Monday, December 12, 2011

Striking the Ground With Arrows

As a child, I would lay in bed praying 'til all hours of the night.  I remember when I was about seven or eight (my parents never did teach me the "Birds and the Bees" :) I prayed to God for a baby. I had no clue where the baby was going to come from. During my adult life, I attended prayer groups, daily pray at home and "journal" while praying.  Journalling (I type rather than write) is a way of praying that facilitates hearing from God while you pray.

All this to say, I had quite an active prayer life. Additionally, I have what the Bible calls discernment, and what our denomination refers to as the gift of intercessory prayer. I Corinthians 2:14 speaks of discernment as a spiritual ability to discern things one can only see through the Spirit of God. Discernment is like this: Often I can tell if a person is lying and "see" what's in a person's heart - even if the person is in deception. Or I can "see" lust in eyes, sense evil spirits, and "hear" what a person is really saying, even when it's different from the words coming out of their mouth. It took a lot of growth and maturity to manage this gift, and it's from God, not some kind of voodoo magic. I had to train myself to respond/react to the words they were speaking - not to what I was hearing/seeing. The gift of intercessory prayer is praying on behalf of someone or something, and God responding in a powerful way. Combining these two "gifts" enabled me to pray quite accurately for people and situations and marvel at God's responses.

I took great care not to pray my own will, most of the time. When my son died, I prayed that God would let a drunk driver run into me (they always walk away unhurt), but, you can see how that turned out. l ask God if I should pray about a prayer request - before I pray - if I pray. As the tragedies of my life increased, so did my prayers, but then so did the tragedies. Once I relinquished my will over to God, I kinda figured, "What's left to pray about?" If we believe, "Not my will but Thine be done," that pretty much covers it. Yet, there are multiple scriptures admonishing us to pray continually (I Thessalonians 5:17 for example) - but about what? How? A prayer conundrum.

For a while, after my son passed, I wasn't able to intercede. I was hurt that God wasn't answering prayers (my way) and the years that followed were horrendous. The things that God allowed to happen were beyond comprehension. I prayed, but with a slowly withering faith. How could this be happening if He loved me - even though I Peter 4:12 tells me, "don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you test you, as though something strange were happening to you"  One has only to read the New Testament to see how Jesus' followers suffered endless persecution, trials, sufferings, beatings, hunger, and more (2 Corinthians 6, just to name a few). Somehow my brain synopses weren't connecting those dots (and I don't even come close to "apostle" suffering).

God has floated my boat (see "Current" post), miraculously, to the middle of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - I lived at the base of the pyramid for so long, there was not much time to do anything else but survive. My emaciated prayer life is returning: first was clear liquids ("Help me make it through the day"); then soup and crackers (Grant me the ability to do your will in everything); now, slowly entering back in to intercessory prayer. I was persevering, but not hoping (Romans 5:5) nor rejoicing (I Peter 4:13) through my suffering. I believe that "The God of all grace, who called (me) to his eternal glory in Christ, after (I) have suffered a little while, will himself restore (me) and make (me) strong, firm and steadfast" (I Peter 5:10).

Though I have a degree, and much business experience, God has me working in a big box store, shlepping paint buckets. A few of my co-workers have made it their life's mission to continually spread untrue rumors about me. They passive-aggressively make my work load double (they often disappear, forcing me complete their tasks, too). I have a protruding disc and arthritis in my back, so every day is about pain management,  trying to be a good testimony in spite of the slights, and having new mercies daily for them like God has for me (Lamentations 3:23).  I fail, a lot. Sometime I cry (in private) or snap back, but I have ample opportunity to practice forgiveness and humility (apologizing when I snap, well, most of the time).  I report only the blatant stuff, because I was sent to supervisory "school" and am currently awaiting an opening in any of the nearby stores for a promotion. Whiners don't get promoted. Of course, I have applied at other corporations - to save my back from further damage, but also to get back into the professional world and out of the daycare.

I woke up the other morning, was reading my Bible and began to pray about my job situation. I asked God, again, to open other doors for me, as "What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open" (Revelation 3:7). But this time, I was reminded of Jehoash in 2 Kings 13. He went to Elisha's deathbed seeking help from God, and when instructed to strike the ground with arrows,  he limited his battle victories by striking only three times. So, I just didn't pray for a new job, but one that will be a delight, not a long commute, staffed with kind coworkers, provide enough money to support my family properly, offer health insurance, and consist of a combination of sitting and walking that won't further damage my back. I know the job is out there, but I also know God puts us in situations to bring out the sin luxuriating in our hearts. Every day I assure Him that I've learned all my lessons, but thus far, He hasn't agreed with me :).

If you've read any of the other posts, you know God's will and mine almost never match up. I'll continue to pray about the job, and other issues, but, as always, I'll wait and see/hear what God has in mind. Psalm 84:10 is another one of my watchwords, "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked." He knows that I want His will more than mine, so if it means not getting my dream job, OK, but I'll continue to pray for a better job, ask for help learning all my lessons, and repent from the dross that is purged daily from working with God's surgical tools :).


  1. This prayer conundrum is something I flip back and forth on often. Part of me feels so conflicted whenever I ask for anything ("God bless this or God bless that"), because He has already blessed me more than I deserve with the gift of salvation. But then, like you point out, Scripture commands us to be praying time and time again. More and more I find my thoughts and prayers turning toward one thing, and that's to Know God as much as I can and to serve Him with all that I am. I pray to be in God's desired Will and that my actions are Spirit-led and rooted in love. And when I think to, I try to pray as specific as possible, as I feel that this is better than vague generalizations.

    All that to say that yep, I agree with the conundrum.

  2. I read a post like this and I find myself wondering if I've even begun walking with God... I feel like such a newbie and spiritual weakling sometimes...

    Ah, well, someday I hope to grow up a little..

    Thanks for the post (as usual). Great and greater.

  3. Logan,

    Like minds… Yesterday I was wheeling a cart around asking God to help me with loving the unlovable. When I taught the jr. highers, I drew a pyramid of 2 Peter 1:5, and that morning, before work, I saw I was struggling with the pinnacle – love. I believe my roadblock is the sin of men-pleasing, but we’ll see.

    Thanks for the insight.

    From your writings, I know you’re not a newbie! Cross-carrying isn’t a very glamorous life, and I fail - often. Don’t dwell on your failures, think on the times you’ve hoisted your cross back up, and have continued forward.

    PS: I thought you would have appreciated the pun I slipped in ☺