Tuesday, July 26, 2011

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“Inevitably, the calendar crowds out the Spirit and the face of the clock hides the face of God. Prayer ceases to be the free breath of a ransomed soul and becomes a duty to be fulfilled."

From “Transforming Prayer” by Daniel Henderson

Prayer in my life happens in a variety of ways and places. Sometimes it is in a concentrated time, sitting at my desk with my Bible open and time to really spend time in the quiet with God. More often it is caught in moments between ferrying children to events, teaching school, doing laundry, preparing meals, etc. etc. Then there are those moments that all I seem to be able to do is send SOS prayers for help.

Thankfully, God hears all of those prayers. He understands the seasons of our lives and our circumstances even better than we do. He loves and accepts any communication that we offer him.

I know this to be true. But there are the moments when I find myself wondering if he is hearing anything. There are moments when prayer time just seems like something else to accomplish not something to relish. There are times that are just dry and energy-sapping. Frustrating. I've found that those are the times that my life has become the most crowded and I am letting the calendar/diary control me rather than me control the diary. They are the times that I am "fitting God in" rather than "fitting in with God." When my prayer life is stale I know that I need some concentrated time with him--regardless of how busy I am.

Being busy is okay. Times of life that mean less structured prayer time and more prayer on the move is okay. But God never wants us to just "fit him in." He wants our attention, and sometimes he uses a stale prayer life to wake us up. How grateful I am for those times to be drawn back to his presence.

Struggling with prayer? Perhaps some of the ladies writing today will bring you the encouragement you need. Visit Debbie at Heart Choices to follow their trail.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Other Words: Choosing Gratefulness

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“Non-eucharisteo, ingratitude, was the fall–humanity’s discontent with all that God freely gives. That is what has scraped me raw: ungratefulness.”

Ann Voskamp

As you will have gathered from reading here, the last couple of years have been fraught with struggles, disappointments, changes, challenges, and overall upheaval. Although not all of the changes have been bad, in fact many of them have been quite good, they have still brought with them uncertainty and adjustments. In fact, the only consistency in our lives these past two years have been this:

*When I focus on the circumstances and challenges, those challenges simply get bigger.
*When I focus on God and thank him for his presence in the middle of the changes, I find contentment.

I've chosen the former enough to know that the latter is much better!

Do I choose to be ungrateful that relationships had to be severed in order to follow God's leadership in a certain situation, or instead do I choose to be grateful that he led us to a small group that filled the gap relationally?

Do I choose to be ungrateful for a house lost, or grateful for the provision for the next house (which turned into such a blessing of space and neighbourhood)?

Do I choose to be ungrateful for a job provided because it obligated another move? Do I choose to be grateful for employment in difficult economy?

Believe me when I say that I have chosen, often deliberately and with eyes wide-open, the path of ungratefulness. Each and every time it has not led me to a state of contentment or understanding. Instead, it has landed me thoroughly and completely in the muck of the circumstance. Trying to get myself out of the muck just makes it worse.

Choosing gratitude on the other hand does not increase the muck. It does not necessarily decrease it either. It does not change the circumstances at all. But it changes me. It changes my perspective, my focus, and my expectations. It helps me to remember that God's promises are not to make things easy, to but to make me better through them. And, somehow, that makes all the difference in the world.

Father God, thank you for being with us every step of the way these past years of uncertainty and change. Thank you for the reminders of you when circumstances seemed bleak. Help me to always focus on gratefulness. Give me people in my life who have the courage to tell me when I'm focused on the negative and will help me find the positive. Thank you for not abandoning us to our selfish and ungrateful tendencies. Amen.

Tami is our hostess today! Go, visit, and be encouraged! Blessings on your day.