Because you prayed

“. . . in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6b

Do our prayers make a difference? Yes! God hears and responds.

King Hezekiah in an interesting example. The Assyrian army was outside Jerusalem ready to attack. But first they came with threats, hoping the people would surrender. They bragged about all the nations they already had conquered and mocked God saying he was not strong enough to save them.

Hezekiah took those threats before God in prayer, asking that God defend his people for his own glory. Here’s God’s response (through Isaiah, the prophet):

“. . . Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him:” (from Isaiah 37:21)

And he promises Sennacherib will be defeated and Hezekiah’s army will not have to lift a finger. The next morning 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were found dead in the camp. The others fled.

Look again at what Isaiah said to Hezekiah: Because you prayed this is what God’s going to do. And he did.

Keep praying! Who knows what happens because you pray? I imagine a scene in heaven when God says to us,

  • Because you prayed, your child was healed.
  • Because you prayed, your friend came to know me.
  • Because you prayed, your soldier came home.
  • Because you prayed, others learned to pray, too.

How will he finish that sentence for you? You won’t know if you don’t pray. For reasons we’ll never understand fully, God takes our prayers seriously. At least that’s what he told Hezekiah. I think he says the same to us. Our prayers matter!

“The sense of mystery must always be, for mystery means being guided by obedience to Someone Who knows more than I do.” – Oswald Chambers

#prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving It Up a Notch

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“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4a

I think we should move thanksgiving up a notch this year – from being thankful to being delighted. Delight means to take pleasure in, appreciate, relish, enjoy, savor, and bask in. Doesn’t that sound like a lot more fun than just being thankful? It is!

Puppies and small children are the best at being intrigued by everything they see. Delight just seems to come naturally to them! But those of us who’ve lived awhile may have to rediscover that art. How?

Mostly by paying attention, just noticing, not so quickly moving past the truly wonderful all around us. And if we are going to delight ourselves in the Lord as the psalmist writes, then we should give the most attention to the things God has made, done, and said.

So, here’s the list of things I am going to take time to notice, particularly in this season of thanks:

  • Creation
  • People
  • God’s Word
  • His involvement in my life

I plan to pay attention, then stop to thank the One who looks for special ways to delight me. You’re invited to join in the fun, too!

“The things we love tell us what we are.” – Thomas Aquinas

Why Not Tell Him?

"Come close to God and He will come close to you." - James 4:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.” – Psalm 18:2a

Who is the first person you call or text when you face a crisis? I hope we all have someone we can turn to when we need a listening ear or a helping hand.

I recently read about John the Baptist who was unfairly imprisoned because his theology clashed with King Herod’s lifestyle. Then, at a party when Herod had had too much alcohol and was enamored with his stepdaughter’s dancing, he suddenly ordered John’s execution. John’s disciples were notified of the beheading, so they sadly came and buried his body.

What to do now? Their leader was gone and they had taken care of handling the immediate crisis. They could have gone home in despair, but instead, Matthew tells us “Then they went and told Jesus.” (Mt. 14:12).

Why Jesus? Maybe because they knew . . .

  • He would want to know.
  • He would comfort them.
  • He would have a plan for what to do next.

I can’t think of a better way to handle any crisis, big or small, that might come into our lives. Jesus wants us to express our anxiety, grief, or loss to Him – in detail. He doesn’t start yawning halfway through our stories. More than than that, He will meet us at the point of our deepest need, the need we may not even know we have. Then He will guide us into the next right steps.

Now is a really good time to talk to Him.

“If we draw near to Him, then He will make His presence tangible in our lives.” – Henry Blackaby

 

Thanksgiving Continued

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Now our challenge is carrying the attitude of thankfulness day-to-day. After all, God places great value on gratitude.

"I have never been so aware of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right every day." - A. J. Jacobs from The Year of Living Biblically

“I have never been so aware of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right every day.” – A. J. Jacobs from The Year of Living Biblically

He is the penultimate Giver and, as such, He deserves and expects our thanks. Besides, being thankful is good for us. It makes us more positive, more loving, more generous in spirit.

With that in mind, let’s think about just two ways we might learn to make gratitude a natural outflow of our lives:

1. Invite the senses: We can live with more intensity when we consciously engage the senses. It’s like jumping into the lake instead of skimming over it in a sailboat. Jump into your sensory life. Feel the sun on your skin, really taste the food you eat, drink in the beauty of a single bloom. Our bodies need to be part of our experience of God’s gifts. Swim, don’t skim.

2. Savor the moment: Some of us tend to go through life on auto pilot, doing things without even thinking. But taking a little more time (a) to connect with someone, (b) to experience that emotion we are running from, or (c) to pause to ask for God’s insight develops awareness of the moments and not just the passing of the days.

Why are senses and savoring important? They help us become more attuned to the many gifts we are constantly being given. And then, we begin to realize we have Someone to thank. Gratitude naturally flows out of a life lived mindfully. Try it.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

 

A Prodigal Thanksgiving

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“Every good and perfect gift is from above.” – James 1:17

There once was a great thanksgiving feast that involved two sons. One had asked for an early inheritance and then took off, spending all his money partying and having fun. The older son stayed home and worked in the family business doing all the right things.

When the irresponsible son ran out of money and was desperate, Jesus says he came to his senses. Apparently he realized how much had been provided for him and how much he missed the privilege of being under his father’s roof. He went home, a humbled man, thankful beyond measure that he was invited back into the family.

The older son, though, was miffed. He’d been faithful all this time, but it seems not having any fun at all. He had been obedient, clean-living, and hard-working. Sure, he had a home, family, and satisfaction in his work, but he was resentful and bitter. He wouldn’t even come to the thanksgiving feast his father was throwing for his brother’s homecoming.

In this parable, the father was thankful, the younger son was thankful (I’m sure other family members were, too, though Jesus didn’t mention them), but the older son was not thankful. Instead, he was angry that he was not the center of attention and celebration.

Only the truly humble are aware of the blessings poured out on us by our heavenly Father every day. A humble heart is a thankful (and happy!) heart.

So, let’s celebrate with friends and family the blessings of our Father’s generous love. It’s time for a party – happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

“Sincere gratitude flourishes only in a heart that is humble, convinced of its own poverty and thoroughly aware that it is nothing and can do nothing without continual help from God.” (from Divine Intimacy)