For questions that were answered in worship, we tried to transcribe the answer as best we could, while making a few changes to ease the readability. You can listen to Pastor Chuck answer most of these questions on our website at FirstTrinity.com/blog. For those we weren’t able to answer in worship, we have provided an answer below, but they will obviously not be found in the recording.
Week 3 Q&A Audio
Romans 8:28 says that the Spirit prays for us “with groans that words cannot express”. What does that mean?
As believers in Jesus Christ, God’s Spirit lives in us. Sometimes we are so connected to the situation, or so broken or hurt that we just can’t be objective, and we don’t know what to pray, and we just come before the throne of our Lord in tears, and crying, and pain, expressing our hurt, and the Bible says that that Spirit intercedes, which means He stands in the gap between us and the Father. It says He searches the heart. The Spirit, who knows, searches the heart, and He knows the mind of the Father. He’ll search our hearts, and He’ll take that, and put that into words, and express our heart with words that are going right to the Father. By the way, later on in that chapter? I love this. The Spirit is interceding for us before the Father, and later on, in about verse 32, 33, it says Jesus is interceding for us at the right hand of God. Man, oh man, we’ve got the Holy Spirit and we’ve got Jesus interceding for us, praying for us.
You talked about finding a safe place to pray. Do you have examples of safe places to pray, or how to make/find a safe place?
One of my favorite places to pray here is in our little prayer chapel downstairs. It’s right below us, right at the end of the stage there’s a little prayer chapel. I love to go in there. I go in there almost every day and pray, sometimes twice a day. If I’m at home, it’s a little harder because it’s more chaotic, and there’s always stuff going on. I’ll take a walk, or I’ll just go into a room and shut the door so I can be alone and talk to my Father. For you, it might be out at the park. You’ve got to find a place where you’re not going to have outside influence, outside interference, so that you can express your heart, pour out your soul, and you can listen. It’s not going to be the same for everybody.
How does the fact that depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain play into this, as you talked about Hannah praying in her depression.
No matter what the cause is, and it very easily can be a chemical imbalance, and hopefully if we’re continuing in depression we’re getting some medical help and checking it out, but even then, there’s still a matter of resisting the temptation to just want to curl up on the couch, or in bed, and shut everybody out. Then is the very time, more than any other, that we need to go before the throne of our Lord, who has the power to heal, mentally, physically, and emotionally. God never meant for us to go through this life alone. You’ve got to have a trusted, I mean truly, truly trusted Christian friend that can come alongside you, because in those times it’s too hard to battle it by yourself.
Why did Hannah say no razor would touch the head of the child?
Because she was dedicating as what was called a Nazirite. It’s a Nazirite vow. That’s why no razor will touch his, this is what Samson was. No razor will touch his head, and his hair will never be cut. He’ll touch no strong grain, no alcoholic beverage. Said he’ll be wholly dedicated to the Lord. It’s a vow.
About vows, though… Hannah made a vow before God. Should we make vows with God in our prayer?
Jesus said in part of this new covenant, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no,” because if you make a vow to the Lord, He takes it very, very seriously, and you don’t want to make a vow before God and go “ah, well, that was then, this is now.” You’ve got to be very careful, and Jesus encourages you don’t do it, because it’s hard. You can, but if you do, follow through with it. That’s why Jesus said, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”
Somebody wanted to know, how did they, talking about depression and not being able to get going, how do they start praying when they don’t feel like praying?
That’s when you need another person. That’s when it’s really helpful to have someone else to just begin the praying, but sometimes you’ve just got to force yourself to say, “God. God, are you there?” Read the Psalms. It’s a good thing to do is if you’re in depression, just force yourself to read a scripture, because that’s exactly what’s happening in the Psalms. You read about depression in those times over and over again, and just begin there, “God, this is what I’m feeling.”
You know, look at Jesus when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. Talk about Hannah? Looked like she was drunk when she was praying. If you read about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He’s going out in prayer, what it literally says in the Greek is that Jesus continually fell to the ground praying. He’s suffering there. He’s struggling. It’s not just He fell to His knees and prayed. He was continually falling down and praying, but sometimes, and I’ve been there, sometimes it takes another person just to get us started again, to pray with us.
How do you figure out if you’re praying for what you want or what God wants for you?
You’ve got to be in scripture. 1 John 5:13 and 14 say, the whole reason that Jesus died for us is so we have that confidence. Then it goes on to say, verse 14, once we have that confidence, we know that anything we ask according to His will, we’ll have. Again in John 15, I think it is, Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my word abide in you, ask and it will be done for you.” Here’s the idea. When we’re in God’s Word, what God is doing is transforming us from the inside out so that what happens is, what we want are really the things God wants, because we’re more and more and more shaped into the image of the Son, so pretty soon God’s will and our will just begin to line up perfectly. So what we’re praying for or asking are the things that God wants for us.
Sometimes, though, we become very emotional about a topic, and it’s hard to hear. When that happens, what you need to do is allow God to reset your emotions on neutral so that you can hear it, because that removes the emotions so that you can clearly hear God. Then what happens, you’ll find what you’re asking for, you no longer have peace asking for it, and that’s the way God will speak. Or maybe you have even a greater peace now asking for it, and that’s another way God speaks. Sometimes you’ve got to be able to reset your emotions.
I want to add one more point to that. That’s the great thing about Romans 8:28. The Spirit himself intercedes for us, prays for us, with groanings too deep for words. Those are the times we are so emotional that there’s just no way we’re going to be able to reset our emotions. This is where we enter into God’s presence, just weeping and crying like Hannah is before the Lord, because at this point we just don’t know what to pray anymore. At that point, that Spirit knows the mind of God, searches our heart, knows the mind of God, and takes that weeping and presents it before the Lord in a prayer according to God’s will. What is really also neat about that Romans 8 is later on, it says Jesus is interceding, praying for us. In that chapter just alone, we have the Holy Spirit and Jesus both interceding, praying for us before the Father.
Why does it feel like sometimes God has forsaken us?
There’s going to be a lot of reasons, but sometimes it’s because we’re focused in on ourselves, and not what God is doing, but rest assured, God’s never forsaken you. He’s promised, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” Remember on the cross, Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus even suffered that on our behalf. God will not forsake us. It just means we’re having trouble getting into the mindset and prayer, and focus. Our focus is too inward, not outward on what God is doing. But remember, as much as you may feel He’s not hearing, and your prayers are not getting through the ceiling, God lives in you in the Holy Spirit.
Where do you get your inspiration to talk about your sermon and express it in terms of today?
I think, well, the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, and just as applicable today because it’s God’s truth as it was the day it was written. Now, the way we plan out these series, if this is what you’re asking, is we do, after thinking and praying about it, is we have a worship team that meets, and we talk about some things that might be some good topics. There’s some things we try to cover regularly. I don’t even know if I’m answering the question.
I think they want to know, how do you take God’s word–that’s still relevant today but written a long time ago–and make it applicable to real situations today?
Oh, just a lot of it’s personal experience. A lot of it’s applying scripture to my own life. A lot of times what you hear, what I speak on is what I need to hear. That’s really the truth. A lot of this stuff, man, I know exactly what I’m talking about. I promise you. But when I read the word, and I consume it, I don’t just consume it as a history book. I consume it as a life book, as a life plan and see what it means for me today. I purposely read it with what it means for me now, because it’s God’s word for today.
How do counseling and medication, the physical side of treating depression, fit in when it comes to managing depression and bringing it before the Lord in prayer?
I’m not a professional mental health counselor, so there’s a real place for them, and it’s a great ministry that God’s called people to if they’re doing biblical-based counseling, but it doesn’t matter what you’re going through, if you’re in a real, diagnosed mental depression, or if you’re just feeling you’re in a deep depression. You’ve still got to talk to God about it. That’s really hard sometimes. Oftentimes what happens is you’re going to need someone, and in this particular case it may be a professional mental health counselor that’s biblically based, to help get you on the track to prayer, because sometimes it’s really hard to pray. That’s the advantage of this Romans 8:28, having God’s Spirit living in us, and just crying out with groanings too deep for words. That’s why you’ve got to have a trusted Christian friend who can come alongside of you, and kind of walk with you, and get you started in prayer. Once you get started, God can begin to move, and it’ll begin to flow, but there are times where it’s just weeping before the Lord.
If you believe God will answer when you pray, should you pray for something or someone every day or over and over?
When it comes to prayer, you need to be able to learn to develop the ears to hear God’s truth. You need to be able to hear God speak. I’m telling you, God speaks, He never stops. The main way He’s going to speak is through His Word, but you’ve got to be able to pray, and you’ve got to give God the opportunity, you’ve got to listen. When God gives His promise that He’s given His answer, then you can begin to live as if the answer’s already come. In fact, a great definition of faith is living as if what you cannot see has already come to pass. We don’t base our faith on what our eyes see, or our five senses. We base it on the truth of God’s word. Hebrews tells us that faith is not based on what is seen but what is hoped for. Then so if God has said yes to something, you can begin to live as if it’s already come to pass.
Also Jesus warns, don’t think you’re going to be heard because of your many repetitions. You walk in faith and you believe, and prayer offered in faith, you know the fervent prayer of a righteous man will accomplish much. God’s going to hear, and God’s going to answer.
When you think about waiting for that answer, there’s two kind of similar questions. What can you do when you’ve been praying and praying and you begin to lose hope, and a similar one, how do you cope with waiting for the answer?
My oh my. Waiting is the hard part. You trust, you’ve got to trust. Again, remember where doubt comes from. Doubt comes from relying on our own emotions, or what other people tell us, or our senses, rather than trusting in God’s Word. God’s Word is truth, and if God said it, we can hold onto it and believe it as a promise. That’s why we talked about you grab a promise from God and you hold onto that, and you just hold onto that promise, you don’t let go, and you just believe. Sometimes, though, you’re going to need someone in the way to come alongside you and pray with you, but you hold onto that.