We may have been taught to pray pretty and powerful sounding prayers.
But God’s admonitions to Job’s piously praying friends demonstrates that God can handle – and is even pleased by – our raw and honest prayers and wrestlings with Him.
“After GOD had finished addressing Job, he turned to Eliphaz the Temanite and said, ‘I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me—not the way my friend Job has. So here’s what you must do. Take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my friend Job. Sacrifice a burnt offering on your own behalf. My friend Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer. He will ask me not to treat you as you deserve for talking nonsense about me, and for not being honest with me, as he has.’” – Job 42:7-8 MSG (The Message Bible Paraphrase)
So, after posting some God-given encouragement on Instagram this morning, I found myself distracted from the #GoodGoodFather I had been communing with just moments ago by obsessively counting likes on my posts. I was shifting from finding my worth in Him to attempting to ascertain my value from that! Thankfully, He intervened in my soul once again with these words:
“Place your full focus on Me rather than gazing at yourself. Don’t let even My blessings and the beauty I’ve placed in you distract you from the Strength and Hope I AM. This can block my ability to flow through you to others in need of Me.”
Our Father wrote some words in the Bible a while back as a reminder for moments like these:
“[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].” Hebrews 12:2 AMP (Amplified Version)
Let’s continue to listen to the sweet voice of our Father and become who we already are….
An #InstaPrayer for deliverance from the perfectionism we hide behind….
It’s the messy and imperfect times in our lives that mold us the most and sometimes bring the most beauty. So why is it that we work so hard to create “perfection” (whatever the heck that is)?
These thoughts began during the #WeekendExperience at my Amazing Church. It was a beautiful morning full of #GodEncounters as we took the time to #HearGodSpeak with and through each other. However, I had a little angst when something was spoken to me and in resonated in me instructing me not to “hide behind my words”. As I pondered this (a.k.a. pouted over it) I was thinking, “I don’t hide behind hide words! I’m a communicator and a writer! Of course I use a lot of carefully crafted words! It’s one of my gifts!”. However, the more I thought about it… the more I realized that your gift can become your curse when – rather than using it authentically – you use it as a tool for unhealthy perfectionism in vain attempts to create “perfect” moments or to self-protect (“skirt around” the real issues) during difficult conversations.
I’m blogging about this because I have a feeling I’m not the only one who has struggled in this area. Your gift may not be words. It may be fashion or culinary creating, for instance. But the fashionista becomes a captive of her own craft when it becomes more than her creative expression and she refuses to leave the house or FaceTime with a friend until she has that “perfect” look. And the chef loses joy in his creating when he tosses a well-loved recipe aside because of one harsh review.
Oh, and then there’s the fact that your gift can become a god/idol to you and God’s really not cool with that. (See Exodus 20:3. And while you’re in your #BibleApp, check out all the times in Psalms when God is referred to as our rock and our refuge…. Not anything we do or have or anyone we know…. #GodAlone).
So… let’s just live, love, and share our gifts… perhaps before that 100th rewrite or rework in our heads of that conversation, outfit, or meal. Or, as it’s been said, “Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good”. When you allow your gift to become your source of security – you’re risking it becoming a clumsy, uncomfortable, even destructive crutch rather than the beautiful life-giving blessing it’s meant to be.
And, as I do through my Amazing Church, professional counseling/life-coaching, and in support groups with others on journeys similar to mine, be sure to position yourself in places of authentic connection where you can learn more about yourself through relationship with God and others. It takes the eyes of others to see yourself clearly sometimes.
Ok, that’s enough words shared for now. And this time I’m not hiding behind them – but revealing a part of my heart through them. That’s what words are for.
“How can I stand up before GOD and show proper respect to the high God? Should I bring an armload of offerings topped off with yearling calves? Would GOD be impressed with thousands of rams, with buckets and barrels of olive oil? Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child, my precious baby, to cancel my sin? But He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.” –Micah 6:6-8, The Bible (The Message paraphrase)
Today is recognized as the National Day of Prayer in the United States. So… in events and gatherings across the nation the words of the beautiful Bible verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, will be recited and prayed.
However, I can’t help but wonder…. in the midst of our me-focused culture do we even have a clue of what it means to “humble ourselves” in true worship and prayer to our God? Or, are we so stained by our self-focused society, advertising, and entertainment that when we say we worship God we are really only worshipping a reflection of ourselves we have created in our minds? Could what Michael Card wrote in the early 1990’s still be true today?: “We’ve made You in our image so our faith’s idolatry.” (From Know You in The Now).
The words written so long ago in 2nd Chronicles are beautiful words…. But my prayer is that they will be REAL words today: in me, in you, in US! Please, Jesus…..
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14
Today’s #Instaprayer was written in another century but is still so beautiful and relevant today becauseAmy Carmichael not only penned these words…. she lived them. She served as a missionary to India for 55 years with no furlough back to her home in Ireland. In 1901 she established Dohnavur Fellowship, a mission and orphanage still operating today. She lived, served selflessly, and died among people very different than her who she loved much. I’ve been fascinated by her from the time I was told her missionary stories in #SundaySchool and I think we could all do well by praying and living her words and asking God to #LoveThroughMe.
. . . . . . .
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” –1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV
Today I started posting on Instagram a short prayer to go along with the Scripture focus on my heart for the day. Feel free to join me in applying God’s Word and praying it back to our Good, Good Father. Here’s today’s post:Today’s #instaprayer is inspired by James 2:1-4. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet,’ have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”