Thursday, December 30, 2010

Prayer, Over-stirred.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday meal is making the gravy and white sauce. A white sauce is a fantastic combination of butter, flour and heavy cream. What's not to love about that? Simple and yet powerful in it's goodness. Most cooks would agree, however, that many sauces over-stirred become ruined. Somehow I think that's what we have done with prayer. . .we have over-stirred it.


Prayer is the single-most complex and yet simple thing in the Christian life. It is simple on our part. But on the part of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, there is a mystery -- a complexity -- that I doubt we will understand even in Heaven. We seem to make prayer so cumbersome and difficult, we have stirred it until it has clabbered. We have prayer lists and prayer chains, prayer hours and prayer partners, prayer books and prayer conferences. Yet if you would ask Christians what is the one thing most lacking in their walk with the Lord, I would warrant most would say, "Prayer." Perhaps it is precisely because we have made the very simple, very complex.

The Father has set forth a pattern of simple things for us so that the simplest of us could easily accept Christ and follow Him. Prayer is no different. Prayer must be simple as well so that even a child, or one child-like, can pray.

The Lord began our world by simply speaking the whole of creation into being. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Hebrews 11:3) 

Then He made salvation simple for us. The Lord could have made it so that man had to strive and work all his life to obtain salvation. But the Lord did not do so. He made salvation a simple matter of faith in the work accomplished by His Son on the cross of Calvary. No works, no striving, "nothing in my hands I bring, only to Thy cross I cling". The very essence of simplicity.

It is unlikely that a God who would create the universe by a word and would have the matter of salvation be as simple as faith in His Son would also have conversation with Himself be complex and convulted. Prayer is just as simple so that even a child can pray, and is there anything sweeter than hearing a young child pray?


There are those who seem to believe that there is something almost magical about prayer in and of itself. This is not true. Prayer is simply our conversing with the Lord. Anyone can pray at anytime anywhere about anything. When we tend to believe prayer is magical, and we don't see the magic, we become discouraged and stop praying. When we tend to make prayer too complicated, then we get discouraged and we stop praying.


There are many websites and television programs which exist for the purpose of giving people things to pray for and in turn being able to list our needs for prayer as well. Some of these even have the audacity to ask for "donations". Putting a price tag on prayer --even in the disguise of a "donation" should send red flags to any Christian.  

The Lord has placed in our lives those for whom He would have us to pray, we need only open our eyes and look around. As for those to pray for us, we must simply trust Him to lay us on someone else's heart. Our focus in prayer has to be the one we are praying for, not who will pray for us. We can trust the Lord to take care of us!

The Lord has put us in our sphere of the world exactly where He knows we should be, surrounded by the people He knows we should be surrounded by. He has put those people in our lives for us to pray for. Not only the people we know, but those we do not know. . .maybe the person we pass in traffic, the person standing in line in front of us or someone we see walking down the street. It is no accident they have been placed in our line of vision, God has a purpose for introducing them into our lives.


We may think that we need to have a list of the person's needs to take to the Lord before we can effectively pray for them, but this is not the case. The Lord knows that person infinitely and intimately. He knows their needs. We only need to bring that person up to the Lord and ask that He work in their lives where He sees need, we do not have to know the needs ourselves. 

There are three great needs of all people: that the Lord Jesus be glorified in them; that the God's eternal purpose in Christ Jesus be fulfilled in them and that will of God be accomplished in them. These three things can be prayed for all people.How easy it is to simply lift a person's name up to the Lord and rest in the fact that He is willing and able to do the rest.


  ". . .but the prayer of the upright is His delight." (Proverbs 15:8)

 Our prayers are a delight to the Lord. He loves to hear our voices lifted up to Him. It gives Him joy and it creates joy in our hearts as well. Not only that, but it creates a bond of community toward the persons for whom we are praying. It is difficult to have a hardness of heart against a person if you are truly praying for them.

Prayer is as simple as seeing, as simple as remembering. When we see someone, we pray for them. When we remember someone, we pray for them, as Paul did.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." (Philippians 1:3)

We can depend upon our Lord to put those people in our path and in our memory whom He would like us to lift up in prayer. So it's up to us to stop stirring and start serving.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Language of Love -- December 10, 2010

The Friday entries of The Powder Room, called  

The Language of Love
will be dedicated to communication between husbands and wives.  Our marriages, viewed through the context of the Scriptures, primarily exist to express the heavenly marriage of Christ and His church.

Friday, December 10, 2010

We my husband and I were dating, every Friday he would bring me a single rose.  My favorite were the deep orange Tropicana ones.  I loved this simple, but romantic, expression of his love.  When we became engaged, however, I noticed that the roses didn't appear anymore.  After several weeks, I asked Glen where my roses were.

He replied, "Your roses are on your finger now."  The smaller expressions of love had been replaced with a bigger, and more expensive one.

Tropicana RoseImage by jessica.diamond via FlickrExpressions of love are an important part of the communication of marriage, but it is important that we make sure what we think communicates love, actually does so.

I have taught my children for years that the greatest way to say "I love you"  is not by those three little words, but instead by asking, "How can I help?"

I had heard story after story from wives or husbands who would be busy working in the house or the yard, and the spouse would be watching television or talking on the phone.  Then as the busy one passed by the other would throw out the obligatory "I love you!"

I doubt the person doing all the work felt very loved at that moment.  How much better it would be if instead they had offered to help and shared a heavy load.  That would have been a much greater expression of love.

Sometimes love can be expressed in small matters of thoughtfulness.  I am not a morning person but my job requires that I get up at 4:30 in the morning.  My husband shows his love for me each morning when he brings me a cup of coffee as I am getting dressed.  While he is very good at telling me often how much he loves me, the cup of coffee is a tangible expression of that love.  It shows he was thinking about me enough to do something, to go out of his way to care for me.  I heard of one spouse who, while his wife was in the shower, put her towels in the dryer so they would be warm for her when she stepped out. 

Finding thoughtful expressions of love is an individual matter. The important thing is to find out what is an expression of love to your spouse.  It may be changing a dirty diaper, or keeping up with an item they have trouble locating. We should each ask the Lord to reveal to us those things which would be an expression of love and thoughtfulness to our spouse. Finding these things and fulfilling them can be great acts of joy not only to our spouse, but to ourselves as well.  In loving our spouses in this way, we are honoring, loving and worshiping our Lord, bringing joy to His heart and to our own.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Shooting Star . . .

This week, in the last two days in fact, we traveled to Arkansas and back. 
Reflected Christmas TreeImage by tworm via Flickr
Both trips were during the dark of night.  The first was uneventful except for seeing decorated Christmas Trees out on the lakes along the way.  This beautiful spectacle was not a surprise as a friend of mine at work who comes from Little Rock had told me to be expecting them and they far exceeded my expectations.  Impressed by the colorful lights of the human-made trees, little was I to know the God-made light show that was to be provided for us the next night.  But the admission ticket was high.

In Maumelle, we had a delightful visit with our friend and said our tearful and regretful good-byes a little before midnight.  We started out on our journey much as we had begun the night before, expecting an uneventful ride.

Early into our travel we encountered the fog.  There really needs to be another word for this because it wasn't any ordinary fog, it was thick, swirling and frozen.  Most of the time we could not see more than ten feet -- if that much-- in front of our car.  Our pace slowed to a crawl and we both sat perched on the edge of our seat as if our position could somehow enhance the visibility.  The strangest part of it though, was the sound.  I kept hearing a soft, crunching sound. I didn't realize what it was until we stopped at one point for gas.  The car grill and both outside mirrors were caked in hunks of ice. 

The road was virtually empty, as Glen said, "Everyone got the bad fog memo except us."  I am quite sure, however, that the Lord sent us some angels in what a friend describes as "bubbles of warmth we call automobiles" to help us along our way. 

At one point when the visibility was particularly nonexistent, a small car pulled out from an intersection in front of us.  We were to make a left turn in 500 yards (God bless our GPS we have named "Daphne" because without her we would still be driving blindly through the streets of Arkansas) but there was no way we would be able to see where to actually turn.  Then we saw the blink of the car's turn signal, the car ahead was going exactly where we needed to go.  Watching their path --and they overshot the turn by a little--we were able to see our turn clearly and avoid the ditch on either side.  I am convinced the Lord sent that car precisely at that moment to guide us on our way.

Had we  been on any other stretch of road, we would have pulled over to stop, or even rented a hotel room.  The shoulders of the road at this point, however, were incredibly narrow and there was not a hotel to be found for miles and miles.  To be honest, there could have been a Ritz Carlton right there on the side of the road, and we would not have been able to see it, the visibility was that bad.  We needed Rudolph!

Then, almost miraculously, the fog disappeared.  We drove out of it into a very cold, crisp, exceptionally clear night.  The contrast was incredible.  Our journey turned us down a road with wide, flat shoulders.  I looked out the window to enjoy the clearness of the sky and was amazed at the sight which greeted me.  The sky was literally over-populated with stars.  I mentioned it to Glen and he tried to see it while driving, almost as dangerous as driving in the fog, but couldn't he get a clear view.

Finally we decided to take advantage of the wide shoulder.  We pulled over and got out of the car.  Never in my life have I seen a sight like this.  Usually when we view a sky full of stars the sky still looks smooth with the points of light punctuating the dark.  This sky was so full of stars of differing brightness, the sky had a textural appearance.  It reminded me of a woolen cap knitted with that knobby yarn I've seen in craft stores.  It was as if you could not find a single spot of completely black sky. 

We stood in wonder and amazement.  Awe is the only word to use.  How much sweeter too, that we shared the moment together and we shared this absolutely incredible view after sharing that absolutely. . .(I need a word. . .I think the British have a perfect adjective for this. . .) after sharing that absolutely bloody drive through the fog.  As tense and nerve racking as the fog had been for me (Glen maintains he was never tense), the stars were just as awe-filled and praise-inspiring.

As we stood there craning our necks upward, I didn't ask the Lord for it, I just told Him rather, that I had never in my life seen a shooting star.  Why was I even surprised that in less than a minute, I saw a star with it's shiny trail make a trek across the sky?  It was the perfect top on the perfect cake.

We had just experienced the most wonderful visit with one of our dearest friends and met some of his friends who quickly became our friends as well.  We shared the moments of difficulty in the fog followed by the moments of untold joy looking at the sky. 

Those few moments standing under an unbelievable canopy of God's grace made every difficulty, every missed hour of sleep and rest, every trace of tiredness and discomfort absolutely and completely worth it.

"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;
if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." 
(Romans 8:16-18)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Soapy Snow

I love winter, or what we have for winter this deep in the South.

I love the cold air.  I love the blankets and quilts on the bed and feeling them wrapped around me.  I love jackets and scarves and gloves.  I love the few trees with bare binestems we have in this land of evergreens.

I love winter.  But for us, there is one thing missing.


It rarely snows here and if it does it doesn't usually accumulate.

Last night our city had a Christmas festival downtown.  Glen, our daughter, her boyfriend and I went.  It was very festive and two businesses had snow machines on their balconies.  I use the word snow here in the loosest sense.

When you looked up at the sky, it looked pretty good.  Even some fluttering around your face seemed real enough.  But when it landed on your jacket or hair, you could tell it wasn't really snow.  It was foam.  Not cold, but soap.

It was a disappointment to expect a snowflake and see a blob of soap.  It started out looking like the real thing, but upon close examination, it just wasn't.  It didn't live up to the test and in the end it was more of a disappointment than a satisfaction.

Unfortunately, there are people like that.  They claim the title "Christian" and they may even do some good things, but upon closer examination it is obvious they really don't know the Lord and care to follow Him.  A relationship with them brings disappointment instead of satisfaction.  Let us seek to bind ourselves to those true believers who will daily exhort, encourage, comfort and uplift us in our walk with the Lord.  Let us also walk as bright example to others "abounding in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit".

"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. "  Matthew 7:20,21