Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 32-Wandering

I've ended up wandering in the wilderness. I came here to pray, but somehow I've been wandering. I came here with a destination in mind, but that's not where I seem to be heading. But that doesn't meant this wandering doesn't have purpose. I just want God to work out His perfect purpose in me.

These days are busy. It's hard to find time to quiet myself. This week is our church's VBS program. Not having the morning really eats into my day. I also seem to have the "I can't say No" disease. So, I end up doing more.

These days are rainy. I know much of the country has had severe heat, but in these parts we're living in a cloudy, gray soup. The "solar powered" me is really struggling. It affects my attitude, my motivation, my perceptions. Every day I wake up and feel the humidity and see the gray. I know we are to give thanks in all things, but this is hard. It's hard, because I really prayed in faith that we would have nice weather this week. God seems quiet on the issue. I keep looking for the why behind the rain and clouds, but I don't see it. Guess that's were faith continues to kick in and I trust the Sovereign hand of my God.

So, all that to say, that I haven't been taking as much time to study about prayer in His Word. I have some thoughts and some things I want to mull on, but I need more quiet time and less of a mushy brain. (You know it's bad when you ask your husband how someone was using a lap top outside at VBS, because there wasn't any electricity. Duh.....battery???)

I have been doing some reading, though from other books. Some challenging reading at times. I want to process more of this.

I have been praying some. Prayers for the weather. Prayers for the kids at VBS. Prayers for the team at VBS. Prayers for the great group of girls I'm working with. Prayers for me to respond well to things at home. Prayers to love my husband more and show it more. Prayers to lead Ethan. Prayers that God would speak to me and encourage me. Prayers for guidance and wisdom. But all these prayers seem more like noise and static.

I know God is working. I know His work is good. So, I claim the words of Jeremiah 29:12-14. "In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you," says the Lord." I'm looking for you, God. Please show yourself to me.

How are you seeing God at work? I want to hear how God is working in your life. It would do my heart good to have somethings to rejoice over!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Words I can identify with....

From Prayer:Finding the Heart's True Home by Richard Foster.

My Lord and my God, listning is hard for me. I do not exactly mean hard, for I understand that this is a matter of receiving rather than trying. What I mean is that I am so action orientied, so product driven, that doing is easier for me than being. I need your help if I am to be still and listen. I would like to try. I would like to learn how to sink down into the light of your presence until I can become comfortable in that posture. Help me to try now. Thank you. Amen.

Day 23-Discipline and Stumblings

It's day 23 of my 40 Days of Prayer Journey, which is designed to be a time to pray and learn more about prayer. This journey hasn't been easy, but that doesn't mean I'm not learning. I understand even more why they call prayer a discipline. It doesn't just happen. It takes discipline, which is an interesting tension. It takes discipline to sit down and stop rushing. It takes discipline to put aside the to do list and the facade. It takes discipline to stop yapping and listen to God. BUT the actual communion of prayer is not something I can control nor create. I must prepare myself, but only God can really open the door and let me into His fellowship. I can seek, but only He can reveal.

The journey isn't going as I expected it would. I thought I'd be getting better at praying. I thought I'd be able to set myself apart from distractions, be all excited about meeting with God, and hear His voice in new and fresh ways. That isn't happening. I'm stumbling. I'm seeing more and more of my shortcomings. The to do list keeps calling me. I keep turning away from quiet time to almost anything else. I mumble my requests to God, but don't pursue Him with them like I know I can. I hurry through the motions. I easily turn from praying to read about praying. I'm not participating like I thought I would want to. Why is that?

I feel like I'm knocking at the door, but I don't really have any clue what I'm asking. Like the disciples who wanted to sit at Jesus' right hand, I want to "commune and fellowship" with God because well, it sounds exactly like something I should be doing, but do I really know what that's about? I come to Him so casually, and I can because He has welcomed me through His Son's sacrifice, but do I realize who He really is? And if I did, would I be doing this all differently?

Instead of having questions answered and being closer to God, I feel like I'm finding more questions and stumbling in my approach to Him. What can you share with me about prayer? How do you set aside distractions or use them to help you? How do you get real with God? How do you discipline yourself to pray?

Lord, I want to fellowship with you. Really, I do. Forgive me for not giving this my all, like I know I should do. Forgive me for filling my time with you with doing things for you. Change my heart. Help me to put aside these things for the treasure of finding you. You are God. You decide what to share with me and what to keep secret. Show me how to pray. Show me how to live. Thank you for putting a desire in my heart to know you and to pray, because I know that desire is of you. Let it grow and become stronger. Help me to overcome the distractions or to pass through them to find you in them. Show me the way. Thank you for hearing me, for loving me, for inviting me to you. I am unworthy, but oh so grateful. I love you, God.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Dad

I love my Dad.

Do you ever struggle though to really communicate what you feel to those you love most? I do. I tell my Dad I love him, but that doesn't seem to really communicate the scope of what that means.

I love him. I respect him. I think he's the greatest. I'm so glad God gave him to ME. I cherish him, and probably more so because of not having Mom here anymore. I'm proud to be his daughter. I appreciate the memories he gave me, the values he taught me, and the model he is for me.

No gift I can purchase seems to say all that. So, in a small way, I write this for you, Dad. May you truly see my heart and know what I mean when I say I love you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 18- The need for solitude

It's day 18 of my 40 Days. The goal of these 40 days is for me pray and learn more about prayer. I so desire this to be a time of growth and change! Old habits though are hard to change and good things have been happening around here. Birthday celebrations and time with my husband have been wonderful, but I haven't been focusing as I'd like to.

I knew when I began this that I wasn't going to withdraw into the "wilderness" for these 40 days, but I have a good idea why Jesus did. I'm reminded by this as I look at the Gospels and see Jesus often withdrawing to pray. I see him getting up very early. I never see Him hurrying so that He has time to pray. I never see Him trying to wash his clothes and pray. I never see Him chasing someone away so that He can pray. He just makes it happen. And I'm thinking it's because of that prayer time that other things fall into place.

I'm pondering what I need to do to find that same solitude. Do I need to get up earlier? Do I need to just stick to priorities and say no. I'm reminded by Richard J. Foster that prayer is all about relationship. It's not the fruit of my efforts. That won't be very lasting or good. I want God to look in my heart and show me what to do. I know I have committed to things and seem to take on more committments so easily. These things are good, but they take up time. And they draw me away from the solitude I also need to try to find.

I feel a lot like I'm trying to meet with God, but I've brought along the Verizon network as seen in TV commercials. It's hard to have intimate time with God with so many lurking around!

SO, Lord, show me toay what I need to change. Help me. I can't do this in my own strength. Reach down and declutter my heart. Quiet me. Show me how to draw away and meet with you. It truly is the desire of my heart.

What about you? Are you being still? Are you finding the quiet places to meet with Him? I pray you are. And if you have some suggestions for making solitude in a busy world, please share!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 12- Psalm 27

I'm learning things on this 40 day journey.

I'm realizing again and again how difficult it is for me to be still. I'd so much rather being doing. Which also reflects my attitude toward God...It's easier to "do things" than to be in relationship with Him. ARGH!

This is probably why Psalm 27 spoke loud and clear to me when I came across it. David's Psalm has a familiar beginning, "The Lord is my light and my salvation- so why should I be afraid. The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?" David makes a request a few verses later that I find my heart also wanting to make. "The one thing I ask of the Lord- the think I seek most- is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfection and meditating in his Temple." Now we know from what David has written in the surrounding verses that he's not exactly in a peaceful place in life. People are attacking him. He's facing trouble. He desires to be very close to God, but probably circumstances are making it difficult. He would love to have endless time to focus on God and know Him. It's that feeling that I can identify with. Instead of the endless interruptions or demands on time, I long to be in a place of solitude, God's home, where it can just be the two of us.

I think it may be the very think God's inviting us to in verse 8. "My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming." That's a great picture of prayer. God wants us to come and talk with Him. To BE with Him. To share our hearts with Him.

How often though I find that I'm the one that lets that time be interrupted. I'm the one that is my own worst enemy. My prayer today is found in part of verse 11. "Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path..."

May He be leading you also!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 9- Solomon's Prayer

Even though I wasn't totally focused on prayer while we were away, I did sneak in a little study time and found a few nuggets in Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple. It's found in 1 Kings 8:22-53 and 2 Chronicles 6:12-42.

There are two things that stuck out in my mind in this prayer. One is that Solomon was very concerned about God hearing the people. He seemed to take it for granted that God's people would mess up. He wanted to be sure that IF the people turned their hearts to God, God would listen to them. I love his words in 1 Kings 8:30, "May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive." Sometimes prayer is all about our hearts returning to God. Sin gets in the way and keeps us from knowing God. Sin breaks fellowship. Prayer reconnects us. But it's not just the words we say, it's our attitude. Our humbleness and our earnestness are important. When I come to God, how do I come? Do I seek forgiveness and restore the connection with Him? Do I come humbly and earnestly? Do I take into account the majesty of God- His holiness, His grandeur?

The second thing that struck me is connected to that last question. The prayers of the people are directed to the temple. Why is that? Surely the temple was a visual reminder to the people of God's holiness and awesomeness. Praying toward the temple was a reminder of the wonder of a God who would stoop down to a spot on earth and listen to His people. And that very same God is the One who bends down to hear me when I pray. God is truly amazing! May He find my heart humble, earnest, and reverent as I seek Him in prayer.

Hills and Valleys

The wilderness isn't flat is it?

I knew when I began this 40 day journey that it would have challenges, especiallly since our family would be taking a trip to visit other family. It's hard to take time away when you're trying to catch up with everyone in a limited amount of time. We had a wonderful visit and were greatly blessed, but as for time to really focus on prayer, well, let's just say, I'm really thankful for the solitude today as I begin this day back home.

But there was a hill in my time away. Normally I really stress out about traveling. I want to leave early and arrive early. It used to be an 8 hour trip before Little Man arrived, and now it's more like 9 or 10 hours. I am impatient and not so nice as I try to get everything done so we can leave early. I knew Dear Husband was working hard and would probably have work to complete before we could leave on Thursday. Sure, enough that happened. We didn't get away until almost lunch time. Normally that would have been a huge curve ball for me to take. But God was so gracious and adjusted my heart and mind so that it really wasn't an issue. I am grateful for His power which allows me to do things that aren't typical of my nature. Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect, I blew it in the patience area at another time, but for one instance, I saw His work on my heart and was happy about the progress! Prayer changes us. I want to be changed even more!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 3- Hannah's Prayer

If you are stopping by for the first time, let me welcome you on my adventure with God and 40 Days of Prayer. I've dedicated this time to pray (asking God to help me understand more about prayer and to lift up my local church body) and to study prayer in His Word.

It has been good to focus these past 3 days. I rejoice in the time. And there has been plenty to talk to God about and listen for! I am grateful for this season of prayer as well as the budding summer season outdoors. I've learned that it's much easier for me to still myself when I'm feeling the breeze and watching the trees dance. Why is it so much easier for me to talk to God when I'm outside and looking at this creation? Do you find there's a "prayer" place that works best for you?

Besides learning about things that help me to focus, I'm starting to explore God's Word for what He says on the matter. Of course, a study on prayer has to include looking at Hannah and her prayer found in 1 Samuel 1.


Prayer can be emotional. Hannah was pouring her heart out to God. I love that description. In this case the pouring out wasn't a dribble and drop, it was a flood. God can handle my emotions. Prayer won't always be emotional, but when it is, I don't have to be afraid or ashamed.

Prayer and faith go hand in hand. Eli told Hannah to go in peace and gave her the blessing of "May the GOd of Israel grant you the request you have asked of him." It wasn't exactly a promise, but Hannah reached out in faith and walked in a changed way. After thanking Eli, she returned to her husband, ate, and was no longer sad. When I pray, do I leave it with God and walk in faith...not by my feelings or by the rules of the situations, but do I go with confidence that God hears my prayer and is sustaining me?

God bless you on your journey.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day One

There's a sense of adventure in the air and a renewed enthusiasm in my soul. What will the next 40 days bring? I hope I am different from who I am today and more like Jesus when I look back to this day 40 days from now.

This afternoon I put Little Man down for his nap and then went out to the deck for some time to pray. After days of not really seeing the sun, it was nice to sit there and bask in it, just as I'm seeking to bask in His presence. It was a good time. A focused time. Of course, the "to do" list wasn't far from my brain, but at least I remembered a key thing. For these 40 days I must be intentional about putting Little Man down for a nap and not rushing in on the "to do" list. Yes, there is plenty to do, but I need to have some time to be still, to listen, to share with God first. I certainly feel my "to do" list is more ordered having had that time today.

I also began setting up things to explore prayer in the Scripture. The organizer in me needs to get a graphic organizer set up to record what I find. I'll hopefully share some nuggets with you in the days ahead.

I do have one quote for you to welcome you on your journey:

"Prayer catapults us onto the frontier of the spiritual life. It is orginial reserach in an unexplored territory." Richard Foster

And one more thought:

God bless!