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Prayer, Plain and Simple

It is one thing to pray for God’s will to be done in your life, but it is quite another to accept His will. Many of us talk a good game about wanting His will for our lives, but once it is revealed, we get scared and we run away from it. We let fear take over. Or we refuse to accept it because God’s will actually isn’t what we wanted at all. I can say all of this because I’ve been there and in many ways, I am there right now. I’ve long prayed for God’s will and purpose to be revealed in my life, but I never really took into consideration how I would respond to the revelation. I realize that not only should my prayer be, “Thy will be done” but also, “Let me accept thy will.”

Heavenly Father,

Your word in Isaiah 55:9, says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” And in response to your word I say, “I thank you for being above me and knowing what is best for me.” In this life, we are all searching for our purpose and asking for your will to be done. But let us not be blindsided and naive to think that as we ask, so we are ready for it to be revealed and respond accordingly. I pray that as each of us comes to a point in our lives where we dare to ask you to reveal your will for us, you would put us in a place of acceptance of what you reveal to us. It may not be what we want, but it will surely be what we need in order to live a life fully invested in you. When fear attempts to consume us, be the destroyer of the fear by your perfect love for we know it casts out all fear. When you see that we are tempted to turn back and ignore your will, chasten our spirits and helps us to see that you only want the best for us. Help us to realize that anything you bring into our lives and anything you reveal to us is for our good. Give us a spirit of acceptance and a heart open to your move in our lives. Most of all Lord, let us never get so caught up in seeking you out for a revelation that we forget to seek you, for you. Let us always desire to be with you above all things. Seeking your kingdom first and letting everything else be added afterwords. Letting your love surround us and cast out any fear or doubts. Help us to live in love with you, accept your will for our lives and give us the proper response to your revelation.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen 

Juarez is a war zone.

“God, have mercy.”

We have friends living and working there, so the news of the murder of an American couple strikes home for us. A few years back our family spent Spring break working in an orphanage in the heart of the sprawling ghetto that is that city.

“Father, coddle and protect and comfort that one year old child who just witnessed the bloody assassination of the mother and father… Have mercy!”

The two Americans, associated with the US Consulate General in this violence-ridden border city just across the Rio Grande river from El Paso, Texas, were shot to death Saturday in broad daylight by a drive-by shooter. The Mexican government and the White House say that drug traffickers in Ciudad Juarez, one of the most violent and dangerous cities on the planet, were to blame. Violence of this sort is a daily occurrence in Juarez.

It was no isolated incident. In 2009 more than 2,600 people were murdered in the city.

Join me in prayer for the peace of Juarez.

“God, have mercy on Juarez, Mexico today, and every day. Reach down now and stem this violence. For all those who have suffered deaths and violence in their families, give them comfort to go on. For those who feel fear today, give them courage and wisdom to know how to go about their lives. Strengthen the hands of those officials charged with stopping this epidemic. Give them courage and integrity and the resources and support they need. Work in the hearts of the traffickers themselves. Intervene and change their ways. Remind them of your presence and give them the fear of your judgment. On the drug-demand side, Lord, break our nation’s addition to drugs. This violence grows from the insatiable appetite we have for this poison. Break the grip of drugs at the root of the problem, and give those working with individuals using drugs the secrets to breaking the chains of addiction. Lord, send angels to do battle there in Juarez – a battle of peace against the battles of violence. You are a God of peace. Come now and bring your safety and blessing and comfort and steady strength. In Jesus name!”

I’m thanking God today for volcanoes, Kona and great coffee. Trivial you say. I don’t think so.

A moment ago I stood on the balcony of our hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii looking west over the Pacific Ocean and finished a cup of fresh brewed Kona coffee. I’m still somewhat on Minnesota time, so I’m rising even earlier than usual. This morning, coffee was an answer to prayer. And Kona coffee on Kona itself… Just imagine with me!

They began growing coffee here on the Big Island in 1828. 500 feet above sea level on the slopes of a still active volcano they found what is now called the Kona coffee belt. The volcanic soil is rich and the afternoon clouds and the rainfall and the shelter from wins create an idea condition for an extraordinary coffee bean. In my worldview God did this. He created this little spot on the planet for this very treasure…

These are small delights and seemingly little gifts from God. But if I cannot thank him for the small things like fresh pineapple and snorkeling with sea turtles and the cooing of doves, how can I know to thank him for the big things like life here and now, and marriage, and children, and forgiveness, and life forever? So here’s a pray of thanks for the wonderful gift of good coffee…

God, you make many wonderful things. You give us many small delights and all deserve our gratitude and our thanks. Thank you. Today I enjoyed a precious cup of coffee brewed from beans grown on the slopes of a volcano here in Kona. Your world is filled with secret wonders like this. Some I will never know. Some, like this gift of coffee I find quite by accident. Teach me along the course of my life to keep my eyes open for the ambush of joy. Your gifts are all around me. But often I either miss them or take them in never remembering to consider where they come from, or to pause and pass along my appreciation. I want to become a grateful person. For gratitude is the true source of joy. Give me this gift of grace – to see and then acknowledge the good gifts in my life, and to see them as gifts from You, my God and Father. As James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Thank you today for another day, for breath and rest and food and the love of my family and the confidence that my life is given and sustained by you, now and forever. Thank you too for the small gifts you add in, including, today, a great cup of coffee! In Jesus…”

I heard today of a friend living in another country who is under investigation by an agency of his government. I grieve for him. The government is accusing him of some sort of financial impropriety. I don’t pretend to understand the issues at stake or the laws he was supposed to have compromised. I do know him as a man of amazing integrity, generosity, and wisdom. Perhaps he made poor choices. Perhaps he is just being made an example. Whether this is just or unjust matter, I cannot say. I do know I’m praying for my friend, for wisdom, mercy, truth and yes, justice. May the God of justice and mercy bring both for my friend, and for all those struggling both fairly and unfairly because of legal issues. Join me…

“God, you are just and you are merciful. You have given authority governments to establish and maintain justice in the affairs human relationships. Your justice is perfect; our interpretation and application of it is not. We respect and submit to the decisions of our government, but we also can appeal for consideration and reconsideration. We can press and argue our case. When we do, we ask for truth to prevail, for sympathy and wisdom and discernment and impartiality on the part of those serving judgment. We do not ask for an avoidance of justice, but for truth, and in the end for mercy to balance truth. We are all in need of mercy. For those struggling with legal issues, bring them peace and confidence. Let justice prevail in their case. And after justice, let mercy and pardon – in the right form and balance – shield them. If they need to pay the cost of a bad choice, give them the grace for this. If their charge can be dropped, and limited, then somehow let that mercy prevail. Teach them how to grow through this trial. Show them more of you and your ways. God, enter this case as judge, jury, and defense attorney. We trust you now and always. In Jesus…”

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