Prayer

It is Good to be Near God

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For me it is good to be near God. (Psalm 73:28a)

I’ve been caught up in a lot of stuff lately. I just turned in my first two college applications, my car keeps breaking in expensive and obnoxious ways, I’ve just had to leave a steady nanny job to look for different work, and so on. My mind is always consumed with something. Will my chemistry homework get finished? When’s the last time I worked out?

I’ve always thought myself a busy person, but it’s amazing how you can handle more stuff in life than you think. Just when you think you’re at capacity, one more things is added to your schedule and you still somehow survive.

One of the things added to my schedule a few weeks ago was preparing a Bible study for a discipleship ministry that I’ve been a part of for about eight years now. I’ve done a few Bible studies for the group before and preparation often involves listening to sermons and reading commentaries on the passage (Romans 6:1-14 in this case) in order to learn as much as you can before leading the team in the study.

While listening to a sermon by Sandy Willson called “Lord, Change Me“, I began to realize how I have been drifting into trying to run my own life. One of his three lessons at the end of the sermon was to invest real time to cultivate the relationship you have with God. He said, and I quote, “You can’t microwave this, America!” (By the way, you should all go listen to Sandy Willson – he’s awesome)

A relationship with God never reaches its full potential, at least in this life. There is always more room to grow and the amount of time I have been devoting to my relationship with God is not enough. That’s why I’ve been so wrapped up in the world. That’s why my car, college, and career are such a big deal.

When we don’t pour ourselves into our relationship with God, we become envious of the wicked in Psalm 73: they seem to suffer no consequences for their sin and even seem to prosper. But when we go “into the santuary of God”, then we can discern their end (Psalm 73:17).

When we go into the sanctuary with God and spend time with Him – in His Word, in prayer, in coming to know Who He is – we realize that we do not need the things that we so greatly desire. We realize that “for me it is good to be near God.”

I’ve been learning that through drifting my own way and then coming back. For me, Kira, it is so good to be near God. And the same is true for you.

Kira

Grace Draws Us Back

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The grace of God has reached for me
And pulled me from the raging sea
And I am safe on this solid ground
The Lord is my salvation
“The Lord is My Salvation” by Keith and Kristyn Getty

I have fallen this week, this month. I have sinned repeatedly, even when I knew it was wrong. I have prized the things of this world above the things of Heaven. I have allowed myself to be swallowed up by worries and fear. And still the grace of God has reached for me.

The prophet Hosea obeyed God’s call to give Israel a picture of the Lord’s redemption through the formation of his family. He married a prostitute, Gomer, who represented Israel in all her spiritual adultery and wandering from God. They had children together who were given symbolic names to show Israel what state she was in as a result of her sin. When Gomer left Hosea to return to her life of prostitution, he redeemed her and brought her home. God did the same for Israel and He will do the same for us.

Grace is the most beautiful part of the gospel. It is what draws us to Heaven. It continues through our lives, drawing us back to Christ day after day. He pulls us from the raging sea of our sin and our obsession with this world and what it can do for us. And He brings us to Himself to be loved and forgiven every time.

Thank the Lord for His steadfast love and salvation which He offers continually and without condition. His is the perfect love we can return to and His are the open arms that will receive us. Don’t hesitate to come to God in your need and ask Him for forgiveness. He will give it.

Kira

How has the Lord shown Himself good to you?

The Upside of Gutting it Out

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“You seem to be disenchanted with life this morning.”

My mother’s words before church on Sunday perfectly captured what I had been feeling for the past week or so (and am still feeling as I write). Disenchanted with life… I don’t want to get up in the morning because it’s just another day of school and work until falling into bed. I’m exhausted from the minute I wake up to the minute I fall asleep. Social interactions and books don’t hold my interest. There’s not much time or energy for writing. And don’t even mention working out – that hasn’t happened in weeks.

Living like this is frustrating. It feels like nothing’s working even though I’m trying so hard. I just don’t love life.

I don’t know what the cause of this is. Maybe it’s just a phase or season. Maybe I’m not getting enough vitamin C (though I know it’s not that – gotta ward off those germs). But I do know something that has helped me. Habits.

A couple years ago, I formed the solid habit of doing devotions (Bible reading, prayer, verse memorization) every day. I don’t often miss it. When I got a job and suddenly became busy, I formed the habit of praying constantly. Through years of siblings waking up bright and early, I formed the habit of getting out of bed by 7:30am at the latest (and considering that sleeping in).

I’m in the shower by 7:10 every morning. I work on school with most of my spare time. I get my chores done (mostly) in between various things. These things help me mechanically move through time, even when I’d rather not move at all. I can still get work done, I can still move forward, even though I feel terrible.

I don’t say any of this to brag. I say it rather to urge you to form solid habits. Decide when you need to get up in the morning and work on it until you wake up before the alarm rings. Pick a book of the Bible and read a chapter every day, at the same time every day, and pray afterward. When do you need to work out? Do it (and I say this one as much to myself as to anyone else).

We have so many feelings and they’re not always good. Bad moods, frustration, “disenchantment with life” will sometimes overstay their welcome. But life can’t stop for a week of disenchantment – or two or three.

Use the good times to form habits. They won’t fix the bad, but they’ll help.

Kira

What habits help you keep moving when life’s got you down?

Any new ones that you need to form?

God is Not an Afterthought

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I’m back! A month and a half later, and here I am, finally writing again. Nothing in particular has kept me from it, other than my busy schedule.

Life’s been crazy lately. I’ve never worked this much and there are an awful lot of projects soon to be due for different classes. Thanksgiving was, of course, wonderful, but also hectic. Random little things are in abundance: birthday celebrations, driving siblings to school, and getting the flu shot. It all adds up and, before you know it, you’re out of time.

We’re all given the same 24 hours in a day, the same seven days in a week. How we choose to spend it speaks volumes about who we are and what we value. The fact that I take books for school with me in case I have a few minutes shows that I value getting that done. Showing up for work on time and doing your best while you’re there shows a work ethic to be admired. There are a lot of good things to value, but there is only one best thing.

Often, God gets pushed to the backseat in the middle of busyness. Yes, I can make it to practice, but no, I don’t have time to read my Bible. This has become a problem for me. I was blessed enough to be able to pour a lot of time into my spiritual health and relationship with God over the summer, so that now I have that desire to spend time with Him. What I’m lacking at the moment is the time.

It is prideful and foolish to fill your life so much that there is no room for God every day. That is a sure way for things to fall apart. But I know what it feels like to be drowning in so much that it seems reading the Bible won’t fit anywhere and praying is a thing of the past. So here are some things I’ve taken to doing to make sure I’m still spending time with my Lord, Creator, and Father every day.

Create a habit for devotions.

This one’s tough, but it’s essential. Look at your average week and see what time of day is usually free. And give yourself some time. Make sure you’ve got at least half an hour to start, even if it won’t take you that long. Then do devotions every day that you can. Don’t beat yourself up over the days you can’t, but don’t let yourself skip the days you can, even if the time must be abbreviated.

It’s okay to be busy, but if you are unable to set aside time to spend in full devotion to God most days of the week, there’s a problem.

That being said, here’s what I do when devotions are not a possibility (and often when they are):

Pray EVERYWHERE.

Pray in the car on your way to work and class. Pray in bed before you fall asleep. Pray in the shower. Pray in class (maybe not all the time, but if you can pull it off…). Any time you find yourself with nothing in particular to think about, pray.

And vary your prayers. You can pray for your family at a traffic light. You can thank God for your blessings while you wash your hair. Just take a deep breath and talk to God.

Make meal times count.

I know that meals often get lost in the mayhem and tend to turn into “what can I grab from the fridge in two seconds flat so I won’t be late for fill-in-the-blank” sessions. But I would encourage you to take a minute to pray before meals. Yes, every time, and yes, in public.

You might only have thirty seconds or maybe you can take five minutes, but that’s time well spent. Besides, it’s good for you to stop to eat a proper meal every once in a while (or so the “experts” say).

Read your Bible whenever you get the chance.

Block out other thoughts while you read, even if it’s only for a few verses. Take notes and underline. Pray while you read. (I know – I won’t stop talking about prayer, but it is the one and only reason I have survived this past month and a half.)

Don’t confine yourself to the plan you’re doing if you only have five minutes and you want to read somewhere else. God’s Word sanctifies us (John 17:17) and gives us rest.

Go to church.

I don’t care how busy you are. If you are not dying of the plague, go to church. I understand that some people must work on Sundays, but do your best to avoid it. Church is specifically designed to be a place of fellowship with God’s people while we worship Him together. The Sabbath day is a day of rest. Church is an excellent way to rest. Don’t give up the opportunity to be spiritually fed and in turn praise the Lord because you’re too tired or don’t have time. Church is essential.

 

I hope some of these will be helpful to you in staying close to God through the chaos. Busyness isn’t a reason to push God aside; it’s a reason to draw even closer.

Have a blessed and fruitful day!

Kira

What do you do to stay “in-touch” with God? Are there any particularly weird places you like to pray?