Mama said there’d be days like this – when awake just isn’t working…

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Ever had the day when you’d like to just go back upstairs, put on your pajamas, crawl back into bed, and hide from the world around you? Yes? So this was my day last Tuesday. It took everything I had to leave my clothes on and walk around out where the people live.

These are the kind of days that we are reminded of a hard truth – we are sinners, living in a sinful world. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses, but it certainly is worthwhile. As much as I want to slip on my pajamas and hide under my covers, He calls me out for more.

Israel in the Old Testament had plenty of pajama-and-under-the-covers kind of days. Some were their own fault. They chased other gods, let lust have its way, and set aside the opportunities to worship for whatever seemed good at the moment. Sin creeps into our lives in ways we least expect as well.

We think we’re pretty good people, we go to church, we do alright. The Truth: Not one of us is without sin. We have blunt and obvious sin – hurtful words and anger, ignoring our neighbor, the chitter chatter of gossip, and more. We also have the secret sins – hate in our heart, lust, discontentment, thinking highly of ourselves.

Look at Isaiah 26:16-19

O Lord, in distress they sought you;
    they poured out a whispered prayer
    when your discipline was upon them.
17 Like a pregnant woman
    who writhes and cries out in her pangs
    when she is near to giving birth,
so were we because of you, O Lord;
18     we were pregnant, we writhed,
    but we have given birth to wind.
We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth,
    and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.
19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
    You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
    and the earth will give birth to the dead.

As we read, we hear the Israelites proclaim their allegiance to the Lord and the Lord alone. They recognize their sin and the mess they’ve made, while looking around and seeing the sin and mess of the nations around them. They recognize the goodness and necessity of the Lord’s discipline. Consequences happen, but in this instance, instead of sneaking away, they cling tightly to the promise that only the resurrection can offer – life eternal and an eternal life perspective.

Sometimes God not only gives me grace, He also gives me excessively practical advice for these exact situations in my own life. Isn’t it nice when it works out like that? What can we learn for life from Isaiah 26?

They pray:

…they poured out whispered prayer…

He wants to hear our sin. He knows it, why say it? Why confess it aloud?

Hearing it from our lips and poured out from our hearts, gives Him the opportunity to pour in.

He pours into us forgiveness and life. He pours tenderness and healing. Do you have past sins that sit on your heart like a boulder? Do you ever feel like if people found out your real story, they would never look at you the same way again? God says, No. I heal. I restore. This sin, let me use it for my testimony. I have a plan.

“pray without ceasing…” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray unceasingly also means pray about all of it, even the ugly. God invites us to pour out every last sin and temptation to Him.

Pour it out to Him. Let Him pour in.

 

They rise:

(v.19 ) Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
    You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

God invites us to confess, not to make us sit in the dust, but to pick us up out of our shame and pour Himself into us.

“…my cup overflows…” Psalm 23:5

This exchange of pouring is part of the overflowing cup – Him filling and filling and filling some more, releasing us from the burden of our own incapabilities and inadequacies. “Let me take that,” He says, “I already carried that cross.”

When faced with our sin, we can look to Jesus, or we can look away. We can crawl back into our jammies and hide under the covers, or we can let Him give us a New Day.

Pour it out to Him. Let Him pour in.

My cup overflows with mercy and grace. I pray you know the truth of this today. Forgiveness and grace, poured on you for every last sin, every last fail, for pajama days and rockstar days and every day in between.

fontcandy-42Exploration:

When was the last time you wanted to crawl back into your pajamas and hide under the covers? How did God tend to your heart?

Read John 17:1-5 Identify the following:

Who is praying?

Why?

What does he identify as eternal life and how does this perspective change each of our days?

 

*background images courtesy of Pexels.com, memes always sharable`

 

 

Men Who Pray (and the Women Who Love Them) Church Work Edition

I’m so thankful for these men who meet and pray with my husband, taking the time to build one another up.



Last week I wrote a blog for the CPH website that addressed prayer in marriage. I suggested that it is one of the most important ways to build intimacy in your marriage. Key points included:

   I talk to women all the time who desire deeply for their husbands to pray with them more.
   Biblically speaking, we know prayer creates connection between us and God and us and one another.
   That doesn’t mean we are always great at making it happen. There’s a whole lot of Grace with the Spirit and Jesus interceding for us, but we also don’t want to miss the invitation to grow together!

The thing is, you would think the church work marriage would be different. I feel a little bad for ratting pastors and other church workers out, but the reality is that we are not praying with our families more than the general population. In fact, some statistics show that we may be praying with our families LESS than our lay members around us. Ouch.
Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t pray. It doesn’t mean we aren’t beseeching the Lord on behalf of the flock daily, or that we aren’t praying earnestly with the member dying of cancer or hurting from divorce. It does mean that we aren’t necessarily praying around our tables or at our bedsides with our wives and husbands and children in a way that allows us to share our heart, our struggles, and the myriad of joys God gives us in any given day.
I hear the following phrase all the time, and ladies and gentlemen, it’s just a bit real and Technicolor, so hold on to your hats.
“My husband prays with everyone else. How can I get him to pray with me?”
Double ouch.
Pastors, DCEs, missionaries, church workers near and far, hear my words knowing that I get it. I get the busyness of life. I get the draining of your heart and energy for a world in need and having only drops left when you arrive home. I get that our spouses and children could just as easily be the ones “responsible” for starting the prayer. I’m letting you know today, though, that there is a huge opportunity for you to share Jesus with the people who matter most in your life…pray with them.
Intimately pray with them. You can choose a prayer book or the Psalms or resource, but we get really blocked up in the finding of the resource and the digging it out, and the actually doing it, that I think it’s a hindrance at some point.
So here are my suggestions for church workers who pray….
   1)   Just start. It doesn’t have to be regular or epic or fancy. Grab your wife’s hand and start praying. Pray for her, pray for your children and your parents, and pray for your church. Pray for the aching world, and stop whenever you feel like it. Try it again the next day. It may feel weird and awkward; someone may even get a little bent out of shape because they are trying to make dinner. But forge ahead, friend!

   2)   Be creative. Add petitions to the family meal prayer, pray on the way to school or over the rushed breakfast table, leave post it note prayers to your wife or husband on the bathroom mirror. Text a prayer in the middle of the day when you are praying for or with someone else. Everyone has a communication love language, feel free to utilize it.

   3)   Start a prayer journal. List prayers and leave it on your spouse’s nightstand or Bible. Ask them to list some prayer of their own and return it. Pray, give thanks, confess together. Its like a secret prayer spot just for the two of you.  Every once and a while look at the journal together and pray the items out loud.
Prayer is a major work of the Church. Martin Luther shared his wisdom,
Prayer is a strong wall and fortress of the church; it is a goodly Christian weapon.”
Let us build strong walls in our homes, strong reinforcements for our marriages. This, friends, is no less ministry than preaching and teaching and sharing the faith.
His mercies are new every morning. Let’s start this one recalling them together. God be with you as you tend and feed and care for your beautiful marriage.

Smelly, sweaty prayers

 

 

May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.                                                  Psalm 141:2

In our house, one of my favorite things to spot is this giant bag sitting in front of my washing machine. It’s black and red and huge! I lean down and slowly unzip the zipper and wait for the smell. What wafts up at me? 

Sweaty, smelly, little boy scent.

I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for that smell. I’ll wash those gross hockey sweat infested clothes for years on end, if he’ll let me. To me that scent represents so much more than just a gross boy who needs a shower. It smells like hard work, determination, commitment, and doing something with your whole heart, something he loves, and in which he finds unadulterated joy. 

Now, I’m not sports obsessed. Nor am I a laundry slave to my 10 year old. 🙂 But here’s the connection-

I think that God is a little like me opening the sweaty smelly laundry bag, when we offer our prayers up to Him. Lately God has gotten not just my prayers, but my blotchy, red face, heart’s cry prayers. He’s gotten my bottom of the pit, arms raised, seeking rescue prayers. He’s gotten my broken heart, life crashing down around me prayers. He’s gotten my frightened small voice in the middle of the night prayers. 

It gives me comfort to know that, to Him, these prayers are a beautiful thing, like incense rising before Him…the sweet, sweaty smell of my precious, difficult, sojourning life on this planet. He collects my tears in an bottle. He calls my struggle “good”, when I can not. Then He turns it into something better than good.

Sister, what sweaty work have you been doing? What determined struggle do you see in your own life? From parenting wee ones and big ones, slogging through the work of grief, finding two more dollars to be able to make the utility bills, caregiving for a beloved aged member of the congregation, serving in a role that you don’t love, to loving those who seem unlovable. That’s all sweaty work. 

And He loves our sweaty prayers. 
jojo goalie

*Here’s my sweaty, smelly, precious hockey player. He’s equally embarrassed and loves it when I pray over him before each hockey game. 🙂