Thursday, September 30, 2010

Prayer - Who God Is

As I starting asking, "Lord, teach me to pray," I began to see my prayer life changing. Between the books I was reading, the Bible reading I was doing and simply engaging the Lord in prayer, I was slowly learning to pray. I am still very much a student in the God's school of prayer but I learned something foundational this last year that has helped me to pray. God is God! HE IS. This world, this story is not about me. I am not the author or the star but I am able to participate in a meaningful way when I align myself with God. Otherwise, I am milling about, trying to make it all about me, creating a life of drama and activity. Our prayer lives I think can also take on a me, me, me quality that moves us from conversation to monologue very quickly. And while I do enjoy my husband listening to me, I don't find a one sided conversation very meaningful or relationship building. So it is with God.

I love what RC Sproul wrote in his book "The Prayer of the Lord":
People come to me and ask: "What are the rules for prayer? How should we approach God in prayer? What's the right way to pray?" I tell those who ask these kinds of questions that there are really only two rules you have to keep in mind when you're in prayer, two things that should drive and govern and control your prayer life with the Almighty. You should remember who is being addressed and who is doing the speaking. That is, the first thing you are to remember in prayer is who it is you're talking to, because nothing will condition your prayer life more deeply than remembering that you're in conversation with God, the sovereign Creator and Ruler of the universe. Second, you are to remember who you are. You are not God. You are a creature. So prayer is not a conversation between peers; it is not a fireside chat among equals. This is the creature speaking to the sovereign Creator.

As I wrap my mind and heart around the first of these two rules, I remember who God is. God is God. I am not. I am slowly finding comfort in my place of creation not creator. It is hard to let go of being the one in charge of my life and the world around me. But the more I understand who God is, the easier it is for me to stand before Him as His child. This is where my prayers need to begin. It is where Jesus taught us to begin in the Lord's prayer - "Our Father!"

So now that I KNOW God is God, I am finding out I want to know more and more about who He is and what He has created and planned for me. My prayers can no longer be monologues that leave me feeling like I am talking to a tree. I have a desire, and a duty, to learn more about God. And the best way I know to learn more about God is to read His letters to us. He left us a whole series of books and letters that tell us who He is and what He desires for us. Imagine if your best friend, child or husband left you a book full of letters telling you all their stories. I would want to read that every day, every time I felt that hole from them being gone. That is how I want to feel toward God's word. Reading God's word should be a huge part of my prayer life because it is the best, most true way that God talks to me. I recently came to the realization that I am horrible listener when it comes to God. I recently posted on this blog,
I have been confronted by what a horrible listener I am when it comes to God. I am pretty good about allowing a few moments of quiet reflection when I pray for wisdom or guidance, hoping that God will give me the directions I need in that moment. But I am not utilizing God's actual Words enough, His written Word, His Holy letter to me. I will let days go by before I pick up my Bible and rarely do I think of it as a part of my prayer life. That the Bible is God's word to and for me. That He is speaking, quite literally, in the Bible.
And yet, I often throw up prayers to God and then wait for answers to magically appear in my day.

This summer I began to think that praying without reading God's word is a lot like asking my husband, "Does this dress make me look fat?" In both cases, I will never know if the answer I got is the Truth.

And just like I need a regular date night to spend time with my husband, I need a regular date time with God. I need to spend time with God, not just talking about and reading about God. Quality time, dedicated time that is set apart from the regular business of the day. Time that let's God and I reconnect.

I want to know God well enough that I want to hear the truth. I want to trust God enough that I can really hear Him when I need to be told that the dress does indeed make me look fat.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Prayer - The Starting Line

This prayer journey I have been on is coming to a culmination of sorts as I am tasked with teaching on the subject of prayer at our women's Bible study. Since I write now in blog form, I am going to use a series of blog vignettes to teach. Here is my first:

I want to start by admitting that I am not a prayer warrior. I do not have all the answers. And if you all decide that I must be the person to share your prayer requests with I must truthfully admit now that I will probably forget half of them because I am not very disciplined about praying for others, yet. Instead, I am a student just like all of you, trying to figure this whole prayer thing out.

I started my journey about a year ago when I came to the realization that I needed to really engage God in prayer but I did not feel like I knew how. I knew the basics, the Lord's Prayer, ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). I knew the common scriptures about prayer: Pray without ceasing (I Thes 5:17), Ask and it shall be given unto you (Matt 7:7), Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35). I knew we were instructed to pray. I knew the early church was actively engaged in the work of prayer. I knew also that our prayers are often misguided and even self indulgent. I felt at a loss for what to pray. What is God's will? Is this the right thing to pray for? What does God want from prayer? I finally, after decades in the church, felt compelled to try to figure this whole prayer thing out. But how?

I decided to ask some of the people I trusted most, who I knew truly understood prayer, for some recommendations for books to read. I compiled the list, looked them up on Amazon and ordered the whole stack. As a history teacher, I like to have multiple sources before I come to a conclusion for myself. A group of friends and I also decided to read through the Bible in 2010. The first book I started reading was Andrew Murray's "With Christ in the School of Prayer." Wow! What a great way to start. I wrote about what I was learning here, here, here and here. The most important lesson being that books and sermons are great to help you learn and understand, but first and foremost we need to ask Jesus to be our instructor. We need to sign up with Him for His class on prayer. Murray ended his first chapter with this prayer which I took on as my own:
Lord Jesus! I ask Thee this day to enroll my name among those who confess that they know not how to pray as they ought, and specially ask Thee for a course of teaching in prayer. Lord! teach me to tarry with Thee in the school, and give Thee time to train me. May a deep sense of my ignorance, of the wonderful privilege and power of prayer, of the need of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of prayer, lead me to cast away my thoughts of what I think I know, and make me kneel before Thee in true teachableness and poverty of spirit.
I went on to read "The Prayer of the Lord" by RC Sproul, "Praying: Finding our Way Through Duty to Delight" by J.I Packer and Carolyn Nystrom, and "A Praying Life" by Paul E. Miller. Through all these books, the Bible reading, and oh yes the two different sermon series I listened to this year (I love how God gives you abundant opportunities to learn when you go to him to create the syllubus), I have grown as a student. I have a much better understanding of prayer, mostly because I have given up trying to understand it. I have come to a place where I can stand in the mysterious, boldly coming before God with my hopes, hurts and needs, being sure that His answer to my prayers is the BEST answer for me, even if I don't like the answer or the amount of days, weeks, or years I have to bring the same prayer before Him without closure.

I don't understand it all. I am still horribly inconsistent. I still have a few more books in my stack to read. But I am seeing God working through my prayers over the last year. The prayers of someone testing out this whole prayer thing. The prayers of someone doubting that God cares, but still coming before Him with my heart. The prayers said with an arrogant or angry tone for people who have annoyed or hurt me. The prayers said with heartfelt gratitude for God calling me His child.

I don't know if I will ever be a prayer warrior but I am finally engaged in prayer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Churches - a Cultural Study

Due to some scheduling issues, Hockey Boy is not able to attend our local church for the next two months. We struggled with how to handle this situation. Do we make him go to church and miss practice? Do we make him go to practice since he is part of team and miss church? Are we choosing sports over God? Does it matter if we meet together on Sunday mornings? Is going on just Wednesday night enough?

We prayed about it. We talked it over with Hockey Boy. And we came to the decision that we would not choose hockey over God, but we were comfortable choosing hockey over our local Sunday morning service for a short period of time. We decided to use this opportunity to teach hockey boy the importance of meeting together regularly with other believers to worship. Even if your schedule did not allow you to go to your comfortable, safe, home church on Sunday mornings. As he grows up life might get in the way of Sunday mornings. I know once he is in college and staying up late, sleep might get in the way. He may also choose a career that requires you to work on Sundays. He may become a pastor someday. :)

We looked at different church schedules and found a church nearby that has a service time that works. It is a church I have heard about that draws a young crowd. I have heard they have great music and are really seeker friendly. It even has a children's program on Sunday evenings. So Hockey Boy and I decided to check it out.

First thing that surprised me was the crowds. We had to park quite a ways away and people were streaming into the building, on a Sunday night. Not only were they all coming to church, they were all carrying Bibles. And not little pocket Bibles but big study Bibles. I was a bit stunned by the number of Bibles.

Hockey Boy started in the service with me before the kids were released to their class. The music was good, but LOUD. Too loud for Hockey Boy so we went into the overflow room where it was less deafening. Good thing we went into the overflow room because there was no room in the sanctuary until they released the kids to class and then it was like a sold out movie theater with people trying to find seats and having to cuddle up with your neighbor because every seat was full. I was happy to see Hockey Boy head into this new classroom so easily. He has become really shy over the last few years, but he seems to be comfortable in church, even when it is a new church or camp. I love that he feels so safe in God's houses.

Once the sermon was beginning the pastor asked everyone to open their Bibles and to raise your hand if you did not have a Bible. Every lap had a big Bible on it and those that did not raised their hands high to get one to use. At that moment, I felt a little weird. I had my Bible with me. I always have my Bible with me. It is an app on my phone. I actually have two Bibles on my phone, the Bible app by and also the Reformed Study Bible in case I want the extra study notes. I have my Bible on my phone so I always have it with me. I read it in car line or at hockey practice. I can look up a verse quickly if I want to share it with someone I am with or in an email. But in that room I felt a little less than because I was the only person pulling out my phone to read the Bible. I began to think to myself that I should probably bring a "real" Bible from home next time and not just my pocket Bible, but my really big Study Bible. Maybe I should grab my commentary too?

In that moment I realized how quickly good discipline, bringing your Bible to church, can become cultural and not Biblical. I had my Bible. I was able to follow along with all the scripture references. I was able to take notes if I wanted. There was nothing missing because I was using a Bible on my phone. And yet I felt a bit out of place. I was wondering if people were judging me and thinking I was less of a Christian. Maybe they thought I was a new believer. I wanted to fit into their church culture.

Then the person next to me could not find a pen for her daughter. I had one in my bag so I pulled it out and handed it over to her. She was appreciative but I can only imagine what she thought when she realized it was a pen from our regular church. Not only did I not bring my Bible, but I steal pens too.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Paying Attention Does Work

As much as I hate to admit it, paying attention to my kids does work. As I wrote yesterday, I am not a fan of dragging the other boys to watch their brother's hockey practice. I have often resorted to video games to keep them distracted and entertained so I can watch the practice and chat with my friends. This works sometimes but I have noticed that the magic of the video game has been fading. My kids were beginning to act more entitled and having a hard time sharing and turning off the games. As a Bejeweled addict I understand.

Yesterday I decided to try a new tactic. I packed a bag with books, puzzle books, wiki sticks and also hockey balls and sticks. I brought along Middle Man's church homework also. It worked. Not perfectly. One kid was watching over the shoulder of another child on their video game for a while, but I eventually distracted them taking them off to another corner to talk about their Bible study questions. There were also a few close calls of hockey practice balls hitting a spectator or two. But overall it worked. Bringing engaging toys and books, spending time talking and playing with the boys, all worked to entertain the little ones and keep the crying and whining of them and me to a minimum.

It is more work to be prepared, more work to engage, but so much more rewarding and a lot less embarrassing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why I Am Not a Fan of Weekday Practices

Hockey season has started. The boys, for the most part, are thrilled. Middle Man broke his arm at his last hockey class about a month ago. He was doing a superman fall and glide across the ice because the coach told them too even though Middle Man did not want to do it. So he is tentative about this whole hockey thing now that his cast is off. But even he is out there on the ice two times a week. With three boys in two different age groups, we have 5 hockey practices a week. The weekend practices are fine because my husband and I can tag team. Hockey Boy though has two evening practices during the week that I get to do all by myself with all three boys. I love supporting my kids doing what they love to do, but I HATE (yes I know we are not supposed to say HATE) but I really dislike midweek practices.

I always have high hopes of getting some reading done while the other boys share the iPod Touch nicely, taking turns playing Angry Birds. Turns out sharing the game involves a lot of whining, "He's not letting me watch him play" and asking me every two minutes, "how much longer until it's my turn?" Add someone else's dog on a leash to the mix and Little One is screaming and climbing up my legs so fast and demanding to be held because he is terrified of dogs. He is almost 4 years old and heavy so now my back is aching and the kids are whining and I am agitated. And then embarrassed because I am pretty sure I have yelled at at least one of the kids if not the whole crew. The only thing more frustrating than badly behaved kids in public is me behaving badly to my kids in public.

So all that to say that I am not a fan of hockey practice. Let me amend that because I do love to watch each of my boys skating and playing on the ice: I am not a fan of taking the other kids to hockey practice.

After last nights crying and whining with a video game to entertain them, I decided that we would be going old school tonight. They already know that we will be taking coloring books, wiki sticks and maybe a board game to play tonight. More labor intensive for me because I will probably actually have to talk to my kids while we are sitting at the rink. I might have to actually play a game with them or read them a book. I might have to use that hour Hockey Boy is on the ice to spend quality time with my other two boys.

I'll let you know if this plan goes any better... or if I buy a second iPod Touch before next Monday's practice. I knew we should have bought stock in Apple.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Leaving Room for the Unexpected

I am still not in the swing of things - obviously. Last year I often wrote after I put the older boys on the bus and before Little One and I headed out for the day. We had nice quiet mornings, he watching PBS Kids (someone has to teach him his letters) and me drinking coffee and spending time reading and writing blogs. It was a nice time of day. This year our schedule has changed. Little One has school two mornings a week, I have to be at Bible Study earlier to help with set up, Little One's speech class is on another morning and the first month of school seems to have a lot of activities that are interrupting our one quiet morning. I am sure I will get a rhythm to my days once everything is up and running and we have a few weeks under our belts.

But then that is what I keep telling myself. I will catch up on my Bible Reading - tomorrow. I will get back to blogging - someday. I will get myself back on a workout schedule - soon. I will have time for "this" after "that". Tomorrow. Someday. Soon. Never?

That is without the unexpected things that shake your schedule up. The cast that has to come off requiring a trip to the pediatrician's office. Love our pediatrician but there goes an entire afternoon. The meeting that has to happen as a result of a very emotional and heartfelt confrontation. The husband has to work late when you are scheduled to teach and a babysitter has to be found. I am thankful that for the most part I have created a life that has margins for the unexpected and loving babysitters for when we are double booked or actually want to spend a few minutes together without the little kids hanging on. For the most part I can roll with the punches.

Then there are times when I lose it a bit. This week we had major stress and drama when Little One and Middle Man's hockey times got changed. They had been at a difficult time before overlapping with Hockey Boy's practice at a different hockey rink in a different city. But the new time was on the same night as the children's midweek program at church. And it was also ending really late for my early to bed, early to rise little boys. There was a moment of panic when I saw the email. Text messaging ensued with my husband. We were frantically trying to figure it all out. I was trying to solve the problem, trying to remove the stress myself.

And in that moment of stress, I remembered what I had read in Paul E. Miller's book "A Praying Life." "We become anxious when we take a godlike stance, occupying ourselves with things too great for us. We return to sanity by become like his little children, resting on our mothers." He goes on to write, "Anxiety is unable to relax in the face of chaos; continuous prayer clings to the Father in the face of chaos." In that moment, I stopped my racing mind to pray. I had a problem. I could not solve it. I needed my Father to figure it out in a way that keeps my kids close to Him. And then I raced off to an evening meeting forgetting the stress, the anxiety, the chaos that was in my head.

By the time I got home that night, we had received another email, informing us that the practice was being moved, yet again, to Sunday mornings at 7 am. No midweek practices for the little boys. I was overjoyed. Our conflict was solved. Without me. I never knew I could be so happy for a 7 am ice time but I am thrilled.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The First Week of School

7 years, 9 months, 2 days. Waiting. I had been counting down the years, months and days until all my boys would be in school if only for a few short hours a couple of days a week in Little One's case. Finally I would have a little time to myself. Real time to myself without creating it by paying a babysitter or swapping the kids with friends. So you can imagine my surprise when I spent the whole first day of school feeling sick to my stomach. This was especially surprising because my husband took the day off so we could send off the boys together and then have a few hours alone, just the two of us. Even with my husband there, I felt a little lost while Little One was in school, like a part of my body was missing. You know the part that stands under you as you try to talk to your husband or keeps angling the grocery cart toward the cans of food in the store. I thought the sick feeling would go away when we picked up Little One from his preschool class. We got to the car line early, first in line which I knew he would love. When he walked out the door with his teacher, he was smiling, happy to be at school, looking so big with his back pack and all his class mates walking in line. He loved his first day he said. And then he said, "I want to stay home with you tomorrow." I guess he missed me. While he likes school and wanted to go back the next time, I am glad he only goes two days a week so we can still cuddle and hangout together.

The sick feeling should have been gone once we picked up my baby. But it did not. It is hard to let go of your kids. As much as I want the break in my day, to think, be quiet and maybe get a few things done without whining or fighting, I don't like feeling so far removed from my kids. I don't like not knowing what is happening throughout their day. I don't like knowing that not every teacher, not every kid will be the best fit for my boys. I don't like knowing that my kids will struggle and I won't be right there to help them through. I know this from experience because Middle Man had a very long, very hard kindergarten year. If he did not like going to school so much, I think I would have pulled him out by Thanksgiving. There were meetings. There were changes. Progress was made. Behavior regressed. Boredom became disruptive. At one point I simply gave up trying to work through the problem because Middle Man was happy. He did not see the problems. Throughout most of the year, Middle Man wanted to go to school. He liked school. It was not until the last month of school that he started to say he did not want to go. Summer was right around the corner and he made it through kindergarten. We both survived.

We had a nice, lazy summer. A summer that allowed Middle Man to go at his own pace. A summer full of camps and lessons that challenged him and he loved it. A summer that gave him time and space when he needed it. And then at the beginning of August, he started asking me when school was going to start again. He started counting down the days. He was really excited about starting first grade. He started working on behaving like a first grader. He mellowed out a bit. Our typically most challenging child became our easiest one in the month of August. He was ready to start another year.

So my anxiety on the first day of school did not stop when I picked up my baby. It did not stop until my older boys were home, eating cookies and milk and telling me about their day. Even then it did not go away completely. Middle Man was cautiously optimistic but not ready to fall in love with school yet. I think after being in his new class, he slowly began to realize how hard last year actually was. Being in a better classroom setting, being a year older, having a different teacher, with a different group of kids, I think turned on the light a bit to the reality that sometimes school can be tough. So he was cautious in his assessments as was I. Last year, he kept telling me how much he liked school. How much he wanted to go to school and yet it was not a great situation last year. So we were both a bit wary.

And then a few nights later it was Middle Man's turn to pray at dinner. This is his prayer:

Dear God. Thank you for school. Thank you for Mrs. S. Amen

And that is when God showed me how much He loves my little guy. How Middle Man is His child too and while I may not be able to be in the classroom with him, riding the bus or watching him on the playground, God is with Him always. God is taking care of my Middle Man.


I was going to call this post "Drivel" because I have been feeling like my last few posts have been well, drivel. Is that even a word? I think it is. In my mind, while the past few posts have been on target, there was always something missing. Some element of me that was not really there. Some part of me that I was not doing a good job of communicating. I believe what I wrote, but somewhere in the writing, or the time between the inspiration and the actual writing, I got lost.

I felt like a jerk writing the post about prayer requests. I kept worrying if people were going to think that I did not care about their prayer requests. I felt cynical. I am not sure I ever really communicated what I was thinking and discovering about prayer. And as I keep writing and deleting sentences in this post I realize it is happening again. I am filtering and editing, trying not to offend or alienate.

I have become very aware that people are reading what I post here. For the most part you either know the real me or you don't know me at all so I should feel comfortable being myself. But lately, I have felt a need to filter. I think it started a few months ago when I got more involved in some leadership roles at my church. This weighs heavily on me as I write lately. It shouldn't but it does. I have not changed as a person, but I feel myself thinking about what someone from church might think if they read this. I also wonder what my non-Christian friends might feel about all this religion talk. I spend way too much time having conversations in my head explaining to so and so what I meant by such and such sentence.

I often write about my struggles as I grow in my faith, as a mom and as a member of my community but many of my struggles of late have not been things I felt I could share. I end up sharing just a portion of the thought. For example, when I wrote about Job 28 and man's search for wisdom, I did not really explain why that passage struck a cord with me. I left out the part about how much I do value wisdom, how much I wish we could spend more time talking together about things that matter in an eternal sense, and most importantly how I believe God reveals wisdom to each of us through His word. Teachers and pastors are great. But we were made with minds to think, to ponder, to struggle with ideas. Not just to accept the interpretations of others. I love to think about big ideas. And more importantly, I am capable to think about big ideas. I am capable of studying, reading and discerning what is good and true from what is false and misleading. I am not perfect at it, but when I invite God into the process, I grow. I grow in wisdom as Middle Man used to say when he was little. And that is not just true for me. It is true for everyone. We don't have to take special classes. We don't have to pass certain tests. We can all pick up the Bible, read what it says, and grow wiser.

I am not sure what to do about the filtering. Editing is good. Making sure I choose words wisely. I speak kindly. But when I find myself editing for a specific person or caring what so and so thinks, I am pretty sure I lose myself. And when I lose my true voice, the real me, what I am writing may be accurate but it is not true. And in blogging, being true is what matters.

I am a work in progress, simply trying to figure out how to best serve God with my life. As always it's complicated.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Searching for Wisdom

I am woefully behind in my Bible reading. I think I was reading the July schedule at the end of August. I spent way too much time being lazy with the kids this summer. It was a much needed break. But now that school has started it is time to buckle down and get going.

So I have been reading quickly to catch up, not necessarily even digesting every word. And yet, I still get caught by a nugget of truth I needed to hear that day. That is what I love about just reading the Bible, no Bible study questions to answer or teaching attached to the reading. Just reading. When I come to the Bible without any intent other than getting to know God and His word better, I get just that. No agenda. Just God.

Last week I was reading Job 28 where Job is talking about man mining for gold and silver, searching caves for precious stones, mining for iron and copper. He writes in verse 10, "He (mankind) tunnels through the rock; his eyes see all its treasures." First I was impressed with the way mankind even at that primitive point in history was already seeking the hidden gems found throughout the earth. And then I read verses 12 & 13:
But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?

Man does not comprehend its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.

How quickly we are distracted by finding gems, that we stop trying to find things of real value. The iron and copper have use in tool making, but the jewels, the silver and gold were for making things more beautiful, more valuable. They did not change the purpose of the item, only the way it appeared. And yet they were using their time and creating unsafe and uncomfortable working conditions in order to gather together wealth.

I wonder what would happen to the world if we started valuing wisdom? Would we be in this recession brought on by mismanaged and unethical financial practices? Would we have a fringe church standing up to Al Qaida by burning 200 Quran? Would we have kids demanding the latest iPod and cell phone? Or grown ups thinking they needed and deserved the latest toy even if they could not afford it?

The problem with wisdom is that it is hard to mine. It requires us to let go of ourselves, our egos, our desires and connect ourselves to the source of wisdom - God. Job goes on to finish chapter 29 by writing:
Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?

It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds of the air.

Destruction and Death say,
'Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.'

God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,

for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.

When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,

when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,

then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.

And he said to man,
'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.'

I am beginning to realize, slowly, over many years, that God is God. And the more I understand this, the more I trust His plan, His words, His deeds, the more content I am. The more I can role with the punches of life. The more I know God's word, the more I can see that He does have a plan. I may not always understand it. I may not always agree. But I am beginning to see that God is way wiser than I am, so it is better that I let Him be in charge.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Prayer Requests

You know that time at the end of Bible study when the leader opens it up to prayer requests, that time when you hope people share something meaningful and personal, something that does not end with you feeling like you are creating a wish list on Amazon that you expect God to fulfill? Maybe it is just me that has that moment of dread just before people start sharing, that moment where I hope that I don't get pulled into someone's gossip session about their annoying in laws or asking God for things that don't make sense to me. Yes, I am a prayer request judger it appears. I don't want to be. I want to be supportive. I want to lift people up in prayer and see God working through the prayers of His people. But what so often starts out as a pure moment of coming before the Lord, can often get really uncomfortable when you find yourself in a room, in prayer, and God is nowhere to be found.

I struggle with prayer. Earlier this year, I decided that I needed to take some time to really study and experiment with this whole prayer thing. I could no longer sort of sit on the sidelines of something that God clearly asks of us. So I enrolled in God's school of prayer. It has a great teacher to student ratio. 1 teacher (God): 1 student (me). He has lead me to some great resources through people I respect. He has opened my eyes to passages in my one year Bible reading that I have previously overlooked. He has shown up because I showed up in His classroom. I still have a long way to go before I would consider myself even an average student in the class. But I have learned a lot. A lot that I will be processing over the next month as I prepare to teach two lessons on prayer for the women's Bible study at my church. A lot I will be writing about and then posting once I have finished teaching (don't want my local friends to be bored during Bible study).

With everything I have read and everything I have learned, I have decided that I need to stop avoiding the prayer request. There is power in prayer. I don't know how but God tells us to pray. Jesus set the example. He prayed for God's will to be done (Matthew 6:10), he prayed for himself as he faced trials (Luke 22:42 - 44), he prayed for his followers to remain faithful (Luke 22:32).

So with that in mind, as an experiment, a part of my learning about prayer, I am asking you to pray for me as I prepare this study. The topic I am trying to share is way bigger than I can handle. Well in truth, life is more than I can handle well on my own. I need God's help. And so I ask for your prayers. Prayers for wisdom. Prayers for time to study, meditate, pray and prepare. Prayers for truth to be revealed and hearts touched and challenged. Prayers that through it all, God would be glorified. Prayers for things I don't even know I need, my favorite prayers of all. The ones that ask God to work His will in ways we cannot imagine to ask.

Thank you!