Tag Archives: God’s Will

Perspectives on Prayer – My Tuesday Three

It has come to my attention that God may have a broader perspective in mind for My Tuesday Three than I had originally planned. Although I am certain that the showcasing of three blog posts will often be what He leads me to, once again this week that is not what happened. Although I have read a few blogs in the little bit of free time I’ve managed to find (and precious little it has been), none jumped out as having a theme or subject connected to others.

I have, however, been thinking a lot about prayer and spending time with God. Not coincidentally, I received three quotes in my Quotemeal emails this week having to do with prayer. All three were terrific, and so I decided to share them and my thoughts about them.

The first quote was by Florence Allshorn, an Anglican missionary to Uganda and trainer of women missionaries who lived from 1887 to 1950.

The primary object of prayer is to know God better; we and our needs should come second.

I think this is a great and true quote. But so often all we think about in prayer is what we need to ask God for. We have our “prayer list” of all our family and friends who need healing or financial assistance or a new job. We pray for our children that they would do well in school and meet a loving spouse and develop a career they can thrive in. We pray for our pastors and elders asking that they would have wisdom and blessings. We lift up our military and ask for God’s protection for them as they serve their country.

All of these prayer concerns are important and God desires us to trust Him with the answers to those prayers. But if we do not first seek to know God in prayer, then how will we know what to pray for loved ones? If we do not seek to know God better in prayer, how will we discern His will for us and for those we love (whom He loves even more)? God is all about relationship; He knows all there is to know about us, and He wants us to learn all we can about Him. Then instead of praying, “Lord, help John to get the job he is interviewing for today,” we will learn to pray, “Lord, if it is your will for John, grant him favor in the eyes of those he interviews with today and give him wisdom to know if this is the job You have planned for him.” 

The second quote was by Julian of Norwich, an English mystic who had visions of Jesus Christ and lived from c. 1342 to c. 1416.

The Elements of Prayer|Its ground: God, by whose goodness it springeth in us. |Its use: to turn our will to His will. |Its end: to be made one with Him and like to Him in all things.

I like this quote, too, because of its focus on God and our relationship with Him. Once again we see that prayer is not about giving God a laundry list of what we think we want or need. Rather, it is about seeking God and His will. I particularly like what Julian says is the ground of prayer, that it is God who allows prayer to “springeth in us” in the first place. If it were not for God, we would not even be able to pray. This reminds me of Romans 8:26 (NIV): “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

And I love what Julian says is the end of prayer, and that is to be more like Jesus in all that we think, say, and do. Prayer that is focused on our needs cannot achieve this end; prayer that is focused on knowing God can and does.

This third quote is by Dorotheus of Gaza, a Christian monk who founded his own monastery near Gaza and lived from 505 to 565.

A man who prays without ceasing, if he achieves something, knows why he achieved it, and can take no pride in it… for he cannot attribute it to his own powers, but attributes all his achievements to God, always renders thanks to him and constantly calls upon him, trembling lest he be deprived of help.

This is my favorite of these three quotes. I loved how its arrival in my email coincided with my repost of my article based on 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “pray without ceasing.” I had scheduled that article to post at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 25, and this quote was in my June 25 Quotemeal email.

I think this quote illustrates the humility with which we must come before God. It reveals absolute and complete reliance on God for everything, even the ability to pray. It also reveals the appropriate reverence and awe with which we may approach God in prayer, a reverence and awe that recognizes He need not listen to us and answer at all for He is God. And yet it reveals a trust that God will answer, for if such trust were not present there would be no thanksgiving and constant calling.

As I pondered these three quotes, I could not help but conclude that what I want from my prayer life is to know God better, to trust God more, and to seek God’s will with great earnestness. I will not cease to pray for my loved ones and for everyday needs, but in praying for them I desire to seek God’s answer rather than to dictate to Him what His answer should be.

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A Prayer for Mercy

In my Quotemeal email today was this quote from Dr. Alvin VanderGriend of Harvest Prayer Ministries:

Not only does sin hinder prayer; prayer hinders sin.  The two
are always opposed.  The more careless we are about sin, the
less we will pray.  The more we pray, the less careless we will
be about sin.  Both sin and prayer are powerful forces.  Which
one is moving you?

I have found in my own life that this is so true. When I do not pray regularly, when I do not set aside time for prayer, I am more prone to sin. Not the biggies, like murder or anything, but the little sins. I am more irritable with people, more  prone to complain and gossip. When I don’t pray, I am less likely to be grateful for the gifts and blessings I have been given. For me, the most likely sins, the easiest to let take over, are sins involving my tongue, things I say that are not pleasing to God.

Conversely, when I make a point of praying regularly, when I set aside time at the beginning of each day for focused time with God, I am less likely to sin. It is as if by taking time in the morning to ask God for wisdom and to set my day before His throne I give the Holy Spirit the power to stop me before I complain, before the thought of irritation is manifested in actions and words.

On their second CD, the Christian band Third Day sings a song called “Have Mercy.” The first verse is:

My will won’t break, it barely bends
Same old sinner, the same old sin
On my knees to plead again
Confessions trial, where to begin?

Sometimes I think honest confession is the most important type of prayer. We can spend hours in prayer interceding for the needs of others or asking God to solve all our problems, and it won’t have any impact on our behavior. It is when we are honest with God about the sins that we struggle with, confessing our need for His will to be done in our lives, that our will bends and finally breaks.

Until that final day when our will reaches the breaking point and we give all control over to God, we must seek His mercy daily in prayer. As the Psalmist, we must seek the mercy our God loves to give.

The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
       the LORD accepts my prayer. Psalm 6:9.

To you I call, O LORD my Rock;
       do not turn a deaf ear to me.
       For if you remain silent,
       I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.

 Hear my cry for mercy
       as I call to you for help,
       as I lift up my hands
       toward your Most Holy Place. Psalm 28:1-2.

I said, “O LORD, have mercy on me;
       heal me, for I have sinned against you.” Psalm 41:4.

There are many more Psalms that provide the words to lift up prayers for mercy to our God. Such prayers allow God to bend our will, to even break it, so that sin might be hindered in our lives. Prayer unleashes the power force of God. Will you allow it to move you? Will I?

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Our Savior Understands Change

Changes in life are inevitable. Some happen so slowly, at an almost glacial pace, that we hardly notice. Others happen in the blink of an eye and leave us reeling from the shock. In times of change it is comforting to know that Jesus understands how we feel because He experienced that blink-of-an-eye kind of change in His earthly ministry.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. All four gospels record what is called the Triumphal Entry of Jesus. I like the way John records this happy event:

The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
   “Hosanna!”
   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 
   “Blessed is the King of Israel!” John 12:12

The people were so excited to see Jesus come into Jerusalem. They loved Him and praised His name! He was called blessed.

But Good Friday is less than a week away. This is the day on which Jesus was beaten, spit upon, had a crown of thorns placed upon His bleeding head, was mocked, and was finally crucified. When Pilate, the Roman governor, tried to set Jesus free, having found Him to have done nothing worthy of death, the crowd had turned on Him.

It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
      “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
      “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. John 19:14-16.

Talk about a change! In less than a week Jesus had gone from blessed to anathema in the eyes of the Jews and the Romans. I don’t know about you, but I know that Jesus experienced a change bigger than any I have ever known.

So one might wonder how Jesus dealt with such a devastating change. The answer is prayer. All of John 17 is the recorded prayer of Jesus for Himself, for His disciples, and for all believers. Before His arrest, Jesus went to pray in the garden of Gethsemane.

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:32-36.

When faced with a huge change in how the people would treat Him, Jesus prayed. He asked that this change not occur if possible, but ultimately He prayed that the Father’s will be done. He trusted God’s plan in the change. I know Jesus had an advantage because He was God incarnate and was closely in tune with the Father at all times. We let life get in the way and don’t always (or maybe even seldom) stay in tune with our Father in Heaven. But if Jesus could trust in God’s plan in the face of His own crucifixion, surely we can trust His plan in the changes that take place in our lives.

Can you trust in God’s plan today? I think I’m going to try, and realizing Jesus understands how I feel during all the changes in my life helps.

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