Tag Archives: Prayer

A Light in the Evanescence

Hey! It’s me again. I know, you probably thought I died or something because it’s been so long since I said anything here. Rest assured, I have not passed on but am instead alive, very well (thank you for your concern), and trying to restart this blog before IT dies.

Speaking about dying (bad transition, I know, but you’ll have to move on because I’m not changing it), I have been struck lately by how transient this world really is. From our births, we are stuck in a cycle that is doomed to end.

Whether it be fame, money, careers, youth, or even relationships, the cycle cannot last forever. Money is fleeting: princes have become paupers overnight. Youth only lasts for so long. Relationships very often end before they are properly started. And as for fame… can any of you name all the American Idols? I can’t. See. You can’t do it either. Case closed.

Even at its most basic level, life itself, we see a clear starting point and a definite end. Our world is built upon things that cannot and will not ever last. But, for some reason, we lose sight of the fact that the now is not the only thing that matters. It is so easy to get caught up in mindless entertainment and the trivial matters or today that we take our eyes down from the Goal and look down at the ground, or, as is oftentimes the case, into the gutter.

Everyone has their own things that distract them from the Goal. For some, as I mentioned earlier, it’s money. For some, sports. For some, relationships. I’m more of a I-want-as-much-personal-and-particularly-juicy-scoop-as-you-can-give-me sort of person. I’m not a gossip. Honest. Your secrets are safe with me. I promise. It’s just that I need to know what’s happening in people’s lives like some people need to know who won last night’s football (a.k.a. “soccer”) game. To me it’s just that kind of important. So when I heard that, for example, Carrie Underwood was getting married, I was very excited. Probably overexcited. But that’s not the point. Or, for something that more people can relate to, the Royal Wedding.

But what got me thinking was this: If a personal detail in the lives of a few people entire unconnected to myself can get me so excited, why can I not get so excited about what God (Someone very important) has done and is doing in me (someone entirely connected to myself) or my friends? Why can I not have at least the same level of concern for the salvation of those around me as for the floor I will get at Wheaton next year? What have I gotten out of knowing about Carrie’s wedding except for the ability to (finally) have a something to say in a conversation with an avid hockey fan (she married a hockey player)? Why would I rather spend my money on a new shirt, song, or video game when I could (and probably should) be thinking how to best maximize its impact in a place that matters.

I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people that has to take everything to an extreme. Nothing is half-hearted. I either enthusiastically throw myself into a project or don’t even give it a second thought (or a first thought, for that matter). I either exercise fanatically or not at all. I can’t just like a singer – I either love her or hate her (keep your comments about Enya to yourself as we move on). But any one of those things – my hard-held opinions – can change in a heartbeat. A big mistake or continual frustration can quell my passion for the project I’m working on. A rainy day that throws off my workout routine can be enough to get me out of the gym for weeks. A few lame songs and I don’t really like the singer as much as I used to. Getting up a few minutes late or saying “I’ll do it later” can result in days without a quiet time.

But thanks be to God! For He is not like us! He is constant. Even though we may change, He is our firm Rock. He is an island in the chaos. He is our unwavering light in the cycle of evanescence (that’s my favorite word, just FYI). He is the Goal to which we should be striving, not the fleeting moment. I will die. My aviator sunglasses will go out of style and I will look back at the picture of myself and laugh in shame. I might end up hating my friends so much that I never want to see them again. I will get old and fat and ugly (and don’t you get so smug, because so will you). As Isaiah 40:6-8 says, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Nobody’s going to remember or care who did what and who wore what at which awards, who beat whom at which games, what your wore, what you ate, how clean your house was, or anything like that 100, 50, 20, 10, or even 5 years from now. But what will matter is how we have spent our time serving our Lord and making His presence known on the earth until He returns. And I pray that when He returns He will find that I did indeed utilize all the resources, gifts, and talents He gave me to my best ability and to His glory alone.

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Prayer

Today in Sunday School, we studied a very convicting topic: prayer. I, as well as many other Christians, fall into the habit of not praying. There are many reasons why, such as not understanding the importance of prayer, forgetting that it is a command and a privilege, getting our priorities wrong, etc… For me, I struggle with simple laziness and hypercalvinism (which, I discovered, is a fancy word for an idea I already knew: saying that God is sovereign over everything, so I don’t need to pray).  But I think that another issue (which I will not really dwell on) is that we simply have a lack of faith or think that we don’t truly need God to take care of it – we can handle it ourselves.

 

Prayer, however, is not something that God says, “Oh, you can take it or leave it, Nathan. It’s okay: you don’t have to pray today,” to. It’s not only expected from us, it’s a command.

 

Colossians 4:2 says: “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving…” and I Thessalonians 5:16 – 17 says: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing…” Therefore, we see that prayer is a command, just like “don’t steal” and “don’t lie”. We seem to be very comfortable keeping those command and ask forgiveness when we break them, but how often are we horrified with ourselves, when, at the end of the day, we look back and see that we haven’t prayed at all.

 

When we pray consistently, we see that our will becomes shaped to God’s will. Psalm 37:4 – 5 says: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” As we become sanctified to become more and more like God, our desires become closer and closer to His will for us. Therefore, the passage does not say: “Ask the Lord for anything, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” It says: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” This is very convicting, because our prayers are often just one big wish-list. Now it may be that the iPod we want may be in God’s will for us, but, just because your prayer is answered with a “yes” doesn’t mean that you are delighting yourself in the Lord and committing our way to the Lord.

 

We wrapped up with a section on how to pray, practically. We had the ACTS Model which follows this format:

Adoration or praise to God,

Confession of sins

Thanksgiving to God for what He has given us

Supplication of requests to God.

 

Another way to make sure that your prayer time is structured is to keep a prayer journal. I did this a while ago and then never picked it up again, but I think that I will try it once more. This is kind of like a schedule for what you will pray for. For example, Monday might be “pray for immediate family day” in which you would record specific requests that you have pertaining to your immediate family and then, as new requests come off, you can add them on. This might be a particular blessing because, when a prayer request is answered, you may check it off and see God’s provision in your life – even if it is not exactly what you expected.

 

A sure-fire way to pray is always to pray straight Scripture. If you look through the Psalms, you will find many prayers that are beautiful and full of doctrine.

 

Anyway, these are my thoughts. Thanks, Josh, for teaching a great lesson today! I felt that it was a very appropriate reminder – something we could use more often!