12 Dec 2017
We all have a need to feel connected to another human being. Good marriages thrive on communication. Without daily sharing, one partner feels disconnected and alone. Suicides occur when people lose all loving contact with another human being. In our daily friendships, we require connection to each other. The people with whom we eat lunch or work out with, offer us a sense of community that’s vital to mental health and happiness.
But sometimes spouses or friends abuse that connection by using us for their own selfish, personal advantage. Some of us have been ripped off by a “friend” who stole from us to feed her habit. Perhaps we’ve done it to someone else. Any betrayal damages trust, but it also makes it less likely that we’ll offer that gift of connection again. Think about how we treat God and the connection He offers us through the intimacy of prayer. Don’t we often bring our own selfish wish list to our prayers? Don’t we often consider God a sort of Santa Claus and try to make deals with Him? And then we wonder why our prayers never seem to get an answer! Consider what James said about that, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3 Prayer is not a way to get our wish list completed. Jesus is not our gofer who is just about giving us what we want!
Rather, and more important, prayer is a direct link to the Creator of the universe. He has a plan for our lives, but like most plans, He needs to share them with us. Without our willingness to put aside our selfish concerns and really be quiet and listen to God speaking to us, we’ll never learn what He wants to say to us.
When we pray, let’s connect to God by using our ears first and our mouths second. Let’s keep our motives pure and ask God for the things we need so that we can serve Him.
21 Nov 2017
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Thanksgiving Day is a time set aside for us to acknowledge our gratitude and thanks to God and those around us for the bounty and blessings we have received. If over the last year our bosses gave us a bonus, we give thanks. If our children or spouses have been healthy and successful, we give thanks. Thanksgiving Day is almost 100% about expressing heartfelt gratitude for things we have received.
And, this is exactly the right thing to do. However, the Apostle Paul offers a new perspective on giving thanks that leads to banishment of fear and anxiety. In addition, the fear and anxiety is replaced with a peace that defies understanding…and the key to it is…giving thanks!
When we read the above listed passage from Philippians, we notice that we are instructed to not be anxious about anything…that would include, but not be limited to…our finances, our health, our jobs, our marriages or relationships…or absence of the same. It means giving up our fears about our children, grandchildren, and sons in prison or the drugs that assault our schools every day.
Paul teaches us to do three things: pray…petition (request, implore, plead) and give THANKS! Now, we certainly GET the first two…but most of us feel Paul has got the third thing wrong. How can we give thanks for something we have yet to receive? Are we supposed to thank God for an outcome that we are not sure is correct? Paul must have this one out of place…surely we should wait until we know what God’s answer is BEFORE we offer up Thanksgiving to God for His answer?
But Paul has not got it wrong. To receive the blessings of peace and rest, we need to trust God and do all three things. This means that we give THANKS to God for His answer to our prayers BEFORE we know the answer! This faith and trust in His provision signals to God that we are willing to acknowledge that His answers to prayer are better than our expectations…that HE WILL GET IT RIGHT! Faith that delivers freedom from anxiety and fear begins with the faith and trust that prays this prayer: “God hear the prayer that I would have prayed, if I had all your information.”
Let this Thanksgiving Day be one where we offer up praise and thanks for answers yet unknown…and live with adequacy knowing God has our back!
23 Nov 2015
God, Jesus—whoever You are—I am frightened. You see, I have never been loved in my life.
I cannot remember when I truly felt the warm flannel blanket of a mother’s love around my shoulders. God, I have trouble with any father figure in my life because mine hit me for years and my mother did nothing to stop it.
In my heart, I desperately long to have a loving father and mother in my life, but I am also desperately afraid of letting someone into my inner soul. My soul has been pierced and assaulted so many times. I am struggling with my desire and need to be loved and my fear of being wounded again.
As I read this and offer a prayer, I ask You to assure me of the genuineness of Your love. Sow seeds of trust in my soul so that I will trust Your loving-kindness.
May Your love banish my fears and replace them with a relationship that will fill the hole in my heart. Amen.
22 Sep 2015
We wonder sometime why things happen in our lives and if God is really listening or paying attention. Why am I not married? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers in this vein? How come I am stuck in this dead end job? Why can’t I get that promotion? I need more money. Our health is not so good. My marriage is the pits and needs a restart. Why doesn’t this job ever offer me more than it is doing now? How come certain things are happening to me?
These questions are legitimate. We cry out to God and wonder if He is listening at all. We feel we could inform Him of how things should go if He just gave us the chance or followed our prayer list to the letter! After all, we know best what is good for our lives, right?
If you look at God realistically and place Him in comparison to our intellect, it would be safe to assume that God is smarter and probably wiser, too. In comparison, if He really is the Creator of the Universe, knows everything (Omniscient), sees everything (Omnipresent) and has a plan for our lives…then in comparison to God, we are like an apple…or a tomato. Let me unpack this a little…
When we were children, some of us moved away from our friends to other parts of the city or to different states. We hated leaving our friends and cried and cried at the prospect of leaving the only home we have ever known. We yelled at our fathers or mothers and told them we hated them. We constantly asked “Why do we have to move?”
What we didn’t understand was that our parents knew more than we did. They knew, perhaps, that by moving from Michigan to California, that they could get better jobs, and consequently provide more opportunity for the family. They knew what we didn’t know and so made us suffer a little for the greater good.
God, as God, knows more than we do. He loves us and brings things into our lives that will ultimately benefits us according to His plan for us. At the end of every prayer, we might need to pray this prayer:
“God, thank you for listening, but now translate my words into the prayer I would have prayed if I had all your information.” And be at peace!