Dandelion Prayer

Dandelions—the bane of many homeowners who strive for manicured lawns. Adults see them as an irritation. A nuisance.

But children see dandelions as a source of unlimited potential. Wishes, hopes, and dreams wrapped up in the seeds of a wild flower.

When you were a child, did you ever pluck a dandelion puff to make a wish? Carefully, of course, because you didn’t want to waste even one feathery seed. After all, the one seed that dropped prematurely might have been the one to carry your wish to heaven.

Then we grow up and face reality…or do we?

dandelion prayerHow often do we, as adults, view prayer the way children view dandelion puffs? We close our eyes tight, carefully pick the “right” words, and fling them to heaven, wishing and hoping God will say yes to our request.

Is that how prayer works?

Not according to the Bible.

Most of us have grown up with a definition of prayer that is incomplete. How many times have we defined prayer as “talking to God”? But prayer is more than just presenting our requests and wishes to God. We don’t just talk to Him, we have conversation with Him.

This means we talk…and we listen. We listen as God speaks to us through His Word. We listen as the Holy Spirit prompts us to act according to His leading.

Prayer is more than just presenting our desires to God. It’s about aligning our thoughts with His thoughts. Our heart with His heart. Our will with His will.

The ultimate goal is not to change God’s mind, but to change ours.

So as summer moves into fall, are you watching the wishes, hopes, and dreams of the summer drift away on passing autumn breezes? Does it seem as if the heavens are made of brass, causing your prayers to hit the ceiling and drop back to earth in mockery of your desires?

Biblical guidance for prayer

Unlike dandelion puffs which depend on the whims of the wind, prayer is never futile. But God does give us some guidance for effective prayer…

A – Jesus tells us to abide in Him and have His words abide in us (John 15:7).

B – Believe when we pray (Mark 11:24).

C – Come with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).

D – Don’t doubt (James 1:6).

E – Don’t use empty phrases (Matthew 6:7).

F – Focus on who God is, not on your circumstances (Isaiah 26:3).

G – Expect God to show you great things (Jeremiah 33:3).

H – Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in your prayer (Jude 1:20).

I – Intercede for others (I Timothy 2:1-2).

J – Ask in Jesus’ name—would Jesus ask for what you’re asking for? (John 14:13).

K – If possible, kneel, letting your physical position reflect your heart (Ephesians 3:14).

L – Listen for the Lord’s call (I Samuel 3:4).

M – Ask with right motives (James 4:3).

N – Know that the Lord is near to all who call on Him in truth (Psalm 145:18).

O – Before we pray, are we obeying what we already know? (I John 3:22).

P – Persevere in prayer (Luke 18:1-8).

Q – Pray without quarreling with brothers in Christ (1 Timothy 2:8).

R – Rejoice regardless of our circumstances (I Thess. 5:16).

S – Seek His presence (I Chronicles 16:11).

T – Pray with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7).

U – Pray in unity with other believers (Acts 1:14).

V – ?

W – Know where your help comes from (Psalm 121:1).

X – EXamine your heart (Psalm 66:18).

Y – ?

Z – ?

Which of these verses is God speaking to your heart about today?

Here’s a challenge for you…
Can you find a relevant verse for the letters V, Y, and Z?  😊


Are You Mad at God?

Mad at God

Life happens…although not always the way we want it to.

Sometimes we’re surprised by amazing events beyond our wildest expectations. Other times, we’re blindsided by our worst nightmares come true.

When that happens, do you get mad at God?

After all, He’s sovereign, right? He’s in control.

God is omniscient. Nothing surprises Him.

And He is omnipotent—He is all-powerful.

So if something horrible is heading toward one of His children and He doesn’t stop it, shouldn’t we be mad at Him?

And if we should not be mad at God, why not?

If you’re a Christian—a child of God according to John 1:12—isn’t God supposed to be loving and merciful and compassionate to you?

Yes, God is love. He is merciful and compassionate. But where did we ever get the idea that we should be protected from suffering?

We live in a broken, sin-sick world. A world that needs a Savior. And that Savior suffered to bring us a restored relationship with the Father. So if Jesus suffered, why do we think we should be exempt?

Perspective

When we do experience suffering, perspective makes all the difference.

If I think I don’t deserve suffering, my perspective is governed by comfort and convenience. If I understand life is not about me, but rather glorifying the God who loves me, then my focus changes. It will be less about running from suffering and more about using that suffering as a means to point others to the God who loves them, too.

It’s not easy. But God never promised it would be. Still, it all comes back to perspective.

When my husband was first diagnosed with terminal cancer, I attended a workshop on suffering. The presenter, a gentleman by the name of Mike Gaynor, told the story of how his son, who had Downs Syndrome, was killed in a car accident. A reporter wanted to interview him, but he declined the interview. Her response? “I understand. You’re probably mad at God right now.”

But he could not leave her with that impression, so he said:

“Mad at God? How could I be mad at the God who just ushered my son into the glories of heaven, giving him a completely healed body and placing my son in His presence for all eternity? Mad at God? No!”

My Choice

And so, now that my husband’s earthly life painfully ended due to pancreatic cancer, I have a choice. I could be mad at God. Or I could say:

“Mad at God? How could I be mad at the God who just ushered my husband into the glories of heaven, giving him a completely healed body—no more cancer, no more pain—and placing my husband in His Presence for all eternity? Mad at God? No!”

That’s the perspective I choose. It’s not all about me. It never was.

Am I sad? Yes.

Do I miss him? Absolutely.

But God can use even my sadness for His glory…

  • For with the comfort He comforts me, I can comfort others, because I’ve walked the path they walk (II Corinthians1:3-4).
  • And with the peace He provides, those around me can see the presence of the Holy Spirit is real, in a way they would never notice if suffering were absent from my life (Philippians 4:7).
  • Even as I grieve, I grieve not as one who has no hope. So I’m able to affirm the assurance of heaven through faith in Jesus Christ to those who desperately need that hope (I Thessalonians 4:13).
  • Finally, if I never experienced suffering, how would I ever experience God as my Refuge, Provider, and heavenly Father?

Are you struggling with pain and suffering or perhaps watching a loved one suffer? Instead of being mad at God, consider changing your perspective. Start with a personal relationship with the God who loves you more than you’ll even know. Your life will never be the same.


A Time to Work and a Time Not to Work

Labor Day - celebrating work

The Labor Day holiday weekend is coming. Ironically, it’s a holiday we celebrate by avoiding what we’re celebrating. We celebrate labor by not working.

This holiday reminds us there’s a time to work…and a time not to work.

And that applies to our Christian life, too. There’s a time to work and a time not to.

Our restored relationship with God is not dependent on any labor on our part. Consider Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV):

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

We can’t take credit for our salvation. That’s what makes it so amazing. Every other religion is based on humanity’s efforts to work their way up to heaven. But Christianity is all about God reaching down to us. He did it all.

And it’s a good thing He did. Because we don’t have the ability to reach up to a holy God. Our sin separates us from Him—a chasm we couldn’t breach even if we wanted to. If restoration is to occur, it must be initiated by Him.

Still, there’s a place for our work. Because the next verse (Ephesians 2:10) tells us:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Yes, there’s a time to work—not for our salvation, but because of it. We serve the Lord from a heart overflowing with gratitude because He restored us to Him.

But what about Philippians 2:12-13?

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (NIV).

“Work out your salvation” or “It is God who works in you”? Which is it?

Both.

As Oswald Chambers explained:

“With focused attention and great care, you have to ‘work out’ what God ‘works in’ you— not work to accomplish or earn ‘your own salvation,’ but work it out so you will exhibit the evidence of a life based with determined, unshakable faith on the complete and perfect redemption of the Lord.”

But what about Labor Day? What about the work we do vocationally? The Bible has something to say about that, too, especially for Christians:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV).

So this weekend let’s celebrate labor. And as we celebrate, let’s remember that our salvation is the one area where God did it all, because there’s a time to work…and a time not to.


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