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Overcoming ‘Prayer Slackerdom’

7 Nov

Girl Reading BibleIn her book, Confessions of a Prayer Slacker, Diane Moody tells the funny story of how, as a young girl of maybe nine or ten, she attended Camp Nunny Cha-Ha in Oklahoma. The theme of the week was learning to have a quiet time, and Diane described the required one-hour quiet times she had… just her and God.  Her description of one of these hour-long sessions made me (Dawn) chuckle.

“Did I mention these quiet times were supposed to last an entire hour?” she said. “I tried. Really I did.”

“Now I lay me down to sleep…” No. Wait. That’s a prayer for babies. I can surely do better than that. Ah! I’ve got it! The Lord’s Prayer! Much more grown-up. So I closed my eyes and recited the familiar words.

“Our Father, Who art in heaven…” Art? I like art. I hope we get to paint this week. Maybe some watercolor…

“Hallowed be Thy name.” I’ve never liked my name. Diane. It’s just so plain. Why couldn’t Mom and Dad have named me Veronica? Or Tabitha? Or Maria ~ like Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Oh my Gosh, I love that movie!”

“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…” Be done, be done, be done … will this Quiet Time ever BE DONE? I’m sooooo bored! B-O-R-E-D. BORED! BORED! BORED”

On earth as it is in Heaven.” I wonder if Julie Andrews and I will be friends in heaven. I loved her in Mary Poppins.  I really liked that bag of hers. All that stuff just kept coming out!

“Give us this day, our daily bread…” I’m so hungry, I could puke. I sure hope they don’t have Sloppy Joes today. Those were gross! maybe we’ll have hot dogs. I’ll take mine with ketchup, no mustard. I hate mustard.

“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” What the heck is a trespass anyway? And why should I care if someone tresses past me?

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” I am so tempted to short-sheet Sally’s bed. That would serve her right for stealing the top bunk.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” This hour feels like forever. FOR-E-VERRRR!

Amen. There. I prayed. Now what? (1)

And Moody then thumbed through her Bible, confessed all the sins she could think of, and tried to deal with the remainder of her “Quiet Time.”

Been there? As I read her words about going through the motions of prayer and Bible study, Confessions of a Prayer Slackerspiritual detours on her prayer journey, and the common excuses people make for not spending time alone with God, I found myself identifying. Though I’m not where I was years ago, I still am not where I want to be and sometimes … yes, sometimes, I’m a “slacker.”

Moody doesn’t leave it there. She doesn’t claim to be an authority on prayer. She’s just is an authority, she says, on “prayer slackerdom.” So she offers motivation and practical help to get started with a prayer life and Quiet Time that makes a difference. She handles “excuses” with humor and insight, exposing how silly we get sometimes when it comes to capturing time with God.

I appreciate Moody’s transparency, and I wonder how many of us would also get honest and say our prayer life and/or Quiet Time need some improvement.

Here’s a quick motivational check up that Diane offers in the book:

“If someone told you to spend the next twenty-four hours in prayer, Continue reading

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Prayers with Muscles

17 Aug

Boy praying - face upwardFive-year-old Ricky said grace at family dinner one night.  “Dear God, thank you for these pancakes,” he said.

When he finished praying, his mother asked, “Ricky, why did you thank God for pancakes? We’re having chicken tonight.”

Ricky smiled and said, “I thought I’d see if God was paying attention tonight.” (1)

Texan Jeannette Sharp, whose writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers and other titles, compiled the book Hurray God! ~ Hope, Pray, Believe She tells a personal story of an answer to prayer that rocked her world as a child and helped her to understand the power of God.

In “Five Boxes of Christmas Cards,” Jeannette wrote about an incident in fifth grade . She hurried home after school to pick up a case of boxed Christmas cards. She wanted to sell them, door-to-door.

“I headed out with high hopes, and knocked on every door for blocks, but found no buyers,” she said.”

Her father had died earlier that year, and the urgent need to make money to help her family griped her young heart. “I worried about our money and could tell mother did, too,” she said. “I often saw her fight back tears. She wrote down everything she spent in a little black book.”

Jeannette knew that Christmas would be bleak without her daddy. And so, as it turned dark outside and cold winds blew, she decided to try one more house.

“As I walked up the driveway and knocked on the door,” she said, “I whispered, ‘O God, please help me sell all five boxes,’ she said. The bigness of my prayer seemed almost unreasonable.”

The lady who answered the door bought ALL FIVE boxes.

“I could hardly believe my ears,” Jeannette said. “All of a sudden, nothing mattered ~ not what Mother’s little black book said, the cold north wind, or that Daddy was gone.” Clutching the money for the cards, she ran home to tell her story.

“We had always gone to church, and I believed in God,” she wrote.  “But this was the first time I knew through and through in my heart that God heard me, saw me, and cared for me.” (1)

I love that story, and others in the book encourage me to hope in God and believe Him for more. Hurray God bookJeannette’s book stretches faith and renews the desire for powerful (not wimpy)  praying.

Has God ever answered an “unreasonable” prayer for you … a prayer you prayed with muscles, bold in seeking an answer to a desperate need? Though we cannot force God’s hand ~ our prayers do not manipulate Him ~ I believe that God is honored by bold prayers, and especially when we plead His promises.

Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8) to remind us that we should always pray and not give up. We can pray boldly (Hebrews4:16) because we believe our Heavenly Father desires to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:7-11).

The Bible tells us that the prayers of righteous believers are powerful and effective (James 5:16b). Jesus shared a story about a man who had unexpected guests and no food to serve them. The man pounded on his neighbor’s door, asking for bread, and his persistent boldness had positive results (Luke 11:5-8).

It’s true! God wants us to pray with MUSCLES … and remember: muscles grow stronger with exercise. Flex your prayer muscles today!

(1) Adapted from a joke at: http://www2.netdoor.com/~gina/cleanjokes.htm

(2) From Jeannette Sharp’s compilation of hope-filled stories,  Hurray God! Hope, Pray, Believe (WinePress Publishing, 2011), pp. 124-125

No Girlie Girl Running

17 Jun

Deciding to take up jogging, the man was astounded by the wide selection Tennis Shoe with Pocketof jogging shoes available at the local sports shoe store.

While trying on a basic pair of jogging shoes, he noticed a minor feature and asked the clerk: “What is this little pocket thing on the shoe?”

And the clerk replied, “Oh, that’s to carry spare change so you can call your wife to come pick you up when you’ve jogged too far.” *

LOL!

I (Dawn) read about two runners who both needed a good dose of character.

“Marathoner Loses by a Mustache.”  So read the headline of an Associated Press story. It appeared that Abbes Tehami of Algeria was an easy winner of the Brussels Marathon, until someone wondered where his mustache had gone!

Checking eyewitness accounts, it quickly became evident that the mustache belonged to Tehami’s coach, Bensalem Hamiani. Hamiani had run the first seven-and-a-half miles of the race for Tehami, and then dropped out of the pack.  He disappeared into the woods to pass race number 62 on to his pupil.

“They looked about the same,” race organizers said. “Only one had a mustache.”

The article said it was expected that the two would never again be allowed to run in Belgium. *

Ya think?

I never was a runner. First, I run like a girlie girl. My sister did not inherit this girlie girl gene, and she could really fly when she ran. But I even look clumsy jogging. OK, I’ll be honest. I look like a duck when I walk.

But I admire people who run. I will cheer them on and watch them win medals. I know how much hard work it takes to prepare for a race.

I have gone to out to breakfast with my friend Jill and her husband after she’s completed a good run. When she meets us at the restaurant (not even panting), her face glows. Her body is svelte. She pays the price, and it’s worth the results.

The Bible uses the metaphor of running in Hebrews 12:1-3. Paul exhorts believers, “…run with patience the race that is set before us…..” Paul tells us to look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, so we won’t be “wearied” ~ so we won’t get discouraged and “faint” in our minds.

The key to our own race is to consider “Him that endured.” Jesus endured in His own life “race,” and as we focus on Him, we understand how we can be persistent and press on in ours.

Paul also used the running metaphor in 1 Corinthians 9:24: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

In other words, in the spiritual realm, Continue reading

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