Praying the ABC's

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Floyd has had some sweet visits with friends in recent days.  Different ones have remarked about what a peace there is in Floyd's room.  With one group, he was so engaged in listening to the various reports - and he responded with tears to some things that were shared.  It has been very precious. 

My new treatment is going smoothly so far.  The side effects from the previous treatment are continuing, but no new ones even though the new treatment is stronger.

I so believe in the power of prayer!  It is a lifeline to me - from my heart to the Father.  But sometimes I just don't know what to pray.  After all these many months, I sometimes run out of words.  I've prayed every prayer I know of about Floyd's situation.  I've prayed everything I can possibly think of about my battle with cancer.  I've prayed all I know to pray about the various things family members are facing.  I have prayed and prayed and prayed!  Sometimes there just aren't any more words.

A friend sent me this quote:

A grandfather was walking through his yard when he heard his granddaughter repeating the alphabet in a tone of voice that sounded like prayer. He asked her what she was doing. The little girl explained_ %22I'm praying,.png

I loved that!  I know that little girl was right.  God sees our heart.  He knows what we're thinking.....He knows it before we can formulate the thought.  I may try praying the ABC's. :)  God can just translate.

There have been times, when I've been very weak, when all I could do was whisper short prayers - sometimes even just think them in my mind - and I'm sure God heard and understood those prayers too.  He is constantly reaching out to us.  He hears our faintest words lifted up to Him.

I heard Pete Greig say in his video series on prayer that I shared with you "keep it simple, keep it real, keep it up."  I've often followed that guideline.  I pray the basics - I pray from my heart - and I just KEEP praying!  That's really all I think God asks of us.  I have little to no control over the distressing situations in my life, but I can pray!  I can give the situations to God, and trust Him to work on our behalf.

The Bible also says to "pray without ceasing." - 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  To me that means that I talk to the Lord all the time - while driving, while doing chores, while exercising, even quietly when I'm shopping.  I keep a running conversation going all the time with the Lord.  I share my thoughts, my desires, my concerns, my burdens, my needs - I tell Him everything.  It's a sweet friendship and fellowship with the Lord as I talk to Him continually.

And I don't think God minds if we repeat a prayer over and over.  I think of the persistent widow in the Bible who wouldn't give up asking for justice in Luke 18:1-8.  I'm sure she must have asked the same thing over and over.  It wasn't the wrong thing to do.  She did the 3 things I mentioned above that Pete shared......and her request was granted.

I've often wondered, too, if there is a wrong way to pray.  I'm not sure, but I doubt it.  I know for sure that we can't demand things!  But I think as long as we speak from our heart, God is always listening.  Over and over the Bible encourages us to ask.  "You have not because you ask not." - James 4:2.

I read an article about "prayer insecurity."  If only I'd prayed harder.  Maybe I'm not praying right.  Maybe my prayers aren't powerful enough.  I don't think God looks at it that way.  He looks at the intent of our hearts - and hears what we can't even verbalize.

I also think that sometimes our prayers are being answered and we're not aware of it.  I'm sure that is happening on our journey.  I know I can't see all that God is doing.  I know God hears all of our prayers, and that He's working on our behalf.  I can't see it, but I trust all that He is doing.

According to those who count these things, pray/prayer, etc. is mentioned a few hundred times in the Bible.  If that's the case, then it must be very important for us to do.  So I'm going to keep praying - even when I don't have all the words to pray!

"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."  Jeremiah 29:12

"You will pray to Him, and He will hear you."  Job 22:27

"I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer."  Psalm 17:6

"He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; He will not despise their plea."  Psalm 102:17

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Romans 12:12

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I love how in that last verse it says that our prayers should be bookended by worship!  That's a wonderful guideline.

I am confident that God has heard each and every prayer that has been lifted up.  

I am keenly aware of my weaknesses, my needs, my inadequacies, my lacking.  I continually face things that I know I can't do on my own.  I stare my weaknesses in the face every day - and ask God to be strong where I'm weak.  There is absolutely no way I could have survived on this long unexpected journey without God's faithful help and strength.  I'm so aware of that.

But recently I've felt my heart being challenged to thank the Lord for these needs and weaknesses - because they have caused me to press into Him in greater measure.  Now there's a challenge!  While I'm aware of my weakness.......and I'm grateful that I can press into the Lord for help......I don't think I'm actually thankful for those needs, those weaknesses, those inadequacies!

In fact, I'd probably go a step further and say I don't like being weak!  I've always been strong.  I've always been able to face big challenges and, with God's help, get them done.  Weakness makes me feel - well, weak!  It's not a comfortable feeling to me, but it's one that has driven me to my knees before the Lord asking Him to rescue me.  Without these weaknesses, I might not have discovered how very much I need Him - and how vast His resources are to help me.

On this journey, I have increasingly found myself in a position of weakness and need.  Even in recent days I have found myself in a place of such weakness that I knew I couldn't make it without His abundant undergirding strength!  He was faithful, and got me through the challenges I faced.

When we're weak, we need His power and strength.  God's power isn't perfected in us through prayer, through reading the Bible, through listening to great teaching, through going to church, through fasting.  The Word tells us that His power is made perfect in our weakness.  That's why I can be thankful for my weakness.  Weakness keeps me humble - running to Him every day, every hour, even every minute if I need Him.

I still need the Lord's help to wrap my head around all this.  I'm getting there!  I don't know if I'm all the way yet or not.  I am keenly aware that in my weakness, I have experienced levels of His grace and strength, His power, that I couldn't have otherwise.......and I am SO grateful for that!  Being aware of my weakness keeps me in a place of constant surrender to Him because I need Him so much!

While speaking recently, I made the statement that God is more concerned about our character than our comfort.  His goal is not to pamper us physically, but to perfect us spiritually.  He wants to make us more and more like Him.  And, yes, He'll use our weakness and neediness to do that!

I have experienced levels of God's goodness, grace, faithfulness, and strength while being so incredibly weak that I truly could not have walked through in my "stronger" days.  I'm grateful for that - and I am thankful that my weakness has opened the way for that.  My weaknesses have humbly driven me to the Father's heart as I've cried "help, I can't make it."  My "jar of clay" has had lots of cracks.  I've needed the Lord to fill in those cracks with His strength.

He never rebukes me for being weak!  In fact, I have the sense that He's pleased that I recognize my weakness and turn to Him.  His arms are always open for me to run into.  And when I'm so weak that I feel like I can't take another step, He picks me up and carries me with His sweet love and grace.  

The world tends to pity or make fun of weakness.  But God says let me use this weakness to make you more like me.  Let me use your weakness as an opportunity to manifest my power.  In the Bible the apostle Paul had a weakness - a "thorn in the flesh."  He begged the Lord three times for it to be removed, but God didn't answer that prayer.  Paul finally came to a place where he could "boast" of his weakness in order for God to be shown in His power.  Maybe I'll get to the place where I can fully join Paul in that.

"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:9,10

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed."  2 Corinthians 4:7-9

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  Matthew 11:28,29

"I can do all all things through Him who strengthens me."  Philippians 4:13

Being weak isn't an excuse for laziness, for sin, or for not doing what we know is right.  But when we are genuinely weak - God will use our weakness for His honour and glory.  He is my Rock in my weakness.  He never fails me.  He is always there, always available to meet my needs.  I am becoming increasingly thankful for my weakness that draws me closer and closer to Him.