Often life is hard, but God is always good

Posts tagged ‘Prayer’

A Willing and Able Helper

Photo Credit: Leon Grubler Creative Commons License

Photo Credit: Leon Grubler
Creative Commons License

The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. Psalm 118:7 NIV

As I stood at the front of my church sanctuary last month soaking in the wonderful worship song, I felt the pressure of a hand against my back. It stayed gently and warmly present during the song. Strange to say, when I finally turned around, there was no one there.

That encounter carried a special significance for me: I was struggling with a problem that Sunday, and the previous week my counselor had described my own parental help to my teenage daughter as a gently, supportive hand upon her back.

God was reminding me that He is my helper.   “People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.” Isaiah 30: 19

My goal as I write this post is to keep it very simple:

God wants to help us.

He can.

He will.

Let’s ask Him.

Let’s receive it.

Of course, the manner in which His assistance comes varies with the way we hear Him and with the form of our present need.

If we are …

Confused – He gives wisdom

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

Tired out/Weak – He gives strength

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29

Hateful/resentful – He gives tender heartedness

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Troubled/Grieving – He gives solace

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” Psalm 10:14

Self-loathing – he gives forgiveness

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7

Fearful – he gives peace of mind

“So we say with confidence,’“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” Hebrews 13:6

Let’s believe and receive the help from the best Source of all!

My prayer today for you and for me: “May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.” Psalm 20:2

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Do I Need Some Solitude?

Photo Credit: Dhoomakethu!!

Photo Credit: Dhoomakethu!!

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,…” (Matthew 24: 22, 23 New International Version)

Jesus was alone, but not lonely.  He knew his desperate need to be away from his disciples, the crowds, his enemies, his teaching, his healing.  He actively sent everyone away and walked up to a place of solitude to spend time alone with his Father.

As Mrs. Charles E. Cowman wrote in her 1939 devotional, “The man Christ Jesus knew this, too, and felt the need of being by Himself again, of gathering all His powers, of realizing fully His high destiny, His human weakness, His entire dependence on the Father.”  (Streams in the Desert)

In my life in suburban America, I don’t often hike a mountain to commune with God, yet, daily places of solitude are readily available to me – spaces and times when family and work do not distract.  I have learned to stop moving, stop doing and sit still, but once I am physically alone and paused, I still have the challenge of sending away another type of “crowd” – my thoughts.

Inevitably, I come to that outward silence – no people, no pets, no television, no computer – and my inward noise starts up.  My brain whirls with things I must do, worries about unsolved problems, and even thoughts of self-doubt or self-recrimination.  I certainly can’t hear the voice of my Heavenly Father with all that mental company, so I am learning to forcibly put aside these distractions – scribbling my “to do” thoughts down on a scratch pad I keep next to me and off-loading the worries and doubts as quickly as possible in prayer. Then I listen.

The wonder of silence inside and out!

“I love the lonely creative hours with God!”  Madame Guyon

My most dramatic listening moment came many years ago when I was faced with a fork in the road – stay in the U.S. or move to Israel.  When I finally stopped asking for advice, talking about the decision, and thinking in circles about the pros and cons, I waited a long time with quieted mind and surroundings.  God spoke audibly to me. “Stay!” he said, and I obeyed and discovered the truth of poet Robert Frost’s words:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Andrew Murray pleads with us:

“Would that every servant of His understood and practiced this blessed art, and that the church knew how to train its children into some sense of this high and holy privilege, that every believer may and must have his time when he is indeed himself alone with God. Oh, the thought to have God all alone to myself, and to know that God has me all alone to Himself!” (excerpt from Streams in the Dessert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman)

God and me.

Me and God.

Holy solitude.

Am I Listening?

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault, and it will be given to him” James 1: 5 – New International Version

Photo Credit: born1945 flickr.com

Photo Credit: born1945 flickr.com

My march down the stairs to the coffee maker was dutiful, my seat-taking on the living room couch with bible was intentional, but I felt no joy, no purpose. “So much to do today – broken lawn mower, dirty bathrooms, undone paperwork”,  my sluggish thoughts oozed onto the pages of my prayer journal.

Then I looked out at the spring rain and saw a robin on the lawn. I noticed his brilliant plumage; a monarch-robe red belly, velvety black back, and cheerful yellow legs.  He ran straight toward my window, skipping quickly along until I could see the white ring around his eye.

Suddenly he stopped and then cocked his head down to the ground, paused for a fraction of a second,  “Pow!” he thrust his strong beak down into the lawn and came back up with a resisting earthworm. He repeated this procedure all along the stretch of lawn close by my window seat – first turning down his “ear” to the ground, then making the attack. “Oh!” I realized, “That robin is listening for worms!”

And then God spoke to my heart:  “Listen to my voice this morning about what to do out of that impossible list.”

It is true – God loves to be asked “What shall I do next?”

When I asked Him where to start, He answered, “the laundry”.  That seemed so simple, yet listening to God’s voice before I jumped into the day brought me a measure of order and  productivity.

“Robin in the rainSuch a saucy fellow. Robin in the rain. Mind your socks of yellowRunning in the garden on your nimble feet, Digging for your dinner with your long strong beak. Robin in the rain,You don’t mind the weather. Showers always make you gay. Bet the worms are wishing you would stay at home, Robin on a rainy day — don’t get your feet wet, Robin on a rainy day! ” (Raffi –“Robin on a Rainy Day” from Singable Songs for the Very Young)

Our Heavenly Father is generous with His wisdom.

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