Praying Through the Pain

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Hope in the dead of Winter

I find it hard to pray without my mind wandering in the best of times. But, when I am hurting and in pain, then I find it difficult to put two words together in prayer. So what are we to do when our prayers are moans and groans… rasping laments beginning and ending with two feeble words—O God!

How does God expect us to pray in pain?

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  Romans 8:23-24

I have attended many deliveries in my career and for most anesthesia was not available. I would often hear screams during labor—“O God help me!” or “Lordy, Lordy!” Were these words of anguish really prayers? The one thing that kept these mothers praying through the pain was the thought of new life coming.

Pain, or grief, or a deep hurt from our point of view seems to interfere with our prayers to God. But like a woman in labor who cries out to God—keep praying for our groans are not lost upon God. There is new life coming.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Romans 8:26-27

Drop by Drop Beauty Forms

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A beautiful ice chandelier

Just like this ice sculpture is being formed drop by drop, layer upon layer into something beautiful, we too are being carefully molded by the Holy Spirit into the likeness of Christ.

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. John 1:16 NAS

Undeserved grace upon grace,

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

Unnoticed blessing upon blessing

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.                 2 Corinthians 3:18

So take heart God is not done yet, but know this He is faithful to carry us onto completion.

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

White-Gloved Hands of Praise

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Ponderosa Pines lifting white-gloved hands in praise.

I can read Isaiah 12 over and over and it never loses its power, or joy, or wonder. I can dwell on each verse and my song of praise and thanksgiving keeps building with in me for I know it is just the beginning.

 

Looking Up in Prayer

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Lifting hands to heaven

When I pray sometimes I catch myself going through a formula to determine how effective my prayer will be:

  • Have I been obedient for at least 48 hours?
  • Length of prayer is directly proportional to its effectiveness.
  • Fasting will really increase my chances for a favorable outcome to my petition.

It is funny how I think I can twist God’s arm by doing these things. Don’t get me wrong these spiritual disciplines are good to do, but they are not meant to leverage God––to get Him to do what we want. Instead they are disciplines that get us to a place of humility and dependence upon God.

I propose a different checklist to go through as you approach God with a request:

  • Does God’s love reach to the heaven’s and endure forever?  Psalm 36:5 √
  • Is His compassion new this morning?  Lamentations 3:22-23 √
  • Is God faithful in all that He does?  1 Corinthians 1:9 √

I must remember prayer is all about God, and not about me.

Extraordinary

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The sun shining through the trees…extraordinary!

O LORD make this an extraordinary day.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

Jesus didn’t come to just save us from evil, He came to give us an abundant extraordinary life.

What makes for an extraordinary life? Living this day to the fullness of God’s blessing. What is God’s blessing? His love for us in Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  Eph. 1:3

Life is not about fame, or power, or fortune, but living in, and through, and by the love of God.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Eph. 3:17-19

Stop for a moment an let the love God has for you build into a crescendo of joy. For one day of God’s blessing and love, at work in us, and through, and for us is worth a lifetime elsewhere.

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;  Psalm 84:10

Pure as Snow

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Beautiful snow, a metaphor for life touched by God’s grace

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Isaiah 1:18

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

My Hope

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Glorious View

Hope gives us life today because it assures us of God’s goodness for our tomorrows.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, Hebrew 6:19

Our hope is this: Jesus Christ in us the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32

Seeing the Forest through the Trees

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Winter’s frosting

Sometimes at church I can’t see the forest (worship of God) for the trees (my mistakes). I feel and act like I am in the old covenant. In the Old Testament, worship had to be done perfect, or the sacrifice was worthless.

Sunday we gathered and the mistakes began to mount. A worship song was sung too high for me and I could not sing without squeaking. I had trouble handling the communion elements (I am clumsy with a little tremor). Someone’s cell phone buzzed. My mind frequently drifted, but Jesus, the New Covenant sacrifice, covered all the short comings, elevating all of us to perfection in worship allowing the Holy Spirit to move in a mighty way.

And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22

The worship was made perfect and acceptable to God, for in Jesus we are made holy and pleasing.

Sometimes

Icicle Ridge winter

Sometimes mountains hide

In everything I should say thank you to God.
But sometimes I slip and say, “Why did you let this happen?”

I can praise Jesus for all He has done for me.
But sometimes I get confused and say, “Why did You do this to me?”

He gives me everything,
But sometimes I get upset over nothing.

One day after all is said and done, I will bow and say,
“The LORD is good, His Love reaches to the heavens, His faithfulness to the skies.” (Psalm 36:5-6)

But my sometimes will be forgiven, forgotten, and be no more.