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Habakkuk’s Prayer

This political season in America is evidencing a decadence unparalleled in American history. Lying, bullying, and boasting is the norm. Though it would be easy to blame the candidates, we must remember that politics is almost always downstream from culture. Our political front-runners are a reflection of the pollution that has flowed down to them from our culture.


So should it surprise us that as in the days of Noah, and as in the days of Habakkuk, that a holy God might “shake the earth” and in so doing, sift the wheat from the chaff? We know the prophecy of Habakkuk is a double vision prophecy, with both a near and far vision. We know the near prophecy was fulfilled. We don’t know when the far prophecy will be fulfilled, but we do know that Jesus told us to be alert to the “birth pangs,” and as we see decadence, natural disasters, and terrorist acts increasing in strength and frequency, we would be fools not to prepare our hearts.

This week my dear friends Ann and Sylvia are here, for their annual visit. (They have come to me for the 12 summers I have been without Steve.) They bless me abundantly with their love.

ann,sylvia,me2016Sylvia, Dee, and Ann (seated)

Sylvia’s daughter texted her, asking her what her blood type was, for she was standing in line in Orlando to give blood to help with the worst shooting disaster in American history. Sylvia’s nephew is a doctor who was helping with the injured, overwhelmed by the horror. This is not in a far away land. This is here.

We said to one another, “What is happening to our world?”

Ann and Sylvia came with me to my church, The Orchard, and we were all struck by something my pastor said. In the Greek, (and in many translations) Romans 8:26 says that the Spirit helps us to pray because we do not know what to pray. I’ve always thought that said how to pray. And while they are similar, the what turned a light on for me. For twelve years Ann, Sylvia, and I have prayed together — but primarily about circumstances. When we asked our adult children to send prayer requests, they asked to be married, or to have children, or to be employed. We ourselves have prayed for our own challenging circumstances to be remedied. And God has been so gracious in answering those prayers, giving us so often, though it often took years, our hearts’ desires.  AND PLEASE, DON’T THINK WE SHOULDN’T PRAY ABOUT CIRCUMSTANCES, for God tells us to cast our burdens, to make our desires known, and to practice dependence on Him. In fact, as Ann and Sylvia and I, and our children, look back upon so many specific answers to specific prayers, we are humbled that we belong to a God who is GOOD, who loves to give good gifts to His children.



The three of us have spoken against the “health and wealth gospel,” and treating God like a vending machine.


But though we know this, if we are praying primarily about God to remedy our circumstances, are we not falling subtly into this same error? Are we revealing we do not know what to pray? If God, as a good good Father, cares more about our hearts than our health, wealth, and even happiness, should not we as well? And indeed, if God is choosing once again to lead His people into the wilderness and to refine them through suffering, how will we respond when instead of rescuing us politically, or from terrorists, or from natural disasters, He brings “the Chaldeans?”

Will we simply be praying for “the Chaldeans” to go away?

That’s not what Habakkuk did.

Habakkuk shows us both what and how to pray when trouble comes so that we can be strong and sturdy, surviving like the deer who lives in the wilderness and needs to traverse treacherous mountains.


hinds-feet-on-high-placesLast year when Ann and Sylvia came we determined to pray Scripture, to pray for our hearts, and the hearts of our children — as well as circumstances. As we reviewed those requests this year, we have seen growth, though it is harder to see spiritual change, for it is inward, than it is to see marriages, babies, employment, and improved health. But we do see evidences that God is at work in our hearts and the hearts of our loved ones: more peace, more passion, better relationships, and more joy, despite trouble. We are seeing more “fruit” in the vineyard. And so we continue on to pray Scripture for our hearts and our loved ones.

And as the birth pangs increase, we must learn to pray as Habakkuk did.


1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

2.  Read Habakkuk 3:1-3 in your own translation and then in The Message.

1-2 A prayer of the prophet Habakkuk, with orchestra:

God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you,
and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.
Do among us what you did among them.
Work among us as you worked among them.
And as you bring judgment, as you surely must,
remember mercy.

3-7 God’s on his way again,
retracing the old salvation route,
Coming up from the south through Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.

A. Meditate and then comment on this:

“As you bring judgment, as you surely must, remember mercy.”

B.  How do you see both judgment and mercy at the cross?

C. When judgment falls, “as it surely must,” Habakkuk looks back at God’s “old salvation route.” Teman and Mount Paran (verse 3) were part of the wilderness, and repeatedly, (think Exodus, Hosea, Song of Songs) God leads His bride into the wilderness. What was His purpose in doing so, and how does this show us how and what we should be praying for in the wilderness?

D. Now, whatever wilderness you are now in, or your children are now in, or whatever wilderness may come, for what do you think it is most important to pray? Do so, here, for yourself and then for your loved ones.

Right after Steve’s diagnosis of cancer, God told him to “fight.” We thought it meant to fight the circumstances of cancer, but as time passed, Steve realized it was to fight the enemy who wanted him to despair of God, and to persevere to the end with faith. The Holy Spirit showed Steve what to pray. He prayed He would be faithful, that He would glorify God no matter how great the suffering became, and that if it was the end, he would end well. He prayed for His children to be children of great hearts, trusting God, no matter what. Steve did glorify God to the end, and how I remember his room in the Milwaukee hospital being filled with emotional doctors and nurses before he was helicoptered home to Nebraska to die — they saw Jesus in him and said they would never be the same. God answered Steve’s prayer for the Spirit showed him what to pray. For Steve “the Chaldeans” did not go away, but neither did they win. God made Steve’s feet like hinds’ feet in high places.

Steve in Robe

3. Compare Hab. 3:3-7 with Exodus 19:16-20. What do you see? What insight and comfort did this give Habakkuk?

4. Compare Hab 3:8-15 with Exodus 15:1-13. What do you see? What insight and comfort did this give Habakkuk?

5. How did remembering these things and repeating them in prayer help Habakkuk to be strong?

6. In a sentence, remember one time God showed His mercy and mighty hand to you.

7. Read Hab. 3:16-19

A. As the prophet waits for the “day of trouble,” find anything you can that expresses his emotions.

B. How, when everything is taken, is it possible to still rejoice?

C. How can this attitude give you hinds’ feet in high places?

Thursday-Friday Sermon


8. Share your notes and comments.


9. What is your take-a-way and why?

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  1. 3. Compare Hab. 3:3-7 with Exodus 19:16-20. What do you see? What insight and comfort did this give Habakkuk?
    I may be oversimplifying this but I see His beauty-His Glory. stop. how could I not trust Him with my day today after comparing these passages?? He IS alluring-His fierceness-His scary Holiness, yet His mercy..yet He loves me. He will rescue me and make my unshakable heart shake-able-I need Him to shake me and upend me daily. Goodness, if gazing at Him here doesn’t shake me further out of my slumber-shake my world and melt me-and give me more confidence to trust Him today, what will?   I think just in gazing at Him Habakkuk was comforted!
    I also think of Steve in these passages and how the Holy Spirit taught him what to pray..The ‘chaldeans’ will be with us..Spiritual warfare is all around us and we don’t see it..The evil one vying to tempt us with the comfort of “if this suffering would just cease, then I will be satisfied.” I don’t think relief of suffering is a bad thing to ask for but I am also starting to see how suffering can help us see the real war and draw us to Him. I need to be more discerning when suffering comes. For suffering affects more areas in my life than physical discomfort-for while that is a huge trust issue, there are other things that stem from that daily, hourly..that bring my idols to the surface..and so I just want to be on my knees more trusting Him with the whole picture-present and future instead of going with my idolatrous bend of thinking I have things under control-if I just change this or that, then… I would be comfortable,satisfied, problems fixed..only then can my life be like Eden! ;~) We are built for Eden and because of sin-my heart wanders to find ways to satisfy that longing only He can and WILL ultimately totally fulfill when we are face to face..BUT as He changes us and draws us nearer and nearer-His Joy becomes bigger than any joy on this earth..and yet Eden in the future when He comes back to make a new heaven and new Earth..Oh..We won’t need light-for He will be our light.

    1. Please forgive me for rabbit trailing a lot..I just enjoy how He encourages me and want to share for I am SO broken and need deep fellowship. :)) I hope my rabbit trailing isn’t  a symptom of my approval idol..I just pray that my heart desire here is to encourage you all as you daily encourage me to turn my face to Him..I get so encouraged by your honesty-our laments for one another, your great questions and your love for Him and for one another. This is truly a unique well! So I just love all of you and miss your fellowship when you can’t be here. 

      1. … and it is Summer and I am off from work at the school-so i have a little more time with you and more time to meditate in the passages here-sweet.

        1. Oh, my.. please keep leading us down your rabbit trails. I love to read what you and so many others have to say. Sometimes, when I read scripture, I just see the words and they don’t mean a lot to me until someone else shares how the words have spoken to their heart. After reading the question #3, all I got for an answer was that the mountains shook and there was lightning. So, to answer the second part of Dee’s question, I’m thinking neither one of those things would bring me comfort, more like scare the dickens out of me. So, I came to the comments to see what others got for that, and see your answer first. I think I need to dig a little deeper… Thanks!

      2. Rebecca, I’m glad you share the encouragement you receive from Him because it helps to encourage us as well. You are like a modern-day apostle John! He so wanted others to experience the fellowship he and the other believers had with the Lord.

  2. In regard to Habakkuk..I just saw this again on f.b. a quote from Kathy Keller: 
    “While God may not protect you from every bad thing that might, has, or could happen to you, ultimately, through resurrection, you are safe…God does not protect us from things that harm us, he protects us as we go through them, to the other side of the resurrection, where our real hopes and happiness lie.” -Kathy Keller

  3. I’m finally making it back here–looking forward to digging in next week…but had to quickly add HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JILL tomorrow also!!! We share the day …definitely not the year though! 🙂 
    Love you all–you are truly sisters to me, I ache that I haven’t met each of you face to face, but One Day..!

    1. What a glorious day that will be!!!! 

  4. My take-away and why:
    I’m taking away A LOT! My biggest take-away is that the wilderness is about worship and rejoicing, and that rejoicing is a discipline.  I sense that God has shifted my attitude this week. This week, I was told “Don’t do ____” (because you won’t have any security).  And then I proceeded to happily initiate what I was told not to do.  I realize that God may be leading me into a wilderness of sorts, and I am not afraid.  I really would rather be with Him in the wilderness than without Him or resisting Him in a “better” location.  It has soaked in deep down that He is good, and I am relaxed and at peace with Him.

    Something I thought was interesting:  Keller refers to what Habakkuk wrote about as a time of social-level collapse, a time of starvation.  A week ago, I was talking with a (young) relative, and she was concerned that if you know who gets elected to you know what, we may experience scenarios similar to those in the Hunger Games (I don’t think I’ve seen all the movies, and I haven’t read any of the books).  That does seem to be the modern day version of Habakkuk.

    Anyway, I am resting in and confident in the Lord, and as much as I’ve tried to avoid facing pain/grief or have been afraid of it in the past, I now see how God has worked in my life in recent years — and I am okay in Him.  He is worthy of worship and I can rejoice in His work; it’s not about my health, social or financial status.  I can see that God is faithful in leading me, and I don’t need to run ahead of Him or lag behind in order to “do it right” or to protect myself.

      1. Thanks, Dee!

  5. Keller sermon
    – you can be joyful even though you are suffering. 
    – rejoice means to “treasure.”

  6. Was thinking of something else today that Keller also mentioned in his sermon.  If I remember right, he talked about how when we continue to remember and rehearse, what we know soaks in more deeply.  I was quoting the Habakkuk fig tree verses 30 years ago, clinging to them, choosing to rejoice when life was harder for me than it has been since.  I am so thankful that I had Scripture “pounded into me” (not literally!) as a kid.  And I have rehearsed those verses periodically throughout my life.  Remembering or rehearsing God’s faithfulness is or should be continuous in order for the God’s work and word to continue to soak in.  The more I do it, the easier it is to recognize his work in the world and in my life.

  7.  I am a bit behind but this lesson is one I do not want to miss, I do not always post:) To answer the question of what to pray when in a wilderness. Relevant to me this week was temptations to go towards self pity YUK YUK YUK. So my prayer in a wilderness would be Lord please help me to see You in this wilderness, help me to have a heart of contentment, help me to keep my eyes on You. Help me to resist the temptation to lean towards self pity. Let me glean all that You want me to learn while I am here for I KNOW it is in the wilderness times we can experience the greatest growth. So I thank you for this time for even when it hurts I will praise You. I am thankful you control the wilderness.
    The description of Steves prayer to fight was so inspiring to me. What a testimony of finishing strong. I draw such inspiration from those who are going through very hard challenges and showing the grace and strength that the Lord is giving them in the midst of it. I know if I even allow for a minute self pity to come in that is not glorifying Him

  8. Romans 8:38-39. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. The enemy will do everything in his power to try and make us think differently. We are not fighting against flesh and blood and ALWAYS have to remember that. One of the most powerful life changing books I ever read was ” From Prison to Praise”  When in the wilderness and everything that we may rely on other than the Lord is stripped away we are able to have Him alone to rely on. What JOY. Yet our natural minds and the lies the enemy tries to feed us is contrary to that. Remembering what the Lord has already done and not forgetting is so important. Reading His Word and looking at His power knowing He has already defeated the enemy on the cross. It is finished! We must never forget and walk in the victory He died for us to have. Oh Lord to remember this everyday for how quickly I can forget.

  9. Oh, Dee!  I don’t know if you are still reading comments from this day, but just wanted to tell you that this is perhaps my most favorite post of yours yet!  I didn’t see a blog post entry for today, so thought I would go back and read one I had missed recently.  What a rich treasure, and so appropriate for what we are facing today!  I’ve been concerned that so many Christians have lost their way with their great fear of ISIS.  We seem to have thrown our Christianity to the wind with seething comments about Muslims, etc.  I admit that I do quake in fear of ISIS and other evils in our nation, but I have to remember that America is NOT our hope!  We still have God, even if America falls!  And His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom!  And we so need the wilderness of suffering and disappointment in order that His people might remember who we are and what we have in Christ alone!  Thank you SO much for this timely post, borne out of your own great suffering in the loss of your dear husband.