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Thursday, May 29, 2003 AD
Thoughts on Prayer
Each week I send out a prayer reminder to my church's "prayer wrestlers" -- a collection of folks who have committed to praying for an hour each Saturday in a sort of relay of prayer to cover the whole 24 hours. Along with any prayer updates and reminders, I usually try to include some scripture verses related to prayer and some devotional thoughts on those verses. Since I don't have anything else to blog, here's what I sent this week:
Pray with thanksgiving. In Philippians 4:6 Paul writes, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Then in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 he says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Doesn't that seem crazy sometimes? I mean, sometimes the "everything" and the "all circumstances" includes a lot of suffering and injustice! How can we give thanks then? Being a colossal ingrate myself, even under the most ideal of circumstances, I find this sort of all-the-time thanksgiving very difficult. As I have struggled to cultivate a more grateful attitude, I've had to really embrace two truths about God.

First, God is perfectly sovereign. There is not any circumstance that is out of his control. As one writer put it, there are no maverick molecules in this universe. Every event of our lives unfolds exactly according to God's perfect plan.

That truth by itself is pretty scary, so it's vital to know the second truth, as well: God is good -- all the time. He doesn't wield His sovereignty in a cruel and capricious way, but always with two good ends in view. First, He does all things for His own glory. Second, He does all things for the good of His people (Romans 8:28).

Since God is utterly in control and utterly good, we can trust that He's not just pulling some good rabbit out of the hat of messed up circumstances, but that these circumstances are His best for us -- His perfect means to bring about His glory and our benefit. Will we always see clearly what exactly He's working out in whatever situation we find ourselves? No. But even when we can't see it all, then we can at least see one thing -- we can see that He's giving us an opportunity to trust Him more without seeing it all.

A few weeks ago, after reading in a book some things about the sovereignty and goodness of God, I took a walk. During that walk I began to give thanks for the difficult things in my life that I've so often in the past complained to Him about: the abandonment and abuse I experienced as a child, the disappointments and loneliness that come with singleness, even the frustration and suffering I've brought on myself through my own sinfulness. I had such an amazing sense of peace after that. But the bigger challenge has been in the day-to-day things. (Big, dramatic gestures always seem to come easier for me than nitty-gritty practical living.) When the birds sing loud enough at 3 a.m. to wake me up, will I give thanks to God that it's all in His perfect plan? What about when I spill something all over the outfit I just pulled out of the dryer? Or when I'm running late and I get lost? Or when my boss makes an unreasonable demand of me? Or when someone parks in front of my driveway? Or when I stub my toe? Or when...[fill in the blank with all manner of irritating circumstances in which I find myself tempted to whining, griping and tantrum-throwing]? Sometimes over the past few weeks I've managed to give thanks in these circumstances. Sometimes I haven't. I suspect I'll spend the rest of my life learning to give thanks in everything. I'm grateful for a Faithful Teacher who won't quit giving me lessons!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/29/2003 10:46:00 PM • Permalink

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