Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Can a Sinner Be Effective in Prayer? PART II

I found a new blog, Wisdom of the Wounded. It's a great site by Karen Mulder about caring for the those in need. While she gives practical advice on how to relate to those who are sick or hurting she also talks about the power of prayer.

 I think I was too hasty in writing my last post “Can a Sinner be Effective in Prayer?” I sometimes forget that we are all sinners, so naturally we can all be effective in prayer. Each of us comes from a place of sin and the magnitude of those sins does not affect our ability to ask God for help. Important to remember, as well, is the fact that we are an integral part in answering our own prayers. When we ask God for help with someone else, He tends to guide us to be His earthly hand.

After talking with God about someone in need, how often do we realize that we have a role in His plan? Perhaps we’ve prayed diligently for this person but have not reached out to them. As Mulder says, “Pick up that 200 pound phone and call!” God breaks down the barriers that have stopped us from connecting. Those fears about what to say and what to do diminish and suddenly we can act. God performs His miracles but he also makes us effective vessels to do His work. Just being there for a hurting friend (or stranger) is God at work, answering our prayer.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Can a Sinner Be Effective in Prayer?

I just got word that a friend’s cousin had a stroke. She is healthy. Thirty-nine. The mother of three. She had a hysterectomy a couple years back and they say it was the hormone therapy that triggered it. I pray for her. But do my prayers count? I pray daily, with empty promises as I've admitted in my recent posts. When I couple prayers for others with those, do they mean anything?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Slip and Slide

I’m sure you could come up with some mathematical formula about the relationship between skipping church and the incidents of slipping into sin. I’ve been bad. Let’s get that out on the table right away.

My last post was nearly four years ago, Father forgive me. Since then I’ve slept around, drank, and dabbled with drugs. I don’t understand it really, knowing that there is no longer this void I need to fill. What has remained constant through my debauchery is my sense of peace. The depression I used to feel prior to my white funeral remains MIA and no matter how confused or lonely I get I still have a relationship with God where all it takes is an honest prayer and a request for help to bring me back up to a level of comfort.

So what gives? I’ve tracked this back to my absence in His house. I’m sure it all started with the usual, life-got-in-the-way thing that started the slips in church attendance. The occasional missed Sunday turned into months away and sin began to slink back into my life. I started making excuses for my behavior and convinced myself that actually attending church didn’t change my relationship with God, and it didn’t in the bigger sense, but it most definitely let the devil start pulling me away.

Like Screwtape and Wormwood (The Screwtape Letters), the demons quickly set to work on my soul. Loneliness and the need for physical closeness was their way in, setting off a domino effect of ever deepening sins. Seeing quite well what was happening I found myself crying mid-coitus on more than one occasion from a mixture of utter aloneness and plain old guilt. Longing for a deeper connection, no matter who I was with, made me turn to drinking again to dull the feelings and mask the real cause. The culmination came when my then partner commented on my bible verses pinned above my desk as we were deep in one of our sinful acts. “I’m a born again Christian, but I’m not very good at it,” was all I could manage to say. Then I simply suggested we leave that room.

 I’m tired of praying for forgiveness every night for the exact same behavior then doing nothing about it. One of my favorite quotes is “It is a desperately dangerous thing to allow the spiritual vision to go ahead of physical obedience.” And I am the prime example of why.