As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Monday, November 4, 2013
iPray eVotionals exhorts those who pray. It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.
(Approximate reading time: 8-10 Minutes)
iLove a Good Book
When I read the book, Redeeming Love I was captivated, stolen away and taken on a journey that changed the way I viewed so many things in my life. I flew through hundreds of pages without a second thought that it might be a waste of time or that it was taking me away from anything better I could have been doing. It was a book that I could not put down.
I have another book with fewer pages that I have been reading for 3 years. It came highly recommended and I love the subject but I can't seem to finish it. When I first started reading it, it captured my attention with compelling thoughts, great scenarios, and biblical perspectives. After the first couple of chapters everything I read started to sound the same as what had already been said. Soon, page after page started to blend together and what I read seemed to lose its meaning. I became increasingly bored when I picked it up. I found myself saying, "Okay, I got that. What else do you have for me?" I started to wonder if all the chapters were just saying the same thing over and over again. I would keep reading believing that surely this could not be true and expecting that at any minute a new epiphany would hit me in the face. I would take breaks before dusting off the book to make another go at it. Finally, I ended up putting the book down and stopped reading it altogether. I hope to finish it someday.
This is sometimes how my prayer life looks, like an old stale book whose chapters seem to say the same old thing over and over again with the same old predictable outcomes of nothing new. Praying the same things until it loses its spark. Reading scriptures and stories to support my prayers that all start to blend together in content. Yada yada yada. I tend to put the book down and forget about it for a time before I pick it back up, only to quickly become bored again. When I get stuck in this rut praying tends to lose its meaning and purpose, easily tempting me to put it aside with only a fading hope that my prayer time could be more meaningful.
What can we do to make our prayer life new, relevant and alive the way it was meant to be? How can our prayer time thrive and be fresh day after day? When we pick up that book and turn our thoughts toward our Lord, we want to make sure there is NOTHING stale about it!
First, let's Mad Lib.
In 1958 at a New York restaurant Leonard Stern and Roger Price sat eating their Eggs Benedict when they came up with a name for their invention. The two overheard an argument between a talent agent and an actor. The actor said that he wanted to "ad-lib" an upcoming interview. The agent retorted that ad-libbing an interview would be "mad." Their new invention found its name... Mad Libs!
It's a phrasal template word game where one player prompts another for a list of words to substitute for blanks in a story before reading the often comical or nonsensical story aloud. For example, the sentence, "My mom gave birth to me in a hospital many years ago" makes perfect sense. Mad Libbing the underlined words could turn the sentence into, "My blanket gave birth to me in a bank many years ago."
For fun, let's do one together!
Without reading ahead, think of 8 words. You might want to write them down.
PART OF THE BODY
A NOUN (person place or thing)
An ADJECTIVE (describes something or somebody)
A VERB, PAST TENSE (action)
An ADVERB (describes the action)
Now fill in the blanks:
iForget Faces and Places
There are times when l look at a person's PART OF THE BODY and it seems that I may know them. It's usually the look in their NOUN that tells me I should be greeting them because we might be ADJECTIVE pals... but from where, when and why... who knows? Because I don't!
Last week I was with my sister at church and she saw A CELEBRITY who takes the Pilates class that she PLURAL VERB. We were introduced and as far as I'm concerned that was the last time I saw SAME CELEBRITY...that is until my sister later informed me that SAME CELEBRITY told her we VERB, PAST TENSE into each other later that day. I was shocked! We did? I don't remember running into SAME CELEBRITY, maybe SAME CELEBRITY said 'hi' to me and I just ADVERB said 'EXCLAMATION' back without knowing whoSAME CELEBRITY was.
A little more exciting and out of the box, right? It didn't quite make sense I'm sure, but it did turn everything upside down.
Now I'm going to introduce you to what I am going to call Mad Prayers!
When prayer becomes mundane and all scripture starts to sound the same, it's time to step away and let the unseen spirit of God fill in the blanks. WHAT? That is madness! Yes, it does seem like madness when most of the time we come to the Lord knowing exactly what we want to say and how we want to say it. We know our memorized prayers and fall into our routine requests. When we are having trouble we tend to pray for it to just stop. We fail to pray God's will into the situation in such a way that we get excited about what God may be doing and how our lives are being transformed.
Agents of the world ask these questions: Seriously, do you really think that just praying about something will accomplish anything? Do you really think that saying words against evil changes anything? You are no good at praying the way you want to, right? Scripture was written thousands of years ago, how can you really use it to pray in this day and age? Who are you to pray? Don't you need to study up and really understand everything before you even think about communicating with God?
Living in the Spirit, praying His words and as He leads should be my norm but truth is I am often guilty of a snared-up prayer life. It can feel like madness to step away from the same old prayers, but faith requires a little bit of flying by the seat of our pants action- trusting in God and His word and His ways over our own understanding.
I see Mad Prayers as life template prayer-sessions where a pray-er asks God for spiritual and biblical principles to substitute for the blanks in a situation that would be otherwise filled in with boring, fleshly non-supernatural thoughts. Without knowing how the situation will play out, the principles are inserted into the prayers even when it may feel unrealistic or senseless.
For example, these are typical and flesh-driven thoughts:
"I am so angry that my neighbor drove over my rose bushes and he does not seem to be apologetic. Since he just makes excuses and refuses to do the right thing I want to be bitter, take revenge, do what ever it takes to make him pay, and give him a bad name in our neighborhood. I may have to sue him if it comes to that so that justice is served."
Which leads to typical prayers:
"Dear Lord, Please make my neighbor see that he should apologize and not make excuses. In fact he should step up and just pay for what he destroyed! Help me rally up the support I need to make sure justice is served. When I talk to Tom across the street make Tom be on my side."
Notice that the typical prayer does not change any of the typical flesh-driven thoughts.
Mad Praying changes a typical prayer by inserting spirit-led biblical principles into the situation and turns typical thoughts upside down. It could sound like this:
"Dear Lord, help me show love to my neighbor who drove over my rose bushes even though he does not seem to be apologetic. Since he just makes excuses and refuses to do the right thing help me to be forgiving in my heart, put on grace, do what ever it takes to make peace and refrain from gossip. Lead me in every action I take in this situation and in it may I not forget that justice is Yours for You are a just God. May I pray for him before anything. I pray Acts 21:32 over him... I commit my neighbor to You, God, and the word of Your grace, which can build him up and give him an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. In Jesus Name, Amen"
It's just Madness! Not praying for the easy solution but instead praying that the situation transforms me and everyone else as well. It may not feel or seem right to pray these spiritual and biblical truths into a situation when our flesh wants to do the opposite, but the result of Mad Praying can be quite thrilling. One that increases our faith, gets us excited about what God might do, unleashes God's power and brings salvation to the lost.
iFill in the Blanks
Personalizing scripture without changing the heart behind it can be a page turner in your prayer life. Let's try it out.
Read First Corinthians 13:1-3 "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecyand can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. "
Years ago I personalized the underlined parts, making the charge real to me: If I give my children direction, answer my husband's question and call everyone to dinner but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of folding clothes and can fix broken toys and place band aids on boo boos, and if I have faith that can put a colicky baby to sleep, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to diapers, feedings and walks to the parks, and surrender my body to grey hairs and lack of manicures, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Today I did it again... If I encourage others to pray but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of organizing and planning events and can get my kids to and from practices, rehearsals and every other activity on time, and if I have faith that can add more hours onto a single day and can remove the shekels of bondage, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to keeping my family and pets alive and well, and surrender my body to the persevering work of the Lord through every kind of trouble and victory, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Now it's your turn, first think about what you are dealing with right now and fill in the blanks: If I ___________________________________ but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of _____________ and can __________________ and _________________, and if I have faith that _______________________, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to ___________________ and surrender my body to ________________________, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Next, continue reading First Corinthians 13:4-8a "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
When you put it THAT way you can personalize what love is in a very real way that pertains to your present season of life.
Finally, think about how you just filled in those blanks and start Mad Praying love into your very real situations and into the areas that might be very hard to love using 1st Corinthians 13:4-8...
"Lord may I be patient and kind when __________. May I not envy, boast or be proud when _________. May I not be rude, self-seeking or be easily angered when ________________. May I keep no record of wrongs or delight in evil when ____________. May I rejoice with the truth when __________. May I always protect, trust, hope, persevere when _________, Help me trust Your word that says with this kind of love I will never fail. In Jesus name amen."
iDust it Off
When you come before the Lord you can fall back into old habits and pray the same old prayers in the same old way OR you can Mad Pray it! What is it you need prayer for? Is it deliverance? Healing? Protection? Revival? New Passion? Refrain from what YOUR FELSH thinks should be prayed which will always disappoint you and cause you to give up on praying altogether. Instead ask the Lord to show you how to pray according to His will. If you do not feel confident with your knowledge of His will, seek and you will find! Visit openbible.info/topics/ and fill in the blank "What does the Bible say about ___________." A plethora of scriptures will pop up. Ask the Lord to lead you to the right scriptures, to keep you in His will while praying in His spirit. It's madness I know, but I assure you that God's word does not go back to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11) and His Spirit is in your heart when you cry, "Abba! Father!" (Galatians 4:6) Take the truth of scripture along with the prompting of His Spirit, pray it into your life and WOWZEE!!! You don't have to try to speak perfect words from your brain because when God's Spirit intercedes for us, BAM, everything changes. Hours might pass before you realize it. As you go out it will be all you can think about and you will find yourself carving out time to get back to it.
Does it seem a little out there to talk about prayer so passionately? Like a book that you just can't put down? Pick up the prayer life God intended for you to have! Don't let the agents of this world tell you it can't be like that. Seek and you will find. Ask and it will be given to you. Knock and the door will be opened. "Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people." Ephesians 6:18
iPray crazy newness into your prayer life. May you step out of any prayer routine that keeps you in bondage. May you not fall for the lie that places prayer in a box. May you experience prayer on the edge of your seat, finding newness and excitement in His Spirit. I pray against the lie that there is nothing new about going before your Lord. May you see that He has something AMAZING for you on the very next page. May you seek it, recognize it and never ever walk away from Mad Praying with your God! iPray all of this in the name of Jesus, Amen!