Growing up in a Christian family and in church, I often heard people pray a “hedge of thorns” around someone. This type of prayer could be prayed on behalf of a person that might be wandering off track or pursuing things or people that may not be good for them. For some reason, it always makes me picture the scene in Sleeping Beauty where Maleficent makes a forest of thorns appear around King Stefan’s castle to block Prince Phillip. Of course, Phillip DID make it through that hedge of thorns…but then again that hedge was made by evil forces, not God. 🙂
The Bible gives an example of a hedge of thorns built by God:
“Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’” Hosea 2:6-7 (ESV)
So when should we pray for a hedge of thorns? Here are a few examples when this prayer might be helpful…
I saw this the other day on Christine Caine’s Instagram. It’s too cute! Mila talks about her experiences at the gym. It looks like Miss Mila has quite the camera personality by the looks of all her cute videos on YouTube!
“At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” Matthew 11:25 (NIV)
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)
It seems like lately there has been so much awful, negative stuff going on all around us. There have been numerous devastating hurricanes and storms one right after another. Tragedies, attacks, murders and threats are happening both on grand scales and at individual levels affecting families all over the world. Suicide is wreaking havoc on the families and friends of its victims. Racial tensions are causing division. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. A lot stuff going on in the world lately just really kind of sucks to be honest! It’s dark. It’s broken.
The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.
On a side note…I have a friend that’s endured a lot of dark and tough times throughout the course of her life. No matter what she has gone through or continues to go through, she continues to stay positive even during some of the toughest times. She consistently remains a light in the darkness and a beacon of hope. This year for her birthday I got her a bracelet that reminded me so much of her that said, “The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.” More Christians need to follow her example to be a light in the darkness.
Just this past weekend my pastor did a message on “What Difference Does God Make…In the Face of Evil?” One of our pastors pointed out that in dark times it’s an opportunity for Christians to shine even brighter. One of my devotions this week also emphasized the importance of sharing hope and bearing witness of Jesus. It’s kind of been a theme that I’ve seen repeated lately—that we need to be a light.
Now, how can we practically do that?
Practical wisdom on how to be a light in scripture
I’m not bossy! I have skills…leadership skills!! Understand? So…my mom sent me this picture this week saying it was “sooooo cute!!!” Then she added, “It reminded me of you” followed by some laughing and winking emojis and a “Sorry!” Thanks mom. I guess I have been known to have “leadership skills” though. After all, I am the first born of 5 children, so maybe it’s a first-born thing??
“Don’t be bossy to those people who are in your care, but set an example for them.” 1 Peter 5:3 (CEV)
You hear about people that have done things to hurt or wrong others and then apologize and immediately relationships are restored. Then, that same person may turn around and repeat that same offense only to cause further hurt and damage trust in their relationships. The offended may feel frustrated and confused because the offender apologized, and they truly felt it was genuine. So what happened? Did they restore relationship too quickly? Was the offender really sincere in their apology? Was there really true repentance?
Unfortunately though, sometimes people deliver apologies or want to restore relationship without having true repentance. There are some gauges we can use to discern whether or not a person is indeed fully and completely repentant. There is some evidence that we can look for as well as some indicators that they may not be at a place of full and true repentance yet.
Let’s take a look…
Genuine apologies are offered in true repentance
Previously, I wrote a post about how to apologize effectively. In that post I mentioned a book that Dr. Gary Chapman co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Thomas titled When Sorry Isn’t Enough: Making Things Right with Those You Love
in which they detail the study of apologies and how people give and receive them. The goal of their book was to help people “learn the techniques to effectively recognize and deliver apologies and watch relationships thrive as a result”.
The five basic languages of apology are:
Accept Responsibility—this is basically just admitting you are wrong and accepting full responsibility for your actions
Expressing Regret—this is a genuine “I’m sorry” and show of remorse for causing pain
Make Restitution—in this form of apology you commit to making things right
Genuinely Repent—this shows the sincere desire to modify your behavior and future actions
Request Forgiveness—in this apology language you recognize the need for forgiveness, and you physically ask for forgiveness
A genuine apology that contains all five of these aspects may be an indicator of true repentance. However, words can only go so far, and as the saying goes…actions speak louder than words. So there are some other things to look for as well. Continue reading →
God gives us promises throughout scripture. We can apply these scriptures to our situations and circumstances to give us peace, to build our faith, to encourage us, and sometimes to even turn the situation around. God also tells us to remind Him, or put Him in remembrance, of His Word. When we remind God, we remind ourselves too! (Here’s a great post on the subject by Victoria Osteen.)
“Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right.” Isaiah 43:26 (ESV)
In order to remind God, we have to find and know the verses first to be able to use those scriptures for troubling times. It’s helpful to make a list of some go-to verses to access when those times arise. I’ve put together just a few of my personal favorites here.
Apparently some of the people taking directions for these cake designs failed to listen to instructions…or rather…took them too literally!! (kind of like “Phteven”) My friend sent me the top cake fail picture years ago. We imagined that there was a conversation that took place…
“Hello, I would like to order a cake for a going away party.”
“What you want on da cake?”
“Put ‘Best Wishes Suzanne’ and underneath that ‘We will miss you.'”
“He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen…” John 9:27a (NIV)