Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Cultivate a Heart for God

Do you find yourself increasingly desiring the things God desires? When you look to Jesus do you see yourself reflecting Him a little more than you used to? Do you find yourself now more willing to be willing in areas God is prompting you about?  Let us pray with eagerness “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Ps. 86:11).

When we cultivate a heart for God we produce in us a heart more like God’s. When our heart is more like God’s we desire that which God desires.  Our will becomes more like God’s will.

 

Pray for God’s Wisdom and Leading

If you are unsure what God’s will is in any given situation . . . ask Him! There are numerous examples of prayers for wisdom in the Bible. The following are two of them. James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul . . . Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:8, 10)

It is so easy for us to forget to ask God for wisdom in making decisions; prayer is absolutely essential to this process.

Seek Sound Advice and Wise Counsel

Let’s face it however wise we think we are we’re never as wise as we think we are!!  We might not like to admit it but in most things that are important, we need help. Not many areas of our lives are more important than seeking the will of God and His purposes in our lives and the life of His church.  The book of Proverbs is full of passages encouraging us to bring wise counsel into the process of seeking God’s will. For example: “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (Prov. 19:20). Here’s another: “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov. 12:15).

I would say that when looking for wise counsel there are two main types to lookout for.

Biblical counsel. Who is someone in my life saturated with the Word of God who can help me discover what the Bible says about my situation?

Experienced counsel. Who is someone who has been in this same situation? Who has special expertise in the area where I need advice?

Examine Your Motives

Earlier we said that the more we mature in Christ, the more we will be able to follow the desires of our heart. But we also need to critically examine our motives, because the blinding effects of sin often keep us from seeing how selfish we can be. The prophet Jeremiah put it this way:

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

It is good to ask ourselves some tough questions. Why are we doing this? Are we being selfish here? Will others benefit from our doing this? Sometimes we can become so preoccupied with finding God’s will that it becomes unhealthy. We either are presented with several options and freeze up (paralysis by over-analysis) or we walk around thinking and talking about ourselves all the time!

Ask God to reveal to you the motives of your heart.

 

One way of doing this would be to pray as David prayed in Psalm 139:23–24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Use Your Head

God created us and gave us a mind to think and to reason with. Now we are not infallible beings or anything, but we possess the ability to think critically about life’s situations. It is good to wait on God’s direction and leading. However, this doesn’t mean that weighing various options or scenarios is unspiritual—far from it! However, we need to learn to use our head wisely and learn to make godly choices in the face of other alternatives. We need to make decisions using a sound mind and this means that our thought process is being renewed (Romans 12:2) and is under the control of the Holy Spirit. It is far better than common sense.

Cultivating a sound mind is part of possessing the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:15,16) as a result of God’s transforming and renewing work (Romans 12:2). We need to surrender to the direction of the Holy Spirit by faith and thus receive wisdom and guidance from God. By contrast, dependence upon man’s wisdom will lead us away from God’s best for us because it is based on self-interest with an undue emphasis on emotions and chance circumstances.

Steps to making a sound mind decision.

1. Pray for wisdom  (James 1:5,6).

2. Be sure you are walking in the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

This includes doing what you already know to be God’s will.  Why should God reveal His unknown will when we’re not even doing His known will?  This also includes being faithful in the small things (Matthew 25:21).  God may want to adjust your life and character in the smaller assignments in order to prepare you for the larger ones.  God develops character to match the assignment.

3. Determine the options in the decision and list the pros and cons for each option.

4. Search the Bible for any relevant principles and commands.

5. Collect available information and godly counsel on each option.

6. Trust God for His wisdom, evaluate the options and make a decision according to His promises in Psalm 37:23,24 and Proverbs 3:5,6.

7. Do not depend on feelings:  God promises wisdom not the feeling of wisdom.

8. Take steps to act on your decision by faith.  Sometimes a step of faith may be to wait on the Lord

Believe That God Is at Work in the Circumstances of Life

God is always at work in the circumstances of life. Sometimes His providence is imperceptible to us; but other times He will reveal His thoughts and ways . . . if we are paying attention.

Be Sensitive to the Leading of the Holy Spirit

This one makes some people nervous. Who hasn’t heard the words “God told me to . . .” and then cringed at what was said next?  We must be reminded that we should be wise as we try to discern whether the Holy Spirit is prompting us or not. We must not ignore Him in our decision-making. Even though this is a subjective process, God could be trying to get your attention; the question is are you listening and open to what He may say?

Now this principle is best understood in light of the previous ways of seeking and we should always test our “impressions” with God’s Word and with wise counsel. The Spirit’s leading is not a trump card to be used selfishly—remember to check your motives.

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The disciples of Jesus asked Him how they should pray, in His reply He teaches them what we now know as the Lords Prayer. So, what is this teaching all about? These disciples ask Jesus how to pray and what they get in return is one prayer? Or do they get a template on how to pray? So what do we have? He had been in close communion with His Father and he knew the right way to approach and communicate with Him. The Lord’s prayer is a template on how to commune with the Father. So, let’s have a look…

Our Father

Approach Him with respect recognising the right relationship between God and us.

In heaven

Let’s make no mistake who we’re talking to here, we are approaching the creator God of Heaven who made all that exists. Heaven is out of sight, and a world of spirits, therefore our conversation with God in prayer must be spiritual; it is on high, therefore in prayer we must rise above the world, and lift up our hearts.

Hallowed be your name

Hallowed – to make holy. Holy be your name, Holy is your name. A statement of Worship and statement of Praise. Psalm 100 tells us that we

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. “

Basically worship, praise, thanksgiving draws us into the presence of God. If we want to get God’s attention there is no better way than to praise Him.

Let Your Kingdom come

Let your rule, your reign, commence. Have your way with me. I am your servant. I am willing to be submissive to all you want to do in and through me. I acknowledge you are the King and ruler of my life.

Let your will be done

Not my will Lord, not my agenda, but yours. I want to know your will. I want to pray that Your will in all situations, whether I like it or not, be done. Now, I think this is a massively important point and one we continually pass over. We are so busy telling God what we want Him to do for us and those we know we miss what He might be wanting to do. We come with our shopping lists asking God to heal this person and help that person and give this person money and that person a job etc. etc. and we don’t stop to ask God what he would like to do in any given situation. We need to step back, say God this is the situation, what do YOU want to do in it? Seek God for His will and then ask Him to do it. When we find God’s will and then pray that into a situation we suddenly find God answers. Funny that!!

On Earth as it is in Heaven

We long for Christ to return and for God’s perfect rule to begin. Until then we are told that the Kingdom of God is at hand and we want to experience as much of that reality as possible. We are in the world but not of the world. We live here but are not under its rule. We want to usher in the Kingdom of God, we believe it starts in the here and now and we want that Kingdom on earth to expand.

Give us today our daily bread

So much can be taken from this one little line, in fact you can take it word by word.

Give

We are asking for the kindness of God. We’re not asking for a loan or for something we deserve or have earned we are asking for an unmerited gift from God.

Us

It is a term of inclusion. We’re not just asking for ourselves but for those around us. For those we love and care for.

Today

Here is our sense of urgency. As a new day is upon us we recognise the need for God’s provision. We need God’s provision for each day of our lives whether we recognise it or not.

Our

Here we recognise that we want God’s provision for us – we do not want the bread coming from others or due for others. We acknowledge that there is enough to go round and we don‘t want more than our share. We’re asking God to help us not to be selfish or greedy but to want what God wants to give us.

Daily

Thinking not of tomorrow, but trusting God for that, we ask for what is needed for today. We are aligning ourselves with our parts of the Bible that urge us not to worry about tomorrow but to stay focused on the here and now.

Bread

Here we are asking God for what is needed. Nothing fancy, simply bread. Yes, food to sustain us but also other everyday needs. God knows what we need and He is more than willing to provide that – we don’t need to spell out all our needs we simply need to acknowledge our need of God’s provision.

Forgive us our debts

An acknowledgement of our fallen, sinful nature; that we can be forgiven, redeemed and that God is the one who can forgive us. Taken in conjunction with the previous section the implication being that this is a daily request to continuously and constantly be forgiven. When this is prayed our slate is wiped clean once again.

As we also have forgiven our debtors

A call to duty. What good is it for us if we are forgiven but cannot forgive those who have wronged us? It is a great call to hope that if we can find it in our hearts to forgive those that have done wrong to us – how much more will God, whose forgiveness is perfect, readily forgive us.

And lead us not into temptation

We’ve admitted our sin, asked and received forgiveness and so it is natural that having a clean slate we ask for God’s help to keep it clean and not to err again. We are not saying that we believe God leads us into temptation but acknowledging the guiding hand and power of the spirit to lead us away from situations that may cause us to sin.

But deliver us from evil

We’ve asked for God to guide us away from situations that may cause us to sin. Now we are asking Him for His protection from the one who hounds us, the devil and all his agents. We are also asking for his deliverance from sin itself.

For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever Amen

And so we return to praise and adoration. Telling God what He has already told us. Affirming our hope that God can do all that we have asked of Him and so much more besides.

So Jesus was asked by His disciples how to pray and he gave them the Lord’s prayer. Now I don’t for one minute think that this was something that he came up with on the spare of the moment. We’re not told but my guess is that Jesus had been perfecting this prayer for years. Moulding it, perfecting it and using it as His own.

If you look at each petition they are all petitions that will receive a YES from God. Does God want to give us what we need – YES. Does God want to forgive us – YES. Does God want to deliver us for the devil – YES. God will always answer our prayers. However He will not always answer them in the way we would want. God will usually answer with a yes, a no or a wait! The Bible teaches us that God will give us what we need and whatever we ask, according to His will He will give us. Now, many people translate this as God will give us whatever we ask. So when they pray for a Ferrari and don’t get one they become disappointed and disillusioned. Their translation misses out the important part “according to His will”. The Lord’s prayer gives us a template to use in prayer helping us to pray according to the will of God. When we sincerely pray the Lord’s Prayer God will answer us in the affirmative. God is a God who provides for our needs but not necessarily for our desires. So when we pray we need to bear in mind our needs, not our wants and also have in mind what God may will for a situation.

In any situation that we face, in any situation that we pray about it is always worth praying first to try and discover God’s will for that situation. It is all too easy for us to try to force our will on God when His will is what really matters. If we can discover God’s will for a situation we can then go on to pray with confidence and certainty that He will answer us in the affirmative. Next week we’ll look at this in a little more depth but I just want to leave you with an example to help illustrate what I’m talking about…

 Your best friend gets very ill. Now, it’s our natural reaction to pray for healing. However, God knows the end from the beginning. He knows what is going to happen and what He wants to do in this situation. If it is not God’s will to heal your friend no amount of prayer for healing is going to change his mind. Therefore, it is better to seek God’s will for your friend and pray accordingly. It might be that God will is for your friend to learn something through this experience before God heals Him. Our prayers can help our friend learn that thing quicker and then God can bring about his healing. It may be for some reason or other that healing won’t take place immediately and what your friend really needs are prayers for patience, energy, peace etc. and not prayers for healing. It may be that God, in His wisdom, knows that your friend will not be healed and will in fact die (let’s face it we all die sometime). God’s will may be for you to pray for a strengthening of their faith or for a peace of mind or for their family in this difficult time. There is no point in us continuing to pray for healing when it is not God’s intention to heal. We are just banging our head against a wall which will never move. All it will serve to do is make us disappointed and disillusioned with God. However, if we can discover His will and pray accordingly we will see wonderful results and be encouraged and strengthened in our faith.

What about the words to say in prayer?

Posted: June 1, 2011 by Nathan in What About...
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Following on from last week’s blog I thought it might be useful to give some prayers that you can follow. Just like when we learnt to write we copied from the line above so it can be with prayer. As we learn how to pray and what to say it can be helpful to copy the prayers of others. Praying is not a precise art, you don’t have to say the right words in order to be heard. These prayers are just aids to help you get started.

Father help me to focus on you. I pace into you hands all that is past and trust you for all that is to come. Help me to build a relationship with you now. Father you know all about me, you created me and gave me life – for that I thank you.

God I am praying through gritted teeth. I am so angry. I don’t understand what is going on. Why could you let this happen. Please help me in this situation. Amen.

Lord, I have had a brilliant day. I just wanted to thank you for my friends and the great time we have together. Amen.

Lord, I have no words to express how I’m feeling. Please help me! You know what I’m going through, please help me to weather the storm. Amen.

God, I’m sat here, I don’t even know if you exist and if you do whether you can hear me. If you are there please help me to believe. Amen.

God I really want you to help Mrs. X. She is really sick and I am worried about her. Give wisdom to all who are treating her and bring her back to full health. Until then please give her peace. Amen.

God, I know you are worthy of my praise. Help me to do the things you want me to do. I want to do good, forgive me for the times I fail. Amen

God, please help me when I read the Bible. Help me to undertand it and to apply it to my life. Amen.

Lord, I only have a little bit of faith, please help it to grow. Send me people to encourage me in believing in you. Help me find the right books/blogs to read to help me. Amen.

Lord, I do believe in you, help me to put my trust in you. I find this faith thing very difficult, please help me to persevere. Amen.

Father, I have done so many things that are wrong. Some of them I knew were wrong some I did not. I am really sorry for doing all these things. Please forgive me and help me not to do wrong things in the future. Amen.

Lord, I want to thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to die for me. I don’t really understand all that went on but I know he had to die so that I could be forgiven. Thank you. Amen.

God, I find Mrs Z really difficult to get on with. Please help me to have patience with her. Help us to get along better. Thank you. Amen.

Like any worthwhile relationship prayer will need working at. It is not something that you will crack overnight. As I said previously prayer is like building a relationship. It happens little by little, step by step. Some weeks you will feel you’re getting nowhere, some weeks you’ll leap forward, some weeks you’ll feel like you’re right back at the beginning. I know people who have been Christians for decades who still struggle with prayer. However, don’t let that put you off – it really is an adventure worth pursuing. In some respects prayer is about the journey and not necessarily about the end destination. With prayer don’t give up – the perseverance will be worth it.

There is a special prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. You may have heard it before, it is called the Lord’s prayer. Next week I’ll try and explain it a bit more so that it can meaningfully be used in your times of prayer.

In the meantime, if there is a situation you are facing that you don’t quite know how to pray about I am more than happy to try and put it into words for you. You don’t have to go into specifics just contact me using the contact tab above.

What about prayer?

Posted: May 25, 2011 by Nathan in What About...
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For Christians prayer is a big issue. Not just in the fact that it is a wonderful, God given, tool for our use but also in that it is misunderstood, hard to come to terms with and something that almost all Christians struggle with. Some people seem to have it sorted, they speak and God answers, God speaks and they hear. I must admit this is not the case for the vast majority of people. Prayer is something that most Christians struggle with and wish that they could have a better understanding of. So with that in mind you can understand that I could write several long and very boring books about prayer, so here you will just get the very tip of the ice-berg.

Prayer is part of us building a relationship with God. Just with building a relationship with another humans prayer follows similar lines. We talk to God, but we also listen to Him. That is the part many people miss out. How annoying is it for us when people talk and talk and talk and never listen? God feels the same way. Think about how you talk to friends and then try and relate that to God. If you only spoke to your friends when you wanted something it would put a huge strain on your relationship. Yet so many people only talk to God when they want Him to do something for them. How many people only talk to God when they are in a major crisis or have come to the end of their tether? Yet the best evenings spent with friends never involve the continual asking of favours but consist of sharing stories, passing on our joys, making each other laugh and maybe sharing a trouble or two. Sometimes there are evenings when you need just to talk and have a good friend listen, God is a great listener but he also wants the opportunity to talk and have you listen. As with most things there is a balance that needs to be achieved.

So, how do I even start to pray? Or the Quick Bluffers and Idiots Guide to Praying!!

Practical stuff

Find somewhere quiet.

Remove as many distractions as possible (take the phone of the hook, turn off the computer etc.)

Make yourself comfortable – this may be sitting at a desk, lying on a bed, sitting on the sofa or kneeling – basically however you feel most comfortable (without falling asleep!!)

Preparation

Are you sitting comfortably then we’ll begin!!

Now you’ve found your quiet place it is time to become quiet yourself. Your surroundings maybe quiet but you may still have a hundred and one things racing through your mind. What are you going to cook for tea? Did you lock the front door? As soon as we become quiet our brain seems to go into overload. Everyone has their own way of quietening themselves down. These ways include breathing techniques, focusing on something specific like a candle or cross or even diving straight in to talking to God.

Your first few steps into prayer.

Prayer may be something very new for you. It is bound to feel a bit weird and maybe a little out of your comfort zone. However, you are in control, if it feels too weird stop and maybe try again another day. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to praying but one thing I would start with is honesty. If things feel weird tell God.

“God, this all feels very strange and I don’t even know if I’m just talking to myself…”

“God the only reason I’m praying is that I’m angry with you, I hate want has happened and fell it is your fault!”

“God I have no idea if you exist or not but I’d like you to show me if you do!”

“God I’m desperate, let’s face it I wouldn’t be praying if I weren’t!”

God loves it when people come to him in honesty. He can take you being angry with Him, blaming Him and having a good old rant!. Just tell Him what you’re feeling. Tell Him if you’re angry, sad, thankful, worried, bored or happy. As I said before talk to him as you would to your best friend. As I also said before spend some time listening to Him as well. If you expect to hear a booming voice you will almost certainly be disappointed. The Bible tells us that God speaks in a small still voice. However he also talks in different ways. He speaks to people through the words in the Bible – in reading the Bible you may find the answer to a question you have or He may make something stand out or you may just find some comfort in the words. God may answer your prayers through circumstances or through someone else. When we become open to god speaking to us he can speak through all sorts of different things.

You may find it difficult to to know what to say at first. Next week we will have a look at some prayers that you can pray just by reading them.

Faith is always a difficult thing to understand. Many people believe that faith in God is a blind faith i.e. believing against all the evidence. However, it is far from that. Blind faith is throwing yourself out of an aeroplane at 20 000ft and hoping to land safely. Faith is throwing yourself out of an aeroplane at 20 000ft with a parachute which you’ve packed yourself, checked and double checked and hoping to land safely.

I’ve talked about faith and belief using the analogy of the chair. You may test out the chair before you have faith enough to sit in it. The same is true with belief in God. You don’t just blindly decide one day that you’re going to move from a place of vague belief to a strong faith in God. As with the chair you test it, look at it from all angles and assess it in every way possible. Faith in God is not something you blindly walk into – if it is going to be a real, genuine, living faith you have to go into it with your eyes well and truly wide open.

So, how can I test this belief to see if it will hold my weight? There are many ways that a belief in God can be explored, tested, challenged and built upon. Here are just a handful of ideas…

Find a friend

Do you have a friend who is a faithful Christian? If so I’m sure they will help you explore the whole area of faith. They may not have all the answers but I’m sure they’d be willing to help you find them. Talk to them about their faith – how they made the move from not believing to believing or from a belief to a stronger faith. Ask them about things to do with faith that you don’t understand. Ask them what it means for them to be a Christian. Some Christians love to be asked about their faith, some however don’t like it as they are worried about giving the wrong answer or worried that they might not have an answer at all. If your friend is worried about answering your questions ask them if there is someone in their church who you can ask.

You may want to ask your friend to pray for you as you explore the whole area of faith. Get them to pray that god would help you understand and reveal Himself to you.


Read all about it!

Some people love to read and some hate it. If you like to read there are so many good books out there to help you think through the whole area of faith. Your local Christian Bookshop manager should be able to direct you to the right book or books for you. It is very difficult to recommend books generally as there are so many out there, some not internationally available and you all have differing preferences. However, I would consider suggesting most books by Nicky Gumbel, Lee Strobel and Ralph O. Muncaster. They are writers with well thought out arguments to help you build a foundation of faith.

What better place to start than with the Bible

The Bible may seem like a very daunting place to start, but it needed be. Whatever you don’t sit down and start reading the Bible from the beginning with the idea of reading it like a novel. You’ll find it as difficult as reading a dictionary!!! What I would suggest is starting with the book of Mark, it can be found near the back of the Bible and is the second book in the New Testament. It tells the story of the life of Jesus and is an excellent place to start. As you’re reading it you may want to make notes. Especially of things that you don’t understand. If you do have things you don’t understand you can ask a Christian friend or you are more than welcome to contact us here using the contact tab above. We are always happy to answer questions and receive people’s feedback.

A Short course in Christianity

Many churches offer short courses in exploring the Christian faith. These are relaxed times of learning where you can ask questions and explore with others in a similar position about the Christian faith. There are courses such as ALPHA, Christianity Explored and many others run by individual churches. Many churches have posters outside advertising these courses or you could give your local church a ring and even if they are not running one they would be able to find out your nearest venue.

Attend a church service

Any church would love to see you. If you have a Christian friend why not ask if you can go along with them one Sunday to a service – they’d be delighted to take you. You may find the service a bit strange, especially if you’ve never been to church before. Don’t worry they’re not going to get you to do anything you don’t want to do but a bit like going to a bookmakers or Royal Garden party you won;t know exactly what is going on or what to do – if in doubt just follow what everyone else is doing!! You should find the church very welcoming and friendly – after all they’re just a bunch of fairly normal people meeting together to give their thanks to God and draw encouragement from each other – in its most basic sense that is what church is all about.

Finally how about speaking to God?

Praying – basically having a conversation with God – can seem pretty weird to start with. However, let’s face it – if God does exist then it’s the most natural thing in the world to do – if god doesn’t exist all we’re going is talking to ourselves which is good therapy anyway!!! I jest a little but you get my point. If God created you, loves you and wants the best for you there is nothing He like better than to communicate with you, to hear your worries and concerns and to help out. The whole subject of prayer is a huge subject, especially when talking about faith and belief. Next week we’ll take a further look at the subject and delve a little deeper.

What if…I find it hard to pray?

Posted: November 25, 2010 by Haelie in What About...
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Prayer.

In many ways a very straight-forward subject.  Instructions and examples of prayer are found throughout the Bible.  Sermons are frequently preached about it.   Books are written about it.

We pray before meals.  We pray in times of difficulty.  We even say prayers of thanksgiving in times of blessing.

Why, then, is it that we so often find it difficult to pray?

Here’s one possibility…

Over time, as I have learned more about God, I have come to know and respect His sovereignty.  That is…that He is in complete control and has a plan that is much higher and greater than anything my mind can begin to fathom.  His plan and purpose cannot be changed by anyone or anything.  He knows all, knows best, knows the big picture and orchestrates everything to fulfill His great plan.

Yet—this great, sovereign, unchanging God loves me intimately and wants me to come to Him at all times sharing my heart, soul, desires, thoughts, hurts, hopes, plans, and even prayers for others.

My little bitty mind has a very hard time wrapping around the fact that my prayers do touch His heart and even potentially could help alter the way certain things are happening.  I know prayer is no magic “genie-in-a-bottle” thing.  Not at all.  But, I do know that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)”

God created prayer as part of His sovereign plan.  So, even though there are times when I have a bit of a mental block when it comes to prayer, I go to Him and ask Him to help me.  And you know, sometimes we just don’t know what to say when we pray.  He knows that.  I am, therefore, thankful that, ” the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)”

What about you?  Can you relate to this?  Do you struggle with prayer at times?  He understands.  And so do I.

How do you stand for what you believe if you don’t truly KNOW what you believe!?!

Sure we all think we know what we believe for the majority of our lives. We are raised a certain way and “just believe” what we always have because we always have. (I know, that’s a little deep, but bear with me!) True belief in something, however, requires some true soul searching. First, you have to figure out WHAT you (think you) believe as well as WHY you do.

Maybe you are on that journey right now…deliberately rejecting some things you’ve always been taught and lived by, because, after all, what if they are not true? “What if my whole life up to this point has been a farce?” “Why do I believe the way my parents do…what if they’ve got it all wrong? They’re just humans like me, too.” Or, “why did I raise my kids to believe this way? What if I’ve misguided them? After all, my life hasn’t been going so well lately, so maybe I’ve been wrong all this time.”

All of these are legitimate, honest, real questions that we must admit we all have asked in one way or another at some time in our lives. Are you a bad person for thinking that way or questioning those long-held values? No, you are real.

So then, what do we do now?

Glad you asked!  (You did, didn’t you!?!)  Well, for one, we must accept that we will never know all of the answers nor were we ever intended to figure it all out. Some things are just too big to wrap our little finite heads around…and that’s okay! I personally don’t want any more responsiblity and expectation on me than I already have. How about you? Just let go of that control thing and accept that everything just will not fit into our nice little boxes.

Yeah, so, I got that…now what?

Once again, glad you asked! Now go on a truth-seeking journey.

A what!?!

Yeah, a truth-seeking journey. Since you always thought you knew what you believed but now you’ve figured out that you’re just not quite sure about that…now you’ve gotta find some truth to stand on, or trust me…you will fall…and it’s not fun! (True, often the lesson is in the fall, but try to avoid it if you can.)

So, for the first part of the search thing, what do I do? Well, once again, bear with me and listen (or read, rather) with an open mind…you do esteem that value in yourself, after all, don’t you!?! With an open mind, I dare you to take this challenge…no matter where you are in your journey of life. (We could all use a little refresher, huh?)

I challenge you to start this truth-seeking thing out by *hold on* praying. Yes, I said it…PRAYING.

Okay, if you don’t like the way that sounds and it’s just a little too out there for you (yeah, you with the “open mind”) then I’ll put it another way. Talk to God…yes, God…you know that whole belief that you are questioning right now…yes, Him! Okay, so how and why would you “talk to God” if you’re questioning His very existence in the first place? (Admit it, I’m not just talking to the un-churched crowd here, am I!?! You know who you are and, once again, that’s okay. Just be honest about it and come on this journey, too. What could it hurt?)

Well, to answer my question I asked before the little “aside”, the “How” is very easy…just open your mouth (or speak with your heart if you’re still uncomfortable speaking out loud to someone who is not physically sitting there with you). At this point, you don’t have to believe He is there with you listening to you, just trust me on this one and do it. Just tell Him, “God, if you’re out there…and I really feel kinda strange even talking like this, since I really don’t think you are right now, or I’m just not sure…but anyway, if you’re out there, then I ask you to show me.”

Come on, you can do it! Oh, and no, most likely you will not see fire come down from the sky right then and there, nor will you hear some booming voice audibly speak back to you (not that those things couldn’t happen, but they most likely won’t).

So now then, “Why”…especially if those cool, show-stopping things aren’t going to happen? Did you ever hear your mama say “Because”? Well, because…because that’s where it all starts. (Well, it really started way before that, but you’ll figure that out soon enough.) Another reason is because in order to take the next step on this journey, it will greatly behoove you to have started with that crazy prayer thing.

Should I keep going, or should I just save the next step for the next post? Okay, okay, okay…next post it is!

Okay, so, you’ve followed me through Part 1 of this…if not Click HERE to go back and read it…so now what do you do!?!

Well, this part will be a bit shorter than Part 1 (at least in writing), but trust me…it is a very essential and life-changing part.

Now, you’ve laid aside your pride and preconceptions and you’ve said that prayer thing (or talked to God…or whatever you would prefer to call it). Now what? Once again, I have another challenge for you…I know you’re up to it! Especially if you’ve come this far.

I challenge you to read something that is not for the faint at heart (actually, it is…it is really for everyone of us). Not just anything, but I specifically am saying you should now find a * Bible * (yes, I said another one of those words) you could even go online to BibleGateway.com or some other Bible website to read online.

Hold on! I am not challenging you to read the whole Bible (though that’s not a bad idea over time)…you need to specifically read the book of (gospel of) John. (You know…Matthew, Mark, Luke, JOHN)

Whether you are able to read it in one sitting or it takes you a couple of sittings, please don’t forget that first step EACH TIME before you read it (pray that He will show Himself to you). You may even need to stop along the way and pray that again (and again).

Remember as you read it that this is not a fairy tale. (I know, you’re possibly questioning that, too, but trust me…or Him, rather…this is Truth…He is Truth, the ultimate one and only Truth.) The events you read about really did take place. You don’t believe it? Well, how do you know that George Washington lived, or the Civil War happened, or Julius Caesar existed…and I could go on and on…but I think you get the point.

Now, this is, of course nowhere near the final step of the journey…but the first steps are always the hardest. Take this challenge, no matter what age you are, no matter how long you’ve gone to church – or not – , no matter how many times you’ve read the Bible…doesn’t matter…take the challenge! I am, and believe me, you will see things you’ve never seen before.

These are the first steps of discovering and defining what you believe, because, after all…To Not Decide Is To Decide!