Praying for the Storm

I live in the land of hurricane season. This year we had a couple of very active weeks that saw several hurricanes pass very close by and one slow-moving storm that took a path directly up the center of the state of Florida. Watching hurricane tracking charts is very emotionally draining. A refrain that becomes common is such seasons – particularly as the storm bears down on your location – is to offer prayers and hopes that the eye of the storm will change directions and follow a new path. But, the more I thought about this line of reasoning, the more unsettled I felt. At the most basic level, I was praying that the storm would move on and hit someone else. This was not prayer that was offered in humility with Christ at its center. Such desires had me at the center. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that so many of my prayers and the prayer requests I see from others have the same misplaced center. Little thought is given to the implications for others, instead I ask God to ensure my comfort, security, and affirmation. Such requests of God are rooted in the false self. Christ in the garden faced a storm and asked for another way. But His prayer did not end there. Almost immediately He offered “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus returned to the proper center for His prayers – the Father. We hate storms. With good reason. But, good can happen in the storms of life. They can help us release our...

Help Our Way

The parable that follows is one that I stumbled upon recently. (I could find no attribution.) You may have read it before, but I challenge you to read it through the lens of your present circumstance and prayers. A terrible storm came into a town and local officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate immediately. A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will save me.” The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.” As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No thanks, God will save me.” The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into his living room and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!” The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up to his rooftop. A helicopter spotted him...

Whose Will Be Done?

Prayer is an essential element in maintaining our connection with and openness to our Father in heaven. One of the ruts that I fall into, and I am certain that I am not alone in this, is that I impose my will in prayer. I come into prayer with my list of wants and requests, tie it up with an “in Jesus’ name”, and hope for the best. Prayer becomes something to plow through, to get done, so that I can move onto the next thing on my list. Worse, in this mode, the agenda for prayer is my own and the center of prayer is my-self. Most likely my false self because a lot of what I put on the list is things that will sustain me, with or without God. There is certainly a time for asking, but if that is all you bring to the table in prayer, then your view of God is flawed. Prayer is supposed to be about communion with the One who created us and is the Author of our faith. Practicing being in his presence. Being still and being centered in him. Not my will, but his. Yet even in this we struggle. Even as we follow the command to be still, we still our bodies but we do not still our minds as we think through our to-do list, the best way to avoid traffic, and our approach at the next staff meeting. It is possible that you are not experiencing efficacy in prayer because you are not taking the time to be quiet and listen. This is much harder....

Whose Will Be Done?

Prayer is an essential element in maintaining our connection with and openness to our Father in heaven. It is from that connection that wisdom and motivation for leadership flows. One of the ruts that I fall into, and I am certain that I am not alone in this, is that I impose my will in prayer. I come into prayer with my list of wants and requests for ministry and people, tie it up with an “in Jesus’ name”, and hope for the best. Prayer becomes something to plow through, to get done, so that I can move onto the next thing on my list. Worse, in this mode, the agenda for prayer is my own and the center of prayer is my-self. Most likely my false self because a lot of what I put on the list is things that will sustain me, with or without God. There is certainly a time for asking, but if that is all you bring to the table in prayer, then your view of God is flawed. And that flawed view will affect everything, including expectations, identity, and relationships. Prayer is supposed to be about communion with the One who created us and is the Author of our faith. It is God who gives the works of service we are created to do. It is our discipline to practice being in his presence. Not our will, but his. Being still and being centered in him. A very hard thing for the busy Christian leader. Yet even knowing this we struggle. Even as we follow the command to be still, we still our bodies...

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