being real…

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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.
None.

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.

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authentic dialogue

The Lord longs for us to be in constant and “authentic dialogue” with Him. We are His children and like we long for our children to tell us the details of their day, and cringe when they declare “it was fine”, He longs to hear the tiny details from us.

Our daily bread means focusing on our needs today. It means knowing that we only need to be concerned with His provision at this moment (for He will provide), but it also means asking for something as simple as “our daily bread.”

The God we served provided wine for a party, food for the hungry and rest for the weary. Those aren’t great and holy things, they are tiny things that He was beyond grateful to provide.

When I think of a constant dialogue, I think of David. He was a shepherd and alone for most of his day. What did he think about after he was anointed and the Spirit of God rushed upon him. He went back to the fields and I imagine the dialogue began. How else can you explain the Psalms that he wrote, but to say that he was in unending, authentic dialogue with the Lord.

Love the LORD, all his faithful people!
   The LORD preserves those who are true to him,
   but the proud he pays back in full.
Be strong and take heart,
   all you who hope in the LORD. ~ Psalm 31: 23-24

He longs for us to bring our hearts to Him. Not just the prepared and studied parts, but everything that is in them. It is a comfort to me that I can walk through my day conversing with Jesus and knowing that He hears me…and more than that He longs to hear me.

~ thoughts from chapter 16 in Richard Foster’s book: Prayer: Finding the Hearts True Home

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thoughts on prayer

The Lord has really been pestering (can you say that about Jesus?) my heart lately about prayer. I’ve been setting aside Thursday mornings as my day to read a chapter in Richard Foster’s book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. It’s a re-read for me, but something I haven’t read in years and years. It has been a huge blessing in the sense that I can really see where the Lord has grown me. I see the things I highlighted and underlined the first time I read it compared with the words that strike me now. But, every week that I’ve read a chapter I have become more and more convicted about my prayer life.

I do feel like I do a good bit of “talking in my head” so to speak. And often times I really feel that my writing in this space is a prayer to the Lord. But I’ve become convicted about the depth of my prayer life. As I feel myself in this place of waiting, I feel the Lord urging me more and more to put down the books that I’ve been reading, to focus on a small part of only His word daily and lie prostrate at His feet in prayer.

But the books I’ve been reading,  my journal and even the Bible have become a place of safety for me. I can read and contemplate and listen for His word to me, but it’s a surface sort of listening. I want more than just a surface change. I want more than just a softening of part of my heart. I want a complete union.

abide in me, as I abide in you
I’m the vine, you are the branches
…that my joy may be in you and complete…
that they may all be one as You…
selections from John 15 and 17

I don’t want to be just the bark. I don’t want to be just the leaves. I don’t want just a tiny bit of joy.
I want to be in the tree.
In the leaves and full of complete joy.

S. Kierkegaard said that “purity of heart is to will one thing. That one thing is the good, which is God.”

But this purity of heart isn’t going to come with only a surface sort of relationship. I’ve got to get down on my hands and knees and lay my whole being at His feet. Daily.

Come Jesus, come. Bring my whole mind, heart and soul to sit at your feet.
Continue to pester me, to stir my heart and show me the way to be fully united with You.
~ amen

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of sails & leaves

I read two analogies this week in Richard Foster’s book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, and they have really pierced my heart.

The first is of a sail on a boat. The sail must be pliable in order for the boat to move and take advantage of the wind. If it were not a flexible sail, but a piece of wood, the boat would not move. So often my heart is a board. I long for the wind to blow on me, but I just want the refreshment of the wind. I don’t want the wind to actually move me. But, after a while, there is the realization that there has to be more to life than just sitting and feeling the wind. There needs to be an “unguarded accessibility” in order for us to grow and to move. In order to become free. The picture of freedom is not just sitting and feeling the breeze, but flowing freely across an ocean with the wind.

The second analogy was of a tree in the Fall; moving into the winter. Foster explains that as the leaves drop, one by one, the irregularities and defects of the tree are exposed. It’s not as if these are new. They have been there all along, just well hidden behind the leaves. But the leaves must fall; winter must come to the tree – it strengthens and preserves the tree. “A tougher, more resilient life is established” and the roots are forced deeper.

I am thankful that the leaves drop one by one. Big winds may come through and push the sails or push the leaves down quickly, but more often it is a steady pace of change and movement.

“He will no break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick” ~ Matthew 12:20

I am moving:
into a place where I can love others without demands
into a place where I am “unguarded” and “accessible”
into a place where I am unafraid to let my bruised, battered, knotted branches show
into a place where I am releasing my sails into His desires
into a place where I am FREE in Him.

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