Monday, August 22, 2011

Drawn to Prayer

I know as well as anyone the legalistic ideas that can surround having a long, daily prayer time. I grew up attending a small Christian school that would sometimes feel a bit condemning in the way that having a daily quiet time was taught, and quite frankly, it ended up feeling like a chore a lot of the time.

As an adult growing into my own personal relationship with God, making time to 'withdraw' to a 'solitary place' (Matthew 14:13) was often difficult. I remember very well a Bible study I did when my oldest son was a baby called "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World." It encouraged sitting at Jesus' feet (resting and gazing) rather than being and doing so busily all the time. One of the practical suggestions in the book was to create a 'withdrawing' room, a place where you would want to go and be alone with God. I vividly remember the corner of our previous home that I set up while my son was napping - lots of cozy pillows and yummy smelling candles. Now, are any of these things necessary? Of course, the answer is absolutely not. However, it encouraged me to withdraw to a solitary place - it helped to get me there initially where then God's Spirit could do the rest.

Even more recently, I have felt God prompting different things to help me spend more time in prayer. He wants me there, and He knows I'm human and apt to fall asleep like the disciples; isn't His grace amazing? He knows just what we need. Anyway, one thing in particular for me lately has been going outside on our back porch at night. I have to be honest - some nights I just want to crawl into bed or stay there if I'm already laying down. And I don't have anywhere near a perfect record, but man the wonderful evenings I have spent out there. Sometimes just the breeze, the cloud movements, even a shooting star - I always come inside shocked at how long I spent outside enjoying praying. Another thing for me has been the discovery of these instrumental piano podcasts called Music to Pray By. They are beautiful, free, and absolutely anointed.

I list these things to give you some examples of the things God has used and is using to draw me in being more devoted to prayer. What, for you personally, can He use to draw you? "Draw me! We will run after you!" - Song of Solomon 1:4(a). Not only does He want this time alone with you, but there is tremendous power He wants to release as well.

I'll finish with this story. My three year-old son was telling my husband and I in the car the other day that he wanted to draw a picture for God. He described everything he wanted to put in it, but then stopped perplexed and asked the thought-provoking question..."How do I give it to Him?" As he realized that day, God can seem so far away; but it's especially so, when we are immersed in the very tangible presence of the world around us. That is why we need to regularly find a solitary place, just like Jesus did, where we can be quiet and become in tune with the invisible realities of our Father's Kingdom.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To Whom Goes the Glory?

This subject is a truth that God has made real in my heart through different circumstances over time, but I had to pray and think about how exactly to convey it. The gist is the following: EVERYTHING we do should give glory to God. Let's define the word glory for a moment - praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent; something that secures praise or renown. And here are a few synonyms: acclaim, accolade, credit, props, etc.

Even when you don't want something bad enough to do it for yourself, will you exhibit the faith in order that God, and not the enemy, receive the glory? I want my life to be a light that reflects His beauty, splendor, love, and majesty and doesn't even have a hint of the enemy on it. I believe it makes our Father's heart sad when we allow the enemy to have victory in even small areas, not saying that I don't still have some myself :). Here are just a few of the Scriptures I was reading as I wrote this blog:

Exodus 20:23
You shall not make [gods to share] with Me [My glory and your worship]; gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves.
1 Chronicles 16:24
Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all peoples.
Psalm 145:11
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power,
Isaiah 42:8
I am the Lord; that is My name! And My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to graven images.
Habakkuk 2:14
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
John 11:4
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
John 11:40
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
John 15:8
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
1 Timothy 1:17
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

This conviction is especially real to me whenever I see someone facing major bodily sickness and disease. You can almost see the enemy dancing all over it, as the person's body is wracked with pain and suffering; it is such a perversion of God's perfect creation. Recently my 102-year old Grandad passed away. The circumstances came quickly, as he was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer only 2 weeks after becoming ill. Obviously treatment at his age would probably have killed him sooner, so the doctors sent him home with the grim prognosis of being unable to eat along with extreme pain for weeks or months until his body gave out.

Now he was a believer and had lived a great life, and it grieved me to imagine his last days on earth being spent this way. Not only for his own pain, don't get me wrong! But also for the message that would be displayed on earth and the heavenlies - that we stood by and allowed the enemy to suck the life out of him in such an awful way. So, my sisters and I believed that it would not be so. We took communion together and agreed in prayer that he would have a peaceful homegoing when he was ready. And that is exactly what God's glory!!! He went home to be with Jesus and His Heavenly Father less than 24 hours after being released from the hospital, at home in his own bed while sleeping.

Of course, sickness isn't the only circumstance where I can see this playing out. It's also in the small allowing a strife-filled home, or not taking care of your body, or allowing small offenses to take root, etc. I don't want my life to give glory to anyone or anything but God, because He alone is worthy of all praise, acclaim, and props!!!