Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015: Year of Prayer - Week 1

I want to go to my next level of faith, with 2015 seeing answers to prayer like never before!...By prayer - I mean consistent communication with God.
Last week, I wrote a post about 2015 being my year of prayer and these two statements are the take-aways.  This post is the beginning of what (I hope) will be my documentation of how that aim is changing me over the next 52 weeks.  I've already been praying more than I was before - mostly because I am more aware of it than ever before.  I wouldn't say I was a slouch in the area of prayer in 2014 but because I was witness to the Lord answering prayers in wonderful ways, which really started to grab my attention.

It was like God grabbing my face and saying, "Look at what I'm doing here!" I figure it is best to pay closer attention.

It is clear to me how much time there is in the day.  I have jam-packed days like everyone else, there are a lot of creatures to care for in my life.  I used to be keenly aware of how little time I had in the day, especially for myself.  But now, as my thought life is being upgraded (I'll talk more about that in a second), I feel my attention drawn to this fact: there are copious amounts of sections during my day I could be at prayer.

I don't mean spending hours on my face in "formal" prayer.  Maybe I'll get there, if I submit enough to letting the Lord wake me up in the middle of the night (I'm working on it but not wholly surrendered, I assure you).  

I've come to realize the majority of the time my mind is engaged in relative neutral.  Usually when my body is doing something else: exercising, driving, washing dishes, or laundry, I've noticed I'm not really thinking of anything, or I'm running through my to do list.  Usually, though, I've found is my mind is focused on how I can get what I want for myself.

That last one hits hard.  I am now acutely, almost painfully aware of just how much I think about only myself: my wants, my needs, my desires....and how to get them.

When these minutes of my life tick by, I can never get them back.  Whether I've used them for good, evil or nothing in particular, they are gone with the wind.  If I've spent most of them on myself, thinking about my comfort, my feelings, my intentions, I'm not storing treasures up in heaven.  I am the center of my universe.  Not God, not Christ, not my family, not my church.  Not anyone but......ME.  The central line running across the movie screen of my brain is: MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME

Convicting, is it not?

I didn't say this was going to be easy.  In any economy, you don't get something for nothing.  Certainly, you don't get a better/stronger/more effective spiritual (or physical, emotional, relational for that matter) life without having to pay for it.  You have to pay to play.  You have to become aware the Cross is on the floor in order to pick it up.

It simply comes down to a transfer of minutes.  I must move some of my currency (of time) out of the "ME," account into the "PRAYER" account.  Fortunately, this kind of transfer will get me somewhere.  I think I'll get moved out of neutral (or in some cases going backward) in a few areas of my life.  That's not the end goal, but it sure is encouraging!

This week, I've been trying to move minutes around.  This isn't happening in ways anyone else would really notice.  For instance:
  • Instead of thinking about how I wish I was already finished when I exercise, I've been praying for healing for my friends and family with health issues; praising God for being so close to them during this time. 
  • When I'm lying down with Ella in her new big girl bed, instead of being annoyed she is flopping around like a fish, I've been praying for her to get some rest; thanking God I can be at home with her. 
Here's a few I just thought of:
  • When I'm washing dishes, instead of being frustrated there is no one else around to do this loathsome chore, I'll be asking God to help my friend stay in her marriage; grateful He saved mine.
  • When I'm folding laundry, instead of watching TV, I'll be asking the Lord to clearly guide my husband who is hard at work; thanking the Lord for His immense favor towards us. 
  • When I have a few moments of quiet, instead of checking social media, I'll be praying for the next words (and time) to write in my book; remembering He gave me something important to say.  
  • When I'm walking the dog, instead of wishing she would hurry up and do her business, I'll be praying for Natalie and Sophia; praising Him for blessing them with love for Him at such young ages. 
  • When I'm driving, instead of tuning out the world, I'll be praying for my church and the world. 
I'm confident it will not stop there.  Prayer is something God loves for us to do, so when you work to take it seriously, the opportunities start popping up like popcorn.  

I pray in all kinds of ways.  I can be loud, especially when I'm in praise mode and singing.  I can be quieter when I'm speaking in English or my prayer language.  There are times when I just picture the words in my head as I'm saying them, trusting the Lord sees them too.  My eyes leak pretty often, (especially when I'm grateful) so I count my tears as prayers.  I can even let the motion of my hands be my prayer.  Or merely breathing in more of Christ in, as I breathe myself out.
Photo of ceiling of Sistine Chapel, was literally above me

Earlier, I mentioned that "thought upgrade."  Here it is, from the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:1-2,

Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

I read that on Tuesday.  It sparked the idea in me to wonder how much time I waste thinking about things "on the earth," instead of "things which are above, where Christ is."  Reminds me of a song my friend, Ms. Janice, loves to sing: 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

I hope you can find more time this week to pray, as we begin our year-long journey prayer.

P.S.: Not coincidentally (of course), today during church our pastor challenged us to pray, on our knees for 5 minutes for the next 7 days, using the "Examine" method.  That's where you review your day, looking for the things that took life from you and the things that brought life into you.  Then, of course, you give each of those to God, thanking Him and asking Him for help.

Look likes I got another 5 minutes each day added to my "Prayer" account!

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