Thursday, August 23, 2012

Drinking During Meals

I never drink when I eat.  It is very rare that I will drink any liquid with my meals.  I hate that at most restaurants, in order to get a meal or a deal, you have to buy a drink.  I don't drink it.  I don't drink at meals because I drink water throughout the day, so when it's time to eat, I don't want anything to drink; I just want to eat.

Along my Christian walk, I have been taught to pray.  Prayer is a spiritual discipline and a very powerful tool that God equips us with to fight our enemy, the devil.  Recently, I have come to the conclusion that my prayer life is very similar to the way I drink liquids.  I talk to God throughout the day, so when it is time to sit down at the dinner table, my prayers are not long and drawn out with all of my cares and concerns.  There are times when I set aside time to pray, when I just sit and talk and listen to God.  Usually, those times come during a personal struggle, something I am wrestling with in my spirit.  Those times are absolutely necessary in order for God to prune me, equip me with Scripture to fight the battle, or to talk to me, but those times are more powerful and more intense, I feel, because I talk to God throughout the day.  I try to speak His Word during my day and pray His Word over myself, my family, my church family, and countless others continually.  I pray whenever God brings a person or an issue to my mind.  Those prayers are powerful and the repetition of the prayers, our perseverance, is powerful.  We can move mountains through prayer.  We can stir kingdoms and change lives through prayer.  We have all the tools we need because God has given them to us, we just need to allow Him to teach us how to use them and have the faith that He will use them, too.

In 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, Paul commands us to "pray continually" or "pray without ceasing," then in the following verse, he tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  I love that and I hold on to those verses together because if I am diligently praying for something and nothing is happening, then I continue to pray and, in the mean time, I give thanks for the circumstances that I am in because that is God's will for me.  Practicing that kind of prayer life causes us to be completely dependent on God.  It is so difficult to do that when I'm in a waiting period, which seems to be always.  There always seems to be something I desire that I have to wait on and usually it's something that I cannot obtain on my own.  So, I have to pray, wait on God, and trust Him to act in His perfect time.  When my husband and I were so diligently praying for me to become a stay-at-home mom, I held on to those verses.  We kept praying until we felt God's leading, but until then, we continued to give thanks for His will.

I recently read a book that my awesome church gave out to some of the volunteers called "Praying Circles Around Your Children."  In it, author Mark Batterson, says that we have the tool of prayer, but we often stop short because we tire of praying (I am paraphrasing).  He offered the illustration of the Israelites when they marched around the wall of Jericho as God commanded them to.  They had to march around 7 times before the wall fell.  In the book, Batterson poses the question, "What if the Israelites had stopped after the sixth round?"  What if we stop praying right before God moves?  We can't afford to do that.  Our families, friends, communities, and nation can't afford for us to do that.  Big things, God things, are worth waiting for and praying for, however long it takes. 

Some people see the Christian acronyms of the 90s, such as WWJD? and F.R.O.G. as corny, but there is something to the one that spells P.U.S.H.--pray until something happens.  That's what Paul urges us to do--keep praying until God moves or changes your heart.  There is power in prayer!  The more we immerse ourselves in prayer, the more we are relying on God and not ourselves.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Acting as an Advocate

We have to be careful when we're standing up for what we believe is "a good cause," whether we are defending a certain group of people, a certain action, certain beliefs, or just ourselves.  While standing up for those who are defenseless may be a good thing, the very fact that we're "fighting for our rights" can be a very selfish act.  It's easy to allow ourselves to become the center of what we're fighting for because we want people to hear us.  We want people to believe what we believe and act how we act, etc.  When we're standing up for our rights, whether we are Christians, non-Christians, or unclaimed, we have to be careful that we are doing just that--standing for our rights, and not bashing others over the head because they believe what they believe.  It seems that many people whose beliefs go against what the Bible teaches are not just standing up for their rights, but bullying and harrassing Christians for believing the Bible.  Similarly, some Christ followers, when standing up for Christ, seem to shift their focus from glorifying God to glorifying themselves. God has created each one of us, made us perfectly in our mother's womb by the Master Creator, and all people should be respected and loved, even if they don't believe what we believe or don't live their lives how we think they should live them.  If we are Christ followers, we need to pray.  We need to be on our knees daily, in the privacy of our homes, praying for hearts and lives to be changed for God's glory.  There are many things we can actively do to change things we don't agree with, but none of our actions will be successful without God's favor on them.  Anything we do on our own (apart from Christ) is bound to fail.  The Bible says that, unless we speak and act in love, we only sound like a clanging cymbal.  Clanging cymbals don't change lives for eternity; we are called to love others.  We have to be careful that our focus does not shift from God's agenda to our own; we need to keep our eyes on Him, not on our circumstances.

Right now, it is easy for us to seek other people's approval because that's what we're surrounded by.  We want to evoke certain emotions in other people based on our actions or words.  That's why some people post things on facebook: we want people to be pleased with us, jealous of us, or we want to make someone angry, so we post comments that will evoke those feelings.  There will come a day, though, when we will not be surrounded by people anymore, but surrounded by our God, the Creator and Judge of the universe and His judgment will be all that matters.  We have to be careful that we're not living just for the here and now, but we are focused on our prize, our Savior, and changing lives for His glory.