Praying like a Child

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Mar 292015
 

Recently I arrived at my sister’s house just as my niece and nephews were about to go to bed, and immediately the kids exclaimed they wanted me to tuck them in. So as they said good night to their parents and shuffled off to their beds, I tucked in and prayed with each one. Now the boys pray themselves while I hold their hand and bow my head, but my three year old niece often wants whoever is tucking her in to pray. So I asked if she wanted to pray, or wanted me to, and she requested I be the one to pray. I prayed, kissed her good night, and left her to go to sleep.

It was not until a couple of days later that I realized a detail about the way I had prayed with her that night. I had prayed from her point of view. I had prayed for “mommy and daddy” in speaking of her parents, and “grandma and papa” in referring to my parents. This realization brought to mind how the Holy Spirit prays for us when we do not have the words.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

When I am too weak and worn to know what to pray, I can just humbly say that to Jesus in prayer and I know the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf. When I am too brokenhearted to even form that many words, Christ knows my heart and I can just go to Him and cry. Even when I am so elated and in awe of something He has done in my life, and I can only get out a thank you, He knows the words of my heart.

“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:1-4 (NLT)

“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” Galatians 4:4-7

John MacArthur wrote, “Abba is a diminutive of the Aramaic word for father. It was a term of endearment used by young children of their fathers and could be translated to “daddy” or “papa”. The Holy Spirit brings us into a personal, intimate relationship with our heavenly Father, whom we may approach at any time and under any circumstance, knowing that He always hears us and lovingly cares for us, because we are truly His own.”

Much like my niece trusted me to go to God in prayer on her behalf, God wants us to go to Him as a child goes to a loving father. What does an intimate and personal relationship with the Father through the Holy Spirit look like? Do you get the picture of a child running to its father, climbing into his lap and throwing their arms around his neck while burying their head in his shoulder? In either instance of elation or brokenness this illustration applies, there are only changes the child’s emotion, not the relationship to the father.

Be Still & Behold

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Dec 192012
 

The thing about being rendered helpless is that I get to see God’s provision. I am given the opportunity to stand back in watch in awe as He works around me. I am even more thankful for His provision as I know, beyond a doubt, it was nothing I accomplished. Moments like this not only lead me to worship, but to repentance that I am so apt to miss this when I do not feel helpless, even though I really always am. It is a deception that I can ever be in control, that I can ever be my own provider, or that I am anything but weak and helpless.

 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

It is never easy for me to be still and wait on God, but He commands me to it because it strengthens my trust in Him, therefore strengthening and illustrating our relationship. Our relationship of Creator and created, Redeemer and redeemed, Heavenly Father and child of God. He knows that no matter the outcome of the waiting on Him, be it my definition of good news or not, I will come out the other side of this wait more confident of His provision and at peace.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?I will make a way in the wilderness  and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

Behold means “Don’t miss this!” or “Be sure to see…”. Don’t miss this, don’t miss the work of His hands. Don’t miss resting in His embrace as He does all the work. When given this opportunity, don’t miss out on wholeheartedly trusting Him and the peace that surpasses all understanding. He will reveal His path for you in His perfect timing, but right now we wait in awe and wonder. We play the part of the wide-eyed child anticipating the Father’s gift. We get to live out our child-like faith.

This next scripture is one I love because of all of the phrases in it that points to our child-like role and His Fatherly love and care for us. Listen for them.

“But now thus says the Lord,

he who created you, O Jacob,

    he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

    and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,

    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I give Egypt as your ransom,

    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

Because you are precious in my eyes,

    and honored, and I love you,

I give men in return for you,

    peoples in exchange for your life.

Fear not, for I am with you;

    I will bring your offspring from the east,

    and from the west I will gather you.

I will say to the north, Give up,

    and to the south, Do not withhold;

bring my sons from afar

    and my daughters from the end of the earth,

everyone who is called by my name,

    whom I created for my glory,

    whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:1-7

He who created you, He who formed you. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. I will be with you. I love you. 

 

Patience with Joy

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Dec 052012
 

I am still learning patience, as I am not a patient person and I hate waiting. I believe I am patient with people for the most part, but when it comes to waiting on God I have a hard time. I don’t think my impatience is caused by not believing that He will act, but that in knowing He could do so with such ease and just hasn’t. 

I so relate to Sarah sinfully taking matters into her own hands after waiting for God to allow her to become pregnant (Genesis 17-21). Waiting is hard. Control tends to be an idol for me and I have to consciously relinquish my attempt to be in control to Christ in even everyday circumstances, even more so in waiting circumstances.

Upon receiving news on a couple matters I had been praying over for quite a length of time, the answer being that of keep waiting, I said aloud “Lord, I am so tired of learning patience” to which I felt “so learn it already” whispered to my heart. As I repented, following the conviction, I realized a key word in the exchange. Learn. Once I realize it is something that I am being taught, and have been for a while, then it is no longer a matter of my learning but a matter of doing. It becomes about repenting and changing direction, turning around. In these instances it is no longer about learning, it is about making the decision to live as I am called to live, instead of that of a rebellious child. Prayer will be necessary to ask for Christ’s help, as I cannot live according to my calling in my own strength.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:9-14

If God’s goodness is truth in my life, and in my heart, then it is also true that although He could have acted already, He hasn’t because that is what is truly best for me. And it is “patience with joy”, not just barely getting through this patience or with a poor attitude, but patience derived from gratitude and trust.

Facets of Trust

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Sep 112012
 

Everything here requires me to trust God. Trust that, although the walls of the house do not meet the roof, some animal is not going to come into the house or my room in the middle of the night. Trust that there is not going to be some natural disaster since they feel more common here than they do at home. Trust when we are out and about that, although we automatically call attention to ourselves, that we will remain safe. That I am not going to come down sick.

And yet I can see in many of these areas where God has grown me. Two years ago, I did not want to visit this country for a week long mission trip (instead was going out of obedience), and never would have believed that I would want to live here for an extended period such as this. A year and a half ago, although I fell in love with Nicaragua while here, I was on the lookout everywhere I went for anything I was afraid of (and boy was there a list).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

I have learned that when the kids are playing in the faucets outside, it sounds like hissing in my room. I have learned the sound of a cat jumping on the tin roof in the middle of the night, or a bird walking across it for that matter. I am no longer startled when I see a gecko crawling up the wall. I wasn’t even very startled when I saw a cockroach in the bathroom (slightly grossed out….which is progress for me I assure you). I wasn’t thrilled with seeing a dead gecko laying on my mosquito net on my bed, but it didn’t send me screaming in the opposite direction (baby steps…). Even going to the zoo was really an example of growth for me, as this was not a zoo up to American standards. I was thankful that our driver warned me of the area where I would want to cover my eyes.

I have to trust Him, because the alternative is to drive myself crazy. But I also know that is partly why He has me here. It becomes easy to trust Him at home, among the familiar, but here every facet of life requires me to depend on Him. Some days it is exhausting, other days I love it. Some days the enemy has a field day using every sound or fear, other days are peaceful. In either scenario, I am holding tight to Him.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 121

 

Crossroads

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Jun 052012
 

I have come to realize that my life, as I know it, is crumbling. There is an earthquake occurring in my life right now and everything is being shaken to its foundation. Not that every building is crashing, but somehow you tend to only notice those that are. Now, I have to say at first when these “buildings” started crashing around me I immediately thought it was warfare as a result of taking a major step of obedience. Really, my first major step of obedience. But as I looked at the bigger picture today, stepping back to surveillance the damage all around me, I realized that although it is warfare, it is also God allowing all of this to transgress simultaneously. He is definitely stretching me and bringing me to my knees as I am not strong enough to handle all of this on my own.

It’s like these buildings collapsing have revealed a crossroads in my life. A fork in the road. Initially, I thought there were three possible paths because the world trains us to think in black, white and that there is also a grey area. I tend to think grey. I tend to try to blend the black choice and the white choice to suit what is comfortable or safest for me. But there really aren’t three options in my scenario. There is only stepping out in faith and obedience or disobey and stay stagnant.

“And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” Matthew 14:29 KJV

Peter had the choice to stay on the boat or step out and walk to Jesus, in faith and obedience. There was no option to step out of the boat but hold on to the boat, like a handrail, while walking to Jesus. No, he had to step boldly. He had to trust Jesus with every fiber of his being and walk by faith.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian Holocaust survivor who aided in the escape of many Jews, said “Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.”

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:30-31 ESV

This completely explains my grey area. My grey area of trying to choose both the white and the black is my doubt. Not being bold enough to choose white and yet knowing black is disobedience. And yet until now I never took the time to examine why I would sink. Why I would then need rescuing. But it is because of my doubt and my failure to step boldly in faith that would lead to my feeling alone and helpless. It is only because of His love for us that He reaches out his hand when we are sinking because of our own sin. He teaches me with such grace and love when really I deserve harsh reprehension and rebuking.

And, of course it is only by His allowing demolition into my life that will then make it possible for His rebuilding.