Posts Tagged prayer
Hannah’s prayer was a timely inspiration this morning.
1 Then Hannah prayed and said:
“My heart rejoices in the LORD;
in the LORD my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
2 “There is no one holy like the LORD;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
3 “Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the LORD is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.
4 “The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry hunger no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.
6 “The LORD brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.
“For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s;
upon them he has set the world.
9 He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.
“It is not by strength that one prevails;
10 those who oppose the LORD will be shattered.
He will thunder against them from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.
“He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
I have been reading and listening to Brennan Manning, who is a very humble God-follower. Brennan’s life is a rare example of humility and deep understanding of the love of God for us. I am amazed at his humility.
Hannah’s prayer is a great example of humility before the Lord. It spoke to me of my increasing arrogance and course nature and reminded me that I need to get on my face before God and honor Him at all times and love those He puts in my life.
The rest of the chapter is a somber reminder of what can happen when we’re disobedient (not humble). The actions of Eli’s sons affected not only them, but their father, and their entire family line from then on.
I will meditate on this today.
As I read Romans 1 this morning, I was amazed to see the correlation of what we’re studying in Wildmen, the Wild at Heart book by John Eldredge, and the first chapter of Romans. Paul is talking about how God has revealed himself with His invisible qualities, His power and His divine nature, since creation. And, yet some choose to ignore that, suppressing the Truth for their own wickedness:
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
One thing I have come to understand is this: God created each of us with a plan. We may choose to live our lives seeking that plan (his will) and following Him, or we may choose to follow our own plan. Life is not “easy” either way because we were born into a battle between good and evil. But, I am convinced that following God and His plan for us is the only way to live a peaceful, happy, abundant life. People can choose to ignore God and make their own choices, but it always leads to consequences in ever-increasing difficulty and, ultimately in death and separation from God for eternity.
God makes it very clear. Sin is fun for a season. Some people get to the point where they abandon what they know about God and exchange the truth for their own wicked desires. That is where God turns them over to evil. I know people there now, learning hard lessons, living in turmoil and ruin, refusing to come back to God.
God will not force Himself upon us. He wants us to choose to have faith and believe in Him. Otherwise, we’d be just a bunch of robots, programmed to love God. Without faith, man may choose to worship God’s creation rather than God himself, leading to all kinds of trouble. I noticed several choice/consequences in this passage:
- They knew God, but chose to not glorify or give thanks to Him, so their thinking became futile and their hearts were darkened (verse 21)
- They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like His creation, so God gave them over to shameful lusts (verses 25-26)
- They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind and they were filled with every kind of wickedness (verse 28)
My prayer for those people is that they would eventually get to the place where all they can do is look up and see God. I’ve been there. It’s not a good place. But, God is still there to pick us up and put us back on the road to Him. That road is not easy but the peace and comfort, knowing God is at the end, makes life worth living.
Have a great day!
Verse 1 of this chapter says:
1 David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.
This is a bit confusing to me. Are we going back in time to when David actually sang this song? I take this to mean that David, after many chapters of doing “his own thing”, remembers a song that he wrote way back when King Saul was pursuing him, trying to kill him. While I’m delighted to see David remember God and remember a song he used to sing, the impact is not the same. It’s not like he’s singing to the Lord a new song. He can only remember the words of a song from days gone by. But, at least he’s singing to the Lord (that’s a good step in the right direction).
These verses stood out to me as I read the song (how I wish I could have sheet music to go with these words):
25 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight.
26 “To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
27 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.
28 You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
Rewards – according to cleanness. Faithfulness to the faithful. Blamelessness to the blameless. Pureness to the pure. Salvation to the humble. God calls us to be obedient, righteous, clean and pure. Without these, life is always more difficult. Wrong choices in weak moments remove rewards, faithfulness from God.
David’s story still reminds me that once I take my eyes off God, it gets ever-increasingly difficult to get back to the “good ol’ days”. Much better to remain righteous and clean and pure, never taking our eyes off God. Even if we sin, which God knows we will, we MUST turn back immediately, like David did in his younger years. Better still, we should never stop praying about EVERYTHING so we don’t end up in a situation like David did.
God has me thinking a lot about what it means to go deeper in my relationship with Him. I’ve been blogging about my fears, about worship , about serving. Today, I’d like to take a gut-level honest approach to prayer.
To be very honest:
- I am a confident prayer when I know people are listening
- I pray really well when I’m in the midst of a crisis
- There is nothing I want more than better communication with my heavenly Father (both ways)
Perhaps you can tell from the way I worded the list above that I’m not the world’s mightiest prayer warrior.
First, I have a big hang-up when it comes to praying out loud; in front of people. When someone else is listening, I go into a whole different mode. I’m thinking about who’s listening, what they may be going through, how I can carefully arrange my words to avoid offending or embarassing them or someone they know, how I can encourage with my words and bring blessing on them, yet communicate with God in such a way that will properly bless and praise Him. Phew – that’s a lot of work.
Don’t get me wrong – I can do it. I’ve been a Christian for a good number of years and I’ve heard a good number of prayers. I’ve got my “prayer language” down just right. I have plenty of cliches and spiritual-sounding phrases to impress every skeptic in the group. In my list, I mentioned that I’m confident when it comes to praying out loud. But, to be honest, it feels fake most of the time. Not that I’m trying to be something or someone other than what I am, nor am I trying to manipulate or impress. Perhaps it’s because I’m trying so hard to “cover all the bases” and being careful not to leave anyone or anything out. By the time I’m finished, and look up – I frequently have this feeling that I was talking only to those physically in the room. And – what’s the point of all that?
It’s quite a different story when I pray alone. I can be honest, avoiding formulas or senseless ritual when it’s just the Father and me. Especially when I’m going through difficult times. I mentioned second in my list that I pray really well in the midst of crisis situations. Well, I’ve had my share of crisis, and I must testify that God has never let me down. He’s always been there to hold me up and hear my cries. He is my strong tower and my fortress. He is my deliverer and my comfort and my strength in the storm.
So, what about when everything’s going pretty well? Why do I not have the same zeal and passion? Why is it I can go for days without really praying?
I was curious, so I put in “what is prayer” into my favorite search engine. I got hundreds of thousands of possible links. I clicked on a few of them with titles like “How to get into the habit of prayer” and “daily prayer time”. I know there must be something useful out there, but what I found left me with a bad taste in my mouth. You see, I’ve never been one for legalistic rituals or 3-step formulas for things like prayer.
It seems so pathetic to have to set aside 15 or 30 minutes each morning in a prayer closet, sitting in a certain position, palms up, praise music on the iPod, incense on the dresser. Is it just me? What if Jesus were my roommate? Would I need to schedule a time each day for us to talk? Woud I need to meet Him at a certain place and sit in a certain position and make sure there were no distractions? Would we meet in the library? No, can’t talk in there. What about Starbucks? No, can’t hear in there.
The articles I started reading all had to do with this thing called “discipline.” Is that it? Am I so undisciplined that the thought of such a daily ritual leaves me disgusted?
No – I want to talk to my Abba Father, my Daddy, just as if He were here with me: in the car, in the restaurant, in the room as I shut my eyes at night. I don’t want 3-step formulas or rituals to get in the way. I want to praise Him and tell Him what He means to me and thank Him for all He’s done. I want to lift my daughters up to Him and ask for Him to bless their day and protect them from the enemy. I want to tell Him exactly what’s on my mind and I want to stop and listen for His still, small voice.
So – why don’t I?
As I said on my list – it’s the thing I want the most.
So – ???
The only thing that comes to my mind is Paul’s amazing, comforting passage in Romans chapter 7. He writes about how the things he wants to do the most, he doesn’t do – and the things he doesn’t want to do, he ends up doing.
I’m starting to see that, like any spiritual discipline (i.e. Bible reading, prayer, giving, serving, etc.) we are handicapped in several aspects. One is our human nature – our flesh is always trying to die. But we are not our flesh – what we are is spirit. Our flesh is just what carries us around on this earth.
And, two is our sworn enemy. The Bible calls satan a roaring lion roaming the earth seeking whom he may devour. Fears, doubts, temptations, distractions – these are some of his favorite tools to keep us from going deeper with God.
Our best defense?
I guess the point for me today, after reviewing all this stream of consciousness is:
Do whatever it takes.
Perhaps I need a ritual. Perhaps I’m not strong enough on my own – not disciplined enough to talk/listen to God at all hours of the day. Perhaps I need accountability and a plan to build prayer into a habit.
I mean, what’s worse – praying out of compulsion to follow a ritual or not praying at all?
Lord, You know my heart. I want to know You more. I want to always be listening for your voice. I never want to neglect talking with You. But, just as I wouldn’t want my own children to have to schedule a certain time, wear certain clothes, sit in a certain position, say certain things – I don’t want that to be how we communicate. I need You in my life each and every second. I want my focus to always be You. I want to turn to You immediately if there’s a problem and I want to know You’re right there. As with anything, Lord, if You don’t help me with this, it’s over. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and prick my conscious, Lord, each time I am distracted. Help me to look at my own world through the lenses of prayer. Help me to hear through the earbuds of prayer. Thank You, Lord – for Your grace and how You also want more than anything else to better communication with me.