Tag Archives: disciplines

“I’ll Pray For You” And Other Lies We Tell

This past week I had an opportunity to pray with a friend. The two of us gathered with another brother in Christ and we spent time before the Lord. In the course of that time we lifted him up before our heavenly Father and just tried to encourage him and remind him of who is in Jesus. There is nothing better than speaking truth to another because in the end we are speaking truth to ourselves. However, something happened as we wrapped up our time together that I could not have anticipated. My friend, let’s call him Rafael, said something that just blew me away. Rafael looked at us and said, “Thank you for being my words.”

OK, I have to be honest, I did not know what to make of that statement. I was shocked by it. It had never occurred to me that when I pray for someone I would actually be praying for them. That the person that I am praying for would use my words for their prayer to God. That as I spoke, they were speaking. Not until that moment this past week have I ever understood the power of interceding for another, nor my own failure to follow through when I offered to pray for someone.

I have said, “I’ll pray for you,” and “I’m praying for you,” and just offered one prayer right then because I was thinking about it, but forget about them and their situation until I see them again. Or, “You should pray about that,” and I do not even offer to pray for them right there. Prayer is not our way of feeling better about ourselves or what’s going on around us. Prayer has become therapy rather than trembling; at outlet rather than an opportunity to engage God and allow Him to speak. I wonder sometimes if we see prayer as an option rather than as an act of surrender. Rafael needed someone else to speak for him. His heart had feelings and thoughts that were held captive by pain and confusion; issues that I and the other brother did not have. Look around you. What friend, neighbor, family member needs your help in expressing what they are feeling, but are unable to articulate? I found the following quote by Richard Foster as I was looking for pictures related to prayer.

Intercession is a way of loving others. - Richard J. Foster

Does this reflect your view of intercessory prayer? I cannot say this was me before this event. However, I have found myself praying more this week. Not just because I need to because I do. I find myself praying for those that I have promised or offered to pray for, but have not done so like I should. I have come to realize that when I intercede I am standing in the place of another. The word “inter-cede” literally means to surrender for another. I have not been doing that like I should.

If you read my random ruminations would you pray for me? I desire to be more consistent and faithful to walking and talking with my Lord and Savior Jesus, my heavenly Father, and the great helper, the Holy Spirit. I need to surrender more and more in this area and I need your help.

Advertisements

How Keeping The Speed Limit Keeps Me Sane

About one month ago I attended a men’s conference at one of my favorite outdoor camps, Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters. There are some good folks up there.

I am writing this because my wife noticed that I had started keeping the speed limit when I drove. When she asked I did not have a good answer for her. I still do not, but I have been thinking about it and wanted to share with her and with you some of my thoughts.

As I spent time away, reflecting and praying on a couple of decisions I had to make, something happened that I do not have a good explanation for. Nothing was said to make me think about the fact that most people speed when they drive. We talk about being good men, good fathers, good husbands. We talked about our devotional life with God. We talked about life and we ate good food. But, there was nothing said about the fact that most people in this country break the law every day. There was not any reference to this kind of behavior, but when I left the camp I was not speeding.

I like said, I am not sure why I am driving the speed limit consistently. I can not explain it, but what I know is the effect that it has had on my mind and heart. By obeying the speed limit I notice how many people are in a terrible hurry to get to the next place. I have noticed that people look at me like I’m the one that is strange. “Doesn’t he know that I have some place to be!” My fellow drivers just do not appear to understand why someone would NOT be in as big a hurry as them. It has been one of the most rewarding realities of my life. I was living a hurried life. And now, I do not have too.

Leaving five or ten minutes earlier is a better choice than trying to make up that five or ten minutes by driving recklessly. Most of our time on the road is less than an hour long. Driving five, ten or even fifteen miles an hour faster for that short a distance does not really improve driving time. What driving faster does is amplify the affects should (God forbid) an accident occur. This is a great website from Australia that helps validate this by providing stats on the effects of speeding on a possible accident. (I am pretty sure Australians have the same tendencies as we do. They are humans too.)

Here are some of the findings that they discovered. Driving over the speed limit:

  • increases your chances of being involved in a crash
  • means you have less time to react to avoid a crash
  • takes longer to stop the vehicle to avoid a crash
  • increases the severity of injury in a crash.

This is not the only interesting effect of keeping the speed limit. Keeping the speed limit has given me something to pray about as I drive. I find myself praying more as I drive. I just keeping thinking of all the people who genuinely believe that if they do not speed all their plans will fall apart. I have realized that I do not want this to be my life.

I have learned that keeping the speed limit not only makes good practical sense, it makes good spiritual sense. I want to live a consistent life before God. I am not where I need to be, but I hope that I am making progress.

Spiritual Starvation: The Reason Many Christian’s Struggle

Ok, so here is the deal. When I get hungry, I eat. When I get tired, I sleep. When I get discouraged, I eat. Just kidding on the last one. I usually go watch a movie or watch my kids play.

On a serious note though, if hunger is the sign that something needs to be put in our stomach’s, what are we supposed to put in our spiritual belly when we are spiritually hungry? This is a question that I have been trying to get my head and heart around over the last couple of months. I do not have this all figured out, but I think that I am going in the right direction. So, let me share with you what I have been thinking.

There are two places in the Gospel’s were Jesus says something about spiritual food. What makes these two instances interesting is that one has to do with consumption and the other has to do with activity. I am by no means the symbol of fitness or dietary excellence, but I know that if I want to be healthy I have to eat well and exercise or stay active.

This is what Jesus said. The first he said to the devil and the second he said to his disciples.

But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4, ESV)

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work….” (John 4:31-34, ESV)

Continue reading Spiritual Starvation: The Reason Many Christian’s Struggle

Book Review | Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health

Donald Whitney’s book on spiritual health is probably one of the most challenging that I have read in the last few years. I began to read it not really expecting to finish. You just never know what you will find in books that claim to offer insights into spiritual formation. What I found was a book that did not travel the same path as other books. Each of the questions struck a different note. And each question moved me closer to understanding that there is much more involved in my own spiritual development than I had noted before.

I think that one of the things that struck me about each of the questions was how “ordinary” they were. There were not overly spiritual, but as I dug deeper into what they meant for my own faith journey I was struck at how much was still left to uncover. This is not a book that can be read or digested quickly. I would say that each question could be expanded into individual books themselves. As I read I found myself challenged on two fronts.

First, I was struck by the directness of the questions. There was not mincing of words. Whitney was direct and went right to the bottom line. There is a wonderful mix of practical application and spiritual depth. I found myself having to pause and think, often times several times on the same page. This is not one of those books you just push through reading. It has a tendency to push back.

The second area that I found myself thinking about was this. If I cannot answer these questions in a Biblical and honest way there is a problem with my spiritual health. Along these lines, I realized that the questions were not what I expected. I was expecting some other “spiritual” questions, but as I read and thought about the questions that Whitney asked I was left rethinking what I thought was spiritual and what was not.

As we walk along the path of faith, we will be confronted with the fact that the longer my “life” and my “faith” exist in different, separate areas, the longer it will take for me to arrive at a place of maturity. These questions reveal that I cannot avoid becoming a Christian if I practice spiritual disciplines. And isn’t this exactly what we want, to be what we profess?


My next post will give the ten questions and some of my thoughts about each.