Category: Prayer


I know you’ve asked that, because I have too.  It is so hard for us to imagine that God; Creator, Healer, Guide, Father, Provider, Comforter, Savior… would care enough, or have time enough, to work in our lives let alone through us.

names-of-God

If any of you know me, you know that I’m an early riser.  I commonly start my day very early in the morning, and on the morning of Thanksgiving wasn’t any different.

When I woke and went downstairs, I checked my phone and saw that I had missed a text from a friend of mine.  I went to return the text but decided I needed to wait a while…it was only 4:30 for Goodness sake… and so I typed in my response but waited a few hours to send it.

And also, if you know me at all, you know that I don’t believe in coincidence or luck.  I believe everything happens for a reason, and that it is always God’s plan.

But it doesn’t always feel like it.  So often it seems like God’s not working in our lives at all…maybe things aren’t moving or changing the way we would expect if He were really involved, but why would he bother with measly old me?!

Oh don’t get me wrong, I know God uses us, His Word tells us as much…

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”   Philippians 2:13  (NIV)

“God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”   1 Corinthians 12:6  (NLT)

but it just doesn’t seem like it.

Doesn’t it seem like we’re the ones pulling the strings, making the decisions?  We’re doing all the work!  We have to live our lives in a way that shows others we’re Christians (Matthew 5:16), we have to follow God’s rules (John 8:31), do good deeds (1 Timothy 6:18) and display God’s character (Galatians 5:22-23).

fruit of the spirit piece made for a friend 032

But that’s exactly what the devil wants us to think…he wants to convince us that we are the ones in control and calling the shots.

“For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”   John 8:44

The devil wants us to believe that God’s hands are not actively working in our lives; that He has stepped back and is allowing us to make our own decisions, that He’s only there when we need Him and that He does not affect (or care about) every choice we make.

But I know for a fact, that’s not true.

in his heart silver compass

A few days after Thanksgiving I met with that friend who I texted and she said to me…

“You were doing God’s work the other morning and you didn’t even know it!” she told me.

With a grin on her face and a twinkle in her eye, she continued…

“The morning of Thanksgiving I woke up at 7:14am.  I knew I needed to get up but I didn’t want to so asked God for just one more hour.  At 8:14am I got your text.  8:14!!  Exactly one hour later to the minute!!”

Awesome.

God is always at work and involved in every moment of our lives.  Don’t think for a second that He doesn’t care about you or that you don’t matter.  Because you matter so much to Him that He will work through you to send a text to a friend at exactly the right time she needs it.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”   Luke 12:6-7

And rest in the fact that God is always in control.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”   Proverbs 16:9

 

 

Have you ever wondered where God is?  When things you pray about don’t ever seem to be answered.  When other people’s prayers are answered quickly and you’re still sitting there listening quietly… patiently… and all you hear are…

I have.

Many times.

One of my best friends is a friend from childhood.  We share crazy memories from grade school to high school to college.  We were in each other’s weddings and have made it through multiple births together. She was one of the first to know about my conversion with Christ, when I finally accepted Him, and she was there when I was baptized in Believer’s baptism.  This dear friend later also accepted Christ as her Savior and although she lived a distance away from me, I continued to try to encourage her and disciple her in her walk with the Lord.

But it was hard.

The Lord gave me very strong Christian friends in my life (including my hubby) to disciple and help me.  An amazing church family and so many opportunities for my faith to grow.  But my friend’s story was different.  Her husband wasn’t ‘religious’ so going to church at all was difficult for her.  She was surrounded by non-believers and it seemed God hadn’t placed, really, anyone around my friend to help her in her Christian walk and it broke my heart.

alone

All I could do was pray for her, and I did.  Constantly.

I prayed that God would soften her husband’s heart and give them a longing to find a good church or to place Christians in their neighborhood.  I prayed that once her babies were in the picture, God would give her a sense of obligation to raise those babies knowing Him.  But most often I prayed that God would just place Godly Christian women in her life at work.

I sent her devotions and encouragement through the years, shared with her all the ‘I Spy’ opportunities where I saw God working in my own life, but it was clear that the life she was leading was not the one I had hoped for her as a follower of Christ.

I prayed for my friend for so many years…

prayer_hands_gold

then I stopped.

Oh, once in a while I would think about her and say a little prayer hoping that she could experience the same type of relationship that I have with my Savior…but it seemed like all of it was useless.  She was still in the same place she was so many years ago…still such a baby Christian; not being fed or discipled.  It had been too long.  Maybe this is all God had planned for her.

But is it?

The Bible shares a story about a woman who suffered unanswered prayer for twelve years!

TWELVE YEARS!

“And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.”   Mark 5:25-26

How do I know she prayed this long?  Because of the testimony she has with how she reacted to Jesus later in the story.

But think about this poor woman.  She had crazy health problems!  Come on girls, can you imagine having ‘Aunt Flow’ visit for twelve years?  And this wasn’t just a short, unannounced, knock-knock-surprise-I’m-here-for-the-weekend visit.  It was a CONSTANT TWELVE YEAR flow!

kevin

NOT.EVEN.FUNNY.  I really need to stop complaining.

And on top of that, because she had this discharge of blood, according to Jewish law she was considered unclean.

“If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity.And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.   Leviticus 15:25-27

What does that mean?  This poor woman, suffering so much health-wise, couldn’t even be comforted.  According to the law, she could not be in contact with anyone and couldn’t even live in the town with her family and friends.  She was ostracized.

But what does she do?  Instead of ending her prayers and dumping her belief… instead of giving up and thinking “Oh gee, Jesus is here… why bother?  Maybe this is just what God has planned for me.”

No, she trusted.

“She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’ And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.   Mark 5:27-29

hem

I recently heard from my dear friend.  She finally got a cell phone so we are able to text whenever we want now.  (We will certainly be keeping the cell phone companies in business!)  Woohoo!!

After we caught up a bit on the goings on in our lives, she told me this:

“I have to tell you something I don’t think you’ll be surprised by.  I work with some amazing Godly women.  I swear one friend was sent by you somehow.”

I was dumbfounded.  How silly of me to think that God had forgotten or that through these years He hadn’t been working…preparing.  If only I had trusted with the same faith as that woman…

“And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”   Mark 5:32-34

God has a plan for our lives, and it’s in His timing when it will be revealed to us.  In the mean time we must keep the faith…stay the course…and trust that all things from Him are good.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!”
Psalm 84:11-12

Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, I can only imagine, is breathtaking to see in person.  The pictures of it are jaw-dropping to say the least and it’s unbelievable to me that one man could have painted such an elaborate masterpiece!

Sistine_chapel

Sistine Chapel

My pastor last Sunday used one panel from this painting in his sermon.  The piece he used is the most well known of the panels, called Creation of Adam.

Creation_of_Adam_Michelangelo

Creation of Adam – Michelangelo

It depicts the Biblical story, from the Book of Genesis, in which God the Creator breathes life into Adam.  According to Wikipedia, “the picture illustrates that God’s right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God’s, a reminder that man is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26).   Another point is that Adam’s finger and God’s finger are not touching.  It gives the impression that God, the giver of life, is reaching out to Adam who receives it; they are not on ‘the same level’ as would be two humans shaking hands, for instance.”

I’m sure most of us recognize it, whether or not we can identify where it’s from or who painted it, but we’ve seen it before; used as an example of genius in the arts or as a comedic dig as a parody: Flying Spaghetti Monster, The Simpson’s.

But on Sunday, what I saw on the screen was blatant truth.  A blaring example of the relationship so many of us have with our Maker.  God actively reaches out to us and it is clearly portrayed in that painting.

Creation_of_Adam_Michelangelo - Copy (2)

You can see it in God’s demeanor.  His upper body leaning toward Adam with determined eyes locked on His love; His creation.  His right arm fully extended, desperately reaching.  His hand open and with the last of His might, stretching His finger to touch that which He holds dear, with a despairing hunger for a response.

And how do we respond?  Adam portrays that effortlessly.

Creation_of_Adam_Michelangelo - Copy

Leaning back, comfortably resting on his own strength, Adam looks directly at God but waits for Him to come closer.  His left arm is outstretched but not with his own strength.  He rests it upon his knee, hand hanging limp, barely lifting his finger as an answer to the One who gave him everything.

If any of you know me at all, you know that I don’t think there are any accidents, chances, luck, or coincidences in life.  Everything is planned and orchestrated by God.  He is very real and active in every moment of our day and can be seen clearly and often, but we choose not to look.

“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”   Acts 17:27 (NIV)

Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam appropriately portrays the heart of God and the heart of man.  God actively seeks us and longs for a relationship with us, but our response is less than energetic.

We pray only when things are going badly or we need something.  Our schedules have become so hectic that if Sundays aren’t filled with activities, it’s the one day to rest, not go to church.  We won’t read the Bible because it’s old and out-dated, “How could that book help me in today’s world?” we ask incredulously.  The things we have we worked hard for and we deserve.  We deserve more, we deserve better.

Hands_of_God_and_Adam.2-571x421

If you look closely, the gap between God’s finger and Adam’s, although only a matter of a few centimeters, is an eternity and can be felt in each one of our lives if we aren’t actively seeking Him.  But it takes effort, time, study and understanding.

Don’t waste another moment to meet with Him.  He waits for your touch.

Related Articles:
Acts 17:24-31   (biblegateway.com)
How God Reveals Himself   (www.gci.org)
Sistine Chapel Ceiling – Wikipedia   (en.wikipedia.org)
The Creation of Adam – Wikipedia   (en.wikipedia.org)
The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo   (wallpaperweb.org)

“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker– An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands ‘?”   Isaiah 45:9

Have you ever had God knock you upside the head?

I have.

Embarrassingly, more often than not.  Why does it take me so long to get the message?!

doh!

Recently I have been feeling convicted to spend more time alone in conversation with God.

I’ve felt His gentle nudging through little daily (if not hourly) hints… thumbing through a magazine and running across a prayer quote.  Doing my Bible reading and, no shocker here, seeing a verse about prayer.  Pastor talking from the pulpit on Sunday and mentioning the importance of prayer.  My kids asking a question about praying or, like a good Christian Mom, encouraging and reminding them that they should be praying (y’know the whole “do as I say not as I do” thing).  There have even been songs on the stinkin’ radio!  (Come on now, who sings about praying?!!)

Well, there is that one…

Funny…but that is NOT the kind of praying I’m talking about.

God longs to spend time with me and I desperately need to spend time with Him.  He keeps trying to get my attention, pressing sofly, lovingly, but I shove my big but right in His face; “…but I’m busy looking through this magazine.”  “…but I’m too tired to get up early.”  “…but it’s time to relax, I’m going to watch tv.”  “…but I need to get my workout in.” “…but I’m too sleepy, I’m going to bed.”

BUT! BUT! BUT! BUT! BUT!

It’s only a matter of time until He tires of hearing it and takes more drastic measures.

“There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the LORD.”   Proverbs 21:30

The past few months my husband and I have noticed a squeeze on the pocketbook.  That tends to happen this time of year with summer camps for the kids, family camping trips and payments due for next year’s activities, but this year we also have two girls in braces plus the brakes are seriously needing to be changed on the bug…so boy, we have felt some financial pressure.

I’ve found myself not sleeping well at night because of it and heard that little voice lulling me out of my sleep asking me to come talk with Him.  But I wouldn’t come. The pressure continued to build and build our finances getting tighter and tighter, and ignoring the sound of the brakes wasn’t only grating on the rotors but on our nerves.

nervesGod continued to call, begging me to sit a while with Him and unload my burdens, but I continued to ignore Him, trying to figure things out on my own.  We had to do something so we asked our parents for help, which praise God they gladly gave, and we were able to get some bills paid while scheduling to get the car’s brakes fixed the next morning.

That morning as I watched Toddlers & Tiaras and ran on the treadmill, God used the episode to grab hold of my heart.  In this episode, a family with not much money spent  all they had to put their little girl in a pageant.  This lovely little girl did win (whew!!) but her response caught me off guard.  She bawled and when they asked her why she was crying (I’m totally thinking she’s just overwhelmed to have won the title) but through sobs and tears she responded with:

“I won our money back.” 

I lost it right there on the treadmill.

I knew I needed to do more.  This doing it on my own thing wasn’t working…I needed to ask God for help.  I turned the treadmill off, went upstairs and spent time resting in my Father’s lap.  I shared with Him my fears, my unknowns about the future, I thanked Him for His mercy and grace in providing a loan to take care of what we owe and I apologized for running from His call.

When I finished talking to Him, I felt so full, so complete, wondering “why on earth does it take me so long to figure this out?!”

And later, as I drove the bug to the garage, God sent a confirming nudge by playing a song on the radio…

I have heard this song before, several times in fact, but this time it felt as if I wrote the lyrics myself.  It is exactly what I was thinking and feeling…and once again I found myself crying.

I dropped off the bug then got in the van with my husband to take him to work so I could have a vehicle to run some errands.  Our drive was uneventful but as I left his office to pull onto the highway heading home, the van jolted forward engine revving, the ‘check engine soon’ light came on, the speedometer stopped working and I couldn’t go much past 35 miles per hour.

{gulp.}

I laughed out loud when I called my husband to let him know, and to ask for prayer to get us home safely, but it wasn’t much of a surprise that this happened.  It was just more of a reminder that I need to rely FULLY on God and not my own abilities.  It seemed pretty clear that perhaps we should’ve waited on God’s timing; sat in His lap a while, resting in His comfort and protection, waiting to see what He would do.  But instead we acted, He gave us what we thought we wanted and because we didn’t trust Him fully, He forced us to lean on Him.

Now we have one car in the shop and a failing transmission in the other.

Super.

God placed everything in motion and shortly after I got home the garage called with an estimate on the brakes, while a friend came over to look at the van.

And how did God respond when we FINALLY turned to Him for help? It turned out that both cars weren’t as bad as we had expected.  Only the rear brakes needed to be changed on the bug and a couple sensors went bad in the van’s transmission.  All of it could be fixed quite affordably!

Praise Him!!

Did God allow our families to help provide the money we needed?  Of course, they wouldn’t have given it if He didn’t want them to, but would God  have provided for our needs otherwise?  Absolutely.  God wants us to trust Him and His leading.

No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

“On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? …”   Romans 9:20

The company I work for has an AMAZING Christmas party every year for its employees.  The doctors seriously go above and beyond to give us the best experience…from where it’s held, to the food and drinks served, to the entertainment, even to the gifts (or prizes) given.

2011 was no exception.

There were over 130 prizes available ranging from big screen tv’s and the latest electronics, to $25 gift cards and everything in between!!  Granted, there are several hundred employees, so the chances (although not bad odds) are pretty slim in getting the prize you really want.  Especially for those of us who don’t win anything.

Ever.

Not even for a free Pepsi in those twist off cap games, or a stinkin’ pie in the McDonald’s monopoly game, or even the highest % off coupon at Kohl’s.  What is that?!!

just not a winner

In anticipation of the party that year employees were given a glimpse to what might be available for prizes and the one thing I saw, just like the year before, that I really wanted was an Apple iPad.  I absolutely do not need one and there was no way we would EVER spend the money or even be able to afford one ourselves.  So I continued to pray each year that if it be in God’s will, He would allow me to win.

For the 2010 Christmas party, I asked my Mom to pray and her response was “No, you don’t pray like that.”  But the more I bugged her about it, she finally gave in and said…“well, maybe a little prayer.”

I didn’t win.

gosh darn it

Then for the 2011 party I asked her to pray again and she said…  “I think we tried this last year and you didn’t get any of the big prizes.  So, probably not supposed to pray for good Christmas presents.  I suggest we just keep the fingers and toes crossed this year.”

The only thing that entered my mind at that moment was the truth from the Bible that says we are to pray specifically…

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”  1 John 5:14-15

Now, I know this does not mean that God gives us everything we ask for.  In fact the Bible warns us to be aware of our hearts and motives…

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”   James 4:3

But I also know that my God wants to bless us abundantly.   He takes great joy in and loves to see us excited, delighted, and overwhelmed by Him.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”    Zephaniah 3:17

So I continued to pray and ask for something frivolous and unnecessary, because my God is great and loving like that.

 

If it’s part of His ultimate plan, God will give us the desires of our heart…

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”   Psalm 37:4

and He longs to thrill us by providing even more than we thought possible…

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us”   Ephesians 3:20

 

So… how did my Christmas party turn out that year, you ask??

Well, guess what I won?!

iPad

 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. ”    John 14:12-15

 

Related posts:
God loves you this much…

Barefoot Lily Lady

Before I Forget: Sharing my love for God, family, gardens and my sweet Momma

Teach Them

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Marilyn Horton

"The Most Optimistic Woman in the World"

His Holy Temple

2 Corinthians 5:17b "The old has gone, the new is here!"

Damn girl, that's a lot of fattitude

Healthy lifestyler and certified nutjob

Never2late4's Blog

Adventures in procrastination

likeafighterpilot

Working on the Mind, Body, and Spirit

DREADmill Diaries

Because I don't love running but am determined to get these 20 pounds off!

Running With'em

Another boring running blog

Women Writers of the Triad

community | craft | excellence

See Jain Run

striving for non-violence while trit-trotting through the mainstream

voxifit

The Voice of Fitness Blog

If there is any magic in this world...

The world can be amazing when you are slightly … strange!

run4365

A place to record my goal of running every day for a year

Ugly Grace

Because sometimes, God's grace in our lives, starts first with an ugly story.

Godly Quotes

for the christian life

Rome Wasn't Built by a Day

Providing unsolicited two-sense and witty commentary since 2012

Michael Wilson's Blog

All things are possible with God

%d bloggers like this: