My Routines Build Me Up And Tear Me Down

I hate mornings. I can hardly get my body and brain to engage. I used to be a morning person. Not so much now. The challenge of falling asleep manifests itself, in an even greater way, in the morning.

As I try to wake up, the first thing I do is reach for my phone, with the hope that my wake up time is still many hours away. Squint-eyed I try to make out the time. I shower, brush my teeth, get dressed… Coffee

I have a routine that is forced. A lot of the things, I just have to do. I have many other routines; recurring things. I have rhythms I’m forced to change sometimes because life just happens. Something unexpected, a fuller diary, crises…

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Answers | Prayer Rehab

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I Am Jonah, this blog is also, in some way, a journal of how I’m learning to follow Jesus again. Part of it is about chronicling the tension between what God wants of, in and through me.

Lately, it seems God is putting me through prayer rehab. Reclaiming an appreciation of prayer and its significance. Sometimes it is not that I or we don’t know anything. It is not that we have forgotten but we need reminders. We need renewed perspective, vision, and passion.

A renewed sense of weightiness… It seems, at least for me, God always takes me back to the “elementary” to grow me, mature me to the “next level”, whatever that is.

Back to prayer…

God answers prayer. He does. Many times I’ve been frustrated with Him because ‘He didn’t answer my prayers’. The truth: most of the times He has answered my prayers the answer has been “no”.

Like a brat nagging mom or dad because they answered my request but not with the answer I wanted… That is how my prayer life has been in many seasons of my life.

Nothing but a nag. No depth. Me-focused. Intense on what I wanted… There are times the sum of my prayer life has been me giving God marching orders. My shopping list.

There are times my prayer life is nothing more than a rant about my problems. My challenges. I must be transparent, honest with God as I connect with Him. God is not shocked by my frustrations with the answers I get from Him, sometimes.

My humanity doesn’t shock or surprise God… Those times I rant, complain, and yes, even those times I’ve scolded God for not doing what I asked. For not doing what I wanted. What I told him, no, for not doing what I ordered Him to do.

I’m being reminded that I sometimes God’s answer is, “no”. Sometimes the answer is, “not that way or in this time”. The answer has also been, “never”.

This morning (sounds like a guy on the podium on Sunday morning right, but I am actually writing this in the early morning hours)

This morning, I am being reminded that even Paul, the apostle, the missionary, had desires to go places and God squashed them. Surely, he prayed about his plans… God’s answer to his plans were sometimes contrary to what Paul wanted. This is true for me. For us and our plans… Sometimes our prayers are in our plans / planning…

Sometimes God’s answer is, “Go!” and that can also freak me out. Somehow, God has a way of answering by giving us assignments we feel are greater than us. We feel ill-prepared and perhaps don’t measure up to.

Yet, He still sends me. Sometimes God’s answers are exactly what we wanted… That’s the next post.

Today, God, I pray, give me courage to accept and make peace with all Your answers… Amen.

 

Related:

More, Deeper Than A Craft

More Than A Combination Of Twenty Six Letters

More Than A Combination Of Twenty Six Letters

More Than A Combination Of Twenty Six Letters

I borrowed the tittle of this post from Mark Batterson‘s book, “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day“. What I will share with you in this post is about something that struck a great chord in me. Particularly also due to my earlier post, More, Deeper Than A Craft.

I get this from Mark who got it from Ted Loder’s book, “Guerillas of Grace“. It is about how prayer is way more than what we have reduced it to. May it resonate with you, the way it has with me:

How shall I pray?

Are tears prayers, Lord?

Are screams prayers,

Or groans

or sighs

or curses?

Can trembling hands be lifted to you,

or clenched fists

or the cold sweat that trickles down my back

or the cramps that knot my stomach?

Will You accept my prayers, Lord,

my real prayers,

rooted in the much and much and rock of my life,

and not just the pretty, cut-flower, gracefully arranged

bouquet of words?

Will you accept me, Lord,

as I really am,

messed up mixture of glory and grime?

This prayer about prayer is so liberating. It gives a perspective and depth to prayer that I feel we have undermined and overlooked. Sometimes words evade us. Sometimes we don’t pray the prayers we really mean to or want to pray, because we’re locked into wanting to be crafty, articulate.

What are some of the things that have shaped your perspective and attitude toward prayer?

As I wrote the questions above I realised that there are both negative and positive things that have shaped my prayer life (whatever that is). As I’ve said, I shared some of that in this post. If you haven’t read it check it out and let’s have a conversation.

You can do that either with me, others but most importantly with God.

I know, for sure, that one of the biggest approach and “attitude shapers” when it comes to God, is our understanding of who God is. As my view of God has matured, so has my prayer life. Sometimes I think I’ve regressed. See-saw. At other times I’ve adopted, knowingly and otherwise, other people’s approaches and practices.

I have been guilty of creating a chasm between God and myself (if ever that is possible, but you know what I mean… I’ve done this by embracing barriers and practices that I’ve created myself or adopted from others.

Probably my most earnest prayer ever is this one here. I am convinced it’s probably the most defining prayer we can pray. Nothing can define us more than God encounters. And, they are birthed in earnestness in prayer.

[Photo Credit: ninastoessinger]

Fear Of Missing “God’s Purpose For My Life”

I lived with the fear of “missing God’s purpose for my life”. In fact, my teens were torture. I was more scared of “missing God’s purpose for my life” than I was obsessed with “finding it”.

What if I God didn’t tell me what He put me on the earth for? What if He is saying it and I’m just too dumb to get it? It is like everyone but me knew what God put him or her on the earth for.

They had a clear picture. All I had, and still have, is the sense that there is something ‘great’ (whatever that means) that God has for and through my life. I’m sometimes too afraid to say this. Is it arrogance?

fear of missing God's purpose for my life

But then again God’s grace is what gives me, and everyone, give us, access to greater purpose for our lives. We aren’t perfect but are made perfect. We are weak but strong in Christ. Through Him we do valiantly…

For some reason I’ve lived under the impression that significance of my life lay in knowing the entire purpose for our lives. I lost of a lot moments in life because I got so tangled in looking ahead I stumbled where I was.

Life was a fumble. A walk in the dark. I know the people who told me to seek God’s purpose for my life were well-meaning. However, they missed something; God’s purpose for my life was not something afar off.

God has plans for my life. He had, and still has, plans through my life. However, I don’t need to know everything in its entirety. I don’t need to have an answer to impress people about the grandeur of what God has “called me to”.

God’s grace is what gives us access to greater purpose for our lives [Click to Tweet]

Once again, I need to guard my attention to hear from Him. I just need to be attentive enough to hear Him lead and send me where I am. To know the next thing. The next step.

Some people know exactly God intends for and through them right to the end of their lives. That is great. For them, God sees fit that they know it. For me, if God doesn’t do the same, I still must be at peace, knowing that He does have a plan for my life. Knowing that as long as I’m still breathing He has my world in His hands.

Could it be, then, that how I miss God’s purposes for my life is by being so focused on thousands of miles ahead that I miss the seeming minute assignments where I am today.

God’s grace says we’re good enough for God to use us [Click to Tweet]

God’s purposes for my life are not entirely about me. I am a part of them but they’re about other people. Perhaps what I need to be doing is listening for the voice of God in the need around me.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying… (Jonah 1:1).

That is one of the ways God’s purpose for our lives comes his word coming to us… Jonah’s adventure begins with God’s word “coming to Him”.

God, help me not to miss your word when it comes to me. Amen.

[Photo Credit: marc falardeau]

Seeking HIM and NOT Finding

There are times that I spend some time reading the Bible in trying to know God. Trying to understand God… Trying to figure Him out a little better than the last time.

I try to listen to His voice. It is settled in my mind, and heart that God does speak. It sometimes takes me a while to hear Him speaking because He also speaks in ways that I don’t expect. In ways I don’t prefer, in some cases.

I would prefer He used billboards. I wish He would pull some stunts from the Bible… Maybe send an angel so that I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that it is He who speaks to me. I’ve been following Christ for many years and I’m still learning to hear Him.

Does that make me spiritually immature? The fact that I’m still cautious about being quick to say, “This is what God is saying to me…” that is. I hate and I’m also scared of being judged as this by other Christ followers for not being so attentive. For not always being able to hear God speak.

seeking and not finding him

Could it be that I let the anxiety of not being able to tell them about “the word” I received from God get in the way of my seeking and listening? This somehow puts pressure on me to “hear something“. I’m glad that I don’t have to deal with lying and say I heard God when I didn’t.

There are seasons I struggle to hear God. There are times I need to know if I should go one way. Should I pursue an offer? How should I respond to some people and particular situations?

There I times I just know for sure. Those are great and I’m not too worried about those. I can hear Him clearly giving me an assignment. That’s great… Well, except for the obedience part.

Sometimes I do take a while to get myself to align with God. I Am Jonah.

It is the times His voice is less than a whisper. I sometimes allow clutter, noise to muffle His voice. Does God sometimes speak that way intentionally to cause me to seek Him a little more? Or is it just the noise I’ve allowed in my life? Maybe both…

Jesus said seek and you shall find. It means that. What it doesn’t mean is that every time I read the Bible I should find him right?

The fact that I can’t hear Him speak doesn’t mean that He isn’t. That I don’t hear Him speak doesn’t mean that He is speaking for me to hear. Sometimes God is just quiet, right?

Seeking Jesus, the Christ, is not an event. It is a journey. Each moment I seek and think I don’t find is a step to a revelation in a tomorrow day. There is a revelation of God our spirits have that we’re not aware of. This is because it is a building block to the ‘revelation moment’.

The truth, I don’t always see or hear God as I read His word. Perhaps it’s more right to say, I’m not always aware of the revelation of God each time I seek Him. Perhaps in those times all that has been uncovered to me is pixel of the bigger picture.

If God is not obscured, in a sense, perhaps I would never appreciate the significance of the moments the light went on in my spirit. Revelations of who He is, is made precious by the process of seeking. God, is that part of the idea?

Perhaps all these questions are not as important as this: my focus should be attentiveness, so that when He does speak I hear Him. Compromising my attention will be my demise.

Stay attentive. Keep seeking…

God, help me to be more in tune, more attentive to you. Help me guard and nurture my attentiveness to you. Help me to be alert to hear your voice, your leading. Help me to draw my attention from what I want. How I feel, opinions… may these things pale as I keep my attention on you. Amen.

[Photo Credit: Dan-scape (Peak District-Photo)]