Sunday, September 29, 2013

A new way to pray

So lately God has been calling me to prayer.  Which sounds really stupid to say, because doesn't He always?  Isn't that part of life with him?  It's like saying "So lately I feel led to feed my child and put them to bed at night".  Duh.

I guess what I should say is that lately I've actually been following his command and desire for me to be in prayer.  And I've been putting into practice the whole "do not worry" thing.  I love how this version puts it:

Philippians 4:6-7

The Message (MSG)
6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

"Let petitions and prayers shape your worries into prayers."  Oh man, there is such wisdom in this.  I read a quote once that said the not praying is the greatest sign of dependence on self and not on God (it was worded way more eloquently than that but you get the point).  It's true.  My refusal to pray means I'm keeping things to myself and ultimately counting on myself or time or fate or whatever to make things right, and not God.

I am a worrier by nature (a sinful nature), and, as self serving as it sounds (and is), turning worries into prayers has been incredibly calming to me.  It helps me throw those anxieties back on God.

And here's a story about how important systems are.  I've tried keeping prayer journals before, and have kept them.  But I found them hard to work with because I kept having to flip back to old requests and it just was not a good system for me.  Enter index cards.

I started writing prayers on index cards, dating them on the back when I started praying for whatever thing or person on there.  I cross out stuff and adjust and write the date when the pray gets answered, then keep the answered cards in an envelope.  

I love a tangible stack that I can see and add to and edit easily.  I need things written down.  I like having cards I can shuffle and pray over daily.  I love being able to write how God answered a prayer and the date on the card.  He works faster than we give Him credit for sometimes.  This works for me.  And I have found that a working system has been really helpful.  

Here's just a sample of things on my cards.  Some things are little (you'll notice a dishwasher on my list).  Some are big.  Some are people who will be on there until they get healed or get home.  Some will be on here until they come to know Jesus.  I love the mix.  All these requests.  All these worries and things that press upon me, some in big ways, some in small.

I pray over these daily, casting them on Jesus, expecting Him to answer.

You see that card in the lower right hand corner?  I put a date on that card this week and tucked it in my envelope of prayers answered.  This boy whose body had been afflicted with cancer got his ultimate healing and went home to Jesus this week.

Sometimes God answers prayers in ways we wouldn't want or wouldn't choose.  But prayers for healing have been answered.  God used that boy to reflect His glory, and His testimony was done.  Jesus called him home.

I'm so thankful that God calls us to prayer.  For each other, for ourselves.  We need each other's prayers.  We need to press our needs and desires into the person of Christ.

I came across this quote this week:

You are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image to reflect His image. Part of who He made you, is to be dependent, to have needs, to be provided for. Basically, He made us with a beautiful need for Him! David realized this beauty when he said, "I have no good besides You God". Take a minute to thank your wise and loving Creator for making you with the best need and for giving us Himself and promising to meet all of our other needs.

So this week, turn your worries into prayers.  Shape your needs into petitions.  And let him know.  Maybe get a stack of index cards and have at it.

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