Prayer prompts for Monday & Tuesday, Sept. 7-8

The holiday weekend threw me off schedule; sorry ’bout that!

(Monday) David is dealing with troublesome thoughts and sorrow in Psalm 13, but he turns his attention to the Lord’s “unfailing love” (v. 5-6, NIV).

 

(Tuesday) In Psalm 35, David feels outnumbered & overwhelmed. He asks God for deliverance and pledges all honor to the Lord, not his own glory.

How long, O Lord? (Prayer Devotional for the week of September 6, 2015)

As I was getting close to finishing grad school, I remember the idea of writing my dissertation being very daunting. How do you just sit down and write 100+ pages? One of the best pieces of advice that I received during that time was: You don’t. You write a chapter, or a section of a chapter, or sometimes just a paragraph. You divvy up the project into bite-sized chunks to make it more manageable.

 

Sometimes, though, I would write and write and write, then look at my page count and realize it had barely budged. I would strum my fingers on the keyboard and ask myself, “How much longer will this take? How will I ever finish? I have so many people rooting for me; what if I fail?” Looking back in hindsight, of course, I’d like to tell that worrywart that she’s going to rock her dissertation; she’s going to graduate on schedule; and, she’ll even get a job offer of her dreams before it’s all said & done. 🙂

 

We’re only human, and it can be difficult to look beyond our current challenges and see the big picture in the future. If it makes us feel any better, we aren’t alone in our fretting. At least eight times in the book of Psalms (depending on the translation), the writer cried out, “How long?” to the Lord. King David would often beg God through poetry and song to spare his life when he was being pursued by his enemies, or forgive him when he felt God’s wrath hot on his neck for his sins. As I read the Psalms, I picture David cowering in a secret cave, scribbling his prayers by a campfire.

 

Do you realize that the same God who answered David’s prayers also listens to ours?

 

Is there something you are dealing with right now that you keep wondering how long until it is resolved? Don’t hesitate to take your concerns to the Lord, but don’t just dump them in prayer and then walk away. Spend time quietly listening for God to impress upon your heart what he might want you doing while you wait for the answer. Perhaps you are in a challenging situation at work, home, school, etc., and he wants to use you to be a witness to a specific person. Maybe your trial is a test of character, not a punishment. Whatever the situation, trust God to handle the details; you just be willing to listen and serve.

The Shadow of Death (Prayer Devotional for the week of August 30, 2015)

I have shared in previous posts that my testimony has a lot to do with overcoming fear – namely, the fear of death. I have attended more funerals than I can count, and my experience with death began at an early age. Even though I no longer fear death, I still don’t enjoy having it thrown in my face, which is why I don’t really care for crime scene shows, the zombie craze, Stephen King books, or realistically violent movies.

 

Psalm 23, one of King David’s poems, is often read at funerals with the intention of comforting people, but to be honest, I always found it a bit creepy: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death …” (v. 4, NJKV). It conjures up images in my mind of something sinister lurking behind a bush, waiting to jump out and snatch me. Shadows are menacing. After all, how many horror movies are set in broad daylight?

 

It took me many years to come to the realization that the “shadow of death” can be a comforting shade, not a threatening omen, to the believer in Christ. Think about it … how do we gauge parking spaces in the summer heat? The best spaces aren’t judged by distance from the front door, but by proximity to shade! Shade is simply a shadow, and we love it, in that context. Or, consider the story of Jonah, chapter 4 – God allowed a plant to spring up suddenly to provide much-needed shade for Jonah, and he was grateful (v. 6).

 

The “shadow of death” does not have to frighten us. As followers of Christ, we can find comfort in our mortality because to be apart from the body is to be in his presence for all eternity (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). When life tries to beat us up, we can “take refuge in the shadow of [God’s] wings,” as David wrote in Psalm 36:7.

Impending Death … and Hope (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 15, 2015)

I received some devastating news this week about an old mentor and kind friend. As things stand now, it looks like she has advanced pancreatic cancer that has spread to her liver. I am terribly sad, and yet I feel a strong sense of peace for her. She loves the Lord, she adores her family, and she cares about her fellow man. She is passionate about justice, and not just the kind that penalizes criminals for wrongdoings, but the kind that rights the wrongs in the world. She is an advocate, a brilliant thinker, and a confidante.

 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unless Jesus returns to take us home before then, there is a 100% chance that you will die. How does that make you feel? Does the notion of dying fill you with dread or joy? Like it or not, as James 4:14 and Psalm 103:15-16 point out, our lives are like a mist puffed into the air or a dandelion blowing in the wind – only temporary.

 

While imprisoned for the gospel, Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He had a very matter-of-fact view about death: if he lived, then he had more opportunity to serve the Lord. If he died, then he got to be with Jesus. Win-win!

 

For a long while after my brother died, I had peculiar feelings that could only be described as jealousy. I hesitated to share it, because I didn’t want anyone mistakenly thinking that I was suicidal. It’s just that the more I thought about him being in the very presence of God in heaven, it felt like I got the short end of the stick. I/we were left behind to grieve and cope, to continue living in this broken world of sin and despair and problems, while he was free from such entanglements. How I long to be with Christ!

 

Easter is just around the corner, and it is my absolute favorite holiday. Sure, I love the festivities of Christmas, and I enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving, but wow – Easter! Easter is a reminder that this world is not our home (Philippians 3:20). Easter is about the resurrection, newness, eternal life, victory, and HOPE.

 

It is with this everlasting hope in my heart that I can say to my sweet friend: Go in peace. Go to Jesus, relish in his presence, and enjoy the reward for your labors. I will always cherish having the opportunity to know you and call you my friend.