When Life Gets Hard, Get on Your Knees.

I think this is the first post of November, which is really awful. University work has come back with a vengeance, but I’m grateful that God has really helped me reach my personal word-count goals. He’s really been giving me the strength to get things done.

In addition, there has been a lot of problems at home recently. It’s nothing that I can go into detail about, but I’ve felt drained and frustrated and hurt and confused and angry all at once and in quick succession. Every now and then the world reminds me how powerless  I am against the grand scheme of things and God shows me that I can do nothing on my own. A couple weeks ago I got into probably the most bizarre and pointless argument of my life: it had no meaning; it was ignited by a ludicrous stimulus and both of our arguments were incoherent. Halfway through the argument I gave up and began mocking and trivialising the thing, which didn’t help, but I only did this because for the first time, a Bible text that is quoted so often on the pulpit actually had practical relevance to me. My eyes were opened as I saw the strange movements of dark forces before my eyes.

And to top it all off, I walked into church and they were discussing the very same text for Sabbath School. It was comforting.

Here it is…

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:11-13

I know now that I can do nothing. And I’m glad I know this, because it has made me pray more and surrender to God in a way I hadn’t before. I’ve been praying for my family more than I ever have and it makes me feel good.

God’s got it in control.

 

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The Right Way to Pray

Is there such a thing?

I actually wanted to talk about Independent Women, but something happened today that really put me in a sour mood for a good few hours…

I was asked to do the closing prayer at Sabbath School today. I actually hate praying in public: the words never come out; I get tongue-tied and I forget most of what I have to say. A few months ago I had been asked to do the pastoral prayer and I was dreading it until my Sabbath School leader suggested I write it down, so that I cover all the bases and don’t forget anything. Since then, this has been my way of doing public prayers before the church. I pray before I write the actual prayer and pray after, I pray throughout for inspiration. It has never been a problem before and it alleviates some of the stress on my part.

Today, I did my closing prayer and a few minutes afterwards a visitor from the Netherlands asked me to see him outside. Then he pretty much berated me for reading the prayer! He told me that I must never do that, and that God would give me the words to say. He said that prayer should always just come from the heart and not be prepared beforehand. I calmly told him that I heard a seminar once where it was argued that preparing prayers were not unBiblical, because in the same way one would prepare a sermon to speak before the church (and a sermon is also something that “comes from the heart”, with God leading it), one could also prepare a prayer. Which was true, I can’t remember the exact seminar, but I know it exists because that particular message was relayed to me.

As soon as I had said this, he looked embarrassed for telling me off; shuffled away and said “Oh sorry, I’m from the Netherlands so I don’t really know.”

You “don’t really know?” And what’s coming from the Netherlands got to do with it?

Huh?

This is why we should be cautious of people who say their opinions on religious matters with such conviction. If I hadn’t had the seminar to back me up, he would have made me feel really stupid and I would have had a completely negative outlook of my prayer life. All it took was a couple words from me for him to admit he didn’t really know what he was talking about. If only Jim Jones and David Koresh had had the same challengers. Yes, I am taking it a step further than what really happened, but when it comes to religion people are easily swayed, which is something I’ve seen a lot of recently in my own church. One person comes along, with no credentials, says something slightly “grey” with enough confidence, and then everyone starts to get confused.

Beware of such people!

Anyway, I felt really cheesed off after this man spoke to me and I have to admit I treated the Sabbath in a terrible way; I even went off to the cemetery to sulk! God forgive me.

Is there a “right” way to pray? Or are we too used to praying traditions?

The mind wanders…