Tag Archives: prayer

Slow Down

6 Sep

All week I work hard and fast because Sunday comes every seven days with unrelenting regularity. I scan and answer email quickly; I make sure meetings start and end on time; all with the goal of providing an atmosphere in which people can worship God and hear from Him collectively.

Part of my responsibility is to check and maintain our church’s Facebook page. While scrolling through lots of statuses, a video caught my attention. As it played, I felt my soul slow down and rest as others prayed… FOR ME! So much of my week is spent caring for others, and although those praying have no idea who I am or that I exist – God knows me intimately. He knew that I needed to rest for five and a half minutes while prayers of other worship leaders washed over my soul.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Can you sit still for that long and allow the Holy Spirit to calm, empower, and encourage your heart before leading others tomorrow? Whether you are the worship leader, on the team, the pastor, or have some other role during the worship service tomorrow, you will benefit from quieting your heart in preparation.

Lord of the Fleas

23 Feb

I will restore to you the years
.    that the swarming locust has eaten…
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
.    and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.  —Joel 2:25, 27

About a year ago I staggered into the bathroom in the middle of the night. I lost my balance. My foot slid across the floor and up against the side of the toilet. Instead of supporting my weight, the floor gave way slightly. Even in a sleep-stupor, I knew this was not good.

This midnight episode launched a year-long project. The homeowner’s curse—“while we’re at it”—took over at every stage.

Before we could remove the toilet, there were several aspects that had to be done first. Finally, the day came. My husband loosened the bolts; we lifted the 1970’s almond-colored toilet from its foundation and set it aside. We expected to find a wet floor under it. Instead there was a neatly piled mound of sandy stuff that we swept up before ripping into the sub-floor. The plywood layers were loose and came up with little effort.  After lifting a few with a putty knife, we discovered the reason for the squishi-ness that started this project—a colony of carpenter ants exploded around our feet.

Never was a more intense dance performed! Four arms flailed in time to our frantic heel-and-toe moves.

IMG_1695crop
After we sprayed ant-killer and the madness slowed enough that I could take a photo

While we were completely grossed out until the last insect was dead, the ants gave us a brand new bathroom—new toilet, tile floor, shower (“while we are at it!), vanity and sink, paint, towel racks… and all mold eradicated.

And, yes, it did cost a bundle. The ants forced the bathroom to the top position of our financial priorities for last year. Without them, this project would have stayed near the bottom for a long time. I’m actually grateful to the (long-squished and dead!) ants. I really, really like our new oasis!

Our situation made me think of Corrie ten Boom who was imprisoned with her sister during World War II for helping Jews escape the Nazis. The last time I read her biography, The Hiding Place, I was in high school. Yet I still remember Corrie’s sister Betsie thanking God for the fleas in their concentration camp barracks. Corrie was vexed by them and didn’t understand Betsie’s thankfulness (neither did I!) until she explained that they were able to have Bible study and prayer times without fear of interruption or punishment. The guards didn’t want to get fleas, so they stayed out of the building!

Fleas and ants are pests. I dislike them lots. In these two cases, though, I’m grateful for them.

I wish I could say that I always have this perspective and understand God’s greater purposes in life’s frustrations, but I don’t. More often than not, I’m still broadsided when my expectations are thwarted. I am, however, learning to breathe, to take a step back when hit with the unpleasant stuff of life.

Several years ago someone told me that maturity is shortening the distance between falling and getting back up. I would add that maturity is also lengthening the distance between an annoyance and reacting to it, in order to temper my reaction with grace.

I wouldn’t mind if I never saw another ant in my house. But I don’t want to limit God from working in my life.

He has my complete permission.  He is God; I am not.

—————

Ready for Sunday

How many times have I been derailed from worshiping God because of a Sunday morning annoyance? Technology that doesn’t work… an off-handed comment from someone that hit me the wrong way… not feeling well… and a myriad of others.

How can I enter into the spiritual realm equipped with weapons to defeat these commonplace enemies in order to worship the LORD my God? Being vigilant against an age-old enemy requires ancient weaponry – The Word and prayer.  Against such strength no tactics will succeed.

Never, Never, Never, Never

14 Sep

 

 

 

 

 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thes. 5:16-18

 

The bit about without ceasing has always bothered me because I flow in and out of prayer.  Without ceasing seems unattainable.

Looking at the English word and it’s root helps a little:

To Cease: to stop; discontinue; come to an end; pass away; die out; terminate.  From the root cede  – which means to give up, relinquish, abandon, surrender; to concede; to yield.

So to pray without ceasing is to pray without stopping, continuously, without end; not giving up, relinquishing abandoning, surrendering or yielding.  These terms suggest a determined attitude.  And while I concede the goal IS to pray all the time, the intentional and determined attitude is where it begins.

The definitions remind me of the famous speech  (audio) by Winston Churchill given to Harrow School, October 29, 1941 in the midst of World War II when Nazi-controlled Germany was bombing England:

[N]ever give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

My deepest, most foundational desire from the core of my being is to be as resolute as that of 1941 England which face an enemy bent on take-over and destruction.  Staying so close to God that I am in constant communication with Him is not a nice idea; it is the only way to survive in the face of a determined and evil enemy.  So, I commit everything to Him, standing firm in the power of His might against the dark forces that seek to defeat me.

Resolute determination is the place to start.

The next step is to pray.  (I heard that facepalm!)  I know it’s obvious and very easy to talk about praying without ceasing.  The hitch comes in the practice.

Mystics such as Brother Lawrence and Henri Nouwen sought to pray without ceasing by praying through mundane daily tasks.  The rhythm of physical tasks such as weeding a garden or folding laundry helps me slow down and pray while working.  While this doesn’t happen without conscious intention, it isn’t difficult.

My challenge is in the more complex parts of life – interpersonal interactions, long-range planning, creativity, brainstorming – all heavy on the brain-engaged scale.  And yet… when I remember to invite the most loving, creative, and wisest One into what I am doing, the fellowship is sweet… energizing… humbling… and ceaseless.  Insight comes and relationship is built.

And this, I believe, is what God is after.

—————

Ready for Sunday

What can I do to constantly be aware of God’s presence and communicate with Him?

Which activities, or group of activities, are the most difficult for me to remember to pray without ceasing?
Is preparing for leading worship one of those?  (ouch!)

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