Tag Archives: prayer

God is Always There, Are You?

I have to admit that I find it hard some days but then I really have nobody to blame but myself. I just, well, I let it slip away and honestly I don’t know why. It’s not like I have a terrifically good reason as to why or what for.

It’s no excuse but sometimes, despite our best intentions, it’s just hard, isn’t it? I mean we want to take the time out of every day to dedicate ourselves and re-dedicate ourselves to God, to study our Bible, to pray a little more fervently and to just commit ourselves to the love and the hope that our blessed Savior has to offer. The thing is though that sometimes it just doesn’t seem to work out that way and before we know it the time is short before it just disappears.

I guess, perhaps, a part of me finds it too easy. Maybe, in the back of my mind, a part of me knows that God, He’s always going to be there, waiting for me. It makes it easy to neglect Him, to put Him aside when I have other things I want to do or need to do, figuring I can always come back to him later when I have more time.

As disciples, given to Christ, we’re all a little guilty of that now and then. We step away, knowing we can always step back when we need to, like the Prodigal Son, who goes on his own way, only to return home in his hour of deepest need to find his loving father waiting there for him. (Luke 11:15-32) Even if our story or what calls us back isn’t nearly as dramatic as his, it’s still a little bit funny how often we can find it so simple to be like him, doing as we will just because we can.

Yet, the simple truth is that though God will always be waiting for us, though He will always come searching for us as a Shepherd searches for his lost sheep, (Matthew 18:12-14) the longer we let it go, the longer we let ourselves slip or the further we let ourselves wander, the harder we find it to come back to Him. After all, one of the analogies often used in the Word of God to describe our life of faith relates to trees and to crops. The problem is that, if it is not nurtured, it does not grow, if it is not cared for, it withers, eventually dying that slow death that comes from going too long without being tended to.

Our faith, our hope in Christ, it needs to grows daily, it needs to grow with the careful love and the tender affections of hearts that are given to the Lord in the wonders that it brings, remembering that it offers to us all that we need to grow and to live and to find peace. (James 1:5, 2 Timothy 3:16) It is, after all, a blessed hope to all those who trust in it, and look to the Lord as their strength in a world where our endurance is tried day by day, by and by, giving freely and wondrously to us in all God’s love. It teaches us how to love our fellow man, how to live during those deeper crisis’ to our spirit, how to abide with courage in our times of deepest need and longing.

Challenge yourself today to spend a little more time with God, even if you think you have a good relationship with Him, even if you spend some time growing with Him and in Him each day. Spend a little more time learning at the feet of Christ and meditating on the lessons of that He offers to grow in the blessings of the Spirit. Even if you take a little time out of each of your days to do that already, take a even a few minutes more, reminding yourself there is always something else to learn.

Challenge yourself today to imitate Christ a little stronger, a little more. Show a little extra love to those in need, to those who struggle and search, and be a bit more in the lives of those around you. Change the world one life at a time, one day at a time by offering that healing power of the Spirit that mends the wounded spirit and the broken heart. Draw nearer to God by drawing nearer to those around you, by being more in their lives. You’ll be amazed the good that it can and will do.

Don’t stray or wait too long, and never think to yourself you are doing enough, figuring God will always be there. He may but you may not. Take the time, and never let it slip away from you, because, unto you, rich blessings and wondrous hope waits, for every step you make in faith, for every step you make nearer to your Lord.

Wounded Yet Not Slain

There’s an old poem, I think it was by John Dryden, that I’ve heard used, recited over and over at the end of a hard fought battle, at the end of a loss that has one damaged and hurt, that left them wondering and in pain. It goes a little something like, “I am sore wounded, but I am not slain, I’ll lay me down to bleed a while, then I’ll rise to fight again.”

I always liked that verse. In a life that is filled with trials, where triumph and victories are never quite assured to us, where they are never really promised to us, something about it always spoke to me. It always seemed to say that whatever life throws, whatever challenges it may have, it may damage us a little, but in the end, we are not dead until that moment when we are put in the ground or our ashes are spread around us. In a sense it becomes a question of how much fight is left within us when the moments of adversity hit.

After all, as Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

This is something that our Heavenly Father, looking down on the lives of His precious children, understands all too well about this world, isn’t it?

It begs the question, what struggles are leaving you wounded in your daily life? What challenges are you facing? What is leaving you wounded amidst the hardships that you face? Does it seem like it is just too much for you to face? Is it seeming like it is more than you can handle as you lay to bleed, lacerated by the deeper perils of this world?

As disciples of Christ it seems like they are there, lurking around every corner: temptations, trials, tribulations that push on us with a force that bears down on us with a crippling weight. As we struggle not to be crushed, there are moments when we wonder if we can even go on. After all, everything seems to be changing around us and we can’t see the world in the same way again.

It’s in these moments when we need to draw on the comfort and the assurances of a God who loves us. After all, He isn’t just a distant figure who tells us that, “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 11:1) No, He goes further than that, reminding us that, through Christ, all things are possible for us regardless of whatever challenges may be there. (Philippians 4:13) We just need to lay our burdens at the feet of our blessed Savior to find the miracles of hope, (Matthew 11:29-30) that hope that abides in faith to give us the perseverance to go on day by day.

Perhaps it may seem like it is too much. Perhaps, left wounded and bleeding, we can’t help but weep, wondering to ourselves how we can go on. We are not alone in those moments though, we never have been, regardless of how it may feel. Even as our troubles mount and we feel at times like nobody could ever understand what  we are going through, the truth is that God has, through the lives of His saints, seen it all. Job, David, Paul, Stephen, and countless others, even our Savior, Christ Jesus, have faced the deepest and most powerful of pains, and found their comfort in God to move forward even when it seemed as if all had been lost and the burdens  were too much for them. As the Apostle Paul put it, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

As the world wounds you, dear disciples, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, find a place of quiet rest and lay down in the peaceful mediation of the Lord, remembering the words of David, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4) Faith, and a deeper understanding of it, a deeper trust in it, will let you abide in hope in the wonders of God’s blessed love and comfort, healing even the deepest of hurts and the most painful of scars, so that, with endurance, you shall have the chance to rise again.

Take that promise, take that love, and let it guide you in the wonders of the miracles that it offers you. In this world, with all of its battles, it is the surest weapon you have to protect you, the surest of medicines to heal you.

The High Priestly Prayer

John 17:1-26  

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.t 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.19 And for their sake I consecrate myself,t that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Before the world was created, Jesus was.  Before time began, Jesus was.  And then, the Eternal One who holds all things in balance did something extraordinary – He stepped into time and took on human flesh.  He gave up all the glory of heaven so that we could know God.  He gave up many of His rights as God, but one thing He did not give up – His love for us.

While on this earth, Jesus loved His own just as He loved them in heaven.  In His last hours, He prayed a beautiful prayer, first for His close followers and then for you and me.  He knew He was betrayed, He knew He would die, and He knew that you and I would sin against Him.  But He prayed a high priestly prayer for our joy in Him, our unity in Him, our sanctification in Him.

Then Jesus gave us an idea of what salvation is all about.  He died that we might be where He is, that we may see His glory and therefore glorify the Father.  This was the plan before time began.  He’s always loved us, before we even existed.  And though we have sinned against Him, He chose to die in our place, taking our sins onto Himself, so that we can experience eternal life with Him.  Oh what love He has for us.

May This Cup

Knowing His inevitable end, the pain, the suffering, and the pain that would come in the form of His sacrifice;  stricken, smitten and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4), Christ waited patiently for the appointed hour in which the prophesies would be fulfilled.

The truth is, it had to be hard for Him, and we are given a brief look into the mindset of the Blessed Savior as He prayed to His Heavenly Father, pleading “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) He knew it wasn’t. After all,  His entire purpose would be fulfilled in the stations of the cross. Had God found a way for “this cup” to be taken from Him then there would have been no reason for Him to have been made man, no real point to His ministry. Anything and everything He was could have easily be fulfilled through the Prophets who came and went before Him.

Yet perfect God and perfect man, there was a nature to Christ that was much like our nature. How could there not when, to be our substitute, He had to be as we are?

Still, as disciples of Christ, given to His teachings, do we have those moments when we pray for whatever it is that we are facing to be lifted from us, to be taken from us? And when we do, how often do we put that last statement in, “Not as I will, but as you will”? When God does not take “this cup” from us, do we then associate it with Him not hearing us or being carefully absent from us? Or do we see it as something different altogether?

You see, though no suffering, no pain comes from God, from our loving Heavenly Father, it does not exclude the possibility and the fact that, in a sinful world so far from the nature that God has intended for us, suffering does exist. In promising to hear our prayers (Psalm 34:15) God does not promise to end every trial that we face. What He promises is that it will never be more than we can take or that we can handle. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Through His blessings He gives us the strength to endure (Philippians 4:13) as He makes us more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37)

The truth is, God is never absent from our lives, whatever it may be that we are forced to face, whatever struggles we may find that we have to endure. Yes, we can pray that they are removed from us, that the burden of them, the pain that they may bring, is something that we no longer have to shoulder. But God does not guarantee to remove it from us because it is perhaps something that we are meant to go through in order to get where we are going, to become the person that God intended for us to be.

This is, at times, hard for us to understand but the struggles that we have to face are not won by being removed from us. They are won through perseverance and hope in the knowledge that everything serves a purpose according to God’s love for His children and the strength we are given through the power of the Spirit. (Romans 5:3-5)

Consider for a moment whatever struggles you may face, whatever challenges that are there in front of you, consider how you pray and have faith in God during these times. Now consider the struggles of Christ and the prayer He offered to His Heavenly Father, the trust He had that even during the greatest of trials and the most enduring of tribulations there was a divine purpose in it all. Yes, pray according to hope, but more importantly pray according to God’s will and God’s plan for your life, understanding that it is greater than anything you could have known or thought, even when the times are tough and the struggles are before you.

Patience, strength and courage through the most difficult of times, the understanding that sacrifices must be made in our lives, even when they are hard to understand — these are the lessons of our blessed Savior during this Easter Season. The question then is, how will your faith guide you when it seems as if it is just too much to endure? Will you pray for God’s will for you or will you demand for your will to be done by God?

Is There An Answer

There is nothing harder for the Disciple than the feeling that God, He just isn’t listening. When we put our trust in verses that tell us “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) there are few stumbling blocks like the sense that our prayers are going unanswered. After all, isn’t this the Lord who promised us that He would never fail us or forsake us? (Joshua 1:5) Why then, in our hour of need, do we struggle, wondering to ourselves if we are alone in our plight?

How can we trust the promises, the assurances of our blessed Savior, ones that tell us, when we are weak and heavy laden, to lay our burdens at his feet to find peace, to find comfort through him (Matthew 11:28-29) when it seems as if our Heavenly Father is so far from us?

That though, for as much as the thought runs through our mind, isn’t the question. Rather, the more dominant question we need to ask ourselves is who is God to us, and who are we to Him?

Through Scripture we learn that we are children of a Heavenly Father. (Hosea 1:10) This is a relationship that we have to consider carefully as we come to God, as we ask of Him, seeking His divine grace and His wondrous love in our lives. Are we the humble who wait in patience and reverence for all to be revealed or are we the spoiled children demanding of God, asking for signs and miracles that are not part of His plan, impatient to the point where when it is not as we would like we question His love for us?

Since the moment of our conception God has known us and has had a plan for our lives. (Jeremiah 1:5) Sometimes it’s a plan that is one that we don’t necessarily understand, one that takes us on a road that is different than anything we had planned. There are moments when it is going to be confusing, where it seems like it is going to be harder than it should be. These are the times when we pray and, yes, it is going to seem as if our Heavenly Father is far distant from us, far removed from our lives. Yet just because we don’t comprehend doesn’t make His presence any less real, any less viable in our lives.

Yes, like Saul of Tarsus, we would all like the ground to shake, the earth to move, and the heavens to open with the voice of God cutting through to show us the way. The truth is though that God often chooses subtler ways to move us, we need only then to watch for the signs and to let ourselves be open to the gentle guidance that comes through His hand.

You see God’s timing, God’s wisdom, His direction, it may not be perfect to us, but it is perfect nonetheless. It takes into account our strengths, our weaknesses, our hopes, and even the battles we know not yet we are going to face in the trials of life. What that means is that sometimes we have to wait on an answer, hearing what we want not to hear, that we don’t need to know right now, or this is not what we need. Every loving father who cares for his children needs to say no now and then, not because he can’t but because he knows it is not right for them. God, our Heavenly Father, is no different.

Trust in faith that abides in the knowledge of the love of God, dear disciple of Christ. It may, at times be hard, in a world wrought with challenges, one day longer is not necessarily what we want to expect in the troubles or the struggles that we face. Yet God never allows us to face anything more than we can handle in the journey we are on. Perhaps, at times, it may feel as if He has and like we have been left. Yet this is our attempt to understand the trials before us, rather than a firm understanding of the true nature of God’s grace and love for us.

Whatever the struggle is, whatever the question may be, God is there to listen, and to answer. Open your heart to it, and you will find the answer you are looking for.

Pray like Jesus

A disciple

Matthew 26:39  And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

A genuine disciple of Jesus Christ follows His example and walks as closely to Him as possible.  When praying, the disciple prays as Jesus would.  But how did Jesus pray?  What does our example to follow look like?

We all know the Lord’s Prayer, when Jesus taught the apostles how to pray, but when Jesus was alone His prayers looked different from those famous lines.  When He prayed to the Father, His heartfelt desires were lifted up to heaven.  But notice that He doesn’t stop at asking.  Jesus, having been sent by the Father to do His perfect will, knew that the Father’s purpose was more important that His own desires.  Can we pray like Jesus prayed?

In His greatest hour of pain, during betrayal, fear, and impending death, Jesus was able to put aside His own wishes for those of the Father.  Did Jesus really desire for the pain and suffering of the cross to be taken out of the plan?  Was He really praying that the very mission for which He had come to earth would be aborted?  Or was He showing us how to pray in great times of sorrow?  Was He modeling for us what it’s like to give up our own will in submission to the Father’s?  This is what it looks like.  This is our daily calling as disciples – to give up our own will in exchange for the perfect will of God.

Prayer as a means to fellowship

Fellowship

John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

How do we connect with God?  We hear from Him in the Bible, learn who He is and what His will is, and gain fellowship with Him.  But what about our side of the conversation?  How does God hear from us?

Prayer is our way of speaking to the Lord and a big part of fellowship with Him.  We mainly pray in one of several fashions.  Confession is where we own up to our sins before God and receive the forgiveness He’s given in Christ.  Petition is the time to ask for our needs to be met (“Give us this day our daily bread”), while intercession is asking for the needs of others to be met.  Thanksgiving and praise are vital to fellowship as well.  Giving thanks to God for all He’s done puts our hearts in a humble place where we’re more capable of experiencing Him and praising Him.

Without prayer, fellowship with God falters because we can’t even carry on a human relationship without speaking to the other person, let alone a close relationship with the Creator of all things.  We wants our attention, our time, our devotion.  Talking the time to speak to God serves a key role in our spiritual well-being.