EXPLORATION: "Praying the Praise Prayer I Enter"
How do I enter each day? With praise or with grumbling?
Do I have faith to trust that God can and will guide me as I enter each day?
What does it mean to me to have God's presence with me as I enter each day?
I enter this day filled with faith in what You can do for me and not what I can do for myself.
I hate to exercise. It's not because I lack the discipline. I can be extremely disciplined when I need to be. For whatever reason, the type of exercise that helps you burn calories and makes your heart pump faster, is not at the top of my list of favorite pastimes.
In life, exercise isn't the only activity that requires discipline. There are other endeavors which also do not happen by snapping your fingers together or wishing on a star. One of the activities I'm referring to is the development of a vigorous spiritual life. It doesn't just happen! Don't get me wrong, conversion can happen with lightening speed. Look at the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. Paul was walking along planning his next act of vengeance on new Christian believers, when all of a sudden he heard a voice that stopped him in his tracks. From heaven the words were spoken, "Saul, Saul why persecutest thou Me?" (Acts 9: 4, K.J.V.). In a split second, Paul realized the terrible mistake he was making. Never again did he do anything in his life but lift up the name of Jesus Christ.
However, even Paul refers to the challenge of the daily life. He called this impediment a "thorn" in his life. Something, and we don't know for certain what, drove Paul to the feet of Jesus everyday as he sought God's help. After three times asking God to remove this "thorn," Paul was given the heavenly assurance that, "My grace is sufficient for thee."
Line six in the "Praise Prayer," is about the daily discipline we need as we recognize that God's grace is really sufficient.
I have a good friend who is a physical trainer. Recently, we were discussing my distaste for daily exercising. Andrea gave me this piece of advice. "Dorothy, exercise doesn't make a big difference in your body if you don't do it every day." Exactly what I didn't want to hear. I wanted my friend to tell me that once a week was plenty. Or one weekend a month would do the trick. But no, she told me I needed to "move my body" every day.
Spiritual health is no different. We need to move our lips everyday if we want to develop strong spiritual muscles, as well! While meetings or weekend retreats have their place in giving us an immediate spiritual transfusion, I've found in my own life, that the "high" I receive in the moment, can be followed by a "low" when I return home and am faced with the reality of everyday living.
Several years ago I went to a weekend retreat. The speakers were fabulous. The smell of the mountain pines brought refreshment and clarity to my life. I purposed to be all God wanted. My faith at that moment was at a fevered pitch. Not only did I have a longing for a deeper walk with Jesus, but I told myself that "this time" nothing would deter me. My faith was strong. However, back home, in the rush of the day, it became so easy to see my faith slip away when I was confronted and confounded by the stress of daily living.
This is why I have found the "Praise Prayer" and my morning time with Jesus, play such a vital role in my spiritual life.
Harry Fosdick wrote "It is cynicism and fear that freeze life; it is faith that thaws it out, releases it, sets it free." This describes what happens when we do not make a disciplined choice to spend time with Jesus everyday…The hardships we face, whether perceived or real, make us fearful and we become cynical and say, "I can't do this. It's too hard. In fact, it's impossible. Nobody can succeed."
You know what? We can't do anything in the spiritual life on our own. Oh, we "control-freaks" and "independent types" like to think we can do everything on our own. But we can't! This is why line "6" in the "Praise Prayer" is so critical. Everyday when I say these words, I remind myself my faith is in God, who has all the power in His hands to do for me what I cannot do for myself. All I have to do is make a disciplined choice to daily plug myself into Him.
Several days ago, I was getting ready to curl my hair. I put the hot curlers on the counter in the bathroom. They were in a nice little row, waiting for me to come back to the bathroom when the light went on, and the curlers were hot. While I was waiting, I hurried to the kitchen and ate breakfast. When I came back, I expected the curlers would be hot. They weren't. Goofy girl forgot to plug them into the electrical socket on the wall. Do you get my point? My spiritual life can be like those curlers - all in a neat row. I go to church every week. I smile at the right people and say "Hallelujah" and "Praise the Lord!" I even do my church duties with a smile on my face. But if I am not plugged into the electrical current, while the curlers look great on the outside, at their core they are cold! They aren't heated by the current which is the source of their power!
Georgia Harkness wrote: "One can believe in God with a very complete set of arguments, yet not have any faith that makes a difference in living." We have to be plugged in everyday to see results in the "muscles" of our spiritual life. This is why, everyday, we need to say to God: "I enter this day filled with faith in what You can do for me and not what I can do for myself." This is our daily disciplined choice. A choice to plug into the mightiest Power Source in the universe.
Major Daniel Webster Whittle penned the words to the beautiful hymn, "Moment By Moment."
"Moment by moment I'm kept in His love,
Moment by moment I've life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine."
May this be our prayer today and every day.
"E" - I enter this day filled with faith in what You can do for me and not what I can do for myself.
AFFIRMATION: On a Hard Journey
"O God who travels with us in the shadows,
You know who we are.
We long for life which is full and free.
We long to know the truth
and we want to leave behind us
all the things which hold us back.
We want to move forward in faith
but the way seems so dangerous
and we stand in helpless fear
before the hiddenness in our past
and in our future.
Stand beside us, gentle Christ.
Walk before us, brave Jesus.
Call us on into life, Holy Spirit.
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.