To whom do you pray?

When I’m asked a question like “to whom do you pray?” I have to wonder what exactly is the person’s point? Is this a trick question? Are they trying to be cute? Do they really not know or understand who it is that hears my prayers?

I’ve been doing research on praying. How people pray. What they pray. Why they pray. prayer-1308663_1920Who they are praying to. There is a part of me that always questions if I’m doing things correctly, so I study those who have more wisdom, more life experience. And I try to balance what I study with different viewpoints, trusting God to direct me in the path He’s given me.

 

To know to whom I pray, it has to first be known who I am. I am a believer, known as a Christian, sold out, born again, spirit filled…..so many labels we’ve acquired over the centuries. Bottom line, I have accepted Jesus by faith as my Lord and Savior. He is one-third of the triune God. So I always go back to how Jesus taught us to pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

No, I don’t always repeat those words when I pray. But if someone asks me ‘to whom do I pray?’ I can say I pray to my Father, the holy, honored, revered creator, to ask that all the glory in heaven be seen here on earth as we reach others to join us in that kingdom, to fulfill His will that all are brought into that fellowship. I pray to my heavenly father, recognizing that as with a father, there is great love, and discipline, offered me; an unbelievable source of power whose desire for me is far nobler than anything I could achieve without Him.  And then, as I’m praying to God, I share my earthly needs, spiritual, physical, emotional, relational… and I ask that He reveal where I’ve fallen short so I can set things back in order. I pray that as this world around me continues to morph into deeper darkness and chaos, that in Him I can resist the temptations that would put a rift between He and I.

Rarely the same words used. Rarely in a specific order. Always aware, and in awe of, the Glory of the God that is worthy of my praise.

To whom do I pray? God. Starting always with the Father. Sometimes moving on to Christ. Sometimes needing the Holy Spirit and what He offers. Three-in-one. God. One God, different roles? I’ve heard it described that way. Different roles, one purpose. Yes, I believe that that is one way our frail human minds can try to describe the indescribable.

Prayer: Communicating in a way that fits the person I am, while remaining respectful, submissive, and loving. He is, after all, Father. He is, after all, God and I am not.

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Just a note: If you are in need of prayer, I consider it a great honor when I’m allowed to pray for someone. In the menu bar, there is a link to my prayer request page on this site. If you find yourself in need of prayer support, please let me know. Blessings.

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Next blog: No turning back

 

 

Recognizing the things that hinder you

Or maybe I should say ‘trying’ to recognize the things that hinder you. I am sometimes easily distracted. I can honestly say it is only sometimes because when I do focus, I hyper-focus and the world could be crashing down around me and I would remain unmoved in my own inner world.

tag boardBut when I am distracted, the things that distract me can hinder me in things I desperately want to accomplish. That’s why deadlines and schedules and task lists (yes, and sticky notes) are a benefit to me. They help keep me on track and avoid at least some of the things that hinder me.

Sometimes a “great idea” will hinder me. I come up with a plan that is amazing (in my own mind) and I start taking the steps to see if that can be a reality and I am reminded by that still small voice to think about whether it is God’s plan or my plan.

An example: After reading an article about the growing popularity of Indy publishing, I started researching starting my own small publishing company for indy writers. The more I researched the more I thought, Wow, I can do this! Think of all the new writers I could help!

My motivation was right. The beginnings of a plan were not bad beginnings. Of course, I wouldn’t have as much time to write, and there would be legal things to take care of, and always money to consider, and additional people to bring in to make it a quality program . . .

And then it hit me. The more excited I became with the planning, the more my sense of peace in the life I now have started to diminish. So, of course, I argued with myself (or was it with God?) that this was a good plan, and I love planning and starting new things and sorting all the details that have to be ironed out and it would help people. . .

But would it hinder what the Lord had put in place for me? A simple life a person like me needs. So I closed down the laptop and prayed. And came away with a sense that once again, I had taken a deter toward something good, to find it was hindering the things I’d set out to accomplish for the day.

I surrendered that small dream that would have become much larger and with gratitude toward a loving God, returned my mind, and my heart, to the path He clearly laid out for me.

But the fun God thing in this short-lived distraction? The very next day, a friend was telling me about another friend of hers who had started writing a book and wanted to befriend someone who would understand what she meant when she talked about the varied things writers face in the process of pulling a manuscript together.

My reaction? I started telling my friend all the resources I could pass along to this person, even some computer programs I could share and my friend just smiled and told me, “You’re as excited as she was when I was telling her about you.”

A gift, perhaps, from God for laying down a dream? A chance to offer help to someone, make a new friend in a fellow believer, and still not forsake my own God-given assignment? Time will tell.

Each of us has our own things that can hinder us. For me, the key to recognizing what hinders has been to know, really know, who God is, what He is in my life, and how He has and is directing my life. Knowing as well what He has brought me out of, and that sometimes we forget the damaging things we left behind, and only remember the limited good things, and find ourselves drawn back into the very thing He delivered us from.

Know God. Know yourself. Know He wants only the best for you, even if you don’t always see it, and definitely, don’t always understand it, His way, in the end, will be far greater than anything your mind can foresee and plan.

Next blog: To whom do you pray?

 

 

a time to make new, refresh

For your Sunday, a day to renew a freshness in your relationship with God, to make new your heart to love and to offer mercy and grace. 

Titus 3:4-6 – (ESV)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

Joy in brownies, cats, and fake fireplaces

John 15:10-12 English Standard Version (ESV)- If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. fudge-brownies-1235430__340 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

What??!!! Brownies relate to commandments – love – joy? Come on, it’s not that early in the day that your brain is still asleep. How in the world can you connect brownies with joy in the Lord?

Well, since you asked…..

I enjoy cooking. As a child and even into young adulthood, brownies were one thing I could not master. They would either be too dry (to the point of hard) or too gooey (not fudgy, just nasty). And then I gave up trying to make the fudgy brownies and stuck to the cake brownies, they were okay. But ultimately, okay was just not good enough. (Persistence in the midst of adversity?) And, of all places (like it hadn’t been there for years), I found a recipe on the back of a baking cocoa can and tried it. They were good. But the next time better, because I had to make a substitution and it improved the recipe! I have used that adapted recipe ever since. These days I can eat one, maybe two brownies. But then I have an almost full pan. That is the commandment – love – joy part. Love your neighbor as yourself. I take a couple brownies out of the pan and then I start walking down the hallway in my apartment building, knocking on doors. I’ve done it enough that sometimes I’ll see someone in the hall and they ask, “Did I smell you baking brownies?” I smile and tell them it was me and that I’d come by in a little while to share. The result – Joy.

Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world. – John Piper

Okay, what about cats?

Well, I swapped dogs for cats and have discovered they can be fun (well, mine is) as they interact with humans. Their independence is amusing, cat in a basketas well as frustrating at times. But the silly cat knows when I’m troubled, or sad and comes to me purring his heart out. And he can tell when I am really happy,  and then it’s play time! The cat is a creature of God, so of course, I will find joy in all that having a pet encompasses, being obedient to do the right thing for him, in love, with joy, knowing a commandment has been fulfilled.

Proverbs 12:10 -The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Okay, fine. Fireplaces?

Fireplaces mean memories to me. In my case, wood stoves where you could watch the flames. Memories of not only family, but warmth, and earthy smells, sounds of the crackling burning wood, the work required to lead up to having a fire, all wrapped together in a basic need for warmth. God supplying creature comforts in a way appealing to the senses. Sight, sound, smell. It reminds me that God is a consuming fire. However, in my little apartment, options for real fires are not allowed. Someday I’ll have a real fake fireplace (haha), but for now, the television will have to do.fireplace

The commandment-love-joy in a fireplace, how do I connect it with joy? Throughout the Bible, fire is recognized as a symbol of the presence of God. What greater joy is there than that? My own personal reminder, where I can be still, and know that He is God. Obedient to acknowledge Him, love Him, find joy in Him to prepare me to love others in turn.

Okay, so I’ve had some fun with this blog. But hopefully, it has been a reminder that joy can be found, as Piper said, in the Word and in the world around us.

John Piper is a Bible teacher I have enjoyed reading and listening to, and I’m sharing a link here in case you’re interested in a short series on joy.

How Do You Define Joy by John Piper

Next blog: Recognizing the things that hinder you

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digging Deeper

gardener-digging-garden-spade-man-260nw-1009308727I was sick for the entire month of September in 2018. The kind of sick where coughing forces you to sleep upright in a chair if you hope to get any sleep at all. The Lord and I had some interesting talks that month. Perhaps the blessing that came from that month of confinement was the realization that maybe I was doing too much of the talking and not enough listening.

So I took the month of October and cut way back on the internet and television and focused on seeking God with whatever options were available. That month of seeking and listening began a journey of deeper study into Holy Scripture. I listened to some solid Biblical preaching, I took advantage of some great online streaming studies, I took some free courses from a seminary, and I did several systematic theological studies.

Now, as month number six of this dedicated time of study is coming to an end, the one thing I have discovered is how much I didn’t know.  Like most committed believers, submitted to Jesus as Lord and Savior, I knew a good amount of scripture, prayed, and did Bible Studies. What I discovered I was ignorant of were those things you don’t see when you are not deliberately digging deeper and deeper into original languages, grammar, culture, and a myriad of other factors I have been taught to look at in the last six months.

One thing I do know, I won’t stop the continual digging to understand as much as I can to really, truly know God as much as humanly possible. And hopefully, share some of the joy that gives me.

Life is full of so many exciting things. We need to just dig as deep as we can, even in the hard times, to find level upon level of joy in the truths we find and embrace.

Next Blog: Joy in brownies, cats, and fake fireplaces