Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Last Sunday's Chicken

In my first post of the new year, I talked about the Prayer Walk at my church and mentioned that there were several speakers.  One of them was my friend Renata Barnes-Ade.  Renata is quite a character.  She shies from the camera with cries of "I've got felonies out on me, what are you doing??" and affectionately calls me "T-bone".   She is also a woman of God who has a strong faith, is a prayer warrior and has a real way with words.  I asked her for her notes from the walk in order to share some of her thoughts with all of you.  With the promise of giving her "propers", she's informed me that she won't charge for sharing her intellectual property lol.  What follows is an abbreviated version of some of the challenging thoughts she shared on prayer...

"This is a difficult topic, for me, and us, to talk about and to hear. Anyone who has sat in church or been to a woman’s conference, small group, youth group, prayer conference, read “Our Daily Bread”, read any popular Bible study by any number of people over the past 2 decades, seen or worn a t-shirt sporting a catchy blurb of Christian jargon, i.e. “Prayer Changes Things”…can no doubt attest to the prevailing topic of prayer and its importance.   I tried to think of a slick acronym that would help us remember to pray and how make it “productive”.   I thought that I would come up with some 5 point plan that could lead us all to another “Ah-Ha” moment about prayer. Then I was suddenly, or not so suddenly, struck with the stark, blunt, ugly truth that many of us know but would never cop to. It sat like bad taste in my mouth and a horrible thought I couldn’t shake. We don’t pray. We don’t pray. We. Don’t. Pray

Why is it that we don’t pray? We don’t pray individually and we seldom pray corporately and when we do, the unfamiliarity is almost palpable. 

I have found in life that you make time for the things you want to make time for and you make excuses for everything else.   That includes people and things.   When we've spent 3 hours on Facebook or in mindless activities and see the day passing, and then think of prayer, we either clump it in with "bless the kids in Biafra" or tact it on to “Now I lay me down to sleep".  Too often we give God last Sunday’s chicken on Wednesday…refrigerator-dried, with sauce and fat all congealed in the most “tor up” 20 year old Tupperware containers.  

Ya know…no one likes to be an afterthought, invited after all the invitations have been sent.  Think of how you've felt when someone said “Oh dear, I forgot all about you”.  Imagine doing that to God?  Jeremiah 2:32 says “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?  Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number."  They forgot so long that even God no longer counted the days...are you guilty of that?
 I believe that God is not as caught up with where we pray, but that we pray and how we pray.   Although prayer on the run is necessary at times, it is not the prayer that tends to drive us closer.  
Obviously, the enemy wants to impede this crucial communication. This, too, we know.  In prayer we are open, or should be, to not only disrobing in front of God ,showing ourselves as we truly are, but having God reveal more of himself to us…which draws us closer to Him. If our relationship with God is based on knowing Him, why is it that we neglect to actually, “converse”, with him?   Why have we allowed ourselves to submit our request to Him and then get up and leave, never considering that perhaps He may have a request of us?

If we indeed believe that “Prayer Changes Things” and we can look around at the hell that is in our world, in some of our homes, and undoubtedly in some of our hearts, why do we not fight harder to not only build but maintain this crucial contact?    Does the prospect of change in our situation seem so unattainable that we choose to stay stagnant?   Or is it that we are afraid that the most needed change is in us? We all know that, as Paul says, "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”   But that is not a 'pass' to relinquish trying. There is power in prayer…in the doing of it and the having it done on your behalf. There is a product that comes from the act of prayer and that is a growing fellowship with our Father who equips us. It takes our knowledge of God out of the realm of past glories and brings it into the presence of what His spirit is doing now - in this world , in our hearts and lives, and in the lives of others.  If we want to see change, we need to be willing to engage in a deliberate prayer relationship with God, and not be so easily willing to be usurped by the life we have been given. If we are being honest, we are not as busy as we say we are, or we use our busyness as an excuse." 

Renata asks a really good question right up front...why don't we pray?  Prayer changes things - around us and inside of us - and we grow in relationship with our Father when we take the time. But time isn't really the issue if we're honest - as she also said, we find the time to do the things we want to do.  

So you've got to ask yourself...is there a reason I don't want to speak to God?  Are you afraid?  Afraid he won't hear you or know you or care about you?  Isaiah 41:10 says "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."  Are you ashamed?  Micah 7:18-19 says "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."  God wants us to speak with him...he desires that we bring our concerns and hurts to him...and he delights in our praises.  He gives us peace, strength and wisdom.  Why would you not want to tap into that power source?  The song "On My Knees" by Jaci Velasquez talks about that power we experience when we're "before the love that changes" us. 

I've written about prayer before.  How to pray isn't some great cosmic secret.  It involves a conversation.  No need to even introduce yourself - He knows who you are.  He created you. 

So stop what you're doing right now. There's no time like the present.   You took the time to read this post...before you do another thing, spend a few more minutes talking to a Friend - He's waiting to hear from you, He's ready to forgive and empower you, and He has things He wants to share with you too.  Things really do change  through prayer...but first, you've gotta pray.  As Jeremiah 29:12-13 says "In those days when you pray,  I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."  Toss that old, dried out, chicken leg.  No more leftovers for God.  Go find Him first...and with your whole heart - everything else can wait.

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