Don’t Leave That Treasure Buried!

treasure

Buried treasure. X marks the spot. Pirate’s chests and coded maps. This is the stuff kids dream about! But if you’ve been reading the headlines (here and here), you know long lost caches of gold coins are occasionally more than a childhood fantasy. Last year a couple in California was strolling along their property when they noticed some half-buried rusty cans. They started digging. Turns out these weren’t your average rusty Campbell’s soup containers. The eight cans contained over 1,400 US gold coins dating from 1847 to 1894. The mere face value of the coins is $28,000, but due to their age they could sell for up to $10 million. That’s right. This couple had $10 million lying in the dirt in their back yard.

Now unless you live in northern California and have been stepping over a certain pile of half-buried canisters every time you walk the dog, I wouldn’t recommend rushing off to buy your metal detector just yet.  Instead, let’s imagine a slightly different scenario. You have just bought your own property in former gold rush country. You’re not that familiar with the land, so you hire a surveyor to mark your property boundaries and tell you what you have. As it turns out, you hired the Honest Abe of surveyors. His written report tells you that you have 1.74 acres of land and oh, by the way, there are eight cans of antique golden coins buried beside the third cactus on the left. Honest Abe says they’re probably worth another $10 million, and since he has an allergy to high quantities of gold coins he didn’t touch them. They’re sit sitting there waiting for you. Grab your shovel.

Except you don’t. You’re too busy to dig up the treasure. It’s tax season so you’ve got to fill out your 1040. And it’s almost March Madness, and you have a bracket to fill out – so much to do! Or maybe you don’t believe your surveyor. There’s not really a $10 million cache of gold on my property, you think to yourself. That’s too good to be true! And so the gold sits there, unclaimed and unused.

All right, so what’s the point of all this? Even though I’m pretty sure none of you have buried treasure hidden on your property (although if you do, remember I told you first), every single Christian has been given better promises than even mountains of gold-coin filled cans. We have promises like these:

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”(John 14:13-14)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Listen to what John Calvin says about the gift of prayer: “To know God as the master and bestower of all good things, who invites us to request them of him, and still not go to him and not ask of him – this would be of as little profit as for a man to neglect a treasure, buried and hidden in the earth, after it had been pointed out to him” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.xx.1)

Now I know there’s a danger here. By the way I told my imaginary story I could leave you feeling condemned for not praying due to busyness or unbelief. That’s not my intention at all. Prayer is never the grounds for our acceptance for God. If you’re a Christian and barely prayed at all last week, you are no less acceptable before God than the guy who fasted and prayed for 24 hours straight. We have access to God always and only through the death and resurrection of Jesus. (And incidentally, there’s nowhere in Scripture says a 24-hour prayer vigil is intrinsically more pleasing to God than a 30 second “Help me!”) So banish all condemnation from your mind!

Instead, let this thought encourage you: there’s more waiting for you in God. More joy. More power of the Spirit. More wisdom. More opportunities to share the gospel fruitfully. More comfort in trials, strength in weakness, peace in chaos. You have not even come close to exhausting the riches contained in just one of these promises. There’s more. So ask for it!

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:19-20)

Photo by David, Bergin, Emmett, and Elliot.

The Most Underrated Spiritual Discipline

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We all know that we’re supposed to pray. We all have our own prayer “tactics”, such as prayer lists, prayer apps, prayer walks, prayer meetings, praying out loud, writing down our prayers, writing down the prayers we say out loud, and saying out loud prayers which have been written down.

In spite of all these tactics, I believe prayer is THE MOST underrated spiritual discipline. The simple fact is, I take prayer for granted. Because Christ has opened the way into the Holy Places, I can pray freely at any time of day. I can pray in the car, as I’m working, and while I’m watching my kids. Being able to pray so freely is an incredible, wonderful blessing. I think, however, that the freeness with which I can pray causes me to take prayer for granted.

Think for a moment of all that takes place when I pray.

GOD HEARS

But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3)

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. (Psalm 5:3)

Holy smokes! When I pray, the Lord himself, Yahweh, the King of Kings, the commander of the armies of Heaven, hears me! The God who crushed the Egyptian army and humiliated the prophets of Baal, hears when I call to him. I’m not speaking empty words into a void. I’m not simply talking to myself. This is not the power of positive speaking. When I call, God hears.

GOD STRENGTHENS

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:17-18)

Not only does God hear me when I pray, but he also strengthens me. In the midst of affliction, when I barely have the strength to call out to God, he hears me and strengthens me. He imparts real spiritual, emotional, and even physical strength to me. Prayer connects me to the infinite strength of God.

GOD BLESSES

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

God is eager to bless me. Just as I am eager to give good gifts to my kids, God is eager to give good gifts to me. When I pray, God unleashes blessings into my life. I realize that sounds terribly Joel Osteen-ish, but it’s not. It’s God’s word. God will give me good things when I pray to him. He will bless me and pour out his incredible riches into my life.

GOD ACTS

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:16-18)

This passage is mean to encourage us that God does real, incredible things in response to my prayers. When Elijah prayed, God actually altered weather patterns! When I pray, God does real, amazing, incredible things. He changes circumstances. He softens hearts. He intervenes with financial provision. He brings reconciliation. Prayer brings the Almighty God into the mundane details of my life.

Given all the astonishing things that happen when I pray, why do I treat prayer so lightly?

Destroying Our Boring, Unimaginative Prayer Lists

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Prayer lists are useful tools. They help me remember to pray for things I would normally forget. Every so often, usually after reading an inspiring book on prayer, I get on a prayer list kick. I resolve to be more diligent and faithful in prayer. To be like Paul, who was always remembering people in his prayers. I’ll never forget to pray again, I say to myself as I scribble out my prayer list on a sheet of paper. I am definitely a fan of prayer lists.

Despite my affection for prayer lists, I tend to drift away from them. Sometimes it’s because I’m lazy, and I don’t feel like continually updating my prayer list. Other times it’s because I want to be more spontaneous in my prayer life. I don’t like being confined to what I have written on paper. But if I had to put my finger on it, I would say I tend to abandon prayer lists most frequently because my prayer lists are often boring and unimaginative. They are stale, like old, bland crackers. They read like recipes.

The reality is: my prayer lists are limited by my imagination. 

I pray for the salvation of family members, financial provision, patience with my children, and a host of other things I can easily imagine. If you looked at my prayer list, you wouldn’t be like, “Woah! Hold me back! You must think you’re John the Baptist or something, cause you got some crazy things you’re asking for here.” I don’t usually have any big, audacious, faith-stretching requests on my prayer lists.

Why is this the case? Why are my prayer lists so boring? Because I fail to take into account scriptures like Ephesians 3:20, which says:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…

This verse blows my boring prayer lists to bits. I don’t put much thought or passion into my prayer lists. They function like spiritual grocery lists: a checklist of various things I need. But this verse says that God is able to do far more abundantly than I can ask, or even think.

If I sat down and really thought about it, I could come up with some pretty big, important things to ask God. Things that I wouldn’t normally ask for because they are so…well, big. Things that are a definite stretch for my faith.

I pray for the salvation of my children. If I’m being really bold and imaginative, I’ll pray that God would dramatically and powerfully get hold of each of my children. Ephesians 3:20 tells me that God can do incredible, powerful, life-shaking things for my children that I couldn’t even imagine! Do I believe this?

I pray for God’s provision for my family. If I’m being really bold and imaginative, I’ll pray that God would provide enough for us to give a chunk of money away to someone in need. Ephesians 3:20 tells me that God can provide for my family in breathtaking, surprising, “holy smokes, God is in this place,” kinds of ways. Do I believe this?

I pray that God would deepen my love for him. If I’m being really bold and imaginative, I’ll pray that God would increase my love for His word, increase my love for my fellow Christians, and let me experience the reality of his presence every day. Ephesians 3:20 tells me that God can meet me and change me and work me over in ways I never could have dreamed!

I don’t think I should stop using prayer lists. I do think my prayer lists should be inspired and bold and imaginative. And I should approach my prayer with eager expectancy. I should expect God to blow away my expectations! I should expect God to give more than I ask.

I should expect God to surprise me.

Keep. On. Praying.

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

In Jesus’ parable, the judge didn’t care about justice, nor the widow’s plight. He didn’t fear God or care what any man thought. Yet he responded to the widow’s persistence. Jesus’ point is not that we have to wear God out with our petitions till he finally caves in to stop us from bothering him. Jesus wants to encourage us that God DEEPLY CARES about his children who cry out to him. He IS listening. HOW MUCH MORE will God respond to our prayers than the judge to the widow. God is not delaying for no reason. He will come to our help speedily – though from our perspective it might not seem that way. But in his infinite wisdom, he won’t delay an answer for one second longer than necessary for our good.

So pray always and do not lose heart. You may have prayed for a loved one’s salvation for years and years and see no change yet. Don’t give up. Don’t stop praying.

There are some things I’m praying for that seem impossible from a human point of view.  I don’t know if they are God’s will, but I know that God could do what I ask if he so desires. Nothing is impossible for him. So until he makes his will clear to me, I’m going to keep asking again and again and again, though it seems like nothing is changing.

God’s answer to your prayers could be just around the corner. He may answer your 20 years of prayer today. Don’t think God doesn’t care or doesn’t hear just because nothing has changed yet. He hears your prayers (Ps 65:2; 77:1). The prayer of the upright is powerful and effective, though it may not feel powerful (James 5:16-18). Not one prayer is wasted. God hears our every sigh. He doesn’t tire of us asking, but wants us to bring our requests to him. If Jesus tells us to not lose heart, and pray always, it’s because he intends to answer our prayers.

So keep asking, keep thanking, keep hoping. Don’t give up.

Can I Pray My Copier Won’t Jam?

What kind of things is it okay to pray about?

Let me be specific. Is it okay to pray that my copier won’t jam when I’m trying to copy worship songs on Sunday morning during practice? (This is not a hypothetical situation.) Isn’t asking God for that kind of mundane prayer request turning God into a genie there to fulfill my wishes? Surely that’s the kind of prayer requests James was talking about when he said, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions,” right? God wouldn’t want you to pray about such inconsequential, selfish things as a copier, would he?

Actually, yes – I think he does. Listen to how Jesus describes God’s relationship with us in prayer in Matthew 7:7-11:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

I was blessed with great parents. No, they didn’t give me everything I wanted or asked for. But they never told me to stay away from them and not ask! And if imperfect earthly parents can still have a heart of openness and eagerness to hear their son’s childish requests…don’t you think our heavenly Father delights to hear everything that is on our hearts?

You see, it’s easy to make a functional divide in your life between the things you can do on your own (copy worship songs, manage your household for the day, find a parking spot downtown) and the things you need God for (the “spiritual” things like witnessing, Bible reading, worship). But the truth is there’s no divide: we are dependent on God in every area of life, even down to the most mundane details. And when we think God doesn’t want us to pray about where we park or a broken copier, we shut God out of the majority of our day.

In John 15:7, Jesus says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Paul Miller, commenting on this verse in his book The Praying Life, says, “One of the best ways to learn how to abide is to ask anything” (p.138). No, God is not a cosmic butler waiting to fulfill our every whim. But prayer is not only about asking God to do things for us; it is also about relating to him as our Father through the details of ordinary life. When I pray that the copier won’t jam, I don’t have the guarantee that God will answer my prayer with a yes every time. But I am relating to my heavenly Father and acknowledging that, even in the mundane, there are things beyond my control. God may let the copier jam to give me the gift of cheerfulness beyond my circumstances. He may also be using my cheerfulness as a witness to someone else at church that morning. Or he may work a miracle and make the copier work right for once. (Which is what happened last Sunday.) My call is not to figure out what God is doing in any given moment or why he might answer my prayer a certain way. I’m simply to talk to my sovereign Lord who is my heavenly Father, because in every moment there are things I have no power to control.

Child of God, don’t put limits on what you can pray to your Father about. Abide in the love of God by asking anything. And that really means anything.

What Every Church So DESPERATELY Needs

I love, love, love my church. My church is brimming over with some of the most godly, humble, zealous, gifted men and and women I know. And if you’ll allow me a few seconds of second-hand bragging, we really do have some seriously talented people in my church.

My friend Greg is a killer worship leader. My friend Barry can rip off a guitar solo that will melt your face. My mother-in-law Pat, along with my friends Matt and Erica (and several others I’m forgetting), have turned our children’s ministry into a finely tuned thing of beauty. A man who I won’t name (because he wouldn’t want me to) is one of the most generous men I know, and has given many thousands of dollars to our church. My friend Elaine has a sixth sense that allows her to discover and meet needs within the church. And then there’s my grandpa, who at 94 years old is still leading Bible studies. I am so grateful to God for all the men and women in our church who serve and give and live so passionately for the Lord. I want to be like them when I grow up.

But having so many talented people has one distinct downside: it can tempt us to rely on our talents and wealth rather than on the Lord. In his book The Necessity of Prayer E.M. Bounds writes (to those in my church – this is in no way a correction, just a reminder):

Many men, of this day, obtain a good report because of their money-giving, their great mental gifts and talents, but few there be who obtain a “good report” because of their great faith in God, or because of the wonderful things which are being wrought through their great praying. Today, as much as at any time, we need men of great faith and men who are great in prayer. These are the two cardinal virtues which make men great in the eyes of God, the two things which create conditions of real spiritual success in the life and work of the Church.

I’m so grateful for the talented, smart, generous men and women in my church. But talent alone isn’t enough to create true spiritual success. Talent can create a tight worship band that nails every transition and never misses a note. Talent can create a fun, vibrant, safe children’s ministry. Money can create a beautiful, comfortable church building. Money can make missions trips possible. But all the talent in the world and all the money in the world cannot create spiritual success. 

A killer worship team can create a killer sound but they can’t cause a person to see the heights and depths of the love of Christ. A finely tuned children’s ministry can create a fun, cheerful atmosphere but it can’t cause a child to be born again. A pile of money can create a wonderful place to hear the preached word, but it can’t change a heart of stone. Only God himself can do that.

What my church and every other church needs more than anything else is men and women who are committed to great praying. Men and women of great faith who ask great things of God. Men and women who are regularly down on their faces before God asking him to send his Spirit in power. Without God moving nothing of truly lasting value will take place. Prayer is what transforms the Sunday music from a concert to worship. Prayer is what transforms the children’s ministry from fun to profound.

So yes, let’s pursue excellence in everything we do as a church. Let’s continue to serve and give and live with all our might. But let’s also be men and women of great prayer. Let’s ask God to do mighty things in worship, mighty things in children’s ministry, mighty things in our budgets. Prayer is what gives life to our service and talents and money. A church can’t survive on talent alone. Prayer is what accomplishes great things for God.

God Has A Prayer Book. Are You Using It?

Prayer is difficult. Not because of anything in God – as the Puritan Matthew Henry observed, God is more eager to hear our prayers than we are to pray them. No, prayer is difficult because of us. Sinful flesh and human weakness battle against our ability to persevere in prayer. Publishers know this. Search for “prayer” on Amazon and you’ll find enough books to construct a small mansion entirely from piles of “7 Steps” paperbacks. Many of these are helpful books (though some of them aren’t!). But wouldn’t it be nice to have the definitive book on prayer, one that included both forms of prayers and words to pray, one that could be used in any season of life?

Actually, that sounds like the Psalms.

The Psalms are the prayer and praise book of the Bible. When we read a psalm, we are listening in on an inspired conversation between God and his people. The conversation takes place sometimes in moments of pure delight and other times in extended seasons of crushing despair. Sometimes it is a private conversation: “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing!” (Psalm 6:2). At other times we hear the raised voices of a glad throng of worshipers: “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” (Psalm 95:1). In a sense, the Psalms are God’s most comprehensive answer to the request, “Teach us to pray.”

Until recently I still never used psalms regularly in my prayer life. In the last few months I’ve been incorporating the psalms into my day, and it’s been a great blessing to me. I’m going to describe my current practice and some things I’ve learned, but with this caveat first: I’m not you! I’ve fallen victim too many times to slavishly following the most recent devotional suggestion I read on a blog as though any one person had the corner on the prayer market. Don’t do that. Odds are in a few months the practice I describe now will have changed in some way. So pick through what might be helpful, translate it to your own situation, and discard the rest. All right, with that out of the way, here’s what I’m doing.

There are two points in my day where I’m praying through a psalm. The first is after my regular Bible reading. I use a Bible reading plan and wanted to stick to it, so I just added reading through the Psalms 10-12 verses at a time. Sometimes I read more, occasionally I read less. But some portion of a psalm is always part of my morning. The other time is after I finish work each day. I’ve memorized a few of the shorter psalms and as I drive home I pray those back to the Lord. As I’ve done this, here are a few things I’ve learned that might be helpful.

  • Pick psalms that reflect your situation. The variety of life experiences reflected in Psalms is amazing. Take advantage of that. If your heart is glad, pray a psalm that reflects your joy. If you’re struggling, give voice to your battle with the words of one of David’s laments like Psalm 6 or Psalm 42. The Psalms don’t speak with in a monotone, one-size-fits-all voice. Neither should our prayers.
  • Personalize them as you pray them back to God. Did you know it’s okay to rewrite Scripture? No, I’m not talking about trying to sync Revelation with the Mayan calendar. What I’m talking about is personalized application. This is what the Bible invites us to do. When David prays “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord” (Ps. 119:1), we’re to pray, “Lord, help me to walk blamelessly today when I’m tempted. Give me the blessedness of those who keep your commandments.” Psalm 46’s opening line, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” is meant to become “God you are my refuge, in this trouble. You are my strength in this moment.” That’s how the Psalms are to fuel our life of faith. They are meant to live where you live. Personalize them.
  • Consider memorizing a few particular psalms. You can memorize a whole chapter of the Bible. Start with Psalm 117; it’s only three verses! There are a lot of psalms that are under ten verses. Pick one that is meaningful to you and memorize it. Write it out repeatedly. Put it on an index card and carry it in your pocket throughout the day. The work of memorization requires you to meditate on Scripture, and it’s only one step from there to a conversation with God about it.

Prayer is difficult, but the Psalms are one of God’s provisions to strengthen our prayer lives. Let’s learn to use God’s prayer book!

Photo by Penn Provenance Project

Hunting, Haunting, Irresistible Grace

Here is another prayer from my upcoming book, Praying God’s Word. In this prayer I try to express my gratefulness for God’s grace that hunted me down and saved me.

The Holy Calling

[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began… (2 Timothy 1:9)

Father,

Thank you for calling me! The same voice that spoke the light into existence spoke light into my heart. The same voice that created the universe out of nothing created life in my heart. Your mighty voice called, and my dead heart awoke. You called me out of death and darkness, out of the kingdom of Satan, out of my sinful muck and filth. You spoke and my spiritually dead heart suddenly kick-started into life. You spoke and my ears were opened to hear your glorious voice. You spoke and my blind eyes were suddenly filled with your glory. I bless your name for calling me.

You did not call me because of my impressive array of good works. You did not call me because of my astounding number of gifts or abilities. You did not call me because I was wealthy or influential. You did not call me because I had anything special to offer. Lord, I am delightfully baffled that you called me. I am wonderfully perplexed that you would choose to save a sinner like me. You called me because you wanted me. You called me because of your sovereign, good purpose, and because of your grace. Before time began, you had a purpose for my life, and you will fulfill that purpose.

Thank you for your precious, overwhelming, relentless grace. Grace that pursued me. Grace that hunted me down. Grace that would not let me go. When I lay down to sleep, your grace haunted my dreams. When I awoke I found myself bumping into your grace. It was irresistible, unstoppable, powerful grace. Had your grace not been irresistible, I never would have surrendered. But the more I struggled, the tighter your grace gripped me. I could not escape your wonderful grace. Grace that I did not deserve, yet you lavishly poured out on me. I worship you that you are such a gracious, wonderful, sovereign God. I praise you for calling me. Today let me be overflowing with thanks because of your wonderful grace.

Prayers With Power and Punch

I’m convinced that one of the reasons my prayers often feel “flat” is that I don’t  incorporate God’s word into my prayers. God’s word is packed full of promises, and one of the best ways to infuse life into our prayers is by infusing God’s promises into our prayers. In John 15:7 Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This is a crazy promise! Essentially, what Jesus is saying is that when we pray in accordance with his words, promises, or commands, whatever we ask will be done for us. When our prayers line up with his promises, crazy, incredible things will happen!

That’s why I’m working on a book entitled Praying God’s Word. Each page of this book contains a section of scripture, then a prayer based off that section of scripture. My hope is that combination of God’s word and prayer will be like rocket fuel for your prayer life. What follows is a prayer based on Psalm 34, which is one of my favorite Psalms:

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:8-10)

Father,

I have tasted and seen that you are good. I have tasted the finest delicacies this world can offer, and they cannot compare to you. Your presence satisfies me like nothing else. You give more joy and deeper joy than anything else in this world. One day in your courts is better than a thousand days elsewhere. One moment with you is better than a thousand lifetimes anywhere else. Please give me more tastes of your presence, more glimpses of your glory. Expand my heart to love you more, and then take me deeper into the vast ocean of your love. Your love is better than life itself.

I do not take refuge in money, people, job security, or friends. Those things are fleeting vapors that quickly dissipate. They don’t provide any true security. I take my refuge in you, the King of Kings, owner of all things, Sovereign One, and protector of the helpless. I know that you’ll care for me, provide for me, and satisfy me. I know that you’ll protect me, just as a father protects his children. Teach me what it means to fully entrust myself. Deliver me from my sinful self-sufficiency. Teach me what it means to truly, humbly fear you. Fill my heart with appropriate reverence, awe, and fear of you.

I want to seek you above all else, knowing that if I seek you, I won’t lack any good thing. You are not a stingy God who is hesitant to bless his creatures. You are an abundantly generous God. Like a constantly flowing spring, you bubble over with goodness and generosity. If you clothe the lilies in splendor and feed the ravens, you will certainly provide me with everything that I need. If something is good for me, you will give it to me. If it is not good, you will withhold it. I know that I can trust you to give me exactly what I need for every situation. Ultimately, I don’t know what I most need, but you do. I don’t trust in my own ability to meet my needs, I trust you to meet all of my needs.

Don’t Be An Idiot, HE Stills the Sea

This is an excerpt from a book I’m working on entitled Praying God’s Word. The purpose of the book is to read God’s promises, then pray to God based upon his promises. The Bible is full of promises from God, yet so often we don’t take advantage of them. God always answers prayers that are based upon his promises. My hope is that this book will help the reader learn to pray God’s promises back to him.

O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them. (Psalm 89:8-9)

Father,

Who is mighty like you? Who is powerful like you? No one compares to you. All are dust compared to your unsurpassable greatness. The nations are nothing more than a drop in a bucket compared to your unimaginable, unfathomable greatness. You hold all the waters of the earth in the palm of your hand. The mountains tremble and melt before you. The angels cover their eyes in reverence as they circle your throne. You uphold the entire universe with your word. Apart from your sustaining power, the universe would dissolve into nothingness.

And yet in spite of your great immensity, you are also near to me. You, the world-making, world-sustaining, angel-frightening, mountain-melting God, promise to be faithful to me. You promise to be near me when I’m broken-hearted. When my soul is nothing but a dying ember, you don’t snuff it out, but instead blow it to life. When the waters rise, you keep me from being swept away. When the fires burn around me, you keep me from being singed. You are with me when I am thrown into the furnace. You are with me when I am flung into the lion’s den. You are always faithful, always a sure foundation, always my rock.

So often I’m tempted to rely upon my own strength in the midst of trials. How foolish I am! You are the infinitely strong God, I am weak, frail, and easily frightened. When the waters rise around me, help me to look to you. Help me to fix my gaze on you. Help me to trust you. I have often proved unfaithful, but you have always proven yourself to be faithful. I have proven to be weak, you have proven yourself strong. And so I throw away any foolish trust I have in myself, and I look solely to you.

+photo by ahisgett