Praying for a Hedge of Thorns

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Today, I read a memoir of a man who lived and died over 200 years ago. His name was John Carrol, and he died at the young age of 22 years. Instead of being bitter about his circumstances (e.g., the death of both his parents and his illnesses), he was somehow able to give thanks for his adversities. What shaped his way of thinking was a lesson he learned from a “hedge of thorns” near his house that had kept him from trouble as a young boy.

I was moved by this young man’s spiritual strength and even more moved when I read what God said through the prophet Hosea, “I will hedge up your way with thorns, And wall her in so that she cannot find her paths” (Hosea 2:6). In this passage, God was declaring what he would do to help keep the nation of Israel faithful to him. He said he would hedge them up with thorns! Not only would this hedge provide protection from the enemies of Israel, but it would also keep Israel from herself!

I’m sure all of us have walked through the woods and gotten tied up in thorns. These incidents may have torn our clothes and left us a little bloody, but they also probably caused us to backtrack our steps. You see, some paths just aren’t worth it. The thorns are too painful, so we reverse our course.

It’s for this reason, I believe we should be praying for God to give us a “Hedge of Thorns.” It’s a frightening prayer, but one that needs to be prayed by those who are truly seeking God. Are you willing to experience pain if it will keep you from sin and help you live a holy life? Are you willing to suffer if it will aid you in staying focused on Heaven? According to Hosea 2:6, this is something God is willing to do for us.

I pray that God will make it too painful for…

· The church to abandon the doctrine of God for the doctrines of men.

· The church to eradicate gender-based role distinctions to appease a culture that can’t even define what a man and a woman are.

· The church to ignore hard commands but be content to obey the rest.

· Christians to abandon a life of holiness for a life of worldliness.

· Christians to seek the approval of men over the approval of God.

Personally, I pray that God will hedge me in with thorns so painful I would never want to leave his path. I also pray that God will hedge my children in with thorns that will convince them that a life of sin isn’t worth it. I want all of us to be reminded by the pain of the thorns, to walk with God, and never stray. I want to learn to appreciate the thorns of life for their protection from my enemies as well as the protection they provide me from myself. God, Hedge us in with thorns!

Steve Higginbotham
Karns church of Christ
Knoxville, TN

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