To Pray or not to Pray

From my 2016 Journal. A conversation

Karen: There are a lot of people out there who need my prayers.

Jesus: (with raised eyebrows) Oh really?

Karen: Well, isn’t that true? We’re taught, commanded, instructed to pray.

Jesus: (smiles) True. But that’s not why you pray.

Karen: It’s not?

Jesus: You pray because you love Me and I love you. It’s not a duty, a job, or a task to fulfill, a checklist to complete. People don’t need your prayers. I’m quite capable of taking care of them.

Karen: Ouch. Yes, Lord.

Jesus: I just want you to be with Me. I’ll guide your mind. Talk to Me about these people who are on your heart. I will listen, and I will consider your requests, but I know what’s best, and My will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. I know your concerns. I know your thoughts before you even express them. But spoken words are important. “Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth.”

I have been a lifelong student on the subject of prayer and have met many who are skilled at verbalizing their prayers, but I have yet to meet anyone who believes they have mastered the discipline of an inner prayer life. Tell me what you’ve learned on your journey of intimacy with God.

Prayer

THOUGHTS, WORDS, DEEDS

Your life is a printout of your thoughts.

From my 2011 Journal. Since childhood, I’ve been taught that deeds are important—whether good or bad. Remember that little chorus, “O be careful little hands what you do”? Within the last 10 years, as I’ve been listening to people’s memories, I’ve begun to understand how much our words might have an even greater impact. (See Derek Prince’s book Blessing or Curse—You Can Choose.)

But after reading Surviving Death by Scott Degenhardt, I became convicted about how much our thoughts can impact the universe as well. For one thing, if you think something, it has the potential to turn into words, which often morph into deeds. (Ever notice how you can think about doing something, and then you decide to ignore it, and then all of a sudden you find yourself getting up and doing that very thing?) I marvel that a thought has that much power over my body.

I could quote the verse “as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7 KJV), but somehow I’d come to believe that as long as I didn’t SAY something or DO something, it was okay. But here’s where I got convicted. I have found myself critiquing and then criticizing people’s choices in my head. I would never dare say something out loud, but I indulged the thought. What if we all had the ability to read everyone else’s thoughts? Would our thought life change?

Here’s the thing . . . thoughts are not really private. The God of the universe knows my mind. And sometimes my thoughts get expressed in my triggered emotional responses.

I am He Who searches minds—the thoughts, feelings and purposes—and the [inmost] hearts.  Rev. 2:23

God, by Jesus Christ, will judge men in regard to the things which they conceal—their hidden thoughts. Rom. 2:16

How does one confess a lifetime of guilt in one’s thought life? Sigh.

Thoughts pexels-photo-1485657

Jesus, the Gentle

When two people meet, there is an exchange of energy. There are life-givers who release energy into your soul, and others who receive energy from you. (Blessing the Spirit, by Gunter and Burk, p. 7)

Hug

From my 2007 Journal. I have experienced a gentle touch and an encouraging word from a friend. It feels good, comforts, calms, soothes, draws me in, relaxes, releases tension. It’s lightweight. Jesus’ touch is like that. You want more. You want to stay there where it’s smooth and soft.

In my grief today Jesus told me, “I’m a gentle lover.”

The opposite does not feel good. Harsh, hard, repelling, forceful, pushy, annoying, irritating, pesky, jangling, heavy, recoiling, repulsive, hurts, makes you steel your nerves. That’s what hate-filled words feel like. They are a physical force and a spiritual attack.

Jesus the Gentle. Lover of my soul. I want to be more like Him.

Keep Your Mouth Shut!

I’ve said some pretty stupid and hurtful things when I’ve been emotionally triggered. And once words were spoken, they were awfully hard to put back in the box. I wonder what set off Miriam, Moses’ sister?

Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.  “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” (Numbers 12:1-2a NIV).

We only meet Moses’ first wife Zipporah a couple times in the Scriptures and then nothing during the wilderness march. Does Moses take a second wife or is Zipporah now dead? We don’t know.

Do you suppose the Cushite wife made a comment over dinner preparations one day to her in-laws about how privileged and great her husband was? And Miriam and Aaron got jealous or defensive? After all, had God not used them (especially Aaron) in a mighty way in Egypt as the front-man speaker to Pharaoh? And hadn’t Miriam felt some ownership in caring for her baby brother when he was placed in the Nile? By association, she was the privileged one, in the inner circle. Who was this Cushite woman who was horning her way into the family business? Why can’t I speak against my own brother? she thinks. Who does he think he is? I’m a part of this team, aren’t I? Did Miriam feel left out?

In any case, this interesting phrase follows: And the LORD heard this. As a parent, I could listen to my children squabbling in another room and not say or do anything. But when the altercation brought one of them to tears or one was teased or hurt or put down, I tried to intervene and mete out justice or punishment to the offender and comfort to the wounded.

Whatever was going on in this family, it got God’s attention, and He came to Moses’ defense. “Suddenly” (without warning, in the midst of their conversation), says the Scripture,  God speaks to the three of them: Come to the tent of meeting.

Uh-oh. Someone’s in trouble. The parent steps in to take control. Only there’s no questioning here about who said what or who’s to blame. He knows! The cloud pillar comes down to the door, and there’s no escaping this confrontation.

“Aaron and Miriam—step forward,” God commands. It’s a lineup of guilty parties. “Step out of the lineup, you two.”

Hear My words. (Words had been spoken by the created. Now words are to be spoken by the Creator.) When there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

And instantly Miriam becomes leprous. But why only her? Why not Aaron as well? Had God “spoken by Aaron”? Well yes, He had. But He had never (at least in the recorded word) spoken by Miriam. So perhaps Aaron’s part in the guilt was in not defending his brother?

I’m intrigued with Moses’ reaction. Instead of revengeful thoughts (Ha! Miriam deserved it! She’s getting what she asked for—she had no right to say what she did), he flies to her aid. He pleads with God to restore her. Why?

And Aaron who had just reviled his brother cries out: O, my lord, I plead with you; lay not the sin upon us. (Us? He’s not the one being punished, but he was in the lineup. He drove the getaway car—a co-conspirator.)  We have done foolishly. (He recognizes his/their guilt. The God of the Universe has exposed his heart.)

And God listens to Moses and agrees to remove Miriam’s leprosy—after seven days outside the camp. 

We live with the consequences of our indiscretions.

But Miriam’s response? Nothing. Nada. Silence. Don’t you know Miriam never made that mistake again? What a painful life lesson to learn:

Keep your mouth shut when you’re triggered!

Mouth

On Journaling

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3 NASB).

Beautiful young woman covering her mouth with hand. Isolated.

Who will read these pages when I’m dead and gone? Who will care? My family? A friend or two? Who will have access to them? Anyone? I know of one fellow journaler who lost her life’s words in a house fire. How would I feel about that?

Radio Pastor Donald Cole says that, unless you are a Billy Graham, your sphere of influence will only be toward a handful of people. That’s true, but the ripple effect and exponential possibilities make it imperative for us to be faithful in our spheres of influence.

Should I destroy some of my journals? Blot out any offensive thoughts? If I cannot be honest in my writing, I cannot be honest with myself.

Lord, I can only pray that my words will not harm anyone. Please help me keep a watch over the door of my lips.