Prayer – At What Cost?

Today I learned of a Christian ministry that expects each employee to spend 10% of their time in prayer.  In fact, they offer three corporate prayer times throughout the week because they put such a high value on prayer.

I was intrigued by this, particularly because it brought to mind another organization, one Jerry and I worked for many years ago.  When the job offers were made to us we were told that one of the reasons we were hired was because they realized they had strayed from their Christian roots and thought we could help them return.

Many Christians served in leadership and on the staff at this company, though not all employees were Christian.  Soon after employment, we asked the Executive Director praying-614374_1280about starting an optional prayer time for staff.  Those who wanted to pray together could join us on their lunch hour. The idea was approved. We were encouraged as the size of the group grew along with the intensity of the prayers.  We were seeing God answer some of our requests, which fueled the desire to continue praying together.

Several weeks into this journey we were told by the Executive Director that the prayer time had to stop.  When asked why, the response was, “it is costing us too much money.”  He was referring to wages of those who prayed when they could have been working.

Sadly our group disbanded, and it wasn’t long until we left that organization.

Isn’t it interesting to consider one company who finds it is too costly to pray, and another who finds it too costly not to pray?

The cost or value of prayer cannot be measured simply in dollars and cents.  How do I know?  Because too often I think I am just too busy to pray. How ridiculous is that to believe my plans are so much more important than talking and listening to my Creator, Lord and King?

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I am not at the place Martin Luther was when he said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”  I am slowly learning that when my schedule, “to do list,” and my heart are packed full it will be too costly not to pray.

feedback.jpgYOUR TURN:  What is something you do when you are trying to grow your prayer life?  When you are busy how do you make prayer a part of your day?

On a Cough and a Prayer

It’s been a rough winter in our household; but hard times keep me on the look out for God at work.

This week Jerry and I have been battling some infections.  The worst time is at night when a relentless hacking cough causes every muscle in my upper coughbody to join in a chorus of rebellious spasms. After enduring hours of the battle between sleep, muscles and coughing  I turned to Jerry and said through tears, ‘If only this cough was not so ineffectual, I could cope.”

I rolled over and thought “ineffectual? Where did that come from?” According to Jerry the only sensible words I have said at night are ‘I refuse to have a parrot as my only pet’; but that’s another story. . .

Then God brought James 5:16 (KJV) to mind.  “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (Italics and underline added).

Still hoping for sleep I pondered . . . .

My ineffectual cough lacked sufficient air to boost the cough action.  While it is no fun in my body, I want even less for my prayers to be ineffectual.

Following that thought, effectual prayer needs the air, the dove-308571_1280force, the wind of the Spirit (who Scripture also tells us makes intercession to the Father for us) as the power behind the words.

Thank you God for this late night object lesson, and for all those verses I memorized in King James as a kid!

feedback.jpgYour turn now – what is an object lesson God has given to you recently?  Or what verse has impacted you in a new way this week?  I can’t wait to learn from you!

 

 

Sometimes God Uses My Own Words

It is often in the seemingly little and routine things in life that I hear God turn what I am thinking or saying back around to me.  Here are a couple recent  examples.

I often get up earlier than Jerry.  I try to leave the lights off, and just use the light of my phone.  One morning I was trying to quietly get the flashlight on my phone to light.  For whatever reason it was not working.  Instead, Siri, in a voice too loud, said, “How can I help you?”  In a loud exasperated whisper I replied, “I just want you to be my light!”  The words had barely left my mouth when I heard God say, “And that’s what I ask of you!”

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Photo Credit:  Mikhail

As I was praying for Jerry one day, I asked God to give Jerry “wisdom and insight” into a particular area he had been working through.  Again, almost immediately (I think God prompts me so quickly because He knows my brain flits around so much He must get it in quickly before I move on!) I sensed God saying, “Whose insight and wisdom are you asking me to give him?”

“Well, Yours of course Lord,” but when I really got honest with myself I realized I was playing the tapes of what I thought to be best in my head and hoping that somehow they would benefit the omnipotent and omniscient Creator God to know what to speak to my husband.  Oh my!

Have I mentioned lately how far I have to go in my faith walk?

When God Breaks His Silence

For several months Jerry and I have been feeling a bit restless and asking God what this might be about.  We asked Him to let us know if there was something that we needed to change in our lives, or if there is something He has been trying to tell us that we were missing.  We waited, sometimes patiently, sometimes not so much.

What do you do when God seems silent?  For me  . . .

  • I try to spend more time in God’s Word to become as familiar as possible with His voice so I know it when He breaks His silence.
  • I heighten my awareness of where I do see God – in the colors of the autumn leaves, in the beauty of the sunset, in the joy of a child, in the grace my husband extends to me, in the hug of a friend, etc.
  • Jerry and I check in with one another more, we review what we know to be true and pray and wait together.  We follow what has been revealed to us thus far and check in on how we are doing.

nextstepA few weeks ago God broke His silence toward us.  I have to say He didn’t reveal everything we have asked of Him, but He did make it very clear that we both knew what our next step of obedience needed to be.

And so, though it was one of the hardest things we’ve done to date, we submitted our resignations from the ministry we deeply love, Joni and Friends.  We don’t know what God has next for us, but we have full confidence that He is not finished with us.  In His time He revealed this step.  In HIs time He will let us know the next one.

It is not my nature to to rest in peace when “big things” are on the horizon.  While I wish I knew the next steps, I am resting in peace that we heard and responded to God’s leading.

I am excited to see how God will continue to grow and bless the wonderful ministry of Joni and Friends and our local team Candy, Kristin and Alyssa.  They are skilled, compassionate and wise women.  They and the terrific volunteers will soar!

I am also excited to see how God will take the experiences we gained from our 10 years on staff with Joni and Friends and our twenty years of volunteer service prior to that and use them in our next season of life and ministry.

Stay tuned for the new Ebenezers I find along this journey.  In fact, click this link to hear a song that has become my theme through the waiting for the next step.  Please feel free to pray with us.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:11-14a  NIV

Behind the Scenes

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Sometimes I feel like this is all I see of God’s picture for my life.

I have a friend “Renee” who has a very real need in her life and the deadline to have this need met is rapidly approaching.  She is anxious about when and how God will answer.  Many of us are praying with her and trying to help her find leads.

At church another friend “Belinda” mentioned a situation she needs to find a resolution to very soon.  As I drove home from church I thought, it may just be possible that the answer to Belinda’s dilemna could also be the answer to Renee’s need.  So I floated the idea by Belinda.  She is interested and agreed to pray about it before we approach Renee.

I wish I could tell Renee right now that there may be an answer on the horizon.  But I can’t; I want to honor Belinda’s request to wait and also don’t want Renee to get excited about something that is so preliminary right now (leads have often not panned out).

All of a sudden it struck me!  This is just a small picture of  God and me.  He rarely tells me what He is up to – even when I beg for an answer because time is growing short.  I tend to think God must have forgotten about me and my situation and begin to  take things into my own hands.  When I finally realize that’s what I am doing and I get myself back to actively waiting for God’s answer it really is a much greater answer than I could have ever dreamed up.

As I pray for both the needs of Renee and Belinda to be met (whether together or separately) I am also grateful that God gave me this opportunity to view things from the other side for a few moments.  I am reminded that even when I think He is silent or has forgotten my need He is still at work in ways I may not yet see (and perhaps never will).  If I wait upon Him I am usually blown away by the way He responds.

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As I wait for His time and plan the details fill in. Surprise (ha!) He had a plan all along.

Ivan the Great

I was hosting a table to recruit volunteers at church this morning when an older gentleman I don’t recall seeing before walked up holding a coffee cup.  I asked if he was interested in learning about our event.  He asked if the computers I had at my table could get to the internet.  I told him they did, but all sites other than the church’s webpage were blocked.  I suggested some other ways he could get online if it was necessary.

He replied, “No, I am just upset, I have to calm myself down.”  Then he snickered and pointed at his cup of coffee and said, “the caffeine should help right?”  He went on to tell me that he just found out his car did not pass the emission test.  He appeared very shaken by this revelation and then walked away.

A few minutes later he came back by and said, “you better pray for me.  I need the weather to stay nice today because they tell me I have to put a thermostat on my car to pass emissions.  I’ve never done this before.”  photo_1832_20060728

I assured him I would pray for him and as he walked away again I asked for his first name.  He replied (with gusto), “Ivan the Great!”  I responded with “Nice to meet you Ivan the Great and I will be praying for you.”

Ivan took a few more steps away from my table toward the auditorium (as I was silently praying for him) and turned around and laughed, and said, “oh never mind, you won’t pray.”  I assured him I had already begun praying for him and invited him to come back to my table so I could pray with him directly.  He continued to snicker and walked in to the service.

At the end of the service Ivan came back by the table again.  He told me he looked outside and thought I was doing a good job praying because it hadn’t rained yet.

I don’t know if Ivan the Great got his thermostat in today.  I hope I recognize him again at church so I can ask him.  But I do know the God who is pleased when His children reach out and share their needs with one another and then with Him.

The funny thing is – I wasn’t even supposed to be at that table today.  In fact, we were not going to start hosting the table until next week.  But I got mixed up and set it up a week early.  Perhaps God wanted that all along so Ivan the Great could find out that someone cares for him.  Or perhaps God put Ivan in my path today to remind me that it is more important to be “present over perfect” (thanks to Shauna Niequist for her book of that title that is messing with my heart and soul).