What Would Jesus Do?

DSCN2544Alone, I go to a secluded area. I want to talk with the Lord. There are so many people in my life who ask for prayer, who have deep needs.

How do I pray for them? Does my perceived needs for them line up with God’s will for their lives?

I think of my own prayer requests, wisdom needed so decisions can be made.

What would Jesus do?

Those words have become a catch phrase on bracelets and T-shirts, but this truly is my desire “to do the right thing” so I pray,

What would Jesus do?

A thought stirs my heart like the wind blowing through the pine trees on the hill.

Jesus would pray.

“But He would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” (Luke 5:16)

He made communion with God, the Father, a daily priority.

o   Before he chose the twelve men who would be his apostles,

o   Before Jesus spoke to the multitude, and afterwards,

o   Before he healed the leper and the blind man,

o   Before he was arrested,

 Jesus would pray.

American culture has programmed me to be productive rather than be still.

Consequently, my Christian walk also gets caught up in a blur of activity:

Follow Christ, serve Him, live a life that is worthy, please Him, bring Him honor.…

I forget to be still….

And do what Jesus did every day of his life on earth…PRAY!

The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4) are the words Jesus shared when the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. John Chapter 17 also shows what Jesus prayed for when He knew His hour had come.

He prayed:

Ø  His name would be glorified, and that believers would see His glory.

Ø  God would keep believers safe from the evil one, and care for them.

Ø  Believers would be filled with His joy.

Ø  Believers would be sanctified in the truth; God’s Word is truth.

Ø  Believers would be unified so the world would know that He was sent by God who loves them even as He loves the Son.

Ø  God’s love would dwell in His people’s hearts, and He in them.

Alone in the wilderness, I know what to do.

I pray likewise knowing these are the best things I can pray for myself and others because

This is what Jesus would do.

What About My Needs?

There are Naked Ladies in my garden, soaking up the August sunshine.

When I see them, I think of the Lord’s Prayer.

Naked Ladies are also called Belladonna Lilies. They earned their nickname due to their leafless long stems that produce funnel-shaped flowers in late summer.

What do Naked Ladies have to do with the Lord’s Prayer?

Yesterday while I dug shallow holes for these plants, it occurred to me …

Plants like my Naked Ladies need four things to survive: water, oxygen, sunlight, soil.

According to the Lord’s Prayer, these are my needs.

Bread

Forgiveness

Deliverance 

What about Marriage? Children? Success? Wealth?

Sorry, these aren’t mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).

This passage, simple enough for a child to memorize, packs a deadly punch….to my egocentric heart.

Even the words preceding this prayer humbles me.

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

The disciples didn’t assume, they wanted to know how to pray.

“Lord, teach us to pray” …. is a prayer in itself.

A challenge for me to come before God with a teachable heart and one request. “Lord, teach me to pray.”  

I don’t want my prayers to resemble a laundry list of perceived needs for myself and others. 

I don’t want to be a taskmaster, telling God what I want fixed, finished, and furnished. And make it quick. 

Even when I praise God’s attributes, thank Him for my blessings, and ask Him to forgive my sins….

There is still too much of me, and too little of God in my prayers. 

HE should have turned me into a pillar of salt long ago.

But instead, the Lord teaches me to pray while I kneel in the dirt, head bowed beneath a canopy of oak trees…an earthly sanctuary where His Prayer convicts and fills my heart anew.

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“Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed by YOUR Name

YOUR kingdom come,

YOUR will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Hmm, this prayer is all about God. What about ME: My reputation, My life, My will? My needs?

“Give us today, our daily Bread

And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Bread

Forgiveness

Deliverance

There are other prayers in the Bible, other needs addressed.

But, when the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Our Father was the prayer Jesus taught them.

I need to pray likewise, and be thankful when God meets these needs!

The C Word

Heard the C word again; the one that fills the human heart with dread.

The C word that forces me to “lean not on my own understanding”

But rest in a sovereign God.

He tells me surgery is scheduled, but the doctor’s optimistic prognosis doesn’t slay the inner demons swimming in the back of the mind:

What if ?

Dwelling on the problem instead of the Lord,

Feeds FEAR and makes it grow into a gIANT   that only faith can slay.

“For the Lord your God will hold your right hand saying to you, ‘Fear not. I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13)

  • Fear not, even if it’s cancer.
  • Fear not, I will hold your right hand.
  • Fear not, I will help you.

I cling to that promise like a blanket and fall asleep, one ear listening for the phone to ring.

And it does ring, waking me up just as dawn appears on my horizon and bird song fills the air.

A weary monotone voice greets me from a thousand miles away where skies are blue, but not for him.

I feel the weight of the world on his shoulders as he waits for his wife’s operation to be over, and the lab results to show good news.

Words stick in my throat as I search for the right thing to say.

“May I pray with you?”

Instead of holding warm-blooded hands, I grip the cold metal of my cell phone and …

  •  Plead to the heavens on his behalf.
  • Pray to the Lord who is an ever present help in times of trouble.
  • Claim God’s promises that are true.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2)

If only I could crawl through the phone, and sit beside him. Show that I care beyond words. But I can’t.

So I hang up and do what I can.

  • Bow my head and pray some more.
  • Sound the trumpet so my fellow saints will pray too.
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit who dwells within my friend to do what I can’t.

Be his strength in weakness;

          give him grace that is enough,

                 guard his mind with the peace that surpasses human understanding.

Even in this ……

Not Even a Cup of Tea?

I scroll through the tiny font on my cell phone screen.

A text message from someone informs me:

Wife’s biopsy came back positive. Surgery scheduled.

Please pray.

Another week, different text message from someone else.

Daughter grieving. Marriage in jeopardy.

Please pray.

People’s problems edited and shrink-wrapped into a few words.

Their unspoken fears and heartache fill the white space….travel through cell phone towers, reach my unsuspecting eyes,

Entreating me to pray, trusting me to love them enough to remember them in prayer.

I fumble for encouraging words, but the best thing I can send them when I hit reply is a promise to pray.

And then stay true to my word.

Praying scripture for them, takes the burden off of me to know how to pray.

Praying scripture gives me an eternal perspective, keeps me aligned to God’s ultimate will for our lives.

Praying scripture WITH them over the phone or in person keeps our eyes on Jesus when the enemy whispers, “You’re all alone.

“Curse God and die!”

In the book, His Thoughts Said…His Father Said….

Missionary Amy Carmichael shares human thoughts that invite discouragement, doubt, and fear, but then she provides a godly response that dispels these false notions.

In this particular excerpt, the ill person or caregiver is encouraged to look for the daily blessing, however small, and see it as a gift from God even in this…..I hope the words in Carmichael’ls book, blesses others.

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 Not Even a Cup of Tea

The son said, “My heart is disquieted within me. My soul cleaveth to the dust. Out of the depths, I have cried to Thee, O God.”

His Father said, “In My hands are the deep places of the earth. Is there no blue sky? Have the roses forgotten how to bloom? Have birds ceased to sing among the branches? Hast thou not the sweetness of the love of a single little child? Hast thou no pleasant food–not even a cup of tea? Have tears been thy meal day and night?

Gather up thy comforts, the greatest, the smallest, and thou will be surprised that thou has so many to gather.” 

 

What’s the Expiration Date of a Prayer?

IMG_4945Slumped on the ground among my Irises, I wanted to quit.

I’d spent almost three hours trying to fix my drip-line sprinklers while a platoon of blood-thirsty mosquitoes dive-bombed my forearms.

On the brink of surrender, a Praying Mantis landed nearby.

His prayer-like posture and calm repose made me realize how easily I’m defeated in the dirt and sweat of life.

Reminded me that prayer is vital, it’s not a last resort.

“Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4: 2)

Earnest, unwearied, steadfast, alert, intent, thankful…hardly describes my prayer life these days.

More like good intentions, and microwave prayers that make me grumble if I don’t see immediate results.

Knowing God’s Word regarding prayer, impacts how I pray.

But knowing ain’t the same as PRAYING……….

I can be a Prayer Warrior or a Prayer Wimp.

A warrior is a brave, experienced fighter.

A wimp is a weak, timid coward.

Why would I choose the latter?

Knowing I can “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 14:6)

 If there’s a problem, maybe it’s because

  • My prayers have an expiration date.

        I’ve been praying for this situation for two months. It’s impossible. Nothing’s going to change. I give up.

  •         I make excuses why I don’t pray.

       I promised that person I’d pray for them, but I forgot. Besides, I don’t know what to pray. God knows their needs better than I do.

  •          I dodge prayers so I don’t have to obey.

        I should pray for _Fill in the blank_ but I’m afraid God will say, “NO!”

       I’d pray but I’m afraid God will tell me to forgive that person.

  •     I neglect specific prayers to avoid disappointment.

        I’d rather pray Thy Will Be Done and accept what comes than ask for specific…test results, needs, healing, loved one’s salvation…because if God doesn’t come through, my faith might flounder.

But God is faithful. Last week, He used a Praying Mantis to get my attention, and answered a prayer through an unlikely person when I least expected it.

That’s how I KNOW that God sees me and loves me.

Just like Hagar who “gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13).

Photo by: Jennifer Wrede

What Happens to Good Intentions?

248Easter weekend arrived, along with our extended family.

We gathered to celebrate the Risen Christ. Celebrate our family–four generations.

Great grandpa said grace and sliced the ham that Great Grandma baked. Aunts and uncles squeezed next to grown children around the dinner table.

Passed hot platters of meat and steaming bowls of vegetables. Piled potato salad on our plates. Poured tea. Passed the rolls.

As the one-year-old great grandchild munched on deviled eggs, the grown “kids” listened to reminisces: “Remember when?” “Back in my day….”

That weekend, old hearts reconnected, new spouses welcomed. Torches passed to the next generation. “Raise up your children in the way they should go.”

When we hugged goodbye, we left with good intentions.

“Let’s get together this summer.”

“I promise to email more often.”

“Call me!”

But I know as life returns to normal, busyness erases our good intentions.

Same thing happens after a spiritual retreat.

Fellowship with other believers. Allow God to speak through His Word. Worship Him through songs. Remember His faithfulness and love.

I can’t get enough of God. I return home with good intentions.

“I promise to pray more.”

“I’ll seek the Lord before I start each day.”

“I’m going to  ____Fill in the blank___”Read my Bible, join a Bible study, witness, Love God more….”

But as life returns to normal, busyness erases my good intentions.

Consequently, I become a slave to worry, fear, anger, malice. Find it difficult to trust God in my circumstances. Struggle to love. Wrestle with God’s will.

Need I say more?

But what a blessing to know when I fail to live up to my good intentions,

I can pray for the good things that God intends for us.

“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 1:16-20

Truth Be Known

243Woke up depressed, but I have to go to jail, share the “hope that lies within me” with women inmates.

Can’t give what you don’t have?” Satan taunts me.

I get on my knees where the battle is won, and pray God’s Word aloud. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3)

Then I go out of obedience, not because I feel like it.

The jail tank is empty. Most of the women are asleep in their cells. I sit at the metal table and pray until a young woman joins me.

I confess my foul mood; explain I had to pray for the desire to come to jail. But I’m confident that as we read God’s Word and fix our minds on Him, our moods will change even if troubles remain.

Tears trickle down her cheeks. Woman admits she woke up thinking she should read her Bible, but didn’t “feel like it” which made her feel guilty. Knowing I struggle helps her know she’s not alone.

I assure her that Jesus struggled with mental anguish just before he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had to pray and focus on God’s will rather than his own feelings.

So we open our Bibles to Luke 22: 66-71 and read about the trial.

The Council of elders confronts Jesus, ““If you are the Christ, tell us.”

Just like Satan tempted Jesus. “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Just like Satan taunts me. “If you’re a jail chaplain, where’s your hope?”

Just like Satan accuses the inmate: “If you don’t read the Bible, you’re bad.”

How does Jesus respond to Ifs.

Sometimes He quotes scripture.

Sometimes He asks questions.

During the trial, He states facts. “If I tell you, you will not believe.”

Again, they ask Him, “Are you the Son of God?”

“Yes, I am.”

Jesus condemns himself with his own words,

Because they feel that anyone who claims to be the “Son of God” is a liar or a lunatic.

They don’t believe Jesus is telling the truth when He claims to be Christ the Lord.

But disbelief doesn’t change the facts.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Believe it, or not.