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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It keeps coming back to prayer

Prayer is the point where you express your dependency on God.

My prayer life seems to have power. This power is rooted, I believe, in my relationship with God. I am seeing things come together that I have been praying for, and those things that have still not come to pass, I am waiting with great expectation that God will bring about good.

I have noticed that two things have changed significantly since I started this 62 day project: 1. that I pray and 2. what I pray about.

When I sit down to be brutally honest with myself, my faith was "weak" at best. Getting to the point of actually praying usually meant that I had exhausted all my options before I turned to God. God was my last option. This revealed that I didn't really understand the power of God, but also that I believed God didn't have my back in most situations. I would literally turn to God when I was in trouble from my parents and asked God to fill my dad with compassion as he approached me in slow motion with the paddle. I asked God to make my dad forget or fill him with incredible love that he wants to hug me instead of hit me. That NEVER worked.

This was because I didn't really know the extent of how God operated. Could he have stopped my dad? Sure. Why didn't he? It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I was at a place in my life where I turned to God for my last resort, often times, seconds before the stupid thing I did returned to bite me in the butt. The reason I did so was simply because I didn't see God as personal and God as powerful. These two beliefs about God took Him in my life and made Him pocket-sized - to be no larger than any of the problems I was facing in life.

Now, things seem different. As I matured in my faith walk, I find myself praying always. Paul's call to us to "pray without ceasing" makes complete sense. I no longer pray out of guilt or obligation, but out of the same expectancy that a child has when they go to their parents for something they really want. When someone tells me of a difficulty they are facing, I pray in my heart that God would help them resolve the situation before I offer my own words of comfort. When someone says to me in anger that they don't like Christians and don't believe in God, I pray silently that God would open their eyes to the truth and deliver them from the pain that Christians may have caused them. When I find myself in a situation that makes me feel like I have too much on my plate to handle, I pray that God would honor the effort I put in and provide me with the resources or help to get through the circumstances with flying colors. In all things, I find myself going to God first.

However, that isn't all that has changed. As I have recognized that if God created the universe and that He sent Christ to die on the Cross and Christ's atonement for my sins is complete and that I am now a child of God, I realize that I can boldly go before God for anything and everything. As I mature in my faith, I realize that God's heart is greater than my own and as I continue to know what is on His heart, my own desires becomes transformed to His desires. No longer do I pray about what I want, but what I believe God wants - except maybe my receding hairline.

I remember as a child when I would sit against my bedside and pray to God for good grades even though I didn't study, that somehow, God would help me remember everything that I encountered subconsciously whether I paid attention or not. What I notice more now than anything is that I praise God in all things and all circumstances. I am also quick to recognize the sins in my life. However, most importantly, I find myself spending a lot of time praying for other people, especially people who don't know God, who are distant from God in their faith, and people who are going through tough times. I always find myself praying that people will be able to taste and see that God is good and that His love endures forever. I find myself praying that God will have His way and that I will get out of the way. And most importantly, I find myself asking that God will use me to minister to those who need to know Him. I don't pray so much about God's provision except when I recite the Lord's Prayer and what I find is God's pleasure when I pray. I find God's pleasure when I pray because I know He listens and He takes in every word I raise to His ears with great joy.

Lack of prayer is evidence of a lack of faith, which should be a wake up call. This shouldn't make you feel guilty to hear because the reality is, it's more a belief issue than a discipline issue. The problem is, we don't pray until we feel like praying, and more often then not, we don't feel like praying. We don't want to be the one to "initiate" because we want to be authentic in our walk with God. This belief leads you to believe is that you are the one initiating something with God. We must recognize that we can only respond in prayer if God calls us into a relationship with Him. People who haven't been called by God don't pray to God because they don't know God. Those in darkness don't come out of the darkness until they see the light. Those who live in sin stay in sin until they are rescued from it. Rest in the reality that you have been called and therefore, when you pray, you are responding to His love. When you realize that God was the one who arranged all of history so that you could approach Him, prayer no longer becomes a chore, but a daily blessing, where you find yourself excited to talk to God because you know He cares more about you than you could ever hope for and listens to every word you say with the greatest smile on His face.

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NOTE: I've been asked to speak at a retreat. If you could, please pray so that I may be faithful to His word, full of love to the kids that attend, and that God would reveal Himself in a real way to each of the people that attend. Sept 9-11, 2011

Also, I am currently praying for someone who can lead worship and another male teacher. As always, the women seem to be ready and eager to serve God. Men, where you at!?

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