We have Bible Study on Friday nights. We’ve done it for going on 3 years now and I can honestly say that if there is something (other than morning and evening family worship) that has profoundly affected our family, it is these studies.
Because when you invite the Holy Spirit to be present as you dig into and study God’s word in a prayerful and open group setting, He settles into the midst and brings truth to every seeking heart. That is what I’ve witnessed and experienced over the years that we’ve met together. His word has become the authority in our lives in an ever increasing way and the peace that comes from that is beyond measure.
I still know moments of anxiety, but I recognize the author of those moments more easily. I still fret and worry, but I catch myself with greater conviction these days.
In a study just this past week, we were talking about the Laodicean church, as depicted in the book of Revelation. The church who was, and is, at rest when it should be active and intentional. A bunch of sleepwalking professors of the faith. Myself included.
But rather than leaving me in despair, it gave me hope. Because it isn’t until we recognize our condition that we can find the proper treatment for it. It isn’t until we have a diagnosis that we can find the cure.
This idea of “sleeping Christianity” took my mind to the ways I’ve had to adapt my habits to combat physical sleepiness in my worship times. For years I had attempted to study and pray early in the morning only to walk away from those times feeling empty and bereft of a blessing. I’m an endlessly busy mother (and trust me, I know we all feel endlessly busy!) and what doesn’t wear my body out, exhausts my heart and brain. It isn’t just a matter of good health or the absence thereof…it’s a matter of combating the drain from a very loaded plate. Sometimes it truly isn’t possible to knock items off the plate to free up space…there are just seasons where you have to learn how to arrange everything so it’s all manageable.
And so, I began starting my mornings by walking circles around my house, praying.
In some ways the very act of doing so has made way for my desperate inner need to literally claim the verse found in Joshua 1:3 – Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you … Those words have been, to me, a calling on my life these last few months. They’ve reminded me that prayer is an action word, a verb in every conceivable way. I can’t grow tired and sleepy if I want to stay in this battle for the souls of my husband, children, extended family, friends and neighbors. He’s given us a role and we can’t meet the demand of that responsibility if we aren’t completely surrendered to the fact that this life should NOT be one of ease.
Because honestly, if it is, we’re doing something wrong. We’re sleeping.
Walking around my house as I learned to more intimately commune with God was the beginning of a new chapter. I suddenly heard Him so much more clearly because I wasn’t drowsy while I was dragging my weary body around my house in the predawn hours. I was wide awake and more fully aware of ways in which He was asking me to pray. He was finally able to show me that I don’t have to beg Him to see and hear and help and sustain and protect my children because they were His before they were ever mine. This prayer relationship has been about getting things back in the correct order,
It’s Him that is asking me to care well for His children. Sometimes that’s by staying up late and hearing their hearts. Other times it’s tending patiently to a chronically ill child. But always it’s releasing them back into His hands, trusting that He really does love them more and better than I have any clue how to. But He needs me awake because I’m one of His secret weapons in protecting them from the tempter’s snare.
I have a purpose and I’m only beginning to realize how much bigger it is than feeding and clothing and training them. It’s about interceding on their behalf, not because He isn’t powerful enough without me but because He’s so powerful that He included me in His redemptive design.
If I sit in the dark of my cozy room and try to pray, my mind drifts and my eyes flutter craving sleep. I know some prayer warriors who can pray powerfully in just such a setting but I’m not one of them. And so it’s up to me to do something about it. To listen for how He’s leading me to respond to that obstacle so that I don’t slip back into slumber.
And it’s exactly the same for our everyday, run-of-the-mill moments as they number the days of our lives.
If we’re so comfortable in our lives that we’re consumed largely by earning a dollar, and if our precious little free time is filled with that which is meaningless beyond giving us an outlet, we’re slipping into that dreadful sleep that will strip us of eternity. He’s patient and tender, but He’s asking us even as He asked of the sleeping Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
We need to order our lives to intentionally keep us awake. We need to shake things up so we never get too comfortable. We need to be willing to do what we’d rather not do, in order to get the results we’re hoping to get.
Salvation is a gift, free and clear. We can’t earn it and we definitely don’t deserve it. But to receive it requires action. It requires surrender. It requires trust. It requires us to pray.
And always, always, always it requires us to be fully awake!
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