Thursday, September 19, 2013
We've all been there. We've sat through the awkward silence after a group leader asks if someone would like to pray. It's agonizingly painful for the leader who is waiting for a brave soul to step up, and it's embarassing for all those who feel like they should volunteer, but really don't want to.
Why are we like this? Why do we choose silence when we're given the opportunity to lead others before the throne of grace? I wonder what impression we give to those outside of the faith.
Prayer is a burdensome duty.
You must pray perfectly or God will not accept it.
Faith is a private thing and shouldn't be forced on others.
Only those mature in the faith can lead others in prayer.
Oh, how wrong these assumptions are! Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." With confidence!! Other translations use the word boldly. That's a far cry from how many of us are approaching group prayer.
Last summer I had the joy of seeing someone approach the throne of grace with confidence. Her name is Patty. To say she's had a hard life doesn't even scratch the surface of what Patty has been through. When I met her, Patty was a homeless alcoholic. In the midst of her pain, someone had come alongside Patty. While providing for her basic physical needs, this woman also saw to the needs of Patty's soul.
Patty is a naturally passionate person, and when she asked the Lord to redeem the mess of her life, her passion spilled over into her faith. She began attending a Bible study and it was delightful to watch her grow and learn. Passionate Patty was never staid in her faith. When the study leader asked, "Who would like to read from ..." Patty would interrupt. "Me! I'd like to read! What verses?" When the study leader asked for a volunteer to pray, there was no moment of awkward silence. Before anyone else could get a word in, Patty would almost yell out her desire to pray.
While most of us approach group prayer by first providing a moment of quiet for anyone else to voice their desire to pray, Patty would be the first to volunteer; afraid the opportunity might pass her by. She wasn't concerned about letting others have the privilege, she simply wanted to spend every moment conversing with her Lord.
Christians, why aren't we more like Patty? We should jump at the opportunity to lead others to the throne. The Lord does not require eloquent, beautiful prayers. He does not concern himself with what others think of our stumbling words. A heart that longs for Him ought to leap at the chance to bring others into His presence in prayer. So next time you're in a group, don't be polite and wait for others to volunteer. Be the one that wastes not even a moment before declaring your desire to pray. What a privilege we have to speak to the Creator, the Savior, the King of Kings!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
I just spent an hour of my life chasing chickens. An hour that I can never get back.
Because of my exercise at the chicken coop, a dinner that I've been wanting to make for months and finally made time to cook now consists of overdone meat (chicken, ironically) and no sides. Yum.
School was a disaster, chores are not getting done, the little ones refuse to nap and I am on empty.
Weak, tired, overwhelmed, weary.
All of that may be the reality I'm in right now. And if I focus on that, I'll be frustrated and cranky. But there's another part of reality that is also true.
Isaiah 40:28-31 says, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
God says, "You are tired, Ali, but I will renew your strength. You long for rest, but I will allow you to soar. You are weary, but I will refresh you and sustain you."
These words whispered into my heart are like a drink of ice cold water on a hot, muggy day. I feel them course through my body, encouraging me, refreshing my mind, and renewing my purpose.
O weary soul, be refreshed! The Lord is your strength. He is your Rock. He will make you SOAR!