It’s not easy maintaining a positive attitude when dark clouds seemed stalled over our heads because there’s a lot of bad stuff going on in our lives. While there is a break in the clouds on occasion, mostly it’s overcast. God seems to have spread a gray sheet between Him and us.
Would you agree we all have days like that? Sometimes a number of them in a row. We’re not clinically depressed. We don’t need medication. We don’t need therapy. We just need a break from our unrelenting cloud-shrouded life.
I find when I’m under grey clouds it helps to remember the transient nature of clouds. Even today as I write, the sky overhead can’t seem to make up its mind. Will the clouds be given permission to part so the sun can shine through or will they remain huddled together in a solid mass?
I find I respond two ways to the dark clouds. If I’m already having a “reflecting” kind of day, I might actually prefer clouds. If I’ve planned a day to stay inside and pursue a creative project, I kind of like gray days. I think you know what I mean. There’s something that appeals to us when the sky matches our mood.
It’s like friends.
When we’re in the dumps we usually seek friends we know will try to match our moods in their manner of speech, and choice of words. We don’t need them to act depressed, of course, but we don’t want someone who acts too cheerful either. It feels cold and insensitive.
Sometimes a pep talk is needed but not in a “rah, rah” cheerleader fashion. I try to make sure I act appropriately as well when I’m the one listening. Something I experienced a few years ago brought that home to me.
I was in a meeting at church and I mentioned how fortunate I felt when compared to the rest of the world. One individual, (I learned this later) misconstrued what I said and felt I was saying I was better than other people. I meant my remarks exactly as I spoke them. I guess it’s all how you look at things, glass half-empty or glass half full.
I wasn’t aware that this person was struggling with some serious issues at the time. To someone who wasn’t feeling very blessed himself, my remarks must have felt like cold water splashed in his face. While I would say the same thing again I would be careful to explain what I meant.
I try to remember that while my clouds have moved for the time being, someone else’s clouds have just shown up. I wished he could have seen my past and the clouds that once hovered over me as well or the clouds that are hovering now. But even with the clouds I really did feel blessed. Undeservedly blessed.
But if I’m feeling really down, I don’t want the gray clouds; I want the sun. I want something to interrupt my mood and cheer me up. On those days, I remind myself that clouds, by their very nature eventually move. (Of course, if you live in Michigan as I do, you might have to wait weeks, not days.)
I keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually the sun/Son does break through. My mood gets better. I see things more clearly. It’s just the unrelenting nature of life.
Some days we have to look to the heavens and just wait for the sky to change.
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Table of contents
Talking with God can be a struggle at times.
God continues to speak
No one writes anything in isolation. I’ve read a lot about prayer from highly respected authors whom I’m sure are also influenced by the books they read. Some of the authors that I continually re-digest are, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Phillip Yancey, Andrew Murray, Priscilla Shirer, Charles Spurgeon, Beth Moore, Joyce Meyers…..
While God spoke to us in Scripture, He continues to speak through His servants. While authors of Scripture were divinely inspired, writers today are inspired as well, albeit differently.
If the Holy Spirit no longer led men and women to write, that would mean that the Charles Spurgeons, the D.L. Moodys, the Dallas Willards, and the Richard Fosters of this world were not inspired and that no author since then has been. No one would believe that, correct? I doubt if any of us would read their books if we didn’t think they were inspired in some way.
Don’t most of us think the pastors of our church are inspired?
From my personal experience, I know I work hard at making sure what I write is consistent with what is my understanding of the Bible. I also make sure I’ve done my research to the best of my ability.
I continually pray that when I write about spiritual issues, I write what I feel God has put on my heart, in other words, what I feel the Holy Spirit has revealed to me. And, of course, I make sure it’s consistent with what scripture teaches as well.
Enlightenment didn’t end after the Bible was compiled.
(I’ve often wondered if the Bible were to be written today, what authors might be included. Have you ever thought about that?)
As I’m writing about prayer, I say to myself, “Leave it alone. Prayer is a huge subject”. But I can’t leave it alone because I’m guessing that prayer is as elusive and perplexing for you at times as it is for me.
So what really is prayer? Is it complicated? What about a right or wrong posture? I don’t know if I will answer these questions to your satisfaction but I have answered them somewhat to mine.
What is talking with God?
In its purest form, prayer is simple communication between God and man.
Between God and me.
Between God and you.
Prayer is between a mortal man and an eternal, holy God. (I include this last statement not to scare anyone but because I feel the subject of God’s holiness has been found lacking lately. We’ve replaced the concept of God’s Holiness with the concept of God’s love as though they didn’t co-exist.)
I am very honest in my prayers with God. I don’t edit my words nor my feelings but at the same time, I always remember that I am in the presence of a Holy being. Focusing on the holiness of God is very reassuring to me and not the least bit frightening.
I don’t want God to be my “buddy” or the “man upstairs”. I never refer to God or about God in this demeaning manner, whether in prayer or in any conversation. Again, I’m not suggesting at all that we need to mince our words or approach God in any way that isn’t totally authentic but to just remember we are in the presence of a Holy God.
Is talking with God complicated?
God accepts the most simple of prayers by the most simple of believing people. He also accepts the artful languageof the most experienced. He accepts the prayer of a non-believer when they call out to him with a penitent prayer.
There is no right or wrong way to pray and I would think that most Christians who have had a long history with God find their prayers changing as they’ve learned more about it.
Mine have certainly changed.
I find my prayers have become more simple. Having been a Christian my entire adult life, it would seem it would be just the opposite. But I’ve learned I don’t have to make my prayers long or elaborate sounding. I don’t have to use the words “Thee”, and “Thou”. I mean I don’t use those words when talking to anyone else so why do I think it makes me sound more “holy” to use those words when talking to God?
My prayers have become shorter.
That’s right. Shorter.
Why is that?
First of all, I’m never done. It’s a continuous act.
Secondly, the more concise I get, the fewer words I use. If I’m staying in touch with people, if I’m paying attention, I find my prayers are more spot-on thus requiring fewer words. Using more words doesn’t make me a better prayer. It just makes me a “longer” prayer-er.
Is there a right or wrong way?
Of course not.
There’s no right or wrong way to posture oneself when praying. We can be seating, standing, kneeling, or face flat on the floor.
Accordingly though, as we grow in faith, we become aware that there are certain prayers that seem to call for certain postures. For example, prayers during an emergency or crisis might find a person on their knees, prostrate on the floor, or standing up with outstretched arms.
Beth Moore, author, and Bible study teacher has said that at times she lays prostrate on the floor when her prayers are desperate. I have only done that once because the situation required it. If I make every situation an emergency, I’m just probably buying into drama that isn’t necessary. And I’m quite sure I’ll be facedown again some time anyway.
Out loud or silent?
I pray with my eyes closed. My husband keeps his eyes open. I pray out loud. He prays silently.
I recommend trying to pray out loud. You would be surprised at what you learn about yourself when you hear your own words being spoken for certain people and circumstances. There’s no hiding your heart’s real position when you hear your own words and inflections.
There are as many ways to prayer as there are people. As long as one’s heart is in the right place, God is good with it.
The main thing to know about talking with God is simply this:
Just show up!!!!
God bless and have a great day.
The post, “About prayer from someone who struggles with it at times”appeared first on faithsighanddiy.com/underhiswings
Words matter but what are we to do after last Wednesday?
Well, as far as the nation is concerned, I don’t know.
I only know about me.
I’ve shared a number of times that I read through Proverbs every month, not to impress you. I do it for me because I need to be constantly reminded about my words.
And never more than now.
Our words matter after last Wednesday
The Proverbs have more to say about our word choice than any other book in the Bible.
Especially verses from Proverbs 15 and 16.
Gracious words are pure in God’s sight.
15 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
but the hearts of fools are not upright.
14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word!
26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked,
but gracious words are pure in his sight.
28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.
Gracious words are a honeycomb.
1 To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.
10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
and his mouth does not betray justice.
21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
and gracious words promote instruction.[c]
23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
and their lips promote instruction.[d]
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
27 A scoundrel plots evil,
and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.
30 Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity;
whoever purses their lips is bent on evil.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
There are no easy and simple answers. And anytime there aren’t, that’s when it comes down to us and our words and our actions.
We are all called to spread peace and to BE peace.
For me, that means that one particular fruit of the spirit, is evidenced in my life during this time of unrest and uncertainty.
“Forbearance” is how it reads in the NASB. I looked up the words for forbearance and they include, self-restraint, tolerance, and patience. Just think how last week might never have happened had we all practiced the forbearance and gentle speech that Proverbs clearly outline for us.
But I can only influence and change me.
You can only influence and change you.
May God bless you today as you seek to follow Christ and practice forbearance.
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Knowing God is like following a lemon scone recipe. (So sorry I’m late in posting.)
I guess the better statement is that knowing God is like following any recipe. They both require following
But first, here is the lemon scone recipe.
Pat out the disc to only 1/2″ thick. This is important. The first batch I did was too thick and I had to bake them longer. Longer baking can sometimes mean a drier baked good. So keep them no thicker than 1/2″.
Can you see how crumbly they are? That’s how they’re supposed to look.
If you over mix scones, they won’t be tender. Kind of like biscuits and muffins. Get them just past the crumbly stage.
Why I didn’t include the remaining instructions, I think you can figure it out. Just cut them out and bake for about 15-20 minutes. When they’re springy to the touch and lightly browned, they are done. Let them cool on a cooling rack. I added a thin lemon glaze of confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice while the scones were still warm.
First, the connection between recipes and knowing God.
Don’t you wish life was just as easy as following a recipe?
Add a little of this and a little of that and you are all set. But you know what it really is?
But why should you listen to me?
Secondly, who am I that you should listen to me about knowing God?
Here’s what I do when determining what blogs (Christian blogs) to follow.
- Check them out.
- Read carefully what they say.
- Watch for consistency between what they say and what their lives reflect, assuming they give me some insight into their lives.
- Ascertain their sincerity by deciding if they are really writing to help or just for the money-making part.
However, don’t get me wrong. It is perfectly OK to make money on a blog. For example, I won’t be giving away my book for free. But you can tell what the motive is if you pay attention.
Therefore, I listen to their hearts. It either comes through as a heart yearning for God or it doesn’t.
That’s how you can decide if what I write is something you value or not. I expect that.
So this is who I am
I’m not a super Christian but I’ve been a follower of Christ for many years. I am a certified hospital chaplain, an author (book to be published very soon) a Bible teacher, a Psychology major, a blogger, an avid reader, a Bible student (just enrolled in Bible classes) at a Bible college, and an all-around seeker of truth.
I’ve also lived a life that has had its shares of ups and downs. I know what it’s like to feel depressed and anxious and I’ve learned and created a lot of coping skills to deal with both. Accordingly then, the book that is coming out is focused on Christians and mental health issues.
The truth is, however, on any one given day, I probably screw up just as much as anyone. Some days, even more. There are days my Bible study is pathetic and my prayer time too short because I’ve got too many irons in the fire.
I’m fairly disorganized and at the same time nit-picky about how my house is decorated. I love DIY, reading, painting, crafting, all of it.
In other words, I’m human.
Anyway, I hope you’ll stay with me this year. I have an exciting year coming up. After years of blogging, I feel I have finally found my “focus”.
So if you bake these scones, think about the recipe. The scones will not turn out if you don’t follow it, right?
Well, our Christian life is the same. We have to follow the recipe. And the first and main ingredient in every recipe for the Christian life is a desire to know God.
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God bless and I hope you have a great day and stay safe.
ps. Sorry for being so out of touch this week but I’m working on great posts and ideas for you!