Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reasons why you're not praying....

This post should really be titled, "Reasons Why I sometimes don't/haven't, etc. been praying." However, I have a notion I'm not the only one in the world who has had to check themselves and their prayer life from time to time. Currently, I'm in probably the biggest transition period of my life, and one thing I am learning about transition----it will bring you to your knees (and at the most random points in the process). Just when I think I have this moving life/career/surgery/family under wraps, something else gets thrown in the mix. Of course. Of course, it's life.....and I'm currently fighting the myriad of thoughts right now about boxes. Boxes. The unlimited amount of boxes that need unpacking far, far, away (life doesn't end and I'm a control freak- pray for me :). Nonetheless, I'm going to sit. Sit and blog. One, I have no other choice but to sit (my leg cast that I last blogged about, is still a part of me). I feel like I have a purple monster following me around all the time, and then I remember that's just my leg :) Thank you Lord for endurance, but if one more person asks, "What did you do to your knee?!" I just might scream. Very loud. Or I think I will just hop around with a note on my crutch that says, "I was born this way." Thanks Lady Gaga, just might do that :)

Anyhoo, I will sit and blog. I will sit and preach to myself. I will sit and remind myself why I struggle from time to time with prayer. I will remind myself that these reasons are a sure fire way to create a stagnant/dry/unproductive prayer life....so I can remember the dangers so I can stay charged, ready, and in constant communication with the best dad there is---Jesus!

So, this is my list of "Reasons Why "you're/I'm not praying." No, I'm not a theologian (I literally LOL), just a hot mess that needs Jesus everyday and finds blogging about my mess cathartic.

Reasons Why You're Not Praying:

1. Even though you know better, you think Jesus is the genie from Aladdin.....
You don't have to admit it, but I will. I know Jesus is NOT a genie. However, I feel that sometimes prayers aren't prayed because deep down we want that instant answer. Ok Lord, I prayed now.....Tada! Where's the answer? Your flesh is tapping its anxious fingers waiting on a response, a sign, the heavens to open up and immediately rescue you from the problem/ailment/circumstance. But, Jesus is not a genie. Jesus is Jesus. The great I AM. He will do exactly what He says, what He promises in His time. That's the part that is hard for us----His time. But His time is the best time period we will ever experience. HIS answer is worth the wait. He's worth the wait. 

2. You're lazy. *Don't throw stones, I'm talking about myself too.*
An effective, fervent, prayer life takes effort. It takes energy. When you become overwhelmed by circumstances or "busy" (as we know we CAN make time for what's truly important to us) it zaps your energy. This can cause us to be lazy in our prayer life. "I've been praying," or "I prayed." You become tired. It becomes mundane and the vigor you once had, that's needed, seems gone. Again, that's our lovely flesh that gives up so easily when we don't get "genie answers" right away.

3. You think God has you on hold. This is taking too long. You hear the recording, the elevator music wondering if your prayer got through. Test, test.......Lord, did you hear me? You know the thing I really needed help with. The thing I'm still struggling with? The person that I'm still struggling with? The decision that I'm still struggling with? We tend to think when God is silent that our prayer is somewhat negated. I learned a while back that prayers are ALWAYS answered. It's just that it may not be the response you were expecting. You'll either get an answer, a NO, or a WAIT.....which brings me to my next point---

4. You don't like the answer that God gave you. To that, I tell myself what I tell my students----"You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." Now after your flesh has a temper tantrum, let's remember that the same God we went to in prayer is the same God that delivers, heals, helps, calms, saves, and LOVES. Above all He LOVES. He loves us too much to not do what is best. He knows EVERYTHING. He knows what you're going to ask before you even ask it. He knows what you need, and He knows if your deliverance should be immediate or years from now. He knows exactly how to guide your life so that you GROW IN HIM. Funny, as a teacher I find myself telling my students the same thing. "Sweetie, I know what you need to know. Listen to me." In my spiritual imagination, I hear God saying the same thing. We may not like His answer, but just like a caring parent, He knows what answer we need.

5. You prayed and things became worse. Sometimes this happens. You know the saying, "Things get worse before they get better." I would like to suggest that I think sometimes our circumstances have to get worse so that we get to the place He needs us to be. If you think about how God designed things in this earth, everything has a process. Plants don't immediately sprout just because you throw a seed in the ground. We didn't just appear fully grown from our parents, we baked a while. Currently, my knee surgery has been a process. My doctors literally broke my bones and rearranged and realigned my leg and knee.....in 5 months I will be completely healed, God-willing. And as much as I want to throw my leg cast out the nearest window, I know that I must have it a few more weeks. Everything is a process, yet we want our prayers to reach His ears and POOF! Fixed. Done. All better. Sometimes we get that miraculous help and sometimes we are helped to sustain the process. The process that can possibly get worse before it gets better.

6. You don't think you're worthy enough to request anything from God. This one here is really just the talk of the enemy. Thank God He saves, we can repent, we can be washed clean, we can be made new! The Lord allows all of those wonderful things and allows us to communicate directly to Him. We're not perfect and we never will be on this earth, but don't let mucky, icky, negative self talk take you away from talking to God. If anything pray that those feelings and thoughts would be eradicated from your mind and spirit, so you can focus on prayer with Him. None of us are worthy of all that Christ gives, but He loves us enough to give it freely even when we're "messed up." It's grace, it's a gift and you are free to talk to Him. He wants us to improve, He wants what's best for us, and He wants us to talk to Him. Be Nike....Just Do It!

7. You over-analyze. "God, this doesn't make any sense. I have no idea how this can even be fixed. It's too crazy. It's too hard. It's too complicated. Why?!" Such a dangerous thought pattern, but I have been guilty of it many times. Our mind wants to automatically make logical sense of our situation. I pride myself on being a problem-solver, one who can look at a situation and find a solution or some innovative way to work with what I have. This is a great trait to have as a teacher because as educators we should be able to fix problems. A kid can't read, has gaps, is behind, seems disinterested, needs improvement, needs to be challenged. Sure! throw anything at me. Give me any student and they WILL LEARN. I will find a way, I will figure it out. Now, as I said....this works as a teacher. THIS DOES NOT WORK AS A BELIEVER. As a believer in Christ, we must BELIEVE. We believe when we can't figure it out. When we don't see a solution. It's the complete opposite because we don't know what God knows. We can't see what He sees and we are to TRUST the one who knows. We trust the Light when we can only seek darkness. Easier said than done, I know. But, I must continue to remind myself that the energy I spend trying to "figure it out" or "understand why" can simply be spent in prayer. While I don't understand and am confused-- I can pray. I can do what I can and leave the unknowns up to a known God.

8. You have forgotten all the times God answered, because you're so focused on THIS TIME.
 I started a prayer journal about a decade ago. At the time, I didn't really know it was a prayer journal but years later that's exactly what it has become. I have always been fond of writing over talking. I'm better at it, unless it's talking to kids and then I'm a pro! So, my lovely, pink fuzzy journal has been with me quite a long time. It's filled with scripture, written prayers, letters to God and my favorite part......answered prayers. You have no idea the peace and power in physically writing down a prayer and recording when it was answered. Seems simple. May even seem silly to record such, but for me it's been a great motivator when I notice my prayer life get a bit stale. While I'm so worried about a current matter or issue, I can easily forget what He HAS DONE in my life. And in the words of Tye Tribbett- "If He did it before, He can do it again." Here's a peek at some of my prayer dates:
Simple. Write a prayer. Sit with God. Step away and allow Him to work. Once He does, I record the date. Some of the greatest answered prayers are ones that have come on the exact day I requested. Those are the ones that give you the goosebumps that only God can create. 

So, when I notice I've fallen off my prayer wagon, I go through my journal and marvel at all the great things He's already done. As Mark Batterson would put it......"Journaling is seeing God's fingerprints on your life." I love that. I love that my journal shows His fingerprints on my life. I can see how I've grown and what I've been through. I also think it's neat to see how long it takes God. Not to watch the clock and "time" Him, but I'm blessed by the prayers that took months....some even years, because it reminds me that He is faithful. It reminds me that He doesn't forget, and it reminds me that He cares more about growing my faith than if I get a quick response. I would fly off the handle if my students looked in the back of the book for answers (which kids will do because they're kids), because they don't want to take the time to learn the concept or work through the problem-- yet I find myself trying to do that with God from time to time. My prayer journal reminds me of the benefits of waiting on Him to act. How my time would have been completely wrong and disastrous and His timing is so PERFECT.  My prayer journal also helps me remember how I thought some circumstances were so difficult, only to realize now they were nothing. You know how you freak out, and later realize you exerted too much energy on a small circumstance.....like this kid:

Thanks Kevonstage :)

Once we invite God into the mix, the big issues become manageable chunks. Above all, I notice that I've made it. I've made it! I made it out. I made it through, I was not destroyed. I see Isaiah 41:10 in action throughout my journal....[...] I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice."

He said He will help us, hold us up, retain us, harden us to difficulties, not take away all our problems. So, the reality of that is sometimes you have pages like this in your prayer journal:

You have prayers that are blank. I still have a few of these in my prayer journal. Ones that I have prayed over, several times. No answer. However, instead of looking at these blank pages with discouragement, I have come to understand that some prayers haven't finished baking yet. I would even go so far as to think that some prayers may not be answered in my view. How many prayers have been prayed for others that are answered in future generations? I'm sure many can fall into that category. In the end God knows. He has not forgotten, and my view is not His view. So, I'll keep praying over those blank pages, because prayer MATTERS. It matters whether I get the response I want, or if it takes longer than I thought. It matters to my growth as a Christian. It matters to Jesus. It even matters to the devil, because he delights every time you fall off the prayer horse. He doesn't want your faith to grow, He doesn't want you to be spiritually strong. The devil wants you to be defeated by the 8 reasons I have listed. The more you don't connect with the Father and grow your faith in prayer, the easier it is for the devil to get a foothold in your life. 

So, keep bowing your heads my friends. Keep fighting the laziness, keep fighting your flesh who craves immediate gratification and answers, the easy way out, your own will and way. Keep fighting against the prayer rut. Keep talking to God, keep believing He will, and keep recording when He does. 

Note: I have more recorded answered prayers than blank pages.....your good days do in fact, outweigh your bad. He does work and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. 

Jumping back on my prayer horse :)
Keep praying my friends, keep praying!
Fight all of your battles on your knees and you will win every time:) - unknown

Until next time......CraftyMorrison

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Leg Cast Confessions

Howdy and Happy Tuesday Blog Readers!

    I'm really surprised I haven't written consistently lately, since I have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD. I'm currently on "Operation Recuperate and Heal" from knee surgery (about a week ago). Long story short, I was born with eccentric knees that needed to be redesigned if I wanted to continue to walk on this great earth. So I had a very intensive and extensive surgery (with a super long name) to correct the issue. Here's a visual:
So....the "supposed to be here" section- yeah, that's where my patella should be (note, this diagram is far from exact and just enhances my point) and my patella likes to flail around wherever it wants to in my leg. Hence, major surgery needed.

Nonetheless, I have been through this before with my right knee and now it was time to have my left leg broken, knee cap completely moved to a new location, bones realigned and a couple of screws to ensure that my knee doesn't develop a mind of its own again.

Flash forward to now. I am now in a full leg cast (from being in a full leg brace last week). I was so excited yesterday when they took off the leg brace because I was DYING to bend my leg and let it breathe a bit. You don't appreciate freedom in your limbs until they are confined and you are forced to live with it.
 Funny, as soon as I breathed a sigh of relief from the brace removal, my doc says, "You do remember you are going into a cast today right?"
 Me: "Oh yes, I remember- just nice to feel free for a bit."
So, they remove the 24 staples from my incision (they said it would feel like pulling a scab, I thought they were removing my skin a peel at a time. Yes, I cried. But only a tear fell.- Inside I am sure I drowned from the tears that didn't quite make it to my eye ducts). 

....Cast goes on, I feel great. I feel protected....now on to another 4 or 5 weeks healing in said cast.
My doctor warned me that since I was so swollen, my cast may slip as I lose the swelling. Which means they may have to "recast" me to be sure my broken tibia fully heals. "Ok," I said. No biggie.

Day 2. Today. Today I HATE this cast! I want out. I want it gone. It's irritating me, I'm sure I'm smaller than I was yesterday. Is my cast slipping? Ugh. No. Please. I hate this. I am so done with the cast. 

So after that rant, my flesh and spirit had the BEST conversation ever. Yes, when you are confined to sitting and healing you can make almost ANYTHING a life lesson.

Flesh: I hate this cast. I forgot how awful this is. How long do I have to deal with this thing? It's only day 2, how can I make it another month?

Spirit: You know this is part of the process. Anything broken that needs healing must go through a process.

Flesh: I know, I still hate this. I'm uncomfortable. Ugh!

Spirit: Doesn't feel good now, but it's part of the plan. There will be healing when the process is done and you'll be whole without any of the ailments you had before.

Flesh: Doesn't change now. I'm already tired of this.

Spirit: In due time, you'll reap the benefits of this process. In due time you won't even remember every uncomfortable moment. Remember the 1st time? The 1st surgery, you didn't know what to expect. It was hard, it was uncomfortable, but that process has made this process even easier, hasn't it.

Flesh: You're right (hate when that happens). Pain is there, but overall is significantly less than the first time. I knew what was coming this time. I was better prepared. So yes, it's a bit easier.

Spirit: I KNOW, and the work that was done in your knee will be completed if you just trust the process, have patience and let it heal. When you're uncomfortable, do what you can and pray about the rest. Your complaining isn't going to change the situation. It's just taking away the Peace you can have right now.

Flesh: .............

Spirit: Remember what you read this morning in devotional? About Hard Grace? "The hard discipline to give thanks for all things at all times because He is good. The hard discipline to number the griefs as grace because as the surgeon would cut open my son's finger to heal him, so God chooses to cut into my ungrateful heart to make me whole." -Ann Voskamp, pg. 92 One Thousand Gifts Devotional

Flesh: thinking (I'm being absolutely ridiculous).
Thank you Lord for orchestrating my surgery and guiding my doctors and his team to correct my knee issues.
Thank you Lord for giving the doctors wisdom on my healing process.
Thank you Lord for making a way for me to have both surgeries done, as there are people desperately needing surgery for life-threatening ailments and are unable to receive care.
Thank you Lord for this leg cast that is protecting my bones and guiding them to heal correctly.
Thank you Lord that this process will be over in due time and I will have the freedom to walk, move, and run as I should.
Thank you Lord that I have a village who aids in my recovery, therefore making this process easier.
Thank you Lord that you can worked out every detail, even those I cannot see.
Thank you Lord for this reminder in the midst of my disgruntled complaining. 
Thank you Lord for time to rest, as I cannot remember the last time I wasn't too busy to form a thought.
Thank you Lord for your Spirit that gives my flesh a reality check.
Thank you Lord. Thank you.

Dear Leg Cast,
Sorry for what I said while I was irritable. You're just hardened material that is making me better instead of the jail I made you out to be. With God's help I'll come to appreciate you these next 4 weeks, because without you my leg would never be mended :)

P.S.- I think I am smaller, my hand shouldn't fit in my cast. Calling the doc. Yes, do what you can and pray about the rest :) So, this means I may go from "bondage" back into another form of the same "bondage".....until I'm done (ring the dinner bell, when Toya is done cooking). Now, I believe I have had to stay in a place more than once, a time or two, because God wasn't done with me yet. Sometimes that is because I got in the way, and sometimes it was just because He wasn't done. His time, not mine. In my knee's case, my bones' time, not mine. That "this will preach moment" came straight from my cast of course:)

Until next time.......embrace your "meanwhile" your "process" your "dry season"....read some Psalms and watch God use this time to make you better in the end my friends!

"I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord, and He inclined to me and heard my cry." -AMP