As I had mentioned in a previous post, the country of Costa Rica has only two seasons, the wet and the dry seasons. We have enjoyed about 3 months now of dry sunny weather, but for the past week except for yesterday, it has rained every day. The picture above is a view of the storm clouds rolling in once again.
It’s funny how the changes in the weather can bring about a thoughtful attitude, but activity in the blogsphere has helped push me into a pensive mood as well. A post written by Amy Maxwell has caused me to think a bit about our lives as Christians, and how we view our relationship with God. Her question was a question about how we pray. Amy, along with her husband Joel, is now in the process of a personal storm of trying to pay off the debt of a failed business, and she asked:
Should we pray for sunny days? Praise God IN the storm? Praise God DESPITE the storm? Praise God FOR the storm?
This isn?t just a word game. These are drastically different ways of looking at and dealing with life.
It struck me as an interesting question, and many of us, out of our experiences or studies would be able to respond stating the method we feel that is correct or that more suits our personal style. However, I felt compelled to respond in a different way:
My opinion is that, for questions like these, it is best to turn to the prayer book of the Bible, Psalms. In it we see all kinds of prayers that may not fit with our personal style. There are prayers of questioning, prayers of frustration, and prayers asking for God to bring judgment. Also, there are prayers of praise and prayers that ask for God?s blessing.
What does this teach us? That there are some prayers that are better and some that are worse? I think no. (Perhaps there are some that come from a more mature understanding of God?s ways.) But I think that the important point that Psalms makes is that we should pray. Praise in the good and bad. Pray for God?s peace and blessing, and sometimes just pray in such a way that we spill out everything that is in us before Him.
Sometimes what comes out won?t be pretty, but in all of our laughing and crying, praising and (perhaps) cursing, words of faith and frustration, I believe that God is working something out in us through His Spirit, and we are telling Him that He is more than a heavenly vending machine. He is our perfect, heavenly Father. And, who knows, when we are done, maybe He?ll have time to say something to us.
You see, I feel that we as Christians spend so much time on how we should pray that we fail to actually take time to pray. This is evident even in some of the new, and might I say, well though out missionary blogs that have popped up on missionary-blogs.com. Both The M Blog in this post on Trinitarian Theology and RTBM in “Returning to Biblical Missions” question our methodologies and challenge us to take a new look at our dependence on the Spirit. How better to do this but to bend our knees in prayer?
Who knows, maybe this post was something I needed to write simply to air out some thoughts, but perhaps this question of this mother of 2 in Springfield and the thoughts of two veteran missionaries will do what it did to me: reignite a desire to pray!
That’s funny – on Sunday our pastor was talking about praying about the weather. But of course your post goes a lot deeper.
It’s amazing to me how many people don’t seem to want a God who is a person, but a God who is a mathematical formula. Not necessarily a simple formula (Pray+really-hard=more stuff), but sometimes something more complex. Still, just a formula.
God simply isn’t that predictable. Sure, He will always keep His promises – in that way He’s predictable. He will always love us, always be faithful. But so often we don’t understand what that means, and don’t see the big picture.
See the big picture… Good words, Jim, something that we so often fail to do. When something goes wrong, I know that I have the tendency to start tinkering, wondering what part of what decision or process went wrong instead of taking time to allow God to reveal to me His plan in the midst of the situation.
I think that that might be the American tendency. We don’t have health or money or the right clothes or even success in ministry because of what we have done wrong, like the formula that you mentioned, when the situation might something much more profound that God is trying to demonstrate in our lives. Let’s pray that we all get a chance to stop and allow Him to reveal His big picture to every one of us.
Amen on turning to the Psalms David, King David, a man after Gods own heart certainly expressed himself, as well as some other men that wrote some of the Psalms. Although David, knowing that God had called him to be King ;yet went through really hard times poured out his soul to the King of the Universe and it is refreshing to see his heart, because so often it is our heart. Praise God that we serve a God who loves us and is a rock on which to stand and that He alone is our Shalom.
How we loved our time in Costa Rica back in 1987. Hope you are getting the Spanish down while there.
Thanks for linking to the M Blog. Indeed we do feel the great need to be filled of the Spirit of God and work in His power and not the power of the flesh. Pray for us as the Spirit brings us to mind and keep up the good blogging! I have added you to my blog reader.
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