We Pray

I once had a professor tell the class, “I am not really sure how prayer works. But what I do know is that it really does work.”

Think about it for a minute. God, the God who created you and me, along with countless galaxies, the same God who is so big and vast and beyond our wildest imaginations…that same God cares enough to listen to our prayers. Not only does He care to listen, but He loves to listen. He delights in hearing from us.

Is your mind blown yet? How about this one…The same God who tells the planets to keep on spinning takes the time to listen and care about you when you pray and ask, “Lord, please help me find my keys.”

Yep. There is no problem too big or too small for Him. Our trivial problems don’t annoy God, He loves it when His kids talk to Him.

We can do nothing in this life, that is of any beneficial significance, apart from prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reminds us to “pray without ceasing.” The reason for this command is that our power and strength do not come from within ourselves. Instead, God is the source of any strength, any power, and any good that we can do. 1 John 5:14-15 reminds us that God hears our prayers and answers them.

God moves and works in concert with our prayers, but only when our prayers are in-line with His own perfect will. James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly.” This is a stark reminder that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

But, if God were to only act whenever His people prayed correctly (in accordance with His will) then many things would never actually come to fruition. That why God acts independently and is subject to no other being’s actions. God is free to act on His own. As the almighty, most Holy God there is none above Him.

With that said, God does delight greatly in the prayers of His people. (Proverbs 15:8) Psalm 145:18-19 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.”

It is very apparent all throughout the Bible that God both desires and delights in the prayers of His people. There are so many examples of God moving and working because of the prayers of His people. For example, in Acts, chapter 12 records a prayer meeting of believers who were praying for Peter’s release from prison. The result? A recently released Peter knocks on the door before their prayer meeting was even over with! God not only listens to prayer, He also answers prayer.

Prayer is our communication with God, it is the way that we talk with our creator and savior. There is no other thing; no program, philosophy, or natural strength that can surpass its power in our lives.

We know that God does not have to listen to our prayer, He is not bound by our words. And yet, He chooses to listen to us.

God listens, and prayer works. Praise Him for that simple and yet profound truth.

So, what do we do?

What do we do when we face uncertain times? We pray.

What do we do when the car breaks again and we don’t have money to fix it? We pray.

What do we do when we are frustrated with our overbearing boss? We pray.

What do we do when we feel distant from God? We pray.

What do we do when we look at the empty seats on a Sunday morning? We pray.

What do we do when tears come to our eyes when we think about our son, or daughter, or friend, or sibling, or spouse, or co-worker who does not know Jesus and His love?

We pray and know that God is listening.

Beyond The Walls

Things were a bit different in 1958.

Gas cost 25 cents! The average cost of a new house was $12,750! A gallon of milk only cost $1, and the average monthly rent was only $92! Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. Dastun cars went on sale in the U.S. Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Jerry Lee Lewis were the most popular artists. Candid Camera and The Ed Sullivan Show were on black and white televisions.

It was in this world that a small group of people meeting in a small school in a small suburb of Chicago decided to form a church.

This coming week my church is anticipating celebrating its 60th anniversary of faithful service to our wonderful Savior.

It is such an honor to be a small part of the legacy of this church that has, for so long, been so committed to missions, youth, care for others, service to the community, and love for God.

This January, in anticipation of our 60th anniversary, we, as a church, committed to a theme for the year, “Beyond The Walls.”

beyond walls poster.jpg

The theme itself is a bit layered. First, we want to be sure that we are going beyond the physical walls of our building in order to share the good news of Jesus’ love with anyone and everyone that we meet. For 60 years we have been in the same geographical location (the church bought land across the street from the school it initially met in and built on that land.) And so, since we have been present in this community for so long we want to be sure that we are, and continue to be, committed to getting beyond the physical space that we call our church building. We want to be known as a church that gives to and loves its community.

Secondly, we understand that we, as a group of believers, need to continually pray that God would give us the boldness to get beyond our own emotional and spiritual walls that we ourselves have set up. Often times past experiences, frustrations, and fears cause us to put up barriers in our own lives in order to hide behind. When we put these barriers in place we actually end up becoming less effective in our love and service. So, we are praying that God gives us the courage to break down these walls in our own lives in order to better love and better share the good news.

As I think about all the people who have come and gone from this church I cannot help but think of just how good God is and how wonderful His family, the Church (worldwide) is as well. Over the years I, and others, have seen God use this church in order to transform lives, marriages, families, and communities. This church has sent out many missionaries, especially for its size, to go and serve all across the world. We may not be a huge church, but by God’s grace, He has allowed us to have a global impact. That is certainly something to celebrate.

The neat thing about this church, and any church for that matter, is the intergenerational connectedness that takes place. Older generations set examples and provide wisdom that younger generations can need to learn from. At the same time, younger generations provide encouragement, enthusiasm, as well as new and fresh perspective. Both, older and younger generations, would do well to learn from one another. The church is a unique place for this to take place, and it is exciting to watch happen!

The Apostle Paul repeatedly talks about the church as a metaphorical body. (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, Colossians 1) We all need each other in order to function properly. The hand needs the arm, and the arm needs the legs, and the legs need the pinky toe. I need you and you need me. And we all need Jesus.

So, this week, praise God and thank Him for your church and how He has created it to be uniquely special in His kingdom. Praise God for His faithfulness to your local body of believers.

May we all, regardless of where we are, pray that God might give us the boldness to go “Beyond The Walls” in our lives in order to better love Him and love others! I pray that God would use my church, and yours as well, in order to impact this world for His good!

Dear Mom, (Six Letters Everyone Should Read)

Dear Mom,

Thank you. I cannot begin to express what you mean to me and how you have so completely impacted my life. I remember when you lovingly and carefully put band-aids on my scraped knees. I remember when you showed me grace and kindness even when I said hurtful things. You have clothed yourself with strength and dignity and have set an example to follow. You are not perfect, and that is okay. I am sorry for unfairly expecting you to be. Even in your imperfection, you have allowed God’s perfection to shine through in your life. I remember how you used to read the Bible to me as a kid. Thank you. You did that because you knew that His Word does not return void. Thank you for telling me about Jesus, and how He loves me even more than you do. Thank you for your love. Thank you for being my mom.

Dear Single Mom,

You are a hero. That word may get thrown around too much in our society now, but it is completely true in describing you. You have had to fulfill multiple roles and carry burdens that no one should carry alone. Thank you for doing your best. You have sacrificed and lived out the true definition of selfless love. Your care and attention have always been enough. You are both strong and precious, independent and wonderful. Just please remember that you are not alone. You might have been alone before, you might have been forsaken before. But our God promises to never leave and never forsake. Trust in Him, lean on Him. He will not fail you. Your love is not in vain. You sacrifice is not in vain. Thank you for everything you are and everything you have done. Thank you for being a mom.

Dear Forgotten Mom,

You feel abandoned. You feel forgotten. You feel unloved and unwanted. It is hard to think of many other greater injustices. Your hurt and pain are real, but they do not have to be what defines you. You did not fail. You are not a failure. You did what you could. You may have made mistakes and have regrets, but that is not your identity. You are Mom. You are still Mom, just as you always have been and always will be. You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are loving and lovely. Thank you for your unchanging and unconditional love. Find your comfort in the God who gave you your child. Find your peace in the God who made you and who made you a mom. Trust that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to those that are in Christ Jesus. Thank you for being a mom.

Dear Childless Mom,

Words fall astonishingly short. Your heart has hurt for so long now. You wish that you could have exchanged your life for that of your child. You would have if you could have. But here you are forced to continue to move forward. You are brave. You are wonderful. You are to be honored. Don’t lose heart. There is hope. There is hope that is found in Jesus that you will, one day, see your baby again. Let that be your joy. Let that be your peace. Lift your eyes and know that your help comes from the one who knew your babe while they were still only in your womb. Know that that same God has a wonderful plan even when, especially when, you cannot see it. Thank you for being a mom.

Dear Not Yet Mom,

You have clothed yourself with strength and dignity each time you walk, with your head held high, into yet another baby shower that is not your own. Your heart aches with frustration and anticipation. Please continue to trust God. His timing is perfect. He made you exactly the way that you should be, in exactly the time you should be. Trust Him to give you a little one in exactly the way, and in exactly the timing He designed. You have demonstrated time and time again that you are worthy, kind, gentle, caring, compassionate, devoted, graceful, generous, patient, and overflowing with love. Do not lose heart. You have already blessed so many, and one day you will be the best and biggest blessing to a baby. To your baby. Thank you for wanting to be a mom.

Dear Spiritual Mom,

You don’t have kids, but you have a lot of kids. This life that you live, whether by your choice or not, has still been designed. God has used you to impact so many. You have been the shoulder to cry on, the smile to encourage, and the ear to listen. You have used your life to point others to the God who has carried and sustained you. You have sheltered your spiritual kids and filled the gaps left by others. You have shown selfless and unconditional love even when it wasn’t your responsibility. You have been an example to follow, and a woman to be celebrated. Your commitment to, and trust in, your savior has encouraged and inspired. We need more like you. Thank you for being a mom.

 

Share this with a deserving mom.