By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

Prayer: The Why February 25, 2010

One of the primary areas I’d like to work on in 2010 is prayer.  At the beginning of the year, God brought the issue of my sub-par prayer life to my attention in various ways.  One was the teaching at our church women’s meeting when the speaker asked, “Do you look forward to praying?”  Uh, no.  It’s humbling and disgusting to admit, but many days I look forward to my favorite tv show or a date with my husband more than I look forward to spending significant time in prayer.

In recent years, as I have become more and more dependent on the Holy Spirit as a mother, prayer has become a greater part of my life.  But my prayer life is mostly informal–short prayers for help, wisdom, patience or self-control during the day.  Or praying for others when God brings them to mind.  That informal prayer life is valuable and important.  But when thinking about looking forward to prayer and reading a chapter on prayer in Donna Otto’s book Secrets to Getting More Done in Less Time, I realized that I need to develop a consistent, substantial time for prayer.

Otto writes:  “Fortunately, God is generous, loving, and–most of all–full of grace . . . He does not maintain prayer meters or time clocks . . . But the Lord of our lives deserves homage and our allegiance.  If we are too busy to commune with Him regularly, we are doing a disservice to Him and to ourselves” (p. 237).  She discusses the importance with combining the informal prayer life I’ve described with a formal prayer life:  time set aside for prayer, including adoration, confession, thanksgiving and presenting our requests to God.  This part of my prayer life has been inconsistent at best.

I love how Otto describes this time she spends with God:

Personally, I think of prayer time as a specific opportunity to get down on my knees and subordinate my will to God’s will.  God has a will.  God has a perfect will.  God is sovereign.  And through prayer I try to subordinate my will to His will.  I do that by asking Him to create in me a clean heart, to create in me a sinless heart that is in line with His plan for me and to allow His desires to be my desires (p. 252).

Who wouldn’t want their will to be in line with the will of their good, sovereign Creator?  I know I want that.  But I battle against my sinful nature daily as sleep, worldly desires and my to-do list wage war against setting aside this time with God.  I’ve been talking to other women about prayer and working to improve in this area, so I look forward to sharing more about this topic soon.  In the meantime, I hope you are as convicted and encouraged as I have been to set aside time for prayer.

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

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Broken Hearts August 17, 2008

Filed under: spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 8:29 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

My pastor had recently been asking us the question, “Does your heart break for the same things that break God’s heart?” This has been a very convicting question for me. When left to my own devices, these are some of the things that break my heart:

  • Not getting what I want
  • Not getting what I want when I want it
  • Having to struggle or suffer
  • People not liking me
  • My children inconveniencing me with their disobedience
  • My children running a fever on days I have something fun to do

The common theme: Me. My way. My comfort.

If I were going to feel brokenhearted over things that break God’s heart, the list would look more like this:

  • My sin
  • People who don’t know Christ
  • The sick, the lonely, the poor, and the outcast

Therefore, I would trade my sorrow over suffering for joy in suffering for God’s glory. My sadness over not getting my way would become trust in God’s goodness and provision. Rather than feel inconvenienced by my children’s disobedience, I would have an earnest desire to share the Gospel with them. My heart would mourn my sinfulness, ache to share Christ with those who don’t know Him, and overflow with compassion for those in need.

A month ago when I first heard our pastor ask this question, my heart had been breaking over something that I wanted and didn’t get.  And before worship, we had heard from a missionary who was trying to raise money to buy Bibles.  He wanted give to them to people who desperately wanted to read God’s Word but did not have it available to them.  God confronted me with my selfishness that morning.  It was clear to me that my heart was not breaking over the things that break God’s heart.

Emotions are tricky.  It is hard to turn off ungodly sorrow and trade it for godly sorrow.  But I am reminded of John 15:7:  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. I want to be abiding so deeply in the Father that my will is intertwined with His.  I want to trust so fully in His goodness and provision that when I don’t get my way, my immediate response is to know it wasn’t best for me.  (Even if I really, really thought it was.)

I want my heart and God’s heart to be breaking over the same things.  And I’ve got a long way to go.