Monday, May 16, 2016

A Praying Life: Chapters 21-22

(A few friends and I are reading this book together.  Each week we will read two chapters and on Friday I will post my comments from the reading.  Others may add their thoughts in the comments section.  If you are interested in reading this book as well, here is the link for the Kindle version of the book.)

Chapters 21-22

- I had said that I felt the previous two chapters were especially powerful.  These two chapters gave me a lot to chew on.  I agreed with a lot of what he said, I saw myself in some of the situations he described, and I found myself wanting to stop and think through the material.  I finished the chapters wishing for more help on how to live in the "desert."  I see the follies and failures of denial and despair, but I'm not sure what to do instead.

- "Abraham stakes his life on the hope line, but he never takes his eye off the reality line."  (Pg. 183, Loc. 2303)  I think this statement illustrates the difference I see between Abraham's problems and mine.  Abraham had God's specific promise.  Yes, his circumstances would have made it humanly difficult to believe what God had said, but he had God's promise.  Often I feel I'm in the desert without God's specific promise.  In other words, Abraham could "stake his life" on the hope line because God said the hope line would happen.  I struggle to know how much to stake on my hope line because I have no promise from God that the hope line will happen.  I can easily keep my eye on the reality line, but how do I interact with the hope line?  This has been an ongoing question in my mind that came up again when reading the above sentence.

- "The hardest part of being in the desert is that there is no way out.  You don't know when it will end.  There is no relief in sight."  (Pg. 183, Loc. 2311)  When a problem has a clear (or expected) end, I find it easier to prepare myself to tough it out.  When I can't see that end at all, it is much more difficult to remain motivated in the struggle.

- In describing what happens in the desert, the author said, "You cry out to God so long and so often that a channel begins to open up between you and God."  (Pg. 185, Loc. 2340)  When I step back and evaluate things, I need that channel to God more than I need exits from my deserts.

- I liked this: "If Jesus were a magic prayer machine, he'd have healed this woman's daughter instantly, and we would not have discovered her feisty, creative spirit.  Likewise, Jesus' ambiguity with us creates the space not only for him to emerge but us as well."  (Pg. 190, Loc. 2394)

- The thought of Jesus lingering "at the edge" of a situation was a help to me.  (Pg. 191, Loc. 2420)  It reassures me that He is there, even when I cannot discern Him.
I've had my say, what say you?

1 comment:

  1. I LOVED the personal illustration from the author concerning his wife's prayer for Kim before she was even born, how she would be kept from all harm. And their recognition years later that God had answered that prayer, suggesting that proud & willful parents was more harm to a child than physical disabilities. Some might say that the prayer wasn't answered, because that's not what she was really meaning when she prayed it.

    I would say that Rom.8:26 comes into play here, how we don't even know sometimes how or what to ask so the Spirit of God intercedes for us. God knows what we need better than we do, and part of prayer is learning to trust Him even when we can't see Him working how we thought He would. Like the author says, “When we don't receive what we pray for or desire, it doesn't mean that God isn't acting on our behalf. Rather, He's weaving His story.” (pg.187) Some might focus on how something is an “unanswered prayer”; maybe we should change our perspective to it being a “better answered” prayer, even though we don't understand at the time.

    I appreciate Jacob's phrase, “I need that channel to God more than I need exits from my desert”. God often rebukes me for wanting things to be easier in my life, instead of simply just wanting Him more.

    A line in Jill's prayer journal stuck out to me: “It is really faith that is at stake – the suffering is really a side issue” (pg.191). We want to major on the suffering in our lives – probably because of our proud, self-centered natures. God is majoring on conforming me to His Son's image, and when I'm not responding to Him in a simple child-like faith & dependence, when I will not trust Him, then I have lost the battle, even if my suffering were to go away.