Tag Archive | prayer

Catching the Shark

Isaiah 29:16 – You have turned things around, as if the potter were the same as the clay. How can what is made say about its maker,” He didn’t make me”? How can what is formed say about the one who formed it,” He doesn’t understand what he’s doing”? (HCSB)

After my quiet time this morning I was thinking about prayer. So often our prayers are a wish list somewhat like an online shopping cart. We note all the things we desperately need (translation: momentarily want) and wait for God to do His fairy godmother act. If He doesn’t answer in due time (the amount of time we are willing to wait), there will be much lamenting (whining and complaining) that God doesn’t listen. People quote Matthew 7:7 – even unbelievers seem to know the “ask and it will be given to you” part of the verse – but why are some requests “given” and some are not? When my friend’s little boy heard they were planning a vacation at the beach he announced he was going to catch a shark. His parents decided to cushion his disappointment ahead of time by explaining the odds of his catching a shark and sharing all the other wonderful adventures that could be had at the beach, but he never wavered. The first day of vacation, he took his little plastic toy fishing pole to the edge of the waves and caught a shark! When his family was wild with excitement, his calm comment was “I knew I would catch a shark. I prayed.” Why would God answer what seems to us a trivial prayer when more important things are going on in the world? Obviously it wasn’t trivial to God or the little boy. Maybe it was answered because the boy never doubted. Maybe it made God smile to see the joy and know the long term effects of that answered prayer. Maybe because the boy gave all the glory to God. Sometimes God chooses not to answer in the way that seems right to us. I know two young women — one in a stable loving marriage, one whose husband neither respects his wife nor his vows. Both wives became pregnant. Husband number one was overjoyed; husband number two demanded an abortion. Wife number one miscarried; wife number two is now a single mother. We all knew how we thought God should answer our prayers, but God tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (HCSB) I have prayed many prayers in my lifetime, some selfish, some sincere. There have been times I came to understand and praise God for what in an earlier moment seemed an unanswered prayer. There have also been times I didn’t understand at all. I do not know why God allows certain things to happen, but I know that God always listens and always answers. I know that He does not try to deceive me and He does not change His mind about His promises (Numbers 23:19). I know that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). Job 33:13 asks why we complain when God does not give us an explanation and Romans 9:20 asks why do we think we deserve one. Who am I to question why God doesn’t answer my prayers the way I want them answered? God’s wisdom and knowledge is so great that it is impossible for me to understand His decisions and His ways (Romans 11:33). How ludicrous that I, what is formed, dares to question the One who formed everything! Lord, I pray that my faith remains strong and that the words of Psalm 27:14 will become my way of life. Catching a shark has never been my prayer, but I want that kind of faith.

Gossip or Prayer?

Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)

James 4:12: There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (HCB)

As I was drinking my coffee this morning, I was wandering around different postings on an Internet site.  I came across a post that said, “We don’t refer to it as gossiping, we simply consider it sharing our opinions about other people’s life choices”.  It was meant to be humorous, and I chuckled and moved on.  Later I started thinking about that quote and how true it is in my life.  How many times have I shared my opinion about another person’s life choices when I thought they had made the wrong choice? How many times have I shared some information about someone but dressed it in finery by calling it a prayer request?  How many times have I justified gossip by telling myself of the importance of letting people know the details of what I heard so we can pray informed (or ill informed) prayers?  Am I hiding a tiny spark of glee behind my mask of concern as I ask for prayer? How many times have I laughed at the old joke “if you can’t say something nice about someone, come sit by me”, but then made that joke a major part of my behavior on a daily basis?  How many times have I judged someone’s actions without knowing the whole situation?  How careful have I been to “share” only with others who would agree with me on the issue?   Was I really concerned with building people up and meeting their needs or more interested in character assassination?  When I labeled something as a  “wrong choice “, was it wrong because it was a choice You didn’t agree with or wrong because it was a choice I didn’t agree with?  The first part of James 4:12 says there’s only one lawmaker and judge.  Even if I know the facts surrounding someone’s sin, why do I feel it is my job to reveal that sin?  James 4:12 goes on to ask “who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12 in The Message Bible says when I behave that way, I am writing graffiti over your message.  Lord, I stand before You, humble and contrite.  I could try to explain myself with much stammering and stuttering, but we both know the answers to all of those questions. Lord, I ask that You help me control my sinful tongue and only speak to benefit those who listen.