Chasing Joy

"I am guiding you on the way of wisdom and I am leading you on the right path." Proverbs 4:11

Learning from Beth

 Harney Peak, S. Dakota

To Paul prayer was part of the necessary means even to a divinely foreordained end.  Philippians 4:6 says “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything”  That means that everything can be affected by prayer.  Prayer is not an art we can master because we cannot master the Artist we approach.  Growing in prayer is a lifelong quest, but quests are good because they keep us from getting stale, bored and arrogant.

Beth Moore

Prayer that is easy

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when i called, i didn’t know to be worried.  when they start asking me questions, I begin to put 2 and 2 together and realize that they are worried….and so i pray.  when she put the oxygen thingy on his finger and decides to try another because of the reading, my heart beats a little faster and i remember this very scene 11 years ago when he almost died.  and so i pray.  tests come back negative and it looks like he just has a virus that needs a couple more days to run its course-which is where i started in the first place.  and so i pray.

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i hear news of the struggle in their marriage  and the way he’s running.  i take it in and move about the day until my heart is just overcome and stopping in the midst of things to pray requires no thought or effort-it just happens, continuing as time keeps moving along and change is not forthcoming.

and then there is that malady that is wreaking havoc on another dear one’s body and  keeping him up hours upon hours with no name or treatment.  we, his sheep, have laid hands and prayed to the One who knows everything.  healing hasn’t come and he’s still not able to shepherd the flock the Lord has stirred love in his heart for.  some nights when sleep evades me i find myself overcome and prayer on his behalf is as breathing-simply a response of the heart as i remember him.

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seeing as i drive the majesty of these mountains i’ve grown accustomed to and i scarce can take it in.  praise to the One who formed these peaks and colored these trees happens without effort.

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the list goes on and on; moments the light catches my daughter’s hair;  glancing over at my husband working hard. There are no more lists, but intercession still happens-when His Spirit moves within and i can’t help it.  I try to force it at times and as i’ve said here-that isn’t working anymore.  desperate moments as a mama, friend, wife, and prayer flows easy; Beauty that overwhelms and prayer flows easy…..when it does flow.  God is not Aladdin and I cannot command my heart to be stirred, or His Spirit to move.   in the waiting i ask Him to bring warmth to the coldness and light to the darkness.  and when He does.

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i breathe deep in wonder and say thank you.

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Learning from Andrew

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     Many a person had turned to his place of prayer, under bitter self-accusation that he has prayed so little, and has resolved for the future to live in a different manner.  Yet no blessing has come-there was not the strength to continue faithful, and the call to repentance had no power, because his eyes had not been fixed on the Lord Jesus.  If he had only understood, he would have said: “Lord, You see how cold and dark my heart is…..I lack the urgency and desire to pray.”

     He did not know that at that moment the Lord Jesus in His tender love was looking down upon him and saying:  “You cannot pray.  You feel that all is cold and dark.  Why not give yourself over into My hands?  Only believe that I am ready to help you in prayer…..do not seek the victory in your own strength….be assured of this-I will teach you how to pray.”

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     Our whole relationship to the Lord Jesus must be a new thing.  I must believe in His infinite love, which longs to have communion with me every moment, and to keep me in the enjoyment of His fellowship.  I must believe in His divine power, which has conquered sin and will truly keep me from it.  I must believe in Him who, as the great Intercessor through the Spirit, will inspire each member of His body with joy and power for communion with God in prayer.  My prayer life must be brought entirely under the control of Christ and His love.  Then, for the first time, will prayer become what it really is, the natural and joyous breathing of the spiritual life, by which the heavenly atmosphere is inhaled and then exhaled in prayer.

Andrew Murray
The Believer’s Prayer Life p.34,35

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Learning from Oswald

 


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It is not part of the life of a natural man to pray.  We hear it said that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray; I question it.  What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer.  When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it.  Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished.  Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament.  We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.

Oswald Chambers (emphasis mine)

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Mimosa

Mimosa Tree

in the 1920′,  a young Indian girl from a Hindu family named Mimosa was briefly introduced to her Father in heaven.

…something had happened on that afternoon when she heard for the first time about a living, loving God, whom we had called Father, who had made everything in the world, and the sun and moon and stars.  She had understood that He loved her.  And a strange thing had happened.”

It is a story worth reading.  today i just want to share with you a few words from the end;

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And this …[story] that is still being written goes forth with a great joy and with two earnest intentions-to comfort, if it may be, some who, depressed by the perplexities of these days, are almost tempted to think our Lord is not in His world now as He was in olden time; and to win help for those who need it.

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Can one consider this solitary Indian woman-protected, comforted, sustained, fed with bread the world knew not of, given to drink of fountains in the desert-without feeling that the love of God has many ways of working, and may be working now unseen through all the clamer and sadness of a foolish generation?  Is not such a story a witness to the Invisible?

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Are there those for whom we have long prayed for, who seem beyond our reach now?  Love will find a way.  Are we discouraged because we do not see our expected signs, and the solid rocks seem to be sinking under shifting sands?  It is not so.  Love is mighty and must prevail.  Terrible in judgments, marvelous in loving-kindness, Love will find a way,

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Out in these corners of the earth, those who are face to face with the old elemental forces of sin know what it is to shiver at times with a sense of the almost omnipotence of the god of this world.  Is there not comfort for us in this story?  In and out of the deep, dark places of heathendom-yes, and as truly among the garish lights of a Christendom that has lost its first warm love-wherever there is the least, the faintest response to Love, there Love will follow and find, for nothing in heaven or earth or under the earth is impossible to Love.

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And will not my second intention find fulfillment somewhere?  Will not prayer that can be as a shield in battle, as dew in heat, as a cool wind on a breathless day, as the light of moon and stars at night, be round about any anywhere who, enchanted by a glimpse of the loveliness of Christ, are following Him today-dear, unknown fellow-lovers?  For God has other Mimosas.

-Taken from the book Mimosa by Amy Carmichael; p.17, 159-161

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Learning from Amy

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Psalm 109.21.  A prayer that may be unfathomable comfort to the ill and tired:

“Do Thou for them, for him, for her. O God the Lord.”

When one cannot pray minutely or powerfully, this prayer suffices.  We need not tell Love what to do; Love knows.

-Amy Carmichael

Amy lived in the nineteen hundreds, this is how Psalm 109:21 read in her day;  “But do *thou* for me, Jehovah, Lord, for thy name’s sake; because thy loving-kindness is good, deliver me:” (Darby translation).  For anyone like me who doesn’t quite understand the phrase ‘do Thou,’ here it is in the Amplified; “But You deal with me and act for me, O God the Lord, for Your name’s sake; because Your mercy and loving-kindness are good, O deliver me.”  

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keeping my eyes open

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in exhaustion i hit my pillow thinking about how i need to write on prayer-very much aware of the days being missed, yet unable to form a thought.  in the past few days i have seen the dark side of chocolate, dark side of humanity and the dark side of my own soul.  coupled with the dark side has been so much beauty. so so much beauty.  the exhaustion comes from the whole of it all.

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i breathe out thanks and praise for the bigness of the sky only to wonder if it’s all empty and shallow in my heart.

i groan out pleas and desperate cries for change and hope only to wonder if it’s all just empty and shallow in my heart.

i argue with myself and spin off into the rabbit trails that cause the minutes to tick away and away and away.

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there is a very big part of me that just wants to shut my eyes to the whole of the world and the whole of my heart and the fight that it is to know what to say about it all to the One who’s eyes are wide open to both the state of this world and the state of my brain and my soul.


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the temptation to just shut the door.  and walk the other way.

sometimes i think i make an idol of figuring things out.   i think prayer is something to figure out, so that it can help me make some sense of the beauty and darkness.

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my son asks me a riddle.

“mom, can God make a rock that He can’t lift?”

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“Since He can do anything, He can make a rock that He can’t lift.  but since He can do anything, He could lift that rock He can’t lift.”

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wait, what?

this.  this is the middle of the wrestle.

i think i’m willing to stay in the tension.

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with eyes open, i’ll wait.

 

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Learning from Gayle learning from Moses

East India man making bricks via Compassion International

sometimes someone speaks and all of a sudden my breathing begins to slow and my racing thoughts halt and burdens lift.  this happened to me the other day when my friend Gayle was sharing what she had learned from Moses in those same chapters i’d read;

Suffering either drives me towards God or away from God.  The only response to suffering and discouragement is to go to God.  Moses goes to God with his feelings, honestly and humbly pouring out his heart:

1. questioning God’s goodness; “why have you brought trouble upon this people?”
2. questioning God’s purpose; “is this why you sent me?”
3. questioning God’s actions; “You have not rescued Your people at all!”

What does God do when His discouraged one comes to Him in this way?

God doesn’t answer Moses’ questions, instead He reminds Moses of what is true:

1. God is in control (exodus 6:1)
2. God keeps His covenants. (exodus 6:2-5)
3. God saves. (exodus 6:6-8)

-Gayle Osterberg

 

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in my own discouragement-even in regard to prayer as i desire it to be-this is the ‘prescription’ i need.  it is so very simple and so very powerful;

go and keep going to the one with the Mighty hand. keep running to the One who is a High Tower and Shelter from the storms.  the One who proves the fullness of His enabling love
over and over and over again.  

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Learning from Paul

 

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.

-ephesians 1: 15-19

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Learning from C.S. Lewis

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An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayer.  He is trying to get into touch with God.  But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him.  But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God-that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him.  You see what is happening.  God is the thing to which he is praying-the goal he is trying to reach.  God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on-the motive power.  God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal.  So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers.  The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life…he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.

-from Mere Christianity

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