Because You Prayed

Because You Prayed

When I started “waking up” out of my postpartum depression, I turned to the Psalms.

I had been struggling with the concept of prayer and feeling like God wasn’t listening to my desperate pleas. Upon diving into the Psalms, I discovered that King David had quite the opposite view:

  • “The Lord will answer when I call to him.” 4:3
  • “I bring my requests to [God] and wait expectantly.” 5:3
  • “The Lord will answer my prayer.” 6:9

I should have been encouraged, but I wasn’t at first. Of COURSE God would answer David’s prayers. Wasn’t he known as a man after God’s own heart? Surely he had some sort of golden ticket when it came to prayer.

But these sorts of statements are littered throughout the Psalms… even when David hadn’t acted quite like the golden child. Even after he had committed adultery and subsequently, murder, in an attempt to cover up his actions. Even then, he still knew God not only heard his prayers, but He would answer them:

“Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry. I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.” Psalm 86:6-7

God answered David’s prayers time and time again. He gave battle strategies, rescued David in times of danger, forgave him and comforted him when he was at his worst. God blessed David. 

David wasn’t the only one who saw his prayers answered. Here are just a few more examples:

  • In the heat of battle, Joshua sought God for help. “…in front of all the people of Israel” he prayed a bold prayer for the sun and moon to stand still. God answered this request and the nation of Israel was victorious. Joshua 10:12-14
  • King Hezekiah was threatened by the king of Assyria. In short, Israel was being taunted and God was being mocked by this outsider who believed quite highly in himself. King Hezekiah responded by desperately praying for God to intervene. God’s response? “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you prayed…” God Himself protected and defended the city! Isaiah 37:21-37
  • Elijah put his reputation on the line when he asked God to do what Baal could not: create a fire for a sacrifice out of thin air. Even though the alter had been drenched in water, “immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood the stones, and the dust. it even licked up all the water in the trench!” 1 Kings 18:38
  • Daniel pleaded on behalf of his people while they were in exile in Babylon. In response, God sent an angel with a message: “The moment you began praying, a command was given.” Daniel 9:23 

There are so many more examples in the Bible of God hearing and answering prayers. What I love about these particular moments is the glaring fact that all of these things happened as a result of the prayer itself. There cannot be an answer if we do not make the request in the first place.

God hears our prayers. Don’t give up praying even when it feels like He isn’t listening. Keep praying even when it doesn’t make sense. 

  • What battles could be won…
  • What lives could be changed…
  • What mountains could fall…
  • What miracles could happen…

…because you prayed?

“I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.” Psalm 17:6

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Unheard Prayers

Unheard Prayers

Do you ever feel like your prayers are pointless? Like they are just words or thoughts that get uttered into the wind to be whisked away and never be found again?

I spent many a sleepless night begging, pleading for God to make my baby fall asleep so I could finally sleep myself. “PLEASE God! Help me! She won’t sleep and I can’t sleep tomorrow. I’m exhausted. I feel like I’m losing it. PLEASE!”

I cried a lot of tears. The knowing that I wouldn’t be able to make up for lost sleep, that I would need to be present for my toddler the next day… made every cry from my baby that much more piercing. 

It felt like God didn’t hear me, or worse, that He didn’t care.

I don’t know why God chose not to gratify my every request for sleep, but looking back it is easy to see the battle that was taking place with the enemy.

The lies. Oh, those lies: “God isn’t coming through for you.” “You might as well not pray at all.” “You aren’t worth his time.” “No one sees you.”

Do you know who the enemy likes to attack? Those he deems a threat. He waits for a weak spot to appear, for a time when our pursuit of God is dwindling to make his first move. It’s a subtle move to keep us none the wiser.

Our best counter-attack is to call the lies out for what they are. To proclaim TRUTH in their stead. 

Perhaps you are in a time of pouring your heart out to God and it feels like He is silent. The enemy is whispering lies, trying to convince you that your case is hopeless and the prayers are not worth your time.

Do NOT give in. I don’t know your circumstances, I don’t know God’s reasons for saying yes, or no, or for remaining silent. But if the enemy is working this hard to dissuade you from pursuing the Almighty, then my guess is that the Almighty has some mighty plans in store for you!

Here are some things I know about prayer…

-Prayer is powerful and effective
-Prayer changes things
-God hears our prayers and He answers them
-God loves it when we pray
-The Bible tells us to pray…so, by all means, we pray

We pray our hearts out and we lay our petitions at the feet of our Lord. We surrender our lives, our circumstances, our everything to Him. He feels our pain and sees our need and He takes care of us. Just like a parent, His wisdom is better than our own. We can trust Him even when it doesn’t make sense.

It can be hard sometimes. It can be really, truly beautiful other times. So, even though we may not always understand how this prayer thing works, we are to keep going after it and after it and after it like our lives depend upon it.

“But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” Psalm 66:19-20

Salty

Salty

My family loves to tell the story of the brownies. I was maybe 12 at the time, don’t quite remember, but I got the notion that I wanted to make some brownies. We had a cookbook for kids, so I pulled that out and set to task. I got to the portion about the salt and began measuring out the 1/4 cup the recipe called for.

Read that last line again.

Yup, 1/4 of a cup of salt. Somehow I read “teaspoon” as “cup”. It seemed like a lot of salt to me, but I was just following directions. My sister came for a taste of the batter and immediately recognized my mistake. She tried to convince me to start over, but I was determined my brownies would turn out deliciously.

After dinner, my dad was quite eager to eat a brownie. He took a gigantic bite only to spit it right back out with a rather unpleasant face. Ever since that day, I’ve skipped the part about the salt entirely when baking.

In a more recent story, I was playing with new recipes for my crockpot. My husband and I were returning home from the gym, quite hungry, and were welcomed by the savory aroma of beef ready to be eaten. We grabbed our plates and sat down at the table, eager to partake of what was destined to be a new favorite meal. 

Unfortunately, the flavor was there in scent only, and absent in taste. Our meal needed a bit more seasoning. The evident lack of salt resulted in a lack of enthusiasm as we disappointedly ate our food.

When used poorly, salt can be either overwhelming or underwhelming. However, when used in the right circumstances, and in appropriate amounts, salt can bring out the flavor in our food and make it really quite extraordinary.

We have a great responsibility, you and I, because the Bible says that as Christians, we are to be “the salt of the earth.” Our lives, when infused by the Holy Spirit, are intended to bring out the beauty of this world, leaving an impression of something rather extraordinary.

Did you know that the use of salt extends beyond flavor? It can be used as a preservative, a cleaning agent, a protectant against insects, even a conditioner. Salt has great value.

You have great value. God has placed within you meaning and purpose. He has infused you with a personality, a flavor, unique to you. When mixed with the skills He has gifted you, something quite lovely to behold is formed. No one else has these combinations but you. Ultimately, He has placed these things within you so that you can use your life to bring glory and honor to His Name. You have a very important role in building His Kingdom that no other person can fill.

You are salty. Stay connected to the One who brings you this saltiness and you will make a difference.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.” (Matthew 5:13a; MSG)

Beyond Good Intentions

Aerial view of retro typewriter

Alright, it’s time. I give in.

I give in to the realization that I won’t do this perfectly. That I’ll frequently break my own rules. That there is more to this thing than what I can do on my own. That my job isn’t to be perfect, but to be obedient.

I like rules a LOT. So much so, that when none are present, I just make some up for myself to follow. When I first began writing in this blog a few years ago, I did so with the intention to publish a new post every other Friday. Ever since then, that idea has been the determining factor for whether or not I was to continue posting.

Well, life happened. Things got a little crazy. I stopped being able to post every other Friday, and therefore, I stopped posting at all. The perfectionist in me said that if I couldn’t do it right, I couldn’t do it at all. 

For months I have had good intentions. I have tried, and tried, and tried to get into a regular routine again. I’ve updated my welcome and about pages. I’ve got half-a-dozen posts waiting to be published. But they just sit there. They sit there because of my own stubbornness and insecurities about the likelihood that I won’t meet my silly little goal.

Meanwhile, God has been pressing on my heart. Goodness gracious. He has given me the tiniest idea of what my future may hold, and it is both invigorating and terrifying. There are days I’m ready to jump in with both feet, and days I prefer to ignore it all together. Surely, He’s got the wrong gal.

But He keeps pushing. He isn’t one to give up on His people easily. And do you know what He is telling me in this moment? That drive for perfection isn’t from Him, it’s from the enemy. Who has He ever called that was perfect?

Moses was a murderer.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Ruth was a foreigner.
David was an adulterer.
Esther was a nobody.
Jonah was afraid.
Matthew was in the wrong profession.
Paul was a terrorist.

And yet, every single one of them (and more!) were used by God in tremendous ways. I don’t know all the details of God’s plan for me, but I do know that my place right now is this blog. I love it here. I love the idea that someone might stumble across these words and find hope in Jesus.

I simply cannot ignore it any longer. What I have to offer may not be perfect, but it’s something. I don’t even know when my next opportunity to write will be. But, Jesus, I ask you to take this offering and do with it what you will. All I have is yours.

“Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” Exodus 4:11-12

Strength in Numbers

Strength in Numbers

We are designed for community.

I recently committed to a new gym. If anyone were to look at my gym history and record of attendance at establishments where sweat is expected, it would be determined that this was a very poor financial decision. I’m not a fan of working out.

But one day, I went out on the lake with my family and I couldn’t get back up on the boat. My arms were not strong enough to pull myself out of the water without assistance. I only managed to get back in by (very ungracefully) climbing on top of the motor and then into the back of the boat. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that relying on the motor to act as a ladder is a bad idea.

So, with new motivation, I accepted a friend’s invitation to step into a 14 day trial at her gym.

*Insert official statement that I am not getting paid to advertise anything. Hang in there guys, I have a point.*

Did I mention that I hate the gym? I mostly hate it because I’m not good at it. I also don’t know very much. All those machines look intimidating and I’m sure to hurt myself if I attempt to use any sort of weights. My first day was ROUGH.

Ya’ll, I moved my body in ways that it had never been moved before. I groaned every time I sat down, stood up, walked… my legs hurt so bad!

So why in the world did I sign up for a membership?!?

Because it felt different this time, at this gym. I wasn’t left on my own to figure out a machine. I was in a class and I was taught the movements before attempting them. When I did something wrong, the instructor corrected me. It felt safer to try things out because I had someone to guide me.

But, most importantly, I had people I knew cheering me on. It was easy to join this gym because no matter what time slot I attended, I seemed to know at least 1 person. These ladies either pushed me to do impossible things through their own example, or related to my need to drop the weight that round.

I wasn’t alone anymore. I had a community of people around me striving after the same goal to be strong and healthy.

Here is where I get to the actual point. Life is like that. We can’t do this alone. We aren’t meant to do this alone. We need people to cheer us on and encourage us through the hard things. It’s a relief to have someone else relate to what we are going through. It is a breath of fresh air when a friend takes the opportunity to celebrate with you.

We are designed for community because when we work together, not alone or against one another, we are stronger.

At church, one of my favorite things to do is to help someone else find their community. I love, love, LOVE witnessing the transformation that takes place when a person gets plugged in and finds their home.

I think, deep down, most of us are aware of our need for other people. But it can be scary sometimes. We’ve been hurt by people before. We don’t know how to find the kind of friendship we long for. We tried that once, and were left feeling disappointed. What if we put ourselves out there and history repeats itself?

I can’t alleviate that fear. People are human. Right next to that need for community is a need for a Savior. And that, is where we need to begin.

Have you been hesitant to dive into that community? Small group? Serving? Getting to know that person outside of a Sunday morning? Go first. Realize that all those people have the same needs as you, and simply see if you are able to be a piece of the community they just might be longing for. Not a good fit? Try again. And again. Along the way you will discover that the best part of community is getting to bring life to someone else.

I would fail at going to the gym if there was no one to push me and root for me. My gym community is going to help me become stronger physically. There is another kind of community that pushes us and grows us emotionally and spiritually. Don’t give up fighting to find that and to be that for someone else. Let’s do this together.