Jan 15, 2012
A friend, Marti Pieper, has a unique ministry. A Christian writer and editor, she writes daily messages and Facebook posts with the simplest messages of what she is praying for that day, or situations people find themselves in, or that they might be facing.
No more, no less. Just sharing what is on her heart. I call them “under the radar” needs of people, for they are common – all too common – needs, and therefore often escape our attention. Even if they pertain to ourselves.
Some of her simple prayers are that she is “praying for those who need a way out”; “praying for those in uncharted territory”; “praying for those who are still waiting”; “praying for those who are learning to be still”; “praying for those who are returning good for evil’; and “thanking God for the little things.”
Such reminders, whether to our own situations or prompting a Christian sensitivity to those around us, in their quiet way usually speak to more urgent agendas than many of the “crises” we face. But then, sometimes we all have a way of putting our concerns into cubby holes – emergencies and predicaments, those categories at one end; or nagging, everyday headaches at the other.
But I suspect that God does not differentiate much between these, in the manner of one sin being as offensive as any sin in His eyes. That is, I cannot believe that He categorizes His responses to our prayer requests. We are His children; He responds as a perfect Father. The cries of our hearts must be all the same to Him.
It is more the case, rather, that WE categorize our prayers. Have you ever been too guilty to ask full forgiveness? or reluctant to lay everything before God (who knows all anyway)? or convinced that some things are too trivial to become petitions? If so, we are virtually breaking a commandment, because the Bible instructs us “in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
A propos of nothing, except Marti’s Attitudinal Ministry, and some news stories about drug and alcohol statistics, I got to thinking this week about people struggling with addictions. The “larger” factors on the radar screen are that God can deliver, and we can lead cleansed lives. But the “common” aspects of addiction include struggle, backsliding, and temptation. It is tragic when people, even believers, think that these so-called minor issues are not important; that, having experienced deliverance, they cannot admit to the presence of echoes; that knowing the answers does not keep the questions from their minds. AA has it right; alcoholics remain alcoholics – some people just stop drinking.
None of these thoughts are technicalities: I believe they represent basic life principles. I believe it is a mistake when Christians say, as we often do, “OK, I get it, God; I’ll take it from here,” and we wipe the dust from our hands. In fact the proper response after answered prayer is to stay on our knees, and confess to our continuing need for Him – continued reliance – not some sort of liberation from Him.
Sometimes a proper prayer is to confess our inability apart from God, and to plead that old temptations simply be removed. In that regard, it is a sign of strength (even though we can beat ourselves up, thinking it is otherwise) because that is showing faith in Him and what He can do, instead of pride in our selves. “Lead us not to temptation”; “deliver us from evil.”
A great musical exposition of this principle is the song by T Graham Brown, “Help Me Turn the Wine Back Into Water.” The miracle at Feast of Cana is the reference, of course; but these lyrics acknowledge that another miracle of God could be deliverance from addiction… and yet another, from the same miracle-working God, could be that He just run interference in the middle of situations.
“I’ve tried to fight this battle by myself,
But it’s a war that I can’t win without Your help….
I shook my fist at heaven for all the hell that I’ve been through;
Now I’m begging for forgiveness and a miracle from You….
And now, on my knees, I’m turning to You, Father –
Could You help me turn the wine back into water?”
In truth, the “large” and “small” battles are the same: they are all battles, and in the wars of life we cannot win any of them without God’s help, His continuous help.
Be “praying for the small battles of life.”
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Here is T Graham Brown’s powerful lament – another reminder to Christians of God’s irony that only our complete surrender leads to our victories.