Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
If we are not careful, our prayer requests can morph into strict demands. We stand our ground and pester God for insight. We insist He change our circumstances according to our time frame and in the way we see fit. We mandate that everything works out in our favor and for our good. We dictate our faith and our obedience comes with strings attached. We spiritualize our issues in hopes of bringing ourselves into God’s favor. By doing so, we hope that God will get in line and finally see things from our perspective.
In the midst of this pleading and posturing, God waits for us to stop leaning on our own understanding and simply trust that He is in control. What prevents intimacy and growth from occurring in our prayer life is our demand to understand how God is working behind the scenes. Often, the roadblock preventing a breakthrough is unwillingness on our part to surrender our need to know.
True peace will always be out of our reach if we allow it to be contingent upon our level of understanding. It is impossible to be anxious about nothing when we are making ourselves sick attempting to understand everything. In this world we will face challenging circumstances that have the power to take us off course and shake us to our core. There will be moments when we will be forced to believe in the power of prayer. We will collide with the futility of creation and the brokenness of sin. Attempting to make sense of it all is impossible. Yet, that doesn’t mean God isn’t powerful and that He doesn’t care.
We don’t have to understand a situation for God to be in control of it. We aren’t made to understand how the world works; we are made for God. We don’t pray so we can better understand our world, we pray so we can connect with our Creator. This requires humility on our part. Humbling ourselves is a posture of recognition. It is acknowledging that we are no in control of this world. By taking our eyes off our situation and setting our sights on God, we no longer have to fight for control, worry ourselves sick or disengage from our circumstances. His peace serves to protect our heart and mind.
We must do everything in our power to lay our burdens down at His feet and not pick them back up again. Articulating our burden, the things we are desperate for, can be a trying task because there will be moments when we can’t express what we are feeling. The weight of the burden is crushing our words. With his typical grace and mercy, God provided the Holy Spirit to intercede for us when we don’t know how to pray. He meets us there with His presence. God strips away everything so all we are left to depend on is Him.
Sometimes the most powerful prayers are the simple ones. They open up the conversations.
“God, speak to me.” is a prayer of submission that pushes us to listen. All too often we are the ones doing all the talking and we don’t allow God to get a word in edge-wise. A conversation requires two people to have the opportunity to speak.
“God, provide for me.” is a prayer of patience that leads us to trust. This simple prayer counteracts our tendency to rely on our own self-sufficiency. No matter what we face, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we respond with patience knowing that God uses everything to transform our heart into His own.
- Where are you demanding understanding before you are willing to trust God with your circumstances? What would it look like to let go of these demands?
God, rather than push for understanding, may I trust You with no conditions. Allow me to walk in humility by recognizing You are the one who is in control. I don’t need to know all the details before I take a step of faith. Expose the areas where my requests have turned into demands. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
Indeed, the VERY HAIRS OF YOUR HEAD ARE ALL NUMBERED. Don’t be afraid; you are WORTH more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7
You have searched me, Lord, and you KNOW me. You KNOW when I sit and when I rise; you PERCEIVE my thoughts from afar. You DISCEN my going out and my lying down; you are FAMILIAR with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, KNOW it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such KNOWLEDGE is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:1-6
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. EVERYTHING IS UNCOVERED AND LAID BARE before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13
Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has PERFECT KNOWLEDGE? Job 37:16
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, WHO SEES WHAT IS DONE IN SECRET, will reward you. Matthew 6:3-4
It’s funny how intimidating big theological words can be. For instance, let’s reflect on God’s omniscient. Chances are good some of you just halted in your tracks. You’ve never heard this word, let alone know how trusting in this attribute of God can alter your perception of your worth in God’s eyes. Omniscient can be defined as having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.
God knows everything. He possesses ALL knowledge. God doesn’t ever get surprised and nothing new ever occurs to God. He knows both the past and the future for every single human being from creation until the end of the age.
Who we are going to be twenty years from now is known to God just as much as who we were a decade ago. He hears and responds to every prayer ever spoken. At first, it can be terrify to think that not a single thought, action or word of yours has happened without the full attention of God. There are things we’ve done or said we wish no one knew about, especially the Creator of the universe.
But, this attention should cause a different emotion to stir within us. Yes, He has witnessed your struggles with sin, but He knows and cares about your feelings, scars, wounds and fears. This is the audience who is listening to your prayers.
David, the person who penned the majority of the Psalms, was left speechless when he considered the amount of knowledge God possessed on his life. All he could utter was “You have searched me and know me.”
God, the one who spoke the world into existence and knows the details of how everything works, also pays attention to you. The only conclusion you can draw this is that you must really matter to God. You are valuable in His eyes.
- How does realizing God knows you intimately impact your prayer life?
Lord, Your intimate knowledge of me is beyond my comprehension. You know about me and care for me in ways I will never fully understand. Everything is known to You, including my heart and for that I am forever grateful. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
In 2015, researchers from Microsoft Corporation discovered that people generally lose concentration after 8 seconds, emphasizing the effect of a digitized lifestyle on the brain. Eight seconds — that means that you will likely lose focus before reading the entirety of this devotional. (I challenge you to keep reading).
In a world filled with smart phones and cable news, we have come to expect information on an ongoing basis. In fact, not only do we receive continual information, we are accustomed to continual feedback. For example, a post to Instagram or Facebook provides nearly instantaneous response.
Our prayers to God, however, do not usually come with immediate “likes” or comments. More often than not, He does not provide instant feedback. God is living and active; He does communicate, yet it isn’t in sound bites.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:16).
To seek for something is to actively search for it. Seeking demands us to keep searching even when it seems we are not finding what we are looking for.
There is a story about a poor and vulnerable widow who persistently kept approaching a powerful, corrupt judge pleading for justice. The judge did not care about God or people, but God eventually moved him to rule on the widow’s behalf. Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8) “…to show [his disciples] that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).
Despite all odds, the widow’s faith, patience, and persistence in prayer paid off.
About 10 years ago, I had a strong and growing desire to adopt. We had been blessed with twins, but I had a nagging feeling that our family was not complete. Every time I approached my husband about an adoption, he recited a long list of reasons why we shouldn’t adopt. As time passed, I became increasingly frustrated. Fear was the root of every reason he gave not to adopt. It grew to the point where it was a tension in our relationship.
I wanted so badly for his heart to change, but I began to realize that it was not my job to change his heart. I prayed for God to take the desire to adopt from me if it was not in His will. I also decided that for the sake of my marriage, I needed to surrender my desire to the Lord and leave it to Him to move my husband’s heart. If it was meant to be, God Himself would have to make it happen.
I kept praying that his heart would change (or mine) but I knew that I needed to back off and be quiet because, ultimately, I would never want to coerce or manipulate my husband to do something he really didn’t want to do. If it was meant to happen, we needed to want this together.
Months went by and nothing happened. Months turned into years. However, in a bizarre and dramatic twist of circumstances, we ended up stuck together (child-free) in a hotel room in northern Virginia for 48 hours. It was one of the biggest snowfalls on record in the DC area. We were stuck and there was nothing to do but talk to each other. We prayed and talked (and let’s be real: we also enjoyed uninterrupted sleep and gas station junk food because we couldn’t drive to a restaurant). By the time we left, John shared that he also believed God was leading us to adopt.
God did a work in his heart that I could never do. When he shared that he too wanted to adopt, my head-knowledge of God that “He is real” turned to a heart-knowledge that “God IS REAL”! When God answers a prayer in which we have been persistent to pray for, there is an incredible depth of joy.
“…Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:16). The origin of the word “reward” derives from the idea of “taking notice of”. How amazing when God takes notice of us and our prayers. This tangible experience of His presence and love is far better than anything we might ask for.
The Lord sees you. He notices you. Don’t give up.
- Seeking God in prayer does not mean He will grant every super-sized, self-centered desire. God is more than a genie granting wishes or a heavenly bell boy. He is more interested to build His kingdom than yours. But if it is the Lord and His will that we earnestly seek, we will find Him. We will see Him moving. This is a promise. Think about ways you have seen God move, write them down and thank God for them. If you are having trouble making a list, ask God to align your will with His and keep seeking Him.
Father, thank you for hearing our prayers. Thank you for granting us access to You through Your son, Jesus. Thank you for taking notice of us and for hearing our prayers. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.
My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 57:7-11
A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. We know this to be true in numerous areas in our lives, however, for some reason, consciously or unconsciously, we expect perfection in our prayer life. We want to be prayer professionals before we even get one practice under our belts.
It would be ridiculous to think that an “Average Joe” with little to no experience could jump in the water and swim a perfect butterfly stroke. If I stopped typing this devotional, hoped into the pool and raced Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky (sorry, I still have Summer Olympics on the brain), I would get smoked and probably look like a beached whale.
But, here’s the thing. Every great swimmer started with floaties and had to master the doggie paddle. As they grew older, they began to practice each stroke, starting with the kick and then the arms. After some time, they put the two together. They joined a swim team and took up residence in the pool; their hands constantly pruned due to the time spent in the water. Eventually, their stroke becomes an almost natural movement for them.
Similarly, our prayer journey must start with baby steps, as they lead to larger strides and in time, leaps and bounds. Prayer is a place where our concerns simply become prayer in His presence. Spending time with your best friend isn’t normally complicated or stressful. To enjoy time together we don’t have to come up with grand plans and fill up every minute with orchestrated conversations and choreographed interaction.
Yet, when we think of how we are going to approach God, we often complicate the relationship with the stress we feel to fill up every moment with rehearsed conversations and sidestepping chatter. We place this unrealistic pressure on ourselves. We tend to disallow ourselves to just be in His presence.
As we charge forward in our relationship with Christ, we must become students of His character. Becoming disciplined in prayer is not to earn a spiritual honor badge or so others will admire us. No, we pray to position ourselves to hear God and be used by Him. If we are to hear God, we must develop a steadfast heart. Becoming disciplined in prayer helps us do this.
- Over the past week have you experienced communion with God? If so, under what circumstances did this occur? If you didn’t, why was this so? What distracted you from this connection?
God, rather than being concerned with saying every word perfectly, may I reflect on my motive for seeking Your face in the first place. Help me to trust that You are in control. Assure me that You are listening. But, above all else, remind me that I am speaking to an audience of one and that person is the one who knows me like no other. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21
Like most families, for the past few weeks it has been everything Summer Olympics all the time in our household. Most evenings found us glued to the television rooting on Team USA, especially women’s gymnastics (due in large part to our littlest who is a gym rat that won’t stop moving). The only downside to our extreme patriotism is that our girls have been bombarded with advertisements. This promotion overload has caused them to develop a bad cause of the “i-want-itis.”
In non-Olympic years, scientists say the disease begins to amp up starting in late fall, with it is peak potency occurring in the last few days leading up to December 25th. They haven’t pinpointed its source, but they do note it seems to spread rapidly in the toy aisles in Target. I make light of this crippling condition, but my girls wear me out with the, “Daddy, can I have this…” and the, “Daddy, will you buy me that…” And don’t get me started with the, “Daddy, my life won’t be complete unless you give me….” The constant requests for stuff can be a bit too much for me to bear.
Sadly, when I think of my prayer life, I’m often just as guilty of these one-sided requests. Rather than prayer being about connection, for many of us, it’s simply a request line. Prayer only occurs as a last resort during those moments when things are beyond our control and we’ve exhausted all our options. So, we pray and rattle off our long laundry lists of requests. In essence, we view prayer as a vehicle to get things done so we can get back to a life we can manage on our own.
Think about it for a moment. What makes you pray? What is the purpose behind your prayers? Are they self-motivated? Do you utilize prayer as a way to control, manipulate or place blame on a situation? Does the need to justify your attitude and plead your case fuel your prayers? Or are your prayers coming from a proper heart set? Are they pure and intent on seeking guidance? Only you know the answer to these questions.
But, take it a step further. What do we do when God doesn’t do what we want Him to do?
When He doesn’t grant our every wish (the perfect job, an agreeable husband, a checkbook that never bounces, ideal health and kids who will always listen) we doubt His power or goodness. We say prayer doesn’t work when we don’t get what we want. When we act this way, it breaks God’s heart, because He created us for an intimate relationship with Him.
The miracle of prayer is not the answer but it is the access we have to God. We have been invited to bring our requests, concerns, and worries to the God who created us in His image and who desires us to cry out to Him as our Father. The Word became flesh so that the Holy Spirit could come and dwell within us. The power of the Gospel is what grants us real access to God.
So, what will you do with the access you’ve been given? First, trust that the Lord hears you. This eliminates the desperation of your inadequacy and frees you up from apologizing (Lord, its been so long since I’ve prayed). Second, trust that God has you. This frees you up from the “If God doesn’t give me what I want, He doesn’t love me.” And, finally, trust that He speaks to you. This reminds you to be quiet. We’ve been granted access in order to have a relationship with Him, not a magic genie at our disposal.
Scripture doesn’t really define prayer so much as it just assumes we will view it as a normal part of life. When the disciples ask Jesus how to pray, Jesus spoke more about the importance of relationship. Prayer can be summed up in one simple word: communion. It goes beyond communication to communion.
Communion reminds us to be more concerned about our attitude and the condition of our heart. It makes us pause and reflect on our motives for prayer. It reminds us to not just speak, but listen as well. Prayer is simply coming to God. He just wants us to accept His invitation to give up worrying and carrying the weight of our individual worlds. We are commanded to let go of our anxiousness and to be still before Him. We rest because we trust. We come to God not so much for relief from our circumstances as for refuge in His presence.
- What are you going to do with the access you’ve been given through Christ’s sacrifice?
- How should this access influence your approach to prayer?
God, it is only because of You that our relationship has been restored. May I be remind that prayer isn’t a request line, but a way to pursue a relationship with You. Help me to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Tune my ears to Your voice. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
In the Christian world we say things like casting your cares on Him. But if we are not with God how can we cast them on Him? How does one cast their cares, their concerns, and their anxiety onto Him? A lot of us take the rod and reel approach to casting our cares to God. If we cast our burden out there and it is attached to a string, we tend to reel it back in because we don’t trust that God is going to take it and deal with it to our liking.
Instead we must trust that He is with us because He cares for us. When we cast those concerns on Him, He is with us. He carries the burden. Exodus 33:14 says that God’s presence will go with us and He will give us rest. All our concerns. All our fears. All our hopes and dreams. All the things that keep us up at night. We want to cast them on God and He will give us rest.
When God promises that He will be with us means that He isn’t stuffed away in some prayer closet. He is not only lying next to you in your bed when you do your bedtime prayers. He is going with you everywhere. If He is with you everywhere, strike up a conversation with Him.
When we surrender our will to His, He gives us comfort. He changes us. We are not anxious. We are not wigging out. We trust that we are His and he has us. We’ve got to stop asking God to get us out of things and ask God to get us through it instead. Pray for anything and everything. God may not change our situation, but He always changes us.
In order for this to happen, we must be persistent in our prayers to God. We have to be downright determined in our prayer lives. Not demanding, but persistent. Not dictating, but humble heartfelt persistence. We start with God, and submit our wills to Him.
We must be persistent in our prayers for our spouse, for our friends, for our families, for our communities. God hears us so we must keep going to Him. But, we often get tired of being persistent in our prayer life. We want answers now and we struggle with our patience. We lose heart when things don’t seem to be moving fast enough and we are not sure how much longer we can endure or how much longer we can persist in something. But, we must endure.
Our stories are so interconnected and we don’t realize how effective our prayers can be for others. We just have to give God the timeline. We can’t lose heart. We have to be persistent. Our job is not to figure out how things will unfold, but to simply keep praying and trusting God with the outcome.
- What does it mean to cast your anxiety and concerns to God? How difficult is it for you to do so and why?
- What causes you to lose heart in situations you are praying for?
God, I know you command me to cast my cares to You. But, I must confess that I am afraid to let them go. Rather than trust, I worry. Rather than rest, my mind wanders. So, today give me peace in these situations. Instead of changing the situation, change my heart. Instead of transforming my circumstances, transform my mind. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25
…For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Matthew 12:34
After 27 months of waiting, our family received a referral for adoption from the government of Haiti. The time had finally come to go and meet our daughter. The goal of the trip was to spend two weeks with her for what is called a “bonding trip” in the international adoption world.
We arrived at the orphanage – a small, concrete building in the middle of Port-au-Prince, a city devastated by poverty and natural disaster. Recovering from an earthquake in 2010, one in which the country lost more than 300,000 people and most of its existing infrastructure, Port-au-Prince shows the ravages of a long and marred history of oppression. It is a truly a nation of poverty as it is estimated that 80% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Our daughter’s nanny walked out and handed her to us in what was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Holding a child you have prayed for, for years, is a deep joy and deep lament. Joy that God was answering a prayer to care for a child who needed a family. Lament for the loss this child has already endured and for the brokenness of a world that leaves children as orphans.
As each day passed with our new daughter, I was growing to love her more and more, yet I was also beginning to feel more and more hopeless about the conditions of the orphanage. My heart ached for the other 116 children who lived there. I wanted to see God there, to find hope, to understand how he might be working, to witness him fighting for these kids.
However, walking through the halls of the orphanage, as children hungry for love clang to my leg and said, “Mama”, hoping they would be adopted too, I felt nothing but nausea and anger. It was a collision with the reality that as we pray for good parking spaces back home in the States, there are undernourished children desperate for the love of a family left without anyone to care for them or to pray for them by name.
I am not writing this to invoke guilt. God does not want more guilt-ridden, guilt-driven people. Guilt can never provide the perseverance for a radicalized prayer life – only God can do that. He wants us to believe and pray for His Kingdom to come to earth as it is in heaven. He wants more people believing that their prayers will make a difference. He wants more people praying for the things that break His heart. And ultimately, I believe, He uses our prayers to turn us toward action… action for His purposes.
Yes, God cares so much about us that He wants us to come to him for everything. He wants us to pray for parking spaces and other insignificant things. He wants us to come to him for strength, and He cares about the details of our lives just as we care about the details of those who are dear to us. But when our prayers end with us, we miss out on the power of God through us, working in someone’s life.
I once read this question, and it is one that I try to come back to often: If God answered all of your prayers, would the world look different or just your life?
I was embarrassed by the selfishness this question uncovered in my prayer life. I still am sometimes. But moving beyond myself allowed me to see the kingdom of God at work in new ways. God’s kingdom is always bigger than “me and mine.” And I pray that our prayers are also.
- Take a few moments to consider and answer the question posed above: If God answered all of your prayers, would the world look different or just your life?
- “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Are our hearts full of ourselves or full of compassion for others? It is probably a mix of both. Ask God to grow your passion for others in your prayer life.
Father, thank you for inviting us into a relationship with You. Thank you for giving us unrestricted access to Your throne of grace. Revolutionize our prayer life for the purposes of Your kingdom. Help us to believe that our prayers for others matter and grow our passion to pray for others beyond ourselves. In Your name, Jesus, Amen.
PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Isaiah 29:13
Everybody prays. Yet, just about all of us would say that we don’t pray enough. We have an endless supply of things that we pray for, yet we still don’t think we do it enough.
Then there is that tension that many of us feel when it comes to what we perceive as unanswered prayers. When God doesn’t give us what we want, when we want it according to our well laid out plan, we question whether He loves us, cares for us or even hears us. Only a “YES” response means our prayers were answered. Anything else, from our perspective, confirms our prayers fell on deaf ears.
What we often fail to see is that the miracle of prayer is not in the answer, but in the fact that we have access to Him. This access was granted because of what Christ did on our behalf.
We have access to our creator. Now what in the world do we do with it?
This is where things get tricky. We want to ensure we get prayer “right.” The pressure of being in God’s presence can very easily get the better of us. The access is still awkward. Almost instinctively we enter prayer mode and follow the habits and traditions of those who came before us.
We bow our heads, fold our hands, say Heavenly Father and always end our prayers with amen. A lot of those traditions have become so rote that they have lost all meaning. The habits are so engrained in us that we don’t take the time to stop and think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
But that is exactly what prayer is supposed to be: intentional, thoughtful, meaningful words and actions directed toward God.
Isaiah 29:13 speaks about the dangers of just going through the motions when it comes to prayer. The Israelites came near to God in prayer, but their hearts were far from Him. Their prayers were mechanical; they were not genuine. They had entered in, but weren’t really present.
We always have access, but sometimes our hearts are far away. We all must pause and ask ourselves: is our heart close to God?
Your prayer life always starts with God. Access is about entering in, but it is also about staying in. Once we have access, the doorway in doesn’t open and shut. Once we have access, we are in. Prayer is not about getting it right. It is about being with God.
- In what ways are you going through the motions in your prayer life?
God, awaken my soul. Draw me closer to Your side. May I yearn for deeper intimacy with You. Open my eyes to see my desperate need for connection. Enable me to see that without You, I am nothing. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:25-34
Prayer is this remarkable thing – a miracle that goes beyond simple communication.
However, we have a desperate need for it to be simple. In our world of instant information, we yearn to know the ins and outs of everything, including prayer. We want a few quick answers to our questions of what prayer is and how one goes about engaging in this act.
Please someone tell us if we are to close our eyes, bow our head or cross our legs. Should I talk out loud or write out my prayers? Is it necessary to use the Christian jargon I hear at church for God to hear me?
As we’ve been learning, prayer is all about communion. This act goes beyond just simply communication tricks. Webster’s dictionary defines communion as an act or instance of sharing or intimate fellowship and rapport.
Unfortunately, for many of us, we find it difficult to experience this place of refuge and connection. Inadequacy and intimidation can plague’s one prayer life, but nothing jeopardizes it quite like the battle over control. It is crucial that we recognize that we are not in control because most prayers we see in the Bible seem to originate from this place. The Psalmists cried out to God for help and wisdom because they realized they were not the one orchestrating their days.
Yet, in today’s culture, many pray only as a last resort. After we have gone down every avenue and exhausted all our efforts, then and only then, do we give up control and turn to prayer. Intentional prayer and seeing prayer as communion simply gets us to this place faster without all the complicated convincing that it usually takes to get us there.
This is the posture the woman has who touched the hem of Jesus’ robe. She had exhausted all her options and realized her only hope was to get to Jesus. The sense of desperation she had is what got her noticed by Jesus.
So the question needs to be asked: are you praying desperate prayers that recognize who is ultimately in control of your days?
- Would you say prayer is one of the last things you turn to in times of desperation? What point do you have to get to before you give up control of your situation and lift your concerns up to God?
God, I know that You are in control, but often my prayers, or lack of prayer, don’t indicate I truly believe this fact. Often times I want to grab the reigns, direct my life and make sure I get my way. Yet, You are asking me to lay down my plans at Your feet. Give me the courage to do so. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? Psalm 42:1,2
Growing up as a middle schooler, the city pool was the place to see and be seen. Since we were too young to get a part-time job, our days were consumed with playing Sharks & Minnows and Marco Polo while filling our stomachs with Sunkist Soda and Twizzlers from the Snack Bar.
Still, in terms of popularity, nothing topped the diving board.
When someone made his or her way to dive, they knew all eyes were fixed on them. Pull off a cannonball, screwdriver, or back flip, and the audience was left utterly impressed.
I hate to admit it, but I was always a bit reluctant to go on the board.
While waiting in line, I would marvel at how my friends would run to the end of the board then twist and contort their bodies with no fear on their faces. Even though they didn’t often enter the water perfectly, they made their actions appear almost effortless, and from the looks on their faces there was no doubting how much fun they were having.
As I climbed the ladder, my nerves seemed to get the better of me. Face to face with the board, my feet felt like quicksand and I froze. With friends egging me on to do something, I knew retreating back down the stairs would be an action I’d never live down. It was now or never to perform my first front flip.
The same holds true in regard to the transformation we hope to see play out in our actions and words. Many of you have taken the time to climb up the ladder by recognizing character gaps and areas of your life that demand your attention. Now you find yourself staring at the end of the board with a mental image of yourself diving into the water. Part of you cannot wait to launch out into the deep end.
Yet, you’ll never experience that reality without movement.
Thomas Edison once said, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” You may have a vision of the person you want to become, but it would be pure insanity to think you will transform into that individual without movement. Your feet are frozen and you are in desperate need of a push to put the movement toward growth into action.
Engaging in spiritual disciplines is what creates this movement. They enable your vision to become a reality by forcing momentum and setting a direction you are moving toward. Just like my friends jumping off the diving board, chances are good your movement at first won’t feel natural.
But disciplines enable you to experience freedom and abandon, while standing on the board frozen by your vision only leads to frustration and discontentment. Disciplines do not produce change; rather they create a context where change can occur. They put us where God can begin to work within us to transform our character into His heart.
- What spiritual discipline do you need to engage in to fuel the movement you desire in your character?
God, may I posture myself to learn. I know often I hesitate when I consider all the growth that needs to occur in this area of my life. Allow me to trust in the vision of the person I know You want me to become. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.