Tag Archive | prayer

Awkward!

Do you find the word “awkward” as hilarious as I do?  Go ahead, say it about 5 times to yourself and see if it doesn’t make you laugh!  It’s a word I’m hearing frequently these days from my 9 year old.  I’m not sure where she picked it up, but she often refers to situations by saying, “well, that was awkward!”.  Sometimes it fits, sometimes I think she just likes to say it!

Let’s face it– none of us really like to find ourselves in awkward situations or conversations.  We’d much rather have things flow smoothly, be thought well of, exude poise and confidence.  (Side story that will probably not be funny to very many people, but I will include anyway because this is my blog and I want to put it in here.  🙂  When you become a Sales Director in Mary Kay, there is an oath you take.  Every time a group of new directors is recognized on stage at an event, they take the oath and all the current Sales Directors say it with them.  It’s very cool and meaningful, but there is one phrase that always makes me and my best friend, Jill, laugh: “I will conduct myself with dignity”.  She and I are not really known for dignity.  Our oath should probably read, “I will conduct myself with goofiness”.  Okay, you can go back to the regular post now, after shaking your head at me.)

This has been the biggest learning curve for me.  Most often my opportunities for obedience to the Lord these days come in the form of awkward situations.  Mark Batterson says, “Awkwardness is a catalyst for spiritual growth.  Are you willing to do things that feel awkward, like kneel at an altar or obey a crazy prompting of the Holy Spirit or have a tough conversation with a good friend?  If you are, then God can use you!”

My most recent example: I’ve been dealing with chronic sleep issues for about 3 1/2 years now.  On Monday, before my Bible study, I really felt like God was telling me to ask the women in my group to lay hands on me and pray for this issue.  I did not want to do it.  It felt like I was making a big deal out of it and I knew there were several in the group who are dealing with much more difficult circumstances.  I didn’t want to be overly dramatic, but I could not shake this impression, so I obeyed and asked my friends to pray right then and there.  Before I did, though, I also realized an emotional issue was surfacing again (maybe I’ll write about that in another post sometime) and God asked me to be vulnerable enough to share that as well.  Yikes!  What followed was the most beautiful prayer time I may have ever experienced.  I haven’t received the healing we asked for yet, but I felt incredibly loved and God was definitely there with us.

To wrap up, there was another benefit of my obedience.  Another friend who is dealing with some scary heart problems was able to admit how scared she was and we laid hands on her and prayed for her as well!  She wouldn’t have received that blessing (and honestly it was just as much a blessing for the rest of us praying for her) had I not awkwardly spoken up to ask first.  God is really good!

I hope you  made it to the end of this very long post!  I’ll leave you with the exhortation to “go out and be awkward today” and then come back to share your stories here!

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Dream Big

I have a love/hate relationship with risk.  I used to be very cautious, responsible, and overthink everything.  Over the last few years, I’ve released a lot of my tight-fisted grasp and become much  more spontaneous.  These days I like to think that I’ve lightened up, grown up, and am not such a control freak!  I like to do adventurous things and face my fears.  Except when I don’t and the old me comes rushing back in!  Do you ever have Jekyll and Hyde moments/days/weeks?

I’ve…

  • learned to talk to people I don’t know on a regular basis
  • learned to love trying new things
  • decided to often say yes and then figure it out later
  • started 2 businesses and run them successfully
  • pierced my nose (not really that risky, but I do love it and it’s kind of different!)
  • become passionate about using my gift of evangelism to intentionally reach out to people who are seeking God

At the same time, when it comes to certain things, I want to shrink back and stick my head in the sand!  One of those things that creates that fear in me and brings the “hate” part into play with risk is dreaming big.  As soon as I start dreaming, it’s as if something comes over me that says, “no, we’re not going to get our hopes up here.  Don’t think too far ahead, just focus on today/this week/this month or you’ll get overwhelmed.” (yes, the voices in my head speak in plural!).   It’s even a physical reaction many times where my heart races and I feel anxious.  As I’m writing this, I’m experiencing those emotions!

In addition, I find myself thinking very narrowly when it comes to dreaming big.  I suppose that is somewhat of an oxymoron because I don’t think dreaming big and narrow thinking really go together!  Do you ever argue with yourself?  Here is an example:

–what if I could…?

–but you can’t!

–but God can!

–sure, He can, but what if He doesn’t?

…and on and on.  Does that happen to any of you?  Can I get a witness?  (where does that phrase come from?  I’m pretty sure I’m too white to use it, but it just felt like the right thing to insert there!)

I’m just about finished with a book called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  The premise of the book (based on a Jewish legend) is that God wants us to pray circles around our dreams, fears, other people, His promises, etc.  He focuses on 3 aspects: dream big, pray hard, think long.  I would like to cover the other 2 in subsequent posts.

A few favorite quotes…

  • One litmus test of spiritual maturity is whether your dreams are getting bigger or smaller.  The older you get, the more faith you should have because you’ve experienced more of God’s faithfulness.
  • You cannot build God’s reputation if you’re not willing to risk yours.
  • If you put what little you have in your hand into the hand of God, it won’t just add up; God will make it multiply.
  • Too often we let how get in the way of what God wants us to do.  We can’t figure out how to do what God has called us to do, so we don’t do it at all.
  • We shouldn’t seek answers as much as we should seek God.
  • Prayer opens our spiritual eyes so we see sooner and further.
  • Our biggest problem is our small view of God
  • A big dream is simultaneously the best feeling and the worst feeling in the world.  It’s exhilarating because it’s beyond your ability; it’s frightening for the exact same reason.

What stands out to you?  Where is God calling you to dream big?  I’m planning a prayer/spiritual retreat for next month to allow God space and time to shape my dreams into something He is pleased with and to ask Him to stretch my faith and expand His purposes in my life.  Stay tuned!

 

Not Normal

Yesterday we finished up a sermon series at church called Ri-dik-yu-lus, which I loved.  The central message was, “if you want want normal people have, do what normal people do.  If you want what few people have, choose to do what few people do.”  Pastor Steve talked about normal vs. ridiculous prayers yesterday.

The thing that stood out to me the most was this: the way you pray reflects what you believe about God.  He used an illustration of a “normal” family facing an issue in their lives.  They talk to their friends, do everything in their power to solve the problem, come to the end of their rope and decide “well, all we can do now is pray”.  How often is that true of us?  I think God wants us to pray while we act.  Not sit around waiting for him to answer and not do anything, but “push and pray” as Steven Furtick says.  He tells of the day when his wife was in labor with one of their children and things got a little dicey at the end.  The doctor and nurses went on high alert because the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck and she needed to push that baby out!  He talks about how he was glad that the medical team didn’t just gather around the bed and pray for everything to turn out right.  They took action!  Push and pray!

Normal people pray normal prayers, safe prayers.  Don’t go out on a limb.  What if God doesn’t answer the way we want him to– let’s not make God look bad or get our hopes up, only to be disappointed.  Here’s the thing.  When you pray and God doesn’t do what we ask in the way we want him to do it, it doesn’t have to rattle our faith.  We can choose to believe that God is sovereign, he is a good God, and he is in control. 

My final insight from the sermon was this question: if God were to answer all your prayers from this past week with a yes, just stamp them all yes, how would the world look different?  In other words, are you praying ridiculous prayers or normal prayers?  Just for those closest to you or for more than that?  A related question might be, if God were to answer all your prayers with a yes, would you have asked for more?  This isn’t presumptuous– it’s bold!  Pray with boldness and for boldness.  Pray for miracles to happen.  You won’t manipulate God.  But don’t underestimate him either!