Saturday, June 11, 2016
Running Around in Circles
Do you ever feel like you're running around in circles - especially in your prayer life? In the photo, my grandson Storm is playing Duck, Duck, Goose with a group of kids at VBS. He's running around the circle, seeking a place to land. Sometimes, that's how I feel when I pray.
We have such an awesome God who offers to us the privilege of prayer -- the ability to actually talk with the One who created the entire universe and beyond, to express our feelings and needs to Him, and to have Him listen and respond. When you think about it, it's beyond amazing!
Yet, if you're like me, you still kinda want to understand how that works. When God says, "Ask and you shall receive, that your joy be full" Matthew 7:7, what does that really mean? Does it mean that I can ask God for healing for Storm's 14-year old cousin who has been in a coma for ten days as a result of a traffic accident, and he'll definitely be healed? Does it mean I can ask God for answers to various other needs and always expect a happy outcome? Those of us who know anything about prayer, know the answer to those questions are "Not always."
Sometimes, God answers our prayers in the affirmative immediately, other times there is a need for extended prayer for the thing and then He gives it to us. Then, there are the times He answers with an entirely different outcome than we asked or wished for. Those are the times we question and, in some cases, we might wonder if our prayers even matter.
One day I lamented to God, "I just don't understand prayer!" I felt Him lovingly answer my spirit, "You don't have to understand, you just have to obey and pray." I actually felt relieved that I didn't have to understand the process (cause trying to understand always brings on a "circle moment"), I just needed to do the thing - to obey God's directive to pray and trust Him to handle the outcome.
That old song, "Trust and Obey," is so relevant here. We need to obey God's directive to pray - which is plainly taught throughout His Word -- and then, we need to trust His loving heart to know what is best for us on this sinful earth.
I believe that verse, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" James 5:16, reveals a lot to us about the power of prayer. Even so, we need to never forget the verse in Isaiah 45, that reminds us of the sovereignty of God: "I have made the earth, and created man on it...and I will direct all his ways..."
Yes, there will always be times we get caught in a circle while we remain in this world (which is itself a circle), but God has promised that He provides a landing place for us. I always come back to the wise verses in Proverbs 3: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
Thank you Lord for the awesome privilege of prayer, and for your patience with us when we run around in circles. Help us to land in your arms of love and grace and peace. And help us to always trust and obey.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
The Power of "P" Words
It struck me recently how many of the most Powerful words (starting with the word "Powerful") in the Christian life begin with the letter "P." I wondered where I might find a picture of the letter P and then I remembered a strange painting I'd seen recently at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, California. The painting Moving Out, painted by Julie Heffernan in 2010, features all sorts of thought-provoking elements, and it just happens to have the letter P hanging by a rope, dangling in space. I'm simply going to key in on the one letter for this post. We shall Ponder the remainder of the painting at a later date. Note: I've capitalized each featured P word for emphasis.
Often when I Pray, I ask for Peace, Power to live for Christ and to fulfill His Purpose, and I Praise Him for all He is and all He does. We might say that's Prayer in a nutshell. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, saying, "With all Prayer and Petition Pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all Perseverance and Petition for all the saints, and Pray on my behalf...." 6:18-19.
Here are a few more admonitions from Paul in that chapter: Put on the full armor of God / Our struggles are against the Powers of darkness / We should cover our feet with the Preparation of the gospel of Peace / and above all else - Pray.
The most Powerful word in the Christian vocabulary is Pray. Here's what Priscilla Shirer wrote in her latest Bible study, The Armor of God: "Unless Prayer is a vital and thriving part of our life, you will never achieve spiritual victory... Prayer is the connective tissue between you and heavenly places.... Without Prayer - I say it again - your armor cannot, will not, be infused with the Power that only God's Spirit can give."
Who knew the letter P could be so Popular and Precious, so Poignant and Persuasive, so Productive in the Power-struggle for the Planet. And Power-struggle it is -- between the Prince of darkness and the Prince of Peace. As People of God, let us Persevere in that Powerful Privilege of Prayer.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!