What’s The Use of Praying?

The other night—Saturday— I woke up and, with my eyes still closed, saw a professional photograph of a man in our church that I’d only recently met. Somehow, I got a strong impression that I needed to pray for him. I found out a few days later that the man I prayed for was preparing to start a new job, one he had prayed and waited for for several months. He started his new job on the Monday following my Saturday night prayers. On Wednesday, several people asked him how the new job was going, and said that everything was going well and he loved his new job.

This has happened to me thousands of  times. But still I wonder, what difference does it make? (Which is kind of weird, considering that I’ve seen many answers to prayer.)

But what I mean is, if God is sovereign—and I believe He is—then why pray? Won’t He just do what He has planned from before creation?

I’ve read many books on prayer. Many of them provide excellent insights into why we pray and how we should pray.

But the mystery in my mind persists. How do we influence God by our prayers?

Jesus told us to pray. We feel impelled to pray. God answers prayer.

Oh, I know that our sonship calls for us to draw near to God through prayer. And I’ve never experienced anything greater or sweeter than communing with Him in the midst of some of my hardest challenges.

But when it comes to intercessory prayer…

Somehow—and I can’t even picture this—our redeemed relationship with God through Jesus Christ, makes us partners with Christ. How this is even possible makes me tremble.

I think many of us Christians have no idea the privileges God has granted us through Christ, even in this fallen world. DenaThat God would even hear our prayers, let alone, call us to pray, is nothing short of amazing.

When God wakes me up in the middle of the night to pray for someone, I begin to realize that my prayers are somehow partnering with the prayers of our Savior!

I have struggled all my life to put aside old and damaging voices that tell me I am not significant. Why should my prayers matter?

My prayers matter because of Jesus. Only because He loves me and desires me to walk alongside Him, praying for the things that advance his heavenly Kingdom.

When we pray alongside Jesus, we glorify Him.

That is as much as I can figure.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV Bible)

 

God’s A Weird Parent

When I was very young, my parents sheltered me and exposed me, little by little, to the outside world. They registered me for school, swimming lessons, music lessons. All for the purpose of enriching me and teaching me about the great big world around me.

Eventually, Dad and Mom nervously handed over the car keys to me and watched me drive away to my first real job.

A parent’s goal is to bring children up to a confident state of independence.

Not so with the Lord. His goal for His children is to bring them to a state of humble dependence.

Weird. As children of God, we, in a sense, regress to the level of a small child:

trusting, completely confident in our Father’s ability to navigate the world and to keep us safe. Confident that we will be fed, clothed, protected, loved.

But we begin the life of a Child of God, struggling each day to submit to Someone else’s leadership. Not confident that our Father can and will supply all our needs through Christ Jesus. Wondering about our future. Sometimes very afraid. Sometimes worshipful. Sometimes angry and perplexed about the way things have turned out. Sometimes downright rebellious. Sometimes tearfully repentant.

Little by little we learn, through experience, through prayer, and from meditating on our Father’s words that He can be relied on, that He is intimately acquainted with us and desires our best.

But the things he allows into our lives are often painful, frightening, frustrating. Why God, Why? I thought a parent was supposed to shelter us from all harm.

And I thought we were supposed to grow up and depend only on ourselves.?? This learning to submit and be dependent seems so counter-intuitive, especially in a society where freedom has reached the level of lawlessness.

But the life of the child of God is marked by dependence on God. That is when His power works through us. Not the other way around.

Jesus said that the work of the disciple is to believe that He, the Redeemer, came in the flesh as the perfect God/man.( John 6:20)

Notice Jesus didn’t say that the work of the disciple  is to somehow muster our own human love, faith, trust, strength and then go out and do what we imagine is God’s work.

No,

A true leader
we must learn childlike dependence

again. The work of the disciple is to depend on the Holy Spirit to lead, and allow Him to work through us.

Weird.

But wonderful.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then to God.” James 4:6,7 NIV Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Not Good Enough

I’ve talked to so many people lately who equate spirituality with being in a right relationship with God.

I remember a conversation I had with a close relative about the subject of salvation. She said, “Don’t go preaching to me about Jesus Christ. I’m much more spiritual than you’ll ever be.”

How sad that she thought her own spirituality was equal to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

It’s not. You can be very spiritual. In fact, we humans were made by God in His image to be spiritual beings with the capacity of thinking and wondering about spiritual matters.

Even people who claim to know about God and who pray to Him don’t necessarily know God.

There are a lot of spirit entities hovering about in this world, ready to mislead and deceive people into believing that they are a god to believe in. Worse, these spirits also try to deceive some people into believing that they do not need a god because the people themselves are gods!

So don’t be comforted, Christian friend, just because a dear friend or relative who’s about to die says “I pray to god every day so I’m going to heaven.”

Just what god is your friend praying to?

If your friend has not confessed Jesus Christ as his or her only payment for sin, then find a way to explain to them the way of salvation.

Just any God is not good enough. Only Jesus Christ paid for your sin. Think about all the major religions of the world. Which founder made the claim that he can cover all your sin? Completely and forever?

Which of these founders came back to life after being confirmed dead?

None but Jesus.

My spirituality will not save me. My spirituality is only evidence that a loving God made me in His image.

Many spiritual people are going to hell!

So when someone tells you he or she prays to God, find out which IMG_3165God. Not just any god will do.

“Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God.”  (1 John 1: 7-9 NIV Bible)

 

 

This Bug’s For You

Bruce came home with a nasty cold. At least I think it was a cold.

He rarely gets sick so I figured he’d be right as rain in a couple of days. But then the dreaded cough started. Bruce has the loudest cough in the animal kingdom. The walls of the house shake when he coughs. And when he gets a cough, it goes on and on and on for days.

I said, “Look, neither of us is going to get any sleep, so you’re banished to the guest room.” The next morning, I set about to wash the entire inside of the house with lysol. I was NOT going to get this cold (or whatever it was).

I usually open all the windows and try to shoo the nasty little buggers out, but since it was ten below that whole week, arctic breezes weren’t an option.

By Thursday morning, in spite of my best efforts, the bug had invaded and set up shop in my respiratory tract. I didn’t feel at all well.

Stupid me, I tried to carry on. There was so much to do.

Have you ever felt so bad that just moving your eyes makes you feel sick?

Yeah? You too?

I couldn’t write, or blog, or read, or anything. And because I’d not heeded my own advice about stopping activity and resting, I finally wound up in the ER. The good doc gave me antibiotics.

 

Yesterday was my first day out. Everything looked different. Bright. Almost dazzling. Like spelunking and getting lost in a dark cave for a week and then finally finding your way out into the noon day sun.

Ah, it’s good to feel good.

Just a reminder for all you sick people out there: go home before you make other people sick, get into bed, drinks lots of tea, and don’t try to carry on as if you’re a machine.

Those microscopic bugs are mightier that you. Your only defense against them is rest and time. And maybe antibiotics.

I think God lets us get sick every so often so we’ll realize how very fragile we are. And that He is our healer.

 

 

 

 

Bucking Broncos Busted

Well, I for one thought it was a shoe-in.

Of course, the Denver Broncos would win. They’re a fantastic team. They have Peyton Manning. They beat the New England Patriots.

At church, the morning of the big game, many people were sporting orange and blue in support of their beloved Broncos.

I’m not usually a big football person, although I do enjoy an occasional game. My husband is slowly educating me about the rules of the game. And I find myself beginning to recognize types of plays and even get upset when I see my players missing an obvious pass.

The game was simply stunning as it captured one mistake, one inept move after another by the Broncos. If I hadn’t seen them handily beat the New England Patriots just a couple of weeks earlier, I’d have claimed that the Broncos were simply outclassed at every point. The conspiracy-theorist part of me mumbled that the game had been fixed. No team could make such blunders and have such bad luck.

It was interesting to see many of the Bronco fans on camera after the game. Such dejection. You’d have thought a catastrophe had just taken place. I guess for the team, the outcome was catastrophic.

This is why I don’t watch too much football. I can become so tied in emotionally with the team that I get way too upset when they lose.

It’s way too easy to let football—or other activities—become so important that they supplant what is truly important.

Like our relationship with the Lord, our families, our communities.

Football can become an idol. There’s even a Christian song that says there’s a big football field in heaven where we can all play.

Not to denigrate football…but I think we might have more important things to do in heaven than play football. (I could be wrong.)

I think football, like medicine, is for this side of heaven.

Keep your perspective, Christian Broncos fans. I know it’s disappointing, but life has not stopped.

All living things on earth will disappoint eventually you if you put your trust in them. But the Lord will never let you down. When you worship Him, and Him alone, you will not have to fear catastrophe.

Remember to give yourself this test when faced with a grave disappointment:

Will this disappointment matter in say ten thousand or fifty thousand years when you’re still in the infancy of your eternity in heaven?

If not, then push on.

“The Lord’s pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” (Psalm 147: 10, 11 NIV Bible)

 

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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