a greeting card, or even recited at a wedding.  Let’s look at the verse:

“May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose” (Psalm 20:4, NKJV)

It’s easy to skim this and think, “that’s lovely!” then keep moving.  But if taken at face value it would be easy to miss the verse’s intent—full of both promise and warning. 

Oftentimes, the words themselves can provide rich information, but the Hebrew words used in this verse are fairly run-of-the-mill and used all over the Old Testament.  They don’t appear to provide any additional insight, being quite broad and able to be interpreted a number of ways based on context.

Let’s look instead at the two separate pieces of Psalm 20:4.  My goal here isn’t an exhaustive study, but rather just highlighting a few deeper things to ponder.

“May He grant you according to your heart’s desire…”

When the bible talks about the heart, it doesn’t just mean our emotions or feelings like we often think of today.  Instead it’s truly the core of who a person is.  And so when this verse talks about our “heart’s desire,” it’s not talking about every single thing we’ve ever wanted in life, every wish and fleeting craving.

It’s referring to our deepest desires and motivations, the thoughts that drive us, the things which occupy our minds.  It’s who we are at our rawest.  Jesus is very clear that the desires of our heart will be reflected in how we talk and act, and will be reflective of where our priorities in life lie (Matt. 12:34, 6:21).

The verse asks that God grant His people their desires…but we also know from Jeremiah that the heart is deceitful and “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).  This feels like a worrying contradiction.  So what are we to do with this?

There’s another translation for Psalm 20:4 that a few bibles use, where it says, “May He grant you according to your heart”.  I quite like this translation, because it indicates a little bit more of the double-edged sword that this verse implies—if your heart isn’t right, what you get will not be right either.  It implies that you should be careful what you wish for (or subconsciously focus on), because you just might get it.

Being a Light in a Dark World

“The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Ps. 119:130)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Ps. 27:1)

Light is one of the most prevalent themes throughout the entire bible, a thread that starts man’s journey on the physical earth and closes out the story in Revelation.

In the first few verses of Genesis, the very first thing God (the Word, Jesus Christ) does in recreating the earth is to bring physical light.

“The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:2-4).

Then, in the last few verses of the bible, John explains that after God has set up His kingdom and recreated a spiritual heaven and earth, that “they need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light” (Rev. 22:5).  The physical celestial lights that God created for man in the current kosmos—sun, moon, and stars—are no longer necessary because we will have the Light with us and God’s glory will be all that is needed to see.

During His ministry, Jesus told His disciples (and us, by extension), “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14, 16).  We’ve each probably read that verse a couple hundred times in our lives, and typically what I’ve heard said is that it’s about how we’re meant to live righteous lives and be examples of God’s way.  And that’s true.

But a message I heard at the Feast last year got me to thinking about the analogy a little differently, including various aspects of being a light—basically, what does that really mean and require of us?  After digging in somewhat, there are a few insights about light that helped me in seeing even deeper meaning to that verse in Matthew.  They’re not earthshattering revelations, but rather reminders that should enhance our understanding of the type of light we are meant to be.

Light illuminates

I know, that feels like a “duh” statement.

So maybe another way of putting it is that it reveals.

The Hebrew word that’s used in that very first Genesis verse referenced above (ore, H216) means illumination, bright, or clear.  In Jesus’s command in Matthew 5, the Greek word used (phos, G5457) also means to shine or make manifest (a.k.a. clear, plain, apparent).  Both imply an enlightening or uncovering of something that was there but hadn’t previously been seen or understood.

When You Pray: What’s In Your Closet?

But you, when you pray, enter into thy closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which seeth in secret shall reward you openly (Matt. 6:6)

We can deduce the obvious meaning here, and have heard that repeated over the decades—don’t be showy in prayer, but rather make it a private conversation with your Creator.

That is valid, and you won’t find me in disagreement.  But is there an important message here that we’re missing?

I’m not one to arbitrarily find “deeper meaning” in everything or try to be the smartest person in the room.  But I do think that we maybe need to look below the surface a little more here.

…enter your closet

If you were to spend any time at all looking at archaeological findings in that era of time (1st century CE), you would realize that the concept of a closet, or a separate private room in a multi-room dwelling, was foreign except to the wealthy.  And I don’t think that Jesus Christ spent a lot of time instructing the wealthy, rather His time was spent with the common people.  So how could this teaching connect to their lives?  More importantly, what can we do with this teaching?

The best way I can illustrate this is with a phrase from the last several decades: “…coming out of the closet…”   In today’s age that has a very specific meaning to us, but the phrase also has a more general meaning that should be important to us as we consider the passage in Matthew 6.  This colloquial phrase means exposing a personal character trait that you or I have been keeping secret.  So how should this affect the way we pray?

It is my view that we all have a closet that we keep closed and don’t really want anyone else to get a peek into, including God.  Some of us have a closed door to an inner room and know it, and others have managed to fool themselves into thinking that they don’t—but we all do.  To be honest, we don’t even want to look in there ourselves!   It’s much easier to keep the door closed than to try to clean out the closet.

A conversation with a friend

Again, how should this affect the way we pray?  I’m going to get even more basic here:  what is prayer?

I think we tend to shroud certain “religious” issues with mystique.  Issues like bible study, meditation, worship, and yes, prayer.  The reality is, differences in personalities and experiences make each of us people that learn, muse, demonstrate passion, and talk or communicate in different ways.

Let’s take prayer.  What is it?  I suggest that it is simply engaging in conversation.  Obviously, this is a talk with someone who is far greater than us.  So anything I say here is not to mitigate intercessory prayer, thanksgiving, asking for favors or help, and so on.  But those things don’t facilitate a relationship.  Rather, they take advantage of a relationship.

Spiritual strongholds:  laying siege to the “walled city” inside us

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (II Cor. 10:3-6)

As I mentioned in the first post on this topic, this is a verse that I’ve always struggled to make super meaningful in the past.  High things that exalt themselves against God, sure, that makes perfect sense to me.  Even casting down arguments, assuming those are arguments against God’s way and truth, I can wrap my head around.  But strongholds aren’t a concept that is immediately tangible to me.

A while back, though, I did have a little bit of a breakthrough where strongholds are concerned, and what they can represent in our lives as followers of Christ.  These strongholds or “walled cities” can be external—the obstacle in front of us that we see as bigger than God (covered in the previous post)—or they can be internal.  The internal strongholds are where we have built fortresses protecting pieces of our carnal nature from being conquered.  Both types need pulled down.  This part of the study deals with the hostile spiritual strongholds quietly occupying our hearts and minds.

Enemy strongholds in the heart and mind

While the strongholds in front of us are generally easier to see (if still difficult to overcome), spiritual strongholds’ power lies in their ability to fly under the radar.  If you consider yourself a disciple of Christ or a Christian, at some point in your life you decided to turn from your previous life and asked God to put His spirit in you.  You repented and were baptized, and ostensibly gave Him unlimited access to every part of your heart and mind—asking Him to transform your carnal mind into one led by Him.

Every one of us that has gone through this process did so with the complete intention of letting God conquer everything in His path, burn it down, and start from scratch.  But every one of us also—mostly unknowingly—built walls around a few particular areas to fortify them against this process.  We don’t like to admit it, but it’s generally true of every person.  We’re pretty good at identifying and rooting out certain kinds of sins and correcting wrong behaviors.  We can refrain from lying, avoid adultery, keep the Sabbath and holy days, and maybe we even had to quit smoking or stop eating certain meats when we came into the knowledge of God.  But despite all of this, we still have trouble recognizing or acknowledging the spiritual strongholds located within the deepest regions of ourselves.

When an army conquers a land, they must breach and take every single one of the strongholds, because if an enemy-occupied stronghold remains in the land then the native people there can continually attack whenever they sense weakness.  The battle will rage on and peace can never come—the land will never be fully conquered.

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