bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

Selfish Prayer

I had finally decided to do it.  I made a lunch date with my parents to tell them.  I was scared.  Conjuring up conversations laden with disdain, disgust and even some hatred I drove to the restaurant.  As we dug into our sandwiches, I mustered up the courage to blurt it out.  “I’ve started going to church.”  And then I winced in anticipation.  After some silence, I continued, “I was a bit afraid to tell you.”  And my mother replied, “Why would you be afraid to tell us that and WHY on earth do you feel the need to go to church?”  That, my friends, in one sentence, is the story of our relationship.   After I explained a few reasons why I decided to attend church my father finally spoke.  “Believing in God is a crutch.  It’s something I don’t need.”

Nowadays when I hear people say things like that my response is, “A crutch?  Give me two please!”  Because there’s nothing I need more than for God to support me through this difficult life.  There’s nothing better than Him.  I have the promise of eternal life and His love under one arm and the power of prayer and petition under the other.

We live out our lives using so many other worldly things as crutches – our jobs, friendships, our bank accounts, our health, our status, the belief in the power of our own mind, etc.  And when those become our source of support our prayer life (if we even have one) directly reflects those crutches.

“You do not have because you do not ask.  When you ask, you do not receive. Because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

James 4:2-3

I call this a selfish prayer life.  Either we don’t ask because, like a two-year old we think, “I can do it all by myself!”  Or when we do pray, we aren’t asking as wisdom-filled followers of Jesus.  How many of us have recited a prayer and at the end said, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”?  Have we stopped to consider what exactly we are saying?  Is what we are praying something Jesus would ask for of the Father?

“Man is a creature abounding in wants. He is ever restless. His heart is full of desires. Man is like a sea anemone with its multitude of tentacles, which are always hunting in the water for food.”

Charles Spurgeon, Ask and Have

I’ve heard a lot lately about our attitude and faith. The state of our attitude needs to be examined when praying. When we pray, are we complaining and want a “magic pill?” Are we asking for other people to be “fixed” when we really need for God to shine the light on what we need to fix in ourselves? Do we pray to get the promotion so we can make more money or do we pray for God to position us in our company right where He needs us most? When we don’t get the promotion do we then say, “but I prayed about it and obviously God isn’t listening?” We get angry with God when He doesn’t do what we tell Him to do. Go figure.

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolish….But we have the mind of Christ.”

1 Cor 2:14-16

When we don’t live as though we have the mind of Christ inside us, we pray as though we don’t know the spirit of God.  Our heart and mind, with the wisdom of God, must be woven throughout our prayers.  My friends and I recently watched the movie, “War Room.”  In it, an older woman disciples a younger woman who is having a lot of marital problems.  She wants her husband fixed – fixed, of course, how she wants him fixed.  The takeaway from the movie for all of us was the intensity and sincerity the older woman had in her prayer life.  What I had to realize was two things:

  1. The devil is hard at work, even in our prayers.
  2. We need to use our power and authority given by Jesus to plead with God

And so, I created my own prayer War Room.  I pray with conviction that God will hear my prayer and His desires will be done.  I pray knowing He wants the things I want – for families to be reunited, for mothers to find their voice, for husbands to step into their roles, for daughters to be filled with the Holy Spirit, for friends to surrender to Him, for our country to be healed.  And I pray thankfully for prayers that have been answered and for his intervention into my life and my family’s.  

War Room starring Priscilla Shirer

I don’t pray for things anymore.  I pray for wise decisions.  I pray for doors to be open and doors to close.  I pray for hurt feelings to be removed and for me to not hurt people’s feelings.  I pray for forgiveness and to forgive.  I pray asking for the strength to live a life He wants me to live – not the one my selfish desire wants to be. I pray for Him to take my burdens so I can rest in the peace Jesus left with us.  And I pray boldy.  I pray calling on all the strength I know God, the King of Kings, has to do all things.  It’s time to stop messing around with lazy, recitation praying and start meaning exactly what we say.

“If your desires are the longings of fallen nature, if your desires begin and end with your own self, and if the primary purpose for which you live is not to glorify God, but glorify yourself, then you may fight but you will not have.”

Charles Spurgeon, Ask and Have

As Christians we have the privilege of prayer. Think of all the people you know who don’t know Christ. They are left to their own devices – and we are terribly faulty people. We get our own lives so messed up yet somehow, we think we can control the world around us. We must pray. We must pray His will be done. Our first impulse in the morning should be prayer. Throughout the day we should be praying for others. And at the end of the day we are specific with our prayers of thankfulness. Let’s not be like the sea anemone grasping at whatever luck or speck of good comes our way. Instead, seize on the notion that God wants to give us a good life. All we need to do is ask.

30daysofpraise, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

Dirty Knees, Bountiful Harvest

Is there someone in your life you are praying for – praying they will know God and surrender to Jesus?  I have a few friends and family members on my prayer list that I lift up continuously to the Lord.  He is our great Harvester but as He says in Luke 10:2,

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”

Luke 10:2

 We don’t know who is on God’s list of the “elect” so it’s our job as His field workers to get on our knees and pray for those around us.  For when we pray, we are then opening ourselves up to direction from the Almighty.  It’s one thing to pray for ourselves – our sins, our hurts, and our needs – but those of us who have offered up ourselves to God are already saved.  Our eternal place in heaven’s field of flowers is set. So, when we plead with God for those we love, it brings about something new.

When you Google the words “Harvest Celebration” you get to the Wikipedia page, “Harvest Festival.”  It says, “Ample food and freedom from the necessity to work in the fields are two central features of harvest festivals: eating, merriment, games, music and romance are common features around the world.”  Just think how much grander the harvest festival is in the spiritual world!  God celebrates each time a new seed is planted, nurtured and brought into His ample basket.  And, as His field workers we are called to play small parts in each of those steps.

I chose this topic today to send up praise of thanksgiving to our God who loves us bountifully.  He answers our prayers fully that reflect His will.   Here’s how I know this.  This answered prayer starts with a reflection on my family.  My mother is the daughter of a Baptist minister.  She has a tenuous relationship with God, at best. Unfortunately, there weren’t field workers willing to nurture her through questions and feelings of mistrust.  She saw Christians show up to church each week and act devout then leave the church doors and sin.  My father is an atheist.  He had no upbringing in the church and no friends who shared their faith.  What little exposure they’ve had to God was through my mother’s sister who had many mental and family issues.  In spite of this, I always believed in God.  I had a friend that I occasionally attended church with but the majority of the people around me never spoke of their faith – if they had any.  I married into a devout Presbyterian family.  Boy, were they worried about me!  Funny enough, my own parents were concerned when I told them I was going to church.  Fast forward to the last few years.  My parents and I never talk about my beliefs.  I don’t hide them.  But we just have not had another conversation centered around faith since I announced I was attending church.  I asked a pastor once when I should just give up on some people – like my parents.  He said, “Oh, you never give up!  Just like God never gives up on you!”  And so, as I have surrendered my life over to Christ, I’ve started praying more for others.

After watching the amazing movie, War Room, I set up a prayer area.  On my wall I have cards filled with prayers for other people.  One of those is for my parents:

“Lord, you are the only one who can break the bonds holding my parents down.  With all your heavenly might break the tall and strong walls they have built around their hearts and minds.  Lord, grab a hold of them and pull them from the fire!”

I’ve been praying this prayer now for about a month.  The other day I added to the prayer, “Show me what part, even the smallest part, I need to do to help you accomplish this.”  That very afternoon I stopped by their house to check in on them.  My dad started talking about a book series he’s reading called, “The Saxon Series.”  It’s an historical drama set in England.  He shared that he had never understood what the “Holy Ghost” was or how the trinity worked until he read these books.  Apparently, there’s a character in the book who refers to Jesus as “the nailed God” and priest who refers to the trinity as, “Father, Son and the other guy.”  What ensued was a conversation about the role of the divine in each part of the trinity.  I shared how when Jesus was crucified, he let the disciples know that another would come in his place to be with us always – the Holy Spirit.  We talked about how much of the New Testament is written to churches who were either going astray or who needed support due to persecution.  We also talked about the roles in the Old Testament of pagan gods versus The Almighty God.  It. Was. Amazing.

Here’s the thing, I had written off my father as someone who would never come to know Jesus because he is an atheist.  I thought my mom would possibly come around because of her faith background.  But it was my father with whom I was having this conversation!

When I left the house I was stunned.  I praised God for answered prayers.  And, I thanked God for this: I was prepared.  If this conversation had come up five or ten years ago, I would not have been able to speak so confidently and easily about these topics.  God was preparing me for that day, that moment.  I know the salvation of my parents is not my responsibility.  I was just the field hand, who had been on my knees praying and pleading for God to help them.  And if I needed to play some small role, I was ready to do the work.  I will keep praying for them until either the day of their passing or the day of their surrender.

We can never know the hour God will gift us with answered prayers.  Just like I really have no idea when my green tomatoes will finally turn red and be ready for harvest.  Until then I get my knees dirty working in His name.

christian encouragement

Wave Your White Flag

What battles are you facing right now? For me it’s my fears about the direction the country is going. I am a patriot through and through. I’m not a fan of people who twist history to meet their needs for victimization. That may not sit well with people but I will not judge others for living imperfect lives while I, myself, live imperfectly every single day. That being said I can only live in God’s Truth which is the fact that the only battle I have some control over is the one that tries to pull me away from God.
When I don’t first get on my knees and pray; when I don’t continually look to the Lord for guidance; when I don’t trust that God is the ultimate warrior in the battles for Truth and Justice — this is when I need to remind myself to tighten my own warrior belt and take up my shield.
Our real battles are being fought in realms unseen. Our job is to surrender to the knowledge that God will fight for us when we ask. He will beat back the armies that wish to destroy us. And as King Jehoshaphat commanded the people of Judah to act before battle, we need to give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever!”
It’s time to completely turn your battles over to God. Let’s face it, you haven’t had too many victories without Him. Wave your white flag. Get on your knees and pray.
Join me starting July 27 as I begin 30 Days of Praise for all the great things God has done. Follow me to enjoy this journey!