Prayer Even for People Who Do Not Pee Alone, Part 2

If I wait for the perfect moment of solitude for something spiritual to well up inside me....I'm going to be waiting for a long time. Better to see if I can enjoy it as it is. 
(This is part 2 of these thoughts.) I was just saying how my prayer sometimes is just me holding up my play-doh-of-anxiety filled hands and asking God please to say something about it. Then, if I've heard something that seems like it could be God saying it, I can follow that up with a sense of purpose. 

Here's the summary of how I will not leave you nor forsake you unpacked for me recently. 

[Joshua 1:5-9 NIV] 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Let's consider the context. This is a passage where the Lord is speaking directly to Joshua as he assumes leadership of the Hebrews. He’s exhorting Joshua as he prepares to enter the land God promised to give them. Is it appropriate then to apply it to myself and take encouragement? I think so, yes, in that Joshua was a God-follower, and so am I. Joshua is exhorted to “Be strong and courageous” and also given the resource to make that happen—“the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” The strength and ability comes from God being with him. 

He’s exhorted to be strong, to be courageous, to keep on the path carefully that Moses set out, to remain tied to God’s word and be careful to keep it, to not be afraid or discouraged, because God will be with Him wherever he goes. All of these things I can take strength from as pertains to my issue. I can also turn them to prayer, just as I'm reading them. "God, help me to be strong and courageous. Help me to stay on the path you've set for me. Help me to love your Word more and obey it. Encourage me, God. I'm scared. I'm worried. Thank you for going with me. Help me not be afraid."  I'm doing it! I'm praying about it!

This would be enough to be awesome. But then I remember from a talk I heard in my college years that that’s not the only time “I will never leave your nor forsake you” comes up. Blueletterbible.org helped me find it—in Hebrews 13.

 [Heb 13:5-8 NIV] 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." 6 So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" 7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Phrases like this one can lead me down other bunny trails of truth that are worth an exploration.

In this case, the first is the nature of God that’s behind the promise not to leave me. I know already that God is love because I’ve been listening to Seeds Family Worship—The Character of God, which I highly recommend. It's what's been playing in my headphones while I have been working on writing this. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love!” (1 John) 

When I hear God saying in the scripture, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” I can know that it’s grounded in love, not just in I'm-gritting-My-Teeth-to-put-up-with-these-sinners-that-I’d-rather-ditch. I find some freedom in that, and it’s worth dwelling on. When I say I know this truth about God already, I mean that I’ve heard it and assent to it. However, the truth’s finding its way into the depths of my heart and working itself out into my every action and emotion—well, that is going to be an on-going process.

Here’s another bunny trail off of the last one: I want to understand the depths of the love God has for us. (Ephesians 1) It’s deep, and knowing it is important to my life as a believer—that’s why the apostle Paul offers prayer there that we would know these things. I can meander down that path for a long time, too. 

Having gone down both of those trails for a bit, I come back to the original idea. I want to realize that God is with us. That he is with us and will not forsake us. That am part of us, so I can say, "God, you say you are with me and will not forsake me. But I'm feeling____ right now, please help me." Even when I feel afraid, I can trust in God (Psalm 56:3). In faith I can step right into Hebrews 13:6 and “say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” I can pray, "Thank you, Lord, for being my helper. Give me eyes to see your help, and not to be afraid of people." 

Finally, I remember Jesus himself promised this to us in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

So, I hadn't made a big quiet time and space for connecting with God about my issues. I should have, but God has dealt graciously with me. He came down, pushed some of the noise aside, and sat down with me for a few minutes to talk it through and tell me a little more about who He is. My solution didn't appear, but my perspective is better and I have something to hold on to that shapes the conversation and the molding. I can knead the play-doh with more of an open hand, hold it up to my Father, and know that he's with me and will not forsake me. That matters.

1 comment

  1. This is so encouraging! I'm so glad you're writing again.

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