Can You Ask God for Too Much in Prayer?

I try to make it a point to have prayer time with God. Like officially sit-at-the-kitchen-table-with-my-Bible prayer. The Bible is a good touch, you know. I might get some kind of divine thought or something. Add a cup of coffee and I feel like I can really check my list off of “goody two-shoes.” But you know what? When I don’t do that, I tend to feel guilty. When I don’t always set aside time, I start to feel bad about it. Like God is getting upset with me and maybe I’m not going to get answered prayers or receive some special blessing.

One morning as I had finally sat down to just relax, I thought, “Oh, this is a perfect time to pray!” Right away I started to get that feeling. Guilt. The feeling started to grow when while I was praying, I realized I was asking for a lot of things. Everything was a request, a concern, a worry, or a stress. Asking God to help heal this, bring restoration to this, bring peace to this, and thanking Him for being faithful and guiding me. I decided to look up “prayer” in my Bible’s topical concordance. The first verse that was listed was 1 Timothy 2:1-3:

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

You know, this doesn’t say anything about asking God too much or too often is a bad thing. Check out Luke 11:10:

Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in.

I mentioned I had concerns and worries. One of my favorite verses about prayer and worry is found in Philippians. I think this might be a popular one for many of us in our prayer life. Philippians 4:6-7:

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

When I used to read that verse, I always felt some sort of assurance or affirmation that it was good for me to always ask God for help. As silly as that sounds, I think as humans we tend to take that human open-book-981405_640feeling of guilt for asking too much and apply to our relationship with God–which is definitely not human. Not even close to the same characteristics in our human relationships. God is unconditional in his love for us. All he asks is that we believe that. In John 15 Jesus said that if we “make ourselves at home with me, [Jesus] and my words are at home in you, you can be sure whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon” (MSG Bible).

I realized that I let myself not feel “at home with God” because I thought I wasn’t following some little routine in my relationship with him. I am a person of routine but God doesn’t make me feel this way. What a lie Satan wants us to believe. Another measure we put on ourselves and believe that it comes from God. I find myself having to purposefully pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to remind me of God’s Word and truth. I sure can’t remember it all. And feeling bad about not always remembering is certainly not what God wants. He wants us to ask for help. He wants us to ask for His revelation, He wants us to ask. Asking is part of our free will in our relationship with Him. Asking sounds like a foundational element in our relationship with Him. 

Being “at home” with someone is a comfortable conversation that might happen over coffee. It also means I can be comfortable when I’m at my worst. I can pour my heart out and not worry that God only sees me as a minion who always asks for stuff. If you really start to think about it, we most likely pray and talk with God all the time. An utterance in the car while waiting at the light, thinking about your Mom who is probably missing her mom she lost some years ago, especially around the holidays. The quick praise when you are glad to find out that your little one made a new friend today and he’s been struggling at his new school. After all, you might have asked God to help your little one at school and probably wouldn’t being saying a quick praise if you hadn’t asked to begin with.  Who knows!

Sometimes when I’m asking, I feel like there’s no answer. I never see an answer. I can’t find one anywhere. I feel like my prayer just goes to God and I don’t hear anything back. I might even start to get angry about it. Frustrated that all I do is ask and don’t receive. The only “answer” I feel like I have for this is like what Jesus mentioned earlier about how prayer is not some kind of game, like hide-and-seek. I come to God with full faith, (OK, maybe not full faith alllll the time), knowing that I am making my requests known to him, but this also means that I am trusting Him. Knowing that He is in control. Sometimes asking for his help or for healing doesn’t necessarily mean that specifically what I asked for was answered, but you know what I almost ALWAYS experience, a reassurance that God is with me. His peace washes over me. In a way, that is an answered prayer. Having God’s incomprehensible peace hold you. That alone makes “asking” worth it. So keep on asking.

Peace,
Glo

Can you ask God for too much in prayer? Do you find yourself feeling stuck in your prayer life?

 

Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

I’ve never been one to agree with the phrase “Everything happens for a reason,” but I’ve got to say, I feel like the answer to this is “yes.” If you really think about it, clearly the answer is yes. I had been praying for the people in California and the ugliness those families are going through. The heart ache. The pain. I began to be overwhelmed with the feeling of how much hurting there is in the world and I always seem to find myself asking God why does this happen. I know I’m definitely not the first to ask this. So many have given their own answers to this. I can only share where I’m at and what I feel the Spirit ministering to me.

Yes, there is a reason for bad things that happen. Sin. God gave us free will and choice, and because of that, we have sin. We have awful things that people choose to do to other people. We have flawed human bodies that are capable of producing life-threatening sicknesses. I don’t think I’ve ever really meditated on what it means to live in a “fallen” world.

I know sin began with Adam and Eve in the garden and their choice for sin (stupid tree), instead of what God had for them, but when I start to think about that, I yet again, find myself asking God, why did you even have to put the tree there? Why couldn’t we have all been happy and perfectly content to only know You and live in blind joy with one another? Why do You allow sin?

This might seem weird, but I immediately thought of a scene from Hunger Games when Katniss and Peta arrive at the party in the Capital and are offered a drink. The party goer explained that if you get full, you take a drink and it will make you throw up so you can keep on eating and try all the different foods.

The people at the capital had NO IDEA what it meant to be hungry. They didn’t know what it meant to savor a bite. Relish in the opportunity to have a full meal and to go to bed without starving for once. As Peta mentions, people are starving and they are throwing up food to eat more!


God loves us too much to keep us in a box of blind joy.


He wants us to know what it means to really experience unconditional love. To savor it. Relish it. By giving us free will, we will know what it means to be starving. To be so hungry for something that we can’t hardly live without it. We will know what it means to experience a pain that is unbearable. To feel like we have nothing. We will know what it means to feel hopeless. Yet. you can only truly know what you have if you know what it’s like to not have it. There have been times in my life when I felt truly hopeless and alone. In those moments, I had to surrender myself and let God wrap me in His arms. I mean TRULY let myself experience His love. His forgiveness. His grace. That can be a tough choice when you are full of anger.Does Everything Happen

I think of so many stories in the Bible when bad things happened to people who didn’t deserve them. Do you think God wanted Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery? To be thrown in jail for years for being falsely accused of rape? Do you think God wanted David to have Bathsheba’s husband killed on the front lines in battle? Do you think God wanted Job to lose everything, including his family? Those awful things happened because someone somewhere had a choice to make and he chose selfishly. What is amazing in those stories is how God is faithful. He never left them. He was there, holding them. He was there to lift Job out of his pit of despair. He was there when Joseph was alone in prison.

I love it when Joseph’s brothers finally realize their brother is the big man in charge during the famine in Egypt and as he reveals himself to his brothers, who thought he was probably dead after all these years, Joseph says to them, “God sent me ahead to pave the way…it wasn’t you who sent me here but God.” Joseph could have easily blamed his brothers for choosing what they did. Instead, he saw God’s faithfulness in it all. He chose to see God and let himself experience whatever it was God had for him. God revealed himself to Joseph during his trials. In Genesis 39, scripture says that “God was with Joseph.” Joseph experienced God’s faithfulness, during what seemed to be Joseph’s end of the rope. Joseph had been “starving” for years, and God satiated him.

There are so many starving in the world. So much ugliness. But then, there is so much beauty. So many people reaching out to the hurting in the world. So many working to feed the hungry, to educate the homeless. So many who are trying to help the starving find their way to God. Yes, there are a lot of bad things that happen, but I believe that God is always faithful during times we don’t understand. Believing that is not always an easy choice, but I choose it. I’ve seen the evidence of his faithfulness operating through others. The neighbor who drops by a bag of food because she thought the family might need it. The school who decided to raise money for a little girl with cancer.

We don’t always get the answers. We go through something that may never make sense to us. But God can make sense for you. He can bring order out of chaos. Man can choose ugly things, but God is available to anyone who believes, and He can hold you during the ugly times and He’ll be there during the joyful times too.

Because then, in those moments, you’ll truly know what it means to be alive.

Peace,
Glo

 

 

Does everything happen for a reason? Seeking God when you feel confused in your faith in understanding why things happen.

Why Can’t I Just Forgive?

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Sometimes when I’m mad at Mike, he might ask me if I’m still mad at him. Sometimes I respond, “I’m only on seventy times two right now!” He knows I’m referring to Peter in the book of Matthew.

“At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, ‘Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?’

Jesus replied, ‘Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.’ ”     Matthew 18:21-22

I always thought it was kind of funny that Peter gave a number of times when he asked Jesus this question. Seven does seem like a mystical number in the Bible. Maybe Peter was thinking, Hey, I can live with seven times, I mean six just doesn’t quite seem enough and more than that just gets to be too much! Ha! I can just see Jesus throwing his hands and shaking his head while slightly exclaiming, Seven! Thinking, Oh Peter, if you only understood

Why was Peter asking this? Jesus just finished explaining to them the importance of working out conflicts with someone who has hurt you. He makes it sound like a “process” of actively pursing and choosing to forgive that person. Jesus said try talking to him, if that doesn’t work, talk to him with someone else present, and if that doesn’t work, talk with someone who might offer guidance to him and guess what? If that doesn’t work, “you’ll have to start from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love” (Matt. 18:17).

What?!? Start from scratch? That might be why sometimes I feel like I just can’t reach forgiveness with someone. It also sounds like a lot of work to reach forgiveness. Although, he did mention seventy times seven, hmmm… Why is forgiveness so hard?

I’m not one who believes that I have to do tons of work to get God to love me or forgive me. If I do this and this and this then all is well in the God department. I don’t think it works that way. Now, when it comes to forgiving someone else, I do think there is an action required on my part. I think Jesus is pointing out that you have to choose to forgive. That is an action of course, but by making that choice, you have to trust God will take care of the rest.

Notice how he doesn’t say, once you do these steps for forgiveness, the other person will finally understand. No, he says you might have to start over, meaning you might have to keep choosing to forgive that person. And you might have to do it seventy times seven times! He doesn’t say you will get that other person to change their ways. He doesn’t say you will get that other person to come forth and apologize. I’m starting to think the whole forgiveness “process” is really for the person who is hurt, more than it is for the person who has hurt you.

That’s not to say your actions of continuously choosing to forgive a person wont have an impact on them, but I wouldn’t worry about it being your responsibility to change that person’s feelings. Yikes! That is way easier said than done. I have to trust that I am doing what I believe is right and God will take care of the rest. I’ve heard several pastors say something along the lines of how forgiveness is really for you, the person who is hurt.

I think Joyce Meyer said once that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill the other person. Double Yikes! I don’t really think about that when I’m caught up in the anger I’m feeling or bitterness. Although, I bet poison tastes pretty bitter…

I’m a big believer in speaking the Word out loud. So, what do I do when I’m harboring unforgiveness and letting it eat away at me? I speak God’s truth out loud. Even if I don’t feel it, that doesn’t mean it wont work in my heart. The Holy Spirit is the one who ministers to my heart. I particularly like Galatians 5:1

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you!”

I like this verse because it reminds me that I am letting unforgiveness make me a slave and I don’t know about you, but I hate it when I realize that I am letting Satan control my emotions. I am free! Woohoo! I don’t have to feel that way! None of us do. I’m going to choose that freedom. Even if it’s seventy times seven times or whobody knows how many times.

Peace,
GloFaith and forgiveness are hard. Why can't we just forgive others?

 

 

Marriage Is Hard

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Marriage is hard.
This sounds like the Biggest. Understatement. Ever. Let me explain.

I recently have been reading the book of Matthew in The Message Bible (Eugene Peterson’s translation). I’m a big Peterson fan and have loved reading this Bible. If you’re unfamiliar with The Message and are looking for a Bible that feels comfortable and simple to read, I would encourage you to try this one.

In Matthew 19 Jesus is talking about marriage with the Pharisees, who are “badgering” him about divorce. They ask Jesus about when it’s OK for a man and woman to divorce and He gives him the answer (verses 8-9).

Jesus said, “Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. I’m holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery.”

Of course the disciples, always reminding us of our human selves when Jesus is explaining things, make their interjection by asking Jesus what’s the point then of getting married if you’re “stuck.” Jesus replied in verses 11-12

But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a though. Others never get asked–or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.”

Holy Buckets. How have I missed this verse? Did I read that right? “…mature enough…certain aptitude and grace…growing into the largeness of it...” I went to look at other translations and now I see why I felt like I’ve never read it this way before. I think what Jesus said here can be easily overlooked. Other versions say something like “not all can accept this saying…but he who is able to [accept it] let him...” I’m not here to get into some argument about Bible translations or divorce. I’m just sharing what I felt the Holy Spirit stir in my heart while I was reading this portion of Matthew.

Jesus just said marriage is hard. For some reason, that simple statement gave me a big umph of encouragement. I’m thinking if the Creator of the universe says marriage is hard, then I’m not crazy. Whew. Not only did he say it was hard, but he said we grow into it. Meaning we don’t always stay the same. We are always changing during the different seasons of marriage.

This made me think of a marriage book I read once that talked about how a couple was arguing because the husband felt like his wife had changed since they first got married. The counselor responded with something like, “Duh. We all are constantly changing as we face new obstacles in life. As we go through new experiences. Those experiences change us.” I was reminded of how glad I am that I am not the same as I was when we first got married. I could not imagine how we would have handled having a baby then!

Knowing that both Mike and I will continue to change and will continually strive to be in harmony together even though sometimes it feels like utter discord, is a good thing! I certainly hope I’m not the same in fifty years as I am now. I hope to be wiser!

I also noticed that word grace. This makes me think of a book Mike and I reading together right now titled Love and War by John Eldredge. (I’ll write a review on it later.) It’s an amazing book. One part of the book discusses how God put you and your spouse together in order to draw you closer in your relationship with Christ, that’s why Paul compares marriage to Christ and his love for the church, for all of us (Ephesians 5:22). I need that grace. I think of all the times I think to myself about little ways I wish Mike would change and stop myself to ask God what he’s trying to show me. Not what he’s trying to show Mike. Sheesh. I’m not Mike’s Holy Spirit. What a relief when you really really think about that. I may be a source of counsel, but I am certainly not responsible for his relationship with Christ.

I am thankful for all of the good times in marriage.  Even though things get hard, they also get really really really good.  That’s another post … I am thankful for God’s unending grace that reminds me of His love for me and Mike, for all of us. There is no way I could get through any season of life without His grace.

Peace,
Glo

 

Does marriage ever feel hard? YES said anyone. Why is Marriage so stinkin hard?