by David Brenneman
The verse of the day today is "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." - 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NASB.
It's easy to pray when you might be in a good mood, sitting with your coffee or tea and nobody's bothering you.
It's easy to pray when you might be in a small group, surrounded by people who have things to share that are a mix of their positive and negative experiences of the week.
It's easy to pray when life seems to be going good.
We often forget to pray with fervency. Many of us know at least by word if not by book, chapter and verse "pray with out ceasing". To look also at "the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" in James 5:16. It takes intentional persistance. Persisting in doing it not necessarily persistancy in repetition. Quite often the Spirit can tell us that the final answer is no and to move on. Likewise persistance is also when we ARE on the right track and should not let up.
I think that there's a correlation between what we do physically with what we do Spiritually.
We have this culture that's in part become a joke about physical fitness after the New Year's resolution time. Gym memberships go up in December and more often than not by the end of January and into February fewer and fewer show up at them.
Many in the Spiritual world can head down a similar path. They are at events or sometimes special services, maybe even a regular service, feel the tug to do do something more and head down that road to do something more with their time for God. Then life happens and the intentionality of their decision slowly fades. They put more emphasis on life than their time with God.
It's easy to pray when, to borrow a phrase "life is all sunshine and rainbows".
When we're going through pain, going through doubt, when we're going through lonliness, life isn't so clear cut. Interesting that after typing that I immediately thought of Peter. He was the one who asked Jesus to command that he come out onto the water to join Jesus. Jesus complied. Peter did. Peter was thinking of how cool this was! Then life happened. He noticed his feet getting wet. He noticed his clothes getting wet. His discomfort grew, followed by panic. Not realizing that to stay on the water and not in the water required keeping his eyes on Jesus and not what life was doing.
We can also get into a time when life is just 'good' and in those moments decide to add things that appear good and ok without considering what might happen. We don't consider that it's our feet getting wet, our clothes getting wet, the discomfort growing from that.
We can also redefine what's good and bad for us. Our capacity for our sin nature to redefine good and bad is practically limitless. In the days of Noah everyone did what was right in their own eyes....and saw absolutely nothing wrong with it. In our world today people are the same way.
Do you look at the world as you should? Do you see in it what God sees? Do you stop to consider that you can fixate on something, call it good, and not realize that you've elevated it above God in your heart? Both Believers and those who haven't come to Christ can do this. Our sin nature says that we are the god of our hearts. That we call the shots. That our definition of right and wrong, good and bad, is what's best for us.
Prayer became my only thing to be doing when sleep left me several decades ago with my arm in a cast. The agony of the angle I had to keep it at did nothing to help me find some way to get sleep. Crying out to my God, to my Savior was pretty much an hourly thing. The purpose of praying and of prayer was becoming more relevant in my life during those weeks.
We cannot go out into a day without taking Jesus along with us. We cannot begin a day without a conversation with the one who's holding our life in His hands.
We should not be allowing ourselves to be mis-lead by what might be going right in our lives so as to forget to be grateful to Jesus, the Spirit, and the Father for both making and or allowing those things in our lives.
We should not be allowing things in our hearts that takes from God and is put towards things of this world. Peter was right there with Jesus and still payed too much attention to the world around him rather than to who he was with. He was still not getting it that without one you don't have the other.
We don't have a 'life' if we take our eyes off of Jesus and put it on striving for personal this or that in this world.
We don't have a 'life' if we are putting our desires and our wants above what Jesus needs to do to reach people in this world.
We need to realize how deep prayer needs to be in order for fervancy of prayer to be something and to do something in God's plan and purpose.
Setting our minds on things above. I keep that next to this desk. Pray on it pray over it pray through it is to the other side of this desk.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me is below the first one I mentioned.
But what about enjoying life?! You might ask. My Dear Reader...your definition of what joy is and what the Spirit can bring to you that really IS joy aren't even close to the same thing. One thing for sure to me is that I've found and am finding that there isn't real joy to be had in the things of this world. As written in Ecclesiastes says...vanity of vanity all is vanity. A striving after the wind. Elsewhere we read that the grass withers and the flowers fade but the Word of the Lord stands forever. Also you'll find in Ecclesiastes the futility of the things this world has to offer. Read between the lines of many of the parables that Jesus spoke. Storing up things here on Earth when we have no idea if today's to be our last day on this Earth.
Prayer...praying. It puts our minds where our minds need to be. Not on who hurt us, not on who has forgotten us, not on who's mad at us. It puts our minds on the one who saved us. It puts His mindset in place of our own. Our sanctification is our being transformed into who we are to be in Christ. Prayer was as intigral to Jesus's life as breathing. We read that He was often away from others in conversation with His Father.
How often do you get away? How often do you consider all who have been brought into your life by the Spirit for you to be praying for? My prayer times on the way to work, or whenever I am prompted to, are about the people who are in my life and who have been in my life.
Many don't think it's an exciting thing, but it's a necessary thing in the life of a Believer. It's excercising Spiritual muscles. Many excercises in a gym don't look all that appealing or glamorous yet they are necessary to reach a goal. Nobody gets the look they are after physically overnight. Shedding unnecessary fat and replacing it with muscles takes all kinds of excercises if you pursue that. That said, there's such a thing as getting fit and overdoing it. I've known professional body builders who warn against that kind of life. Because to keep what you got and all that goes with it requires a higher dedication that takes away from the rest of your life.
How often do you include every person that's crossing your path in a given day? How often are you seeking His Will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven?
I am in what some have called a season of searching for happiness in the midst of my contentment. I've been looking for something to be doing that's benficial to my mental health and maybe my physical health that allows for decompression of the day. I have been re-tooling my 'room' a lot in this first year here. I do not want it to be a place to escape what God's doing in my life but to have what God's doing in my life also be in the center of my activities there as well as outside of it. I was thinking of taking up an instrument to learn. But I also want even that to be God honoring. I'm alive today, I'm doing what I do today, all because of what Jesus did for me. Jesus loves people. Jesus lived a sinless life, died a horrific death on a cross, arose from the dead 3 days later, because of people. People. Because of you and me. I want my life to show "Jesus lived there". It's going to mean being intentional about being different. Of making choices that keep our eyes on Jesus. Of letting go of the things that have been taking our eyes off of Jesus. Of praying for ourselves, of our need to be as the Spirit intended for us to be. Of praying for others to find that same love that attracted us to Jesus. As long as people breathe there's hope. As long as Jesus hasn't come yet we have a job to be doing. We have people to pray for, to care for, to be making more important than ourselves.
We want the benefits of God's promises...but need to realize that those promises come by way of our obedience, not just because we asked.
We want God to do stuff for us but need to realize that we're here to do stuff for God.
The plan of God for man is to seek and save the lost. Everything else is way below that.
Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.
Set your minds on the things that are above and not on the things of this world.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations teaching them to obvserve all that I have commanded you.
Pray...Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving...Supplication.
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