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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’


Shopping. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it. And, some of us really don’t think about it at all, we just do it.

The shopping experience is an interesting one, especially if you’re on a budget, and you’re trying to stretch every dollar to the Nth degree. Take clothes shopping, sometimes you just need a shirt, it doesn’t matter what color it is or what style it is, you just need it. So, you go looking through the racks and find one, then another, and another and all of them will fit the bill.

But, sometimes you’re looking for something in particular, aren’t you? You need a black shirt to go with whatever, and it has to be in a certain style because otherwise it won’t match. It’s that kind of shopping that is draining because no matter how hard you look, if you can’t find that particular shirt, then the whole thing has been a wash.

Then there are times when the opposite is true. You think you have a lot of shopping options. But, no matter how hard you look, you always come back to the same item, over and over, and, over and over again, until at last you just give up and buy it.

Sometimes I do a little shopping when I pray, and I would imagine that you do too. We keep going back to God with a question, problem or issue, hoping He’s going to give us a different answer from the one He’s already given us, then are surprised when it’s the same.

I don’t really like leadership positions. I try to avoid them as much as possible, preferring to stay in the Shadowlands, and help out behind the scenes. So, when I was first asked to lead a Bible study group, I wasn’t too keen on the idea.

So, I went to God in prayer and got a resounding ‘yes.’ But, I didn’t like that answer, so I let it lay quietly for a couple of days and went back again half hoping He would give me a different answer. He didn’t. It was still a firm ‘yes.’ So, I left it alone for another couple of days, all the while knowing that soon I would be trying to dodge phone calls from the teaching director who needed to know what I was going to do. Again, I went to Him, prayed about it, and again got the same answer. ‘Yes.”

My shopping did me no good, which isn’t surprising at all. After all, God is God, and He doesn’t change His mind. But we would still like Him to wouldn’t we? We all want a god who is going to behave himself, a god who is going to see we don’t want to do something and allow us to dictate what we will or will not do. We want a god who will let us off the hook.

But, He’s not like that. He loves us too much to allow us free rein, and He wants a relationship with us too much to allow us to go shopping for an answer that will please us, instead of one that’s good for us. In short, there are times when we just have to accept that He is God and He knows what He is doing, and no amount of shopping is going to change that.

“But You are the same and Your years will never end.”

Psalm 102:27

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We’re all created differently with different personalities, different talents, different tolerance levels, yet God takes all those differences in His children, binding them together into a whole.

How we pray is as unique as who we are.

How our personalities differ

There are those whose emotional lives are like shark teeth, with the high and low points that look more like the jagged teeth in that amazing predator’s mouth than anything else; those with the floating, even keel in their inner lives that, to me, looks more like a jelly fish; and everything in between.

Whether it’s true or not, I’ve always viewed myself more like the jelly fish as far as my emotional life goes, I just kind of float along with whatever happens, which is why God seems to be trying to get me to be more, well, bold. Not an easy task for a jelly fish who has the attention span of a gnat, but through Him all things are possible, so I go with it.

How we pray

I was reminded of this propensity of mine to just go with it this week when a friend of mine and I were praying for another friend who is ill. Now, my praying friend is not a jelly fish in her emotional life at all, neither is she a sharks tooth up and down person, but she is very bold and definite in her approach to things, which made praying with her for our other friend very interesting.

We both prayed. She with her bold self prayed for a complete healing, a miracle, approaching the throne and making her petition known to God very clearly, definitely and with a spirit-deep passion that left no room for doubt as to what she was asking for. I was suitably impressed.

We are told to approach Him boldly through Christ, but she had it nailed down in a way I’d never seen before.

Me, with my less bold self, approached God a little more slowly and didn’t ask for a complete healing or even a healing at all. Instead, I asked for God’s will to be done, for comfort, for guidance and most of all that our friend would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has not forsaken her in this, that He is and always will be at her side, no matter what happens.

When we have different personalities, We pray differently

It occurred to me afterward, that the difference in our prayers, like the difference in our personalities serve a purpose in His body.

All of our prayers, whether bold or timid, even those that are sometimes contradictory, rise up to Him blending and threading together. Yet, somehow He hears them, making sense of them all, then does something with them, responding and answering them in ways we never thought to imagine.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

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1997 Ford F-150 pickup truck

Image via Wikipedia

The Blue Beast, a name I’ve affectionately called my truck for quite a while now, has just recently been having some troubles. And, I don’t mean run-of-the-mill troubles, I mean the, maybe I’ll have to start looking for a new car troubles.

Because I really dislike spending any money on anything large like appliances, car repairs etc. It’s taken me a little while to take the behemoth in. Its first set of problems seemed to right themselves, but the second set. Which came fast on furious on the heels of the first, meant a trip to the mechanic because it wouldn’t shift out of park and the brake lights weren’t going off.

At first, it was an intermittent thing, just a little catch here or a stick there when I tried to put into drive, but then one day came and I discovered it would only go into gear if it was warm outside. Yes, I said warm outside, which basically meant I couldn’t move it until early afternoon when it was an almost scorching 98 degrees outside.

So one afternoon I was able to get it down to the mechanic who asked me how long the brake lights had been on, and, he determined that the truck’s problem had something to do with that, and it did.

In the meantime, between the beginning of the problems and the discovery of the relatively inexpensive fix, I started looking around for a new car, or I should say new to me car. I haven’t bought a new car in years and years, and I soon discovered that one costs the same as a tract of land where I live.

I amazed myself because I was looking a relatively inexpensive, used vehicles that were economical to run and keep up. Although, I drive the Blue Beast now, this wasn’t always the case, and years ago I would have gone for something a little less, shall we say economical.

Either way, nearby I found a used Scion, a little toaster of a car made by Toyota that has amazing fuel economy and reliability rating. Not only that, but the reviews by owners of this little box car were extremely enthusiastic about it. At about the point that I thought I’d be buying a car, it was definitely the vehicle of choice.

My son, though, wasn’t as convinced. The minute I mentioned the little toaster car, he came up with a list as long as his arm – which is very long because he’s at that stage where everyday he grows another inch or so – of reasons why we shouldn’t buy it. It was boxy. It was a hard ride. It wasn’t comfy. It was too low to the ground. You name a reason why we shouldn’t get it and he had it wrapped up, put into an envelope and addressed to anyone who would listen, which was pretty much just me.

To say he was enthusiastic to get back into the Blue Beast after it was fixed and we were driving down the highway was an understatement. When we got it back from the mechanic, my son commented about all the good things about riding in the truck again, from how great it was to be back sitting up high where we could see everything, to how much he like the growl of its engine.

We drove down the highway in silence for little bit after he was finished speaking and finally I said, “Well, I guess this means we’ll be driving the truck for a while and we won’t be getting the little Scion after all.”

Quick as a whip, his answer came.

“Well, that’s an answer to prayer.”

I just had to laugh but then started thinking, when I was praying about the vehicles I was just asking the LORD to do what He wanted, whether that be to come up with an inexpensive fix or to buy another vehicle, while my son was praying that we would get the truck back and not have to buy that little Scion.

Both of us were praying different things, but we both received an answer to our prayers, and, that’s just how it works out sometimes when we pray. One person asks for one thing, another asks for another and the LORD provides for both of them in one fell swoop.

“As soon as he hears, he will answer you.”

Isaiah 30:19b

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To say we live in the information age is a gross understatement. We are overrun and over saturated with information, with most of it having little, or nothing to do with our daily lives.

A lot of us have come to the point where we just like to know things, and the multitude of platforms where we can get information is nothing less than staggering.

Having worked as a journalist for most of my adult life, I know what goes into a story and the sifting that takes place when anyone writes any type of news story. There is a thought process behind what is used, what is not used and how much gets left out as not essentially important to the story.

As I see it, in telling a news story, the main difference between the journalist and the man on the street is access. Access takes many different forms, but, one of the main ones is actually getting to speak to the players involved and getting their take on how things are.

Actually speaking to the person involved and getting the information along with the background information “from the horses mouth” so to speak lends a certain authenticity to what is being reported.

Being a garden-variety introvert – when I was very young I was so shy that people would ask my mother if I could speak – I’m usually not too excited about asking perfect strangers for information. But, I would rather ask the primary source what something means or for clarification, than get the information second-hand.

Yet, when I look around at believers (including myself), that is not always the case. Many times we go to someone else for answers rather than go straight to God Himself.

Many times we go to others who we think have a deeper, more meaningful relationship with the Lord, and therefore a more direct line to God than we do. We actually somehow believe they have more access to God than we do.

We ask them to pray for us, then we wait to see what God says to them about our situation. Of course many times, He is silent. I imagine that’s because He wants us to learn to communicate with Him not use an intermediary in the light of the fact that he already provided one Himself in Jesus. We communicate with Him through Him.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have people intercede for us if they are asked, or told to, or that we shouldn’t ask for prayer when we are in a particularly tight spot, God’s Word advocates these things. I’m talking about what we all do when we ask others to pray and get an answer from God for us instead of approaching Him ourselves.

I thought this hesitancy for most of us to ask God directly and instead go to someone else who we think is closer to God as something that was reserved for believers who have not seen Jesus in the flesh, then I read a section in John and saw how wrong I was because the disciples did it too.

The night of the last supper, Jesus comments about his betrayer and what does Peter do? Instead of asking Jesus himself who will betray Him, Peter indicates to John who is sitting next to Jesus and is called the beloved disciple to ask Jesus who the betrayer is. (John 13:22-24)

Now, I know there are a lot of different ways to look at this, but on a very surface reading, it looks very similar to what we do today. We hear something from God, we look around for someone God loves better than us, then we ask that person to ask God what He means.

It actually is no different than a family in which the children are saying, “You ask him”, “No, you ask him”, “No, you ask him because he likes you best”. And, after much back and forthing, it’s the very last child who the parent supposedly loves the best who gets the task of approaching the mother or father and asking the question.

By pushing someone else forward to speak to Him for us, we lose so much. We don’t seem to understand that not only are we not getting the answer from God ourselves, but in the process we are losing out on the most valuable thing we can ever do, sit at His feet, spend time with Him and just listen to what he says.

“So we can go confidently to the throne of God’s kindness to receive mercy and find kindness, which will help us at the right time.”

Hebrews 4:16

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Sunrise in the fog, near Horicon, Wisconsin.

Image via Wikipedia

 

This day, the day after Thanksgiving, I can’t help but repost a blog entry by Alicia of Alicia’s Roses who writes a phenomenal blog here on WordPress.

Although what she posted was not new to me, I was very grateful that she decided to post this Hebrew prayer of thanksgiving and gratefulness as her Thanksgiving blog.  It is an absolutely beautiful prayer acknowledging the one and only living God, and His Lordship over everything, along with His wonderful care and mercies for each of us.

Alicia writes a great blog and I would encourage you to visit her at http://aliciasroses.wordpress.com/ If you would like to see the prayer on her site, this is the link, Happy Thanksgiving.

Enjoy!

“We acknowledge to you, O Lord, that you are our God as you were the God of our fathers, forever and ever. Rock of our life, Shield of our salvation, you are unchanging from age to age. We thank you and declare our praise, for our lives that are in your hands and for our souls entrusted to you. Your miracles are with us every day, and your benefits are with us at all times, evening and morning and midday. You are good, for your mercies are endless; you are merciful, for your kindnesses are never complete; from everlasting we have hoped in you. And for all these things may your name be blessed and exalted, always and forevermore. Let every living thing give thanks to you and praise your name in truth, O God, our salvation and our help. Blessed are you, O Lord, your name is good and to you it is right to give thanks.”

A blessing from the Amidah..the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy, prayed three times a day since the first century A.D.

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Psalm 8:9

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You never know what’s going to happen in your life. We all like to think we do, but in reality we have no idea, and  a phone ringing seems to epitomize this with crystal clarity.

There’s the dreaded in the middle of the night phone call, that could turn out to be a crazy wrong number, or not.

Then there’s the phone call asking you to do something crazy, like sing in church, at the front, and you know it’s to grow your faith but it feels more like a gauntlet of whether or not your going to have cardiac arrest or not.

Then there are those phone calls that we just know are going to come down the line, only to find out that all we hear is silence because that person doesn’t call.

There’s a song out there called “Closer to Love” by Mat Kearney that has the refrain ‘we’re all one phone call away from our knees’, that’s soon followed by ‘Lord come through’.

All these phone calls in our lives, from different people, for different reason. They all cause us to react differently.

Yes, some of them do drive us to our knees to pray to the only One who can help us when the chips are down, but my question is no matter what the call, no matter what is thrown at us in life, shouldn’t we already be on our knees before Him?

“Pray without ceasing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:17

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We’re all created differently with different personalities, different talents, different tolerance levels, yet God takes all those differences in His children, binding them together into a whole.

There are those whose emotional lives are like shark teeth, with the high and low points that look more like the jagged teeth in that amazing predator’s mouth than anything else; those with the floating, even keel in their inner lives that, to me, looks more like a jelly fish; and everything in between.

Whether it’s true or not, I’ve always viewed myself more like the jelly fish as far as my emotional life goes, I just kind of float along with whatever happens, which is why God seems to be trying to get me to be more, well, bold. Not an easy task for a jelly fish who has the attention span of a gnat, but through Him all things are possible, so I go with it.

I was reminded of this propensity of mine to just go with it this week when a friend of mine and I were praying for another friend who is ill. Now, my praying friend is not a jelly fish in her emotional life at all, neither is she a sharks tooth up and down person, but she is very bold and definite in her approach to things, which made praying with her for our other friend very interesting.

We both prayed. She with her bold self prayed for a complete healing, a miracle, approaching the throne and making her petition known to God very clearly, definitely and with a spirit-deep passion that left no room for doubt as to what she was asking for. I was suitably impressed.

We are told to approach Him boldly through Christ, but she had it nailed down in a way I’d never seen before.

Me, with my less bold self, approached God a little more slowly and didn’t ask for a complete healing or even a healing at all. Instead, I asked for God’s will to be done, for comfort, for guidance and most of all that our friend would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has not forsaken her in this, that He is and always will be at her side, no matter what happens.

It occurred to me afterward, that the difference in our prayers, like the difference in our personalities serve a purpose in His body.

All of our prayers, whether bold or timid, even those that are sometimes contradictory, rise up to Him blending and threading together. Yet, somehow He hears them, making sense of them all, then does something with them, responding and answering them in ways we never thought to imagine.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

 

 

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