Musings From A Musical Mind

Posts tagged ‘Prayer’

I’m trying to Listen, Lord

Does anyone else struggle with the concept of prayer?  Does it make you feel less than “spiritual” because you may have doubts in this department?  Do you believe God always answers?  Even when He answers against what you are believing and praying for?  Do you believe that His will is always done here on earth?   I do.

Somehow when I have doubts as to how I believe things work out (or don’t work out) – it feels like it goes against the way I was raised to feel or believe.  My husband has called me a Calvinist because of some of these doubts and struggles.  It is not that I don’t believe we should pray, rather I believe that God answers even when we don’t specifically pray for something.  I believe that God created, sees and knows the bigger picture of our lives – and His ways and thoughts are so much bigger than ours.  I don’t believe in using prayer as a “rabbit’s foot” – pulled out when we feel we are in serious crisis of mind, body and soul – but rather it should be an ongoing journey to listen and develop the mind of Christ.

Help me not to cry out just when I need something from you.

As Christians do we really believe that God is good all the time?  - has our best interest at heart even though we cannot see it?  Even if we haven’t prayed specifically for it?  Yes.  I believe that.   Is prayer for God to change His eternal plans already set in motion?  Or rather, is prayer for me?  Certainly God does not need me to send my shopping list of requests to Him.  He knows everything already, right?  I believe prayer is a discipline for me that takes years to develop.

Today I found this today on Sandi Patty’s Blog:

Dan Rather, former CBS anchorman, once asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers.  She answered, “I listen.”  So Rather turned the question and asked, “Well then, what does God say?”  To that, Mother Teresa smiled with confidence and answered, “He listens.”  Rather didn’t know how to continue.  He was baffled.  “And if you don’t understand that,” Mother Teresa added, “I can’t explain it to you.”

Such a profound thought.  You mean I don’t need to say or do anything?  Yes.  Listening to God’s voice is enough, but often times we cannot quiet our own thoughts to do this.  I believe that prayer changes us.  I believe this is why Jesus told us to pray.  So that we might have understanding and insight.  So that we might have quiet acceptance and resolve.  Even when things don’t go my way.  Even when He doesn’t give me what I want.  Even when my bad choices produce difficulty in my life.  Even when I am unhappy.  Even when I live right and do everything by the book.  Even when I follow all the rules and things still go wrong.  Even when people die.  Even when family members go the wrong way.  Even when nothing happens when I pray.

Change me.

 

I believe that by spending time with Jesus in submission to His plan and wisdom – we become bendable and pliable.  It allows us to look at our circumstances differently.  Maybe not at first – but spending time with Him eventually changes us.  Even when it looks as though we are doing nothing. Even if it makes us look and feel weak, wimpy and submissive.  Even when others around us urge us to be more aggressive in prayer.  How are we going to get an answer if we aren’t willing to go there?  What happens then, when after we are “aggressive” and exhausted from prayer – God does not answer.  Is it our lack of faith?  Is it our inability to “pray through”.  Were we not aggressive enough?  Did we do it wrong?  What about those we pray for that do not get well?  We didn’t pray enough?  Or long enough?  Such thoughts are contrary to the Bible.

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Matthew 6:7,8

Take away my guilt.

Prayer is listening.  Prayer is developing trust.  Prayer is an open invitation for the Father to know us – and us to know Him.  It is about relationship – not a shopping list of requests – prayed by anxious people.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6

I’m sure I will continue to struggle with this – even though as a believer, I should not.  Having faith is believing that no matter what happens to me or those I love in this life – He has it under control.  Nothing surprises Him or escapes His notice.  Like a loving father who wants to protect, hurts when I hurt and wants so much to reassure even when I don’t understand that he loves all the time – He gets me.  He has a plan bigger than I do.  And even though I doubt and wonder if there is something more I should be doing or praying about – He still has it.  All the time.  This simple truth takes years of trust to develop – and I’m still working on it – one day at a time.

So in the meantime – I’m believing and trying to listen, Lord.

God Bless

The Power of Addiction

I watched a special last night on Oprah Prime.  The topic was substance addition, prescription drug usage and street heroin.  I had no idea that heroin addiction has doubled in the last 5 years!  The statistics are alarming.  Drug addiction doesn’t look like it used to.  Addicts can look like your next door neighbor, the clerk at the store, a middle aged homemaker, a nurse at a hospital.  Sometimes it starts with a medical procedure and prescription pain relievers and then when that is no longer affordable or available (depending upon insurance and refills) there can be problems.  One alternative:  Buying drugs on the street where they are cheap and available.

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There is a problem in our community with addition – all kinds, from alcohol to meth.  It is so sad to see what it does to families.  The addiction takes over – nothing is more important.  All common sense and reasoning goes out the window.  Simple things like grocery shopping and paying rent become second only to the drug of choice.

What I found interesting in all the stories told from last nights episode was this:  All have an emptiness that needs to be filled.  Some expressed that it is a spiritual emptiness.  And by “spiritual” they don’t necessarily mean a relationship with God (although I believe that is what would help the addiction problem) but an emotional/relationship emptiness and void that needs filling.

We often enjoy watching Hoarders and have remarked that all these people with this condition of “hoarding” seem to also have an emptiness or void that they try to fill through shopping and accumulations of “things”.  It is a very real and growing problem in our world today.  And every one of them – almost without exception,  had something traumatic happen to them at a young or impressionable age.  Sometimes it was even something later, like the death of a child or loved one – a financial reversal or loss of job.  Whatever the reason, there are common elements to addiction and disorders such as hoarding.

20140309-prime-russell-brand-3-949x534

Self loathing, hatred, feelings of helplessness and unworthiness are also a common theme.  Last night in the interview, Russell Brand confessed to his years of struggle with drug addiction.  Now more than 10 years sober – he says every day is still a struggle.  As he explained how the drugs – particularly heroin makes you feel – it is no wonder that it can pull people in and set them up to fail.  It is an unending cycle of dependency and abuse.  He has seen many senseless deaths of friends caught in the trap of addiction and understands all too well how it happens.  But I was struck most by his comment, “There was a voice in my head that wanted me dead”  That made me sit up and take notice.  Do I believe that voice is demonic in nature?  Yes.  Absolutely.  It’s just like Satan.

” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

Crazy scary stuff!  But it also makes sense.  People lose themselves in the feeling that takes over their lives and nothing else matters.  It is a form of suicide, just like anorexia.  A self loathing of immense proportions.  And I recognize that this is evil and demonic.  Satan wants us all dead.  That’s his agenda, and he’s not good at hiding it.

This makes me very sad.

As a Christian I can see another side to addiction.  I can see life, health, purpose, prosperity of the soul, forgiveness, common sense, kindness, honesty, giving, graciousness and most of all…love.

Darkness-collage

Christianity is not just a crutch – like so many out there looking for something to fill that empty void.   Christ is the filling.  The freedom He gives us is not just a temporary “fix” – it is a way of living.  It lasts.  It endures.  It lengthens life and relationships.  Not just in this lifetime – but the next one too.  It does not rob.  It gives.  When we don’t have to just depend on ourselves for “things” to fix us or fulfill us, but instead can give ourselves over to a loving God who not only created us – but has a plan for us – it changes things.  It takes the pressure off.  Gives purpose.  Gives life, a clear and sober mind, health of body and most of all – fills the void inside.  Because He loves us – it doesn’t matter what others may have done to us – His plan and purpose for us is always healthy, always reassuring and always builds us up rather than tearing us down.  When we are full of love from Him – we are free to love others and give to others out of that love.  It is a release from the prison that others find themselves in.

light-vs-dark

Those of us who find ourselves free from addiction are very fortunate.  But being fortunate does not give license to be judgmental or critical to those who are.  Instead of looking at people with addictions as weak, stupid, or even hardened criminals – we need to look on them with compassion and the love of Christ.  As a Christian this can be the hardest thing of all.  The “I’m OK – you’re NOT OK” seems to fit most of us with a healthy lifestyle.  The “how stupid” or “what a weak person” comments are never far from our thoughts.  If only “they” were just like me.  If only they had real resolve and will power they wouldn’t be in this fix or lifestyle.  We say these senseless things without having any idea the journey others are on.

Dear Jesus – soften our hearts to accept others with their addictions and problems – just as they are.  Help us to see them as you see them – broken but wonderful creations loved by you.  Help us live in such a way that those that are bound by things here on earth will see YOU in US.  And by seeing YOU – they will want what you offer – hope, freedom, peace, forgiveness, love, acceptance, purpose and health.  Help us live in such a way that you are attractive.  That You would be a real solution to a huge unsolvable way of life.  I pray that the inner void would be filled by something that will last – a relationship with you.  And that I would be aware and take an active part in bringing about real change.  This is my prayer. Help us. Humble us.  Teach us.  Break our hearts.   Amen.

LIVETH

My Unspoken Thoughts

Psalm 19:14

Living Bible (TLB)

14 May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to you, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.

I recently ran across a Bible app for my iPhone and iPad that is called “one verse a day”.  Every morning without fail, I get a notice of another encouraging verse to meditate on.  Sometimes in my crazy business, reading the Bible through from one end to another in “several easy steps” – is just not an option.  I get bogged down with words and language that don’t mean anything to me personally.  Stories and situations that are interesting the first time I read them, but not so much any more.

I remember years ago hearing a message concerning this thought.  The speaker was convinced that it is not the amount of scripture that is read on a daily, weekly or even yearly basis – but that it is the content of what we read, absorbed and meditated on – that is of the real importance.  Scripture that can come alive by simply allowing those words to inspire and change.  Finding a fresh new way of applying two or three thoughts – one simple passage.

If you are like me – you aren’t concerned about winning any contests when it comes to Bible reading and prayer.  I want what I meditate on and what I pray about to be simple and straight forward.  A conversation with a trusted friend.  One that keeps confidences and assures with tender love and attention.  I am not always wanting everything that I think about to be out in the open.  It is private.  I have private things I ponder and reflect on.  I have worries and insecurities.  I don’t often share these – even with God.  But even though I do not – He still knows and understands.  It is because of His great love demonstrated to me, that I trust Him with those unspoken things.

Words spoken carry weight.  Especially those things I wish I could take back.  Things in emails or in letters over the years.  Once they are written or spoken – they are out there.  It’s too late.  Often times things written in the heat of anger or emotion that had no business being written down or said.  Can you relate?  I am so glad that the unspoken thoughts are just that.  Unspoken.  Private.  Safe.  And still – I am held accountable for them too.  I can look really pious on the outside.  I mean – really spiritual, and yet have a dark unspoken side.  You probably know what I’m talking about.  Or you’ve seen too many times when a seemingly “spiritual” person has a little heat applied to them.  The real them comes to the surface.  It can be disheartening and even crushing – until we remember that we are all about two decisions away from sin.  We are all human and capable of great darkness if left up to ourselves.  Lord help us!

I heard a great quote today.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.   Maya Angelou

May we ever strive to make our unspoken and spoken things match.  The way we think be the truthful way we live and speak.

Amen

 

God Bless

 

 

Courage

enhanced-buzz-7499-1382729142-22We recently saw the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” based on the true events surrounding the making of the movie “Mary Poppins”.  After we saw the movie I googled the author of the book Mary Poppins and was fascinated.  While I’m sure her story is supposed to be the main focus of this movie, I found myself very keyed in to the story of Walt Disney himself.  To wait twenty years to get permission for the rights for this special book, as a promise to his young daughter – takes tenacity, patience and yes, courage.

The author, P.L. Travers was shown as difficult, picky and snobbish.  She insisted on every session being recorded so there would be no misunderstanding of exactly what she wanted.  She blocked many of the creative moves of Disney’s writers and musicians, and it was a very slow process to get her to agree to the movie.

Walt Disney, portrayed by a very talented Tom Hanks – was a man of high ideals, quick mind and tons of creativity.  He was also used to getting his way.  But he knew what he wanted and he could see it completed in his mind years before it was ever a hit musical.

I love dreamers.  It takes courage – real courage to look defeat in the face and hear “NO” said over and over again, yet not falter in either belief or commitment.  Disney was a dreamer.  Not just the kind to dream his life away with nothing to show for it.  But a man of principle and blind faith in dreams coming true.  I want to be that kind of dreamer.  With that kind of courage.  To see beyond my present circumstances in life.  To know that there is something better for all those friends and family of mine who are struggling with health, hopelessness or grief.  Enough faith to never doubt again.

This is my prayer: “Lord shine your light in this dark world and the deep dark crevices of my mind.  Help me to see beyond with childlike faith.  To believe and stand firm.  When life throws me a few curves and I am tempted to doubt, have self-pity and give in to negative – give me YOUR strength to have courage and stand tall.  Even through the storms of life, even when everyone makes light of my dreams or says NO over and over – help me to keep hanging on to the dreams that are from you.  To know when to hold on and when to let go – and the courage to know the difference.”  (with apologies to the serenity prayer)

Amen and God Bless

My Prayer

I trust that you too will feel fresh inspiration well up inside you as you hear Chris Rice sing his prayer.

God Bless

Fresh page, new pen

Where do I begin?

Words fail, tears come

I need someone

To take the thoughts I almost think

And carry them to God for me

Deep breath, exhale

Breathe in deeper still

Long sigh, I’m still numb

Is there anyone

Who can find the things I’m barely feeling

And give them wings beyond my ceiling? 

Right heart, wrong place

It’s too far to outer space

Sorry, I forgot, You’re right here

I cup my hands around Your ear

I feel you smile,

You feel my breath

You listen while I whisper non-sense

Simple exchange Your will,

I’m changed

And now my prayer ends

Thank You,

Amen,

Amen

Words and music by Chris Rice

Thanksgiving Prayer

English: Oven roasted turkey, common fare for ...

English: Oven roasted turkey, common fare for Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is Thanksgiving.  The Turkey is in the roaster oven, the stuffing is made and a pie is in the oven.  The house is cleaned and prepared, ready for family to gather, eat, laugh and eat some more.

As I think of this day – I am reminded of so many reasons I have to be thankful.  And like you – I think about them all year-long.  Sometimes the simple things we are thankful for – are hard to express.  So many of our blessings are taken for granted – until something happens.  I have been more thankful this season because of that reason.  Those “things” that happen in our lives only cause us to pause and take a breath.  They make us truly grateful for small blessings.  Here are a few of mine:

1)  I am thankful for health for myself and my family members.  In this season I am reminded of how many of my friends are touched my bad news concerning health – and I know for those people, Thanksgiving has a whole new meaning.

2)  I am thankful for a happy home with laughter and joy, not a whole lot of material things or money – but happiness and contentment just the same.

3)  I am thankful for my wonderful husband of 31 years.  He is without a doubt the best thing that ever happened to me – and the biggest blessing in my life.  He has stood by me and defended me in all and every situation – always believing the best in me – and I am forever grateful.

4)  I am thankful for two wonderful children – who are both grown-up and on their own journey in this life – with its many twist and turns and obstacles that could trip them up and make them turn down a wrong path – if they allowed it.  I am grateful that they had a strong foundation in godly things and know the Lord personally.  I am so proud of both of them and their lives as they continue to bless and inspire others.

5)  I am thankful that both my husband and I were raised in similar Christian homes – full of love and laughter – Christ centered in every way.  It helped to prepare us for many things we would encounter in our long marriage and in church work through the years.  Both sets of our parents have been married to one person for over 50 years.
And so as I reflect on these blessings my prayer for all of you is this:

May you find joy and laughter in the simple things of life as you look around your table today.  And if you are alone this Thanksgiving – I pray you will be reminded of the small blessings of the past – and how it has touched you and made you the person you are today.  May smiles and not tears be your companion today and may you have at least one friend to share this memorable day.  Amen.

 

God Bless

God Is Still Working

I have been enjoying my devotional time with Joyce Meyer Ministries.  The other day Joyce was teaching on “Asking God” – as taken from these scriptures:

Matthew 7:7-11 (NKJV)

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Matthew 21:22 (NKJV)

22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.

If you are like me you have heard these scriptures many times.  I had heard them but must admit that I was not really asking.  Somehow it did not seem polite to keep asking for things – like a spoiled child who never thinks about anybody else but themselves.  Me, me, ME!!!!  Mine, mine, MINE!!!  Whah, whah, WHAH!!!!  It just felt WRONG.

So my prayer and communication had taken on a different tone over the years.  Always respectful and thankful, bringing out confessions, my weaknesses and concerns for others, my family and friends.  Walking and talking with God.  But I believe I was missing one important aspect to prayer.  I wasn’t asking.

Not only does God say to ask – but we are told to do so boldly.

Hebrews 4:16

New King James Version (NKJV)

16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

So the other night in my prayer time – I took a bold step and just asked.  And because God already knows what I am thinking about I have to believe that the asking is partly for me.  A step of faith.  It helps me get things out and really deal with them.  Rather than shoving them aside – or pushing them down deep where I don’t have to think about them.

Another thing Joyce said was this:  Even if we don’t see the answer to prayer after asking – we need to tell ourselves that God is still working.  That clear statement of faith with drive doubt and negativity from our minds and hearts when the waiting for answers seems long and hard.  To think that when I boldly ask – and then leave it with Him to work it out in His timing behind the scenes – leaves me feeling peaceful and reassured.

For some circumstances it is easy to believe and have faith in the process of God’s timing.  It is maybe even easy to ask.  But there are situations where it is very difficult to ask.  I have one right now – that has actually made me feel guilty about even asking.  But the other night I asked anyway.  I gave it away, and though I’m sure it won’t automatically just go away from my mind and heart – I took the steps to begin that great ‘behind the scenes’ work that only God can provide.

Have you an issue right now that you’re afraid to even ask about?  You can be reassured that God wants you to ask.  He will work out the details.  He is trustworthy to bring only good for your life, peace for your soul and health for your mind and body.

Ask Him today.  And know that He is still working.

God Bless

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