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Random THoughts on Exhaustion and Prayer

DSCF1421Devotional Thought of the Day:
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:31-34 (NLT2)

But we still cannot change God, can we? No, we cannot. But is that why we pray? To change omniscient Love? Isn’t it rather to learn what it is and to fulfill it? Not to change it by our acts, but to change our acts by it.
The fact that God’s love is unchangeable does not change the fact that it is love. It always wills what is best for us. And
Start Reading Pg 148 Tomorrow ×
prayer is best for us. Therefore, we must pray precisely because God’s love is unchangeable. He is unchangeably loving and commands prayer for us.

895    Work tires you physically and leaves you unable to pray. But you’re always in the presence of your Father. If you can’t speak to him, look at him every now and then like a little child … and he’ll smile at you.

Let me be honest, last week was a long, exhausting blessed mess.

It took a while to wake up and get going this morning, and even though I am in my office now, I am still dragging. Dragging enough that I thought I could not pay good enough attention to really make my devotions “worth it.”  (Whatever that means!)  So I almost moved past them to “get to work” studying scripture and preparing next week’s order of worship.

Logically, at least with what little logic was available, I realized how stupid that sounded. Overlook prayer and time with God to plan… prayer and time with God?

So back to my devotions, and what’s the common topic?  Prayer, of course!  (God does have a sense of humor!)

And I remembered why I love the practical faith of St. Josemaria!  He remembered the ultimate truth about prayer.  It is not the flowery words, it is not about the incredible dialogue. It is simply about being in the presence of God, our Father!  It is about looking up to Him, unable perhaps to even speak of our need to depend upon Him… and realize He is present – that He is looking at us!

Perhaps that is why the most meaningful time of prayer is when we are simply silent!

From St. Josemaria’s simplicity to Peter Kreeft’s philosophy, where I found the same message. There it takes the essence of why do you pray if God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and unchanging? Are you going to change God’s mind? ( As Abraham thought he might be able to with Sodom?)

Ot is it something more than by struggling with prayer, by seeking God out, we begin to understand His love, His passionate care? In our times of prayer, we learn that He does desire the best for us and actively works in our lives to make it so? That even times of bargaining with Abraham, or the Samaritan woman who argued for her daughter’s healing, God is teaching us the lesson of interacting with Him, and not just using Him as a genie from the bottle?

Think through this… I decided to look up the Lord’s prayer… and missed it by a few verses, coming to those above in red. Which says the same thing…

Stop worrying,

Leave it in God’s hands…

Look at Jesus, look at the Father… seek them first… and see Them smile.

Amen!

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 147–148.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Overwhelmed? Broken?

Quote to ponder this day:

When you have fallen or when you find yourself overwhelmed by the weight of your wretchedness, repeat with a firm hope: Lord, see how ill I am; Lord, you who died on the Cross for love of me, come and heal me. Be full of confidence, I insist. Keep on calling out to his most loving Heart. As he cured the lepers we read about in the Gospel, He will cure you. (1)

As i read this quote this morning, I recoiled a bit at the phrasing, especially “the weight of your wretchedness”.   Wretched?  Isn’t that a bit strong?   I mean, my life certainly faces a lot of “challenges”, but “wretched”?

If I am honest, those “challenges” do weigh heavily on me, as can the guilt and shame that comes with dealing effectively with those challenges.  I want to face them on my own, have the wisdom to deal with them, and I often instead cower in fear, or at least become paralyzed by it.   I don’t think my wretchedness is just about my sin, though it obviously would include it. But we live in a broken world, and we live among broken people, and the situation at times does seem “wretched”, and that there is no way out.  If I dwell on it long enough, I can become depressed and bitter towards God, – why haven’t You helped me!

It is then that a friend, or a passage like this shows up, and my world which was turned upside down… become at peace.

I may have to cry out to Him until I am exhausted and fall mercifully to sleep.  It’s not because He isn’t answering, He does and I am often so overwhelmed, so wretched I don’t hear Him clearly.  For what He will say is often not what I want to hear, but it is always there,, and is effective.

James talks about the prayer of a righteous man is very very effective – so is it that I am not righteous enough?  Interestingly, that question’s answer is found in itself – the reason someone is counted righteous is because they trust God. because they know His presence, and rejoice in Christ.  It is when we draw close, that we find those answers, that peace, that assurance in the middle of being overwhelmed, of being wretched.   The situation doesn’t change as much as we think – what changes is that we are not as concerned as we are in awe…

So are you overwhelmed, has the situation nearly crushed you?  Or at least, do you think it has?   Keep crying out to God – until your heart is ready to listen, to be set at peace.  I love the bullet point before the one quoted above, for it states why this is effective.

“Let us marvel at the lovable paradox of our Christian condition: it is our own wretchedness which leads us to seek refuge in God, to become “like unto God”. With him we can do all things.” (1)

Jesus said it this way:

6:31 What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. 32 People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. 34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Matthew 6:31-34 (MSG) 

Lord, have mercy upon us, and as we are seeking that mercy, draw us through it to be aware of You Presence.

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 927-931). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Monday Morning and Priority Setting

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the day:

It’s a day I dread, the Monday after a vacation.  I look at my desk and there are a ton of things to do. There are services to plan, sermon preparation to be done (and prepped to share with my deacons)  There is the business of being the pastor of a church.  It is almost tiring just looking at the work that needs to get done this week.

More importantly, there are people I need to go see, and visit.

When I was in management at a university, Monday morning was a critical time – if I spent the first 30 minutes actually planning the week – life was so much better!  Of course there would be interruptions, emergencies, things that would throw me for a loop – but the plan would be there to come back to, to restore sanity, to guide my week – and if I did 75% of the plan during the week – I could count it a good week and head off  on Friday content.  Attempts to do this in ministry, well, I’ve realized it is not just impossible – but completely wrong.  I know contend that it was wrong even then…..

Consider this well known Bible passage:

 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33 (KJV) 

another translation put it this way…

6:33 Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NJB)

As a pastor and translator, there are a number of reasons I like the second version better- but this post isn’t about Greek – it is about priority setting and Monday mornings and setting out for a great week.  To see that happen, the only priority that must be set, is this one – to see ourselves living this day, this week, under God’s authority and care, to realize that He has called us to righteousness, He has saved us and made us His, and we live within the realm of His authority, and as important, His responsibility.  This is perhaps the first and most difficult lesson of discipleship.  I am not in charge, God is, and it is His time to use, to plan out, to show me how He will craft this week in such a way that it is a gift to me, and more importantly (here is where it gets challenging) to where my week will be a blessing to others.

This is important whether you are a pastor, or a manager, or a clerk, or a student.  To realize that we sit at our master’s feet, that He is in charge of setting a schedule and making it work within His will, that it is the Holy Spirit’s work to see this week holy and sanctified.

Luther talked about it by noting that we begin and end our day as being baptized – that’s the righteousness/saving justice of God.  It is also explained in the catechism in regards to the First Commandment.  He is your God, no other.  Knowing that helps set the priorities, and helps us stay focused when life seems less than righteous around us.  Another writer said it this way, “Add a supernatural motive to your ordinary professional work, and you will have sanctified it” (Escriva – The Way)

So i urge you – because I have to urge myself this morning, take the time, a few moments – even 5 minutes… and breathe, and seek to realize that incredible blessing that comes from living in His presence, where He is in charge, where things that matter are all tied to His making them right, and holy.  Seek first His love and authority and responsibility, seek His making your life the way it should be…. and everything else… will fall into place.

Godspeed!

 

 

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