Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Prayer God Will Always Say Yes To (seventh in a series of ten)

Today’s prayer is about answering the question: Why am I here, anyway? I’m sure you’ve heard people say everybody is special. Parents say it, teachers say it, pastors say it. Everybody is unique. And some people really are special – famous people, powerful people, rich people, Nobel prize winning people. But what about regular people? What about people like you and me? Are we special? What are we here, for

The stock answer is that we’re special because we’re made in God’s image, and we’re here to love and enjoy God, and that’s a good, solid answer. But....deep down, do you still wonder why you, personally, are here, and what is it that makes you special, if anything?

Think back to your conception. Can’t remember that far back? I’ll help you out. In that moment five hundred million sperm were competing for entrance into the egg. Only one sperm got in, then the way in was permanently sealed, and all those other sperm died. Think about it. You won a race with a five hundred million to one long shot. Not only that, your conception had only about a four day window to happen. So many babies never make it to term; in fact only about one in four do in this country. But incredibly, you made it. Statistically, your presence on this planet is a downright miracle.

No matter how many bad things have happened in your life, no matter how much suffering you’ve had to endure, no matter how many problems you’ve got stacked up right now, no matter how low of an opinion you have about yourself, you need to see this. You came into this world a champion. Your first day was a victory.

But it wasn’t an accident. Throughout scripture it’s clear that God had each person in mind even before the creation of the world. He planned you and chose you, personally, before the world began. God said no to all those other hundreds of millions of potential people so He could have you instead. And when He said yes to you, He said yes to everything about you. Your personality, the circumstances of your life, your looks...everything. You are handpicked. The question is, why?

Because God has a particular mission for you. There is something waiting for you that only you can accomplish. God designed you for this very purpose. It could be something big. Or small. Something splashy. Or hidden. It could be someone you will influence. It could be one dramatic event, or it could be a long series of events. Whatever it is, it will be profoundly important to the life of this world, and fulfilling to you

I’m not talking about realizing your dream. Your dream and God’s destiny may not be the same thing. But God knows the deepest desires of your heart. He knows what will give you the greatest pleasure and the most profound happiness. So as you dream and hope and plan, remember that God has something He’s planned for you since before the beginning of time.

So how do you find out what that something is? Ask Him “God, please show me my destiny.” Probably you’re not going to get a telegram. Much more likely, God will lead you to your destiny one step at a time. The process will shape you and make you ready for your destiny, as God molds you into the person you need to be to fulfill what He has planned for you.

When you pray “God, please show me my destiny,” you will begin to see situations differently. During one of those icky confrontation situations, you will be asking “What is God’s will for me in this? How will I glorify Him and influence this person for good?” During scary situations you will be asking “What is God’s mission for me in this? How will I magnify His name?” For situations that feel tedious or boring you will ask “What important thing has God hidden here for me, as I fulfill His purposes?”

This prayer takes patience, and perseverance. It takes courage and faith. But if you are willing to pray it, and do what God shows you, there will be no regrets when you come to the end of your life. You will know that you gave God the honor that was due Him, and fulfilled the destiny for which you were created from all eternity.

And even then, even after you’ve breathed your last breath, and your heart stops beating, even then the great adventure will not be over. Because when you open your eyes again, the One Who gave you life will say the words you’ve been longing to hear, that will give you a happiness far beyond anything you’ve ever experienced, “Well done, good and faithful servant...enter into the joy of your Lord.”


These thoughts on prayer are taken from the Catholic author Anthony DeStefano's delightful book, "Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers To Life's Most Difficult Problems."

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Prayer God Will Always Say Yes To (sixth in a series of ten)

Everyone knows God forgives sins, and anybody who has spent any time in a church will have heard something about Jesus dying for us.

In fact, the way the Bible tells it, it is ridiculously easy to be forgiven. This is what Christianity is. It’s the reason for the cross and the resurrection. It’s why we have a Bible at all. To tell the story of God’s forgiveness and restoration the people He loves.

All you have to do is ask. Admit that you need forgiveness, and honestly want to try and not sin in that way again. But have you ever wondered if you are such a terrible person that God could simply not forgive you? Doesn’t God get tired of forgiving the same sins after awhile? Does He ever get disgusted and throw up His hands, like people do? Do we have the ability to disappointment Him?

The fact is God wants to forgive you more than anything, He’s looking for every possible reason to forgive you.

The key concept here is what’s going on in your heart. God knows how weak we are. We fall constantly. Some people commit the same sin over and over again their whole lives long. God knows that. He’s been watching people commit these sins for thousands of years. It’s not that He’s grown used to it, but He’s not surprised in any way when He sees you and me falling again and again.

If there’s a particular sin you’re having trouble with, and you commit it constantly and you feel bad about it constantly too, you’re probably having serious doubts about your ability to overcome it. You may feel, deep down, that the situation is hopeless. But don’t let that stop you from repenting and asking for forgiveness. It’s true that you can’t ask God for forgiveness while at the same time secretly cherishing that sin. You can’t ask for forgiveness if you’re not really sorry, that’s presuming on God. But if you’re very weak, and all you have is a desire to get out of this loop, that’s enough for God.

God also wants you and me to have the same forgiving attitude towards others, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” God will use with you the same measure of mercy you use with others.

Now if you’re the type of person who gets easily disgusted, or you are a critical person, or you tend to hold a grudge, then now is the time to repent of that. Maybe there are some things you just can’t bring yourself to forgive. Okay, start small. Ask God to help you forgive the person who cuts you off on the freeway. Ask God to help you forgive the person who brushes past you in the grocery store. The important thing is to develop a habit of forgiveness in these small ways, so you will become strong in faith to be able handling forgiveness of the big things.

If being forgiven is so easy, why don’t you and I go to God more often in confession? Well, sometimes it feels too easy, and it’s hard to believe He’ll forgive us. But more often, you and I are afraid to confront the sinful things in our lives because we think it’s going to bring even more grief, sorrow and guilt. People do almost anything to avoid pain, don’t we? So every time we identify something in ourselves that might bring us pain, we work hard at trying to pretend it isn’t there, or to cover it up, or to disguise it.

But the long term suffering that comes from stuffing all that down is far worse, in the end, than the pain of confronting it. That pain will always be manageable, because God will be there with you. In fact, in the end, it won’t feel like pain at all, it will feel like release, being set free.

There is great power in the words “God, please forgive me.” Not only will He forgive you, but He will clean out the wound, He will begin to heal you, and He will fill you with His own good, clean life. You may still have the consequences of the sin to deal with, but now you will also have the mighty power of God’s Spirit within you, to enable you.


These thoughts on prayer are taken from the Catholic author Anthony DeStefano's delightful book, "Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers To Life's Most Difficult Problems."

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Prayer God Will Always Say Yes To (fifth in a series of ten)

Have you ever said to yourself “The stress is killing me, it really is?” Sometimes stress shows up in anxiety attacks – pounding heart, shortness of breath, that tight feeling in your chest, tunnel vision, dizziness, dry mouth. Anybody experienced one of those? Headaches, distracted thoughts, short memories, even shorter fuses, stress is bad news.

One of the most powerful prayers God always says yes to is “Please give me peace.” It is impossible to enjoy life, no matter how good it is, without peace within yourself. You can have youth, health, beauty, wealth, an amazing job, the love of your life, a wonderful family....but if you’re feeling stressed out then every day is a nightmare. On the other hand, if you have peace within yourself, then you can handle anything life brings along.

Most of us deal with anxiety and stress on a daily basis. We live in the information age, with noise all around us, the bombardment of t.v., radio, computer, cell phone, i-pods, the news, the weather, advertisements. We live in a tension filled, pressure packed kind of culture. You try to cope, maybe with healthy methods, maybe with not so healthy methods. What makes calmness so elusive today? Why is it so hard to find peace?

Because people have a mistaken notion about peace. Inner peace can’t be achieved simply through mental discipline, and it isn’t dependant on outside events. Inner peace comes through faith.

Real peace is from God, it is His gift. Real peace can’t exist apart from God because it is hart of His very nature. God brought peace and order to the chaos in Genesis 1. Peace and order go together. When Jesus commanded the storms to calm down He would say “Be still.” Jesus said to His disciples, “I leave you peace” and “My peace I give to you.”

How quickly will you sense God’s peace? That depends on how close your relationship is with the Lord. Since peace is His nature, and His nature fills the believer, then the question becomes, how much of your inner life have you surrendered to the Lord? Does He fill you? Does He occupy your thoughts, and direct the desires of your heart? Or are you holding Him at arms length, closing off parts of your inner life to Him?

The more of you that you give to the Lord to fill, the more you will sense His peace flooding your soul, that quiet, confident faith that pushes out fear, stress and anxiety.

Sometimes inner peace will be linked with outer change. Maybe there is a lifestyle issue that is causing you anxiety. God will show it to you. Maybe there is some unfinished business causing blanket stress. God will bring that up. God will give you peace, but He will give it you on His terms, sometimes helping you restructure, rearrange and rebuild your life to fit His perfect plan. Are you ready for that?

You see, when you pray “Please give me peace,” what God will give you goes way beyond emotions. True peace is union with God, being right with Him and intimately involved with Him.


These thoughts on prayer are taken from the Catholic author Anthony DeStefano's delightful book, "Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers To Life's Most Difficult Problems."

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Prayer God Will Always Say Yes To (fourth in a series of ten)

I’ve been giving you prayers that God loves to answer, that He’ll answer every time, and with power – sometimes even before you’re finished praying them.

The first prayer was “God, please show me You are there.”

The second prayer was “God, please use me to help someone in need.” “God, please make me an instrument to carry out some important mission of mercy for you.”

The third prayer was “God, please give me courage.”

The fourth prayer is “God, please get me through this suffering.” Unfortunately there is no short and tidy answer for why you are suffering this morning. There is no formula for feeling better. Sometimes the ready made phrases we say to each other, when we mean well, actually make things seem worse –

“I know just what you’re going through” sounds empty sometimes, when what you’re going through is devastating. “Don’t worry, it’s all for the best” doesn’t help when it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. “It’s God’s will” makes you want to feel angry and bitter towards God, and “You’ve got to stop crying and start living again” doesn’t sound encouraging, it sounds kind of heartless, like there’s a statute of limitations on hurting.

Though all these things may be true, they just don’t help when you’re experiencing emotional agony. When you’ve been in a car accident, you don’t need your doctor to explain to you why you’re bleeding everywhere, or to assure you that you won’t miss that arm after a while. You need your doctor to stop the bleeding, sew you up and help you heal.

God understands. Very often the last thing God will do when you and I are suffering is to explain the reasons why we’re suffering. That’s something He saves for later, sometimes much later. What He will always do, however, is help us to endure the terrible pain, and make it through in one piece.

God says yes to all who come to Him for help and comfort, when they are in the middle of something hard. He may not stop the suffering, or prevent it from happening in the first place, or alleviate the situation in any way. This maybe is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to faith there is, but you and I need to face it head on – God allows a lot of terrible things to happen. Just look what happened to our Lord Jesus Christ. He knew very well the pain He was about to suffer, and prayed “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup be taken away from Me.” At the eleventh hour, the Son pleased with the Father. But He also added “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

No matter what kind of suffering you have to endure, God will give you a way through it. Not a way out of suffering itself, but out of the hopelessness that suffering often leads you to. The apostle Paul said God will not let you be tested beyond your strength. With your trial, He will also provide you with a means of escape, so that you will be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13)

The Father sent His son an angel to help Him. God will also help you, and provide for you, to console you, help you and fortify you through whatever you are going through right now.

Death and suffering are not a normal part of life. They may be facts of life, but they are not “good” or “normal” in any way. Something went terribly wrong at the beginning of human history. Life was never meant to be this way, but because of what happened in the Garden of Eden, you and I suffer today.

But God, in the Lord Jesus Christ, suffered, too. He knows, intimately, what it’s like to experience what you’re experiencing, and because of the cross, He can make His power available to you, and to me. When you say “God, please get me through this suffering” He will actually walk with you through the pain and get you to the other side.


These thoughts on prayer are taken from the Catholic author Anthony DeStefano's delightful book, "Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers To Life's Most Difficult Problems."

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation