"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." -- Proverbs 16:9
For almost a week now I have been reading a daily devotional that my church and small group are reading together. It is a 40 day prayer challenge, called Draw the Circle written by Mark Batterson. So far, it as been very enlightening and motivating for me.
A few things have jumped out at me this week that I thought I would share with you.
First, in the Proverbs verse above, it points out that we humans try to plan our lives away, but it is God who establishes our steps...IF we allow Him to. He will prepare us, direct us, set a path for us, and makes that path secure IF we ask Him to. Our role in this life plan is to ask him to lead us and then follow that set, secure path.
To do this, we must first consecrate ourselves. Oh, no. A big word! What does consecrate mean? If comes from this verse:
"Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you." -- Joshua 3:5
Consecrate means: to set apart; to be designated for a special purpose; to be completed dedicated to God. It is a process of surrender that never ends.
So, instead of me getting ahead of myself with plans for my life, I need to first ask God to order my steps, and then I have to dedicate myself to God, putting Him first in my life. Mark Batterson says, "If I give more of myself to God, God will give more of Himself to me."
I have also taken a hard look at my prayer life this week. What do I pray for? I pray for health and happiness for my family and friends and myself. I pray for guidance and wisdom. Some things I pray for are hard things, some are not. Some of my prayers have been the same prayers for YEARS! Looking at my prayers by looking at my journals over the years and looking back through the blog posts of the past few years, I see that my prayers are in some ways selfish prayers...prayers to make MY life better, or my family and friends lives better, but NOT prayers to glorify God. Again, I look at the words of Mark Batterson in Draw the Circle, "The primary purpose of prayer is not to change circumstances, but to change US."
I pray a lot of "take it away' prayers, where I ask God to take away some pain, some hard problem, or some terrible circumstance. I don't believe God wants to take our pains away, but wants to take us THROUGH the pain so we can come out stronger on the other side. As a parent of a teenager, I can relate to this thinking. If I make everything easy for my daughter, fixing her problems and do everything for her, she won't know what to do when she is on her own...she will be weak. She needs to experience some pain and hardship to develop and get strong enough to handle the really hard stuff that will undoubtedly come her way. This is so hard for me, as I don't want to see her hurting in any way. Imagine how God feels about seeing us, his children, suffer through our problems. I'm sure he hurts for us too, but knows we NEED those problems to get stronger.
Does that mean we shouldn't pray for God's help in getting through our tough problems? ABSOLUTELY NOT! He WANTS us to ask, and KEEP asking!
"...yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need." --Luke 11:8
Jesus said these words after he taught the disciples how to pray. He is saying that we should keep asking, keep knocking on God's door for an answer and keep seeking God's wisdom. We need to be persistent!
When we pray what seems like impossible prayers...during the tough stuff...when we are deeply hurt...when we don't see a way out...when we need a miracle...we are showing our faith to God and He will reveal His glory to us. He WILL answer. We might not like the answer, mainly because many times we don't feel we GET an answer. Just keep asking...He will give us exactly what we NEED.
So, today, I pray that God will order my steps on the path that He has laid out for me. I pray for strength and wisdom to keep me on that path, and faith enough to keep asking for God's help with EVERYTHING I encounter on that path.
Here is a link to an amazing praise song that goes right along with this topic: Order My Steps