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A Praying Life

I’m reading a book on Prayer.

Well an eBook, on kindle, on my phone, but that still makes it a book right?

Since I started I’ve paid a lot of attention to the way others around me pray, and I’ve had a lot of people voice their struggles with prayer, public prayer especially.

I took the time to think over my own prayer journey when the last person said to me they couldn’t pray in public, and considered how I went from too shy to not afraid! And it wasn’t easy, for me it was connected to my sense of being unworthy of God’s love, unworthy to be a part of the church, feeling that I wasn’t accepted and in fact was far too broken for the shiny plastic people around me.

Most days I don’t struggle with those things anymore, if we don’t go to God when we’re messy then we’ll never get to Him, that’s when we need Him most and when He loves on us the most!!

But if you are struggling I want you to hear this.

  1. Jesus found His identity in God, He said in John 5:30 that He could do nothing on His own.
  2. Jesus didn’t let the world distract Him, with all the people he healed, he focussed on them one at a time, He slowed down and poured out love.
  3. Jesus understood and showed us the need to connect with God alone.

We are designed for relationship with God, but like any friend we spend time with, He not only deserves our best time, he deserves our focussed attention.

Turn off your phone, put your laptop aside, go to a quiet space, and tell Him about your day, your struggles, the desires of your heart, your weaknesses, your pain, your dreams. And it’s ok to do that out loud. Worried someone will see you and think you’re nuts? Pop your cell-phone earphones on so it looks like you’re on a call!

The more time you put in, the easier it gets…and I don’t mean hours on your knees! Just like with a friend who lives nearby, the more often you talk, the better the friendship becomes. Give it a try!

The better your prayer relationship in private, the less painful it is to talk to God in public.

A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

Life in all it's Fullness

Paul Grayson, was a Cruise Director for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. He would often have customers ask questions about aspects of the cruise experience.

Here are some of the sillier ones:-
What do you do with the beautiful ice carvings after they melt?
Which elevator do I take to get to the front of the ship?
Does the crew sleep on the ship?
Is this island completely surrounded by water?
Does the ship make it’s own electricity?
What elevation are we at?
There's a photographer on board who takes photos of passengers’ and displays them the next day for purchase ... the question asked: If the pictures aren't named, how will I know which ones are mine?

I’m sure there are times we have all asked questions that appeared, to others at least, silly. Even Jesus did this. In Luke 18 He asked a blind man “What do you want me to do for you?”, In John 5 He asked a man who had been an invalid all his life “Do you want to be made well?”. They seem on the surface to be silly questions but as always Jesus knew exactly what He was doing.

You see when we are unwell in whatever way, physically, mentally, relationally or whatever for extended periods of time we develop ways of coping that become very familiar, even comfortable to us and wellness will mean that those coping mechanisms are no longer appropriate and we have to learn new, functional behaviours.
· Being more of a giver and less of a receiver.
· Taking responsibility for my actions, reactions & attitudes NOW, rather than blaming someone else for the way I act.
· It will involve us discovering what our spiritual gifts are and being willing to use them for the benefit of others and the glory of God.
· It will involve us stepping out in faith…
· Wellness will mean “CHANGE”.

To become the people God wants us to be either individually or corporately will involve change, and change always involves loss, even the change from sickness to wholeness.

It will involve letting go of behaviours and attitudes that are not Jesus like and learning to act like He would. It will mean losing the security we find in our own abilities and trusting ourselves to God who invites us to cast all our cares on Him and allow Him to care for us.

Jesus said “I have come that you might have life in all it’s fullness”. Not a trouble free life but a life where we can cope with whatever life brings, a life where we can act and react in responsible ways, a life where we can not only be a receiver but a contributor.

Change

Quite some time ago I read a wee book called Who Moved My Cheese?  by Dr Spencer Johnson.  It’s a great story that which illustrates the vital importance of being able to deal with change.  

Essentially the story follows four characters, two mice called Sniff and Scurry, and two little people called Hem & Haw, who live in a maze.  Every day these four characters arrive at a particular place (cheese station) to get their fill of cheese (which represents all that makes them happy).  Except one day they arrive at the cheese station to find that there is no cheese.  The rest of the story tells how these four characters deal with this change in circumstances.  Sniff & Scurry head off into the maze looking for new cheese.  Hem takes a bit more time to head off into the maze looking for new cheese, but Haw refuses to change, he keeps going back to the same cheese station over and over again hoping that each time he gets there that the cheese will have returned.  Even when Hem brings Haw some new cheese, Haw refuses it because he wants the old cheese.

I’ve found this story a useful reminder that we all deal with change in our lives, whether we want to or not.  We grow up, we learn to drive, we stop going to school & get jobs, we get married, we travel etc.  Things around us a changing all the time too, I remember the pre-Google days, in fact I remember the pre-internet days, yet here I am using it every day.

The other thing I find useful about this wee story is that it reminds be that whilst change can be difficult, I can choose how I deal with the change.  I can choose to be a Haw and refuse to accept it until it is forced on me with all the pain that brings or I can be a Hem, who gets the idea that change has to happen and goes with it looking for the good and the new.  Or I can be like Sniff & Scurry, run with the change as soon as it comes.  To be honest I’m more of a Hem than Sniff & Scurry. 

One thing I do know is that no matter what change comes my way, God is faithful and unchanging.  He is the bedrock in my life, my shelter & my shield no matter what is changing around me.  And it is to Him that I turn to keep sane amongst all the changes in my life. 

Summer is coming!

Only one week and three assignments left for university this year! Then it’s all backyard cricket, barbecues, beach, and general good times all round. Apart from a little bit of work thrown in to fund some adventures planned for the summer, it’s shaping up to be a relaxing time, hopefully spent outdoors!

As we approach summer, I’m reminded of the heightened sense of community as well as the chance to refresh our mental and spiritual state for the next year to come. It is in the summer where we have increasing opportunities to journey with other people and to really experience life together. Hopefully, everybody will have the chance to take some time off work or use the weekends to spend quality time with other people doing more of what we love. Where stresses from school and work can be put to the side in favour of building relationships with each other.

Along with the opportunities to build relationships with each other and create strong memories and experiences together, there is also our own personal wellbeing to build or even rebuild as the year comes to an end. Personally, I’m looking to invest in some tramping boots, a one-person tent, and the basic tools to go on some solo overnight camps. Worshipping my God through nature is one of the primary ways I find I can really feel God’s presence and reflect on my faith. It may be similar for you or completely different.

So, I encourage you this summer to discover or rediscover what it is that gives you the capacity to truly worship God in your own way. Refresh and refuel your mental and spiritual state heading into the new year. Journey with other people and create memories to last. Reflect on and count your blessings.

“Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11:28