I have been enjoying a wonderfully explained book on prayer the past month. It’s not a long book but I’m still only halfway through it. I’m not the fastest reader and I usually have multiple books going at one time, but this one has so much in it that I have to read it in little increments to allow it to sink in.
If You Will Ask: Reflections on the Power of Prayer by Oswald Chambers has helped me to understand why it is that prayer is a gift and how it is to be approached. Just a little over 100 pages filled with a lot of reflection and life lessons that Mr. Chambers obviously put into this little work of his.
There have been many parts that stuck out to me and has helped me to be at peace in my own times of prayer, which are often followed by lengthy silences. However, there was one part in particular that I believe many could understand or connect with. Whether you are a believer, new in your faith, are weakened in faith or are continually growing. Until the day we die, we will be met with situations in which this little bit of encouragement could help.
God is not concerned about our aims. He does not say, “Do you want to go through this bereavement, this upset?” He allows these things for His own purpose. We may say what we like, but God does allow the devil, He does allow sin, He does allow bad men to triumph and tyrants to rule, and these things either make us fiends or they make us saints. It depends entirely on our relationship with God. If we say, “Your will be done,” we get the tremendous consolation of knowing that our Father is working everything according to His own wisdom. If we understand what God is after, we shall be saved from being mean and cynical.
The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, nobler men and women, or they are making us more captious, more insistent on our own way. We are either getting more like our Father in heaven, or we are getting more mean and intensely selfish. How are we behaving ourselves in our circumstances? (pg.59-60)
I was asked recently “what it means to be a Christian” and I had a hard time trying to “define” something that is such a unique experience for each of us. However, as God has laid out different purposes for each of our lives and we will accomplish those purposes in a different way, we each have, or should have, one thing in common. To grow in our relationship with God. Continually. To seek wisdom and to bring glory to him. To live as Christ as our guide and teacher. To allow his spirit to grow within us more and more each day, with each trial, and each season.
When we allow our thoughts to be run by the things that others say and do to us, we are straying further and further from what God desires. We begin to shut off the spirit and to place it within a box, saving it only for when the opportune time presents itself.
I wish there were magic words to help you to understand or to believe this simple truth: If you wake each day with a thankful heart and if you choose to be happy, you will be! It’s not an easy thing to do, I’ll admit that. Some days it’s much harder than others, especially when you feel like the odds are stacked against you. Some days it takes all day to reach that state of thankfulness. However, if you lean on Christ, if you pray without ceasing, if you attack the lies, fears, anger, sorrow and confusion with the promises laid out by God, you will find peace.
Don’t allow your past or present to cloud your vision. Don’t allow your thoughts to run your heart. When you first hear the negative start to creep into your thoughts, take them captive! Remember whose you are and seek the love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, kindness and self-control that dwells within your heart!
This was a hard and long-time coming lesson that I have learned…and am still learning…however it gets easier with time! In times when I normally would have been allowing my mind to run rampant with imaginings and narratives of conversations that may/may not happen, I am now finding peace and joy to be an easier thing to feel and to live by. To be able to live in knowing that God has a purpose for everything and a time for everything is far more joyful than rehashing my past mistakes, being critical of wrongs that others do, or worrying about what the future may hold.
I choose to grow wiser, sweeter and more faithful to God and to this precious gift of life that He has given me. I choose to use my free will to freely hand over any negative thoughts I may have and to instead remember that I am loved beyond measure. Of what should I fear? Practice joy and gratitude! In time you will be amazed at how much sweeter your life is and you will be able to look at troubling times both in the past and in the present with a softer heart and better understanding of where God has led you to today. That, my friend, would bring much glory to God.Tags: faith, God, Jesus, Joy, peace, Prayer, Understanding, Wisdom
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