My nine year old son wore his favorite faux leather bomber jacket to school yesterday. He has loved this jacket since the day he begged his grandmother to buy it for him. I remember he would wear it and then swagger around with such confidence.
Yesterday he was asking friends at school if they liked his jacket. The majority of them told him “no” and one even declared it was embarrassing to be seen as a friend with him in that jacket.
So heart breaking for a momma.
But I asked him, “do you like that jacket?” and he told me “yes, definitely!”
and I said “that is what matters.”
But, did he wear it this morning to school? No.
And that makes me more sad.
But it made me think about my life and the things that make me swagger around in confidence
and that later can crush my heart.
I think that is prayer…
At least prayer when I don’t pray with confidence that God hears me and longs for the desires of my heart.
Just like my son putting on his bomber jacket and feeling so confident, I need to enter into my relationship daily with God with that same confidence.
Confidence irregardless of how God might answer my prayers.
Confidence irregardless of how quickly they might (or might not) be answered.
And confidence irregardless of how crazy others might view my life
and the things that I’m praying for.
When my friend recommended this book on prayer to me, she added a caveat that it had turned her prayer life completely upside down. In many ways it revealed to her that what she thought was a fairly “right” prayer life wasn’t one at all. Between this book and Ann’s book I feel like my life has done a 180 for sure. I feel like the weather has changed and that crispness comes into the air or the chill of winter is edged off. Spring has come again to Narnia.
Miller tells of chapters 14-16 in John; how Jesus says to His disciples six times to ask.
Once He tells them that they need to abide, but the key is to ask. But in asking, we have to “ask boldly but surrender completely to the story that God has placed us in.”
In asking, in revealing our true selves, we are essence abiding.
God is telling us to ask, through the Son, for our heart’s desire because it is His hearts desire to give it to us. No matter what. He stirs up within us desires and out of those He wants and longs to give them.
No matter how crazy or impossible they seem.
We serve a God who does the impossible.
In His way.
In His timing.
As a former special education teacher, when I read the word “helplessness” in books about our faith, I have to shake off the definition that I long knew. For a special education student, “learned helplessness” is a dirty word. As the educator it was my job to encourage that child and facilitate the means for him or her to be self-sufficient to the best of their ability. But as a believer, a child of God, this helplessness is what we must long for.
Self-sufficiency is the serpent crawling through the garden.
As I continue on in my reading of Paul Miller’s book, he writes “my access to Him [God] in prayer comes through the reality of my desperation.” When I walk through my days with the perspective of finding Jesus in it, I’m in essence reducing myself.
I have to learn to be helpless.
I have to let go of that sinful nature that declares that “I’ve got this.”
Because there is not one speck of my life that I’ve “got”.
Bringing ourselves to this point of helplessness with God, also opens up the reality of who we are. We pray for the minute details of our lives, because we are honest with Him. We cry out, like David, for things that seem crazy to cry out to God to. But, we stop ourselves from asking because we don’t think that tiny thing really matters to God or means anything in the grand scheme of things.
But it does.
Doesn’t it say that “he clothes the birds, how much more would He love and clothe us?”
God is infinite and personal.
He is in everything and longs to be.
He longs to be in the everything of me.
Miller goes on “when I stop being myself with God I’m no longer in real conversation with Him.” Dare I jump so quickly to “your will Lord” instead of crying out “have mercy!”. When we jump over our hearts cry, we are back in the garden hiding behind a bush. The point of prayer is us being honest about what is on our hearts.
Changing our perspective; moving out from behind the bushes and letting Him clothe us is scary.
It’s against our culture. It moves against everything we hear or have been taught.
But freedom only comes, peace only moves into our hearts,
when we can view our lives through the lens of His mercy.
We can only do that when we open ourselves up to Him…
sinful, selfish, silly heart cries and all.
I sat down this morning and asked myself…why does one write?
Why do I have this space, who even reads it (um…not many) and does it really matter if anyone reads it?
How does my writing transform when I write for an audience of one
not to gain an audience?
I have this page here called “blogging upside down” and it is a prayer borrowed from A Holy Experience. I see that page heading and I wonder if I really even pray that prayer? I don’t even read it often.
I have a card in my Bible that is a prayer card with these words by Richard Foster…
By the authority of almighty God, I surround myself with the light of Christ, I cover myself with the blood of Christ and I seal myself with the cross of Christ. All dark and evil spirits must leave. No influence is allowed to come near to me but that it is first filtered through the light of Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.
and on top of that card is a reminder to pray this before writing-studying-praying.
But I don’t do those things. Why? Because I feel like I’ve got this space under control. This space doesn’t need anymore of God than the words that come to my while I’m typing now. But that is so untrue.
While reading this morning in Paul Miller’s book The Praying Life (which is fantastic by the way), I was reminded of this…
we pray not for an answer
we pray not merely out of obedience
we pray not because it’s a discipline to master
we pray because we are helpless – we pray in and through our helplessness.
My act of not praying for this space (or anything else I find needless to pray for) is a response that I have it all together or that it isn’t “worthy” of prayer.
There is not one aspect of my life that doesn’t warrant prayer.
“Prayer is an expression of who we are…” ~ P. Miller
and my prayers (or lack) are an expression of how deceived I am with the control I have over my life.
I long to move myself from the story I am trying to write of my life
into the reality of the great epic that God is writing and unfolding.
That begins with prayer.
Even in a miniscule place such as this.
I’ve been sitting with the question of: “what does it mean to do something big for God?” What does it mean to follow the steps He is leading?
I am surrounded by friends who have or are taking massive steps of faith in their lives. They have gone to Africa or China to adopt children. They are moving to South America to do missions work. They are buying someone’s house and moving out of theirs because it’s where God clearly led them. Being surrounded in that way makes me think that in order for me to do something “big” for God means it has to be BIG. But tests of faith can come in so many other ways and I so easily lose sight of that.
Tests of faith can come with looming surgery and health issues.
Tests of faith can come with saying goodbye to a past career and trusting God to provide our means.
Tests of faith can come with taking the risk to start a business that I know God is leading me to start.
It’s not about big.
It’s about focus. It’s about looking to the Light and trusting in Him to lead.
Learning to pray and live moment by moment and moving in the steps that He has led me.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
132 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
~Psalm 119: 129-133