Friday, January 24, 2014

My Everyday Prayer, Part 3

            “Pour out on us Your love, grace, and mercy, for we are bankrupt without these.  Protect us from evil and surround us with Your Heavenly angels, for we are desperate for Your care and protection.  We cannot fight this battle without You!”
            I have a hard time praying that God pours out His blessings on us, like the “prosperity gospel” preachers teach.  Instead, I am learning to pray that He helps me be content with the life He has given me, to notice the blessings that are already there.  To find Him in it.

            But I have no problem praying that God pours out His love, grace, and mercy.  Without these, I would be hopelessly sunk.  But praying that He pours these out also means allowing Him to do it His way, to not tell Him how He has to bless us and care for us.  I don’t care as much about how He does it, I just desperately need to feel and grasp His love, grace, and mercy daily.  It’s what keeps me going.
            And I know (thanks to those five months of demonic harassment that I wrote about in a previous post) that we are in the middle of a spiritual battle every day.  And I cannot fight that battle without His help.  I cannot deal with the onslaught of discouragement, fears, attacks, temptations, menial jobs, etc., without His help.  And so daily I pray for God’s help and protection in this battle.  I pray for protection every night as we sleep.  I know that we are absolutely helpless and vulnerable without Him, without the Holy Spirit in us who is greater than the evil one.  And so I throw myself on His care and mercy daily.   
            How many of us don’t live like there is an unseen world at work around us all the time?  Oh, the blinded eyes!  The casual, distracted, ineffective, and self-reliant lives that we live when we forget that we are in the middle of a spiritual battle all day, every day, and that only God can truly give us the help we need.  We need to do our part and take the battle seriously, take up our armor daily, and ask for God’s help to make it through another day of battle.  
            “Help me to follow and not lead - to surf and not ski - as I humble myself under Your mighty hand, trusting that You will lift me up in due time.  And may I never “shorten Your arm,” but help me rest in Your wisdom, power, and timing.”
            If there’s one thing I am learning to want, it’s to be able to follow Him in humble submission instead of trying to lead with my own wisdom and desires and efforts.  I want to be able to patiently wait on Him, humbling myself under His hand until He chooses to lift me up in His time and His way. (1 Peter 5:6)   I want to be able to wait until He points the way or gives a direction instead of trying to force something on my own.  Or as I like to say, “Surf, don’t ski!”  I already explained this in another post, but here’s what I mean by that:
            Water skiing is when we start up our own little motor on a still lake, and we attach our own little rope to the boat, and we cruise around by our own little power, saying, “Hey, look at me.  I’m making things happen.”  But surfing is when we sit quietly with our boards, waiting and watching for when the waves pick up and the conditions are right.  And then we jump on our boards and ride the waves that God brought through His power.  One is about leading and making opportunities, and one is about following and taking opportunities.  And I’m learning to surf instead of ski. 
            And the “shorten Your arm” part is from one of my favorite verses from the Old Testament.    
            Numbers 11: 23: “The Lord answered Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s arm too short?  You will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.’“ 
            Is the Lord’s arm too short?  This isn’t what someone else was saying about God.  These are His words.  “Is the Lord’s arm too short?”  It’s like He’s asking Moses, “Who do you think I am?  I created the universe, but you still don’t trust Me with your little concern!  You still don’t think that I am capable of so much more!  Well, just watch Me!” 
            I love that verse.  I LOVE that verse.  I want to write it on my wall where I can see it daily.  “Is the Lord’s arm too short?”  I know that He is asking me this same question all throughout the day.  And I want to be reminded daily in prayer that God’s arm is so much longer than I act like it is.  I do not want to shorten it with my fears that He won’t be able to handle some concern that I hand over to Him.  But I want to remember that it’s about His wisdom, His power, and His timing.  And I can rest secure in knowing that He is so much bigger than me!         

            "Take the little that I can do and offer, and multiply it for Your glory and Your purposes.  Make something beautiful and useful out of my shortcomings and weaknesses.  And help me be more like Jesus!"
            As I get older, I am more and more aware of my shortcomings and weaknesses, my inability to handle life on my own and to accomplish the great things that I once thought I could.  And so I have to ask every day that He takes the little bit that I can do and that He uses it, multiplies it.  I don’t feel like I have much to offer, but I pray that He can be glorified by it.  And I hand my weaknesses over to Him daily, asking Him to make something beautiful out of my messy life. 
            And I pray for His help in resembling and reflecting Jesus more and more.  I love the song “My Jesus” by Todd Agnew.  It’s about becoming more like the Jesus of the Bible (the servant, the one who got in there with the sick and the broken, the one who poured Himself out for others, who stored up heavenly treasures and not earthly ones) instead of trying to become more like the polished-up Jesus that we find in some churches (the one who seems like a poster boy for affluent, successful, beautiful people; the one who seems to say, “Follow me and you’ll have a good, comfortable life.”). 
            Following Jesus doesn’t mean we’ll have an easy, successful, pain-free life full of earthly abundance.  Instead, we’ve been warned that if we follow Him, we will face persecution, temptations, hatred, attacks from the enemy, a long spiritual battle, dying to self, and, eventually, we’ll find our rewards in Heaven.  We’ll hear those wonderful words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  And it will all have been worth it!