Unceasing

Wanna hear a joke?

God answers prayer.

Wanna hear an amazing story?

God answers prayer.

I remember sharing during a time of testimony shortly after my prodigal return to the Lord that God has a sick sense of humor.  Sick sense?  Maybe not…but He’s certainly got a REALLY good sense of humor.

Prayer is one of those things that has certainly evolved in my life.  I’ll let you in on a little secret though–I don’t like praying in groups.  My mind works wayyyyyy faster than my mouth and I usually don’t say what I mean. It’s just awkward sometimes.  But my personal prayer life…that’s a whole different story.

Prayer takes a lot of forms for me.  It’s an intentional time where I have to carve out to first and foremost praise God for just…well…we’d be here all day long if I listed it all out.  I’ve got a lot of gratitude across the board.  It’s also an ongoing time that God and I have to hit the mats and wrestle a little with the tough stuff.  I don’t have all the answers, I don’t get to have all the answers–the title of pastor doesn’t open up my brain and dump all of the canon of scripture and answers to the great mysteries of faith into my head.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  There’s the human element too–I don’t know why bad things happen to good people.  I don’t know why people have to suffer.  I don’t know why people have to hurt.  I have to grapple with the fact that people I love are fighting cancer and the anger and fear that accompanies that, why folks that walk into my office have to make some of the most unimaginable choices possible, and even for me to deal with myself and my “stuff”  and keep it all together on a daily basis.  I’m an analytical person–I want to understand God on a checks and balances level–but it doesn’t work that way, so God and I go round-and-round on that one quite a bit.

Prayer is also my way to serve others.  There’s so much of the time that I feel completely useless and powerless, but I can pray.  I can talk to God and I can listen to Him in any given situation too.  Often times I’m told I don’t say much at first–I don’t, introverted by nature, analytical mind–I’m taking in all in, processing it all, hashing it all out, running it through the thousands of filters in my mind, and often praying on it too.  It is not uncommon for me to just sit in a meeting and pray through it without saying word one because that’s where my time is more effectively used.  Sometimes it’s not my actions that need to be taken in a situation–it’s God’s.

So what?  Well, here it is:

028

If you’ve read anything I’ve written before, you know that this is how this whole crazy journey started.  I threw a pity party for one and threw out a prayer in desperation that has literally changed the course of my life in a relatively short period of time–we’re coming up on almost two years here in late January.

It hasn’t just been the weight loss.  It hasn’t just been the stretching and deepening relationship with God.  It hasn’t just been erasing the years of self hatred and trying to learn to rewrite the negative tapes that have played in my mind so long.  I’m starting to see where God has literally recreated me to be using my gifts and talents more effectively for His glory through the ministry that I am called to and to serve others.

I don’t recognize myself.  Yeah, freaks me out too.  I’m truly learning who I am for what seems the first time…and dare I say, I almost think that person is okay to be around.  I’ve got some bumps and bruises that life has provided beyond all control and a few self-inflicted stupid choices along the way, but I think those help me to be all the more understanding in a variety of the unspeakable situations that show up on our doorstep.

There’s been much of my Christian life that’s been spent in prayer, and there have been times where I have truly been on my face crying out to God in desperation, but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how God has moved in my life when I look at it in totality.  Not just recently–but always.  Even during the period when I swore that God didn’t exist, I can look back now in hindsight and can tell you without one fiber of doubt that you can’t tell me God doesn’t work.

Prayer isn’t this pretty and pious proclamation to God.  It can be, we have scripture that beautifully shows that.  I’m not that eloquent unfortunately.  It’s frank conversation.  It’s listening and questioning.  It’s learning to wait. It’s screaming out in frustration over a good run (there is a direct correlation between speed and how much I have on my prayer agenda, LOL). It’s blasting loud music in my car to keep my focus on the prayer in my mind and not the minutiae of the world.  It’s praying for others that I care about and their situations too because it’s not all about me either–it’s my honor to hear and know the burdens of others, it’s my responsibility to share it with God.  It’s hard for me to share my heart with friends and covet their prayers sometimes (that’s a trust thing, working on it.  Life’s rough, wear a helmet).

In my own power, I know that I will never learn to feel comfortable in my own skin–there’s a lot of intentionality I’m putting in to get there, but it has to be God-driven and that only comes through prayer, and more specifically being still (my worst skill) and listening (my second worst skill), and continually returning to seek the counsel of the One who’s got the will for me figured out.  I sure don’t have the answers.  So, as I stay the course, I have to keep coming back and humbly asking, “What’s the next right step, today?”

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