January 25, 2013

“…being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)

If the Apostle Paul were here in person, he might add: “Don’t quit praying! Be committed! Watch out! Don’t call it quits. Don’t be discouraged!”

“But Paul”, I whine, “I have unanswered prayers.”

“Continue steadfast in prayer”, he repeats.

“You don’t get it, Paul. I’m really busy.”

“Continue steadfastly in prayer.”

“Sometimes I get discouraged because I’m not sure it’s worth it.”

“Continue steadfastly in prayer.”

“You know what happens, Paul? Sometimes I forget to pray.”

“Continue steadfastly in prayer.”

“There are some things I actually think I can handle on my own. Really.”

“Continue steadfastly in prayer.”

“Let me put it this way: my prayer life is sporadic, at best”, I confess.

“Continue steadfastly in prayer” is Paul’s advice.

“I can’t do that. I simply can’t”, I finally confess, facing up to reality.

“I know you can’t; that’s exactly why you need to ‘continue steadfastly in prayer’ “

Then I realize that those four words hold so much meaning, and though simple, it is a very weighty piece of advice that is too often willingly ignored. “Continue steadfastly in prayer” is the key to incorporating God in every area of my life…and that is what I need! AMEN!

PRAY. NO ANSWER….Then Good News!

February 2, 2011

Pray. No answer.
Pray harder. Still no answer.
Keep praying harder.  No sign of an answer.
Read Psalm 40:1: “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined to me and heard my cry.”
OK, God hears.
Pray. No answer yet.
Pray harder. Still no answer yet.
Keep praying harder. No sign of an answer yet.
Read Psalm 9:10, 12. “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You…He does not forget the cry of the humble.”
Pray. No answer.
Pray harder. Keep praying harder. Heaven is still silent. Nothing has changed. Or has it?…
The good news is that God hears our cry.
More good news: He has never forsaken those who seek Him.
The most very good news transforms us: He does not forget our prayers.
And knowing that is VERY good news!
Pray. No answer. Good news…


December 31, 2010

Marshall's Department Store in Barberton

When I was in High School, I worked part-time at Marshall’s Department Store in Barberton, Ohio. The last week of the year we did a year-end inventory. The owner needed to know exactly where the business stood – if there was a loss or a gain, and how much. There were no computers back then. With a notepad and pencil as our only tools, we sat on dusty boxes in the dingy, dimly lit third floor of the building, counting and classifying each piece of merchandise and recording our findings. Slowly, methodically and tediously we plugged along, until we finished this necessary task.

How about doing a year-end inventory of our lives? Notebook and pencil in hand, we can look back over 2010, and see pretty much where we stand at this year’s end.

My 2010 year-end inventory reveals some beautiful, specific answers to prayers – and others that have not yet been answered. I tally up victories in some areas, and find other issues that still need more work. I see blessings I didn’t ask for or deserve. I’m thankful for old friends, new friends, and people who have blessed me. I find there were times of confusion, and distasteful events; celebrations as well as moments of disappointment. But what really stands out as I tally up my year-end inventory is God’s unfailing kindness and goodness. I can emphatically testify with the psalmist David: “You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance.” (Psalm 65:11)

Have you done your year-end inventory?


May 15, 2010

Matthew 20:20-28

Jesus just finished predicting His death and resurrection to His disciples. It may have been a very somber moment for all of them. We don’t know how much time elapsed, but the next event that Matthew recorded was of the mother of James and John, kneeling down and asking something of Jesus.  She was approaching the only One worthy to be approached in a worshipful posture, and it was the correct way to get what she so longed for from Him. So far, so good! She got the “HOW” right! When we intercede for our children, worshipful prayer is the correct approach!

Unfortunately, the “WHAT” is where her intercession went off-key. Jesus asked what her wish was, and she expressed it: “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” (v.21) That seems like quite a noble desire. She was concerned about their future. What Mom wouldn’t want that honor for her children? Yet Jesus’ reaction was not exactly what she hoped to hear. He didn’t give her any assurance that her plea would even be considered. He even went so far as to say, “You do not know what you ask.” (v.22). She came to the right Source and approached Him in a worshipful posture, yet her heartfelt petition was motivated by pride. We know this by the reaction her petition caused in the other ten disciples. They were understandably upset! They may have been thinking – or even commenting among themselves – thoughts such as: “What makes her think that her sons are any better than the rest of us? Why should they be the privileged ones? Are they more special than we are?”

This mother didn’t get the answer to her “want”. But what she did get were two lessons that Jesus knew she needed to learn:

  1. That true greatness in God’s kingdom is a result of first becoming a true servant.
  2. The real reason Jesus came: “not to be served, but to serve”.

She did not get a “yes” answer to her prayer, but she got something far better, because He saw into the depths of her heart and discerned her needs. Instead of granting her “wants”, He gave her something far more valuable: She learned about true greatness, and more about Jesus!

How about us? We can get the “HOW” right: approach Jesus (The right Source) in the right posture (Worship) and sincerely ask Him for something for our children. (If we don’t plead on their behalf, who will??)…but we can be way off on the “WHAT”, and our prayers for them end up being categorized as “unanswered”. There were times, there are times now, and always will be times, when God chooses not to answer our prayers for our children. Jesus seized the opportunity to teach this concerned mom a lesson instead of answering her selfish prayer, and sometimes He does the same with us. He uses those unanswered prayers to teach us more about Himself….and isn’t that what really matters in the end? Wouldn’t we rather have Him reject our “wants” and give us what He knows we need instead?

Lord, open my ears to what You want to teach me when You choose not to answer my prayers for our children. Forgive me for those selfish petitions for them that don’t line up with Your plan for their lives. Open my heart to allow the Holy Spirit to apply what You want to teach me through unanswered prayer, and let me submit to Your perfect will and purposes for them. Help me to trust You, even when the prayers seem to go unanswered. Be glorified in my life, and in the lives of each of our children. That’s a prayer that You will never say “NO” to, and I praise you for it! Amen!

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