VBS for Grown-Ups: Prayer Helps Us

All week long I’m thinking about the Bible points for our Vacation Bible School and what they mean for adults.  This week will be a mix of some old and some new as I share these lessons.

Today at Kingdom Rock VBS (Group Publishing), we’re learning: Prayer Help Us…Stand Strong!kingdom-rock-logo-hi-res

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything (Philippians 4:6)
Originally published as “Run to the Throne,” May 6, 2011

“Teach me to run to you like they run to me for every little thing.”  That’s what Caedmon’s Call sings in their song, Sacred.

Yes, that’s true in my house.  I button buttons and zip zippers, diffuse arguments and mediate disputes, kiss bumps and supply Band-Aids for nearly invisible scratches, refill juice cups and find lost toys, help with homework and hard-to-sound-out words.

I answer to “Mom” all day, every day.  And, while at times I would like to sit still for more than five minutes at a time, I love that they turn to me for help.  At some point I know they will feel too grown up to bring all their problems to me.  Or maybe they’ll still come, but their problems will be so big that my supply of Band-Aids and apple juice won’t fix them anymore.

God must love when we turn to Him for help with all of the hopeful innocence that I see in my daughters’ eyes.  We could struggle to solve our troubles in our own strength or we could offer them up to Him—both the life crises and the daily concerns—-giving them over to a God both big enough to handle them and compassionate enough to care about them.

And as we do, we confess belief.  We say, “God I believe that You are Lord over all things, that no situation is too much for Your strength or too small for Your compassion.  I believe that You have saved me and will continue to save me.  I believe that You are Love.”

Years ago, a godly woman gave me this advice: “run to the throne before you run to the phone.”  Before we call on our friends and our own mommas with a problem, we should bring it to the God who can actually solve the problem we’re facing.

Too often we don’t.  We worry, we fret, we gossip, we chatter with others and seek solutions of our own making.

And all along, God’s waiting for us to just bring it all to Him.

Philippians 4:6 says:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

and Ephesians 6:18 says:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

We are to pray “in everything,” and “on all occasions.”  We should drop to our knees over a health concern or a family in crisis or a daughter’s lost toy.  It’s all too much for us anyway.

That’s what men like Daniel and Nehemiah did.

When King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream no one could interpret, Daniel and his friends plead “for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery” (Daniel 2:18).  When the decree was signed saying no one could pray to any god but the king, Daniel went home in front of an open window and “three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10).

Nehemiah prayed when he heard about the horrible state of the walls surrounding Jerusalem. When the king asked him what he wanted, Nehemiah “prayed to the God of heaven” before giving an answer.  Enemies threatened the work of Nehemiah and his crew, “but we prayed to our God” (Nehemiah 4:9) and when the enemies tried to frighten the Israelite construction team into quitting, Nehemiah prayed to God: “now strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9).

They went to God with every annoyance, difficulty, burden, sadness, disaster,  enemy, and worry.Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_5902698_mature-woman-sits-on-the-beach-with-her-head-bowed-and-praying-as-the-sun-sets-on-the-water.html'>sframe / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

At times, I’m overwhelmed by the weight of the requests I’m carrying to the throne.  I’ve been duped by impossible-appearing circumstances into thinking that it’s fruitless to pray any longer.  That there is no hope.  That the marriage is truly dead.  That the housing situation will not be solved.  That the cancer statistics are too certain.  That the job market is too sparse.  That I’ve prayed for so long with no answer, nothing could possibly change now.

A friend confessed this in a whisper to me this week:  “I’m just tired of praying about it.”

I knew exactly what she meant.  Fighting and fighting to have faith for so long, to pray and pray with no evident answer, no release, no deliverance, it makes a body tired.

But we are to “always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  And God, who is so gracious and compassionate, knows the exact moment when we need to see a glimmer of His light in the dark places and when we need the smallest reminder that He is active and alive where we only see death.

And He does this.  He gives us these glimmers of hope and hints of His glory and it becomes prayer that helps us stand a while longer, stand no matter what, and even stand strong.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Tucked Under the Pillow

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
Psalm 94:19

I remember her telling me, “Don’t let fear steal your joy.”

And I do, too much of the time.

Like with my first pregnancy and all the exciting rush in the first few days of knowing we were going to have a baby.

It lasted a day or two before quickly being replaced by fear.  A million what-if’s and hypothetical situations, dangerous unknowns and general uncertainty left me tossing and turning at night.  It doesn’t help when you open up the pregnancy books and find the necessary-but-terrifying information about miscarriages, risks, statistics, tests and more.

I probably didn’t have so much a mother-to-be glow as a ghostly shade of I-can’t-sleep-at-night.

But my mother-in-law told me not to let fear steal my joy, and that is what I thought about in the weeks between a positive pregnancy test and the first time I actually felt the baby move or saw a healthy little life on an ultrasound screen or even held her in my arms in a hospital bed.

I bought two little newborn sleepers (neutral green, of course, not knowing yet whether we’d have a boy or girl) and I folded one up and slipped it under my pillow.  In the moments I was tempted to fear at night, I slipped my hand underneath the pillow case and felt the joy.

And even if I didn’t “feel” it, I knew the joy was there; it was the determined refusal to be afraid.

You really can’t enjoy the gifts God has given, you know, if you’re fearful at the same time.  They are mutually exclusive conditions.

As Kay Warren wrote in Choose Joy:

“Joy is not about happy feelings. It’s a settled assurance about God. A quiet confidence in God. And a determined choice to praise God in all things.”

That “settled assurance” and “quiet confidence” that God can take care of us no matter what and that no circumstance is outside of His control, negates all t484650_10200524323537513_1365502963_nhose fears that somehow the worst possible thing could happen.

Because even in the worst thing:

God is with you.

He will carry you.

He is still in control.

He remains mighty.

Yet, somehow we move so quickly from gratitude over a gift and that one brief moment of rejoicing into an anxiety ridden fear that “the other shoe will fall” or somehow it’s “too good to be true” or that there must be something terribly wrong hidden in the silver lining.

Or God comes through for us and relieves us of one fear, and we just so quickly replace it with another.

“Great!  Now I’m worried that…..” or “I’m glad that’s over.  Now I’m just afraid….”

Take the time to rejoice.

Truly pause the whirlwind of thoughts and give thanks, praise, breathe in and out the freedom of joy….and refuse to trade that in for the suffocation of fear.

When those twelve spies walked out of the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan and stepped foot on that Promised Land soil for the very first time, they had a choice to make.

Did they remember all of those miraculous victories, rescues and provisions on their journey and confidently trust that God would continue to care for them?

Or did they throw out a quick, “Thanks, God, that was all great.  But now I’m just too afraid that the giants here are undefeated and the obstacles insurmountable?”

Ten of those spies rushed past joy, practically leapt right over it, and scrambled quickly into fear.

And the fear was contagious:

Then the whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night. All the Israelites complained about Moses and Aaron, and the whole community told them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to die by the sword? Our wives and little children will become plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Joshua and Caleb tried to tell them truth:   The Lord is with us.  He can do this.  “Don’t be afraid” (Numbers 14:9).

But when your heart and mind is set on fear, it’s hard to hear the truth.  So, they didn’t listen, just closed their ears right up to the promises of God and spent an entire generation wandering in the desert and missing out on God’s very best as a result.

Fear is costly that way.  It always steals joy.

Here’s the promise for us, though.

When your heart and mind is set on truth, it’s hard to feel the fear.

Tuck that under your pillow tonight and remember the joy.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King