Prayer and the Land of Entitlement

Yesterday my husband told me about a middle aged man who started a Christian motorcycle club for his friends. He planned trips and it started to grow. It was going really good for awhile. But then one man had a heart attack. Another took a spill on his bike and broke a leg. Someone’s aunt had cancer and asked him to pray for her. Pretty soon, he had so many prayer requests he felt burdened. Too many people having issues. It wasn’t fun—so he stopped. Why?

This morning I was thinking. The worst place for my mind to wander is into that Land of Entitlement. Have you been there?

It doesn’t matter how old we are, when that thinking starts discontent begins.

The thinking I don’t want a life of any problems or to hear about any more problems.

Well, we all know the truth is there is a circle of life we live in and so do those in our circle!  It goes like this:  “WE are either going into a trial (problem or testing) and amping up courage and wisdom to face it. We are in a trial and taking life daily, leaning on God to get us through. Or we are coming out of a trial hopefully having developed insights and character and a closeness with God—being the better for it. It is the circle of life.

“I have worked hard and put up with alot. I need to be able to rest without responsibilities.”

“I don’t want any drama. Just quiet and control—not controlling chaos. ( or listening to it.)”

“I have had financial difficulties before. Do I have to deal with them again God?” or someone else’s?

“Okay, I know my back is an issue, but not my knee…Really? “My spouse, child, nephew, neice , grandchild, co-worker, friend, dog, cat, just got well. What is going on now?”

“I brush my teeth every day! How can I have a cavity?”

The list goes on. And the older we get…every decade has a new set. I thought it would lessen when I reached a certain age, had a certain job, lived in a certain place, changed people around me, etc. etc. We cannot escape the unescapable. We will never be entitled to any benefits on this side of heaven other than the blessing of belonging to God, experiencing His love and the people He has given us to love.

Love means not only do we cast our cares on God because he cares for us, but we share care with our friends and family, because we care for them. We care about our parents, we care about the kids. We care about our friends and their kids. One prayer is sent out and five boomerang back. There is no motorcycle ride away from reality.

Instead more than ever, God is calling us to stay engaged. To trust. To keep sending up prayers to Him. Shooting star prayers, a friend once called them. Not prayers to load in our pockets and carry around all day. Release them to God in the morning in the evening, in our car on our breaks. Just shoot them up to God… and Let go. Honor Him with trust.

Only He is Able. Only He can help. It is a blessing to text my prayer requests to friends and feel physically eased and mentally relieved as the burdens lift. It is a blessing to give as I have been given and reciprocate for others. All of us depend on Him to answer sooner…or later. How we hope or surrender to even the worse case scenario, He can bring good in ways we cannot envision, determines our peace. A rainbow after a storm is a slice of beauty, even standing in wreckage.

“I will rescue my flock” Ezekiel 34:10

He is our Shepherd. He is our Rock, an anchor when the waves roll into tropical storms. We need to let the One who can walk on water lead us on and keep our eyes fixed on Him. Even if we see another storm rising in the horizon. Roll our eyes off the dark skies and rising winds and look at our Help. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Let the other sounds mute. Reach for the helping Hand of our Almighty God, not the almighty dollar or Uncle Sam. Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you have not seen. Jeremiah 33:3. Look for the unexplainable and the miracle which can’t be reckoned.

I recently read how a tourist in Jerusalem watched a little Jewish boy panic, separated across the street from his dad. “Abba , abba” he cried. A man crossed the street and swept the little boy up in his arms. The boy quieted, safe in his daddy’s arms.

WE are safe, our friends and family are safe, when we yell “Help” to our Abba Father. He has the whole world in His hands. His eyes are on the faithful in the land. He knows what to do. He has the wisdom and guidance to light our way through the darkness of difficulty and crisis of challenges in our lives. He has the counsel, He knows the connection to a multitude of counselors who can lead us safely with perspective and wisdom to make those decisions precisely at the Y in the road we need to navigate with jurisprudence. He will not let us stumble. His Word is a lamp to our feet and light to our path when we need to make good choices regarding health, finances, work and relationships.

We will never find refuge from care by dropping out or planning escape—watching reality shows about Pleasure Islands. Rather relief and comfort come when we call on Him for help like that little boy. Let God be to you the Father Jesus came to tell us about. “I am always working and my Father is always working,” he explained then as now (John 5:17) . Behind the scenes, upstream and out of sight. Just around the bend…He is working His will in all things as we ask and pray and believe.

A Song , A Psalm for the Weary Soul

 

desert storm

“I made it through that difficult time by praying and putting on praise music,” a friend recently shared when asked how she walked through a time of depression and angst.

I myself have found the Word of God and music to move beyond reason and my limited understanding to provide water to a dry soul.

How many times when our hearts are weary or low do we put on music that soothes our hearts?

In the book of Job, 9:27, the man afflicted with the loss of his children, home, health and business said, “I will leave off my heaviness and comfort myself.”In Isaiah 61:3 the great prophet wrote, “God consoles those who mourn by giving them a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.” When we reach for the earpiece or headphone or cd…it is a step toward serenity.

King David, warrior, King,writer, shepherd, worshipper of God wrote over 3000 Psalms—many reflecting troubled times. From the age of twenty-something, he cried out to God sharing his souls anguish and embittered mind,  only to consistently end his songs with comforting thoughts. A will to hope and express faith in a Mighty God beyond what his feelings dictated. A trust God would contend with enemies that assailed him relentlessly. The upward gaze was modeled byMoses too, the oldest author of the psalms who wrote Psalm 90 !

The Psalms, also called the Psalterium “ A Collection of Songs” to be used with Musical instruments, are located in the middle of the Bible. They were written by various men of God, but we can experience our own peace in the twenty-first century by reading them, singing them to musical instruments or by stringing them together –pulling out the verses that mean most to our particular situation and writing them out.

Recently I found a medley of Psalms I puzzled together in my late twenties after returning from overseas as a  traveling missionary–completely on empty. The job market had changed, I needed to adjust to new surroundings, friends, church ill with some bug that lasted a couple months. Unsure what my new direction was … the psalms helped express what I needed to say. Here is what I came up with and as timeless as music is…still comforts today.

“When I am afraid I will trust in you. In God whose Word I praise. In God I trust. I will not be afraid for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until this disaster has passed. I said, “oh that I had the wings of a dove, I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert. I would hurry to my place of shelter far from the tempest and storm. But I call to God and the Lord hears me. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged before me. I give vows to you O God, for you have delivered my soul from death and my feet from stumbling that I may walk before you in the light of life. Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never suffer the righteous to be moved.

 Your love O Lord reaches to the heavens.

Your faithfulness to the skies.

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains.

Your justice a great deep.

O Lord you preserve both man and beast.  How priceless is your unfailing love?

 Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. You will cover us with your feathers and

Under your wings we will find refuge. Your faithfulness will be my shield and rampart. He who dwells in the secret place of the most High will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty. The Lord our God in the midst of us is mighty. He will save

He will rejoice over us with joy. He will rest in His love, He will joy over us with singing” (Zeph 3:17 last verse)

If you are weary and wondering and praying…try going through the psalms and finding relief through prayer. God hears you and loves you.

PRAYER ANDTHE INCOMPLETES

There are two extreme theories on prayer. One is that God needs us to pray or He can’t act. His hands are tied. The second is that because God is sovereign our prayer doesn’t matter; He will work anyway without us.

 

Tonight in seminary class we discussed prayer.  Our instructor, Gil Steiglitz, author of Touching the Face of God, presented an interesting observation:

 

“One night I was talking to my wife and a thought came …after all these years why do I have to communicate with my wife to understand situations or express needs?” After all these years why can’t we just know what we felt?”

 

“Why do we need to pray?”

 

He conjectured God,  who is sovereign, purposefully allows incompletes  so we have significance in our own world. He leaves incompletes so we are involved in the outworking of the completed project or relationship He has in mind.

 

We don’t’ live in a world of finished products. We live in a world of incompletes.

 

Relationships are completed and mature by communication, helping, serving, reaching out to each other. It is required we talk to each other to have relationship. We can’t just read the minds of  those we are close to. Neither can those who care for us.  We have to do the work of talking to them prayerfully to discover what’s up and how to pray.

 

Provision wise, God could have made it so things just show up when we need them. Some can—but many things won’t show up and seem to—once we pray. (Like the papers I lost like week)

 

God answers our prayers with unfinished opportunities.

 

He can do anything He wants, but still sends things with some assembly required.  God knows what we need so he sends work projects . Then we can be part of  the opportunity.

 

He doesn’t  send finished products—he sends incompletes. Although we live in a broken world, he created a perfect incomplete world so we can grow. We have to plant a field for the food, cut down the tree to build the house for shelter, talk to people for relationship. Prayer is all part of it.”

 

And so we continue to pray as Jesus taught, every day, Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven… Give us this day our daily bread… Luke 11:2

 

Asking so we can receive all that He has for us here. “Ask and you shall receive that your joy may be full”