- God hears you.
- Change is hard.
- Change hurts.
- A restless spirit abounds, and you are no longer comfortable doing and living the old way.
- When you attempt to live the old way, agitation sets in and you consider, “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into fresh bottles, and both are preserved” (Matthew 9:17 ASV).
- Desires of your heart changes; what you once wanted—relationships and things— no longer seems desirable or appealing.
- Continually pray; change is hard; change hurts.
- Two steps forward, one step backwards. Change takes time.
- Change feels good.
- You can’t believe you were that person, who did those things, said those words, believed the hype.
Warning: If you pray this prayer, expect God to shake up your life, convict and challenge you. Be ready to flee from people and things that are not good for you, be ready to let go of your most treasured possession, be ready, cause it’s gonna happen. God’s gonna turn your life upside down. I’m ready for Him to take away anything, everything, and everybody that is not pleasing to Him. Are you ready? You’ve been warned.
Change me, my life, who I am, take control of my life. Change me, not my spouse, not my significant other, not my friends, not my parents, not my siblings, not my children, not my co-workers, not the pastor, or the church, change me! Help me to concentrate on how I handle my actions and reactions, and let them know they are responsible for their actions, not me. I am responsible for the changes that need to be made in me. Lord, I know the change will take time; I need to process my need to change; cause there’s a struggle like lightening and thunder inside of me. Oh, God, just change me. Amen.
Forgive me Lord, when I forget your greatness, power and love, when I worry, get anxious, and have misgivings. Sometimes I can be oversensitive, and quick to take offense. Forgive me during those moments when I am not being cheerful, brave and hopeful. Amen.
Thank you with all my heart for your constant love and faithfulness you show. When I call, you answer, you strengthen me and keep me safe. Thank you for keeping your promises and completing the work in me that you have already begun. Continue to teach me your way and help me to obey (Ps. 138, 86:11). Amen.
One month has passed since I’ve last posted; not because I haven’t had anything to share; I have. I wanted to discuss the tricycle; metaphorically the tricycle represents friendship and the triune God. I aspired to share what it means to label people. I was at an event and noticed it wasn’t until I was introduced as a board member that others reached out to shake my hand. That reminded me of how many times, I’ve been introduced with a label rather than: “This is Angela.” That’s who I am. I also had the inkling to write about fellowship. The discussion evolved with a friend, she wanted to know what was fellowship. Then just last week, I thought ah, attachments. I’d had an idea about how hard it is to let go. This notion was inspired by one of my students. When he saw me get out of my car in the parking lot, he later commented, “Looks like you’ve been in a car derby.” I laughed. He’s right. Even my daughter says the same. I’m attached to my car. We have memories. It’s reliable. It’s loyal. It’s paid in full. I’m not even looking for a replacement. And from attachments, I knew for sure I would spin a post about socks. Can you guess what socks represents? Relationships. My eldest daughter and her best friend were the impetus to this discovery. One young lady doesn’t wear socks, while the other wears mismatched socks. As I listened to the chatter, I realized their socks illustrate their relationships—girl boy stuff. Just a few days ago my daughter answers my text, proudly and loudly: “I don’t need socks.” I’m always wearing socks. I’m attached to my socks. My feet need to be warm or I’m cranky. After careful self-reflection, I’m letting go and replacing those relationships. Self-reflection was another blog post. Looks like I have lots to keep me busy writing and you reading.
However, through the weeks of not posting, thinking about posting, wondering what to post, I’ve decided that’ it’s time for prayer. My reading material has consisted of prayers by poets, writers, teachers, saints and others. Did you know a scholar discovered Flannery O’Conner’s prayer journal? I need a copy of that. It’s one year in her life young adult life—20 years old—while a student in Iowa. The topper was an email about prayer. That’s when I knew it’s time for prayer. We all need prayer for encouragement, patience, discovery, teaching, learning, working, relationships, friendships, attachments, fellowship…just plain old living and breathing.
I hope you join me for 30 days of Prayer: Dec. 18, 2013-Jan. 18, 2014.
When driving in traffic, watch for drivers who are impatient and move from lane to lane even though they rarely get two car lengths ahead of the vehicles they’ve rushed around. Wait for them to pass. It’s slow moving traffic, and in reality each driver has someplace to go, and doesn’t want to sit in the jam. Pray that the speeder, darting back and forth, doesn’t cause an accident. This has been my day’s journey on a New York thruway in bumper-to-bumper traffic, with rain pouring.
One Toyota decides to whizz from the middle to the fast lane, and then straddle the lines between a truck and a car. I slow down to get three car lengths away from the crazy driver. I wonder if he will go through that small passage. I shake my head—Does the driver realize he is not riding a motorcycle? If he gets on the shoulder, that will be safest for the rest of us travelers. Other drivers distance themselves as well.
I remain alert watching and waiting for the crazy driver despite my own eagerness to get to my destination. On this Sunday, I’ve been up since six in the morning, and those well-laid plans have gone awry—GPS missing, yellow jacket stings my mother, unexpected emergency room visit, three hours late for check-in, need to eat dinner, and the road is slippery as night descends upon us. And the only, and the best, thing to do is pray. Lord, keep us safe and slow that driver down.
I understand about being impatient. Patience is not my strong point. If I’m dieting, I want to lose five pounds by the end of the week. When I exercise, I want toned muscles and a six-pack in two weeks. Ha. When I write a short story, I want it completed—revisions included—accepted, and published in six weeks. If I need to explain something, and the person doesn’t understand what I believe is a simple take, I grow impatient. Reality check.
Patience is an asset. It helps us become tolerant of others, including ourselves. It keeps us safe. It improves our ability to persevere when we’re waiting. And God calls us to have patience and to wait patiently on Him while he fights our battles, orders our steps, brings us through the storm, and tests our faith.
So, watch, wait and pray.
Prayer For Patience
God, teach me to be patient, teach me to go slow,
Teach me how to wait on You when my way I do not know.
Teach me sweet forbearance when things do not go right
So I remain unruffled when others grow uptight.
Teach me how to quiet my racing, rising heart
So I might hear the answer You are trying to impart.
Teach me to let go, dear God, and pray undisturbed until
My heart is filled with inner peace and I learn to know your will.
– Helen Steiner Rice
It’s been more than two weeks since the prayer journey has ended. Those 33 days, whipped, convicted and encouraged me to learn to increase my private prayer and openly prayer for others. It’s humbling, yet an absolute necessity.
I’ve learned a few things that I am putting into practice, so that I can become an effective praying solider.
I need to prayer continuously —unbroken, without stopping—all the time, and about everything. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul says to do this. Sometimes my prayers are SOS, sometimes one minute, and other times every hour on the hour.
And when I have this communication with God, I need to let it go and trust Him to fight the battle. This is not always easy, especially for a worrywart like me. I had to fast for five days—no worrying or anxiety. I prayed the familiar scripture: Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns (Philippians 4:6 MSG).
This led me to realize I had fear and doubt about some stuff in my life—as we all do, but fear and doubt stems from the unknown. That got me thinking, if I trusted God, had unwavering faith, and took Him at his word, what did I have to fear. Then read an unfamiliar verse—Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. It is punishment that makes a person fear, so love is not made perfect in the person who fears (1 John 4:18,19 NCV).
Now, I’m trying to imitate the disciples and asking the Lord to teach me how to pray.
One more thing, while my daughter was at a ten-day leadership conference, I sent her prayers every morning via text message. And actually prayed publicly during a Tuesday night prayer circle.
How about you? Is your prayer life effective changing and encouraging you, your family, community, friends and colleagues, the nation?
Dear God, Help us to dream big, so we can accomplish a lot more without worry, doubt and fear. Not just commit to our goals, pursue them with intensity and passion and unwavering faith. And don’t let someone tell us that we can’t do something, not even our own self-doubt. Amen.
Dear God, Give us wisdom, understanding, and courage to do what we are most afraid to do. Help us to live freely and joyfully in you. Amen.