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Tag Archives: prayer
What follows is the journal entry I made this morning. A few years ago I took to writing my journal entries as prayers to God. This one came out of a tough week. I knew when I was given the topic of rejoicing for my sermon that it would be a lesson for me as much or more than anyone else. I think the Lord wanted me to quite literally practice what I preach, so He allowed this time of testing to help prepare me. So, this morning as I wrote I began to put into practice the advice that I plan to give on Sunday for choosing to rejoice. I call it The Four R’s of Rejoicing.
I don’t know how I feel this morning. There’s some guilt because I fell short this week in many ways. I know what to do about some of that, but not everything. In two days I’m going to talk about choosing to rejoice. It’s time I learned the lesson. Is my own formula, so much as it can be called that, worth anything? It’s time to try it. I feel better already.
I do remember what You have done for me. Though it humbles and shames me for I know how little I deserve, it also encourages and strengthens me to know that You have always been with me. You have taken all my trash and are turning it into treasure. Though guarded, I have more hope now than I’ve had in many years. You are good to me. You meet me in my weakness. I should be celebrating all the time and devoted to You without reservation for no other reason than that You paid the price of my sin for me. Yet the reality of what You did is easily lost in the swirl of everyday existence. If You owe me anything it is judgment and death, but You have given me mercy and life. You keep giving, quietly orchestrating my life to be what You want it to be despite my foolishness. You love me and want good things for me. To You I gladly give control.
I may not know the reasons why things happen, but I do know I can trust You. I could imagine reasons, but that is rarely very helpful. The best place to redirect my thinking in those times is right back to remembering who You are and what You’ve done. In the face of such goodness, why would I think You mean anything but the best for me, whatever the current circumstance?
The closest I can get to reproducing at this very moment I suppose is to share the contents of today’s journal entry. I hope that doing so encourages someone else today, reminding them that You are a good and loving God. We can choose to rejoice in that, just as You commanded. Why would we not choose joy over sorrow, delight over depression and faith over fear? This is my choice today.
Please forgive me for not making the choice in the past. I am returning to You, the source of my salvation and all that is good in my life. You are Lord of my life. To obey You is to love You and find my own fulfillment in the process. You paid the price for me. This is one time when it’s good to be bought. I can’t see where I’m going, so I’d better let You do the driving. You’ve got the keys anyway. Thank You for redeeming me in every way. This is truly a day to rejoice.
I hope this letter reaches You, for it seems my prayers cannot. Empty words fall to the ground and cover it that no life may be found. Oh that You would answer me! Drive the doubts from my mind. Your silence kills me. Do You find so much evil in me? May I not hear Your voice and know You?
Daily I write to You, thoughts in my head like a box of jigsaw pieces all from different puzzles and none of them complete. I write and do not speak because in the writing is the illusion of coherence. I beg that You will guide my hand, but You are not the author of confusion.
What do I know of faith? Some tell me I haven’t enough. It may be said of all of us, but I take it to heart. You do not answer, so I do not speak except to utter prefab phrases that tickle the ear and leave the heart cold.
What do I know of love? I know neither how to give it nor how to receive it. I proclaim it and pursue it and still do not understand it. How can You love me? If I had not that hope I would have left this world already, yet still I call and You do not answer. And so I hide my despair in secret letters, fearing to come close enough for words.
And yet, dear God, I remain sincerely Yours.
I guess my charismatic is showing. I’ve written to the point of probably being tiresome of my struggle to understand why God does or does not answer prayers for healing. My faith in that area is admittedly weak, but I can’t help wondering at some of the prayers I hear. People ask for God to influence the doctors to make good decisions. They ask for the medicine to work. They ask simply that God “be with” someone.
I don’t mean to be critical. I’m much too flawed to claim any greater understanding than anyone else, especially on this topic. I just wonder why, if we believe that God moves at all today, we would ask for less than we really want. I realize that for many this reflects their dispensational thinking. God changed, even though He says that He never changes, and doesn’t involve Himself in the miraculous anymore. It seems to me the most miraculous thing ever is the transformation of the human spirit that happens when the Holy Spirit is given control. Why God should be acknowledged by theologians to do this today and not to perform mere healing of a physical malady is beyond me. Is the leading of the human being by an all powerful supernatural Spirit who can be everywhere at once not a miracle?
I don’t know why God doesn’t answer prayers that it seems from scripture that He should. I know all the stock answers to that question having grown up in that environment, but none seem sufficient in themselves. Indeed we must pray in faith. I suppose that we cannot ask for more than we know that He will give, but this is the way I see it. If I believe that He is able to do anything, I must believe that He is able to do everything. I don’t understand what He will do, but I know what He can do. Whether it is for me or for someone else, though I may be yet uncomfortable with the asking, I’m not willing to ask for less than the best. I’m not praying that the doctors be influenced, unless it is that they are convinced of His power by what they see and come to know Him. I’m not praying for future scientific advances, except that they improve quality of life for everyone. I’m praying for complete healing. If I dare to ask the creator of the universe for anything, why not ask for what I really want? The companion prayer is that He teaches me to want what He wants. Then, I know beyond doubt that He will answer.
I’ve written at some length of the uncertainty I feel about the topic of healing and how the scriptures are to be understood. I’ve told of my personal struggle with it and how I feel about my blindness. Something new happened today, and since it involves the same group of people I wrote of before, it seemed fitting to continue the story.
Since today was a fourth Sunday, The group from Summit church was back again. It was a little different today. First, we invited them to come earlier and have lunch as a show of appreciation. I’m glad we did that, though I must confess I have not been one of those who appreciated them. Each time they came I hoped for a reason not to go, yet I came because this was something that Pastor wanted, and I do my best to honor and respect my pastor. By the way, that’s not hard to do because he deserves every bit of it. My feelings toward the coming of Summit had more to do with me than with them. In fact, after today I think God may be planning to forge us together in a way neither of us would think possible.
The last few weeks have been particularly difficult for me, and I really didn’t want to go today. Before getting ready to go, I wrote a prayer in my journal. I asked that Yahweh would speak to me in a way that at least for the time would leave me with no doubt. I also made a promise that whatever it was He said I would do. I recognize that I have no standing from which to cut any kind of deal with the creator of the universe, but in my desperation I decided it was worth a try. I made no assumptions about how He should answer, and what He did I could not have foreseen.
Several times as the worship proceeded I was on the verge of tears. I have felt so far away. I read the Bible daily and pray, even if sometimes perfunctorily as we settle in for the night. I do what I think is right, yet I often feel that I don’t really know what is right. This confusion is especially acute in regard to how best to serve the Lord in the ministry He seems to have given us. People who actively believe and pray for healing make me face that confusion head on as well as the issue of my own blindness. I was brought up believing in healing, so being blind has always secretly felt like another failure. I am confronted daily with the unavoidable evidence that I am not all that I should be. What A hypocrite I am to tell others they can fulfill God’s purpose for their lives just as they are, when I secretly think I cannot unless I can obtain healing for myself!
The message consisted of a string of testimonies that the Summit people gave concerning how God had healed and saved those whom they had prayed for. The jaded skeptic in me wasn’t quite ready to believe them all, but I know god can do it, and I can’t imagine a situation where he would be more likely to do it than to bring someone to Him. Since I’m not prepared to believe they all got up there and lied, I must believe God did all of that. It was wonderful to hear. I really like redemption stories.
What happened next was something I always sort of dreaded. I’ve done it once or twice before, but I never felt right about it. How can I pray for someone else’s healing when I don’t have mine? The simple answer is that God is sovereign, and I cannot claim any more or less power based on something I would have no control over anyway. If God heals me, it will be no more because of my own power than if He does not. How many times have I said that we must get beyond ourselves if we hope to find fulfillment? This is no different. Though God in His mercy may choose to make exceptions, most of us are going to have to begin to give before we will receive. That is what was said today and I recognized the truth of it.
I thought I might be spared, since Linda immediately grabbed me and started praying for me. Maybe she would use up all the time. Then as we finished up a young friend of our came around in front of us obviously intending that we pray for her. All I could do was honestly talk to the Lord about how I felt and what I wanted. I pretty much gave up on mine years ago. I just told Him that I didn’t know how to pray for this but I really wanted to see this wonderful young woman so full of potential made well. The only faith I had was that He could do it if He chose. I don’t think she’s up running around without her wheelchair, but God immediately took away the pain she was in.
Then the tears did flow. God did not speak to me in any of the ways I thought He might. No one came up to me with prophetic words that only God would know. He did not condemn me for my many failures and shortcomings. He gave me no specific mission or confirmation of the one I have chosen. He didn’t even tell me how much He loves me. He simply did the one thing I would never have expected. He answered my prayer. Yes, that’s the sad truth. My faith has been that weak. I did not believe He would answer my prayer, even though it was completely unselfish. There are no mustard seeds here. It’s more like a mold spore, but god can use even that.
My questions are still unanswered. I don’t know how we teach people to serve God within the context of their disability while at the same time telling them they should be healed. I still think much of what goes on in church services is nothing more than emotionalism and that the Holy Spirit may be called present only because He dwells within the believers involved. I still think both of our groups have a lot to learn, but I am beginning to see that we might be able to learn from each other. I’m willing to put aside my angry response to a threat that isn’t there and ask forgiveness for it. I’m willing to hope that there is a way for everything I believe to be true to be reconciled into a ministry that meets the needs of a group of people who need to know that God loves them no less for their disabilities and intends that whole or not they should have a purpose in His kingdom. I am certainly encouraged that His purpose remains for me.