Happy July 5th! It’s a new holiday I’m inventing where we all sit around and attempt to recover from a late night of salty foods, sugary drinks, smoky fireworks, and being OUTSIDE for such a long time in a single day! :-) We had a particularly late night last night, because our neighbors decided that the most patriotic thing they could do was to get really drunk and set off “imported” (aka: illegal) fireworks well past the time most people have gone to bed. And because my husband suffers from a health condition that causes him to be hyper-sensitive to certain sound frequencies and volume ranges, it was difficult for me not to be really angry and annoyed with them for their inappropriate and insensitive actions and behaviors. I found myself praying a lot more last night. The Lord didn’t answer my prayer by striking them all down (or making it so their cherry bombs would all be duds – which is something I admit I actually prayed for), nor did He see fit to have them stop at a reasonable hour or even be quieter as they were cleaning up (in fact they were louder during the cleanup phase!). In fact, you could say that He didn’t answer my prayers at all last night…at least not in the way I prayed them! And yet I was comforted by praying. It calmed me as I would try to go back to sleep after each “BOOM!” And this morning, as I’ve been trying to recover from the contact-hangover of all of their partying, I find myself praying again, and being comforted again.
I am reminded that we serve a Father who is always with us and who is aware of our needs even when we cannot give them voice. When I prayed that the Lord would miraculously send rain on one of the hottest days of the summer (and then only in one of those cartoon cloud-bursts directly over my neighbors), instead He sent me no pain in my usually sore shoulder so that I could roll over and go back to sleep on that side. When I prayed that the Lord would send the police on an unexpected drive-by into our neighborhood, instead He sent me the sounds of my husband sleeping soundly beside me – right through that last explosion! I was continually comforted by the constant reminders (and boy, were they constant last night!) that the Lord knows our needs and He will bring us through our tough times – maybe not in the way we imagined it would happen, but He will bring us through. Yes, I’m aware of the fact that my “first-world problem” of drunken, noisy neighbors pales in comparison to the struggles and pain that many people (including some of you!) are going through. But if the Lord is so present in my cosmically-irrelevant “struggle” of last night, then how much more is He available for them (and you!) in your larger struggle? To quote my sister, “Yay God!” :-)
So it’s fitting that we are wrapping up the section on prayer this week and discussing the “Practical Aspects of Prayer.” It wasn’t a long chapter, and to quickly recap let me remind you that her main points were that we are to pray for our enemies (yes, that includes my drunk neighbors), our “fellow laborers” and missionaries – those who are spreading the Gospel and actively bringing people to Christ, and for our brothers and sisters in Christ (including ourselves!).
She also talked about praying Scripture*, which I often do when I’m really struggling for the words to say. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: prayer is not a “dialogue.” We talk to God through prayer, but He talks to us through His Word. By the way, I like that this book starts with the first foundation of regular Bible reading and THEN goes to prayer. It puts the two ideas into perspective! All that Bible reading really comes in handy when I’m praying for my all my neighbors’ beer to miraculously go flat or lose its flavor! But it is also available to me when I’m praying for more serious things and seeking the will of God for my decisions.
One of the things Teri encourages is a Prayer Journal. I don’t keep one myself (if I did, can you imagine what it would have looked like last night?!), but I know that a lot of people do and I do see the value in it. So my question is this: Do you keep a Prayer Journal? If so, would you mind sharing with us how you do it? Is it the column format Teri recommends or something else? If you don’t keep a Prayer Journal, how do you “keep track” of your prayers (and their answers)?
Easy! Now get to it.
Also, I am aware that not everyone posts comments on this blog. Some of you email. Others have face to face discussions. It’s all good. What matters is that you’re participating somehow! :-)