I have lots of pictures to post, from the costume party and my drive from Colorado to Nevada. However, I'm not on my own computer at the moment, so for now I'm just going to share something from my Bible reading/journaling today. It's kind of long, and scattered and random, but there are about 5 more pages of scattered, unwritten thoughts banging around in my head. Just wanted to share some of the ones I actually wrote down.
"When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give use each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation'...So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Luke 11:2-9
Jesus' disciples had asked Him how to pray, and that was his response. Here are some observations I made on it. Components, or guidelines, of prayer include:
-Acknowledging the holiness of God
-Hoping for His kingdom to be established
-Asking for what you need right now - daily bread, not weekly bread, or monthly, or yearly
-Asking for forgiveness - realizing your sinfulness and need for forgiveness
-Forgiving those who are indebted to you, or have wronged you
-Requesting help to avoid temptation, in order to prevent future sin
-Be persistent - in the ask, seek, and knock verse, my Bible had notes expanding on that, to say "keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking." He didn't say how long to keep asking - He just says (or implies) to not stop. "Somehow, I think he [Aslan] likes to be asked" (one of the Narnia books)
-A reminder that our heavenly Father loves to give good things to His children (vs 11-13)
How much my prayers would change if I followed these guidelines every time! I praise God through song at church, but seldom do I verbalize His holiness in my prayers. And I don't often think about His kingdom, or how I am to help establish it. Often my prayers mostly consist of requests, I'm sorry to say. The concept of asking only for what I need right now, today, is hard to grasp sometimes. I love security too much. I want to know that I'm taken care of today, and tomorrow, and next week, and next year. I think that while it's wise to think about and plan for the future, I often rely on my own plans more than I rely on God to take care of me from one day to the next. Asking Him only for what I need today would help me to focus on the moment, to live for whatever is happening right now, instead of always thinking about the future. I don't even know for certain if God is going to give me a tomorrow - all I know is that He's given me a today. Asking for forgiveness - I do include that one, but not on a regular basis. Although I know I am forgiven without even asking, sometimes if I don't adress my sins specifically before God, I end up dwelling on them and becoming overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, which then get in-between me and God. Forgiving everyone - now there's a tough one. "Love keeps no account of wrongs" (1 Cor. 13) - but I do, all the time. If I were to forgive people daily - either tell them or tell God, or both - I think I would end up with a much greater capacity to love. Anticipating future temptation, and realizing that I will need the Lord's help to avoid it, would definitely help. So many times I look at other people who have "sinned so greatly," and I think "what an idiot. I would never do something like that. I'm above such things." I forget that we are all sinners, and I am just as capable of doing hideous things as anybody else (not to mention my pride in thinking I'm better than anyone else). God promises not to let me encounter any temptation I am not equipped to deal with (1 Cor. 10:13), but if I don't even acknowledge that I'm capable of succumbing to temptation, then I'm just setting myself up for failure. Persistence is definitely something I struggle with. When I pray for someone and don't see any evidence of change, after awhile I often give up and stop praying altogether. I say, "what's the point? They're never going to change. They've resisted God for so long - what can He do about it?" How quickly I forget my God's power! He is the God who softened Pharaoh's heart, the God who holds this whole crazy world together, the God who used a brutul killer to write most of the New Testament and spread the gospel throughout Europe! I also forget His love. I forget that He is my Daddy, and he loves to give good things to His kids even more than my earthly Dad loves to take care of me. So...lots of thoughts about prayer. I'm going to try to change the way I pray. It'll take some time and persistence I think. We'll see how it goes.
Bravo to you if you actually read through this whole jumbled mess. :)