I highly recommend reading JI Packer and Carolyn Nystrom's book "Praying: Finding our Way Through Duty to Delight". There are so many great insights and takeaways in that book. One of my favorites is the idea of brooding as a part of your prayer life. Brooding seems like a negative waste of time, as we think and think and think about a problem from every angle. We all do this, but Packer and Nystrom introduce the idea of Christian brooding where we combine our brooding tendencies with meditation which I wrote about here.
One way I like to include God in my brooding is to meditate on God's word. I have been reading through the Bible this year and so many times whatever problem or question I had floating in my mind was answered through that day or week's reading. When I pray as I read God's word, my mind and heart are shifting, moving closer to God's. Paul Miller in his book, "A Praying Life" wrote, "By praying slowly through a portion of scripture, I was allowing Scripture to shape my prayers.” Also when I am in doubt about what to pray or how to pray for a friend, I like to pray the prayers of scripture. When in doubt, brood on this list of prayers that were in the Bible study guide I provided for the women at our church:
- Romans 15:30 – 33
- 2 Corinthians 12:7 – 10
- Ephesians 1:15 – 23
- Ephesians 3:12 - 21
- Philippians 1:2-11
- Colossians 1:9 – 14
- 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – 12
Meditating on God's works is another way that Packer and Nystrom say we can engage in Christian brooding. Psalm 77:11 – 12 says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” We can glorify God in our prayers by spending time, remembering what God has done historically. When I think about how amazing the works of God were in the Old Testament, the redemption plan of Jesus, and how God has worked in my own personal life I am amazing by the goodness of God. He has loved me from the beginning. He placed me in a family that took me to church. He lead Mrs. Wybenga to be a Sunday School teacher for my class when I was in third and fourth grade. God held me close, using His family to teach me through youth group and small group Bible studies. God led me to the Christian college I attended where I became my own person and found me own faith. My life is full of markers that point to God's love for me, to His plan for my life, and His saving grace.
What markers do you have that you can hold onto?
o The family you were born into?
o Who you met that shared Jesus with you?
o The people God brought into your life - Sunday School teachers, college roommates, spouses and friends?
o The times when circumstances fell so perfectly into place you know God was working?
I wish I had taken the time to write down each marker as it happened because I think I forget about God's hand at work in my life the farther I get from the event. I can imagine that a list of God's fingerprints on a big step of faith would provide great comfort and assurance when my world started rocking a bit like it does after a big step of faith.