Religion

A Simple Prayer

blog_snowywoods“Live simply, love generously, serve faithfully, speak truthfully, pray daily. Leave everything else to God.” I saw this quote while sitting in a café the other day. As I consider the direction of my life, these words speak to me about a simple yet profound calling. So often, we’re looking for the big, the extravagant, the noticeably noble. We want to be significant, and we perceive significance as something evident to the masses.

Yet what if greatness has a humbler definition?

And that’s why this has become my prayer, and my desired life-theme. To truly live simply—not bogged down by temporary things, unnecessary work, trivial concerns, or excessive material endeavors. To love generously: that my love for all would be abundant, honest, and overflowing…not in word alone, but in action and in truth.

Father God, remove every ounce of selfishness from within me: my self-centeredness, self-preservation, self-exaltation. Move in my heart to make me someone who thinks of others more than I think of myself.

Let my service be for the motive of honoring you by helping others. Let it be pure and untiring, all-encompassing—infiltrating all I do and done with all my heart, soul and strength. I confess I’ve grown weary in well-doing. Please renew my strength.

Tame my tongue to be still when I need to be silent and to speak truth boldly and always with love. Strip me of the veil of the fear of man.

I’ve been prayerless, so move me to pray. Prayerlessness is the root of all my trials, or my misunderstanding of your purpose in the midst of trials. Release me from bondage to laziness and unbelief, that my prayers may flow unwavering, unhindered, and unceasingly to you.

Build up my faith to know with confidence that when I’ve done all you ask of me, I can be at peace and leave all else to you. I want to live at ease with you, knowing you alone hold my life and I will stand before you alone at the end to give account for my thoughts, words, and actions.

This is my simple prayer.

 

Photo Credit: Free photo: Woods, Forest, Trees, Winter – Free Image on Pixabay …

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New Every Morning

Blog_SnowSunriseThe New Year brings with it the promise of new opportunities. When the calendar turns, we see a clean slate before us. Things we’ve been waiting to change finally meet the resolve that comes with a fresh start. As we reflect on the year that’s fading into memory, we consider the year to come and all we desire it will bring.

Unfortunately, many of the resolutions made with the turning of the year never come to fruition. A few weeks pass, and discipline wanes. Desire for change is overcome by the monotony of life, and it becomes easier to slip back into old patterns. It isn’t long before our resolutions are forgotten, and the guilt of not meeting our goals is buried beneath the tyranny of the urgent. “Oh well,” we think. “We can always wait…’til next year.”

Why must we wait? Why put off change for another year, when there’s an opportunity to change…now? God’s Word carries the good news that change is possible every day: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

With God, every day is New Year’s Day. He supplies the power we need to change. We don’t need to keep putting it off. When we stumble and fall—when we wrestle with our old habits and ways, we don’t have to wait long for another chance to turn it all around. Every minute of every day is a new opportunity for transformation. Today is the day of salvation, this moment is the moment for renewal and change. We don’t have to wait another second, another minute…another year. This is the time for new beginnings—a new season, a new day.

Yet with this hope comes the somber reality that tomorrow is not promised. We never know when we will take our last breath. So why not spend our every breath living the transformed life we desire, rather than living dead in the grave of regret? Change is possible. Today is a new day. We may not have tomorrow, so let’s make the most of the gift of the time we have.

A Now Event

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Change is not some obscure future event. It’s a NOW event. And we don’t have to wait for another countdown.

 

Photo Credit: Alpine – Free images on Pixabay

You Don’t Have to Wait

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What difference would it make to know that change is possible today, and every day, and every minute of the day? And it’s possible in the most impossible of circumstances, the most stubborn of habits.

 

Photo Credit: Free illustration: Change, New Beginning, Board, Wood – Free Image …

Five, four, three, two…

Blog_NewYears_TimePassingThe countdown has begun. Even before the Christmas décor was transferred to the clearance shelves, New Years items decked the aisles not far from Valentine’s displays, reminding us we have only a few days left to procrastinate on our resolutions. As the clock swiftly ticks away second after second, we down the last of our holiday sweets knowing it’s a matter of time before we trade the chocolate box for a gym membership.

Just the other day, I came across an ad for a decadent triple-chocolate cheesecake across from another ad for a miracle weight-loss program. Yeah, it’ll take a miracle to lose the pounds gained from eating a slice of that cheesecake before the next New Year. That is, IF I choose the miracle weight-loss program. OR any weight-loss program that takes me beyond the newness-inspired first month of the year.

But maybe there’s another option. Maybe I could choose to change today. Except, of course, that would mean resisting the urge to eat the whole cheesecake.

Actually, I don’t care much for cheesecake, though there are plenty other calorie-filled temptations out there to lure me away from a good resolution. But the whole thing has me thinking…why do we always procrastinate when it comes to change? We’re always waiting for the clean slate of tomorrow, or next week, or a new year.

What difference would it make to know that change is possible today, and every day, and every minute of the day? And that change doesn’t only have to do with shedding a few New Years pounds. Change is possible in the most impossible of circumstances, the most stubborn of habits.

I think of the story of a man named Zaccheus—a tax collector in Bible times who’d devoted his life to cheating people of their hard-earned money. Until, that is, an encounter with Jesus changed it all. His heart was so deeply transformed he gave half his possessions to the poor and refunded four times what he’d stolen. He didn’t wait for another day or a new year. The moment he was prompted to change, he repented.

That’s the GOOD NEWS. Change is not some obscure future event. It’s a NOW event. And we don’t have to wait for another countdown.

Why We Can’t Save Christmas

Blog_ChristmasDisasterI’ve watched enough children’s Christmas programs over the past few years to notice a common theme. Somehow, all the gifts get misplaced, lost, or worse yet—stolen, and Christmas will have to be cancelled. Even Santa can’t remedy the catastrophe. Yeah, he may see you when you’re sleeping, know when you’re awake, know if you’ve been bad or good AND travel at the speed of light delivering gifts to every child in the world between sundown and sunrise one night a year, but he’s powerless against this degree of loss. It will take a miracle to save Christmas.

Cue the average, insignificant kid, dog, reindeer, or one of Santa’s distant, unknown, and under-qualified relatives. If only they step up to the task and confront insurmountable odds in the nick of time, Christmas just might be rescued. There’s always hope, if only a faint glimmer.

These shows might be fun, colorful, and mildly entertaining. They may be likened to the macaroni and cheese of holiday programming. But they miss the central truth of Christmas. It doesn’t need to be saved. We do. And that’s why our savior came.

Just watch the news, read the papers, or scroll through the latest headlines and it’s clear. We need to be rescued. All the coexist bumper stickers in the world haven’t helped us to live at peace with each other. We need divine intervention. And that’s what happened over 2000 years ago in a manger in Bethlehem. God came down. He intervened on our behalf, changing the course of history.

Even without the presence of presents or the glow of a tree, it’s impossible to cancel Christmas. It was never about all that stuff to begin with. It’s about a greater gift—one that can never be taken away. Our creator God bringing salvation to a lost, dark, and dying world: a more glorious theme than even the best of Christmas programming.

It’s impossible for us to save Christmas. But because of Christmas, we can be saved. If only we receive the gift.

 

Photo Credit: 1905 Christmas Disaster Red Santa Sleigh Accident Raphale … | Flickr

The Most Difficult Prayer

Blog_PrayerThe other day, my irresistibly charming son started showering me with hugs and kisses while I was in the midst of folding laundry. “You’re my best mommy ever,” he smiled, looking into my eyes while working his awe-inspiring dimples to the max. My heart was melting after a few minutes of his seemingly innocent compliments. That’s when he popped the question. “Will you let me drive the car?”

I’m not sure he understood when I told him he has more than ten years before he’s old enough to get a drivers’ permit. As he walked away, looking dejected, I wondered what his little mind had envisioned when he asked me to let him behind the wheel. And I wondered whether his initial compliments were part of his childlike ploy to get what he really wanted.

How often do we come to God with ulterior motives? We claim our hearts are filled with love and adoration, when really we just want something from him. Our prayers become tools of manipulation, as if we could strong-arm God into doing our will.

There was a time when I desired to have a little house, just big enough for my family and some guests. In the midst of praying for our needs to be met, I learned that a genuine prayer of faith includes the more difficult phrase, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” Modern faith movements would tell us to demand what we want, but true faith believes God has our best interests in mind, whether or not his answers align with our desires.

As for me, I’m glad I prayed that prayer. Not having the burden of a house has enabled us to give more to those who truly need it. When it came time to adopt our son, we didn’t have debt holding us back. My husband was able to go back to school to nurture his artistic gift, and I was able to get my teaching certificate. We’ve both been able to work at a non-profit school, doing what we love at a lower-than-average salary. And we’ve had time to invest in our kids during their most sensitive years. None of this would have been possible if I had demanded something of God we didn’t really need.

When I think of my son’s request, I laugh because I love him and I know he loves me. He’ll grow and he’ll learn. But for those of us who’ve been walking with God for years, it’s time we learn to let go of what we think we need. It’s time to mature in faith. Prayer is a time to align our lives with his desires, not to demand our way. It’s when we say with genuine faith, “not my will, but yours be done.”

 

Photo Credit: Free Series Graphic: “Sweet Hour of Prayer” www.churchleaders.com