Life Giving Praying, Part 2
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Prayer not only reveals our dependence on Jesus, it mysteriously connects us to one another emotionally and makes us participants in the “soul” work God is doing. A beloved friend asked me to pray as she entered a shattering family conflict with the hope of assisting in igniting a pathway of reconciliation. I accepted the task without realizing the emotional emptying that was to come in those moments of crying out to the Lord. The gravity of the brokenness and seeming impossibility of healing overwhelmed my soul and quiet praying broke out into pleading and sobs of hurt and need. I was far away from my friend but felt intimately present with her. In those trying moments, I felt transported to another place, learning later that my friend felt freedom with her words and control over her emotions. Had God transferred her agony onto my shoulders? Was He mysteriously holding up her arms through those anguished words uttered in my office at the exact time of her meeting?
Through agonizing prayer we fall into the arms of Jesus, pleading for Him to do what we cannot. We not only agonize with another in their battles, but we also learn how to offer life-giving encouragement in practical ways. James reminds us that…
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him.”
How does agonizing prayer help us to hold our tongues when self-righteousness demands an outlet? Through the years, silent prayer during a difficult conversation has helped me to wait before responding. If this person could listen to what is happening inside my head during our talk, they would hear:
“Lord Jesus, help me to reflect you. My flesh wants to strike, to respond based on one side of a story, even my anger wants to burst into flames. Please, Jesus, keep me quiet and reflect your love in my expressions. I don’t know what to do so my eyes are fixed on you.”
Sometimes I may leave such conversations feeling as though I may have missed an opportunity to speak truth, but often God opens my eyes later to the wisdom of Him placing a gate on my lips.
Oswald Chambers’ words remind me of my ultimate purpose in life: “I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives, not admiration for myself.” My Utmost for His Highest, December 2
I expect this will be a learning curve until the day I die because my self-righteous heart regularly forgets to push my thoughts and actions through prayer. When my ultimate goal is His glory and the eternal safety of a loved one’s soul, such silence is a stone in the pathway that I hope will help produce a longing after God in their lives. I am learning that without agonizing prayer, I will never be that sweet smelling fragrance of Jesus that draws others to Him.
LIFE GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT
Continue to develop a written record of your prayer journey. Keep your journal handy as you pray and jot down the names of those who come to mind. Ask the Lord how you can practically encourage them today, or soon.
Ask Him to uncover blind spots in your life that hide any self-righteousness, so that you can let go of wanting to control others and surrender them to our perfect God, whose plans are far better than any we can conceive.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the the MARKINC website and listen to the Addiction audio resource with Darryl Strawberry so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Baseball great Darryl Strawberry readily acknowledges that people often think two things when they hear his name: Darryl was a great ball player and Darryl lost it all to drugs. In this interview, Darryl and his wife, Tracy, share their story of drug addiction and how they found a pathway to restoration and wholeness. Their transparent responses to hard questions will challenge listeners to examine their own lives. It’s our hope that their redemption story will offer help and hope to others who are at the bottom of life or perhaps ready to make choices that can only lead to dark places. Is there hope when getting and using drugs are the first things you think of in the morning, throughout the day and the last thing before you close your eyes in sleep? In this moving interview, Darryl and Tracy Strawberry confidently exclaim, “Yes! There is help and hope!”