The (Noisy) Peace of Prayer

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

I had been to the Western Wall on Shabbat, and while it was bustling with people, it was a peaceful place. The group didn’t visit the Western Wall until a couple days later, and it was quite different. It was noisy. There was construction. And it bothered several of the women.

After all, isn’t a place of prayer supposed to be peaceful?

Perhaps that’s just our assumption. We want peace, so we expect it. Sometimes, prayer is peaceful. At least, it usually results in peace as we release our will and acknowledge God’s power and control. But the place of peace?

Prayer is often a noisy process. We’re working through our confusion, needs, and doubts as we call out to God. He welcomes our messes.

Our prayers often sound like construction zones. Prayers are construction zones.

We don’t have to have peace in order to pray. We need to pray in order to find peace. Construction zones are productive. They’re necessary for growth. Without the noise, we don’t grow.

What requirements are getting in the way of your prayer life? The only requirement God has is you.

Growing in God Through Life’s Challenges

Today’s guest post is from Dinah Cook, founder of Changing Your World Coaching International and author of the upcoming release Fixing a Broken Glass, testimonies from ordinary women who God has used to do the extraordinary.

whyI have to continually remind myself who God is in my life as I deal with my mother getting older and requiring more attention and care. I have to remember who God is in my life as I deal with a recent job layoff and I question how I will make ends meet. I have to remind myself who God is in my life as I fight to see what is God’s perfect will for my life during this season of transition.

As I face current life challenges, I recognize that I was in error when I found myself questioning God with “why” questions, such as why I had to take a particular path which caused me great frustration and why  events that seemed unfair (from my perspective) were allowed. I realize God allowed me to take this journey to strengthen me, cleanse my heart of things that were not good for His plan for me, to educate me,  and to put more of Him in me so I could have more compassion for others who may face similar challenges. He was teaching me to draw nearer to Him and to trust Him with my life.

God showed me His amazing love and patience when I lacked trust. He loved me when I questioned why I was on this particular path. He showed me great love when I repeatedly vented to Him about the hard things that occurred that I didn’t understand. God listened patiently and gently reminded me to trust Him. He encouraged me to go to His Word, and through it, He reminded me He is for me and not against me.  God has shown me that He is the same almighty God when things are going well and when things are hard. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV) says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

God has taught me that, as a believer, I will experience both the cross and the blessings. Through this journey, God is continually drawing me closer to Him. He has taught me to hold on tightly to His hand, to walk with Him, and to learn to do hard things with Him, not trying to solve every problem on my own. I have learned that I have to trust God with my life. I am not in control; He is. I am slowly getting better at trusting God by reading His Word and watching His hand work out my life’s challenges for my good.

We as believers of Christ Jesus must remember that He will allow us to take paths that may seem difficult, but during those hard times, He is also calling us to draw nearer to Him and to trust Him. God doesn’t want you to look back at things which are behind you, and He doesn’t want to you focus on your present circumstances. God wants you to keep your eyes on Him and to move forward with Him. Remember that God is always walking with you during your times of challenge and uncertainty. God’s hand is always open and available for you to grab and hold. Always remind yourself who God is by getting into His Word and speaking His Word out loud daily. Listen to God speak to you with His still small voice. God desires your trust and He desires to have a closer relationship with you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

DinahConnect with Dinah on Facebook.

They Will Be a Sign

Ring of Brodgar Stones OrkneyAfter all the people had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe. Tell them to get twelve rocks from the middle of the river, from where the priests stood. Carry the rocks and put them down where you stay tonight.”

So Joshua chose one man from each tribe. Then he called the twelve men together and said to them, “Go out into the river where the Ark of the Lord your God is. Each of you bring back one rock, one for each tribe of Israel, and carry it on your shoulder. They will be a sign among you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ Tell them the water stopped flowing in the Jordan when the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord crossed the river. These rocks will always remind the Israelites of this.” Joshua 4:1-7

When God moves in our lives, we need to remember. Remembering helps our faith grow and encourages us when we’re struggling. Remembering is a testimony of our faith. It shows others the fruit of living within God’s will. It leaves a legacy – not just of our own faith but of God’s faithfulness. Remembering God’s presence becomes a map for those following us. People will be encouraged along their own journeys because of the signs littering the path along the way.

People in God’s Word have gifted us with signs of encouragement. Through their lives and their journeys of faith – complete with strengths and weaknesses – we’re encouraged to seek and trust God. We’re redirected when we stray off course. We dance with joy when we’re travelling along the beauty of God’s will and realize we’re in a sweet spot for a season.

The rocks we set to acknowledge God’s presence are not to build dwellings. We don’t set one rock on top of another because we’re remaining in the place God showed up. If we stay in that spot, there’s no reason for the rocks. We don’t need to leave a reminder for those who follow behind us, because we’re there as the reminder. If we don’t leave, we can’t leave a legacy. A monument is for remembering. Remembering indicates moving on.

When is one of your favorite memories of God working in your life?

Is your life exactly the same as it was at the time of that memory?

Can you think of any situations or seasons to which you tried to hold on longer than what you believe God wanted you to hold on – whether you realized it at the time or later?

Live It. Pick up a small rock today and write words on it throughout the day to describe God working in your life. As the sun goes down, place the rock somewhere someone will likely find.

Give Me More!

moreWhat do you want more of?

Money? Time? Opportunities? Guidance? Healing? Provision?

How about God?

After all, he takes care of all of those areas. But we often go to him telling him what we want or need most, based on what we’re assessing our needs and wants are. We’re actually asking him to give us what we’re certain we want or need when, in reality, he knows what we need more than we do. Our asks are distorted.

When we ask for more of God, when we yield to him, when we let his wants determine our wants, we get what we need. We get God.

When we let our own analysis of a situation or a relationship determine our asks, we’re assuming our insight trumps God’s. But when we ask for more of God, when we ask him to reveal himself to us, we get to know his character. We’re content in his presence. We find his peace in our chaos.

What about praying what’s on our hearts and adding “if it be your will” at the end of each prayer to make sure God knows we want him to filter everything through his will. We don’t want what he doesn’t want. We’re giving it all to him. However, when we’re passionately praying for specifics and simply tacking on an escape clause on the end, we need to realize God knows our hearts. He knows what (and who) we’re seeking. He knows our motivation.

If you want God to filter everything through his will, seek to know God more than you’re seeking anything or anyone else. Filter everything through his will as you get to know him through his Word. Ask him questions and watch for the answers. Look for the creative ways he teaches you. Notice him pouring into you when you’re looking…and when you’re not.

That box you have God in? Open it up and collapse it. Put it in the recycling bin. You’re not going to need it anymore.

God’s Travel Policy

rebookIf you travel much, you know about change fees you incur each time you rebook a flight, rental car, or train ticket. The policies of various carriers differ, but there is usually some kind of penalty for changing your plans. (If you’re one of the people who have traveled so extensively you now have an account that allows you to rebook without a cost, keep in mind you had a lot of bookings and rebookings to get to that point, so you’ve likely “paid” for that status!)

Consider God’s rebooking policy. When you choose to travel using God’s plans, there is no rebooking necessary. He’s the best trip advisor. He knows the best itinerary, time schedules, layovers, delays, costs and benefits. When you continually check with his plan and stay on track, you’ll be where you need to be. That doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly. You’ll encounter many challenges along the way, because that’s how this life on earth is. We don’t live in the perfection of heaven yet, so we can’t expect it on earth.

If you choose to deter from God’s plans, no matter how off track you get, you can always run to him and ask him to rebook you on the next rerouting back to his plan for you. It might not look exactly like it would have had you followed the original itinerary, because he must weave your changes and choices. But, after all, he already knew how you would detour from his plan, so he had the best plan in mind anyway. Rebooking God’s plan is a bit costly, no matter where along the process you choose it, because it requires you give him something very valuable: yourself. It’s okay. He’s the best travel companion, and he never deserts you.

Dig into God’s Word…

Jesus answered, “The things I teach are not my own, but they come from him who sent me. If people choose to do what God wants, they will know that my teaching comes from God and not from me. Those who teach their own ideas are trying to get honor for themselves. But those who try to bring honor to the one who sent them speak the truth, and there is nothing false in them.” (John 7:16-18)

But we are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently. Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants. We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan. (Romans 8:25-28)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. These are the ways of the world: wanting to please our sinful selves, wanting the sinful things we see, and being too proud of what we have. None of these come from the Father, but all of them come from the world. The world and everything that people want in it are passing away, but the person who does what God wants lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Live It Out Loud…

Look at your calendar for the upcoming several days. What needs to change to match God’s agenda? Consider how much you’ve planned based on your own preferences and responsibilities and before asking God for his preferences and responsibilities. The two often match up, but don’t assume what you want—just because it’s consistent with who God is—is what God wants. The content of what’s going on might be God-guided without the timing being God-guided. Don’t proceed and ask him to cover the steps you’ve already taken. Ask him to guide the steps you need to take next. Change at least one thing in your schedule for the next several days; choose something you’re not positive you chose because of God’s guidance.

Tell Me What You Think

whichway“Tell me what you think.”

Jesus wants to know.

“Tell me what you think about this: A man had two sons. He went to the first son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ The son answered, ‘I will not go.’ But later the son changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ The son answered, ‘Yes, sir, I will go and work,’ but he did not go. Which of the two sons obeyed his father?”

The priests and leaders answered, “The first son.”

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before you do. John came to show you the right way to live. You did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. Even after seeing this, you still refused to change your ways and believe him. (Matthew 21:28-32)

God does not want us to refuse to change.

We can create a false line of reasoning when we conclude that since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and we’re created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), we’re not supposed to ever change. Really? Take a look in the mirror. Consider what you know now that you didn’t know when you were 5 years old, 15 years old, 25 years old, and so on. You change. It’s part of life. It’s how God created you.

God doesn’t change, but he changes us. That’s what being in a thriving personal relationship with him is about. Consider what God says about growth.

You were taught to leave your old self—to stop living the evil way you lived before. That old self becomes worse, because people are fooled by the evil things they want to do. But you were taught to be made new in your hearts,to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again. (Philippians 1:6)

Brothers and sisters, in the past I could not talk to you as I talk to spiritual people. I had to talk to you as I would to people without the Spirit—babies in Christ. The teaching I gave you was like milk, not solid food, because you were not able to take solid food. And even now you are not ready. You are still not spiritual, because there is jealousy and quarreling among you, and this shows that you are not spiritual. You are acting like people of the world. (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I stopped those childish ways. It is the same with us. Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me. (1 Corinthians 13:11-12)

If you’re not changing, you’re not growing. Sometimes we fail to grow because we’re stubborn. Sometimes we’re lazy. Sometimes we’re proud. Whatever the reason, set it aside. God wants you to change, and he wants to do the changing for you, but you have to seek and yield to him.

Are you ready to grow up today?

A House of Prayer

houseofprayer

Jesus said to all the people there, “It is written in the Scriptures, ‘My Temple will be called a house for prayer. But you are changing it into a ‘hideout for robbers.’” (Matthew 21:13)

Jesus cleared the temple of everything that was going on in it that never should have been going on in a holy place. Even if your holy place hasn’t become a marketplace as in Matthew 21, consider how “set apart” as a house of prayer it is.

What is God-honoring about the place in which you worship?

What isn’t God-honoring about the place in which you worship?

Are you personally honoring God in what you say and do, in your attitudes and in your relationships?

Being a house of prayer isn’t just about having a time of prayer. Opening and closing a worship service (or your day) with prayer doesn’t keep everything in between focused on God. Yielding to God every step of the way is the only way to remain focused on God.

Who do you run to when you have a question or problem?

Who gets the glory and thanks when something goes well?

Who sets your to-do list and modifies it as situations change?

Who determines the use of time, energy, and resources?

Who is central to all decisions, actions, and thoughts…not just in theory but in everyday practice?

The holy place isn’t just where you worship with others. You are personally a holy place.

Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

What is robbing you of being a fully-committed house of prayer? How have you replaced God’s will with anything contrary to it? Who are you allowing to occupy time, space, and effort in your life that is reserved for God and God alone?

Jesus does a great job of clearing the junk out of the temple. Invite him to do the same within you.