Tag Archives: praying

April 17; Expectation

Psalms 5,34,59,133; I Samuel 21:1-15, 22:1-5; I Chronicles 12:8-18

How is your prayer life? I have some dear friends who are true prayer warriors. They can pray for hours at a time, and to hear them pray out loud is like overhearing a conversation between intimate friends. No flowery words. Just heart-felt communication between them and God.

I’ve confessed that I struggle with my prayer life. I want to be a warrior. But I continually fall short. Oh, I pray. Sometimes hundreds of times a day as God brings someone or something to mind. But I have never prayed for hours at a time. I run out of things to say. My mind goes to things I should be doing. I’m a work in progress.

But this morning I feel like God has lifted a bit of the guilt I’ve carried about that. He seems to be pointing me to how I pray – not how long I pray. The question comes to mind, “Do you really believe I will hear and answer your prayers, Connie? Do you trust me?”

David was one that could pour his heart out to God, to lay it all out there, and trust God with the answers. David prayed for specific requests concerning life events. He prayed prayers of confession, and often on behalf of the people. Sometimes David prayed the same request more than once.

But I think what I noticed today is David’s faith. He presented his requests to God, then left them there. I love Psalm 5:3.

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

David didn’t just wait for God to answer his prayers. He waited expectantly. Every day.

So here’s what I’m thinking: Instead of beating myself up for the lack of discipline, or the length of my prayers, I’m going to pray about the things God lays on my heart. I want Him to hear my voice every morning. And then, I want to look for the answers to my prayers throughout the day, expecting the evidence to be there.

If you are one who has a disciplined prayer life, please pray on. We need your prayers. And I hope one day to join you in that kind of praying. But for now God is going to hear my voice every morning, without me looking at a clock. And then I will wait in expectation for Him to answer.

March 28; Why Not?

Joshua 10-12

Joshua had been tricked into making a treaty with the enemy, now he was in a position to have to defend them. From God’s perspective, they’d been people the Israelites should have eliminated in order to gain the Promised Land. But Joshua, without consulting God, had made them allies.

God had every right to tell Joshua, “You got yourself into this mess. Don’t expect me to bail you out. Call me when it’s over.” God didn’t say anything close to that. In fact, what He did is one of the most amazing miracles recorded in the Bible.

But it’s not the miracle that speaks to me in this passage. It’s Joshua’s prayer. Joshua didn’t just ask God to help him win the war. He asked God to stop the sun and moon. And, he didn’t just pray that prayer in the privacy of a closet. He prayed that prayer in front of all Israel.

Who thinks of asking for anything so outrageous as stopping the sun and moon? God seems to be asking, “Why not?”

I think sometimes my prayers are way too small. It’s not that I don’t think God can make a cancerous tumor disappear. Is it that think He won’t? It’s not that I think God can’t provide, or overcome circumstances.  Maybe it’s that I don’t think it’s His will.

Joshua has challenged my prayer life. What should I be praying for today that hasn’t even crossed my mind until now? I never would have thought to pray that God would stop the sun. I’m asking myself…

Why not?

 

Numbers 17-18; Budding, Blossoming, and Bountiful

Priests were highly regarded men, respected, obeyed. It’s no wonder that men from other tribes wanted to enjoy the same honor. But God made it plain that Aaron was His chosen, and only Levites were to attend to priestly duties. The staff that represented Aaron not only budded, it blossomed, and produced fruit over night.

The other staves? Nothing.

This side of the cross, as God’s kingdom of priests, we can learn from Aaron’s staff. As believers, we are chosen by God to grow in grace and knowledge, to go and make disciples, to stand in the gap between heaven and hell. We also can delight in God’s Presence, His love, His forgiveness, and protection. Buds and blossoms and bounty.

But chapter 18 reminds us of the great responsibility that goes along with all that. God told Aaron that he and his sons, “bear the responsibility for offenses against the sanctuary…

Verse 5 says: You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that wrath will not fall on the Israelites again.

The commentaries I read seemed to agree these verses warn me that, although being God’s child through the blood of His Son is a precious gift, there are serious consequences if I don’t use it, if I hoard it or abuse it.

I must bear fruit. If I don’t, God’s wrath will be my fault. If my neighbor goes to hell because I didn’t reach out to him to introduce him to the Savior, his blood is on my hands.

My pastor is going through I Thessalonians verse by verse with us, and yesterday we got to 5:12-15. These verses talk to us about how we are to regard those who are over us in the Lord. In other words, our pastors.

He shared the grave responsibility he has as our under-shepherd, and the fact that he will stand before God some day and account for his care of us who worship with him in our church body. He asked us to pray for him, for his faithfulness to God’s Word, and his purity, that God would keep him grounded in the Truth of Scripture, and victorious over sin in his own life.

I’m teaching a Sunday School class this quarter, and would ask the same of you. Please pray for me as I take on the responsibility of being God’s voice to the dear women who trust me to speak the Truth. And pray that Satan will be defeated in my life.

My pastor also pointed out these verses address “those who work hard AMONG you.” Isn’t that all of us who name the name of Jesus? We need to be in prayer for our elders, deacons, youth leaders, worship leaders. We need to be in prayer for each other in our workplaces and neighborhoods as we represent Jesus to a lost world. These verses tell us to live in peace with each other, to encourage each other in the work we have to do, to be patient and kind with everyone, and always want what is best for everyone.

We are all in this together. We all have jobs to do so blossoms will grow and fruit is produced. I pray that God will find all of us faithful, and that our fruit will be bountiful for Jesus’ sake.

September 20 – You Want Me To Live Where?

Haggai

How much is enough? God, through Haggai, asks us to consider our ways:

You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes. (1:6)

There seems to be two groups of people in our world today. One group works to get ahead, to buy the big houses, to drive the nice cars, to grow a portfolio. The other group wants what the first group has, feels entitled to it, and demands the first group hand it over.

They really aren’t so different, you know. One word can describe them both: MORE.

God told the people in Haggai’s day to rebuild the temple, His home on earth. And they do. But when it was finished God kind of said, “Seriously? Does this come close to the temple that was? You expect me to live here?” (2:3)

Got me to thinking about the temple called Connie. I’m a work in progress. But how much care am I putting into the building of this temple? How choosy am I as to what goes into it? Am I building a temple fit for a king, or a nice little tent that even I wouldn’t want to live in?

I know many of us have obligations and interested that pull us in many directions. We only have 24 hours in a day, right? Family, jobs, school, sports, cooking meals, and cleaning toilets are important things that demand our attention. So where does temple building come in?

Do we read the obligatory psalm at night when our bodies are weary and our thoughts are going in every which direction? Do we fall asleep during our nightly prayer? That’s like using cardboard to erect the frame of our temple. It’s cheap, and it won’t stand.

Building a temple fit for the King of Kings requires making it a priority. That means taking quality time with God every day. That means reading and studying His Word, talking to Him, including Him in every decision no matter how small.

Building a temple means turning off that questionable show on TV, shutting down the computer or phone, controlling our thought lives. It’s a choice to take time each and every day in the quiet Presence of God Himself.

Haggai has me asking myself if I am putting my efforts in things like he described in 1:6? Am I building a flimsy, ugly, neglected temple that I expect God to live in?

I do want the word, “More” to refer to me. But only in the sense that people will recognize I want more of God than I have today, I want to serve Him more, love Him more, spend more time with Him every day. And in doing so, I’ll be building a temple He will be pleased to inhabit.

I want God to live in me, and like it here!

A Common Thread

For some time I have read through the Bible each year with a chronological plan. I love reading the Bible that way. But this year I decided to mix it up a bit, rebel that I am. I’m reading the New King James Version with a plan that includes some Old Testament, a Psalm or two, some Proverbs, and a passage from the New Testament each day for a year.

Not sure how I feel about that yet. But I’m excited to see what God has in store for me as I read His Word. What has occurred to me this first week of 2015, is how the Bible isn’t just a book of one thought after another, once account after another. It is an incredible piece of literature, inspired by God Himself, and it has a message that is consistent from Genesis to Revelation. Like what I read today.

The book of Genesis tells us that several years after the flood, people were beginning to feel pretty powerful. They began to build the Tower of Babel (11:1-9) and with each brick they laid. they felt more prideful. They were going to build their way to God.

Solomon tells us there are seven things God hates: pride, lies, murder, wickedness, choosing evil, slander, and troublemakers. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Pride heads Solomon’s list. Jesus tells us not to give, fast or pray in order to receive praise. (Matthew 6:2,5,16)

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in our walk with the Lord just might be pride. Receiving Christ as our Savior involves humbling ourselves, pouring our “selves” out, relinquishing control, and admitting our worthlessness.

For some, that’s too much to ask. Some would rather climb a mountain or fight a giant instead of falling on their knees in repentance. Even some who know Christ still battle pride, and want their walk or their sacrifice to be noticed by others. God hates that. God cannot bless that. And I believe unsaved people label that attitude in a believer hypocrisy.

God is asking me about my motives. Am I doing something in Jesus name in order to get to him on my own terms, like the Jews at Babel? Am I volunteering at church so that people will tell me how great it is that I do? Do my public prayers consist of flowery words meant to impress those in attendance, my weekly offering in the collection plate given so someone will comment about my sacrifice?

I love how the different passages I read today all share the same message. This Bible I have in front of me is truly amazing. May I read it, learn from it, and be the woman God would have me be for Jesus’ sake, not mine.

So what is the common thread I’ve seen as I read from the entire Bible? Put simply: this life isn’t about me. It’s all about Jesus. All of it.

Dear God, thank you for your Word. Thank you that it is relevant, powerful, and true. I pray that your children will spend time in these precious pages, that we will think on it, learn from it, and use it to lead others to the Savior. I also pray that in all we do, the sin of pride will not have a foothold. May we look to you and not ourselves. And may you find us faithful, in Jesus’ name.