I’m reviving an old habit this week, thanks to the faith-boosting writing of Paul Miller in A Praying Life. I’ve pulled out my old prayer-request notebook and have been browsing through the entries…It’s one of those old-fashioned, pocket-size, 6-ring binders. Mine’s got custom pages, mostly hand-cut, color-coded into three main divisions: Family, The Body, and The World. Just about everything I pray about fits under one of those. Then there’s another section for writing out prayers and prayer promises straight from Scripture. Who wouldn’t want Colossians 1:9-10 prayed for them consistently?!
“We ask God to give you a complete understanding of what he wants to do in your lives, and we ask Him to make you wise with spiritual wisdom…we also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need…May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God’s holy people, who live in the light…”
Some of praying requires dreaming big, asking for the sky! Seeing beyond the present to a future that is altogether different and praying that direction. That’s what praying from the Word spurs me on to do.
I’ve been reading in particular the Family requests. Lots of long-term things for all of us, character qualities to sharpen, bents of heart to bless, habits to shake. There’s a lot of watching and waiting involved in these things…
The catch is, the details–the events that happen on the way to the dream being fulfilled. They don’t always (often? ever?) look like I imagined they would/should. And sometimes that makes me think I’m on the wrong track, shooting for the wrong dream. But after all, every story has a plot and is built around some sort of conflict or suspense (or it wouldn’t be a story!). I just have to remember I’m not the Author of the story! So, I’m back on the written page, working on a fresh index card system, penning my suggestions for how the story line might go, submitting my requests for plot adjustments and waiting in the wings to see how it will all play out in the hands of the Master Playwright.
Habakkuk knew the feeling. His people were about to be taken captive by the meanest guys around, and God was allowing it, orchestrating it even…Sounded like crazy talk but he stood on the frontlines watching to see what would transpire, confident that his hopes were well placed in the God of his salvation and his strength. Here’s what he said, and how God answered:
Habakkuk: “I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me…”
The Lord: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets,…for still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay….but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (2:1-4)
And that’s why I’m putting pen to paper, so I will keep my vision clear and my faith unclouded to watch as the story of our lives unfolds.
I’m keeping this post short so that I can tell you more about Paul Miller’s book: A Praying Life. Here’s an excerpt of my thoughts, taken from my own review at: thestackofdawn.blogspot.com.
“Here it is, a book for Christians “struggling with life, who pray badly yet long to connect with their heavenly Father.” I’ve collected lots of book on prayer over the course of my guilt-ridden life, driven to do something about my substandard ‘prayer life’. I’ve started in to read the classics by the ‘famous’ Christians who knew how to pray and could lay out the ‘doctrine’ of it thoroughly and without a loophole. And I’ve read some ‘loopier’ modern ones– that imply that God is always talking to me and if I’ll just learn to tune in, I can ask anything I want and voila! I’ll have the answers I’m seeking. It’s just that easy. But buying books on prayer is kinda like buying art books—it’s easier to spend the money collecting the books than the time learning to draw. Prayer comes down to that, spending time talking, and listening, and being conscious of God’s responses as they’re woven into my days.
“What’s neat about this book is that it’s not only inviting to read because it’s built on the real life experience of the author (and his family), but it also makes you want to pray, to stop reading and start in, right now! Life-as-is becomes the starting point for coming like a dependent child to a Father who cares intimately about everything and desires to meet my needs. It’s not so much a matter of discipline once I recognize my utter need for God’s intervention in my days. Prayerlessness implies that I’m trusting in something else—my money, ability, spouse, fate?…to get me through without God. Anxiety is the tell-tale sign of my misplaced confidence. The circumstances of life are better seen as an invitation to talk to my Father about everything….”
To continue reading and sample some choice excerpts please see my book review blog: A Few Good Books, here. I hope you’ll be inspired to take a fresh look with me at the best habit ever, a praying life.