A Prayer Journal is a quick, passionate discovery on what it looks like to seek God in prayer. In this writing, there are only 42 electronic pages, if reading on a Kindle. It’s simple but profound. Elegant like gold, yet practical as a silver utensil. Overall, it illustrates a heart that is hungry for God. A hunger that isn’t satisfied with anything in this world other than to know God. O’Conner’s last words describe the intimate longing her journal portrays, “If I could only always just think of Him.”
As a simple spiritual practice I often have a “song of the day,” in which I meditate on. Here is today’s song, “Nobody Like You.”
Giving is a necessary part of life. In fact, if you are reading this post, you have been given something, you were given life. From the moment you and I were conceived, we were given nourishment, time, and room to grow in our mother’s womb. This conceiving process of giving and eventually laboring occurs every day throughout the world. In fact, you may be very familiar with this fatigue, pain, love, sleepless nights, heartache, joy, cost, sacrificial giving and so much more that comes along with having a child.
I remember when I was pregnant with my firstborn, I would often say, “This kid is sucking my blood! He is taking EVERYTHING from me!” This statement wasn’t always a complaint, but a reckoned truth. I was GIVING my all, my everything, at every moment. There wasn’t a minute in which I wasn’t giving. Even in my sleep, I was providing nourishment for my son to grow and develop.
A paradoxical analogy that has recently come to me is pastors give this same kind of constant nourishment. Being a pastor is like being pregnant ALL THE TIME! They are fatigued, experience pain, have sleepless nights, anticipate the future with both joy and hesitation, sacrificially give and so much more. Each congregation is a growing body that continues to develop and receive from their pastor(s).
As I conclude this paradoxical analogy, my plea is simple. Although we are a body, a body of believers, we aren’t stuck in a womb. We are out, and we can give back! This month, October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and since pastors give their ALL, let’s give to them in return. Let’s appreciate our pastor(s)!
If you are in need of some ideas, here are a few:
1) Cash – green goes with everything!
2) Gift Cards – find out a place your pastor likes. Ask them! I know my pastor like Chic-fil-A.
3) Speaking of food who doesn’t like food?!? We all need to eat. Bring a meal or take them out for lunch, coffee, tea, etc.
4) Presents – again ask! If you are in a large congregation and you don’t personally know your pastor call his or her secretary. Maybe your pastor likes movies, archery, books, football, or collects small antique cars. Amazon is always there for you. You don’t have to go out of your way to get a present!
5) A card, phone call, text or thank you in person is a refreshing change from all the other Monday (or any day ending with y) emails regarding some complaint. Seriously pastors get more complaints than thank you’s. Give a thank you!
6) Team up with your home group or entire congregation to give your pastor a much-deserved vacation!
7) Last but not least, pray for your pastor! Prayer could be the greatest gift of all.
Often, when I take my dog out, I pray. Today was no different. When I heard my dog bark, my natural routine took place. I got my dog’s leash, and I told him to sit. Once he sat, I gave him a treat.
When I walked out my front door, I thought about texting my husband, but then I remembered how much I’ve been wanting to “stop before texting” I decided to change my plans. I didn’t text my husband. We all know we shouldn’t text and drive, but I’ve been thinking about stopping before I walk, sit, stand, or do anything.
All this to say, I have wanted to question the moment, the necessity before I text and ask myself these questions: Do I need to text him/her at this very instant? May this wait, and I talk to him/her later? Do I even need to say this at all? Could I just stop and pray?
Since the text, I was thinking about sending my husband wasn’t urgent and didn’t matter at all. My next thought was the goal I’ve been trying to reach – Will I stop and pray? Will the moment I grab my phone to text, someone, be a trigger for me to pray for someone?
This idea to stop before texting is kind of a form of fasting because it is saying no to something we do so easily. Without much thought, we grab our phones like we grab food. In fact, I might say it is harder for some to fast their phone, then to fast a meal.
As I put away the idea of texting my husband, I started to pray.
This one person came to mind, and I didn’t know precisely why I was praying for this individual, but I did. I prayed for her, her daughters, and her son.
As for a funny paradox, when God puts someone in my mind I often text the person and say, “I am praying for you.” I hope to encourage the individual as maybe they are having a hard day? Some days I never know. So after I technically stopped. (I put down my phone to pray.) I started again. I texted the individual who I just prayed for. I didn’t say much of anything, but, “Praying for you as I take out my dog.”
Ironically, all of a sudden my dog decides to stop, and sit right next to the black hot pavement. He didn’t even go pee. I began to laugh, and texted the person again (along with the picture below), “I guess God or my dog wants me to pray longer.”
I needed to stop again. I needed to keep praying.
There are so many times in life where we need to stop. Alternatively, our society has been trained to move fast. It’s even declared in our music, “Life is a highway, I want to ride it….” I’m convinced that life shouldn’t be a highway ALL THE time. That is chaotic.
We need to stop.
We need to stop and pray.
I just got back from a prayer getaway and since returning a hundred things came to mind before praying did. Of course, then the hundredth and one thing popped on in, I thought, I should pray. Thankfully, I didn’t start the conversation. In fact, sometimes it’s much easier when God starts first. God knows that I am a mom and all that entails. I also think God knows that I’m probably an undiagnosed ADHD believer, as God often has to interrupt me to get my attention. Can I get an Amen?
Tonight God interrupted me through two lovely space invaders. One space invader I gave birth to, the other one I bought. Of course, I would never say, “I bought a kid.” However, I did buy this kid; he is my dog. So two children (one by birth, another by bucks) got so close that they only left me with an approximately 2-foot square on my king size bed! Thanks to Google I found out the length or footage of a king size bed is 76 x 80. Therefore, my child and dog had up to 74 x 78 feet. Granted they didn’t take it all, but they crowded me into this little upper right-hand corner in which I had no space. They invaded!
Ironically earlier this evening I told my husband, I wish I could hide in a closet or a cubby hole. Since being gone this weekend, I didn’t have any invaders. I had space. I had my own room! It was lovely.
Tonight as the hundredth and one thing popped into my head, I realized why I should pray. God wants to invade my space! God wants to get close. From experience, I’ve sometimes learned when God wants to get close it isn’t always fun. Sometimes God wants to clean out the closet. You too may know it isn’t always fun until after the closet is clean. But tonight, I knew God wanted to be present with me. God wanted to spend time with me. Like my dog and child all snuggled up so close. God wanted to invade my space.
When I started to pray, I said, “God, thanks for invading my space. Thanks for being present even when I’m not thinking of you. You always want to be so close. You are such a good father. You teach me in so many ways. I love my space invaders. Thanks for interrupting me through them. Thanks for teaching me how to pray.”
God is not shy about asking questions. In fact, it seems God is a bit fond of asking rhetorical questions. One of God’s first rhetorical questions is noted in Genesis 3:11 after Adam and Eve ate of the apple. God asked them, “Who told you that you were naked?” Of course, Adam and Eve didn’t need to answer the question, nor did they make a verbal response. They were fully aware, they were self-aware, and precisely understood God’s point.
Another question God asked is listed in Genesis 18:14, when God asked Abraham, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” This question arose after the story of three visitors coming to tell Abraham that Sarah will have a son. Again, there was no need for explanation. Abraham knew nothing is too hard for the Lord.
One of my favorite rhetorical questions is listed in the book of Job. When God asks, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?” Those two verses are just part of the beginning of one of the most beautiful rhetorical pieces ever written. It captures who God is and magnifies God with immaculate details. Who better to describe God, than God himself?
This past week as I was singing and worshiping I felt like God asked me a question. The question was, “How do you know what healing looks like, are you the healer?” You may know I suffer from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, along with many other complicated ailments. I recently got a port, and I am getting infusions weekly to help with hydration and keeping my electrolytes balanced as much as possible.
Getting infusions is one aspect that is helpful to POTS patients and brings a bit of relief. By no means is it total healing! In fact, even with infusions every night around 8:00 PM or even a little earlier, I feel as though I am getting sick. You know the feeling, when you are tired, cranky, your throat begins to hurt, and overall you feel worn out. I try with all my might to stay awake until 9 pm, and then I crash. The good news is I have been waking up in the morning before 8 AM and I’m able to stay awake a whole 12 hours or more. A year ago, most of the time I couldn’t last 6 hours without taking a nap. So there is an improvement.
Although I am happy with the improvement, I wish I could see more…do more. I would like to see something more tangible and physical – what I determine healing to be. I would like to run 5 miles a day, do everything possible with my kids, make phenomenal meals, have an immaculate home, be active in my community, church, and so much more. I want to do it all! I guess I want to be some superhero, because really, who alone can do all things well? My ideal healing is nearly impossible for an average person. I’ve defined healing as being able to do whatever I want. As I write this definition on paper, it seems so arrogant, lofty and utterly selfish.
I don’t know what healing looks like. I don’t know what transpires in a body after surgery is performed. As stitches close a wound, I can’t see beneath an incision. Of course, I can see the effects of healing. I can see that I no longer take naps every day. I can see improvement in my blood work. But what is there I can’t see? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” All these things I can’t see – my belief, hope, and longing to do so much more. Do I believe?
My belief is running five miles a day, doing everything possible with my kids, making phenomenal meals, having an immaculate home, being active in my community, church, and so much more. It looks like my belief is rooted in selfishness, not healing. It is rooted in I; not the I AM. Me trying to be super. Ultimately, it’s a superficial healing. It’s what I deemed healing to be. But the real, the real is so much broader than I could ever see.
So I pray, God heal me. Heal me with and by your definition. Not mine. I do not know. I am not the healer. You are the healer. You are the great I AM. Heal me however you see me healed.