Friday, April 29, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Difference Between a Believer and an Unbeliever

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The difference between a believer and an unbeliever is his or her prayer. Unbelievers don't need to pray; they can make it on their own. They own the world, everything goes right for them, "Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward," says Jesus (Matt. 6:2).

But those who "believe" in Jesus have a hard time trying to make it on their own; they fit right into the category of David who almost continually pours out his heart in prayer in the Psalms. He has all kinds of "enemies" that he is constantly begging the Lord to defeat for him. But wait a moment: don't fall for the lie that David is paranoid; from every prayer session except one (Psalm 88) he emerges joyously triumphant in his confidence in God who has heard and answered his prayer. That's not paranoia. The reason I said that "believers" have a hard time making it on their own, is because they know they can't, so they rejoice in their faith to believe that they can make it with the blessing of their Savior. (And they do!)

The Bible is full of prayer. The lady in Matthew 15:22-28 who is begging Jesus to heal her daughter who is "severely demon-possessed" is praying; He tested and stretched her faith before He healed her daughter. The man with the son who was devil possessed in Mark 9:17-24 is praying, "Lord, if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." Again, Jesus tested and stretched his faith, almost agonizingly, before He granted his prayer.

Prayer is meaningless unless we learn to believe (1) that there is a God who is what He says He is ("merciful and gracious, ... abounding in mercy," Psalm 103:8), and (2) that He hears and rewards those who take the trouble to "come" to Him (Heb. 11:6). The "coming" is a serious, intelligent, well-thought-out interview with the Sovereign of the universe who tells you that He is your heavenly Father and you are His child; He meets you on your own ground.

I can't guarantee anything on the Lord's behalf, but from personal experience I can testify that He "receives sinners," and even "eats with" them (Luke 15:2); "forgives all [our] iniquities" (Psalm 103:3); tells us what is wrong with us and encourages us to believe we'll get straightened out (John 16:8-11); gloriously enhances our sense of self-respect (Gal. 2:20); gives us the intimations of coming immortality through faith in Christ (Rom. 8:16-19); and lifts the burden that has been weighing us down for years (Matt. 11:29-30).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 1, 1999.
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