Posts Tagged ‘Pray’

As a parent, I have at times told my children “no” when they made a request. Sometimes, they would continue to ask for the same thing, as if thinking I might change my answer. As their father, I have always tried to answer “yes” but occasionally “no” is the answer that is for their best benefit.

Occasionally, I would feel the need to say: “‘No’ is a perfectly acceptable answer.” They understood that my “no” was not changing and it was time to stop asking.

Our Heavenly Father, in much the same way, may tell us “no” when we pray our requests to Him. Unfortunately, I don’t always readily accept that “‘NO’ is a perfectly acceptable answer” when I pray. I’m guessing I am probably not alone in this regard.

We do not always like it when God tells us NO.  It can help to realize a couple things.

We are in good company:

Job: Job was a Godly, faithful man. He refused to curse God. He lost his children, his wealth, and his health. He was covered with boils and sores. All he asked God for was some relief from his suffering. Job’s comments on God’s answer, (Job 30:20) “I cry out to You, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You regard me.”

King David: David was a man after God’s own heart. David is an ancestor to Jesus Christ. He was the King of Israel and a writer of Psalms. When his son was sick, David fasted and prayed for seven days. He was so intense in his prayer, his servants feared for the King’s life. But, God said NO and his baby died. (2 Samuel 12:16-23)

The Apostle Paul: Paul wrote most of the New Testament. He experienced miracles from God and was able to perform miracles. On many occasions God saved Paul from death. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul writes about his “thorn in the flesh.” We know the thorn was painful, evil, chronic and frequent. Paul was desperate for relief. But, God said NO. When God tells him why, Paul was able to handle it.

When God tells us NO, we have His promise of Grace.  It is reassuring to realize we are in good company, with people like Job, David and Paul.

God knows what is best for us:

God has promised that he has a plan for us. His plan is for our good, not our harm. God’s answer to our prayers will always be in agreement with His plan for us.

Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” says he Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God knows the results of both His “yes” and “no” to our requests. God only desires the best for us. His answer to our prayers will always lead to His best for us.

This morning, I’m thanking God for some of the “NO” answers. Because, I can now see in hindsight what He knew in foresight. His “no” really is for my good.

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In my quiet time one recent morning, praying for the children with which God blessed Susan and me. Remembering some of the fateful, sometimes difficult prayers God has led me to pray for them during this time in mornings past.

The harsh and difficult time when God told me to never again pray He would heal Rebecca’s hand. The anger I felt, as her dad, when God told me to instead pray that He will use this for His glory. I remember Susan and me holding each other as we cried, knowing what we had to do. Then watching in amazement a few days later, as our little girl, toddles over to another child at Children’s Hospital Orthopedics, sits down, shows the scars on her hand and tells her new friend: “they have very good doctors here and they will take good care of you.”  We watched the fear, like we had felt during our first visit there with Rebecca, melt away from this child’s parents.   Praying God’s prayer for our daughter is not always easy, but that morning we began to realize His purpose is greater than we can imagine.  Today, I see a young lady with a compassion for people and an impassioned desire to help others.

I remember the morning, when Susan was about six months pregnant with our son. We already had a name chosen and were confident we knew what our new son would be called. Early that morning God impressed on me, his name is Michael Andrew (neither names we had chosen). As I told Susan, she asked why. Michael means “one who is like the Host.” Andrew means “one who represents God.” Since that morning, I have continued to pray that Michael will live in the fullness of his name. Today, I see a young man with a passion for people, a passion for Christ and a desire to live a life that makes a difference.

We did not know then, what those prayers would mean. Today, Susan and I see how God has blessed us with two terrific teenagers. Both love Christ with all their heart. Both have a love for people. Both have a desire to honor God with all they do. As teenagers, they are far beyond anything I ever imagined when I was praying for them in the womb.

I will be honest. Having a daily time alone with God is not always easy.  It is not always fun. It is many times painful and uncomfortable. But, when I look back at how God has used that time to guide our family and I am reminded of things like the stories above, I would not change a thing. I would not trade this time for the extra hour sleep.

Why do I have a daily quiet time?  I NEED IT.  I cannot be an effective husband, father and leader without God’s help. Everything I have learned about love, compassion, parenting and leadership has been found, strengthened and confirmed during these times. All because God is faithful to keep His promises when we seek His will, early in the morning. (Psalm 63)

Today (April 3, 2014) is the 18,262nd day of my life on this Earth. When you consider I have completed my first half century, it seems like a long time. The Bible equates a full life to 70 years. That is approximately 25,567 days. That means I have something slightly over 7,000 days remaining to fulfill the mission God has given me.  Anything beyond that time is simply His grace and favor.

As I sit here this morning, I am filled with the memory of my quiet time journey, a decade ago, during my 40th year.  See, at 40, I was perfectly willing to accept that I had crossed over into “middle age.”  So, the every day of my 40th year, was highlighted by a common theme during my morning quiet time.  That theme:  “God:  How do You want the last half of my life to look?”

During that year, my life focus began to shift… from practice to purpose… from success to significance… from life to legacy… from generalities to generations.

There are many great lessons and memories from those morning devotionals.  One that probably stands out above most was the morning I came to Psalm 90.  The thoughts of that day impacted me in such a way that this has become a recurring theme each year on my birthday.  Psalm 90 is a Psalm of Moses.  As we approach verse 12, Moses voices this prayer to God:

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (NIV)

At first, it appears that Moses is asking God to let him know the number of days he has to live so he knows how long he has to learn. As I meditated on this passage, I began to realize that Moses was not asking God to show him how to count the number of his days.  Instead, he was asking God to show him how to make the number of his days count.  In making the number of his days count, he will gain a heart of wisdom and leave a legacy for future generations.

As Believers we are challenged to live our lives is such a way that when the number of our days is complete, the numbered days count. We are given many examples of people who have done just that.

Noah was over 100 years old when God called him to build the Ark to save the human race from extinction.

Abraham was 99 when he realized God’s promise to make him the father of many nations, through the birth of Isaac.

Daniel and his three friends were young teenagers when they entered Babylon captivity and stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar.

Joshua and Caleb were in their eighties, and the last of their generation, when they fought in the final battle of Jericho.

Esther was a young lady when she married the king and saved Israel.

Moses lived 40 years in Egypt and another 40 years in Midian before God called him to free Israel from Pharaoh. It was another 80 years before he wrote what we know as Psalm 90.

Each of these examples teaches us we are never too old or too young to fulfill God’s call.  Regardless of their age, these people knew that fulfilling God’s call to leave a legacy required diligence and purpose.

There are countless other examples, even in modern history, of people who have made a major impact on the world.  All because, they had a vision beyond their own lifetime. They choose to leave a legacy bigger than themselves.

Our family recently had the opportunity to visit Spain.  In Barcelona, there is a basilica, La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family).  The church was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852–1926).  Construction began on this church in 1882 and continues to this day.  The stark contrast of the massive ancient design and the modern construction equipment and processes is interesting to behold.  Project leaders now hope to complete this construction by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.  How great of a visionary did Gaudi have to be to envision something so massive that it could never be completed during his lifetime?  In fact, many of the tools currently used in the construction of the project were not even conceived at the time of the building’s design.  Gaudi certainly had a vision and desire to impact a world beyond his own life.

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La Sagrada Familia

In my life, I have wasted too much time on things that won’t last.  I have no idea how many days I have remaining, only God knows.  Today, as I enter my second half century, my prayer is the same, just more fervently, as Moses taught:

Lord, I trust you to count the number of my days. Please teach me to make the number of my days count.

At 40, I prayed I would be a role model for my children.  I prayed that God would specifically call and equip each with everything each needed to fulfill the purpose He has set before them.

Now, at 50, I am amazed to see how God is using and equipping each of my children individually.  I am thankful for and affirm the calling God has placed on their individual lives. My prayer is that I will be the coach and councilor each needs to continue to grow in His likeness and fulfill His purpose.

When life is over two dates will define the number of one’s days, the date born and the date died. The dash in between will measure the number of days. Whether the number of those days counts for anything more than a dash on a tombstone will be determined by the legacy one leaves.

I want the legacy God allows me to leave to far outweigh the dash on my grave. I can only do that if I allow Him to give me a heart of wisdom, a vision of His kingdom and a love for His people.

As long as God continues to give me days to number, I want to make the numbered days to count.

Let’s go make this numbered day count for something bigger than ourselves.

Wow! At times it just doesn’t seem possible.

It seems like only yesterday Momma Bird and I were preparing our nest for the little ones, God blessed us with.  Children grow up.  Lately, I have really come to realize children grow up REALLY fast.

Momma Bird and I have watched and cheered as our little birds have become more and more independent.  Now, things are beginning to seem so different.  There’s a rustling in the nest.

Our daughter will graduate high school in a couple months and our son the year after that.  When we look back over the span of their life, it all seems so surreal.  These are the babies we prayed for God to give us.  These are the babies we fell totally and completely in love with before either was ever born.  These are the feet that made us laugh for joy when they took their first steps.  The ones that made us clap as they learned to run, cheer when they learned to ride a bicycle and hold our breath a little as each drove off in the car the first time.

At every milestone of their young lives, Momma Bird and I have been their biggest cheerleaders.  This time will be no different.  Yet, for some reason it is very different.

There is a rustling in the nest.  Our baby birds are beginning to see there is a great big exciting world outside the nest.  They are beginning to test their wings and soon will fly to discoveries of their own.

Each of our baby birds is becoming more and more independent.  Each is moving and walking more in the calling for which God has designed them.  Each is taking on responsibilities and adventures outside the nest.  Each is fulfilling dreams and touching lives that Momma Bird and I never imagined.

Momma Bird and I always knew God has loaned His baby birds to us for a season.  Now, we seem to be nearing the closing of that season.  Seasons change and our nest must change with the seasons.  Yet, this change has a different feel to it.  This change has our baby birds spreading their wings and feeling the air around them.  This change has them seeking God’s will for their own lives.  And, Momma Bird and I praying God’s will for them.

Letting go is not always easy.  Holding on is no longer an option.  Our wings will always open wide for our baby birds.  But, there is still a rustling in the nest.

Momma Bird and I will shed a tear as each of our baby birds leave the nest and test the wings.  We will watch with pride as they soar.  Our baby birds are becoming everything we ever prayed they would be and much much more.  God has big plans for our baby birds.  His plans are so much greater than we can ever imagine.

It’s the rustling in the nest that makes us simultaneously uncomfortable yet content, apprehensive yet excited, sad yet cheerful, tearful yet joyful.

Yes, I’m beginning to feel a rustling in the nest.  And this Daddy Bird is not sure he really likes it.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

  • “I know…” – This is My absolute truth.
  • “…the plans…” – There is a specific blueprint.
  • “…I have…” – I created the plan.  I own the plan.
  • “…for you,…” – It is specifically and personally designed for you.
  • Declares the Lord – This is MY solemn promise.
  • “…plans to prosper you…” – I want to enrich your life.
  • “…and…” – Wait!!! There’s more.
  • “…not to harm you…” – My plans protect you.
  • “…plans…” – My personalized design.
  • “…to give you…” – My personalize gift for you.
  • “…hope…” – My promise to you is for now.
  • “…and a future.” – My promise to you is forever.

God’s promises are true.  God’s promises are specific.  God’s promises are personal.  God’s promises are permanent.

As I was typing this, I found myself scribbling on my notepad.  The result was another way to look at this promise from God.

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“I know you. Because I know you, I designed MY plans especially for you,” declares the LORD.

How does knowing God has specifically designed His plan especially for you, change your perspective?

What are some ways you can learn and understand God’s specific plan for your life?

What suggestions would you have for the rest of us, seeking to learn and follow God’s specific plan?

My children are both teenagers.  Each day I am becoming more keenly aware that I have fewer and fewer opportunities to influence their maturity.

Recently, I asked myself:  “What do I want my children to always remember?”  I began to list messages I want to always convey, in word and deed, to each of my children.

1.  I will always love you, unconditionally.

2.  I am proud of you.

3.  Even when it does not seem like it to you, I am on your side.

4.  God made you special.  It’s you job to show the world how special.

5.  The rules and boundaries for this family are here for your benefit and protection.  Don’t cross them.

6.  You will become the product of the experiences you have, the people you meet, the books you read and the choices you make.

7.  Every decision you face is a choice between rewards or consequences, blessings or curses.  Choose wisely.

8.  I want you to grow in your independence, although I will always be ready to help you.

9.  I pray for you every day, because I desire God’s absolute best for you.

10.  I may not know who he/she is yet, but I am praying for your future spouse every day.

I am sure I will want to add to this list as additional things come to my attention.

What suggestions do you have?  What message do you most want your children to remember?