Star or Servant?

The Praying Life Ch. 19-22
I admit, I have a horrible habit of wanting to change others. I think they need my help. I have seen God do so much in my life through different avenues that I want others to experience it and I get really frustrated when they don’t do what I want them too. It is a blessing and a curse. I know that God has called me to lead others to Him, like He has called all of to do, but I can’t help but get frustrated when they don’t move when I want them too. This book is challenging that to my core.

God is the ONLY one who can change a heart so why do I try. Why does pray not feel like I am doing something when it is the ONE thing that actually DOES something? This statement in Chapter 19 rocked me “Until you are convinced that you can’t change your child’s heart, you will not take prayer seriously.” I don’t know that I am fully convinced or my prayer life would look way different.

I admit I had some of the fears this week that he addressed in last weeks reading – I want God to teach this person this but I don’t want him to get hurt in the process. I kept adding my two cents in how God should teach this person this quality I knew he needed. It was like, please teach him humility but don’t make it hurt him. Then I immediately knew that the one way we learn humility is through wounded pride. That is going to hurt no matter how it happens. Then I prayed that I would be able to stay out of it when God was teaching that humility. Not to rescue him from it but allow God to do his work. This prayer stuff is hard.

Did y’all get out your notecards? I have.

I loved, loved this “my prayers for Emily exposed my own heart. I began to see that I, too, loved the world and the things in the world. Even my frugality was a form of the love of money. The obsession of saving small amounts of money isn’t that different from the obsession of gaining large amounts of it. In both, money is the center. I also began to notice that I tended to be extra polite with a donor to our ministry. That, too, is a form of the love of money.” OUCH. I also loved that they choose a less expensive and flashy car in order to help this truth come alive in his daughter’s heart. I am guilty again. I often want to see things in my kids lives that I am unwilling to do in mine. Am I willing to purchase less so that my kids don’t get their security from things of this world. I wrestle with this. WRESTLE.

“Until we become convinced we can’t change our child’s heart, we will not take prayer seriously. Consequently, repentance is often missing. When we see, for example, our son’s self-will, we usually don’t ask, How am I self-willed? or How am I angry? We want God’s help so we can dominate our son. We forget that God is not a genie but a person who wants to shape us in the image of his Son as much as he wants to answer our prayers.” Enough said.

“You’ve given up on your ability to change other people. Instead, you cling to God and watch him weave his story.” Oh Lord, I give up my ability. I give it up. This has been particularly hard for me these last few weeks. I have been wrestling with wanting to change people. I have struggled deeply with this. Honestly, I have even gotten frustrated at people because I see these opportunities and experiences that if they would just take part in – it would change their lives. But I can’t make them do it and it is very irritating. God is really working on this with me but I have so far to go. Let me see if I can give you an example that might help you understand my struggle. Mission Trips. I have seen how mission trips change me and others lives FOREVER. I have seen the power and I know that God has called all of His believers to GO. But for the life of me, I can’t get people to get excited and go on mission trips. I get frustrated. I hear all the reasons they can’t go and I get more frustrated. Instead of stopping and praying that God would change their hearts I get angry. God is showing me, it is not my job to make people go on a mission trip that is HIS job. I am simply to obey. Here is where I personally get in trouble. I get worked up over things that I am not responsible for and things I can’t change. I am responsible for what me and my family is called to do. Period. I can be an example but I am not called to change people. He is. The end.

Are we willing to let our kids sit the bench? YIKES. “We are thankful Emily has this low-level suffering while she is still on our watch. It is a wonderful opportunity for her to grow in faith. She’ll learn far more about God on the bench than out on the playing field.Her goal for her child was tied to the child’s accomplishments. Our goal was tied to Emily’s faith. Because of that, we saw sports as just another venue where she could learn to sink her roots into God. I saw the bench warming as an answer to my daily prayer that Emily would not love the world or the things in the world.”

He goes on to say that life is more about bench sitting than being a star. Oh how we all want to be star and not the servant.

This book is hitting me where it hurts and right where God wants to speak. Thankful for that. I pray it is doing the same for you. What are you learning? Tell me, please.

3 thoughts on “Star or Servant?

  1. Chapter 19 – I have recently been coming to grips with the fact that I cannot change my boys’ hearts. Although that doesn’t always stop me from trying. Ha! Ha! I really appreciate the way he prayed for his daughter using Scripture. I’d love to say that I’ve done that, but I hardly ever do. Yet when I do that, I’m looking at things from a spiritual perspective, not a Controlling Mom viewpoint! I really want to see them change on a heart level, so you’d think I’d have gotten this by now. It’s also a blessing to see how God works in my own heart through prayer. He certainly knows how much I need it!

    I, too, was rather convicted by this:

    Until we become convinced that we can’t change our child’s heart, we will not take prayer seriously. Consequently, repentance is often missing. When we see, for example, our son’s self-will, we usually don’t ask, ‘How am I self-willed? or How am I angry?’ We want God’s help so we can dominate our son. We forget that God is not a genie but a person who wants to shape us in the image of His Son as much as He wants to answer our prayers.

    Ouch.

    That has definitely been my MO for many years. I’m grateful for reading this book now, when I still have this time left with the boys and can refocus my prayers for their – and my – lives.

    Chapter 20 – I have definitely struggled in the area of understanding God’s love for me. I get so caught up in the times I disappoint Him (MY words, not His) that I feel like the proverbial puppy with my tail between my legs and head hung in shame. As much as I know that salvation isn’t about works, but grace, that’s more head knowledge than heart. But I’ve noticed how this is so much about how I relate to my own dad here on earth. But that’s not the picture of my God. I see so many things in God, but too often, not the Father who loves me unconditionally, who isn’t shaking His head in disappointment and frustration with His rebellious and selfish daughter. Yet I know that I love my boys regardless of their choices. I never love them any less, even when I am disappointed, mad, or frustrated. But for whatever reason, it’s so difficult for me to really get that with God. I trust that He will continue to work on this with me.

    Chapter 21 – This was a powerful chapter. I think many, if not all, of us have some deep fears about unanswered prayers. Not always just for ourselves, but because we think that it’s a bad witness for God. I mean, what does it look like to non-believers when we pray something and it appears that God didn’t answer? We’re supposed to pray confidently, but there’s a difference between confidence in the prayer being answered the way we want and confident in our Lord being faithful and trustworthy to do what is best for us and His eternal plans. Plus, sometimes we can’t truly see the real answer to the prayer for many years. Sometimes we may not even really understand this side of heaven. But will we still trust Him or will our faith be shaken? After all, “We will do anything to not live in the desert.” Yeah, we sure don’t ask for desert experiences, do we? Well, maybe you do, but I certainly don’t.

    God customizes deserts for each of us.” Wow. I never thought about it that way. When I’m in a desert, I just feel like God’s looking elsewhere and not terribly concerned with me. Meanwhile, I’m apathetic and dry. Yet God was still clearly involved in the lives Joseph, Moses, the children of Israel, and David when they were in their deserts. It makes total sense in black and white when I read their stories. But it’s hard to see it in my own life. Yet, “All of them hold on to the hope of God’s Word yet face the reality of their situations.

    Desert life sanctifies you. You have no idea you are changing. You simply notice after you’ve been in the desert awhile that you are different. Things that used to be important no longer matter.

    I’ve found that to be true as the Lord changes my heart. What frustrates me sometimes is how some of those things that no longer matter can climb back up the scale of mattering. Sometimes far too easily. But I guess we never really stay on an even keel as far as our feelings and emotions go. For a time, I’m so unattached to my stuff, which is the attitude I want always to have. But then a month later, it’s mattering more to me than it should. It’s a constant battle. But I suppose that there really is nothing in this life that isn’t a constant battle on some level. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have to depend upon Jesus, moment by moment, each and every day. We would start to feel self-sufficient if it all worked out nice and smooth like we want (back to that desert avoidance method again).

    I thought it was pretty incredible that the author could look back over 20 years later and recognize the way God had answered their prayers. “We had thought the harm was a daughter with disabilities, but this was nothing compared to the danger of two proud and willful parents.” Wow.

    Yes, I have started my prayers cards. I jumped ahead to Section 5 so I would understand what he was doing with them. I love this idea and am looking forward to seeing how it works out. I really enjoyed looking up Scripture to pray specifically for the boys.

  2. I am sorry I have been neglectful friends. There has been much happening in the life of God changing Anique these days. Pruning I believe it is called. I don’t have long but I wanted to share a really amazing story and the part of the book it references is “we do our best parenting through prayer” which he says often. So here it is:

    Aug 2009 I started praying earnestly in our prayer group for my daughter to be saved. She had just turned 4 and had done “church” for so long that I noticed I wasn’t praying for it. Just assumed she was.

    April 2010 Alyssa asked about Jesus dying on the cross and sobbed that He had to die for her…. yet she still didn’t fully get it. I told her he had to die for not only the “bad things we do but for our choosing not to walk with him in our hearts however it looks” (don’t worry, I used 4 year old talk ;)) She said, “but momma, I don’t do anything bad and he still had to die?” hmmmm…. not there yet.

    Aug 10, 2011 Alyssa asks who the Holy Spirit is. Now this time, I have been praying (thanks to Millers book) for God to show her that she needs forgiveness. We talked about him being our helper but also that he tells us when we are doing stuff wrong. She remained silent. She said, “i don’t get it.” Well, after TRYING to explain the Trinity in 5 year old terms she very simply said, “I need help.” Yes, honey we all do. We talked about Romans 10.9 – if we believe and confess we are saved. She simply said, “I believe”. We prayed. She cried because she was happy we all get to be in heaven, but she didn’t want to die yet! LOL…. and just like that, a year and a half later, my prayers had their answers before my eyes.

    “We do our best parenting through prayer.” AMEN!!!

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