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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Why I don't say 'I'll pray for you'.... often

Lately I feel like my lack of discipline in prayer has become obvious - and obviously in need of change.  I have never been one to cozy up to the word, or the thought of any discipline.  Prayer - a discipline of prayer?  Really?  If prayer is talking to God, and something I do all the time basically, why did I need to grow in this discipline?

Well, because so many people have come into my path that undeniably need me to intercede for them.  The Prophet Samuel said, "Far be it from me to sin by failing to pray for you."  This has always bothered me somewhat.  It has convicted me.  Challenged me.  But come up short of changing me.

But as others have come onto the horizon of my life and I see the battles they face, as I grieve for them, hurt with them, worry for them, I realize in many cases my only option is to be dilligent in prayer.  And so I will be.

But I hate to say, "I'll pray for you."  Because it sounds trite, a smidgen of hopefulness, a wee thought - it seems to mean little...  But sometimes it's all I can do.

The other reason I don't like to say that is because I don't promise much of anything to anyone.  Okay, I promised stuff in my wedding vows.  But beyond that...not much.  I realize how fickle I am.  I know I fail to follow through on things - a LOT.  So I can't stand racking up guilt on myself for promising to pray for someone, and then not.  And then I don't go for token prayers like, "Please take care of so-and-so's issue.  Thanks Lord, Amen."  No, for me that is not prayer.

I much prefer to tell people after I have prayed for them.  And I also have come on a journey of seeing how integral prayer is in my own life.  I kept having these things I'd just naturally pray about - especially concerning other people, and amazingly I'd see so many things answered.  If I shared them here I might be telling other people's stories - but all I can say is I was shocked.  I think I've struggled with prayer because I think, "What good will it do?"  I am weak in faith and wonder if my prayers make a difference.  Don't we all feel that way at times?

So, I have begun to grow in my discipline of prayer - naturally - not the 'grit-my-teeth-and-buckle-down' kind of growth.  (That kind has never worked for me - if it has for you, well, great).  I have become burdened for many needs lately - and felt the very least I can do is to take these heartaches, burdens, concerns and desires to the throneroom of grace, and find mercy to help - not only me - but others - in their time of need.

I never was a list kind of person.  I just would tell God how this or that person needed Him in some way.  But I am so forgetful.  So I threw together a list.  And I put each one of these requests into my phone to remind me throughout the day who I need to pray for.

I have 5 children and a Mother-in-Law.  I do school runs - multiple times a day.  I drown in laundry.  But I have time to pray.

Don't you?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Imitating the Psalms

Okay, so I don't view poetry as a strength of mine.  I write it sometimes when the thought strikes, but usually it is poor and more just an avenue of thought rather than a great skill or technical excellence.  I'm sure writing in all styles should be.  But I'll just mention this as a disclaimer.  I wrote the following poem twenty years ago.  So I was much younger and the phrases may sound old.  Oh well.  I'll put it here in case it holds any value to encourage you.  Because in it I wanted to write my own Lament Psalm.  You see, the Psalms teach us to emote - to practice bearing our souls before God.  And many of them are happy, teachy, preachy, historic - you get the picture.  But many are laments.  And laments are worth lamenting about and over.  So I did.  And here it is.  My own personal lament Psalm.

A Personal Lament Psalm

Will someone hear me?  Will someone pray?
Oh Please Pray!

Ask the Lord to keep me safe,
Safe from danger, safe from doubts,
Safe from the enemy, safe from myself.

Ask Him to comfort me in my sadness,
Ask Him to hold me close to Himself.


Oh Lord I’m lonely and in my grief my pain is increased.
Father I need you, for you are my Friend…
You care that my heart aches,
You care about the sorrow I bear.

When will this end?  I ask, even now.
But I know it is not the question.

Rather, will I trust You Lord?
-          To see me through?
-          To provide?
-          To care?
-          To guide?
Yes, the question is, will I trust?
And will I obey?
And will I follow wherever you lead – each day?

Do I know You love me,
That you care, and welcome my wounded soul –
And pour out comfort, assurance, peace and hope?

Oh, will someone hear me?  Will someone pray?

The Lord God hears me – all that I say.
He knows how I feel; He knows where I am.

And so with confidence I can go on –
Not only does He hold the world in His hand,
But He holds me close to His heart –
And there He’ll keep me – There I’ll stay,

Not someone distant – off in the sky,
My guide is my Friend, my Father, my joy.

He knows how I feel, He knows where I am,

And I will walk with Him, as He holds my hand.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The BEST Gift to Give Your Husband This Valentine's Day

Dear Wives Who Might Come Across This Blog,

I am no expert in marriage or relational harmony.  I only know what I've seen and experienced.  I observe others, I slog through life with it's ups and downs.  I struggle like the rest of the world.  But there is one thing I am dedicated to giving my husband.  Year in and year out I have one primary goal - a basic gift I want to be a foundational experience for our marriage, and by extension, our home.  I want my sons and daughters to grow up observing me give this gift.  I want this to be understood as basic - as a no-brainer.  But it is something I think may be lacking in the lives of many.

I haven't always succeeded in giving it.  I haven't been totally virtuous and uncomplaining.  But I want to put this out there because you may have missed it.  And I'll bet your husband has missed it.  Just ask him.  Or better yet, make him out a note or a cute card or some such thing and dedicate yourself this moment to giving him this unsurpassed gift.  Tell him you're sorry if you've failed to give it before.

The gift I want to suggest you give to your husband is:




................(Don't be surprised)







.........................(You probably guessed it)







CONTENTMENT.



What?  Not 'more sex'.  Not 'Hot meals on time.'

Not, 'Keeping the house clean.'

Not, 'Letting him hang out with his buddies.'

Not, 'Hand him a beer and let him watch the game.'




No.

None of these.  (Those are at your discretion.)


You can bless your husband, this Valentine's Day, and always by cultivating a spirit of contentment and joy in your own life.  If you aren't content with what you have, how you live, the job he has, the state of your household affairs, your career, your lifestyle then I have a few suggestions for you:

1.  BITE YOUR TONGUE  (this is a temporary measure).

2.  CONFESS YOUR SIN OF DISCONTENTMENT TO GOD (decide if you want to confess it to your husband).

3.  COMMIT TO MEMORIZE PHILIPPIANS 4 (if not the whole chapter, at least verses 11-13)

4.  PRAY FOR CHANGE IN YOUR OWN HEART.


Eventually, as your heart changes and you value God and your marriage more, you will grow in commitment to Him and to him (your husband, that is).  Your desire for more and better and bigger and a higher lifestyle should be tempered with your greater love for God and a desire to honour Him - with a contented spirit.

As you grow and change, you will no longer need to apply suggestion no. 1, because you will not need sheer willpower and effort to restrain your complaints.  You will have changed from the inside and will not find yourself focussed on what you want, need or don't have.  Biting your tongue will no longer be a chore, because you will have no desire to complain.

This is an ongoing process.  You don't wake up one morning and say, 'Whew, so glad I am now changed to a contented wife!!  Now, onto other things...'

No.  You wake up and check that tendency to wish for what isn't.  You take those thoughts captive, give them to God and commit afresh to HIS will for you.  You live for His glory - in plenty or in want.  It's easy to sing songs in church that declare our devoted love to God.  It isn't as easy to apply that love to our desires for more, better, bigger etc.  We cannot rightly say we love God and refuse to re-order our loves so that HE is first and we are willing to be content with all He gives - including our wonderful husbands and whatever our lot may be.

I haven't perfected this.  It isn't a formula.  I still have discontent that rises here or there.  But if I do I am ashamed.

Commit yourself to giving your husband this gift this Valentine's Day - and for the rest of your life.











***Disclaimer: My blog is simple, not fancy, not dressed up pretty, not hyped up, not widely shared or read.  That's okay.  I'll write what is on my heart anyways.  Take it or leave it :) ***