Why I Haven’t Prayed…

For 2 days, at least, I existed in agony.  I grumbled and screamed and became self-filled rather than spirit-filled.  I cried hot tears – angry tears!  I wanted answers, not silence!  I wanted to see this God of compassion and love, but all I could see was a God that just wanted to take it all away – every dream, every earthly good, every blessing.  Where had these thoughts and feelings even come from?  I have no idea how I can go to bed faith-full and wake up faithless.  I just know that when the morning came up, as the sun arose, my spirit was beginning a full-on wrestle with God in the darkest of “nights”.

All of a sudden things I was sure on – the day before – were blurry to me; unanswered.  I wanted answers; I put God on trial – scandalous!  I wanted the ‘why’s’ and the ‘where’s’ and the ‘what are you thinking God!’ reconciled.  I slammed the doors and scowled the face and barked at the kids, and as I saw their hearts being hurt by my actions, I also saw all too plainly the sin-crusted areas of my own.  Who was this woman standing, reeling in front of her husband and children?  How had the peace known gone to peace lost?  How does a “saved-by-grace” child act out in such non-grace – such unloveliness?

“My own behavior baffles me,” (‘Paul’ wrote).  “For I find myself not doing what I really want to do but doing what I really loathe.  Yet surely if I do things that I really don’t want to do, I am admitting that I really agree with the Law.  But it cannot be said that ‘I’ am doing them at all – it must be sin that has made its home in my nature. (And indeed, I know from experience that the carnal side of my being can scarcely be called the home of good!)  I often find that I have the will to do good, but not the power.  That is, I don’t accomplish the good I set out to do, and the evil I don’t really want to do I find I am always doing.” (Romans 7:15-20 Phillips)  This is the story of our lives.  And the only way out is the way Paul goes on to describe – the new life in Christ, which is strictly a matter of faith.*

When he asks me what is going on I shout ‘I don’t know!’ When he asks what he can do I say in low, deflated tones ‘I guess you can just pray for me.’  “Just pray”, as if it’s this leftover hope, the “hail Mary” of life.  Don’t I have posted on my black board this quote by Ms. Voskamp:

Prayer first; prayer before anything else or there isn’t anything else.

And in that moment I had to tell him why I haven’t prayed.

We had spent a spring and summer of our lives praying for a move to happen.  Doors would seem to open only to be slammed in our faces.  Windows seem to swing open only to be shut just as quickly.  We had prayed, had believed, had sought and just when the answer seemed to come in our favor, the slam of the “no!” resounded.  I hadn’t heard “yes” in so long. We had prayed and tried to steward well, and in a month all our dreams for this February turned into nightmares for the next 2 years.  Then, a call comes, one that we can’t ignore.  One that gives my heart a dare to fly again…or dream, and then, that blasted word again…WAIT.  Wait?  Wait!  Have we not been writhing in the waiting?  Will there be no peace, no restoration?  Will there be no hope?  Will I wrestle through another year?

Why haven’t I prayed?  I haven’t prayed because I know He can, but I don’t know that He will.  I struggle to even believe that He will.  His Word says He cares, but my shocked and pained heart feels very differently about that.  My mind thinks back on all the ‘no’s’.  My soul wrestles.  And here I am, about to begin a Prayer Ministry at our church; me the one who is weak in prayer.

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
What was it that Elisabeth Elliot said about prayer…
“In thy light shall we see light.” All my muddle-headed thinking before I started praying was a waste of time and only kept me in the dark…The act of praying, far from divesting us of human desires, enables us to lay them before God as very real and pressing, and say to him “Not these, Lord. Yours.”
And so, I picked up my pen on a Saturday to try and pray.  I was the disciple asking Jesus to “teach me to pray”, and His answer was the same, “Our Father, Who art in heaven…”  I begin by trying to think of Him, Who He is, what His hands have made.  I begin with a hard thanksgiving and an almost inaudible praise.  All was stripped away; I simply came.  “Thy kingdom come, Thy will…not mine…be done.  His will, not mine.  Isn’t that what I have resolved to live in 2012; a life of willingness – open-handedness.  How quickly I forget.  And as I mull this thought of His will over mine around in my head, I pick up and read these words by Ms.Elliot…
I am by nature so skeptical that I am nearly always doubting my own (not to speak of others’) sincerity, so that when I pray for God’s will in a matter it is no easy thing to convince myself that I really want it.
And I think, am I really not alone?  Could a hero of faith and faithfulness really admit to such humanity?  to such struggle?  And then, these words bring me right down to my knees…face…even here on day 3…
Accept for yourself the Fatherhood of God, which is only possible for you and me because of the sacrifice of the blessed Son our Savior.  And by the presence of the Holy Spirit within, you will learn to rejoice in the will of God, and nothing else…This, then, is the call to the soul that would ascend above all earthly circumstance, to walk in heavenly places: Leave yourself open to the circumstances of His choice, for that is perfect acceptance, and rest in the will of God. ~Amy Carmichael
Oh, how I want to “ascend above all earthly circumstances” and “to walk in heavenly places”.  But, in order to do it I have to “leave myself open” to pain, suffering, waiting, silence, “no”.

3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11After he has suffered,
he will see the light of lifeand be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55

“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16 I will not accuse them forever,
nor will I always be angry,
for then they would faint away because of me—
the very people I have created.
17 I was enraged by their sinful greed;
I punished them, and hid my face in anger,
yet they kept on in their willful ways.
18 I have seen theirways, but I will heal them;
I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners,
19creating praise on their lips.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,” 
   says the LORD. “And I will heal them.” 

Isaiah 57

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2 NIV

It is was no small thing for the Living God to give His Life for ours, and it is no small or insignificant thing for us to give our life into His hands. We call Him the Potter, but are we letting Him shape us?  We call Him Savior, but are we letting Him save us…from what is seen and unseen?  We call Him friend, but do we spend time with Him?  We call Him Faithful, but do we trust Him?  We call Him real, but do we believe?  We call Him Shepherd, but do we let Him lead, guide, and protect?  We call Him Provider, but do we trust He will?  We call Him Lord and King, but how many gods do we bow to day after day?  We call Him Father, but how often do we treat Him as our genie?  We say “Jesus is the answer for the world today”;so, why do we discard the answers we don’t like?

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I woke yesterday morning to…the joys that only comes in the morning of the soul.  The wrestle had ended, and before my steps lay the blessing.  I opened up His Word and His life made me alive once more.  I did something I hadn’t done for about 2 days…I smiled and laughed with my kids.  The Peace that I had claimed wasn’t mine anymore showed up once again…reminding me He had never left.  The needs lay the same, but the craving shifted to the One Who does fill.  The circumstances have not changed, but my willingness to walk through them – with Him had opened once again.  The days that seemed like night no longer ware on; instead the light of morning lasts into the moonlight.  The thanks that has been hard to give until I had given them over to silence, now spring to the heart, to the mouth, from the pen, and onto the paper.  Eucharisteo does always proceed the miracle, but sometimes the miracle is Eucharisteo.

Wonders never cease…

#1721-1736

Christopher praying for his Momma as she kneels beside him

a hard two “dark days” but

joy comes in the morning

words by Amy Carmichael

an email from Lindsey

just all the worksheets and papers from school by all my boys

timely words as I was bent in prayer

that large wet spot on the new carpet…hmmm!

snow suits, snow boots, gloves, hats, and wet socks

the hearts and minds that are woven together that make up our new “family” here in Colorado Springs

all of these quilts…loving each one, every stitch (though I don’t know every person who made them) – loving them because it floods the mind with memories of the “salt” in my childhood

every window, shelf, picture frame, and mantle my husband has spent time hanging just perfectly – always seeking to give his best for His glory

the quiet of the start of this day

Timothy crunching on cereal

the red berries holding frozen to the branches

the gold of the sun shining through the thick blanket of snow clouds

*A Slow and Certain Light by Elisabeth Elliot