You Have My Full Attention

Do you give people your full attention? Recently I read some advice about friendships that said, “When talking to others, show respect by giving the other person your full attention.” My reaction? “Well, duh. That’s pretty simple. Of course you are supposed to give people your full attention.”  But as I thought about it, I realized that there was someone very close to me who did not receive the attention he deserved.

For the past several years, something very important was missing from my life. I would usually read my Bible every day. I would talk to God while running, in the shower, as I went about at work, and with my head on my pillow as I went to sleep. My time with God was spent thinking about other things. There were times that I would focus on God, but many days I would let the activities of the day or tiredness crowd out my time alone with God. I was never really stopping to give God my full attention.

Ouch. God has been my best, closest friend, and I was treating him like trash. God was loving me and I was doing my own thing. Finally, he had my full attention. I knew something had to change. I knew I needed God close to me like I need food and water.

So I set a timer on my phone. I sat down to pray and said, “God, talking to You is the only thing I’m doing until that timer goes off.” For the past month, that’s the way I have started and ended each day. Those times with God are short, but they are essential to my survival. I need God’s words of life every day.

That was about a month ago. What has happened since then? God spoke to me. I received direction. I received peace. I received joy. My life’s course was corrected. A light shined on my path. There is now a spring in my step that has not been there for a long time. I am at home again, in a place better than you can imagine: at the feet of Jesus.

What now? Check out this chapter from the book of Isaiah. This chapter sums up what I have rediscovered in the past month.

Read it. Think about it. Act.

Time With God

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.

Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

~Isaiah 55

Are You Fighting?

Do you ever feel like your life is a struggle and that you are often fighting against temptation and negative thoughts? Does it seem like your life is a war and you are fighting in a battle? If so, the reason is that we are in a battle, and our enemy, Satan, will try everything he can to discourage us and hinder our fellowship with Jesus and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. So if you are fighting, keep fighting!

God has supplied everything we need for our battle in this life. Some friends and I were discussing Ephesians 6:10-18 about the armor of God recently. Each piece is a valuable part of our daily walk with Christ, and contributes to our success in our battle against sin and the world. It is important to remember that we are not fighting against other people, although sometimes it seems like we might want to. Our war is a spiritual war, and so we must use the armor and weapons God has given us if we want to be successful. At the end of verse 18, Paul encourages us to pray for each other, and this is one of our most valuable resources in our fight against the world.
Hebrews 10:24,25 says: “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” If you are fighting, do not try to fight alone! In our pride, we often try to hide our struggles from others so we can appear to have everything under control. However, God has given us fellowship with other believers to encourage and strengthen us when we need help. He created us to help each other and pray for each other. So if you feel like you are alone in your battle, look at who God has placed in your life to help you fight. We can also remember that part of our responsibility is to fellowship and encourage others. Recently I have been very thankful for my family and Christian brothers and sisters that are in my life, and have encouraged me to keep fighting. Do not fight alone!

Teach Me to Pray…

Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Prayer is one of the most basic practices a Christian should engage in, but I confess that I am pretty bad at it.   There are many opportunities to pray for sure, but if I honestly evaluate those times of prayer, I find that I didn’t really pray. When others are leading in prayer, I’m often not following. When I’m praying in public, it’s sometimes more like an impromptu speech with my eyes closed.

It’s not much better in private. I made a prayer journal, complete with photos of people, but I barely use it. Every week, my job is to minister to youth through teaching, small groups, or music…but I usually plunge right into the work without taking time to ask God to do His work.

I tried to figure out why I’m such a weak prayer warrior. Am I just that lazy? After all, fervent prayer is seriously hard work. That is part of it; they aren’t called spiritual disciplines for nothing. But I also realized that I lack the motivation to pray because I don’t really understand how prayer “works”. I know in my mind that prayer makes a difference. But then I think, well, God is sovereign and He’s going to accomplish His will – it’s going to happen regardless of me and what I say or don’t say! So what does my prayer matter?

At the root of my prayer weakness is a lack of belief in the real power of prayer. I think I would identify that as the main problem, and now hope begin growing in this area by denying the skepticism and choosing to obey and believe.

Regardless of whether I understand of how my petitions affect God’s plans, I just need to OBEY the many commands to pray. (Matt 21:22, 1 Thess 5:17) And do so with the faith to BELIEVE that indeed the “effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much,” (James 5:16) even if I can’t make complete sense of how that works out.

Then, as I choose to be pray-er, I trust I will know and experience the purpose and power and joy of praying.

“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it.” – Corrie ten Boom


From Worry to Worship

I’m a teller at a bank, and having every penny accounted for is essential. Perfection is required. Not too long ago, I was off an odd amount of cash, and all the review & double checking of previous work couldn’t find the error. Lunch break came, and I had to leave. While I was gone my coworkers continued to try to solve the mystery. All I could do was trust and believe that God knew exactly what happened, and that it would be found.

Lunch became a prayer session, since I sure didn’t feel like eating. I prayed – believed – and guess what!? The moment I walked back inside work, one of my coworkers exclaimed – “We found it! The currency counter misread a bill.”

I know this is something small, but, it still matters just as much to God as the big things. It pleases God to have us come to him for everything. Because when we seek Him, He is found. He always shows up. When we trust Him for those small things, yes, even VERY small things, and we realize that He cares about them even more than we do – our attitude is turned from worry to worship, knowing that He is in control.

Worry prevents Him from doing anything for us. While we worry, our focus is on ourselves, our problems, and their solutions. Placing our trust in Him, glorifies Him, puts God in His rightful place in our lives; on His throne ahead of us and our worries.  Allow God to be glorified in your life by trusting Him for the things He wants to see you through.

The Potential of Persistence

But Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees. He said to his servant, ‘Go up now, look toward the sea.’ So he went up and looked and said, ‘There is nothing.’ And he said, ‘Go back’ seven times. It came about at the seventh time, that he said, ‘Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.’ And he said, ‘Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.'”

1 Kings 18:42-44

I’ve been chewing on this passage over the last few weeks and I find it amazing to not only see the perseverance of Elijah in praying for rain, but also to observe his faith when the only sign he had was a small cloud way off in the distance. I know it’s so easy for my heart to give up, especially when it comes to crying out to God and asking Him to show His power in a certain area and I don’t see an answer right away.

Recently, I’ve been challenged to take on the heart of Elijah as it pertains to prayer. It’s been an exciting journey, mainly because I’ve been looking for situations to come up in my life where either something seems impossible, or I pray right away and don’t see a result. I have come away amazed and have seen some miraculous displays of God’s power as I merely have been persistent (feel free to let me know if you want to hear some testimonies). Although I believe with all my heart that God is Sovereign and that His plan is still in place even when I don’t see results, I also think that we as Christians miss out on an extra blessing when we fail to be persistent in prayer.

The Christian faith is all about pursuing God with our whole heart, but isn’t it sad to see how often we seek our Savior half-heartedly and just give up after saying a little prayer? Let’s boldly and persistently live for Christ!