Saturday, June 25, 2011

prayer and praise

As I prayed this morning I thanked God for who He is and His attributes. I try to keep this part of my prayers fresh because it often sounds more like rote memorization recited daily on the pages of my journal. Thank You for Your love, Thank You for Your mercy, etc. Even though I am not always as focused as I wish to be, I think that is one of the most important parts of prayer each day, the time spent reflecting upon the glory of God.

In the past I wondered, does God need to be reminded about who He is? I think it is a healthy part of a relationship, and we do the same thing in our earthly relationships. I tell Tim the things I love about him and thank him for the wonderful things he does for me and for the wonderful person he is. I should do the same thing for God. Instead, often I'm just tossing up a prayer to God asking, "Lord please help me with my day." I'm sure Tim wouldn't appreciate it if my daily communication with him was "Tim, please help me wash the dishes and fill the tank with gas." That is discouraging and not loving communication. When our words are filled with adoration it is uplifting for the person being praised, but also for the one doing the praising.

David constantly praised God in the Psalms, remembered His mercies to His people, and recalled His attributes.

"Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14

I think it is important to praise God not only because He deserves to be praised at all times, but because it reminds me of the truth about God. It helps me remember who He is, that He is love and beauty, strength and glory, grace and mercy, forgiving and faithful, holy and pure. God knows that He is all these things, but I forget. I forget that God is amazing and come to Him with a exhaustive list of needs and worries, hoping that He will answer me when I call. I need to praise Him daily to remind myself of His glory.

Prayer is a mysterious privilege. We are allowed to approach the God of the universe at all times. We do not need to go to temple or have our prayers mediated through an earthly priest. God's Son is our High Priest, Jesus. Because of Him we can talk to the Father, any time, any place.

Prayer is something that we should do without ceasing and too often cease doing. I think if I really understood prayer I would pray so much more than I do.

"To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing." Martin Luther King Jr.

May the Lord strengthen us to pray when we are weak and when we are strong, when we are sad and when we are joyful. May the first words on our lips be praise at all times and in every situation.

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21

Thursday, June 16, 2011

welcome home

Recently Tim and I heard the song "Welcome Home" by a band called Radical Face. It was on this crazy video about a guy who broke the world record for speed scaling a mountain- with no ropes. Guts yes, insane... definitely. My sister gave us the song, and I have been wearing it out on the iPod (I think Tim might be a little bit sick of it by now).

When I listened to it the first time I told Tim, "If my life ever has a soundtrack I would like that song to be on it." It is the kind of song that gives me chills, a song that immediately adds meaning and depth to any images that are coupled with it.

If you hear it and don't agree with me, don't worry about it, I have other songs cued up for my soundtrack as well. I'm sure you have songs that give you that feeling too, that feeling that makes your heart swell so big you think it will burst out of your chest.

I have been thinking about this lately and wondering what it means about being a human. Music, movies, books, and art move us emotionally. When they affect us most enjoyably, it is usually because they have made us feel like there is something bigger than the here and now. Like there is something beyond us, something we can be a part of.

I think C.S. Lewis said it well, "It was when I was happiest that I longed most... the sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing... to the find the place where all the beauty came from."

It seems a little crazy that the longing would be beautiful, but it is. Think about the longing of a child for his Christmas presents, the longing of a pregnant mother waiting for her baby, the longing of the betrothed for his love. There is something satisfying in those things even in the absence of what is desired, because those things are wonderful even though they are not fully realized yet.

I think great art taps into that, it reminds of something within us, something that is not fully realized in us or in the world yet. But one day, it will be.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to the end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

Our hearts swell with longing, because we were not made for death. We were made for eternity, and beauty reminds us of that. It reminds us that there is something greater, something more beautiful than we know... and our hearts yearn to be one with it. One with God.

Someday, we will be joined with God through Christ at the wedding feast. I have a feeling our hearts will be full, more full than they could ever be in this lifetime when our story of forever with Christ begins. Imagine it. You can't really, it is too beautiful. Long for it. Long for the beauty of Christ, you will be one with Him soon.

"Welcome home my love."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

despair not

A week ago we had a worship night at church. It was great to spend an extended amount of time worshipping. So often my thoughts get lost in the shuffle on Sunday mornings, and it was so good to spend an hour praising God through song.

One song's lyrics really struck me in particular that night, "Before the Throne of God Above."

"When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there,
Who made an end to all my sin."

Unfortunately for me, I am tempted to despair all too often. It might be the number one way to bring me down. Whether it is depressed thoughts on the way to work in the morning, freak out mode before a large group event, or just a bad case of the doldrums I tend to despair.

I don't know how many of you fall into depression, but if you do, you know that the easiest place to look is never up. Your eyes are trained inward or downward. One sad thought leads to another and you are lying on your bed crying your eyes out before you know it.

My mind is often filled with depression, "I look fat today. I can't work one more day at this job. She must be upset with me. I don't have it in me. I feel sick, I'm just not getting better. I just.... can't."

So that was last week for me. And that song struck me on Friday, struck me in between the eyes.

And then I read from "Keep a Quiet Heart." Elliot wrote about how prayer is a battle, one that Satan desperately doesn't want me to engage in. If I work fine, but pray? That is the last thing he wants.

Where would the evil one like to keep me? In a state of prayerless despair.

This week was different. While work didn't change, I changed and I enjoyed it. I felt rested even when I didn't sleep as much. I spent time with Jesus, and things were clearer. I looked up and there He was, my Love.

It wasn't perfect, but it was joyful.

I guess it takes me more than a few times to learn the same the lesson. Thankfully, He still loves, He is faithful, He is merciful.

"Be persuaded, timid soul, that He has loved you too much to cease loving you." -Archbishop Fenelon