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Helpless

January 29, 2013 Leave a comment

I always feel helpless when I’m on an airplane. There’s something about not seeing the pilots (to whom I have entrusted my life) that freaks me out. At least I can look at a bus driver and evaluate whether I want to be on a bus for a short period of time. Sometimes I’ll even get glimpses of train conductors (who, in my opinion, tend to be scruffy). Usually I don’t get to meet the pilots until the end of a flight, but that doesn’t do me any good by that point. I know they’re going through their pre-flight checks before takeoff (which are highly important, of course), but gosh, meeting a pilot and knowing he doesn’t have alcohol in his system would really put me at ease.

So what do I do so I don’t have a freaking panic attack? I pray.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20:7)

Maybe I could change that to a modern version:

Some trust in cars and some in planes, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

It is a good verse to remember for transportation. I pray and give up everything to God and hope in him for the safety and protection of myself and all on board.

For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:14)

God is sovereign over all things and he was sovereign when planes hit the World Trade Center and he was also sovereign when US Airways Flight 1549 miraculously landed on the Hudson. God watches over each and every plane that takes off, lands, or even sadly, disappears. This is my consolation when I am helpless:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)

Not that I live on the edge of life in the hopes of attaining “gain,” so to speak, but if anything were to happen, I am reminded that I’d receive something better than this present life.

But, hey, I still pray for a safe takeoff, flight, and landing.

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Categories: Personal, Prayer Tags: , ,

Jesus Prayed and God Said “No”

January 9, 2012 8 comments

I’ve been bitter lately because I haven’t been blessed with a child while I’ve watched others conceive and give birth during that time frame. I have not only prayed for a child, but I’ve cried, pleaded, beseeched, begged, and bargained in the hopes that I might be a mom. Alas, that has not been the case. I get bitter and upset with God, not because He’s not answering my prayer—on the contrary, He is answering my prayer—I am dismayed because He is saying no.

I have been praying for various people who have been out of work to obtain full-time jobs. Again, God has been saying no.

In Paul E. Miller’s A Praying Life, he contrasts asking selfishly in prayer against not asking at all.

Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane demonstrates perfect balance. He avoids the Not Asking cliff, saying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me” (Mark 14:36).

. . . In the next breath, Jesus avoids the Asking Selfishly cliff by surrendering completely: “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (14:36). Jesus is real about his feelings, but they don’t control him, nor does he try to control God with them. He doesn’t use his ability to communicate with his Father as a means of doing his own will. He submits to the story that his Father is weaving in his life.

And most of us know what happens after Jesus prayed: he was unjustly crucified by the Pharisees and Roman authorities.

Reading that prayer through the lens of A Praying Life struck me with a view I’d never had before: God denied Jesus’ request. Jesus must submit to the Father’s will and not follow his own. If God can say no to his own son, how can I expect a “yes” answer to all of my prayers? This realization is a game-changer for me because I now know in these things I must submit myself to God’s will. God’s will is not for me to have children right now. It is a painful answer as I’m sure temporary separation from the Father was a painful answer for Jesus. It’s a painful answer for God to tell dear friends that they will remain unemployed for several years.

Not that submitting to the will of God will be easy; in fact, it will be even harder knowing I must do it willingly.

A Short Prayer for Feeling Inadequate

March 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear God,

I feel so inadequate in everything I do. But that’s because I keep looking to me and my abilities. I keep trying to draw strength from my self-confidence instead of who You are and what You have said about me. Help me to daily trust in You and Your will for my life.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Categories: Prayer Tags: , , ,

Establishing the Discipline of Daily Prayer (aka Relearning How to Pray)

March 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Image from learntochangelives.blogspot.com

I’m trying to institute the discipline of praying consciously every evening. I really suck at regularly praying: praying for myself and for others so I’ve reverted to the basics—“Our Father” also known as the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. —Matthew 6:9-13

I grew up in the Catholic Church for the majority of my youth and I attended Roman Catholic school from K through 12 so the ending phrase, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” is not easy for me to remember or natural to me since it was not taught. Depending on what feels comfortable and genuine, I either give the addition to the Lord’s Prayer a shot (which I inevitably screw up) or leave it out.

But the Our Father is so second nature to me (and many others with a Christian background), it could be vain repetition. I could easily recite this prayer without putting any thought into it. But I’m trying really hard not to. I’m doing my best to consciously say the Our Father while thinking through what I’m saying. Another good way to do this is to paraphrase a few lines (without the Message Bible!).

And Jesus says to “pray like this,” not necessarily “this is the definitive answer on what you should pray.” He encourages us to pray along these lines addressing the following:

  • To whom we are praying
  • Where this God is
  • An important attribute of this God
  • A promise from this God
  • Something that prevailsfrom this God over us as humans
  • Where this God’s kingdom extends
  • Request to provide for our daily needs (not wants)
  • Repentance with God
  • Repentance with others
  • Request to exhibit one of God’s attributes (such as remaining holy and pure)
  • Request to avoid Satan or evil deeds

I’m confident there’s more to the Lord’s Prayer than that, but I’m not a Bible commentator. I’m just a layperson trying to force myself to first establish the discipline of speaking to God daily with words I can speak subconsciously before moving on to crafting thoughtful, original prayers. Daily prayer goes against my nature, but especially when engaging in spiritual battle, it’s extremely necessary.

  • I am able to active think about what I pray even though it could be rote.
  • I do this task at least once a day. (Usually before sleep for me.)
  • I pause with each phrase to let the words fully sink in and make sure I understand what I’m saying to God before continuing on with my prayer.
  • At the end, I will tack on requests for others that I remember. Maybe even include a request for myself.

Establishing discipline is not easy, especially when it comes to prayer—a habit that is not natural to most people. But for many people, mindful, daily recitation of the Our Father is a good place to start.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on establishing the discipline of daily prayer, especially for those new to the faith or uncomfortable with prayer.

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