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

Must I Go to Church?

DSCN2047Must I go to church today?

As I rolled over in bed, every muscle in my body ached. I’d spent the previous day pulling weeds from my garden.  I don’t feel like going anywhere.

Excuses whined in my head:

I need the rest.

I had to go somewhere every day last week, I deserve a break.

I can listen to praise music and worship God in my home.

I can read my Bible and pray in my recliner.

I won’t be missed.

Notice the word “I” stood center stage.

 

Rolling out of bed, I stumbled to the bathroom sink and splashed lukewarm water on my face.

Am I behaving like a lukewarm Christian?

So what if I’d had a busy week. Should church be less of a priority than the multitude of other activities on my agenda?

 Is church attendance an option?

 Guilt squeezed my chest, dragged me to church where I purposely sat by myself in the last pew.

  The worship band played. I sang, but there was no song in my heart.

 Someone prayed. I bowed my head, but my mind wandered.

“See!” An inner voiced mocked. “You should have stayed home.  Coming to church out of obligation is legalism. You can go through the motions, but God sees your heart!”

I turned to Psalm 19 and followed dutifully along in my Bible as the Pastor read:

Connect

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God. And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”

As he continued reading verses 7-11, my dutiful heart became deliriously devoted.

“The law of the Lord is perfect…”

“The testimony of the Lord is sure….”

 “The precepts of the Lord are right….”

“The commandment of the Lord is pure…”

“The fear of the Lord is clean…”

“The judgments of the Lord are true….”

Notice GOD’S NAME stands center stage.

Focused on God and His Word rather than my feelings, excuses, or moods….

My soul was restored…and my mind made wise. (Verse 7)

My heart rejoiced…and my eyes enlightened. (Verse 8)

And that is why I must go to church.

For I know I’ll hear God’s Word and meditate on the ONE whose glory is revealed in the heavens. And I’ll worship the only ONE who is able to keep me from sins and forgive my transgressions because ….

The Lord truly is “my rock and my Redeemer.” (Verse 14)

There are no other options.