Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’
Posted on March 8, 2013 - by Kav
As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.
But instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
“How can you be so slow?”
“My child,” He said, “What could I do?
You never let them go.”
I’ve been carrying this poem around for years. The card is creased and worn from heavy use and copious tears because this has been the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn. Despite my firmest resolve I am all too often snatching back my broken dreams before God is finished mending them. Often, I’m completely oblivious to the incredible repairs already begun. I can witness hundreds of times about how He has answered prayers in spite of my interference but the time I want to tell you about happened a year ago. It was my epiphany moment on prayer.
Because this story is of a personal nature and involves other people I’m going to keep the details vague but I hope the message will still come through.
The impossible happened on Thursday March 15 2012. The bottom very literally fell out of my world. I staggered under the weight of the blow, incredulous at how this could be happening to me. Surely the Lord knew I’d suffered enough. Hadn’t I taken a beating on so many fronts over the years? And I’d born up under those trials – not always graciously, I’ll grant, but I’d endured.
I felt like I’d been sucker punched. Quite literally couldn’t catch my breath. Had a moment where I thought I might be having a heart attack. In my despair, I prayed as I have never prayed before and instantly felt the burden lifted from me. I was filled with an overwhelming calm and peace; a divine reassurance. Relieved, I fell into a blissfully dreamless sleep. When I awoke, that peace still lingered. When my mind wandered to that horrible trial, the Spirit pulled me back into that safe, calm place. I knew in my heart that all would be well.
Fast forward to the next day. My mind bludgeoned me with taunts of ‘what if’ scenarios that stirred fear and denial and confusion. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even try to cling on to that feeling of peace. I pushed it away and embraced the chaos of worry and fear. I started praying again, but this time my prayers were akin to accusations. Protests. Denials.
Reassurance dwindled the more I ranted. My prayers increased in intensity, but rather than comforting me, they seemed to whip me into a frenzy. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I didn’t need to pray about this issue any more. I had my answer. Sadly, I denied it the very next day.
Because I couldn’t fathom how God could work the miracle required, I snatched back the problem and it soon consumed me. For two months I tortured myself with worry. It was never far from my mind, even in sleep. My stomach was always in knots, my heart physically aching from the turmoil. After a month, my prayers turned into meaningless single word chants: “Why, why, why?” “Please, please, please!”
I was a wreck until May 11 2012 – a full two months later when I discovered that what I had been railing about for weeks would never come to pass because God answered my prayer that very first day. He set things in motion on March 15 so that the dreaded impossible would not happen. In effect, I had been praying hysterically in vain for two whole months! Praying for something that had already been resolved. Praying for something not to happen that God had already stopped from happening two months before!
It stopped me in my tracks. First, in wonder at how marvelous God’s ways are. Second at how incredibly foolish I was to not trust Him in the first place. I actually prayed myself out of comfort! That’s when I began to understand that while trusting the Lord is paramount, trusting in my ability to discern spiritual answers is just as important. My lack of faith in myself led me to doubt a clear communication from God.
I still struggle with letting go of my problems but now I acknowledge the flaw and hand things back over to God. Some days we’re passing worry back and forth constantly. I love that I catch myself though. We laugh about it together, my Father and I. And now, when something really troubles me I let Him know I don’t understand how on earth He can fix it but I trust that He can…and I trust me enough to let him.
Posted on March 5, 2013 - by Stacy Monson
My current writing journey started with a television show. Oprah’s, to be exact. But let’s back up. I’ve written “my whole life” as have so many. While other people would draw amazing things, I’d doodled with new ways to write the alphabet. Honest! (and yes, a little weird)
While working in downtown Minneapolis, I wrote stories on the bus or read new books. I loved having that me time to just be in my head with characters – mine or someone else’s. One day, six years ago, I had to drive since I was picking my dad up from cataract surgery. Usually I got off the bus about 4:45, but after picking up my dad, we were back to my house by 3:30.
While he watched TV, I sat at the computer nearby, working on a story. At 4:00, Oprah came on. Since I was always on the bus at that time of day, I hadn’t watched the show in years. This particular show was about women and midlife crisis – what they were calling “midlife opportunity.” I loved the positive spin on where I was in life (only a few years from 50).
One thing you need to know about me is that very few people knew how much I loved to write. I could count on one hand who knew that writing a book was a secret dream of mine. Over the years, I had prayed (now I think rather haphazardly) about publishing a book, but I’d never moved on the idea. I basically wanted God to write the best seller and put my name on it!
So I listened to the show with one ear while still writing at the computer. Several stories caught my attention. One was about a stock broker who had picked up an antique chocolate mold at a flea market during the summer – just for fun. Six months later she got laid off. That impulsive purchase became her focal point. At the time of the show, she’d been running a highly successful, upscale chocolate shop in New York City for a year or so. And to top it off, she met her fiance in the elevator of the building where her shop was (at 48, she’d never expected to get married!).
Another was about a female radio DJ who’d always wanted to open a flower shop. Now she was happily creating flower arrangements. Story after story told of women’s secret dreams and how midlife (along with other extenuating circumstances) had made them look at their future in a new way.
By the time the show was over, I was sitting on the couch with my dad, tears running down my cheeks as I told him, “I’m supposed to write. I know I’m supposed to write seriously now.” (Poor Dad – he just patted my hand and told me that sounded like a great idea.)
It was clear that God was calling me to write. I’m still not sure that He’s calling me to publication but He has definitely called me to use the gift of writing. Within days, I had signed up for a novel writing class at The Loft where I received wonderful feedback from the bestselling author-teachers and met a gal with whom I’ve been in a critique group ever since.
I learned about RWA (Romance Writers of America) and joined the local chapter where I’ve been the lone inspirational writer among 80 members. Then I learned about ACFW. I traipsed off to Denver for my very first conference – all alone (a very brave thing for scaredy-cat me). By the time I left Denver, I’d agreed to start a chapter in Minnesota, now called MN-NICE.
Every step of the way I’ve questioned God. Am I doing the right thing? Would He lead me to the next person, place or idea to move my writing forward? Should I quit writing? (after a particularly difficult rejection)
And every step of the way, He’s been faithful. The answers haven’t always been clearly written in the sand. There are times I still question what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. But through these six years, I’ve met amazing, talented, wonderful people with a passion to glorify God with their writing. I’ve been to conferences, won contests, been rejected, found an agent, and made friends with people across the world I’d never have had the chance to meet otherwise.
God answers prayers we didn’t even know we had, or had given up expecting an answer for. Even when I’m not faithful, when I question everything that happens, when I flail after a painful rejection – He’s there. He put the passion in my heart and gave me the gift of words. It’s up to me to do something with it. I’m glad He’s there to guide me through the journey.
Posted on March 1, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
This past summer my middle son Dylan went on a mission trip through Let’s Start Talking ministries to Belgium. His older brother went to Brazil a few years before with the same organization, and though his trip didn’t completely go without a hitch, he came back home safe and sound. But as a parent, you still pray for things unseen, problems unknown. You worry. And then pray some more. (Photo: Dylan, Kellan & Cameron, Belgium team mission)
Dylan’s trip to Belgium went well, he even experienced a special
side trip to Paris, France, but when he returned he had to join Psallo, his college singing group, who was touring at the time. So, instead of coming straight home, he would be taking another flight up to Portland to meet them for their tour. I made a hotel reservation for him so he could wait for his group to pick him up.
Snag one came when I had the wrong airport. I was able to cancel the hotel reservation and put in a new one at the correct airport hotel. It was a last minute reservation, so there was no cancellation refund for the room, so I prayed I had the right information this time. Snag two happened when Dylan’s plane was to arrive close to midnight, and if he didn’t check in before midnight he would lose his reservation. Dylan tried to assure me that everything would be fine, and he would call me if necessary to rebook a room if needed.
Since Dylan had to debrief his mission in Dallas before heading to Oregon, and he was suffering some major jet lag, it was not easy keeping in contact with him. I prayed that God would clear his path and get him safely to meet up with Psallo. Midnight came and went without a call from Dylan, so I figured everything went as planned.
Except that it didn’t. Dylan called the next day to tell me that his plane didn’t make it in time, and he missed out on his hotel reservation. Then he said a flat tire on the bus his singing group was traveling in was going to cause them to be several hours late to pick him up.
Before the panic could get a good foothold, Dylan informed me that everything was taken care of. He met another member of the Let’s Start Talking mission group on the plane ride. He offered to let Dylan stay at his house when they realized he would lose his reservation. Good thing, Dylan said, because he would have had to stay in the lobby of the hotel until the next afternoon before he could check in. Better yet, the gentleman from the airplane was also able to take him to meet his Psallo group, instead of having to wait for them to come and get him, which would have made them later than they were already going to be with the flat tire. (Photo: Psallo, Dylan is in the center)
Somehow, through the simple prayers to keep Dylan safe, and before we knew he needed it, God already worked out the details.
Isn’t it grand that we have a God who knows what we need before we need it, and clears the path for us? Isn’t it great that with our God, nothing is impossible? Not even the ending of this particular mission.
Posted on February 25, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
To be a Christian without prayer is no more posssible than to be alive without breathing.
How many times have you found yourself at Jesus’ feet, pouring out your heart in prayer, putting your concerns in His hands, and thanking Him for your abundant blessings? If you’re like me, the answer is often, but sometimes we forget to look back at the answered prayers–both large and small.
In the next two weeks, the Inkspers are going to be sharing about some of there own answered prayers. We hope you are encouraged by our stories and your faith will be renewed in God’s amazing goodness.
Flat Tires and Fleeces
“And then, when you are ready, I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than any you would ever dream. You see, until you are ready, I am working even now, this minute, to have you both ready at the same time . . . . but, until you are satisfied exclusively with Me and with the life I have prepared for you, you will not be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with Me which is perfect love….Know that I love you always; I am God Almighty.”
The quote above was a portion of “On HIs Plan for Your Mate” and the author is
unknown. (You can find the whole narrative here.) I had this letter hanging in my bedroom all of my teenage and college years. I’d read it often, sometimes tearfully, when I worried what if I never met the right person.
I also spent many nights praying about the man God was preparing for me, and I knew I was going to marry David the day I met him. I wasn’t love at first sight, but it was this strange “knowing.”
However, our dating time was far from smooth. David knew all about wooing a woman, but hadn’t been friends with a woman on a long term basis. I had been friends with a lot of guys, but I wasn’t used to handling the overwhelming feelings. David also wasn’t sure he wanted to be in love with me or anyone else. He wasn’t ready to give up his single life. We’d break up, but we couldn’t stay apart long. It seemed that we’d take two steps forward and one step back on a regular basis.
I began to grow weary and doubt my first feelings. After all, how long could I wait for David to make up his mind? Truthfully, I wanted to give up. This relationship
thing was just too hard.
One night, I began to pray, begging God for direction. I’d been reading about Gideon laying out a fleece in Judges 6, and decided to lay out one of my own. I said, “God, if you want me to stay with David, just give me a flat tire on my car tomorrow.” Almost immediately, I took it back and told God to forget it.
The next morning, I hurried to get ready to go to work. I stepped onto the porch and stopped cold. There, in the driveway, was my car with a flat tire. My whole body shook.
When my ad took the tire in, there was no hole, and they couldn’t explain why it went flat.
We dated for two and half sometimes rocky years before we were married. The words from that letter came true. “When you are ready, I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than any you would ever dream.”
I think God knew I needed the flat tire and the original feelings to stick with this
relationship. David is a man who gives 110% to everything he does. That included marriage. The reason he’d been reluctant to commit was he understood how significant that commitment was. I had to learn about resting in God’s timing and a lot of other things.
God brought us together from across the world. He worked out the five year age difference and kept us exclusively for each other. He answered my prayers for a man of God, for a man I could easily respect, and for a man I could serve the Lord beside.
I didn’t expect him to come in a 6’6” package, but I’m sure glad he did!
Posted on January 25, 2013 - by Kav
I have been thinking about prayer ever since my friend, Val returned home for a visit at Christmas. After living with her widowed mother all her adult life, 40 something Val shocked us all last year when she decided to quit her job and move across the country to live on her own. None of us understood why and many were certain that this whim wouldn’t last and Val would soon be clasped back to our congregational bosom once again.
Only a year passed and Val returned for a visit not for good. And in those twelve months Val had transformed. Where once she had been timid, hesitant and uneasy in large groups she was now solid, unmovable and at peace with herself and others. It was an astounding change and when pressed to answer the question “Why?” that was asked way too many times during her brief two week stay, Val would always answer, “I learned to pray.”
I was immediately convicted by her words. There was no denying the change, the growth the sheer positive difference in this woman.
A few weeks later, I heard an author interviewed on a Christian radio show. She was a passionate cook and had written a recipe book. What a vibrant, enthusiastic person! She stunned me when she confessed to praying over her food preparations at home. And then walking through her house praying for the guests who hadn’t yet arrived – dedicating the evening to the Lord.
Then I thought of my friend, Line who has a prayer fridge. She covers every square inch of its surface with little notes and scraps of paper about people she knows and some she doesn’t. Reminders to pray over them daily. And she does with a fierce, fervent dedication. When Line says, “I’ll put your name on my fridge,” you immediately feel lifted up. Closer to God. Bathed in His glory. Filled with His peace.
So, I’ve been thinking about my own haphazard prayer life. I have always prayed for friends and family — but not with Line’s eye-single-to-the-glory intensity. While I have tried to implement the notion of praying without ceasing, that sweet author showed me how I could bring much more depth to that conviction. And my friend Val, well she has me wondering if I ever really knew how to pray at all!
Wonderful food for thought at the beginning of a new year. It reminds me of that beautiful hymn, Sweet Hour of Prayer, which begins:
Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
That calls me from a world of care.
I think I’ve been spending way too much time in that world of care when peace has been only a prayer away!
Posted on September 11, 2012 - by Shannon Vannatter
21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh
unto the sea.
22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,
23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
I can’t focus on this scripture without mentioning what happened before this. There was no rest for Jesus that day. He’d already calmed a storm and cast out demons, then journeyed across the sea. Again. Why? Because the people asked him to leave. Only the demoniac Jesus had returned to his right mind was grateful.
As soon as he got to the other shore, a crowd awaited him. Jairus fell at his feet, begging Jesus to heal his daughter. Jesus immediately went with him only to be thronged by the crowd.
I’ve wished so many times that I could have lived back when Jesus walked the earth. Me—put aside my love for electricity, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing? Yes.
I like to think I’d have been one of the ones who fell at Jesus’ feet. Who would have sold everything to follow him. Who would have railed and mourned when they killed him. Who would have been waiting for his resurrection because he’d said it was so.
But would I have? Or would I have been frightened by the Gadarene’s healing? Would I have been one of the people praying Jesus to depart from my coasts? Would I have been in the press thronging him, getting in his way, and distracting him from Jairus’ daughter. Not because I knew who he was, but because I’d heard of his miracles and needed one.
The people living then didn’t know who Jesus was. They were looking for the Messiah, but they expected a king not a carpenter. Some didn’t recognize him. Even the disciples didn’t understand the big picture.
Would I have recognized him? Or would I have fallen asleep in the garden instead of watching? Would I have denied him like Peter? Would I have been one in the crowd crying for the release of Barabbas? Would I have doubted him like Thomas?
Knowing my short-comings and how I often fall at Jesus’ feet only after I’ve tried everything else, I think I’m glad I didn’t live back then.
Posted on May 10, 2012 - by Shari Barr
Keeping things simple is pretty much my motto. I will admit, though, that it’s easier said than done at times.
The older I get the more I realize that many of my stresses are of my own creation and there’s only one person who can change that. So why don’t I? Maybe sometimes I forget who is really in control of my life, or maybe I subconsciously hold on to those concerns because I wouldn’t know what to do without them. Except for unexpected tragedies, I more or less have the same worries everyday, and if I suddenly stop worrying about those things I would feel so…lost. Sad but true. Many times I’m worrying about things I can’t control anyway. I know I should turn these situations over to God, but for some selfish reason, I don’t always do that.
If I could always remember to keep Christ at the center of everything I think, say, or do I would never have worries that keep me up at night. I wouldn’t worry about burning the candle at both ends because I would know when to say “no.” The dramas of life wouldn’t overwhelm me if I let God hold my hand every step of the way.
God is always ready to listen to my problems, and when I pour my heart out to Him, my troubles never seem as traumatic anymore. Though I can’t control the stresses that come my way, I can control how I respond to them. I’ve made a lot of progress in the worry department, but I’ve got a ways to go. Praying without ceasing provides the answer to all the stresses in my life—changing me.
Posted on January 29, 2010 - by Kav
And that’s about the only place I can find the sun these days. Gray skies and gray landscape makes for a depressing vista. Even though the temperatures are unseasonably high, it feels colder than a crisp, sunny, subzero kind of day. And that got me to thinking about how important the sun is to my emotional well-being. It lifts my mood, warms my heart, chases away the dull grays of depression and makes everything feel more hopeful. Reminds you of another kind of Son, doesn’t it?
And that got me to thinking about the gray times in my life and how the welcoming warmth of the Son has warmed me from the inside out in spite of the buffeting storms of life.
Like the Bike Incident.
I’ve never been a great biker – didn’t learn to ride until I was sixteen and I learned how to stop by crashing into things. But I was struggling to save money so that I could attend school while working part time and raising my daughter as a single mom. I had to cut corners where I could and when a friend gave me an old bicycle I looked at it as a Godsend. I was scheduled to start college in the fall and hadn’t yet figured out how I was going to get there and back in time to collect my daughter from school.
So, I quit my full time job as a caregiver and took the biggest leap of faith thus far in my life. I had enough money saved to get by for a couple of months, but after that I wasn’t sure how I was going to provide for my daughter. I had a terrible fear of the unknown but I had prayed about going back to school and felt strongly impressed that it was the right thing for me to do.
The Lord and I had a difference of opinion about what school I should attend though. I had my sights set on a college library technician program but the Lord seemed to favour an adult high school secretarial course. We wrestled back and forth as I made applications for both but as far as I was concerned nothing would keep me from going to college…until I discovered that I hadn’t been accepted.
And that’s how I found myself biking to high school one morning. I was running late and was cycling so fast that I could barely keep my feet on the pedals. All the while I pumped up hill and down I ranted at God. It was obvious he didn’t care about me at all. He probably didn’t even know I existed…wait, maybe he didn’t exist! It wasn’t my finest hour as a Christian and I had definitely closed my mind off to any inspiration however fleeting. I wasn’t open to the comfort of the Holy Ghost and was quite frankly, wallowing in self-pity.
Part of my ride took me along a bike path that ran parallel to a busy multi-lane street. I took the bend too sharply and pelted down the hill at an alarming speed. In a panic, I applied the brakes, but nothing happened. I knew the brake pads were worn, but they had never failed before. So there I was flying down a hill heading straight for a busy road full of rush hour traffic. To my right was a bumpy incline that ended at a barbed wire fence – not much better odds.
I wrenched the front wheel sharply to the right and the fence loomed closer. If I hadn’t been so paralyzed with fear I could have thrown myself from the bike, or steered it back towards the hill so that the incline up would naturally slow down my speed. Just before I was about to crash I uttered an angry and irreverent prayer. “If you’re really there, God, now would be a good time to show it.”
My front wheel was centimeters from the barbed wire fence when, inexplicably, my kickstand snapped into position, bringing the bike to an abrupt stop, leaving me balanced precariously on the seat, my legs dangling down into knee high grass and weeds.
Of course, I meekly got off my bike and walked the rest of the way – uncomplainingly – and went about the business of being the best adult high school secretarial student I could be.
What did God know that I didn’t? I found out as I humbly followed his plan.
The secretarial course had a co-op placement component. I was placed in the college library.
One month into the co-op (which was mornings only) my boss offered me a job at the circ desk for the afternoons.
My college contract was up at the end of April – just in time for me to start my summer job babysitting for two mothers I met at the college who were waiting for the new daycare centre to open in September – right in time for me to start my library program…and go back to my new permanent part-time job at the library.
As a college employee I got my courses for $20 a piece! And I was given flex hours so that I could work around my class schedule.
I realized then that the Lord and I had the same plan all along – His way might have taken me a year longer but it brought me abundant blessings that eased my financial burdens…boosted my faith.
I am so thankful that He didn’t dim his light during that dark time in my life and that I was able to feel His warmth glowing through the gray fog of my anger and depression.
There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my light.
Eliza Edmunds Hewitt
Posted on September 30, 2009 - by Dawn Ford
I love old sayings, quotes and aphorisms. Proverbs are among my favorites. These verses have been printed and taped to various places around my home. My Bible’s book of Proverbs has indentations, highlights, underlines, and notes marked all across its 31 chapters. I find not only words of wisdom, but promises from God on how we decide to live our lives-good or bad.
There, in its final chapter, chapter 31, is described a wife of noble character. I don’t know about you, but this chapter was not exactly my favorite at first. The words from verse 11 “her husband has full confidence in her…lacks nothing of value” pricked my conscience. Others such as “speaks with wisdom…faithful instruction is on her tongue” and “does not eat the bread of idleness” or “her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her” left me well short of this noble woman’s attributes.
So, what’s a girl to do? Mourn for the life I didn’t have? Bemoan the state of life I had sown to date? Nah, not me. I’m no quitter. I may never sew a straight line or make fine linen, but never let it be said that I back down from a challenge. I did the only thing I knew to do. I studied the scriptures and I prayed. When my children weren’t happy with me, I prayed. If my husband complained, I prayed. As I saw other women who had the qualities I so desired to achieve, I prayed.
Slowly I began to see God at work in my life. My circumstance was not changed to become perfect, but my attitude changed. I plowed through my doubts and fears, making deep lines with which to plant in. Patience and gentleness sprung up in my empty garden. Days that were tough to get through came and went. Self control was planted and took root. Disappointment hit from all sides, but mercy shined and peace rained upon my garden. Kindness sprung up next to gentleness and goodness next to mercy. Joy became the weed that grew amongst the lot. I fertilized with faithfulness and love. The plants, embedded deep in the promises of God’s word, began to bear fruit. Years of trusting in God and his plan for me started showing promise in my life.
My harvest is not yet complete. The green is fading from the crops of my life. They are beginning to turn the golden color farmers wait for. So now, noble woman of Proverbs, you no longer intimidate me. I take verse 30 and 31 head-on, “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
Proverbs 3:5 & 6 assured me of this: “Trust the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Don’t take a ruler to my path, it is not straight as an arrow yet. But it has less the circles that I walked in before, trying to learn the lessons He gave me. There are fewer detours than before, not as many bumps in the road. My walk is much easier on the path He has plowed for me to take. His is the true harvest, a harvest full of prayer in my life.