She Works Hard for the Money

9/26/11     “For we are God’s fellow workers . . .” I Corinthians 3:9a

This verse is one of those planted firmly in my childhood, in the King James English, “We are labourers together with God.”  It was either on the bulletin each week or I learned it in Girl’s Auxiliary or Vacation Bible School.  Focusing tightly on this may have contributed to my many years of assuming God is mostly interested in my performance, but that’s another conversation.

In applying the idea of work or labor to prayer – can you see, God never said it would be easy?  [One thing about God, He tells it straight up front; there's no sugar coating.  Though some of those who claim to speak for Him may paint a picture of constant abundance & never-ending smiles, they are just a little skewed about what abundance really is & what is the true source of smiles.]  Prayer is WORK!  If I could draw, I’d make a cartoon girl, sweaty & nasty, leaning over, chest-heaving, dressed in jogging clothes. Or she might have on overalls & a straw hat & be standing in her cornfield, red-faced & leaning on her hoe likes it’s the only thing holding her up. 

You know prayer is work for sure if you got excited about joining with the COTC congregation & committed to spend quality time praying.  How many off-the-wall, ridiculous, time-wasting interruptions have we had to fight against in the past few weeks?  How much time have we spent, staring at the Prayer Requests sheet, desperately trying to come up with something to say to God, while thoughts of “What’s for dinner?” & “Wonder who will win the ‘Biggest Loser’?” nibble at our brains like sneaky mice?  In terms of effort, we are pushing hard against a strong wall of interruptions & distractions that are brought to us lots of times courtesy of old horns & forked tail himself (Satan). 

I’m a lifelong collector of quotes to inspire me to press on when my mind & spirit want the benefit but my body isn’t willing to do the work (to use when I must drag myself out of bed for a walk or workout, to force myself to sweep & mop the floors AGAIN, and ohhowdifficult to beat my body into submission to take down & pack up that Christmas tree).  So I have an arsenal, just ask me.  They apply to any kind of work & can help us kick ourselves into gear to GET PRAYIN’!  

  • “Take a new grip with your tired hands; stand firm on your shaky legs.”  Hebrews 12:12.
  • “To climb steep hills requires slow pace at first.”  Shakespeare
  • “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed . . . ”  II Timothy 2:15
  • “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” either Joe Kennedy or Knute Rockne (um, huh?)
  • “Therefore we do not lose heart. . .for our light & momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  II Corinthians 4:16
  • “The word aerobics came about when the gym instructors got together and said, ‘If we’re going to charge $10 an hour, we can’t call it jumping up and down.'” Rita Rudner (I know, off topic, but isn’t she funny?)

For every time we get up a little earlier, turn off the tv for a while, or turn the car toward Wednesday night prayer time instead of home – the reward is so sweet.  God meets us.  He’s there WAITING for us to talk to Him.   Sometimes that picture alone is such strong motivation.  Imagine the Prodigal Son picture, where the father passes by the window countless times per day, shading his eyes from the sun to look down the road.  He just wants to be with the boy he loves so much & won’t give up waiting, though everyone else says the boy is no good & will never be back.  To think of the hyperginormouscollosalness of all my Father has given me & He’s waiting there for me to talk to Him a while.  I gotta pray.  How can I not? 

So let’s take one step, this morning, this afternoon, this Wednesday.  Let’s talk with our Father.  We’re going to praise Him & thank Him & then mention some of the things we know of that are going on with people that they need help with – & we can’t help but tell Him what’s going on with us.  Then tomorrow, we’ll do it again.  It will get easier.  We’ll have more amazing times of intimacy & growth.  The work will pay off, like the runner’s strong body & the farmer’s abundant harvest. 

And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!”- Dr Seuss

Wax on, Wax off

 

 

        9/1/11

I read an article in “Christianity Today” this week about some of the things about God & faith that seem to be exact opposites, but actually co-exist in truth. There are several things in the Word that seem to be like that. 

One pair of thoughts that has come to me often regarding prayer, as I study it & practice it & try to do it well & often, is: 

          God is sovereign & has a plan.

          If I pray, it will make a difference.

You can’t take language and create sentences to explain logically that both of these statements are true.  You can’t give reasons & evidence & illustrations to completely convince.  But they are true.

God is absolutely in complete control.  He is also outside of time & space & has a plan for today & all eternity.  So, He doesn’t change His mind.  But He invites His children to join Him in creative activity through the medium of prayer.  And eternity is impacted by those prayers.  Somehow.  It’s just true & we’ll enjoy finding out a little bit of how that works by scholarship & experience throughout all our lifetimes.  And in heaven, we’ll say, “DOH!”

Is the only prayer He wants to hear from me, “Thy will be done?”  That’s a great prayer to pray, but I have so much more I want to say to Him.  I guess a lot of times when I’m talking, I’m exploring & testing possibilities & working on solutions, but I always end up with that prayer (incidentally, that’s the prayer that never fails).   It’s just that in between “Dear God” & “Thy will be done,” I can learn a lot.  About me, & Him & the specific situation & how to pray & how to live & how much I don’t know.  God can correct my wrongful thoughts or direct me to practical ways I can be the answer to my own prayers.  He can allow me to experience a range of emotions that help shape my character & deepen my desire & compassion.  He can prepare me for a “for now” answer that may come as a step toward real resolution sometime in the future.

If you’re like me, you start praying for Susie’s toe surgery & your mind meanders on over to paying off the church building debt – God can direct you to praying for things you weren’t even thinking about (& that weren’t on your list!).  [I know satan is not going to be doing this, so if you say weird things to God when you’re praying, he ain’t making you do it!  He stops you from praying & gets you thinking about how Susie’s toe surgery is her own fault, etc.]

This is why practice (“Pray without ceasing”) is really important.  It’s like Mr. Miyagi making Daniel-San “wax on, wax off” [Karate Kid}.  Daniel was unwittingly using muscles & learning movements to aid in doing something so much bigger than making a car look good.  Simply put, God is doing big things & today my assignment is to pray.   Same assignment tomorrow.  And 20 years from now.  In between prayers, sometimes, He’ll instruct me to carry out some kind of physical action (like that flamingo kick or whatever that was Daniel-San did when he won the tournament).  One thing the prayers will do is make me ready.  

PS – link below to the article that started me thinking:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/august/bothpathtruth.html

PRAY

PRAY, a new beginning for corporate prayer at Church Of The Cross, began last night. It was a wonderful time of interceding on behalf of our church, community, and country. It was also beautiful to see adults of all ages gathering around and praying over the students of COTC’s youth ministry, CrossPoint. We missed those who were not able to be there with us, and hope you will be there next Wednesday night @ 6:15pm to PRAY.

glory to GOD