Friday, June 29, 2007

Honest Prayer

Honest Prayer

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

Have you ever shaken your fist at God over His answer to your prayers ?
Have you grown angry with Him over the injustices in your life?

If so, you’ll be able to relate to the prophet Habakkuk, living roughly 600 years before Christ. His book of the Bible begins with this complaint: “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save me. Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?” (Hab.1:2-3, NIV). God answered Habakkuk by telling him to be patient and to watch, that He will do amazing things and usher in justice, but only in His timing.

Passionate, honest, gut-level, even angry prayers have been recorded through out the Bible. Habakkuk wasn’t the only one to complain. Moses, Gideon, and Elijah all questioned God. Job even cursed the day God made him and said, “I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands...?’” (Job 10:1-3, NIV).

In his anguish, Job accused God of afflicting people for no reason (Job 9:17), overwhelming them with misery (Job 9:18), not caring about injustice (Job 9:22, 24), and laughing at the pain of the innocent (Job 9:22). Of course these accusations are not accurate, but it is true that is how we often feel in times of severe suffering or testing. God knows our deepest thoughts and feelings, so it’s futile to think we can hide them from Him. Better to come clean with how we really feel, get it off our chest in prayer, and hopefully clear the way to hear and receive God’s reply or comfort.

I’ve complained to God in the past for allowing my loved ones to die, for allowing valuable things to be stolen from me, for allowing my reputation to be unfairly tarnished, for allowing physical suffering in my body, or for not allowing what I felt I deserved. I have found the best thing I can do is honestly take these feelings to God where they can be traded for His perspective and His comforting assurance. Though God may not always change my circumstances the way I want Him to, He can and does change my perspective on those circumstances and enables me to endure them.

God listens when we complain about injustice. He hates seeing the unrighteous prosper, particularly when it’s at the hands of the innocent, as much as we do. He understands when we feel shortchanged or opposed. Read through the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and you’ll be reminded of just how much Jesus can relate to undeserved opposition.

I urge you to be honest before God in prayer today. While maintaining a degree of holy respect for Him and thanksgiving for His saving grace, pour out the good, the bad and the ugly of your feelings. As Habakkuk, Job and others discovered, God can handle your intense emotions and questions. Though He rarely explains Himself fully to us – perhaps because we can’t fully understand this side of eternity – He does flood us with His power, love and peace when we come humbly and honestly before Him and pour out our heart.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

She Speaks conference '07

I got the index for the book turned in (whoo hoo), my two speaking sessions created (hoo ha), and managed to pack way too much (a gal's gotta have options) before getting on the road to Charlotte for the P31 She Speaks conference. I'll do the Saturday morning general session, as well as a breakout session for beginning speakers, and lead a critique group.

I've arrived a few days early for some staff conference time and I'm enjoying Zoe's hospitality. It always fills me up to see my P31 teammates. We each work so hard every year to put this conference on - and we are thrilled to bless the women who come, to help nurture their dreams, and to minister side-by-side with one another. My teammates are awesome ... I would hate to be a "lone ranger" in ministry.

This year we've about doubled in attendees - over 400 - spilled over into a second hotel, and women are still calling to try to register. I know a great weekend is in store and can hardly wait until Friday. The best part for me is hearing afterwards from the participants what God whispered to their heart or birthed in their life during the She Speaks weekend. If you happen to be a 2007 attendee, I hope you will leave a comment or send me an email and tell me what God spoke to you during your time with us!

For the fame of His name,

Monday, June 11, 2007

What was I thinking?

This is probably not the wisest time for me to launch a blog. The last piece of my book - God's Purpose for Every Woman: A P31 Women's Devotional - is due. All that's left is the index, so I'm busy indexing all 175 devotions according to which principle of the 7 principles of a Proverbs 31 Woman they relate to. Check out those 7 principles here - its a great guide for prioritizing your life.

Once the index is complete and off to my editor, I'll turn my attention back to preparing for the two sessions I'll give next weekend at the annual She Speaks! conference for aspiring speakers and writers. I'd urge you to come to this fabulous conference but we are booked for this year - way booked! Do bookmark the link and check it again around February of next year if you're interested in catching next summer's conference. There really is nothing like it!

Back to indexing... more later...