at all times, through all things

The blessed part of living a not-so-easy life is that a girl gets a lot of opportunity to deepen that faith and flex those prayer muscles. You see, I come from an amazing Christian home; my parents are both believers. They are also both physically disabled.

My Dad struggles with a lung disease, diabetes, back issues and other complications. My Mom was born with a spinal defect that resulted from her mother’s addiction to alcohol. They’ve been unable to work since before I was born. They each take more medications on a regular basis than I’ll take in my lifetime. They’ve been hospitalized, laid up in bed and they’ve hobbled along, all the while proclaiming the goodness of a God who has a bigger plan for them than we can understand. I know that Mom and Dad have each wept over their pain and limitations. I know they wanted more for themselves, for each other, for us. I guarantee they’ve cried out to God in frustration. They are only people. But in those times of acceptance and even in those times of depression, my parents modeled faith in a God whose ways are not our ways.

Because of those physical limitations, we grew up with very little money. We relied on disability income and welfare from the government for all of our expenses. Maybe you didn’t grow up that way – moving around from rental to rental, praying for someone generous to give your family their cast-off car, receiving less than $200 in food stamps to last a family of four for a month – but I did. I stood in the government surplus line to get our family’s portion of processed cheese and canned meat. We didn’t shop at yard sales because we were saving money for vacation; it’s how my Mom clothed us. We didn’t have the luxury of eat outing because Mom couldn’t face the kitchen that evening. She stood at the stove with her cane and made something amazing from nothing. Our life was filled with scrimping and scraping and charity.

And you know what? I’m better for it.

You see, I didn’t question God’s faithfulness. I didn’t wonder if He heard my prayers. I didn’t take anything I had for granted because I knew exactly how blessed I was to have everything I needed (and because of a savvy mom, most of what I wanted). When our pastor handed Dad an envelope of cash from an anonymous giver after church or when a charity brought us a holiday meal, we said a prayer of thanksgiving. My parents taught us that God is real and present and so willing to provide for our needs. They taught us to give of the little we had because someone was ALWAYS in greater need than even us. They taught us that a world that questioned God’s goodness was always watching to see how we invited Him to work in our lives.

I was raised to understand that prayer was talking to a God who didn’t make mistakes, didn’t forget us in our struggles. Prayer is a conversation with our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to share our burden with Him; just like I knew my parents only wanted the best for me, even in the hard lessons, so much more so does my Father God.

Prayer isn’t a formal, solemn appointment with God…at least, not to me. You see, I talk to God all day long. He is the only constant in life. He is there in the joy and the pain. He knows my dreams, my fears, my failures.

But this post isn’t just about how God’s moved in my life or how blessed I feel to ‘get’ prayer. It’s meant as an encouragement and maybe even a challenge to you to join me in prayer. The days are evil, friends. People murder and steal and lie and cheat like it’s all just how life goes. I could go on, but you’re aware of the increasingly ‘whatever goes’ culture we live in. And it would be easy to be weary and overwhelmed in all of this.

But we were not left alone on this planet. God sent His only son to save us from ourselves. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide and counsel us. He gave us a gift of communication called prayer that enables us to share with Him and hear from Him. And it’s about time we put it to better use, outside of church and meals and bedtime.

I know that prayer is MY lifeline. I’m not afraid to ask for that miracle, because I’ve seen them. I’ve seen my Dad walk out of a hospital after he was given just days to live. I’ve lived in that apartment paid for with heaven-sent money that someone gave in faith. I’ve prayed for myself, my marriage, my kids and have seen amazing answers to prayer.

And I’ll promise you, when I tell you that I will pray for you, I mean it. That promise is a commitment that I will pour out my heart to heaven for you. I will pray for you when I’m driving to work, doing the dishes or when that song brings you to mind. Asking for prayer support is humbling. Giving support in prayer is an honor and a privilege.

Prayer is something so important that Jesus himself showed us how. And beyond that, He’s given us the insights and examples of some amazing authors to demonstrate and explain this communication even further.  I’ve read some great books on prayer – “Power of a Praying Wife” and “Power of a Praying Parent” by Stormie Omartian, “Prayer: Does it make any difference?” by Phillip Yancey, “Praying God’s Word” by Beth Moore, “He Speaks to Me” by Priscilla Shirer. Maybe one of them will bless you as they have me.

I’ve found that pure joy lies in knowing that your heart is in tune with heaven. And I’ve also found that weariness and frustration are evidence that it’s been too long since I’ve spent time in prayer.

How do you feel about prayer? Maybe you’ve read a book that’s changed your thoughts and habits towards and of prayer. Please share. And if you have a prayer request, I’d be humbled to join you in praying. Please leave a comment or email me at journeytojoyful@gmail.com.

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3 thoughts on “at all times, through all things

  1. Kristen,
    Thank you for sharing these thoughts today! It was just the reminder I needed during some trying times that are headed our way.And, the encouragement that nothing we are going through or struggling with is going unnoticed by our heavenly father!
    Please keep us in your prayer as we follow what we feel God calling us to do now, which is take in 3 children that were removed from their home. We start the process Friday, which is a bit overwhelming, but I believe that by obeying God will give us the strength we need!
    Thanks again for your words!

  2. Wow! What can I say Annie? I am so proud of you and your sister. I am proud of you both on a daily basis. Our God is so good…a;; of the time. He is always just one breath away from us. You have a lot to share. I am so happy that God filled your mom and your sister and you with the precious Holy Spirit. He has been with us from the get go. I thank God for His angels as well. It seems like we kept them pretty busy and we came out the other side. Thak you Adoni Yeshua…Baruch HaShem…Bless The Name!

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