Why These Storms?

I wrote this reflection on storms in September, 2004.

The Truth is the same this September, 2017. No one but God can calm the storms.

Often He speaks out of the middle of the whirlwind. No matter how fierce your storm is, be still and know that He alone is God.

 

It is September, 2004. Major hurricanes have been in the news for several weeks now. We are on our third major storm that has lashed out in fury at the beautiful islands of the Caribbean and the sun splashed cities and towns of Florida.

Lives have been lost. Lives have been shaken. Lives have been changed. Forever after, some lives will be defined as “before” the storms and “after” the storms.

Why are there storms? A friend asked this recently. I had no answer. I only remembered a time when there was a thunderstorm and I was brought to my knees by its awesome Power.

There was none like He Who was in charge of that storm. I stood in the window and looked for hours, not frightened, but in awe of His Majesty and Power.

When I was thinking about the questions and also my experience, I “chanced” (nothing is really chance) to read Job 37 in which Elihu, Job’s friend, speaks.

“My heart trembles at this. Listen.

Listen to the thunder of His Voice. It rolls across the heavens and His Lightening flashes out in every direction.

Afterwards comes the roaring of the thunder – the tremendous voice of His Majesty. His Voice is glorious in the thunder.

We cannot comprehend the greatness of His Power.

For He directs the snow, the showers and storm to fall upon the earth. Man’s work stops at such a time so that all men everywhere may recognize His Power. The wild animals hide in the rocks or in their dens.

From the south comes the rain; from the north, the cold. God blows upon the rivers, and even the wildest torrents freeze.

He loads the clouds with moisture and then sends forth the lightning. The lightning bolts are directed by His Hand and do whatever He commands throughout the earth.

He sends the storms as punishment or, in His loving kindness, to encourage.

Listen, oh Job, stop and consider the wonderful miracles of God.

Do you know how God controls all nature and causes the lightning to flash forth from the clouds?

Do you understand the balancing of the clouds with wonderful perfection and skill?

Do you know why you become warm when the south wind is blowing and everything is still?

Can you spread out the gigantic mirror of the skies as He does?

You who think you know so much, teach the rest of us how we should approach God. For we are too dull to know!

With your wisdom, would we then dare to approach Him? Well, does a man wish to be swallowed alive? For as we cannot look at the sun for its brightness when the winds have cleared away the clouds, neither can we gaze at the terrible majesty of God breaking forth upon us from heaven, clothed in dazzling splendor.

We cannot imagine the Power of the Almighty and yet He is so just and merciful that He does not destroy us. No wonder men everywhere fear Him! For He is not impressed by the world’s wisest men!”

Following this discourse by his friend, “Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind.”

Could it be that finally the Lord heard some truth from one of His earth people? Someone who had recognized that He, the Lord God Almighty is indeed Mighty? That He, the Lord God, is Author of the storm, Controller of the storm, Director of the storm, and the One Who decides when the storm is ended.

God did not speak to Job from the place of silence. No, He spoke to Job from the center of the storm … the whirlwind itself!

If I heard someone speaking French, I would not spend a lot of time pondering why they were speaking French. I would know that they were French and did not speak the same language I spoke. I would therefore concentrate, not on why they were speaking French, but rather on getting the meaning of what they were saying. Should it be any other way with God?

He is God. His Ways are not our ways. In some ways, He speaks a different language than mere humans. What is important is understanding what He is saying.

When storms come, whether they be weather events or life events, we should seek to understand what He is saying to us.

We should be still and know that He is God and we are not. We can be confident He will speak … and often, from the very center of the storm, not at its end.

What followed the introduction that God spoke to Job from the whirlwind was a long series of questions from God to Job, questions whose obvious answers put God squarely on the throne and Job on his knees in worship. At last, in the center of that storm, Job knew Who was God and who was not.

Job aptly stated the cry of one for whom the storm clouds have parted and revealed not only the message, but the Messenger Himself.

Job said, “I know that You can do anything and that no one can stop You. You ask who it is who has so foolishly denied Your Providence. It is I. I was talking about things I knew nothing about and did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.”

You said, “Listen and I will speak! Let me put the questions to you! See if you can answer them!”

But now I say, “I had heard about You before, but now I have seen You!”

 

We pray for the safety of all who are in the midst of storms. But we also pray that they may know The One Who is The Master of every storm … The One Who says, “Peace, be still!”

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Seeing The Spectacular!

Many people went to great lengths to view the recent solar eclipse.

Many gave their reason for their quest as the fact that it was something that they had never seen before and would never see again.

When I was a little girl, a preacher came to our church for a week to “preach a revival.”

At the beginning of the week, he promised that on the final night of the revival, he would show us something we had never seen before and would never see again.

There was much speculation through the week as to what he would show us. Finally the last night came. Confidently the preacher strode into the pulpit.

He stood quietly before us and let the level of anticipation rise. Then he casually reached into his pocket and pulled out a peanut.

He held it up and said, “No one has seen the peanut that we believe is in this shell.”

He cracked the shell and triumphantly held up the peanut.

“So, folks, you are now seeing something you have never seen before!”

With that, he popped the peanut into his mouth and ate it.

“And now, good folks, you will never see it again!”

The preacher gave us more than an entertaining trick. He gave us a Truth to live by.

Many things in our lives are treasures just waiting to be discovered. In fact, every moment is a moment that has never happened before. Even if it is similar to something that has happened before, it is not exactly as it was.  And in a moment, it will not be as it is now.

We seek those things others call spectacular. Yet we miss those things just below the surface that are spectacular.

The eclipse was awesome. But also awesome are God’s Wonders around us every day and night.

The poet William Blake shared the secret of seeing the spectacular.

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

And David the Psalmist assures us we won’t have to wait long before there will be more miracles in the sky.

“The heavens declare The Glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His Hands.

“Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

“They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.

“Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Psalm 19: 1-4

Look up! Look down! Look around! You’re about to see something you’ve never seen before and something you’ll never see again!

 

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The Miracle of The Eclipse

Today was the day of the solar eclipse. It was long anticipated. People traveled for miles to get a glimpse of it.

Spectators spoke of it in scientific, emotional and spiritual terms. Some spoke of feeling unity with each other and with the universe.

Many were awed by the fact that they were witnessing something they had never seen before and perhaps would not see again.

Many were amazed by the coming of darkness and how completely it shut out the light of the sun. They watched and then as sunlight returned, they began packing up their things to return to their unspectacular lives.

Was there a spiritual message in the eclipse? Absolutely! But the real message may have been lost on some.

The miracle was not in the coming of darkness. This world is already dark.

As with the eclipse, initially the darkness was not noticed … or at least it seemed manageable.

But as the darkness progressed, many became concerned that things were out of control. The evil deeds, once carried out in darkness, began to be evident even in the light of midday.

People became afraid. They blamed each other for the darkness. Instead of candles being lit, each day candles were snuffed out. And the darkness became greater.

Some called upon God to intervene. But when He did did not act as they thought He should, they thought He was absent.

Many related the darkness of earth to the darkness that came on the earth at the time of Jesus’ Crucifixion. Some observed that even Jesus felt forsaken by God, pointing to Jesus’ cry from the cross.

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me”
Matthew 27:46

Some even believed God looked away from Jesus because He refused to look upon sin. However, nowhere does scripture say God looked away or distanced Himself from Jesus.

So what is the answer to this puzzling turn of events? Jesus taught in parables, often telling stories and then saying in essence, “You see, it’s like this.”

In the case of Jesus’ Suffering, He was The Parable.

When He spoke from the cross, in a world that had become dark, Jesus spoke as one weighed down with sin. He spoke for all humanity.

Isaiah 59:2 says,
“Your sins have hidden His (God’s) Face from you.”

God was still there, just as the sun was still present. But just as the sun could not be seen through the darkness, God’s Face could not be seen through the dark veil of sin.

The miracle of an eclipse of the sun or an eclipse of the soul is not that the darkness came. It is that The Light came and eliminated the darkness!

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said,

‘I am The Light of the world.

‘Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have The Light of Life.'”
John 8:12

The Miracle of The Eclipse —
“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!”
John 1:5

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How To Pray When Your Mind Wanders 😳

How long can you pray? Do you ever begin to pray and find your mind wandering?

We live in a world of stimulation. With so many delights and distractions, we become used to multi-tasking. We channel check our tvs while we check our email on our mobile devices.

We have become used to communicating with each other in short bursts of tweets and texts while on the go.

We have become unaccustomed to giving anything or anyone our full attention for too long.

Could you stay with someone for a whole hour and just concentrate on them completely? What if that someone was Jesus?

In The Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked His Disciples to keep watch with Him.

They had just had a meal with Jesus. He had said some pretty strange things. Now He seemed upset. He needed them.

He went aside to pray. They tried to pray for Him, but they were in mental overload … they had just eaten … it was dark.

When Jesus returned from praying, He found them sleeping.

They did not get an A in prayer partnering.

Jesus said, “Couldn’t you men keep watch with Me for one hour?”
Matthew 26:40

We might feel some sympathy for Jesus’ Followers. We have been there.

Give us a good meal, some things to think about, and turn down the lights. We’re out. 😳

Some of us cannot make it a few minutes without breaking concentration. What can we do?

I invite you to try this exercise for the next seven days. It will involve just two minutes of your time each day. That’s only 3% of the hour Jesus wanted His Disciples to spend!

This is a training exercise. So you can have some prompts to help you. Set a timer for one minute.

For the first minute, think of all The Blessings God has given you. Express your gratitude to The Creator of The Universe for favoring you in such wonderful ways. Even when life is difficult, we all have things to thank God for.

The doorway to God’s Presence is thanksgiving and praise.

“Enter His Gates with thanksgiving and His Courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name.”
Psalm 100:4

Recognizing how God has loved us and connected with us through our lives paves the way for us to trust Him now.

Trusting Him comes when we recognize He is indeed God. We can trust Him. We are not just holding His Hand. We are holding our hands up for Him to pick us up.

Isaiah shared a tremendous Truth when he said,
“You will keep in Perfect Peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”
Isaiah 26:3

When your timer goes off at the one minute mark, you will discover one of the great mysteries of time. It either seems to pass too rapidly or too slowly.

If you’re new at this, you might have used most of your time “collecting” your thoughts.

You might have been at a loss of where to start.

You might have been tempted to sprinkle your gratitude with lots of “buts.” “I’m thankful for this, but not that.”

As time goes on, you will get better. You’ll be able to dive head first into thanksgiving without the attached “buts.”

Then you may discover the other side of time. My father used to get up from his prayers, exclaiming, “It would take more than 24 hours a day to thank The Lord for all our many blessings!”

If you discover one minute is not nearly enough, then keep going. Thank The Lord! Praise Him all you want!

So what do we do in the second minute? Simply say, “I’m here, Lord. What do you want to tell me?” Wait.

Don’t worry if you initially hear, see or feel nothing. Don’t be tempted to come up with something and then ask God if you got it right. Just wait.

If nothing comes to mind by the end of the minute, again, don’t be concerned. Thank God that He knows The Plans He has for you and everyone else. You can trust Him with knowing. You can also trust that He knows the best time to reveal the parts of His Plan to you.

As with minute one, you may feel one minute has not been enough. You may choose to just lay back in God’s Arms and enjoy being still and knowing in the very depths of your soul that He is God.

Eventually you may be surprised to discover you have been soaking in His Love, Joy and Peace for an hour or more!

“Keep watch with Me …”
Matthew 26:38

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Matthew 26:41

“Be still and know that I am God.”
Psalm 46:10

“You will fill me with Joy in Your Presence.”
Psalm 16:11

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Is A Prayer Really All You’ve Got For Me?

Do you like to have people pray for you? Some of us would say “it depends.”

If we asked for prayer, we might be grateful to get a positive response. If we have people praying the same thing we are, even better. We will take all the people we can rally to “agree with us in prayer.”

But what happens when you desperately need something and you think you have identified a person who can give it to you … and that person says, “I’ll pray for you.”

Are you disappointed that all they are willing to give you is a prayer?

Acts 3:1-10 tells the story of a man who had been lame from birth. He had become accustomed to his lot in life. He was used to begging. He was used to being pitied. He figured it was the closest someone like him was ever going to get to Love.

He was used to receiving the dregs of life from others. They often slipped him a little something and walked on … on their healthy legs … without even looking at him.

And then the day came when everything changed.

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.

Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.

When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.”

These were Holy men. He had heard about them. The lead man had been one of Jesus’ Disciples.

He heard he was a real rough and tumble guy who had cut off a soldier’s ear.

He also heard he had deserted Jesus, but somehow got back into His Good “Graces” and now was a real leader in The Jesus Movement.

He was sure Peter of all people would treat him with compassion and maybe even give him a generous donation.

The lame man was expectant.

“Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!'”

This was a good sign. Peter actually was looking at him. The lame man suddenly realized how unaccustomed he was to looking at people. He was usually focused on what they gave (or didn’t give) him. He rarely actually looked at the people.

“So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.”

But the man did not get what he expected.

“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.'”

The lame man probably was disappointed. Wasn’t it clear he was in need? Wouldn’t pity alone prompt Peter to throw a little money his way? Weren’t these people Christians?

Have you ever been there, desiring, needing, begging in your own way?

But what Peter had to offer was worth far more than silver and gold. Peter understood what it meant to be on the ground. Peter understood the pain of a fall. Peter understood what it felt like to desperately need Jesus and yet have no idea he was in His Presence.

Peter gave the man his full attention and his compassion. He connected with him in order that he might connect him with Jesus Himself.

“Peter said, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’

Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.

He jumped to his feet and began to walk.”

Remember the man had been lame from birth. He did not have to lose any more time in learning to walk. He instantly knew how!

He immediately saw the world from a view he had never experienced before. He no longer had to beg. He had something to share with others.

“Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”

He was an instant evangelist!

“When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”

When someone offers to pray for you, know they are giving you a gift more valuable than anything else they can possibly give you. They are not giving you crumbs. They are offering to connect you with The Source of All Provision. Will you receive it?

When you see one in need, how do you respond? The best thing you can do is give them your full attention and your compassion with no judgement about what they are seeking.

Ask God Who knows all to direct you how to respond. It may be He says for you to simply pray and He will respond.

But it may be that He is calling you to be very present and be His Physical Link to the one in need.

Look around you and see the needy in a new light. Realize we are all beggars in some way. We beg for time, attention, affirmation, healing, provision, companionship, Love … and the list goes on.

Realize The Power of being able to connect with Jesus, Who is willing and able to meet all needs.

Realize The Wonder of receiving and giving in His Name.

Realize the Joy of being able to say, with His Spirit to you and His Spirit through you, “Such as I have, I give you.”

“I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.”
Ephesians 3:16

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Praying For Those Who Are Suffering

How do you deal with suffering? I don’t do too well. I’m like my father, who used to say, “I don’t mind suffering in silence, as long as everyone knows I am suffering.”

But what about the flip side? How do you handle being with other people who are suffering? Are you able to be present with someone who is suffering when you have no answers and no cure?

Miss Daisy was a lovely lady who worked at the drug store where I grew up.

Miss Daisy always greeted me with a smile. She helped me find what I needed. She made the most delicious milkshakes at the soda fountain side of the store.

And she was always a good shoulder to lean on through the mini-dramas of high school life. She would send me out the door with a reassuring word and invitation to tell her how everything worked out.

I worked at the local hospital as a nurses aid during the summers of my nursing school years. It was there I learned the sad truth that many who enter the helping professions have one weak spot.

They want to eliminate suffering. When they find themselves powerless to do so, they look for ways to look the other way and silence suffering.

They may do this in any number of ways from drugging their patients in the name of comforting them or in simply assigning someone else to observe the suffering.

So it was that I received my assignment to “go sit with the lady who was dying.” I was told to “come get the nurse when she’s gone.” The lady was Miss Daisy.

I entered the room filled with dread. She looked up at me and smiled the old familiar smile. She was weak, but she spoke my name lovingly.

“Carolyn, have you come to be with me today?”

I nodded and sat down and held her hand. Her hand was already getting cold. I said little, because I did not know what to say. And yet it seemed she was comforted by just my presence.

As I watched her irregular breathing come and go like tides being blown off their regular course, I felt helpless. Everything I was being trained to do was directed at how we could save people. And yet, I could not save her.

The tides of breath eventually went out and did not return.

There were so many other times of powerlessness through my years as a nurse. So much suffering without cures. So much suffering resulting from doctors trying anything that might be a cure.

I became part of the conflicted “wanna be saviors” who could not save. I became part of the culture that looks away, not only because of our powerlessness to save, but also because we fear the time will come when we cannot be saved.

What can we do with this burden?

Look around and see the beauty in the world. Recognize it is God alone Who can take an ugly seed and transform it into a beautiful flower.

Recognize He is God. We are not. He alone knows The Plan He has for each of us. He alone is The Creator. He alone has The Power to transform suffering into beauty.

Recognize our Power lies in accepting His Open Invitation to join Him and connect with Him through prayer.

Jesus asked His Disciples to stay close by and keep watch, as He began His Suffering in The Garden of Gethsemane.

“Stay here and keep watch with Me.”
Matthew 26:38

When He found His Disciples sleeping, He told them again to “watch,” adding “and pray.” (Matthew 26:41)

We are called to see the suffering around us and to recognize it as a call to prayer.

Our prayers, as always, should be one of thankfulness and praise to God. We can thank Him that He is God, with All Power to intervene with Compassion, Mercy and Love.

We can thank Him that He has invited us to allow His Compassion, Mercy and Grace to flow through us.

We can ask Him to show us specifically what He wants us to do. Sometimes He will direct us to intervene in a physical way. I was brought to Miss Daisy’s bedside to be with her and hold her hand.

Sometimes He will direct us to watch and pray. He will tell us from what vantage point we are to watch and pray. Sometimes it may be at someone’s bedside. Sometimes it may be from a distance.

We must recognize that our assignment is in place until the suffering is over. We cannot quit because we tire or become afraid.

Like the faithful midwife, who stays the course through a difficult labor, we stay in prayer in faithfulness to God’s Call.

We do what we do because of His Call, not for any payment. And yet we are rewarded in abundance. In our time of suffering, He is merciful and will bring to us those who deliver His Mercy to us.

“Blessed are The Merciful, for they shall be shown Mercy.”
Matthew 5:7

Who is God calling you to pray for today?

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The Persistent Pray-er Who Waited For The Song

My mother was an optimist and a persistent pray-er. She prayed about what God’s Will was in relation to her desires.

Once she felt she was lined up with God’s Will, she waited expectantly. She noted that timing was completely up to God. She said we should never attempt to rush Him.

When she prayed aloud from time to time, she did not ask God again for something He had already assured her was on the way. She thanked God for His Provision, even though we saw no physical evidence of it yet.

When the “harvest” came, she rejoiced aloud that what she had been praying about had arrived.

Sometimes “the harvest” was so long in coming, I gave up. But not my mother.

My father was a prime example of the Power of Persistent Prayer. My father was a man of humility. One would never have associated him with pride.

However satan trips up humble people by causing them to feel inferior in some area of their life. It is kind of like a reverse of pride. Instead of “I’m so proud,” we move to “I’m so ashamed.”

When my father was a young man, he enjoyed singing. It likely came natural to him, as stories abounded of how his father loved to sing.

However, at some point, someone made fun of my father’s singing. He vowed he would never sing again. It was a vow he would keep for many years.

As many things as my father surrendered to The Lord in prayer, his hurt had been so severe, he kept that open wound to himself.

I never knew of his pain until after he was delivered many years later.

In the years before his deliverance, he did sing once a year. He sang Happy Birthday to me every year. It made me feel special, but I was always hungry to hear more. There was no more except … my father’s wonderful whistling.

The songs that were inside Him bubbled their way to the surface and flowed out in whistling. My favorite memories include him standing at the bathroom sink while he shaved and whistled. When he whistled “Mockingbird Hill” and the birds outside the open window joined in, it was heaven.

As my father aged, he had to have teeth pulled and eventually ended up with a full set of dentures. He had a beautiful smile, but alas, the new dentures robbed him of the ability to whistle. The music seemed to have died. It was so sad.

My mother said little, but quietly continued to pray. She later recounted to me the events of one special Sunday in church.

They attended a small church. Everyone sat in their usual seats Sunday after Sunday. There were rarely any visitors, and if there were, it was usually someone’s out of town family, so we knew where they were seated.

My mother joyfully sang every word of every hymn as usual. But on this particular Sunday, when they got to the chorus of “How Great Thou Art,” my mother said she heard as fine a tenor voice as ever she had heard.

She looked around trying to identify who this new mysterious singer might be. All the usual people were in their spots. There was no one new.

My mother said she wondered briefly if it was an angel. She turned to my father to see if he might also be wondering about the new singer.

However, much to her amazement, the new singer was my father!

Oblivious to my mother’s looks of amazement and then pure Joy, he sang a rapturous “How Great Thou Art!”

He never offered any explanation of what (or Who) freed the music that Sunday or what (or Who) healed a young man’s hurt. But my mother knew.

She told me from that moment on, he sang often. She added simply, “Carolyn, don’t ever give up in praying for something you know The Lord wants. He will bring it to pass in His Good Time.”

When my mother died, my father bravely tried to survive, living alone in the house where they had shared life for so many years.

One day I asked him what he did in a typical day. He shared some of his activities. He then added, “and usually I go and get the hymn book and sing for awhile. Your Mama always wanted me to sing, so I hope she can hear me now.”

I asked Daddy what his favorite hymn was. Without hesitation, he said, “How Great Thou Art.”

We sang it at his funeral … in the same church where he was healed of an old hurt. I like to think our little chorus joined with the mighty heavenly chorus, as we all praised God together.

Whatever you are praying about, know this — if it is in God’s Will, it will happen in His Timing.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
James 5:16

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Mark 11:24

“Sing to The Lord a new song; sing to The Lord, all the earth!”
Psalm 96:1

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Pray For People Who Hurt Me??? 😲

Have you ever been annoyed repeatedly, mistreated, harassed, intimidated, bullied or abused? This is only part of a long list the dictionary defines as “persecuted.”

If you have ever been the victim of any of these unpleasant actions, you might not want to even think about the one who brought such hurt to you.

Even worse, if you are experiencing the hurt right now, what can you do?

Jesus said to “pray for those who persecute you.”
Matthew 5:44

We might be more comfortable praying for those who persecute others than praying for those who persecute us. Why is that?

If we pray for those who are persecuting others, it feels more like we are the good guys, coming in with power to rescue.

If we pray for those who have persecuted us or are persecuting us, we may feel the sting of the powerlessness we hate. We feel victimized.

We may feel that someone who is hurting us is not worthy of our prayers.

We may have to confront our reluctance to forgive … or forget.

Jesus made it personal. He spoke of those who persecute “you.”

What can we do with this tough call to Prayer?

If we want to know how to pray for those who hurt us, we can look to Jesus’ Example of Grace extended to those who were hurting Him.

When we look at the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus, we can see Prayer in action.

Jesus prayed,
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34

Some assume Jesus’ Words were for the soldiers carrying out their tortuous assignment.

However, Jesus did not limit His Prayer of Grace to one person or even one group of people. I believe when Jesus looked out from the cross, He saw many more people than just the soldiers, who were near Him.

He saw Judas, who betrayed Him, the disciples who fell asleep and did not keep watch with Him, Peter who denied Him, Pilate and Herod, who were instrumental in condemning Him, and the crowd of people who were watching, observing suffering and doing nothing.

And Jesus saw all of us across time. He saw us, each caught in our own sins, hurting ourselves and others … and not knowing yet the better Way.

Jesus said to The Father, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Our response to the call to pray for those who hurt us begins with these simple lessons.

1. There is no human without sin.

Our sins may be different, but we have all sinned and come short of The Glory of God.

“… all have sinned and fall short of The Glory of God.”
Romans 3:23

2. God’s Grace is offered to all.

“For The Grace of God has appeared that offers Salvation to all people.”
Titus 2:11

3. To be able to receive The Grace God offers us, we must forgive. We are able to receive as much forgiveness as we are willing to give others.

“In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Matthew 7:2

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:14-15

God’s Grace and Mercy is delivered to us on the wings of our prayers of Grace extended to those who have hurt us or hurting us now.

Jesus did not wait until He got to Heaven to pray for those hurting Him. He prayed in the midst of the pain.

God is calling you right now to pray for those who have hurt you. Take a step of faith and see the people you believe God created them to be. Pray that they come to know Who He is and Who they are in Him.

“God saw all that He had made and it was very good.”
Genesis 1:31

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s Grace, in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10

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How To Be A True Prayer Partner

How do we pray for other people? Some years ago, I had a rather jarring prayer experience.

I was asked to be a part of a small group of people praying for a young lady, who had shared some things that were challenging her at the time.

I thought I was a pretty good pray-er, so I stepped up and along with the others began calling upon God, detailing what we wanted for our friend. Each of us approached her problem from a different angle and asked God for different things.

We finally stopped and waited for our friend’s gushing gratitude that she had been so thoroughly “covered” in prayer.

Much to our dismay, she looked up and said in great disgust, “God, I am so tired of everyone redesigning my life!” I felt an almost palpable “push back,” as she got up and exited the room.

I was initially hurt. After all, we had been there for her. We had stood with her. We had “covered” her. Hey, we were all good pray-ers. We knew how to get the job done.

A couple of the other ladies immediately decided we needed to pray more, noting this was a “spiritual warfare” situation and we needed to rebuke the “interfering spirits” so our friend could see clearly what we saw for her.

I wasn’t so sure. I excused myself and left, still licking my wounded prayer pride. It took many more days for me to begin to realize God had taught me a valuable lesson.

I realized it was possible to be a “prideful prayer partner.” We heard our friend’s story and each decided what we thought would fix things for her.

Then we conference called God and ordered. Some of you may have been a part of such groups.

We, in fact, did not know what God’s Plan was. We did not know what the real desire of our friend’s heart was. We just knew about the problems she expressed.

As I began to understand how badly we had failed our friend, I asked God’s Forgiveness. I then admitted I really didn’t know how we should have prayed for her or others to come.

I asked God what we should do. Over time, He taught me. I would like to share what I learned.

When called upon to pray, first focus on God … not yourself … not the “pray-ee.”

Clear every other thought but God from your mind.

Be still. Know that He is God. No one else is God. He alone will know The Plans He has for everyone.

Take a few moments to breathe in His Life Giving Spirit. Recognize you are in The Presence of The One Who knows all, past, present and future.

Recognize God’s Ways and Thoughts are higher than your ways or your thoughts. He can create far more than you can even imagine.

Recognize God is willing to share Great and Mysterious Things with you that you don’t know. Don’t try to guess what those things are. Just eagerly anticipate all He is willing to tell you.

Come into His Presence. We come into His Presence with thankfulness. Thank God for Who He is. Thank God for all He has already done. Thanking God will naturally lead to Praising God. Thank Him! Praise Him!

Free yourself of anything that would hinder you from being a worthy conduit of His Mercy and Grace.

Ask God to search your heart. Affirm He knows you. Allow Him to point out anything that would get in the way of your being His Minister.

Forgive everyone. Ask God’s Forgiveness. Receive His Mercy and Grace within every part of yourself. Allow Him to make you pure and whole.

When God tells you it is time to open the door to His Throne Room, so that others may also receive His Mercy and Grace, turn to those who desire prayer.

Listen intently to what they say. But also hear what they do not say. Do not just limit yourself to hearing the cries of their mouth. Hear the cries of their heart.

Encourage them gently to follow the same Pathway you did.

Encourage them to:

Be still.

Know He is God.

Know that He alone has The Plan for their lives and the lives of everyone else in all Creation.

Know that His Ways and His Thoughts are higher than your thoughts or their thoughts.

Know that He is willing to tell them what to do. He is willing to tell them Great and Mysterious Things they do not know.

Encourage them to prepare to receive Him inside themselves. Encourage them to allow God to reveal to them anything that would seek to get in the way of their hearing Him speak.

Give them quiet and privacy to talk with God.

Encourage them to forgive others.

Encourage them to seek God’s Forgiveness.

Affirm that God will forgive.

After giving them time to commune with God, ask God what He would like to tell the “pray-ee.” Wait expectantly.

You may want to encourage them to simply write, record or speak what comes to their mind.

Listen carefully for confirmation in your Spirit. The Spirit of Truth will confirm Truth through His Word, not yours. As He brings confirming Scripture to mind, share it.

End where you began. Thank God for Who He is. Thank God for His Presence. Thank God for His Answers to Prayer now and in the future!

“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33:3

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Waffling Prayer 😳

Do you “waffle” when you pray? I confess to being a “waffler.”

Sometimes I believe I pray with great confidence. I try to follow every lesson God so lovingly taught me about connecting with Him … and yet … when things don’t turn out as I wish, I start to doubt.

I kinda open one eye, take a quick peek, and if everything is the same, “I think, “Yeah, that’s what I thought. This praying thing doesn’t work.”

However, the very reason “this praying thing” might not work has more to do with us than God.

If there is electricity available and we connect our lamp’s electrical plug with the electrical outlet, we can get the full benefits of the electricity. We can turn on our lamp and get light.

But what happens if we unplug, replug and unplug again? We won’t get much light. If you connect with God, then doubt, try prayer again and then doubt again, then don’t expect to get much light.

James explained how eager God is to help us.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
James 1:5

Many of us begin our prayers, putting what we believe is our wisdom out front. We’ve already thought about our situation and we believe we know what God needs to do to fix everything.

But things would go much differently if we just talked with God about our situation and then we said, “Lord, please show me what You want me to know about this. I want to agree with You.”

We can be confident God is present and He knows The Plans He has for us. We can be sure they are Good Plans to give us a Future and a Hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

We can be sure He will give to us generously from His Vast Knowledge.

We can be sure He will not fault us for having questions. No question is off limits. God knows how much we don’t know.

He will give us His Wisdom so we can agree with Him.

But James is very blunt about what happens when we “waffle.”

“But, when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

“That person should not expect to receive anything from The Lord.”
James 1:6-7

When we ask God and He tells us something, we cannot go, “Well, that’s not The Answer I wanted. Try again, God.”

We will receive nothing, because we have chosen to remove ourselves from The Flow of God’s Power.

Jesus wanted to heal everyone. He wanted to usher everyone into The Kingdom, where they could witness what they would call miracles. But when He encountered those who refused to believe, He did not force Himself on them.

Mark records He “could not” do many miracles where there was unbelief.

“He could not do any miracles there, except lay His Hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”
Mark 6:5-6

What do we need to do to connect with God?

Believe He is God.

Believe He has the Ultimate Plan for our lives and that He is continuing His Work of Creation in us and through us.

Ask Him to reveal His Will to you. Agree with Him. Don’t doubt!

“Without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
Hebrews 11:6

“If you remain in Me and My Words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”
John 15:7

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