Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

A Prayer for Christmas

December 20, 2016

Lord, it seems somehow selfish or greedy to ask you for a gift on Christmas.  After all, you have already given us everything you had when you came to earth as a man to live and die and redeem us.  But the gift I would ask honors you.  I would ask that you give a renewal of hearts to this earth for Christmas.  Warm our hearts with love for Jesus and each other.  Change us to be less about ourselves and more about you.  Give us insight into your heart’s desires, into what matters most to you, and let us model our lives around that.  Let their be conversions in high places this Christmas.  Let your spirit overshadow all the great ones of this earth.  Warm their hearts with love for you, and compassion for their fellow man.  Let these conversions be the kind that makes all take notice.  Drastically change the most unlikely of us–as the fictional character Ebeneezer Scrooge was forever changed by his night visions, yes, and even more like the apostle Paul was changed on the Damascus Road by an encounter with you.  We need these things so much, Lord, and ultimately they will bring you glory, when these people who live for self and not for you, change to transparently show love for you.  Let the warmth of love that brought us Christmas descend on this cold world like a blanket and warm all our hearts, Amen.

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Hearing God

June 2, 2016

I think a lot of people believe when God speaks to them, they should hear a voice–if not an audible voice, then a voice in their spirit or in their mind. But why should we decide how God should speak? Isn’t that God’s decision? We modern Christians are blessed in that we have something early Christians did not have–the New Testament of the bible. We can read for ourselves the very words of Jesus, and what He thought about things. I know when I read the words of Jesus they always speak to me about something–often containing the answer to something I’ve been struggling with. The epistles are the words of the first generation of followers. They don’t usually contain quotes from Jesus, but they have the thoughts of those who walked with Him or with his apostles. Those teachings contain wisdom we can often apply to our situations. Sometimes God speaks to us through other, more mature Christians. Their wisdom has been won through many years of prayer, bible study and obedience. God may also speak through circumstances, such as opening opportunities in our lives or sometimes closing a door to something. Over many years of following Jesus, He has spoken to me in all these ways at one time or another. Part of the answer, I think, is being willing to obey whatever Jesus is showing us, no matter how hard or how scary it seems to be. If we aren’t willing to obey Him in a particular area, then why should He keep trying to communicate His will to a stubborn person. That is hard, but at times in my life I prayed so hard for a particular outcome, He had to break me before He could begin to work on the issue. Sometimes until we can pray “Lord I want what you want, more than what I want.”, we seem to get nowhere.  Its the hardest prayer to ever pray, but many people have reported breakthrough when they have finally reached that point with God.

Where 2 or 3 are Gathered

February 2, 2016

“I also tell you this–if two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask for, my Father in heaven will do it for you.  For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I will be right there among them.”  Matt. 18:19-20

These are the words of Jesus Himself, so we can believe them because He said them, or we can disbelieve Him.  There’s power in numbers here.  For one thing, when more than one agree in prayer, you can believe the petition isn’t silly, it isn’t overly selfish, and it isn’t something that goes against the teachings of Jesus.  A group checks its members.  But beyond that, He says something just astounding.  When we gather because we are His, He is there.  What would our prayers sound like if we remembered He is there?  What a reason to continue in fellowship with other believers!   What a reason not to say to ourselves “Oh I’ll just pray on my own and maybe watch church on television.”

Being Honest with God

January 24, 2016

“O Lord, how long will you forget me?  Forever?  How long will you look the other way?  How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?  How long will my enemy have the upper hand?  Psalm 13:1,2

David was expressing something like exasperation to God, and it was almost exasperation with God.  He had been suffering, being cornered by enemies who sought to destroy him, and he was not seeing any action on God’s part.  He had a certain daring.  He dared complain to God, and yet he felt safe enough to do so.  God could have destroyed him.  God had punished the complainers among his people in the past.  But God didn’t punish David.  God actually called David “a man after my own heart.”  What was the difference?

David wasn’t taking God for granted.  He didn’t lack faith in God.  In this same psalm David said “But I trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me.” (Verse 5)  David was just tired, heartbroken, and longing for some reassurance from the Lord, some movement on his behalf that would give him some hope.  He wasn’t distrusting God, but just being honest with God.

Sometimes it feels wonderful to just unburden ourselves, talking about our problems with someone who will listen without condemnation.  God knows how we are made, and He doesn’t mind at all that we ventilate our emotions before Him.   He is pleased that we trust Him like that.  It is good for us to be honest about our feelings, not acting as though we have to play some holy pretend game before God.  It is good for us to unburden ourselves to the only one who can do anything to help us.  And it is good when we then tell God we are willing to do what He wants.  It is good when we tell Him we trust Him to work out our problems for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28)

Asking

January 20, 2016

“Ask, and you will be given what you ask for.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Anyone who seeks, finds.  If only you will knock, the door will open.  If a child asks his father for a loaf of bread will he be given a stone instead?  If he asks for fish, will he be given a poisonour snake?  Of course not!  And if you hardhearted sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t  your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them?”  Matthew 7:7-11

In this episode, Jesus taught that our Heavenly Father is like a very loving earthly parent, but even better.  First of all, He likes to be asked for what we need.  Unlike earthly parents, God already knows what we need.  What then would be the purpose of asking?  Asking indicates trust on our part–trust that we have been heard, and trust that we will be given a loving answer to our requests.  That trust is a type of praise that brings God glory (it reflects all His goodness, love and beauty).  Jesus taught that everyone who asks will receive an answer, and everyone who seeks answers will be given something.  Jesus said that if we knocked we would be answered.  God never has a busy signal.  We never get the runaround.  We never will find God absent when we knock.  We will get an answer.   The answer might not always be exactly what we asked.  Think about parents.  They don’t always give their child what it asks for, because many of a child’s choices are foolish.  But as parents, even less than perfect parents do acknowledge the child’s request and give something good.  If a baby asks for something it can choke on, the parent distracts it with something else they know it likes.  If a child asks for something foolish or dangerous, the parent gives something better.  Sometimes it is necessary to wait for an answer, because someone or something  isn’t ready for the answer yet.  God will never give anything that would hurt us no matter how much we think we want it.  There was a song once about thanking God for unanswered prayer.  According to the lyrics, the young man had prayed for a certain girl to become his wife, but years later upon seeing her again, and then looking at the wife he had, he was glad God hadn’t answered the original prayer.  His actual wife was a much better match for him for a lifetime.

Too Busy to Listen

October 26, 2015

When I was younger, I had the idea the more I did for God, the better.  I had read a quote from Erma Bombeck about meeting God and telling Him she had no more talent because she had already used every ounce of her talent for Him.  I knew we don’t earn God’s love, yet I wanted to show my love for Him so passionately, I was constantly looking for things I could do that used all my available time, energy and talent.  I actually would wake up in a panic, realizing my life was half over and I hadn’t accomplished anywhere near what I had hoped.

Later, I heard an elderly woman talk about her wonderful son, and how he would come over every week to do all the chores she couldn’t do for herself–the home maintenance, landscape care, etc.  Then she said wistfully, “I wish sometimes, he would just sit and talk to me instead of working so hard.”

I realized suddenly that perhaps God would like me to spend more time in prayer so “I would just sit and talk with Him.”  I tried adding at least 30 minutes of prayer to my busy schedule.  Out of my prayer time came ideas about people I should contact or things I should do that I hadn’t seen until I prayed.  I took these ideas as whispers from God.  Then, I realized I was so busy, I couldn’t add in one more thing.  I couldn’t do all those things I felt God nudging me to do, with all the things I was already doing.

Slowly, I began to realize God probably didn’t want all the things I had decided to do as an offering to Him.  He might not be interested in “my plans” to use every bit of every spiritual gift I thought He had given me.  He might want me to take my cues from Him instead.  Around that time my children were becoming more independent.  They were often going out on their own trying to do good things for me and for others.  A lot of those things ended up in a mess that could have been avoided had we worked together instead..  (One of those episodes involved trying to make hard boiled eggs in the microwave, but I digress.)

Anyway, somehow I began to learn that God was more interested in my listening to Him and obeying what He was showing me than He was in all the things I was doing on my own, trying to use all my time and talents.  So now I just ask every day “Lord, what would you have me do today for you and others?”  Then I just do what I see before me.  It doesn’t mean there aren’t still things on my calendar, or times that I serve on a regular basis.  But these are things I have felt God nudging me to do, without regard to whether I was using all my spiritual gifts or all my available time.  I have found when I do those things I feel God is calling me to do, I have plenty of time for those little “God appointments” He places in my day.  I am also more relaxed, knowing if my purpose is solely to please Him, the Lord will use me according to His purposes (not mine).  And life has become more of an adventure, less hectic, less scheduled, more spontaneous, and more fulfilled..

Why was Cain’s offering unaccepted by God?

August 12, 2015

In Genesis chapter 4 the story is told of two brothers, Cain and Abel.  Both made sacrifices to God.  Abel sacrificed the best of his lambs, while Cain brought a gift of his farm produce.  It is recorded that the Lord accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s.  I have heard different commentary on this.  One theory is that lambs were more acceptable than farm produce.  I don’t think so, because God had not yet revealed what He wanted as an offering.  Another theory is that Abel brought the best of what he had while Cain brought “a gift of his farm produce”, not necessarily the best of what he had.  Thats a theory, but nowhere is that stated.  I think the answer is in the next paragraph.  The Lord asks Cain why he is so angry.  He could be full of joy if he would do what he should.  “But if you refuse to obey, watch out.  Sin is waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you.  But you can conquer it!”   I believe this is key.  It is showing that Cain was in some way disobedient to God, and it may have been in his attitude.  God never accepts our gifts in lieu of our obedience, or gifts given from a wrong motive.  Jesus taught much about motives and also about getting our relationships right before offering gifts at the altar.

I am further intrigued by the statement:  “Sin in waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you.  But you can conquer it!”  This would seem to say we have no excuse no matter how strong the temptations we face, nor the particular weaknesses we deal with.  We can conquer our sinful habits if we come before God in prayer with repentance and ask His help.  Cain was refusing to obey God.

Yoga, Prayer and the difference.

January 6, 2012

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way.  With Yoga we become aware of how and where we are restricted—in body, mind and heart—and how gradually to open and release these blockages.  As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed.  We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves.  Our lives begin to flow—or we begin to flow more in our lives.”    quote by Cybele Tomlinson.

 I read this quote today on the facebook page of a friend who has been going through a lot of soul searching.  It sounds good, but its really so very, very limited.  Its ultimately all about self, and no one else.  The human condition is such that we are limited and we are lonely.  We can’t solve our problems all alone.   Our problems with our loneliness and limitedness can’t be solved by a limited, lonely self.  Someone once quipped they couldn’t run from their problems because “wherever I go, there I am.”  The self is so constant it becomes a pain.  “Otherness” is as necessary to us as the air we breathe.  Its not so much whats in us that prevents us living a full and whole life, its the need for more than what is in us.  We have to open up.

Rather than Yoga, prayer opens the heart, mind and emotion to the great Other.  The best part of that is this  Other is the only One who has the power and wisdom to truly help us.  No one understands us like God, for He knows us better than we know ourselves.  As we pour out our hearts in prayer, we not only see ourselves more clearly, but we see answers to what we are seeking.  By opening up to Him, we learn to appreciate and love Him back.  This gives us the energy to love others and to have compassion for them.   “We love because He first loved us.”  I John 4:19

God of the Dark Places

March 15, 2010

Sometimes I can hardly stand to read the news.  The wars, rumors of wars, crime, violence and hatred, make everything seem so black.  But it isn’t black to You, is it Lord?  Its as though we’re in a box and the lid is pulled over the top, making it dark for those of us living inside.  But outside the box its daylight and You can be seen.  You won’t let that lid stay on forever.  You’ve set the times for just how long You’ll allow things to stay the way they are.  And the timer is ticking down.

Prayer During Lent

March 12, 2010

Jesus, how incredibly difficult it must have been for you, in your humanity, to face all you did in your earthly ministry.  You faced opposition everywhere you went .  Leadership was waiting for a chance to trip you up, dripping with criticism, sarcasm and hate.  The mob was filled with cynics and skeptics with attitudes ranging from “ho-hum, another populist” to “show us a miracle–impress us!” Much of the mob wanted only something for themselves.  Some was legitimate: people who needed an illness cured, for example.  However, many only wanted someone to take care of them so they could give up the responsibility of taking care of themselves.  And everywhere–sin.  Yet, you served and you loved.  In your divinity you healed.  In your humanity, you got tired, hot, hungry, thirsty and frustrated.  It was a trial beyond our understanding, to have to deal with all our sin all the time.  But you did, until it cost you your life in the most tortuous way of death.  Thank you Jesus for loving like no one has before, or since, or ever will again.  I’m humbled to realize I will never be able to love you as you deserve.  Help me at least begin.