I Guess I’ll Just Pray

“I wish I could do something to help.”
“I’ll just pray . . .”

Have you ever felt frustrated that you can’t do more for someone or that you’re not doing enough? Maybe you can tell that someone is in pain—at your workplace, across the aisle in the grocery store, or living in your home—yet you struggle with how or whether to engage. I have; maybe you have, too.

We want to help, to do, to say something helpful or comforting, to fix. These are fine and often helpful responses. Yet sometimes we miss beautiful opportunities to partner with God, as we think on what we can do or say. Our greatest response or engagement toward a person generates from the stir of God’s Holy Spirit in us. We don’t “just pray.” We exercise a privilege to go to Almighty God on someone else’s behalf because we believe that he listens and that he always responds with his best in his perfect timing.

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you.” (Psalm 141.2a) The psalmist David knew that prayer honors God. “And when he (Jesus) had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5.8)

Express your heart to God—plain and simple, humble. Our earnest words are incense to our Father who wants intimacy with his children and enjoys the pleasure of our coming to him. Continue to offer your heart’s words, over and over again . . . unless or until he stirs your heart to modify it. God doesn’t need us to pray, in order for anything good to happen. We need God and thus, we need to talk to the One we need.

I could and want to pray more. Perhaps, the same is true for you. So why don’t we? I can share one personal, powerful insight I experienced recently—We forget how AWESOME PRAYER is.

A few weeks ago, a group of pastors’ wives gathered to pray. I knew I had to slip out after a few minutes in order to get to the airport. When I quietly stood, a friend whom I’d only met twice looked up, “Let’s pray for Teresa before she leaves.” Everyone stood, surrounded me, and prayed. I was humbled and awed. They are weary, too, yet they gave as conduits of the message and power of God. I hardly know some of them, but they are my sisters in Christ. They loved me with their words to our Lord, and he refreshed and strengthened me. . . . just pray? What could have meant more?

I spent the rest of that week with packers as they boxed our belongings for our move to South Carolina. Occasionally, one of the packers named Patricia asked me questions, “How long did you live in Houston? How old are your children?” So I did the same. Then she told me about her mom. As she shared, I was surprised by the reaction in my heart. I felt pain, even grief, for what her mother had experienced. I took a deep breath, “May I pray for your mother?” She looked shocked and almost whispered, “Yes.” When the first word left my mouth, I began to weep. I tried to stop but couldn’t, so I kept praying. When I finished, I looked at her and smiled through my tears (yes, I felt a little weird), “I will continue to pray for Sylvia.” . . . just pray? God swelled my heart with his love, and I trust that he holds Sylvia’s.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4.18)

Dear God, Thank you for your love for us. Help us learn from you how to more often exercise our privilege to pray. Grow us to recognize your prompts, so that joy fills our heart as we respond with silent or aloud words to you. Help us see prayer as sweet communion with you. Fan in to flame passion in our soul to pray. Thank you for Jesus. Amen.

Grace for Goodbye

“Can I come by for a few minutes?”
“What is it?” she asked as I entered her house.
Tears brimmed in my eyes, I hugged her, and stepped back. “We’re moving.”

In our almost 29 years of marriage, Terrell and I have moved six times, each related to a job change. First, God gets our attention to reflect upon the present. Then, he stirs our heart to consider what he possibly has next for us. Last, he shepherds our steps and heart as he brings the current season to a close.

In recent weeks Terrell and I have cherished time with friends in Houston, saying goodbye. We’ll stay in touch and hopefully see each other again, but our sacred season together to plant a church has ended. My heart is sad. It’s hard to say goodbye. Underneath each goodbye is the history of that relationship and significant shared experiences.

The beauty of the sad goodbye is the treasured story that led up to it.

God reigns over our stories. Line by line, we live them. Each relationship is a story. Each event, milestone, revelation, and challenge is a story. Some stories develop over years. Others are short in time, yet long in depth.

So, have you or your child experienced an end to a story recently—involving a job, relationship, school, or perhaps a move like me? It’s never too late to mark its end, in the warm light of God’s love.

Marking an end helps us say goodbye—to a place, a rhythm, a plan, and perhaps to people we’ve grown to love.

Marking an end creates space to celebrate God’s goodness—his faithful provision of all that we need and more, his insights to our self and insights to Him, new relationships that wouldn’t exist if not for the sovereignty of how God intersects lives, his patience, mercy, and amazing grace.

Marking an end helps us ready for the new beginning that God has in store.

When I mark an end, I spend time alone to reflect. I spend time with the people with whom I lived the story. We reminisce, laugh, share our hearts, and maybe cry. Especially, I thank God for giving me this time, for all that he did in it and in me. And then I commit it all to him.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26.3-4)

When We Struggle To Trust God

When my boys were 1 and 2, I read my first parenting book, And Then I Had Kids by Susan Yates. Her message held encouragement, challenge, tenderness, and a refreshing perspective that I desperately needed with 2 bustling boys. I never dreamed that years later I would ask this woman whom I admire to write an endorsement for my first book. Today I welcome my friend Susan as a guest blogger. I highly recommend her new book, Risky Faith. It is timely and invigorating for us as women and as moms.  Enjoy!
risky-faith-book-coverDo you struggle to trust God?
I do.

I suspect that at this very moment each of us has at least one big concern on our heart that we are praying about or trying to fix, while at the same time trying to trust God with our issue. It might be a concern over a child, a health crisis, a difficult marital situation, financial stress, job dissatisfaction or a decision that has to be made for elderly parents.

As I contemplate my “issue” I’ve realized how easy it is to let it become bigger in my head than my God. I get frustrated. I worry, and I lose perspective.

Some time ago I began to worry about one of my children. The more I thought about this child the more anxious I became. Scary “what if…” phrases began to plague me. I tried to read my Bible and to pray but it did not help. Finally in desperation I cried out to the God, “Help Me Lord.”

Two simple words came into my head- words that were from God, words that would change everything.

Remember Me.”

I realized that I had let my concern for this child grow and grow. It had become so big in my head that the problem itself became my focus. And I had forgotten who God was. I had forgotten how very much He loved my child. I had forgotten that He knew my child much better than I did. I had forgotten that He was working in ways that I could not see. He was in this issue. He was totally involved and His love was perfect. He was so much bigger than I gave Him credit for. It wasn’t that these concepts were new to me. It was more that I wasn’t living day in and day out in the assurance and knowledge of how BIG he is.

This insight has led me on a quest to discover in fresh ways how very Big our God is. It’s a life long journey that will not end this side of heaven but it’s exciting.

Along the way I’ve learned a few things: 

Your ability to ruin your child is not nearly as great as God’s power to redeem him.

It’s not all up to us! At this very moment Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father praying for your child (and you!) What a relief. (Hebrews 7:25, Romans 8:34) 

God gives us the exact kids we need, not merely so that we can raise them, but that they might be His tools in our lives to grow us up into the women He has created us to be.  It’s helpful to ask, “what are you teaching me through this child O Lord?”  

Natural growth involves becoming independent. However, spiritual growth involves becoming more dependent. God loves it when I fall on my face and cry out to Him in great need. He will always answer – in His time and in His ways. He does what is best not necessarily what is fast, and He’s working while we are waiting. 

God is so much bigger than I realize and He longs to reveal Himself to you and to me. As we begin to see more and more of Him we will find that our issues begin to diminish. They don’t completely go away. We are fallen people in a fallen world. However, we can begin to see our concerns from a healthy perspective.

Susan shares more insights from her journey in her new book,  Risky Faith, Becoming Brave Enough to Trust the God who is Bigger than your World

Also, I encourage you to check out Susan’s blog and her other books HERE.